deborahjross: (Default)
 Book View Cafe's Mindy Klasky has edited an anthology, Nevertheless, She Persisted. Here's the Table of Contents (with my historical fantasy story about Dona Gracia Nasi). Release date is August 8, 2017.

 

What an amazing lineup!

 

“Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan

“Sisters” by Leah Cutter

“Unmasking the Ancient Light” by Deborah J. Ross

“Alea Iacta Est” by Marissa Doyle

“How Best to Serve” from A Call to Arms by P.G. Nagle

“After Eden” by Gillian Polack

“Reset” by Sara Stamey

“A Very, Wary Christmas” by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel

“Making Love” by Brenda Clough

“Den of Iniquity” by Irene Radford

“Digger Lady” by Amy Sterling Casil

“Tumbling Blocks” by Mindy Klasky

“The Purge” by Jennifer Stevenson

“If It Ain’t Broke” by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

“Chataqua” by Nancy Jane Moore

“Bearing Shadows” by Dave Smeds

“In Search of Laria” by Doranna Durgin

“Tax Season” by Judith Tarr

“Little Faces” by Vonda N. McIntyre

deborahjross: (Fall of Neskaya)

I'm thrilled to announce the lineup of stories for the next Darkover anthology, Stars of Darkover, that

I had the joy and honor to edit, along with Elisabeth Waters. So many fine writers fell in love with Darkover and sold their first stories to Marion Zimmer Bradley, and then went on to stellar careers. The anthology will be released in print and ebook formats in June 2014, in time for Marion's birthday.

The stories are as awesome as the night sky over the Hellers.

Stars of Darkover Table of Contents

All the Branching Paths by Janni Lee Simner

The Cold Blue Light by Judith Tarr

Kira Ann by Steven Harper

Wedding Embroidery by Shariann Lewitt

The Ridenow Nightmare by Robin Wayne Bailey

Catalyst by Gabrielle Harbowy

The Fountain’s Choice by Rachel Manija Brown

House of Fifteen Widows by Kari Sperring

Zandru’s Gift by Vera Nazarian

Late Rising Fire by Leslie Fish

Evanda’s Mirror by Diana L. Paxson

At The Crossroads by Barb Caffrey

Second Contact by Rosemary Edghill and Rebecca Fox

A Few Words For My Successor by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald

deborahjross: (Default)

... some about my work, others just plain delicious. This week's round-up:





The latest Sword and Sorceress, just released, includes my story, "Pearl of Tears." It's a companion piece or reflection of "Pearl of Fire" from S & S XXII. The narrator, and the consequences of her actions, wouldn't leave me alone. The anthology is available in ebook and print editions from the usual places.





From Book View Cafe, a delicious and awesomely wonderful anthology of "author's favorite" stories (edited by me and Pati Nagle). "From the fantasy and science fiction of our roots to steampunk, romance, historical and mainstream; from humor to life’s hardest challenges, across the spectrum from light to dark. Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and many more." Here's the link to order it or download a sample story. The Table of Contents:Read more... )

deborahjross: (Default)
My latest anthology, from Book View Cafe!
From the age of steam and the heirs of Dr. Frankenstein to the asteroid belt to the halls of Miskatonic University, the writers at Book View Café have concocted a beakerful of quaint, dangerous, sexy, clueless, genius, insane scientists, their assistants (sometimes equally if not even more deranged, not to mention bizarre), friends, test subjects, and adversaries.

