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December 2014

Jacqueline wearing the Briar Rose NecklaceHappy holidays!

Are you still looking for the perfect gift for the Kushiel-loving reader in your life? Don’t forget about the official Phèdre’s Marque necklace, available from RockLove Jewelry throughout the holiday season!  It’s a beautiful piece and this is a charitable endeavor with all proceeds going to benefit my local library.

As you can see, I’m delighted with mine!

Speaking of gifts, the other day over on my Facebook page, a reader who’d drawn the name of a 15 year old girl hoping for science fiction and fantasy romance from an angel tree asked if I thought my books would be appropriate. I had to say that if you’re asking about Kushiel’s Legacy, no, I wouldn’t give those books to a 15 year old unless I were veryfamiliar with her reading level. Sure, I know there are plenty of fans out there who started reading those books at 15 and younger and were just fine with the content, but… as a stranger, it’;s not a gift I’d be comfortable giving.

My best suggestion for anyone looking to introduce a young adult reader to my work is Dark Currents , the first volume of the Agent of Hel trilogy. Although it does deal with some dark themes, overall it’s lighter in tone than a lot of my work, and I think the amount of whimsy makes it more accessible. Plus, no actual sex scenes! Okay, yeah, the next two books – Autumn Bones and Poison Fruit – have some steamy action… but if a new fan gets hooked and goes on to read those, that’s not your fault, right?

I’d also consider Santa OliviaAmazon and Saints AstrayAmazon which actually have teenaged heroines – though there is sex and rather a lot of swearing if strong language is an issue. Of course, there’s The Sundering – BanewreakerAmazon and GodslayerAmazon. Those are a deliberate riff on the structure of Tolkien and Tolkienesque epic fantasy, reimagining it as epic tragedy, and there’s absolutely no sex or swearing! If you happen to have a budding young literary iconoclast in your life, the duology might be the perfect fit.

Overall, I say Dark Currents is the most likely bet. Really, it’s a great introduction for any new reader, young or old. And I didn’t intend this month’s post to be all about recommending my books as gifts, but people do often ask whether or not my work’s appropriate for young adult readers, so I figured on the heels of this latest inquiry that this was a good time to address it.

Although I did just find out the hard way that we need a whole new septic system, and that it’s going to be hella expensive.’ So… yes! Books make great gifts! Oh, and if you’re wondering what “the hard way” means, it involves a bathtub full of sewage.

In other news, I’ve added another convention to next year’s schedule – In-CON-Ceivable in Northampton, MA in August. As previously posted, next month, I’ll be at IllogiCon in Raleigh-Durham, and I should be adding a couple more convention appearances pending announcements. A note: Whenever I post convention appearances on social media, there are inevitably readers who respond with, “Oh, please come to (fill in the blank)!” Which, of course, is lovely, but guys… if it’s out of state, I’m usually not there on a whim or my own dime.

When conventions invite author guests of honor, they generally cover the cost of travel, lodging and meals. In exchange, we take part in panel discussions, give readings and Q&As, judge costume contests, and gladly sign all the books you can carry. So if you want me to attend a convention in your area, lobby the convention committee! I always try to accept all the invitations my schedule allows.

Check out the Tattoo Gallery for a lovely new addition, and I’ll see you in the New Year!

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November 2014

NecklaceOkay, if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have already seen the news, but I’m delighted to announce here on my official website the first and only licensed piece of Kushiel’s Legacy jewelry, the Phèdre’s Marque necklace is available for purchase from RockLove Jewelry!

This is a charitable endeavor, and one that’s near and dear to my heart. All the proceeds will go to benefit my local library, the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library, which is the midst of a capital campaign to raise funds to build a much-needed new facility that will function as a true community center.

Details, details! The necklace is hand cast solid sterling silver, measuring 2″ tall by 1 ¼” wide. It depicts Phèdre’s briar rose marque, and is strung on 30″ of black velvet so it can be worn short as a choker or as a longer necklace, evoking the infamous diamond necklace given to Phèdre by Melisande. The reverse is inscribed with Blessed Elua’s precept, “Love as Thou Wilt.”

