New Patreon Release: In The Company of Strangers

inthecompanyofstrangers_cover_patreon

A brand new, never-before-seen Aerdhverse novella is available via my Patreon for subscribers at the $5 level and up! For information about Patreon subscriptions and the reward tiers, go here. If you subscribe now, you will also get my previous releases, “A Matter of Circumstance” and “The Adviser and the Diplomat.”

In The Company of Strangers is directly tied to both Ariah and “A Matter of Circumstance.” While you don’t have to read either of those to read In The Company of Strangers, it will probably be a richer experience if you do. Here is a blurb for the novella!

All Sorcha and Shayat know about Ma-Halad is that Ariah might be there. They walk through the tall gold grass with a skeleton of a plan, a handful of food, and lies on their tongues.

But Ma-Halad is ruled by The Butcher of the East, an ambitious general facing down impossible orders from the Emperor himself. Sorcha and Shayat are marked the second they appear in town. Ferreting out Ariah under The Butcher’s watchful eye will be no easy task.

Final thoughts: If you enjoy this novella and feel so moved to do so, you can review it over at Goodreads. And many, many thanks to The Kraken Collective for supporting this release!

In The Company of Maps!

REMINDER: In the Company of Strangers, my Patreon-exclusive novella, will drop this Tuesday. It’s definitely not too late to subscribe ($5 and up gets the novella!) and get the story!


Here’s a map I drew specifically to make sense of what I was writing for In the Company of Strangers, so I thought I’d share it with you. I love maps, and I tend to sketch them as I go, and then refer to them as I revise to make sure what I’m writing makes sense. It gets really iterative–I end up adding to the map as I revise, too, because there are little details I write in that I’ve forgotten about (like the grain fields).

Announcing The Kraken Collective!

kraken_black03

The Kraken Collective is an alliance of indie authors who have pooled resources to publish high-quality fiction while retaining complete creative control over our stories. We aim to provide a wide variety of science fiction and fantasy stories, all starring LGBTQIAP+ characters. From alien hunting lesbians to complex political fantasy, The Kraken Collective publishes queer SFF that will blow your mind away and leave you craving more.

Although it begins as a simple cooperative between authors, we aim to grow into an unique publishing model capable of supporting queer indie voices everywhere in SFF. We are committed to building a publishing space that is inclusive, positive, and brings fascinating stories to readers.

Featuring:
Claudie Arseneault
Lyssa Chiavari
Me!
RoAnna Sylver

 

Why a Kraken?
Cephalopods are fascinating and deeply intelligent creatures: masters of camouflage, brilliant escape artists, and underwater innovators–from the millimeters-long cuties to the kraken-like giants, they’ve impressed us with their constant ingenuity and creativity. In short, they are awesome.

Just like us.

We hope to create a kraken-sized cloud of ink through our stories and that, like an octopus hiding in its ink, you too can find refuge and solace in our worlds.

Learn More About Us!
Want to learn more about what we’re doing? Come to the website! Join our mailing list to get news and updates about our releases!

But Wait, There’s More!
In The Company Of Strangers, my Patreon reward novella which will be released next week, is the collective’s first release! Check this out:

inthecompanyofstrangers_cover_patreon

I got a Kraken on the cover. You see it? It’s so cute! I love that little dude.

wheat-field-sunlight.jpg
I have SUCH NEWS for you! I shall give to you in list form, because I think in lists. Do you think in lists?
  • The Patreon Novella will be released on Friday, Tuesday 7, 2017. This date is firm. This date is in my planner. Anyone at the $5 and above level will have their novella on that date in ebook form.
  • As a reminder, the title is In The Company of Strangers and features Sorcha and Shayat from my novel, ARIAH.
  • The novella takes places in the city of Ma-Halad, on the edge of the Qin Empire and the Droma grasslands. I have recently spent a lot of time looking at photos of wheat fields on the internet. A truly shocking number feature brides, grooms, and dogs.
  • STAY TUNED FOR A VERY EXCITING SURPRISE VERY SOON LEADING UP TO THE RELEASE!

Nano Update #2

nano2016_11_07

Target: 30,000 words
Words written: 4,717
Words left to go: 25,283

Update from this weekend! The goal was to get back on track. I didn’t quite make it on track, but I did make a decent amount of progress! I cracked 1000 words on both Saturday and Sunday, so that is definitely not nothing.

Plot-wise I am in Chapter 3, and some random character has just burst onto the scene. I don’t know if this guy is sticking around for the long haul, or if he’s just in it for a scene, but he’s one of those characters that shows up more or less fully formed and just takes over the scene.

