Where I’ve been for the last two months

At home, obviously — like a truly staggering percentage of the planet’s population. But it’s been near-total radio silence around here, apart from links to the weekly Patreon posts, so I figure I should update.

The good news is, the silence has not been due to any sort of illness with me or mine. Instead . . . you know all those people posting about the stuff they’ve finally gotten done around the house or the new bread-baking hobby they’ve picked up? That is not me. Through a confluence of factors (some of which were my fault, some of which weren’t), I got behind on drafting Night Parade — which meant that circa early March, I had to put my head down and start charging ahead at speeds nearly unprecedented in my writing career in order to get it done by deadline. (The only comparable instance even in the running was during my senior year of college, after I turned in my thesis and then a novel fell out of my head in about seven weeks.) We’re talking working at at least 150% my normal pace for weeks on end, with no days off anywhere in there. Oh, and partway through that time I had to drop it for five days so I could copy-edit a 214K-word novel, which is about 200% my normal pace for a task of that kind.

Yyyyyeah. It’s been a busy time around here.

The good news is, Night Parade is done and turned in on time (a day ahead, even!), The Mask of Mirrors is copy-edited, and Tachyon gave me until early May to handle the proofs for Driftwood, because I think the Look of Utter Panic I got when those were sent to me a couple of weeks ago was visible even in email. And we’re all healthy here.

We’ve been weathering lockdown fairly well. I work from home anyway, and so does my husband more days than not; my sister (who lives with us) does not, but she used to, so on a domestic level this is a familiar routine. The big changes for me are that I can’t go to the dojo, and I can’t have in-person gaming. Both of which I miss rather acutely, but I’m not among the people who have had to figure out how to do their job from home while also wrangling kids doing distance learning, etc. We’ve figured out how to make online gaming work about as well as it can — the trick is to reboot our Discord video call every 40 minutes or so, as soon as it starts to get choppy — and over the winter I purchased a folding exercise bike that’s put about 500 miles on the odometer in the last two months, as all three members of our household have been making use of it. I’ve also been doing a lot of online teaching, fitting the already-existing theme of 2020 being the year I teach a lot more than I have lately. I did four of Clarion West’s free one-hour workshops, on a variety of worldbuilding themes, and there’s a plan in progress for a six-hour workshop in the near future — that being another thing that got delayed until early May so my brains wouldn’t liquify and pour out my nose. And I’m working for the Kelly Yang Project, teaching creative writing to a kid in Hong Kong.

Free time? What’s that?

In all seriousness, I have also been giving myself a break with some entertainment. Not a whole lot of reading, simply because my brain’s reaction to text on a page is NO NO MAKE IT GO AWAY, but TV shows, video games, and (most unexpectedly) opera, because the Met has been making one opera available for free every night for weeks now. Maybe look for some posts on those in the upcoming days, as I regenerate my ability to word.

Right now, though, I’m doing my best to take a break.

“Hope in the face of apocalypse”

Driftwood has gotten a review from Publishers Weeklyand it’s starred!

Brennan (the Memoirs of Lady Trent series) plays with the concept of secondary-world fantasy with this fresh, immersive introduction to the land of Driftwood, a patchwork world where other fantasy worlds come to die. As each otherworld is pulled toward the Crush, the churning center of Driftwood where their last vestiges mix and crumble before vanishing forever, its inhabitants must adapt to life in Driftwood or disappear along with their homes. The novel’s form mirrors the cobbled-together nature of its world, composed primarily of self-contained episodes unified only by the shadowy figure of Last, the sole survivor of a world that Driftwood consumed long ago. Many who pass through Driftwood seek Last’s aid, desperate to preserve their cultures and stop the inevitable and believing he knows the secrets to surviving the Crush. Brennan skillfully builds a multiplicity of worlds, painting each unique and fully developed culture with bold, minimalist strokes and, though readers don’t get to spend much time with any single character, rendering each member of the sprawling cast with impressive nuance and subtlety. Exploring found family, adaptation, and hope in the face of apocalypse, Brennan imbues this high-concept fantasy with a strong emotional core. Fantasy fans will be thrilled.

. . . I might have had some discussions with Jaymee Goh, my editor, about the relevance of the subject matter in the current political climate. That was before the pandemic got rolling. I wish it weren’t even more relevant now, but as pull quotes go, I’ll gladly own “hope in the face of apocalypse.”

New Worlds, Year Three: now available in convenient ebook form!

You can tell I’ve been busy with writing Night Parade and copy-editing The Mask of Mirrors, because I completely forgot to mention here that New Worlds, Year Three was available for pre-order!

Well, now you can just go ahead and get it. As usual, it contains all the content from the third year of my Patreon — now revised and expanded — and you can get it from Book View Cafe (the publisher), Barnes and Noble (for Nook readers), Google Play, Kobo, and Amazon US or UK. (I don’t have it up on iTunes yet — I’ve been having some difficulties there — and for some reason Indigo isn’t carrying this one yet, though it has all my other BVC ebooks.)

A print edition will follow, but isn’t quite ready yet.

cover art for New Worlds, Year Three: More Essays on the Art of Worldbuilding, by Marie Brennan

New Worlds: Before (and After) Money

I don’t know if it’s tax season that made the Topic Backers from the New Worlds Patreon vote for an economics theme this month — but voted they have, and so they shall receive! After all, that’s the trade we’ve agreed to. And certain kinds of trade are the subject of today’s essay: specifically, barter. Including how I previously said a wrong thing about it, and need to walk that statement back.

Comment over there!

More like a joke on myself?

The other day I commented on Twitter that I’d written 6000 words that day: 2500 words of what I needed to be working on (Night Parade), and 3500 of surprise!fanfic for one of my own damn novels.

And I do mean fanfic, in the sense that the story I produced isn’t trying to do the things an independent short story would do. It will mean very little if you haven’t read the novel (and contain egregious spoilers to boot), and the conflict it’s resolving — at least in part — starts well outside the bounds of the story itself. So it’s not the kind of thing I could ever attempt to sell.

Ergo, the natural thing to do is post it online as a freebie.

And if I’m going to do that, I might as well post it on April Fool’s Day. Not because it’s some kind of bait-and-switch on you guys, but because what better day to share Oops, Accidental Fanfic?

So in congratulations for surviving March, and to provide a bit of entertainment as we go into April, I give you “The Long Fall,” a post-canon fic for Turning Darkness Into Light. WARNING: CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS.

(Also, side question for people who know fannish etiquette better than I do: would it be weird for me to post this to AO3? I haven’t made any secret of the connection between my pseud there and my professional identity, and I don’t know whether having me show up in my own fandom would feel out of place. It might be one thing if there were a hundred fics for the Memoirs, but as of now, there’s a whopping eighteen.)

about the Clarion West workshops

My apologies to everyone who wasn’t able to get into any of the free workshops Clarion West is offering. There was an initial delay, and then some technical difficulties that appear to mean people on certain browsers could see the registration links but others couldn’t, plus the overall demand was so high that courses filled up more or less instantaneously. I know a lot of people are disappointed.

The good news is, the CW staff are now aware of how much interest there is in this stuff, and are working to both set up future options and make sure it runs more smoothly next time. Apparently they were already intending to start offering more online options (since not everybody can travel in-person to their one-day workshops); the current situation just made them step up their timetable, is all. So if you weren’t able to register for the things that interested you, there will be more opportunities in the future — including my own workshops, because like CW, this is something I was thinking about doing anyway.