Friday, December 13, 2013

The Sophistries of June finished

Great news! I just finished writing the last book of The Sophistries of June. Both of the accompanying interlude novellas are also finished. Right now I'm revising the third book and novella, which should be available by the end of the year or the beginning of January. The fourth and final book should be available a few months later. This has been a very enjoyable series to write, and I hope that you'll like how it ends. I'll post again when the third book and novella become available.

At this point, I'm facing a bit of a crossroads. I have finished the three series with which I began. I've got two different books in mind that I'd like to write. One is set in contemporary Chicago (I've mentioned this before, I believe--Blue Island Gods). The other is set in 1920s St. Louis. Most likely, I will be writing Blue Island Gods and then moving on to the next book, but I'm still not positive.

Also, remember that The Indifferent Children of the Earth, the first book in The Sophistries of June, is currently free at a number of retailers, although that will end shortly..

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Mourning Spring + Under Ahys

Dear all,

I wanted to let you know that the final book in Flesh and Fell is available for sale. The Mourning Spring is currently available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Also, the novella "Under Ahys," which takes place between The Hunger God and The Mourning Spring is also up for sale. It is also available at Amazon and Smashwords.

These two stories complete the Flesh and Fell series. It has been a huge pleasure to write Flesh and Fell. There is a great deal left of that world that I still want to explore--I'd love to visit Istbya or Sethora, or spend more time in Cenarbasi, or even go further afield. And there are a lot of stories left to tell (one of the most exciting I can't even tell you about, since it's part of The Mourning Spring). I hope to go back some day and tell those stories.

For now, though I'm going to be finishing up The Sophistries of June. I finished one novella tonight. Tomorrow I start on the next novella, and then I'll write the fourth and final book.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Broken Finished, Mourning almost ready

I'm sorry for the long silence here. Work and life have picked up, and so I've had to let blogging fall by the wayside. I've still been writing, though, and I wanted to let you know that I finished "Broken," (my code-name for the third book in The Sophistries of June). I still need to do some revision, but it should be up for sale by the end of November.

Mourning and the accompanying novella, which will finish out the Flesh and Fell series, are almost ready to go. I've been revising them and they are probably a week or two away from publication. Look here for a post announcing that they've gone live. They will be available at a variety of online retailers.

A quick overview of my schedule:
Novella for Broken
Part 3 of Blue Island Gods
(Book 4 of Sophistries, no code-name yet)
Novella for Book 4.

That should take me to the end of 2013. It will also be the end of the three series that I currently have in production. 2014 will see a new (and very exciting) series launch. I can't wait to share it with you.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Victoria Grefer's Writing Handbook

I just wanted to put in a plug for my friend Victoria's writing handbook. It is being released today on Amazon. The title is: Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction. Victoria is very smart and very thoughtful about her writing, and her advice is definitely worth checking out. Remember, you can always look at a preview of the book on Amazon before deciding to buy.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fold Thunder Giveaway

As a correction to the dates in my last post, I wanted to let you all know that I'm giving away copies of Fold Thunder through Amazon. You can find it here. It will be free until July 28, so get your copy fast!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Blue Island Gods & Promotion

Some months ago, I mentioned working on a new project that is urban fantasy / contemporary fantasy (urban fantasy gets loaded with a lot of other meanings, so I'm looking for a way to describe this project). In any case, I've been working on that project on the side. I've sent the first part out, and we'll see what happens with it. In the mean time, I've written the second part (titled Mictlampa).

The project is going to be a cycle of stories set in modern-day Chicago. The tentative title is Blue Island Gods. Depending on what happens with the first part I sent out, I will be serial publishing these stories starting in October. It's a tentative plan at best, but I wanted to let you know what I've been working on. Tomorrow I start on the third book in the Sophistries series and I will be writing the rest of that series for the rest of this year (two more novels and two more novellas)

I'm sorry that I haven't kept up with the regular posts; I just don't have time for them at the moment. I'm hoping I'll be able to return to regular blogging later this summer, so we'll see what happens.

Also, another item of business: I will be running a free promotion of Fold Thunder through Amazon at the end of this month (July 20-24). Be sure to get a copy, if you don't have one already!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Novel Wednesdays

One last passage from Conan Doyle's The Sign of the Four.

