We have, dear readers, been getting thumped.
But I am having a very good day. For example, I just sold "The Bone War" to F&SF. It's the first fiction I've ever sold to that market! (I did sell them a poem in 2002. It was one of my first pro sales.)
ETA "The Bone War" is an Eternal Sky story set in Messaline between Book of Iron and Bone and Jewel Creatures, and involving Bijou, Brazen, and a rather... large... commission. /ETA
Yesterday I got almost eight pages on "And the Balance in Blood," which has been stalled for a month while I figured out how the hell it ended. And today I wrote another four pages and finished it. It's done!
Okay, it's a draft. But it's done in draft at least. Here is some Proof of Tea and Writing!
Tea: An Upton Darjeeling.
Teacup: Blue and white Chinese
Dog: snoring away the winter
Tea: Still the same Darjeeling
Teacup: The turquoise frankencup.
Oh, and I bought a new car. The Honda is old enough to vote, and just not up to the road conditions we're suffering in the hills of Massachusetts these days, so I'm looking to rehome it with a loving high school student or something. So last week that boy I like and I took ourselves down to a Subaru dealership and, you know, two days of our lives later we came away with a Crosstrek.
I love it to death already. And the fact that we got another six inches of snow last night is a contributing factor.
It syncs with my phone. I'm just saying.
And there's cover art for An Apprentice to Elves!
(I also got mugged by two pages of a novel I'm totally not writing because I am writing other things now. Ahem. They were good pages, though.)
I need a title for the Library Story. That--and revisions on the Worldspinner project--are next in the queue.
It's a cover reveal and some terrible teasing!
A couple of weeks ago, I had an emergency need for some amazing art, and I naturally emailed my friend Jenna Kass, a NYC-based illustrator. I had in mind licensing an old piece of hers, but she was no longer satisfied with the quality of that work, and so we struck a deal that she'd do me a new painting.
And she did. (She tells the story here. I honestly did not mean to give anyone apoplexy!)
So, dear readers, as some of you have commented, it's currently impossible to get an ebook copy of Whiskey and Water, what with it being out of print and all.
Well, without further ado let me present the new cover for Whiskey and Water.
And because I am a horrible tease, details will follow--soon, I promise!--as to how you can get your very own copy! (Ebook only currently, but we'll see what happens.)
I'm beyond thrilled to be involved in Jonathan Strahan's all-original hard-SF adventure story anthology, Edge of Infinity. This anthology collects stories set in a settled, explored, but pre-starflight solar system.
My novelette, "The Deeps of the Sky." is a fable of the perils and pitfalls of sky-mining gas giants... but not only that.
The table of contents is kind of amazing--well, you know? I'll show you.
- Introduction, Jonathan Strahan
- The Girl-Thing Who Went Out For Sushi, Pat Cadigan
- The Deeps of the Sky, Elizabeth Bear
- Drive, James S.A. Corey
- The Road to NPS, Sandra McDonald & Stephen D. Covey
- Swift as a Dream and Fleeting as a Sigh, John Barnes
- Macy Minnot’s Last Christmas on Dione, Ring Racing, Fiddler’s Green, the Potter’s Garden, Paul McAuley
- Safety Tests, Kristine Kathryn Rusch
- Bricks, Sticks, Straw, Gwyneth Jones
- Tyche and the Ants, Hannu Rajaniemi
- Obelisk, Stephen Baxter
- Vainglory, Alastair Reynolds
- Water Rights, An Owomayela
- The Peak of Eternal Light, Bruce Sterling
The book will be released November 27th, 2012.
Edge of Infinity
Amazon * Barnes and Noble * Solaris Books
That is all.
Or not quite all, actually--a draft version of the cover accidentally escaped. It's only slightly different, but this is the real final cover. If you happen to notice that a site has the draft cover up--it's similar but easy to spot: it has a "The" in the title, I'd appreciate it if you'd point the site owner at the real cover.
The cover artist is the amazing Donato Giancola.)
That may change a little bit (I've asked about getting the skin tones a bit darker) but it's pretty close to final.
But all things considered, it's fucking gorgeous, and I love it. I hope the book is worthy of the awesome of the cover.
In related news, twelve hundred words of Shattered Pillars today. Now to have lunch with some Readercon refugees, and then learn how to do wet exits from a whitewater kayak.
Amazon appears to have the (awesome) cover art for The Tempering of Men. Which means now, so do we!
I like the troll blood spatter from the shield punch. Although I wouldn't be going into a trollfight in an Arctic January wearing the male equivalent of a chain mail bikini, me...
(I guess he's using his dagger because he left the axe buried in the skull of some previous troll...)
