So excited! I finally get to announce A Thing!

The official publisher’s announcement will come in a few weeks, but I can finally tell you that I have an essay collection coming out (sometime) in 2012 (probably) from Mad Norwegian Press (the kids who brought you Chicks Dig Time Lords)!

As a lapsed critic and failed academic, I have wanted to do an essay collection FOREVER. It is like a LIFE GOAL. I’m so thrilled it’s finally happening!

The collection will be called Six-Gun Snow White, and will contain blog material as well as talks and essays I’ve done for various projects and events. Some new pieces, too. Folklore, fairy tales, science fiction and fantasy, gender and race issues, writing craft, culture and fandom. It’s a HUGE book, containing nearly a decade of non-fiction work. I haven’t yet decided whether to include movie and/or book reviews, provided they contain some critical value. I go back and forth on whether I should.

This means that if there’s an essay or non-fiction piece of mine that you’ve read anywhere, on the blog or off, that you want to make sure gets into the collection, now is the time to holler at me (you don’t have to provide a link, “that one about the ghostpigs” will do. I’ll know what you mean).

If’s there’s a topic you want to see me tackle, I’ve got a couple of weeks before the manuscript is due, so let me know and I’ll do my best to grab it by the horns.

I cannot wait to get this book into the world–Chicks Dig Time Lords was such a fantastic project, I’m all a-grin to be working with that team again.

Squee! I are a real live smarty pants blogger girl!

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Almost four years ago, I started a weird little thing called The Omikuji Project. Every month, I wrote a short story not published anywhere else, printed it on archival paper, signed and sealed them with wax, along with a personal letter. For four years they’ve gone out all over the world, every month, with wobbly, but stalwart, regularity. (October’s has gone out–delay caused by crazy novel deadline–so sorry!)

From the beginning, I said that if subscriptions dropped below a certain level, I couldn’t do it anymore. Remember that stack of Things I Wrote This Year? It did not include a new, original short story every single month. It’s a lot of work, even before the late nights folding, signing, and burning ourselves with sealing wax. It’s wonderful, but it’s work.

We’re circling that level now. With the economy and the ebook apocalypse, we’ve had a lot of cancellations and folks who didn’t renew their subscriptions. And I totally understand that. Something like this is a luxury purchase. Nevertheless, in order to keep the Project going, we need new subscribers. Especially given the increase in postage rates since we began years back, and the exponential increase in my workload since 2007-8.

So this is my way of saying that if you wanted to get someone a holiday gift, or miss your letters every month, or had been thinking about getting a subscription, now would be a wonderful time to sign up. The rates are $100 for the year or $10 a month for the paper edition, and $50 a year or $5 a month for the electronic. International subscriptions are $120 a year or $12 a month.

There is a community at omikuji_project where subscribers meet and discuss the stories, and we’ve had meetups at conventions. It has been one of my most rewarding creative endeavors–it’s just that, given my workload, I can’t keep going if enough people aren’t interested in getting it. I really want to keep going. I hope you do too! But if we do have to close the Project down, yearly subscribers will get stories through the end of their tenure, never fear.

But I hope it won’t come to that. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of it–here’s hoping for four more years, at the least.

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If you’ve wondered why I’ve been a little scatter-brained this year, slow to get back to folks, skidding sideways over deadlines, blogging not nearly as much as I used to, well, I thought I’d give you a visual aid.

Sleep NowThat’s everything that I’ve had published in 2011: novels, short stories, essays not counting the blog. (Not actually though, the Wyverary Govournesse webfiction and A Silver Splendour, A Flame are not pictured, because we didn’t have any more screens to show online stories on!)

It’s just shy of half a million words of fiction.

If we went for the last twelve months? There would be two more books on that stack. Author is shown sleeping because that’s the thing I am most interested in in the whole world right now. I knew going into it that 2011 would be one of the hardest years of my professional life, and boy howdy, it was. It was good in unimaginable ways–the NYT Bestsellers List, the unique wonders of the tour, Australia, my new house. And hard in unimaginable ways–the sheer amount of books, the constant state of “on,” the deadlines, personal heartbreak, and moving into that new house. The fact that I have only three books coming out next year seems posh and relaxed.

At the end of a year I often berate myself–I could have done more if only I hadn’t watched so damn much DS9 or socialized at all or read anything on Cracked. I am lazy, I have no work ethic, I’m one year closer to death and I could have written more if only x, y, or z. I’m actually still doing it this year, because if only x, y, and z, I could have written the proposals that sit half done or finished my epic Persephone poem on time or not been so late on a, b, or c. But for the first time, I’m putting a boot down on that voice because fuck me, I physically could not have done more. I ran myself straight into a burning wall of breakdown, and all those beautiful books are what I have to show for it. Not bad, old girl.

Great Pumpkin forgive me my sins and grant me rest.

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CMV’s newest novel, The Folded World, was released on Tuesday. The sequel to the critically-acclaimed 2010 The Habitation of the Blessed (available free from Barnes and Noble) it continues the tale of the kingdom of Prester John, pushing the country closer to annihilation and following Prester John’s army into the human world.

The Folded World is also available in a DRM-free edition from Baen Webscriptions.

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There are two (!) awesome reviews of Silently and Very Fast in Locus this month, a thing which makes me squee–I had no idea when I finished the novella if it was worth a damn at all, so it’s nice to see such heavy hitters as these saying it’s good.

A couple of months ago, I discussed stories where SF is disguised as fantasy, and ”Silently and Very Fast” by Catherynne M. Valente, which reads like lyrical mythological fantasy for long stretches, fits that bill well. Exotic and beautiful, it uses evocative fantasy motifs to examine some of science fiction’s most fundamental questions: What does it mean to be human? Where’s the line between human consciousness and artificial consciousness, and how can you tell when it’s been crossed? If it’s crossed, from insentience into sentience, does that mean that the machine now has a ”soul?” The story makes for a fascinating contrast with this year’s Hugo-winning novella, ”The Lifecycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang, which examined a similar concept, the incremental growth of artificial intelligence into true consciousness as a result of human nurturing and close involvement with human families, but the two stories couldn’t be more different in mood and approach.

–Gardner Dozois

Silently and Very Fast is a new novella from Catherynne M. Valente. Valente made her reputation with her remarkable diptych of cunningly linked tales more or less on the model of The Thousand Nights and a Night, The Orphan’s Tales, so it is not a surprise to find this new story suffused with images from fairy tales from many cultures. But perhaps it is a surprise to find that it’s SF, an extended examination of AI from the perspective of perhaps the first AI, a ”person” named Elefsis, designed as a house controller by a brilliant computer scientist, but transformed into something more by the scientist’s daughter, who lets Elefsis link with her mind, and who entwines her life with the AI in very intimate ways. Elefsis tells this story, in a mysterious situation many generations in the future, while ”living” in a virtual environment with the great-granddaughter of her creator. A mixture of fairy tales and history expound the back story — Elefsis’s creation and evolution — while also beautifully elaborating the AI’s character, and the characters of the various people who have hosted the AI, until eventually we learn the reality of their current situation. It’s quite a lovely, thoughtful, moving piece.

–Rich Horton

There’s still copies to be had of the limited edition (signed and numbered) hardback, which is just gorgeous, and the final installment will go up at Clarkesworld next month, (Part 2 is here) followed by a complete ebook.

I’m just so pleased to see it discussed. I mean, I was planning this project, not knowing, really, what shape it would take, back in my kitchen in Cleveland in like…2006? So it’s lived in my head a good long while.

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