Eligibility Post of Eligibility!

So I wasn’t even sure if it was worth doing this, seeing as how I’m a lazy bum who only had one thing published last year. But according to Sources it was a Big Thing, and worth remarking on, and I am nothing if not susceptible to peer pressure.

The one thing was my pulp novelette, And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead, published in Lightspeed Magazine last February, now nearly a year (good god) gone. Over at Tor.com, Amal El-Mohtar called it an “amazing … no-holds-barred pulp action cuss-fest.” Max Gladstone’s extremely generous review at Goodreads (first time I’ve ever had something up for review at Goodreads, natch) says, “it’s the kind of action you only find in prose, beautiful with sharp edges.” Rich Horton of Locus, who picked it up for the Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, writes that the lead’s voice is, “profane, vulnerable, and very darkly funny … well-executed, with a perfect, twisty ending.” Bubbajoe123456 of the io9 comments section says that “all the characters sound like they have tourettes.”

It’s big and violent and sort of silly and it took me three years to finish writing the damn thing, but there is a lot of me in this story, and a lot of my heart, and that probably says more about who I am than I initially wanted to admit in public. ‘And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead’ is eligible for Best Novelette on both the Nebula and Hugo ballots, so if you enjoyed it or were moved by it or just really like f-bombs and think fun stories can also have big dumb hearts inside their gunpowder-stained chests, go ahead and give it one of your slots, with much thanks for your consideration.

The Rack ‘n Rye.

So I think I’ve told the story of how I accidentally named Rack and Rhye after a cocktail about a million times now (including in my Author’s Spotlight), but it bears repeating that it is a really, really fucking good drink, subtle but punchy in all the right ways. The world is made of happy accidents, dig? Arrack is an underappreciated spirit, and rye goes with just about anything.

Mix one up and read the story, if you haven’t already! Or mix one up and re-read it, or mix one up and screw the story.

‘And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead’

So, uh, hey, anybody who may be still reading this! Long time, no see! Can I, uh, refill your kibble, refresh your water, give you some lotion for those manacle burns? Cool, cool. Sorry about the wait!

The cyberpulp shooty bang-bang swear-thing I kvetched about finishing for two years came out! At Lightspeed! And to my great shock and surprise and gape-jawed confusion, the people not instantly repelled by the wall of bad language apparently fucking loved it. Loved each blazing fuck and silly simile. When I started writing this story I was honestly just doing it to make myself happy, cramming in every trope and narrative tic in my brain’s Favourites list. Turns out a lot of people like the same stuff. I think it’s the most popular story I’ve ever written by a long damn shot.

And reviews! Glowing reviews coming out of the goddamned walls. Know what I was expecting even less than readers loving it? Reviewers loving it. Reviewers I fucking respect. Amal El-Mohtar at Tor! K. Tempest Bradford at io9! A.C. Wise at SF Signal! Apex! Jesus christ, even fucking Tangent recommended it, even if the reviewer seemed to be at least 40% horrified by the language.

The only reviewer less-than-thrilled was Lois Tilton, and as usual if you can actually parse what the hell she’s trying to get at you are the One True Regent of the Britons.

I have no idea how to respond to praise gracefully, so all I can say is this: thank you all for enjoying it and thank those of you who have stopped to tell me so even more, sincerely. You’re the only reason I’m doing this thing (well, that and I cannot stop myself from spewing words like a busted sprinkler outside an office building at 3 AM), and I love hearing that you got something out of it. I’d change a few things, if I could–the silly John Wick Russian baddie accents aren’t needed, and maybe a few of the fucks could go–but other than that, there is the strangest feeling of satisfaction with how this has turned out.

Now. On to a sequel? Who fuckin’ knows.

Writing Process Blog Tour

A week or so ago, I made a solemn oath to my dear friend Valya Dudycz Lupescu, author of The Silence of Trees and founding editor of Conclave: A Journal of Character. Why yes, says I, I would love to join the Writing Process Blog Tour! I can totally have that done before Monday!

What neither of us took into account is that I am A. apparently a big fat liar, B. a pathological procrastinator, and C. would be going on a weekend trip with enough delays and re-routings to tire out a meth’d-up hummingbird. So Monday came and went and I missed my deadline. Because I’m an asshole.

But I am doing it right now, because, while an asshole, I’m an asshole that keeps my promises. Eventually.

1. What am I working on?

Nothing solid enough to be classified as anything other than gas. My pulp novelette, And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead, should be coming out at Lightspeed Magazine some time later this year, as well as another story in an upcoming anthology that I’m still not at liberty to announce. As far as works-in-progress go, I’m in the midst of re-writing a story I began at Clarion about a harpy beekeeper, a novel idea that plays like a mashup of Shadow of the Colossus and Where The Wind Blows, and something tentatively titled The Revolution Will Be Televised Before A Live Studio Audience.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

That’s not a question I’m sure I can answer as thoughtfully as it might deserve. To be typically blunt: I don’t know. I’ve always been terrible at assessing my work’s merits. Like every author, I am the only me that exists, and the stuff that I write comes solely from my own unique experiences and world views, which I suppose counts for something. You are getting pure, undiluted Brooke Bolander, a species with a wild population of one. When I die, I will be extinct; there will never be any more. I AM SIGNIFICANT, cried the dust speck.

