Confluence is Pittsburgh’s local science fiction convention, so of course I’m going! Here’s my schedule:
Friday, July 24
Confluence for Introverts
Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading
Gender in Fantasy
Reading – Ken Chiaccia and Christie Meierz
Agents: To Have, or Have Not?
What comes after humanity?
I’ve got a panel at 11pm this evening, so I thought I’d write up my Day 1 summary ahead of time, cuz I’m probably going to be too tired after midnight. Unless I’m at a party. Does PhilCon have parties? (We’ll find out!)
Around 3 or 4 this afternoon, I picked up my registration with the con. I probably ran into various folks that I’ve seen before: hopefully Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (whom I got to meet in person last night at the end of their Trade Secret Book Tour), maybe Lawrence M. Schoen, and others. Much joking and hellos and hilarity ensued, and then the husband and I wandered off to check out the panels we’re interested in listening to, such as possibly Good Science Fiction Spoiled By Bad Science at 8pm, or “Wool” and the Future of SF Publishing, also at 8pm, or The Effect of Mass Media Science Fiction on Literature, also also at 8pm, or “Meet The Pros” & Art Show Reception, also also also at 8pm (see a pattern here? yeah, it’s going to be one of those cons, way too many good things going on at the same time).
After much ignoring of tummy rumbles, I ducked up to my room to snack on the fruit and yogurt I brought, then went back downstairs and hung around the con suite until it was time for my panel, “They said WHAT about my book!?” Misleading or Embarrassing Blurbs. After that, I checked my notes from the party board (does PhilCon have a party board? We’ll find out!) and if there was anything promising, I schmoozed and had a great time until I couldn’t keep my eyes open and toddled off to bed.
Day 1 accomplished. Day 2 will be even more fun!
Well, nothing, really. Although some might argue that many advances in science happen when one group of people is trying to figure out how to kill another group of people.
You could argue, however, that we also make advances in science when peaceful people get excited about what the future could look like. Look at how many things we now have that are directly inspired by stuff from Star Trek. (And my smart phone is way cooler than Dick Tracy’s wristwatch. Just sayin’.)
And there’s always the bottom line: Money. Try this thought experiment: what would happen if, instead of using bazillions of dollars on finding new and more appalling ways to kill each other, we used that money to fuel scientific research into medicine, physics, astronomy, the space program, and so on. Can you just imagine the strides we could make?
Money works — Qualcomm is currently offering a $10 million XPrize for a working medical tricorder, for example. Seriously, I think it’ll be on your smart phone someday. Your kid has an earache? There’s an app for that! You have a migraine? Ditto!
Some of this is coming, yeah. But there could be so much more, so much faster — with fewer hungry people in the mean time — if we weren’t cutting research funding. If human beings could just stop fighting over stupid things like lines on the ground and who gets to believe what about how the universe came to be, so we could spend money on what’s important, like curing diseases and feeding children so they don’t go blind from malnutrition.
So, here’s the thing: the Tolari split off from us around the time we invented the wheel. They were taken, genetically engineered, plopped onto a planet something on the order of 150 trillion miles away from Earth, and left to develop as they would. Before the rise of any of Earth’s great civilizations.
Understandably, they lack any of our cultural referents.
The aliens that kidnapped and altered them also tinkered with their family structure. Just between you, me, and that rosebush over there, for all their brilliance, they couldn’t wrap their heads (and I use that term loosely) around the idea of a two-parent family. So they did away with it. Tolari children only need the one parent. I’ll be exploring parental bonding a bit more in book 4 — there are hormonal components to it. That bond gives them all the stability they need.
Trying to understand this within a human conceptual frame doesn’t work. If a Tolari, man or woman, is bonded to a child, they will have a strong parental response to said child. Love, caring, protection, emotional support, all that. If they are not bonded to that child, they will still have a normal adult’s concern, of course. They’ll act like an aunt or an uncle or a grandparent to that child if they spend a lot of time around them.
Enter the Sural. At the end of Daughters, he’s in the unusual-for-a-Tolari position of having three daughters bonded to him: Kyza, Thela, and Rose. Two little girls and an infant. If anyone tries to tell you he doesn’t love any one of them as much as the others, don’t believe them. He’s a bonded father to each, and you’d have a better chance of surviving if you got between a mother bear and her cubs. Can you honestly see him coaxing the grieving Thela to eat, or cradling the newborn Rose in his arms, and still think he loves them less than Kyza?
Late last night, I got an email from the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Special Interest Chapter of RWA that started out like this:
Congratulations! I’m pleased to inform you that your entry, The Marann is a finalist in the Futuristic Category of FF&P’s Prism Contest for Published Authors!
OH. MY. GOD.
I think I’ve settled on what project I’m going to stick to:The Fall. (Working title.) Laura and the Paran’s story.
