Links and Recs

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016 09:14 am
marthawells: (Reading)

* Readers of the Lost ARC: Courtney Schafer Explores the 1980s

* On that Rabid Puppies thing and my Hugo Award-winning novella Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

* Hao Jingfang wins Hugo Award with dark story of social inequality and injustice in Beijing


* Short story: My Grandmother's Bones by S.L Huang

* Breath of Earth by Beth Cato
In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation— the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong secretary Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer wardens who have no idea of the depth of her own talent—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills.

* Musketeer Space by Tansy Rayner Roberts
Dana D'Artagnan longs for a life of adventure as a Musketeer pilot in the Royal Fleet on Paris Satellite. When her dream crashes and burns, she gains a friendship she never expected, with three of the city's most infamous sword-fighting scoundrels: the Musketeers known as Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

* Starfang: Claw of the Clan by Joyce Chng
After recovering from her harrowing ordeal, Captain Francesca Min Yue is on the hunt once more. Keen on revenge for the death of her beloved crew and pack-mate, she is not going to roll over and play dead. However, Yeung Leung, long-time enemy and leader of the Amber Eyes, still eludes the captain's claws. Will Francesca be able to win back the honor of her clan? Or will she be dragged into a strange - and dangerous - alliance with the raptor-like shishini? Honor, integrity and courage are all tested in this sequel to Starfang: Rise of the Clan.
marthawells: (The Serpent Sea)
The description of The Harbors of the Sun is up but there still isn't a preorder option for it.

It's the sequel to The Edge of Worlds and the final book in the series.

A former friend has betrayed the Raksura and their groundling companions, and now the survivors must race across the Three Worlds to rescue their kidnapped family members. When Moon and Stone are sent ahead to scout, they quickly encounter an unexpected and potentially deadly ally, and decide to disobey the queens and continue the search alone. Following in a wind-ship, Jade and Malachite make an unlikely alliance of their own, until word reaches them that the Fell are massing for an attack on the Reaches, and that forces of the powerful Empire of Kish are turning against the Raksura and their groundling comrades.

But there may be no time to stage a rescue, as the kidnapped Raksura discover that their captors are heading toward a mysterious destination with a stolen magical artifact that will cause more devastation for the Reaches than anything the lethal Fell can imagine. To stop them, the Raksura will have to take the ultimate risk and follow them into forbidden territory.

* The Edge of Worlds is also up for preorder in paperback. It's already available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook.

* Also there's more new fan art on the Compendium: a drawing of Frost, by Katriona Seallach on DeviantArt

* On Saturday, September 17, 2016, at 7:30 CST I'll be doing and online reading and an interview as part of The Pixel Project's Read for Pixels Fall Edition

* On Wednesday, October 19, 2016, at 4:30 I'll be doing a talk on worldbuilding and a Q&A session as part of the Hal Hall Lecture Series sponsored by Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, at TAMU.

New fan art

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 09:02 am
marthawells: (The Serpent Sea)
I've posted new fan art to the Books of the Raksura Compendium on my web site:

It's "When Moon first encounters Stone in The Cloud Roads" by Samantha Majumder. Samantha says: One of my favorite 'scenes' was when Moon encounters Stone for the first time and gets chased around a floating island a bit before he flies down to cling to the underside of the island and escapes. I enjoyed that part so much I painted what I thought the scene might look like with acrylic and watercolor and would like to show you as well. I attached a scan of the fan art to this email. I aimed to reflect how threatening Stone appeared to Moon as he was chased. Also, the cover art of your book influenced the yellow tinted sky.

Thanks to Samantha!

If anyone wants me to link to or post their Raksura art on the compendium, just let me know.


Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016 08:18 am
marthawells: (SGA Team)
I got back from WorldCon yesterday, and I am dead tired. I don't know that I'll get much done today.

The convention was really big and I enjoyed a lot of it. Especially the writers workshop session I did, and the Queer Star Wars panel on Friday, and my reading. Also really enjoyed the Build a World game show on Friday night. The time and room got moved, so we lost some of our audience, but it was still a lot of fun, and I got to direct some audience members in an interpretive dance to explain the world we created. And the last panel I did, the Urban Fantasy in Transition panel was great.

The exhibit hall was really well done this year, and was full of displays and programming. There was even a big craft area with supplies and classes that were taught there. There was a fake river partitioning off the dealers room, with a twenty foot tall glittery volcano, and when the room closed, the volcano "erupted" and the river turned into lava. (Plastic lava) It was really cool. And we went to some of the bid parties Friday night and swore allegiance to China and San Juan. Also Ireland, I think, but I didn't get a ribbon there.

And the Hugo Award results, and the speeches, were fabulous.