Necklace & Kushiel's ChosenIt’s truly a lovely piece! It’s substantial enough to make a statement, but subtle enough for everyday wear. The care that jeweler Allison Hourcade – who proposed this collaboration as a longtime fan of the Kushiel’s Legacy series – took in rendering the details of the marque in physical form and her craftsmanship in hand casting every individual piece really stand out.

More details: The necklace is priced at $85 and can be ordered online at RockLove throughout the holiday season. Cheers!

And on behalf of my local library, my sincere thanks. Despite the fact that the current facility is woefully inadequate, the campaign for a new one has encountered resistance from a few vocal individuals who feel that as repositories for books, libraries are becoming obsolete in a digital era when “everyone can just read whatever they want on their smartphones.” It’s an argument that fails to take into account that no, not everyone has a smartphone; and no, among those that do, many avid readers lack the discretionary income to purchase “whatever they want.” It overlooks the fact that libraries provide valuable services like children’s programming, ongoing adult education, and technical support for those who lack resources.

As a reader and an author, I’ve relied heavily on my local library and its excellent interlibrary loan system for many years, so it’s particularly welcome to have an opportunity to give back to it at this critical juncture!

October 2014

Frog on Frog Well, I had every intention of writing a deep philosophical post to mark the occasion of my 50th birthday this month as well as holding some giveaways for signed copies of Poison Fruit – but sometimes life gets in the way. And so instead, I find myself running short of time as I’m taking an unscheduled trip to visit a dear friend who’s in the hospital, because it’s something I really need to do right now.

So this will be a quick update to announce that, yay, Poison Fruit comes out in hardcover and ebook on October 7th! And of course, Autumn Bones will be released in paperback, too – just in time for Halloween! Seriously, if you love Halloween, you really need to treat yourself to that one.

I’ve got a super-cool side project in the works that I can’t wait to unveil. Hint: It’s Kushiel-related, but it’s not a literary endeavor. Now, don’t get too excited, it’s not a movie or a TV series, either. It’s… shiny. And it’s something that I suspect a lot of you will be putting on your holiday gift-shopping lists this year! I know I would.Frog on FrogAmazon linkBut that will have to wait just a little bit longer.

I’m leaving last month’s post here on the homepage, since it has some good information on a signing in Seattle and an upcoming appearance at a convention in Halifax next month, as well as commentary on the last installment of the Agent of Hel series and a link to the first chapter. Oh, and my preliminary musings on a milestone birthday. Maybe next month I’ll unpack those in more depth. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll write about how I decided to celebrate my birthday by finding out exactly how many oysters I can eat before I start to feel sick, because I’m pretty sure it’s A LOT.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, take good care of your friends, and check out the Tattoo Gallery for an interesting variation on the idea of a marque!

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September 2014

Frog on FrogI’m a bit late with an update this month, in part because of the Labor Day holiday weekend, and in part because I had to hold off on a piece of news until the official announcement was made:  I’ll be a guest at Hal-Con in Halifax, Nova Scotia this November 7-9.  It should be fun!

The other exciting news, of course, is that Poison Fruit, the third and final book in the Agent of Hel series comes out in hardcover next month. Signed and personalized copies can be ordered from The Signed Page, and I’ll be in Seattle on October 8th to sign them, as well as doing a signing at the University Bookstore that evening. According to a Romantic Times four-star review, “Despite the dark, often unsettling, nature of the enemies on the prowl, Carey keeps the narrative tone light and flowing, ensuring fans and newcomers alike can empathize with each character and savor each imaginative scene. There are few easy answers or simple solutions here, guaranteeing that readers will be fully engaged until the final scene and invested in the romance that builds and twists throughout this high-stakes story.”This may be my favorite book in what’s been a delightful and entertaining series to write, and I think it’s a strong, satisfying conclusion that has a lot of depth, humor, humanity and whimsy in equal measure. Check out the first chapter here! Warning: Contains spoilers for the previous book, Autumn Bones, available in paperback in October.

