N.K. Jemisin

Out now!

The Killing Moon

The Kingdom of Gods

In the desert city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Along its ancient stone streets, there is no crime or violence. Priests of the dream-goddess, known as Gatherers, maintain order: harvesting the dreams of the citizens, healing the injured, and guiding the dreamers into the afterlife. . .

When Ehiru-the most famous of the city's Gatherers-is sent to harvest the dreams of a diplomatic envoy, he finds himself drawn into a conspiracy that threatens to drag the dreaming city into war.

Learn more.

The Cloisters

Now that the bliss of completing Book 2 has worn off, I’m suffering serious existential angst. Part of me wants to immediately start Book 3; part of me wants to immediately revise Book 2; and part of me wants a vacation. For the moment I’m listening to the lattermost part of me, since that’s the part that’s making the most sense — after cranking out 100+ thousand words, anyone would need a vacation. It cleanses the mental palate, so to speak.

However, since I’m planning to attend a number of conventions this year, I don’t feel quite justified in gallivanting off to Morocco or wherever, price-wise. So I’ve decided to do some staycations around New York instead. Today was the Cloisters, a medieval art museum set in a gorgeous monastery-like structure and series of gardens (actually comprised of several medieval cloisters that were pretty much airlifted from Europe to here; there’s a reason people were in awe of the Rockefellers) on the north end of Manhattan. The Cloisters are themselves located in a fascinating place: Fort Tryon park, one of several large patches of greenspace in upper Manhattan. Today was the perfect day for it, too — gray and a little flurried, quiet and amazingly still. I enjoyed the park as much as I enjoyed the museum. Y’know, I think winter is becoming my favorite season.

Though I have to admit, the museum wasn’t what I was expecting. I’d been hoping to get more Cloister, less museum, so to speak. I couldn’t really immerse myself in the feeling of being in medieval castle the way I was hoping to, because there were all these display lights and explanatory plaques everywhere, jarring the illusion. I’m not all that fond of medieval art — it’s beautiful, but nobody ever seems happy in it, though I suppose that’s why they called ‘em the Dark Ages. But I love medieval architecture, and there wasn’t as much of it as I’d hoped to see. And my camera, an old Fuji Finepix, failed me utterly; some of the best photos I took came out blurred because my shutter button has gotten crotchety and I have to really shove on it to make a photo. Which of course jars the camera and ruins the picture. ::sigh:: If I had a million dollars, I’d buy a digital SLR camera and some software to make High Dynamic Range images (like these, if you don’t know what I’m talking about). But I don’t, so I guess I’ll look into an updated Fuji. And hope that Book 1 sells really well.

Because of the camera issues, one of my favorite shots was spoiled, as you can see by the slight blurring around the colonnade details:

All that said, though, had a good time. Highly recommended, particularly for people who actually like medieval art. =)

Thinking of visiting City Island for my next outing…

And just in time for New Year’s…

I’ve just finished the 0th draft of Book 2.

WOO HOOOOOO!!! ::thunk::

Little gift to myself…

I just broke 100,000 words on Book 2. WOO HOO!!

…but I’m not done yet. Crap.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and a belated Happy Hannukah, Joyous Noel/Yule, etc., to those who celebrate otherwise. Hope you’re all enjoying yourselves with friends and family, like I am. =)

Addendum: Just realized I have been meme-tagged by Mary Robinette Kowal! For the next 8 days I have to list things that make me happy, then tag 8 other people. OK, then I will list 1 thing and tag 1 person per day. Things that make me happy today: being up in Canada, having a white Christmas and hanging out with longtime BFF K, who I haven’t seen in years. I would tag her, but she prefers more privacy than I do. So instead I’ll tag fellow writer Vylar Kaftan, who seems a cheery soul. =)

Progress Report

In the home stretch in Noraville lately — I’m determined to finish Book 2 before Christmas. That’s looking pretty likely at this point given that I’m at 88,000 words thus far, and have been averaging 2K words per day. But all work and no play makes Nora a dull girl, so here’s some of what else I’ve been doing in my spare time:

-Advance warning for anyone reading who doesn’t already know: I’m very liberal, politically speaking. But it isn’t solely due to ideology that I find the shoe incident and this followup hysterically funny. I do plan to send my funkiest, oldest pair of shoes, by the way. (Gacked from Making Light.)

-In light of my earlier post about the need for diversity in fantasy, I’ve been incensed to hear that one of the most intriguing and original children’s fantasies I’ve ever seen — Avatar: The Last Airbender — has been whitewashed in its film version. Great shades of Earthsea! There seem to be a few fan efforts organizing to fight this, and the best-organized of them is Aang Ain’t White. I’m not sure about this effort; I think an organized and public boycott would be more effective. But I’m glad to see that the fans aren’t taking this lying down, so I’m supporting them.

-I’m reading Alaya Dawn Johnson’s “Shard of Glass” for Podcastle! I’ve never done any sort of voice acting before, so this is both intimidating and a lot of fun. Had to learn to silence my inner Virgo, though, because I kept erasing and restarting the takes, hoping to get them perfect, which meant I made very little progress at first. Must remember — that’s what editing is for.