The Verge:

And from the Guardian:

I'm so happy and so relieved the Hugo voters came together to drive off the rabid puppies again. By the organization's charter, it takes two years to change the award rules, and the new rules that were proposed at last year's WorldCon were voted in by the membership this year, so that should be the last time for slate voting by this gang of racist and misogynist assholes.

But it's still incredibly sad to look at the nomination stats, and see the novels and stories and best related work non-fiction that was driven off the list by this bunch of fuckwads. The list of nominees bumped by the puppies slate is at the end of the stats PDF: (Two of the short story nominees would have been "Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers" by Alyssa Wong and "Wooden Feathers" by Ursula Vernon.)

Quickie Post

Monday, August 22nd, 2016 07:49 am
marthawells: (Default)
I'm on my way back from WorldCon but just saw the hardcover of The Edge of Worlds is on sale on Amazon for 15.49
marthawells: (Default)
* Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones
Margerit Sovitre did not expect to inherit the Baron Saveze’s fortunes—and even less his bodyguard. The formidable Barbara, of unknown parentage and tied to the barony for secretive reasons, is a feared duelist, capable of defending her charges with efficient, deadly force.Equally perplexing is that while she is now a highly eligible heiress, Margerit did not also inherit the Saveze title, and the new baron eyes the fortunes he lost with open envy. Barbara, bitter that her servitude is to continue, may be the only force that stands between Margerit and the new Baron’s greed—and the ever deeper layers of intrigue that surround the ill-health of Alpennia’s prince and the divine power from rituals known only as The Mysteries of the Saints. At first Margerit protests the need for Barbara’s services, but soon she cannot imagine sending Barbara away—for reasons of state and reasons of the heart.

* Dragon Sisters by Joyce Chng
Enter a world of fantasy and magic and recipes set in Qing China. What happens when Xiao Xiao, a daughter of an Imperial Courtesan, finds a magical green pearl in the hands of her adoptive little sister? When she meets Ming Zhu, a dragon princess, daughter of the Dragon King, a friendship is formed. But will Princess Ming Zhu ever return back to her watery kingdom?

* An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows
When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war. There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. But Leoden has allies, too, chief among them the Vex'Mara Kadeja, a dangerous ex-priestess who shares his dreams of conquest.

I got to read this early, and I said, "I very much enjoyed this. The main character falls out of our world into a life-changing adventure, with compelling characters and a fascinating world. I can't wait to read the next book."

* New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales From the Caribbean edited by Karen Lord

* Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi
Every civilization has its myths. Only one is true. When eighteen year old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.”

* Short story, Her Scales Shine Like Music by Rajnar Vajra
marthawells: (Reading)
First, our historical fantasy storybundle ends in two days, so last call for a great collection of books.


WorldCon schedule


Workshop 1:00 to 3:00

Reading 6:30 pm 2202 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center)
(I'm going to read from The Harbors of the Sun)


Queer Star Wars 11:00 to 12:00 3501H (Kansas City Convention Center)
In a galaxy far, far away Juhani, a lesbian character, appeared in 2004 in Knights of the Old Republic. It wasn't until 2013 that we saw a same-sex kiss and numerous bisexual characters appear. Other than that however Star Wars has been decidedly backwards about coming forwards. With JJ Abrams saying there will be at least one gay character in the upcoming movies, and many fans hoping for that to be Poe, we take a look at why it has taken so long to happen and how we expect the public to react, not only in the US and Europe but also China and Russia.
Dr. Amy H. Sturgis, Martha Wells, Dr. Mary A. Turzillo Ph.D., Vivian Trask, Matt Jacobson

Changing the Medium 2:00 to 3:00 2206 (Kansas City Convention Center)
A look at what is involved when adapting a property from its original medium to another. How does a movie become a game or a book turn into a television show? What artistic licenses must be taken and how do you remain true to the spirit of the original?
Monica Valentinelli, Gary Kloster, Christopher Kastensmidt, Martha Wells, William Dietz

Autographing 5:00 to 6:00 Autographing Space (Kansas City Convention Center)

The Build a World Game Show 9:00 to 10:00 2503A (Kansas City Convention Center)
The Build-a-World Game Show is a live action worldbuilding game designed and run by Monica Valentinelli. Two teams of panelists compete to build a fantastic world in under an hour for fun and prizes. The Build-a-World Game Show incorporates audience participation, takes place in three rounds, and results in a fan-voted winner!
Monica Valentinelli, Catherine Lundoff, David McDonald, Tex Thompson, Martha Wells


Kaffeeklatsch 10:00 am 2211 (KKs) (Kansas City Convention Center)

