The Week in Review

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

Crafting a Shardblade

  • Watch a great conversation between Cory Doctorow and William Campbell Powell, the author of Expiration Day, about overcoming your fear of change.
  • John Scalzi has announced a new novella, “Unlocked,” a prequel story to his upcoming novel Lock In.
  • Last but not least, this week’s Throwback Thursday post features the inimitable Elizabeth Bear, who gives great advice, as always.

 
And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!

Throwback Thursdays: Cat-Waxing 101

Welcome to Throwback Thursdays on the Tor/Forge blog! Every other week, we’re delving into our newsletter archives and sharing some of our favorite posts.

Back in March of 2012, author Elizabeth Bear shared the tricks successful writers use—tricks you can definitely trust, now that she’s finished her critically-acclaimed Eternal Sky trilogy with the publication of Steles of the Sky. We hope you enjoy her advice in this blast from the past, and be sure to check back every other Thursday for more!

Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth BearBy Elizabeth Bear

Over the years, I have written a great many articles and blog posts dealing with the nuances of the publishing industry, but there’s one topic I’ve never touched on before.

It’s one of the arcane secrets of the successful writer, jealously guarded. One of the secret handshakes of the clubhouse of publishing success.

Only now, with the cooperation of Tor, can I reveal it to you—and I’m risking my career and perhaps even my very safety to do so. It’s something every writer needs to know, and from time immemorial that secret has been passed down in back rooms and at two a.m. sessions in convention bars.

I speak of “How to wax a cat.”

I can’t count, over the years, the number of times a dewy-eyed young would-be author has looked at me in surprise and horror after overhearing a few casual lines passed between more established writers. “Bear!” they cry. “You are an animal lover! Why would you do something so terribly cruel?

Well, Grasshoppers, I am here now to reveal a great secret. The cat is a metaphor.

Cat-waxing (also known as cat vacuuming to some) is something writers undertake in order to complete important research, to give the brain the time it needs to do the subconscious processing so essential to creative work. There are a number of techniques, but here’s how I handle it.

First, you must determine if you wish to wax your cat for shininess, or for smoothness. Both have advantages—reducing allergens, waterproofing—but if you are going to wax your cat for smoothness I recommend sedating it first—for the comfort of the cat, and the safety of the human.

In either case, before you commence waxing, you must first create a clean and dust-free environment in which to wax. Dust will adhere readily to a freshly waxed cat, and then you’ll just have to start all over again. To create a proper waxing environment, select a space that you can completely control, clean it thoroughly, and drape it in plastic sheeting. You’ll want to wear a freshly laundered white-cotton full-body coverall or perhaps a Nuclear-Biological-Chemical suit as well, to avoid getting fibers from your clothes stuck in the cat wax.

The television show Dexter provides an excellent model of the sort of environment that’s best.

Having prepared your waxing chamber, it’s important to secure a good wax. There are several dedicated brands of cat wax which do an excellent job, and a number of writers use non-proprietary waxes, such as Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax (despite the name, intended for surfboards) or Homer Formby’s furniture wax. You will likely wish to experiment with a variety of waxes before making your final selection.

Once you have secured the cat, the space, the sedative, and the wax, you will also require a source of warm water and some dust-free cloths. First, grasp your cat gently but firmly by the scruff…

…oh, I see we’re out of time.

This article is originally from the March 2012 Tor/Forge newsletter. Sign up for the Tor/Forge newsletter now, and get similar content in your inbox twice a month!

Book Trailer: American Craftsmen by Tom Doyle


 
American Craftsmen by Tom Doyle

In modern America, two soldiers will fight their way through the magical legacies of Poe and Hawthorne to destroy an undying evil—if they don’t kill each other first.

US Army Captain Dale Morton is a magician soldier—a “craftsman.” After a black-ops mission gone wrong, Dale is cursed by a Persian sorcerer and haunted by his good and evil ancestors. Major Michael Endicott, a Puritan craftsman, finds gruesome evidence that the evil Mortons, formerly led by the twins Roderick and Madeline, have returned, and that Dale might be one of them.

Dale uncovers treason in the Pentagon’s highest covert ranks. He hunts for his enemies before they can murder him and Scherie, a new friend who knows nothing of his magic.

Endicott pursues Dale, divided between his duty to capture a rogue soldier and his desire to protect Dale from his would-be assassins. They will discover that the demonic horrors that have corrupted American magic are not bound by family or even death itself.

In Tom Doyle’s thrilling debut, American Craftsmen, Seal Team Six meets ancient magic—with the fate of the United States hanging in the balance….

American Craftsmen, by Tom Doyle, publishes on May 6th.

Goodreads Sweepstakes: Earth Awakens by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

Earth Awakens by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

About Earth Awakens: The story of The First Formic War continues in Earth Awakens.

Nearly 100 years before the events of Orson Scott Card’s bestselling novel Ender’s Game, humans were just beginning to step off Earth and out into the Solar System. A thin web of ships in both asteroid belts; a few stations; a corporate settlement on Luna. No one had seen any sign of other space-faring races; everyone expected that First Contact, if it came, would happen in the future, in the empty reaches between the stars. Then a young navigator on a distant mining ship saw something moving too fast, heading directly for our sun.

When the alien ship screamed through the solar system, it disrupted communications between the far-flung human mining ships and supply stations, and between them and Earth. So Earth and Luna were unaware that they had been invaded until the ship pulled into Earth orbit, and began landing terra-forming crews in China. Politics and pride slowed the response on Earth, and on Luna, corporate power struggles seemed more urgent than distant deaths. But there are a few men and women who see that if Earth doesn’t wake up and pull together, the planet could be lost.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends May 15th)

Also, don’t forget to check out our other sweepstakes!

