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Preview: Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal



The daily journal of a puppeteer and SF author.



Updated: 2017-12-16T23:29:18Z

 



Gift my books – personalization deadline is 12/16!

2017-12-16T03:49:17Z

If you’d like to gift my books this holiday season (perhaps even to yourself!) you can order signed copies from Volumes Bookcafe and they will be shipped right to you! This is actually true all year long, this is just a reminder for the holidays. I’m also happy to personalize them, but you’ll need to […]

The post Gift my books – personalization deadline is 12/16! appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.

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If you’d like to gift my books this holiday season (perhaps even to yourself!) you can order signed copies from Volumes Bookcafe and they will be shipped right to you! This is actually true all year long, this is just a reminder for the holidays.

I’m also happy to personalize them, but you’ll need to order personalized copies by midnight, Dec 16 for them to get to you by Christmas.

The post Gift my books – personalization deadline is 12/16! appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.




THE CALCULATING STARS and THE FATED SKY available for pre-order!

2017-11-30T21:57:32Z

The Lady Astronaut books are now available for pre-order! The Calculating Stars The Fated Sky If you pre-order through these links, which will take you to Mary’s favorite local bookstore, a SIGNED and personalized copy will arrive at your house on release day! These books are prequels to Mary’s Hugo-award winning story The Lady Astronaut […] The post THE CALCULATING STARS and THE FATED SKY available for pre-order! appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. The Lady Astronaut books are now available for pre-order! The Calculating Stars The Fated Sky If you pre-order through these links, which will take you to Mary’s favorite local bookstore, a SIGNED and personalized copy will arrive at your house on release day! These books are prequels to Mary’s Hugo-award winning story The Lady Astronaut of Mars. You can read the story at that link as you wait for liftoff. The Calculating Stars – July 3, 2018 A meteor decimates the U.S. government and paves the way for a climate cataclysm that will eventually render the earth inhospitable to humanity. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated timeline in the earth’s efforts to colonize space, as well as an unprecedented opportunity for a much larger share of humanity to take part. One of these new entrants in the space race is Elma York, whose experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too—aside from some pesky barriers like thousands of years of history and a host of expectations about the proper place of the fairer sex. And yet, Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions may not stand a chance. The Fated Sky – August 21, 2018 Continuing the grand sweep of alternate history laid out in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course, the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, but could the International Aerospace Coalition ever stand the thought of putting a woman on such a potentially dangerous mission? Could Elma knowingly take the place of other astronauts who have been overlooked because of their race? And could she really leave behind her husband and the chance to start a family? This gripping look at the real conflicts behind a fantastical space race will put a new spin on our visions of what might have been.   The post THE CALCULATING STARS and THE FATED SKY available for pre-order! appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. [...]



My Favorite Bit: Carrie Ann DiRisio talks about BROODING YA HERO

2017-11-28T04:11:07Z

Carrie Ann DiRisio is joining us today with her novel Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me. Here’s the publisher’s description: Have you ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend? Ever dreamed of being the Chosen One in a YA novel? Want to know […] The post My Favorite Bit: Carrie Ann DiRisio talks about BROODING YA HERO appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Carrie Ann DiRisio is joining us today with her novel Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me. Here’s the publisher’s description: Have you ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend? Ever dreamed of being the Chosen One in a YA novel? Want to know all the secrets of surviving the dreaded plot twist? Or maybe you’re just really confused about what “opal-tinted, luminous cerulean orbs” actually are? Well, popular Twitter personality @broodingYAhero is here to help as he tackles the final frontier in his media dominance: writing a book. Join Broody McHottiepants as he attempts to pen Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, a “self-help” guide (with activities–you always need activities) that lovingly pokes fun at the YA tropes that we roll our eyes at, but secretly love. As his nefarious ex, Blondie DeMeani, attempts to thwart him at every turn, Broody overcomes to detail, among other topics, how to choose your genre, how to keep your love interest engaged (while maintaining lead character status), his secret formula for guaranteed love triangle success, and how to make sure you secure that sequel, all while keeping his hair perfectly coiffed and never breaking a sweat. What’s Carrie’s favorite bit? CARRIE ANN DiRISIO One of my favorite things about being an aunt is getting to shop for picture books. I adore their lush, vivid way of storytelling, and often end up with a stack for myself too. Of course, since I write young adult fiction, I never thought I’d have a chance to work with an illustrator. That all changed with one very quirky book. My debut, BROODING YA HERO: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me is equal parts fourth-wall-breaking satire, tongue in cheek narrative, and illustrated activity book. Which means… PICTURES! The main character is Broody McHottiepants, the archetype character you’ve seen in a thousand works (and in his personal, viral, twitter, @BroodingYAhero). Broody has been told by his author that he’s been in too many books, and needs to take a break. Instead, Broody decides to… star in his own book! The illustrator of the book is Linnea Gear, who is also the creator of the popular fantasy webcomic, DISSENT. My favorite bit of the whole book is Broody’s family tree, which shows off all the fictional characters, archetypes, and role models both he, the fictional character, and the literary device, developed from. That may sound pretty meta, but trust me, Linnea’s art makes it all beautifully clear. Linnea’s ability to capture emotions and personality has always entranced me, and I think in the family tree, it’s really highlighted. I sent her simple one word notes, such as “a supermodel” and she spun those into beautiful images. Each character has so much personality that they leap off the page, (or in the case of the clumsy ancestor, stumble.) The process of creating this was fun too, I brainstormed types of characters/famous public domain characters who might be said to be in Broody’s “bloodline” and then, Linnea sent some sample sketches. We pingponged ideas to end up with this awesome final product. The image also works to help me demonstrate just what a Brooding Hero is. People might not follow the Twitter account, but they know of Gatsby or Heathcliff. Showing a literary family tree allows the funny concept to be more accessible by readers of all genres. If the illustrations intrigue you, or yo[...]



Mom’s Sour Cream Poundcake recipe

2017-11-24T16:34:49Z

Since I was little, this is the cake I request for my birthday. Mom mails one to me every year. We requested it for our wedding cake. This is the ur cake. This is the platonic ideal of cake. 2 sticks butter 3 c. sugar 3 c. plain flour 1 c. sour cream 1/4 tsp. […]

The post Mom’s Sour Cream Poundcake recipe appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.

Since I was little, this is the cake I request for my birthday. Mom mails one to me every year. We requested it for our wedding cake. This is the ur cake. This is the platonic ideal of cake.

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 3 c. plain flour
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 2 tsp. orange extract
  • 2 tsp. lemon extract

Cream butter and sugar lightly. Add sour cream; mix soda, 1/2 c. flour and add; mix thoroughly. Add unbeaten egg yolks and remaining flour alternately. Lastly, beat whites light and fold them into other mixture — never beat them in.

Pour into funnel cake pan. Have bottom of pan covered with waxed paper and sides well greased. Bake in 325-degree oven for 1 1/4 hours. Never open door before this amount of time is up — then look. If cake needs more baking, do so.

The post Mom’s Sour Cream Poundcake recipe appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.




My Favorite Bit: Fonda Lee talks about JADE CITY

2017-10-30T18:09:39Z

Fonda Lee is joining us today to talk about her novel Jade City. Here’s the publisher’s description: FAMILY IS DUTY. MAGIC IS POWER. HONOR IS EVERYTHING. Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for — and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family […] The post My Favorite Bit: Fonda Lee talks about JADE CITY appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Fonda Lee is joining us today to talk about her novel Jade City. Here’s the publisher’s description: FAMILY IS DUTY. MAGIC IS POWER. HONOR IS EVERYTHING. Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for — and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion. Now, the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation. When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone — even foreigners — wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones — from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets — and of Kekon itself. What’s Fonda’s favorite bit? FONDA LEE There’s a quote I saw on the Internet once, of someone complaining, “Yoga is such bullshit. I’ve been doing it for six months and I can’t even breathe fire yet.” (You’re either a child of the ‘80s who played video games and is chuckling right now, or I just lost you in the opening paragraph.) Don’t go yet! The point is, that sentiment is remarkably similar to what drove me, in part, to write Jade City. You see, I’m a martial artist who’s been practicing pretty regularly since I was a teenager. I’m also a big fan of martial arts movies. Granted, I’m no professional fighter—but even after years of training, I’ve never come close to being able to fly, run up walls, punch through concrete, or fight blindfolded. My instructors are far more accomplished than I am, but I haven’t seen them bust out any of those special abilities either. I understand that Superman has superpowers because he’s from Krypton and Iron Man has his suit, but the heroes of my favorite kung fu films were apparently ordinary human beings who simply trained really, really hard. There are, indeed, people who are able to achieve incredible, seemingly impossible physical feats with extreme conditioning. Here’s a picture of a Shaolin monk balancing on two fingers. (Ouch!) Even so, as a fantasy writer, I wanted a more codified explanation for the even more exceptional abilities in the wuxia movies, books, and comics I devoured. So I created one. I imagined a world in which a rare magic substance could grant incredible martial powers. It could’ve been anything—a potion, a metal, a plant—but I settled quickly on jade. Jade has been prized throughout thousands of years of Chinese history; referred to as the “Stone of Heaven,” it was a symbol of power and status and considered to be a substance that connected the earthly and divine realms. It was already figuratively magical—in my fictional world, I made it literally so. However, just because I established the existence of magic jade, I wasn’t about to repudiate the reality that being an accomplished martial artist is first and foremost about dedication to hard practice. So the jade-adorned warriors in my story have to begin their training from a young age, not only to learn how to wield jade, but to withstand its harmful effects—which can, unfortunately, eventually make a [...]



My Favorite Bit: Tracy Townsend talks about THE NINE

2017-11-06T17:21:26Z

Tracy Townsend is joining us today with her novel The Nine. Here’s the publisher’s description: In the dark streets of Corma exists a book that writes itself, a book that some would kill for… Black market courier Rowena Downshire is just trying to pay her mother’s freedom from debtor’s prison when an urgent and unexpected […] The post My Favorite Bit: Tracy Townsend talks about THE NINE appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Tracy Townsend is joining us today with her novel The Nine. Here’s the publisher’s description: In the dark streets of Corma exists a book that writes itself, a book that some would kill for… Black market courier Rowena Downshire is just trying to pay her mother’s freedom from debtor’s prison when an urgent and unexpected delivery leads her face to face with a creature out of nightmares.  Rowena escapes with her life, but the strange book she was ordered to deliver is stolen. The Alchemist knows things few men have lived to tell about, and when Rowena shows up on his doorstep, frightened and empty-handed, he knows better than to turn her away. What he discovers leads him to ask for help from the last man he wants to see—the former mercenary, Anselm Meteron. Across town, Reverend Phillip Chalmers awakes in a cell, bloodied and bruised, facing a creature twice his size. Translating the stolen book may be his only hope for survival; however, he soon realizes the book may be a fabled text written by the Creator Himself, tracking the nine human subjects of His Grand Experiment. In the wrong hands, it could mean the end of humanity. Rowena and her companions become the target of conspirators who seek to use the book for their own ends.  But how can this unlikely team be sure who the enemy is when they can barely trust each other? And what will happen when the book reveals a secret no human was meant to know? What’s Tracy’s favorite bit?   TRACY TOWNSEND The Bulwer-Lytton version of how I started my debut fantasy, The Nine, would have me writing on a dark and stormy night. After all, it is a dark gaslamp fantasy, replete with corruption, conspiracy, and monstrous creatures of the night. But the truth is, I wrote the first scene of it on an unseasonably warm afternoon in March 2009, racing along in a burst of excitement that struck entirely without warning in between grading papers for an American literature class. (Muses are rude that way: untimely, even in their best moments.) I hacked away at the vision I’d had — a girl racing away from some dangerous scene, empty-handed, though she ought to have been carrying something, and bursting into an alchemist’s shop after dark. After a while, I sat back and stared at the pages I’d written. Who were these people, meeting by chance in a dusty old dispensary? What had the girl been running from, and what had she lost? Why had the man let her in after the shingle was turned, and why the wariness in his baritone voice? Not sure what I’d made — or if I’d made anything at all — I tucked the pages deep in my hard drive and before long forgot all about them. Years later, I found that file by accident as I readied myself (on a properly cold and blustery October evening) for my first NaNoWriMo. I poked at the scene like a newly-discovered bruise, seemingly sprung from nothing. There was an ache somewhere inside it, an old, invisible pain throbbing toward its bones. I read the scene once. Twice. By the third time, I knew I was in love. That first-written scene of The Nine is still in the book today, virtually unchanged. It’s in chapter ten, and it will always be my favorite bit. Let’s set the scene. Guttersnipe courier Rowena Downshire has just been robbed of an urgent, mysterious delivery and now faces with defiance and dread the man to whom the package was bound — the inscrutable Alchemist of Westgate Bridge. She’s batt[...]



My Favorite Bit: Jim C. Hines talks about TERMINAL ALLIANCE

2017-11-02T19:31:10Z

Jim C. Hines is joining us today with his novel Terminal Alliance. Here’s the publisher’s description: In his hilarious new sci-fi series, Jim C. Hines introduces the unlikely heroes that may just save the galaxy: a crew of space janitors. The Krakau came to Earth to invite humanity into a growing alliance of sentient species. However, […] The post My Favorite Bit: Jim C. Hines talks about TERMINAL ALLIANCE appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Jim C. Hines is joining us today with his novel Terminal Alliance. Here’s the publisher’s description: In his hilarious new sci-fi series, Jim C. Hines introduces the unlikely heroes that may just save the galaxy: a crew of space janitors. The Krakau came to Earth to invite humanity into a growing alliance of sentient species. However, they happened to arrive after a mutated plague wiped out half the planet, turned the rest into shambling, near-unstoppable animals, and basically destroyed human civilization. You know—your standard apocalypse. The Krakau’s first impulse was to turn around and go home. (After all, it’s hard to have diplomatic relations with mindless savages who eat your diplomats.) Their second impulse was to try to fix us. Now, a century later, human beings might not be what they once were, but at least they’re no longer trying to eat everyone. Mostly. Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos is surprisingly bright (for a human). As a Lieutenant on the Earth Mercenary Corps Ship Pufferfish, she’s in charge of the Shipboard Hygiene and Sanitation team. When a bioweapon attack wipes out the Krakau command crew and reverts the rest of the humans to their feral state, only Mops and her team are left with their minds intact. Escaping the attacking aliens—not to mention her shambling crewmates—is only the beginning. Sure, Mops and her team of space janitors and plumbers can clean the ship as well as anyone, but flying the damn thing is another matter. As they struggle to keep the Pufferfish functioning and find a cure for their crew, they stumble onto a conspiracy that could threaten the entire alliance… a conspiracy born from the truth of what happened on Earth all those years ago. What’s Jim’s favorite bit? JIM C. HINES Humans had pretty well wiped themselves out when the alien Krakau arrived on our planet. The Krakau took it upon themselves to rebuild the shambling, feral remnants of humanity the best they could. At the time of Terminal Alliance, roughly ten thousand humans have been “restored,” meaning their intelligence is close to pre-apocalypse levels. But they’re not quite human like we are today. Their bodies have been changed both by the plague and by the Krakau cure, and…well, they’re just not the brightest species in the Alliance. Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos and her Shipboard Hygiene and Sanitation team end up in command of their ship, the EMCS Pufferfish. In between learning how to fly the damn thing and fighting off alien attacks, they stop to grab a quick lunch. Or maybe dinner. They don’t really make a distinction. During this brief interlude, they end up talking about what it means to be human: “They fixed us,” Kumar continued. “They give us jobs, purpose, even our culture. We call ourselves human, but are we? Or are we Krakau? Maybe we’re something in between. Krakuman?” “I am not calling myself Krakuman,” snarled Wolf. “Kumar has a point,” Mops said, before this could escalate further. “Intellect, creativity, reasoning…we consistently score lower on every test than pre-plague humans. Whatever humanity was before the plague, we’ve changed. But we are human.” “How do you figure?” asked Kumar. “Because we have to be.” Mops studied her team. They were exhausted. Anxious. Scared, though she doubted any of them would admit it Her team was trained to eradicate mold and fix clogged water filters, not [...]