As of this writing, I don’t have any other events scheduled for the release.  See, I’ve got a milestone birthday taking place at the same time:  I’ll be turning fifty on October 9th.  I know, right?  It’s hard to believe.  I was having a difficult time deciding how to celebrate it, but when my long-time friend Shawn Speakman from The Signed Page asked if I was up for doing another one, I decided to combine business with pleasure.  As many times as I’ve been to Seattle, I’ve never had much leisure time to explore the city or the surrounding area—and my girlfriend Julie’s never been to the Pacific Northwest.  So it will be a treat—I hear the Olympic Peninsula is amazing—and I still get to make signed copies of Poison Fruit available on a world-wide basis.

And as for what comes next, well, I’m still keeping that under wraps for now.

For the record, I’m pretty cool with turning fifty.  It’s a good time to take stock of my life and realize how very rich and fulfilling it is.  I get to do what I love for a living, travel the world doing signings and research, and meet readers whose lives have been touched by my books.

When I think about it, the last decade has been pretty damn amazing.  I look forward to seeing what the next one has in store for me!

PS:  On the homepage, a little frog-on-frog action on our patio this summer.  Cuteness!

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August 2014

Detroit fountainLooking at last month’s update, I see that I announced with great pleasure, “Summer is here!” I think I may have jinxed it, because it’s been an unseasonably cool one thus far.

In fact, there was only one weekend in July that offered great beach weather, and as luck would have it, that was the weekend I was at Detcon1 in Detroit. On the plus side, it turned out to be quite an interesting experience. As a long-time Michigander, I’m embarrassed to say I’d never been to downtown Detroit before – and since its decline, one seldom hears good things about the city.

I found a lot to like about it, though. There’s a lot of great architecture, including the spectacular Guardian Building with its ornate Art Deco lobby. We spent a lovely afternoon enjoying street food and live music in a little park in the heart of the city, and another morning exploring the agricultural bounty on display at the Eastern Market, followed by a visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. People were friendly and outgoing, and took a lot of pride in the city despite its troubles.

Detroit demonstration protesting extensive water shut-offsThat’s not to say that the challenges Detroit faces aren’t obvious, even in the heavily policed downtown. Gazing at the fountain in the park, I was thinking about how and why humans are so drawn to displays of moving water, and how on a visceral level, it represents not only mastery over an element, but a display of sheer abundance. Water is essential. A fountain says, look, we have so much of it, we can afford to make it dance for our pleasure! On the heels of that thought, we left the park and encountered a demonstration protesting the extensive water shut-offs in the city.

I don’t know enough about the details of the situation to have an informed opinion, but it’s hard not to think that there’s something very wrong with that scenario… especially in a city that sits on one of the world’s largest reserves of fresh water.

Renaissance Center in DetroitAs for the convention, that too was interesting. It was held in the Renaissance Center, a complex designed by architects who seem to have been unaware that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, resulting in a circular structure filled with masses of empty space periodically intersected by escalators. It was all rather surreal and reminded me of an old SF novel, House of Stairs by William Sleatoramazon, that freaked me out when I was a teenager!

Nonethless, I had some good panels, a very nice KaffeeKlatsch with a group of lovely fans, and a fun time at the 1980s dance party at which author John Scalzi proved himself to be an excellent DJ.

Now I’m ready for a staycation! Here’s hoping I get to the beach at least once in the month of August.

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July 2014

Keewatin at Red DockSummer is here! It was a long time coming.

This month, I’m happy to announce that once again, Shawn Speakman and I will be working together to make signed copies of Poison Fruit, the third and final Agent of Hel novel, available through The Signed Page. Copies are available for pre-order now, and I’ll be signing them in early October when the book is released. Beyond that, I don’t have any details about other events yet. We’ll see!

I will be at Detcon1 in Detroit later this month, with multiple panels and a mass autographing session scheduled for Friday, July 18th. And for readers who are wondering, yes, you’re welcome to bring all your books. I may ask readers with a bazillion copies to let others with one or two volumes go ahead of them in line, but one way or another, I will sign them all!