Table of Contents:
The Jacobean Time Machine, by Chris Dolley
Comparison of Efficacy Rates, by Marie Brennan
A Princess of Wittgenstein, by Jennifer Stevenson
Mandelbrot Moldrot, by Lois Gresh
Dog Star, by Jeffrey A. Carver
Secundus, by Brenda W. Clough
Willie, by Madeleine E. Robins
One Night in O’Shaughnessy’s Bar, by David D. Levine
Revision, by Nancy Jane Moore
Night Without Darkness, by Shannon Page & Mark J. Ferrari
The Stink of Reality, by Irene Radford
“Value For O,” by Jennifer Stevenson
The Peculiar Case of Sir Willoughby Smythe, by Judith Tarr
The Gods That Men Don’t See, by Amy Sterling Casil


You can download a sample from the http://bookviewcafe.com/bookstore/book/mad-science-cafe/BVC  bookstore, too. This anthology includes both original and reprint stories and is available as mobi and epub formats, so you can download the version that's right for your ereader. Best of all, because BVC is an author's publishing cooperative, 95% of the price goes to the authors themselves.
deborahjross: (Deb and Cleo)
Over at Book View Cafe's blog, I answer questions about how I became an editor, how I approach a shared world anthology, my thoughts on how each anthology takes shape, and a bunch of other cool stuff. In part, the interview is to celebrate tomorrow's release of Mad Science Cafe, a delicious and more than slightly wacky, grim, inventive concoction of well, mad scientist tales that I had the joy of editing.

Q.) How did you decide what you wanted for Mad Science Café?

A.) I tried to approach the process with an open mind. The writers at Book View Café are all seasoned professionals with individual creative styles. Suggest a theme and no two will come up with the same interpretation. Even within as narrow a topic as “mad scientists,” I found a rich variety in approach, in setting, in character–some hilarious, others grim; some closer to the tone of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, others wildly different. Much to my delight, I received a healthy mix of original stories and reprints, some of which have been unavailable for some time. As I read through the submissions, I realized that “mad scientist” is a jumping-off point and that I could open the scope from the original image of the wild-eyed genius in a white lab coat with great results.

deborahjross: (Shield #1)
Here's the skinny:

Announcing the Table of Contents for
WHEN THE HERO COMES HOME 2
edited by Gabrielle Harbowy & Ed Greenwood
(Dragon Moon Press, August 2013)

We have 29 excellent stories lined up for you, 8 of which will be available exclusively in the ebook version of the anthology.

The following listing is in alphabetical order by author.

* denotes ebook-only bonus stories

*Bagabones by Jacquelyn Bartel
Beginning by Jillian Boehme
Bringing Back Raby by Chaz Brenchley
After the Winds by K.T. Bryski
Living Bargains by Suzanne Church
Vasilissa’s Doll by Elaine Cunningham
The Last Perfect Heart by Fanny Valentine Darling
Remnants by Erin M. Evans
*Prince Goldgriffin Rides In by Ed Greenwood
*Closure by Gabrielle Harbowy
Jack Crochety by Larry Kay
Juan Carceres in the Zapatero’s Workshop by Derek Künsken
Safe Within You by Mercedes Lackey
Broken by K.D. McEntire
Narcolepsy by Bob Neilson
The Last of the Unicorn Hunters by Diana Peterfreund
Waiting For You by Leah Petersen
*Blood Runs Thicker by Mary Pletsch
*Come is the Wolf in her Wounding by Dan Rabarts
*The Return of Hobard the Vanquisher by Mike Rimar
The Hero of Abarxia by Deborah J. Ross
*The Stiletto by Maggie Sokoll
A Spray of Bittersweet by Andrea Stewart
Faces of the Revolution by James L. Sutter
A Sword that Heals by Clint Talbert
*Smoke and Feathers by Juliette Wade
Call of the Sky by Cliff Winnig
Faith by Chris Wong Sick Hong
The Clever One by Jamie Wyman

Secret delight: being in an anthology with some amazing writers!
deborahjross: (Feathered Edge)
Last year I began this series on "the stories behind the stories" in this anthology of marvelous fantasy stories I was privileged to edit. I got about halfway through when life in the form of writing deadlines intervened. So I'm going to repost them and hopefully finish the series, then put them together in a companion volume. to The Feathered Edge.

