Women Destroy SF, Julie Dillon Illustrates, & Publication Updates

The June 2014 issue of Lightspeed Magazine is WOMEN DESTROY SCIENCE FICTION. Read about its genesis here, and you can buy a complete e-version RIGHT NOW or read it for free online across the month of June as all the stories are released day by day.

Of particular interest is that my daughter is one of the contributors, in her first professional sale, for the flash fiction “The Hymn of Ordeal, No. 23″ (points if you get where the title comes from), and honestly I am SO EXCITED I CANNOT EVEN TELL YOU.

So naturally I heartily recommend the issue to your attention.

 

Meanwhile, over at A Dribble of Ink, I share some of the fabulous Julie Dillon illustrations that are in The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal, and talk a little bit about the genesis of the project. Mostly because it is Hugo voting season I want to signal boost what a fantastic artist Julie is; she is one of the finalists for the Hugo Award Pro Artist category this year.

 

Finally, publication news.

Here is the information page for my upcoming collection with Tachyon Publications.

My YA fantasy, COURT OF FIVES, is in production and due for publication in Summer 2015 via Little, Brown Young Readers. There’s a rudimentary goodreads page but no other internet presence so far.

My new epic fantasy, BLACK WOLVES, has a complete draft. After a 2 hour phone call with my perspicacious editor and a 20 page edit letter, I now embark upon a vast raft of revisions so can offer no firm publication date yet but I can confirm it will not be published in 2014. I will update a confirmed date when we have one but I expect that will not be until I have a solid second draft, and I can’t be sure how long revisions will take. This is all good news, though: I want to write and you want to read the very best book I am capable of writing.

 

Reminder: I am thrilled to be one of the Guests of Honor at Fantasycon 2014 in York, England, 5 – 7 September THIS YEAR and I would love to see you there (it is a small convention and so a venue in which you can expect to actually get to talk to people; I expect lots of great programming and discussion).

I also plan to attend Loncon 3 (Worldcon) in London 14 – 18 August 2014, which looks huge and exciting.

If you attend either or both events, please find me and say hello. I attend conventions to see friends I only see at conventions (and talk endlessly about writing) and to meet new people and chat with readers.

Spiritwalker prints available from Julie Dillon

As many of you already know, I commissioned the fabulous (and Hugo-nominated) artist Julie Dillon to do the illustrations for the illustrated short story The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal (a coda to the Spiritwalker Trilogy). [Both print and pdf formats available.]

I also commissioned two color illustrations, both of which are now available for purchase at Julie Dillon’s INPRNT store.

 

Dragon thumbnail

“(a) sweep of color washed through the smoky sea . . . Night swept down. Lights like fireflies twinkled against a black sky. The sea surged, lifting like cloth raised from beneath by a hand. A bright shape emerged, smoke spilling off it in currents.

The dragon loomed over us. Its head was crested as with a filigree that reminded me of a troll’s crest, if a troll’s crest spanned half the sky. Silver eyes spun like wheels. It was not bird or lizard, not was it a fish. Most of its body remained beneath the smoke. Ripples revealed a dreadful expanse of wings as wide as fields, shimmering pale gold like ripe wheat under a harsh sun. When its mouth gape, I knew it could swallow us in one gulp.
We had come to a place we ought not to be.”

 

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Amazons thumbnail

A gust of wind rattled the branches. A drum rhythm paced through the woods. On its beat I heard a woman’s voice call out a verse, answered by a chorus of women singing the response.

A column of soldiers marched into view, although they were almost dancing, so proud and mighty were they, and every single one a woman.

Four drummers led them while a fifth struck a bell, the drummers prancing and stepping on their way with every bit of flash and grin that any young man could muster. Their shakos were as jaunty as my own. All wore uniform jackets of dark green cloth piped with silver braid. Some wore trousers, while others preferred petticoat-less skirts tailored for striding. Most wore stout marching sandals laced along the length of calf, brown legs and black legs and white legs flashing beneath skirts tied up to the knee. Four lancers walked in the first rank, tasseled spears held high, while the rest carried rifles and swords. A banner streamed on the wind. It depicted an antlered woman drawing a bow.

Amazons.

 

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You can read a little more about each illustration:

“Rising from the Sea of Smoke” at A Dribble of Ink

Amazons at the Orbit Books web site

 

Writing Update w/ News

As many of you know, the Spiritwalker Trilogy is complete, together with two coda stories: The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal (with the most awesome illustrations by Hugo-nominated artist Julie Dillon) and The Courtship (told from the point of view of Andevai). I have a few more Spiritwalker short stories in progress, including one that involves . . . babies (for those of you that like that kind of thing). Again, thanks to all of you who have so enthusiastically read Cat’s story (and to those who read it and were more lukewarm; honestly, I appreciate people reading my books however it goes.)