But back to Poison Fruit… over on Facebook, a lot of readers expressed surprise and dismay when it was revealed that it would be the last Agent of Hel book. I get it. Urban fantasy series are generally episodic in nature and tend to run to a multitude of volumes. I thought about drawing this one out longer, but in the end, I decided to pull the trigger and play out my endgame. It just felt like the right thing to do; for my hell-spawn heroine Daisy’s emotional, developmental and narrative arc, and for the premise of the series itself.

Without giving away any spoilers, I can say that one of the themes that’s played out in Poison Fruitactually reflects (very, very loosely) real-world events taking place in my community. And those events are nearing a point of… well, not resolution, but something near enough to it that it’s no longer fodder for an analogous imaginary conflict.

It’s no secret that the resort town Pemkowet, Michigan is based on my hometown of Saugatuck – I wrote an essay about it for Penguin when Dark Currents was released. Okay, we don’t actually have werewolves and fairies and vampires, not to mention a reclusive Norse goddess, but it’s a unique community in a lot of ways; in fact, it just won USA Today’s Reader Poll for the Best Summer Weekend Getaway, which is quite a coup for a little Midwestern town.

A lot of the places I’ve written about are real, and many of them remain untouched, but things do change, even in a community with a strong sense of historic preservation. Sometimes quaint cottages are razed to make way for McMansions. The bakery that inspired Mrs. Brown’s Olde World Bakery has been gone for decades. The steamship on which the S.S. Osikayas is based, a steamship that had been a local landmark for my entire life, was sold and towed away to a new home in Canada two years ago.

And that’s the other reason it just felt right to me to bring the series to a close. Although the books are filled with fun, whimsical, fantastic, and sometimes creepy elements, I wanted to keep them grounded in a genuine sense of what it’s like to live in a small community under pressure from outside elements. Whether you’re a demon’s daughter, a ten-thousand-year old monster, a member of the nature fey, or an ordinary human citizen, the underlying dynamics remain the same.

In this last volume, the portrait I wanted to paint was complete. The story ends the way I wanted it to. And I think (or at least hope) that upon reading it, you’ll all agree that it feels exactly right, too. I’m pretty sure Daisy would agree.

As for what’s next… well, I’m still working on it!

On the homepage: A photo of the real-life S.S. Osikayas being towed out of the harbor and down the river to Lake Michigan, taken by operators of the Star of Saugatuck. Yeah, it’s that big!

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June 2014

Happy Maya at the beachA reminder! I’ll be at DetCon1 in Detroit next month, July 17-20.

Okay, I’ve written about this before, but at least once a week or so, someone asks me about the possibility of my books being adapted for film or TV – usually the Kushiel’s Legacy series – so I thought it was time to revisit the issue. Often readers will say something like, “I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about turning the Kushiel books into movies, but I think they would be awesome,” which kind of cracks me up, because c’mon, do you really think it had never occurred to me? What commercial fiction writer hasn’tthought about their work being adapted for screen?

And too, there’s a certain touching naiveté to the notion that this decision rests in authors’ hands. With the exception of a very, very few mega-selling authors, it doesn’t. We don’t have the clout to “turn our books into movies.” Film and television productions are multi-million dollar undertakings. If we’re lucky, a studio options the rights. If we’re very lucky, the project actually gets developed. If we’re very, very lucky, the resulting movie or TV series is good. And if we’re very, very, very lucky, it’s successful, too.

I’ve always maintained that a screen adaptation of Kushiel’s Legacy was a long shot due to the budget that would be required to do it justice and the erotic content, but I’ll admit, the success of a series like Game of Thrones is, well, a game-changer. In fact, when I ran into George R.R. Martin at WorldCon a couple of years ago, he asked, “So when are they going to make a series out of your books?” I laughed and said, “Apparently, there’s this Game of Thrones series that’s sucking up all the oxygen!” He squinted at me and said, “No! It was supposed to open doors!”

Which I think it did… and yet, it’s also true that it’s sucking up a lot of oxygen. I’ve been quiet about this because there’s nothing to report, but I actually do have an agent handling the film/TV rights who’s been trying to put together a deal for the Kushiel series for years. HBO already had a big budget fantasy project in development with Game of Thrones, they weren’t looking for another. Showtime was airing The Tudors, and they weren’t looking for another historical costume drama. Sure, things change and it could still happen. But it’s a tough industry and there’s fierce competition for very few slots, so I”m not holding my breath.