… Unless some alien consciousness is beaming thoughts and memories directly into my skull, in which case oshit.

3. Why do I write what I do?

My friends have posted lengthy, noble, beautiful responses to this question. My answer is much more pragmatic/selfish: I write what I want to read.

Now, there is nothing new under the sun, and I am well aware of that fact, and occasionally the knowledge makes me want to drink antifreeze, especially when I get what seems like a fabulously original idea and no, no, that was already done as a three-book series that sold ten million billion copies. But sometimes that enormously popular three-book series sucks, or you feel the plot could have been executed in a much more interesting way. Sometimes the idea is new enough that nobody has done it in awhile, all glory to the Muses, and you really really really want to read it, and the characters will not stop breaking shit inside your brain until you provide them with an outlet.

Images and voices lodge in my mind’s eye, and I’ve gotta dig them out (you can’t just walk around all the damned time with a plot jammed to the hilt in your retina; it gets uncomfortable). Nobody else can write those scenes (unless they crack open my skull and feast on the goo inside), so it’s up to me to do it.

4. How does your writing process work?

It always starts with a single image. I see a scene sticking out of the ground, like a pot sherd, and the archaeologist in me won’t stop until the entire thing is uncovered and re-assembled. Which means making up the plot as I go along, which may explain why I’ve never managed to write anything longer than 20,000 words. It’s admittedly a problem. I suppose either I’ll learn ways to deal with it or, y’know, I won’t.

Music is also pretty important to my process. A good song can act as a metronome for the language in a story. The rhythm of a novel’s prose is ridiculously important to me; if a word falls in the wrong spot, it’s as jarring to my inner reader as a singer hitting a bad note. Funnily enough, I can’t listen to music while I’m working, so I listen to the song first and go from there.

Next up on the tour are fabulous authors Alyssa Wong and Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam! Look for their brain spews on May 27th, unless they’re like me and can’t stick to their deadlines worth a damn.

Alyssa is a 2013 graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. Her story, “The Fisher Queen,” appears in the May/June issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine. She is rated A for Awesome.

Bonnie lives in Texas with her partner and two literarily-named cats: Gimli and Don Quixote. Her fiction and poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in magazines such as Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, and Goblin Fruit. You can visit her on Twitter @BonnieJoStuffle or through her website: www.bonniejostufflebeam.com. She is rated B for Beautemus.


So, that pulp thing I began working on two fucking years ago? It finally sold. To Lightspeed, my glorious and ever-loving patrons. I am beside myself with glee. Look for that in the near-future. It’s … not exactly like anything else I’ve ever done, being an exercise in big dumb shooty pulp and all.

That brings my sales up to a grand total of six, five of them professional, three of those to Lightspeed, and four of them to John Joseph Adams. Not bad. Not bad at all. Maybe in another three years I’ll have enough for a short story collection that nobody will ever publish or buy! The future remains unwritten.

Jumping the Gorge.

So I’ve been thinking about art and human connections.

Imagine you are floating in a glass bubble in space. Around you, there are others. At some point in your journey, you meet the eye of someone else, and a conversation strikes up. You know the feeling. It’s a fucking drug, that moment of connection. Nothing else like it in the world, whether it’s a burgeoning friendship or a romance or a business partnership.

The only problem is, you can never quite make contact, no matter how well you think you know them or or how hard you press your hands against the bubble walls. Close is still just close. There will always be half an inch of glass between your palms. Sometimes the comm link breaks down and you only get pieces of what they’re saying. Miscommunications turn into outright arguments.

Sometimes they go away and they don’t come back.

As I said in my WDSF essay, we’re all just ships of meat and bone, trying to find some way over, across, through that barrier. There is no real way to see inside a person’s head cockpit, which is both a blessing (I’m certainly thankful for it) and a curse. Sometimes I get the feeling that’s all a lot of art is: Attempts to ramp our sentience motorcycles over the great gorge and get across what we’re feeling in pictures so fucking clear the person looking at them will actually gain the ability to see what we’re seeing behind our eyelids. It’s the closest to telepathy most of us will ever get. I’ve managed it once or twice and lemme fuckin’ tell you, hoss, the jolt is a little like falling in love.

Emotions are such a personal thing. Maybe art is the best way of getting them across.

V to the O to the T to the E.

Okay, motherfuckers. If you want to vote for the Hugos or the John W. Campbell Award this year, you HAVE TO BE REGISTERED BY MIDNIGHT for one of three things: LoneStarCon (last year), LonCon (this year) or Sasquan (next year) by 31 Jan. 2014. That’s TODAY. By midnight.

