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30 December 2014 @ 11:30 am
Just to say that pretty much everything I used to use this thing for is now over on Tumblr. Feel free to follow me there if you wish - I usually follow back.

This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.

My first paid sale ever was in 2009, a piece of flash erotica to Circlet Press for $5. It was a revelation: I could write stuff and people would pay me. More, I could write smut - something I enjoyed (and enjoy) doing and had been doing for years as part of the fanfic I was producing - and people would pay me. Everything that's happened since - the novels, the short story sales, the best-ofs and joining SFWA and getting drunk at cons - is probably due to that one little $5 bit of porn.

(It's been collected in a Circlet microfiction anthology, which will be out soon, so watch for that).

So for a while after that pretty much everything I wrote and sold was erotica, specifically erotica with a speculative element. Usually I was publishing through Circlet's (fantastic) themed anthologies. My first non-erotic short fiction publication was months later, in January 2010, and it was to a little non-paying zine called The Absent Willow Review, which has since folded. In the fall of 2009 I and my co-author Lisa began the massive undertaking that would eventually become Line and Orbit, which is very solidly in space opera/science fantasy territory, so it wasn't all porn. But that was a lot of it, and for a long time after, even once I branched out a bit, it remained the backbone of my writing.

Then I drifted away from it. There were a number of reasons for that, mostly to do with ambition. I beheld the big name SFWA-qualifying zines and I wanted to crack them more than anything, so I battered at them with my stories until, one by one, I broke through. I continued to write erotica here and there - especially when friends put out calls for specific projects - but for the most part my energy was going elsewhere.

But I honestly think there was something else going on, and that thing was a subtle sense that if I wanted to make a career in this genre, erotica wasn't the "right kind" of writing for me to be doing.

Never mind that some of the best stuff I've ever read has had loads of sex in it. Never mind that I'm pretty damn good at it. Never mind that I owe it a huge amount - writing about sex taught me to write about people, about emotion, about the intensity and even the violence of intimacy. It taught me to write about ecstasy and transformation, and therefore ultimately taught me to write about death, which is something I keep returning to in my stuff.

Erotica gets a bad rap. I think some of it is that there's a huge amount of it and it's very commercial, which (somewhat correctly, in my opinion) leads one to the belief that a lot of it isn't very good. But that's true of almost any commercial writing. But I think some of it is that it's often if not usually people who identify as women writing, buying, and reading it, and that's obviously a point worth a degree of attention.

I think I came to believe that I shouldn't spend my time on porn. That I shouldn't put it in my short fiction (though thankfully I didn't completely buy into that) and I shouldn't put it in my novels. Not if I wanted to be taken seriously. Which I do.

Then I had a rough fucking couple of years.

I took and passed my PhD qualifying exams, which a few months later led to an emotional and mental crisis point that kicked me back into therapy and back on a fun array of medications. I wrote and defended a dissertation proposal which led, through the course of the next year, into months and months of anxiety and internal conflict regarding my advising situation and my relationship with my department. I began to question whether I wanted to work in academia, whether I wanted to finish my dissertation, whether I wanted to do any of this at all. In the middle of it I began a trilogy of fantasy novels (Casting the Bones) that's been both rewarding and exhausting to write, in part because it's been an arena for the exorcism of some demons. I was also dealing with some very painful and frustrating business surrounding the (still homeless) Line and Orbit sequel, and I wrote and then rewrote another book which I ultimately had to give up and shelve.

And then, last fall, I just fucking had it. I was a thousand percent done. I threw up my hands, dug into the bottom of my Idea Sack, and wrote Labyrinthian in about a month.

I wanted to write something fun. Something silly and pulpy. Something wherein I abandoned the idea of Being Taken Seriously, where I allowed myself to get tropey as all hell, wherein I could play. And particularly, I wanted to write something with a lot of sex. Part of this was because books with lots of sex often sell decently and I happen to like money, but it was also because I like writing sex and goddammit, I'm GOOD AT IT. And I had no more fucks to give. My box of fucks was empty. The field in which I grow my fucks? You know the state it was in.

