matociquala: (writing eternal sky rog)

My short story, "The Bone War," is now available in the September/October issue of F&SF! It's also the featured story in the free Kindle sample for this month!   

In other news, [ profile] scott_lynch's neighbors have adopted this lost homing pigeon. (Cue all the jokes about the bird's failure to compass its job, etc.)

matociquala: (writing eternal sky gage)

So I have 7500 words of The Stone in the Skull, the first book of the second Eternal Sky trilogy, which is collectively called The Lotus Kingdoms, done. I'm trying to have a bad draft before Readercon if I can.

And because I'm really, really happy with how this is coming out--apparently I've finally learned how to take that advice in the blog title and throw another bear in the canoe--here's the first three paragraphs.

My poor protagonists. I am a horrible person.

Also, very smug.

Chapter One.

The mountain wore a mirrored mask. A pale sun blazed light but no heat in the limpid, icy air and glaciers shimmered against a sky like glass. The air was so still it seemed the encircling peaks held their breaths on some portent.

Their reflections bent toward a vanishing point in the  polished egg-shape of the mirrored mask also worn by the brass man who toiled mechanically--tirelessly--up the slope of the notch below the peaks and between. A wrap of cowl had fallen back from his featureless head and his heavy hands gleamed in what might have been brass gauntlets. His brass feet were strapped into iron-thorned crampons without benefit of boots. The spikes bit into the smooth ice of a river made into rock by the cold.

A hawser thick as a woman's wrist draped over the brass man's shoulder. It stretched behind him on a weighty arc, reaching back to the curved bow of a strange ship: square-rigged, boasting a lofty reptilian figurehead gallantly painted in red and gold--but resting on two curved, ice-encased runners that bore it over the surface of the stone-hard river as if glass slid oiled on glass. A pilot stood on the little platform at the back of the bowsprit, peering up at the slopes above through a glass. Though it was early in the winter for avalanches, it was never too early for care.

Behind that ship was another....

matociquala: (phil ochs troubador)
The storm is over and the sun came out. Everything is melting, only to freeze again soon. More snow in the forecast. I'll be very surprised if we don't break the record this winter. We're less than seven inches from it now. And that's all since the last week of January.

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.

matociquala: (writing eternal sky gage)
I found the first line for The Stone in the Skull, also occasionally known as "Eternal Sky #4", today. Up until now, it was [Find a better opening line.] But now it has been upgraded to:

The mountain wore a mirrored mask.

And look, an icon.

I also wrote this, which amused me:

"Once we drop the package off," the Gage asked, "have you given some thought to what we might do next?"

The Dead Man scuffed his hands together in their mittens, then stuffed them back in the pockets of his coat. "I'm waiting for God to tell me what to do. You know, send a sign or something."

The mountain wind whipped the Gage's hood back from the smooth mirror of his mask. "Having any luck with that?"

The Dead Man turned at the creak of traces, but the ice boats were still being rehitched. He turned back and shook his head behind the veils. "Not so far. She seems to believe that I ought to be old enough to look it up by now."

I'm at that portion of the book that involves stopping to name everything every five minutes, or at least putting a lot of stuff in [brackets] that means "think up a good name later." And honestly, I'm only working on the novel today because I am stuck on two, no, three different short stories, and waiting for an editor to get back to me on a fourth.

I should also stop listing names for the Eternal Sky world's Ganges equivalent at nine. (It's also the Tsarethi, but people here don't call it that.)

So, here's some pictures of tea, for the last few days, because I have been lax.

Teacup: Royal Albert, with roses.
Tea: Sakura, which is to say salted cherry blossom, from Kyoto Obubu

Teacup: same
Tea: Genmaicha, from Kyoto Obubu

Teacup: Grace preppy roses (pink and green)
Tea: Upton Christmas blend.

And here's dawn, yesterday, because it was lovely:

matociquala: (writing literature vonnegut asshole)
Actually, I sort of am. I've written a couple of pages on the novelette that's due on the 15th--working title "And the Balance in Blood," and they're scattershot and not yet well organized, but I like them. I have the setup and the protagonist and the conceit. I'm poking around looking for the conflict and arc, is all.

