marthawells: (SGA Team)
I had a fabulous time at the writers signing and tea at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio this weekend, and they still have plenty of signed books there. The weather even cooperated by not raining and flooding while we were driving there.

I finished off the next snippet for the Raksura Patreon, and it'll be posted on November 17. It turned out about twice as long as the first one. I also got the ARC proofread for The Edge of Worlds, and the ARCs should be out soon (actual book is out in April 2016). And I'm working on the sequel now, which still needs a title.

I had a nostalgia moment and went back and read Stargate Atlantis: Entanglement, which came out in 2007 and that I hadn't looked at since 2006. It's one of those books that has somewhat bad associations for me, for a variety of reasons, because of what was going on in my life at the time, and how bad my depression and anxiety became in those years. I was surprised how much fun it was to read it, and remember how much I enjoyed writing those characters in that story, and how fun it was to work out the plot.


* N.K. Jemisin: A snippet cut from The Fifth Season

* Mary Robinette Kowal: Sometimes Writer's Block is really Depression

* The Annual Book Fair for Ballou High School has started!
Every year, Guys Lit Wire lends its platform to host a book fair for Ballou. Working with librarian Melissa Jackson and her students, we build a wish list of titles they need and then ask the internet to buy a book (or 2) (or more) and send some joy their way. It's quick and it's easy and for book lovers in particular, it's a no-brainer.

We all know that books matter to kids, and we all know why buying books for teens who do not have wide access to them is a smart investment in our world's future. For Ballou, the school fund for book purchases is not large and as a Washington Post article showed earlier this year, the dollars for books in DC often go to wealthier neighborhoods. Also, when they get money schools like Ballou are often not able to purchase the sort of fun or seemingly frivolous titles that teens would really to read. That is where the Guys Lit Wire Book Fair for Ballou comes in. We buy the books the kids ask for, plain and simple.

* Patrick Rothfuss' Worldbuilders 2015 has started! This is a massive fundraiser for Heifer International, and you can donate and be entered in drawings for tons of signed books and other great prizes.
marthawells: Cover for the Cloud Roads, Art by Matthew Stewart (The Cloud Roads 2)
There is an interview with me here at Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds Blog. You will probably find out more about me than you want to know.


The Serpent Sea also got listed here on, as one of the staff picks at Bakka Phoenix, the big SF/F bookstore in Toronto. It's in very good company.


I don't have much else to report. What I'm mostly doing is trying to figure out what book to write next. Plus trying to think of a title for the third Raksura book. Plus trying to finish up a prequel short story for The Cloud Roads about Chime.

Notes about buying stuff: Amazon and Barnes and Noble online seem to be having some sort of weird .10 increment price war over The Serpent Sea trade paperback. Right now B&N is winning at $9.29, so if you wanted to get it cheap, this might be a good time.

Also, my second Stargate Atlantis novel Entanglement is now being sold on the B&N Nook. It's been available on Kindle, but this is the first time I've seen it on Nook, and it's cheap. (I don't know if Reliquary will also be on Nook; I have no control over it so if you want it your best bet is to email the publisher and ask.)
marthawells: (John Sheppard)
Good news: My laptop is fixed! It was really good that we were actually in a city with an Apple Store, because it would have been a pain in the ass to do this at home via mail, phone, etc. As it was, we just made an appointment at the Genius Bar in the Galleria store, then when it was our turn I set the exploded battery (see previous post) on the counter and said, "So, this happened," and they said, "Free battery for you!" and that was it.

My signing at Murder by the Book also went very well, as usual there. We had cookies, I did a brief reading from chapter one of The Cloud Roads, answered a few questions, signed books, signed stock, and the books that had been bought via email, then hung out and talked a bit with friends. My only regret was that I was kind of frazzled from worrying about the laptop and so on, and couldn't concentrate enough on the used book sale the store was having to find anything I wanted. It's a fabulous store with a giant selection of new and used mysteries, plus some new YA and SF/F, and I highly recommend it. They still have some signed copies of The Cloud Roads and you can buy one by emailing or calling the store, if you can't get there in person.