How Much Do You Worry About Your Own Cannon? 4:00 to 5:00 2503A (Kansas City Convention Center)
It seems sometimes that readers are more concerned about maintaining a series' internal consistency than the author is. Authors, you know why things have been changed. When writing a series, how important is it to you to maintain full consistency in what is canon for the story and how do you decide to throw something out for the importance of the narrative?
Mike Resnik, Don Sakers, Diana Rowland, Mike Shepherd Moscoe, Martha Wells


Urban Fantasy in Transition 1:00 to 2:00 2207 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Urban fantasy has a long history within fantasy literature, but it's certainly gained new prominence recently. The panels examines how this definition has changed over time, what influences have helped to shape urban fantasy, and it's origins and potential evolution as a literary genre.
Lee Harris, Arthur Chu, Katherine Wynter, Martha Wells
marthawells: (John and Ronon)
So yesterday I was supposed to have one of those routine, screening, drive a camera through your insides tests. I spent Wednesday, on no solid food, just chicken broth, jello, tea and juice. Drinking the prep liquid that night was not as bad as I thought it would be (it tasted like Hawaiian Punch that had gone bad in some strange chemical way). The only hitch (we thought) was that I had to get up at 4:00 am to take the second dose. I spent the night in the guest room so I wouldn't wake up Troyce, then I screwed up when setting my alarm and almost slept through it. Troyce woke up anyway, realized there weren't any lights on, and woke me up. So the whole morning we were congratulating ourselves on not messing up the whole thing at the last moment and having to reschedule.

We got to the doctor's office at 8:30 am where they are running people in and out like clockwork and everything's going great, and I got a very nice nurse to get my IV line started so they could give me the sedation. Except I'm dehydrated, and my veins hide really, really well. So she tries, and the anesthesiologist tries, and we end up trying in both hands, both arms, one foot, and the right side of my neck. (That last one is not fun, I don't recommend it.)

My veins are triumphant! No one can catch them. Nurse and anesthesiologist feel horrible (and they really did, no one wants to be on either end of this process) and we have to stop, so the doctor decides to send me to the hospital where they can do a central line. (Troyce asked me where they would stick the central line and I said probably in my eye.)

But the first opening isn't until 1:00, so we have to go home for an hour and then get to the hospital at 11:00. (The good thing is, both these places are less than 10 minutes from our house because we live in a small town. The bad thing is I haven't had food since Tuesday and no water since 4:45 Thursday morning.) It takes about another hour to check in at the hospital, but the doctor had allowed for that in her schedule, and eventually I get an outpatient room.

The first nurse glares at me and asked if I normally have a problem with IVs. (I have a feeling that most people who get referred to the hospital for this are just perceived as being difficult. I am not difficult, I let them stick three needles in my neck and they're the ones who had to give up.) I told her I hadn't had an IV in thirty years so I didn't know, and when I get blood tests it is difficult but they always manage. First nurse leaves and then a second nurse comes in and says the first one went on lunch break. (This is a relief.) This nurse listens to the problem and says it would be better to avoid a central line, so first let's let Wesley try, so she gets Wesley.

Wesley turns out to be an actual blood wizard. He asks me what exactly the other people said was going wrong, leaves and comes back with a double handful of equipment, then, while laughing and chatting with us, uses a different technique and gets a vein on the back of my wrist on the first try. This is a HUGE RELIEF.

The rest of it was anticlimactic. Got wheeled in, got the sedation, woke up and hour later ready to go home. I remember the doctor coming in and talking to me, and explaining a picture of my insides, but it's very dreamlike. I think I'm very good at faking being coherent when I'm actually still mostly unconscious. But I have to do the test again for ten years, so it's a win. I'm hoping the insurance still covers everything like it's supposed to. The hospital didn't try to beat any money out of us when we were checking in, so I'm cautiously hopeful. We'll know when we get a bill, I guess.
marthawells: (Default)
And Then History Took a Queer Turn
by Heather Rose Jones

A lot of good blog topics start out, “So somebody asked me about....” Well, nobody asked me about this, but it would be a very excellent question and I’m kind of surprised nobody has. Let’s pretend it happened. So nobody asked me, “Heather, given that you write stories with lesbian protagonists, why the heck do you put them in oppressive historic settings? Why not put them in contemporary settings? After all, it’s rather an exciting time to be non-heterosexual in the USA. Or why not put them in futuristic settings where we can imagine that prejudice will be entirely eliminated? If you’re going to create secondary world fantasies, why use ones that carry over prejudice from our own past? Why not create a fantasy world -- even a pseudo-medieval one -- where being LGBTQ simply isn’t an issue?”

I wrote a blog with that opening paragraph back two years ago. And my answer boils down to this: I refuse to cede history to straight people. I refuse to let stand the position that same-sex desire was invented by late 19th century sexologists. That lesbian history started in the ‘50s with butch-femme culture. That the only pre-20th century gay stories are tragic ones. I refuse to accept that it is not possible to find and write satisfying historic novels about queer people. I refuse to yield the stage, abandoning it to default to straight actors. I love the rich and detailed tapestry of history and I have as much right to own it as anyone else.

