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Posts Tagged ‘voyage of the basilisk’

Voyage of the Basilisk WILL be coming out

Just a quick heads-up: I’ve gotten several Tweets in the last day telling me that Amazon UK has canceled pre-orders of Voyage of the Basilisk on the grounds that “the book will not be published.” This is, to put it bluntly, not true. I have no idea what’s going on, but if you got that message, a) don’t believe it and b) please do re-order from a retailer that has not gotten its wires so badly crossed.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I need to go investigate this issue.

scattered thoughts on the next Memoir

I haven’t been posting much about my progress on the fourth Memoir. (Which does have a title now, but as with Voyage of the Basilisk, I’m going to hold off on announcing it until the preceding book is released. I want people’s attention on that one, not the one that won’t be out until 2016.)

It’s a bit hard to talk about this book, because of the weird way publishing timescales work. I read reviews of The Tropic of Serpents and marvel at people who say things like [spoiler] — and then I remember that those people haven’t even read Voyage yet, let alone the one I’m presently writing. Of course the relevance of [spoiler] is not yet clear. Of course [spoiler] hasn’t developed very much yet. I’m not actually pointing at any one thing with those brackets; I could list several to fill in the blanks. I’m almost four-fifths of the way through the series. Everybody else is barely two-fifths done. What the story looks like from my perspective is wildly different from what all the rest of you see.

I had a plot epiphany the other night that is so freaking perfect, I honestly can’t believe it took me this long to come up with it. Like, how was this not part of the pitch I sent to Tor back in 2011? How was I such an idiot that I did not see this needed to be part of the story until just now? I really have no idea. Seriously, you all are going to read this book and assume I’ve been planning [x] from the start. I will smile mysteriously and try to pretend that’s true, so you don’t all know how blind I really was.

On Twitter the other night I joked that sometimes when I’m writing these books, I think about what the sensible thing to do would be . . . and then I have Isabella do the opposite. It’s funny because it’s true, to an extent. The key is mood: back when I was drafting A Natural History of Dragons, I had to keep prodding myself not to fall into Onyx Court mode. Forget subtle political maneuvering; this series needs crazy shit, yo. So the bit of plot I’m presently wrapping up right now had a moment where Isabella could have gone the cautious and sensible route, informing somebody of a suspected problem and mobilizing various resources to deal with it. But that would have created a story where she sits on her hands and then gets a report from other people that the issue has been dealt with. That? is not pulp adventure. So instead I came up with a reason for her not to tell that person what was going on — a solid enough reason, I hope, to at least pass muster for the genre — and then there were hijinks involving her tailing Person A who is tailing Person B and at the end of it all there’s an abortive brawl. Much better.

I’m also going at this in weird order. I was floundering around in the middle of the book, with Isabella out in the field doing one stage of her research — but I didn’t really know how long I should spend on that bit, and I wasn’t sure where the whole thing was going anyway (this was pre-epiphany), until finally I decided I should skip ahead and write the bit referenced in the above paragraph, since at least I knew what I was doing with that. I think I’m going to keep on from there, writing some — who knows; maybe all — of the last third of the book; then, once I have a chunk of that in place, I’ll be able to back up and know what ought to go in the middle, to set up the end. This is weird for me, y’all. I don’t write this way, out of order. Except that maybe right now I do.

Hey: whatever gets the book done.

Speaking of which, I’m about at the . . . halfwayish point sorta but not really? I have about half of the word-count, but since a chunk of that is from way later in the book, I’m not mentally at the halfway point of the story. More like the two-thirds point, possibly a bit later. But it’s starting to look like a book rather than a short story that got way out of control. And in another few days I’ll get to write the emotional resolution to one of the conflicts, which will make it a lot easier to go back and figure out the rise and fall of the stuff leading up to that. (I hope. Remember, I’m new to this method.)

Darling du jour:

“There’s a bit of difference between swimming in shark-infested water because you’re trying to retrieve something from the bottom, and staying in just because you’re already there and haven’t been eaten yet.”

“We are still trying to retrieve something from the bottom. All that has changed is whether anybody on shore cares whether we — oh, hang the metaphor.”

Assorted book-type-news-things

In the order that they occur to me:

1) Michael R. Underwood’s The Younger Gods is out! Main character is a runaway from a family of evil cultists, has to try to stop them from kicking off the apocalypse. Mike is a friend, of course, but this one would sound good to me even if I weren’t biased. 🙂

2) I’m starting to rack up some foreign sales for the Memoirs. So far it looks like you’ll be getting at least the first book in Thai, French, and Polish. I’m on the verge of completely outgrowing my brag shelf, where I keep one copy of every edition of my books: there are worse problems to have.