NaNo 2016 Update #1

nano2016_11_05

Target: 30,000 words
Words written: 2,234
Words left to go: 27,766

The Ballad of Bettie Frass is happening, but it’s happening slowly. I’m already off track–I should have 4,000 words done by now. I wrote every day so far, but my highest word count was 876. I’m hoping to put in some extra writing time today and tomorrow to get closer to on track again.

I am not actually surprised about this. Frankly, I’m just really happy I’ve written consistently four days in a row, even if it’s only been a couple hundred words here and there. I haven’t consistently written since I broke my ankle back in February. Between being laid up with that, where my days had no routine, to being totally overwhelmed by my old job, I’ve had no balance in my life, and thus no energy or space for writing. But I have two (mostly) functioning ankles now, and a job that allows for work/life balance, and NaNo is the perfect time to set up some sustainable writing routines.

I’ve found a great coffee shop for morning writing. Good coffee, good pastries, good tables. It closes at 5pm, though, so it’s not doable for after work writing. But! There is a Starbucks (not great coffee) in the lobby of a building not far from where I work that stays open much later and has good squishy chairs. So I think I have a good place for afternoon writing, too. Check and check.

I can’t write on the bus anymore. My commute changed, and now I take the express buses, and they are often so full it’s standing room only. Not writing compatible, hence the need to show up very early and find An Ideal Writing Spot or stay late and hunker down in A Different Acceptable Writing Spot. I have found that I can’t write at work, because if I am work I will just…keep working. The change of location is key for me to actually switch to writing and away from doing other things. During the week, my time at home is so limited that when I’m home I want to be present and not sequester myself away. During the weekends, it’s a lot easier to lock myself in my room for a couple of hours a day, write, and then clue back into my bustling family life.

The story for Bettie Frass is really just getting started. A lot of what I’ve been doing–and why I’ve written so little so far–has been about stretching atrophied writing muscles. Getting back into the swing of things again. Remembering how and when I work best. I think next week will cover more ground.

Are you all doing NaNo this year? What are you working on? How is it going?

 

NaNo 2016 – It’s Happening

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_participant

Hey friends!

I am all in for NaNo 2016.

So, I just started a new job, one with remarkably more work/life balance, which means remarkably more time for writing. This entire year has basically been a writing drought from the time I shattered my leg waaaaay back in February until, hopefully, now. I’ve managed to eke out two shorts and keep ARIAH on the market, but that’s been it for ten whole months. Typically I’ve written entire novels in this span of time. It’s been…unpleasant.

But I think life is turning around now, and not a moment too soon. Patreon supporters at the $5 and up level are promised a novella by the end of the calendar year, and I’ve had one rattling around in my brain for a very long time.

I’m not shooting for the whole 50k words–I’m out of writing shape, and this is a novella anyway. So winning for me will be a cool 30,000. The novella is tentatively titled The Ballad of Bettie Frass. Here’s a short description:

Bettie Frass is a legend and a cipher. Her exploits are legendary, but who was she, and how did she manage to do what she did–and how did she disappear?

In any case, I’ll be posting about my progress here (and my various minor successes and tribulations along the way). And if you want to follow along with me on the Nano site, or if you want to be my ~official writing buddy~, you can check that out here.

Sex as Worldbuilding

A couple of days ago, I read Karin Kross’s recap of the Sex and Science Fiction panel that happened at SDCC. From Karin’s recap, it sounds like the panel was equal parts thoughtful1 and irritating2. In any case, the recap got me thinking about the role sex plays in my own writing.

Just narrowing the scope of this post to sex, the act itself, and how that has occurred in my fiction, I’ve tried to explore it in ways that mirror the way sex is used Ariah_FrontCoverOnlyin the real world. Which, yes, often sex is an expression of love. Or desire. But many times, sex is divorced from both of those things: it can be used as a weapon (either literallyy or figuratively). It can be used transactionally, economically. Sometimes these uses blend together, and you can’t separate one from another.

Sex for love and desire happens often in my writing; my characters tend to be sexually and romantically agentic people. Yay for them! That’s why Ariah was classified as a romance, after all3. But here are some other ways sex has appeared in my fiction:

Matters of Scale coverMatters of Scale” touches obliquely on the issue of sexual addiction. Both “Matters of Scale” and Ariah explore the intersection of sex and magic with regard to shapers, for whom sex is complicated—consent is tricky because they essentially black out4. Some shapers self-medicate with sex to escape the constant noise of their magical abilities, just like some real-life people use sex to keep anxiety or depression or other demons at bay.

