Author Stuff

Nanowrimo—National Novel Writing Month—starts in November. A friend recently asked what this was, and I—somewhat cheekily—replied: “It’s what we call a ‘workday,’ but everyone else makes a month-long ordeal out of it.” I re-enabled my account, and discovered that last year’s effort was supposed to be the start of ETERNAL QUEEN ONE, and I logged all of 3K before I wandered off to do something else. And the site design now supports a decade plus of badges and icons and stuff, which makes me wonder how far back my own efforts go.

Spelunking the archives turned up the following conversation in 2004, about that year’s project: I have a children’s book writer who burned out and is living in Montana as a survivalist as my protagonist.  He wrote a series of books about a goat named Barnabas.  His last manuscript (which was never published and is partially why he went nuts) was:  Barnabas and the Apocalypse.  The tagline read:  “Where Barnabas stares into the Great Abyss and the Great Abyss stares back.”

In 2003, I pitched a process blog to go along with that year’s entry (THE BOOK OF LIES). The archives of that effort (called SYMBOLIC) are still out there. THE BOOK OF LIES was something that wasn’t supposed to be a CODEX book, but after a few iterations, I realized it was better positioned as such, and changed some names. Bits and pieces, catalogued as ANGEL TONGUE, still rattle around my head, but they’ve felt like old parts that didn’t fit anymore. However, now that I’m looking at them again (like, perhaps, the entry on the Lunar Society), they may be the right parts for the project and I’ve just been hanging on to the wrong schematic these last few years.

And then I went dark until 2007 or so, and even then it was all CODEX rewrites, POTEMKIN, and unfinished efforts at a SPRAWL book. FOREWORLD in 2010. EARTH THIRST in 2011. It seems like there is other wreckage along the way. Perhaps I will crawl through the archives further. Now is the time to write books, after all . . .

Ghost Games


Tomorrow night, the Cabiri begin their run of Ghost Games: 13 Witches, their yearly dinner theater show of spooky tales and aerialist magic. I had a chance to sit in on a pre-performance discussion about the upcoming show last weekend, where we got to see a beautiful performance celebrating the three faces of Hecate. White-gowned initiates spinning and performing on a triangular platform. In sync with their poses and movements until the very end, when they break free and create a form that both rises and descends through the triangular form.


All I can offer you is picture of a shadow of the platform and one of the altars. Fitting, I think, for the ephemeral nature of these performances by the Cabiri. This year’s performance concerns the power of witches—thirteen of them, in fact. And yes, as the number ’13’ has been powerful for me this year (offered to me by a Mesopotamian witch, in fact), I suspect this show is going to reach right in and grab my guts. Shake ’em hard.

I had meant to write this post as a call to attend the show, but as I’m gathering links to share, I realize the run has sold out. So, um, well, that’s fabulous. In which case, let me offer you a link to the source material for the story of Erichtho, one of the witches whose story will be told. And Peter Grey’s essay on “Rewilding Witchcraft”, which calls upon us to reclaim our wild spirits before catastrophe envelopes us.

Cimarronin Issue 2


The second issue of Cimarronin is out this week. You can find it at Comixology or if you bought it direct from Jet City Comics via, you should have it on your Kindle already (via the magic of serialization).

We—meaning your earnest team of myself, Ellis Amdur, Charles C. Mann, Neal Stephenson, and Robert Sammelin—take you, our devoted reader, to New Spain, where we discover a bit more of the big picture that Luis is hinting at. His family—scions of Spanish nobility—have a silver mine in New Spain, and it’s constantly being robbed by local bandits. Part of Luis’s job in Manila was to have been hiring masterless samurai (ronin) to help guard the silver caravans. Luis comes back with one: Kitazume. Which doesn’t go over so well with Luis’s brother. But that may be all part of Luis’s clever plan . . .

And then El Gato shows up, and things get complicated . . .

[The whole samurai guarding the silver caravans? That’s all true. It’s the genesis of the project, and you can read about it in Charles C. Mann’s awesome book, 1493.]

Pipedream Comics reviewed the first issue. Their summary: “While not groundbreaking enough to receive full marks, Cimarronin is still a truly outstanding book made from a great script, fantastic art and inhabited by genuinely interesting, three dimensional characters. While it has some flaws in places, these can’t prevent this first installment from being an epic tale which deserves to be read.”

Escapist Magazine says: “It’s not the most outstanding debut issue (a little more background would go a long way), nor it the most deep story, but it is solid fun.”

Both of which I find to be interesting commentary from the comic book world. Novel readers are a little more lenient, it would seem, in waiting for backstory to be presented. We’ll have to see how folks feel as we move along because we dole out the backstory quite regularly as we progress.


Making Things Up

I have done my time in the basements of friends’ houses, playing endless variants of Dungeons and Dragons. We were White Box kids, and I remember saving my allowance for many many weeks to finally get my own copy. Our copies fell apart from use in a couple of years, and by that time, we had moved on Judges Guild supplements (City Sate of the Invincible Overlord!) and Iron Crown Enterprise’s Arms Law. By the time D&D revved to the 3rd edition, we had all moved on to our in-house variants.

But throughout all this time, maps were always in short supply. We used the CSotIO many, many times. Turning it upside down. Turning it ninety degrees one direction or the other. Penciling things in, erasing them three months later and writing new names. Maps of the terrain outside the city? Crude, at best.

