Monthly Archives: August 2014

My Baltimore Book Festival schedule

I’ll be taking part in SFWA programming at the Baltimore Book Festival this year, which is really very awesome. First year doing that. Here are the panels/events in which I’ll be participating: main_logo

  • September 26 – Friday 2:00-3:00 | Writing about social justice in science fiction and fantasy. Join our panel to talk about science fiction that revolves around issues of social justice here on Earth–and elsewhere. From Ursula Le Guin’s tour de force novel The Dispossessed to the works of MacArthur Fellow Octavia Butler through a plethora of other writers, science fiction and fantasy authors have never shied away from stories that tackled issues of social justice. Talk with our panelists about their favorite examples and yours.

    Panelists: Anne K. Gray, Alma Katsu, Sunny Moraine, Alex Shvartsman, Fran Wilde

  • September 26 Friday 6:00-7:00 | Writing dark fantasy. So you’d like to write dark fantasy, horror fiction, or paranormals, or demons, angels, post-apocalyptic, and genre-bending fiction that puts you on the edge of your seat. Meet with writers of these genres to talk about what’s trending, what publishers are doing, and what tips our panel of authors has to offer.

    Panelists: Jill Archer, Em Garner, John Maclay, Sunny Moraine

  • September 27 Saturday 5:30-7:00 | Reception and Meet & Greet with authors, music, and food.  Join the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America at our reception, autographing session, and Meet and Greet with our program participants at the Baltimore Book Festival.

    Participants: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jeanne Adams, Jill Archer, Catherine Asaro, Jack Clemons, Brenda Clough, Scott Edelman, Charles Gannon, Ronald Garner, Em Garner, Herb Gilliland, Anne K Gray, Elektra Hammond, Justina Ireland, Jim Johnson, Alma Katsu, Cheryl Klam, L. Jagi Lamplighter, John Maclay, Marrisa Meyer, Sunny Moraine, Christine Norris, Ellen Oh, Sarah Pinsker, Caroline Richmond, Don Sakers, Karen Sandler, Peggy Rae Sapienza, Rori Shay, Alex Shvartsman, Dawnyell Snyder, Bud Sparhawk, John Tilden, Mike Underwood, Jean Marie Ward, Fran Wilde, Ilene Wong, Karlo Yeager

Looks like it’ll be a fantastic time. If you’re in the neighborhood, come check it out and say hey.

As promised, my top ten favorite bits of game soundtracks


So my afternoon got completely derailed.

I was sitting down to write a thing and I put on the music from Metal Gear Solid 4 as background, but it reminded me how great it is. Which I started talking about, which led to me thinking about all these other great pieces of musical scores from games, so what the hell, here’s a list of my favorites.

I should note that this is not comprehensive. This is not a list of the best, this is just a list of the ones I often come back to or that were formative in some way. Most of these games are also very recent. Some of that is that I’m a relative newcomer to gaming – as a kid I missed out on a lot of the stuff my friends were playing on account of having no TV and little in the way of actual friends who would let me come over to see their game systems. I didn’t touch a console until I was in college. I’m a newbie.

The other part of it is that I tend to forget stuff I played a while ago unless it was really important for some reason, so this is also a snapshot of what’s at the forefront of my mind.

That said, these are in a sort of order. Here we go.

10. Myst III: Exile – Theme from Edanna | Jack Wall

There’s actually not much that’s remarkable about this track in and of itself – it’s sort of your standard new-agey deal. But I remember when I got to the age of Edanna – a lush, beautiful jungle world, by far my favorite age in the game – and this track started playing. There was something so perfect about the timing of it, and it pulled me into the environment with a frankly weird level of intensity. I’ve never stopped associating it with that feeling of goofy, childlike wonder as I wandered around swinging on vines and looking at glowing butterflies.

9. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – The Streets of Whiterun | Jeremy and Julian Soule

It actually took me hearing this piece in isolation from the game to appreciate it. There is, again, nothing stand-out amazing about it, but there’s just such a sense of place, and what I think is a real affection for the world of the game itself. Skyrim presents an gorgeously lush world in which to play, even if the game’s story elements are incredibly derivative and silly, and this perfectly captures the gentle way in which the game pulled me in and folded itself around me when I first played it.

