Darusha WehmIf there’s one thing in this world that I like more than science fiction, it’s food. Delicious, crunchy food. So when Darusha Wehm offered to do a guest post with a recipe, well, that was something I could sign up for.

Children of Arkadia follows three generations of humans and AIs participating in an audacious experiment — to create a just and free society in an orbital space colony. The book is, in many ways, utopian science fiction. The Arkadians are literally trying to build a better world. Of course, it’s not that simple, and this story revolves around how people can (or can’t) resolve the inherent conflict between competing views of what doing the right thing actually entails. And, of course, how they are going to feed themselves.

Arkadia is a mix of high-tech and rural living. Farming is the chief concern of most of the people — human and AI — and even those not directly participating in growing food are, to some extent or another, foodies. Among the human population, at least, everyone needs to eat.

Camilo Molina is someone who wants to make sure no one goes hungry. A homebody and, with his husband Cliff, adoptive parent to a house full of kids, Camilo is one of those people who is always in the kitchen. For him, food is love, snacks are comfort and baking is stress relief. So, when one of his kids goes missing, Camilo’s kitchen starts to look like a commercial bakery.

Here’s one of his favourites:

Camilo’s Nutty Oat Bars

(easy contemporary Earth substitutions in parentheses)

bars1/2 cup goats’ milk butter, melted (cow butter works)
1 large hen’s egg
1/2 cup honey (light brown sugar)
1/2 cup ground nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter)
(a drop or two of vanilla extract)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda (1/2 teaspoon if using sugar rather than honey)
pinch salt
about a cup of mixed nuts and dried fruits (chocolate chips are good, too)

Beat the egg, butter, and honey (and the vanilla if you’re using it) with a fork until it’s fluffy, then stir in the nut butter. Once that’s all smooth, add the oats and mix them well so they are all damp. Then add the flour, baking soda, salt and oats. Stir until it’s just mixed, then stir in the fruit and nuts. Pour it into a pan, smoothing it out. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes at 350F/200C until the centre is solid and the top is golden. Let it cool a bit to firm up, then slice into bars.

About Darusha Wehm:

M. Darusha Wehm is the three-time Parsec Award shortlisted author of the novels Beautiful Red, Self Made, Act of Will and The Beauty of Our Weapons. Her next novel, Children of Arkadia (Bundoran Press), will be released April 28, 2015. She is the editor of the crime and mystery magazine Plan B.

She is from Canada, but currently lives in Wellington, New Zealand after spending the past several years traveling at sea on her sailboat. For more information, visit http://darusha.ca.

Publisher’s Blurb:

Children of ArkadiaChildren-of-Arkadia-cover-1000

Kaus wants nothing more than to be loved while its human counterpart, Raj Patel, believes fervently in freedom. Arkadia, one of four space stations circling Jupiter, was to be a refuge for all who fought the corrupt systems of old Earth, a haven where both humans and Artificial Intelligences could be happy and free. But the old prejudices and desires are still at play and, no matter how well-meaning its citizens, the children of Arkadia have tough compromises to make.

When the future of humanity is at stake, which will prove more powerful: freedom or happiness? What sacrifices will Kaus, Raj, and the rest of Arkadia’s residents have to make to survive?

Darusha’s site: http://darusha.ca/book/children-of-arkadia/
Buy Children of Arkadia: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1927881064/

This was neat! I did an interview with my local radio station, a recording of which is available right here:

It was a lot of fun. The interviewer had actually read some things off of my website, which I found slightly astonishing, and we had a good talk. He said afterwards that he was hoping to get a copy of the book himself!

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.

MailChimpI have a mailing list now, which you can use to sign up for updates and release notices from me. This might be a good option for those of you who don’t use RSS to follow the blog, or want less frequent updates.

(This has actually been in place for a few months, but I barely publicized it at all, so I figured I should mention it to blog readers who might not have noticed.)

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.

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

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.

Starting tomorrow I’ll be in Minneapolis (or, technically, Bloomington) for Minicon 50! And look at the list of illustrious guests:

  • Tom Doherty, publisher of Tor
  • Larry Niven, classic SFF author and Magic card
  • Michael Whelan, illustrator of approximately 100% of the best fantasy book covers you’ve ever seen
  • Brandon Sanderson, epic fantasy juggernaut

Oh, and me. If you see me, say hi! I’ll get in on Friday afternoon and be there through Sunday afternoon.