I am also working in The Stone in the Skull. And I'm at that point in the process we might refer to as Rallying Our Influences.

And I'm struggling with a desire to channel/parody the likes of Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard as I start actually writing. I've been poking at the opening paragraph tonight, that potent anchor by which the whole trilogy depends. I definitely want that pulpy sense of adventure, and I admit, there are attractions to passages like:

Evagh the warlock, dwelling beside the boreal sea, was aware of many strange and untimely portents in mid-summer. Frorely burned the sun above Mhu Thulan from a welkin clear and wannish as ice. At eve the aurora was hung from zenith to earth, like an arras in a high chamber of gods. Wan and rare were the poppies and small the anemones in the cliff-sequestered vales lying behind the house of Evagh; and the fruits in his walled garden were pale of rind and green at the core. Also, he beheld by day the unseasonable flight of great multitudes of fowl, going southward from the hidden isles beyond Mhu Thulan; and by night he heard the distressful clamor of other passing multitudes. And always, in the loud wind and crying surf, he harkened to the weird whisper of voices from realms of perennial winter.

Clark Ashton Smith, "The Coming of the White Worm")


KNOW, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars—Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyperborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen- eyed,sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

(Robert E. Howard, "The Phoenix on the Sword").

Attractions, sure. But... well, let's just say, it's not exactly a contemporary voice.

So my goal in life is to find a happy medium between that and the opening of John Bellairs' The Face in the Frost, which is one of my favorite bits of writing ever:

Several centuries (or so) ago, in a country whose name doesn’t matter, there was a tall, skinny, straggly-bearded old wizard named Prospero, and not the one you are thinking of, either. He lived in a huge, ridiculous, doodad-covered, trash-filled two-story horror of a house that stumbled, staggered, and dribbled right up to the edge of a great shadowy forest of elms and oaks and maples. It was a house whose gutter spouts were worked in the shape of whistling sphinxes and screaming bearded faces; a house whose white wooden porch was decorated with carved bears, monkeys, toads, and fat women in togas holding sheaves of grain; a house whose steep gray-slate roof was capped with a glass-enclosed, twisty-copper-columned observatory. On the artichoke dome of the observatory was a weather-vane shaped like a dancing hippopotamus; as the wind changed, it blew through the nostrils of the hippo’s hollow head, making a whiny snarfling sound that fortunately could not be heard unless you were up on the roof fixing slates.
matociquala: (criminal minds diana reid crazy)
My Moscow Metro dog organlegging story, "This Chance Planet," is live at!

(I would have mentioned it yesterday, but I was on airplanes.)

And now that I've dropped a giant graphic in your internets and presumably have your attention (art by Robert Hunt), it's time to reveal some titles! The titling gnomes have finally prevailed in their epic battle with der Fehlerteufel, and Eternal Sky 4-6 (collectively known as The Lotus Kingdom) have grown beautiful titles ripe for harvesting.

Or something.

So without further ado, let me introduce you to my next three fantasy novels.

The Stone in the Skull

The Red-Stained Wings

The Origin of Storms
matociquala: (criminal minds bad shirt brigade)
"Abjure the Realm"--what was probably the very first published story (there was a complete mess of a trunk novella written in 1994. We don't talk about it.) set in the world that eventually developed into the Eternal Sky--is being reprinted in the forthcoming anthology Men In Impractical Armor... I mean, Warriors and Wizardry... along with a really impressive slate of others. Forthcoming November 11th!

