beth_bernobich: red mushroom (Rose Fractal)
Last year, I set only three writing goals for myself. One the one hand, I only accomplished two of them. On the other hand, I really like what I did accomplish:

  • There's the new version of the pirate novel, which I had to rewrite from the ground up. Several chapters proved to be very thorny (I'm looking at you, chapter 10), several new chapters showed up, and the entire second half needed rethinking.

  • Then there's Not!Sherlock, which went out on submission in February, got a revise and resubmit from an amazing publisher in May, and is now awaiting final word from that same publisher.

There was more, but those are the highlights. There were also two fabulous vacations, one medical curveball, my first tattoo, and a promotion at the dayjob.

Here is where I usually list my goals for the New Year. And usually life hands me a plot twist that upends those goals. This year? Even more uncertain than ever. Everthing depends on whether Not!Sherlock sells. Or the pirate novel. (Or both!) But if I had to pick a few goals, I'd choose:

  • Write at least one chapter of Not!Mansfield Park

  • Write one novella in my River of Souls world

  • Release new editions of Passion Play and Fox & Phoenix, print and e-book, with new covers and lower prices for the e-books

Low key goals, but goals that are important to me. Let's see how it goes...


Dec. 14th, 2015 09:00 am
beth_bernobich: Beak Bird (Beak Bird)
Application successfully launched. Department admins can now assigned courses to instructors, create new courses and sections, and run a number of reports. We have made a few tweaks in the past couple weeks, but overall, the new application is working quite well. In my spare time, I am setting up a real test server, creating profiles for automated builds, and converting a second application from ASP.Net to MVC.

All of this is a lot of work, but I am getting so much satisfaction out of making things right, both for the end users and the development environment. My boss hired me because he knew things were a hot mess and he needed an expert. I'm happy to oblige. Plus, he's ordered an ice cream cake to celebrate my birthday.

As for writing? I've completed the Writing The Other workshop, I'm sending out queries for Other Than Honorable, and I'm now reviewing my draft of The Edge of the Empire. Good stuff, satisfying stuff.

I'm also remembering to breathe.

Story Day!

Dec. 1st, 2015 09:00 am
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (nocturnall)
I am very pleased to report that Nocturnall, the coda to my River of Souls trilogy, is now officially released. It's available on Amazon, Smashwords, and will be on Barnes & Noble as soon as the hamsters powering their computers wake up Barnes & Noble.

Speaking of venues other than Amazon, I've also released The Ghost Dragon's Daughter on Smashwords and B&N.

I'm delighted with how both stories turned out, and I'm doubly pleased to share them with the rest of the world.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (squee!)
Guys! Guys! Guess what today is!!

(Okay, the title of this post probably gave things away. *g)

In case you haven't read my posts and tweets from the past couples weeks, today is Book Day for the paperback edition of Allegiance, the third novel in my River of Souls series. The series itself isn't over, but this is the last book for Ilse and Raul in this lifetime.

To celebrate this milestone, I wrote a coda story, then ran a Kickstarter to commission artwork for the cover and interior. It was a lot of work, but I am sooooo very happy with the results. The e-book went out to my supporters over the weekend, and the print copies just arrived here. Once I check them over, I shall sign and mail those out.

But this wasn't enough, I decided. I wanted to do something for the day itself. So....

I've spent the last few weeks on a different story, The Ghost Dragon's Daughter, which is set in the same world as Fox & Phoenix, but with an entirely different set of characters. This is my geek girl story, about Jun, Mei, and Lili, and their senior year project, which they call the monstrosity machine. To quote from Delia Sherman's shiny blurb:

"There's magic and mathematics, spirit animals and science, and an intelligent young girl who is finding her path to university and love both longer and rockier than she’d expected."

So one novel, two stories. Both Allegiance and The Ghost Dragon's Daughter are available for purchase even as you read this. Nocturnall comes out in December, but you can pre-order it now.

beth_bernobich: red mushroom (nocturnall)
...for my Kickstarter campaign. Nocturnall is now 57% 59% funded, and the campaign ends April 18th. That's this Saturday, folks. Will I make it? Kickstarter lore says there is often a rush at the end, so I still have a good chance.

But here's the thing. Kickstarter is all or nothing. If pledges don't reach $2000 by Saturday night, the project does not get funded.

