The Extrahuman Union

Archive for the ‘The Daughter Star’ Category

It’s official, THE DAUGHTER STAR has a cover, and it’s gorgeous. Take a look:

The-Daughter-Star-web-cover-298x450

Read all about how the cover was developed over at The Book Smugglers, who were kind enough to host the reveal yesterday.

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Yes. I am awful. I do not blog much.

But in a previous life I blogged A LOT, so I think that counts for something?

Okay. Here’s what’s going on:

Appearances

I did a reading of “Ramona’s Demons” with the awesome Topside Press crew at the Kelly Writer’s House at Penn in Philadelphia last week. It was incredible! I had a blast with everyone, and was so amazed by the outpouring of love for THE COLLECTION and for my story. Philly, you are the best.

I keep thinking we’ll do some sort of reading/appearance thing for my other books at some point. I’ll keep you posted.

Announcements

Hey! Do you like “Doctor Who” more than pretty much anything? Me, too! Which is why I’m super excited to have an essay appearing in “Queers Dig Time Lords,” which will be coming out from Mad Norwegian Press this June. Did I mention John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) will be doing the intro? Yeah!

Books in Production

The cover for THE DAUGHTER STAR is done and ready for a reveal next month. It is AMAZING, and I’m thrilled about it. The book itself is due out in May, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Works in Progress

THE BELLS OF VALEN: I finished up the rough draft of the fourth Extrahumans book yesterday, and now I’m completely exhausted. Revisions loom, but I’m not touching the book until at least May. I need to let it settle, plus there’s way more to do.

THE SEEKER STAR: I’m about halfway through revisions for this book, which is the second in the Grayline Sisters trilogy. It is slow going. This book has been interrupted by so, so many other things.

SIPHANE AND THE WHALE: This rough draft of a grumpy robot and her weirdo human pal figuring out life, love and unusual food products during a terrifying interstellar war is collecting dust, waiting for me to have time to revise it. Maybe by April?

THE DEMON GIRL’S SONG: Look what’s back in rotation! I’m trying to fix this poor, unloved book about a young woman being possessed by a demon emperor up some. There were so many issues with it, and I’d love for it to see the light of day at some point… but I only have time to work on it when I’m not busy with other things. I also have no idea how to fix a lot of it. Argh!

THE FALLEN STAR: Grayline Sisters #3. I have a few pages written and have outlined some of the rest.

THE LAST EXTRAHUMAN: Outlined. Haven’t started. Really want to start. Wanted to start months ago. Holding self back.

FURY’S STAND: Byzantine gender fantasy, with goddesses. 18k or so written. It’s stalled out while I work on other things.

Reviews

There’s a bunch of reviews of BROKEN out there which I need to post. I will get to it. Promise.

And that’s it!

So the amazing Cathering Lundoff (author of Silver Moon) tagged me for the Next Big Thing, where authors and editors share what they’re doing next. Here’s my entry:

What is the working title of your next book?

Okay, right now I’m in the revising stage for a book called The Seeker Star, which is the second book in a trilogy about the Grayline sisters, meddlesome aliens, conspiracies, other planets, and the effect of heavy gravity on bra elastic (hint: it isn’t good). The first book, The Daughter Star is being put through the wringer by my editors right now, and will be out sometime in 2013.

So I guess Daughter Star is the next big thing, and Seeker Star is the thing after that.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I had fiddled with the idea of this particular universe for a while, and I wanted to write a story set there. I also wanted to write a novel that wasn’t an Extrahumans book! I created the character of Marta Grayline and had her running around trying to figure out some of the big questions of her universe. Her sister, Violet, is the star of the second book, and the youngest Grayline sister, Beth, will be featured in the third one (tentative title: The Fallen Star).

I wanted to write about family, and relationships, and also weirdo aliens. This trilogy has let me do all of that.

What genre does your book fall under?

Science fiction.

What is the synopsis or blurb for this book?

For The Daughter Star the official blurb is: Marta Grayline has problems: her stable, fulfilling life as a freighter pilot has been yanked out from under her, she’s stuck on her miserable home planet with her obnoxious family, her beautiful girlfriend’s now on the opposite side of an interstellar war, and, worst of all, she’s bored to tears. When her enigmatic sister Beth offers her a way out – enlisting in the Novan Emergency Fleet – she jumps at it.

Now Marta has questions: Why was her ship attacked and destroyed? Who are the strange people who rescued her, and what’s their connection to the mysterious alien Abrax? What’s the seven-note song looping endlessly through her head supposed to mean? And, strangest of all, why is there a door to a dead planet in the science lab of a hidden space station?