(via Table of Contents: THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF WARRIORS AND WIZARDRY Edited by Sean Wallace - SF Signal)

Here’s the table of contents…

“Small Magic” by Jay Lake
“King Rainjoy’s Tears” by Chris Willrich
“A Rich Full Week” by K.J. Parker
“The Woman in Scarlet” by Tanith Lee
“Flotsam” by Bradley P. Beaulieu
“A Warrior’s Death” by Aliette de Bodard
“A Siege of Cranes” by Benjamin Rosenbaum
“Fox Bones. Many Uses.” by Alex Dally MacFarlane
“Where Virtue Lives” by Saladin Ahmed
“The Effigy Engine: A Tale of the Red Hats” by Scott Lynch
“Strife Lingers in Memory” by Carrie Vaughn
“A Sweet Calling” by Tony Pi
“The Necromancer” by N.K. Jemisin
“Golden Daughter, Stone Wife” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
“Effigy Nights” by Yoon Ha Lee
“Wearaway and Flambeau” by Matthew Hughes
“At the Edge of Dying” by Mary Robinette Kowal
“Vici” by Naomi Novik
“Abjure the Realm” by Elizabeth Bear
“The Word of Azrael” by Matthew David Surridge
“Lady of the Ghost Willow” by Richard Parks
“The Singing Spear” by James Enge
“So Deep That the Bottom Could Not Be Seen” by Genevieve Valentine
“Warrior Dreams” by Cinda Williams Chima
“The Magician and the Maid and Other Stories” by Christie Yant
matociquala: (phil ochs troubador)
The awesome news just keeps on coming.

1) I just sold my Moscow metro dog story, "This Chance Planet," to Ellen Datlow at No word yet on when you can read it, but soon, my lovelies. Soooon.

2) Zombies, Run! Season three kicks off tomorrow, April 16th. I wrote a story for it! So did Janni Lee Simner! So did some other folks you might know. Ahem.

3) Here I am at Mary Robinette Kowal's blog talking about My Favorite Bit of Steles of the Sky.

4) I'm a stretch goal for the Storium kickstarter. This is an awesome online interactive storytelling/roleplaying engine with a variety of settings. I'm providing jazzpunk.

5) [ profile] timprov's War for the Oaks reader project book kickstarter. Awesome photos of awesome people reading an awesome book in an awesome city.
matociquala: (bear by san)
Spin, pretty hype machine! SPIIIN!

*waves coal-dust-blackened hands and capers*
*goes back to shoveling*

More links and reviews and interviews and guest blogs and news! It's BOOK WEEK*!

Clink on the pretty picture for an excerpt of the novel at!

First of all: here I am interviewed at the blog of Hugo-award nominated Apex Publications by the inimitable Fran Wilde. This interview has some more details about The Lotus Kingdoms and also about Ancestral Night, and also a bit of information about The Republic of Elves** I mean, An Apprentice to Elves, which is the long-delayed sequel to A Companion to Wolves.

It also has a book giveaway! Involving selfies and twitter hashtags. Ahem.

I'm talking some trash over at Terrible Minds, courtesy of the lovely and talented Chuck Wendig.

Paul Weimer reviews Steles of the Sky at the Hugo-award-winning fanzine SF Signal.

Victoria Frerichs at Romantic Times also liked it.

Aidan Moher is excited about the Lotus Kingdoms announcement.

Oh, and... my boyfriend said nice things about my book.

And, just to balance the karmic scales, I said a few nice things about Diane Duane over here.

And now, time to eat some lunch and write some elves. Wolves. Both, really.

*It's like storming Normandy, only without the machine guns and Rommel's asparagus.
**Scott totally came up with that, so I don't feel bad using it.
matociquala: (writing steles burning)
It's book day!


Today is Steles of the Sky's birthday, and I'm so excited I may be having heart flutters over here. There's something about the long setup on a series, and the eventual payoff, that... okay, so when I used to run tabletop RPGs a lot more than I have time for now, there was this moment when my players always knew they'd stumbled on The Awful Troof--cracked the campaign wide open, basically, and found the central mystery and aw-hell moment.

Because I would start grinning this particular delighted maniacal grin.

The great joy for me as a storyteller is the moment when the person I'm telling the story to figures out what's up. And I have been just dying to tell everybody the rest of this story for years now.

So you can imagine how excited I currently am.


In celebration of the day, there's GUEST POSTS!

Here's a post at SF Signal on writing special-needs characters in SFF.

Here's a post at the Locus blog regarding noveling as an argument with one's self.

And here's my Big Idea post at the Whatever, where my second Item of News for the week is revealed.