One of the challenges of writing short fiction is how much must be accomplished in how few words. Harry Turtledove once said that novels teach us what to put in a story, but short stories teach us what to take out. Every story element must serve multiple purposes - setting the scene and evoking the larger world beyond it, creating and heightening tension, revealing character -- oh, and moving the plot along. It's a tall order to accomplish in only a few thousand words. Some writers do the world-building part so well in even so short a space that it keeps beckoning them to return. That happened to me with a series of short stories I wrote for Sword and Sorceress (that eventually became a fantasy trilogy, The Seven-Petaled Shield). It also happened to Madeleine E. Robins with her world of "Meviel."

The first I saw of this wonderful place was the story Madeleine wrote for the first anthology I edited, Lace and Blade from Norilana Books. It was called "Virtue and the Archangel" and began thus:

Veillaune meCorse left her virtue in the tumbled sheets of a chamber at the Bronze Manticore. This act, which would have licensed her parents to cut her off from family and fortune, was a grave error; but with her maidenhead, Veilliaune also left the Archangel behind, and that was a calamity.


I guess the world of Meviel was just too enticing for one such tale to suffice, and when I was reading for the next volume, Madeleine queried me whether a second story in the same setting would be of interest. Bring it on, I said, and received the hilarious "Writ of Exception." I'm not going to divulge any of its secrets; you'll have to read it for yourself.
Read more... )
deborahjross: (Deb and Cleo)
Last year I began this series on "the stories behind the stories" in this anthology of marvelous fantasy stories I was privileged to edit. I got about halfway through when life in the form of writing deadlines intervened. So I'm going to repost them and hopefully finish the series, then put them together in a companion volume. to The Feathered Edge.

What is there to say about editing a Tanith Lee story? You sit there, holding the typewritten manuscript that she sent you, and something in your brain turns itself into total fan-girl jelly. But you already knew that.

To begin with, the first Tanith Lee story I worked on was for Lace and Blade (Norilana Books, 2008). She'd agreed to submit a story in the very early planning stages of the project, before I came onboard as editor. And it was my first gig as editor. Over the years, I'd worked with a bunch of different editors, and had ideas about what worked for me, what didn't, and how I wanted to interact with writers "from the other side of the desk." Marion Zimmer Bradley had been a role model and inspiration about how to encourage new writers. After years of participating in writer's workshops and teaching adult education classes in writing, I was all set to instruct and guide.

None of this prepared me for the experience of holding in my hands an original typewritten Tanith Lee manuscript.
Read more... )
deborahjross: (Default)
Last year I began this series on "the stories behind the stories" in this anthology of marvelous fantasy stories I was privileged to edit. I got about halfway through when life in the form of writing deadlines intervened. So I'm going to repost them and hopefully finish the series, then put them together in a companion volume. to The Feathered Edge.

Sheila Finch's "Fortune's Stepchild" is linked to other stories backwards-fashion. For so many of us, a tale or legend or bit of history so captured our childhood imaginations that forever after, it is a touchstone for "something wonderful and magic." Kari Sperring, for example, grew up dreaming of joining the musketeers and saving France. (Aside: I wonder if there's something about being British -- Sheila's an ex-pat Brit -- that lends itself to such inspiration; we on the other side of the Atlantic can read about Arthur and company, but he's not our Arthur.) At any rate, Sheila admits to a special fondness for tales about Sir Francis Drake (who was an amazingly colorful fellow, even if only a tenth of the stories told about him are true.)

Sheila's best known for her science fiction, including a series of stories about the Guild of Xenolinguists (one of which won the Nebula Award), but she's a writer of many and varied interests. I met her a gazillion years ago, if memory serves me right at the same convention at which I met Sherwood Smith, and thus began a long-running conversation. After I fled from Los Angeles to the redwoods of the Central Coast, we'd get together every so often at one convention or another, grab a few friends, and head offsite for the best fish restaurant we could find. And have meaty, thoughtful discussions on everything under the sun.


