Book Tour!

We have tour sign, folks! Some details of this still need to be worked out, note, especially amid the April dates. But we’ve got some big cities covered, some smaller towns, and every single borough of New York (which, for non-New Yorkers, is not a thing often done). Updates as I hear about them, for my first-ever book toooooour!

And before you ask, no, I’m not going to be able to add your city, if it’s not here. Basically, I hate traveling; I find it exhausting at the best of times. This was as much as I could handle. Many thanks to my assistant and the folks at Orbit who arranged this, and to the bookstores/libraries that are hosting me. There’s a lot of coordination involved in setting up a tour! Who knew?

(Updated 3/10/2020)

East Side

Tuesday, March 24: Barnes & Noble Launch Event
33 E 17th St, Union Square
New York, NY 10003
Tickets: TBA

Wednesday, March 25: Loyalty Books Happy Hour
Dos Mamis
819 Usphur St NW
Washington, DC

Wednesday, March 25: Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

Thursday, March 26: Malaprops Bookstore (at UNC Ashville)
Lipinsky Auditorium
300 Library Ln
Asheville NC 28804

Friday, March 27: Main Point Books (at Rosemont College)
Rotwitt Theater of the McShain, Performing Arts Center
1400 Montgomery Ave
Rosemont, PA

Saturday, March 28: All-NYC Tour

STATEN ISLAND, 10 AM: NYPL St. George Library Center
5 Central Avenue
Staten Island, NY, 10301

BROOKLYN, 12 PM: Books Are Magic
225 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

MANHATTAN, 1:45 PM: The Strand
828 Broadway at 12th Street
New York, NY 10003

QUEENS, 3:30 PM: Astoria Bookshop
31-29 31st St
Astoria, NY 11102

THE BRONX, 5:15 PM: The Lit. Bar
131 Alexander Ave
Bronx, NY 10454

West Side

Tuesday, March 31: Women and Children First (at Wilson Abbey)
935 W. Wilson Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640

Wednesday, April 1: Elliott Bay Books (at Seattle Town Hall)
The Great Hall
1119 Eighth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

Thursday, April 2: Borderlands Books (at Castro Theater)
429 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA

Friday, April 3: Mysterious Galaxy (at UCSD)
MET Auditorium
9500 Gilman Drive
San Diego, CA 92093

Saturday, April 4: Skylight Books (at Dynasty Typewriter)
2511 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90057

The essay that inspired the collection’s title

For reasons that I cannot fathom, I can’t figure out how to change the sidebar of my blog anymore. It’s probably something simple, but since I don’t really use this blog much anymore, I’ve forgotten most of my PHP and CSS. Plus, WordPress keeps changing things to make them harder to figure out! Argh. Anyway.

So here is the link to the essay that I mentioned, but did not include, in the collection How Long Til Black Future Month. Enjoy!

Hugo Nomination Rumination

As I’ve mentioned on social media, I only have two works eligible for awards nomination from 2017: The Stone Sky, and my Uncanny short story Henosis. Last year was tough, so I didn’t get much writing done. I’m sure a lot of you can relate.

But since people have asked for my thoughts on this… Please, if you’re going to nominate The Stone Sky in any form, do so in the Novel category, rather than nominating the whole Broken Earth trilogy for Series. I mean, I can’t stop you from nominating it however you like — but let me point out, if you didn’t know, that The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate have both won Hugos already. This is awesome, but in my eyes, it simply wouldn’t be fair for those books to effectively get a second bite at the apple in the Series category. That this possibility exists has always been a potential problem of the category, IMO.

And here’s the thing: I understand that some folks believe I’d have a better chance at scoring a third Hugo in the Series category. I’m super-grateful to those of you who think about stuff like this, but as someone who never expected to get even one Hugo… y’all, I’m okay either way. If TSS doesn’t get nominated or win in the Novel category, and some other deserving work does win, then so be it. TSS is a New York Times and Locus bestseller and the series has been picked up for a TV show; I’m doin’ all right by most other measures. I’m not going to pretend I wouldn’t squee my head off if I won Hugo #3 at any point, but there won’t be any tears in my beer if I lose, either. (If for no other reason than that I don’t drink beer.)

So, hope this helps clarify things!


So, for the handful of you who don’t follow me on social media, I had a little surprise to share the other night!

