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December 2005

Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Chrismukkah (yes, the O.C. is a guilty pleasure of mine), Yule, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Festivus and Longest Night!

Elemental: The Tsunami Relief AnthologyIn the spirit of the season, I’m featuring a project in which I participated, a book titled Elemental: The Tsunami Relief Anthology. Given all that’s happened in the interim, it seems like a long time has passed, but it was just a year ago this December when an earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a tsumani of devastating strength. Shortly after that, I was invited to donate a story to an anthology to raise funds for the relief effort. .

Hurricanes, mudslides and earthquakes have overshadowed the tsunami, but the effects of a disaster of that magnitude are felt for years and years. Proceeds from Elemental‘s sales will be donated to “Save the Children,” an independent charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in need. They have a five-year plan to help rebuild schools, homes and health centers in affected communities in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Somalia.

Elemental won’t be released until May 2006, but the need will still be there. And of course, donations for one cause free up resources for other causes. There’s always plenty of need to go around, unfortunately .

The anthology features never-before-seen stories donated by a wide array of science fiction and fantasy authors, sounds mighty promising, and… well, it’s just a darn good cause. So if it sounds good, pre-order a copy, put it on your wish list, or mention it to your local bookseller. And I’ll badger all my readers again in the spring when it’s released.

One thing’s for sure, it’s a fitting title! In this past year, we’ve seen the elemental forces of nature at their most awesome and terrifying. For many of my friends and family this year, I’ve been making donations in lieu of giving birthday or holiday gifts, and encouraging them to do the same. I love finding the perfect present for someone, and I like getting them, too, but if it’s a choice between exchanging tchochtkes and knick-knacks no one really needs or kicking another twenty-five bucks to the Red Cross, I feel a lot better about the latter.

I know a lot of people are suffering from ‘relief fatigue,’ and I’ve felt it, too. But I’m belaboring the point anyway, because the need goes on and on. At this writing, there are millions of earthquake survivors in Pakistan in desperate need of food, shelter and medical attention. If they can find the will to cling to life, I can find a way to keep hope alive and give with an open heart.

On a lighter closing note, as usual, there are additions to the galleries. Check out the Fan Art Gallery and the Tattoo Gallery for cool new additions. I was going to write about fan art and the many significances of marques, but I’ll save that for another month. As many of you keep reminding me, it’s an awfully long time until Kushiel’s Scion is released.

So there are my thoughts for the holidays! I hope they find all of you and your loved ones safe, happy and healthy. Joie!

November 2005

Okay! As I mentioned last month, here’s an early look at the cover of Kushiel’s Scion. And just to clarify, yes, this is Imriel’s story… but Phèdre is an important presence in the book and in his life, and we wanted to provide visual continuity. So, there you have it.

I’ve been in high research mode this past month, and thinking about the eternal question, “Where do you get your ideas?” Sometimes followed by, “Please don’t tell me it’s research, research, research!” Well, yeah. A lot of it is. There’s a lot about the process of creative writing that’s truly a mystery, even to those of us who are practitioners of the art. I don’t know where characters come from. They’re sparks of fire glimmering in my subconscious, which appears to be amply populated. Writing is the process of breathing them into life on the page.

And I don’t know, not really, where the ability to build plots comes from. I have mediocre spatial skills – I could never be an architect. But I think of plot in terms of structure. By the time I actually sit down to write a book, I’ve built the framework in my mind. I don’t know how every single twist and turn of the plot plays out, but I have a solid grasp of the narrrative architecture that supports it.

However, it was an actual architect, Mies van der Rohe, who said, “God is in the details.” Once I know where a plot is going, I do research. A lot of research. For The Sundering, that meant rereading classic works of epic fantasy, identifying all the tropes of the genre I wanted to include, building a world at once familiar and new.

For the Kushiel books, it’s more extensive, as they’re rooted in a myriad of realities. I’m not an expert by any means in Romany culture, Norse mythology, Zoroastrianism, medieval Venetian traditions, or any of the bazillion things I’ve touched on over the course of the series. I do incessant research, magpie-style, looking for those shiny baubles of detail that makes a story sparkle.

Sometimes it’s targeted. “Aha!” my librarian friend says, as I come in to pick up a stack of research books I’ve requested. “Bears, eh?” Sometimes it’s on the fly. I have an extensive and peculiar library of my own. I buy books on the off-chance I might need them in the future. The other day I was describing a large tribute gift. Chests of gold, incense, blah, blah, blah. I needed one detail, a peg to anchor the passage. I grabbed an old picture-book of gems and jewels I’d bought at an estate sale, flipped through it. There, a carnelian chalice. Perfect.

