“The Judge’s Right Hand” to appear in Ceaseless West

Ceaseless West, including my story "The Judge's Right Hand"

Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which is probably the best fantasy magazine out there right now, just sayin’, is reprinting my story The Judge’s Right Hand as part of their Ceaseless West anthology. The anthology’s contents and cover art are right here, and the anthology also includes one of my favorite BCS stories.

The anthology goes on sale at the end of April… so any day now.

More than you wanted to know, now at jsbangs.conlang.org


For a while now I’ve been putting up articles at jsbangs.conlang.org which relate to elements of the setting, languages, history, and philosophy behind my published works. I haven’t made a very big deal about it, though, mostly because I wanted to make sure that I had a critical mass of articles before I publicized it, to avoid sending people to an empty site.

Well, I guess it’s full enough, because here you go: more than you wanted to know about Storm Bride and other fantasy works-in-progress. The site is still very incomplete, and I have a dozen TODOs written to myself about topics that I still want to cover. I refrain from writing all of the articles right away, since I suffer from worldbuilder’s disease as it is, and writing encyclopedia articles about my creations sometimes threatens to get in the way of actual stories. But I do get to write the encyclopedia articles at some point. Right now you can see a bunch of articles relating mostly to Storm Bride, including a pretty complete description of the Praseo language, and some details about the Yakhat which never quite made it into the published book.

I intend to trickle articles up onto that site, and I’ll make an announcement here whenever I hit certain milestones. For now, though, feel free to poke around and let me know if there’s anything you particularly like or want to know more about.

Finding your way around Storm Bride


I have finally completed something that at least a few readers have been clamoring for: a map to accompany Storm Bride.

The Land of Storm Bride (Click for bigger image).

The Land of Storm Bride (Click for bigger image).

The map, as you can see, is not actually all that complex. Storm Bride has a relatively simple geography relative to a lot of other fantasy novels, which is why I was okay with not having a map when the book was first released. But a map certainly helps, and gosh it’s pretty. I just want to look at it all day.

I want to give full credit to Robert Altbauer of fantasy-map.net, who created the base for this map. I provided him with an ink outline showing the shorelines and waterways that I wanted, and he created the gorgeous full-color version that you see here. (I did the text, cities, and other markers by myself, because I plan on reusing these maps for a whole bunch of different purposes, and text labeling is relatively simple.) If you check out his site, you can see a lot more examples of his work, which is uniformly high quality, and definitely worth a peek if you love fantasy cartography.

Guest Post: David Walton on writing with seven children


David WaltonThe intersection between writing and parenthood is a perennial interest of mine. My own brood is modest, with only two boys, but the nature of parenthood comes up in my own book Storm Bride, and I’ve got great interest in anyone who manages with even more. David Walton manages a much larger number of children in his house, and still manages to write excellent books and win awards. Here’s David:

I have seven children. Yup, seven! The oldest is fourteen; the youngest is one and a half. Despite this, and a full-time job that pays most of the bills, I write science fiction novels.

When people hear that I have seven kids, they always ask, “When do you have time to write?” It’s a good question. When I get home from my job as an engineer each day, I spent my time making dinner, helping with homework, changing diapers, and putting kids to bed. If there’s time, I might take a walk with my wife or a run with my daughter. Most nights, my wife and I watch a show together before bed. So where does writing fit in?

Well, it kind of doesn’t. I don’t have a scheduled time to write. I don’t even have a designated place to write. When I get the chance–usually on weekends–I write in the living room or dining room, in the middle of everything. It?s a lively and clamorous place, full of fun and love… as well as chaos, noise, arguments, and demands for my attention. All of the standard requirements for a writing environment–a quiet place with no distractions or interruptions–don’t fit in my chosen life.

I can’t say it’s ideal. I could probably get more done in a quiet office. But then again, maybe I couldn’t. Before I had kids, I had significantly more time to write, but I spent a lot of that time agonizing over what to write, or else being distracted by this or that, because time was plentiful. Now, with so little time available, I find that I make much better use of the time I have.

What it comes down to, I suppose, is that although writing is very important to me, I’m a father and husband first. But that family immersion gives me a lot of fuel for my own stories. Many science fiction tales are about lone inventors or scientists, but I think families provide a stronger emotional stake and deeper relationship issues. My latest novel, SUPERPOSITION, is all about a family that gets swept up in murder and a wild new quantum physics technology. The family in the book has only three children instead of seven, but a lot of the energy of the character interactions come from my own home and experiences. The two primary characters are a father and his teenage daughter, a relationship that’s dear to my heart.

So, although having seven children doesn’t make me a more prolific writer, it might just make me a better one. Most people might think I’m crazy, but I wouldn’t trade my life for anything different.