ETA: While I'm self-promoting, if you missed it yesterday, Facebook me fan page will have *only* work-related updates--finished books, new releases, contests, etc: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeth-
Oh, and of course, I've started to think of all the cool things I should have found a way to get into Range of Ghosts. Well, it's got at least one full revision coming--
First off, cover art for The Sea Thy Mistress--in my hot little hands.
Okay, Cahey's hair looks a little funny, and I'm not sure where the cloak comes from, but that's probably a universal signature of This Is Fantasy. I'm dead pleased that he's on the cover, though, and that he's sufficiently brown. No idea where the Celtic spirals are coming from, but hey, Norse, Celtic, it's all the same, and it looks pretty... *g*
February 11th is our chance to prove that fantasy novels with brown people on them sell just fine, right? (This was a very hard book for me to write, for personal reasons, and I'm very neurotic about people reading it. But it's not written until its read, as they say. And it's full of things I felt like I needed to say, and possibly work through for myself. Hopefully it will help others who have been through similar adventures in their lives.)
Anyway, it's an eye-catcher, and I'm very happy.
Additionally, we have cover art for METAtropolis II:
That one drops Nov 16th. Available in audio format only for now, from Audible and other sources. (Like iTunes, I think).
Now for the not-so-great news. Realms of Fantasy is shutting down its presses. I will continue reviewing books at Tor.com and Ideomancer, which does absolutely nothing to lessen my sorrow at seeing another bastion of the genre fail.
(clicky thumbnail for bigger version)
My current plan is for August and early September to be time to put these lingering pieces of short fiction out of their misery. Then if I have time before Viable Paradise, I'm going to start figuring out what I need to do to rewrite The Sea thy Mistress--at least the planning stages, and maybe even some of the work. After VP, starting in October... Chill is going down. I really need for that book to be part of my past rather than part of my future, if you know what I mean. It's been part of my future for entirely too long.
The part about putting the short fiction out of its misery is actually going pretty well, currently. I'm on page 73 of the first revision pass of Bone & Jewel Creatures (total length of the novella is currently 99 pages) and it's much, much better than I remembered it being. I still have to figure out how the Thrilling Conclusion! works, and I want to go back over it and put on some more gingerbread, maybe (though maybe it has enough gingerbread; I will need to send it to some people and ask)... but I'm really pretty pleased with it. It's quirky and elegaic and the characters are nicely inhuman, the way you would expect elderly and cosmopolitan Wizards to be.
Hmm. You know, it's possible that I'm better at this writing thing than I think I am.
Okay, food now and then back to the coal mines before climbing.
So, enjoy it:
(click on the image for a larger version.)
I am just blown away by this. The detail in the ribbing on the wifebeater--you guys should see the high res version. Seriously. Buy the magazine: you don't need to read my story, but you need to see this painting.
Also, cannibal clowns! What's not to love?
But don't take my word for it.
Is that gorgeous, or what?
If you want one of your very own, to pet and call George, you can order it direct from the publisher here, or you can less cool, and order it from Amazon, here. Or, you know, I bet you could order it through your favorite local retailer, too
And like magic, cover art appears:
( Whiskey & Water )
I think it will look nice next to the Blood & Iron cover.
If you weren't planning on doing anything else today, my continued wandering through Youtube has netted a perfect bonanza of somewhat unofficial Tom Waits concert footage.
Pretty soon, we'll be piping this stuff into our brains. And then the opportunity for computer viruses and identity theft will be a real plot-generator.
Personally, I'm looking forward to the ability to hypertext in in-person conversation. It would speed things up enormously. Of course, we'll need more synapses to coordinate the parallel information inflow, but that's just a minor technical challenge.
I kind of think all the research into voice recognition is going to turn out to be long-term, wasted. Because audio/verbal is a slow, linear, single-track way to process information.
P.S. Itinerant author rezendi takes a train to Lhasa.
Less-itinerant author sartorias talks about the importance of spooky tenderness in art. I know exactly what she means, and couldn't agree more.
Paul Youll has posted some of the preliminary paintings for the Whiskey & Water cover to his website. I believe there are meant to be some tweaks before it winds up on the book cover, but since it's on the internets (and I stalk Paul) I think it's okay if I link these:
The whole thing.
I'm pretty sure none of those people are actually in the book, but hey, it's splashy!
With my Bantam covers, I generally get to hear a concept description, and I see them either when they show up on Amazon or a little bit before. (Or, if I am clever and tricky and a good stalker, sometimes I can find the preliminary sketches on the artist's website beforehand.) I have already heard a description of the proposed cover for Undertow, and it sounds very cool; it is to be the frog boygirl lurking among paramangrove roots, ripples of distortion radiating out across one half of the image.