News! Awesome news!
matociquala: (writing gorey vast reluctance)

It's that time. I've started the final revision pass on Karen Memory. So far, I'm working through the bits that only need tweaks, because the earlier chapters have already had several editing passes, after all. (One of the many ways all that Useful Writing Advice doesn't work for me--several times over the course of any given book, I have to go back and restructure the early bits and add things and move stuff around, or the book doesn't go forward. I can't always just make notes and keep going.)

Soon, my pretties. Soon. Soon.

But for the meantime, we're in Earbrass Country. ("We can't stop here!")

I spent the last four days shoveling out from under a bucket of post-novel ennui after finishing a short story tentatively called "No Place to Dream, but a Place to Die." There were a lot of movies and a certain number of books and even more Bejeweled, I'm afraid.

In other news, it's coming up on a month to publication for Steles of the Sky, and I am psyched! has the first chunk up as an excerpt if you just can't wait to get started.


matociquala: (criminal minds boom)
I have finished the draft of "No Place to Dream, but a Place to Die." It needs the thematic and character arc shored up a bunch on the revision, but the plot is there, and that's all I care about right now. More to follow.

But first, I have my edit letter for Karen Memory, and starting tomorrow that needs to be happening. Wow, it's such a damned nice feeling to get things off my desk.

Often, working on a novel feels like spinning your wheels for months and months and months--because there's work, endless work, and it's all on the same thing, and it never feels like you will get to get your brain back and do something new. But the end is in sight, here.

And not to bury the lede, but! Shattered Pillars is longlisted for the David Gemmell Legend Award! (So is a book by that boy I like, ahem.) And EVERYBODY ON THE INTERNET CAN VOTE ONCE.

matociquala: (criminal minds prentiss reid hold my gun)

Yeah, I have a problem. I'm working on a short story, but I have the Post-Novel Ennui, and my head has that empty dustbunnies-rolling-over-the-floor feeling I get when I have used up all my brain. So I have emailed the editor, and let him know that I am Out Of Clever, and the story may be a little late.

Fortunately, the editor in question is a good egg, and seems to understand.

This is happening more often, lately. I'm not sure if it's due to increasing demands, or due to me getting old. In any case, I'm trying hard to say "no" to more projects, even though that's stupidly hard.

But I need to make myself space to be creative.

Anyway, I took today off. I took the dog for a walk, and I'm catching up on recipe blogs. And I made myself a Delicious Cocktail. It's a Clover Club. I even made my own grenadine. And I walked over to the co-op to get pomegranate juice. (Our local co-op is a wonderland. It's the size of a large broom closet and has one of everything. It's also the only grocery store in town. I came home with pomegranate juice, habanero jelly, dark chocolate, and sticky brown rice. Seriously. Rural town of 3000 people.)

Here's a photo of my pretty pink drink:

The home-made grenadine gives a lighter color than the commercial stuff, but the commercial stuff is 70% HFCS and 30% red dye #5 with a dash of citric acid. I'll go with home made.


Earlier, I reported that Steles of the Sky had scored the coveted starred review from Kirkus. Well, it got one from Publishers Weekly, too. And much less spoilery! (There are spoilers for previous volumes in both reviews!)

I do indulge myself to quote:

Bear’s stellar conclusion to her Mongolian-flavored fantasy trilogy (after Range of Ghosts and Shattered Pillars) is a satisfying mix of traditional epic fantasy elements, flavored with original magic and grounded with mundane details that make the fantastic seem entirely possible. As the skies shift, reflecting the mortals in power and their associated gods, forces align to support or challenge wizard al-Sepehr as he wages war in the name of the Scholar-God. Warrior Re Temur and his allies travel to Dragon Lake to rally the opposition with Temur’s declaration of his assumption of the position of Khagan, heir to his grandfather’s empire. Battles are fought on both a personal level and a grand scale, with artifacts of obscure ancient civilizations, spirit animals, magical creatures, and poetry and politics. The conclusion is both untelegraphed and completely appropriate. Bear’s trilogy makes a rich contribution to epic fantasy’s expanding borders of emotion and invention.

