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July Update

Jul. 9th, 2016 | 05:41 pm

It’s high summer here, and I’ve been busy! The Astreiant Patreon is up and running — in fact, I just posted the second sketch, a bit from Philip and Nico’s early days, in the period between Point of Knives and Point of Dreams. Thanks very much to everyone who has subscribed! I’m thoroughly enjoying playing with these bits as I ramp up toward the concentrated push on Point of Sighs.

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And, in random news, today’s newspaper informs me that it is possible to rent a herd of goats to clear brush on your otherwise inaccessible or environmentally sensitive property. For a brief moment, I almost missed having a yard.

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Jun. 14th, 2016 | 10:31 am

I am old enough that the Orlando murders feel entirely, sadly familiar: death and murder, violence and threat, have always been a part of being queer, the shadow that makes the fabulous burn brighter. I came out in 1979, the year Harvey Milk was murdered. I stumbled through the AIDS years, through goodbye phone calls where neither one of us wanted to admit that was what we were saying, through funerals and disappearances and slow, hard declines, to see some few come out the other side with the fragile miracle of longterm survival. I’ve run from guys in a pickup truck who threw bottles at me and my partner, I’ve bluffed my way out of one threat, lied my way out of more, made myself invisible in others, passing to live. I tell those stories among my queer friends, and everyone nods in recognition. Not all of us escaped unharmed. Some of us are dead. Pride itself, the celebration, was born from violence: we celebrate in June because of the Stonewall Riots, when drag queens led the charge against police harassment. “Fierce” is a virtue and a compliment for good reason.

When I came out, “married” was an insult, a name people called the too-closely-coupled, not an attainable legal status. Adolescence was something to survive until you could escape to the big city; the idea of being out and still part of your birth family was something for science fiction, except SF/F wouldn’t touch it, either. You launched yourself into the community, through the bars, through a lover, through any number of ways, and hoped that what you gained was worth risking everything you already had. In a very real sense, you had to face the question “is queer worth dying for?”

It was to me, for a lot of reasons: I loved the community and the community welcomed me; I found my voice as a writer in my own queer truth; and, most of all, there were lovers, Lisa first, then others, people whose importance I would not deny. There were my brothers-in-all-but-blood, my chosen family, my comrades and companions and even the people I couldn’t stand but who I would protect and who would protect me because that was the way the community worked. These were my people, my kind and my chosen kin.

Things have changed in the last few years, gotten better with extraordinary, breath-taking speed. Laws have changed — marriage is possible, legal marriage — and social acceptance has never been higher. It is no longer a given that coming out means losing your family; it’s not ordinary for your relatives to try to have you committed for saying you’re queer. Not to say it doesn’t happen, because of course it does, but it’s not inevitable. It’s possible to imagine that, in the not-too-distant future, maybe it won’t happen at all. Maybe death will not be the shadow, the choice not whether queer is worth dying for, but how it’s worth living for.

And now Orlando, another murderer with an AR-15, trying to blow us away, to turn back the clock, to make it as though we never existed. (And, looking at those selfies on the news sites, posing in one uniform/costume/persona after another, it’s hard not to think that he saw something of himself in our own flamboyant, mutable, self-chosen identities and feared us all the more.) It’s too late for that, and has been for a generation now. You may kill us, but you cannot undo the change: queer is worth living for.

Say it loud. Queer is to live for.

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May. 29th, 2016 | 03:53 pm

My Patreon is live!

After a bunch more talking and tweaking, I’ve decided to concentrate on Astreiant for now. I’m doing a simple monthly appeal: if enough people sign up to bring in $100 a month, I’ll post a sketch from Astreiant. It can be anything — a bit of drama, a character’s background, daily life, one of Old Steen’s sea-stories as Rathe remembers is — but it will be at least 500 words. These are bits and pieces that are unlikely to make it a novel, or will do so only in a severely edited form. They’re like the seven studies of folded hands that you see in an artist’s sketchbook: one of them may end up in the completed portrait, but it won’t be the same as the sketch. If the page reaches $250 a month, I’ll post a second sketch, also of at least 500 words. If the page reaches $500 a month, I’ll add an almanac entry — at least 250 words from my notes, almanacs, and imaginary reference books. I might include horoscopes and maps here, too.

