Alyx Dellamonica

Stormwrack and Sophie – your questions

Posted on February 9, 2015 by

(null)Now that I have a shiny new cover for A Daughter of No Nation, I asked if anyone had any questions about the upcoming book, which’ll be out in November.

And Paul Weimer did! He asks:

Is Sophie’s brother coming back?

Yes. Bram is in both A Daughter of No Nation (or, sometimes, ADoNN) and the third book, whose tentative title is The Nature of a Pirate.

How much time takes place between the end of Child of a Hidden Sea and the beginning of ADoNN?

The second book picks up about six months after Sophie’s deportation from the Fleet at the end of CHS.

Will we ever see a map? (you knew I needed to ask that)…

Honestly, I don’t know. I have hopes that it’ll happen one day… but as you probably remember, there’s so much ocean on Stormwrack, and so little land, that any full map of the planet would look like a blue sphere with green pimples. Also, since I am completely incapable of drawing one, some assistance will be required. A better bet is getting maps of some of the great nations, one day: Sylvanna, for example, and Verdanii. I don’t think there’s going to be a map in this book, though.

What new characters are you most excited to introduce us to?

Hmmm, who’s the most exciting new character in the second novel? We do see a little more of Sweet, who has been promoted up from her bosun’s assistant position on Nightjar, and you meet Watts, a doctor they pick up en route in this second book. I think the most fun I had with characters you haven’t seen previously was probably with a certain monk on Issle Morta, who has some strongly held opinions about Garland Parrish’s life and career choices.

You also get a quick look at Sophie’s adoptive parents, Regina and Cornell Hansa.

Paul, thank you for the questions! And the floor’s still open, everyone–what else do you all want to know?

A Daughter of No Nation, cover art and preorder pages

Posted on February 3, 2015 by

(null)As many of you will have already seen on Facebook and elsewhere, Tor has revealed the finished cover for the hardcover edition of A Daughter of No Nation, which will be out this November. The illustration was done by Cynthia Sheppard, and shows Nightjar, with Sophie, sailing into the harbor at Lamentation, which is the main port on Issle Morta. (It’s not the capital, mind; I’ll have to take you all to Hell on some other occasion.)

That’s right, folks–Parrish is going home in this novel, at least for a quick hit-and-run visit!

I’ve linked to the Amazon pre-order page above. You can also order early via Indigo (though they don’t have the cover up yet.) So does Powell’s.

I should be turning in the third Sophie Hansa novel, NATURE OF A PIRATE, to my editor at Tor quite soon. But first I have pages for the paperback edition of Child of a Hidden Sea to proofread; that will be out in June. What’s more, I’ve been putting a shine on a submission for this James Bond-themed bad boy of an antho, out soon from ChiDunnit.

If you have questions about the sequel, shout ‘em out. I won’t spoil, but teasing isn’t out of the question.

New Story by Kelly – The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill

Posted on February 2, 2015 by

Clarkesworld, February 2014, containing "The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill" by Kelly Robson.

Clarkesworld, February 2014, containing “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” by Kelly Robson.

Clarkesworld Issue #101 is live, with stories by Nicola Griffith, Greg Van Eekhout, Gwendolyn Clare, Kristine Kathryn Rusch… and Kelly! Her story is called “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill,” it’s an absolutely bloodcurdling SF piece, and I hope you’ll all go read it immediately. (And also post glowing comments on the CW site while simultaneously tweeting it far and wide, and buying up Worldcon supporting memberships so you can nominate it for Hugos and her for the Campbell.)

Yes, I’m wildly partisan. So what? I may be superproud, but it’s an effing great story. You won’t be sorry you read it.

If you’d like to know more about how this particular story came to be, check out Kelly’s blog post here. If you want to see what other treasures she has in store for you this year, at places like Tor.com and Asimov’s, the full list is here.

For those of you who live in Toronto who might like to hear Kelly read, and to bask in her deservedly infectious joy at her 2014-2015 writing achievements, she’ll be appearing at the ChiSeries Toronto reading on  Feb. 19th, 8pm at the ROUND Venue at 152A Augusta Avenue in the Kensington Market.