I also have a new post at The Night Bazaar this morning, called Writing Media Tie-ins. I wrote about my two Stargate: Atlantis books, and my huge love for SF/F TV and fanfic and media fiction.
marthawells: (Atlantis II)
We had a great time at ConDFW. Both panels I was on went really well.

In the panel on writing workshops, Tim Powers talked about how he sometimes thinks it would be more helpful if the person whose story is being critiqued was not present, that the focus could be on critiquers learning how to critique, seeing mistakes they make in their own writing, and so on. I think that's an important part of workshops, but I also think it helps people to learn how to take criticism (which they're going to get a lot of if they intend to try to be professional writers) and how to be more objective about their work, and to have a thicker skin and a less tender ego. It's always very frustrating to me when someone in a workshop who has one of the best stories freaks out at minor criticism.

The steampunk panel discussed it as both an art movement and a literature, talked about how aspects of it can appear in just about any genre, gave a lot of examples of recent steampunk-ish works (I recommended Kate Elliot's Cold Magic) and ended with the point that it doesn't have to be euro-centric. I think making it only euro-centric is a failure of imagination. And we talked about what airships invented by ancient Egyptians would look like. (Airships invented in ancient China or India would also be pretty darn cool. Airships invented in pretty much any ancient civilization would be pretty darn cool.) Mark Finn told us about Zeppelin Stories, June 1926, featuring a story called "The Gorilla of the Gasbags" which is almost too awesomely strange to believe actually existed, but you know, there it is.

All the copies of The Cloud Roads in the dealers room sold out, which made me very happy. Troyce also bought me a present from the art show, a really neat leather bracelet with metal wings, made by Beverly Hale. We went out for a couple of very good dinners, including one to Benihana, where our friend Paul had the largest beer in all the land.

And I bought this very cool Stargate: Atlantis t-shirt! My parents went to (Atlantis gate address) and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. They had a couple of other Stargate designs too, but that was the one I liked best.

And Patrice Sarath took a picture of me at my reading.
marthawells: (Miko)
It's been below freezing here since Tuesday night, and yesterday most of the state was having rolling blackouts to try to conserve power. I didn't get one at home, probably because our house is close to both a high school and a hospital. (Though the steam heating plant at the university was down for several hours yesterday.) There's a winter storm warning starting at noon, so I need to get to the post office before then.


Good way to keep up with events in Egypt: Al Jazeera English on Twitter They're also posting stories on the cyclone in Australia.

When you need a break, two links from the Henson company: Jim Henson's Red Book In June 1965, 28-year-old Jim Henson started a written log of his activities in what became known as “The Red Book.” He noted down what had happened up until that point (deemed “Ancient History”) and then recorded anything that he felt was worth recording as single line journal entries until the end of 1988.

Neat t-shirts from Stargate: Atlantis, Farscape, and tons of other shows.

From Facebook: The Star Wars Weather Forecast for Your City At the moment, we're Hoth, though normally we're a weird hybrid of Endor and Tatooine.

From Rick Klaw: Photos of the Moebius exhibition in Paris
marthawells: Atlantis in fog (Atlantis)
It's in the 40s this morning. Now instead of a warm drought, we're having a cold drought. I really hope some of the rest of the country's snow comes down here as rain, but at the moment, that doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon. It's supposed to warm up to the 70s again by Wednesday.

We got the tree decorated, though we can't find the thing that the blinky lights need to plug into. I wanted to string some more lights around the living room, but we were out, so I had to dig into the Halloween closet to find some green ones that at least look pseudo-Christmassy. Yes, we have like three boxes of Christmas decorations to an entire closet of Halloween decorations. I had to move an electric witch head ball and a flying gargoyle to go through two boxes to find the lights. And I can't turn on the light in the closet, because then all the battery-powered light/motion activated stuff will go off. And nobody wants that to happen.

I think I want to take a break today and haul out Food Network magazine and make some cookies.

Some links:

Sharon Lee: PSA - What Authors Do Because you can't repeat this enough.