Labyrinthian is about a lot more than sex. It's the story of two broken people learning how to be together physically and emotionally, but it's also a story about trying to go home when you've lost all certainty of what home even is, and about trying to find family and simultaneously to find independence from the same. It's about confronting death gracefully and about trying to discover meaning in life when your life is about to be cut short. It's about rage and letting rage go, and all of these are things with which I wrestle every day.

But there's also a lotta porn in it, boy howdy.

I've done a lot of talking in 2014 about how I'm trying to write about the stuff that scares me, the stuff I'm not sure I should be writing about at all. I've made it my mission to take anger and fear and ugliness and make something beautiful out of it, for myself more than for anyone else. So here's what I want to do in 2015. Here's my Writer Resolution, such as it is.

I'm going to write about whatever I fucking want.


(and here are preorder links for Labyrinthian if that's something you're into.)

This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
25 October 2014 @ 05:15 pm
Dear lovely Yuletide Santa:

First I have to apologize for the delay in this letter - Life got crazy but also I'm a loser. Please forgive.

Now, as to my requests. In general: I want you to do what you want to do, because without fail I feel like that's where the best stuff comes from. I love to be surprised. I love unexpected twists on ideas, tropes, the familiar. I love stories that are subversive in some way, especially ones that directly subvert the source material. I love despair and dying worlds, contemplation in the face of cruel fate, defiant love, the ridiculous. I love absurdity. I love it when things just completely embrace how essentially fucked up they are.

I have no real triggers you should be aware of, aside from animal abuse. I don't tend to like cruelty for cruelty's sake, but I have no particular boundaries regarding violence. Or sex.

A little more detail:

Bioshock Infinite - I'm really open to whatever you want to do here. The world provides huge scope for play. I'd slightly prefer Booker and Elizabeth as primary characters, but you could have one or the other in isolation, and/or you can bring in whoever the hell you want (I don't feel like Daisy Fitzroy gets enough love). Prior to game, during game, after game: anything is fine.

Event Horizon - Don't feel obligated to do this, but two things that intrigue me especially are A) a story from the perspective of the ship itself, and B) what really happened in the Hell dimension, not so much in terms of the gruesome physical details but in terms of the psychology. What does that kind of madness look like from the inside? Or any combination of the two. OR ANYTHING

The Walking Dead - I'm fine with anything here as long as it's Clem-centric. Can be during the timeline of the two seasons, or it can be something set anywhere in the future. And if you wanted to intersect it with any other part of the franchise 'verse in any respect I think that would be awesome too. Just show me something I haven't seen, here, if you can.


This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
30 September 2014 @ 09:49 pm
Sneaking this in at the last minute, and it's not going to be all that long - this wasn't a very heavy month. A few things happened. And I'm omitting the RP stuff this time because I don't have enough concrete new stuff to really warrant it.

Here's what happened:

  • I finished Rookwar. Which means I'm done with the entire Casting the Bones trilogy, which is the first novel trilogy I've completed. Rookwar itself clocked in at just under 110k words (after editing), which makes it roughly 20k words longer than either of the other two. I still don't know what happened. That's just the length it felt like it had to be. Release is still December as of now. I really cut it close so that might change.

  • I kept working on Untitled Kae Book. It still has no title. I think I'm about halfway through it. There's a lot about it that I'm still not sure of. Onward.

  • I submitted three short stories. Got a very lovely no on one I sent out a couple months back (I mean that, really good Rs are almost as good as acceptances, at least to me) and another nice R on another, and am waiting to hear back on the other two.

  • I finished two short stories. I think I like one. Not so sure about the other. I'm thinking that one of my current story problems is that not enough happens in them.

  • "Singing With All My Skin and Bone", which is probably the most personal story I've ever written, came out in Nightmare. I look forward to the day when I feel comfortable reading this one aloud in front of people. It might be a while.

  • I went to the Baltimore Book Festival and had a great time. I read, I hung out, I met new friends, I got to be on great panels with great people. It was a time.

  • I started freelance editing. I have no idea how this will go. I hope it will go well.

  • Coming in October: Capclave. And not much else, at least nothing solid yet on the radar. Watch for news.