And I read a lot of odd stuff that simply piques my interest – lots more nonfiction than I used to. You never know when you’re going to stumble over a tasty nugget of information that might inspire a future story or plot twist. In fact, it just happened today, allowing me to justify lounging on the couch and reading for hours.

Anyway, a few thoughts for aspiring writers or the just plain curious! In other news, there’s another new marque in the Tattoo Gallery, and congrats to Madeline for meeting her goal. Revisiting Narnia, an anthology to which I contributed, was released this month. Lots of great essays for Narnia lovers. I posted this before, but you can check out my essay, Heathen Eye for the Christian Guy, in a free download of The Best of Smart Pop.

In closing, a Halloween photo. A couple months ago, apropos of attending Keycon as a guest of honor, I wrote that authors are like vampires – we have to be invited. Here’s proof!


October 2005

Happy autumn, everyone!

As much as I hate to see summer end, October is my favorite month. I love those perfect fall days when the air is crisp, the sky is blue and the trees are ablaze with color. I love the sight of pumpkins, squash and corn shocks for sale at roadside stands. I love the sound of acorns crunching under the tires of my car.

MahrkagirAnd, of course, Halloween. In honor of all things dark and spooky, I put a piece of fan art on the home page this month – the first and only rendering of the Mahrkagir I’ve received. Nicely done, and very creepy! For more cool new art and tattoos, check out the galleries.

In other news, I finished and delivered the first draft of the second book of the Imriel Trilogy last month, working title Kushiel’s Justice. There’s not much I can say about it without giving away spoilers, except that I’m really, really pleased with this one.

I’ve been getting lots of interesting, thoughtful correspondence from readers who’ve finished The Sundering, and quite a few expressing hope that I’ll return to the milieu and take the story to the next stage, preferably ending with a very different twist. As one put it, “So… here is a fan, hopefully awaiting another book and crossing her fingers for the triumph of evil. How many people can say that?”

Not many, that’s true! That would be a whole new challenge, and it’s certainly something to consider. But I’ve got another D’Angeline book to deliver, so I’ll definitely be spending the next year or so in Terre d’Ange. After that… who knows? It was never my intention, but anything’s possible. I’ll have to wait and see which of a myriad of ideas bubbling around in my subconscious rises to the top.

My favorite piece of fanmail this month was an anonymous note from a reader in Florida. I can’t exactly quote this one, but I’m guessing it was written by someone who stops by regularly to check the monthly updates. All I can say is thanks, and if it was your intention to make me smile, it definitely worked!

That’s all for this month. Next month, we may get a sneak peek at cover art for Kushiel’s Scion.

Cheers! !

September 2005

Okay, okay! Bowing to the pressure of multitudinous requests, I have posted a synopsis of the forthcoming Kushiel’s Scion here. That’s the good news. The bad news is that according to the latest, you’re going to have to wait until June 2006 to read the novel. For everyone jonesing for a good D’Angeline fix, it’s a long time. I know. On the plus side, it’s a great time for hot summer reads!

I’ve got an odd grab-bag of news snippets this month. Some of my Canadian readers may be pleased to note in the Events column that I’ve accepted an invitation to be a guest of honor at Keycon in Winnipeg next spring. Others will doubtless gripe, “Why aren’t you coming here?” Hey, authors are like vampires! Well, really cheap vampires. You have to invite us to enter… and pay our expenses. Otherwise, we’ll just hole up in our messy crypts and keep writing. And if you could see my study, you’d know that’s a pretty apt description.

Banewreaker was chosen as a editor’s recommended pick last month at the Tiger Heron site. You might want to check it out; there are lots of other good recommendations, too. There’s also an interesting essay on AlterNet.org titled “What is Evil?” that cites Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Sundering duology as fantasy works that, ironically, deal with the ambiguities of good and evil in a more realistic manner than the average newscast. Sadly, all too true. Perhaps Jon Stewart could invite me on The Daily Show to discuss this. I’m sure J.K. Rowling is far, far too busy.

On a completely unrelated note, BenBella Books has a new website for their Smart Pop anthology series. They’re offering a free download of The Best of Smart Pop, which includes an essay I wrote for the forthcoming anthology, Revisiting Narnia, titled “Heathen Eye for the Christian Guy,” plus nine other great essays. Free stuff, woo-hoo!