Character and Self-Definition

2017-11-10T19:32:26Z

Character driven stories are a journey of self-discovery. They begin when a character is dissatisfied with an aspect of self and end when the character solidifies their self-definition. This can end in a positive or negative state. Either the character achieves the self-definition they were going for, or they recognize that they never will. Basically, […] The post Character and Self-Definition appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Character driven stories are a journey of self-discovery. They begin when a character is dissatisfied with an aspect of self and end when the character solidifies their self-definition. This can end in a positive or negative state. Either the character achieves the self-definition they were going for, or they recognize that they never will. Basically, they either like themselves at the end, or they don’t. Happy ending or tragedy. Now, a lot of people think that, in order to have a character arc, you must have a deeply flawed character in order to give them room to grow. That is an option. But this is often really heavy-handed and can lead to fiction that feels flat or contrived. The post Character and Self-Definition appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. [...]



My Favorite Bit: Richard Baker talks about VALIANT DUST

2017-10-25T17:05:55Z

Richard Baker is joining us today with his novel Valiant Dust. Here’s the publisher’s description: Sikander Singh North has always had it easy―until he joined the crew of the Aquilan Commonwealth starship CSS Hector. As the ship’s new gunnery officer and only Kashmiri, he must constantly prove himself better than his Aquilan crewmates, even if he […] The post My Favorite Bit: Richard Baker talks about VALIANT DUST appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Richard Baker is joining us today with his novel Valiant Dust. Here’s the publisher’s description: Sikander Singh North has always had it easy―until he joined the crew of the Aquilan Commonwealth starship CSS Hector. As the ship’s new gunnery officer and only Kashmiri, he must constantly prove himself better than his Aquilan crewmates, even if he has to use his fists. When the Hector is called to help with a planetary uprising, he’ll have to earn his unit’s respect, find who’s arming the rebels, and deal with the headstrong daughter of the colonial ruler―all while dodging bullets. Sikander’s military career is off to an explosive start―but only if he and CSS Hector can survive his first mission. What’s Richard’s favorite bit? RICHARD BAKER My favorite bit of Valiant Dust is the Torpedo Mystery. It’s a secondary plot and it’s a little technical, but it’s the sort of problem that officers serving on ships “really” run across, and it drives some of the most personally challenging interactions Lieutenant Sikander North (my protagonist) faces during the story. Let me provide a bit of non-spoilerish background: Sikander is the new gunnery officer of the Commonwealth star cruiser CSS Hector. As the gunnery officer, he’s the department head in charge of the ship’s weapons personnel. He answers to the ship’s XO, Commander Peter Chatburn, and the ship’s CO, Captain Elise Markham; he supervises three junior officers, each of whom leads a team of gunner’s mates or torpedo mates. One of these subordinates is Sublieutenant Angela Larkin, the ship’s torpedo officer. (This is pretty typical warship organization; the ships of the U.S. Navy today have similar personnel structures.) Hector is armed with a mix of kinetic cannons (heavy railguns) and warp torpedoes—missiles that protect themselves from defensive fire by exiting normal space during their attack runs. Shortly after reporting aboard Hector, Sikander and his new team get the opportunity to conduct some live-fire exercises on the target range, during the course of which Hector loses a practice torpedo. It disappears into its warp bubble for its attack run and never returns to normal space. That’s a serious problem for Sikander. It’s just not acceptable for a ship to lose a multi-million-dollar weapon, and his superiors want answers. Figuring out why the torpedo failed becomes a significant headache for Sikander, because the torpedo itself is no longer available for inspection. Investigating the cause of the failure puts Sikander between Chatburn, an unforgiving XO who isn’t interested in “we don’t know” as an answer, and Larkin, a difficult subordinate who doesn’t seem to appreciate the seriousness of the situation. Worse yet, Sikander’s captain and his peers are watching to see how he responds to the challenge. It’s not his fault, but it is his problem. The reason I’m so proud of the Torpedo Mystery is that it’s a great device for showing the reader what it’s like to be a mid-level officer on a warship. In the “real” world, officers are more than a battlestation; they lead teams of enlisted personnel that you don’t see on the bridge set. They’re managers and administrators as well as warfighters. One of the things I hoped to bring to Valiant Dust was a certain sense of, well, authenticity abo[...]



Raising the Stakes

2017-11-08T21:51:36Z

When people ask you to “raise the stakes” for a character, they aren’t asking for more explosions. They are asking for a reason to care.

The post Raising the Stakes appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.

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When people ask you to “raise the stakes” for a character, they aren’t asking for more explosions. They are asking for a reason to care.

The post Raising the Stakes appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.




My Favorite Bit: James Alan Gardner talks about ALL THOSE EXPLOSIONS WERE SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT

2017-11-01T15:19:21Z

James Alan Gardner is joining us today with his novel All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault. Here’s the publisher’s description: Monsters are real. But so are heroes. Sparks are champions of weird science. Boasting capes and costumes and amazing super-powers that only make sense if you don’t think about them too hard, they fight an […] The post My Favorite Bit: James Alan Gardner talks about ALL THOSE EXPLOSIONS WERE SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. James Alan Gardner is joining us today with his novel All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault. Here’s the publisher’s description: Monsters are real. But so are heroes. Sparks are champions of weird science. Boasting capes and costumes and amazing super-powers that only make sense if you don’t think about them too hard, they fight an eternal battle for truth and justice . . . mostly. Darklings are creatures of myth and magic: ghosts, vampires, were-beasts, and the like. Their very presence warps reality. Doors creak at their approach. Cobwebs gather where they linger. Kim Lam is an ordinary college student until a freak scientific accident (what else?) transforms Kim and three housemates into Sparks―and drafts them into the never-ending war between the Light and Dark. They struggle to master their new abilities―and (of course) to design cool costumes and come up with great hero-names. Turns out that “accident” was just the first salvo in a Mad Genius’s latest diabolical scheme. Now it’s up to four newbie heroes to save the day, before they even have a chance to figure out what their team’s name should be! What’s Jim’s favorite bit? JAMES ALAN GARDNER SPOILER WARNING: This write-up discusses a pivotal moment in All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault. If you’re the sort of person who hates spoilers, buy the book and read it before continuing. (Better yet, buy two copies of the book. Or ten.) — While writing, I sometimes reach a point when I realize a character might do something unexpected. It often takes place when I’m writing a conversation; the chance phrasing of a line almost begs another character to reply with a big revelation or to take the action someplace I never imagined. Simple example: a character says, “We’re arguing like an old married couple,” and suddenly there’s a real possibility of the other person saying, “Well then why don’t we get married?” even though that’s far far away from anything in the story outline. It’s a lovely scary moment. You sit on the cusp of blasting the story open with a single line, heading off into an unknown future…and all because an accidental turn of phrase. This happened to me while writing All Those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault, and now I think it’s my favorite bit. To understand the moment, you’ll need some background. The narrator of All Those Explosions is Kim Lam, a university student majoring in geology. Back in high school, Kim was the girlfriend of a boy named Nicholas. Nicholas came from a wealthy family, and in the book’s version of Earth, most wealthy people pay millions to be changed into “Darklings” when they come of age. Darklings can be vampires, were-beasts, or the like…so basically, all the rich and powerful people in this world are semi-immortal monsters with supernatural powers. Nicholas had to choose between staying with Kim or becoming a Darkling himself. He chose the Dark and ended up as a powerful ghost. Kim was devastated; even though several years have passed, the wounds haven’t totally healed. In this version of Earth, Darklings aren’t the only people with inhuman powers. There are also superheroes, perhaps created by Fate as a counterbalance to th[...]



Where to find Mary in November

2017-11-04T15:47:53Z

  We are all thankful for cats and sunbeams. Here’s where to find Mary this month: November 3 Online Class: Short Story Intensive Class November 14 Online Patreon Writing Date November 19-22 Writing Excuses records at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston November 26 Online Patreon Writing Class: Diagnosing Story Problems November 28 Online Class: […] The post Where to find Mary in November appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.   We are all thankful for cats and sunbeams. Here’s where to find Mary this month: November 3 Online Class: Short Story Intensive Class November 14 Online Patreon Writing Date November 19-22 Writing Excuses records at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston November 26 Online Patreon Writing Class: Diagnosing Story Problems November 28 Online Class: Methods of Worldbuilding   Or find her online here Patreon • Twitter • Facebook • Instagram The post Where to find Mary in November appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. [...]



THE DRAGON QUESTION and my annual call for NaNoWriMo beta readers

2017-11-04T03:56:39Z

It’s that time of year, when I once again participate in NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know this, I’ve written all of my novels either during NaNo or using the NaNoWriMo model in another month. This year, I’m writing a project for fun. It’s called The Dragon Question, and I’ve been describing it as “Alfred Hitchcock presents the Dragonriders of Pern.” […] The post THE DRAGON QUESTION and my annual call for NaNoWriMo beta readers appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. It’s that time of year, when I once again participate in NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know this, I’ve written all of my novels either during NaNo or using the NaNoWriMo model in another month. This year, I’m writing a project for fun. It’s called The Dragon Question, and I’ve been describing it as “Alfred Hitchcock presents the Dragonriders of Pern.” I like having people read along as I go. Think of it like running clinical trials on a new drug. I’m testing to see if the story is producing the effect on my readers that I want it to. As such, I like having beta-readers who report their symptoms as they go along. Specifically: Awesome! (Important, so I don’t ‘fix’ it accidentally) Bored Confused Disbelief That’s all I need, a report of your symptoms. You don’t have to try to diagnose the problem or provide a prescription to fix it. Just tell me how the story is playing. Here’s the teaser of the first chapter. The Dragon Question Chapter One A scream cut through the university Dracoviation Center. It echoed through the locker room and drowned out the tinny swing band playing on the transistor radio. Nelanie spun the direction of the sound, one riding boot still in her hand. The arena? Who else would be doing a late night practice ride? A second scream ripped the air as if a woman were being murdered. Or someone had lost control of their dragon. “Hellfire.” Nelanie snatched the first aid kit off the wall and sprinted toward the door to the arena. Her bobby sock slipped on the tile of the locker room floor. She slapped her hand against the locker to steady herself as a third wrenching scream echoed. Dropping her boot, Nelanie hurtled out the door onto the sawdust-covered main hall. Up and down the hall, dragon snouts poked over their stalls, nostrils flared wide. What did they smell? Blood? Nelanie ran down the hall. One of the fluorescent lights flickered in time with her pulse. Another scream. A woman shouted, “Stop! Please stop plea–“ # To sign up to be a beta-reader for The Dragon Question, just click on this handy link.  Thanks! I have enough readers now. The post THE DRAGON QUESTION and my annual call for NaNoWriMo beta readers appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. [...]



My Favorite Bit: R. E. Stearns talks about BARBARY STATION

2017-10-23T17:05:56Z

R.E. Stearns is joining us today with her book Barbary Station. Here’s the publisher’s description: Two engineers hijack a spaceship to join some space pirates—only to discover the pirates are hiding from a malevolent AI. Now they have to outwit the AI if they want to join the pirate crew—and survive long enough to enjoy […] The post My Favorite Bit: R. E. Stearns talks about BARBARY STATION appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. R.E. Stearns is joining us today with her book Barbary Station. Here’s the publisher’s description: Two engineers hijack a spaceship to join some space pirates—only to discover the pirates are hiding from a malevolent AI. Now they have to outwit the AI if they want to join the pirate crew—and survive long enough to enjoy it. Adda and Iridian are newly minted engineers, but aren’t able to find any work in a solar system ruined by economic collapse after an interplanetary war. Desperate for employment, they hijack a colony ship and plan to join a famed pirate crew living in luxury at Barbary Station, an abandoned shipbreaking station in deep space. But when they arrive there, nothing is as expected. The pirates aren’t living in luxury—they’re hiding in a makeshift base welded onto the station’s exterior hull. The artificial intelligence controlling the station’s security system has gone mad, trying to kill all station residents and shooting down any ship that attempts to leave—so there’s no way out. Adda and Iridian have one chance to earn a place on the pirate crew: destroy the artificial intelligence. The last engineer who went up against the AI met an untimely end, and the pirates are taking bets on how the newcomers will die. But Adda and Iridian plan to beat the odds. There’s a glorious future in piracy…if only they can survive long enough. What’s R.E. Stearns favorite bit? R. E. STEARNS Some questions are never answered. This is true in real life and in fiction. Living and working in the unknown, and solving the mysteries you can and documenting the details of those you can’t yet, makes the world an endlessly exciting place. That’s why I filled Barbary Station with mysteries. Our heroines, Adda and Iridian, solve the first mystery they encounter within the first few chapters. Why didn’t the pirates react with more enthusiasm to the news that an entire hijacked colony ship was on its way to Barbary Station with Adda and Iridian at the helm? The answer: They had much bigger problems than where their next target ship was coming from. The problem personified, after a fashion, is an artificial intelligence which has taken over the abandoned space station’s defense system. To escape, they’ll have to stop the AI from killing every human who meets its definition of a threat. Adda and Iridian have a lot of minor mysteries to solve if they want to survive: How is the AI choosing its targets? What weapons and drones are at its disposal? Is any place on the station truly safe? The AI isn’t the only mysterious figure on Barbary Station. An emergency medical team who’ve been trapped there for years appear and disappear on biosensors for reasons understood only by them. The pirate crew our heroines came to the station to join might, or might not, have enemies among the refugee village in the docking bay. The AI has scared the remaining ship pilots so badly that they won’t help anybody else get away. Not letting the pirates onboard seems practical, but they don’t help the refugees either. And then there’s the method that Adda uses to speak to the AIs. In this universe AIs are raised, not coded. Their learning algorithms are too complex[...]