SuperpositionDavid Walton is the author of the newly released novel SUPERPOSITION, a quantum physics murder mystery with the same mind-bending, breathless action as films like INCEPTION and MINORITY REPORT. His other works include the Philip K. Dick Award-winning TERMINAL MIND, the historical fantasy QUINTESSENCE (Tor, 2013) and its sequel, QUINTESSENCE SKY. You can read about his books and life at http://www.davidwaltonfiction.com/.

Buy Superposition: http://www.amazon.com/Superposition-David-Walton/dp/1633880125

Riding the Elevator with Tom Doherty (A Minicon 50 con report)


Minicon 50

I spent all this last weekend at Minicon 50. Brief summary: best con I ever went to.

To be fair, I haven’t been to very many cons. I attended Potlatch several times, and I traveled to Vancouver for V-Con once. Minicon is actually at an awkward time (Easter weekend), but since I’ll be moving later this summer, and since the guest lineup was amazing, I made time to go this weekend. It was totally worth it.

This was the first con that I’ve gone to as a professional author. This was the attitude I took: I’m not a fan who wants to write; I’m not an aspiring writer; I’m a professional who has published a book and a bunch of short stories and I deserve every part of the credit that this implies. I’m still a writer at the beginning of my career, for sure, but that doesn’t mean I have to sell myself short on what I have accomplished so far.

This turned out to be a really good headspace for attending the con. First, I was there with Big Names. Brandon Sanderson and Larry Niver were the author guests of honor, Michael Whelan was the artist guest, and Tom Doherty was the publisher guest. You’d be hard pressed to find a more illustrious set of four people in the SFF industry than that. And that’s not all: other attendees of the con included Emma Bull, Lois Bujold, and Steven Brust. There was room to be intimidated. But why would I be intimidated? While I don’t for a moment claim to be on the same level as Sanderson and Niven, I am in the same category: professional writers.

So I’m coming back from the consuite on Saturday morning, with a little breakfast for myself and my kids, and I see Tom Doherty coming back from his morning swim at the same time. We got in the same elevator, and we talked about: my book, the editors at Tor and what they like, his morning swim, and my kids. Totally professional. And then I got to squee about having made a literal elevator pitch to Tom Doherty, without appearing to be an ass.

(An aside: the consuite was amazing. They had a ridiculous amount of food, much of it very good, and they didn’t run out. It was possible to eat three actual meals at the consuite without feeling like you were hogging the food.)

On Friday night there was a Magic: The Gathering draft hosted with none other than Brandon Sanderson, and let me warn you that the rest of this paragraph is not going to be terribly interesting if you don’t know anything about Magic. This was my first draft with DTK, and it was tons of fun, a little simpler than Khans, but with some cool archetypes such as the Exploit deck (which I wound up drafting). The person passing to me opened a foil Sarkhan and a Dragonlord Silumgar, which meant that I got the Silumgar, which turned into the backbone on a pretty decent UB deck with a lot of Exploit and removal. I went 2-1, losing only to the aforementioned foil Sarkhan, and then, at the end, I sat down for a bonus match against Sanderson…. except that he had to go to dinner. He promised me a game later.

I kept him to that, politely reminding him of his promise and getting him to sit down with me on Sunday afternoon after a panel. It was a brief game in which I talked again about my writing, got some advice on the agent/editor front, chatted about Magic, and otherwise got in everything I would have wanted. I wasn’t directly looking for an agent or editor referral from him (he has never read anything I’ve written, so he could hardly do that), but he was helpful and encouraging and generally very nice. This actually sums up his entire demeanor for the whole weekend. The vibe I got from him was that he is very practiced at being the biggest name at a con, so in many cases it felt like he was giving canned/boilerplate recommendations, not because he didn’t care, but because everyone wanted a bit of his time and he wanted to be considerate without killing himself. As another professional artist, that was an attitude I could respect.

Then there were tons of individual bits of insight and advice. Sanderson is more prolific than I had thought, and he got me thinking about some ways to increase my own productivity and create more things for people to buy. Also, the single best quote of the weekend: “When you become a writer, you are becoming a small business owner.” (Sanderson Megacorp employs six people!) There was a terrifically fun panel about coffee on Saturday morning, some really interesting reminisces from Doherty about the history and state of the SFF publishing industry, and good conversations with other writers and fans. I talked to several people about both Storm Bride and my upcoming works Heir of Iron and its sequels. I did everything I wanted to accomplish.

Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how great the Rumpus Room was. It was the children’s area, and they had a fantastic array of toys, games, and activities scheduled every half-hour. My kids were with me, and they would head into the Rumpus Room when I went to my first panel, and they never wanted to leave, what with all the paper airplanes and sock puppets and candy sculptures they were making. This was without a doubt the most kid-friendly con I’d ever been to.

This was Minicon’s 50th anniversary, and apparently it was about twice as large as last year’s con. I’d definitely come again next year, but I won’t be in the country then. Still, if you’re ever in the area, I’d heartily recommend it.