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Posts Tagged ‘linkage’

BORN TO THE BLADE: “Fault Lines”

This week I enter the field of combat with the second episode of BORN TO THE BLADE: “Fault Lines”!

BORN TO THE BLADE horizontal banner

If you haven’t already checked out the pilot episode, “Arrivals,” that’s free to read or listen to. In “Fault Lines,” Michiko deals with the fallout from the Golden Lord, someone new comes to Twaa-Fei, Penelope has some momentous news, and Bellona seeks to drive a wedge between Quloo and Rumika in advance of the Gauntlet.

Last week I discussed collaboration at Book View Cafe, because 2017 really was the year of me jumping into it feet-first, between my work for Legend of the Five Rings and Born to the Blade. I also have a piece up at All Things Urban Fantasy on “post-cynical optimism,” which was our mission statement for this series: telling a story in which people face hard choices and sometimes bad things happen, but things like honor and friendship and trust are more than traps for the guillble. Our lead writer Michael Underwood wrote about fight scenes (of which we have more than a few) at Barnes and Noble. And if you’d like to check out some reviews, Primm Life has covered “Fault Lines,” and Paul Weimer at Skiffy and Fanty has reviewed the whole serial.

You can find “Fault Lines” (as well as “Arrivals”) here!

Kaiju, Tuckerization, and tornadoes

Strange Horizons is running a prize drawing as a fundraiser for the magazine. Enter for a chance to be Tuckerized in the book I’m writing right now, the sequel to the Memoirs of Lady Trent! Given the nature of this book, the most likely prospect is that you’ll wind up being some kind of expert on the Draconean language or other such nerdy topic, but there are a few other possibilities as well.

The Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters II anthology is nearly halfway to goal. If you missed it before, this anthology will feature a short story from me based on the micro-setting I wrote for the Mecha vs. Monsters expansion for the Tiny Frontiers RPG, which took that concept and smashed it full-speed into the idea of high school science competitions. The story is one of the most gonzo things I’ve ever written, and you can help it become a published reality!

This is a very long article, but very worth reading if you want to get a sense of how terrifying tornadoes can be. I’m lucky that I never experienced one, despite living in Dallas for eighteen years; I did experience huddling in the back hall of our house, waiting to find out if we’d lose that particular game of meteorological Russian roulette.

(Juxtaposing that with the previous item: gonzo as my story is, it doesn’t come close to approximating the sheer destructive force of a tornado. But it’s also meant to be a moderately funny story, and there’s nothing funny about annihilation on that scale.)

Finally, not so much an item as a teaser for something upcoming: stay tuned to this space for some exciting news on February 6th!

“Can one use a dragon to light a candle on Shabbat” and other important questions from Lady Trent’s world

My husband, to me: “You probably want to see this.” <sets his laptop down in front of me>

Me: <reads the best tumblr conversation I’ve seen possibly ever in my life>

Seriously — β€œCan I use my pet dragon to light candles on Shabbat?” is an actual debate religious leaders would have to have in Isabella’s world. Because they have dragons, and a sizable percentage of Anthiope is Segulist (i.e. Jewish), so that scenario is a thing that could actually happen. Probably has. And now I’m regretting that I’m not conversant enough with Judaism to write a short story that is entirely about Segulist magisters arguing over something like using a pet dragon to light a candle on I don’t think I ever came up with a replacement term for Shabbat (it would run from sunset on Eromer to sunset on Cromer, i.e. Friday-Saturday, but there ought to be another word for it). I had enough trouble writing “The Gospel of Nachash”; this would be harder, especially since I don’t think I can ethically yoink the things people said in that Tumblr thread for my own commercial purposes, and figuring out how to turn it all into a workable story would require me to go beyond what’s there into the wilds of stuff I don’t even know enough about to ask the right questions.

<wanders away from half-finished blog post for a while, thinking>

<comes back>

Okay, screw it. We’re doing this thing.

And I do mean “we,” because I am actively soliciting ideas from people who know Judaism better than I do, that you’re willing to let me use to write a Lady Trent story about religious debates concerning the proper role of dragons in pious Segulist life. I have no idea what form this is going to take; right now in my head it reads like a “Dear Abby” column, with some magister who is here for all your dragon-related religious queries, but it would be hard to give that enough shape to pass for a short story rather than just a novelty piece. Really, I can’t plan the story itself until I know what material it’s going to be built around, because that will probably suggest to me a context for why and how and of whom the questions are being asked.

So toss me some suggestions, people. Other than using a dragon to light a candle on Shabbat (probably a sparkling or a Puian fire-lizard; I don’t recommend desert drakes for the purpose), what other questions might come up? I know enough about kosher laws to be pretty sure dragon meat does not qualify, assuming you would even want to eat it, which you probably would not. After that, I don’t know what would be interesting to consider. Any thoughts?

that whole “tikkun olam” thing

I’ve been making these tikkun olam posts for about half a year now, and responses to them have been slowing down, which I suspect is in part a sign of fatigue. It’s hard to keep on working to repair the world when so many people seem determined to break it, and when it’s hard to see any result for your effort.