"The division seems rather unfair," I remarked. "You have done all the work in this business. I get a wife out of it, Jones gets the credit, pray what remains for you?"

"For me," said Sherlock Holmes, "there still remains the cocaine-bottle." And he stretched his long white hand up for it.

These are the closing lines of the novel, and I think they are remarkable. While this novel introduces Holmes's drug-use (recreational, I might add), it doesn't carry quite the same charge as it might in our own culture, laden with drug-phobias. In the same way, Conan Doyle is certainly not the first to include a flawed and emotionally disconnected (and drug-reliant) main character, although Holmes is a great example of such a character.

Instead, what I think is fascinating about these lines are how they disrupt the expected ending of the novel. Readers of Conan Doyle would know, after A Study in Scarlet, that Holmes does not expect to get credit for solving mysteries. The Sign of the Four makes the same point again and again; Holmes does not expect to get credit for his work. But Watson's closing comment highlights the injustice of this fact again, and instead of any sort of character growth from Holmes, we see him plunge back into the same state in which the novel began. But perhaps what is most interesting is that I do not think we are supposed to read despair in the last words.

Flesh and Fell Novella Finished

This morning I finished the final novella of Flesh and Fell. That means that, as of today, the entire series has been written. Now, there is still some substantial revision to be done on Mourning and this novella, but by mid- to late summer the final book and novella should be published. That's a great step for me; it's the second series that I will have finished. Flesh and Fell is a very different set of works than The Rim and the Shore, and I've really enjoyed writing them.

Tomorrow I'll start on another novella for a different project (something I'm not publishing yet because I'm not sure what kind of shape it's going to have). Then, when that's finished, I'll be back to working on The Sophistries of June. There are still two more books and two more novellas to write in that series, and I'm going to write them straight through.

As far as I know, The Dew of Flesh is free everywhere except Amazon right now. If you want a copy, get it now, because I'm going to pull it from the other sites and do an Amazon promotion in July. The rest of my books should be available everywhere.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rough Draft Fridays

Here's a bit more from Abass's story. One of the things that I've liked most about the Flesh and Fell series is exploring the limitations of the godblood magic. It seems like a perfect power--it has very few limitations (you need to be around people to use it, and using it grants people a smaller amount of the same power you draw) and the amount of power it grants is incredible. But what I have found very fun is exploring how those considerations actually make using the godblood much more complicated. I dealt with this in part in The Harvest God, but it becomes even more of an issue in Mourning.

Abass jumped, crashing up and through the branches of a tired elm, toward starlight and darkness. The jump carried him back toward Khi’ilan, a cluster of yellow lights set in a vast clearing to the north. He landed on a massive white oak, just long enough to adjust his course and jump again.

The lights, though, were growing dimmer. Abass felt a flicker of panic. It wasn’t actually the lights that were fading, he was fairly certain. It was the enhanced vision of the godblood. When he landed next, on a dead orange tree, Abass barely managed to keep himself from falling. Grace was running out too. He threw himself into the air, this time barely clearing the tops of the trees. Strength. Speed. Dying as quickly as they came.

He scoured the godblood, but found none of the tiny stars that marked gateways onto the power of the land. Little surprise there; the only people who still lived outside Khi’ilan, as far as Abass could tell, were bandits. And he had just done his best to try and kill the ones closest to the city. Which meant he needed to move fast, or he faced a long walk back.

The alarms continued to call.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Novel Wednesdays

Here is more from Conan Doyle's The Sign of the Four.

At the sound of his strident, angry cries there was movement in the huddled bundle upon the deck. It straightened itself into a little black man—the smallest I have ever seen—with a great, misshapen head and a shock of tangled, dishevelled hair. Holmes had already drawn his revolver, and I whipped out mine at the sight of this savage, distorted creature. He was wrapped in some sort of dark ulster or blanket, which left only his face exposed; but that face was enough to give a man a sleepless night. Never have I seen features so deeply marked with all bestiality and cruelty. His small eyes glowed and burned with a sombre light, and his thick lips were writhed back from his teeth, which grinned and chattered at us with a half animal fury.

