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Here in the Portland metro area, we’ve gotten slammed with winter weather. As people who spend most winters cheerfully sloshing around in the rain, it’s been a difficult experience. Schools have canceled more than seven days of classes. Last night our beloved light rail derailed! And worst of all, the snow has turned into chilly crisp days with no cloud cover. WHAT IS THIS BLINDING BALL OF LIGHT IN THE SKY???

I think this disapproving squirrel speaks for us all.


In memory of a paradise on wheels

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

This isn’t my usual kind of update. It’s not about me, or my work, or even about publishing. It’s about the loss of a very good friend: the Douglas County library system.

As it says in my biography, I grew up in a remote little town in SW Oregon. We didn’t didn’t have our own library (or even a grocery store, for that matter), but every two weeks a pair of librarians drove into town on the bookmobile. The bookmobile connected half a dozen tiny towns in Douglas County, sharing books from the full-sized libraries in bigger towns.

On bookmobile day, the truck parked outside the school, and almost everyone in town came to visit. It was a great place to hang out and chat with our neighbors. School always let us out to spend as much time as we liked checking out books, and I often checked out a stack over three feet high. In fact, during summer vacation, I would sometimes check out more than a hundred books at a time. My tiny school had limited resources, but the bookmobile opened the doors of the world to me.  Through it, I learned how to learn on my own, and I learned to love the written word with all my heart. I do not exaggerate when I say that the biggest influence on the course of my life–and of course on my writing–was the bookmobile and its terrific librarians.

But my relationship with the Douglas County library system didn’t end there. My first quasi-work experience was volunteering at the Reedsport Public Library, cleaning and shelving books and organizing donations. And years later, as a single mom on food stamps, that library was once again my lifeline to the world. My daughter became a book lover as I read her dozens of books a week and took her to storytime.

Today I learned that in 2017, the Douglas County board of commissioners will vote whether or not to dissolve the library system. The bookmobile is long-gone, a legacy of the county’s deep losses after the collapse of the timber industry. Hours at all branches have been slashed and slashed. This year, citizens attempted to save the library with a desperate bond measure–which failed.

I feel as if a dear friend has been put on hospice care. I mourn not just the wonder and joy that the library brought to my life, but to an institution that brought whole communities together and opened the doors for generations of Oregonians. A community with no library is untethered from the wisdom of humanity and the treasure-house of civilization.

Headed to ORYCON this weekend!

If you’re in the Portland area this weekend, don’t miss out on Orycon, the annual science fiction and fantasy convention happening down at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront.  I’ll be doing a few panels and I’ve got a reading, too.

Here’s my schedule:


4 pm, Douglas Fir room — The Fine Art of Description (panel)


1 pm, Sunstone room — Essential Elements of Horror (panel)

6 pm, Salon A room — Reprints

7 pm, Salon A room — Tabletop, Recent Favorites


11:30 am, Hawthorne room — Reading

And of course, Sunday afternoon Powell’s is hosting its tenth annual Sci-Fi Authorfest at its Cedar Hills Location. The event starts at 4 pm, and I’ll be there with my Pathfinder novels.

I hope to see a lot of people this weekend!

Hugo Nominations have opened!

Wow, is it really award season again? Last year’s award season was chaos and pandemonium, but I have high hopes that this year, the science fiction and fantasy community will have a friendly discussion about their favorite genre. If you had a membership to WorldCon last year or have a membership this year, you can nominate work. Awards can make a huge difference in a writer’s career, so get out there and nominate the pieces you love! For more information, visit the MidAmericon’s Hugo award site.

I had a lot of short fiction come out this year, but most of it was horror, so it’s not a great fit for the Hugo awards. Of course, I did work my butt off in the editorial world, and one awesome fan site recommended me as a nominee for Best Short Form Editor (Thanks so much, Nerds of a Feather!). I guess I am eligible!

Seriously, the editorial categories of the Hugo awards often get very few nominations or votes, but editors do a lot of heavy lifting in this field. If you love a magazine’s work, give their editor a shout-out when you make your nominations! And if you like a book, you can often find its editor listed in the acknowledgments at the back of the book. I’d love to see short form editors like John Joseph Adams, C. C. Finlay, and Scott Andrews get recognized this year, and I adore the work of long form editors like Liz Gorinsky, Nick Mamatas, and Paizo’s own James Sutter.

Let’s make the Hugo Awards a celebration this year. It’s not really about who wins–it’s about how much we love SFF!

The Powell’s Column

It’s a rite of passage for every SF/F writer, especially those of us in the Pacific Northwest: signing the legendary column in Powell’s Gold Room. For a measure of the artifact’s true awesomeness, here’s a photo from the Powell’s Tumblr. Yes, that is Douglas Adams’ signature. And Peter S. Beagle’s. And Ursula K. LeGuin’s. Neil Gaiman has particularly epic piece of art he added to the column a few years back.