Marta’s quest for answers will take her to the frozen dark side of a faraway planet, into the tense politics of an armed rebellion, through vast subterranean caves, and into the heart of the enemy’s defenses. She’ll have to face ancient forces, her own doubts, and the inside of an alien mind if she wants to save her sister, find answers to the questions burning in her mind, and unlock her own potential. The Daughter Star, the red beacon in the night sky, could either see the genesis of a startling new future for humans and Abrax, or Marta and Beth Grayline’s annihilation…

For The Seeker Star there is no official blurb yet. Basically Violet Grayline loses everything, finds her missing sisters, and changes the world.

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Dye Amanda Tapping’s hair deep brown and she’d be Marta. Violet is more a Claudia Christian.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Small press. I have no agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Way longer than it should have. Daughter Star was done in about three months, Seeker Star in something like six months.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I sort of talked about this? I really have no clue other than what I already said…

UPDATE: Oh, I know what I could mention! I started this book as a “pace book” for The Spark, which came out in August. I wanted it to be a silly thing that I wrote alongside that book, so I could take a break from time to time and focus on something else (writing The Spark was amazing but draining). The original working title of the book was Novan Ladies in Terrible Peril, which gives you an idea of how serious it was. It actually got far more serious and intricate with each rewrite, so if you’re expecting a silly book this isn’t it! That’s how it started, though.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Did I mention the interstellar war?

…And oh no, I forgot to tag people! AUGH. I will try to remember to do that right away!

Thank you for reading!

I promised myself that this year, in November, I’d take a break from fiction. I had all kinds of excuses. I wrote two rough draft manuscripts this year, I assured myself, and even though I hadn’t done much of anything with them since that was clearly Good Enough. I’d also gone through two actual book releases, one in January and another in August, and I’d just finished the revisions on another book due out sometime next year. Seriously, I thought, these were excellent excuses.

Lastly, and this may be the most legitimate reason of all, when elections roll around life as a political columnist gets really hectic. Elections tend to burn me out, so I figured this year I was going to play it totally safe. While everyone else was busy with their NaNovels, posting word counts and cursing their characters, I was going to be slaying digital monsters and sipping tea. Ah yes.

Have I mentioned that I’ve gotten into tea in a big way? Ask me about my tea infuser and giant tins of loose leaf tea. Ask me about the tea leaves scattered all over the kitchen counter. Go ahead. You have time to kill.

So that was it, National Novel Avoidance Month had come to Susanland, and I was living large. I spent my after-work time covered in a layer of cats. I finished up all my political writing and started reading Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, which is a blast so far.

But then I kept having ideas. Conversations started playing out in my head. I started thinking about characters doing things. And, of course, everyone out there is writing stuff this month. It’s infectious.

Therefore, naturally, over the weekend I found myself arm-deep in a manuscript, starting the laborious process of revision. Argh! So much for vacation. All those monsters are just sitting there on my computer, waiting to be slain, and I’m figuring out how many members the Women’s Council in Müller-Darvan has. Bah!

*glowers at world*

Okay, so here’s what’s going on now!

  • I didn’t put up a post about it at the time, but THE COLLECTION from Topside Press came out in October! All new stories from the “transgender vanguard,” which sounds like a cool band name or maybe a football formation, and I’ve got a story in it. Check it out. So many good writers in there! The anthology’s been getting some rave reviews. My story, “Ramona’s Demons,” is mentioned in a few of them. One of them said, “This one had me laughing out loud and smiling and getting angry.” Excellent.
  • I finished up the latest round of revisions for THE DAUGHTER STAR, which will be out sometime next year.
  • Right now I’m working on revising the rough draft of THE SEEKER STAR, which is the follow-up to THE DAUGHTER STAR. Yes, this is the book that ruined my vacation.
  • I’m also making notes and writing a few scenes for the fourth Extrahumans book. I have no timetable for this one yet, folks, so bear with me.
  • I did a lot of political writing this election season, including this piece about quiet inside the voting booth, and this one about climate change. You can find my column over at ctnewsjunkie.com every week.

That’s it for now. I’m hoping to be able to make an announcement or two soon-ish, as there’s more cool stuff coming down the pike. Until next time!

I’m proud to announce that Candlemark & Gleam will be publishing my fourth novel, the space adventure The Daughter Star. Here’s the blurb:

Marta Grayline has problems: her stable, fulfilling life as a freighter pilot has been yanked out from under her, she’s stuck on her miserable home planet with her obnoxious family, her beautiful girlfriend’s now on the opposite side of an interstellar war, and, worst of all, she’s bored to tears. When her enigmatic sister Beth offers her a way out – enlisting in the Novan Emergency Fleet – she jumps at it.