I’ve set the minimum pledge at $1 a month, and for that, you get access to all the Patron posts. At $2 a month, I’ll send you an Astreiant-themed thank-you card — nothing fancy, but drawn from the dozens of stamps and images I’ve collected that remind me of this world. At $5 a month, you’ll get all of the above plus the chance to offer a prompt for a sketch. If you want to pledge $10 a month, I’ll throw in a signed copy of any of the Points books that you might be missing, and if you want to pledge $100 a month (this would be extraordinarily generous, to say the least!) I’ll make sure you get a complete set of the books currently out, and I’ll send you each new novel as it comes out for as long as you stay subscribed. Since you’ll be subscribing by the month rather than by the story, you’ll never risk paying more per month than you intended.

Why do this? For the simplest of reasons: money buys writing time. Income that can be calculated in advance, like the royalties from those newer publishers who pay by the month rather than every six months, buys slightly more writing time precisely because it can be relied on. The more I can raise here, the more time I’ll have to spend on my writing, and the sooner Point of Sighs can go to Lethe.

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Wencit of Torenth, the Deryni, and Me

May. 25th, 2016 | 05:49 pm

I’ve been following Judith Tarr’s re-read of the Deryni books over on Tor.com, and it sent me searching for a photograph that seems to have disappeared in my most recent move. It showed me and Lisa, sometime in the 1980s, indulging in cosplay from the Deryni books. I had made us both lovely medieval gowns (roughly twelfth century, though the original Deryni trilogy felt later to me), mine to just below knee-length to show off my tall boots, Lisa’s to mid-calf, heavy russet satin trimmed with gold braid, with belt and dagger to match. My gown was midnight blue, trimmed in silver, and I had (still have) a beautiful plain dagger in a silver-trimmed black sheath to go with it. I even recreated my character’s facial scar. We received many compliments, and had a wonderful time. The catch? As some of you may have guessed, we were cosplaying the villains of the series, Wencit of Torenth and Rhydon of Eastmarch.

Resistant reading, or why I still like villainsCollapse )

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Under the Hog

May. 22nd, 2016 | 03:57 pm

I’m currently re-reading one of the formative books from my teenage years, which has just become available in ebook, Patrick Carleton’s Under the Hog. (If you’re not already interested in the novel’s subject, the English king Richard III, you are saying “what a bizarre title.” If you are, you’ve probably already read the book.)* I hadn’t read it in more than a decade, mostly because the copy that I had acquired from a library book sale was falling apart, and it’s been interesting to look at it after such a long gap.

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*It’s taken from a libel published in 1484 against Richard and three of his closest advisors, Sir William Catesby, Sir Richard Ratcliffe, and Francis, Viscount Lovell: “The cat, the rat, and Lovell our dog, Ruleth all England under the hog.” Lovell’s badge was a white dog, Richard’s a white boar.

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An interview!

Apr. 23rd, 2016 | 11:49 am

A very quick post to say that i've been interviewed over at Let's Get Beyond Tolerance! Only a few questions, but they were good ones.

Also in brief, Dreaming Metal is now available in ebook from Amazon and Smashwords. Five years after the Manfred riots, the question of machine intelligence is still a dangerous one on Persephone, and the coolie rights organization Realpeace is not prepared to let it go. For conjurer Celinde Fortune and her musician cousin Fanning Jones, the conflict is a distant one — until the murder of a popular musician raises the stakes even for the most determinedly uninvolved. This is a sequel of sorts to Dreamships, but you don't have to read it first...

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April Updates

Apr. 2nd, 2016 | 12:57 pm

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Patreon poll! I am still considering the logistics, but will probably start in June or July. My goals are fairly modest: if I get $100 in a given month, I’ll post a 250-750 word sketch set in the Points universe; if I get $200, I’ll post a Points sketch plus either a second Points sketch or a 250-750 word sketch from one of my other worlds/WIPs. As the interest was primarily in the Points, this seems like the best way to structure things. I’ll also be posting some ridiculous goals in case this takes off, but those will be clearly marked as such. Patreon lets you contribute as little as $1/month, which I hope will make it easier for people to contribute.

