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Posting this quickly in the service of sleep before my first panel (of eight!).


Saturday 1/19 10AM - Embracing the Alien: Writing Believable ETs

Although a classic element of SF stories, many speculative works contain depictions of non-human intelligences. What registers to the human mind as "alien" without trailing into incomprehensibility? What are some common pitfalls and crutches that writers should avoid in creating an alien species? Sifting through the vast body of work on famous aliens, panelists will offer suggestions for creating truly alien perspectives in fiction without resorting to tired tropes and cliches.


Saturday 1/19 7PM - Dungeons, Dragons, and Writers

Using the most recent edition of Dungeons & Dragons, a select group of writers will delve into a classic dungeon for the audience's delight and amusement. Panelists/Role-players will draw from a variety of backgrounds, genres, and familiarity with role-playing games. Come for the monster-slaying, stay for the table banter between writers who also game.

(This is going to be either terrible or awesome--I'm extremely nervous and can't wait. James Cambias is GMing.)


Sunday 1/20 2:30PM - Jewish SFF

It can be hard to find Jewish stories that don't focus on the Holocaust. Luckily, there are many works relating to Judaism in science fiction and fantasy. Naomi Novik and NS Dolkart are two Jewish authors who include Jewish characters and themes in their works. Marie Brennan based the world religion of her Natural History of Dragons series on Judaism. Let's celebrate Jewish authors, worlds, and characters!


Sunday 1/20 4PM - All Words Are Made Up

From Klingon, High Valerian, and Elvish to the lexicons of your next favorite fantasy series, panelists will discuss the art and craft of Conlanging: constructing fictional languages for use in fiction and real life. Is the time-consuming process of creating the words, grammar, and written language for a fictional culture worth it? Panelists will discuss their experiences crafting made-up languages, their successes and failures.






Sunday 1/20 8:30PM - Our Political Landscape, But Make It Futuristic

Futuristic literature has always asked the question, "What happens next?" Is it, in essence, a thought experiment that can serve as warning? Recent works, such as Malka Older's Centenal Cycle and Ada Palmer's Terra Ignota series, have reimagined our political system in the near and far future. The panelists discuss works that talk allegorically about present events and the difficulties of projecting the future.


Monday 1/21 10AM - Fantasy Reading

With Donald Crankshaw and Sarah Smith


Monday 1/21 1PM - Intentional Communities: Found Family

Family often means more than what we are born into. For those of us who live in ways outside of the “norm,” creating our own systems of support is key to our survival. How do we find family when the traditional notion of “family” has let us down? Why may it be important to build a chosen family, even when our families of origin continue to love and support us? Our panelists will explore ways to build intentional and found families.


Monday 1/21 2:30PM - Effective Advocacy For Geeks

Many of us care passionately about social and political causes, but don't know how to act on our passions. Some of us have little money, constrained time, or physical limitations. How can we act effectively on causes we care about? What are good organizations that we should look into for donating our time and money? How do we know what kind of commitment will be required for social or political action (e.g., a march or protest) and whether that fits within our limitations?
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I'll be at Chessiecon in Timonium MD this weekend. Here's my schedule--which includes a couple of non-standard panel topics which I should probably, um, think about while wrestling the turkey:

 Friday 
05:30 PM - 06:30 PM      Unforgivable Villains with Understandable Motives
People are complex. The most interesting characters sometimes do terrible things. How do you write a sympathetic character who is an understandable human despite horrific acts? How do readers respond to characters they can't put in the "good guy" or "bad guy" box or to those who belong firmly in both? How does this translate to how people respond to imperfect people in the real world?
Ruthanna Emrys,  Heather Rose Jones,  Karen Osborne,  Don Sakers (M),  Martin Wilsey
09:15 PM - 10:15 PM      The Effect of Catastrophic Events on Literature
There are many examples of stories influenced by (or existing because of) real world events, from a catastrophic flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh, to Japan's post-World War II imagery in animation, to rock musicals about the AIDS epidemic. How do major events shape the stories we tell for years to come?
Linda Adams,  Ruthanna Emrys,  Sarah Pinsker,  Don Sakers (M),  Jo Walton

Saturday
05:30 PM - 06:30 PM      Rules of Writing, and When to Break Them
Show, don't tell. Active rather than passive. Use energetic verbs instead of adverbs. These, among many others, are rules of writing that get beaten into us from day one. But are they immutable? Are they being used as intended or have they been misunderstood? When should we resist the temptation to bend the rules, and when should we modify them or even toss them out the window?
Harrison Demchick,  Ruthanna Emrys,  Steve Kozeniewski (M),  Sarah Pinsker,  Jo Walton
Sunday
10:30 AM - 11:00 AM      Reading: Ruthanna Emrys

Patreon

Oct. 20th, 2018 06:50 pm
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 Remember a few months ago when I was dithering about whether to start a Patreon? I've finally finished dithering, and launched the thing! If you head over you can pledge for access to deleted scenes, unpublished snippets, poetry, recipes, and Q&A. I've also added a few slots at which you can receive care packages from my characters--whether your preference is holiday treats from Aphra or ominous artifacts from the Yith.

