Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kristin reading from my book

Norwescon has put up some videos from the Philip K. Dick award - see/hear Kristin Nelson reading an excerpt from my nominated book Song of Scarabaeus

It was kind of hard choosing an excerpt - it was supposed to be only 2-3 minutes (although some did go much longer, but I was being a good little nominee and sticking to the request) and I wanted something that stood alone and made sense without an intro within that time frame. I also wanted to choose something technical rather than a plain action sequence. In the end I went with the same passage that's excerpted at the start of the book (although that's a cut-down version). And Kristin did a great job!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Kristin at Norwescon

Well, I didn't win the Philip K. Dick Award but Kristin sent me this awesome pic from Norwescon, where the ceremony took place today (noon my time - I watched it via their live video stream).

Doesn't she look great? I was honored to have her represent me and she did an amazing job with the reading excerpt from Song. And, of course, I was honored to have been nominated. The winner was The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack, by another debut author, Mark Hodder. Congrats to Mark!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interview and Aussie giveaway at Kylie Griffin's blog

Today there's another Aussie giveaway of Children of Scarabaeus over at Kylie Griffin's blog, along with an interview with yours truly.

Don't forget these giveaways that are still running: - win Children of Scarabaeus (closes 15 April)
Literary Escapism - win Children of Scarabaeus, Song of Scarabaeus, and a signed bookmark (closes 12 April)
Tez Says- win signed Children of Scarabaeus and Song of Scarabaeus (Aussies only, closes 14 April)
Reading Between the Wines - win one of two signed Children of Scarabaeus bookmarks (closes 22 April)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A punk for every occasion

So many punks! It all started with cyberpunk, which comes from cybernetics and punk. Wikipedia tells me one Bruce Bethke wrote a short story with that title in 1983, and the term was coined. These stories feature high technology and broken-down societies, with marginalized main characters who tend to be hackers of some sort. Well-known examples are William Gibson's Neuromancer and the movie Blade Runner.

Then came steampunk, which is currently a top trend. It features alternate (alternative, dammit!) historical settings, usually Victorian, where electricity was never invented. Anachronistic machinery and technology that we might recognize, such as computers and robots, run on steam power.

We also have clockpunk, which uses clockwork power instead of steam. I have never read any stories in this genre but apparently they tend to be set in the Renaissance, using Leonardo da Vinci-style inventions.

Biopunk is a term I only heard of this year but should have had a handle on sooner, because apparently my Scarabaeus books fit the bill. This subgenre focuses on biotechnology, genetic engineering and the like, and the consequences of such things going Horribly Wrong.

I heard about icepunk for the first time during DABWAHA last month, when Kate Elliott's Cold Magic was up against my book (she beat me, of course). It's "steampunk on ice" according to Kate. I've ordered this book and can't wait to read it.

And now we have bugpunk, thanks to Kameron Hurley and God's War -- which I must read even though it has a kickass female (I find kickass females a bit irritating). She uses this term in her tagline and, for all I know, invented it. The technology and fuel in God's War run on alien bug power, which sounds downright cool.

So did I miss any punks? What kind of punk should sci-fi writers turn to next?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

SpongeBob celebrates my new release

At the Mall of America Barnes & Noble in Minnesota, celebrations are ON for the release of Children of Scarabaeus. As you can plainly see, SpongeBob SquarePants is jumping for joy, while Dora the Explorer and friends can hardly contain their excitement.

And here's my book among the new releases...

Many thanks to Lynn for snapping these shots! If anyone else sees Children of Scarabaeus in their local store, please send along a pic.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Another interview and giveaway

Crystal at Reading Between the Wines has interviewed me for her blog - check it out, and comment over there to go into the draw to win one of two signed Children of Scarabaeus bookmarks! Ends April 22. Crystal has included a couple of bits of artwork that I did from Song of Scarabaeus (portrait of Cat, and diagram of the Hoi Polloi).

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I plotted it my way - guest blog and giveaway!

Tez Miller has a great UF & Futuristic review blog and she's kindly hosting my guest blog today. The topic is plotting and how I did (or didn't) plot my Scarabaeus books.

Aussie readers can enter to win a set of signed books, Song of Scarabaeus and Children of Scarabaeus. These books aren't readily available in Australia so here's your chance!

Mousepad: We have a winner!

Using I've drawn a winner for the Edie & Finn mousepad, and the winner is...