Not free, but perhaps also of interest, is Clarkesworld Books. I shipped several more cartons of signed books to them, so if you’re looking for signed copies of any of ’em, they ought to have them in stock. If you ordered a personalized copy of Godslayer through The Signed Page last month, I should be signing and returning them soon.

Once again, there are lovely new additions to the Tattoo and Fan Art galleries. And here on the home page, I’m featuring a pair of Pocket Joscelins, which readers in Florida graciously agreed to share. It’s a bit of an inside joke they thought wouldn’t translate easily… but it made me laugh. C’mon, who wouldn’t want a Pocket Joscelin?

And on a somber note, many sympathies to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Here’s hoping and praying that all your loved ones are safe. Once again, we are reminded at terrible cost that nature is a force we cannot control. For concerned readers looking for a way to help, consider a donation to the Red Cross.

Be well and be safe, all of you!

August 2005

Wow! Big response to last month’s t-shirt contest, and most the entries were right, too. Elegy for Darkness was the original working title of what became The Sundering duology. A lot of people remarked that they preferred the original. Yeah, so did I. It was the marketing department at Tor who changed it to Godslayer, ostensibly because they thought it was catchier. I suspect it had more to do with the fact that another one of their authors, Elizabeth Haydon, was coming out with an earlier book titled Elegy for a Lost Star, which could have caused confusion. And then, of course, it got split into two volumes and retitled yet again. So it goes.

At any rate, congrats to Leigh and Richard, winners of my random draw! For the curious, this is an extremely low-tech process. Valid entries are numbered in the order in which they’re received. Once the contest period ends, I shake the Special Contest Box (pictured at right with faithful guard dog on duty) filled with numbered scraps of paper, close my eyes, reach in and pick a number. Voilà.

And now this month, after the unplanned sundering, The Sundering is made whole. Banewreaker is out in paperback and Godslayerin hardcover. Somehow, I feel better knowing it’s available in its entirety. And yes, it does owe an obvious debt to Tolkien, as the Publishers Weekly review noted, finally leading me to say, “Argh!” (That’s in a Charlie Brown way, not a pirate way.) Well, yeah… on purpose! And to all my friends and readers who have informed me that they hate me for killing off various characters in Banewreaker… sorry. Brace yourselves. As I’ve said all along, this is a tragedy.

I’ve had a lot of requests to post a synopsis of next year’s forthcoming Kushiel’s Scion. Next month, maybe! I’ll try to put something together to whet your appetites.

Once again, there are additions to the site. Check out the Fan Art gallery for a lovely portrait of a young Alcuin, and the Fan Photos gallery for nicely drawn marque, plus Night’s Doorstep, a new message board on the Links page. Also, I did an interview with Jay of Fantasybookspot.com, a site many of you might enjoy

Happy reading to all!

July 2005

Lots o’ fun stuff this month!

First and foremost, thanks to Shawn at The Signed Page, you can once again order signed, personalized copies of Godslayer, which comes out in August. And Clarkesworld Books now has in stock signed copies of Banewreaker in hardcover and paperbacks of all three of the Kushiel’s Legacybooks.

Click for larger viewTo celebrate the release of Godslayer, I’m running a special contest this month. Please note the photo of a pair of fabulous, one-of-a-kind, “I (Heart) Darkhaven” t-shirts! One’s a Men’s Large, one’s a Women’s Large. Here’s the contest question: “What was the original working title of The Sundering duology before it was split into two books?” Email me before July 7th at contest@jacquelinecarey.com , with the correct answer, your mailing address, and indicate whether you’d prefer the Men’s or Women’s t-shirt.

Two winners will be chosen at random from the valid entries. Special thanks to my Dad, Robert Carey, for t-shirt design and production!

Other fun additions this month include yet more lovely Tattoos and a new RPG site added to the Links page.

And that’s it for July; short, but chock full o’ goodness. For all who keep asking, yes, Kushiel’s Scion, the first book of the Imriel trilogy, is scheduled for publication in 2006. I don’t have an official date yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll post it on the site. And yes, I’m still hard at work on the second volume… and really, really loving it.

June 2005

Why do we call them vacations, anyway? Because we vacate our homes, I suppose; vacate our everyday lives. It’s not a very pleasant word, really. Too close to vacant, looks a lot like vaccinate. And of course, in Spanish, vaca means cow. I wish we called them holidays, like the rest of the English-speaking world. It sounds like much more fun.