Perfect, in ways I cannot begin to express.
Also, I love the cover for Carnival. I would marry it, but that's illegal in this state. No idea if it will sell books, mind you, but I want to kiss it and call it George.
The Jenny covers don't do much for me on an aesthetic level (although I love the incredibly preppy color scheme: surely, these are the most garish not-really-cyberpunk novels since Thomas T. Thomas's Crygender [you can't see it in that image, but the spine and back cover are SCREAMING DEATH PINK, just as bright as the Jenny covers and in a much hotter color value)]but man, do those covers move books off the shelves, which is a total win.
The Ace covers, while I don't have any control over, I am at least expected to send photo references to be summarily ignored, and consulted as to what's on the cover. And generally get the concept described to me and then am shown preliminary designs. About which I sometimes whine and thrash.
And then I wind up with awesome cover art. Or, at least, I think the cover art for B&I is awesome (I have extracted an apology about the mullet, but, you know. What's a mullet between friends?) And I've seen preliminary cover art for Whiskey & Water, which looks quite promising. The characters look nothing like their book counterparts, but since the book counterparts are intended to not look as you'd expect, and the art department wants the book buying public to know that that's Lucifer and not J. Random Angel, I was argued down off the roof.
(My protests that J. Random Angel is unlikely to be perched upon a throne of human skulls fell upon deaf ears.)
My cover from Night Shade--easily my favorite--is actually existing art. jlassen asked me how I felt about Samuel Bak and sent me some images. I said "I feel very good about him," and the next time I looked up there was this gorgeous cover sitting in my email.
Night Shade may have the best covers in the business currently. Lush, opulent, whimsical. The sort of thing that makes you want to pick up this object of beauty and cradle it lovingly. Or face it out on a shelf. The ones for jlake's Trial of Flowers and mevennen's Snake Agent are practically worth the price of a book their own selves.
Lickable covers. A little-known marketing strategy.
As for Subterranean and Tor, I haven't gotten far along in the process with them to see cover art--beyond that for Subterranean 5, and I think you all probably have clean ears from my squeals of delight over the Tim Truman cover art on that one.
oursin talks wisely about why she's not joining in the "I Support Gay Rights" meme. I'm not joining in it because if you haven't figured out that I support queer rights (by which I mean, bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgendered, polyamorous, straight-but-not-narrow, kinktastic, leather-daddy, flannel-dyke, asexual, however the hell you define yourself as long as everybody involved is of legal age and reasonable mental competence) you haven't been paying attention.
Just standing up and saying, "I support [X] rights" is nice and all. Visibility is important. Refusal to be marginalized is important. Refusal to be classified is just as important. Hell, if you support gay rights, next time you're out at Denny's, sit uncomfortably close to your same-gender friends and watch people stare. Show up in obvious trios of whatever plumbing and smooch each other when the waitress isn't looking.
People hate it when you kick them in the binaries. Even if you're not queer, hold hands in public. Make a nuisance of yourself.
Now go vote.
Cover art is an intriguing subject. Normally, we don't get much say over it. That's something every writer should probably understand going in.
My Spectra covers? I see when my editor takes pity on me and emails me a file... unless I stumble across the concept art on the Internets first. Roc asks me for input, though they have yet to take any of my suggestions. (I was campaigning for a pony on the cover of Whiskey & Water, and Elaine and the horsy for Blood & Iron. I get... no pony. Matthew got both covers, as I mentioned the other day. Good thing he's not vain.) Spectra, however, sends me cover flats; Roc does not.
Anyway, I spent part of this week coming up with photo references for the cover art for Whiskey & Water, and also the cover flats for Carnival arrived.
That's always an interesting process, especially as we're dealing with characters who appear in several books and are seen from several points of view, and people don't always agree on descriptions. And my characters tend to not look like movie stars (they're just usually not pretty enough, Murchaud and Vincent excepted... well, and Lucifer. Because of course the devil is pretty. [I've never seen an actor who looks like Vincent; a tall light-skinned fiftyish black man with hazel eyes, auburn hair in little sproingy braids, and freckles? Murchaud at least is easy; he looks exactly as you'd expect the best-looking elf around to look, which is to say exactly like Ioan Gruffudd with blue eyes--but Murchaud will never make it onto a cover. He's not a major enough character.][Oh, wait, Isolfr was pretty. Until we mutilated him]) so the time-honored technique of saying "Oh, he looks like a taller X" is right out.