So I need your help. If you were already thinking about contributing to my campaign, please do it now. $5 gets you an e-copy of Nocturnall. $20 gets you both the e-copy and a signed, limited print edition of the story. Even $1 makes a difference.

If you can't afford to contribute, you can help me by spreading the word to your friends and family. Do you know someone who loves the River of Souls books? Let them know about my coda to the trilogy. If they love epic fantasy, but haven't read the books? There are reward levels that include the trilogy as e-books or paperbacks.

All the details about the campaign, the rewards, and the story are here:

And last, but most important, a big THANK-YOU to everyone. Your support has been amazing.

ETA: And thank you for the new pledges this morning!
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (cat on a wire)
Way back in 2007, I landed my first novel sale—a three book contract to Tor Books for Passion Play and two sequels. Passion Play came out in October 2010 and, to my eternal delight, won the RT Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Epic Fantasy. Queen's Hunt and Allegiance followed in 2012 and 2013, with lots of shiny reviews.

After I finished the initial draft of Allegiance, back in 2012, I wrote what I call my coda story. Nocturnall takes place 35 years after the end of the trilogy, with a much older Ilse and Raul. My editor loved it, and suggested we include Nocturnall as an epilogue to Allegiance. I felt that would muddy the ending of the book. Better to publish the story later, as a stand-alone.

Well, later has arrived. This October, the paperback edition of Allegiance will be released. My plans are to self-publish Nocturnall as an e-single in December. This will be my celebration of the trilogy and my good-bye to Ilse and Raul. I want to make it a good one, so I want to give the story the professional treatment, including custom artwork. (Raul! On the cover with Ilse! At last!)

The professional treatment costs money, of course, so to raise funds, I will be running a Kickstarter campaign. There will be rewards, including thank-you tweets with cat pics of Octavia and Fig. There will be a limited edition print version of the story. And signed copies of the books. And more.

The estimated launch date for the campaign is March 12th. I'll post more details as they come up.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (Rose Fractal)
...of the old year.

I'm spending this last week editing chapters of Current Novel. Tidying up, as it were. Come New Year's Day, I'll start the next new chapter.

And the next year will be a new chapter, in so many ways. I'm switching to part-time at my dayjob for the first six months. I'm switching to a pen name for Current Novel, which itself is very different from the kind of books I usually write.

At the same time, I haven't abandoned my old self. I have plans to revise my fourth River of Souls novel and send that out to publishers. And I haven't forgotten my Not-Mansfield-Park project, which is my old friend historical fantasy, this time with magic and polyamory.

That's next year. For now, I'm content to work through this transitional week in quiet tasks and spending time with my family.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (blue woman)
Still no sign of copyedits for THE TIME ROADS. I've been told that, once they get scheduled, I'll hear when to expect them.

Progress on Current Novel is agonizingly slow. Weekdays are consumed by the dayjob. Weekends are for writing, but other activities and writing obligations eat into that time. However, the central mystery is taking shape rather nicely in my brain, if not on paper. My goal is to finish the synopsis by early April, or if copyedits for THE TIME ROADS show up before then, by early May.

Alas, my Nocturnall story, which I call my coda to Ilse and Raul's trilogy, is currently in limbo. The editor loves it, but thinks it's too soon for the story to appear. I'm thinking I should write a couple more Ilse/Raul stories and publish them along with Nocturnall as a small collection. Once I finish my chapters and synopsis, I'll spend some time story noodling.

Dayjob continues to be absorbing (good) and frustrating (mostly because of our feckless newbie).

What with the snow and the cold weather, the cats are ready to destroy each other, or my new rug. Spring can't come soon enough.

But! We are planning a vacation in London, in early October, with a possible side trip to Bath. Tickets are bought, apartment rented. I'm excited.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (Rose Fractal)
2013 was an interesting year, in both the good sense and the interesting one.

Starting off the with good...