When I was considering the balance of new-to-me writers and new-to-my-anthologies writers, I thought, I bet Sheila would come up with something fascinating. With her unerring sense of serendipitous timing, she presented me with a period piece with romance, magic, and intelligence. The first time I read "Fortune's Stepchild," my husband and I had not long finished watching every film adaptation of the life of Elizabeth I we could get our hands on, and my head was filled with the Spanish Armada, Shakespeare, religious wars, courtly politics, schemes and beheadings, pirates and privateers, not to mention seekers of fortune of all varieties.

We tend to think of the early history of the Americas as one tragedy after another, at least for the native peoples. What Sheila has given us is a tiny moment of magic in a land of unusual opportunity. Perhaps this really happened. Perhaps it happened in a different world, a different America . . .

Perhaps it's one of those stories that should have happened, and some day, in a galaxy far, far away, it will...










deborahjross: (Feathered Edge)
Last year, I started a series of blog posts on the stories in The Feathered Edge: Tales of Magic, Love, and Daring - how I met the authors, my thoughts on these particular stories, how our lives and work are woven together in community. Life and deadlines intervened, so I never finished, so now I'm reposting them and will complete the series. I can post each blog here, or just a link to send you over to my blog. Which works better for you?

[Poll #1896343]
deborahjross: (Default)
Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] ramblin_phyl at How Beer Saved the World
The official reading period for my newest anthology with Sky Warrior Books "How Beer Saved the World" is now open until February 1, 2013.

If you think you might want to write a short story for this message me off list for the guidelines.

For inspiration you might want to watch the following documentary:
http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/how-beer-saved-the-world/

Only 15 stories will make the cut and only one of those will be a frat party. Also, only one variation on Scotty getting the deadly alien drunk...
deborahjross: (Default)

What is there to say about editing a Tanith Lee story? You sit there, holding the typewritten manuscript that she sent you, and something in your brain turns itself into total fan-girl jelly. But you already knew that.

To begin with, the first Tanith Lee story I worked on was for Lace and Blade (Norilana Books, 2008). She'd agreed to submit a story in the very early planning stages of the project, before I came onboard as editor. And it was my first gig as editor. Over the years, I'd worked with a bunch of different editors, and had ideas about what worked for me, what didn't, and how I wanted to interact with writers "from the other side of the desk." Marion Zimmer Bradley had been a role model and inspiration about how to encourage new writers. After years of participating in writer's workshops and teaching adult education classes in writing, I was all set to instruct and guide.

None of this prepared me for the experience of holding in my hands an original typewritten Tanith Lee manuscript.

The first, and most important thing, I had to do was to take off my fangirl hat and my fellow-writer hat and affix my editor hat firmly to my head. This involved an excruciating change of gears. I made mistakes. Of course, I made mistakes. (And learned how to clean them up.) I wasn't born knowing how to edit, let alone how to edit iconic authors in whose shadows I have long stood. Tanith herself encouraged me. She wrote to me, "On editing though - like writing, I feel strongly one must do what one feels is right. In me, of course, you run into an old war-horse, 40 years in the field, covered in armour and neighing like a trumpet." Which was a most gracious way of acknowledging that the relationship between an author and an editor is an organic process, when at its best rooted in clear communication, deep listening, and respect. Not intimidation (in either direction), but a partnership in which both people have the same goal -- to make the story the best representation of the author's vision.








By the time I received, "Question A Stone," Tanith and I had evolved out a procedure that worked for both of us. It begins with her sending me a typewritten manuscript. In a 1998 interview, she said, "I have to write longhand, and no one can read my writing, I have to type my own manuscripts, because I'm going almost in a zigzag, across and then down. (I don't write backwards, I've never been able to do that!) I used to throw away my holograph manuscripts after I'd typed them, but I'm keeping a lot of them now, because I'm starting to think, if anyone ever is interested in me after I'm dead, they can look and see, 'My god, this woman was a maniac!'" I've tried scanning the pages into a digital file, but all the corrections and irregularities of type, not to mention the paper being British-sized rather than American-sized, means the result requires an enormous amount of line-by-line clean-up. So I transcribe it (and the print out and send her a copy for review, which amounts to a preview of proof pages.) I've heard this technique suggested for beginning writers -- type out pages from the published works of your favorite authors, to get an inside look at how the story is put together, how the prose works, all the details you miss when you read; the action of typing (or writing out the passages longhand) engages your brain in a different way. Transcribing Tanith's manuscripts taught me an immeasurable amount about how she crafts her prose and weaves together the details of character, setting, dialog, plot, the works.