Now Marta has questions: Why was her ship attacked and destroyed? Who are the strange people who rescued her, and what’s their connection to the mysterious alien Abrax? What’s the seven-note song looping endlessly through her head supposed to mean? And, strangest of all, why is there a door to a dead planet in the science lab of a hidden space station?

Marta’s quest for answers will take her to the frozen dark side of a faraway planet, into the tense politics of an armed rebellion, through vast subterranean caves, and into the heart of the enemy’s defenses. She’ll have to face ancient forces, her own doubts, and the inside of an alien mind if she wants to save her sister, find answers to the questions burning in her mind, and unlock her own potential. The Daughter Star, the red beacon in the night sky, could either see the genesis of a startling new future for humans and Abrax, or Marta and Beth Grayline’s annihilation…

This story is set in an entirely new universe, in which humanity lives in a ternary system (three stars) hundreds of years after Earth’s destruction.

I originally wrote this book as a “pace book” for The Spark, meaning that when I got stuck on the other book I’d go work on this one instead for a while. I haven’t done anything like that, working on two books in tandem, either before or since. It was a very unusual way to write two books that really had nothing to do with one another. I actually finished this book earlier than The Spark, but the revision process turned out to be ten times more difficult as I struggled with where I wanted this book to go.

I originally intended The Daughter Star to be a light, fun adventure story. It kind of hasn’t worked out that way. With every revision the story got darker and more complex, as Marta Grayline has to deal with big issues of war, loss, transformation and what it really means to be human.

I have kept in the jokes about how heavy gravity affects bras, though.

This is the first in a planned trilogy about the Grayline sisters. The second one will be about Marta’s younger sister Violet, who manages to Ruin Everything for the people who deserve it most.

Stay tuned for more Daughter Star news!

Seanan McGuire makes these lists every month of what she’s working on, and every time she does my eyes grow big. Every once in a while I like to do the same thing, just to get an idea of where I’m at with all my projects. It’s been almost a year since I did this last. To be fair: it’s been quite a year.

I’m not including anything that’s not in process in one form or another. I’m not including a couple of things because they haven’t been announced yet, or I’m still trying to find a home for them. But here’s the rest:

The Daughter Star – Announced this week (more on that Monday)! I’m working on the first round of revisions now. First in a planned trilogy about the Grayline sisters. This thing has eaten my life at the moment.

The Seeker Star – Second book in the Grayline sisters trilogy, it’s at over 50,000 words. Stalled while I finish revisions on Daughter Star.

Gifts of the Sky – Extrahumans #4, starring Jill, Penny, Torres and some big flying doofus. A little over 20,000 words but stalled out while I work on other stuff.

Siphane and the Whale – The book formerly known as Memory’s Fire, about the adventures of introvert Siphane and her bitchy robot pal Lurbira Call. New SF universe, far future, giant war, space whales, lots of fun. First draft done, no energy to revise right now.

Fury’s Stand – Disgraced fortysomething princess gets sent into exile, only to bump up against plots to ruin everything. Set in a world modeled after the 12th century Byzantine Empire. 16,000 words. Slow going, stalled while I sort out everything else.

The Adventures of Stacy and Jazz – Short stories about a suburban woman and her demon-hunting pal. Shopping them around in various places. I have three stories done and the first bit of a fourth written.

CT News Junkie column – Every week. CTNewsjunkie.com. Politics and Connecticut. What could be better?

And that’s it! It’s a surprisingly robust list.

Hi everyone! Quick update post here. I’m putting together lists of reviews of Fly Into Fire. There haven’t been a lot yet, but here’s what there is so far.

If you don’t see one that you know of, let me know! I add all the reviews I can gather, positive or negative.

Plus many more at Goodreads and Amazon!

So far people seem to like the book as much as they liked Broken, which is wonderful!

Other things going on… I had a guest post about writing a sequel over at fellow SF writer Liana Brooks’ blog which kind of got lost in the general chaos of release week, but go check it out anyway! It’s still good. I should be having a few more guest posts here and there over the next few weeks as well, which I’ll post here and especially in my Twitter account.

I’m also working on new things while polishing up older stuff. I’m making progress with Demon Girl’s Song, and it’s slowly but surely turning from a pile of hideous malformed mutant sludge into something resembling a decent story. I’m also outlining a few new projects, and trying to get myself to a place where I can really dive into them.