My Favorite Bit: J. R. R. R. Hardison talks about DEMON FREAKS

2017-10-25T16:12:38Z

J.R.R.R. Hardison is joining us today with his novel Demon Freaks. Here’s the publisher’s description: It’s the night before the SAT test. The forces of darkness are stirring. Twin brothers, Bing and Ron Slaughter, know they’ve got to cram like their lives depend on it because their college plans sure do. If they don’t ace […] The post My Favorite Bit: J. R. R. R. Hardison talks about DEMON FREAKS appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. J.R.R.R. Hardison is joining us today with his novel Demon Freaks. Here’s the publisher’s description: It’s the night before the SAT test. The forces of darkness are stirring. Twin brothers, Bing and Ron Slaughter, know they’ve got to cram like their lives depend on it because their college plans sure do. If they don’t ace the test, they’ll be doomed to spend the rest of their days flipping burgers at the McDonald’s their parents run. That’s why they hatch a plan to meet up with the members of their punk band, the Ephits, spend the night studying at a secluded cabin in the woods, and maybe squeeze in a little jamming. What could go wrong with a brilliant plan like that? Ancient evil. That’s what. As a cataclysmic lightning storm rolls in, Bing, Ron and the rest of the Ephits find themselves tangled in a sinister plot to summon a demon. Yes, demons are real. To survive the night, the band must find a malevolent artifact, battle bloodthirsty monsters and stand against the most dangerous and powerful foe humanity has ever faced…the Golfer’s Association. What’s Jim’s favorite bit? J.R.R.R. HARDISON My favorite bit of writing Demon Freaks was working on the mechanics of psychic powers. The story features psychic communication, thought control and even physical possession. I’ve been fascinated by mechanics that could plausibly drive paranormal phenomena for a long time, all the way back to when I was little. A few months after I turned eight, my oldest brother, Bill, came home from studying psychology in college for Christmas Break. It was the early 1970’s, and I gather that academia was in a kind of hippy-influenced phase, so part of his course load included several classes on extrasensory phenomena—ESP. On a day it was snowing too hard to play outside, he proceeded to run an experiment on the only subjects he had ready to hand—his siblings. He assembled the three youngest—one of my older sisters, myself and my younger brother—and asked us to play a game. He’d draw a playing card from a deck, hold it up so that only he could see the face, and we’d guess which one he’d drawn. A right answer was worth a point. Though it was fun, none of us got any of them right. Then he changed things up. He announced that three points would earn a prize, and he pulled out some giant-sized Milky Way Bars. A hush fell over the room. You see, in my family we weren’t allowed to buy candy until we were twelve, a magic threshold none of us younger kids had crossed. Bill said he thought we could probably guess the right answer if we just wanted too enough. He resumed the game. Despite the tantalizing promise of the candy bars, my older sister and I both guessed wrong again, but on his very next card, my four-year-old brother got it right. As my sister and I continued to fail in mounting frustration, my little brother got another two of the next three cards right and won himself a gigantic, fluffy nougat filled loaf of heaven. Being a little jerk, he immediately tore it open and started eating it right in front of us. We both wanted to strangle him. That was when Bill informed us that anyone who got to s[...]



Where to find Mary at SiWC

2017-10-17T15:34:29Z

Mary will be at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in Surrey, British Columbia from Oct 20 – Oct 22, 2017. Get tickets here. Here’s where to find her: Friday, October 20 Workshop – Diagnosing Story Problems 11:30am-12:45pm Tynehead 1 In this workshop, we look at tools to help you figure out where a story has […] The post Where to find Mary at SiWC appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Mary will be at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in Surrey, British Columbia from Oct 20 – Oct 22, 2017. Get tickets here. Here’s where to find her: Friday, October 20 Workshop – Diagnosing Story Problems 11:30am-12:45pm Tynehead 1 In this workshop, we look at tools to help you figure out where a story has gone wrong, and likely angles of attack to fix the problems. Plot structure, beta readers, and the dreaded writer’s block can all help narrow down the weakness in a story and ultimately fix it. Panel – Worldbuilding (as moderator) 2:15-3:30pm Tynehead 2 How do you bring an imaginary world to life? How do you layer the strange and fantastic on the real world in a believable way? Join our panel for a look at building cohesive, immersive worlds for characters to inhabit. Blue Pencil Cafe Session 3:45-5pm Fraser Room Blue Pencil Cafe is an opportunity for you to have your work reviewed by Mary or other professional writers. Chat one-on-one about your work, or ask questions about the knottiest problems you’re facing. Appointments are 15 mins each, signups outside the Fraser Room door daily as available.   Saturday, Oct 21 Blue Pencil Cafe Session 10:00-11:15am Fraser Room Blue Pencil Cafe is an opportunity for you to have your work reviewed by Mary or other professional writers. Chat one-on-one about your work, or ask questions about the knottiest problems you’re facing. Appointments are 15 mins each, signups outside the Fraser Room door daily as available. Workshop – Short Stories: A Proportional Understanding of Pacing 2:15-3:30pm Tynehead 3 There are a lot of theories out there about how to handle pacing for novels, but how do you do it when you’re constrained by length? It turns out that many of the same rules-of-thumb apply, but in a proportionally smaller space they look very different. Learn how to structure your beginnings, ends, and of course, those pesky middles. Signing 5:30-7pm Fraser Room Book signing and cocktail social.   Sunday, Oct 22 Opening Session – Keynote 9:00-9:55am Guildford Ballroom Mary will be giving the keynote address during this session that opens the last day of the conference. Panel – No Write Way: Talking Process with the Whisky Chicks 10:00-11:15am Tynehead 2 From idea generation to final draft, writing a novel consists of many stages, and every writer has their own approach to the process. Hang out with Elizabeth Boyle, Susanna Kearsley, and Mary Robinette Kowal, and learn how they each come up with their ideas, create characters, delve into research, and sit down to get those drafts written. Their methods may inspire you to try something new, but they will also prove that there is no one way to write a book. Blue Pencil Cafe Session 11:30am-12:45pm Fraser Room Blue Pencil Cafe is an opportunity for you to have your work reviewed by Mary or other professional writers. Chat one-on-one about your work, or ask questions about the knottiest problems you’re facing. Appointments are 15 mins each, signups outside the Fraser Room door daily as available. The post Where to find Mary at SiWC appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. [...]



My Favorite Bit: Elizabeth Bonesteel talks about BREACH OF CONTAINMENT

2017-10-12T03:44:44Z

Elizabeth Bonesteel is joining us today with her novel Breach of Containment. Here’s the publisher’s description: A reluctant hero must prevent war in space and on Earth in this fast-paced military science fiction thriller from the author of The Cold Between and Remnants of Trust—a page-turning hybrid combining the gritty, high-octane thrills of James S. A. Corey and the […] The post My Favorite Bit: Elizabeth Bonesteel talks about BREACH OF CONTAINMENT appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Elizabeth Bonesteel is joining us today with her novel Breach of Containment. Here’s the publisher’s description: A reluctant hero must prevent war in space and on Earth in this fast-paced military science fiction thriller from the author of The Cold Between and Remnants of Trust—a page-turning hybrid combining the gritty, high-octane thrills of James S. A. Corey and the sociopolitical drama of Ann Leckie. Space is full of the unknown . . . most of it ready to kill you. When hostilities between factions threaten to explode into a shooting war on the moon of Yakutsk, the two major galactic military powers, Central Corps and PSI, send ships to defuse the situation. But when a strange artifact is discovered, events are set in motion that threaten the entire colonized galaxy—including former Central Corps Commander Elena Shaw. Now an engineer on a commercial shipping vessel, Elena finds herself drawn into the conflict when she picks up the artifact on Yakutsk—and investigation of it uncovers ties to the massive, corrupt corporation Ellis Systems, whom she’s opposed before. Her safety is further compromised by her former ties to Central Corps—Elena can’t separate herself from her past life and her old ship, the CCSS Galileo. Before Elena can pursue the artifact’s purpose further, disaster strikes: all communication with the First Sector—including Earth—is lost. The reason becomes apparent when news reaches Elena of a battle fleet, intent on destruction, rapidly approaching Earth. And with communications at sublight levels, there is no way to warn the planet in time. Armed with crucial intel from a shadowy source and the strange artifact, Elena may be the only one who can stop the fleet, and Ellis, and save Earth. But for this mission there will be no second chances—and no return. What’s Liz’s favorite bit? ELIZABETH BONESTEEL Mysteries have made me a prologue addict. Despite writing science fiction, I spent a lot of the 90s and 00s reading mysteries. Prologues aren’t an unusual ingredient in the mystery genre: a brief scene at the start, maybe from the killer’s perspective, maybe of some significant event that happened weeks or years or centuries earlier. A good mystery prologue provides intrigue you can’t ignore, and makes you keep reading to find out how the events of the prologue illuminate the rest of the story. I tend to use prologues for inciting incidents that don’t look like inciting incidents. The prologue isn’t the Big Bang that kicks the story into gear. It’s an event, sometimes small, sometimes large, that renders the remainder of the story inevitable. It’s the point when the safety bar comes down on the roller coaster, and even though the riders can’t see the track ahead, they’re stuck following it to the end. In the first book, I wrote about a catastrophic accident that rippled for decades. In the second, I wrote about a young soldier’s first experience with failure and death. In BREACH OF CONTAINMENT, I write about a box. Not just a box, of course. I also write about Yakutsk, a small, cold moon, where [...]



My Favorite Bit: J.S. Fields talks about ARDULUM: SECOND DON

2017-09-29T18:44:47Z

J.S. Fields is joining us today with her novel Ardulum: Second Don. Here’s the publisher’s description: The Charted Systems are in pieces. Mercy’s Pledge is destroyed, and her captain dead. With no homes to return to, the remaining crew sets off on a journey to find the mythical planet of Ardulum—a planet where Emn might find her […] The post My Favorite Bit: J.S. Fields talks about ARDULUM: SECOND DON appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. J.S. Fields is joining us today with her novel Ardulum: Second Don. Here’s the publisher’s description: The Charted Systems are in pieces. Mercy’s Pledge is destroyed, and her captain dead. With no homes to return to, the remaining crew sets off on a journey to find the mythical planet of Ardulum—a planet where Emn might find her people, and Neek the answers she’s long sought. Finding the planet, however, brings a host of uncomfortable truths about Ardulum’s vision for the galaxy and Neek’s role in a religion that refuses to release her. Neek must balance her planet’s past and the unchecked power of the Ardulans with a budding relationship and a surprising revelation about her own genealogy. Ardulum: Second Don blends space opera elements and hard science into a story about two women persistently bound to their past and a sentient planet determined to shape their future. What’s J.S.’s favorite bit? J.S. FIELDS I’m a scientist. A wood scientist. It’s a thing, I swear. You can get PhDs in it and everything. Sometimes they even make you a professor, and then you get to spend your life explaining to people why they don’t really need to replace their deck, the grey wood is still sound, and would you please put a coaster under your drink on my Indian rosewood table before you swell the microfibrils? K thanks. I also write books, because telling people they use cutting boards all wrong doesn’t really fulfill my creative needs. ARDULUM: SECOND DON is the second in my wood science space opera series. I wove a fair amount of hard science into the books, but not the normal kind, mostly because physics and I have a long history of not getting along. Instead, I envisioned a galaxy where wood, specifically, wood cellulose, was the backbone of the technology (as it is quickly becoming here on Earth). You don’t get very many chances to geek out over hard science in space opera—it’s meant to be more of a fun ride with at least one decent sized ship explosion more than an academic treatise. Still, I wanted the cellulose science in the ARDULUM series to be strong enough to hold its own should any of my unsuspecting graduate students get their hands on it (which has already happened, I’ve been told, and there is some horrifying plan to dress up as my characters for Halloween…during the school day). So I spent a fair amount of time in FIRST DON laying out the hows and whys of cellulose integration and manipulation: how it was layered into electronics and spaceships, how it reinforced lasers, etc. But book two, oh, book two. With all the pesky hard science out of the way, the explanations already done, in SECOND DON, I finally got to play. It also meant that I got to dream bigger, since the groundwork for cellulose tech was already well defined in the series. So what does a wood science PhD do with such freedom? Well, I can’t speak for the twenty or so others on the planet, but I decided it was time to start playing with hemicelluloses. In the Ardulum series, the various systems and galaxies all share a common technological core—their spaceships, weapons, and propu[...]



My Favorite Bit: Liz Duffy Adams and Delia Sherman talk about TREMONTAINE Season 3

2017-10-10T21:47:05Z

Liz Duffy Adams and Delia Sherman join us today to talk about Season 3 of the serial fiction Tremontaine. Here’s the series description: Welcome to Tremontaine, where ambition, love affairs, and rivalries dance with deadly results.  In this serial, Ellen Kushner and a team of writers return readers to the world of scandal and swordplay […] The post My Favorite Bit: Liz Duffy Adams and Delia Sherman talk about TREMONTAINE Season 3 appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Liz Duffy Adams and Delia Sherman join us today to talk about Season 3 of the serial fiction Tremontaine. Here’s the series description: Welcome to Tremontaine, where ambition, love affairs, and rivalries dance with deadly results.  In this serial, Ellen Kushner and a team of writers return readers to the world of scandal and swordplay introduced in her cult-classic novel Swordspoint. Readers familiar with the series will find a welcome homecoming while new fans will learn what makes Riverside a place they will want to visit again and again. Tremontaine follows Diane, Duchess Tremontaine, whose beauty is matched only by her cunning; Rafe Fenton, a handsome young scholar with more passion than sense; Ixkaab Balam, a tradeswoman from afar with skill for swords and secrets; and Micah, a gentle genius whose discoveries herald revolution. Sparks fly as these four lives intersect in a world where politics is everything, and outcasts are the tastemakers. Tread carefully, dear reader, and keep your wit as sharp as your steel. What’s Liz and Delia’s favorite part? LIZ DUFFY ADAMS AND DELIA SHERMAN When Ellen Kushner asked us to guest write an episode for Season Three of Tremontaine, we were delighted. After co-writing The Fall of the Kings with Ellen and editing Tremontaine’s first season, Delia missed playing in that world with those characters. And the episode we ended up with—not entirely by accident—gave us an opportunity to call up echoes of the mystical nature/sex/sacrifice religion that had been a feature of The Fall of the Kings, and that was particularly exciting to Liz as well. But most of all, we missed writing with each other. We’d worked together last year on the Serial Box series Whitehall, creating not only three novella-length episodes about the early years of Catherine of Braganza’s marriage to Charles II of England, but also a creative partnership. Collaboration is a lot of fun. Oh, you need ground rules and agreements on how you’re going to go about it and some skill in negotiation and not getting too invested in a favorite scene or sentence. Like every other kind of writing, it’s hard work. But it’s also play. Liz is a playwright, and creating Whitehall and co-writing those episode with Delia was her introduction to the world of not only serial fiction, but of fiction full-stop. Everybody knows that theater is a collaborative art, but it’s also true that the writing part is almost always a solitary endeavor. However, Liz had her roots in the world of experimental theater, where her work was collaborative in every sense. That sort of experimental theater requires great trust, flexibility, and love of the process itself, in which everyone is writer/actor/director/designer, conceiving, creating, and performing the work as a creative cooperative. The idea of creating a collaborative piece of fiction, though a different proposition in a lot of ways, struck a chord for her. So we each had some experience with the collaborative process. The question was, could we collaborate? We were friends; we loved each other’s wor[...]