This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
from here

I posted a couple of quotes on writing the other day, to accompany a Difficult Writing Time. I think everyone can sympathize with this, regardless of whether or not they consider themselves "writers", because although too many writers like to get misty-eyed and emotional about how very differently important writing is from everything else, when you get right down to it, it's work, and everyone reaches points with work wherein they just cannot even anymore, where everything is going wrong and nothing is easy and it all just seems unbearably crappy, and motivation has been eaten by a sullen cloud of horrible. But in those moments you don't actually have much in the way of real options besides the simple task of dragging yourself onward, one foot after the other - not in front of, because that implies more momentum than you actually have - and trusting in spite of all the evidence to the contrary that things will get better, that they will somehow maneuver themselves back into where you vaguely remember them being.

Yeah, that's me right now.

I should say at this point that I honestly haven't once suffered from writer's block in the half decade I've spent trying to write for money. I have not yet been locked into a period where I wasn't producing anything at all. But I do go through long periods where I'm convinced that none of what I'm producing is very good, and often that feeling is actually correct, though it's still something to be regarded with healthy skepticism. Interestingly, these periods often also coincide with the completion of large, long-running projects - usually novels - and I think that makes a degree of sense.

I used to think I would feel a sense of accomplishment upon finishing a novel, but as it turns out, at least for me, that's not true at all. What I feel after typing the end is instead a kind of exhausted hollowness, an utter lack of any sense about what to do next. To be sure, there is a bit of YAY I'M DONE, but it never lasts more than a day or so, and then the blankness asserts itself. I had no idea what to make of that, until I took - and passed - my doctoral qualifying exams, and suddenly it all made sense. When you've spent months doing something very difficult - maybe doing it every day, maybe for hours - your brain, on a fundamental level, has no idea how to deal with the prospect of not doing it anymore. It panics and shuts down. It's so burned out that continuing is more than it can deal with, but it's forgotten how to function without that daily energy suck around which to orient itself.

I fell apart after my qualifying exams. It took me a few months - mostly because I had a semester of teaching to provide structure - but once that was gone, I broke down. We're talking nearly-paralyzing-anxiety-with-sensory-triggers-trip-to-the-ER-back-on-meds-after-15-years level of breakdown. The point is that we need to be ready - as writers, as workers, as human beings - for our brains to be assholes, and for that assholishness to bleed into all aspects of our work, as well as to come from the work itself. Sometimes even from what looks, on the surface, like major productivity.

I don't think that's exactly what I'm going through now - though I did just finish not only a novel but the final novel in a trilogy - but I recognize something similar. Thanks to the loss of my departmental funding and some other things that fell through, I'm not teaching this semester. Next semester is also doubtful. I remain uncertain regarding whether I can finish my doctoral dissertation. I'm very angry at my department, my university, and academia in general, because I think that last is devouring itself and I hate being in a position to watch it happen. I'm now unemployed, and so far the job hunt is less than encouraging. On paper a lot of my life is still pretty good, but almost everything on which I've relied for structure and momentum and security - for nearly a decade, counting college - is going away.

That's not a comfortable place in which to find oneself.

It can be very difficult to write when you're wrestling with emotional and mental issues - I think many people find it almost impossible when things are at their worst - and it's certainly true that it can be so much harder to produce your best work when your head and heart are not at their best. But I've also found that writing can be a refuge when everything else is difficult, because at least writing is something over which I can exert almost complete control. I may not feel like I'm doing it as well as I can, but I can still create a world of my own populated by people I've made; I can invent my own escapism and retreat there, tell myself a story and - upon emerging - have something concrete to show for it. It helps. Sometimes it's almost the only thing that does. Sometimes it's what you need.

But then sometimes even what you create doesn't feel like the right kind of escape. The joy fades and it just feels like work again, and it doesn't feel like work you're doing well enough to take real pleasure in.

And that's where I am now: this thing on which I rely to keep myself together isn't doing what I need it to, which means it's just one more thing that feels like it's slipping away, and that is so, so terrifying. Everything else I've accomplished in the last months and years - the books sold, the short stories published, the good reviews, the people who have said nice things, even the goddamn money - all fades into the background and provides no comfort at all, because none of it makes the words work any better.

So what do you do?

If you're a writer - if you're a person - you have two options: a) go fetal and cry, and b) suck it up and, to the extent that you can do so and still take care of yourself, keep going. One foot after the other. Drag drag drag.