Anyway, I had a great vacation. Or holiday.

I spent ten days on a small island in Mexico, lounged in the sun, sat in the shade, snorkeled, and swam with dolphins. Very laid-back and idyllic. I read 14 books, none of which are especially noteworthy. Most writers are avid readers, but many working writers find it hard to get to those towering to-read stacks. There’s too much research to be done, correspondence to answer, manuscripts to be copyedited and proofed, deadlines to be met. This was a real luxury.

And for the first time in many years, I have a camera. I’ve been a photo slacker for ages, but I had a lot of fun with it on this trip. I’ve posted a couple here; an ‘author on holiday’ shot that captures some of the wonderful color of the small village, and another scene I simply happened upon and very much liked.

For me, this speaks to the eternal question asked of writers, “Where do you get your ideas?” and the only possible answer, “Everywhere and anywhere.” I don’t know this family enjoying a stroll on an isolated stretch of beach with their colorful parasols. There may be no story whatsoever there. I only know it was an unexpected scene to happen upon while exploring the island, surprising and delightful. That there is a tension in the overcast sky and the rolling surf that contrasts with their casual pace, much as their bright, civilized parasols contrast with the scrubby beach terrain.

Even if I hadn’t had a camera to document it, this is an image that would have stuck with me. Would I have written about it? Maybe, maybe not. It might manifest as a vivid little detail bringing to life a setting I’ve yet to envision. Or it might simply sink deep into my subconscious and ferment there for a long, long time, until some day it filters back upward and informs a passage that appears wholly unrelated… perhaps a wounded soldier lying in mire, gaping at the sight of a man walking unscathed and immaculate from a carnage-strewn battlefield. It’s not just the specific image that inspires, as much as I like it. It’s the sense it evoked in me, a sense I may wish to invoke in writing some day, rendered transformed and unrecognizeable by whatever mysterious process goes on in the subconsious minds of storytellers everywhere.

Just don’t ask me how it works. I have no idea.

In other updates, there’s more gorgeous (and ongoing) work in the Tattoo Gallery, and a couple of additions to the Links page. One is a new Bibliography site, and the other is a new incarnation of the Kushiel’s Readers group. I’m told the old one vanished mysteriously, but a brand spanking new one been created to take its place.

Thanks to everyone who sent good wishes for a great trip! It worked.

May 2005

I’m outta here! After a fair bit of book-related travel this spring, I’m off to Mexico for ten days of fun & sun. One of the great things about being a writer is that trips like this are also excellent research opportunities, and I’m hoping this one will provide fodder for an idea that’s been rattling around my mind for years, but I’m also planning to do some serious chilling. It’s a good time to take a writing break, too. I’ve been jamming on the second Imriel book (possibly titled Kushiel’s Justice), but I’ve just passed a major turning point in the plot. I find that tends to be a good time to step back, clear my thoughts and take a good, hard look at what comes next.

April was a bizarre month. It started with my trip to Phoenix to attend the Arizona Book Festival during the surreal 24/7 coverage of the Pope’s final hours. It was so pervasive, there was no escaping it. The media is everywhere. Airports remind me how much information technology has altered the world in my lifetime. Riding along moving walkways past giant television screens filled with huge talking heads, seeing people talking into cell phones, working on laptops, checking email… it’s all very Blade Runner. When I think about religious fundamentalists’ anxiety over the culture war in America, I wonder how much of it is subconsciously fueled by this unnervingly fast technological acceleration, and not what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms.

And then it took an hour to get my luggage, because there was a swarm of bees on the tarmac. Score one for nature. At any rate, it was a good trip, and my thanks to the Central Arizona Speculative Fiction Society for sponsoring it. While I was there, I taped an interview for the Dragon Page talk radio show that should be available as a podcast in the not-too-distant future. They’re very funny guys, Mike and Evo.

The experience was also special – and also a bit surreal, but in a good way – because my father took the opportunity to visit his brother in Phoenix, and I was able to spend some time with relatives I hadn’t seen in decades. They were surprised to discover that I had no memory of my cousin John pushing me down a flight of stairs in 1966. I wasn’t even two years old! It’s no wonder I don’t remember. But apparently, it’s been the source of much contention.

I returned home to find that my mother claims it was cousin Bud who did the dastardly deed. My father rummaged in his archives and found this photograph, taken minutes before the infamous event occurred. That would indeed be Bud with his hands on my little shoulders, looking poised to give me a good shove (and quite gleeful about it). Whatever happened, I’m pleased to say that I didn’t sustain any lasting damage, and they all grew up to be very nice adults. For any readers thinking about reconnecting with family members they haven’t seen in far too long, I highly recommend it.