Please spread the word!
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 1. Something interesting that you learned this week




DC's rivers may be swimmable in the next few years, helped along by the sorts of citizen monitoring that play a prominent role in my work-in-progress.


2. Something you did or accomplished this week

Finally outlined my way through a plot knot. Got kids through their first week of school. Cleaned the porch in preparation for 1) the likely hurricane later this week, and 2) our town's festival of mini concerts-on-porches that will hopefully not be forestalled by the hurricane.


3. An interesting piece of media / link / song / etc that you discovered or enjoyed this week


I've been listening to A Jumpin' Night in the Garden of Eden, which played regularly in my house when I was growing up and is still one of my favorite Klesmer albums.

Also in music that I've loved since I was old enough to recognize individual songs, last Saturday was my new synagogue's Labor on the Bimah service, which closed out with a rousing rendition of "Union Maid" which absolutely nobody actually needed the lyric sheet for. We've now been to this temple a couple of times and it seems like a really good fit--not only a big emphasis on tikkun olum and social action, but the tunes and prayers are close enough to what I had growing up to "feel right." And unlike our last congregation, this one is actually kid-friendly in practice as well as theory. (How on earth did I find a non-kid-friendly synagogue, you ask. It was the QUILTBAG synagogue in Dupont Circle, a wonderful congregation that's about 90% older gay couples who got together long before adoption was legal. Which is totally reasonable, but also somewhat daunting with my rambunctious toddlers as the only kids in the room, even if the rabbi assures me they're welcome.)

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 I'm out of town this weekend, glad to be with family, wishing I were in DC to help my family there defend the place from its enemies. And I stayed up late worrying and wrote a story about Obed Yringl'phtagn Marsh dealing with the anniversary of the Innsmouth raid and the start of World War II.

This is messy and new and only lightly edited, and offered as a gift to everyone on the front lines today:


***

This wasn’t the reasonable place to be. In the crystalline corridors of Y’ha-nthlei, in vast chambers at the hearts of R’lyeh and Chorzh-athern and Vrai-kad’vlek, councils were convening, warriors and archpriests and scholars and bards of every battle where human blood ever added salt to the sea. Yringl’phtagn was not quite any of these things, but he should have been there offering his half-welcome advice.

Instead, he stood on a dark beach with ruins at his back, gazing at the water. The tide was just turning toward ebb. Only the ghostly edges of the waves reflected the new moon starlight. They whispered across the sandbar, heart’s rhythm of a thousand rituals.

“It’s been a while,” said Khr’jhelkh’ng. He’d joined the crew of Kraken’s Journal shortly before Yringl’phtagn went into the water, shipped on the Arkansas in 1917 as a seasoned sailor, and was listed as lost overboard in early ’18 though his fellows knew more. He’d returned from Vrai-kad’vlek’s patrol only a week ago, asking for his old place amid Yringl’phtagn’s crew.

Jhathl came back from the dunes, claws scuffing sand. She held a scrap of driftwood, weathered and gray in the starlight. A rusted nail protruded; it had been part of a food stall once, or a newspaper stand. Part of Innsmouth. “We should have known months ago,” she said. “Even if the war hasn’t touched this continent, our young would have heard, and told us.”  

For Yringl’phtagn that would have been Keziah or Josias or Tacita, if any of them were still on land, their children otherwise. Cheerful Aphra with her sky-deep eyes, studious little Caleb, the baby that Josias and his mate would have named two days after the attack. He imagined Keziah brandishing a copy of the Free Press: Europe’s broken out into war again. What are we doing about it?

“They wouldn’t have told us everything the patrol found,” said Khr’jelkh’ng. “They wouldn’t know.”

“We have only the universe made visible to us,” said Yringl’phtagn. He tried to shake it off, that sense that the other world of “if we had” and “if they’d known” lay just out of reach, over those dunes. Only the jagged board insisted on the reality of a fallen town, dead and empty.

But that was why so few came up from Y’ha-nthlei these days. It was too easy to believe, every time you broke through the waves, that you’d see the beach crowded as it once was. That they’d be waiting. Eleven years now, almost to the day, too short a time for memory to change its habits.

He forced himself to more practical matters. “Khr’jelkh’ng, the patrol’s report would feel incomplete, even if you hadn’t come racing back to the Kraken’s crew as soon as they made it. It’s not your way to leave work unfinished. Tell us: what are they hiding?”

Khr’jelkh’ng pulled himself straight, a hint of airborn soldier’s training, but bared teeth belied the mask, and webbed fingers ground tight around his trident. “They don’t think they’re hiding anything. Everything that matters, we shared.”