Please note, you DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE TO ATTEND TO REGISTER. A SUPPORTING membership allows you to nominate, vote, and get the Hugo Packet. It’s an Absentee ballot, essentially, and it costs you 40 BUCKS (that’s the cost of a good fancy meal). So if you want to vote but can’t fly all the way to London or travel back in time to last August or don’t want to go to Spokane NEXT year, there is an option.

As I said in my last post, your votes are really, really fucking important, especially in the case of the Campbells. You don’t have to vote for me. You don’t even have to like what I write. You can ABHOR what I do, and I’m plenty sure many of you do. More power to you, guys. Rock the fuck on with your big ol’ bloated hatebladders. But for the love of all that is good and unholy, give SOMEONE the nod. Marc Blake released an anthology of work from Campbell-eligible writers yesterday*. It is, to be blunt, the book size equivalent of a blue whale’s dong, and it is free for download. Read. Find someone you love, and show them how much you care by spending roughly the cost of a nice fancy meal on registering and voting.

Oh, and do it before midnight. No pressure or anything.



* (Three of my previously published stories are in there, because last year I forgot to send Marc my stuff and I missed the ballot by three votes. Not this fucking time. I fail by my own lights and not my own laziness this go-round.)

The Campbell Rag

Back in August, that hot, dusty country that seems so long ago and far away, I woke up on the morning after the Hugos–groggy and hungover and blister-footed, as you may or may not often find yourself on the final morning of WorldCon–and fumbled my half-blind ass towards my laptop. Logged in. Wiped the sleep from my eyes. Checked the social network scene. Noticed people were pinging me. But why? I was pretty sure no serious faux pas had been made, as far as my foggy, fugue-y brain could recall. Hadn’t called Rory McCann ‘The Hound’ to his face, hadn’t given anyone’s Hugo statuette a handjob, hadn’t told the entire city of San Antonio to kiss my ass.

Turns out this was why. The Hugo stats were out. I had come within three votes of making the Campbell ballot, but missed the mark and landed atop the longlist instead. Which is nothing to fuckin’ scoff at, to be god-damned sure, as there were far better writers than I at the bottom or not even on there at all. Still, though. A double-edged sword down my throat first thing in the morning, and (as double-edged swords tend to be) it was rather hard to swallow.

Three votes. Three people. That’s all it would have taken.

ANYWAY. It’s that time of year again, again, and I have even less of a chance of making the ballot in 2014 than I did last year. Depression has cut my output to a trickle. I’ve only made one sale this year, to the wonderful Nightmare, and it sank almost as quickly as it surfaced, being a short, slight, angsty little thing. But my friends have poked me and prodded me and ever-so-gently bullied me into mentioning that, yes, I am still eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. It’s my last year. When 2015 rolls around, I will be, as they say, too old for this shit, and godspeed to the new recruits with their shiny button eyes and shiny button hearts just waiting to be ripped out.

If you enjoyed my stories last year and voted for me then and still like ‘em now, you can vote again, you glorious, stubborn mule, you. If you’ve just discovered my bibliography this year and you are so totally into what I’m peddling you will burst like a can of springy snakes and die if I don’t get on that ballot, vote for the first time! Anyone who buys a membership can vote. The rules:

Like the Hugo Awards, the Campbell Award voting takes place in two stages. The first stage, nomination, is open to anyone who had a Supporting or Attending membership in the previous, current, or following year’s Worldcon as of January 31. For Loncon 3, this means members of LoneStarCon 3 (the 71st World Science Fiction Convention in San Antonio), Loncon 3 itself, and Sasquan (the 73rd Worldcon in Spokane) can nominate any eligible author.

(A Supporting membership, by the way, means you can still vote on the Hugos and the Campbell even if you’re not in the mood to fly to London this August, although it is a lovely city and if you can you really should try and manage it. Think of it as an Absentee ballot.)

Anyway, if you need a refresher course on what I wrote last year, here’s a quick list. If you’ve never read a word of my work, hey, now might be a good time to start! And even if you hate what I’m doing, try and vote for someone, dig? There are a lot of amazing writers up for the Campbell this year, including the bodacious Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, the eminent Emily Jiang, the terrific and foxy Tim Susman, and Andy Stewart, who has multiple sales to F&SF and thus needs no alliteration or introduction.

My bibliography:

Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring, Lightspeed, February 2012
Tornado’s Siren, Strange Horizons, February 2012
Sun Dogs, Lightspeed, September 2012
The Beasts of the Earth, the Madness of Men, Nightmare, November 2013

I thank you for your consideration, I thank you for any votes you may or may not toss my way, and I especially thank you for getting me so very, very close in 2013. I may be a tiny fish in this great big pond, but for a moment you made me feel like Octoshark.


I move like a herd of turtles, but a herd of a turtles that will eventually reach its goddamned destination. A sale! A sale, by God! To Nightmare Magazine! First time placing in a horror market, and what a market it is. Look for “The Beasts of the Earth, the Madness of Men” within the next few months!

I really hope you guys like this one. Despite being quite short it took me ages to write. Fingers crossed it was worth it.