Category Archives: Uncategorized

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!




I get to write another Pathfinder book!

It’s been an exciting year so far, but by far the most thrilling news is that I’ve signed on to write another book for Pathfinder! More details will follow, but I think it’s safe to say that Jendara and her family are pretty stoked to get into more trouble.

*dances off to go write*


CHICKS DIG GAMING — table of contents released

I am getting very, very excited for the November release of Chicks Dig Gaming. It looks jam-packed with cool essays about games (video games, tabletop games, live-action games–you name it!), and it includes a ton of women whose work I adore. Here’s the whole line-up: Chicks-Dig-Gaming-cover-MNP2-192x300

• Thank You, Mario, but Our Princess is in Another Castle, by Catherynne M. Valente
• ’Round the World With Nellie Bly, by Rosemary Jones
• Select Hero or Heroine, by Dawn Foran
• How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Numbers: a Girl, a Rulebook and Arithmetic, by Seanan McGuire
• Look Behind You! A Three-Headed Monkey!, by L.M. Myles
• So You Want to Start a Fight, by Dorothy Ail
• Who in the Hell is Carmen Sandiego?, by Teresa Jusino
• An Interview with Lisa Stevens
• Intuition, Gaming and the Laboratory Scientist, by Kelly Swails
• Saving the Galaxy in Cute Shoes, by Zoe Estrin-Grele
• The Silence of the Games, by Sarah Groenewegen
• Raising Gamers, by Filamena Young
• Game Change, by Linnea Dodson
• The Evolution of a LARPer in Three Acts, by Johanna Mead
• Black Windows, by E. Lily Yu
• Another Puzzle Solved? Professor Layton and the Passive Princess, by Mags L. Halliday
• An Axe Up My Sleeve, by Cheryl Twist
• A Chick Who Doesn’t Dig Games Plays “Portal,” by Fiona Moore
• An Interview with Margaret Weis
• How to Design Games for Boys, by Lynnea Glasser
• The Grace of Dice and Glossy Cardstock, by Lucy A. Snyder
• THAC0 of a Gamer Girl, by Jaleigh Johnson
• Let Us Play, by Lene Taylor
• The Hero in My Story, by Caitlin Sullivan
When the Stars are Right, by Wendy N. Wagner
• A Vicarious Tale of Getting into Video Games for the Plot, by Hannah Rothman
• We Play to Lose, by Emily Care Boss
• It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere, by Amy Hanson
• Saving Throws, by Jody Lynn Nye
• Go for the Eyes, Gamer Girls, Go for the Eyes!, by Sam Maggs
• Looking for Group, by G. Willow Wilson
• Refuge, by Mary Anne Mohanraj
• Leopards at the Wedding: Finding Love in a Glitchy Landscape, by Miriam Oudin
• Blood on the Hull: Gender, Dominion and the Business of Betrayal in “Eve,” by Jen J. Dixon
• Castling, by Racheline Maltese

It looks like the pieces range from game analysis to personal essays to interviews, so I think there’s a ton of great variety. I’m sure you can guess what my essay is about!

Read the Destruction: Award-winning novels by women

As research for the upcoming Women Destroy Fantasy! special issue of Lightspeed, I’m compiling a list of fantasy novels by women that have won major genre fiction awards. Here’s what I have so far:

World Fantasy Award-winning novels by women

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, by Patricia McKillip (1975)

Watchtower, by Elizabeth A. Lynn (1980)

Thomas the Rhymer, by Ellen Kushner (1991)

Godmother Night, by Rachel Pollack (1997)

The Antelope Wife, by Louise Erdrich (1999)

The Other Wind, by Ursula K. LeGuin (2002)

Ombria in Shadow, by Patricia McKillip (2003)

Tooth and Claw, by Jo Walton (2004)

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke (2005)

Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan (2009)

Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor (2011)

Alif the Unseen, by G. Willow Wilson (2013)


Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel

Harpist in the Wind, by Patricia McKillip (1980)

The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1984)

Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin (1991)

Beauty, by Sheri S. Tepper (1992)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling (2000)

Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold (2004)

The Privilege of the Sword, by Ellen Kushner (2007)

Lavinia, by Ursula K. LeGuin (2009)

Fantasy novels[*] by women that have won the Nebula Award for Best Novel:

The Falling Woman, by Pat Murphy (1988)

Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin (1991)

Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold (2005)

Powers, by Ursula K. LeGuin (2009)

Among Others, by Jo Walton (2012)


[*]           If the author attempted to explain the speculative elements of the text via some kind of appeal to science or technology, I called it science fiction and did not include the work.

