SWORD AND STAR – preorder and excerpt!

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Been spreading the word just about everywhere else and neglecting my actual website as usual, but here: SWORD AND STAR, the final book in the Root Code trilogy, is available for preorder.

And will be out on the 23rd, so that is soon.

If you preorder, you get 20% off the retail print price, and 30% off if you order print and ebook together. So that’s a pretty sweet deal. You can also read an excerpt at the link above, and I’ll be posting more goodies here coming up. Watch for stuff, including a blog tour, which will feature me throwing free things at you. Throwing them really damn hard.

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This has been a very long time coming, guys. Amazing to finally be done.

Old story makes new cool appearance!

Ohhhhhhh my God it’s been A Month.

cw_116_700News is piling up and I’ll try to convey some of it soon. For now, want to note that my short story “A Heap of Broken Images” is reprinted in this month’s issue of Clarkesworld, which is neat because a) Clarkesworld, and b) it’s one of my faves of my own stuff.

I do not know if this is dishonor or a fulfilling of my raising. I am pulled between what I have been taught and what I have been taught; again I think I could fall to pieces, and then I think that maybe I have always been in pieces, broken apart from myself, and so there is no more damage to be done.

I look into the flowing black water and I think of empty eyes and outstretched hands reaching up from those depths and beckoning me. There were many bodies that were swept away by the river in the growing-season flood that year and many were never found. They are all still there in the life of the river. There are other people strolling, idling along the bank in the cool of the evening; I could call, Don’t you see them? Don’t you hear? How can we deny our own spilled blood, whatever price has been paid?

My mouth is full of ghosts. I place my hand against it and hold them in until they are silent again, and the ones in the water fall silent as well.

I am in pieces but I am alive. Tell me how this is a reasonable thing.

I wrote it after thinking a lot about genocide and guilt and memory. I don’t recall exactly why I was thinking so much about those things, but I know that’s where the story came from.

By the way, fun fact that’s also possibly useful: This story got a bunch of rejections (including Clarkesworld, actually) until a slightly tweaked version of it ended up in We See a Different Frontier. After which it ended up in The Year’s Best Science Fiction 31.

So don’t give up on stories, basically. At least some of the time.

tell me, what else should I have done?

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(Please note: there’s some mildly NSFW stuff in here. Not images, just words.)

I think should is a bad word.

My previous therapist and I talked a lot about should. It’s a word I overused and still do. It’s a word I used and use to beat myself up, to make myself feel guilty for not performing to my own standards and frankly to give the perceived standards of others way too much importance in terms of how I live my life. One of the worst things about that last is that often I’m not giving other people enough credit – they aren’t holding me to standards, at least not those. They’re not nearly as hard on me as I am on myself.

Very often the only person making me unhappy is me.

But should won’t go away. And it serves to drive me away from things that I enjoy, that I and other people find fulfilling, that I’m good at. Should tells me that doing those things is worthless and I should be ashamed of doing them, and I should keep it to myself regardless of how much they matter to me.

2015 was an especially bad year for me and should. All kinds of things happened that year that gave me wonderful new opportunities to be an asshole to myself. Probably the most perverse of these is that in 2015, I had the most remarkable writing experience of my life, and while I’ve stumblingly gone into it with individual people, I’ve been too frightened to talk in any seriously public way about it.

Because it’s not what I should write.

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Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

image by Rob Wanenchak

image by Rob Wanenchak

People love you. You need them. You can’t live without them. They help you. But in the end the only person who can make you well is you. – I’ll Be Yours For a Song

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but what kicked me into it now was two things. The death of David Bowie turned out to be a big one, and it was primarily sparked by what people were saying regarding what he personally meant to them: That he stood for the idea that it was okay to be weird and awkward and vulnerable, that outcasts have worth and value. That if you love what you do, you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. And so many of my friends – and acquaintances/colleagues/whatever – are creative people and also people who have felt weird and ill-fitting for most of their lives.

Though I think a huge majority of people feel that way. I think some people are just better at faking that they don’t.

And the other thing was this post by Chuck Wendig on self-care for writers, specifically the part regarding shame.