I'm writing another novel right now - one of three currently waiting to be written. I have no idea if it's working; I thought it was but now I'm really not sure. None of the prose feels like it's smooth. None of the pacing feels sharp. The direction is hazy. I'm hoping that this - finally - will be my Agent Book, but I've also written less than stellar novels before, and I'm filled with dread that this might be one of those. But what else is there to do? I'm 41k words into it; I can't really stop now. Drag drag drag.

I was talking to my friend and Long Hidden ToC-mate David Jon Fuller about this on Twitter the other day, and we were commiserating about the feeling that nothing is going right and none of what we produce is good. I said something to the effect of why the hell did we ever start doing this, and he said something that isn't necessarily a big secret but is therefore one of those fundamental truths so obvious that it doesn't hurt to be reminded of it now and then:

He's right. Nothing beats it, when it's really happening. When it's happening, it feels like the most amazing thing in the world. Get a taste of it once and you'll never stop wanting it; call us addicts chasing the next high if you want, because that probably isn't very far off. And maybe it does have some kind of deeper, broader significance as an act, maybe it has some kind of grand universal meaning, and maybe it really is something worth getting misty-eyed and emotional over, but me, I think it's ultimately about healing, about getting well, about being alive. It's about you, and me, and really no one else, not at its core. It's about being reminded that there's something good about existing, and that you can find that again, no matter how shitty things are, because your head is a house of treasures.

And that doesn't make you special. It just makes you human.

Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It's like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can't stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.

― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

[crossposted from sunnymoraine.com]

This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
okay whatever, gonna start crossposting

I don't write much in here anymore, in significant part because I've moved general blather to Twitter and actual considered writing to my author blog, but what the hell, I don't want to just stop posting here and like I said before I love DW's comment system and overall design, so I'm going to crosspost blog stuff.

Deal. Or like. Ignore if you want. Whatever.

Here's a thing I wrote today, more on storytelling and game design.



After I wrote yesterday about some of the ludonarrative problems inherent in a game like The Walking Dead, I kept thinking about why the finale of Season Two didn't work nearly as well for me as the first game. The conclusion at which I arrived wasn't simply that Season Two's penultimate choice couldn't carry the narrative weight it was supposed to, but that the first game actually gives you no choice at all.

Spoilers follow.Collapse )

[crossposted from sunnymoraine.com]

This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
12 September 2014 @ 04:57 pm
I always feel like things like this are attention-fishy, but if I started cross-posting blog stuff here, is that something anyone would care about? I feel like the DW comment system is way more friendly.

This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
11 September 2014 @ 04:02 pm
Been doing a lot of thinking and writing about games lately, in part because of GamerGate (fucking ugh) but also in part because I just seem to be in that mode. Like, to the point where I wish I had approached grad school with this as a more explicit focus (would've made sense, my first and to date only peer-reviewed academic publication was in Game Studies).

Then again, had I done that I might not have gotten into grad school at all.

Anyway, for those who care, here's a link roundup of what I've been doing.

On Cyborgology:

  • “The Consumption Palace”: Gamers, misogyny, and capitalism

    Violent anger is, almost without fail, how the privileged react when they perceive that their privilege is being threatened. But this is also about community originally built around wounded egos, and it’s about consumer capitalism and the sense of entitlement that invariably results. Put all of this together in the context of a racist, misogynist culture, and you have a recipe for horrific degrees of harassment and abuse.

  • Writer-Creator vs. Gamer Consumer-King: an addendum

    I could sit down tomorrow and write a novel in three months or so, and very possibly sell it in a few months more. I am not going to sit down and make an AAA video game. No one person can do that: they take entire development teams years and millions of dollars, and require the backing of large publishers to market and distribute. In other words, the barriers to entry are rather high. Considerably higher still if you’re not a white cisgender man.

  • Not a REAL Gamer: Identity and conspicuous consumption

    This isn’t just about consumption; it’s about conspicuous consumption. How high a priority are games for you? How much do you spend, how much of a premium do you place on getting something as soon as it’s out? These are some of the ways in which the lines are drawn and in which they’re maintained, and it’s about identity expressed as buying things.

On my author site (spoilers in both of these):

  • On The Walking Dead S2, Sarah, and why it all matters

    This was a game that did what so few games have the courage to do: show a world that is as rich and hard and haunting as the one in which we actually live, through people who are rich and hard and haunting as well. Basically, you guys did something amazing. And up until episode 4 of S2, I would have said you were on track to do the same.