For my two latest projects I have been working on a YA fantasy (which will be published as a YA and not in the adult sff field) and a new epic fantasy (first of a series).

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COURT OF FIVES is now the more official title of the YA fantasy formerly known as MASK (not yet fully confirmed but I think this is going to be it). It is fully revised and in production for a Summer 2015 publication date (the wheels of production grind slowly in YA publishing; they like lots of lead time to promote their titles).

This is the “Little Women meet the Count of Monte Cristo in a fantasy world loosely inspired by Greco-Roman Egypt” story that I’ve mentioned before. I wanted to write an epic fantasy that centered around girls, and telling it through the story of four sisters struck me as absolutely the way to go. In my dry, laconic way I am TOTALLY EXCITED about this book. It is definitely the fastest paced and most streamlined thing I have ever written, without losing the details and (I hope) complexity that I love.

(A younger) Hideo Muraoka would be pretty close to my head canon for the love interest:

 

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Meanwhile, I have turned in a draft of THE BLACK WOLVES to Orbit Books. This is the first volume of an epic fantasy series and, again, I wanted to center a story around women (3 of the 5 point of view characters are women and their points of view get about 75% of the page time in this volume). Having said that, I should note that I believe all the characters are great and (I hope) varied.

Here is the current description:

SOME CHOICES CAN NEVER BE UNDONE.
He lost his honor long ago.
Captain Kellas was lauded as the king’s most faithful servant until the day he failed in his duty. Dismissed from service, his elite regiment disbanded, he left the royal palace and took up another life.
Now a battle brews within the palace that threatens to reveal deadly secrets and spill over into open war. The king needs a loyal soldier to protect him.
Can a disgraced man ever be trusted?

I know, I know, it seems like it’s all about a dude, but trust me on this. Not that I have anything against dudes! I am sure that 50% of the characters in this book are men and I love each and every one of them. Especially Captain Kellas.

THE BLACK WOLVES is also currently scheduled for 2015.

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Finally, I have a forthcoming collection of short fiction (and four essays) coming out with Tachyon Publications, to be titled THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT. (Truth in advertising: it is actually “all the short fiction Kate Elliott has written in her career so far except for a couple of Spiritwalker-related stories and with the addition of two new novelettes to sweeten the deal”).

Much more on that later.

A Valentine For My Readers (A Spiritwalker Story)

Dear Readers,

There are days when the work flies through me and I am mighty. There are days when the work is one long slog of dragging weights behind me in the form of recalcitrant, uncooperative words. There are days I sit in despair staring at a wall mottled with self doubt. There are days I write like it is my job, which is not a bad thing when one has (presumably) skill and competence and a love for one’s work.

But every day I appreciate YOU, the ones reading my books.

I am grateful that you read them AT ALL. (I’m still kind of amazed by that.) I can work as a writer because you buy my work. I THRILL to the remarkably astute and brilliant analyses you write (& now and then mope sadly to a negative review, although negative reviews can also be useful as a perspective on the work and — as always — any review helps a writer be more visible in a crowded literary world). I adore the fan-art, and while I have to avoid reading fan-fic for legal reasons, I think it’s pretty cool that people write it. Did I mention I adore fan-art? And strange as it may seem, I really enjoy “meeting” (so to speak) and interacting with readers on social media. My books aside, I’m a reader too with the same love for reading and I never get tired of talking about books I love.

So: THANK YOU.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, a story for you, set in the Spiritwalker Universe. Yes, there might even be some sexual situations (fair warning).

Con or Bust Auction 2014

Con or Bust helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions (how to request assistance; upcoming cons). It is administered by Kate Nepveu (that’s me) under the umbrella of the Carl Brandon Society, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction. Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited by geography, type of con-goer, or con; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves.

Con or Bust is funded through donations and an online auction held each February.

That’s right: The auction is on NOW and will end at midnight February 23.

 

There are many many wonderful items available to bid on.

Among them, Orbit Books (and I) are offering two signed sets of the Spiritwalker Trilogy PLUS “The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal” — that auction page is here.