“You were working with one of the old bands, weren’t you?” asked Jhathl. Even now there was a trace of envy in her voice, mixed with her usual disdain for the ancient hierarchies.

“Youngest of the lot by a good five thousand years.” An ambitious wave surged over their feet, and Khr’jelkh’ng glared. “Half of what drives airborn politics these days, they’ve no concept of.”

“And the other half the things that don’t change, no matter how the species changes,” said Yringl’phtagn. “What do you think they missed?”

Khr’jelkh’ng hissed, shuffled, and at last sat in the firm wet sand. The others followed suit; Yringl’phtagn grimaced as a shell tried to wedge itself amid his scales.

 “You know we went after U-boats on the Arkansas, though we never saw one up close for sure. The air folk had almost a superstition of the subs; they’d never put it that way, but anything that can hide so long below the surface seemed unnatural to them.” Jhathl snickered, and Khr’jelkh’ng went on. “We did meet Germans in person after the Armistice, getting their fleet locked up in Scapa Flow. I was under the boat by then, but I listened enough, came up sometimes in a slicker when the weather got bad. They seemed like decent fellows for all they’d been on the wrong side of things.

“Our patrol found one of the things sunk, just as you heard, and recently. They’re ghostly things broken, like the last of a whale fall. It had a hole blown in its side. The bodies were nearly down to skeletons, but they had records kept waterproof, enough to hunt down their living cousins.”

“And you found one,” said Yringl’phtagn impatiently. “That much we heard.”

Jhathl cuffed him lightly. “If you want to hear the story they didn’t tell, don’t keep telling us the story we already heard.”

A trace of humor crept into Khr’jelkh’ng’s expression. “If I couldn’t tell the captain a story while he was trying to get ahead of me, I’d never have given him so much as the watch change.”

Yringl’phtagn sighed. “I shall be as silent as the Sleeping God.”

“Whose dreams drive men to frenzies of art and rebellion?” Khr’jelkh’ng turned serious again. “It might be no bad thing. Indeed, we found a living U-boat, by their own expedient of stalking one of the great merchant fleets above. The subs swam together in a pack, but we drew one away simply by letting the crew catch glimpses of us. They gave chase, and we led them to the surface and pulled them from their shell.”

And suffered wounds in the process—Yringl’phtagn had seen that much in the puckered scales of some of the other band members, still healing. He’d dodged gunfire himself, both in scraps with pirates aboard Kraken’s Journal, and the ambush when they’d tried to track Innsmouth’s lost children. The band had been lucky.

“They weren’t like the fellows we met in Scotland, beyond the way men are calmed by surrender or fired by a hunt. They understood that we were—” He grimaced. “—that we were things that could talk. But that meant nothing to them. Men of the air often see us as monsters. These did too, but it seemed… a common experience for them. They compared us to every airborn enemy they hated: we were in league with Jews, with communists, with weak-minded men who thought like women and… don’t look at me like that, Jhathl, I promise someone cut his throat for you. It seemed clear to me that their world was full of monsters, with a scant tribe of true men deserving life at all. It wasn’t one of those crews shaped by a tyrant captain, either; he was no better or worse than the rest, if more in command of his tongue.”

The band’s reports had been full of the war itself; from this interrogation they’d shared only numbers and ambitions. It had seemed complete enough, to most of those listening. “The rest of the band didn’t think that unusual.”

“Not shocking, at least. Perhaps when we fought with stone knives, and scrapped over watering holes—but no, I don’t think that sort of talk was more common, then. It was something making them so dismissive. I don’t think they grasped the scale—what it means to hate that way, in a world that men can circle in a few weeks. These people can fly over Europe, and see all the cities below, and more men in each than existed when some of our patrol went into the water—and still hate them to their faces. All things must fall, but they were eager for it. As if burning most of mankind would lift them up.”

Jhathl spit, and tossed her driftwood into the retreating waters. “Show men of the air a glimpse of infinity, and they’ll retreat into destruction. It’s what happened here.”

Yringl’phtagn considered. “That’s near enough what they’re saying below: We’ve always fought in the wars of the air, until they destroyed our spawning grounds. We’ve no stake in their fights now; dive deep and let them burn.”

Khr’jelkh’ng laid his trident down on the sand. His gaze shifted between dune and wave, lingered at last on his comrades. “Maybe it’s that I’ve already fought those wars, but I still see something to choose between. I have to think there’s still something worth saving up here.”

“Even if there’s a difference between the sides,” asked Jhathl, “is it enough? You didn’t pull anyone off the British ships, to test the flavor of their fear. How do you know they don’t embrace extinction as well?”

Yringl’phtagn thought of Keziah—delusion to think she might merely be imprisoned somewhere, that some airborn soldier hadn’t painted himself in his daughter’s blood. But she would have asked, would have assumed: What are we doing about it?