Which is why I’m excited about what Worldspinner is doing with their Kickstarter. They’re building an online tool that creates a fabulously sexy map. And it comes as pre-populated with as many or as few fun things to do as you like. Cities. Points of Interest. Narrative arcs.

“What sort of narrative arcs?” you ask. Well, that’s where themes come in. Themes are premium content that you can layer onto your map. As their Kickstarter progresses through its stretch goals, these themes get pretty extensive. Mur Lafferty is offering Tales for the Stealing, Bill Webb gives us Dragons!, and Lisa Smedman adds Arcane Portals. Those are the goals that have been unlocked already. Goals still to come include, well, me.

If Worldspinner hits $50K, then I’m going to give you pirates and sea monsters. I’m going to turn the world of the Eternal Queen into a place you can visit. Renaissance-style High Fantasy with big nasty things that live in the corners of the map that say “Here Be Monsters” because, well, why shouldn’t there be monsters there?

And as we’re still shopping the Eternal Queen Cycle, this little bump in interest won’t hurt my feelings at all.

Spend this sunday at your home


All hatmakers get into it by accident. I had my dream job: I was working at Queen’s Park for a couple of politicians, but in the end, it wasn’t as perfect for me as I thought. I took a hatmaking course as a stress release, and [then left] the office. I studied with retired milliner Barbara Hobbs and had a table at St. Lawrence Market for two and a half years. Perhaps I was closeted about it [laughs], but I didn’t know I was artistic. I learned that by doing. I am the official milliner—the style guru—for the Queen’s Plate [Canada’s oldest thoroughbred horse race]. I advise people on what to wear: Just because it’s big and flashy doesn’t mean it’s good for the event. A milliner always wants everybody to look at the hat, but a great one should frame your face. The brim should not extend much more than an inch past your shoulders or it throws the scale off.

Bring the ’Paign: Piping-hot bullshit edition

As Rob Ford prepares to re-enter the mayor’s race that’s been getting on just fine without him, a Forum poll released last week put him in second place, behind challenger Olivia Chow and ahead of John Tory. According to Forum, Chow would win a five-way race with 34 per cent of the vote, with Ford grabbing 27 per cent and Tory getting 24 per cent. It’s surprising stuff, and not only because Ford has maintained such a large group of supporters in spite of being a known criminal. Tory trails a guy who’s been bro’ing out in Muskoka for several weeks. So does this really mean Ford can still compete in the mayor’s race? Maybe not. Journalist and smarter-guy-than-you David Hains has already broken it down this way: 27 per cent of the electorate would vote for Ford, so he needs to appeal to more voters. But 58 per cent of those voters want him to resign. This number can change, but right now, there’s just a tiny chunk of the electorate for Ford to try and snag. The math doesn’t look good. But wait. There’s another poll, this one done by Tory strategist Nick Kouvalis’ firm Campaign Research, that shows Chow and Tory in a virtual deadlock, with Ford far behind.


Back in May, John Tory spokesperson Amanda Galbraith said that it would take a miracle to have shovels in the ground on the Scarborough subway by 2015. Despite this bit of candor from the campaign, Tory’s website still says the project could break ground by next year. In a statement about bringing jobs to Scarborough, for instance, Tory is quoted as saying that he hopes to have a sound economic plan in place “when the shovels start digging in 2015.”We asked Tory about his transit timelines at a press conference last Thursday. Get it while it’s hot.

Brume, cailloux et métaphysique


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Tyrion is Right


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This weekend is VCON, Vancouver’s premier SF, fantansy, and games convention (Vancouver, BC, for those who live along the I-5 corridor). I’ll be in attendance, doing double-duty as both writer and publisher, which means I’ll be EVERYWHERE. Otherwise, I’ll be at the Resurrection House table in the dealers’ room where we’ll have four of the five fall titles for sale.

That’s right, Canada. You get first crack at The Jonah Watch. Make me feel remiss for not bringing more copies, would you?

Schedule-wise, here’s what I’ll be doing.

FRI OCT 3 @ 4pm
We’ll be moderated by Bruce Taylor, Mr. Magic Realism himself, in fact.

SAT OCT 4 @ 11am
Oft-requested, occasionally done, this is the workshop where I run you through how to plot a novel from start to finish in an hour and a half. It is possible. It is even fun. But you shouldn’t take my word for it; Heather Roulo wrote a nice write-up of the workshop back in the day, and you can still read it here.

SAT OCT 4 @ 12:30pm
(I’m not participating in this, but Devon Boorman will be demonstrating his masterful sword skills, and as a fan of Academie Duello, I can attest that this’ll be worth your time.)

SAT OCT 4 @ 2pm
Yep. I’ll be taking pitches. For novels of the non-YA persuasion.

SAT OCT 4 @ 6pm
Wherein the panelists attempt to pass judgement on slush read aloud without coming off like total asses.

SUN OCT 5 @ 10am
We’ll be talking about publishing, not other . . . less publicly appropriate topics.

SUN OCT 5 @ 11am
Wherein we will discuss how to actually start the damn book as well as finishing the f*ing thing.

SUN OCT 5 @4pm
Not necessarily a follow-on to the previous panel about starting and finishing, but tangentially related in that “What the hell do I do in the middle?” way.