Where to find Mary at Con*Stellation

2017-10-09T22:28:48Z

Mary will be at ConStellation in Huntsville, Alabama from Oct 13-Oct 15. Get tickets here. Here’s where to find her during the convention! Friday, Oct 13 Opening Ceremonies 6-7pm Madison-Decatur (2nd floor) Main Panel: Schmoozing 101 7-8pm Madison-Decatur (2nd floor) Main Meet Guests 8-9pm Redstone (1st floor) Panel: Fashion and Science Fiction 11pm-12am Twickenham (2nd floor) […]

The post Where to find Mary at Con*Stellation appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.

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Mary will be at ConStellation in Huntsville, Alabama from Oct 13-Oct 15. Get tickets here.

Here’s where to find her during the convention!

Friday, Oct 13

Opening Ceremonies
6-7pm
Madison-Decatur (2nd floor) Main

Panel: Schmoozing 101
7-8pm
Madison-Decatur (2nd floor) Main

Meet Guests
8-9pm
Redstone (1st floor)

Panel: Fashion and Science Fiction
11pm-12am
Twickenham (2nd floor)

 

Saturday, Oct 14

Reading
11am-12pm
Marshall (1st floor)

Guest of Honor Speeches
2:30-4pm
Madison-Decatur (2nd floor) Main

Panel: History Influences in SF
4-5pm
Madison-Decatur (2nd floor) Main

Kowal KandyKlatch
5-6pm
Executive Parlor

 

Sunday, Oct 15

Roundtable: Favorite Endings
11-1pm Roundtable
Madison-Decatur (2nd floor) Main

Mass Autographs
1-2pm
Twickenham (2nd floor)

Closing Ceremonies
2-3pm
Madison-Decatur (2nd floor)

The post Where to find Mary at Con*Stellation appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.




Where to find Mary in October

2017-10-04T03:21:23Z

Happy Fall! Here’s all the places to find Mary this month: October 7 Deep Dish SF/F Reading – Chicago, Illinois October 8 Online Class: The Progression of Character Arcs October 10 Online Patreon Writing Date October 11 The Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner – Chicago, Illinois October 13-15 ConStellation – Guest of Honor – Huntsville, […] The post Where to find Mary in October appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Happy Fall! Here’s all the places to find Mary this month: October 7 Deep Dish SF/F Reading – Chicago, Illinois October 8 Online Class: The Progression of Character Arcs October 10 Online Patreon Writing Date October 11 The Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner – Chicago, Illinois October 13-15 ConStellation – Guest of Honor – Huntsville, Alabama October 20-22 Surrey International Writers’ Conference – Surrey, British Columbia, Canada October 29 Online Patreon Writing Class: Final Prep for NaNoWriMo   Or find her online here Patreon • Twitter • Facebook • Instagram The post Where to find Mary in October appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. [...]



My Favorite Bit: Alethea Kontis talks about WHEN TINKER MET BELL

2017-10-04T17:20:36Z

Alethea Kontis is joining us today with her novel When Tinker Met Bell. Here’s the publisher’s description: Everybody knows that goblins and fairies can’t be friends. But that never stopped Tinker and Bell. Bellamy Merriweather Larousse isn’t like the other fairies at Harmswood Academy, with her giant wings and their magical dust. “Southern Bell” works […] The post My Favorite Bit: Alethea Kontis talks about WHEN TINKER MET BELL appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Alethea Kontis is joining us today with her novel When Tinker Met Bell. Here’s the publisher’s description: Everybody knows that goblins and fairies can’t be friends. But that never stopped Tinker and Bell. Bellamy Merriweather Larousse isn’t like the other fairies at Harmswood Academy, with her giant wings and their magical dust. “Southern Bell” works as a barista at The Hallowed Bean to help pay her tuition and remains active on the cheering squad, despite her insistence on associating with the unpopular crowd. Every day is sunny in Bellamy’s world and every cloud has a silver lining. The only way to upset Bell’s stalwart optimism is to threaten one of her misfit friends…or try to take one of them from her. Unbeknownst to everyone—including him—outcast Ranulf “Tinker” Tinkerton is about to be named heir to the throne of the Goblin King, making him ruler of his fellow Lost Boys and the labyrinthine city they inhabit. Now that the time has come for Tinker to leave Harmswood behind, will he be brave enough to share his feelings for Bellamy? It’s no secret that he’s held a torch for her since the fourth grade, but no matter how long they’ve been friends, goblins will always be allergic to fairies. Or will they? What’s Alethea’s favorite bit? ALETHEA KONTIS When I tell people “I grew up at the movies,” what I mean is that my much older sister dated (and then married) a guy whose family owned all the movie theaters in Burlington, Vermont. I spent many a summer as a kid tearing tickets, sweeping up popcorn, and watching pretty much every major motion picture that got released. In 1984, Romancing the Stone gave me my raison d’être. I wanted to be Joan Wilder, receiving that box of my own books like George McFly did at the end of 1985’s Back to the Future. And then, in 1986, David Bowie danced with Jennifer Connelly for about thirty seconds in a dreamlike masquerade-bubble sequence. I wanted that, too. I wanted that dress, that masque. I wanted some beautiful, mischievous imp of a man to look at me the way the Goblin King looked at Sarah, with so much said between us, even though neither of us spoke a word. Yeah…I never got that. But you know the great thing about being a writer? All those magical, amazing moments we are denied in life, we can someday write into a novel. Contrary to just about everything I’ve ever penned, the title of When Tinker Met Bell came first. I had an optimistic, cheerleader fairy barista in The Truth About Cats and Wolves named Bellamy Larousse. She became my heroine. Tinker was…Ranulf Tinkerton, a goblin. But goblins and fairies can’t be friends. Why? Because goblins are allergic to fairies. Great. Now I’ve gone from Harry and Sally to Romeo and Juliet. How am I supposed to make a romantic comedy out of that? Well, I’ll…crown Tinker heir to the throne of the Goblin King! The Goblin King is immune to fairies. But before all that happens, Tinker promises Bell a dance[...]



My Favorite Bit: Tom Doyle talks about WAR AND CRAFT

2017-09-20T15:23:31Z

Tom Doyle is joining us today with his novel War and Craft. Here’s the book’s description: America, land of the free… and home of the warlocks. America’s occult defenders are the secret families who have sworn to use their power to protect our republic. But there are those who reject America’s dream and have chosen […] The post My Favorite Bit: Tom Doyle talks about WAR AND CRAFT appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Tom Doyle is joining us today with his novel War and Craft. Here’s the book’s description: America, land of the free… and home of the warlocks. America’s occult defenders are the secret families who have sworn to use their power to protect our republic. But there are those who reject America’s dream and have chosen the Left-Hand way. In this triumphant conclusion to Tom Doyle’s imaginative alternate historical America, we start with a bloody wedding-night brawl with assassins in Tokyo. Our American magical shock troops go to India, where a descendant of legendary heroes has the supernatural mission for which they’ve been waiting. Preparing for that mission, powerful exorcist Scherie Rezvani searches for secret knowledge with a craft agent of the Vatican and tries to cope with the strange new magics resulting from her pregnancy. To save her unborn child from the Left Hand, she will risk damnation and the Furies themselves. It all comes to a head in a valley hidden high in the mountains of Kashmir. Our craftspeople will battle against their fellow countrymen, some of the vilest monsters of the Left Hand Path. It’s Armageddon in Shangri-La, and the end of the world as we know it. What’s Tom’s favorite bit? TOM DOYLE Sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to value in a story until well after I’ve finished it. For instance, Lieutenant Scherezade Rezvani, or Scherie (pronounced like Sherry in Springsteen’s “Sherry Darling”) is the heroine of the conclusion of my trilogy. She’s also the Islamic-American daughter of Iranian immigrants. When I first introduced her in American Craftsmen, or even while I was writing War and Craft, these aspects of her background didn’t seem like a big deal to me. Times have changed. I didn’t make an initial fuss about these character elements because, structurally, this was an unoriginal move on my part. Tales of the military heroism of American newcomers are as old as the country. Despite pervasive and cruel discrimination, Catholic immigrant soldiers from Ireland and Germany in the Civil War and Japanese-American soldiers in World War Two were noted for their self-sacrifice. Action films frequently highlight the different backgrounds of American fighters. This is a very well-worn trope. This familiar story had a harsh, implicit moral: exceptional sacrifice bought the newcomers their place at the American table. This standard wasn’t fair or ethically correct. It was often unevenly applied, and it was completely ignored in war after war for African-American soldiers. But it was a real cultural assumption, and it was basically optimistic about the openness of American society to immigrants and different religions. Again, it’s an old story, but one we seem to be forgetting. Often it appears that we aren’t paying attention anymore to such sacrifice. But what about my character, Scherie? She’s a science fiction and fantasy fan, a loving person, and (it turns out) a stone-cold killer for her country. Her pa[...]



My Favorite Book: Fran Wilde talks about HORIZON

2017-09-20T15:03:34Z

Fran Wilde is here today to talk to us about her novel Horizon. Here’s the description: In the Bone Universe trilogy finale, the living sky-city of bone towers is on the brink of destruction. Rebellion roils the skies. And almost-siblings, always friends Kirit Skyshouter and Nat Brokenwings seem to have lost everything, including each other. As the city crumbles, Kirit, […] The post My Favorite Book: Fran Wilde talks about HORIZON appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Fran Wilde is here today to talk to us about her novel Horizon. Here’s the description: In the Bone Universe trilogy finale, the living sky-city of bone towers is on the brink of destruction. Rebellion roils the skies. And almost-siblings, always friends Kirit Skyshouter and Nat Brokenwings seem to have lost everything, including each other. As the city crumbles, Kirit, Nat, Ceil, Moc, and others must learn how to trust each other in order to save their families, friends, and community from destruction. What’s Fran’s favorite part? FRAN WILDE … In which the author gives away a line from the final chapter of her trilogy. Muahaha. When I sat down to write Updraft, a single sentence started me down a particular path. I’d already written two short stories set within the world of the Bone Universe. Both would go on to become part of Updraft and Cloudbound. But this one sentence hit my heart and my ear fully wrought and I put it on an otherwise white page and let it sit there for a while. On a morning like this, fear was a blue sky emptied of birds. Craftwise, the sentence captured in one quick glance time of day and setting. Also mood. Something had happened. Was happening. There had been birds at some point recently, but these were gone. The sky was blue. It was morning. And the speaker, she knew what fear was. The speaker was Kirit.  Her community’s fear: a terrible predator. The first monster to appear in the Bone Universe, in fact: skymouths. And by the time this sentence happens, the birds have rightly cleared the air to make room for my monsters. But all that was to come. For a few days, that sentence was all that existed of Updraft while I brainstormed sensory details and overheard Kirit bargaining with her mother about whether she could fly with her through the dangerous skies. “On a morning like this…” was my way into the book. It was a thread I tied for myself as I walked the maze of that first novel draft, and all those that came after. The sentence moved down a bit in the chapter as Kirit and Ezarit prepared to face the day, but it stayed through all of the drafts, fully intact. In Cloudbound, the line only echoed slightly — “expeditions like this,” “in a situation like this” “[Dix] would not get away like this,” as my characters descended into a place where there was no blue sky, no distinction between morning and evening except a slight shift in filtered light. That was the right decision, as the phrase is Kirit’s, and Cloudbound’s narrator, Nat, has other verbal tics. But the thread was still there, the thematic line still pointing to fear of the unknown, and also to the known. The moment of fear and the startled birds of Updraft became birds used to attack and deceive the community in Cloudbound, the sky filled with something sudden. In the Bone Universe, day turns to half-light and night, and fear becomes danger. In Horizon, where the three narrators sp[...]



Added signings for Salt Lake Comic Con

2017-09-22T05:12:44Z

We’ve added a few more signings for Salt Lake Comic Con, at the Writing Excuses Booth #1611. Come say hi! Thursday, September 21 (New!) Signing 5:00-5:30pm Writing Excuses Booth #1611 Puppetry 101: Bringing Inanimate Objects to Life 7:00-8:00 pm Room 151A   Friday, September 22 Writing Excuses: SLCC Edition 12:00-2:00 pm Room 151D Signing 4:30-5:30 […]

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We’ve added a few more signings for Salt Lake Comic Con, at the Writing Excuses Booth #1611. Come say hi!

Thursday, September 21

(New!) Signing
5:00-5:30pm
Writing Excuses Booth #1611

Puppetry 101: Bringing Inanimate Objects to Life
7:00-8:00 pm
Room 151A

 

Friday, September 22

Writing Excuses: SLCC Edition
12:00-2:00 pm
Room 151D

Signing
4:30-5:30 pm
Shadow Mountain Booth #1807

Creating Characters with Character: A Guide for Creators
6:00-7:00 pm
Room 150G

Okay, but How?! Turning Ideas Into Novels
7:00-8:00 pm
Room 255F

 

Saturday, September 23

(New!) Signing
2:00-2:30pm
Writing Excuses Booth #1611

The Brandon and Dan and Brandon and Mary and Howard Show
3:00-4:00 pm
Room 151D

Signing
4:00-5:00pm
Shadow Mountain Booth #1807

Plot and Character and Scene and Setting: A Guide to Story
8:00-9:00pm
Room 150G

 

The post Added signings for Salt Lake Comic Con appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.