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Lethe Press Ebook sale!

Mar. 4th, 2016 | 02:38 pm

Lethe Press turns 15 this month, and in celebration is holding an ebook sale! Buy any 3 of their ebooks direct from the press, and the price per book drops to $1.50. That means all 4 Points books can be had for $6.00, and the Mathey and Lynes novels for $3.00. For $3.00 more, you can get my other two Lammy winners (besides Point of Dreams and Death By Silver), Trouble and Her Friends and Shadow Man — in fact, you can get all my Lethe ebooks for less than the price of a single trade paperback copy.

That’s not to mention all the other Lethe Press novels currently on sale in ebook form. Steve Berman has put together some bundles on the front page (let me recommend both the fantastical sampler and Jeff Mann’s Civil War collection — well, and the horror collection has some excellent titles, too!) or you can shop from the entire catalog.

If you’ve been wanting to try either of my fantasy/mystery series, or if you have friends who are curious about them, now is definitely the time to buy. If you’re curious about the range of queer lit Lethe publishes, this is definitely the time to check them out. The anniversary sale runs through the end of March.

ETA: because the special sale process is a little convoluted, here's how you need to get there if you're not buying one of the pre-selected bundles. On the front page, the second item down is labeled "March Ebook Extravaganza" with a big rainbow 15 logo, and a price of $1.50. If you use the attached "add to cart" button, it will put one unnamed book in the cart. Adjust the number to "3" (to get the deal - or more if you're buying more), add the books' titles in the "notes" area along with the format, and that should do it.

ETA again: scratch all that, the prices have now been added to each title. Just pick your books and go! :-)

(But, oh, Steve, couldn’t you have found a better picture? :-)

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A Poll...

Feb. 26th, 2016 | 06:57 pm

I am considering setting up a Patreon, and am looking for input. Basically, my idea is to do the kind of Patreon I enjoy subscribing to — one where I can get little extras from writers (and worlds, and characters) that I enjoy. So what I’m proposing is to offer at least one 300-500 word snippet per month; if I reach certain funding level, I’d offer a second 300-500 word snippet for that month. But that begs the question — is anyone interested, and just what should those snippets be about? Here are the things that have occurred to me.

Poll #2038071 To Patreon or Not To Patreon

What (if anything) would you like to see in a Patreon from me?

Life in Astreiant - sketches from the world and characters that I’d like to explore that just won’t fit into a novel
Work in Progress - bits from projects I’m working on at the moment
Neither - Patreon’s not my thing

The Astreiant sketches would be bits of backstory, scenes from points of view other than Philip and Nico’s (what Istre really thinks of Ghost Tide, how Sohier feels about working for Nico, what Estradere thinks about Coindarel’s new project, etc.), possibly some different versions of scenes that made it into the novels.

Work in Progress would be what it says on the tin: snippets from things that I’m currently writing. At the moment, that’s a novelization of the short story Finders; a Mathey & Lynes novella, By the Beautiful Sea; Point of Sighs; Fire Season, the 6th Order of the Air novel; and Water Horse, about the king of a beleaguered kingdom who will twist even the fatal prophecies to save his people — it’s turned out to be a reversal of the old fantasy trope of the evil queer wizard-king. I’ll try not to give you scenes from anything that isn’t actually at the first draft stage, but I can’t promise that everything in this group would end up becoming a finished story.

Why a Patreon? Well, for the most basic of reasons: it’s nice to get a steady monthly income, regardless of size — in this case, regularity is as important as the amount. And I admit it would be fun to have an excuse to polish up some of the odd bits that would otherwise have no home...

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Quick Update - Oath Bound

Feb. 19th, 2016 | 03:56 pm

Jo and I have just turned in the galleys for the trade paperback, so it should be available from the usual sources shortly! I'll post as soon as it's available for pre-order as well.

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