So when a group of us local writing gals met up with an out-of-town friend—the talented Tex Thompson—we knew we had to take her to see this holiest of all landmarks. You can’t help but feel the presence of the great ones when you’re standing next to their scrawled messages. Elizabeth Scarborough left her email address! Brian Froud drew a fairy! I mean, how cool is that?

Staff in the Gold Room were just as geeked out about it as we were. Over the past few years, one of the staffers has stepped up to advocate for the preservation of the post, and Powell’s is going to install a new UV-protective plexi covering that will help keep the signatures fresh for future generations. If you look closely, you can see the ghostly shapes of previous signatures, now nearly lost in time.

But the signatures of our little gang are bright and shiny  (and right next to Wesley Chu‘s autograph! What a great place to be!). I’ve been waiting to sign the column until I felt like “a real writer,” but with a lot of chocolate under my belt and in the presence of awesome fun friends like Tina Connolly (who hadn’t signed either, even though she has like four books out and a Nebula nomination and is basically my hero), Alex Renwick (who already signed the column like a total pro, because that’s how she rolls), and Tex, it just seemed like the right thing to do.


powells column
Photo by Arianne “Tex” Thompson, who rocks.

Women Destroy: an update on Hugo eligibility

Smarter people than me have weighed in on the Hugo eligibility of the Women Destroy projects. It sounds like the issues are unlikely candidates for the Best Related Work category. (Sorry! I know my last post said it was!)

I was a little bummed out to hear it, because I think the Women Destroy special issues are some of the most exciting work that happened last year, with an unusual positive message of inclusivity and empowerment. I also think the Women Destroy projects brought together fiction and nonfiction in a particularly resonant way, and I don’t think we see those two forms brought together in synergy nearly enough.

As I’ve mentioned before, the individual pieces within the special issues can all be nominated for awards. Each nonfiction piece does qualify for Best Related Work, including the multi-author Editorials. I personally think the editorials do an exceptional job explaining the genesis of the projects and expressing the unique spirit of destruction.

Whatever happens, I know I’m looking forward to the big awards party in Spokane this year. 2014 had a bumper crop of great work, and I think science fiction and fantasy should be proud of itself.

2014: my work in glossy review

2014 was a pretty good year for me. I spent a lot of time with my family, started playing Call of Cthulhu (the RPG), and learned a lot about editing. I got to go camping and took a quick trip to Seattle, where I finally got to tour the Seattle Underground, which was just as epically weird and historical as I was hoping. [Pro-tip: Allergic to mold? Take a Claritin before you go down there! Yeesh.]

On the work front, I had some stuff come out:


 Skinwalkers — This came out in April from Paizo Press’s Pathfinder Tales line. If you love adventure, you should check out this story of a retired Viking pirate mama fighting barbarians and dealing with family drama. If you read it and loved it, be sure to share a great review. It’s totally eligible for the Scribe Award for tie-in writing or the Origins award for game-related products.

Short fiction

“Bread Crumbs,” Tell Me A Fable. A. W. Gifford & Jennifer L. Gifford, ed. Dark Opus Press — this came out in February. It’s a fun Lovecraftian retelling of Hansel and Gretel, and it was a blast to write.

Winter’s Wolves,” Pathfinder Tales — this came out in March. If you need a quick action romp with giants and wolves with frost breath, this piece will scratch that itch.

“Words of Power,” Shattered ShieldsJennifer Brozek & Bryan Thomas Schmidt, ed. Baen Books — this came out in November. If you liked my story “The Secret of Calling Rabbits,” then you’ll probably like this sweet story about a golem in an alternate history World War I. I loved the setting!

Nonfiction Editing

Women Destroy Science Fiction!, Lightspeed Magazine — This was released in June. This double (more than double, actually!) issue devoted to the work and experiences of women in the science fiction community was the work of more than 100 women, and I got to serve as both the Managing and Nonfiction Editor of the piece. NPR named it one of 2014’s best  books of the year. I feel the personal essay section packs a tremendous emotional punch! Because of the incredible amount of nonfiction in this work, it stands out from an anthology, and qualifies for the Hugo for Best Related Work. (See explanatory post.)

Women Destroy Fantasy!, Fantasy Magazine — This was released in October. Another double issue devoted to the work and experiences of women, but this time focused on the fantasy genre. There are no personal essays in this one, but as the Nonfiction Editor of this one, I am incredibly proud of the nonfiction in this piece, including the in-depth discussion of women in genre illustration and design. This also qualifies for the Hugo for Best Related Work. (See explanatory post.)

I think both of these collections are amazing. WDSF is a real stand-out for the sheer quantity of material, with 7 large articles or essays and 29 short form essays, all of it ranging from work by best-selling authors to new writers just breaking into the field.

So if you’re nominating for the Hugos this year, don’t brush off the Best Related Work category. Here are two collections that deserve your attention!