My Favorite Bit: Catherine Schaff-Stump talks about THE VESSEL OF RA

2017-09-11T18:48:28Z

Catherine Schaff-Stump is joining us today with her novel The Vessel of Ra. Here’s the publisher’s description: While traveling in Venice in 1837, Lucy Klaereon, in order to save her family’s honor and her immortal soul, decides to commit suicide by drowning herself in the Grand Canal. Unfortunately for Lucy, she is rescued. Her rescuers […] The post My Favorite Bit: Catherine Schaff-Stump talks about THE VESSEL OF RA appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Catherine Schaff-Stump is joining us today with her novel The Vessel of Ra. Here’s the publisher’s description: While traveling in Venice in 1837, Lucy Klaereon, in order to save her family’s honor and her immortal soul, decides to commit suicide by drowning herself in the Grand Canal. Unfortunately for Lucy, she is rescued. Her rescuers believe they can separate her from the demon Ra, whom she is destined to fight because of an ancient family pact. What Lucy does not know is that her rescuers have their own agenda. Paolo Borgia, head of a deposed magical family, wants to use Ra for his own purposes. Lucy is given an alternative, to separate herself from her demon and family, which she gladly welcomes. When she finds out the truth about Ra, Lucy’s purpose changes from not only freedom, but to righting an ancient wrong. Octavia, Lucy’s older sister, is in pursuit. She has been trained since birth to kill Lucy when Lucy loses her battle with Ra. At the ritual to free Ra, the two sisters clash with surprising results. Octavia is possessed by Ra and Lucy is determined to free her sister and keep Ra from reshaping the world in his image. There is one small problem. Lucy has been murdered. However, she’s not about to let a small detail like that keep her from correcting her mistakes. Lucy will save Octavia, even if it kills her again. What’s Cath’s favorite bit? CATHERINE SCHAFF-STUMP The Klaereon family has haunted me since 2002. Inspired by another author’s work, in search of an explanation for one character’s machinations, a voice in my head told me that he would tell me a story.  Tell me a story he did. The Vessel of Ra is the beginning a 90-year ascent from Gothic darkness, spanning four generations. The Vessel of Ra begins in 1837 Venice, a decaying city that has been buffeted back and forth between the French and the Austrians a couple of times. In this setting, Lucy Klaereon decides she will kill herself to avoid her family’s dark fate. For good and for ill, she is rescued by alchemist Carlo Borgia, and sets about changing her destiny. The odds are against her because she is in a Gothic novel. Gothic tales are multi-faceted. The Klaereon ancestral home, Mistraldol, has been merged with the Abyss, so you never know what you will find in its rooms. Like the characters in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Octavia Klaereon and her father Caius typify the Gothic at its worst—broken people who spiral into their own insecurities and excess. Like Jane Eyre in her titular novel, Lucy Klaereon takes it upon herself to be the salvation of the morally ambiguous.  All of these characters, including the settings, have light and dark in them. I loved writing this book, discovering gradations of morality as characters are presented with increasingly complicated elements of the supernatural and increasingly complicated relationships among th[...]



Why I’m so excited by the covers for my new SF novels

2017-09-14T17:14:29Z

  My new novels have covers! Look! Look at the link and then come back and I’ll explain why I’m so excited by these. Have you looked? Okay. Amazing, right? Irene Gallo, art director at Tor, has knocked this out of the park. Those cover designs by Jamie Stafford-Hill, with silhouettes by Greg Manchess is so […] The post Why I’m so excited by the covers for my new SF novels appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.   My new novels have covers! Look! Look at the link and then come back and I’ll explain why I’m so excited by these. Have you looked? Okay. Amazing, right? Irene Gallo, art director at Tor, has knocked this out of the park. Those cover designs by Jamie Stafford-Hill, with silhouettes by Greg Manchess is so perfect for the tone of the books that I squealed when I saw them. Followed by tearing up a little and doing some happy dancing. And then being intensely frustrated because I couldn’t show them to you. But now you can see the covers, and they are amazing! Here are the reasons I love them. That group on the cover of The Calculating Stars represents an ensemble cast, centered on the women in the early space program. It reminds me of Hidden Figures., Funny thing, Calculating Stars was already turned in when the first trailer for Hidden Figures came out. When I saw it, I jumped in the air because it was like watching my book.  Except, you know, with 100% less asteroid strike and global catastrophe. But ladies! Doing science! In taffeta! And pearls! And slide rules! Jamie Stafford-Hill included vehicle names from the book in the diagrams. The diagrams match up when you put the books side by side! Mars. Oh my God. Could The Fated Sky say Mars more clearly? It’s a space suit, not a “lady space suit.” Then there’s the font, which straddles the line between History! and Science! I could probably go on for a couple of days. Suffice to say, I’m incredibly pleased with these covers. The post Why I’m so excited by the covers for my new SF novels appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. [...]



My Favorite Bit: Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law talk about THE SUM OF US: TALES OF THE BONDED AND BOUND

2017-09-08T13:03:52Z

Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law are joining us today with their anthology The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound. Here is the publisher’s description: The world of caregivers and unsung heroes, the province of ghosts . . . If we believe that we are the protagonists of our lives, then caregivers— […] The post My Favorite Bit: Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law talk about THE SUM OF US: TALES OF THE BONDED AND BOUND appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law are joining us today with their anthology The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound. Here is the publisher’s description: The world of caregivers and unsung heroes, the province of ghosts . . . If we believe that we are the protagonists of our lives, then caregivers— our pillars—are ghosts, the bit players, the stock characters, the secondary supports, living lives of quiet trust and toil in the shadows. Summoned to us by the profound magic of great emotional, physical, or psychological need, they play their roles, and when our need diminishes . . . Fade. These are their stories. Children giving care. Dogs and cats giving care. Sidekicks, military, monks, ghosts, robots. Even aliens. Care given by lovers, family, professionals. Caregivers who can no longer give. Caregivers who make the decision not to give, and the costs and the consequences that follow. Bound to us by invisible bonds, but with lives, dreams, and passions of their own. Twenty-three science fiction and fantasy authors explore the depth and breadth of caring and of giving. They find insight, joy, devastation, and heroism in grand sweeps and in tiny niches. And, like wasps made of stinging words, there is pain in giving, and in working one’s way through to the light. Our lives and relationships are complex. But in the end, there is hope, and there is love. AUTHORS: Colleen Anderson, Charlotte Ashley, Brenda Cooper, Ian Creasey, A.M. Dellamonica, Bev Geddes, Claire Humphrey, Sandra Kasturi, Tyler Keevil, Juliet Marillier, Matt Moore, Heather Osborne, Nisi Shawl, Alex Shvartsman, Kate Story, Karina Sumner-Smith, Amanda Sun, Hayden Trenholm, James Van Pelt, Liz Westbrook-Trenholm, Edward Willett, Christie Yant, Caroline M. Yoachim, and Dominik Parisien (Introduction). What are Susan’s and Lucas’s favorite bits? SUSAN FOREST: As a mother, a wife, a daughter and a friend, I know some things about what it means to be a caregiver. I’ve changed diapers and dried tears, held someone close, waited, and listened. I’ve weighed my own needs against the needs of those near to me. I held my mother’s hand as she passed on to whatever undiscovered country lies beyond. But despite the commonalities between my experiences and those of other caregivers—and we are all caregivers—as a human being isolated in my own skin, my own mind, I can never know, truly and intimately, another person’s experiences of those same relationships. Stories, though. Ah, stories! Stories bring me as close as I can come to understanding my fellow humans on this earth. That is my favorite bit. I can—and I did—list the insights into caregiving that I found in The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound (Laksa Media). That deserving care doesn’t depend on the receiver’s worth. That caregiving can involve deep sacrifi[...]



My Favorite Bit: Stephanie Burgis talks about SNOWSPELLED

2017-09-06T19:24:20Z

Stephanie Burgis is joining us today with her book Snowspelled. Here’s the publisher’s description: In nineteenth-century Angland, magic is reserved for gentlemen while ladies attend to the more practical business of politics. But Cassandra Harwood has never followed the rules… Four months ago, Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician in Angland, and she was […] The post My Favorite Bit: Stephanie Burgis talks about SNOWSPELLED appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Stephanie Burgis is joining us today with her book Snowspelled. Here’s the publisher’s description: In nineteenth-century Angland, magic is reserved for gentlemen while ladies attend to the more practical business of politics. But Cassandra Harwood has never followed the rules… Four months ago, Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician in Angland, and she was betrothed to the brilliant, intense love of her life. Now Cassandra is trapped in a snowbound house party deep in the elven dales, surrounded by bickering gentleman magicians, manipulative lady politicians, her own interfering family members, and, worst of all, her infuriatingly stubborn ex-fiancé, who refuses to understand that she’s given him up for his own good. But the greatest danger of all lies outside the manor in the falling snow, where a powerful and malevolent elf-lord lurks…and Cassandra lost all of her own magic four months ago. To save herself, Cassandra will have to discover exactly what inner powers she still possesses – and risk everything to win a new kind of happiness. What’s Stephanie’s favorite bit? STEPHANIE BURGIS I’ve always been a driven, ambitious person; I know how to push through challenges with strict discipline. So when I got my first “career” job in my late twenties, just after getting my first literary agent, I was certain that from then on I would be set. I planned to jog every morning and work every day. I’d write novels during my lunch breaks, prove myself at my dayjob, enjoy the fact that I’d finally (after years of grad school) hit a professional income level – and I would achieve and achieve and achieve, forever after. Until… It felt like a fairy’s curse descending out of nowhere when I got sick in 2005 and never got better again. I was a healthy 28-year-old who loved to hike and jog and travel, but suddenly my head swam whenever I walked for even half a block. When I spent twenty minutes upright in my kitchen, cooking muffins, I had to collapse afterwards as my teeth chattered with exertion. Worse yet, the doctors couldn’t work out what was wrong with me…so week after week, I had to call in sick to work with no explanation and no prospect of any cure. I kept throwing myself back into motion each time I began to feel slightly better, only to collapse worse than ever before, every time. Because, it turned out when the diagnosis finally arrived, pushing through was no longer a recipe for success for me. I had M.E./CFS, an illness that leeched away 95% of my physical and mental energy without taking away a single percent of my drive and ambition. By the time it was diagnosed, I had had it for two years, which meant that it was almost certainly a permanent condition. So I found out at age 30 that I[...]



Looking for beta readers for 12k fantasy story.

2017-09-08T17:02:24Z

This is draft five of this @#$!! story. I’d forgotten what it was like to not outline first. Blargh. Anyway, I’ve done a heavy rewrite of Ina’s Spark, which involves a new scene and a totally different ending. IF you were in one of the earlier rounds of readers and are curious, it is at […]

The post Looking for beta readers for 12k fantasy story. appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.

This is draft five of this @#$!! story. I’d forgotten what it was like to not outline first. Blargh. Anyway, I’ve done a heavy rewrite of Ina’s Spark, which involves a new scene and a totally different ending.

IF you were in one of the earlier rounds of readers and are curious, it is at the same link as before. Please don’t comment on it though, because, sadly, you’ll be comparing it to the previous draft and/or have information that’s not on the page.

If you haven’t read it yet, I could use some help seeing if this version is more coherent. It feels better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The teaser.

INA’S SPARK

by Mary Robinette Kowal

If Evina waited much longer it would be full dark, and the tavern would almost certainly have a godforsaken bard by then. As if that weren’t bad enough, by the pricking of the hair along her arms, there had to be at least five other mages in easy walking distance. No surprise, really, given King Redinado’s annual quest. That’s what forced her to the capital, after all.

A pair of drunk men staggered out of the door, golden oil light spilling out onto the rutted city street. They wandered away, singing a ditty about a wench with hair the color of the moon. But not that song, thank the Savior Mother.

She swallowed trying to dislodge the knot in her throat. If she couldn’t even walk into a tavern, how the hell did she think she was going to survive the quest to become a King’s Wizard? Savior Mother and the Multitudes… all she wanted to do was survive. She could give a rotten fig about working for the King.

I’m looking for 5-10 new readers. Just raise your hand in the comments below.

The post Looking for beta readers for 12k fantasy story. appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.




Where to find Mary at Salt Lake Comic Con

2017-09-14T18:17:56Z

Mary will be in Utah at Salt Lake Comic Con from Thursday, Sep 21 to Saturday, Sep 23. Get tickets here. Thursday, September 21 Puppetry 101: Bringing Inanimate Objects to Life 7:00-8:00 pm Room 151A Non verbal cues are a major part of communication. In the world of puppetry you have to convey these cues […] The post Where to find Mary at Salt Lake Comic Con appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Mary will be in Utah at Salt Lake Comic Con from Thursday, Sep 21 to Saturday, Sep 23. Get tickets here. Thursday, September 21 Puppetry 101: Bringing Inanimate Objects to Life 7:00-8:00 pm Room 151A Non verbal cues are a major part of communication. In the world of puppetry you have to convey these cues and bring to life inanimate objects that do not carry emotion but must still deliver a captivating story. Join professional puppeteer, Mary Robinette Kowal, as she teaches the fundamental techniques of the art of puppetry. This is part lecture and part play time. Friday, September 22 Writing Excuses: SLCC Edition 12:00-2:00 pm Room 151D Writing Excuses is a podcast with the goal of helping listeners become better writers. Whether they write for fun or for profit, whether they’re new to the domain or old hands, Writing Excuses has something to offer. Join a live taping of this lively, instructive, and just plain fun podcast. With Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal and Dan Wells. Signing 4:30-5:30 pm Shadow Mountain Booth #1807 Creating Characters with Character: A Guide for Creators 6:00-7:00 pm Room 150G Talk with many authors about how to make characters feel lifelike. With Courtney Alameda, Bree Despain, Peggy Eddleman, David Farland, Brandon Mull (as moderator) and Eric James Stone Okay, but How?! Turning Ideas Into Novels 7:00-8:00 pm Room 255F Have you ever had a great idea, but didn’t know the steps to take to make it into something more? Join these authors for an in-depth workshop centering premise, characters and craftsmanship. Stretch your creative muscles during timed exercises, explore different ways to layer character arcs, and uncover the beginning of the book you’ve always wanted to write. With Taylor Brook, Nicole Castroman, CB Lee (as moderator) and Illima Todd Saturday, September 23 The Brandon and Dan and Brandon and Mary and Howard Show 3:00-4:00 pm Room 151D The yearly Brandon and Dan and Brandon Show grows by two! Mary Robinette Kowal and Howard Tayler join Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells to talk about…well, anything they want! Signing 4:00-5:00pm Shadow Mountain Booth #1807 Plot and Character and Scene and Setting: A Guide to Story 8:00-9:00pm Room 150G Join bestselling authors as they discuss all the parts that make up a story. With Jim Butcher (as moderator), Michaelbrent Collings, Tyler Jolley, Jody Lynn Nye, and J. Scott Savage The post Where to find Mary at Salt Lake Comic Con appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. [...]



HA! I have cracked the gluten free pie crust.