Neat art at CoolVibe: We Found the Gate to..., Winter is Coming, Aquapolis, Seasonscape, Floating Palace, Floating Isle

ETA: some more: Naria City (this one reminds me of Stargate: Atlantis, the scenes where they landed inside a hive ship), Misty Swamps, Inside the Forest
marthawells: (Manly Hug)
I think I cycled through every possible variety of anxiety dream last night. Not fun. This included the one where I'm in a house or apartment alone at night and can't get the outside door to lock, or it keeps breaking, there are complicated locks that don't work right, etc.

I often have very elaborate house dreams, or dreams about very elaborate houses. Not always expensive or lavish ones, just houses I've never seen in a lot of detail. Some of them need renovations. (I know where that part of the dream comes from.) The houses are always places I've never seen before, but sometimes I have dream versions of places I've been. I have a mental version of the university I went to that I go back to in dreams quite a bit. It's Escher-like with a side order of The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, but still recognizably based on the real place.

There were a lot of good suggestions for older children's books in my post on Friday.


Charity Auction: For SGA fans: Joe Flanigan supports Sarah Geary Last year, our dear friend Sarah was diagnosed with ALS. ... Our mission is simple. We want to slow down the progression of Sarah's disease by providing her with the best quality of care she can receive. But, for this, we need your help.

They're auctioning off John Sheppard's skateboard from Stargate: Atlantis and a lunch in LA with Joe Flanigan and David Hewlett.

Escstatic Days: The Apex Book of World SF Volume 2 Table of Contents Stories from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Cuba, New Zealand, Russia, Israel, Singapore, Mexico and more.

World SF: Apex Magazine to Host Special Arab/Muslim issue in November
marthawells: (John Sheppard)
I'm taking Bella to the vet in about half an hour for her gastrointestinal issue. Hopefully I can get her into the carrier without having to take any beds apart. She's one of those cats who can look at you and just know you are thinking about the vet. I'm getting nervous just typing this.

Fifteen Geeky Home Theaters Including a Stargate: Atlantis one! These are awesome.

Link from Bill Crider: Sci-fi illustrations by Shigeru Komatsuzaki This is awesome old-school 60s and 70s SF art.

The world's largest maze.

A Kickstarter funding project for Panverse Publishing, a tiny new publisher with a critically-acclaimed SF/F anthology series focusing on new writers.
marthawells: (Reliquary)
I'm kind of rushed this morning, and my comment notifications seem to be coming in really slowly and out of order, so it may be a while before I get to them.

[personal profile] sorka42 asked: When writing a book based in a franchise, like you did for SGA: Reliquary, how much creative license are you given? I assume you have guide lines you have to follow, like not killing off main characters. But how much freedom are you given in the creative process?

I was given complete creative license, except for one instruction not to kill off any canon characters. That was it. No guidelines, nobody telling me what to write or what not to write. I had to turn in a five page outline to MGM before writing the book, but the editor said it was basically just a formality. I don't know if anybody read it or not; I didn't get any feedback on it.

A person from MGM did read and approve the book -- the only suggestions she made were a few copyediting ones, where she found some typos and missing words. It was the same for Entanglement, though in it she pointed out a mistake I'd made about the way the jumper should work, which was very helpful.

I also didn't get any extra information about the series or what future plans were. All I had to work with were the first season episodes as they aired on TV. (And I didn't even have most of them on tape, since I was planning to get the DVD set when it came out, and I didn't know then I'd be writing the book.)

The main reason I approached the publisher and submitted a proposal was that Julie Fortune (who wrote SG-1: Sacrifice Moon) had said that the publisher did give you complete creative control. Some other franchises aren't like that, and do want a lot of control over the process and the story. Fandemonium didn't. If they had, I wouldn't have written the books, no matter how much I wanted to do a book for a TV show that I had fallen in love with. I've been a media fan/fanfic fan since the first Star Wars movie came out in 1977, and I grew up reading Star Trek and other movie tie-ins, but I just wouldn't want to write one if it couldn't be my book.