After last week's consideration of the misogyny in Conan Doyle, it seems worthwhile to think about his imperialism. Here Tonga, the 'savage' who commits the murder, is finally revealed. It is no wonder that his physical description (he is little, black, has a misshapen head, disheveled hair; he is savage, distorted; has a nightmare face; bestial features; small eyes; thick lips; etc.) is also a complete revelation of internal character.

While in much fantasy writing this continues to be the case (the external is a mirror of the internal; good characters are always attractive, etc.), there have been some good moves away from this (although I'm not entirely sure that the emotionally crippled Tyrion Lannister isn't a continuation of this same trend). More importantly, I wonder how much of fantasy literature continues to revolve around the imperialist/colonialist mystification of non-European cultures.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Poetry Mondays

Here's another sonnet from Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Sonnet 20 from Sonnets from the Portuguese.

The sonnet begins with a fairly straightforward premise: Browning thinks about what her life was like a year ago, before she met her future husband (the poet Robert Browning). The poem quickly takes on a more complicated meaning, however, and by the end, the poem suggests that there is a link between Browning's personal experience and a larger understanding of the universe. Atheists who cannot interpret God's existence without seeing him are as dull as Browning herself, who describes herself as unable to imagine her future husband before meeting him.

The parallels are stronger, however. The poem begins with "Beloved, my Beloved," a phrase that echoes strongly one of the Biblical titles of Jesus Christ, and in this way the poem, at the beginning, establishes a resonance between Robert Browning and Christ/God that, at the end of the poem, will be made explicit. Browning's poem raises concerns about the relationship between internal experience ("counting all my chains") and our ability to read the world around us ("saw no footprint" "nor ever cull / Some prescience of thee with the blossoms white / Thou sawest growing!").

Beloved, my Beloved, when I think
That thou wast in the world a year ago,
What time I sate alone here in the snow
And saw no footprint, heard the silence sink
No moment at thy voice ... but, link by link,
Went counting all my chains, as if that so
They never could fall off at any blow
Struck by thy possible hand ... why, thus I drink
Of life's great cup of wonder! Wonderful,
Never to feel thee thrill the day or night
With personal act or speech,—nor ever cull
Some prescience of thee with the blossoms white
Thou sawest growing! Atheists are as dull,
Who cannot guess God's presence out of sight.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

David Farland on editing + Dew giveaway

I just wanted to post a link to one of David Farland's recent posts about writing (and more specifically, editing) that I thought would be helpful to other writers. You can find it here.

In other news, The Dew of Flesh is currently available for free at, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony, the Apple bookstore, etc. I'm hoping that Amazon will pick it up for free as well, but we'll see. My plans are to do a giveaway of The Dew of Flesh through Amazon in the next month or so, but you can always get it for free under my 'Books' page as well. Please spread the word if you think someone might like to read it--the final book of Flesh and Fell will be coming out later this summer, and now is the perfect time to read the first two books.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rough Draft Fridays

Here's a bit more from Hash's point of view. One of the things that I've thought about quite a bit in writing Hash's point of view is what his relationship with Ilahe is like. (SPOILERS for Dew of Flesh). As you'll remember, Hash is fighting a deep depression after escaping the Pits; he is tormented by what he did to escape and can't forgive himself. His relationship with Ilahe is part of what enables him to move on. But there were events that drove him to the Pits in the first place, events that you haven't learned about (yet).

At the same time, Ilahe brings her own set of issues to the table. In spite of her learning to trust Hash and open up to him, she still carries scars from her life in Cenarbasi. Part of those scars have to do with the child she lost and her treatment at the hands of the Cenarabasin gods. And with Ilahe pregnant, both Hash and Ilahe have to deal with things from their past.

“Get out of my way,” Ilahe said. Her dark eyes, almost black, flashed with anger.

“Get in bed,” Hash said.