2017-09-08T00:50:51Z

This dough was shockingly pliable. It was also tender, flaky and tasted like a damn fine pie crust. 1 cup gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1) 4 tablespoons butter (frozen. I just keep butter in the freezer for this.) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum* 1 tablespoon powdered sugar 3 […] The post HA! I have cracked the gluten free pie crust. appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. This dough was shockingly pliable. It was also tender, flaky and tasted like a damn fine pie crust. 1 cup gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1) 4 tablespoons butter (frozen. I just keep butter in the freezer for this.) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum* 1 tablespoon powdered sugar 3 tablespoons liquor (I used 2 of brandy and 1 of triple sec) 1 tablespoon sour cream** 1 egg yolk Mix dry ingredients together. Grate the frozen butter into the mix and stir it with your fingers to coat. Add wet ingredients and gently knead together in the bowl until it forms a ball. (Note: you might want to back off on the liquor depending on the humidity of your home. Or you might need to add more. A neutral spirit, like vodka, won’t add any flavor. Here’s the science behind this.) Dust a surface with cornstarch and put the ball on it. Dust more cornstarch on top and cover with a sheet of parchment paper. Roll out into a rough rectangle. Fold the long sides in toward the middle. Fold the ends in towards the middle and then fold the whole thing in half like a book. Fold in half again to make a little squarish block. (Credit for this step to Stella Parks) Dust with cornstarch again and put the parchment paper back on. Roll it out to the size of your pieplate. As you start this the pieces will slide around a lot. Don’t worry about it, they’ll come together in the end. Also, I highly, highly recommend a pastry scrapper to ease the crust up off the bottom sheet. Now… in theory, it will stick a little to the parchment paper on top, and you can use that to transfer it to the pie plate. In practise, it’ll depend on how much you dusted it, your horoscope sign, and the favor of the Gods. *What’s with the xanthum gum? It adds elasticity, which normally comes from gluten. Don’t go overboard though, because it can also turn things into gummy awful servings of sadness. **What’s with the sour cream? Pie dough “consists of three phases: a water/flour mixture, pure pockets of fat, and a flour/fat paste” What this does is create the flour/fat paste phase with zero fuss. You could back off on the butter because of this, but why would you. Because butter. (I might be from the South.)  It also adds the little bit of extra elasticity that gluten-free crusts need. The post HA! I have cracked the gluten free pie crust. appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. [...]



My Favorite Bit: Michael J. Martinez talks about MJ-12: SHADOWS

2017-08-30T16:38:45Z

Michael J. Martinez is joining us today with his novel MJ-12: Shadows. Here’s the publisher’s description: It’s 1949, and the Cold War is heating up across the world. For the United States, the key to winning might be Variants―once ordinary US citizens, now imbued with strange paranormal abilities and corralled into covert service by the […] The post My Favorite Bit: Michael J. Martinez talks about MJ-12: SHADOWS appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Michael J. Martinez is joining us today with his novel MJ-12: Shadows. Here’s the publisher’s description: It’s 1949, and the Cold War is heating up across the world. For the United States, the key to winning might be Variants―once ordinary US citizens, now imbued with strange paranormal abilities and corralled into covert service by the government’s top secret MAJESTIC-12 program. Some Variants are testing the murky international waters in Syria, while others are back at home, fighting to stay ahead of a political power struggle in Washington. And back at Area 51, the operation’s headquarters, the next wave of recruits is anxiously awaiting their first mission. All the while, dangerous figures flit among the shadows and it’s unclear whether they are threatening to expose the Variants for what they are . . . or to completely destroy them. Are they working for the Soviet Union, or something far worse? What’s Mike’s favorite bit? MICHAEL J. MARTINEZ As my ever-gracious host is no doubt aware, one of the benefits of writing historical fiction is leveraging actual history for one’s work. And sometimes, there’s just a piece of history that seems too good to be true. There’s a very real series of historical events in MJ-12: Shadows – the CIA’s ham-handed efforts to install a strongman in Syria in 1949 so that, yes, the new government would agree to extend an oil pipeline through Syria to the Mediterranean coast. (Sadly, things never seem to change.) One incident during this CIA campaign stood out. The CIA efforts were led by an officer named Miles Copeland. Up until the records of his activities were declassified, Copeland was known largely as an intelligence policy commentator and author – and the father of Stewart Copeland, drummer for the Police. Small world indeed. But now the cat’s out of the bag and we’re starting to get details about early intelligence efforts during the Cold War. Most of it is stranger than fiction to some degree or another, and Copeland’s Syria activities are no exception. Copeland and his partner, Stephen Meade, spearheaded the CIA’s efforts in Syria to destabilize Syria’s democratically elected government and install Hosni al-Za’im, America’s preferred military strongman. And by spearheaded, I mean they were basically the only agents there, and had more petty cash and bad ideas than common sense. Honestly, it’s kind of amazing they came out alive. One of the key’s to Copeland’s efforts was to sway international opinion of the democratic government, and Copeland thought that if the government was seen violating diplomatic norms, that would do the trick. So he let slip that he was keeping super-secret, critic[...]



My Favorite Bit: Ferrett Steinmetz talks about THE UPLOADED

2017-09-07T19:06:12Z

Ferrett Steinmetz is joining us today with his novel The Uploaded. Here’s the publisher’s description: Life sucks and then you die… a cyberpunk family drama from the ingenious author of Flex. In the near future, the elderly have moved online and now live within the computer network. But that doesn’t stop them interfering in the lives of […] The post My Favorite Bit: Ferrett Steinmetz talks about THE UPLOADED appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Ferrett Steinmetz is joining us today with his novel The Uploaded. Here’s the publisher’s description: Life sucks and then you die… a cyberpunk family drama from the ingenious author of Flex. In the near future, the elderly have moved online and now live within the computer network. But that doesn’t stop them interfering in the lives of the living, whose sole real purpose now is to maintain the vast servers which support digital Heaven. For one orphan that just isn’t enough – he wants more for himself and his sister than a life slaving away for the dead. It turns out that he’s not the only one who wants to reset the world… What’s Ferrett’s favorite bit?   FERRETT STEINMETZ As a Christian, I generally see two types of Christians in science fiction books.  Neither reflects my reality. The first is what I call the “smash and crash” Christian – whatever scientific wonder has been devised to make everyone’s lives better, these Christians hate it as though it were emitted straight from Satan’s bowels.  They’re greedy for power, preaching to vacuous congregations without a single neuron to share between them, raising crowds of wrench-wielding Luddites to show up in the third act and wreck whatever miracle machinery is improving the world. Why do these stone-throwing zealots despise the miraculous?  It’s never really explained.  In these books it’s taken as a given that a Christian is not only diametrically opposed to science, but unable to wield it.  So they’re book-dumb, though if they’re lucky they may be possessed of a crude cunning, not unlike a stoat or a weasel. Ah, but what if the author’s sympathetic to religion?  Then you get the “hugs and mugs” Christian, who wraps you in a warm embrace before bringing you a mug of decaffeinated herbal tea.  This Christian wears cool sweater-vests and serves as a faith-flavored psychiatrist, never judging anyone except when they’ve done something so bad the plot requires the protagonist the be course-corrected back on the road to heroism.  They may even flirt a little, just enough to provide fan-shipping possibilities.  Their faith is diffuse, their beliefs never so firm as to inconvenience anyone. What I rarely see in novels is Christianity’s morality in justifiable opposition to the main characters’ goals.  A faith with teeth, if you will.  A faith where yes, perhaps their beliefs start with the Bible but grows to object to this so-called wonder technology for both pragmatic and compassionate reasons. Which wasn’t too hard to create in my novel The Uploaded, given it’s all about what happens 500 years after human[...]



My Favorite Bit: Paul Weimer talks about THE DOWN UNDER FAN FUND REPORT

2017-08-27T02:58:52Z

Paul Weimer is joining us today with his 2017 DUFF Report, What I Did On My Summer Vacation. Here’s a description of the project: The Down Under Fan Fund Report is compiled by the Down Under Fan Fund Representative as a record of their trip to the other side of the world to connect with […] The post My Favorite Bit: Paul Weimer talks about THE DOWN UNDER FAN FUND REPORT appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Paul Weimer is joining us today with his 2017 DUFF Report, What I Did On My Summer Vacation. Here’s a description of the project: The Down Under Fan Fund Report is compiled by the Down Under Fan Fund Representative as a record of their trip to the other side of the world to connect with SFF fandom, and bring disparate portions of the SFF community together. Having originated in 1970, the Down Under Fan Fund sends fans from Australasia to North America and back again in alternate years. Entirely run on donations from the SFF community, the Down Under Fan Fund report itself is made available so that all proceeds from its sale can help replenish the Fund. The 2017 Down Under Fan Fund delegate, Paul Weimer, traveled from Minnesota to the 2017 National Science Fiction conventions of both New Zealand and Australia, and saw many things along the way, ranging from Hobbiton to the Sydney Opera House. The 2017 Down Under Fan Fund Report details his experiences. What’s Paul’s favorite bit? PAUL WEIMER For me, writing the Down Under Fan Fund report was very much like writing a travelogue. I was a stranger in a strange land, having traveled to the antipodes in search of conventions and other SFFnal and touristy things. It did take me a few days to truly get my bearings in New Zealand, driving on the opposite side of the road, dealing with technical problems, sulfur sensitivities, nearly not finding Hobbiton in time for my tour, and then the stress of performing my duty and attending the first of the two cons, Lexicon, in the resort town of Taupo. But it had been to that point an often-challenging trip to manage. It was like a sign from the heavens, thusly, that as I left Taupo on an early morning, the sky was overcast if not rainy, making a long drive down the desert road and across a fair chunk of New Zealand to be an experience of sullen skies, poor photographic conditions, and a lot of driving. I had already learned that driving in New Zealand was a slow and ponderous affair, doubly so in rain and fog. I wound up in less than stellar lodgings after a day and a good chunk of the night driving where New Zealand had seemed mostly grey, flat and nothing like the Middle Earth I had hoped to see in and between the convention. Only brief breaks of clarity sustained me on that drive, but my hopes to see the great three central mountains of the north island of New Zealand had been occluded. A suggestion that author Adam Christopher had made to me months ago, when first planning the DUFF trip, had turned out to be a wash. The next day, waking up in that questionable motel, seemed to promise nothing better. I had to get to Wellington at the bottom tip of the island that evening, but I wanted o[...]



My Favorite Bit: Alan Gratz talks about BAN THIS BOOK

2017-08-23T17:43:25Z

Alan Gratz is joining us today with his novel Ban This Book. Here’s the publisher’s description: A fourth grader fights back when From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is challenged by a well-meaning parent and taken off the shelves of her school library. Amy Anne is shy and soft-spoken, but […] The post My Favorite Bit: Alan Gratz talks about BAN THIS BOOK appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Alan Gratz is joining us today with his novel Ban This Book. Here’s the publisher’s description: A fourth grader fights back when From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg is challenged by a well-meaning parent and taken off the shelves of her school library. Amy Anne is shy and soft-spoken, but don’t mess with her when it comes to her favorite book in the whole world. Amy Anne and her lieutenants wage a battle for the books that will make you laugh and pump your fists as they start a secret banned books locker library, make up ridiculous reasons to ban every single book in the library to make a point, and take a stand against censorship. What’s Alan’s favorite bit? ALAN GRATZ There’s a lot I love about this book, but there’s one bit I especially love, because I got to work in a bit of my own fandom into the story. I’m a long-time Star Trek fan. The first novel I ever tried to get published was a Star Trek novel (Pocket Books didn’t buy it) and before I became a published kids book author, I wrote Star Trek fan fiction. I later got to write a young adult Star Trek novel that I actually got paid for—Starfleet Academy: The Assassination Game—but it’s not often that my Trek fandom crosses over with my books for young readers. One of the other students in Amy Anne’s class is, like me, a die-hard Trek fan. His name is Jeffrey Gonzalez. Jeffrey is very close to his grandmother, and when she dies he has a really hard time dealing with. He has such a hard time that he becomes surly and contentious, and eventually gets into a fight at school that gets him suspended. Amy Anne is the only other student who realizes why he’s so upset, and being the budding librarian she is, she thinks she has the perfect book to help him work through his feelings: Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. And it works. When Jeffrey reads the book, he finally lets out the emotions he’s kept bottled up inside, all the tears he didn’t allow himself to shed. It’s a cathartic moment for him, a real soul-cleanser. When Jeffrey comes to thank Amy Anne for the book, he tries to explain what happened to him, and this is where his (and my) love of Trek comes back in. The best way Jeffrey can explain the change that came over him is through a classic episode of Star Trek: “I’m just glad you feel better,” I told Jeffrey. “You got really mean there for a little while.” “I know,” Jeffrey said. “That was the Mirror Universe me.” “The Mirror Universe you?” “Yeah,” he said. “In Star Trek, there’s this Mirror Universe, and everybody there is the opposite of what they a[...]



My Favorite Bit: Spencer Ellsworth talks about A RED PEACE

2017-08-18T19:49:16Z

  Spencer Ellsworth is joining us today with his novel A Red Peace. Here’s the publisher’s description: A Red Peace, first in Spencer Ellsworth’s Starfire trilogy, is an action-packed space opera in a universe where the oppressed half-Jorian crosses have risen up to supplant humanity and dominate the galaxy. Half-breed human star navigator Jaqi, working the […] The post My Favorite Bit: Spencer Ellsworth talks about A RED PEACE appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.   Spencer Ellsworth is joining us today with his novel A Red Peace. Here’s the publisher’s description: A Red Peace, first in Spencer Ellsworth’s Starfire trilogy, is an action-packed space opera in a universe where the oppressed half-Jorian crosses have risen up to supplant humanity and dominate the galaxy. Half-breed human star navigator Jaqi, working the edges of human-settled space on contract to whoever will hire her, stumbles into possession of an artifact that the leader of the Rebellion wants desperately enough to send his personal guard after. An interstellar empire and the fate of the remnant of humanity hang in the balance. Spencer Ellsworth has written a classic space opera, with space battles between giant bugs, sun-sized spiders, planets of cyborgs and a heroine with enough grit to bring down the galaxy’s newest warlord. What’s Spencer’s favorite bit? SPENCER ELLSWORTH I feel weird talking about “my favorite bit” with A Red Peace because this novel just fell right out of me. It was fun to make up. It was fun to write. It was even fun to revise, and revision is NOT SUPPOSED to be fun. Revision is supposed to be when you weep into your booze and your life in narrated in a bad French accent and is black and white. “Ze artist sufferz for ze art.” That kind of thing. A Red Peace wasn’t that. It was a total brain dump, one part 80s kid, saturated with Star Wars and Transformers, and one part history buff obsessed with the failed “noble” revolutions of the 20th century. But when I’m thinking about the book, there are three places that really stand out to me, where a character really found their voice. The first was in the (very short) omniscient prologue, when the heroic Resistance has beaten the evil Empire (sound familiar? It’s supposed to) and their heroic, handsome leader, John Starfire, gives the command: Kill every human being in the galaxy. That moment was the seed of the story—the idea of following a brave rebel leader to the point where he starts to look less like Luke Skywalker and more like Stalin. (That, and space bugs.) My antagonist, Araskar, was a tricky character to write, and he was all wrong in my first draft. He had to be likable, but at the same time, he had to continually make terrible choices because he couldn’t face the fact that his cause had become evil. For the second draft, I wrote him into a white-hot, blood-and-mud soaked battle, to show that he could actually do heroic things with a small unit—but when his superior officer tells him they’re going to hunt down [...]