[personal profile] syntaxhorror asked: While we are talking about Ile-Rien and Death of the Necromancer. I'd personally love to read more about Arisilde, especially his youth. But is there any character/time/setting you'd be particularly interested in exploring further, and in that case why?

I like Arisilde a lot, but I don't think I'd set the story earlier than the events in Necromancer. I'd probably want to do a "what happens after" sequel set maybe a year or so later, with the characters having to face a new threat. Having them have to leave Ile-Rien and travel somewhere we hadn't seen before, like Bisra or Parscia or both, would be a big possibility, just because it would be interesting to develop more of their world. And hopefully a lot of fun. :)

Still taking writing questions here, about publishing or writing in general or my writing.
marthawells: (Wheel of the Infinite)
[profile] malimar asked: When you write a story about other people's characters, do you do anything special to make sure you know the characters well enough to write them? Do you ever worry that you'll never know the deepest minds of the characters as well as their original creators do?

Well, when I wrote the SGA characters, I was already familiar with the world from watching SG-1 for seven or eight years, and I had already watched the first season of SGA without knowing I'd be writing a book for it. (I got the book contract not long after the first season finished and I had finished writing it before the second season started.) I started taping the repeats so I could watch the episodes over and over again. (The show had grabbed me from the beginning, but I hadn't taped it before because I knew I'd be buying the DVD sets later, but they weren't out yet.)

I think all you can do is watch the show with a lot of attention, and try to put in as much of the actors' performances and interpretations and the writers' characterization as you possibly can. It's still going to be subjective; all characterization is subjective. It's an exploration that's going to change over time, just like with original characters.

Still taking writing questions.


We saw Julie & Julia last night, and Julia Child is fabulous! ETA: to clarify, it's a wonderful movie, totally worth it for the sections with Julia Child. minor character spoiler ) Must get My Life in France by Julia Child immediately.

I also read Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen. It's a mystery set in 1932, with the main character Georgianna, who is the daughter of a duke, 34th in line for the throne, and penniless. I liked it, especially that most of it takes place in Scotland at Rannoch and Balmoral, and you see a lot more of the cast of characters from the first book. I thought it should have been a bit longer, though, and I still like the first book, Her Royal Spyness the best.
marthawells: (SGA Team)
You guys are posting some great questions, and I'll definitely get to all of them.

[profile] supurnuva had also asked: 2. Is it difficult for you put your characters through bad events or write them doing bad things? Especially if you don't intend for them to have a happy ending later?

Yes, it is. I think if you don't care about your characters it's much harder to get your reader to care about them. If I'm going to kill somebody off, I usually have to psych myself up to it early in the book, so I don't wimp out at the last minute. And yes, it is harder if I know things aren't going to work out in the end.

[personal profile] grammarwoman asked: How did you get involved in writing books in the Stargate universe? Were you a fan first, or did that come after?

I was a fan first. I've been a media fan since around 1983, when The Empire Strikes Back came out and I got my first Star Wars fanzine. I loved the Stargate movie, but didn't get to see any SG-1 until the second season or so, when we were dying of summer TV doldrums and ended up getting Showtime just so we could watch it. Friday night was our big TV night for a while, when SG-1 and Farscape were both on. From seeing the previews, I was really looking forward to Stargate: Atlantis and watched the first season as it aired. After the first season was over, I happened to be talking to [profile] rachelcaine (who wrote the SG-1 novel Sacrifice Moon) about SG-1, Firefly, SGA, and our mutual love of other TV shows and she suggested I contact the publisher about doing a novel. I decided to do an SGA book rather than SG-1, since I'd fallen in love with the characters so recently.

I wouldn't be interested in doing a novel for a show I wasn't a huge fan of. Life is too short, and opportunities to write novels are too limited, to write about something I didn't love.

Still taking writing questions here.
marthawells: (John Eyes Closed)
You guys, I just got the most awesome present ever! [profile] heidi2524 sent me a photo taken at the SGA-SG1 convention in Vancouver, of Joe Flanigan holding a sign that says "Hi Martha." I've had a bad couple of weeks, and this was just the perfect thing. Yay, and thank you again, Heidi!


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