There’s not much I can say about this, for now. I jokingly answered a few questions on the night of the announcement, but the truth is that I don’t really know enough about what’s happening with this to discuss it. The article’s got all the salient details. And I think it’s important to note that this isn’t a 100% thing, even now. There are still points where this show could fail to happen — it’s unlikely, but possible. I’m discovering that small-screen Hollywood is way, way more convoluted and confusing than the book industry! But there are good people — fans of the book! — really committed to making this happen, so let’s all cross our fingers. And in the meantime —

gif of people squeeing, with caption EVERYBODY SQUEE

Withdrawing from the Dragon Awards

So, amid the furor of preparing for a book launch, I’ve had to divert time to another matter.

I found out belatedly that The Obelisk Gate had been nominated for the Dragon Awards, basically when I started to hear murmurs that the awards were especially problematic this year. I went to go see what the problem was… and lo and behold, there was my book. No one had notified me I was on the ballot. Apparently not many people affiliated with DragonCon even know the awards exist, or that voting is currently open. So basically I found out by complete chance.

Now, I’ve worked for cons and even started one from scratch (the late, lamented Shoujocon); I know how easy it is for miscommunications, poorly-thought-out processes, or simple mistakes to happen. I was on last year’s Dragon Awards ballot too, and similar problems occurred then. Since I took at face value the DA administrators’ insistence that they were trying to create a fair, open, “people’s choice” award process, I just chalked the problems up to growing pains, took it as an honor, and moved on. To put it bluntly, I was busy and didn’t think about it much.

This year is different. It turns out that no voting stats for last year’s awards were ever published. I reached out to the awards administrators about this and was told there’s actually no intention of ever publishing a 2016 awards breakdown. There’s been a lot of criticism of the DragonCon awards process so I won’t rehash most of it; check out File 770 or Reddit if you want more on that. Suffice it to say that the Dragon Awards voting process no longer seems fair or transparent to me, in actual practice.

And then I heard about author Alison Littlewood’s request to withdraw from the awards, and the awards admins’ refusal to honor this request. Important: as of this morning, they’ve changed their minds about this policy and are now removing Ms. Littlewood’s book from the ballot. That’s great. It sounds like this change is enough to assuage John Scalzi’s concerns about the award; that’s also great. I have nothing but respect for other people’s decisions re this whole matter.

It ain’t working for me, though. Let me break this all the way down.

There’s a nasty tendency on the part of some organizations to try and use tokens — most often women and people of color — as ornamentation and flak shielding. It’s a way of saying, “Hey! Look! We’re diverse. We’re fair. [Person X’s presence] proves it!” when in fact the fairness may be an unearned veneer and the diversity a reluctant afterthought. There’s a name for this process when it occurs in corporate settings under certain circumstances. And I’ve become more sensitive to being used this way myself because it’s been happening a lot more, lately. This is the kind of thing that happens when people who don’t understand social justice concepts — or who have contempt for them — attempt to deploy them anyway for appearances’ sake. It’s not always malicious, but it’s noticeable, and it’s never a good look. And those of us who get put into the ornament/flak shield position don’t actually like being used this way, see? I don’t, anyway.

So when it became clear that the opacity of the voting process was intentional — in effect, when I realized there was no way to know if my book’s presence on the list was legitimately earned through individual, freely-chosen votes by a representative sampling of DragonCon members (or SFFdom as a whole) — a gentle ping of flak warning went off in my mind. But when DragonCon initially refused to accept Ms. Littlewood’s request for withdrawal for the reasons stated here, those gentle pings escalated to full-on DANGER WILL ROBINSON alarm bells. It’s good that they’ve changed their minds about letting authors off the list, and I think they meant well… but at this point those alarm bells cannot be un-rung.

So. I had a pleasant phone call this morning from a spokesperson for the Dragon Awards who discussed the process with me, and let me know that they’re planning to fix some of its problems and do a better job in the future. He assured me that the votes which put The Obelisk Gate on the ballot were legitimate — and I was glad to hear that, seriously. Thank you, to all of you who voted for me. However… I still choose to withdraw. I will be happy to participate in the Dragon Awards at a future date, if I am so honored — after the process has been substantially improved. I very sincerely wish them luck in working on this, and will look forward to positive results.

In the meantime, I’ve got a book launch to finish planning and ninety-eight other problems to deal with, so I’m closing comments on this post because I don’t have time to monitor them. Hope this makes everything clear, tho’.

Well, here we fucking go.

So I’ve spent the last day or two in a cloud of simmering fury. Only just cooled down enough to really think, and talk, about the election.