It seems I’m not the only author to take that position. The Historic Fantasy Storybundle has representation from a wide spectrum of sexualities. Character sexuality doesn’t alway fit well into a book blurb, but here’s what I’ve been able to identify, with the help of the authors.

Steel Blues by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham traces a coast-to-coast air race in the early 20th century, with the aviation team beset by both supernatural and human perils. One of the several protagonists is a gay man.

The Emperor's Agent by Jo Graham follows the exploits of a bisexual woman blackmailed into becoming an agent for the Emperor Napoleon in a France where not all the battlefields are mortal.

Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones plunges two young women into the excitement and danger of exploring mystical talents, while juggling the hazards of early 19th century high society and trying solve the mystery of their past. They add to those hazards by falling in love.

The Virtuous Feats of the Indomitable Miss Trafalgar and the Erudite Lady Boone by Geonn Cannon is a steampunk thriller in which several women, some of them lesbians, forge an unlikely partnership to stop an ancient evil.

The same author wrote Stag and Hound, an occult shape-shifter adventure set in WWII. The four protagonists include two gay men and two lesbians.

The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells takes place in the gas-light world of Ile-Rien where noblemen, thieves, and necromancers clash wits. A significant supporting character, Captain Reynard Morane, is gay, and features as a protagonist in one of the stories in...

Between Worlds by Martha Wells, which collects shorter stories set in Ile-Rien.

The Armor of Light by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett brings real historic figures to its stage, including playwright Christopher Marlowe as one of the protagonists.

Similarly, Judith Tarr’s Lord of the Two Lands tackles the story of Alexander the Great, including a realistic portrayal of sexual attitudes of the times and his relationship with Hephaistion.

I haven’t been able to confirm whether the other two books in the StoryBundle (Pillar of Fire by Judith Tarr and The Orffyreus Wheel by David Niall Wilson) have any significant LGBTQ characters, but the bundle contains plenty to interest historic fantasy readers who wish to stray from the straight path.

(Apologies if I’ve misrepresented any of these characters or their settings. In writing brief sumaries, I may have emphasized aspects differently from what may strike the reader.)

You can buy the Historic Fantasy StoryBundle for as little as $5 for the basic bundle of five titles, or get an additional six titles if you pay more than $15. All details are explained at the website.

(Note: the storybundle offers ends in 10 days, on August 10, 2016)


Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 07:35 am
marthawells: (The Serpent Sea)
For people who were asking, The Edge of Worlds will have a paperback edition out in April. (You can preorder it now.) The Harbors of the Sun is turned in and may be scheduled for July, but I'm hoping it moves up a little.

Thanks to everyone who's left comments or ratings on Amazon, B&N, GoodReads, LibraryThing, etc. It really does help. Also, remember you can request that your local library buy it for their collection. (And they may already have it in ebook if they have ebook lending services.)

I'll be at ArmadilloCon in Austin this weekend, and here's my schedule:

Sat 1100DR Autographing
Sat 11:00 AM-Noon Dealers' Room

Sa1300A Career Management for SFF Writers
Sat 1:00 PM-2:00 PM Southpark A
Cheney, Chu, Eudaly, Landon*, McKay, Wells

Sa1500CC Reading
Sat 3:00 PM-3:30 PM Conference Center
Martha Wells
(I'll probably read something from The Harbors of the Sun)

Sa1600A Gender Roles in Fantasy
Sat 4:00 PM-5:00 PM Southpark A
Clarke, Fischer, Moyer, Muenzler*, Wells
From fairy tales, to Tolkien, to today's urban fantasy and dark fantasy, how are authors experimenting (or not experimenting) with gender and gender roles?


Link: How Creating Inclusive Sci-Fi/Fantasy Sparked a Culture War by Lynne M. Thomas

Both Chicks Dig Time Lords and “Dinosaur” are routinely attacked on the Internet by certain people (a parody of “Dinosaur” made it onto this year’s Hugo Award ballot due to a slate and as part of a campaign of ongoing harassment directed at its writer). These works are derided by people who believe inclusive SF/F is bad for the genre, or just plain bad. These works were pointed to as the reasons for creating certain Hugo Award slates over the last few years. A well-known alt-right website weirdly implied that Tor Books was responsible for the Hugo nominations for those two works since they were so bad. (I’ve never worked for Tor.) There have been dozens of articles written about my work and what is wrong with it; most of them don’t mention my name.
marthawells: (Miko)
I have two books in this historical fantasy Storybundle, which includes several great authors. One of them is Heather Rose Jones, who also noticed something about the books in the bundle:

The Historic Fantasy Storybundle has representation from a wide spectrum of sexualities. Character sexuality doesn't always fit well into a book blurb, but here’s what I've been able to identify, with the help of the authors. She has a post here: which goes over the queer content of the books.

