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)

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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.

 

On-Line Hiatus + RT Awards Finalist

As may be obvious by the lack of updating I am on hiatus and will remain on hiatus until January. I’m working on deadline and am OFF-LINE except to check email.

Feel free to email me or leave a comment on this site (here or on another post) if you have something to say! I am genuinely happy to hear from readers, seriously. At the moment I need to stay away from the timesink of on-line however in order to get two major projects completed.

Blogging should resume in January 2014 with answers to the wonderful questions I was asked back in the Cold Steel Giveaway of May 2013.

Meanwhile, in other news, COLD STEEL is a finalist for the RT Award for Best Fantasy Novel of 2013 (together with novels by Paul Cornell, Mary Robinette Kowal,  Stella Gemmell, and E.C. Blake). The contenders answer two questions here on their favorite fantasy novel of 2013 and how they think the field is changing.

 

As always, thank you for reading.

The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal: Delays

There has been an unavoidable delay in getting the next set of printed chapbooks but we will get them mailed out ASAP. I appreciate your patience.

My daughter, who has the pdf version completed except for some difficulties making it display properly on a retina display, currently has the flu, so as soon as she has recovered that will get sorted out.

The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal: Print Version On Sale Now

 

 

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 The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal is finally and at long last ready to order in its PRINT version.

I appreciate your patience as this has been a micro-press venture and has taken quite a while to move through all the steps. While the people I worked with have experience in these matters, this is the first micro-press project I have ever attempted and I could not have done it without the able assistance (and patience) of Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein and Melanie Ujimori, the founders and publishers of Crab Tank Ink (although technically Crab Tank is not publishing the chapbook; the publisher of record is the Press of the Shiny Ideas Clutch, while Crab Tank is acting as the distributor).

Huge thanks to Julie Dillon for her magnificent artwork. For those interested in such details, I commissioned and paid for the art ahead of time. I’m thrilled she took on the project despite a rather daunting deadline.

This is the link to the order site at Crab Tank Ink.

Crab Tank is taking both domestic USA and International orders.

Free to signal boost however and wherever!

 

EBOOK: A DRM-free pdf version is under construction and will be available in about two weeks (it has to be pdf because the illustrations are specific to the page). For the moment  it will not be available on any of the usual ebook platforms, only at Crab Tank.

Love and Infatuation in the Spiritwalker Trilogy

To my mind, and in the approach I take when writing, love and infatuation are related but different things.

Love has so many variations; it is infinite; nothing bounds it. Infatuation is often defined within the bounds of sexual attraction (infatuated with someone you are sexually attracted to) but there are multiple ways to be infatuated that have nothing to do with sexual attraction. One can be infatuated with people intellectually; one can be infatuated with a new friendship; one can also be infatuated with an idea or a song or a new activity, and so on.

All my novels deal in part with loving relationships. Some are romantic relationships while others are friendships and/or family relationships. How people build and sustain bonds of trust and love remains a central element of everything I write.

Reading across my body of work, one might notice that all my novels include romantic love stories. These romances are woven into a larger plot as part of characters’ stories, part of their life experience. These love stories whether primary or secondary may also reflect or comment on other elements in the overall story or may be important to the larger plot in related ways.

So far many of these “love stories” have been sexual in nature (and usually but not always heterosexual–I’m working on expanding my range in this regard), but not all of them are.

I want to talk about love versus infatuation in the Spiritwalker Trilogy because the trilogy involves two love stories: one a romance and other not.

(behind the cut will be spoilers if you have not read all three Spiritwalker books) Continue reading