On the computer print-out, I highlight anything I have questions about, she catches my typos, I catch hers, and what she sends back is ready to go in the final anthology line-up.

"Question A Stone" involves two superb and very sexy swordsmen who, through a twist of circumstances, find themselves committed to fighting a duel to the death, despite having fallen in love with one another. Their swords, being magical, have other ideas. The whole adventure takes place in an inn called The Chameleon's Arms, a delight suggested by Tanith's husband, John Kaiine.



Here's where to buy the whole delicious anthology in ebook or trade paperback editions from Amazon:  or from Barnes & Noble or, if you prefer an independent bookstore, Powell's online (paperbck only).





The chameleon photo is by Volker Herrmann, licensed under Creative Commons.



Mirrored from my blog.
deborahjross: (Feathered Edge)

Italy has some of the most romantic and mysterious cities in the world, and I was delighted when Jay Lake and Shannon Page sent me a story set in the Renaissance Florence. 

 

Florence, by Thermos
Venice, by Paolo da Reggio

My own adventure began in 1991, when I was living in France. We used our children’s spring break to visit Italy, and that meant Florence and Venice. These places overwhelmed me with a sense of being not quite in the same reality as other places I’d been. I was accustomed to living near water (having come from Venice, California -- all right, just across the street from the Venice city line), but not the pervasive sense of dark, fluid depths underlying every building and every walkway, nor the atmosphere of age and history, or the constant reminders of private lives – of secrets – behind those shuttered windows and doors. Whether strolling through the piazzas or over one of the many bridges, or riding in a gondola, or sitting in a café, I felt myself surrounded by stories. I remember the moment of awe when I stepped out into the plaza of the ghetto (the original ghetto, after which all others are named). There isn’t much to see, just a well-swept space surrounded by tourist shops; it’s not what I saw but what I felt, century upon century of hope and despair, of huddled safety and wellsprings of determination.

A tourist brochure, perhaps from the city of Venice itself, I can’t remember now, featured images from carnevale. One of these was the famous character, Bauta. This costume consists of a unadorned white mask, flared at the bottom where the mouth should be, a black tricorned hat, and a black cloak. It is impossible to tell if the person wearing it is old or young, man or woman, rich or poor – a true disguise for that brief time of merry-making when such distinctions no longer hold sway. In the publicity image, indirect, diffuse lighting cast the figure in mysterious shadows. You can see something of what it looked like here.



Or here.

Oh my, I thought. Story material.



When I returned to the US, I pinned the picture on my bulletin board beside my computer. Although I worked on other projects, my eyes kept drifting back to this enigmatic, slightly menacing figure. I had a chance to take some of those shivers and weave them into a story when I was invited to submit to an anthology of historical fantasy, Ancient Enchantresses, edited by Kathleen M. Massie-Ferch. I based my story, "Unmasking the Ancient Light," on the life of Dona Gracia Nasi, one of the most extraordinary Jewish women of the Renaissance. My friend Bauta did not put in an appearance in my story, but furnished a wealth inspiration for an ancient, brooding menace.

Then, as I was reading stories for The Feathered Edge: Tales of Magic, Love, and Daring, I opened the one Jay and Shannon had sent me and read:

Firenze, 1498

I peered around the rough-edged corner of the Palazzo Martelli, searching down the long, night-shadowed lane but seeing nothing save the muddy path to the river Arno below. The Ponte Vecchio glimmered in the distance, lit by a single torch at the near end.
 