Below is a post on the women and their relationships in her fantasy novel Daughter of Mystery, which is included in the bundle:

A Web of Women
by Heather Rose Jones

My goal for Daughter of Mystery was to write a ripping good tale of adventure, love, and intrigue. Set in the fictitious country of Alpennia in the early 19th century, Margerit Sovitre is resigned to abandoning her philosophical studies for the approved goal of making a good marriage. When her godfather unexpectedly leaves her a fortune--including a mysterious bodyguard named Barbara--the world opens up along paths she never expected. But those paths, as well as her developing talent for thaumaturgy thrust her into the center of Alpennian politics and soon she and Barbara must flee an accusation of treason.

Beyond the straightforward mind-candy of the adventure (though I like to hope it’s in the “artisanal dark chocolate” category of mind-candy) one underlying theme began to pervade not only Daughter of Mystery but the initial sketches for its sequels: the networks and communities that women build in the face of a society that excludes them from the formal structures of power and agency. Men’s actions may precipitate both Margerit’s hazards and opportunities, but it’s among women that she finds the allies to achieve her goals.

The developing romance with Barbara is only the most obvious source of strength. A spinster aunt lends the orphaned Margerit the cover of her respectability, seeing in Margerit the opportunity to finally seize her own small measure of independence. In the capitol of Rotenek, Margerit is welcomed by a loose community of female scholars, from fashionable upper-class dilettantes to hard-headed working-class women hoping for a better life. Her inheritance gives Margerit entrée to a new social world in Rotenek, but it is the female allies she finds there who teach her how to use it for her own purposes. When disaster strikes, the nuns of Saint Orisul’s offer sanctuary both for body and mind, and in the final crisis Barbara’s ties to an ex-lover bring crucial assistance.

In the sequel, The Mystic Marriage, we see this web of women woven ever more strongly: bound as colleagues, patrons, friends, lovers, and kindred both by blood and choice. Or rather, more of this web is revealed to the reader, for Margerit and Barbara and their friends are only dipping into a vast river that has always flowed through their lives. In the third book, Mother of Souls, that web is harnessed to support each other in their endeavors: a college, an opera, protecting the very future of Alpennia.

Women’s ties and friendships often go overlooked, both in history and in literature. But because the very premise of my stories was to focus on women’s lives and their relationships to each other, it was easy and natural to bring these elements to the fore. Not that men have no place in the stories--far from it. They feature strongly as allies and adversaries. But the nature of early 19th century European society sets barriers between the lives of men and women that make the quality of the interactions distinct.

I didn’t consciously choose the setting of my story for this purpose, though my own historic interests made it a natural outgrowth. It’s hard to know who we are unless we know who we have been. So many aspects of the lives of women--and particularly of women who love women--have been dismissed or erased from the histories we are fed. Yet the traces and clues are there to follow and to build on. Although I write fiction, it is not necessary to invent whole-cloth to participate in the creation of a usable history of women’s lives and lesbian lives. Fortunately, the roads are better paved and more clearly marked these days than they were when I first started writing in the late ‘70s. My own preference is to ground my historic fiction in fact, not in wishful thinking. (Well, ok, except for the bits with magic.) And in this I am grateful to my own “web of women”: Judith Bennett, Lillian Faderman, Emma Donoghue, Barbara Hanawalt, Sahar Amer, Bernadette J. Brooten, Lotte C. van de Pol, Harriette Andreadis, Judith Brown, Valerie R. Hotchkiss, Carol J. Clover, Helena Whitbread, Edith Benkov, Jacqueline Murray, and so many others (whom I don’t mean to slight by this very partial listing, nor do I mean to slight the male scholars whose work has been useful).

One of the difficulties of writing the lives of lesbians--whether real or fictional--in history is to situate them in the context of a “community of the mind” of women-identified women. Without that context, it is hard to avoid an endless series of coming-out stories: “What is this thing I’m feeling? I must be the Only One!” That may have been the experience for many women, but when presented as the norm or as the only voice it becomes a dreary disempowering monotony. In writing the Alpennian novels, it was important to me to choose to write from that subset of stories where my characters operate within a history and a community, not only as women, but specifically as women who love other women. Historic fiction has a great power to grant the reader a share in ownership of the past. Daughter of Mystery may be meant to entertain, it is also meant to claim that ownership.
marthawells: (Reading)
This is an old post I did back in 2011, and I wanted to repost it for the Storybundle ( curated by Melissa Scott, which has The Death of the Necromancer and Between Worlds: the Collected Ile-Rien and Cineth Stories.