“If we dive deep,” he said, “we’ll never know. If we tear open a few more shells, well, we might get the chance to learn more of the other side. If they haven’t earned our aid, at least it will be recorded in the Archives that we fought.”

Jhathl snorted. “Only if someone tells them. Are you about to dive back down to Y’ha-nthlei and say that whatever they decide, the Kraken’s crew is heading east to hunt submarines?”

Yringl’phtagn bared sharp teeth. “It depends whether they ask where we’re going.”

Khr’jelkh’ng laughed and showed his own teeth. “I do remember how this works. I’ve missed it.”

Jhathl sighed. “I’m not sure I’ll ever care for the surface after this, but yes. For the sake of having fought.” And her own fangs glinted in starlight.

They retrieved their weapons, and ran, and dove. Then Innsmouth’s beach lay empty, silent save for the ancient whisper of the waves.

***
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Deep Roots is out today!

You can find previews and giveaways on Tor.com.

Places you can find me, real and virtual:
  • Hanging out at Readercon in Boston
  • At Pandemonium Books, also in Boston, July 17 at 7PM
  • At the Hoover Library Science Fiction Festival in Hoover AL, July 27-29
  • At the OutWrite queer literature festival in Washington DC, August 4
  • 6-book interview at Nerds of a Feather
  • Interview on Paul Semel's site
  • Spark of Life column on Marie Brennan's site
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I'll be at Balticon over Memorial Day Weekend. Here's my schedule:

Contemporary Near-Future SF That's Not Dystopian - Saturday 10AM
     Ray Ridenor (moderator), Sarah Pinsker, Ruthanna Emrys

Current trends in speculative fiction show a preponderance of dystopian futures. Let’s look at the stories that don't fall into that mold.


Readings - Saturday 9PM
     Michael M. Jones, Ruthanna Emrys, Jean Marie Ward


How to Use Speculative Fiction to Change the World - Monday 10AM
     D.H. Aire (moderator), Ruthanna Emrys, Ted Weber, Ada Palmer

With the unique ability to image the world as it isn't (but could be), it's no surprise that science fiction and fantasy works have long been associated with movements for change. But how do we go from idea to action? And how can portrayal of a future to avoid be just as rousing as one we'd like to build?


Who else is going to be there?



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So this is what I posted on Twitter this morning:

Plagues so far: car shopping, insurance idiocy, broken oven, dog pee, chronic illness flare-ups. Dayenus: amazing householdmates, amazing landlord, & the realization that most of what we needed the oven for can be done on the grill if necessary. 

It continued to be a very concretely illustrative day--Passover prep is normally pretty intense, and having a non-functional oven when we were supposed to be feasting 16 people at sunset did not reduce the intensity. Our amazing landlord showed up around 2 with a new oven (because he's amazing), whereupon we had neither oven nor stovetop nor access to most ingredients for an hour or so while he got the thing installed. 

But he did get it installed and we did then have a working kitchen, and people's meds had mostly kicked in and Best Kitchen Housemate came back from the Kosher grocery (an hour away) with our last missing ingredients, and we got the eggs boiled and the matzoh made and the lamb in the oven and the quinoa in the rice cooker--and for all the stress, it was so good to be embedded in a community of people pitching in and making everything happen.

All of which is background to the seder itself, and one part of it in particular. Our household follows a tradition in which, after describing the 10 plagues visited on the Egyptians in Exodus, we list out modern plagues--for each one, dipping fingers in wine and leaving drops, bloodlike, along the rims of our plates. Then we sing "Dayenu," which lists the things G-d did for the Israelites, for each adding "it would have been enough." And we then list things we're grateful for now, saying after each one, "Dayenu."

Usually the two lists are about balanced--maybe 2-3 minutes going around the table and naming the world's ills, and then the comforts of family and community. Tonight, though, no one wanted to leave the Dayenus. We must have spent ten minutes naming things we were grateful for, responding with fervent Dayenus and thoughtful silences. Family and friends and community, but also resistance and protest, memory and foresight, and horrors pulled out the darkness where they've festered in safety. And specific glories: Librarians. Music. Electricity. 

Last year, newly launched into the work of resistance, we spent much of our seder on explicit discussion of that work, girding ourselves for the months and years to come. This year, it felt like we were more confident in that work--and hungrier for reminders of the things worth saving in the world. That place of focused gratitude was not something I expected to find tonight, but I hope to carry it with me into the coming year.

Dayenu.

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Thanks to the random number generator, the Deep Roots ARC goes to [personal profile] catsittingstill, assuming it can reach her in favorite city Tai-Tastigon. Thanks to everyone who entered--I'm now feeling homesick for even more cities and desirous of visiting even more!
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Deep Roots now exists in physical form, and I've got an ARC to share! Aphra heads to New York in search of long-lost relatives. But some of them have fallen in w/a dangerous--and not particularly human--crowd.