For the last few years, I’ve been trying to explain to people outside of SFF that the various dramas playing out here — self-aggrandizing bigots; self-righteous “movements” to make petty, exclusionary gestures with the Hugo Award; discusssion wars in which the fandom finally explained to the establishment that bigotry was unacceptable — were a teapot version of what’s happening all over the world, throughout every medium of expression. And I took heart from the fact that in most places where these battles were playing out, the surge of bigotry was failing. Gamergate drove a few women and PoC out of games criticism, but others dug in and refused to be moved, while new voices have begun speaking up and everyone is now much, much more vocal about representation issues. People complaining about diversity in comics is why we’re seeing more old characters revitalized as PoC — not unproblematically, but still — and a few more women and writers of color finding opportunity in the field. And of course, the Puppies’ latest efforts to take over the Hugo probably contributed in some way to me winning the Best Novel Hugo this year. While they, once again, took home only Noah Wards.

I took heart in those victories because, well, if this genre is a microcosm of greater society, then progress here reflects progress there. This is true. But what I said earlier applies, too — that some of these motherfuckers are so terrified of losing a bit of power that they would rather see the world burn than see it shared.

And now we’ve elected a president who is… shit. I really just can’t think of anything to say about him except that he is shit. I can define and expound upon the shit, if you want: he’s a racist, a rapist, an ableist, a shitty businessman, a cheat who steals the wages of his workers and the labor of small businesses, a pathological liar, an elderly child utterly lacking in impulse control and the ability to admit when he’s wrong, and an incompetent who is very likely now to fob off the job of being president onto the people around him because he’s never done a day’s real work. But that’s a mouthful, so “shit” will do. The fact that a substantial portion of the American people would rather have shit as president than a competent human being — whatever reservations you may have had about Hillary Clinton, she is at least that — is nauseating to me… but not entirely surprising. The fact that we are giving veto power, intelligence access, crisis response, SCOTUS nomination power, and the ability to negotiate on our behalf internationally to shit, is horrifying. But I know what it means.

These motherfuckers really do just want to see the world burn.

Because of bigotry. Because electing someone endorsed by the KKK is so important to 63% of white men and 53% of white women voters that they are willing to overlook all of his shit. Seriously, white people, what the fuck? More than half of you want your neighbors deported. More than half of you want Obamacare repealed — and I’m on Obamacare, as are most of the authors you know who do this for a living, so that’s a direct slap in the face to me. More than half of you have chosen to encourage hate crimes and blatant discrimination.

Cowards. Are you so afraid of a world where everyone gets to dream that you would rather impose a nightmare on us all? Apparently so.

Well. This changes nothing for me. My ancestors helped build this country, so I’ll be damned if I let a bunch of whining, shortsighted fools either run me out of it or destroy what they spilled blood to achieve. And I’ll be damned if I let Trump or his ilk threaten the lives and opportunities of my friends and neighbors without fighting back by every means at my disposal.

Comments off. I’m calm enough to blog now, but still burning with anger; I don’t have the patience necessary to endure any sort of equivocation or excuse-making or “It’ll be ok” rhetoric. It will not be okay. A lot of people are going to suffer now, and a lot of American lives will be lost — along with a lot of the progress we’ve made towards becoming a 21st-centuryt nation — because of the cowards who put this man in office and then gave him a Republican majority in Congress to enact his will. Those of us with some fucking sense are going to have to look out for each other in order to survive this shit that our selfish, bigoted, stupid fellow Americans have burdened us with. But this has always been our burden, hasn’t it? To save this country from itself. So here we go, again.

America. Goddamn.

Scattered Post-Hugo Thoughts

These will be scattered because I’m in the middle of today’s wordcount, and therefore I don’t have time to make them clear or organized in any way. Book 3 proceeds!

I’ve had time to process the Hugo win, a little. Mostly I did it by spending yesterday introverting and writing, because that’s how I chew on momentous things. Didn’t quite hit my target — only 2000 words instead of 3 — but still did okay.

But now I’m finding my thoughts wandering in directions both personal and contextual. Partly that’s because people keep asking me how I feel. I’m not sure how to answer this question, when it’s asked. Fine? Happy. A little hungry, though it’s too early for dinner. A few key points of information have pushed me to actually think about The Meaning of The Hugo, though. First off, an interviewer today pointed out an old interview I did back in June of 2011 that asked me where I’d like to be in 5 years. I jokingly said a Hugo would be nice. WELP. Gonna have to come up with a new 5-year goal, huh? Then Orbit’s publicist pointed out to me that I am apparently the first black woman to win a Hugo for a novel. No, OEB didn’t; she got hers for short stories. Folks who like to fact-check, can you confirm? But if that’s true…

Well, what if it is? What does that mean? In practical terms, it means I can look forward to years more of being confused with Nnedi Okorafor (and every other black woman in SFFdom), who also won a Hugo on Saturday for her marvelous novella “Binti.” The Puppies would have you think it’s a sign of the oncoming white guy apocalypse, or Affirmative Action Gone Wild, or some conspiracy to pick a random writer, because she’s a black woman, and give her a coveted honor that she cannot possibly have earned, because she’s a black woman. I started to write an Open Letter to them, calling for them to finally wake up and realize they’re a laughingstock as well as ineffective, but… man, fuck those guys. They’re never going to change. And I’ve got shit to do.