This is about when The Death of the Necromancer was first sold to a publisher, and how a rogue copyeditor tried to take out Reynard, who was gay.

Don’t Let Then Take Your Reynards

The Death of the Necromancer, published in 1998, was my third novel, and my first with a new publisher, Avon Eos. Everything went fine through the editorial process, right up until I received the copyedit, and found that one of the major supporting characters, Captain Reynard Morane, had been all but removed from the book. And it happened that Reynard was gay.

I’d worked hard on Reynard, and I liked him a lot. He had started out as a template. I wanted the main character, Nicholas Valiarde, to be Ile-Rien’s version of Moriarty, and Reynard was his Colonel Sebastian Moran. But in the writing, Reynard emerged immediately as funny and kind to his friends and deadly to his enemies. The one guy in the room that everybody knew they really didn’t want to get in a fight with. A very good soldier, a very good friend, and a very sexual person. He was kind of a weird combination of Oscar Wilde and Oliver Reed, but unlike Oscar Wilde he wasn’t going to come to a bad end because of a love affair. He was a little too old and too experienced and too much of a serial monogamist to fall too hard for anybody. I wanted him to be the polar opposite of the stereotypical gay character who suffers and dies because of his forbidden whatever, and to end the book better off than the other characters.

(One digression, for those who don’t know about the publishing process. The editor, usually the person who has acquired the book for the publisher, is the one who edits the book and suggests changes to improve plot, characterization, and other major elements. The copyeditor is the person who reads the book after it’s in its near-final form and checks for things like grammar, spelling, continuity, and style.)

By the time I got the copyedit, I had already revised The Death of the Necromancer based on the editor’s comments and things I realized I needed to fix, so the copyedit should have had only minor changes at best.

(To give you an idea how minor, back then the copyedit was handwritten marks done on the actual printed manuscript. The copyedited manuscript was shipped by mail to the author who would go through it and accept some of the copyeditor’s changes, stet others (an instruction that means the original text is supposed to be that way and to leave it alone) and handwrite additional changes on the pages. Then you ship it back and the publisher would take the whole thing and type it in, it would be printed in galley form (the actual printed pages that you see in books) and then shipped back to the author for a final proofread.)

But this copyedit came back with massive alterations handwritten on the manuscript, with bad grammar and incorrect word choices inserted, weird demands for all sorts of things to be explained that didn’t need to be explained (like the color of the tablecloth in a room description, or the main character’s choice of beverage), and odd demands for rewrites. (The copyeditor wanted me to rewrite one section because she thought it was too cold for the characters to be outside.)

(The publisher really doesn’t want you to rewrite the manuscript during the copyedit. They really, really don’t, to the point that there are sometimes clauses in the contracts stipulating what percentage of the manuscript can be changed during the copyedit. And they really don’t want a copyeditor to tell you to do rewrite.)

There were a lot of seemingly random deletions of descriptions, including whole scenes, conversations and other things you needed to understand the plot, but the thing that stood out to me was that Reynard’s dialogue had been all but excised from the book, and that the cuts to his part had started after it became apparent to the reader that Reynard was gay.

He was important to the plot in a number of ways and helped uncover some of the information that let Nicholas and Madeleine, the other viewpoint characters, solve the mystery before the Necromancer kills them. In the copyeditor’s expurgated version of the book, Reynard is still around for the first couple of chapters, but after the point where it was made clear that Reynard is gay, suddenly his dialogue was all marked as deleted.

The conclusion I instantly snapped to was that Reynard had been removed for his sexuality. Of course, I don’t know for certain if that was the case and I sure can’t prove it. I never found out why the copyeditor did what she did, or why she thought she could get away with it, if she thought it was really her job. (And some of the things she did were really strange, not like she had never read a fantasy novel before and didn’t understand the genre, but like she had never read fiction before.) But on that day, I would have sworn in court that Reynard was deleted because he was gay.

And it amounted to the same thing. He was gay and he was gone.

Would have been gone. It turned out fine. For my first two books I hadn’t encountered a problem even remotely like this, and this was my first time with this publisher, and I panicked. During a semi-hysterical sleepless night I carefully assembled a list of everything that was wrong with the copyedit, wrote down what I was going to say so I could pretend to be calm on the phone, then called my editor in the morning. I made it through maybe two items on my list before she stopped me. (Actually, she started laughing. I think it was the one where the copyeditor told me I couldn’t say that an evil sorcerer was buried in the crossroads because it was “a Christian concept.”)

The editor asked me if I could just stet everything, but I thought the book really needed a real copyedit, and it hadn’t gotten one. I sent back the mutilated manuscript and the editor ended up throwing out that copyedit entirely and having it redone, so everything was fine and my version of The Death of the Necromancer (with Reynard intact) was the one that got published. And the book ended up on the 1999 Nebula ballot.