Queen's Hunt made the 2012 Locus Recommended Reading List. The NPR Books Tumblr gave a lovely shout-out to Thief of War, which was also selected for Some of the Best from, 2013. Reviews for Allegiance overall were quite good, and I am delighted the conclusion to the trilogy left readers satisfied. I also participated in John Scalzi's Big Idea series, SF Mind Meld, Mary Robinette Kowal's My Favorite Bit, and 3 Good Things, and Liz Bourke interviewed me for her Sleeps With Monsters column on

The interesting part included a number of changes in publication schedule. The Time Roads is coming out much earlier than previously expected, which made for some exciting deadlines. Edge of the Empire and the rest of the River of Souls series are on hold for now. And the Firebirds #4 anthology, with my story The Ghost Dragon's Daughter, has been delayed to 2015.

All these delays mean I'm no longer under a crushing deadline. Which is both a relief and a little unnerving. I've decided to treat this an an opportunity and make this year the year I write for fun. Of course I want to sell more books to my publisher, but I also want to satisfy my own itches. My project list for the next year is, therefore, a mix of old and new.

So. To summarize last year, and give a peek into the next...

2013 Publications

Queen's Hunt, River of Souls #2, paperback reprint
Allegiance, River of Souls #3, hardcover
Thief of War, a River of Souls novella
The Science of Magic, flash fiction for's Writing Prompts feature

2014 Publications

Allegiance, River of Souls #3, paperback reprint (rescheduled to July 2015 in tradepaperback)
The Time Roads, alternate history with mathematics and time travel, hardcover

2014 Projects

Nocturnall, a short story set 35 years after Allegiance (written in 2012, in rewrites)
Edge of the Empire, a prequel to the River of Souls trilogy (written in 2007, needs revision)
In The Presence of Her Enemies, Valara's return to Morennioù, (a draft exists, but it needs a complete rewrite)
St. Brendan's Isle, my Not-Mansfield-Park novel, with magic and polyamory

These projects might change depending on what happens through the year, but at the least, I will get the short story out to markets, and a proposal package for St. Brendan's Isle to my agent. From there, we'll see what happens.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (collage)
I'm in between publishing deadlines at the moment, which leaves me both relieved and a bit disoriented. But I can tell my writing brain has recovered from the push to finish THE TIME ROADS, because all kinds of story ideas and images have been popping into head. Oh, but which one? Which one to choose?

A mix of three, I think.

One is a short story I call my coda to the River of Souls trilogy, which takes place thirty-five years after ALLEGIANCE. A draft is done and currently with a couple kind and generous readers.

One is EDGE OF THE EMPIRE. I wrote this novel back in 2007 and it shows. I want to revise the whole thing thoroughly—push the characters harder, follow through on consequences, get rid of the nice.

One is my Not-Mansfield-Park novel, which I'm tentatively calling St. Brendan's Isle. My plan is to write the first three chapters and a synopsis and see where to go from there. (The synopsis exists, but it's already out of date.)

And if I end up having more time, I also want to write the first three chapters to IN THE PRESENCE OF HER ENEMIES, which is the story of what happens after Valara returns to Morennioù.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (goat)
The other day I read a brief review of Allegiance that summed up the character cast as "...nobly born protagonists (the males' names tend to start with the letter K and sound vaguely Slavic) plus a few others..."

And I thought ? )

It would be easy to say the reviewer (a woman, by the way) was careless or rushed, but I still have to wonder. How can you overlook *all* the women? Is this part of the SF/F culture, where any guy takes over the book, simply by existing in the pages? Do we, as readers, unconsciously place more importance on the men in the story?
beth_bernobich: Beak Bird (Beak Bird)
Have any questions about my books? Want to find out more about a particular character: where they came from, what's in store for them? Any mysteries you'd like me to clear up? Or is there something about writing or publishing you are curious about? Ask me anything. I'll be happy to answer.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (squee!)
Six years ago, my splendid agent reported a three-book deal from Tor Books for Passion Play and two sequels. I was pretty stoked *.

There have been a few detours and delays along the publishing road **, but today the third book in my River of Souls trilogy is out. Allegiance marks the last book about Ilse and Raul in this lifetime ***. Many thanks to my agent, Vaughne Hansen, to my editor, Claire Eddy, to my friends who read my drafts and offered suggestions, and especially to everyone who bought and read the books.

Today I am celebrating by working on the next novel. ****

Meanwhile, I have a post on Mary Robinette Kowal's "My Favorite Bit".

Tonight is my AMA on Fantasy Reddit. Please join me there.

And in case you missed them, here are my Sunday Essays, where I talk about the world and characters of my River of Souls books and stories.