She grabbed his arm and pulled, but Hash was ready for her. He shifted his weight, clutched at the door frame, and let her pull. After a moment Ilahe gave up. Hash tried to stifle his grin. His wife was strong—stronger than most women, doubtless. But she was nowhere near the beast she thought she was. The winter months had changed her, thinning the muscles in her shoulders, adding new curves to her sides. And, of course, the unmistakable bulge of the child. The warrior woman who had come north to Khi’ilan the summer past was gone. In her place was a very fit, but now very pregnant, woman who drew eyes wherever she walked.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Novel Wednesdays

Here's a bit from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of the Four.

"I would not tell them too much," said Holmes. "Women are never to be entirely trusted,—not the best of them."

I did not pause to argue over this atrocious sentiment. "I shall be back in an hour or two," I remarked.

 I think it's interesting for two reasons. First, it's a bit of throwaway dialogue in one sense; the women in question are actually not suspects in the case, nor do they turn out to be traitors; Holmes's warning has nothing to do with the plot of the novel, but rather with the world in which he lives.

The passage is interesting, though, more for the bifurcation of misogyny within it. Holmes's apparent misogyny (that women are not to be trusted) taps into a long line of historical misogyny about unfaithful and treacherous women. Although shocking and unpleasant to contemporary readers, it is certainly nothing new.

More importantly, though, I think that Holmes's comment is actually less misogynist (perhaps not misogynist at all) in the light of Watson's reaction. Watson's identification of Holmes's thought as 'atrocious' at first seems to align quite nicely with 20th and 21st century progressive thought. It hides, though, a deeper misogyny--that of women as angels, an extremely common view of women in the late 19th century. Holmes's willingness to allow for women to be human (remember, of course, that Holmes trusts no one, so his mistrust of women is actually unsurprising) contrasts with Watson's very rigid view of female identity.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Poetry Mondays

Stepping away from men-poets for a while, I thought we could look at some great poems by one of the most famous women-poets in European history: Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Here is Sonnet 14 from Sonnets from the Portuguese.

The sonnet, like all of Browning's work, is a wonderful piece. The enjambment in the first line, for example, makes the condition of 'except,' which follows 'nought,' even more suggestive of the poem's concern about what it means to love someone. The poem moves through a catalogue of reasons that are, for the poem, unacceptable reasons to love someone. A smile, a look, a way of speaking; a trick of thought; pity. These, for Browning, are not reasons to love someone. Or perhaps better said, they are reasons that are problematic precisely because they are so mutable. What happens to love when the precondition (a smile, a look, pity) ceases to exist? Love being wrought and unwrought is the threat that the poem is worried about.

The poem ends by suggesting that love for love's sake allows for eternal love, but the poem leaves unanswered a troubling question: what does it mean to love for love's sake?

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
I love her for her smile ... her look ... her way
Of speaking gently, ... for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'—
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may
Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,—
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Rough Draft Fridays

Here's another passage from Saat's point of view. As you've already seen, part of Saat's journey is just getting himself back on his feet (sometimes literally). And part of what he's trying to work out for himself is just exactly what it means to be an esis--something he never really had a handle on, even back when the eses ruled Khi'ilan. But this chapter opens with Saat having made enough coin (through questionable means) to provide for some of his basic necessities. The next question will be, what is he going to do when he has to live up to the deal he has made?

A man, the eses taught, could be happy anywhere or anytime. In the Pits, in a shrine of life, drunk, sober, rich, or poor. Saat, however, had recently gained insight into this particular statement and found it to be a particularly fragrant pile of horse droppings. Rich, he thought, as he stomped his feet in his new boots, was decidedly better than being poor. And it made it much easier to be happy.

His feet, for the first time in forever, didn’t feel like they were about to fall off. That, for Saat, was a critical step on the path to happiness.

Three silver mis went a long way. He’d replaced the balding sheepskin cloak for a much better one, thick enough that Saat felt a bit like a sheep himself, drowning in the heavy warm clothing. A pair of wool trousers, only patched once at the knees, a linen shirt that was as blue as a summer sky and looked almost new, and a warm wool vest doubled his currently available wardrobe. There had been coin leftover to pay Wari, buy a hot meat pie and a mug of warm cider at one of the food carts, and—most importantly—to buy the rather lovely short sword that currently hung at his waist. Sharp enough to shave with, free of rust, and the hilt well wrapped in good leather.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Novel Wednesdays

Here's a passage from Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus. It sets up the central conflict of the novel with the ambiguity that's typical of the book as a whole.