I did a little revision work on The Daughter Star, which I hope made that story better. And I am nervously awaiting the arrival of revisions for The Spark, which will arrive at some point. Plus political columns, day job, cat wrangling, the works. I’ve barely had time to read anything!

Thank you all for following along, and for reading!

As I was writing up a new epilogue for a book I’m working on, I was reminded of some of the criticism I’ve seen directed towards epilogues and prologues lately. Apparently they’ve become A Bad Thing, though I don’t know when this happened. I’ve seen a few agents, editors and other publishing types bemoaning manuscripts sent to them with a prologue; one suggested she trashed any book that happened to have one.

This seems like an overreaction to me. True, prologues and epilogues, which are little scenes set outside the main story that serve to get the book started and bring it to a close, can be either ghastly, dull or both. But done right, they can serve an important purpose. Personally, I love them. I use them for all kinds of things, and they play lots of different roles in the stories I write.

 

Setting the stage

A good prologue has a lot of purposes. One of them could be to set up potential conflicts, give a (reasonable) amount of background or establish a setting. The prologue in Romeo and Juliet does all of those things. In a very short space, the audience now knows what the setting and major conflict are. This prologue also basically tells the audience exactly what will happen: they know they’re watching a tragedy from the outset. This changes how people experience the play, though it doesn’t stop them from wishing it could all come out differently this time. The entire mood of the play would be vastly different without the prologue.

This is part of what the prologue in THE SPARK does. One of the characters commits a terrible act of betrayal, and the prologue sets this up. When we see this character later on, it’s with the knowledge that she’s about to betray her friends. We also have some context; her betrayal, when it comes, doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We know why she does what she does.

The prologue in FLY INTO FIRE vividly describes the destruction of Union Tower, which creates a somber, tense mood that bleeds into subsequent chapters. It also affects our view of Sky Ranger, since this event is something he’s trying to find some way to either outrun or accept for the entire book (and, really, for the rest of his life).

Lastly, prologues can be used to set mood. I’m experimenting with adding a dreamy, rather abstract prologue to something I’m working on now, which contrasts with the initial feel of the first part of the book. But it does set up some of the more dreamlike and fantastic events that happen later on, which I like.

 

The capstone

Epilogues, on the other hand, are all about putting a cap on what’s just been read. The epilogue at the very end of Harry Potter’s seven book epic is a nice example (I’ll let you look it up. Don’t pretend you don’t have the book lying around somewhere). The epilogue here does a couple of things to put a period at the end of the series’ sentence. First, it establishes a return to normality and the continuation of the very things the heroes fought for. The scene is set at the train station, waiting for the train to Hogwarts, which both reinforces that normality while passing the torch to a new generation. It also extends the arc of the major characters, leaving them paired up and with a gaggle of children to put on the train. The final words of the book and the series establish that Voldemort has not returned, and so all will be well. The epilogue caused a lot of controversy among some fans, but it does what it sets out to do by wrapping up what needs wrapping up. The book and the series wouldn’t feel as complete without it.

The terse epilogues in Dragnet are another great example of wrapping up a story. Each episode concludes with a few lines about what happened to the criminal, leaving the audience feeling satisfied.

I like using epilogues to wrap things up, and also to give some context to what’s been read. The epilogue in BROKEN is St. Val’s letter, which explains a few things and also in essence grants Penny her heart’s desire. The epilogue in FLY INTO FIRE has the characters gathering a year after the events of the main story, which draws a line under those events. There’s also a bit of symmetry there, one of the first scenes in the book takes place in the same location as the epilogue, and the coming together of the epilogue balances the destruction of the tower in the prologue. The epilogue of THE SPARK is all about glimpsing both the future and the past, and could also work as an endpoint for all three books. All of these epilogues, which are set outside the story, wrap up character storylines and establish that the world and the characters have moved on, though perhaps not unscathed.

Epiconclusionlogue

I can understand why folks might not be fans of prologues and epilogues. They can feel trite and unnecessary, especially if they’re long and drawn out. I think the best prologues and epilogues are short snippets. If they’re chapter-length, then I start to wonder why they aren’t just chapters! I do feel, though, that when they’re done right, prologues and epilogues add immeasurable value to a story.

What do you think? For them? Against? Any favorite examples, either good or bad?

Some people, when they post to their dormant-ish blog after a lengthy time of not posting, get apologetic and make all kinds of excuses. Not here. I’m just going to pretend it never happened and continue on as normal!

So.