My Favorite Bit: William C. Tracy talks about THE SEEDS OF DISSOLUTION

2017-08-10T01:13:25Z

William C. Tracy is joining us today to talk about his novel The Seeds of Dissolution. Here’s the book’s description: On a bright August day, the sun disappears. Sam van Oen barely escapes freezing to death in his house, as his watch stops and fire ceases to burn. He is pulled into the Nether—a nexus between […] The post My Favorite Bit: William C. Tracy talks about THE SEEDS OF DISSOLUTION appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. William C. Tracy is joining us today to talk about his novel The Seeds of Dissolution. Here’s the book’s description: On a bright August day, the sun disappears. Sam van Oen barely escapes freezing to death in his house, as his watch stops and fire ceases to burn. He is pulled into the Nether—a nexus between ten alien cultures—where he meets Rilan and Origon, two maji who can control the musical foundation of the universe. While coping with anxiety attacks prompted by his new surroundings, Sam must learn to hear and change the Symphony, and thus reality, in order to discover what happened to his home. But more freezing voids like the one that started his journey are appearing, and Sam’s chances of getting back are fading. The Assembly of Species is threatening to dissolve and the maji are being attacked by those they protect, while rumors grow of an ancient, shape-changing species of assassins, returning to wage war. The Dissolution is coming. What’s William’s favorite bit?   WILLIAM C. TRACY First off: the sales pitch. I’m funding The Seeds of Dissolution through a Kickstarter project, not to help write the story, but in order to bring more art, maps, and other extras into the printed book. I love finding illustrations in the novels I read, and I wanted to do the same with what I write. So please check it out and help me bring this story to life! Now, my real favorite bit. The more I write, the more I appreciate putting diverse people and philosophies into my stories. This will be my first full novel in the Dissolutionverse, though it’s also one of the oldest stories I’ve written. When rewriting this novel to bring it up to date with my novellas, I was struck by how much it was a “white boy becomes the chosen one” story. It still is, to some extent, but I’ve made an effort to diversify my stories, in order to learn about the different sorts of people I’ve encountered. I’ve written about this before, in the Favorite Bit posts for my previous novellas, Tuning the Symphony and Merchants and Maji. In The Seeds of Dissolution, Sam (the aforementioned white boy protagonist) now has fairly strong panic attacks based on social situations and new environments. I have not had panic attacks myself, which meant I needed to do a lot of research and talk with people who do have social anxiety. I didn’t want to make it something superficial that was cured by magic. It’s a part of Sam and he has to cope with it. In the process, I was able to recognize those times when I was afraid to speak in front of others, or go to new places. We all have[...]



Beta readers for 12k fantasy story?

2017-08-19T12:51:48Z

Somehow with all the travel I’ve been doing, I finished a 12,500 word fantasy story. I’m looking for five to ten beta readers. Just comment on my site to raise your hand. Here’s the teaser. # Ina’s Spark If Evina waited much longer it would be full dark, and the tavern would almost certainly have […]

The post Beta readers for 12k fantasy story? appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.

Somehow with all the travel I’ve been doing, I finished a 12,500 word fantasy story. I’m looking for five to ten beta readers. Just comment on my site to raise your hand.

Here’s the teaser.

#

Ina’s Spark

If Evina waited much longer it would be full dark, and the tavern would almost certainly have a godforsaken bard by then. As if that weren’t bad enough, by the pricking of the hair along her arms, there had to be at least five wizards in easy walking distance. No surprise, really, after King Redinado’s proclamation. That’s what brought her to the capital, after all.

A pair of drunk men staggered out of the door, golden oil light spilling out onto the rutted city street. They wandered away, singing a ditty about a wench with hair the color of the moon. But not that song, thank the Blind Man.

She swallowed trying to dislodge the knot in her throat. If she couldn’t even walk into a tavern, how the hell did she think she was going to survive the quest to become a King’s Wizard? Blind Man… all she wanted to do was survive. She could give a rotten fig about working for the King.

The post Beta readers for 12k fantasy story? appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal.




My Favorite Bit: Ivan Ewert talks about FAMISHED

2017-07-26T17:01:45Z

Ivan Ewert is joining us today with his omnibus, Famished: The Gentlemen Ghouls Omnibus. Here’s the publisher’s description: Hunger. It’s the driving force behind survival. The Velander bloodline carries an ancient secret: power and immortality. But that power requires a key to unlock: human flesh. Gordon Velander finds himself an unwilling participant in a play for […] The post My Favorite Bit: Ivan Ewert talks about FAMISHED appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Ivan Ewert is joining us today with his omnibus, Famished: The Gentlemen Ghouls Omnibus. Here’s the publisher’s description: Hunger. It’s the driving force behind survival. The Velander bloodline carries an ancient secret: power and immortality. But that power requires a key to unlock: human flesh. Gordon Velander finds himself an unwilling participant in a play for survival – but he won’t be powerless for long. It’s the driving force behind passion. The Gentleman Ghouls have survived for centuries due to cunning and careful planning but their world in unraveling. Gordon has vowed to take the Ghouls down no matter what, but he’s fighting a war—both within and without. The Ghouls, on the other hand, are not waiting patiently for the end to come. It’s the driving force behind revenge. With the Farm and the Commons destroyed, the Ranch is the last outpost of the Ghouls. With the bitter end in sight, Gordon must face his greatest challenge yet—claiming his own fate as other forces make their moves. Revenge is sweet. Passion is fulfilling. But survival trump all. This rural horror omnibus of cannibals, dark pacts, and ancient power by Ivan Ewert contains three novels: Famished: The Farm, Famished: The Commons, and Famished: The Ranch, and features two new short stories. What’s Ivan’s favorite bit? IVAN EWERT My favorite bit of the entire Famished: The Gentleman Ghouls Omnibus? Writing dialogue for my ‘demons’. Orobias, Carreau and the others have mouths full of beehives, all sweetness and summer and danger. They’re very different from one another, with personalities which remain consistent through the work even if their physical forms and goals alter with the times. Orobias is one of the few constants of the trilogy; Gordon Velander’s constant companion and literal lifeline for a good portion of the story. While he began as a half-embodied voice, I always knew more or less how he ‘looked’ in his natural state. The contrast between his sweet sing-song method of speech and his grotesque appearance comes from an early fascination with Goetia, where it seemed many demons spoke in flowery and pleasing terms despite their inherent wickedness and bestiality. Carreau appears far less often, but is always a driving force behind Orobias’ actions and motivations, again a nod to the Goetic hierarchy which informs my otherworld. I knew immediately that I wanted his voice to be more focused and direct, to sound more like a modern-day character than a s[...]



My Favorite Bit: Beth Cato talks about CALL OF FIRE

2017-08-10T01:51:36Z

Beth Cato is joining us today with her novel Call of Fire. Here’s the publisher’s description: When an earthquake devastates San Francisco in an alternate 1906, the influx of geomantic energy nearly consumes Ingrid Carmichael. Bruised but alive, the young geomancer flees the city with her friends, Cy, Lee, and Fenris. She is desperate to escape […] The post My Favorite Bit: Beth Cato talks about CALL OF FIRE appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Beth Cato is joining us today with her novel Call of Fire. Here’s the publisher’s description: When an earthquake devastates San Francisco in an alternate 1906, the influx of geomantic energy nearly consumes Ingrid Carmichael. Bruised but alive, the young geomancer flees the city with her friends, Cy, Lee, and Fenris. She is desperate to escape Ambassador Blum, the cunning and dangerous bureaucrat who wants to use Ingrid’s formidable powers to help the Unified Pacific—the confederation of the United States and Japan—achieve world domination. To stop them, Ingrid must learn more about the god-like magic she inherited from her estranged father. When Lee and Fenris are kidnapped in Portland, Ingrid and Cy are forced to ally themselves with another Ambassador from the Unified Pacific: the powerful and mysterious Theodore Roosevelt. But even his influence may not be enough to save them when they reach Seattle, where the magnificent peak of Mount Rainier looms. Discovering more about herself and her abilities, Ingrid is all too aware that she may prove to be the fuse to light the long-dormant volcano . . . and a war that will sweep the world. What’s Beth’s favorite bit? BETH CATO One of the things I love about fairy tales and mythology is how karma plays an integral role in shaping a character. The shepherd girl saves a beast from a hunter’s trap, and later when the girl needs help the most, the creature is there to save her in turn. It’s the sort of pay-it-forward gratitude that I wish was more evident in our daily lives. In my first series, The Clockwork Dagger, I played with this concept by bringing in my own version of gremlins–misshapen constructs of magic and science that were hideously cute. My heroine helps one particular gremlin who plays a major part in her life from then on. I didn’t have anything gremlin-like in the first book of my new series, Breath of Earth. The setting is darker and delves into some heady matters of racism and sexism. As I outlined my second book, Call of Fire, I had a scene where my heroine, Ingrid, needed to escape a particularly nasty antagonist. I debated having her use her geomancy powers in some way, then realized she could utilize another super power instead: kindness. I thought of fairy tales and decided the fae could be my answer. Fantastic creatures are very much part of this world, from unicorns to selkies to ghosts, so it only seemed right for Ingrid to meet some new being. I decided to go with[...]



My Favorite Bit: Mindy Klasky talks about NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED

2017-08-04T18:52:14Z

Mindy Klasky is joining us today with her anthology Nevertheless, She Persisted. Here’s the publisher’s description: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Those were the words of Mitch McConnell after he banned Senator Elizabeth Warren from speaking on the floor of the United States Senate. In reaction to the bitter partisanship […] The post My Favorite Bit: Mindy Klasky talks about NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Mindy Klasky is joining us today with her anthology Nevertheless, She Persisted. Here’s the publisher’s description: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Those were the words of Mitch McConnell after he banned Senator Elizabeth Warren from speaking on the floor of the United States Senate. In reaction to the bitter partisanship in Trump’s United States of America, nineteen Book View Café authors celebrate women who persist through tales of triumph—in the past, present, future, and other worlds. From the halls of Ancient Greece to the vast space between stars, each story illustrates tenacity as women overcome challenges—from society, from beloved family and friends, and even from their own fears. These strong heroines explore the humor and tragedy of persistence in stories that range from romance to historical fiction, from fantasy to science fiction. From tale to tale, every woman stands firm: a light against the darkness. Table of Contents: “Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan “Sisters” by Leah Cutter “Unmasking the Ancient Light” by Deborah J. Ross “Alea Iacta Est” by Marissa Doyle “How Best to Serve” from A Call to Arms by P.G. Nagle “After Eden” by Gillian Polack “Reset” by Sara Stamey “A Very, Wary Christmas” by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel “Making Love” by Brenda Clough “Den of Iniquity” by Irene Radford “Digger Lady” by Amy Sterling Casil “Tumbling Blocks” by Mindy Klasky “The Purge” by Jennifer Stevenson “If It Ain’t Broke” by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff “Chataqua” by Nancy Jane Moore “Bearing Shadows” by Dave Smeds “In Search of Laria” by Doranna Durgin “Tax Season” by Judith Tarr “Little Faces” by Vonda N. McIntyre What’s Mindy’s favorite bit? MINDY KLASKY Before February 8, 2017, I’d never considered editing an anthology. But on that date Senator Elizabeth Warren entered her showdown with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, leading to the now-famous statement: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Within hours of hearing those words, I knew I needed to pull together the best stories I could, illustrating the theme of persistence. And I knew I’d reach out to my fellow authors in the Book View Café publishing co-operative to provide those tales. BVC has fifty-two members. We’re all traditionally published authors [...]



My Favorite Bit: Cheryl Low talks about VANITY IN DUST

2017-08-01T18:13:21Z

Cheryl Low is joining us today with her novel Vanity in Dust. Here’s the publisher’s description: In the Realm there are whispers. Whispers that the city used to be a different place. That before the Queen ruled there was a sky beyond the clouds and a world beyond their streets. Vaun Dray Fen never knew that […] The post My Favorite Bit: Cheryl Low talks about VANITY IN DUST appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Cheryl Low is joining us today with her novel Vanity in Dust. Here’s the publisher’s description: In the Realm there are whispers. Whispers that the city used to be a different place. That before the Queen ruled there was a sky beyond the clouds and a world beyond their streets. Vaun Dray Fen never knew that world. Born a prince without a purpose in a Realm ruled by lavish indulgence, unrelenting greed, and vicious hierarchy, he never knew a time before the Queen’s dust drugged the city. Everything is poisoned to distract and dull the senses, even the tea and pastries. And yet, after more than a century, his own magic is beginning to wake. The beautiful veneer of the Realm is cracking. Those who would defy the Queen turn their eyes to Vaun, and the dust saturating the Realm. From the carnivorous pixies in the shadows to the wolves in the streets, Vaun thought he knew all the dangers of his city. But when whispers of treason bring down the fury of the Queen, he’ll have to race to save the lives and souls of those he loves. What’s Cheryl’s favorite bit? Vanity in Dust is a product of obsessive creation. It’s a world I built at first for my own imagination to play in, later spiraling into the Crowns and Ash series. I love this world. It’s a magical city set apart from everything else with the Queen’s tower at its heart, surrounded by an upper-class of lavish comfort and excess and unaging beauty, spreading out into the less fabulous buildings of the Main and then from there into the lower ends of the city, abandoned and forgotten. Beyond that there is only a graveyard of ash, reaching outward and rising up into the barren edges of the world they know. The sky is forever filled with clouds and most of the citizens have long since forgotten the existence of stars or the color of the sky. Their magic has become a product, refined and sold back to them by the Queen, and so long as they buy and consume it without questions—she allows them to go on in this endless cycle of parties and empty scandals. Of course, that can’t go on forever. The city thrives on its drug of choice, dust. I love dust! In the shadows of the city live pixies, beautiful but vicious little creatures that will gladly lick the residue of magic from the bricks of the streets or gnaw it from the flesh of citizens. Factories out in the ash lure in pixies with rooms full of magic, letting the little beasts eat and eat until they’re so fat that their frail wing[...]



My Favorite Bit: Brian Francis Slattery talks about BOOKBURNERS SEASON THREE

2017-07-26T17:09:27Z

Brian Francis Slattery is joining us today to talk about the serial, Bookburners Season Three. Here’s the publisher’s description: The world as we know it is under siege. The Bookburners are stretched thin trying to control an influx of magic—and they don’t have much support from the Vatican. Can they overcome their history and band together […] The post My Favorite Bit: Brian Francis Slattery talks about BOOKBURNERS SEASON THREE appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Brian Francis Slattery is joining us today to talk about the serial, Bookburners Season Three. Here’s the publisher’s description: The world as we know it is under siege. The Bookburners are stretched thin trying to control an influx of magic—and they don’t have much support from the Vatican. Can they overcome their history and band together to protect humanity from an increasing magical threat? Or will it destroy them, like it has destroyed everything else in its path? What’s Brian’s favorite bit? BRIAN FRANCIS SLATTERY My favorite bit about Season Three of Bookburners isn’t a particular moment (though there are many moments I love) or a particular character (I love them all), but an idea that ended up driving the arc of the whole season, from episode to episode. In this season, we broke something we couldn’t fix. Bookburners, written by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, Andrea Phillips, and me, is about a team — Sal, a detective; Menchú, a priest; Grace, a fierce fighter; Liam, a tech guy; and Asanti, an archivist — who work for a secret society trying to save the world from being taken over by magic. They go on adventures all over the world battling monsters, solving puzzles, finding magic and locking it down. Without giving all kinds of things away, in the previous two seasons, among the adventures we explored the flaws and the tensions within our characters and within the secret society, stretching things out pretty far sometimes. Our characters didn’t always like each other, or who they were working for. The society they were working for didn’t always like them. Our team members sometimes questioned the usefulness of the mission. Characters changed. But somewhere in there was the assumption that the Big Things would return more or less to the way they were. The basic premise would stay intact. Not this season. We decided early on in hashing out the story for Season Three that Something Magic Would Happen that would be irreversible. The people on our team would at last face something that they couldn’t contain and conceal afterward. As we finished with the basic arc of the story, and then outlined individual episodes, and then wrote them, figuring out on a human scale what the effects of that Something Magic That Happens might be, we discovered that our simple initial decision created a thousand little ripples throughout[...]