"You have been given a venue to work within," his instructor says. "You present your skills to the best of your ability and your opponent does the same. You do not interfere with each other's work. It shall continue in this manner until there is a victor. It is not that complex."

"I'm not certain I understand the rules," Marco says.

"You don't need to understand the rules. You need to follow them. As I said, your work has been sufficient."

Mourning Finished

Good news!

The final book in Flesh and Fell is finished. I wrote the last words of the rough draft this morning. That means I now need to write the novella that will come between The Harvest God and Mourning. Then I need to revise both the novella and the novel. Then they will be up for sale!

I'd estimate a date somewhere in the second half of July. I will try to give a more specific launch date as things get closer.

It's very exciting to have written the last words (of the rough draft) of this series. Flesh and Fell is a very different set of books from The Rim and the Shore, and I've learned different things while writing it. Some of my favorite characters are in Flesh and Fell (some whom you've met, and others you haven't). I look forward to sharing the last book with you.

After the novella is finished for Flesh and Fell, I will pick back up with The Sophistries of June. There are two more books to come and two more novellas. Then--

Well, there are a lot of stories I still want to tell.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Poetry Mondays

Another fun poem from Shelley, "Love's Philosophy." Shelley's poem fits into a long and noble tradition of poems that are simultaneously sophisticated and beautiful while, at the same time, instruments of seduction. The poem works by pointing out the phenomena of nature that manifest what is, for the poem, "a law divine" -- namely, "Nothing in the world is single."

Shelley's vision of singleness, or perhaps I should say of pairing, is not as straightforward as it might seem. Fountains mingle with rivers; rivers with oceans; the winds of heaven mix together. This minglings and mixings, though, are also a collapse of a pair into a single thing. Rivers can't be separated once they meet the ocean. They become ocean. Identity dissolves and changes as individuality disappears.

Of course, this leads Shelley into the second stanza, where he has the beautiful lines, "And the sunlight clasps the earth / And the moonbeams kiss the sea," both of which are absolutely wonderful, but which lead him into a question that is fraught. "What is all this sweet work worth / If thou kiss not me?" The beauty of creation teeters on the edge of meaninglessness, waiting to be given new meaning by the beloved's kiss. While at one level, this is just a great way of asking a girl to kiss him, it also points to the internal logic of the world of the poem: the world (the sweet work) actually can't be worth anything if the woman refuses to obey this natural law, since it is precisely this natural law that gives the world its worth and meaning.

The Fountains mingle with the Rivers
And the Rivers with the Oceans,
The winds of Heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine? --

See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother,
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Rough Draft Fridays

One of the great pleasures of writing Mourning has been seeing how Khi'ilan, and the Thirteen Paths of Nakhacevir, has changed after the death of the tair, the battle at Kir, and the collapse of the religious and political structure. In particular, it has been fun to think about the challenges that people would face if they had never experienced winter before and, quite suddenly, they were forced to deal with that new hardship. The scene below combines some of that fun with one of the things I've liked most about Flesh and Fell as a series--the scenes where I get to show off all the cool powers of the dew of flesh and the godblood.

Abass’s breath misted in the moonlight. He jumped again, the power and speed of the godblood in him, making the world fall away—branches whipping past, the darkness, then the curve of the earth like a great chalice waiting to be filled to the brim with life. As he fell, the forests bled out beneath him, patches of darkness eating up the white stretches of snow. Closer now, almost beneath him, the red and orange flicker of campfires. Smoke slipped up like lacework around the stars.

He landed in one of those patches of white, snow bursting up into a cloud around him, freezing and melting on his cheeks in an instant. Abass stayed kneeling, listening. The crystalline brush of the snow settling. The wind scraping branch against branch. Crackling flames. And the voices of men. Low, chatting, undisturbed.

They had not heard him.

