More Books! Plus, #ConFusionMI Schedule!

We finally announced my next books last week (yay!) — that’s right, it’s romantic comedy time! This is my favorite genre and I’m looking forward to writing books that hopefully bring you guys as much joy as they bring me. Here’s the announcement from Publishers Marketplace:

While there’s a bit of a wait, take heart that we’ll be releasing the two books of this duology relatively close together AND are already plotting and planning the next standalone book.

If you’re in the Detroit area, you should come check out Subterranean Press’s home convention ConFusion this weekend. I’m honored to be there as a special guest of my SubPress fam. Here’s my schedule:

  • Guest of Honor Dinner Thursday 7:00PM St. Clair Join our Guests of Honor for a Thursday night dinner. This event requires pre-registration. Seanan McGuire, Gwenda Bond, Kameron Hurley, Bogi Takács, Brandon O’Brien, Dr. Julie Lesnik
  • Career Strategy for Authors Friday 3:00PM Charlevoix There are as many ways to have a writing career as there are writers. But it isn’t always clear what a writer can or should be doing to achieve their specific career goals, or even how to *decide* what you want your career to look like. Join us as we talk about building and adjusting your career strategy and what you can do to maximize your chances of success. Steve Buchheit (m), Elsa Sjunneson, Corry L. Lee, Gwenda Bond
  • Opening Ceremonies Friday 7:00PM Ballroom C&D Welcome to How to Train Your ConFusion! Please join our Conchair, Lithie Dubois, and our Guests of Honor, Kameron Hurley, Julie Lesnik, Brandon O’Brien, and Bogi Takács, along with our Subterranean Press Special Guests, Seanan McGuire, and Gwenda Bond! Hear about all of the exciting stuff you can expect from them, from us, and this weekend. Lithie Dubois (m), Seanan McGuire, Gwenda Bond, Kameron Hurley, Bogi Takács, Brandon O’Brien, Dr. Julie Lesnik Mass
  • Autographing Session Saturday 3:00PM St. Clair
  • The Art of Writing Non-Linear Narratives Saturday 4:00PM Charlevoix Time travel, alternate realities – what makes a good non-linear story? How is an airtight plot balanced against suspension of disbelief? E.D.E. Bell (m), Jason Sanford, Gwenda Bond, Kameron Hurley
  • Reading: Gwenda Bond Sunday 12:00PM Leelanaw Readings by Subterranean Press Special Guest Gwenda Bond.
  • Closing Ceremonies Sunday 3:00PM Ballroom C&D Come say goodbye to our Guests of Honor and Subterranean Special Guests, and learn which 2021 Guests of Honor announcements we will be sharing with you! Lithie Dubois (m), Seanan McGuire, Gwenda Bond, Kameron Hurley, Bogi Takács, Brandon O’Brien, Dr. Julie Lesnik

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Last Events of the Year Known as 2019 (& a Peak Ahead)

Hi, all! Sorry, long time no post! Last events of the year are coming up, both close to home!
  • This Saturday, Nov. 16, I’ll be at the Kentucky Book Fair and Christopher will also be there for all your dual-signing Supernormal Sleuthing Service needs.
  • Then, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 6:30 p.m., I’ll be in conversation with Alix Harrow about her outrageously wonderful debut, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington. You can call the store ahead of time if you’re far away and want personalized books for holidays; they ship. 
  • Looking ahead, if you’re in the Detroit area or headed to ConFusion in January, I’ll be a special guest of Subterranean Press (work fam!), along with Seanan McGuire! The entire line-up is fab and it’s sure to be a great time, as always.

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Ten Things I Want From The Future (But Haven’t Gotten Yet)

1. I always wanted a building that was a living dictionary. Something like a less infinite version of Borges' Library of Babel. It would be like the Oxford English Dictionary, but for any language you wanted, and you could stroll through it surrounded by words with strange, delicious definitions, or ask it to direct you through its transculent labyrinthine corridors if you had a destination in mind.

(Maybe it would be something like Jose Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City, except, of course, different because living dictionary — click through to see more photos of that gorgeous space.)

2. I always wanted an Extra-Time Machine. Take that, H.G. Wells. Okay, so not really, because this is the kind of thing only an adult would crave. When you're a kid, maybe you want a few extra hours of TV instead of homework or reading instead of sleeping, but when you're an adult, you need extra time. Some of my extra time, I would put to a devotedly good use. Even just an hour a day, or thirty minutes. I would work more. Or do yoga. But some of it I would devote to lazing. Just think: an Extra-Time Machine that gave you lazing time. Get on this, Imaginary Science. (Update: At twitter, Tim Pratt points out that Wells did invent "the elixir in The New Accelerator that speeds you up and makes the world go slower!" But I want discrete pouches of extra time instead.)