  • Thoughts on ludonarrative difficulties and The Walking Dead: Season Two

    The most emotionally powerful stories are the ones that immerse you so completely that they (literally) place you in a trance state, a state of such intense hyperfocus that you forget you’re reading at all. The medium – the page (physical or digital) and the words – disappears, and all that remains is the story. If, at the climax of a game like TWD, I become aware that I’m playing a game, the game has failed.

  • lotsa writin

    Like I said, I wish I had gone with my gut and started doing this way earlier than I did. Oh, well.

    This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
03 September 2014 @ 08:15 pm

A day in which I had a short story come out, and also I finished writing a book.

More specifically, I finished writing Rookwar, which also means I'm done with Casting the Bones. This is the first trilogy I've ever completed. It's also the tenth book I've written, and it will be my fourth published (since Labyrinthian doesn't come out until January). At the moment it's a little over 110,000 words long. That's hefty. It's about 20,000 words longer than I expected it to be, but none of it feels like filler. I think it's about as long as it should be.

It feels very strange to finish a trilogy. I'm not sure exactly how it's different from finishing a book, or finishing the second book in a series. But it's different. I suppose part of it is that - although there will be editing and such - I'm truly saying goodbye to these characters and this world. I probably won't see them again, at least not for a long time. There are a lot of other places to go and a lot of other books to be written, and for now we're parting ways.

So goodbye, Mica and Mori and Yavon and Sene. Goodbye, Ava and goodbye, Turn. Thank you for letting me spend some time with you, and thank you for letting me tell your stories. This feels like a good ending. Which is about the best you can ever hope for.

For those who care about such things, I was listening to this on repeat for the last few hundred words, and it is the perfect piece of music for the end of the book. Eerily so.

This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
29 August 2014 @ 11:50 am
Just a heads-up: I did my monthly writerly roundup here, which includes a SOTP here. As usual, if you don't want to comment over there, feel free to do so here.

Fuck an August tho

This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
05 August 2014 @ 12:15 pm
hey you guyyyyyyyyyyyys I'm giving away free copies of Crowflight and Ravenfall and a bunch of thematic jewelry over at my site if you're interested. Giveaway ends the 16th.

This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
31 July 2014 @ 05:47 pm
omg here it is

A hunter should never fall for his prey.
A hunter’s heart should never fall prey to his quarry.

Still nursing his latest post-mission hangover, bounty hunter Theseus jumps at a high-paying, high-risk job that sounds ridiculously easy. Yet from the moment he nabs the alleged supersoldier with sedative gas, nothing is as it seems.

On the run from the facility where he was created and raised, Taur is desperate to locate his genetically engineered brothers and sisters. To rescue them—and himself—from slavery. Waking aboard Theseus’ ship, his fury is tempered by curiosity about his captor.

Despite his doubts about his prisoner, Theseus figures it’d be risky to let Taur go—until they’re thrown together by a shared betrayal. They declare a tentative truce as they flee from a shadowy and immensely powerful organization that will stop at nothing to find them.

But as they wrestle with their growing feelings for each other, Taur and Theseus face an even greater danger. A lethal threat lurking inside Taur’s own body, waiting to explode…


This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
30 July 2014 @ 09:04 pm
I put up the first of a series of monthly writer-roundups, along with a SOTP. Any comments anyone cares to make can go here if you don't wanna put 'em there.

This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
01 July 2014 @ 01:14 pm
Last night I had one of those moments of panic that sneaks up on you, starting subtly and then rapidly becoming unmanageable before you have time to do anything about it. For about an hour i was overwhelmed with everything I still had to do, everything I haven't done that I wanted to, everything I've tried and have not succeeded at, everything I'm afraid I won't ever be able to do.

So I did what I'm trying to make a practice of and turned it all into words. It helped. I know a lot of you wrestle with similar things so maybe it will help someone else sometime.

An open letter to all the other writers who, like me, panic at midnight about being failures

The first thing you need to do is breathe.