Firelight scratched the bark of nearby trees—slivers of light that would have been all but invisible to Abass without the power of the godblood. He crept closer, moving slowly so that the snow did not crunch underfoot. This type of sneaking was new to him; born in the city, a man of the city, Abass had never been a hunter or a woodsman. And, of course, Nakhacevir had never known snow in all the years of his life until now. But time did funny things to a man—and to a land. So he took his time easing up between the trees, avoiding fallen branches, grateful that if he moved slowly enough, the heavy snow masked his sound.

Crimson League reminder

A quick reminder that my friend Victoria's book The Crimson League is free today and tomorrow on Amazon, and that the final book of her Herezoth trilogy is available as of today.

More here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Crimson League

I want to let you all know that my friend Victoria Grefer will be giving away the first book of her Herezoth trilogy, The Crimson League, on Amazon for free on May 31 and June 1. The final book of the trilogy is being released on May 31, so if you haven't had a chance to read any of her books, this is a good time to pick up the first one for free, see if you like it, and then get the rest. You can read with the security of knowing that the series has already been finished!

More info here.

Novel Wednesdays

A final passage from All Clear. I highly recommend reading this book (and the first part, Blackout).

To do something for someone or something you loved--England or Shakespeare or a dog or the Hodbins or history--wasn't a sacrifice at all. Even if it cost you your freedom, your life, your youth.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Poetry Mondays

Here's the final stanza of Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind." After the remarkable plea in the fourth stanza, when Shelley expresses his despair, the fifth stanza moves into a beautiful vision. It begins with Shelley imagining himself as a forest, but importantly, a forest that is, when moved by the autumn wind, also a lyre. The image of Shelley as a forest, with his leaves falling in autumn, is breathtaking to me, as is the autumnal tone that he imagines the wind wringing from him as it tears him apart.

The lines "Drive my dead thoughts over the universe / Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth" bring the opening stanza of the poem full circle into the end. The wind stirring pestilential leaves has changed; now it is a wind driving Shelley's thoughts before it, but, like the leaves of the first stanza, Shelley's thoughts will find a grave that offers new birth. These thoughts are not just thoughts, though--as they are manifested through this poem, like an incantation, they become ashes and sparks. They become, in other words, not just seeds for plants, but seeds for new fires. The final lines reinforce this image of death and rebirth. "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawakened earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rough Draft Fridays

Hash, the third POV from Mourning, is a character you may remember from The Dew of Flesh. He had a relatively minor role (I won't go into the details, to avoid potential spoilers). We learn a lot more about Hash in this book--where he's from, what brought him to the Pits, and how he became a priest in a shrine of life. He faces some of the same troubles as Saat and Abass, but from different angles. The economic hardships of Khi'ilan exert a different kind of pressure on Hash, and he finds himself in a very difficult situation in the shrine. Of course, there are also plenty of people who are willing to make Hash's life more difficult than it has to be--as you're about to see.

A block from the shrine, Hash saw them. A group of men—four of them. In the mild weather, they had abandoned the sheepskin cloaks that most in the city wore. No cloaks meant that Hash could make out the cheap linen and wool of their clothing. It also meant that he could see that they carried clubs and, more importantly, that they looked like men who knew how to use them.

He eyed them for a pace or two before he realized they were waiting. Not right in front of the shrine. That might be obvious. But after a few more paces, he realized they were watching the front door of the shrine. Watching and waiting. That was not a good sign.

At the next building, a run-down tavern that served watered-down beer, Hash stopped and leaned up against the peeling whitewash. Watching and waiting. It could be they were the guard of some merchant who had decided to visit the shrine. Could be. But they weren’t. The way the rest of the people on the street avoided looking at them told Hash these men were trouble. And the street, normally fairly busy, was all but empty in the late morning. Why? The answer was obvious: people knew trouble. And with the eses gone, trouble meant keep your head down and your eyes up.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Novel Wednesdays

Another passage from All Clear.

She had always wondered how the contemps had found the courage to go on after their husbands, parents, children, and friends had been pulled lifeless from the rubble. But it wasn't courage. It was that there were so many things that had to be taken care of that by the time one had done all of them, it was too late to give way.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Poetry Mondays

Here is the fourth stanza of Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind." I've skipped two stanzas, not because I don't like them (I do) but because I don't think they're my favorite, and there are other things I'd like to talk about. This stanza is heartbreaking to me. I fully recognize that an emotional, subjective response isn't always the best or most important response to an aesthetic object, but I think those types of response are valuable nonetheless.