I’m also offering “bespoke fiction” here:

I will write a 1500-3000 word (that’s about 5 – 8 pages) story, drabble, essay, fake journal entry, descriptive passage, scene, fanfic, set of vignettes, or other form of your choice, set in the Spiritwalker universe, to a prompt(s) of your choosing.

Con or Bust Auction: Signed Set of Spiritwalker Trilogy + Secret Journal

Item Name & Description: Two signed sets of Kate Elliott’s Spiritwalker series (Cold Magic, Cold Fire, Cold Steel, and The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal)

default Beatrice_Cover_Front

The author describes this series as “an Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency fantasy adventure with airships, Phoenician spies, the intelligent descendents of troodons, and a dash of steampunk whose gas lamps can be easily doused by the touch of a powerful cold mage.” Publishers Weekly calls it “a swashbuckling series marked by fascinating world-building, lively characters, and a gripping, thoroughly satisfying story.” Orbit has donated two signed sets of these trade paperbacks.

Starting Bid: $15.

Notes: Top two bidders win (new bids must increase over the last bid). Shipping limited to the US and Canada (because of publishing rights). Because the books are being shipped by the publisher, personalization is not available.

Bidding will open Monday, February 10, 2014 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern (GMT -5); it closes Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. More Information.

TO MAKE A BID: GO TO THE CON OR BUST SITE (don’t make a bid here).

2014: In Which My Eyes Are Bigger Than My Stomach

2013: Not a good year.

The new year is a hopeful time for me even though the calender’s change is to a great degree arbitrary. The difference between December 31 and January 1 in terms of the time of sunrise and sunset is small but in my mind I can create a transitional zone that helps me make sense of moving forward.

I always have too many goals at the beginning of the year but I’ve learned that it is okay to embrace the idea that my eyes are bigger than my stomach, that I pile too much on my plate and maybe leave some things unfinished.

In the new year I have a lot of work to do.

I’m slated to be one of the Guests of Honor at Fantasycon 2014 (York, England, Sept 5- 7).  AND I plan to attend Loscon 3 (Worldcon 2014) in London on August 14 – 17. This is all intensely exciting!

So far this year I have

1) turned in the revised manuscript of my forthcoming (2015) YA fantasy, MASK. This is my Little Women epic fantasy in a setting inspired by (but not specifically derived from) Greco-Roman Egypt.

 We four sisters are sitting in the courtyard at dusk in what passes for peace in our house. Well-brought-up girls do not fidget or fume or ever betray the least impatience or boredom. But it is so hard to sit still when all I can think about is how I am going to sneak out of the house tomorrow to do the thing my father would never ever give me permission to do.

 

2) battled intense self doubt regarding the epic fantasy manuscript I am working on, mostly brought on by a crisis of confidence about writing epic fantasy at all. It’s complicated. The most important thing is to persevere past the negative internal voices, and not hate on yourself that you have those voices (and sometimes lose ground to them). That’s human. I have to remind myself that it is okay to believe in yourself. It’s not rude, or cocky, or unseemly. Confidence belongs to everyone.

I have 175,000 words written and a lot of revision to do plus some chapters to write and insert, but in the end I decided that to make sure the layers worked and to understand the story’s architecture I needed a plot board outline, which I finally finished today. At the same time I color coded the five points of view (one per chapter). You can see both the plot board and the post-it tagged manuscript below:

TBWplotboard

I am in the process of finishing and revising this novel now.

Beyond that I have

1) a Spiritwalker novelette very close to being finished that I hope to post for Valentine’s Day

2) a few more Spiritwalker universe short stories that I would really like to finish. My ultimate goal is a short story collection set within the universe.

3) Two novels on deck. No timetables I can share yet.

4) a short story collection coming 2015; I have more work to do on that.

5)  How much I will post over the next few months remains up in the air but I hope to post more regularly and especially I hope to answer some of the many questions I have backlogged. My apologies for not getting to them sooner. I also want to highlight work I’m reading/viewing by others.
As for non-writing related things:

Get more in shape (I have an entire regimen planned and in progress for this).

The other usual things (eat better, spend more relaxed time with people, read more, you know all that).

But if I had to say ONE THING I hope to accomplish this year, I would say: Have a successful trip to Europe (as per above) By my way of thinking success in this context means: hang out with friends, make new friends, spend time with people I’ve been longing to visit, talk talk talk, avoid exceptional hassles, stay healthy, and pick a couple of places I’ve not yet seen that I really want to visit. Also: people!