 3. Virtual daemons/pets like baby pygmy hippos, sloths, goats, or Dik-Diks. It's like visiting zooborns every day, but customizable, and the dogs and cat would eventually get used to that day's hologram teensy deer lounging on the desk or sloths swinging from bookshelf to bookshelf and not bark and swat at them. It would be like the apocalyptic prophecy from Ghostbusters (dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!), but dogs and cats and virtual pygmy hippos living together with no hysteria in an obviously utopian dream! 

Deskdeer(Photo from zooborns; some days this would make writing go much more smoothly, I know it!)

 4. While we're dreaming big, new episodes of any show I want to watch, exactly when I want to watch it. That's right–in addition to the Extra-Time Machine, we'd have a Media Time Machine, allowing us to employ our lazing hours with an efficiency that would be truly ironic. Oh, oh! And also any books I want to read, even if they haven't been written yet. (Dear Amazon: Get on the Kindle!Future Book Time Machine thing. Thx.) (Also, I'll be content with the news of a third season of Miss Fisher's!)

5. It's not all about new inventions. I'd also like a sudden decision by every movie theater in the world to add regular showtimes for one classic film every week…so that I could see all my favorite movies on the big screen instead of just TCM.

Midnight_1939_poster(Have you seen this one? If not, get on that, one of my favorite takes on Cinderella. It's also one of the movies that gets a nod in the circus book!)

 6. Teleportation devices, or failing that I'll settle for noiseless, clean, fast transportation linking up the entire world or at least the entire country. Or, failing even that, just Amtrak trains to suddenly be like the image we all have in our minds of the kinds of luxury cars where Hitchcock protagonists meet and discuss trysts and murder and other Noir Things. And also fast. And cheap. (And non-rights-grabby.)

7. Poetry to be more a part of daily life. Why do we all love and read and write poetry as teens and then so many of us stop? Not that I'm going to start writing it, because no one wants that, but I should read it more. This one's on me. This one I can do. (Hopefully, Imaginary Science starts feeling competitive right about now, and gets on these other things.)

8. All right, let's slip in another lit-related thing: more gender balance on the NYT YA list. And way more diversity. And on other, non-bestseller types of lists too. This one we can also do (and we've got a good start, thanks to lots of folks' hard work).

9. Music shows that start at 7 p.m. I know, this is the wish of an old. But 10 is just too late, my darlings. I want the music to start earlier.

10. Dragons.

Mario_the_Magnificent(Mario the Magnificent, mascot of Drexel–ideally he'd be real and flying around and stuff, but I could work with robot dragons too.)

 *waves goodbye for now*

I'm thinking I'm going to try to make a ten things post every Friday about something. That way guaranteed posts at least once a week, even during busy time. This week I decided for a little less ranty topic, in honor of Friday the 13th. Now back to deadline-crunchville.

Ten Things I Want From The Future (But Haven’t Gotten Yet) Read More »

Call The Reading Police

Yesterday morning I tweeted a handful of insomnia-fueled things related to some discussions that have been floating around in the ether this week:

But then I realized I wanted to unpack some of this a little more and make an auxiliary point or two, as you do. So rambly post, it is.

After I made these tweets, I skimmed the post that touched off this latest round of discussion about Heinlein and whether someone has to read the SF classic canon to be a fan of the genre or a contributing member of the field, and also went and read Scalzi's reaction to it (which I very much agree with).

Even having been around the field as long as I have, I don't really feel like I understand fandom very well, so I'm not going to talk about that much.

What I mainly want to do is throw out a few ideas about reading.

So, first tweet, my Heinlein policy: I'm only half-joking here. Ask most YA authors or professionals who've attended SFF conventions and they'll confirm that at most of them, whether it be chatting in a hallway or on a panel, someone will ask you about the Heinlein juveniles or express their regret that they don't make books like that anymore and this new-fangled YA stuff has just taken over or tell you about what they want the next trend to be (note: Heinlein-y stuff!*).

