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Well, THAT Was A Month!

Aug. 29th, 2015 | 12:25 pm

I have been at conventions or a writing retreat for the last three weekends, and am finally coming up for air. It has been fun and busy and potentially profitable, but I am also looking forward to a weekend in which I can take things a little more easily.

Shore Leave!Collapse )

Stargate CreationCon!Collapse )

Writing retreatCollapse )

So! A busy and productive month, definitely, and I am looking forward to spending some of this weekend sitting on my balcony watching the snapping turtles and drinking Crabbie’s Spiced Orange Alcoholic Ginger Beer. I’ll let you know how it is.

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A Thought from Shore Leave

Aug. 12th, 2015 | 04:28 pm

An odd thing happened at last weekend’s Shore Leave convention, one that’s left me feeling I need to clarify something I said. I was on a panel on LGBT characters in SF, which — like many of the panels at this year’s Shore Leave — clearly involved some confusion among the panelists and audience as to what the panel was supposed to be about. The panelists included 4 authors and an editor from Tor, and at one point one of the authors — who had just written his first gay characters, though the book was not yet out — had expressed concern that he would lose some of his audience by including a gay relationship at the center of his story. (He came from, and had a strong readership among, a fairly conservative and religious community.) In responding to this, I said that there was one great advantage in being with a small press, as the author was, and that was that one did not need to meet the same sales numbers in order to be successful. Smaller houses were often able to pick up books that the NY houses weren’t able to buy, books that the larger publishers believed would not reach a large enough audience because of their content.

The Tor editor asked who I thought was putting pressure on the NY houses. I answered, “the parent corporations, the conglomerates that own the NY houses.” The Tor editor replied that he could certainly say that there was no pressure placed on the Tor editorial staff to buy anything but the best books they could find regardless of subject. I was considerably taken aback, and the acting moderator intervened.

And then I realized that we had been talking entirely at cross purposes. I had not said, and not meant to say, that the big NY houses don’t buy LGBT (or any other non-mainstream) books because the editors don’t want to buy them or are pressured not to buy them, though that was certainly what the editor heard. What I had meant to say, and what I thought I was saying, was that NY houses can’t afford to buy books that don’t reach a certain sales threshold. Smaller presses can afford to buy books with a niche audience, and "niche audience" often includes readers of LGBT books.

No malice is involved here, and I certainly wouldn’t claim that there is. But it is demonstrably true that the NY houses no longer buy midlist books — notice how many midlist authors who used to be with major NY houses are now either with small presses or self-publishing both back- and frontlist titles. There are hard sales numbers that books from the NY houses have to meet, those numbers are higher than books from smaller presses, and the old midlist titles, once the standby of the NY houses, no longer meet those criteria.

And I firmly believe that the inability to buy books that don’t make those numbers means that the NY houses have to buy books that they believe will resonate with a largely mainstream, demographically majority audience. Any book that deals with “minority” characters and issues of any kind, whatever they are, has to take the mainstream audience into account, and be appealing to that audience as well as to an audience already predisposed to read books about those subjects. A LGBT press (almost by definition small) can afford to sell primarily to an LGBT audience, and a specialty press can afford to sell primarily to readers who already know and love their subgenre: they don’t need to sell as many copies to make a profit. I will repeat, because I truly mean this: no prejudice or malice is involved here. But if a book seems unlikely to sell a certain (fairly high) number of copies in the first few months of its shelf life, the NY houses can’t buy it, no matter how well-written, important, or good it actually is. And many of the books that fall into that category are ones with non-mainstream viewpoints.

This is why I think that the proliferation of small, indie, and micro presses and the rise of self-publishing options is going to be good for the genre, and for authors in general. There is room in those worlds for books that have a different point of view, that don’t take the mainstream into account, and room, too, for books that take a while to find an audience, and for the sort of books that used to be called “cult classics,” the ones that attract a small but passionate readership. And that, I think, means more voices, and that is good for everyone.

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Legacy - Third Path Is Out

Jul. 18th, 2015 | 10:10 am

Another quick announcement - Stargate Atlantis: Third Path, the eighth book in the Legacy series, is now avaiable on Amazon. Paperback and other formats should follow, paperbacks in a couple of weeks, as it takes time to print the physical copies.

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Another Sale!