After having watched three seasons of Game of Thrones (I don’t have HBO, so I catch up by binge-watching DVDs), I will say this: I now believe that Kushiel’s Legacy could be made into a pretty damn awesome series, one that gets the delicious nuance of the intrigue, the epic scope of the plot(s), the pageantry of the battles, and that confronts the erotic aspect head-on.

It wouldn’t be easy, though. Reading a book is an immersive process. When you read, you’re looking through the eyes of the characters – especially in a first-person POV. When you watch a movie or a TV series, no matter how engaged you are, you’re looking at the characters. It’s a different experience, and I think one of the reasons so many books suffer in being adapted is that the screenwriters, directors and cinematographers don’t find a way to bridge that intimacy gap.

Oh, and of course, a lot rests on the caliber of the performances. I always demur when readers ask me to play the Imaginary Casting Game, because if I had my choice, I’d want wildly talented unknowns in the key roles. Case in point: Tatiana Maslany portraying a slew of completely different clones in BBC America’s cult drama Orphan Black.

Who would I want to play Phèdre if such a thing were ever to come to pass? The next Tatiana Maslany, because it would take a stellar performance to sell that role.

So, some thoughts in response to everyone who’s asked lately if I’ve ever thought about turning my books into movies or an HBO series. Yes. Yes, I have.

I’ll add that of anything I’ve ever written, I actually think Santa Olivia would be the easiest to adapt for film. Surprisingly – not! – Hollywood has thus far expressed no interest in a story with a biracial heroine and a girl/girl romance at the core.

Stop by the Tattoo Gallery for another lovely entry! And on the homepage, in celebration of summer, a photo of my very happy dog Maya after a long run on the beach. Here in the real-life Pemkowet, we’re making the most of it before the tourists descend!

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May 2014

Kushil's Dart UKHappy May! And believe me, I am happy that it’s here. I’m looking forward to the world turning green and bursting into flower.

In accordance with Murphy’s Law, I actually got lucky with the weather last week at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo by virtue of remembering to bring an umbrella, but forgetting sunglasses. Better that than the other way around! Since Chicago seems to have a Walgreens or a CVS on every block, the problem was easily resolved, and my rummage drawer now sports its umpteenth pair of cheap sunglasses.

Although C2E2 isn’t as insanely huge as Comic-Con in San Diego or New York, I thought it had the strongest literary programming track of the three. A highlight for me was a panel discussion on worldbuilding between Charlaine Harris and myself, graciously moderated by Chloe Neill. Charlaine was funny and engaging; we had a great back-and-forth, and a number of people approached me at the signing afterward to say how much they’d enjoyed it.’ Me, too!

Speaking of conventions, I’ll be attending Detcon1 in Detroit this July… assuming I have a place to stay! It looks like this is going to be a popular convention, as the block of reserved rooms at the hotel sold out before I could make a reservation. Hopefully, additional rooms or an overflow hotel will be available soon.

Kushiel's Chosen UKIn other news, Poison Fruit, the third Agent of Hel book, is now available for pre-order. And in other other news, Tor UK has relaunched the ebooks of the original Kushiel trilogy with new art, featured here on the homepage. I think they’re gorgeous, although reaction was mixed when I posted the link on Facebook… a lot of people fell in love with these books because of the original covers! But to be honest, Kushiel’s Legacy never caught on in the UK the way it did in the US and other countries, and I’m all for anything that will help new readers discover the series. As of this writing, the ebook of Kushiel’s Dart is available for Kindle UK users for a mere £0.59, so it’s a good time to spread the word.

That’s all for now! Stop by the Tattoo and Fan Photo galleries for new additions, including a great pic from a Phèdre cosplay photo shoot. See you next month, or join me on Twitter and Facebook!

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April 2014

OrchidAfter a long, cold winter, I’m starting to believe that one day, maybe, just maybe, my world will no longer be covered in snow. Whew!