Sometimes I do better with art. I can say, oh, Morgan looks like the redhead in Froud's "Tapestry," arrogant and angular and intimidating. (She might also look like the rather fantastical Sharyn November, whose hair. I. covet.) Carel looks like Queen Tiy; Matthew thinks she's drop-dead gorgeous (Matthew is one of those lovely men who thinks most women are beautiful; he's sort of profoundly, perhaps even abjectly heterosexual), but she's certainly not somebody whose type you find often in publicity photos--a plump woman with a classic Ethiopian or West Indian face, full lips, flat nose, broad cheeks and high cheekbones.
So, yanno. Hard to pull up a picture of that on a celebrity website.
Except when you're providing photo references for cover art, that's exactly what you have to do. So I point randomly at pictures of Eric Stoltz and Matthew Gray Gubler and say "Well, Matthew's more muscular than they are, and not as good-looking, and not very tall, and fortyish, and he has more of a light blond motorcyclist blunt-cut just long enough to get into a ponytail, oh and he wears glasses."
And you see what you get.
(One reason I love the cover art for Carnival so is that Michelangelo looks like himself. Not that this matters at all from a marketing standpoint, because the purpose of cover art is not to illustrate the book but to make somebody pick the book up and turn it over to read the back. But it gives me a happy every time I look at that flat, because I'm looking Angelo in the eye. That's him; a heavy-featured, heavy-boned, dark-skinned sub-Saharan African with a scowl. And he looks just about as pissed at me as he probably should.
I had nothing to do with any of this, but it makes me happy. I have no idea who that chick on the back is, though; that isn't Lesa. I think it might be Angelina Jolie.)
Anyway, my part of this process, when I am consulted (which I like; it's just important to remember that the people doing the marketing actually are better at this than I am) involves those photo references. And another part involves groveling through various manuscripts for character descriptions (I used to not describe characters very much, and then I realized that character descriptions were fun.) and pasting them all into one email so the artist has them to work from.
Which, since my characters notice different things about each other, sometimes leads to contradictions. And inconsistencies.
Well, for example, here are two separate descriptions of Elaine, both of them from Matthew's point of view, under different circumstances:
She was big-boned, too thin for her frame, in a green peacoat and blue jeans, her dark hair falling loose except for a few seemingly random braids swinging among the uncut tresses. Her nose was a stubborn, Grecian edifice, her chin notched as if by a thumb. She walked quickly, boots clicking, glancing up now and then at the buildings arrayed like broken teeth against the sky.
Only tourists look up in New York City, he thought, and noticed that she, too, drew her large long-fingered hands from the pockets of her peacoat to rub them as if they hurt. That wouldn't be from any iron rings; the city itself pained her.
The chill up his spine had nothing to do with the Seeker's slow turn, the tilt of her head as her gaze fell on him. Her long neck gleaming dull gold where the lights over the bar touched it, or the breadth of her shoulders under her black turtleneck. When she smiled, lines sprang into relief from the corners of her mouth to her aquiline nose, and the unlikely angles of her face rearranged themselves into vibrancy.
She's Fae. Half-Fae. It only follows that she's lovely.
And then, unbidden: she looks like her mother, doesn't she?
The second time, she's wearing a glamour. He responds very differently to her this time than the first. (A couple of my readers have called her "beautiful." Which leads me to another point, which I will segue to, below.)
But what is there, there, for a cover artist to go on? I sent in a picture of Claudia Black with the caveat "heavier bones and not that pretty," but since they didn't use Elaine on the cover, I got away clean. *g*
I had a wonderful, perfect, marvelous photo reference for Whiskey, alas; the great joke is that it's a mare.
We'll see how Matthew turns out. And Lucifer. For whom I provided pictures of Tilda Swinton and Travis Fimmel and said "He looks like he could be related to these people."
It's all approximations.
Which brings me to that segue.
The other thing to consider when thrashing about the mullets in one's cover art is that readers will own the characters, if one is doing one's job. And so the art doesn't matter.
The reader will know what the character looks like, if they are the sort of reader who cares about these things. And so, your Elaine may very well be Hollywood beautiful. (Mine isn't; she's quirky and interesting-looking and has a fantastic smile, and bears a certain resemblance to a younger Ellen Kushner with straight, long hair. Not that I did that on purpose; I hadn't met Ellen when I started writing Elaine.) Your Matthew might be as cute (and as un-bespectacled) as the one on the cover of Blood & Iron. (I hope he doesn't have the mullet, though. And the spectacles are a plot point and he doesn't see that well without them, so you might want to give them back.)
Which is the other reason why the cover art doesn't matter. Because the image in your head is the one that is right.
Which is why books are more fun for me than movies. I get to make them look, in my head, any way I want.