Sheila Dorsey

Sheila, I've emailed you for your mailing address and will send out the mousepad as soon as I receive it. Happy mousing.

Thanks to everyone who entered! I have a couple more cool giveaways coming up, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Science Fiction: What’s in it for Urban Fantasy fans?

I'm guest blogging at Literary Escapism today. The theme du jour is "Science Fiction: What’s in it for Urban Fantasy fans?" If you're put off sci-fi by the impression that it's all tech-talk and ray guns, think again. UF fans may find much to like about gritty, action-packed, character-driven SF.

Enter over there for the chance to win a set of both Song and Children of Scarabaeus, along with a signed bookmark.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Game's on!

Reader Jessica Basset sent me just about the coolest thing last week. She read Song of Scarabaeus and was inspired to write a role playing game (based on Ars Magica 5th edn) using ideas from the book such as biocyph technology and the Crib and Fringe.

She's written up a player guide and it's wonderful. It includes lots of flavor images along with her unique take on biocyph, infojacks,  the Saeth, mash, the leash etc. She's even written some additional history for the eco-rads and the Crib and more, and expanded on that world-building with a detailed caste system (somewhat prescient because one of the books I'm writing now takes place on a world with a strict social hierarchy).

I know some authors are a bit uncomfortable about the idea of readers using their characters in fanfic, and it's a discomfort that goes beyond copyright or other legal issues. (Jessica's game is for her personal use with friends, so she's not profiting financially.) As for me, I'm flattered and thrilled. I love it that people are talking about the characters and places and story that I created. Not only talking about these things, but using them as a springboard for their own creativity. Anyway, you read it here first: bring on the fanfic! (I think here I'm supposed to say "For legal reasons I can't admit to reading it.")

I'm not a gamer but MCP is, and is always threatening to write a sci-fi RPG set in a world much like the one I wrote, so that I'll have no option but to play it. For now, I'm just happy that someone out there has enjoyed my book and incorporated some of its ideas and "essence", as Jessica puts it, into her own creative outlet.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

O mother, where art thou?

Supernatural Underground and HarperCollins author Helen Lowe has just blogged about Three Fabulous Moms of SFF. It got me thinking about why there aren't more heroines with children in character-driven SFF and SFR.

I think the answer might be found in the Hero's Journey, which most genre writers follow to some degree -- even if subconsciously. The tale of someone who wants something, can't have it, goes on a quest to get it, and succeeds or loses, is an age-old storytelling structure. It's used because it works. That is, it provides a satisfying experience for the reader.

The hero of these stories wants something -- wants it so badly that she's prepared to leave her safe world and venture into the unknown. Her adventures -- the plot -- are driven by the decisions she makes. Often, towards the end, she realizes the thing she wanted isn't as important as something else -- often an ideal such as love, honor, truth, or the greater good -- and her priorities shift. A dedicated hero will risk everything for this ideal, even her own life if she deems the sacrifice worthwhile.

Now imagine our heroine is a mother. A mother's first priority is her children. Assuming the character is going to remain sympathetic for the reader, can a mother ever change this priority? Can she put something else first? Can she ever risk her children? Even when the galaxy's at stake?

A compelling plot gives the hero difficult decisions. Each option has to tempt her -- for example, will she choose the safe option with little reward, or the risky option with greater reward? But when one choice is her children, the decision is easy. A mother chooses her children over option B, every time.

Of course, a heroine can be a mother whose children are not involved in the main plot. But in genre fiction, where a large amount of wordage is already needed for elaborate, imaginative world building, there isn't space to give your heroine attributes that aren't directly relevant. And even if her children are sitting safely at home, what mother is likely to risk her own life to save someone else or to promote an ideal, when her children need her?

So if we want a sympathetic heroine and she's a mother, we're telling the story of someone who always puts her children first, never changes that priority, and won't risk her own safety. In genre fiction, those aren't usually the ingredients for a memorable story.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Somewhere between Cherryh and Czerneda...

Okay, as I can't be in North American bookstores right now, I need your help. If you see my book in your local store, please take a moment to snap a photo and email it to me ( When SONG came out, I went to my local stores and signed copies and took pictures and generally hung around the area feeling special. I desire the vicarious pleasure of seeing my name on the shelves a second time around.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Another giveaway! - interview at Scifichick has an interview with me and a Children of Scarabaeus giveaway: here

Don't forget to read the posts over the last few days for other links to giveaways, and for my mousemat giveaway too. Follow the blog link tours on the right for interviews and stuff.