I hope we get nice spring weather for C2E2 in Chicago later this month. That whole Windy City thing? Not a joke. Regardless, I’m looking forward to it! I’ll be there on Saturday, April 26th discussing urban fantasy with Chloe Neill, Lauren Roy, Kevin Hearne, Kerrelyn Sparks and Mia Garcia, and on Sunday, April 27th Chloe Neill will host a discussion with me and Charlaine Harris.

After writing about why I chose to let my SFWA membership lapse last month, I came across this post which illustrates some of the problems in the world of fandom, as the author draws an unfortunate Us vs. Them distinction between those who have read Robert Heinlein and those who have not, suggesting it may not be worth the effort to try to engage the latter.

It got me thinking about the issue of cultural relevance, and the fact that as writers (or artists of any ilk), we’re simply not guaranteed enduring relevance; especially if we choose to write about the future. The future is a moving target. I was made acutely aware of that in the course of writingSanta Olivia and Saints Astray, as smartphone technology and usage was evolving and expanding so rapidly, it was hard to keep my nebulous future tethered to a sense that it was a projection based on our current present.

I’ve been very aware of it writing the Agent of Hel series, too.  The books are loaded with pop culture references—one reader dubbed the series “Ghoulmore Girls.”  It’s part of what makes them fun, and allows me to offer some sly metacommentary on the urban fantasy genre; but it also means that those references have an expiration date.  And I’m okay with that.  Although the books are fantasies, they’re meant to be grounded in a recognizable reality, a snapshot of a specific place and time.  I certainly hope future generations of readers will enjoy the whimsy, the world-building, the characters and their stories, but I don’t expect the cultural references to resonate with readers who didn’t grow up with the Gilmore Girls or Buffy or Twilight or Project Runway or the Spice Girls… like I said, there are a lot of pop culture shout-outs! Oh, and if you’re keeping score at home, those last two can be found in Poison Fruitlink, coming in October.

Being set in a reimagined past, Kushiel’s Legacy has a higher immunity to cultural irrelevance, but it still reflects my mindset, which is a product of contemporary culture. Fifty years from now, the sexual diversity and openness of D’Angeline society might make me look prescient; conversely, fifty years from now, the D’Angeline system of prostitution and indentured servitude might seem totally creepy, a reflection of a time when society had an unhealthy fixation on dark sexual fantasies. Maybe neither; maybe both!

There’s no way of knowing and no guarantees, and I think the notion that one must be conversant with the entire canon of the genre to be considered a True Fan is a silly one. Fandom is supposed to be fun! And I, for one, welcome everyone in mine.

I hope to see some of you in Chicago! Meanwhile, please enjoy this photo of my most successful orchid re-bloom to date.  I’m very proud.

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March 2014

SFWA BulletinFirst up, the good news!  I’m attending the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo next month. On Saturday, April 26th I’ll be on the “Supernatural City” panel discussing urban fantasy, and on Sunday, April 27, Charlaine Harris and I will talk about “The Art of Worldbuilding” in a discussion moderated by Chloe Neill.  It’s going to be fun!  I’m also delighted to announce that I’ll be a Guest of Honor at IllogiCon in Raleigh-Durham in January 2015.

Now, on to a more serious matter…

I’ve been a member of SFWA, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, since I landed my first book deal; mostly because my editor suggested it and joining the professional organization for my field seemed like the thing to do.  And for that reason, I remained a member for over a decade.

Last year, I let my membership lapse.

After a few people on Facebook and Twitter asked me what I thought about the latest SFWA “kerfuffle,” I decided it was time to speak out about that decision.

Let me say up front that there are some great people in SFWA who’ve done a lot of good work over the years.  Writer Beware in particular provides a valuable service, and I’ve pointed many an aspiring writer toward it.  It’s also true that you get out of any organization what you put into it, and I haven’t contributed anything beyond my membership dues.  That’s on me.

But… there’s a reason for it.  From the get-go, my impression of the organization was that it was a bit of an old boys club, and a fractious one at that.  An awful lot of conversation in the forums centered on rehashing old grievances or quarreling over new ones, so I avoided them.  Volunteering struck me as a thankless job, so I didn’t.  I just focused on my writing career.