Works by women writers to receive the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award[*]

The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart (1971)

Red Moon and Black Mountain, by Joy Chant (1972)

The Song of Rhiannon, by Evangeline Walton (1973)

The Hollow Hills, by Mary Stewart (1974)

The Firelings, by Carol Kendall (1983)

When Voiha Wakes, by Joy Chant (1984)

Cards of Grief, by Jane Yolen (1985)

Thomas the Rhymer, by Ellen Kushner (1991)

A Woman of the Iron People, by Eleanor Arnason (1992)

Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen (1993)

The Porcelain Dove, by Delia Sherman (1994)

Something Rich and Strange, by Patricia A. McKillip (1995)

Waking the Moon, by Elizabeth Hand (1996)

The Wood Wife, by Terri Windling (1997)

The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, by A.S. Byatt (1998)

The Innamorati, by Midori Snyder (2001)

The Curse of Chalion, by Lois McMaster Bujold (2002)

Ombria in Shadow, by Patricia A. McKillip (2003)

Sunshine, by Robin McKinley (2004)

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke (2005)

Solstice Wood, by Patricia A. McKillip (2007)

Orphan’s Tales, by Catherynne M. Valente (2008)

Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone, by Carol Berg (2009)

Lifelode, by Jo Walton (2010)

Redemption in Indigo, by Karen Lord (2011)

The Uncertain Places, by Lisa Goldstein (2012)

Digger, vols. 1-6, by Ursula Vernon (2013)



[*]           From 1971-1992, the Mythopoeic Society made no distinction between adult and youth fiction. In 1992 the Mythopoeic Society began giving two separate awards, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. I have included only the Adult winners for the time being.


The winners of my Crossing the Streams giveaway!

First, I want to give a big thank you to everyone who entered! You all shared amazing stories and I had a great time reading them. From a number of entrants, I selected two winners, one based upon how much I liked their story of an outstanding mother, and one selected purely at random.

Winner #1 is Jonathan, aka Greeniewolf! His story about his remarkable mother made me quite teary. She sounds like a truly amazing woman. Jonathan, I’m sending you an email to get your shipping information.

Winner #2 didn’t give me her name, but I do have her email address, and I’ll be contacting her to get her details.

Don’t forget that all of you have been entered into the Grand Prize drawing, where you could win a copy of not just my novel, Skinwalkers, but eighteen other fantastic books. My fingers are crossed for all of you!


The state of SF (and me!)

So … background. Last year was a rough year for women working in the science fiction and fantasy genres. The first half of the year, the publication of genre’s primary professional organization–the SFWA Bulletin–had a number of issues that were offensive due of their sexist artwork or articles. Here’s a great summary. Blogs discussed the depressing facts that women’s fiction doesn’t get as many reviews as men’s, and best-of lists included hardly any women’s work (this post by Ian Sales summarizes this stuff nicely). Then the relaunched Amazing Stories published a personal essay called “When is Science Fiction Not Science Fiction“–where the author, Paul Cook, complained that Lois McMaster Bujold’s work (which is crammed full of space travel and other elements we’d usually see in a science fiction adventure) wasn’t actually science fiction. Cook said he could tell it wasn’t really SF,  because “Bujold tips her hand in the eloquence of her language (normally a good thing) and the attention to detail that only women would find attractive:  balls, courts, military dress, palace intrigues, gossiping, and whispering in the corridors.”

People got mad, and for good reason. (After all, everyone loves Dune, and it’s full of gossip and intrigue. Nobody says it’s not science fiction!)  And somebody decided to do something about it: Christie Yant.

Christie’s working to put together a special double issue of Lightspeed Magazine that will be entirely written, edited, and produced by women. That’s right: all the money and all the time (and the reviews! Don’t forget the reviews!) that would normally be equally divided between men and women (Lightspeed does a great job of publishing balanced genders), will be showered, instead, on women. Actually, TWICE as much time and money will go to them. And why? Because women could use a little more attention in science fiction, and this might help make up for it. Plus, it’s also a cool celebration of women in the industry that will hopefully get them fired up to go write even more awesome fiction. I wouldn’t mind seeing women win every award in the business this year, just to give 2013 a big kick in the ass.WomenDestroy-Final2

Interested in the project? Go check out Lightspeed’s Kickstarter campaign! It takes a little extra money to publish all that extra fiction, so give them a hand. All donors get an ebook copy of the special issue, which you don’t want to miss out on.

And why am I so interested in all of this, besides the fact that I’m a woman? Well, these days I’m Lightspeed’s Managing/Associate Editor, and I’ve been reading slush and collecting personal essays for this project–so I actually know how cool it’s going to be.

Oldies but goodies

At least once a year we make the long drive up to visit my parents, who live in the vicinity of Grand Coulee, Washington. We don’t always take the same roads, but over the years, we’ve fallen into a much-loved routine: on the way up, we have to stop at Macario’s Restaurant in Boardman. I don’t know if it’s the most terrific Mexican food–it’s fairly standard beans and cheesy goodness–but we love it there and the trip just wouldn’t feel complete without a stop.

Isn’t it funny how we get into these routines? Little things, little funny rituals take on significance when repeated, and life feels hollow without them. Whether it’s a certain bedtime routine (I struggle to fall asleep if I didn’t floss) or a family holiday tradition, repeated actions sometimes transcend the ordinary and take on extraordinary meaning.

When I was studying early music history, we spent a great deal of time examining the use of music in monastic tradition. In medieval monasteries, the inhabitants lives were very strictly ordered by the canonical hours. They kept to a very strict, very deliberate routine. You can visit monasteries run by these same precepts, and I know several people who have done so. According to one such visitor, after a period of adjustment, your mind responds to the strange rhythms. It becomes dreamier, more mystical, more introspective, even hallucinatory.

Most of us look forward to a change in our routine to help us find introspection and clarity, but maybe the monks were onto something. Maybe we just need to stop looking at routine as dull–and instead, celebrate it.

As for me, I’m already missing my regular routine. I’m too excited about this trip to get any work done! But here’s a photo of what I’ve got to look forward to:

Reno trip & Christmas 190