I want to write about shame more some other time, because it’s something that I’ve been struggling with on a number of levels, and it’s been enormously difficult. But what I’ve especially been wanting to talk about is vulnerability, and being open, and not pretending to be okay.

Which I think too many of us feel like we have to do.

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thoughts on The Big Space Movie

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Yeah, hi. So you know how I consistently do that thing where I say I’m going to write here more? And then I don’t? And then primarily I pop in to deliver news bits and I pop out again and I don’t reappear for a couple weeks at least?

Really not gonna do that anymore.

This used to be at least semi-personal as well as professional. Then for a variety of reasons I moved a lot of stuff onto Tumblr. But Tumblr is, uh, not a good place for me professionally. It’s my place where I get to be and pretty much always am at my least professional. I need to come back here a bit, and I think I might be able to do that by making this more personal than it’s been. Not everything needs to be about books or whatever short story I have out there this month.

(I HAVE A SHORT STORY IN STRANGE HORIZONS THIS MONTH. JUST BY THE WAY)

(THERE’S COOL ART IF YOU LIKE COOL ART. WHICH I DO)

Anyway, I saw Star Wars last Thursday night, like apparently literally everyone else I know except the people who already saw it. My spoiler-free review is that it’s good and you should see it (and if possible see it in laser-projected 3D IMAX, which we did because we’re fortunate to live near the Udvar-Hazy annex of the Air & Space Museum which you really must visit if you never have, they have an SR-71 and the Discovery space shuttle among like a hundred billion other things).

My spoilertastic thoughts are under the cut.

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Life and seconds – slowly working up the courage.

Here’s a mini-confession (and it annoys me that it feels like a confession at all, because I don’t think it should): I’ve been writing a lot of fanfiction this past year.

Like. A lot. A frankly embarrassing amount. Or anyway, I am embarrassed by it.

It’s been a rough year. This stuff has become incredibly important to me, so I want to write about it here on my writing site, but I’m very nervous, so I’m still trying to get myself together enough to do it without being convinced that everyone will conclude that I’m unprofessional for putting so much time and effort into this when I could have been writing things for which I could be paid, and they will never speak to me again and never publish my things anymore and shun me at cons.

This is silly – I hope – but I still feel that way.

However, how I tend to manage things like this is to close my eyes and jump. So soon I’ll probably go ahead and do it, and damn the consequences. The shunning and whatnot.

In the meantime, here’s a piece of the most important one, because I was just rereading it. Because.

He measured his life in weeks.

That was wrong. We divide our lives up in all kinds of ways – decades, years, months and weeks and days, and there are those few of us fortunate enough to look back and count one full century – and each incremental measurement is a form of perception, a way of knowing, but the truth is that lives are lived and should therefore be measured in seconds.

Seconds are all it takes for everything to change.

Seconds to meet someone, to speak to them. Seconds to start down a road you don’t even realize is there, seconds to get into something and have no idea what you’re getting into. Seconds to hear a voice, touch someone’s hair, skin; seconds to inhale and breathe them in. Seconds to break something open, something you’ll never be able to close. Seconds to see something and never see anything the same way again.

Seconds to look at someone and see only them, and never want to see anyone else for the rest of your life.

There’s a story – not this one, but you may know it. Death is in that story, and one day, accompanied by her brother, she does her work. Makes her rounds. She visits people, she takes their hands and leads them away, and one man gets philosophical about everything. He looks around and says that he had quite a run, didn’t he? Fifteen thousand years, in fact. That’s pretty good.

Death tells him that he got what everyone gets. He got a lifetime.

We only get one of those, and it’s wild. And it’s so precious.

Because it’s seconds long.

Sword and Star cover reveal!

As usual I’m behind getting something here on the actual blog, but the cover for Sword and Star, the final book in the Root Code trilogy, is now out there in the wild (kinda already included it in my Award Eligibility post). Soak in its pretty:

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It’s also up for pre-order. Release date is December 21st, so it will be available for presenting to yourself or loved ones or just anyone you feel like slinging a Big Gay Space Opera at.

Personally I think that’s a nice thing to do in just about every case.