Still, I kept up my membership.  I paid my dues.  I skimmed the SFWA Bulletin every month.  TheBulletin’s content was hit or miss, informative articles on the craft and business of writing vying for space with columns like the Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues, which pretty much consisted of two elder statesmen of the genre swapping memories of writers from the good old days.  Not my cup of tea, but I respect the fact that SFWA takes pride in its roots.

And then last year, SFWA came under fire for several issues of the Bulletin:  a pulp fiction chick-in-a-mail-bikini cover, Resnick and Malzberg reminiscing about a “lady editor” who sure looked great in a bathing suit, an article suggesting Barbie was a great role model for women who should emulate her and “maintain our quiet dignity as a woman should,” a rebuttal from Resnick and Malzberg implying that complaints about their comments about “lady editors” were a call for censorship.

At that point, I thought, “Enough.”  I do believe that then-president John Scalzi did an admirable job handling the situation, and the editor of the Bulletin stepped down in the wake of the uproar.  But I’d already had enough.  In the words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

It’s not that I’m easily offended.  I’m not.  Look, that cover’s such a throwback it’s sort of hilarious, and I really, really hope it was meant to be ironic.  But I don’t think it’s too much to ask that a professional organization a) yes, treat its female members with respect, duh, but perhaps more importantly, b) ACT LIKE A FREAKING PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION!

I mean… seriously?  The publishing industry is undergoing seismic changes, changes that affect every single author in (and out of) the genre.  E-book pricing and royalty rates, the antitrust lawsuit, DRM, the rise of indie publishing, Amazon’s slow-burning bid for a monopoly, dwindling brick-and-mortar stores, the commodification of fan fiction, promotion in the age of social networking, the Google Books lawsuit, the consolidation of the Big Six into the Big Five, etc.  There’s a lot to talk about!  And yet when it comes to SFWA, it seems all the oxygen in the room was—and still is—being sucked up by a discussion that has no business taking place in this day and age.

Being asked to hold yourself to a contemporary standard of professionalism in the official publication of an organization of which you are a member is not censorship.  Yes, that standard has evolved since SFWA was founded in 1965.  The fact that casual sexism or homophobia is no longer deemed acceptable in, again, a professional publication, is not an indication that the jackbooted thugs of political correctness are trampling anyone’s First Amendment rights.  It’s a reflection of the progress of human rights in America, which is, in fact, A Good Thing.

Since I didn’t have the energy to engage in this dialogue at the time, I decided the least I could do was become a statistic, one of a number that the many, many rational members of SFWA could point to and say, “See?  These shenanigans are driving people away!”  And so I quietly let my membership lapse.

I don’t mean to imply that the blame for all that ails SFWA lies with its most senior members.  I’m sure it doesn’t, but I can only speak to what I’ve observed, which is that there’s an undeniable generational push-back against changing mores that’s a significant part of the problem.  I don’t want SFWA to lose its identity or its sense of history, but if it’s going to remain relevant, it needs to adapt.  Honor the past, but celebrate the present and look toward the future, too.

There are good people trying to achieve that goal.  I wish them well, and hope to rejoin their ranks someday.

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February 2014

RedditWhew!  It’s been a month of intense winter weather here in Michigan.  Temperatures in the single digits, and days upon days of snow.  Whatever February may bring, I’m glad to be one month closer to spring.

In the weeks to come, I’ll be laying low and working on revisions toPoison Fruit, the third Agent of Hel book, but I do have one fun announcement!  On Thursday, February 13th, I’ll be taking part in my second Reddit “Ask Me Anything.” Not only can you, y’know, ask me anything, but I’ll be holding a giveaway:  a set of signed hardcovers of Dark Currents and Autumn Bones, plus a bonus gift inspired by Daisy’s much-loathed nickname!  The winner will be chosen at random from among my favorite questions or comments.  Thanks to Steve Drew (a.k.a. El Queso Grande) whom I met at ConFusion last month for inviting me back!