In other update news, check out the Tattoo Gallery for several fantastic new marques, including the completion of one we’ve watched progress. And I’m happy to report that Lady Domini’s House Eglantine, my oldest fansite, has returned! She’ll be featuring other favorite artists for all to enjoy.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

April 2005

As the final days of March come to an end, signs of spring emerge at last! This winter hasn’t been one of the harshest, but it has seemed endless. I’m sure we’ll get hit again here in Michigan – winter often saves one last blast for April – but it’s nice to see the sun and venture outdoors without being bundled in layers of warm clothing. Just in time, naturally, for me to leave for Phoenix, where I’ll be attending the Arizona Book Festival as a guest of the Central Arizona Speculative Fiction Society.

No complaints, though. It’s felt like being in Narnia under the rule of the White Witch these past few months. But today, I saw bunnies dashing into the underbrush and the goldfinches are starting to show a hint of yellow beneath their olive drab. Apparently, Aslan has returned and spring will follow. I was beginning to have doubts.

I’ve had Narnia on my mind this winter, having revisited the chronicles to contribute an essay to a forthcoming anthology in BenBella Books’ “Smart Pop” series. Fun stuff! I wrote one earlier for their Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy collection, The Anthology at the End of the Universe, which has just been released. As much as I love writing novels, I do enjoy writing non-fiction, too. These essays are nice palate-cleansers; refeshing little dishes of sorbet, if you will.

It’s a timely release, since I have absolutely nothing else to report. I’ve been hard at work on the untitled second book of the Imriel trilogy, which is going well. This one’s good and juicy on a variety of levels. That’s one nice thing about the dreary months – they’re great for getting a lot of writing done. And by the way, to those wondering, yes, the listing on Amazon for Imriel refers toKushiel’s Scion, but the date is erroneous and the listing is supposed to be removed or updated. While there’s no release date for Kushiel’s Scion yet, it won’t be out until 2006. Sorry, guys.

There’s one addition to the Tattoo Gallery this month – another work-in-progress shot from reader Chelsea. She says one more four-hour sitting and it will be finished. That gives you some inkling — no pun intended – of what’s entailed in getting a tattoo this splendiferous!

March 2005

For the shortest month of the year, February seemed awfully long! I dashed off last month’s update before heading out to Harvard, where I was one of the guests at Vericon. No whip demonstrations, but lots of interesting panel discussions and a great group of students.

After the last event, I went out for a drink with a few of the other writers, including James Morrow. He’s a very smart, highly academic man, and his literary references throughout the convention tended more toward Melville and Poe than contemporary genre fiction. A short story writer – a very nice guy whose name, alas, I’ve forgotten – professed himself intimidated by the sheer length of novels and the amount of writing involved. I said, “You can’t think about it in terms of word count. Think about it in terms of structure.” Morrow agreed, and illustrated the point by analyzing old Scrooge McDuck comics, for which they shared a fondness.

When I laughed at the disparity, he observed that good creative work combines the best of our high-brow and low-brow sensibilities. An interesting point, and one I thought worth sharing.

Following that trip, I headed into Mardi Gras Madness. I’m happy to report that this year, the Mystik Krewe of the Kalamazoo reclaimed its rightful status as winners of the Best Float award. With enough cardboard and duct tape, you can do almost anything. You can check out our Alice in Wonderland extravaganza here.

After our glorious victory, I finished editing Kushiel’s Scion. My new editor at Warner Aspect commented that it was one of the cleanest manuscripts she’d ever worked on. Nice to hear! Every writer works in different ways. Me, I’m an edit-as-I-go writer. I begin every session by revising the previous day’s work, and I can’t move forward until everything to that point is as seamless as possible. It means I don’t exactly churn out pages at the speed of light, but the end result is a fairly polished first draft. And in, oh, about a year or so, you’ll all get to see the final product.

I’ve posted a few photos – one from the whip demonstration, a costumed Phèdre and friends at ConFusion, and a shot of lovely, snow-covered Harvard Yard. There are additions to the Fan Art Gallery, the Tattoo Gallery and also a new discussion board, “Blood at Midnight,” on the Links page. And in the Events column, I’ll be a guest at the Arizona Book Festival next month.

On a final note, I discovered that Library Journalnamed Banewreaker one of the best SF & Fantasy books of 2004. Very cool!