Where to buy Allegiance:
     Mysterious Galaxy
     Indie Bound
     Book Depository

Previous books in the series:
     Passion Play
     Queen's Hunt

     River of Souls
     Thief of War

   * Massive understatement
  ** Which I bore with all the patience you might expect from a new author
 *** Though not the last story about them, nor the last book set in this world
**** And checking my Amazon rating every ten five minutes few seconds

beth_bernobich: red mushroom (snobbish pig)
Two more days until Allegiance is officially released.

*pause to gibber in excitement*

As part of my Book Day celebration, I am doing a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Tuesday, October 29th. If you feel so inclined, stop by and ask me a question or two or ten. Please tell your friends and encourage them to join the conversation.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (Fractal Star)
Wherein, I write about women characters in Allegiance:

...Ilse has changed a great deal since her story began in Passion Play. She’s older, stronger, and more capable. But she’s not the only woman in the book, and certainly not the only strong woman. I wanted to portray a world where the women lived lives as varied as the men did, and where those women are in the foreground of the story. Where they are villains or heroes, queens or merchants, poets or cooks. Sisters, soldiers, healers, or spies...

(Read more)

beth_bernobich: red mushroom (sepia woman)
Last week, I talked about stories and books set in Erythandra's past. What about stories that take place in its future?

I've said more than once that ALLEGIANCE marks the end of Ilse and Raul's trilogy, and with that in mind, I tried to create a satisfying conclusion for these characters. However, I have written two more short stories about them. One is a guilty pleasure story, involving Ilse, Raul, and a great deal of melted chocolate. The second is more like a coda to the trilogy. I hope to publish that within the next year.

But long before I sold PASSION PLAY, I had notes and outlines and drafts for two novels after ALLEGIANCE. They're tucked into a folder on my hard drive called "Aftermath Stories," and they're about what happens in Károví and Morennioù in the wake of Ilse's story. The king is dead, after all. Long live the new king. But who should that new king be? And what if he has his own ideas about Károví's future?

Then there's the matter of Valara Baussay. Does she finally get home and claim the crown? What happens if she does? Her father died over six months ago, and she was carried away by the invading soldiers. What will her people think when she reappears in the company of the man who led that invasion?

So many what ifs. I know some of the answers already. I'll find out more when I write them.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (celestial map)
Way back in 2010, when Passion Play was set for release in October, my editor asked me if I could come up with a short story set in the same world.

I wasn't so sure I could, but I fiddled around with various ideas. Most of them didn't make it past the "What if" stage, but then I got the idea of writing a story about Ilse's favorite poet, Tanja Duhr. River of Souls appeared on in September 2010. It not only gave its name to the series, it helped widen my own perspective on the world.

At that point, I had already written one novel set in Erythandra's past, about Ilse and Raul in one of their previous lifetimes. Now I wanted to write other stories about other characters who also played important roles in history. That's where Thief of War came from—showing a pivotal event that I'd referenced throughout Passion Play and Queen's Hunt, but from the perspective of someone entirely new to the series.

That's the tricky part of writing stories set in the "past" of your series. Readers already know in general know what has happened. However, you can still surprise the reader by delving into the unwritten parts of history, or the parts with gaps and inaccuracies. The official record, after all, is colored by the politics of the historian.

So will there be more stories from the Empire days? It depends on time and opportunity. I do have notes for a companion novel to EMPIRE. And there are other lands, other centuries, other people with stories of their own.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (Rose Fractal)
The River of Souls series is epic fantasy, but it's also the love story of Ilse and Raul, two people who have crossed paths over many centuries, each time as actors during some key historical event. It's their love and trust for each other that gives them the courage to continue, even when they are separated, even when their cause seems hopeless.

But they aren't the only lovers. When I wrote these books, I wanted to create characters with all kinds of passions—passion for independence, passion for glory, passion for political power, passion for justice and peace, even ugly little passions for domination and cruelty. Included in all this is passion of the heart.

So while the series is not A Romance, there's lots of romance wandering through the plot. Some of these love stories are simply mentioned in passing, some play out over the trilogy, some have roots that will sprout in future books and stories.

