back to press!

Here’s some good news I do understand: Doppelganger is going back to press!

It’s fantastic to have this happen to my first novel. This means that, while probably not every single copy of the first print run has been sold yet, it’s come close enough that they’re making more. In other words, it’s selling better than expected, by a lot.

I believe the word is “wah-hootie!”

I haven’t the faintest idea what this means, but it sounds good.

According to my editor, Warrior and Witch hit the Barnes & Noble mass market bestseller list at #37. Bookscan, the program that tracks point-of-sale at many stores, puts me at #10 on the fantasy bestseller list, and #4 for mass-market fantasy.

I am completely lacking in the experience needed to translate those facts into something meaningful, but damn, they sound good. And if my editor’s e-mailing me about them, they’re probably good enough to be worth taking note of.

So yay!

Happy Street Date Day!

Today is the official street date for Warrior and Witch. Not that this means all that much, since bookstores are rarely rigorous about enforcing such things, but y’know. Go buy the book. ^_^

Also today — since they put up their new issue on the first of the month — you can go read my interview with Sequential Tart. Mostly they do comics stuff, but the Culture Vultures cover other material, and one of them was kind enough to get in touch with me. Writing, gaming, academic life — the interview covers it all.

not quite three months behind

Since September isn’t quite over yet, technically I’ve only fallen two months behind with my recommendations. Or rather, I’m now one month behind, but that’ll go back up to two on Sunday, since I doubt I’ll manage another one tomorrow. But I’ve written one (the July one) for Charles Stross’ The Family Trade. It’s more lukewarm than my usual, since I have some personal issues unrelated to the book’s quality, but I think it’s worth taking a look at.

stunt gaming

Elizabeth Bear has talked on her journal about stunt writing: “Which is to say, playing a narrative trick that does more than serve as a narrative trick, something that really justifies its existence.” (She specifies later that, to count as a stunt, it has to be difficult, too.) And it occurred to me last night that what I’ve been doing for the last nine months probably qualifies as the game equivalent, stunt GMing.

For those only now tuning in, we’re talking about a weekly, tabletop Changeling game that is structured like (and named for) the movie Memento. After an initial few sessions in 2006, we began flashing back to the characters’ previous lives in 1916, 1828, and so on, all the way back to the mid-fourteenth century. So while researching previous centuries (a new, or should I say old, one every month), I was also having to handle all the tricks of narrative and game backward: exposition in reverse, foreshadowing that was actually back-shadowing, use of backstory that was actually fore-story, character development that went in direct opposition to in-story chronological order. While the players were figuring out how to play nine different versions of the same people, I was coming up with nine guys to help them out, all members of the same family and with some similarities, but trying to make them individuals, too. And juggling the ever-changing question of how much they remembered of the past, balancing that against what it would be useful for them to know, and setting everything up so that they would arrive back in 2006 with the last pieces having only just fallen into place, half an hour and 650 years ago.

Oy.

Having just returned to 2006 during last night’s session, I officially render my personal verdict, which is that the narrative trick of this game’s structure did, indeed, justify its existence. Probably one of the best comments I got was Oddsboy’s, who, upon me saying they were back in 2006, said, “Wow, I’m so not prepared for this.” Which his character shouldn’t be, having just remembered 650 years of his own past. Forgetting momentarily who the hell you are right now is an appropriate reaction. I think the mental and emotional effect of moving through it all backwards worked out, in a situation where they-the-characters knew what they were doing when they started but forgot over the centuries, so they-the-players had no idea what they were doing initially but found out as they went back, and in between knowing nothing and knowing everything both a lot of time and none at all elapsed. I’m pleased it worked, but I’m more pleased that I think I made the right choice, running it that way, instead of going through things in chronological order. It’s nice to know I wasn’t just being an artsy wank; I did, in fact, have good reasons for siccing on myself (and my players) nine months of heavy-duty mental work.

(That’s my verdict. Said players can form their own.)

But I’ve got to say, I’m glad to be back in the present. From here on out (i.e. another month and a half or so), no more stunt GMing. I’m running a normal game, that will go in a linear fashion from where we are now to where we’re going to end, rather than dancing around in loopy little time circles. Causes first, consequences second, all very straightforward, and man, does that sound nice.

We have a winner!

Kasi Spyker wins the tuckerization contest, having sent me the following picture:

I think I’ll have to make her one of the senators or representatives that’s on the less shady side; “Spyker” as an antagonist’s name just wouldn’t be subtle. ๐Ÿ™‚

For posterity, I will note that hers was not the first picture I received, but I told Kurayami-hime that family were disqualified. Nonetheless, it’s good to see that there are quite a few copies on the shelf in this store, and even one of Doppelganger:

Send me more pictures! I’d love to know where the book has already made it into the wild.

more excerpt, and a contest

One week to go until the official street date for Warrior and Witch. You can now read a sample of Chapter Two online. (Sorry for cutting off where I do, but my contract limits me in how much I can post.)

Also, we return to the land of tuckerizing! The deal is the same as it was with Doppelganger: be the first person to e-mail me a picture of Warrior and Witch in a store, and I’ll name a character after you in the urban fantasy I’m working on. (You’ll probably be a senator or representative.) And even if you’re not the first, I very much appreciate reports (with or without pictures) of sightings in different places. Go forth, and find my book!

call for paper help

Looking for some help here. The conference topic for the next ICFA is “Representing Self and Other: Gender and Sexuality in the Fantastic,” and I’ve been trying to think of a paper that would fit in. (You’re not limited to the topic, but I’d like to give it a shot this year, instead of ignoring it entirely.) Gender and sexuality aren’t my usual stomping grounds, though, so it’s been a little tough. In fact, for a while the only thing I could think up was “Drow: The Black Hole of Otherness,” which is not so much a paper as an exercise in shooting fish in a barrel, and dead fish at that.

But I think I’ve found a way to develop that into a paper, by looking at the original appearance of the drow in a game module, and then their development since then in game materials and fiction — specifically, what work certain writers have done to try and rehabilitate them as something other than a horrible, horrible stereotype of Otherness. (I’ve gotten some indications that there have been some moves in that direction — enough to persuade me that reading a dozen or so new Forgotten Realms novels won’t be a complete waste of time that leaves me with nothing to talk about when I’m done.) So I’m halfway to being able to write an abstract. What I need now are academic references.

Y’see, I really haven’t taken any classes on this topic, and so I barely know where to begin. Who should I read if my focus is on the process of de-Othering a black-skinned, matriarchal, subterranean, racist, slave-owning, rigidly stratified, back-stabbing, religiously twisted and sexually perverted race of chaotic evil people? I think I can talk well enough about why it’s happening, but I need more on the how.