February 2005

This will be a hasty update, dashed off in the midst of writing, editing and attending conventions! In fact, I’m writing it before leaving to attend Vericon, so it’s kind of cheating. But perhaps that will give me something to talk about next month, beyond the usual, “Writing, writing, writing, it’s all going well!” To be honest, a writer’s life means a lot of time sitting in a chair and, well, writing, which doesn’t make for compelling news.

But sometimes there are exceptions, like finding oneself blindfolded in front of an audience, while a guy with a 10-foot bullwhip prepares to crack it at you. That was one of the more interesting experiences I had while attending ConFusion earlier in January. Others included the chance to meet some cool writers I admire, like Steven Brust, Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. The SF/F community is fairly tight-knit, but having not come up through the ranks and living as I do in a very small town, I don’t actually know all that many people in the field. It’s always a pleasure to make new acquaintances.

Godslayer by Jacqueline CareyAs for the bullwhip, no, it’s not what you’re thinking! I attended a demonstration by Master Whip Instructor Gery L. Deer, whose wife Barbara is a fan. I should have known I was at high risk for being ‘volunteered.’ But I must say, it was a very cool stunt. I held a tightly-folded newspaper out at arm’s length. I never felt an impact and everyone thought he’d missed, but when the paper was unfolded, bits of scrap fluttered down to reveal the number “31” (in honor of the official title “31 Flavors of ConFusion”) incised in the page. Plus, I got a little silver bullwhip charm for being a good sport!

You know, I read a recent article by a mainstream literary writer in the New York Times about doing publicity. There was nothing in there about being asked to take part in whip demonstrations or having readers strip off their shirts to reveal their tattoos in the middle of a booksigning. It’s good to be reminded that my readership is more diverse and interesting than most, and that, when I have the chance to get out from behind the desk and meet many of you, my life is richer as a result.

Speaking of my talented readers, be sure to check out the Fan Art Gallery for some fabulous new additions! And here’s the first look at the cover of Godslayer, the conclusion of The Sundering. What can I say? It’s nicely done and very… Gandalfy.

January 2005

My updates have been on the somber side for the past few months, which is not inappropriate given that I’ve been writing about the release of the first half of an epic tragedy and reflecting on its relevance in our war-torn world. I was thinking it would be nice to lighten up a bit to enter the New Year on a silly, happy note. However, the forces of nature decreed otherwise, and levity seems inappropriate in the wake of the devastation the Indian Ocean tsunamis have wrought. I’m still trying to get my mind to encompass the magnitude of the event. Scientists say the earthquake caused the earth to wobble on its axis. When I read that, I shivered.

For readers who would like to donate to relief efforts, I found the Network for Good a useful resource with links to a multitude of charitable organizations. I donated to Doctors Without Borders because I admire the work they do, but there are lots of good ones to chose from. If you’ve got a couple bucks to spare, start out the New Year on a compassionate note.

And as long as I’m being serious, for anyone else who’s been brooding over war, politics, media, society, humanity and dualism this year, I recommend War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges. Very insightful, occasionally disturbing commentary by a veteran war correspondent. Toward the end, he has some powerful words to say about the role of love in wartime and how it affords a bastion of sanity and hope. “Love, when it is deep and sustained by two individuals, includes self-giving-often self-sacrifice-as well as desire. For the covenant of love is such that it recognizes both the fragility and the sanctity of the individual. It recognizes itself in the other. It alone can save us.”

Beautifully said. I don’t often recommend books-I’m always afraid I’ll leave out someone I meant to include, and my tastes are highly eclectic and not necessarily shared by my readers-but this one struck me. It deals with many of the themes I try to explore in my own work, from a basis of real-life experience I’m grateful I don’t share.

On a professional note, I’m about to go into editing on Kushiel’s Scion, the first book of the Imriel trilogy. He’s become a great protagonist, and I’m really enjoying bringing his continuing story to life. I’ve added a couple of new items, a booksigning and another convention, over in the Events column. Check out the Tattoo Gallery for a lovely new addition, this one a work in progress courtesy of Chelsea. Very cool.

And finally, thanks to Cynthia Ng for sharing these stunning photos of a Night-Blooming Cereus flower, grown in her own greenhouse sanctuary. This is a rare event to capture, and truly the epitome of transient beauty. It’s good to remember that we live in a world where such things exist. Enjoy (and please respect copyright)!

Best wishes to all my readers for a Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year!