It does get tiresome–especially because YA science fiction and fantasy has been in the midst of a new golden age for more than a decade, as far as I'm concerned, and if people want to write it (as many of the people who say the stuff above do), then they should be reading current YA. Which isn't to say you can't read old stuff or classic works can't inform us now. They absolutely can. But to assume that the progression of excellent fiction and exciting worlds and ideas and work stopped decades ago, when you were a kid reading the stuff, well… I just have to go to the bar. Be right back.

Also, you all know one of the things I hate most is when people have Strong Opinions about a genre or subgenre or type of book and have read zero to a number of examples that can be counted on one hand of that genre or subgenre or type of book and decided that they then understand the entirety of offerings under the umbrella. (Extra hate if they're writing about it in the Wall Street Journal or similar and pearl-clutching about the children, the children.)

Being really well-read in one genre or in all sorts of genres is a beautiful thing. Most of my favorite people on earth are. But to the second point I made yesterday morning, I have zero patience for reader shaming or for making people feel lesser or unwelcome or clueless because they haven't read the same things you have from some inevitably problematic canon checklist. 

For kicks, here's a little excerpt of some thoughts I posted about my issues with The Canon as a thing at the Nervous Breakdown several years ago during a censorship controversy: 

I don’t want to lay all this at the foot of The Canon, certainly not. But, hear me out, I do think that the elitist desire to rank fiction–when the rankers always, always have an agenda, be it a clear-cut one or not–ends up contributing to certain crazy ideas people hold about literature, especially people who don’t get out enough. And by get out enough, I mean who don’t read contemporary fiction, because it hasn’t been stamped by the mighty passage of time. Do I believe that history sorts out good books from the pack? Sometimes. Do I believe excellent fiction gets swallowed up as the years pass? Sure. Do I believe that the only healthy approach to reading involves throwing some newer stuff into the mix? With all my brain.

(Always nice when you still agree with yourself after time goes by.)

And yet, despite that, I'm actually not bugged by the Heinlein juvenile rhapsodizers not being current on modern YA–if it's not their thing, it's not their thing. What I'm bugged by is the casual dismissal of a body of work they're not familiar with, a determined averting of the eyes from it with their explicit or implicit insistence that the old classics are somehow innately better than books they haven't read.

Back to what I said yesterday morning: Never feel bad about your reading history–it's yours. And we're all still living our reading lives, which means if you encounter a blind spot and are interested in filling it in or giving something new a try, then you can do that.

I certainly have. When I decided to go to Vermont, one of the major reasons was because I didn't feel like I had enough context to fully understand children's literature and YA. Sure, I'd read plenty of current YA and I was writing it. But I hadn't read many of the classics of that field and I wanted a better grounding. My very first residency had a survey course, for which I read something like 70 books ranging from picture books to middle grade to YA, both older and newer, and then for the next two years, I read along that spectrum nonstop.

I like sinking into a new genre's worth of reading, picking up techniques and an idea of how different fields and genres and subgenres have evolved and continue to. But I absolutely don't expect everyone else to do this. I love recommending books, but I'm never offended if people pass on the recommendations.

If there's something you aren't interested in or haven't been interested in yet–or that you tried and didn't like–hey, fine. Your reading life is your own.

Re: point the third that our reading helps define who we are. I think we all know this, right? Books become a part of us. Everything we read enough of or react to strongly does. A reader is a person books are important to.

And so attempts to claim people don't belong or have the right frame of reference if they haven't read this or that is basically a complaint that people are trying to come to your party who aren't exactly like you. It does strike me as a variation on the "fake geek" argument, an attempt to put a sign on the old clubhouse that says No Admittance, not getting into this party without the stamp of approval.

But isn't it a way more fun party if new people show up, people who don't care whether you approve of them or not?

Which brings me to the real reason I wanted to do a post, because there's something I didn't touch on that I think is important.

While your reading history–past, present, and future–is your own, I do recommend giving some periodic thought to it. If, for instance, when asked to come up with a list of your ten favorite books every one of them is, say, written by a man or there are no authors of color included, then you might want to notice that and think about why it might be. Same if the last ten books you read can be described that way. But your reading is your own, ultimately, and while I suspect it would be richer if you got out more and mixed things up (and while such lists make me crazy), if it's a list of favorites, then your favorites are your favorites.

The problem comes when that list somehow gets mentally shifted from a personal favorites list–a this-is-what-Ilike-best–to an empirical** best list–a this-is-the-highest-quality-example-of-book-type. And it's even more problematic if you're writing for a media outlet, or making a list to share in the real world, or nominating for awards, or writing reviews, or choosing what's important enough to be reviewed, or putting together an anthology, etc., and that difference isn't clear to you and something you correct for thoughtfully if need be.