All is not perfect in paradise — er, Parania, that is — and Laura’s happily-ever-after isn’t as trouble-free as anyone would have supposed. More Tolari culture, more world-building, and what happens when Tolari rulers go bad.
I’m doing major turn-it-upside-down revisions on this story, but it’s about 95% written. No promises, but I’m shooting to get this out the door by the end of the summer. It would be nice to have it released before I head to WorldCon 2013 at the end of August. (I’ll be there! Will you?)
No. Promises. Telling folks I’d have Daughters go live by the end of April dang near killed me, because that story just didn’t want to settle and I was still making major changes in mid-March. This time — well, I’ll give you a ballpark, but I refuse to be held to it. <grin>
Right. So, after convincing me that setting up a pattern of romance-adventure-romance-adventure would be a good idea, my husband comes up to me this morning and tries to convince me to abandon Stranded and go back to working on The Fall.
“Why,” I ask, feeling as if the whirly thing over my head must surely be visible. And no, there was no question mark in my voice.
Because he’d noticed that the timeline is getting jerked around.
I released The Marann, and then I released Into Tolari Space, which goes back to before Marianne arrives. Then I released Daughters of Suralia, which starts about 3 months after The Marann ends. Stranded goes back into that 3 month period and starts before Daughters (and ends two years later, but still). If I release Stranded next, we’re going back in time. Again.
The Fall begins where Daughters leaves off, even if interstellar politics get ignored because this story heads off to Parania, where such things don’t matter very much (but you do get to see what happens when Tolari rulers misbehave).
I stretched, feeling every one of my sixty years, and opened my eyes to see
Marianne standing over me, almost doubled over trying to stifle herself. The
Sural stood next to her, looking bemused.
broad daylight yet, but it looked like sunrise wasn’t far off. I was still in
the garden, under one of those trees that kind of look like apple trees, and
Thela curled into my side, dead to the world. She looked more peaceful than
I’d seen her since her father’s sudden death, the poor little thing. We must
have fallen asleep counting the stars.
said, because there wasn’t much else to say. I patted the girl’s shoulder.
“Thela. Thela, sweetie, wake up.”
started and sat up, looking around wild-eyed. Marianne only giggled harder. I
rolled my eyes at her, but I only remembered too well what it was like to have
a sudden fit of the giggles while pregnant.
said something to Thela in their own language, and she jumped up and ran off into
the keep. Then he extended a hand to me. “Do you require assistance?”
The ebook editions of Daughters of Suralia are live on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords Premium (the last means it will eventually propagate
to Kobo, Sony, Apple, Diesel, Page Foundry, Baker & Taylor, and
Library Direct). I’m still working on the print edition, but by and
large, now I just need to keep on top of the whole book marketing thing
(not my favorite activity, but necessary).
is doing really well. Within 12 hours of its release, it was on 3 of
Amazon’s category bestseller lists (both Space Opera lists, plus
Futuristic & Science Fiction Romance, where it currently sits at #14!). I couldn’t be more amazed and happy and thankful to my faithful readers.
But you know what this means. It’s time to get to work on something else.
The two most viable options are book 3, which is set in Parania (and if you’ve read Daughters already, you can guess who it’s about – with cameos by Marianne, the Sural, and Storaas), and book 1.5, which is a YA adventure set in Suralia during the three-month period between the end of The Marann and the beginning of Daughters of Suralia.
I’m actually leaning toward book 1.5 at the moment, mostly because the
hubby pointed out that it might be good to set up an alternating pattern
of releasing a romance, then an adventure, then a romance, etc. That certainly makes a certain amount of sense.
Okay, I usually don’t do the most sensible thing. But it might be time
to start. There’s some comfort to having a direction in this new writing
career I’ve started, even if it’s a bit vague. And trust me, there’s
lots to write about in Tolari Space. I’m only just getting started.
Three women, two planets, and a whale.
For Marianne Woolsey, linguist and tutor, being empathically
bonded to the leader of the Tolari turns out to be a bed of roses – complete
with thorns. Especially thorns.
With diplomatic relations severed and humans kicked out of
Tolari space, the Earth Fleet ship Alexander
is gone … for now … but Earth Central Command hasn’t given up trying to get
Marianne back. As she struggles with surprises, nightmares, and a bond-partner
who can’t be tamed, she just wants to figure out where she fits in a society
that isn’t quite human.
Laura Howard, the Admiral’s widow, only desires to be left
in peace to gather the fragments of a shattered heart, but Central Command has
plans for her, too.
Meanwhile, the Sural’s apothecary is a serene and gifted
healer who knows what – and who – she wants. Circumstances have conspired to
deny her the man she’s always loved, but in the pursuit of his heart, she has
an unexpected ally – in the depths of Tolar’s oceans.
Daughters of Suralia is
a sweet scifi romance.