March 7, 2016 Progress Notes:

The Robot Monuments

Words today: 100 back on Friday, 300 today.
Words total: 15,000.
Reason for stopping: Still sick and I'm going to fall over now.

Darling du Jour: N/A.

Research Roundup: Crash course on the nuances of Shinto; traditional Japanese breakfasts.

Books in progress: Amanda Sun, Heir to the Sky; Lena Coakley, Worlds of Ink and Shadow.


A couple days of stuttery fevers; I've been flirting with a full commitment to Being Sick all week. This is all I've managed to squeeze out between emails and watching every food documentary on Netflix because I can do that while lying down.

So: 15,000 words! If I can get myself over 20k by month's end, I'll be pleased.
March 3, 2016 Progress Notes:

The Robot Monuments

Words today: 500.
Words total: 14,600.
Reason for stopping: Really feverish all of a sudden.

Darling du Jour: N/A.

Research Roundup: N/A

Books in progress: Amanda Sun, Heir to the Sky; Lena Coakley, Worlds of Ink and Shadow.


My preferred activity today would have been to eat chocolate and have a Swedish indie pop dance party, but. Adulting.

Weirdly enough, given the implied violence and the way the lyrics are way possessive, this is giving me a ridiculous amount of joy today.



I just love the FML look he gets when the clock hits five. I love the microsecond of desperate self-loathing when he stares at that button. In fact, I love the expressiveness of the lead actor in general. He's unpretty and amazingly emotive and a fantastic dancer, and I need to find what else he's done.
March 2, 2016 Progress Notes:

The Robot Monuments

Words today: 600.
Words total: 14,100.
Reason for stopping: Out to writer bar night this evening, which means it's time to get ready.

Darling du Jour: N/A.

Research Roundup: Inheritance discrimination and the status of illegitimate children in Japan.

Books in progress: Amanda Sun, Heir to the Sky; Lena Coakley, Worlds of Ink and Shadow.


I think we are finally in this, really and truly. I'm in when I write half a sentence, and suddenly, I find myself in tears.

(the place where there is only me and the weight)

Learned a few things about Kai this afternoon, notably why everyone in Sekitan is so messed up about him being there, and why he's, well, so messed up about everything. A lot more of where he's coming from makes sense now, and a lot more about where he's going.
February 24, 2016 Progress Notes:

The Robot Monuments

Words today: 400.
Words total: 13,500.
Reason for stopping: Went on and off on this tonight, but now it is time for bed.

Darling du Jour: Cranes and scaffolds sprout from the edge like metal bandages, holding back dirt, rubble, and slime from the chaotic crater floor.

Research Roundup: The biology of fight-or-flight responses.

Books in progress: Amanda Sun, Heir to the Sky.


A few hundred words down after a morning and afternoon mostly thrown to the jaws of paperwork, and an evening thrown to the jaws of spaghetti bolognese from scratch. Writing date tomorrow at the tea shop, so tomorrow should have more.
February 23, 2016 Progress Notes:

The Robot Monuments

Words today: 400.
Words total: 13,100.
Reason for stopping: Pressure headache and my brain is all woooo.

Darling du Jour: "Hakubi Line with stops at Hōki-Mizoguchi, Kishimoto, and Hōki-Daisen," an entirely different mechanical voice intones, and the doors hang open, waiting for schoolgirls or salarymen to stream laughing into the train, for families with ribboned hats taking picnics to the sea.

Research Roundup: N/A.

Books in progress: Amanda Sun, Heir to the Sky.


Cleared the desk sufficiently this morning, after a three-event weekend and a podcast interview last night, to sneak off and spend the whole day on this. Pressure headache moving in, though, so going to wrap it up.
February 18, 2016 Progress Notes:

The Robot Monuments

Words today: 500.
Words total: 12,700.
Reason for stopping: Time to start dinner; company coming over tonight.

Darling du Jour: A pair of single beds, the right tight-sheeted, the left a rumpled curve of shed blanket-cocoon; a pair of desks, the right empty, polished wood and the left a riot of pens, chargers, and teacups, with a double row of plushies along its back end, standing guard.

Research Roundup: Tottori Prefecture and its geography (the name functionally translates to "birdcatcher prefecture"); the Chūgoku Mountains.

Books in progress: Becky Chambers, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.


Today's achievement: finding a concrete location for the Pacific Compact Battle School, in more detail than "somewhere in southern Japan". Also a bunch of email and bookkeeping. The Meyers-Briggs test that split working in the arts and arts admin -- and sorted me into arts admin -- in Grade 9 had no idea how much email and bookkeeping are forever with us.