3) Speaking of my brag shelf, the Mythic Delirium anthology is also out! This has “The Wives of Paris” in it, among other things. You may recall this anthology as the one that got the excellent starred review from Publishers Weekly; well, now you can own your very own copy. 🙂

4) Strange Horizons is currently holding its annual fund drive. There are prizes listed here, but it isn’t the full list yet; they’re adding stuff as the drive goes on. Two of the additions will be a signed pair of the UK trade paperbacks of A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, and a signed ARC of the third book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent, Voyage of the Basilisk. If you want a crack at those, head on over and pledge some money!

5) I’ve got another ebook coming out next week, this one a collection of my dark fairy-tale retellings called Monstrous Beauty. You can pre-order it right now from Amazon or Kobo, or wait until next week and get it from Book View Cafe, Barnes and Noble, or iTunes. Just in time for Halloween!

It’s reeeeeeeeeeeeal!

votb-arcs

Those arrived last night, but I didn’t get a chance to share until today. I know these are printed from the text we had after copy-edits before page proofs, so it’s irrelevant that I just sent the proofs back to my editor a few days ago . . . but it feels like magic. Last pass through the text, and poof! Look! It’s a book! 😀

Stay tuned for me to come up with a clever idea how you can enter to win a copy . . . .

Books read, August 2014

Surgery meant lots of time on the couch. Lots of time on the couch meant lots of reading. (Also lots of photo-editing. And movie-watching. And passing out so I wouldn’t be awake to hate the boot.)

(more…)

Building a Better World

Some of you may have seen this excellent set of posts on the blog Generation Anthropocene, using details from George R.R. Martin’s novels to try and build a geological history of Westeros and Essos. It’s a fantabulous bit of geekery, marrying serious scientific know-how to one of the big challenges of writing speculative fiction, that task we refer to as “worldbuilding.”

I read those posts, grinned at the geekery — and then paused.

And clicked around a bit.

And sent an email.

A couple of months later, I am the proud owner of a tectonic map of Lady Trent’s world, along with extensive notes on the geology and climate of her planet. Mike Osborne and Miles Traer of Generation Anthropocene were kind enough to read through the first two Memoirs and take my description of the places that show up in #3, then help me work out the underpinnings of that world in greater detail than I had already. I’m pleased to say that my efforts on the climate front pretty much held up to their scrutiny; I don’t have any howling errors there. Figuring out the tectonics, though, gave me information I need for future maps, and provided a number of new considerations I’ll definitely be trying to work into the last two books.

I want to thank these guys publicly, because they have done yeoman work on my behalf. If this kind of nerdiness is your catnip, you should definitely check out the Generation Anthropocene site.

Design Your Own Dragon: Winners!

I’m pleased to announce the winners of the Design Your Own Dragon contest!

Choosing the winning entries was much harder than I anticipated. Some of the criteria were straightforward; for example, the concept had to be one which fit into the paradigm of dragons in Isabella’s world, but did not duplicate too closely something already described in the series. (My apologies to those of you whose entries resembled breeds that will be appearing in Voyage of the Basilisk. You had no way of knowing those particular niches were already filled.) After I filtered for that, though, I still had quite a few possibilities. Then it was a matter of considering which ones could be most easily incorporated into the later books, which is easier said than done.

In the end, I narrowed it down to two winners. Without further ado, I give you: Yubin Kim’s honeyseeker, and Kate Parkinson’s Mrtyahaiman mew!

HONEYSEEKERS are nectar-loving arboreal creatures that thrive in eucalyptus forests. Typically 12~14 cm long, Honeyseekers are light-bodied with broad, manoeuvrable wings and a prehensile tail which allow them to cling to thin flowering branches, where they soak up nectar with their brush tipped tongue. During winter when blooms are scarce, Honeyseekers supplement their diet with insects caught with their clever foreclaws.

The species display sexual dimorphism and while the females are a drab muddy green, the males sport glittering black and yellow scales and a sapphire-blue crest. The males build nests and display to attract females, who then mate with those they judge worthy and leave after laying a single egg. When a sufficient number of eggs are gathered, the males incubate and raise the young alone.

When threatened, Honeyseekers breath a noxious spray in the eyes of the predator, a concentrate of toxins gathered from their close association with the eucalyptus. The Honeyseekers are thought to play a large role in the lifecycle of the tree and some blame them for the invasive spread of eucalyptus which are beginning replacing oak woodlands in certain forests.

