In my new release, The Water Thief, no one is exactly who they pretend to be, and nothing is quite as it seems. Set in both an alternate world where time has stood still for hundreds of years and a real-world contemporary setting, it’s part mystery, part m/m fantasy romance. Be forewarned that the MC is a very convincing cross-dresser, in case that's not your cup of tea.Read More
Next week is the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego. I've been planning to go for several months, and when I originally registered for the convention in March, I was just a fan, with no fantasy publications to my name. Since then, my novella The Devil's Garden was released in June, and my House of Arkhangel'sk series sold to Entangled Publishing, with the first book, The Fallen Queen, due out in December. So I'm sort of an author. I hear that in Bender's voice from The Breakfast Club, a la the following exchange:
Claire Standish: You know why guys like you knock everything? John Bender: Oh, this should be stunning. Claire Standish: It's because you're afraid. John Bender: Oh God, you richies are so smart, that's exactly why I'm not heavy into activities. Claire Standish: You're a big coward. Brian Johnson: I'm in the math club. Claire Standish: See, you're afraid that they won't take you, you don't belong, so you have to just dump all over it. John Bender: Well, it wouldn't have anything to do with you activities people being assholes, now would it? Claire Standish: Well, you wouldn't know, you don't even know any of us. John Bender: Well, I don't know any lepers, but I'm not going to run out and join one of their fucking clubs. Andrew Clark: Hey. Let's watch the mouth, huh? Brian Johnson: I'm in the physics club too. John Bender: Excuse me a sec. What are you babbling about? Brian Johnson: Well, what I had said was I'm in the math club, uh, the Latin, and the physics club... physics club. John Bender: Hey, Cherry. Do you belong to the physics club? Claire Standish: That's an academic club. John Bender: So? Claire Standish: So academic clubs aren't the same as other kinds of clubs. John Bender: Ah... but to dorks like him, they are. What do you guys do in your club? Brian Johnson: Well, in physics we... we talk about physics, properties of physics. John Bender: So it's sorta social, demented and sad, but social.
That's what I mean when I say "sort of an author"... not that my writing ability is in any way demented and sad, but that I'm kind of a dork on the outskirts of things, and I'm not really sure I'm fully entitled to the social club status that someone like Claire has, but, hey, I'm happy with who I am. (And might I add, yes, I was in the physics club in high school.)
So everyone who registers for WFC as an author gets this questionnaire asking if they want to be on a panel. Naturally, I said no. (I might have said, "HELL, no.") Then my lovely publicist, Cathy Yardley Wilson, encouraged me to sign up for panels. Knees knocking, I crawled back to the events coordinator at WFC (yes, I can crawl on knocking knees; I'm talented that way) and said, "um, yeah, so about that HELL, no...." I turned in my questionnaire, figuring it was too late by that point and I'd be safe.
Today, the program was posted on the WFC website, and I saw this:
Pacific 2/3: The Crystal Ceiling
Is there still a distinction between “women’s” and “men’s” fantasy and horror? Despite the power and importance of women fantasy and horror writers is much of the male community still dismissive of most female authors’ work? What about the number of female characters/protagonists? Do we see more of them lately in fiction written by men as well as women?
Kate Elliott, Charlaine Harris, Nancy Kilpatrick (M), Jane Kindred, Malinda Lo
Say what? Somebody accidentally put my name in there. Dammit, who's this other fantasy author with my name?
Oh, crap. I think that's me. Next to a bunch of real writers. I wonder if it would seem odd if I was really drunk at one o'clock in the afternoon?
Well, this is an appropriate card for a fantasy writer to pull. :)
Card of the Day: Seven of Cups, "Fantasy"
In the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg's Seven of Cups, the central figure is that of a serf observing cups overflowing with a wide array of fantastical objects: what might be imperial jewels; an unlikely dragon; the severed head of a despot, perhaps; the golden cupolas of an Orthodox cathedral; a viper ready to strike; a wreath of flowers; and a burst of fantastical stars floating off into the ether.
I think it's interesting to note (and you'll have to take my word for it, since you can only see it up close in these fabulously painted miniatures by Yuri Shakov) that his gaze is on the flowers: the essence of the Russian spirit, beauty from the land itself that a price cannot be put on, and something the poorest peasant might have for the taking. The serf seems least of all interested in the imperial jewels.
The general meaning of the Seven of Cups is about dreaming of what might be, and not focusing on what is. This isn't always a bad thing. Without our fantastical dreams, what would we writers be?
I think what the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg's Seven of Cups is saying is that the wildly out-of-reach dreams and the dark and frightening fantasies are irrelevant. Each of the other cups contain something the serf can never attain, or need never worry about. He keeps his eyes on the one thing he knows is within his grasp, a creation he can take pleasure in and one he can cultivate to bring beauty and joy to others.
When I first arrived in St. Petersburg in 2006 for my summer study abroad, this lovely sight greeted me on the balcony of my room:
They were just a few simple flowers, but it was a touching gesture and made me feel instantly at home. In Russia, it's important to give a gift to someone when you visit, as well as when someone comes to visit you. The people we met there shared with us happily though they had little to give. When it was time to return to the States at the end of this enchanting trip, my roommate and I wanted to give something to our "khaziayka," Yelena Volfovna, to thank her for her hospitality. Andi and I had both given Yelena chocolates when we arrived, and she laughed and showed us the cupboard full of chocolates from other students she'd hosted; she set them out every night with tea before bed to try to get us to eat them so she wouldn't get fat.
We ended up buying her flowers for our thank-you gift, and we didn't have much money left by the end of the trip, so it was a very small bouquet (you can just barely see them in the bottom left in the picture, and you can also see the typical painting of flowers on the wall behind Yelena). Yet she was moved when we gave them to her, as if we'd brought her two dozen red roses.
The lesson of the Seven of Cups is something I needed a particular reminder of right now. Today I received the official ebook copy of The Devil's Garden, and while it ought to have made me jump for joy, instead I focused on the imperfections of the words that are now permanently set in type, and on the pieces of my dream that I haven't yet attained. I have to try to remember that it's just a little story I put down in words to entertain someone. It doesn't have to be perfect. It can't be perfect. I'm never going to have the imperial jewels of literary talent, nor do I need them. I just need to keep cultivating what I do have and enjoy sharing the simple pleasures of my gift.
So much more easily said than done.
A fabulous group of fantasy, paranormal romance, and steampunk authors at Carina Press have recently joined together to create Here Be Magic. You'll find me in good company there, with some fantastic writers published or soon-to-be published by Carina Press and elsewhere. Look for my first post on New Year's Eve. I'll be blogging about endings and beginnings.