Friends coming over for dinner, avec wine. Time for me to start the soup.
February 9, 2016 Progress Notes:

The Robot Monuments

Words today: 1,200.
Words total: 12,200.
Reason for stopping: Time to start dinner.

Darling du Jour: It's been a year since I started balancing. None of it feels natural anymore: leaned against the grey wind on the ten-block walk to school, sleeping against the angle of ghost-elbows in a borrowed bed, shoulders at a permanent forty-five degrees.

Research Roundup: The Japanese word for "coal"; gyroscopes and weightlessness; geography of northern Japan.

Books in progress: Patricia A. McKillip, Kingfisher.


Back to this today, after some time with other projects I'm not logging publicly yet. The quiet seems to have given it things to say again. I think I closed more little gaps and built more transitions today than I have in the entire life of this file.

So while it feels weird to say, at this wordcount, that I almost have a complete scene, yeah. This one's like that.

Spoilers in the title, guys! I’m just back from an afternoon signing at the OLA Super Conference and, since it’s official:

An Inheritance of Ashes has been named one of the Ontario Library Association’s 2015 Best Bets selections.

Here is a picture with its nice new sticker and everything.


I am very pleased and flattered and going to celebrate with a nice if extremely late lunch.

Originally published at Leah Bobet. You can comment here or there.

It’s finally snowing, and I’ve spent my 2016 so far bunkered down and happily drafting new work, but I’ll be showing my face in a few places this January (and early February!):

I’ll be at this year’s OLA Super Conference, signing copies of An Inheritance of Ashes at the Scholastic Canada booth (#211!) at 2pm on Friday, January 29th, 2016. Looking forward to seeing both familiar and new faces there!

The Monday after, on February 1st, I’ll be reading with series founder and short story author Andrew J. Simpson and McIllquham Foundation Prize winner Nicole Chin at Words at the Wise, Wisebar’s monthly reading series. This one’s obviously 19+.

Hope to see you all there!

Originally published at Leah Bobet. You can comment here or there.

Quite to my surprise, I got home this afternoon to find out that An Inheritance of Ashes has been shortlisted for the 2015 Cybils Awards, in the Speculative Fiction category — alongside some seriously great books (my to-read list just grew).

The jury will read through the finalists and announce a winner mid-February. Congrats to all the finalists, and best of luck! :)

Originally published at Leah Bobet. You can comment here or there.

At World Fantasy this year I sat in the bar at a table full of people crafting, and watched [livejournal.com profile] elisem make a wire pendant with a stone feeding into a pen nib. "It's called 'Writing,'" she said, and grinned a little slyly. "It's better if you know that the stone's a bloodstone."

That is about how I've felt this year, in one object: duck-pressed. I've pushed myself through narrow channels and run things on my own blood for years, and slowly it's caught up with me, and I don't think it's a way I want to be anymore.

I am finite. That's not wrong: rest isn't a sin, and neither is fun done my own way, and apparently there are things I want more than my art, or as much. It's just how it is, and this is the year I realized that and started trying to effect the change.

That's meant a few things. Our senior editorial team looked at the job we were able to do, at our staff succeeding in their fields and moving on to bigger opportunities, and made the call to close Ideomancer's doors after a personal seven years at the helm. That hurt. It's an old magazine, one of the oldest standing speculative markets online, and we did some great shit with it. But it was time; it was probably two years past time, to be blunt. I feel lighter with the guilt of not being able to give it my all lifted.

That's also meant a degree of stepping back from politics, both local and literary and scene. I wish I had a voice so powerful it could resolve arguments, instill compassion, and bend the slow-motion war that seems to be unfolding everywhere now, but, y'know, yet to deliver on that front. One of the more prolific tweeters on the Ferguson hashtag last year said something to the effect of: "The function of racism is to waste your time proving you're a human being," and I've taken that somewhat to heart. I'm weirdly aware of my mortality, this year. There is so much I want to do, and forty-odd years is such a short time in which to do it. The function of scene politics and who said what to who and who's subtweeting what is to waste my time and energy and heart. I have stopped. I'm fumbling, in the dark, for the shape of the bigger picture.

This might be odd for a year in which my watchword was generosity until you realize that generosity inherently implies consent: It's a word for the things you freely choose to give. Not the things that people try to push or pull out of you, not the ways people corner each other, not the ways people can't ask or accept "no". I don't think, anymore, you can have generosity without solid, consensual boundaries.

This was not light work. But even though those lessons left me with something of an emotional bloody nose, they were good ones. After a 2014 that was just the world turned upside down, I am moving up and out again. Onwards and upwards. Hatching into something bigger, and new.