MYRTYAHAIMAN MEW

A small drake measuring no more than thirty centimetres at the shoulder, this species is called the ‘noisy trickster’ by locals, as well as epithets not appropriate to repeat. Although they meet all other criteria, mews do not have any special property to their breath and are thus classified as draconic cousins rather than true drakes. Their name derives from their distinctive call which resembles the mew of a cat.

Mews are typically black with bronze tones to their scales, although brown and even albino specimens have been noted. Flocks of up to thirty individuals have been sighted but they are most often seen in groups of three or four. They are intelligent and resourceful creatures and are often attracted to human settlements, where they pillage shiny objects and scavenge through rubbish pits and middens. This behaviour has sometimes led to them becoming unpopular with humans.

Mews love fatty foods and have been known to land on the back of sheep to pick out pieces of flesh. There are legends of mews stampeding flocks of sheep or goats over cliffs to feast upon the remains, though this has never been reliably documented.

A gathering of mews is called a festival.

My thanks to everyone who participated; it was a lot of fun seeing what you all came up with!

Tour report, and one day to go!

Design Your Own Dragon ends tomorrow night! Get your entry in while the getting is good . . . .

Me, I’m home from tour. The fact that I am exceedingly glad to be back has more to do with the wear and tear of shifting from hotel to airport to cab to store than to do with the tour events themselves, which were splendid. Mary Robinette Kowal and I drew some pretty good crowds together, and it turns out we make for compatible traveling companions — which was by no means a guarantee! We’d met a couple of times before, at conventions and such, and of course our books make a good pairing with each other . . . but that didn’t necessarily mean we’d get along on the road. Despite Mary having her own hashtag for travel woes, I quite liked traveling with her. It turns out we see eye-to-eye on a number of fronts, ranging from fiction to how early we should get to the airport, and that’s valuable when you’re spending a week and a half together and suffering the aforementioned wear and tear.

Plus! There were costumes! And dragon bones!

I foolishly did not get anyone to take photos on my own phone, so rather than stealing other people’s pictures, I will link you to them. This report at A Truant Disposition shows the whole thing pretty well, from my dress and Mary’s to our respective song-and-dance bit (a mini puppet show on her part, a mini naturalist lecture on mine). Geeky Library has some more, and I quite like this photo from @ghostwritingcow on Twitter. The “dragon bones” are the thing I alluded to before the tour: Mary suggested I obtain replica dinosaur fossils from Skulls Unlimited, and use them as dragon substitutes. For the curious, the skull and the smaller claw are from a velociraptor, while the tooth is from a T-Rex and the larger claw is from a megaraptor. (The tiny skull, which I don’t think got photographed, is actually supposed to be a “dragon skull;” Mary picked it up at a natural history museum in Utah.)

Touring is a lot more fun in company, I have to say. Not only does it jazz up the event itself, by giving you somebody to riff off of, it does a lot to mitigate the “oh god I’m in another airport” drudgery of the travel itself. So props to Tor for putting us together, and I hope for a chance to do something like this again in the future.

Four more days to Design Your Own Dragon

We’re headed into the final stretch for Design Your Own Dragon, and I just wanted to clarify something one interested party asked about a few days ago:

You do get to keep the rights to your entry.

Which is to say, if I pick your dragon as a winner, I will have the non-exclusive right to use the concept (with modifications, if necessary) in the Memoirs of Lady Trent, in prose and/or visual form — but you retain all other rights. If you want to write own stories or make your own art about your dragon concept, you are entirely free to do so. You are not signing over your idea to me wholesale.

This was a question for at least one interested party, which means it may very well be a question for others as well. So if that was giving you any hesitation in entering, hopefully this clears things up in an acceptable fashion.

You’ve got until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 15th. I’ve got a lot of fun entries already, but there’s always room for more!

One more week for dragons! Also, an interview/giveaway.

Interview first: I’m over at Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing, talking about a whole host of stuff, ranging from The Tropic of Serpents to my essay on epic story structure to making up slang to about a dozen other things. Check out the link for a giveaway, too — either a copy of The Tropic of Serpents or a set of both books.

As for the contest, this is your one-week reminder; the deadline is coming up on May 15th. If you’d like to see your own dragon concept show up in the Memoirs of Lady Trent — not to mention read Voyage of the Basilisk before it comes out! — check out the guidelines and send in your entry!