Meanwhile there’s a swath of SFFdom that would have you think the opposite — that my identity has no bearing on me winning, or on my writing, or anything — because race and gender have no bearing on white male writers so why should it re me? (Hint: it has bearing on white male writers.) That’s the segment of SFFdom that is generally bewildered by the whole discussion of diversity because Colorblindness ™ and I Never Ask What The Gender Of The Writer Is Before I Buy A Book ™ even though their personal bookshelves contain 90% white guys. These are the folks who really don’t get the readership’s calls for diversity, but eh, they can at least try to give the market what it wants, so they then send me yet another magazine invite rather than do anything to change or improve themselves. (Gotten two more in the past few days, pre-Hugo, but post-rant.)

Both of these ways of looking at the genre are useless. But I can’t do anything to change them, other than continuing to do what I do — write the best I can, share it with as many people as I can, and talk about what all of it means. I’ve passed off some invites toward other black authors who are awesome but under-read. Otherwise I’m business as usual.

So that part of my life isn’t going to change. What will? Well, I imagine all my books will soon have stickers on them saying “HUGO WINNER,” in bookstores everywhere. That’s nice, but doesn’t really have a lot of impact on me, directly. I’ll probably end up on a few more college syllabi, so my sales might get a positive bump. That’s good too. Beyond that? Well, now I’ve got a reason to get that second tattoo. Right shoulder, stylized black rose. I think now I can work up the nerve to ask Elise Matthesen about commissioning a necklace with all my nominee pins and such, as I’ve always wanted to do. Might wait ’til I’ve got more money, though, because good artists don’t do good work for cheap and she deserves anything she asks for it. Also, I’m gonna eat that slice of Key Lime Pie I got from Butter & Scotch on Saturday night, because I’ve been saving it. Gonna call my Mom, too.

And then I’m gonna finish my wordcount. Because at the end of the day, that’s all the Hugo means: that I’m a good writer. But I knew that already. The external validation is nice, but at this stage of my career, I didn’t need it. I know who and what I am.

So back to work.


In realtime, I am speechless. Fortunately, I wrote a speech ahead of time, which was read beautifully by Campbell nominee Alyssa Wong in my stead at the ceremony. Here’s the text:

My apologies for not being present this evening; I’m deep in Deadline Hell right now on book 3 of the Broken Earth trilogy.

I’ve thanked them already in the acknowledgements, but I really want to thank the people who talked me down from quitting this book. At the nadir of my Chasm of Doubt — hat-tip to Kate Elliott for the term — I thought THE FIFTH SEASON was beyond my skill to write. I thought no one would want to read it. When it got nominated, I wondered how many of my fellow SFF fans, in a year headlined by reactionary pushback against the presence and performance of people like me in the genre, would choose to vote for the story of a fortysomething big-boned dredlocked woman of color waging an epic struggle against the forces of oppression.

But I forgot: only a small number of ideologues have attempted to game the Hugo Awards. That small number can easily be overwhelmed, their regressive clamor stilled, if the rest of SFF fandom simply stands up to be counted. Stands up to say that yes, they do want literary innovation, and realistic representation. Stands up to say that yes, they do just want to read good stories — but what makes a story good is skill, and audacity, and the ability to consider the future clearly rather than through the foggy lenses of nostalgia and privilege.

So thank you to my fellow category nominees for your excellence: I would have been happy to lose to any of you. Your work truly represents the breadth and depth and potential of this genre and I am honored to stand among you.

Thank you to my editor and agent, and all the people at Orbit Books, and all the people in the SFF media sphere, and those members of my family, who’ve supported what I’ve been trying to do.

But most of all thank you, Hugo Voters, for standing up for me.

It’s not real for me yet. Still processing. But holy shit, y’all. Holy shit.


Sample first chapter of THE OBELISK GATE

Well, it’s just about a month until The Obelisk Gate releases in print and ebook — August 16th in the US, August 18th in the UK, no idea why it’s different — and per my usual pre-publication tradition, I’m now posting the uncopyedited first chapter of the book for people to peruse (and if you like, preorder)! Alas, I have no information yet on the audiobook version, or whether it will again be read by the amazing Robin Miles.

Cover shows a stone floral motif embossed into a stone wall.