(I'm having trouble getting Dreamwidth to upload photos right now, but they're really pretty--John Jude Palencar makes good scary eyeball statues, and I don't blame Aphra for being startled by the thing.)



Tell me your favorite city (real or otherwise) by Saturday night to enter.


 

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I've added a panel! Stories of Displacement, Saturday morning at 11:30, moderated by [personal profile] sovay.

SFF of Resistance - Friday 8:30PM - Gillian Daniels, T.X. Watson, Ruthanna Emrys, Meredith Schwartz, Eric in the Elevator

In a time of rising authoritarianism around the world, many of us turn to stories as an escape from the grim parade of daily news. But there is more than escape in SFF, there are strategies, inspiration, and hope for a better, freer future. In this panel we will look at the stories that prepare us to face power, and show us the ways we might proceed. 

Stories of Displacement
- Saturday 11:30 AM - Sonya Taaffe, Kevin Turausky, Ruthanna Emrys, Alex Shvartzman, Steve Popkes

Our genre regularly examines war, famine, natural disaster, and other life shattering events that displace people from their homes. Too often, the stories skip over the lives of these people as they transition from their old lives into uncertainty. In this panel, we'll explore the stories that center on displaced people, examine how SFF portrays them, and discuss what stories can still do to illustrate the realities that displaced people in our own world face.




Fantasy That Speculates - Saturday 5:30PM - James Hailer, Victoria Sandbrook, Ruthanna Emrys, V.E. Schwab, Debra Doyle

Fantasy lands such as Westeros or Stillness, with their dramatic variations in climate or seismic activity, provide a fertile ground for speculation within the story. The Stillness plans ahead and takes these factors into account; Westeros does not. Why? This panel will discuss speculation in fantasy, which stories are more speculative, and how fantasy can extrapolate from its premise.


Down With Grimdark, Up With... - Sunday 2:30PM - Sarah Weintraub, T.X. Watson, Ruthanna Emrys, Alexander Rowland, Terri Ash

Grimdark stories, ones that focus on darkness and angst, have been prevalent throughout SFF recently. However, many people are pushing for change, with suggestions such as Solarpunk, Genderpunk, and Hopepunk, ones that focus on a bright future. Solarpunk is focused on green energy and sustainability, whereas Hopepunk is about people choosing love over hate, and fighting for that possible bright future. Will these new genres will gain a foothold? What other "punks" do you see emerging in SFF?


SFF, Homage, and Transformation - Sunday 4PM - Ken Shneyer, Ruthanna Emrys, V.E. Schwab, Greer Gilman, Will "SciFantasy" Frank

A vast majority of literature has homages to previous works - familiar tropes and nods to existing tales. Some stories, however, seem to be nothing other than things you’ve seen before. Our panelists will discuss the art of homage and transformation, and the ways in which the familiar can be remade into the startling.


Reading: Social Themes in SF&F
 - Monday 1PM - Ruthanna Emrys, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Leo d'Entremont

Authors will be reading their own original works which science fiction and fantasy which tackle contemporary social themes. 
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I'll be at Arisia, in Boston on Martin Luther King Day weekend!

SFF of Resistance - Friday 8:30PM - Gillian Daniels, T.X. Watson, Ruthanna Emrys, Meredith Schwartz, Eric in the Elevator

In a time of rising authoritarianism around the world, many of us turn to stories as an escape from the grim parade of daily news. But there is more than escape in SFF, there are strategies, inspiration, and hope for a better, freer future. In this panel we will look at the stories that prepare us to face power, and show us the ways we might proceed. 


Fantasy That Speculates - Saturday 5:30PM - James Hailer, Victoria Sandbrook, Ruthanna Emrys, V.E. Schwab, Debra Doyle

Fantasy lands such as Westeros or Stillness, with their dramatic variations in climate or seismic activity, provide a fertile ground for speculation within the story. The Stillness plans ahead and takes these factors into account; Westeros does not. Why? This panel will discuss speculation in fantasy, which stories are more speculative, and how fantasy can extrapolate from its premise.


Down With Grimdark, Up With... - Sunday 2:30PM - Sarah Weintraub, T.X. Watson, Ruthanna Emrys, Alexander Rowland, Terri Ash

Grimdark stories, ones that focus on darkness and angst, have been prevalent throughout SFF recently. However, many people are pushing for change, with suggestions such as Solarpunk, Genderpunk, and Hopepunk, ones that focus on a bright future. Solarpunk is focused on green energy and sustainability, whereas Hopepunk is about people choosing love over hate, and fighting for that possible bright future. Will these new genres will gain a foothold? What other "punks" do you see emerging in SFF?