#

I only published one thing this year, but it was worth the wait. I finally saw An Inheritance of Ashes into the world (four years in the making, hey!) and it seems to have found its legs and its readership. I was, let's say, highly anxious about how it would strike people: after working on a project that closely for that long, it's hard to see the forest for the trees anymore. And so far, the reviews are very good, it seems to be reaching a wider audience than Above, and overall I think it's doing its job.

The paperback edition will be out October 2016. Difficult little headless bird book, finding itself a home. :)

In the whirl of authoring that preceded and followed the release, I've been reminded how much I love doing school and library visits, speaking to other groups of writers, and talking with people about the nuts and bolts of story and the ridiculousness that is an arts career. That's something I'm going to seek out more in the new year. It's interesting and fun and fills me up.

The rest of what I want to do in 2016 is drafting. I have two beautiful books well on the go -- beautiful in entirely different ways although structurally difficult in the exact same -- and I'd like at least one of them, likely The Robot Monuments, drafted by midsummer. I want to be making. My hands itch. I want words.

#

So all told, this year was not what I wanted it to be. It was subtle and messy and none of the choices ever got clearer, although I think most of the time I landed on the right decisions despite a lot of mud and strain and static. I think I'm accepting that it doesn't get clearer again. We just pull our fragile flesh around us, and sight forward, and do our best to make and build.

#

Tonight is warm house, a big dinner, a pile of pastries brought back from BC; maybe a board game and champagne and contemplation and some company, shortly. I'm going to put some music on, once this is posted and safely away. Tomorrow, on the start of the year, we're heading to the suburbs for a young man's first birthday party.

I hope the year is good to you: bright, warm, expansive, steady as a rock. Happy New Year.
I don't think I'm finishing that Hemingway book tonight, so without further ado, THE 2015 BOOKS raaaah yessss:

The 2014 Books, late )

#1 -- Tessa Gratton, The Lost Sun
#2 -- Francesca Forrest, Pen Pal
#3 -- Hope Larson and Tintin Pantoja, Who is AC?
#4 -- Jo Walton, The Philosopher Kings (ARC)
NOT #5 -- Karen Lord, The Galaxy Game
#5 -- Tessa Gratton, Strange Maid
NOT #6 -- Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant
#6 -- Eva Darrows, The Awesome
#7 -- Gwenda Bond, Lois Lane: Fallout
#8 -- Erin Bow, The Scorpion Rules (ARC)
#9 -- Paolo Bacigalupi, The Water Knife
#10 -- Patrick Ness, The Rest of Us Just Live Here (ARC)
#11 -- Rae Carson, Walk on Earth a Stranger (ARC)
#12 -- John Green, Paper Towns
#13 -- E.K. Johnston, A Thousand Nights (ARC)
#14 -- E.K. Johnston, Exit, Pursued by a Bear (ARC)
#15 -- Emil Sher, Young Man With Camera
#16 -- Kate Blair, Transferral
#17 -- Amy Alward, Madly
#18 -- Sean Michaels, Us Conductors
#19 -- Rainbow Rowell, Carry On
#20 -- Cassandra Rose Clarke, Our Lady of the Ice
#21 -- Sarah Rees Brennan, Tell the Wind and Fire (ARC)
#22 -- David Mitchell, Slade House
#23 -- Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky (ARC)
#24 -- Saladin Ahmed, Throne of the Crescent Moon
#25 -- Christopher Barzak, Wonders of the Invisible World
#26 -- Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice
#27 -- Robert Charles Wilson, The Affinities
#28 -- Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, Illuminae
#29 -- John Lorinc et al, The Ward
#30 -- Naomi Mitchison, Travel Light

Notes on which: I was working way too workaholically to read very much this year, but definitely made up for it in the back half -- #18 onwards is just from the beginning of November. I've found the part of my brain that can focus on a book again, and missed it pretty desperately.

Trends! A lot of this is YA, which seems to be what's interesting me lately. There's an ability to layer -- to speak to the 14-year-old reader, double-voiced with something for the 35-year-old reader -- that I'm finding really craft-interesting and rewarding lately. It also seems to be where the science fiction that moves me right now is showing up. SF is fairly trope-bound; the YA-directed stuff is just different enough to make me not feel like I've seen this song and dance before.

Stuff I loved and will handsell at work, or have been handselling: Illuminae, Transferral, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, The Scorpion Rules, The Awesome.

The Ward collection I ate in bits and pieces, but I'm finding myself valuing it very much. It's a good shot of perspective about how our city works and has always worked in some ways, and lent some serious perspective for tackling the Hemingway letters.