When people point that kind of omission out or the attitudes that lead to it, that is not policing reading. That's inviting more people to the party.

*Nothing necessarily wrong with that, just no vacuum-sealed, as if it was gently lifted from a time-capsule stuff, please.

**Same problem as canon. Reasonable people can try to agree, but there will always be issues.

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Guest Post: Emma Newman & A Split Worlds Story


Today I'm bringing you something a bit different than usual, but undoubtedly a treat–a guest post complete with bonus story from the fabulous Emma Newman, set in the world of her forthcoming fantasy novels for adults with good taste. The first, The Split Worlds: Between Two Thorns, will be out soon (pretty cover to the right). I'll let her tell you what this is all about….


Emma Newman: In 2013 the marvellous Angry Robot books will be publishing three Split Worlds novels, the first is out in March and called "Between Two Thorns." This story is part of a crazy thing I decided to do before I got the book deal and was forging ahead with the project on my own: releasing a new story every week for a year and a day, hosted on a different site every time, all set in the Split Worlds. I wanted to give readers a taste of my kind of urban fantasy and have the opportunity to build in secrets and extra tit-bits for those people who, like me, love the tiny details. It's also been a major part of my world-building work alongside writing the novels.

This is the forty-second tale in the year and a day of weekly short stories set in The Split Worlds.  If you would like me to read it to you instead, you can listen here. You can find links to all the other stories, and the new ones as they are released here.  You can also sign up to get the stories delivered to your inbox, one per week for a year and a day.

The first part of this story can be read here or listened to here.

Story starts behind the cut tag:

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Chicago! (Event and WorldCon Stuff)

Dearest lovely people of Chicago, we are coming to your city for WorldCon this week. YAY.

If you're not coming to the convention, but are in Chicago, then I have just the event for you (*makes hopeful puppy eyes*):

Friday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m.: Angry Robot Author Showcase at The Book Cellar, featuring Gwenda Bond, Adam Christopher, Kim Curran, and Chuck Wendig.

Here be copies of Blackwood (officially out Sept. 4!) and Shift (Kim Curran, ditto) and Seven Wonders (Adam Christopher) and Mockingbird (Chuck Wendig). And I'm sure it'll be a fun event. So, come out, see us authors, get a signed copy, chat for a bit. The bookstore sounds amazing, and the Chicago Reader looks to have a handy map–which you probably don't need if you're local, but WorldCon folks are more than welcome too, obviously. Also, I hear there's a gelato place nearby for after.

If you are coming to WorldCon, I'm doing a few things there too:

– Friday, Aug. 31 at 1:30 p.m. (McCormick): Young Adult Trends panel (with Leigh Bardugo, Gwenda Bond, Aurora Celeste, Emily Jiang, Bryce Moore).

– Friday, Aug. 31 at 5 p.m. (Dusable): Reading. (I'll read from Blackwood, and maybe a little bit from the current draft of The Woken Gods. Quite possibly a Blackwood T-shirt will be given away. We'll see.)

– Sunday, Sept. 2 at 4:30 p.m. (Autograph tables): Signing.

And, yes, there will be copies of Blackwood available at the Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry table, which I'll probably stop by with some regularity, too. Every copy sold makes me beam and beam until an angel gets their wings. Every copy you buy and ask me to sign makes baby sloths somewhere do extremely cute things.

I'll also be at Christopher's programming items, whenever my schedule permits, and, of course, the bar. Come say hi.

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You Gotta Have Faith

I was honored to be polled by io9 on the following:

Everbody loves a good dark, horrible fantasy. A misanthopic adventure, in which everybody is morally compromised, and we all live and die in the dirt. But every now and then, it's nice to read a fantasy novel in which people are, you know… good.

So we decided to contact some of our favorite fantasy writers and editors, to get some recommendations for fantasy novels that are not just optimistic — but optimistic about human nature. This is just the first installment — we might have some more recommendations for you next week.

Go forth and read the first set of picks. (Spoiler: Mine was Bitterblue, and I say why over there.)

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The one and only Liz Burns has a great post about swearing off YA because all the past year's articles waxing on its darkness or inappropriateness are just too convincing not to. (Hilarious; go read it.)