The two stanzas I skipped are about clouds and waves, so that the first lines of this stanza recall the three first stanzas: leaves, clouds, waves directed by the power of the wind. The phrase "to pant beneath thy power" is a remarkable one, I think. In the appeal to a former, lost childhood, you can hear a familiar trope from Romanticism, namely, an idealization of childhood, its innocence and magic.

But I think there's nothing more remarkable in this poem than Shelley's lines, "Oh lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud! / I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!"

If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne'er have striven

As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Rough Draft Fridays

Here's a bit more from Saat's POV. Among other things, Saat is facing many of the same problems as Abass: the hunger gripping the city, the sudden changes to power, and a sense of responsibility for people that, he believes, he has let down. Saat, of course, has his own problems to deal with too--which you'll learn all about when the book comes out--but one of the foremost ones is that, as a former esis, he's unsure of his place in the new Khi'ilan. Part of his story is learning what that new place might be, particularly in a new Old Truth that he needs to adjust to.

Furtherfew, Old Truth’s largest market, was bustling. Saat pulled his sheepskin cloak closer against the wind, grimaced at the frozen slush that was turning his feet to ice, and sidestepped a team of man rolling barrels out of the market.

Tair and Father, what he wouldn’t give for a decent pair of boots.

A man of the law, and especially an esis who had been on the streets of Old Truth, never looked at a market the same way as other men. Oh, Saat saw the small stalls, most lacking any sort of covering, the wood warped from rain and snow and sun. And he saw the sad piles of creeping squash and pumpkin and onions that were, from the smell, on the edge of being foul beyond eating.

More than that, though, he saw the boys—some almost grown enough to be men—who wandered back and forth through the crowd, ready to cut a purse or palm a piece of fruit when eyes were turned. The bigger boys weren’t so bad; Saat had never felt of twinge of conscious if he threw them in a cell for a few days or just gave them a good roughing up. The small ones, though—towheaded and smiling—they would cut a purse or palm a coin as fast as the bigger ones, but as soon as they turned their tearful eyes on Saat, he suddenly found it hard to finish the whipping, or take them all the way to the cells. He would tell himself, time and again, that they just needed a talking to, a good mother, and a belly full of food. And over time, the small thieves became the big ones.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Novel Wednesdays

I just finished reading Connie Willis's wonderful All Clear and I thought I'd give you a few of my favorite parts.

This is a humorous exchange between two characters (one major, one minor) that I really enjoyed. The man is trying to seduce the woman.

"I'm deadly serious," he said. "Our souls have been destined to be together throughout history. I told you, we were Tristan and Isolde." He moved in closer. "We were Pelleas and Melisande, Heloise and Abelard." He leaned toward her. "Catherine and Heathcliff--"

"Catherine and Heathcliff are not historical figures, and there weren't any Christian slaves in Babylon," she said, slipping neatly away from him. "It was B.C., not A.D."

Monday, May 13, 2013

Poetry Mondays

Here's the first stanza of a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ode to the West Wind." I love it for a number of reasons. First of all, I think it has beautiful language. There are a lot of ways for a poem to be beautiful, of course. Here, Shelley does an excellent job with imagery. Pestilential leaves, driven by the wind into their graves, is a remarkable image. I love the confidence of the poem, the assurance that Shelley brings to it. When he reaches the last line of the stanza, there is something remarkable to me about those words: "hear, oh, hear!"

Oddly, though, I find myself disenchanted (pun?) with the image of the leaves as ghosts. It's the only line of the stanza that I don't like.

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The wingéd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rough Draft Fridays

Here's a bit more from Abass's POV from Mourning. From the pieces I've shown you, you can get a sense of the problems that Khi'ilan is facing at the end of their first winter: hunger, desperation, and the instability that comes from a sudden shift in power. These are problems that Abass is involved in not only because he is the godblood of Khi'ilan, but because he feels responsible for them. As the eses warned in The Dew of Flesh, winter came when the tair died, and Abass was the one to kill the tair.