Peer review and workshopping novels

Posted on January 26, 2015 by

imageWriting is, to a great degree, learned through trial and error. But errors can be hard to identify – especially as a writer starts to be pretty good at the basics. Once things start to go subtly wrong with a person’s work, it becomes obvious there’s no single right answer as to how to fix a given challenge within a manuscript.
Part of the answer, of course, is to find a group of peers with good reading skills and the same need to have outside eyes laid on their work. People with goodwill, a story in progress, and an understanding that half of critiquing is about helping the author fix their work and the other half is about cultivating your own critical sense so you can better address your own.
With short story critique groups, there’s a rhythm that can work quite well: new writers submit a story to a workshop, everyone critiques it, and then everyone goes home to hopefully rewrite the piece before sending it to market. When they return, it’s generally with another piece. There’s a fresh start. This is how Clarion and Odyssey and a number of other workshops are configured. (There’s an article in Wired about the SF workshops this week, by the way. I found it a bit shallow, and the comments thread may make you blind with rage, but some of the actual interview responses are interesting.)
With novel workshops, the logistics get much trickier. If you submit your first three chapters, and get a bunch of feedback, do you then revise those chapters? If you do, do you submit them again to make sure they’re working? If they’re not, do you revise and resubmit them again? That’s just an ornate way of never getting the book finished.
On the other hand, it can feel very weird to submit chapter one, get feedback, try then to use that feedback to write a better chapter two. (Next you submit that, and try to use the next round of feedback to inform chapters three and four.) This gets your novel done–and I am a huge fan of done! But drawback can be that if you are truly improving your craft as you go, the last chapters of the book may be significantly better-written than the opening ones. This leaves you to discover, four or five hundred pages later, whether you’re up to the task of revising. You are drafting better, which is great, but can you raise something you wrote six months ago to the level of what you’re creating now?
Additionally, the plunge-forward system doesn’t address any huge structural changes you decide to make along the way. When you turn the guy who was formerly the love interest into the main character’s brother, around about chapter five, the question arises again… do you go back and tweak this before moving forward?
Okay, so what if you got a dozen writers together and they all managed to submit a completed novel draft on the same day… make it November 30th. You could then set some kind of reading period–one book every two or three weeks–and trade off so that each participant was getting one critique during each round. But how to get a dozen writers to all finish their book on the same day? I chose November 30th because it’s the end of Nanowrimo, but most Nanowrimo projects would require considerable massaging before they were workshop-ready.
There are other logistical challenges with novel-in-progress workshops, but these are some of the things I’m mulling right now.
Has any of you been in a novel group that worked? How was it structured?

Nesting, day 277

Posted on January 25, 2015 by

Faux Headboard

Kelly and I have been in our home near the Art Gallery of Ontario for 275 days as of today, and while we’re counting things I’ll add that we got the cats 252 days ago. (Yes, I derive insane amounts of pleasure from the Days Until app.) Obviously we settled in quite quickly, especially as it was such a small move compared to the one in 2013.

Still, it takes awhile to sort out all the little bits and pieces, to make everything cozy and satisfying. We had trips and company and more trips; it took awhile to nail down a bunch of little annoyances, like patching a hole in the counter, fixing the floor and getting the closet door fixed. Actually, we obliged a recent guest to do that last thing for us. Thank you, Bill!

Something that has helped lately was Kelly’s having discovered Posterjack, an Ontario company that makes it ludicrously easy to get nice framed prints of some of our favorite photos.

Last week we hung three photos we took while rambling around Italy… how many days ago did we leave? Oh, a mere 1139! The first is an earthquake-damaged fresco in the Palazzo dei Normanni, otherwise known as the Sicilian parliament. The second is on display at Il Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. The third is a bit of street art, also from Naples, that Kelly shot while we were wandering around on New Year’s Day.

Speaking of Naples, Italy, and the Archeological Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum is getting Pompeii artifacts this June. Witness their glee!

They’re excited. I’m excited. Are you excited? One hundred and thirty-nine sleeps!

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