Kevin J. Anderson at FanX

Kevin J. Anderson

Kevin J. Anderson, co-author of Mentats of Dune, will be at this year’s FanX!

Check out his schedule of panels:

Friday, April 17

  • 11:00 AM Panel: The Writers of Star Wars, Room 250A
    Featured: Kevin J. Anderson, David Wolverton, Michael A. Stackpole, and Bryan Young
  • 7:00 PM Panel: Steampunk for the Ages, Room 151A
    Featured: Kevin J. Anderson, James Wymore, Dan Willis, Scott Taylor, and Jennifer McGrew

Saturday, April 18th

  • 1:00 PM Panel: Building My First Lightsaber: From Fanboy to Bestselling Author, Room 151A
    Featured: Kevin J. Anderson

In addition to FanX, Kevin will also be stopping at conventions across the country. Here’s where he’ll be in the upcoming months:

  • Tuesday-Friday, August 29-September 1
    Dragoncon
    Atlanta, GA

Starred Review: Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal

Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal“Combining history, magic and adventure, the book balances emotional depth with buoyant storytelling.”

Mary Robinette Kowal’s Valour and Vanity got a starred review in Kirkus!

Here’s the full review, from the April 1st issue:

Renowned glamourists Lord and Lady Vincent become the victims of an elaborate scam that leaves them in dire straits until they conceive of a daring strategy to strike back.

 

After an extended voyage with her family, Jane and Vincent are anxious to find some time to themselves, traveling to Murano. They have a letter of introduction from the prince regent and hope to work with an artisan to experiment on infusing glamour—magical illusions of sight, sound and light—into glass. On the way, they’re waylaid by pirates, then rescued by a fellow passenger who takes them under his wing in the city. Without papers or money and with Vincent suffering a concussion from the attack, they’re grateful for the gentleman’s help. Once they make progress on their revolutionary glamour process, however, they’re detained by the local police and accused of fraud. Realizing their “friend” is a con man who has disappeared with all their notes and finished work, Jane and Vincent are left broke, in debt and under suspicion: “They had no funds and no friends at all. The only resources they had were the clothes upon their backs, and even those they owed money for.” Unable to find employment, Vincent becomes dispirited, especially when he must depend on the meager salary Jane manages to secure from a nearby convent. Things look up when a chance sighting of one of the crooks enables Vincent and Jane to turn the tables on them: “[S]he could see his mind working and putting together pieces of a plan, as surely as if he was plotting a glamural.” Kowal continues her creative Regency-set Glamourist Histories series with a clever, captivating plot that culminates in a magical heist storyline. Before we get there, though, we are treated to a touching examination of a loving marriage under duress and the connections and collaborations these extraordinary partners must create and reaffirm with each other and those around them in order to thrive.

 

Combining history, magic and adventure, the book balances emotional depth with buoyant storytelling.

Valour and Vanity will be published on April 29th.

Goodreads Sweepstakes: California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout

California Bones by Greg Van Eekhout

About California Bones: When Daniel Blackland was six, he ingested his first bone fragment, a bit of kraken spine plucked out of the sand during a visit with his demanding, brilliant, and powerful magician father, Sebastian.

When Daniel was twelve, he watched Sebastian die at the hands of the Hierarch of Southern California, devoured for the heightened magic layered deep within his bones.

Now, years later, Daniel is a petty thief with a forged identity. Hiding amid the crowds in Los Angeles—the capital of the Kingdom of Southern California—Daniel is trying to go straight. But his crime-boss uncle has a heist he wants Daniel to perform: break into the Hierarch’s storehouse of magical artifacts and retrieve Sebastian’s sword, an object of untold power.

For this dangerous mission, Daniel will need a team he can rely on, so he brings in his closest friends from his years in the criminal world. There’s Moth, who can take a bullet and heal in mere minutes. Jo Alverado, illusionist. The multitalented Cassandra, Daniel’s ex. And, new to them all, the enigmatic, knowledgeable Emma, with her British accent and her own grudge against the powers-that-be. The stakes are high, and the stage is set for a showdown that might just break the magic that protects a long-corrupt regime.

Extravagant and yet moving, Greg van Eekhout’s California Bones is an epic adventure set in a city of canals and secrets and casual brutality–different from the world we know, yet familiar and true.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends May 14th)

Also, don’t forget to check out our other sweepstakes!

Goodreads Sweepstakes: Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall

About Land of Shadows: “A fresh voice in crime fiction. Fast, funny, heartbreaking and wise…Elouise Norton is the best new character you’ll meet this year.” —Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author, on Rachel Howzell Hall’s Land of Shadows.

Along the ever-changing border of gentrifying Los Angeles, seventeen-year-old Monique Darson is found dead at a condominium construction site, hanging in the closet of an unfinished unit. Homicide detective Elouise “Lou” Norton’s new partner, Colin Taggert, fresh from the comparatively bucolic Colorado Springs police department, assumes it’s a teenage suicide. Lou isn’t buying the easy explanation.

For one thing, the condo site is owned by Napoleon Crase, a self-made millionaire. . .and the man who may have murdered Lou’s missing sister, Tori, thirty years ago. As Lou investigates the death of Monique Darson, she uncovers undeniable links between the two cases. But her department is skeptical.
Lou is convinced that when she solves Monique’s case she will finally bring her lost sister home. But as she gets closer to the truth, she also gets closer to a violent killer. After all this time, can he be brought to justice. . .before Lou becomes his next victim?

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends May 13th)

Also, don’t forget to check out our other sweepstakes!

The Week in Review

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

  • Carrie Vaughn also has a reveal: check out the cover of Low Country, her upcoming Kitty Norville novel.
  • Tor.com’s Rocket Talk podcast is back. This time, they’re talking about the world of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives series.

 
The Tor/Forge Newsletter went out this week!

 
And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!