SFF, Homage, and Transformation - Sunday 4PM - Ken Shneyer, Ruthanna Emrys, V.E. Schwab, Greer Gilman, Will "SciFantasy" Frank

A vast majority of literature has homages to previous works - familiar tropes and nods to existing tales. Some stories, however, seem to be nothing other than things you’ve seen before. Our panelists will discuss the art of homage and transformation, and the ways in which the familiar can be remade into the startling.


Reading: Social Themes in SF&F
- Monday 1PM - Ruthanna Emrys, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Leo d'Entremont

Authors will be reading their own original works which science fiction and fantasy which tackle contemporary social themes.

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My favorite thing about The Last Jedi--well, one of my favorite things--

--is a massive spoiler. )
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In Innsmouth, of course, they appreciate long nights: 


We walked down to the boundary of the waves, where the cool and giving sand turned hard and damp. Charlie’s night vision was poor, but he followed readily and crouched beside me, careful not to put too much weight on his knee. He winced only a little when a rivulet washed over
his bare feet.

I glanced up and down the beach and satisfied myself that we were alone. At this time of night, at this time of year, it was a safe gamble that no one would join us.

I began tracing symbols in the sand with my finger. Charlie helped. I rarely had to correct him; by this point even he knew the basic sigils by touch. You must understand them as part of yourself, no more needing sight to make them do your bidding than you would to move your own legs.

Outward- facing spells had been harder for me, of late. To look at my own body and blood was easy enough, but the world did not invite
close examination. Still, I forced my mind into the sand, into the salt and the water, into the clouds that sped above them. I felt Charlie’s strength flowing into my own, but the wind tore at my mind as it had not at my body, pressing me into my skull. I pushed back, gasping as I struggled to hold my course and my intentions for the night.

And it wasn’t working. The clouds were a distant shiver in my thoughts, nothing I could grasp or change. The wind was an indifferent opponent, fierce and strong. I fell back into my body with cheeks stung by salt.

Charlie still sat beside me, eyes closed in concentration. I touched him, and they flew open.

“It’s no good,” I said.

“Giving up so soon?”

I shivered, not with cold but with shame. As a child we had the archpriests for this. Not a half- trained man of the air and me, dependent 
on distant memories and a few scavenged books. “I can’t get through the wind.”

He tilted his head back. “I know
De Anima likes to talk about ‘the great war of the elements,’ but I’ve been wondering— should it really be through? When we practice other spells, at the store . . . I know these arts aren’t always terribly intuitive, but ‘through’ doesn’t seem right. When we’re working on the Inner Sea, or practicing healing, you always tell me that you can’t fght your own blood.”

I blinked, stared at him a long moment—at once proud of my student, and embarrassed at my own lapse. My eyes felt heavy, full of things I needed to see. “Right. Let’s find out where the wind takes us.”

I closed my eyes again, and rather than focusing on
De Anima’s medieval metaphors, cast myself through the symbols and into the wind. This time I didn’t try to direct it, didn’t force on it my desires and expectations and memories. And I felt my mind lifted, tossed and twisted— whirled up into the misty tendrils of the clouds, and I could taste them and breathe them and wrap them around me, and I remembered that I had something to tell them.

I knelt on the strand, waves soaking my skirt, and gazed with pleasure and fear as the clouds spiraled, streaming away from the sky above us, and through that eye the starlight poured in.

“Oh,” said Charlie. And then, “What now?”

“Now,” I murmured, “we watch the universe. And tell stories, and seek signs, and share what has been hidden in our own lives.

 

May the darkness, and the stars that shine through it, bring you solace and insight. 

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For reasons having to do with my great hunger for deadlines, and for small writing prompts to get my brain in gear--and now that they seem to have sworn off idiocy for a while--I'm thinking about starting a Patreon. My schedule being what it is, I'm also thinking about cool things I could share that would be less time-consuming and more fun--something that will let me play around a little even when I'm ocean-deep in novel-writing, without actually causing me to miss novel-related deadlines. So rewards might include:

- Flash fiction and "cut scenes" for the Innsmouth Legacy and Tikanu settings.
- Custom sonnets
- Worldbuilding recipes
- Opportunities to provide prompts for all of the above

So... is this something folks would be interested in? Are there other rewards that would be more/additionally enticing? 
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I've just finished the proof edits on Deep Roots, so we should be on track for July publication. The release date is currently set to July 9th.  This is more appropriate than Winter Tide's April release date, since the story takes place during a muggy New York June. These are very seasonal books. I kind of wanted to have the first one come out in time for its titular holiday, but apparently December releases lose more sales to people not buying for themselves than they gain from holiday gift purchases.* The Science of Publishing!