The temple was, of course, officially no longer a temple. It was hard to have a temple when your god was dead. It was even harder to have a temple when all of the warrior-priests had gone off and gotten themselves killed.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle that faced the council, though, was that it was, in the end, still the temple.

Abass grimaced, half in relief, half in despair, as the gates to the temple compound swung shut behind the last wagon. Bringing the grain here hadn’t been the original plan, although the temple compound was certainly big enough, and there were places to store the grain. But it had been necessity, rather than logistics, that had forced Mece to turn west along the Way of Ash, bringing them straight to the temple rather than to the city’s granaries.

Mobs—even the desperately hopeful kind, like the one outside—had that kind of power.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Books page update & blogging slowdown

I've updated the books page; it now lists all of my books available for sale (although not the novellas) and has a more accurate account of when each series should be finished. Just to recap here:

The Rim and the Shore: finished
Flesh and Fell: I'm finishing up the rough draft of Mourning and then will write the novella. Expect them for sale in the summer. This will conclude Flesh and Fell.
The Sophistries of June: Two more books to come, as well as two more novellas. Book 3 + novella should be out by the end of the year, Book 4 + novella in early 2014.

Also, I've fallen behind on my blogging this week. I'll try to get back into the regular posts of poetry and rough drafts and novels, but this month is very hectic for me, so I may not be able to keep up with all of it. Don't worry--that just means I'm using my time to write, instead of to blog.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Novel Wednesdays

One last passage from The Blind Assassin.

The French are connoisseurs of sadness, they know all the kinds. This is why they have bidets.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Rough Draft Fridays

A bit more of Hash's story from Mourning.

The next morning, the sun was out. With a mild breeze, and the last determined icicles dripping sadly, whatever weather had moved into Khi’ilan in the last few hours had brought a new vigor to the city. As though the city had decided to jump straight into spring. Hash wasn’t sure if that was how it was supposed to work; this was the first winter Khi’ilan had known. Maybe it was finally over.
The day was almost warm enough that Hash was tempted to take his shirt off as he worked on the roof. Almost. He kept the shirt on, though. People—especially women—had a tendency to get distracted when Hash took his shirt off. He knew it. His father had known it. Hash realized he was gritting his teeth and forced himself to relax his grip on the hammer. For now, the shirt stayed on. Although it would have been nice to feel the sun on his back.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Novel Wednesdays

Another passage from The Blind Assassin.

Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up to the bright shadow cast by its absence. Time and distance blur the edges; then suddenly the beloved has arrived, and it's noon with its merciless light, and every spot and pore and wrinkle and bristle stands clear.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Poetry Mondays

Here's a poem I like from Percy Bysshe Shelley titled "Good-night."

Good-night? ah! no; the hour is ill
Which severs those it should unite;
Let us remain together still,
Then it will be good night.

How can I call the lone night good,
Though thy sweet wishes wing its flight?
Be it not said, thought, understood --
Then it will be -- good night.

To hearts which near each other move
From evening close to morning light,
The night is good; because, my love,
They never say good-night.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Rough Draft Fridays

Here's a bit more from the new character in Mourning, Saat.

Knocking woke Saat.
Curled up in his balding sheepskin cloak near the hearth, Saat came awake quickly, an old habit of too many years working the streets as an esis—half priest, half city watch. Truth be told, he had been far more city watch than priest. Which was why he came awake so quickly, when many of his fellow eses might have slept easily on down-filled mattresses.
For all that the boards were hard, the hearth was at least warm, and wrapped in his poor cloak, Saat gauged the sound of knocking. If it were Wari, she would go away soon enough—likely as not, it was Wari or one of her grandsons, trying to annoy him as punishment for being so pushy the day before. One habit of being on the watch was waking up quickly. The other side of the copper, though, was falling asleep quickly. Wiggling warm toes, Saat lay back down. Wari would grow bored soon enough.
The hammering at the door, however, resumed with fervor. The kind of fervor that, in a house with as many years and as many quirks as Saat’s, could lead to a precipitous ending. Saat had a vague vision of the house finally giving up, collapsing under the too-vigorous knocking and settling down in a respectable heap of timber.