And we didn't quite get the starred review trifecta, alas... but Booklist really, really liked it:

Steles of the Sky
Bear, Elizabeth (Author)

Apr 2014. 384 p. Tor, hardcover, $26.99. (9780765327567). Tor, e-book, (9781429947688).

Bear concludes the epic begun in Range of Ghosts with her usual subversive flair. Temur and his companions begin this volume in the city of Reason, exploring ancient places and magics; they must make their way to Dragon Lake to declare Temur Khagan and gather an army against the terrible forces of Al-Sepehr. Edene, having effected her own rescue, contends with the terrible sun of Erem and the voice of the Green Ring. Al-Sepehr plans to use Saadet’s son, Quori Buqa’s son, to contest Temur’s claim on the Eternal Sky. There are, of course, other threads to be woven together: those who would fight at Temur’s side, and those who have taken the side of Al-Sepehr. Everything leads to a great and terrible battle at Dragon Lake, at which the very fate of the world may well be decided. The world of the Eternal Sky is a gorgeously fleshed-out one, and the characters without exception fascinating, sometimes maddening, and complex. This is a pleasing conclusion to an epic; it ties up the major threads but leaves many open questions about how the world will move forward. — Regina Schroeder

matociquala: (comics invisibles king mob)
And to complete my heaviest blogging day in years, I think, a couple of cool things!

First off, Kirkus starred review of Steles of the Sky!!

Spoilers for the whole freaking series, so be cautious of your clickthrough. But the takeaway makes it all worthwhile:

Considering the trilogy as a whole,
the overused term masterpiece justifiably applies.

*mic drop*

The other cool thing is that two audio anthologies I was part of are nominated for Audie Awards!

One is Rip Off!, edited by Gardner Dozois, featuring a suite of stories that borrow their first line from a classic work. (Mine is from Christopher Marlowe's Edward II. ;) )The other is METAtropolis III: Green Space, edited by Jay Lake and Ken Scholes--third in a series of shared-world anthologies about a possible adaptive, non-apocalyptic future for Earth and the human race.

They are both nominated for the Best Anthology Award. So I'm competing against myself, and the best bit is that Mary Robinette Kowal is also in both. Maybe she can win one and I can win... crap, that won't work. :(

Oh, and the best bit is, That Boy I Like is nominated for the best audiobook in the Fantasy category for The Republic of Thieves, along with reader Michael Page!
matociquala: (writing palencar horrid glory)

It's book day!
matociquala: (criminal minds garcia girls who wear gla)

Book of Iron is out tomorrow! (Some early orderers seem to have copies already.)

This novella is a prequel to Bone and Jewel Creatures, although it stands alone. It's set in the same world as the Eternal Sky books, and it features roadsters, necromancy, and miserably complicated interpersonal relationships. Like you do.

You can read an excerpt and a review on, and a review at Publishers Weekly.

Also, pre-orders are now open for the shared-world audio anthology METAtropolis 3: Green Space, which features Jay Lake, Ken Scholes, Karl Schroeder, Tobias Buckell, Seanan McGuire, Mary Robinette Kowal, and me! It contains my seasteading caper story "Green and Dying" along with novelettes and novellas linked in time, place, and setting, written by the rest of the gang.

It'll be released on October 15, and it's going to be awesome.

matociquala: (writing eternal sky rog)

Galley proofs have landed! Which means that galley-galleys should be available soon.

matociquala: (writing eternal sky rog)

I has a cover art! The amazing Donato Giancola and Irene Gallo come through again.

matociquala: (criminal minds garcia mallory merlin)
I got up this morning and went for an 11 mile run. It was supposed to be 13, but the sun caught me and I ran out of Gatorade. Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor--and I decided two more miles was not worth puking.

Now I am drinking Vietnamese coffee and sitting on the sofa, like somebody who has used up all her virtupitude for the day.

My stepcat was just in the corner suspiciously sniffing an old signing poster of Scott's that's been there for a month. Only now does it become a potentially threatening object. Cats. Or maybe he's just now figured out what Dad does for a living?

In other Scott-related news, this.