Normally I would post the second chapter a month later, but I’ve belatedly realized that Amazon routinely includes the first two chapters in its “Look Inside” previews (I previously thought it was only one), so that would mean me posting uncopyedited text when a beautifully-formatted, copyedited version of the same material is also available, which makes no sense. So this will be the only one posted here at Epiphany.

(However, just to give something extra to the folks supporting my Patreon, I’m going to be posting the second chapter there today. Again, if you don’t want to or can’t join the Patreon, this will be available for free online once Amazon posts its “Look Inside!” Patrons are just getting an early look.)

Please don’t discuss spoilers online, for the sake of folks who would prefer not to read the preview!

Turn and Face the Strange

So, internets. Big changes in Noraland.

For the few of you who don’t follow me on Twitter and FB, I Did A Thing. Specifically, last Friday I started a Patreon campaign with the specific goal of breaking free of the 9 to 5 life. I launched it officially at 5:35 pm on Friday afternoon, thinking nobody would much care since Friday News Dump, and thinking that would give me time to fix bugs and work out any kinks in the campaign over the weekend. Instead, to my absolute shock, I hit my baseline goal within 24 hours, and my stretch goal within 48. And it’s still going. People really, really want me to have a retirement plan, apparently.

(For those of you wondering, since I’ve gotten lots of worried feedback — yes, I’ve accounted for roughly 30% taxes in my planning. The amount you see on the Patreon page is already sans the company’s 5% fee, and sans an estimated amount for people whose credit cards are declined, etc. Yes, I’m going to find out how to safely roll over my existing 403b retirement plan into something else. Yes, I’ve got a recommendation for a good accountant. Yes, I’ve already opened an LLC. Chillax, y’all. It’s lovely that you care, but I think I’ll be okay.)

Now, I’ve had mixed feelings about Patreon, and to a degree I still do. I do think it’s a great concept in principle — a modern update of the ancient model of patronage, where “impressing some wealthy person who will support you” has been replaced by “impressing a crowd of regular folks who’ll give you $5 a pop”. Thing is, I also see nothing wrong with complete self-sufficiency as an artist. Supporting myself via my day job means that I’ve always had the freedom to just walk away, if I wasn’t happy with my publisher or agent or the industry, no matter how my writing career was going. And I also see nothing wrong with having a day job and being an artist at the same time. See, the patronage model is based on the idea that an artist should be “pure” and unsullied by the world, their basic needs taken care of by the patron so that they are free to channel Art unfettered straight from the Id. Nah, eff that. I’ve worked in education for 20 years; there are few fields better-suited for understanding (and changing, in however small a way) the world. Quitting my day job has never been an aspiration for me because I’ve always known that artists need rich lives to make good art.

Still, artists need sleep, too — and my writing career has become demanding enough that something had to give. Rich lives change when they must. I’ve informed my boss, and I’ll be leaving the day job in about a month.

This is actually going to be a bittersweet transition for me. I like my day job. I briefly tried being a full time writer once before, back in 2009 or so, and I hated it then. I’ve always enjoyed working like I said, plus I wasn’t good at organizing my life without the outside structure imposed by a 9 to 5. I don’t think that’s going to happen this time because my career has progressed a lot more since those pre-The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms days. Now I’ve got eighty bajillion balls in the air, and the only way I can handle them all is by imposing my own structure on the mess. Still, I’m gonna miss my students and colleagues. Some of you may miss them too, since I’ve frequently Tweeted about them under the tag #StuffMyCoworkersSay, and I’ve entertained people on FB for years with tales of my boss, who has the magical ability to find anything we need somewhere in her office. (Strangest find so far: wax lips. Don’t ask why we needed them.) It has been a privilege to work with friends, and with students who brought so much light into my life. Gonna miss ’em all.

But I’ve got big, full-time writer plans, too, starting with a short story collection. As sad as I am about leaving 9 to 5 life, I’m pretty excited about the future.

What does all this mean for you? Well, book 3 of the Broken Earth trilogy is very likely to come out on time, now. I’ll also be putting out a lot more short stories, soon, and probably getting started on my next novel project before the end of the year! It also means I’m going to be semi-retiring this blog. I haven’t been posting frequently anyway, due to lack of time, but now I’m going to be posting infrequently because I’ve promised blog posts to my patrons. (Just $1-and-up, for as long as the total patronage stays above $3K/mo.) I will still put announcements and the occasional rant here, as well as sample chapters — though patrons will get those first. But yeah. Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Thanks, everyone, for supporting my writing career in whatever way you’ve done thus far. I think these are all changes for the better.