Where I have been...visiting Mark Lawrence & SFSignal (#SFWApro)

Well, I didn't really go to the UK. It was more of a virtual thing.

I've been using my Tumblr to get word out lately, because my host provider suffered DDoS attacks over the last few weeks. Things seemed to have settled down now, so we'll see how it goes.

In case you missed the Tumblr links, here are a few things that went on in December:

Pat Rothfuss is hosting his annual fund drive for Worldbuilders, and I have donated a signed copy of Miserere and a signed copy of Manifesto: UF, which contains my short story, "Naked the Night Sings." Both of these items are in the Lottery Library. Pat talks about Worldbuilders and how you can donate at his blog.

I visited Mark Lawrence at his blog and talked about how women are marketed differently than men in addition to a lot of other things.

As an addendum to that interview: Someone compared the use of religious iconology in Miserere to Christopher Buehlman's Between Two Fires. Out of curiosity, I got my hands on a copy of Between Two Fires and I am currently reading it (for the record, I am enjoying it immensely). Oddly enough, Buehlman has a child character in his novel and I don't see any YA comparisons being made.

Personally, I think that Buehlman's work is more comparable to my Garden in Umber in respect to the time period, knights, and the use of angelology as a backdrop for the story. Now I'm more convinced than ever that women are expected to write within certain themes and not move outside the YA/PNR spectrum without forfeiting their "marketability."

Speaking of marketability ... my short story "La Santisima" is still free and is now on Goodreads if you want to read it, comment, or rate it. I warn you, though, "La Santisima" is very different than some of my other short stories, so your mileage might vary significantly as to whether or not you like it. It was an interesting exercise for me and I learned a lot by working on it.

The most amazing Sarah Chorn, who hosts the blog Bookworm Blues, also writes a series of posts for SF Signal. Sarah and I traded emails for several weeks and you can see the results of our discussion at her on-going series, Special Needs in Strange Worlds.

I talk about why Glokta is one of my favorite characters and the importance of portraying disabilities realistically in my own stories. It was a fun interview and Sarah is a skilled interviewer.

I'm spending my "vacation" fine-tuning the first part of Cygnet Moon and outlining the last half of the story. The novel is coming along very nicely, and I'm pleased with the tone.

That is all that I have for you now. There will be more fun and games in the New Year, so stay tuned.

StellarCon 36 pics, and moar better older women in fantasy

I've been meaning to post these ever since author J. Thomas Ross graciously gave me permission to post some of the pictures she took at StellarCon 36. She did an awesome recap of StellarCon 36, so I will redirect you to her for more pictures of and a great summary of the con.

All of the photographs below are copyright of J. Thomas Ross, so please check with her before reposting:

I'm just posting pictures from a few of the panels that I was on. You can also see some of the other panelists who helped make StellarCon such a great experience for me.

Religion in SFF:

From left to right: Theresa Bane, Teresa Frohock, Diana Bastine, and Janine K. Spendlove

In Religion in SFF, we talked about how to weave religious beliefs into your writing without pushing doctrine.

One part of StellarCon that I really enjoyed but don't have pictures for was the SONAR presentations. J. Thomas has these pictures on her blog.

These were very informative and I'm so glad StellarCon made time for them. Although I know that cons are pushed for room space and time, I hope next year StellarCon finds a way to give each SONAR presenter a full hour. The presentations were just that good.

I got to attend the SONAR presentation on Women in Combat by Chris Berman. Chris talked about the differences between male and female pilots during WWII. The Russians had an elite team of female bomber pilots that were deadly. They were called (and I love this name) The Night Witches.

Chris carefully outlined male/female brain differences, and the differences in how men and women perceive various combat situations. One great example he had was that the fight or flight impulse in men is almost instantaneous. Women process information differently, and this impulse is delayed, which means a woman will assess the situation more completely before fighting or running.

If you want to read a little about The Night Witches, you can check out Chris's tribute to these magnificent warriors on his website.

From left to right: Davey Beauchamp, Nicole Givens Kurtz, and Teresa FrohockNow who says librarians and teachers are a droll lot. We had so much fun on this panel, I'm surprised we didn't disturb the panel next door. One thing we all agreed upon: libraries are communities and you should get involved with yours today.

Next up is from one of my favorite panels: Strong Female Characters.

Left to right: Diana Bastine, Michael Z. Williamson, Teresa Frohock, and Chris Berman

I was really lucky to sit on quite a few panels with Diana Bastine, but it was the two panels on women that I found her insights to be very revealing. We talked about qualities other than kicking ass that made women strong, and we talked about the absolute dearth of strong older female characters. Diana pointed out (and rightly so) that older women are also hidden in society.

So our battlecry henceforth is: MOAR BETTER OLDER WOMEN IN FANTASY!

And we don't mean old ladies living in cottages, dispensing cookies and wisdom in equal measure. We want to see older women functioning in these utopian societies young women are building, because I got news for you girls, one day you'll be forty and old too.

While we're on the subject, I also want to point out that the audiences were comprised of people of all ages (please pay attention, publishers). Young people aren't the only ones who read fantasy. Fantasy is a genre loved by the young and old, and we would like to see more novels with characters that reflect this demographic. Not all protagonists have to be twenty-something for us to enjoy the novel.

Okay, rant over.

If you missed StellarCon 36, you have not completely lost out. I'm going to remind you one more time that J. Thomas has more pictures and an excellent write-up on her blog. She talks about some of the panels that she attended with Pat Rothfuss and Michael A. Stackpole. Check out her blog. I would like to thank her again for her kind permission to use the photos she took of my panelists and me.

If you missed it this year, stay tuned, because StellarCon 37 is coming next March.