Jul. 15th, 2015 | 06:53 pm

This time, it's the Kindle edition of A Death at the Dionysus Club, on sale tomorrow at a ridiculously low price. A gay Victorian murder mystery with magic!

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Astreiant on sale!

Jul. 10th, 2015 | 01:24 pm

If you've been thinking about trying the Astreiant novels (Point of Hopes, Point of Knives, Point of Dreams, and Fairs' Point), Lethe has created a package deal - all four books, three novels and one novella, for $30, less than half the cover price. And we will certainly be able to work out autographing for US buyers - just let Lethe know when you make your purchase.

I have been poking at the next Astreiant novel, Point of Sighs, and woke up this morning with a new sense of the overall plot that pleases me enormously. (I tend to think of plotting at this stage as a kind of jigsaw, or maybe a tangram would be a better analogy: a lot of oddly shaped pieces that need to be sorted into the best configuration. And I think this time I may have found exactly the shape I was looking for.)

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Marriage Equality

Jun. 26th, 2015 | 03:54 pm

In February 2001 — on Valentine’s Day, in point of fact — Lisa and I and two of our dearest friends drove from Portsmouth, NH to Burlingon, Vermont, where we had an appointment with a minister (a former Catholic priest and a friend of friends) to sign a license of civil union. It was flurrying a bit as we found the Burlington courthouse and began filling out the paperwork for the license. This involved my remembering my parents’ years of birth, and about halfway through the process, Lisa put down her pen.

“I’m not sure I actually want to do this,” she said.

I refrained from pointing out that not only was this my best chance to get on her health insurance, saving us about $500 a month plus the cost of my asthma medications, but that we’d just driven through the fringes of a snowstorm to get here. “Well, if you really hate the idea, we don’t have to. We can just stand witness for Don and Thomas.”

“I hate the idea of marriage. It’s like a virgin sacrifice, and it’s a horrible institution.”

“I’m not fond of it either, but this is a civil union. We can make that mean something different.”

“It’s the same damn thing.”

“Like I said, we don’t have to do this. Oh, look, isn’t that an adorable puppy!”

Someone had brought in their 3 or 4 month-old shaggy mixed-breed puppy to get its license, and most of the courthouse staff had come out from behind the tall counters to pet it and make much of it. The puppy was clearly loving the attention, and Lisa took a deep breath.

“All right. I’m going to go say hi to that puppy and think about it.”

I finished filling out the paperwork, and after a few minutes she came back and said, “All right. I’m ok with this. Let’s do it.”
I remain sorry that I didn’t have a whole fistful of treats to offer that puppy.

At that point we’d been together 22 years, and the plan was that we would have a celebratory party at some later date — we didn’t want it to feel as though our newly-legal status trumped the 21 years we’d already been together. What with one thing and another, we never had the party, and five years later Lisa was dead. It was unclear at her death whether I was a legal spouse or not, and there was no real reason (and no money) to take anything to court to find out. To the COBRA people, I was a spouse, and had 6 more years of her insurance, though they had no code for same-sex partner, and had to list me as a child, adding a note to the file; to the pension administrators and the bank that held her IRA, Lisa’s death came before New Hampshire recognized civil unions, so I was not a spouse. At the funeral home, I made the arrangements, and was acknowledge as the proper party to do so by nice Mr. Gagne, but Lisa’s sister signed the authorization as next of kin. My parents loaned me the money to cover the expenses because the life insurance hadn’t come through, and after 3 years of dealing with cancer, we had no savings left. We owned the house jointly, so it was automatically mine, but I couldn’t pay her debts until we went through probate, because I wasn’t a spouse.

This used to be normal. I heard a hundred stories like this — and worse, so much worse — as we lost friends during the AIDS crisis, and I’ll be the first to say that we were tremendously lucky, as we did all the correct paperwork and had supportive families. And while we have a lot of work still to do (employment discrimination, for one big thing — what’s the point of getting married if coming out will get you fired), at least there is something better available than the weird patchwork of yeses and noes that followed Lisa’s death.

And that for me is another thing that marriage is about, along with the familiar talk of joy and happiness, dignity and acknowledgement. It’s the right, when things are at their worst, to take care of the person you love. That is also why this matters.

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Star Wars: Rise of the Empire

May. 3rd, 2015 | 02:02 pm

Another update - I’ve been signed to do a short story for the Del Rey bind-up Rise of the Empire! I’ve been a Star Wars fan since the very beginning, and the idea of writing in that universe fills me with excitement.