Palazzo Martelli, by sailko

Oh my. Italy, again!

And what a marvelous time this is! Florence is ancient and brooding, but infused with the vigor of magic, of a living, working city, not a vacation destination. This is not the Florence of picture postcards and tourist brochures. Dangerous things lurk in waters, and watch you from the rooftops…and behind the gaity and mercantile riches, a battle is being waged, one whose stakes are hearts as well as souls. Jay and Shannon weave the vivid details into an erotic tale of desire, sorcery, and power.













deborahjross: (Default)
I am absolutely blown away by the creativity of the folks at Book View Cafe. In today's blog, Sue Lange writes about making a movie based on her story, "Princess Dancer."

But then, I don’t write fairy tales either, so all bets are off and all rules broken in this saga. Before I sat down to write Princess Dancer, I first read the primary source: Grimms’ Twelve Dancing Princesses. And to make it dark like Phyllis and Deborah wanted, I read to a soundtrack: The Burned. And then, and then, as the music continued in the background, I wrote the first rough draft, historically the most difficult of passages. The words flowed like butter in summer.

In the first moments of self-congratulations for completing the draft, a hideous idea to me. “This would make a great trailer for the book,” I thought to myself. I didn’t dare say it aloud because you know what happens when you do that. What I did say aloud was: “No. You’re a writer, not a filmmaker.” And so the idea was thankfully put to rest. But a vision of the black light tattoos and stained glass ballroom stayed with me, niggling at the back of my head like a tick.


Stay tuned for more. Meanwhile, you can get the anthology, with many other superb and twisted tales here.
deborahjross: (Feathered Edge)
One of the challenges of writing short fiction is how much must be accomplished in how few words. Harry Turtledove once said that novels teach us what to put in a story, but short stories teach us what to take out. Every story element must serve multiple purposes - setting the scene and evoking the larger world beyond it, creating and heightening tension, revealing character -- oh, and moving the plot along. It's a tall order to accomplish in only a few thousand words. Some writers do the world-building part so well in even so short a space that it keeps beckoning them to return. That happened to me with a series of short stories I wrote for Sword and Sorceress (that eventually became a fantasy trilogy, The Seven-Petaled Shield). It also happened to Madeleine E. Robins with her world of "Meviel."

The first I saw of this wonderful place was the story Madeleine wrote for the first anthology I edited, Lace and Blade from Norilana Books. It was called "Virtue and the Archangel" and began thus:

Veillaune meCorse left her virtue in the tumbled sheets of a chamber at the Bronze Manticore. This act, which would have licensed her parents to cut her off from family and fortune, was a grave error; but with her maidenhead, Veilliaune also left the Archangel behind, and that was a calamity.

I guess the world of Meviel was just too enticing for one such tale to suffice, and when I was reading for the next volume, Madeleine queried me whether a second story in the same setting would be of interest. Bring it on, I said, and received the hilarious "Writ of Exception." I'm not going to divulge any of its secrets; you'll have to read it for yourself.

Time passed, as it does, but the years did not dim Meviel's luster, because when I inquired of Madeleine if she would like to do a story for the anthology that would become The Feathered Edge: Tales of Magic, Love, and Daring, she wrote:

I'm working on a Meviel story... No alternate sexuality per se (after the last two stories I sort of wanted to change things up a bit) and no romance particularly: just a girl who reads too much and gets kidnapped by pirates and...

I ask you, what editor could resist that premise? Who knew there were pirates in same world as Veillaune meCorse and the Archangel? True to form, the pirates in "Wreath of Luck" are and are not your usual sort. There's a lovely twist of -- is it magic or superstition or a plucky young heroine creating her own good fortune?

