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Full logo whiteMuch has changed on the publishing end of things since the last update. I can now announce that The Bone Flower Queen should be out in January of next year, early February at the latest. But I will publish the book on my own, under my self-publishing press Feathered Serpent Books (under which I’d already published Night Bird Soaring and Other Stories a few years back). I’m not going to go into details about why, but I’m pleased to say that my editor is still working with me on the book in a freelance capacity, so readers can expect the same good, clean copy they found in Bone Flower Throne. I’ve also brought Zelda Devon back to create another beautiful cover, and I’m really excited to see what she comes up with. There will be print copies available the same as with BFT, done through POD, and of course kindle and epub editions. I’m not sure yet whether I’m going to make the book available through Smashwords or Apple yet–neither of which were ever producers of high sales for BFT; broader distribution is still something I’m investigating and will come to a decision about in the next couple of months.

The news that I’d have to go it on my own was a bit scary at first, and if I had faced this same decision with BFT, I probably wouldn’t have had to the guts to pursue it. But seeing positive reader reaction and support for the first book in this trilogy made the decision a bit easier and not so intimidating. As part of the deal, I also get back all my rights to Bone Flower Throne at the end of the year, so I’ll be re-releasing that under the FSB’s banner around the same time Bone Flower Queen debuts (and maybe doing some temporary price drops on it to push sales for BFQ). I’m also looking forward to learning the technical side; yes, I did self-publish NBS several years ago, but it feels very different doing a completely new, original work rather than reprinted material.

Want to help support my move to self publishing? There are several ways you can. I’ve added Bone Flower Queen to Goodreads, so you can add it to your library, and speaking of libraries, you can ask your local library to order a paper copy of Bone Flower Throne for their collection. I’m also currently looking to assemble a street team of readers who would be interested in reading advanced review copies (electronic only) in exchange for posting an honest review on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, Booklikes, LibraryThing, or on their blog. If you’re interested, you can message me over on Facebook, or use the contact page here to let me know. Make sure you include your preferred email address and electronic format (mobi, epub, .doc, or .pdf). ARCs will begin going out in early November. And it’s always helpful to spread the word about Bone Flower Throne; tell your friends or facebook followers about it–anyone you think would be interested in diverse epic fantasy with a strong female protagonist. Word-of-mouth can really help lift little-known books out of obscurity.

the-bone-flower-throne-displaySo in a week we come to the one year anniversary of the release of The Bone Flower Throne and you might be wondering why you haven’t heard any release dates for The Bone Flower Queen. My editor has given me a tentative release date, but given how much is still left to be done, I’m not comfortable telling you that date yet. Suffice it to say that you can’t expect to see the next book until the end of the year, probably even the beginning of next year. As a small press, Panverse is pretty much a one-man operation, which invariably leads to unexpected delays; I also turned in this manuscript about six months later than I turned in the first one, so some of that delay rests on my shoulders. But we want this book to be the best it can be, so we’re not in any hurry to rush through to get it out at the cost of quality. But rest assured that The Bone Flower Queen will come out, as will the final book in the trilogy (which I’m currently working on).

I do hope to have some news to report in the next couple of weeks, perhaps even a cover reveal, but as for now, we’re in a holding pattern. In the meantime, you can sign up for my newsletter, so you will receive an email when The Bone Flower Queen becomes available for purchase. I promise never to sell your email or use it for anything other than the newsletter (which I only send out once in a blue moon).

This thing called #shelfie is going around Twitter right now, and I thought readers might be interested in seeing my research shelf.

Click to enlarge and see the titles!

Click to enlarge and see the titles!

When we finished our basement, my husband built me a custom writing office, which includes a library that houses my many hundreds of books, but this particular shelf is in an alcove right next to my writing desk, because I wanted my research books close at hand. I used to only be able to fill one of those shelves, but over the years I’ve accumulated enough books that I’m on the verge of outgrowing the alcove (there is one more shelf above that top shelf, but I keep family pictures up there). I’ve used most all of these books at some point or another on a story, but my all-around favorite ones are the Codex Florentine (that twelve-volume dark orange monstrosity down on the left), The Handbook to Life in the Aztec World (the white and gray book sitting sideways on that bottom shelf), and Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl (the maroon colored book on the second shelf). I haven’t bought any new books in a while, but I’m always on the look out for new ones to add to this collection.

Which other author’s research shelf would you like to get a gander at? I challenge Aliette de Bodard, Jeannie Linn, and Christopher Cevasco to post pictures of theirs for reader enjoyment. 🙂

My publisher has opened their online store for ebook sales, so you can now purchase The Bone Flower Throne directly from them. The price is the same as at other online retailers, but there are several good reasons to buy directly from Panverse.

First, for the price of a single book from any of the other retailers, you get both the mobi and the epub format. So whether you use a Kindle or a Nook, or both, you’re set!

Secondly, when you buy directly from the publisher, we authors make more money per sale thanks to no middle-man taking a cut.

More choices are a great thing!

This last weekend I attended the local MALcon just a few minutes down the road from my house. I only went on Saturday, to see if it was something I’d like to participate in in the future, and with departure for Loncon just days away, I didn’t want to spend too much time away from home. On the whole it was rather enjoyable; quite small, but there was a good variety of panels on writing and topics of interest to me.