I wanted more from Slade House but I understand why, and that's between me-the-reader and that book and what I generally get out of Mitchell novels. I wanted more from The Philosopher Kings but I'm still going to pick up the third book and see how it all comes out.

Best read of the year? I'll reserve special mention for Pen Pal, which absolutely astonished me. It is the best self-published piece of writing I've ever seen: inventive without being self-conscious, hushed, kind, spilling off the page, diverse, vivid, relevant, real. It is rough and special. 99% of you probably haven't read it, but: seriously consider doing so.
December 17, 2015 Progress Notes:

The Robot Monuments

Words today: 300.
Words total: 10,400.
Reason for stopping: It is late and I want to stretch my sore hip and read Illuminae.

Darling du Jour: N/A.

Research Roundup: Common Japanese surnames and their etymology.

Books in progress: John Lorinc, Michael McClelland, Ellen Scheinberg, and Tatum Taylor, The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood.


Mostly worldbuilding and notes and figuring out arcs today, with a break to get all the groceries. Difficult book is difficult. But I am pretty sure these persimmons will help me with that.
December 16, 2015 Progress Notes:

The Robot Monuments

Words today: 450 through last week, and 300 today.
Words total: 10,100.
Reason for stopping: Dinner. Bed.

Darling du Jour: N/A.

Research Roundup: Neurological tests for cooperation; how to dig turnips; etymology of Yamamoto.

Books in progress: John Lorinc, Michael McClelland, Ellen Scheinberg, and Tatum Taylor, The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood.


Been accumulating wordcount in drips and bits around a few out-of-town school and library visits, and it's built up enough that I really should log it.

Better, focused effort tomorrow.
December 2, 2015 Progress Notes:

The Robot Monuments

Words today: 800.
Words total: 9,350.
Reason for stopping: Some freelance to do today, and then a Christmas party in the evening, so it's time to move on.

Darling du Jour: The same look in her eyes as that boy on the train: I am magical and frightening and can make anything happen.

Research Roundup: The Bolshoi Ballet School; good tech universities in Japan; degrees needed for NGO careers; turnip harvesting season; spoken Ainu language.

Books in progress: Christopher Barzak, Wonders of the Invisible World.


Have clawed and fought and wrestled my way back to this through a pile of basically every other obligation on Earth. There's a lot to be said for a half-empty inbox and an empty house and a good sunbeam coming in your office window.

I think I found the last line today. It's good. :)

I’m back from tour, appropriately exhausted, and getting back into the daily routine — but one of the more fun things I did on the road is ready to go!

At CanCon, I sat down for an interview with Kevin T. Johns of Write Along Radio, a podcast about reading, writing, and publishing. We spent almost half an hour talking about An Inheritance of Ashes, writing for young adults, craft in the SFF community, diverse fiction, and more. It was a great conversation, and it’s live this week.

Otherwise, there are a few more appearance announcements on the horizon, once details are absolutely finalized. I’ll be posting about those December events this week or next, as well as a few things crystallizing for the new year!

Originally published at Leah Bobet. You can comment here or there.

Now that the Canadian launch party for Ashes is in the can (ha ha, I punned) and we’ve all had a little time to rest up, I’m really excited to announce something that’s been a few months in the making:

An Inheritance of Ashes and I are going on tour.

Just a little one. :)

I’m heading out next Thursday, on October 29th, and here’s where I’m going to be!

Ottawa, ON

  • Ottawa Public Library Teen Author Fest, Woodroffe High School, Ottawa, Ontario, October 30, 2015, 10:30 am.
  • CanCon 2015, Ottawa, Ontario, October 30-November 1, 2015.
  • I’ll be participating in panels and offering one-on-one feedback at the con’s Blue Pencil Cafe, as well as hosting a mini-launch on Saturday for the convention attendees!

  • Launch for An Inheritance of Ashes at Black Squirrel Books and Tea, Ottawa, Ontario, November 1, 2015, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm.
  • This event’s open to the public, so come down to get books signed, hear a short reading and Q&A, and support one of Ottawa’s indie bookstores!

Montreal, Quebec

I’ll be in and out on the way to Saratoga Springs, but I’ll also be at the Juliette et Chocolat on Saint-Catherine from about 8:00pm on November 2nd for serious personal chocolate reasons. If you’d like to say hi, hang out, talk books, and eat a balsamic brownie, please come on by!

Saratoga Springs, NY

Albany, NY

  • Flights of Fantasy Group Signing (with Julie Czerneda, Anne Bishop, Alex Gordon/Kristine Smith, Garth Nix, Amalia Dillin, and more), Albany, NY, November 8, 2015.