If you love Madeleine's work as much as I do, you'll want to check out her wonderful Regency novels on Book View Café (and the latest "Sarah Tolerance" adventure, The Sleeping Partner, in paper, too). Madeleine's also got a story in Beyond Grimm: Tales Newly Twisted.
deborahjross: (Feathered Edge)
"The Woman Who Fell In Love With The Horned King" is the second story with a woman warrior-as-champion/paladin. One of the most interesting things about putting together these anthologies of romantic, swashbuckling fantasy (2 volumes of Lace and Blade, and now The Feathered Edge: Tales of Magic, Love, and Daring) is the synchronicity -- or parallelism -- or "great minds work alike" thematic resonances. The first had 2 stories about Spanish highwaymen, the second 2 stories with Chinese generals. I'm not in the least surprised, but I am delighted and a bit awestruck by the way life works. The cover for The Feathered Edge could illustrate either this story or Sean McMullen's "Culverelle." You get to pick.

Now to the story. No, wait, background! I've loved Judith Tarr's work since I picked up A Wind In Cairo when it first came out. The horse got me into the book, as I'm a sucker for well-written horse characters, but the sheer mastery of storycraft, the depth and nuance, the use of language, all kept me wanting more. None of this should come as a surprise. Judy knows more about horses than any ten fantasy writers put together, and what she doesn't know, one or another of her nine amazing Lipizzan horses will enlighten us about. She's written the best guide to horses in writing I've ever seen, Writing Horses; The Fine Art of Getting It Right, and if you are a writer and need a horse in your story, it's a must-read.

The other thing about Judy's work is that her careful attention to detail -- the kind of detail not for detail's-sake but that evokes a vivid world beyond the page -- carries over to historical background, culture, world-building, and character. You can read a sampling of her short work free on Book View Cafe here.I've never read anything of hers that's remotely generic, even when it falls solidly within a genre. Her "Alamut" books were among the first to portray Muslim cultures in a positive, yet humanly complex way.

One of the self-indulgent luxuries of editing is being able to contact the writers-of-my-dreams and say, "Hey, want to come play?" It takes a certain amount of chutzpah, it does. So I asked. Judy said yes, and sent me this wonderful, sweeping, heroic tale that reminds me of the best of the women-martial-arts stories from Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword & Sorceress series. Judy's heroine is no bronze-bikini-clad superwoman, but a character set firmly within her world, with hopes and disappointments and family obligations, cognizant of both her strengths and her limitations. And The Horned King, oh my! You'll just have to read to the story...

If "The Woman Who Fell In Love With The Horned King" leaves you, like me, wanting more, rejoice! It's set in the world of The Serpent And The Rose, under the pseudonym of Kathleen Bryan.

The beautiful photo of Capria and Khepera is by Lynne Glazer, used with permission. See more of her work here:

Mirrored from my blog
deborahjross: (Feathered Edge)
Sheila Finch's "Fortune's Stepchild" is linked to other stories backwards-fashion. For so many of us, a tale or legend or bit of history so captured our childhood imaginations that forever after, it is a touchstone for "something wonderful and magic." Kari Sperring, for example, grew up dreaming of joining the musketeers and saving France. (Aside: I wonder if there's something about being British -- Sheila's an ex-pat Brit -- that lends itself to such inspiration; we on the other side of the Atlantic can read about Arthur and company, but he's not our Arthur.) At any rate, Sheila admits to a special fondness for tales about Sir Francis Drake (who was an amazingly colorful fellow, even if only a tenth of the stories told about him are true.)

Sheila's best known for her science fiction, including a series of stories about the Guild of Xenolinguists (one of which won the Nebula Award), but she's a writer of many and varied interests. I met her a gazillion years ago, if memory serves me right at the same convention at which I met Sherwood, and thus began a long running conversation. After I fled from Los Angeles to the redwoods of the Central Coast, we'd get together every so often at one convention or another, grab a few friends, and head offsite for the best fish restaurant we could find. And have meaty, thoughtful discussions on everything under the sun.