DCF 1.0I was particularly interested in the panels on powder keg topics and misogyny in SF/F. The latter one had only two men scheduled to be on the panel, so I was invited to join them up front, but I declined because I’m not good talking about political topics, even the ones I’m passionate about. They did find a really well-spoken woman from the audience (I’m pretty sure she was a scientist) to join them in the discussion. My one disappointment though was that the topic got so derailed onto gender differences being cultural vs genetic that we seemed to spend very little time actually discussing misogyny and bigotry in the SF/F field. Near the end, the discussion turned finally to the problems women and minority writers face in the field, but mostly to talk about how boys won’t read female narratives and how women writers can get boys to engage with their SF/F. It was suggested that writers could start out with male characters then ease them into female characters.

While I’m in favor of trying to get boys to read more female narratives, my personal feeling is that this method is just more of the status quo: female characters must be propped up by male characters. And what about adult fiction? Must we hand-hold men lest they scoff and close the book? Should I have made the Bone Flower Trilogy a mixed narrative of both Quetzalpetlatl and Topiltzin’s POV, even though Topiltzin’s story has been told over and over again, in hundreds of years of myths and even in modern books such as K. Michael Wright’s Tolteca or Kenneth Morris’s The Chalchiuhite Dragon? Maybe I should have, then I wouldn’t have been told by a big publishing house that my story was “too feminist” for their predominately male epic fantasy audience. Despite all this, I have no regrets about making Bone Flower Quetzalpetlatl’s story rather than Topiltzin’s; her voice was one lost to time and reduced to little more than a tool for the amusement and ambitions of male gods. This method of couching female narratives through the filter of men and their experiences feels an awful lot like telling stories about native cultures through the eyes of their white colonizers, so the perceived predominately-white audience has someone to grab onto and relate to without having to do any work on a personal and cultural level (and man did discussion of this particular literary device cause a yelling match on a panel at WorldCon in Reno a few years back! I thought one panelist’s head was going to explode when a female panelist said that was a crappy way to write about alien cultures, or other human cultures, for that matter).

Because of the direction of the panel for most of the hour, we didn’t get into much discussion about the negatives of this approach, or what other options are available to writers, which is a pity. These are important discussions to have. From my own experience, there’s multiple points where blockades are put up against women/minorities and their stories; most are cultural and will be extremely difficult to overcome, but some are inherent to the capitalistic nature of publishing and are perhaps a bit more easily changed. Readers can only read what is available to them, and if publishers are not publishing women/minority writers/stories, then readers aren’t going to see them. The chance for exposure and change is being cut off at the source in favor of narratives that are “safe money-makers”. I often hear people defend the status quo by telling those complaining, “Well, if you don’t like it, why don’t you go write the stories you want to read then?” Newsflash: lots of writers do this, but those stories aren’t being published because they aren’t the safe, time-tested product that publishers know they can rely on to sell. Thank goodness for self-publishing and small presses these days, or else truly deserving and compelling narratives–like Sabrina Vourvoulias’s Ink–would never see the light of day. I’m torn on the whole publisher part of this equation; I understand their need to turn a profit so they can publish more books and not go under, but at the same time that very factor is contributing to the silencing of important narratives and stalling the expansion of the art form, based mostly on an inkling of what does and doesn’t sell (not to mention that often when they do take a chance on a non-status quo book, they don’t put the necessary push behind it to help it succeed in the competitive marketplace because of fear of investing too much money and losing it all).

file4501243625430Culturally speaking though, we need to teach boys from a young, young age that women’s/girls’ stories are worthwhile, and provide them with a multitude of narratives throughout their early lives, and get away from the whole “this is for boys, this is for girls” BS. Girls are already being taught from early on that men’s narratives are as worthwhile as women’s narratives (sometimes even more so than women’s), so we should be doing the same with boys. To me, it comes down to parenting, and is supplemented by teachers at the elementary school level. The more we expose children to a multitude of view points, the more open-minded they will be as adults.

One of the panel members mentioned a comic he saw on Facebook where two skeletons were sitting at a table holding beers and the caption said something like “what happens when men sit down to try to understand women”, and pretty much every woman in the room agreed that it was stupidest thing they’d ever heard, but also not surprising. Boys are taught from a very early age that they should only immerse themselves in things considered male while avoiding things perceived as female lest it taint their masculinity, so no wonder they grow to view women as mysterious. Quite honestly, if men want to understand women better, they can start by reading women characters and writers, and reading those genres supposedly geared towards women. Read a romance, read an epic fantasy that follows the lives of female characters rather than male characters, read mysteries with female sleuths–like Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta books–and read literary fiction centered around female characters. And even better, seek out books from minority female writers about the female experience. One will soon find out that women are not inscrutable and mysterious, but are in fact human beings, and in turn their relationships with their mothers, their sisters, their girlfriends, their wives, their daughters, and their female friends will greatly improve. This doesn’t mean giving up reading the comfortable male narratives they enjoy, just expanding their reading horizons to include more challenges to one’s view of the world. Let us teach our sons that not only is Harry Potter’s story awesome and meaningful to their lives, but so is Katniss Everdeen’s; Superman and Batman are awesome, but Buffy kicks ass too. If we do this, then there will be more demand for Katnisses and Buffys, and then maybe publishing will take more chances on female narratives in epic fantasy, comics, and hard science fiction (places where androcentrism is currently at its strongest).

Men, stop living your whole literary life in safe comfort and the selfishness culture has taught you, because your comfortable reading habits are making things more difficult for those of us who don’t have the privilege of being white male cis. Be part of the solution, not a part of the problem. And women and minority authors, continue writing your narratives and trying to get them heard, no matter what publishing or the broader culture tries to tell you about their worth. Keep fighting the good fight, for your stories deserve to be told and heard.