But sometimes you can make a very real difference to a very specific person. Chaz Brenchley has put out a call raising funds to treat his wife’s multiple sclerosis. If we lived in a country where this was covered by insurance, they wouldn’t have to worry; instead we live in a country where Republicans are trying to take away even the insurance we already have. Karen is the primary earner in their family, and she doesn’t know how soon she’ll be able to return to work. Helping out, either by donating directly, or by subscribing to Chaz’s Patreon, can make all the difference in the world to these two people, and to their friends and family.

And while you’re at it, call your senators and beg them to oppose Trumpcare. Because I’d like to live in a world where things ranging from anxiety to surviving sexual assault don’t count as “pre-existing conditions,” and where health insurance companies are required to cover things like doctor’s visits.

three weeks to the release of WITHIN THE SANCTUARY OF WINGS

In preparation for Within the Sanctuary of Wings coming out on the 25th, the Kindle edition of A Natural History of Dragons is on sale for 99 cents right now through Amazon UK.

Also, the first of several blog posts has just gone live: “Beyond the Concrete Jungle,” in which I talk about setting my story in a variety of non-generic-temperate environments (and my near-total ignorance of nature). Should be of particular interest to New Worlds readers!

Finally, last call for icons! An ARC of the book could be yours . . .

Three things for the Halloween season

Pseudopod (Escape Artists’ horror-themed short fiction podcast) is running a Kickstarter to raise the funds to pay their narrators. I am not wholly a disinterested party in this, as I’ve narrated for them several times (without pay); but I will say that I wholeheartedly support the notion that the people who read you the stories in a podcast deserve to be paid for their work. They already compensate their authors well, so this is the next step, and I applaud them for taking it.

Also, don’t forget that you only have until the end of this month to purchase prints from my Autumn and Halloween galleries:

Paired photos of a single autumn leaf and an angel on a cross

You can get them in practically any medium (paper, acrylic, metal, canvas, glass, wood) and any size, or a digital license for use as book covers etc.

Finally, I’m over at Unbound Worlds talking about the most influential book I’ve ever read. You have to know the book in question or the things it’s based on to understand why it’s Halloween-themed, but trust me, it is.

Dice Tales Takes Over the Internet!

Well, one corner of it, at least.

In addition to this week’s regularly scheduled post — “Game Hangover,” on the ways that playing in or running a game can leave you drained afterward — I also have a related post up on Tor.com. Though it isn’t explicitly labeled as a Dice Tales entry, “How Your Role-Playing Game Campaign Can Inspire Your Novel” is an outgrowth of that series; I got recruited to write this piece specifically because of Dice Tales. So if you’re interested, go take a look, and comment over there!

The Urban Tarot

A while back the artist Robin Scott, a friend of mine, released a project called The Urban Tarot.

Box cover for The Urban Tarot by Robin Scott

I want to talk about how awesome this deck is — and I especially want to address those of you for whom the “tarot” part isn’t much of an attraction, but the “urban” part might be. Let’s start by quoting from Robin’s introduction in the guidebook:

Too often we are told that magic and wisdom belong only to the forgotten forests, the places untouched by human hands, and to ages long lost to memory.

I reject this idea. I look around my world, and I see the beauty, the wonder, the magic in the metropolis, the power under the pavement.

“The metropolis” there isn’t generic. It’s New York City, where Robin lives — and that’s exactly what draws me to the Urban Tarot. I’ve been meaning to make a post about the way urban fantasy has the potential to inscribe the landscape around you with an additional layer of meaning: it’s something I tried to do in the Changeling game I ran, and it showed up in the Onyx Court books, too, which were inspired by that game. The urban fantasy novels I like often do this kind of thing, not just taking place in Generica City or the Hollywood version of San Francisco or wherever, but making use of place on a more detailed, meaningful level. It isn’t just an urban fantasy thing — it isn’t even a new thing; Keith Basso’s Wisdom Sits in Places talks about the link between Western Apache folklore and the landscape around their communities — but it works especially well there because the world the story describes is ours, or at least closely adjacent enough to ours that we can feel the resonance.

The Urban Tarot does this beautifully. It ties the cards in with the landscape and the people and events of New York City — the public library, Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge during Hurricane Sandy — and it pushes back against the idea that cities aren’t magic, that the kind of meaning we read into the world around us back when that world was rural can’t be retained in the modern day. It rethinks the old archetypes of the tarot into a context you and I can recognize: the Empress is feeding a baby in a high chair, the Eight of Wands shows a cyclist delivering a pizza, the Prince of Swords is a hacker. Even if you don’t have any interest in the tarot as such, you could do worse than to feed your urban fantasy brain with these cards and their associated writeups.