In writer-related news, non-Scott-related, the UK/Australian publication of John Joseph Adams' Wastelands anthology has occurred

And Publishers Weekly has given Book of Iron an absolutely bang-up review. (linky) (text follows) 

Book of Iron

Elizabeth Bear. Subterranean (, $20 (128p) ISBN 978-1-59606-474-4

Friends are the family we choose, a maxim that lies at the heart of this short but sharp novella, which ties in to Bear’s Eternal Sky novel series. Bijou the Artificer (first met in 2010’s Bone and Jewel Creatures, here young and eager for adventure) joins the immortal Maledysaunte on a quest to the abandoned city of Ancient Erem to stop Dr. Liebelos, a precisian (wizard of orderliness), from summoning the Iron Book. With them go a crew of allies with mixed motives, including Kaulas the Necromancer, who is Bijou’s lover and rival, and the wizard Salamander, Maledysaunte’s companion and daughter to Dr. Liebelos. Under skies whose moons and suns vary in number, they must confront the threats of legendary beasts and betrayal. Bear injects the fizz of the Roaring ’20s (including travel by roadster, automatic pistols , aeroplanes, and silent movies) into a thoughtful exploration of dealing with loss. Agent: Jennifer Jackson, Donald Maass Agency. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 06/17/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
matociquala: (twain & tesla)

I delivered the publication version of Steles of the Sky at about 4 AM this morning. It goes to production now, and if all goes well, next April you will have a lovely bundle of pages or pixels in your hot little hand. (I've already seen sketches for the cover art. Oh man. This is not going to suck. The roughs are currently my computer desktop. Thank you, Donato Giancola, for another gorgeous cover.)

It's the longest of the three books at 153,000 words Microsoft word count, and about 190,000 words manuscript word count.

Irene Cornyn  (LOC)

Why the big disparity? Well, here. Because I keep getting asked what the difference between a word processor's word count and "manuscript word count" is, I explain.

No, take too long. I sum up.

Your word processor will generally give you a word count when you click the proper button. This word count will vary from word processor to word processor, because Scrivener uses a different algorithm than MS Word than Wordperfect than Open Office than what have you. How can algorithms vary? Because wordcount is a judgment call. Is fire-fighter one word or two? Do we count letters and punctuation? MS Word thinks a hash mark for a scene break is a word. Not all word processors agree.

Manuscript word count is calculated a different way. It is not a measure of the number of words in a piece, but the number of "words," where "words" are bundles of five characters and a space. Like column inches, it's meant to tell an editor or a compositor how much space the piece is going to take up in a finished work. So a page of dialogue may have far fewer words than a page of description, but the same number of "words." (Dialogue, you see, has a lot of white space.)

In the era of typewriters, you didn't calculate your word count by counting every word on the page. You calculated it by setting your margins such that your page had either 24 60 character lines on it, or 25 50 character lines. This gives you (very roughly), ~250 words to a page. (This is one reason why standard manuscript formatting calls for a fixed width serif font such as Courier, double-spaced. Another reason is that fixed width serif fonts, double-spaced, give editors and copyeditors and compositors room to scribble all over your manuscript. Another reason is that you get used to reading it, and picking out errors becomes easier. Proportional fonts (where the letters are different widths) look prettier and save space, but also hide errors and make it harder to guess how much space (how many pages or column inches) a given story will take. Sans-serif fonts make it harder to tell a 1 from an I from an l.

In the ebook/webzine era, the industry seems to be transitioning from manuscript word count to MS word count in general--both in terms of payment for stories that pay by the word (alas! because we get paid more for manuscript counts: they average 15% higher, especially if you're a sesquipedalian bastard like me) and in terms of award eligibility categories.

It doesn't matter so much with novels, where you're not paid by the word and the chief issue is the price of printing additional signatures. (Google it.)

But I find I can't accurately compare word I do now with work I did ten years ago unless I keep track of the manuscript word count.

(By the way, this makes Steles of the Sky the second-longest book I have ever written, after The Stratford Man. Which was a 290,000 word monster eventually published in two volumes: Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth. The manuscript was 1190 pages long.)


March 2017



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