Cargo is one of the very few places I’ve written about sexual violence. It’s a topic I write about infrequently, not because it’s unimportant, but because it’s triggering and it’s often written about flippantly and inappropriately. But it does happen.

Cargo also introduced the Aerdh-pirate concept of tethers, or captain’s concubines. CargoMy current work-in-progress, The Search, is exploring the nuance and nature of tetherdom in greater detail. This is sex as transaction, or at the very least implied sex as transaction, but it’s not coercive. The Search is going further, too: what would a brothel that is not coercive and exploitative look like? What would a sex worker-run brothel look like?

All of these elements were as plot-driven and plot-driving as the romantic and lusty bits. All of these elements, I think, were also key to include from a worldbuilding perspective, as well. It’s false to think of sex one way. It has always been a flexible part of human nature, used and abused and traded in a hundred different ways. Hopefully one day we won’t abuse it anymore, but I think we’ll continue to trade it (hopefully ethically—because I think we can trade it ethically). At the very least, unless you’re writing in a utopia, your world needs to include all the permutations of how sex occurs.


1Wesley Chu

2Nick Cole

3Ariah was published by Love, Sex & Merlot, the Romance imprint of the Zharmae Publishing Press, not its fantasy imprint (Luthando Couer).

4I am coming to realize there is likely a whole separate post in this.

New Pub: CARGO Out Today!

Cargo

Cargo is officially released today! The book is being published by World Castle Publishing and is available for purchase on Amazon here in both print and ebook formats. Here’s the blurb:

Roake attracts bad luck like half-buried coins attract magpies. Roake is as clever and hard to kill as a weasel. Whenever his bad luck gets the better of him—whether it’s when his father sells him to the army or when the pirates capture him as a ship slave—Roake finds a way to survive the situation. Sometimes, that means running. Sometimes, that means staying put and playing the odds. Always it means taking a calculated risk.

In CARGO, Roake tells his own story. Roake tells us what he’s done and what’s been done to him to make sense of his life. Like every young man, he wants his choices to matter. He wants his friendships to endure. He wants to leave a mark. Telling his own story is how Roake does it.

Cargo has had a winding road from my fingers to the published page. The lead character of Cargo–Jarthen Roake–was originated by my partner, Jon, in a completely different form for a completely different story. He was the basis for an altogether different incarnation of the A Tale of Rebellion books. The secondary world of Aerdh, in which Cargo and A Tale of Rebellion are both set (along with my debut novel Resistance and my forthcoming novel Ariah) is still known as the Jarthenverse in my house in reference to young Mr. Roake. And yet, in the rewrites of A Tale of Rebellion, he wound up on the proverbial cutting room floor. This novella was written to let Jarthen have his moment, finally, in the spotlight.

It’s fitting, also, that Cargo is released on May Day. Labor, and the exploitation of it, is a central theme of Cargo. Over and over again Jarthen is commodified–he is treated not as a human being with dreams and desires and a mind, but a thing to be traded and bartered and used. He is treated as capital, and reduced to a sum in a ledger book, first by his own father, then by those he does not know, then, finally by people he has come to trust.

CARGO: Release Date, Cover Reveal, And eARCS!

Cargo

Cargo has a home and a release date! It will be published by World Castle, and is up for pre-order on Amazon now! The official release date is May 1st, 2015.

BUT, if you would like a sneak peek, we are hoping to launch the book with between 5-10 reader reviews up on Amazon on release day! We have eARCs (electronic Advanced Review Copies) available for readers who are willing to post reviews on release day. If you’re interested, please email me and let me know if you would prefer a pdf, mobi or epub version of the book!

Cargo is a novella, so it’s a quick read, and it’s exciting, too: it’s got intrigue and pirates and grapples with Big Questions, all in under 20,000 words! To whet your appetite, the blurb for the novella is below:

Roake attracts bad luck like half-buried coins attract magpies. Roake is as clever and hard to kill as a weasel. Whenever his bad luck gets the better of him—whether it’s when his father sells him to the army or when the pirates capture him as a ship slave—Roake finds a way to survive the situation. Sometimes, that means running. Sometimes, that means staying put and playing the odds. Always it means taking a calculated risk.

In CARGO, Roake tells his own story. Roake tells us what he’s done and what’s been done to him to make sense of his life. Like every young man, he wants his choices to matter. He wants his friendships to endure. He wants to leave a mark. Telling his own story is how Roake does it.

Who wouldn’t want to get their hands on an early release copy of that?