I don’t know if a new year means the same to everyone — but for me it is a chance to let go of some of the burdens I carried the previous year, to set goals I won’t fully achieve but keep striving for regardless, and to aim for one or two carefully chosen accomplishments or events, however large or small. I’d be interested in hearing how you approach the new year.

 

Julie Dillon Art for the Spiritwalker Trilogy

I have written before about “The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal”available in PDF and now with more print copies in stock! So if you were waiting for print, it is available at Crab Tank.

The Secret Journal contains black and white illustrations of the Spiritwalker characters, done by the wonderful Julie Dillon.

Last week over at A Dribble of Ink we debuted another amazing Julie Dillon piece, this one a color illustration of a scene in Cold Steel (dragons! fire!).

And today at Orbit Books a fabulous color illustration (also from a scene in Cold Steel) of Amazons.

My 2013 In Writing

For 2014: GoH at Fantasycon 2014 (York, U.K.) I’m super stoked! If you can make it, do! (September 5 – 7)

I also plan to attend Loncon 3 (London Worldcon), which is shaping up to be quite an event.

It’s unlikely I’ll be attending any conventions in the USA in 2014.

 

As it happens, 2013 was a remarkably packed year for me, publication-wise:

February 2013:

Apex Magazine‘s Shakespeare-themed Issue 45 included a reprint short story “My Voice Is In My Sword” and an interview.

 

May 2013:

Fearsome Journeys edited by Jonathan Strahan (Solaris/S&S) with an original novelette for this sword & sorcery/epic fantasy anthology, “Leaf and Branch and Grass and Vine.”

 

June 2013: (the Big Event of my publishing year)

Cold Steel: Spiritwalker Book Three (the final volume of the trilogy)

Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and said “Elliott pulls out all the stops in this final chapter to a swashbuckling series marked by fascinating world-building, lively characters, and a gripping, thoroughly satisfying story.” Yes, that makes me happy. There are a number of reviews of the novel I really adore but I will spare you quoting them all because I am humble and polite that way.

 

July 2014:

Open Road Media published 8 of my backlist novels in ebook form. Whoo!

(The 4 Novels of the Jaran, the Highroad Trilogy, and The Labyrinth Gate)

 

August 2013:

The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal.

[The link is to the PDF version. The print version is currently out of stock BUT more copies are in and it should be available in the print version again by January 10.]

An illustrated short story, text by Kate Elliott and AWESOME black & white illustrations by the spectacular (and Hugo-nominated!) artist Julie Dillon. This was a blast to write and I love the illustrations SO MUCH. Let’s call it “Bee’s version of the events, with a coda.”

 

Fall 2013:

The audiobook for Cold Magic came out from Recorded Books.

 

October 2013:

Unexpected Journeys, edited by Juliet E. McKenna, an anthology of fantasy stories for the British Fantasy Society. An original novelette, “The Queen’s Garden.” This anthology is only available to members of the BFS, but I hope to reprint the story elsewhere in the upcoming year.

 

Also: ALL of the Crown of Stars novels (DAW in the USA and Orbit UK in the UK) are now availlable in ebook versions as well as print. Because The Crossroads Trilogy is also in e-format, all my published novels can now be easily obtained. E-books are changing the field in massive ways whose fall-out we cannot yet predict, but in terms of a backlist it has been a great thing.

 

That covers publication of fiction. My favorite posts of the year (ones I wrote):

The Creole of Expedition: Part One and Part Two

Strength

Charles A Tan kindly did a Storify of my tweets about “SF Civility

Love and Infatuation in the Spiritwalker Trilogy

Spiritwalker Inspirations and Influences.

The Status Quo Does Not Need World Building

On Fan Art (and how it inspired The Secret Journal).

I’ve missed something I should have listed but if I’d remembered what it was I wouldn’t have missed it.

Liz Bourke did an interview with me on Tor.Com that I quite like.

And Aidan Moher (A Dribble of Ink) and I did a re-read of Katharine Kerr’s excellent DAGGERSPELL that I thought went really well.

 

What’s ahead for 2014?

The two convention appearances in the UK. And a lot of writing.

Forthcoming projects:

A short story collection with Tachyon Publications. (2015)

A YA fantasy (Little Women meet epic fantasy with a dash of Count of Monte Cristo) from Little Brown Young Readers. (2015)

An epic fantasy with Orbit Books.

I’ll keep you posted.

I have two more Julie Dillon illustrations, these in color, that I will be releasing into the wild ASAP.

Most importantly, thank you to all of my readers. This can happen because you are all reading/listening/etc, and I treasure each and every one of you.