Not all of them run smoothly or easily, however. Another pair of characters has also met throughout the centuries, sometimes as lovers, sometimes as enemies, often simultaneously. Valara Baussay first encountered Miro Karasek five hundred years before, when he came to Morennioù as a representative of the Erythandran emperor:

Miro stood a few paces further off, by the horses. One butted its head against his chest. He laughed—the change was so startling, she nearly exclaimed. When had she last heard him laugh? Not for a dozen lifetimes. Not since. . .

. . . since their lives together in Morennioù, when she took him into her bedchamber and they made love. The next morning, a ship had arrived with orders from the emperor, demanding his return to the continent. (—Allegiance)

Some are stories about those living in important times, even if their own lives are ordinary:

Asa's pulse beat faster with anticipation. Once he had lived as a woman, a soldier of the Empire. Once, he and Tanja Duhr had been lovers. For so long, he had not allowed himself to believe it. Poets and scholars both talked of souls meeting again and again throughout time, but it was a rare thing, almost impossible that the one who died and was reborn rediscovered the still-living heart-mate.

Tomorrow, I will see you again. (—River of Souls)

Not all the love stories are fraught with grand historical significance. Some of them are quieter:

Kathe approached Gerek and knelt in the grass a few feet away. He was a large man, built like an ox, as his mother often said. Brown and sturdy. Very clever. Dependable. Until she came to know him, she had not realized how much she wanted a man she could trust. Oh, to be sure, Kathe loved his intelligence, the warmth and passion and tenderness of his embrace, but the matter of trust was like a key to the entire treasure of Gerek Haszler. (—Allegiance)

Some are moments of passion and tenderness, taken when a future together seems impossible:

And so we progressed, kiss by kiss, touch upon touch, throughout the evening and the night, until we lay entangled in each others arms, having taken love and given it in return a hundredfold. Even as I lay drifting into sleep, I knew I would not forget Taavi Matlik, nor this night. He was as tender a lover as I had imagined, and with him, laughter came easily, and passion followed soon after, a quick flame burning hot and bright, until it ebbed to a warmth that eased us back to laughter and then a silence that fell soft and slow. Poised on the edge of sleep, I could only think that he had fitted to me, in body and spirit, so perfectly, it was as though he and I had been fashioned for one another. (—Thief of War)

And sometimes the love changes its nature and becomes friendship:

"Someday, you must tell me the story," Nadine said to Ilse. "Everything that has taken place after you left Tiralien. Until then, remember that you are my first true love, if not my last." (—Allegiance)

Romance can be a beautiful thing when it's done right. Not every story needs love. (Or passion. There is a difference.) But don't be afraid to include romance when the story calls for it. Write what you care about, write it well, and the rest will follow.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (sagittarius)
So what do my characters look like to me? As a writer, I use words, but when I'm searching for those words, I sometimes look around the internet or in magazines for photos that "remind me" of my characters. So here are some words and pictures** for a few of the characters in River of Souls.

Ilse Zhalina...
Therez paused and blinked at the long mirror. At first she saw only a swath of colors—the silken gown the color of ripe apricots, the pale golden lace of her over gown, her long black hair gathered back with ribbons that matched her gown. Pearls glinted in the lamplight when she moved her head. Only when she blinked again did she see herself clearly. A small slim figure, very much like her mother in that, if nothing else. Everything else belonged to her father—her dark eyes, canted above full cheekbones, the same coppery-brown complexion of the borderlands of Veraene and Károví.

Raul Kosenmark...
He was as handsome as all the reports claimed—golden-eyed and fair, his pale brown skin almost luminescent against his blue-black hair. Sculptors who followed the classicist school might use him as a model for Toc, the brother-god and consort of Lir, except that Toc was blind, and this man's eyes were whole, unnervingly bright and direct.

Nadine stretched out in one languorous movement. She was like a wild cat, Gerek thought. A panther from the mountains, strong and lovely and dangerous. Apparently his expression betrayed his thoughts, because Nadine paused in mid-stretch and drew her lips back from her teeth, which showed white and sharp against her brown skin.

Arbija Ismaili...
I never really describe Arbija in words. The story is written in first person, for one thing. More important, she spends most of the story magically disguised. Recently, however, I came across this photo that captures not only Arbija's features, but a bit of her attitude as well.

** These are approximations, of course. Raul, for example, can't have a beard.


beth_bernobich: red mushroom (Default)

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