New York City, NY

  • Books of Wonder, New York, NY, November 10, 2015.
  • I’m just going to sign stock here — no big event! — but if you’d like a signed copy and are in NYC, feel free to come by!

So that’s it! Two weeks, in and out, with some possible additional stock signings and meetups along the way. I really hope to see you there, and look out for updates from the road!

Originally published at Leah Bobet. You can comment here or there.

Ottawa’s CanCon has rolled out its final schedule, and I’ll be participating! The event runs October 30 – November 1st, and here’s where I’ll be at the con:

Saturday, October 31

2:00 pm Weird Fiction and Lovecraftian Themes — Salon D
Sean Moreland, Sandra Kasturi (m), Geoff Gander, Leah Bobet

From Chthulhu to the Necronomicon, to that strange sense of impending universal doom, Lovecraftian themes and Weird Fiction have been inspiring us to look out at the oddity of the universe and recoil in horror as it looks back at us. This panel gathers academics and writers of The Weird to explore those elements of Lovecraftian ideas in our fiction.

3:00 pm The Frontiers of Young Adult Fiction — Salon D
Leah Bobet (m), Max Turner, Fanny Darling, Leah Petersen, SM McEachern

While being defined by its young point of view, YA fiction has grown to know very few other limitations in scope, theme or subject matter. What areas in YA fiction are left for writers and readers to mine for originality?

4:00 pm Magic and Magical Systems — Salon C
Leah Bobet, Leah Petersen, Jim Davies, Gabrielle Harbowy, Kate Heartfield (m)

Fantasy, Dark Fiction, Weird Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, a lot of our speculative genres can incorporate magic and play with ideas of paranormal powers. This panel gives us a chance to talk about the ways that we weave magic through our fiction and the ideas that inspire the magical systems we create to work in our paranormal worlds.

5:00 pm Men In The Post-Patriarchy: Inter- and Intra-gender Friendships, Collaborations, and Rivalries in Societies that Don’t Dehumanize The Feminine — Salon C
Alison Sinclair, Leah Bobet, Kris Ramsey, Su Sokol, Derek Newman-Stille (m)

Science fiction does a fine job of extrapolating physics and chemistry, and fantasy describes worlds with magical modifications, but both do a poor job of imagining truly different ways for humanity to function as a society. Our panelists discuss ways society could be structured differently and how we might get there.

7:00 pm Book Launch: An Inheritance of Ashes — Con Suite

Come on by for readings, Q&A, and chat about the brand-new An Inheritance of Ashes!

Sunday, November 1

11:00 am Writer-editor-publisher etiquette — Salon E
Gabrielle Harbowy, Hayden Trenholm (m), Edward Willett, Leah Bobet

After the acceptance has gone to the writer, there’s still a lot more to do, some of it confusing but ok, sometimes signs of a ball being dropped. What’s the etiquette through this process?

Hope to see you there!

Originally published at Leah Bobet. You can comment here or there.

The preliminary schedule is up for the 2015 World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, NY, and while this is still preliminary — there might be some changes — here’s where it looks like I’ll be.

Thursday, November 5

5:00 pm Reading — Leah Bobet — Broadway 2

I’ll be reading from An Inheritance of Ashes and talking briefly about the book!

Friday, November 6

8:00 pm Autographing — CC2A and CC2B

Saturday, November 7

11:00 am The Quest is Dead, Long Live the Quest? — CC2A
Leah Bobet, Sarah Beth Durst, Janeen Webb, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (mod.)

Sometimes there are narrative arcs and techniques that just fall out of favour, but is the quest one of them? The panel will discuss the great quest narrative and how new stories are finding ways to make quests interesting again.

Hope to see you there!

Originally published at Leah Bobet. You can comment here or there.

October 8, 2015 Progress Notes:

The Robot Monuments

Words today: 500.
Words total: 8,550.
Reason for stopping: Ridiculously late.

Darling du Jour: For a second, I just absorb it: The salt taste in my mouth, the smell of hot metal and gym mats, my feet planted, unshakeable, on the waxed wood floor.
For a second, I can feel everything.

Research Roundup: N/A.

Books in progress: Amy Alward, Madly.


Enough air after the book promo work today to make a trip to the farmer's market for cider and vegetables, suck back a whole novel, take a hot bath, and do some late-night drafting.

After Word on the Street the other week, I hit the structural reason I was having trouble with the male protagonist: I need, again, a prologue. And now that it's coming in, I think I've found the centre. The soft brush at the end that brings together all these pieces and puts, on the page, the point.

I have no idea if that point's going to layer or change in the however long I'm going to be working on this manuscript, but right now: It feels good. It feels really, really good.

November 2016

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