Card image of The Princess of Swords, by Robin Scott

And the artwork is, in my opinion, gorgeous. Each card is built out of a kind of textural collage, abstracting the image without losing its recognizable form. I have the Princess of Swords (aka The Activist) on my wall. I liked the art enough that when I backed the Kickstarter, I chose to go for the level where I could model for one of the cards — no, I’m not telling you which; you’ll have to find out for yourself. πŸ˜‰ Robin and I struck a deal wherein I wrote a piece of flash fiction for the guidebook, riffing off a location in the city she wasn’t able to work into the deck; that’s how much I wanted to support this project.

You can buy the Urban Tarot itself, or prints of any of the cards. I strongly encourage you all to at least go take a look, and appreciate what Robin has put together.

All the news that’s fit to print

I have survived our housewarming party, and with that in my tail-lights, let me catch up on a few things. And by a few, I mean a lot.

Like my newest Onyx Court story! “To Rise No More” is the tale of Ada Lovelace’s childhood friendship with faeries, and also her ambition to build herself a pair of wings to fly with. No seriously, I didn’t even make that part up. (The wings, not the faeries. But she did also refer to herself as “Babbage’s fairy helper,” so, y’know. Maybe not that part, either.) It went up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies on my birthday, which I found to be excellent timing.

Shifting gears to a different series, the Barnes and Noble blog has just revealed the cover to Lightning in the Blood, which is the upcoming sequel to the still-upcoming-but-will-be-out-next-Tuesday Cold-Forged Flame. As I said on Twitter, I didn’t know until I saw it that one of my life goals was to get a Giant Hunting Cat onto a book cover, but I can check that off my list now!

And while I’m at it, I’ve finally gotten an excerpt from Cold-Forged Flame posted to my site. One week — one week and it will finally be out . . . .

Also, I’ve been busy with the Roundtable Podcast, hosted by Dave Robison and Marie Bilodeau. And I do mean busy, as I’m in not one but two episodes. The first is part of their “Twenty Minutes With” series . . . which, with the introduction and everything else, wound up being more like Fifty Minutes With. But dear god, the introduction alone is worth it: Dave Robison has a habit of describing his guests in epic terms. I have never heard my own life sound so much like a superhero origin story.

So that’s the first episode; the second is part of their “Workshop” series, wherein a writer (or in this case, a writing pair) describe a project they’re working on and then get feedback from the assembled hosts. We dug into an urban fantasy premise for this one, a setting where a new drug is causing people to develop magical powers, and had lots of thinky thoughts on both the way the drug fits into the world and how to write the “psycho ex-girlfriend” trope in a sympathetic and complex manner.

And finally, I’ve got myself a brand-new setup on Imzy. Where by “brand-new,” I mean “there’s basically nothing there yet” — but I figured I should mention, for those who are busy exploring this new site. Then, having done that, I decided to spend my other community-creation slot on putting together one called Dice Tales, which is a spin-off of the blog posts I’ve been doing at Book View Cafe. Speaking of which: the most recent installments there are “Keeping Up with the Joneses,” on power escalation over the course of a campaign; “With Great Power,” on the GM’s ability to screw players over and responsibility to use that wisely; “GNS,” on Ron Edwards’ old Gamism-Narrativism-Simulationism framework; and then a two-parter that consists of “Game Planning I – Arcs, Acts, and Chapters” and “Game Planning II – Sessions and Scenes,” which are pretty much what it says on the tin. But the Imzy community is not just a place to reblog those posts; I’m hoping it will become a great discussion of storytelling in RPGs more broadly. So if you’re on Imzy and you find that kind of thing interesting, come on over!

Signal-boosting for Judith Tarr

Author Judith Tarr is in dire straits. We’ve got this idiom in English about “losing the farm” — well, she is in actual danger of losing an actual farm. This would not only have dreadful consequences for her, it would leave all of her horses homeless: most of them too old or too untrained to be saleable. Right now she is scrambling to keep them fed for the rest of this month, let alone going forward.

There are a number of ways you can help her out, if you are so inclined.

1) Camp Lipizzan. Her horses are the “airs above ground” breed, the ones renowned for their beautiful high-school dressage movements. This is your chance to ride one, and even try out “horse yoga.”

2) Editing and writing mentorship. Judy’s a World Fantasy Award nominee; she knows her stuff. If you’re a writer, this may be of interest to you.

3) Patreon. She’s posting new fiction there.

4) Sponsor a horse. Full details are there, but you can help feed and water the horses, and get to know them in return.

Also, Judy has asked that people who have read her books post a review on Amazon, as that helps boost the visibility of her work and therefore increase her sales. I particularly recommend Writing Horses to the writers among you: if you’re ever going to have an equine in a story, this will help you do it right.

Many thanks to everyone who lends Judy a hand.