This was an extreme case, and if I had been so dumb as to let this go by, my editor (who liked Reynard just fine) would have noticed that something had gone terribly wrong. (The copyedited expurgated version of the book was half the size it was supposed to be, for one thing.)

But I guess my point is, it’s your book, and don’t let anybody take your Reynards out of it.

(Note: Reynard appears again in "Night at the Opera," a new story in Between Worlds: the Collected Ile-Rien and Cineth Stories, and it was a lot of fun for me to make his acquaintance again. Both books are in the Storybundle ( along with several other fabulous books, and it’s an opportunity to make a donation to Girls Write Now and Mighty Writers.)


Wednesday, July 20th, 2016 07:23 am
marthawells: (Default)

I have two books in a DRM-free Storybundle curated by Melissa Scott!

Melissa says:
In this collection I've been able to bring together an extraordinary group of writers who draw their inspiration from Western history, in periods from Ancient Egypt through the Second World War. There are classics like the World Fantasy Award-nominated Lord of the Two Lands and the Nebula-nominated Death of the Necromancer, and newer novels like Daughter of Mystery and The Emperor's Agent — and Stag and Hound, just released in April. What these novels have in common, across these very different periods, is a depth to and delight in their worlds, in the precise detail and pitch-perfect moment that not only propels the story, but makes it utterly, dazzlingly real.

The initial titles in The Historical Fantasy Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells
The Emperor's Agent by Jo Graham
Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones
The Virtuous Feats of the Indomitable Miss Trafalgar and the Erudite Lady Boon e by Geonn Cannon
The Orffyreus Wheel by David Niall Wilson

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus six more:

The Armor of Light by Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett
Steel Blues by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham
Between Worlds by Martha Wells
PIllar of Fire by Judith Tarr
Lord of the Two Lands by Judith Tarr
Stag and Hound by Geonn Cannon

The bundle is available only for a limited time via It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It's also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

• Get quality reads: We've chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
• Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth to you. If you can only spare a little, that's fine! You'll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
• Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there's nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
• Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Mighty Writers and Girls Write now.
• Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you'll get the bonus books!

Books for Monday

Monday, July 18th, 2016 07:41 am
marthawells: (Reading)
* Preorder: Everfair by Nisi Shawl
Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Fabian Socialists from Great Britian join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo's "owner," King Leopold II.

* Dead of Light by Chaz Brenchley
When Ben walked away from his family and the criminal life, he thought it would be forever. But then the talent begins to wake up in Ben. And his family starts to die, one by one, in vicious, gruesome, horrible deaths. There's someone in the city with as much talent as the Macallans, and they're using it to kill Ben's family.

* Time Siege by Wesley Chu
James has allies, scientists he rescued from previous centuries: Elise Kim, who believes she can renew Earth, given time; Grace Priestly, the venerated inventor of time travel herself; Levin, James's mentor and former pursuer, now disgraced; and the Elfreth, a population of downtrodden humans who want desperately to believe that James and his friends will heal their ailing home world.

* The Devourers by Indra Das
On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

* Preorder: Congress of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis
The sinister forces that shattered Caroline's childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive? I've read this already and given it a blurb. Really excellent historical fantasy.

* Preorder: The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
Essun — once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger — has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

* Preorder: Cloudbound by Fran Wilde
With the Towers in disarray, without a governing body or any defense against the dangers lurking in the clouds, daily life is full of terror and strife. Naton, Kirit's wing-brother, sets out to be a hero in his own way--sitting on the new Council to cast votes protecting Tower-born, and exploring lower tiers to find more materials to repair the struggling City.

What I've been doing

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016 10:04 am
marthawells: (John and Ronon)
I've mostly been feeling depressed and anxious, and like I'm not getting anything done. Except I did finish a novella last month, and today I'll probably finish the first light revision of The Harbors of the Sun. It hasn't gone into editorial yet, so there will probably be more revisions in its future, but it's in better shape than it was.

I also finished and posted another story for the Raksura Patreon. This is part 2 of a Stone and Azure story. There's at least one more part to go. It's the 17th story of the Patreon.

My back is better, though I'm still getting some pain on my left side. I did go back to aerobics class again yesterday, though I used the lightest weights.

It's been over 100 here, and crazy high humidity, so I've been trying to keep my plants alive.

New Books Thursday

Thursday, July 7th, 2016 08:37 am
marthawells: (Reading)
* Drinking Gourd by Barbara Hambly
The latest Benjamin January historical mystery
Benjamin January is called up to Vicksburg, deep in cotton-plantation country, to help a wounded “conductor” of the Underground Railroad – the secret network of safe-houses that guide escaping slaves to freedom. When the chief "conductor" of the "station" is found murdered, Jubal Cain – the coordinator of the whole Railroad system in Mississippi – is accused of the crime. Since Cain can’t expose the nature of his involvement in the railroad, January has to step in and find the true killer, before their covers are blown.