8. Dear Esther – Always (Hebridean Mix) | Jessica Curry

Dear Esther stunned me from the moment I started playing it. This track, which begins when you find yourself in the caves beneath the surface of the island, almost made me cry it’s so perfect for the atmosphere of that section of the game. It’s quiet, meditative, and mournful – like the game itself. But it swells in intensity at several points, again like the game. It basically gave me lots of feelings about a game I was having lots of feelings about anyway.

7. Myst – Finale | Robyn Miller

Myst is probably the first game that blew the top of my head off – for a variety of reasons – and its music was a huge part of that. It doesn’t sound like much today, but in terms of capturing and augmenting the atmosphere of a game’s world, it showed me what might be possible. The music that played during the credits of the “best” ending especially grabbed me. It holds a very special place in my heart to this day.

6. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the PatriotsOld Snake | Harry Gregson-Williams

This was probably the first piece of a game’s score that blew me away in the way that Myst did. Again, I probably came late to this, but while I’ve always been a soundtrack buff, I was used to hearing this kind of quality in film scores. Not games. So here was a piece of music I’d be impressed hearing in a film, and it was playing over a game’s cutscene. It remains one of my favorites, as well as yet another thing that showed me what might be possible for the truly ambitious.

(Okay, we’re now into the territory where things are just barely edging each other out.)

5. L.A. Noire – Main Theme | Andrew Hale

I’ll admit to having a soft spot for more recent film noire on the order of Chinatown and L.A. Confidential, and of course L.A. Noire was basically all those tropes in a blender. For that reason alone, I loved it, but this theme hit me right in the brain the first time I heard it, and was a giant indicator that I was in good hands, that these people knew their tropes well and they knew what to do with them. Which turned out to be exactly correct. It’s a fabulous theme.

4. Portal – Still Alive | Jonathan Coulton

I’ve been confining myself to instrumental scores, but come on. I can’t not include this one.

3. The Last of Us – Main Theme | Gustavo Santaolalla

This is what happens when you get an Academy Award-winning composer to do the score for your game: It’s fucking amazing. Another one that gets tears out of me.

And these next two were almost impossible to choose between. They’re basically ties. Almost ties.

2. Uncharted (trilogy) – Nate’s Theme | Greg Edmonson

This is already one of the most recognizable game themes of all time. I came very late to the Uncharted franchise, but when I fell I fell hard, and this theme now slams me in the gut with so many emotions. Also it’s just incredible. Just fucking listen to it. Listen to it and try to resist the urge to go have adventures. Bet you can’t. I’m actually typing this from the summit of K2.


1. Half Life – Hazardous Environments | Kelly Bailey

Gets the #1 slot not because it’s the best piece of music here but because I have a literally Pavlovian reaction to that opening bass. Like. Oh my GOD here comes something fantastic. Of all of these it probably gets me the most immediately psyched.


So that’s it. That’s my list, as of now. Back to all the stuff I should have been doing in the last hour.



I’ve been yelling about this in various places already, but here’s the official author-blog announcement: Ravenfall, the second novel in the Casting the Bones trilogy, is now available to purchase here.

While I of course hugely appreciate it whenever anyone spends their hard-earned cash on my stuff, you can also win copies of both it and Crowflight (book 1) over here. I’ll be giving out four rounds of copies in total, so your chances are pretty damn good.


RAVENFALL: win free books and handmade jewelry by me

Ravenfall comes out this week on the 6th, so I want to celebrate by giving things away, because it pleases me to do so. Starting on the 10th and running through the 16th, I’ll be drawing a name every other day; that person will win free copies of Crowflight and Ravenfall in your choice of ebook formats, and the bracelet (made by me) marked below.


all together now!

“Blood and Moonlight” – August 10

“The Lady’s Silver” – August 12

“Wing and Bone” – August 14

“Flight to the Stars” – August 16

Enter below! Promise I will not use your contact info for any sinister demon-summoning rituals.