My Favorite Bit: Tal M. Klein talks about THE PUNCH ESCROW

2017-07-07T04:02:58Z

Tal M. Klein is joining us today with his novel The Punch Escrow. Here’s the publisher’s description: It’s the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We’ve genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International […] The post My Favorite Bit: Tal M. Klein talks about THE PUNCH ESCROW appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Tal M. Klein is joining us today with his novel The Punch Escrow. Here’s the publisher’s description: It’s the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We’ve genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport—a secretive firm headquartered in New York City. Their slogan: Departure, Arrival… Delight! Joel Byram is an average twenty-second century guy. He spends his days training artificial-intelligence engines to act more human, jamming out to 1980’s new wave music and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. He’s pretty much an everyday guy with everyday problems—until he’s accidentally duplicated while teleporting. Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him. What’s Tal’s favorite bit? TAL M. KLEIN My favorite bits in The Punch Escrow are my protagonist’s day job and how he gets compensated for it. Joel Byram is a salter. No, this doesn’t mean he spends his days harvesting salt from ancient water beds. In the mid-22nd century, an age where almost all things are connected and semi-sentient, salters spent their days enriching the cognitive algorithms of artificially intelligent things — making them more human-like. A salter’s workday consists of engaging with various apps in uniquely human ways that can’t be synthesized. Every time the salter’s gambit isn’t anticipated by an app, that app gets “smarter” by adding the unanticipated random logic set to its code, and the salter gets paid. If it sounds like people in the future making a good living by being smartasses to apps, you’re pretty much right on the money. In Joel’s field success is gamified. One rises through the ranks based on the quality of their accepted salts. The Mine, where Joel works, keeps track of salt acceptance ratios on a public leaderboard. The better one’s ratio, the more desirable they are, and the more money they make.   Speaking of money, I don’t think we can change the way people work without evolving the way they get p[...]



My Favorite Bit: Adam Christopher talks about KILLING IS MY BUSINESS

2017-07-19T16:31:11Z

Adam Christopher is joining us today with his novel Killing Is My Business. Here’s the publisher’s description: Another golden morning in a seedy town, and a new memory tape and assignment for intrepid PI-turned-hitman―and last robot left in working order―Raymond Electromatic. But his skills may be rustier than he remembered in Killing Is My Business, the latest […] The post My Favorite Bit: Adam Christopher talks about KILLING IS MY BUSINESS appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Adam Christopher is joining us today with his novel Killing Is My Business. Here’s the publisher’s description: Another golden morning in a seedy town, and a new memory tape and assignment for intrepid PI-turned-hitman―and last robot left in working order―Raymond Electromatic. But his skills may be rustier than he remembered in Killing Is My Business, the latest in Christopher’s robot noir oeuvre, hot on the heels of the acclaimed Made to Kill. What’s Adam’s favorite bit? ADAM CHRISTOPHER Ray Electromatic, eponymous hero of the Ray Electromatic Mysteries – if hero is the right way to describe a robot who pretends to be a private detective when he’s really a paid assassin – has a problem. Actually, that’s not strictly true – Ray Electromatic has lots of problems. A six-foot-something-else bronzed titanium titan, clad, like any half-decent private dick, in overcoat and hat, Ray’s biggest issue is his memory. He only has twenty-four hours of it, tucked away in a little reel-to-reel tape behind his chest panel. When the tape is up, he heads home to the office and the tape is switched to a new one under the supervision of his boss, a room-sized supercomputer called Ada. Which means Ray doesn’t remember a damn thing about what he’s done – the perfect cover for a hit-robot, but quite often Ray wishes he had a clue or two about what he’s been up to in Hollywood, California, 1965. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t quite trust Ada, either, and then there’s the shady federal agents and the even shadier private contractors from thrice-shady International Automatics to watch out for. So sure. Ray Electromatic has problems, but he is – or was – a detective, so once he starts leaving himself clues about what’s going on, he’s in his element. Because if the dirty little operation that he and Ada run is in danger of discovery, well, he needs to know what’s going on so he can protect them both. But Ray’s other problem, the one that would keep him up at night if he didn’t have to switch off, is that he thinks he’s human. Okay, that’s not strictly true either. Ray knows he is a robot. But in this glorious and far-distant sci-fi future of 1965, Ray’s creator, the perhaps-not-so-mysteriously-deceased Professor Thornton, realized that the secret to true arti[...]



Short Story: Some Other Day

2017-07-21T16:35:58Z

I wrote this way back in 2005 and it was published in 2007 in All Possible Worlds. It was science-fiction. But today… NPR just published a story about scientists doing pretty much this exact thing.   Some Other Day by Mary Robinette Kowal Josie Langdon leaned back from her microscope and rolled her neck to ease […] The post Short Story: Some Other Day appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. I wrote this way back in 2005 and it was published in 2007 in All Possible Worlds. It was science-fiction. But today… NPR just published a story about scientists doing pretty much this exact thing.   Some Other Day by Mary Robinette Kowal Josie Langdon leaned back from her microscope and rolled her neck to ease the kinks. After days spent staring at slides, her eyes strained to refocus on the university lab around her. “How’s it going?” Stan Kozelka leaned against the lab door; his grin peeked out from his full beard. Of the other grad students, Stan was the only one who never harassed her. She was not sure he knew who her father had been. Josie shrugged. “Larvae are still dying. They won’t kick into pupae phase.” “Ah.” He crossed his arms and tilted his head, straggly hair falling into his eyes. “And you?” The corner of her mouth turned up wryly. “Also dying.” Stan winced. “That’s no good.” “My own fault. I could’ve picked another topic for my master’s, but noooooo…” She groaned as she pulled a slide out of the microscope tray. “I don’t want to think about mosquitoes ever again.” “Have you talked to Professor Hadley?” “Not yet. She’ll say, ‘I told you so.'” Josie spun on her seat, turning her back on him. “I was so sure that if I knew the original mechanism and I had the gene map, I could repair the damage my– the West Nile Intervention introduced.” “At least you pinpointed the damage.” “Yeah.” She sighed and looked at the floor. “I know, I just–I wanted…” “What?” “It doesn’t matter.” Josie tugged on her hair. “I can’t make girls. It’s still nothing but boys, boys, boys. It’s driving me crazy.” “Is it…?” He stopped and Josie waited for the inevitable question about her father. The question about why she researched mosquitoes. The question Stan had never asked. He cleared his throat. “There’s a group of us going to the Alibi. Want to come?” Josie let the tension out of her with a sigh. “Sure.” She turned the light off on the microscope, and put her slides away. “The Alibi is always fun.” # The summer the mosquitoes died beg[...]



My Favorite Bit: Kay Kenyon talks about AT THE TABLE OF WOLVES

2017-06-30T22:42:31Z

Kay Kenyon is joining us today with her novel At the Table of Wolves. Here’s the publisher’s description: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy meets X-Men in a classic British espionage story. A young woman must go undercover and use her superpowers to discover a secret Nazi plot and stop an invasion of England. In 1936, there are paranormal abilities that […] The post My Favorite Bit: Kay Kenyon talks about AT THE TABLE OF WOLVES appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Kay Kenyon is joining us today with her novel At the Table of Wolves. Here’s the publisher’s description: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy meets X-Men in a classic British espionage story. A young woman must go undercover and use her superpowers to discover a secret Nazi plot and stop an invasion of England. In 1936, there are paranormal abilities that have slowly seeped into the world, brought to the surface by the suffering of the Great War. The research to weaponize these abilities in England has lagged behind Germany, but now it’s underway at an ultra-secret site called Monkton Hall. Kim Tavistock, a woman with the talent of the spill—drawing out truths that people most wish to hide—is among the test subjects at the facility. When she wins the confidence of caseworker Owen Cherwell, she is recruited to a mission to expose the head of Monkton Hall—who is believed to be a German spy. As she infiltrates the upper-crust circles of some of England’s fascist sympathizers, she encounters dangerous opponents, including the charismatic Nazi officer Erich von Ritter, and discovers a plan to invade England. No one believes an invasion of the island nation is possible, not Whitehall, not even England’s Secret Intelligence Service. Unfortunately, they are wrong, and only one woman, without connections or training, wielding her talent of the spill and her gift for espionage, can stop it. What’s Kay’s favorite bit? KAY KENYON Kim Tavistock is on an undercover mission to find a spy among the English gentry. She is a guest at a grand English home along with a handsome German, supposedly a businessman, Erich von Ritter. In this scene, Kim Tavistock, an animal lover, has rushed out into a rain storm to retrieve two puppies who bolted from the house. The maid will be blamed, but their escape was really Kim’s fault. The puppies belong to Georgi, her unpleasant hostess for the weekend. Kim and von Ritter have looked for the puppies in a gazebo on a spit in the river near the house. Now they are stranded by the rising water. One of the things they discuss is how the recent outbreak of paranormal abilities–called the bloom–will affect world affairs. During this scene, Kim hears from von Ritter a strange word: chorister, that becomes her first clue to [...]



My Favorite Bit: Michael F. Haspil talks about GRAVEYARD SHIFT

2017-07-11T05:12:00Z

Michael F. Haspil is joining us today with his novel Graveyard Shift. Here’s the publisher’s description: Alex Menkaure, former pharaoh and mummy, and his vampire partner, Marcus, born in ancient Rome, are vice cops in a special Miami police unit. They fight to keep the streets safe from criminal vampires, shape-shifters, bootleg blood-dealers, and anti-vampire vigilantes. […] The post My Favorite Bit: Michael F. Haspil talks about GRAVEYARD SHIFT appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Michael F. Haspil is joining us today with his novel Graveyard Shift. Here’s the publisher’s description: Alex Menkaure, former pharaoh and mummy, and his vampire partner, Marcus, born in ancient Rome, are vice cops in a special Miami police unit. They fight to keep the streets safe from criminal vampires, shape-shifters, bootleg blood-dealers, and anti-vampire vigilantes. When poisoned artificial blood drives vampires to murder, the city threatens to tear itself apart. Only an unlikely alliance with former opponents can give Alex and Marcus a fighting chance against an ancient vampire conspiracy. If they succeed, they’ll be pariahs, hunted by everyone. If they fail, the result will be a race-war bloodier than any the world has ever seen. What’s Michael’s favorite bit? MICHAEL F. HASPIL Mummies. Ancient Egypt. From a young age, the allure and antiquity of olden Kemet fascinated me. Regrettably, much of my attention was due to the fun stories tied to the pseudoscientific — Von Daniken and the like. Don’t even get me started about Stargate. As I write this, a set of Anubis Jaffa armor stands behind me, no joke. I’ve also had a fascination with the builder of the third largest pyramid at Giza. Think of those pyramids and try to name them. There’s the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), the Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren), and there’s the third pyramid, the Pyramid of Menkaure (Mykerinos) which people usually forget. Menkaure was the penultimate pharaoh in the fourth dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Herodotus sings his praises as a good and just ruler. I had it in my head to write a historical fantasy story that would tell of his reign and maybe why it was short. That required significantly more Egyptological research to tell the tale properly. I had my work cut out for me. So I shelved the project for a time. When I set out to write GRAVEYARD SHIFT, I knew I wanted the protagonist to be a kind of vampire hunter people hadn’t seen before. The old trope of vampire’s disdaining sunlight became my clue. Why not a character who worshipped the sun? Not simply for religious reasons, but because he drew power and protection from it. Menkaure immediately jumped to the forefront and m[...]



My Favorite Bit: Nancy Kress talks about TOMORROW’S KIN

2017-07-07T16:44:00Z

Nancy Kress is joining us today with her novel Tomorrow’s Kin. Here’s the publisher’s description: Tomorrow’s Kin is the first volume in and all new hard science fiction trilogy by Nancy Kress based on the Nebula Award-winning Yesterday’s Kin. The aliens have arrived… they’ve landed their Embassy ship on a platform in New York Harbor, and will only […] The post My Favorite Bit: Nancy Kress talks about TOMORROW’S KIN appeared first on Mary Robinette Kowal. Nancy Kress is joining us today with her novel Tomorrow’s Kin. Here’s the publisher’s description: Tomorrow’s Kin is the first volume in and all new hard science fiction trilogy by Nancy Kress based on the Nebula Award-winning Yesterday’s Kin. The aliens have arrived… they’ve landed their Embassy ship on a platform in New York Harbor, and will only speak with the United Nations. They say that their world is so different from Earth, in terms of gravity and atmosphere, that they cannot leave their ship. The population of Earth has erupted in fear and speculation. One day Dr. Marianne Jenner, an obscure scientist working with the human genome, receives an invitation that she cannot refuse. The Secret Service arrives at her college to escort her to New York, for she has been invited, along with the Secretary General of the UN and a few other ambassadors, to visit the alien Embassy. The truth is about to be revealed. Earth’s most elite scientists have ten months to prevent a disaster—and not everyone is willing to wait. What’s Nancy’s favorite bit? NANCY KRESS When I ask the writers I know if they like their early published work, I get various answers.  Some do; some don’t; some wince.  I’m a wincer about at least three of my earliest novels.  When fans at conventions bring me the worst of them to be signed, I write on the flyleaf, “Please read something else!” All of which points up the fact that over time, tastes change.  Mine, yours, the reading public’s.  I liked my dreadful book (and no, I’m not saying which one it is) when I wrote it, decades ago.  Tastes in characters change, too.  Once, until she became a cliched joke, “the scientist’s beautiful daughter” was a mainstay of SF.  So was the comic minority sidekick and the rock-jawed starship captain. What is now fashionable—even obligatory—is the kick-ass heroine.  Katniss Everdean.  Rey in Star Wars.  Arya Stark.  Breq of Ancillary Justice.  Furiosa.  Wonder Woman.  And practically every single story I see from writing students when I teach.  The kick-ass heroine is admirable.  I admire her.  She fights with swords or bows or finely honed martial ar[...]