Things that can be found in this book:
  • The looming gentrification of Innsmouth
  • Other-dimensional vistas of cosmic wonder and fear, and their nasty side effects
  • Awkward relatives
  • Terrifying relatives
  • The looming threat of human extinction
  • Aliens worried about the looming threat of human extinction, and eager to do something about it
  • Bagels and lox
I've started on the first couple of chapters of Book 3, but don't yet have a contract. While I wait, I've been playing around with "What if the ancient language that drives men mad... was an area of academic study like any other?" If the woes of the world don't completely distract me, it'll be a novelette draft by the time I have official deadlines again.


*Winter Tide does, in fact, make a great Winter Tide gift--and it's also appropriate for other portions of the Great North American Festival to Combat SAD.



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I am currently suffering from a toddler plague which includes the delightful symptom of "malaise." That sounds more Victorian than it turns out to be in practice. At the moment I'm awake, yet don't have the energy to actually get out of bed or write anything substantial. Therefore, have some links:

Through noon on Friday, you can get a free e-book of Winter Tide by signing up for the Tor.com newsletter--I believe you can still get it if you're already a subscriber.

Over at the Lovecraft E-zine podcast, Anne M. Pillsworth and I talk about the Lovecraft Reread, our favorite weird fiction, and how to fangirl problematic things.

I neglected to post here at the time, but the cover for Deep Roots and a short interview are up at The Verge. Deep Roots is coming out in July 2018, and contains creepy yet dangerously helpful aliens, Deep Ones attempting to navigate the New York City subway, and lots of takeout food. Awkward relatives and apocalyptic threats galore!


 
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I have too much stuff going on to post about what's going on, so here, have my Baltimore Book Festival schedule:

Saturday 9/23

- 3PM: Signing with Sarah Pinsker

- 4PM: Turning Old Monsters Into New

Still scared of the Boogie Man? Our panel resurrects the monsters you grew up with,  talks about all the monsters you grew up with, from fairy tales to urban fantasy to myths and legends and the thing underneath your bed, discuss how modern fiction is reinterpreting them. 
Authors: Scott Edelman, Ruthanna Emrys, Craig Laurance Gidney, Vivian Shaw, Ruth Vincent. Moderator: Scott H. Andrews

- 5PM: Beyond Stew and Replicators: Food in Science Fiction & Fantasy

Sensory details are the hallmark of great science fiction and fantasy, and nothing brings that home quite like the food! Join our panelists as they discuss what goes right and wrong with  food in their favorite books. We guarantee you'll leave hungry—unless they start talking about soylent green.
Authors: Lara Elena Donnelly, Scott Edelman, Ruthanna Emrys, Lawrence M. Schoen, Fran Wilde. Moderator Denise Clemons.

Sunday 9/24

- 12PM: Politics, Resistance, & Speculative Fiction

Science fiction and fantasy have always been political, and have always used genre trappings to explore the here and now through the past and future. What does that look like in the current political climate? 
Authors: Lara Elena Donnelly, Ruthanna Emrys, Craig Laurance Gidney, Addison Gunn, Malka Older. Moderator: Scott H. Andrews
 
- 2PM: Fantasy: It's Epic, it's Historic, it's Dark or Weird or High or Low or Urban

How are all of the categories of fantasy even the same genre? From dungeons to dragons to vampires in our midst, our panel will discuss what they love, what they write, and what you should be reading.
Authors: DH AIie, Ruthanna Emrys, Craig Laurance Gidney, Jeremy M. Gottwig, Ilana C. Myer, Ruth Vincent. Moderator: Jon Skovron
 

All this takes place at the SFWA tent, and the full schedule is available here. The full line-up looks amazing.


Things going on, briefly: 

- Anne and I posted our Necronomicon con report on Tor.com. 
- Deep Roots has been sent off to production, which means I can finally switch from Editing mode to  New Words mode. Tentative title for Book 3: Seas Rise Wild.
- Dear gods, there are a lot of small mammals in the Mysterious Manor House.
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I'll be at the OutWrite DC queer literature festival this coming Saturday. I'm on:

Love and Other Monsters: A Speculative Fiction Reading - 12 PM - Craig Gidney, Steve Berman, Rahul Kanakia, and Ruthanna Emrys

Beyond Gender in Speculative Fiction - 4 PM - Don Sakers, Craig Gidney, Rahul Kanakia, Michael M. Jones, Ruthanna Emrys, Lemur Rowlands, and Akiva Wolberg

The whole thing is free and takes place at the DC LGBT Center. In addition to the festival itself, I'll be joining the Outwrite Author's Corner panel at the Ask Rayceen Show, Wednesday night 8/2 (so probably tonight, by the time most of you read this), at the Human Rights Campaign. (I am definitely there even though not confirmed before the Facebook post went up. I checked.) In addition to geeky authors, there will also be a poetry slam and burlesque, making for a truly variable variety show.