So when I was considering the balance of new-to-me writers and new-to-my-anthologies writers, I thought, I bet Sheila would come up with something fascinating. With her unerring sense of serendipitous timing, she presented me with a period piece with romance, magic, and intelligence. The first time I read "Fortune's Stepchild," my husband and I had not long finished watching every film adaptation of the life of Elizabeth I we could get our hands on, and my head was filled with the Spanish Armada, Shakespeare, religious wars, courtly politics, schemes and beheadings, pirates and privateers, not to mention seekers of fortune of all varieties.

We tend to think of the early history of the Americas as one tragedy after another, at least for the native peoples. What Sheila has given us is a tiny moment of magic in a land of unusual opportunity. Perhaps this really happened. Perhaps it happened in a different world, a different America.

Perhaps it's one of those stories that should have happened, and some day, in a galaxy far, far away, will...
deborahjross: (Feathered Edge)
Another of the writers whose work I got to know through the SFWA Circulating Book Plan was Australian Sean McMullen. I think the book was Glass Dragons, the second of his Moonworlds series. It's often challenging to begin a series in the middle, but this one posed no problem. Dragons and vampires and "War of the Worlds" and angsty heroes and radical organizers-of-the-people's-revolution, oh my! Well, not all in that first book, but it was enough to get me hooked.

So a little while later, I wandered into the Tor party at a WorldCon and there was Sean McMullen. I think the introduction caught me by surprise because the first words out of my mouth (after "Hello, I'm Deborah") were, "I love your work!" And received a glorious smile in reply, as if I'd just handed him a precious gift. And yes, it was. We create in such solitude, and reviews are such treacherous things when it comes to "did people like my book? did they understand it?" Then to come all the way to a different continent, to be surrounded by people you've heard of and maybe corresponded with but never met in person, and to have a fellow writer recognize your name and have read -- and remembered -- your work. What a joy!

That conversation was necessarily brief. If you've attended a publisher's party -- or any part -- at a WorldCon, you will understand why. Most communications at large conventions are sound bytes anyway, but when you add a crushing crowd, noise, and alcohol, it's many times so. But Sean and his work kept crossing my path -- we both love cats, we're both martial artists (or I used to be -- 30 years of tai chi and kung fu). By the strange synchronicity of publishing, when I returned to the pages of F & SF with my own work ("The Price of Silence," April/May. 2009), it was to an issue that had a story of Sean's as well.

I can take a hint. When I was scheming The Feathered Edge, I wrote to him. We worked together on one story idea, and eventually he sent me "Culverelle." Curiously enough, is set in the same world, with the same overall characters and tale, as "The Spiral Briar" from F & SF. They are not the same stories in that they have different emotional and moral centers, but if you fell in love with Eleanor (as I did), and you savor the wonderful blend of engineering, chivalry, and Faerie, I encourage you to run out and find the other story -- and make a note to look for the novel The Iron Warlock when it's released.

"Culverelle" in some ways belongs to the small but excellent group of stories about women learning to be warriors -- by training. By practicing, by learning what their strengths and weaknesses are and by using those strengths in an intelligent way. (Another example is Barbara Hambly's novel, The Ladies of Mandrigyn.) I love that Sean doesn't simply wave his authorial hands and turn a determined but unfit woman into a super-paladin in a few paragraphs. When we take on such a training, we must be prepared for it to change us in more than physical ways.

Later in the anthology, you'll meet another woman warrior, from Judith Tarr's "The Woman Who Fell In Love With The Horned King." See what you think about what they have in common, and how their experiences are different. As a fascinating side note, the swordswoman on the cover could be either!
deborahjross: (halidragon)
"Beneath a Violet Moon": ebook sword and sorcery anthology.
Guidelines here. Deadline is April 25. They say they share the larger portion of payments with authors; depending on how well the anthology is promoted and sells, this could be a good thing or a not so good thing. Either way, an interesting experiment. I don't know these folks personally, so use your own judgment.

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Deborah J. Ross

May 2017

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