For reasons beyond my ken, ConFusion, Michigan’s oldest running science fiction and fantasy convention, is held in the middle of January when the odds of nasty weather at their highest.  Perhaps it’s become a point of pride, because those are some seriously hardy participants!  I was there as the special guest of Subterranean Press, and I have to say, in addition to publishing gorgeous special editions of various authors in the genre, they were among the most generous and hospitable hosts I’ve ever had at a convention.

I like to think I’m a fairly low-maintenance guest, and I’m easily won over by good food, good drink and good company, but Subterranean Press went above and beyond, arranging a visit to an archery range with Cherie Priest and Kelley Armstrong, where we all channeled our inner Katniss, as well as a visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts when I professed regret at never having been there.

Carey & CareySerendipitously, this year’s ConFusion could also be called CareyCon, organized as it was by committee chair Ryan Carey, featuring headliner guest of honor Mike Carey, with whom I posed for a photo posted here on the homepage while we were awaiting rides to the airport.  Someone had “Clan Carey” ribbons printed, which were proudly sported on many badges.

Hanging out in various venues (okay, mostly the hotel bar), I enjoyed spending time with authors like Myke Cole (whom I forgive for introducing me as Sherrilyn Kenyon), Doselle Young, Wesley Chu and John Scalzi; not to mention John’s wife Kristine, who is very cool and shares my love of the classic 1980s rock & roll B-movie fable, “Streets of Fire.”

All in all, it was a lot of fun, and I’d love to say I’ll make it a point of returning on a regular basis as a participant since it’s the nearest thing to a “home convention” for me, but… it’s in the middle of freakin’ January!  And if I have to drive my own wussy self across the state, instead of being flown in as a pampered guest… well, the last time I did it years ago, after a white-knuckle drive home through a blizzard, I swore, never again.

But I did have a lot of fun this year, and make new friends I’d like to see again…

We’ll see.

Be sure to check out the Tattoo Gallery before you leave – just one new entry this month, but it’s quite stunning!

January 2014

KeysHappy New Year, everyone!

After I posted last month’s update, I thought of a story from my trip to Croatia that I should have shared then since it would have been a timely one for the holidays, but hey, better late than never.

Julie and I were in Split, ambling along a big pedestrian thoroughfare, where we saw an elderly man dressed as an angel setting up a wooden box as a pedestal, with a bowl for donations on the ground in front of him.  At a glance, I figured he was just another street performer doing the living statue thing, but on a closer look, I realized that his costume—a long white robe, a battered pair of angel’s wings—was shabby, and his feet were bare and grimy.

We paused to watch.  A woman dropped some money in his bowl, then withdrew in discomfort when he tried to take her hand.  Another woman made a donation, then posed for a photo with the old man.  He obliged her, but with a trace of reluctance, and I had the sense it really wasn’t why he was doing it.  Whatever he wanted from this transaction, it wasn’t about charging for a photo op.

So I emptied out all the change that was in my purse, went over and placed it in his bowl.  It wasn’t a lot, just the equivalent of a dollar or so, but the old man beamed as though I’d given him a fortune, and clasped my hand warmly in his.

It felt very much like receiving a blessing, and in that moment, it seemed to me that that was all he wanted.  An opportunity to offer a blessing to anyone willing to accept it.

I don’t know if it was true.  Maybe I romanticized the encounter, as is not uncommon when a fiction writer’s imagination seeks to impose a narrative structure on incidents in real life.  Maybe this simply was his gig as a street performer, and I imagined the reluctance.  Maybe he was suffering from dementia or mental illness.

All I know is that it felt like a blessing, and I walked away touched with a sense of wonder and brightness.

It didn’t last, of course; swept away by more mundane and prosaic experiences, it simply became a footnote in my journal.  But writing about it here, I find myself able to rekindle a bit of that sense of wonder, and remind myself to embrace it throughout the year to come.

On a more, well, mundane and prosaic note, a reminder that I’ll be a special guest at ConFusion in Dearborn, Michigan on January 17-19.  And here on the homepage, I thought people would enjoy seeing this beautiful stained glass piece by reader Soubhi inspired by the Shahrizai coat of arms.

That’s all for now!  May each and every one of you find your lives touched by wonder,  brightness, and unexpected blessings in 2014!

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