Really, do that. Sit where you are and pull air into your lungs. Feel your body extracting what it needs and expelling the rest. Feel your blood collect it and carry it to all the other parts of you. Feel your pulse, feel the beat of your heart. Feel the firing of your synapses, if you can. Imagine all those little lightning flickers, and then imagine your brain lit up in brilliant rainbow colors as it goes about the endless process of making you who you are.

Reflect on how the myth that we only use ten percent of our brains is just that: a myth. Reflect on how you’re using most of your brain in some way most of the time. You are not a waste. You are not wasted. No part of you will ever be wasted. When you are done being you, every one of your atoms will go on to do something else. You will never run out of things to be, until the day when nothing is anything at all anymore.

So you’ve got all of that going for you.

Do you create? You’re a miracle. Do you create badly? You’re still a miracle, and just because you create badly now doesn’t mean you always will. Do you think you don’t create enough? You create as much as you should, and if you should create more than you do, you’ll find a way to do so. Do you have things left unfinished? You can finish them. If it turns out you can’t, you can’t. It’s not a crime. Forgive yourself for it.

Forgive yourself in general.

Maybe you love creating. Maybe, like me, you feel like you have to. Maybe you feel compelled. Maybe you feel empty and useless when you don’t. But that’s a lie. You are not empty, and you are not useless. You are full of wonders; you are a house in which every room brims with treasure. You are a cloud of interstellar dust in which stars are born. You are a strange and marvelous creature in a strange and marvelous universe.

And you are not alone. You are not unique. This is not a bad thing, because it means you are in good company. At this moment, feeling empty and useless and afraid, you are one among thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions that stretch into the past and extend into the future. And let’s have none of this silliness about creative people being somehow exceptional; everyone feels empty and useless, and no one is, and everyone feels alone, and no one is.

You think you will never be the writer you want to be. You’re probably right. Make your peace with that; it doesn’t mean that you won’t be extraordinary. And even if you aren’t an extraordinary writer, you are not a writer who is a person – you are a person who is a writer, and the value of your existence does not depend on your ability to put the precisely perfect number of words in exactly the correct order.

Breathe. Then get out of your chair and walk. Maybe go outside, just for a moment. Look up into the dark and think about where you’ve come from and where you’ll go to. Think about who you were when you were born and who you’ll be when you die. You were born into and of worlds, and you’ll die there. That in itself is something to celebrate. That you are here, in this moment, breathing and heart-beating with your wonderful head like a jar full of fireflies.

Now go back inside and have some tea or something. Pet an animal, if you have one. And go to bed.

This entry was originally posted (with comment count unavailable comments) at my Dreamwidth.
29 June 2014 @ 07:30 pm
So I feel like it's still too silly and too soon to post this anywhere official, but I just spent about an hour planning the book I'm going to attempt as soon as the two I'm currently writing are done (assuming I don't jump right into Line and Orbit book three), and it's... Yeah, like Labyrinthian it's tropey as FUCK but I think it might be so fun.

I'm going through the first Mass Effect and you might want to blame that.

Working title is one I've used before on a much older and unpublished and not very good book: Harbinger.

In the year 2271, Earth is a brutal planet of heavy storms, blistering heat, and high sea levels. Humanity has spent the last sixty years in a nearly constant state of war over increasingly dwindling resources. Fossil fuels are rare as diamonds. Water is a thing to kill over. Entire continents exist in a state of famine. Governments exist in name only. Society is sharply divided between the uber-wealthy, who live in domed, climate-controlled arcologies and employ private armies, and those who live in crushing poverty in slums that stretch for miles.

Into this nightmare world come the Madijiara, extraterrestrial beings of uncertain nature and even more uncertain intentions. Upon making first contact with humanity, the Madijiara offer what seems like salvation: limitless sources of food, clean water, and boundless energy, as well as medical technology far in advance of anything humans possess. And even more astounding: the technology to travel instantly between the stars. One day, the Madijiara promise, humanity will be allowed to take their place among a select and favored group: the Madijiaran United Tributaries.

There's just one catch: the Madijiara want their tribute. And they refuse to reveal what it is without a promise of Earth's complete submission.