What’s been happening? Well, next week (Nov. 22) BROKEN officially launches in print. Ha ha, I know! You bought your copy from Amazon like six weeks ago! This hasn’t been a release date that’s been paid a lot of heed. Oh well. Anyway, we had a launch party for the book at Modern Myths in Northampton on November 5th, and it was a blast! Candlemark & Gleam have the roundup, which includes a few pics. I did a reading from the book, which was amazing. I’ve never done anything quite like this before.

Lucky for me, in about two months we get to do it all again. 2011 has been the Year of Constantly Rolling Out BROKEN, because we did the initial launch in e-book format only back in January, then launched the print version this fall. For the next book in the Extrahumans series, FLY INTO FIRE, we’re launching everything at once–and it’s all happening in late January! I think we may even be having another party.

In other news, I’m hard at work on new projects! Here’s where things stand:

FLY INTO FIRE (EXTRAHUMANS #2): Done, ARCs are shipping out from publisher, launch set for January! I’m sure we’ll be doing pre-orders soon! Want to win a copy? There’s a contest up at Goodreads!

THE SPARK (EXTRAHUMANS #3): I’ve sent this into my editor, and am waiting to hear about it. If all goes well, we may end up releasing this one sometime in late 2012. Stay tuned!

THE DAUGHTER STAR (MARTA GRAYLINE #1): Also sent in to editor. But that’s all I know about it! I’m hoping this one sees the light of day, I think it’s a cool book with lots that readers will like.

THE DEMON GIRL’S SONG: Somehow this title has stuck. I’m at 40,000 words on my first draft of the adventures of Andín dal Rovi and Lynde Shevariat, and I’m shooting to finish the draft by the end of the year. We’ll see.

[NO TITLE YET] EXTRAHUMANS #4: I’ve made a start on this and have some very fun ideas. Haven’t cracked 10,000 words, so I’m still considering it to be in the very early stages.

RED DAUGHTER (MARTA GRAYLINE #2): Planning is sort of done, and about 5,000 words and some opening scenes written.

POLITICAL WRITING: Lots and lots and lots. Here’s the latest run of columns at CT News Junkie.

Also, a short story! Really! Frog F**kery, a Stacy and Jazz Story, is up at 30pov. Sad to say, 30pov has gone on hiatus for a while, and I don’t know if they’re coming back. I’m working on other Stacy and Jazz stories, though, so never you fear! One of them involves some really rotten, mean and insulting eggs.

That’s it for now. Check back in December, I’ll be doing guest posts in at least two places, so I’ll be sure to link to those!

Hi everyone! I’ll admit that I’ve been having an emotional roller-coaster of a week. I’m mostly happy, but I’m also exhausted. Fall is not a peaceful time for me.

That said, it was really cool to roll out of bed on Saturday, check my computer, and find a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

Seriously. I about fell off my chair.

Now both of the first two novels from my publisher have received starred reviews from PW (the other, Erekos, is so very worth your time). Let’s hear it for small presses putting out good stuff!

So that was cool.

Then, later on that day, the final copy edits on The Daughter Star were done. My wonderful wife had given the book a once-over, and then I did a few last edits. I took a deep breath and sent it in. That’s two books sent in this month.

It’s not a bad run for 2011. Here’s my output:

  • Two manuscripts, The Spark (Extrahumans #3) and The Daughter Star, started, completed and sent to publisher
  • Broken released in e-book form, with print due out in November
  • Major revising/editing for Fly Into Fire (Extrahumans #2), which is due out in January
  • Thirty-three political columns for CT News Junkie done
  • Seven short pieces for 30POV
  • Miscellaneous short stories, including “Ramona’s Demons” (which will hopefully find a home soon) and an Extrahuman short story, “Jump Up Into the Sky,” which takes place between the events of Broken and Fly Into Fire
  • A start made on two new lengthy writing projects
  • Plus blog entries, guest posts and roughly ten billion tweets

That adds up to a hefty amount of writing for one year! My publisher has threatened to start an imprint just for me if I keep this up. Of course, I happen to think my own imprint would be the coolest thing of all, so that isn’t too much of a threat.

Party Time

Note: the launch party for Broken‘s print run is going to be at Modern Myths in Northampton, MA! It’s scheduled for November 5th from 5-7pm. See you there!


Susan Jane Bigelow’s Extrahuman Union

Hey! Welcome to the Extrahuman Union, home of Susan Jane Bigelow. Prepare to be stripped of all meaningful identity. While you're processing, check out more about me on the about page!

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BROKEN

Extrahuman Union #1

SKY RANGER

Extrahuman Union #2

THE SPARK

Extrahumans #3

THE DEMON GIRL’S SONG

YA LGBT epic fantasy!

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