* Short story: The Red Thread by Sofia Samatar

* Bone Garden by Amanda Downum
Erisin is a haunted city, and her specters are hungry. When demons prowl the streets of Oldtown, preying on the poor and the weak, a young actor must face the ghosts of his past and of his family to protect his new home.

* Defying Doomsday, edited by Tsana Dolichva
Defying Doomsday is an anthology of apocalypse fiction featuring disabled and chronically ill protagonists, proving it's not always the "fittest" who survive - it's the most tenacious, stubborn, enduring and innovative characters who have the best chance of adapting when everything is lost.

* Short Story: Iron Aria by A. Merc Rustad

* Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond
When an invitation to join the Cirque American mistakenly falls into Moira’s possession, she takes action. Instead of giving the highly coveted invitation to its intended recipient, Raleigh, her father’s handsome and worldly former apprentice, Moira takes off to join the Cirque. If she can perform alongside its world-famous acts, she knows she'll be able to convince her dad that magic is her future.

* Short Story: Whatever Else by J. Kathleen Cheney

* Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She's great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss's epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

* Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine
Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart. Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

Audiobook Contest!

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016 08:11 am
marthawells: (Reading)

I have five codes to give away for free downloads of the audiobook of The Edge of Worlds, narrated by Chris Kipiniak, from You can listen to a sample here.

To enter: Comment on this post (at Live Journal, Dreamwidth, or the GoodReads feed) and tell me why you want it. (The drawing is random and I'm not judging you, it just makes it more interesting to read the entries that way.) You'll also be able to enter on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, but please only enter once (in total, not once on each site).

I'll be drawing the winners on Friday morning, July 1, 2016.

(I'd also really appreciate it if people left reviews, on Amazon, B&N, GoodReads, or LibraryThing (or just added the book to their lists there) but it isn't necessary to enter or win.)

News of Me

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016 09:49 am
marthawells: (Miko)
My back is doing much better, and yesterday I was able to drive for the first time in a couple weeks. I may try to get to the grocery store today.

I finished a 30,000 word SF novella and sent it off to my agent, so we'll see what she thinks about its prospects. I still have to do one more revision of The Harbors of the Sun before it gets turned in, and that should take up most of July.

Also finished and posted part one of a multipart Stone and Azure story for the Raksura Patreon.

If you missed it, the audiobook version of The Edge of Worlds was released early this month.


Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 07:48 am
marthawells: (Miko)
* False Hearts by Laura Lam
Laura Lam's adult sci-fi debut False Hearts: Two formerly conjoined sisters are ensnared in a murderous plot involving psychoactive drugs, shared dreaming, organized crime, and a sinister cult.

* Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
When Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for her unconventional tactics, Kel Command gives her a chance to redeem herself, by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles from the heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake: if the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

* Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia McKillip
Bestselling author Patricia A. McKillip (The Riddle-Master of Hed) is one of the most lyrical writers gracing the fantasy genre. With the debut of her newest work, Dreams of Distant Shores is a true ode to her many talents. Within these pages you will find a youthful artist possessed by both his painting and his muse and seductive travelers from the sea enrapturing distant lovers. The statue of a mermaid comes suddenly to life, and two friends are transfixed by a haunted estate.

* Lilith Links by J.L. Clark
Suddenly, Sophia is thrust into a world that she never knew existed, and finds herself in the middle of an ancient struggle between good and evil. Time is against her as she and her new friends struggle to take possession of a powerful magic before it falls into the wrong hands.

* Lullaby for a Lost World by Aliette de Bodard
Charlotte died to shore up her master’s house. Her bones grew into the foundation and pushed up through the walls, feeding his power and continuing the cycle. As time passes and the ones she loved fade away, the house and the master remain, and she yearns ever more deeply for vengeance.

* League of Dragons by Naomi Novik
Napoleon’s invasion of Russia has been roundly thwarted. But even as Capt. William Laurence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the retreating enemy through an unforgiving winter, Napoleon is raising a new force, and he’ll soon have enough men and dragons to resume the offensive. While the emperor regroups, the allies have an opportunity to strike first and defeat him once and for all—if internal struggles and petty squabbles don’t tear them apart.

Novella: The Dinosaur Hunters by Patrick Samphire
Mars in 1815 is a world of wonders, from the hanging ballrooms of Tharsis City to the air forests of Patagonian Mars, and from the ice caves of Noachis Terra to the Great Wall of Cyclopia, beyond which dinosaurs still roam.


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