Ten years later, Earth is a subject of the Madijiara. While things have improved, many people still live in privation, and Earth's environment appears damaged beyond even the power of the Madijiara to repair. Humanity hopes for the day when they can emigrate wholesale to a new world selected by the Madijiara, a place of clean air and water, temperate climate, and new beginnings. Humanity hopes for this - and also prays, literally, to the Madijiara, whom many now revere as gods. Colloquially referred to as the Seraphs, the Madijiara remain mysterious. And every year a Madijiaran delegation arrives to collect their tribute: Three hundred humans, who are never seen again and whose fates are unknown.

Dock worker Josiah Maclan isn't pleased about being selected as tribute, but there's little he can do, and his selection will mean that his family wants for nothing. But en route to the Madijiaran ship, his transport collides with a rogue Madijiaran vessel. Josiah finds himself the sole survivor of the crash - and prisoner of a renegade Madijiaran, who calls himself Samael.

Ruthless, cunning, and profoundly dangerous. Samael is nevertheless a creature of principle, and that principle might just get him killed. Which is exactly what he wants. He is being pursued by the Madijiaran authorities for the ultimate blasphemy: the introduction of the possibility of death into the immortal Madijiaran society. Fascinated by mortals - and, grudgingly, increasingly fascinated by Josiah himself - Samael is on the hunt for an ancient artifact that contains the secret of death, one that the Madijiara have kept hidden for millennia. And Josiah is his only hope of finding it. Whether Josiah likes it or not.

A stolen sacrifice. A fallen angel. Oh, this is going to end well.

Hopefully I can start work on it sometime in the fall.

I get so tired of writing novels and I just keep writing them.

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18 June 2014 @ 06:24 pm
So I've basically abandoned this thing for actual journaling purposes, seems like, except for RP and when things suck and I want to rant about them. That said, here's a post-end-of-the-semester update:

  • I still have no job, though I am teaching a course this summer. I'm looking for another graduate assistantship on campus, I've applied for a paid internship at the Census Bureau, and I'll be looking elsewhere. Not panicking yet. Much. Sometimes nights are bad.

  • Still not sure if I'm finishing the PhD, though at this point I'm operating under the assumption that I am. We'll see where we are in a few months.

  • My mental health status is okay. Not great. The dermatillomania tics in my hands are bad. Almost all my nails are breaking pretty much constantly because of the pressure when I compulsively squeeze my fingers together. I tried one medication, it didn't work, now I'm trying another. I'm starting to consider the possibility that we might not find one that helps me, or that I'll have to go on an SSRI (please no), or that I'll have to minimize my typing, because that seems to make it worse. But I'm writing two novels right now and editing a third, plus papers and blogging. How exactly am I supposed to not type?

  • I am losing weight. Putting most of that on the Metformin. Amazing what can happen when your body is finally processing sugar the way it should.

  • In positive writer news, in July I'm publishing A Brief History of the Future, a collection of essays - self-publishing, because I wanted to see if I could, because I may have to if I want to get the Line and Orbit sequel out there. Currently I'm running a giveaway on Goodreads for two signed copies of the trade paperback, so if you want a free book by me, you can enter to get one here. I've also put up a pre-order page for it on Smashwords, and if you pre-order you get a dollar off the eventual list price. And I'm naturally very grateful if you do. I worked hard on this book, in terms of compiling the material and designing the interior/making the ebook look nice, and I'm pleased to say I think it's of professional quality and rather good.

  • And finally, got the cover for Ravenfall - Casting the Bones Book 2 - and it's gorgeous:

    It also gets a release in July. Today I wrote a piece on Ava, my genderqueer/nonbinary co-protagonist. Writing them has taught me a lot and I love them.

    Ravenfall also has a Goodreads page.

So... Yeah. Stuff. I'll try to be around more. Also I need to do a SOTP.

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27 March 2014 @ 03:52 pm
The mostly-from-scratch rewrite of Wordsinger is done, at just over 93k words. I think I may add a wee bit more in my editing pass but probably not much if anything; it feels pretty complete to me.

This remains my Agent Book. We'll see.

I seriously need a break.

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17 March 2014 @ 09:28 pm

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27 February 2014 @ 08:42 am
For the morning crowd, since I am pushing this literally everywhere: I'm giving away three print copies of Line and Orbit through SF Signal over here. For my birthday. Yes, I am offering you presents. Signed presents.

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06 February 2014 @ 04:33 pm
You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly.


- Aaron Freeman

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