Then the weekend of August 18th, I'll be in Providence for Necronomicon! I'm on:

Saturday 8/19, 10:30-11:45AM: LOVECRAFT REVISIONS – Grand Ballroom, Biltmore 17th Floor

They are the Rodney Dangerfields of Lovecraft’s work: the dreaded revisions! Consisting of stories edited and often completely rewritten by Lovecraft, they tend to be overlooked by many readers and scholars. Yet, Lovecraft’s work on his client’s stories elevated many of them from mere hackwork to excellent examples not only of his own prose and ideas but his philosophy as well. Hear why our panelists say that these revisions should not be passed over as ‘minor’ works.

Panelists: Peter Cannon (Moderator), Ruthanna Emrys, S.T. Joshi, Leslie Klinger, Steve Mariconda, Anne Pillsworth


Saturday 8/19, 6-7:15PM: THE KING IN YELLOW & ROBERT CHAMBERS – Omni 1

Thanks to a resurgence of interest via popular culture, this long-forgotten writer is better known than ever before. But what EXACTLY is “The King in Yellow” and why is it important? This panel discusses Chambers’ trail-blazing book, what effect it’s had on Lovecraftiana (if not Lovecraft himself) and weird fiction, and why it is gaining more readers today.

Panelists: Ruthanna Emrys, Alex Houstoun (Moderator), Rick Lai, Joe Pulver


Sunday 8/20, 4:30-5:45: THE FUTURE OF WEIRD FICTION and NECRONOMICON-PVD – Garden Room, Biltmore 2nd Floor

Join our panel of experts as they discuss the most vital Weird Fiction of today and the direction they see it moving towards in the future. The panel concludes with some thoughts on this year’s convention and future plans…

Panelists: s.j. bagley (moderator), Sam Cowan, Ellen Datlow, Ruthanna Emrys, Michael Kelly


John Jude Palencar, who painted the gorgeous cover for Winter Tide, will be the Artist Guest of Honor. No guarantees, but it's just possible there may be a sneak preview of the Deep Roots cover, which I'm not allowed to post yet but is likewise gorgeous.

There are plans for a reading as well--I thought we finally had a time nailed down, but it turned out to require co-location and/or time travel. That would only be possible if I were an ancient eldritch horror with powers beyond mortal ken, which of course I am definitely not.

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 I've been somewhat neglectful here. So, a low-stress post in which I don't try to go into anything in depth, because cramps, and because the summer's round of one-thing-after-another doesn't actually finish up for another month.

1) Readercon was awesome and a thing I want to go back to. I wasn't on program this year, which is something I want to change next year but on the other hand it was really nice to have one of the summer's Things be basically relaxing. I hung out with [personal profile] gaudior and [personal profile] rushthatspeaks and [personal profile] mrissa and Greer, and had a useful lunch with my agent and editor, and picked up a large stack of books, and generally had a great time. And then read at Pandemonium after the con with Fran Wilde and Chris Sharp, and that was also great, and the large stack of books that I had to deconstruct in order to see the audience reduced quite satisfactorily by the end of the event.

2) I have my mostly-final schedules for Necronomicon and the Baltimore Book Festival, which I will post once they're final. I also know what I'm doing at the Outwrite queer literature festival, except that I can't find the time for my panel now, so that will be here later too. But it's in DC on August 5th and promises to be a fun time.

3) It's that time of year when we've finally set a date to pick up our new cow--longhorn this year, shared with the same two people I've been splitting cows with for a while now. They each take a quarter of the cow, my large family of mostly carnivores takes a half, and we all enjoy the discount that comes from buying a whole cow. But this means the freezer damn well has to be empty by mid-August, which means in turn that all the weird bits of the last cow, and other odds and ends that have filled the empty space as 500 pounds of meat gets down to the last couple of packages, need to get used up. Thus there's currently heart marinating in the fridge, rump roast in the slow cooker, and a large bag of miscellaneous poultry organs out to thaw. (We also have a lot of vegetables in the house, but they rarely get to the point of freezing. The Mysterious Manor House goes through a weekly CSA box pretty handily. Except for the rutabaga.)

4) Things I have loved lately: 
  • Theodora Goss's The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, which is about the daughters of Doctor Jekyl and Mister Hyde teaming up with Justine Frankenstein and Catherine Moreau and Beatrice Rappacini - together they fight crime and build a found family. And the whole thing is written up as a novel by Catherine, but everyone else is playing peanut gallery over her shoulder so she transcribes their objections and questions in little asides, and impatiently explains to them the literary conceits that she's using. 
  • Arrival, which I watched on a long plane flight and promptly moved to the top of my Hugo list for Dramatic Presentation Long Form, and I can't believe they actually managed to film that but they did.
  • Jupiter Ascending, which I watched on the same long plane flight and adored in completely different ways: it's as delightful and cracktastic as everyone told you on Tumblr.



5) And now I need to put down Dreamwidth and go fix a small continuity error and an anachronism for the Winter Tide paperback.

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