While I was writing up my April Fool's contribution in this vein, I kept getting mad! And so it was not funny, but ranty. Because those articles are crazy-making. Instead I just bring you two examples of foolish opening statements, which are remarkably similar and incredibly dumb, both from NYT articles in the last year:

"A literary novelist writing a genre novel is like an intellectual dating a porn star." – from Glen Duncan's ill-considered review of Colson Whitehead's Zone One (really, no one said it better than Charlie Jane).

And from this past week:

"The only thing more embarrassing than catching a guy on the plane looking at pornography on his computer is seeing a guy on the plane reading “The Hunger Games.” Or a Twilight book. Or Harry Potter." – from Joel Stein's screed–which I admit I didn't read past the headline and first paragraph of–about how adults shouldn't read YA.

So, no fooling…can we have a moratorium on opening your piece about some part of the literary world you think is downmarket* with a pornography reference to make it clear you really aren't being serious, but just baiting everyone? Also, NYT editors**, perhaps suggest a rethink when the next one of these comes in? It's getting a little obvious.

*In a perfect world, the people who write about these things would, I dunno, respect them at a minimum, but our world shall never be perfect.

**Kudos to Pamela Paul, by the way, for majorly improving kidlit coverage in the Times since she took over. Even the Stein piece was surrounded by far more sensible ones, which is progress.

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Charles Tan, aka the hardest working man in science fiction, recently hosted an email roundtable on YA speculative fiction with Malinda Lo, Tehani Wessely, Cheryl Morgan, Tarie Sabido, and yours truly. It was great fun to do, although apparently I was trying to see how many times I could use the word conversation. (Answer: LOTS.) I blame holiday madness.

The resulting conversationpanel is now live at SF Signal. Check it out if you're so inclined.

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Magically Inclined

TillyI know I don't have to explain the enormous influence of Terri Windling to most people who visit this blog, but seeing everyone's posts about how important she's been to them–whether they know her personally or not–in relation to the Magick 4 Terri auction bonanza has been so incredible, I can't resist joining in.

It's hard to quantify, exactly, the ways in which a luminary like Terri impacts the artistic community she's engaged in. Some of her contributions have been as a fabulous editor, bringing to light the work of many, many writers at both the longer and shorter length, in a way that truly helped shape–and reshape–the field. Some have been as an author herself, including of the marvelous novel The Wood Wife, which I highly recommend. Still more, as an artist of gorgeous mythic art, and as one of the major forces behind the Endicott Studio and the Journal of Mythic Arts. Perhaps most of all as someone involved and invested in the speculative fiction and broader literary community through all of the above, and with the brilliant light of her personality and point of view.

I don't know Terri well, but she's always present in my life in a number of ways, small and large, that she doesn't even know:

– At the first Wiscon I went to, at Ellen and Delia's clothing swap, I came away with a dress that had formerly belonged to Terri. I feel like that dress is borrowed magic, and I still have it.

– The lion's share of the art in our living room is by Terri; a giant study for a larger piece we scored at a Tiptree Auction, personalized by her, and two smaller pieces framed together. In my office, there's a print celebrating the Endicott Studio and its support for at-risk children. These pieces bring me joy every time I look at them.

Her marvelous blog, filled with wit and inspiration and pointers to fascinating things, and, of course, pictures of Tilly. Terri makes an art of life as a creative process, and shares it with the rest of us.

– Perhaps most of all, the row of Year's Best Fantasy and Horror volumes on our shelves. To say that Terri's editing hand on selecting the best fantasy pieces of the year was important to my getting to know the field would be an understatement. Her taste, along with Ellen Datlow's as the other editorial half of the series*, had a very real impact on not just what was considered "the best," but what was considered to be part of the fantastical conversation at all. There are many, many writers I might not have discovered until far later–if at all–without this resource to look to, and it played a huge part in helping widen our field's borders, and broaden the conversation. (This is not even to get into all the other anthologies Ellen and Terri have edited over the years and their wonders. They have also been trailblazers in including YA as part of the larger SFF field. And I'm still so honored that my one published short story appeared in Terri and Midori Snyder's Journal of Mythic Arts YA issue.)

All of this by way of saying, our community truly wouldn't be the same without her. I wouldn't be the same reader or the same writer. Apparently, she and her family have been going through a tough time, and need some financial support. So go check out the amazing auction her friends have organized and bid and/or offer something, or just donate. (I'm trying to figure out what I could offer–a bourbon and books selection, tailored to the winning bidder, maybe? I dunno.)

Terri's already given plenty to us all. It's a pleasure to have an opportunity to try and repay even a little of that.

*And Kelly and Gavin's later, when they took over for Terri.

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