Star Wars and me...Collapse )

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Another General Update

May. 1st, 2015 | 03:25 pm

Or perhaps this should be titled “May? Already??” It’s been a busy spring! The giant snapping turtles have emerged from hibernation in the pond behind my condo, and it looks as though the wisteria is going to bloom very soon. The trees around the pond, and one dead tree that has fallen into the pond, are all covered with wisteria vines, and when they’re all in bloom it’s an amazing sight. I’m not sure what will happen to the vine on the fallen tree when the rest of the trunk rots away, but for now, it’s a strange lump of greenery hung with the occasional flower cluster. I’ll try to post pictures once it come into full bloom.

Third Path is now at Fandemonium and being edited. I’m pleased with the way it came together, and I hope Sally (our editor) and MGM will be, too! We’re still hoping to see that out in time for Shore Leave and/or the Chicago Creation Con in August. I’ve got the Wraith novella due in September, too, and am looking forward to that.

Next up, I owe Jo my final section of Oath Bound — one long flying sequence — so that the ms. can go to the editor. We’re planning on a mid-fall release, and I expect to make that without trouble. Barring unforeseen weirdness, of course!

As far as solo projects go, I’m working on the plot for the next Points novel, Point of Sighs. This will be the novel in which we see just how bad Philip’s stars are for water… Lisa and I only made a few notes on this one, and they weren’t as helpful as I might have liked, as we were still arguing over which of the three possible plots we were going to use. I have most of the big pieces in place, but am still working on the details — in fact, I just downloaded a new Scrivener template designed especially for mysteries. I’ll be interested to see if it helps me juggle the pieces.

I’m also about 50,000 words into an entirely unexpected project. It’s a new thing for me on several different levels. First, it’s as close to high fantasy as I’m ever likely to get — not a genre I’ve ever tried before — and, unusually for me, I started writing long before I knew what the throughline of the story was going to be. The working title is Water Horse, and it’s about the aging king of beleaguered kingdom who manipulates his allies, his lovers, and even his prophesied fate to try to save his people. I’ve realized as I’ve been going on that it’s an inversion of the classic quest fantasy, told from the point of view of a common villain, the queer sorcerer-king. Or mostly from his point of view: this is — also unusually for me — a large-cast novel, and it’s been really good to stretch myself that way. I’m hoping to finish this over the course of the year, and have the book available in the first half of 2016.

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Stargate Update

Apr. 13th, 2015 | 09:13 am

A quick Stargate update, as I haven’t done one in a while!

First, Third Path is just about done, and we should be handing it off to Fandemonium right on schedule, at the end of April. My hope is that this means the book will be ready in time for Shore Leave and for the Chicago CreationCon. We’ll certainly be doing everything we can to make that happen.  (I’m really pleased with the shape of the ms., and with a subplot involving Ronon, but I can’t say any more without spoilers. Oh, and some scenes with Zelenka and the Wraith Ember…)

Second, I’ve signed a contract with Fandemonium to produce a Wraith-centric novella, Lost Queen! When the queen Moonwhite disappears after a secret meeting with her sister Light Breaking, her consort Blaze suspects treachery. Light Breaking denies all involvement, however, and sends her own consort to aid in the investigation – or possibly to shape it to her ends. Unfortunately, the trail leads to a world within the Lantean sphere of influence, and Lanteans’ queen and her people are there before them. Blaze must outwit the Lanteans and stave off treachery from his old friend if he’s to have any chance of saving his queen.

(Lost Queen is part of a new series of Stargate novellas produced by Fandemonium, showcasing shorter pieces that explore different parts of the Stargate universe. Because of length, they’ll be e-book only, and they’re a great chance for us as authors to play with ideas that might not sustain a full novel.)

Third – I and a whole bunch of Fandemonium’s authors are going to be at the Stargate CreationCon in Chicago! No details on the panels yet, but we will be speaking, and Sally and Tom will have books for sale. If you’re planning to attend, please stop by the table and say hi!

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Wind Raker - First Impressions

Feb. 12th, 2015 | 06:11 pm

Another snippet from Wind Raker! Over lunch at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Jerry Ballard and museum director Dr. Peter Buck try to find out more about the German archeologist, Wilhelm Friedrich Radke, who’s been foisted on their dig…
First Impressions...Collapse )

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