-Because most of my friends and family live far from New York, much of my holiday shopping has been done online. I prefer online shopping anyway to the horrors of Black Friday — no hassle, no crowds, and someone else does the wrapping and shipping for you. I always tend to like sending region-specific gifts to people who aren’t from that area. When I lived in New Orleans, my favorite gifts to give were Loretta’s Pralines and Gambino’s exquisite Doberge Cakes, both of which are to die for. In Boston, it was Legal Seafood’s lobsters — surprisingly affordable, if your loved ones don’t mind receiving a live animal on their doorstep, and boiling it for dinner. So since I moved to New York last year, I’ve been looking for something quintessentially New York to send. And what’s more New York than cheesecake? Unfortunately I hate cheesecake myself — but I have it on good authority from cheesecake lovers that Junior’s Cheesecake is pretty darn good. I’d dearly love to send a Cake Man cake too, since I have tried those and determined them to be, ahem, the shiznit. But since the Cake Man’s cakes are all handmade, they don’t do mail order. Alas. Anyway, bringing a NY cheesecake with me next week when I go up to Canada to visit one of my BFFs for the hols. (Beware New Yorkers bearing gifts! They’re sure to be fattening.)

-And last but not least, the deal I mentioned a couple of posts ago is done; German rights to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and its sequels have sold to publisher Blanvalet, a subsidiary of Random House/Bertelsmann. This calls for beer and bratwurst! Except I don’t like beer. Hmm, maybe I’d like a German one, if I tried it. (Any recs, beer connoisseurs?)

Back to work!

Yielding to the inevitable

So now I have a Twitter account. Yee. Ha.

Sorry to sound less than excited about it. I’m that most curious of creatures, a Luddite technophile. I love the web and all its varied gadgets, but I also like keeping my life simple. Having multiple accounts across multiple networking services is messy. It irks my Virgo soul. Not to mention the fact that I often find Twittering itself kind of irritating when other people overuse it; I really don’t want to know the minutia of my friends’ lives. So for those of you who similarly find Twittering irksome, I promise you now:

  1. I will not Twitter about my non-writer-related life events. (Such as they are.)
  2. …Except the cat. She’s writing-related.
  3. I will in fact focus most of my Twittering on writing blow-by-blows, like my paroxysms of glee when I kill off important characters and put the remainder through hell. (What? I’m a writer. Didn’t you know writer = sadist?) I’ll try to limit spoilers, though.
  4. I will not, not, NOT set up a feed to spread my Twittering across the blogosphere, like some kind of Jemisinian Twitterpocalypse. Feel free to set up your own feed if you like, but I won’t impose it on you. (No offense to those who do this, but it’s not for me.)
  5. I’ll try not to be redundant with blog posts. Kind of defeats the purpose, ne?

Anyway, I’m going to play with it for awhile, and see how it goes.

Next up: Facebook and MySpace. But I’m going to have to build up some inner strength before tackling those babies.

ETA: Oh, and I’ve added another plugin to this blog, which you can see if you look at posts individually (rather than full-page view); it lists related sites from Social Action. They’re not ads, they’re community service. Check them out, and help if you can!


Of course you know, this means WRITING.

Due to the apartment move, social life, teaching, etc., I’ve missed my initial goal of finishing BrightGod by Thanksgiving. And I recently decided to remove another 10,000 words from the novel that, for various reasons, just weren’t right. Replacing them is proceeding apace, and I’m making good progress — but the overall result of this whole mess is that I’m now about 30,000 words behind where I wanted to be. ARGH.

This is simple enough to fix; I’ve just got to buckle down and resume my original goal of 2000 words/day. If I can do that, I’ll knock out the 30K by mid-December. So here it is: my own private NaNoWriMo.

Always did enjoy a challenge. ::rolls up sleeves:: So, here we go. Wish me luck!

Linkblitz!

So much to see, so much to see. Like…

-Paranormal Romance Week, via my agent Lucienne Diver’s blog, in which she has authors, agents, and sundry folk from that end of the fantasy field wax eloquent about… whatever they want. =) Some interesting articles there, so check it out!

-No, I haven’t seen Twilight. I have to admit I tried the book and found it not to my liking at all — probably because I’m a thirtysomething woman and not a teenysomething girl. I suspect that if I’d been 14 when I attempted it, I’d’ve sopped the whole series up with a biscuit, but nowadays… no. However, I’m actually tempted to go see the movie, because this makes it sound like the movie is actually kind of interesting. But then this makes me want to skip the movie, because it can’t possibly be as funny.

-In a fit of insanity surge of camaraderie for my writing-group mates, I became a slush reader for Sybil’s Garage some while back. It’s been fun, though I’m horribly behind on my slushpile due to moving. But all good things must end sometime, and Sybil’s editor Matt Kressel has put the word out that November 30 is the last day to submit for their current open slush period. Guidelines here, if you’re interested.

-And this thoughtful, in-depth, insightful post on Huffington pretty much describes my feelings about Obama’s election in a nutshell. (Via Making Light.)

Back to work!

PAIN!!! Also, possible translation news. But PAIN!!!

I feel like I’m channeling the Horta today. For reasons I’ve never quite understood, I’ve begun developing these absolutely awful headaches in the last couple of years. They seem to come at random, though dry weather, too much sugar/alcohol, red wine, and some hormonal shifts sometimes contribute. And they’re grinding, twisting, chewing things, like there’s some critter inside my skull steadily boring its way out through one spot (just above my right eye). Sometimes there are weird afterimagey things too, like when you look at a bright light, except I haven’t, and sometimes I get queasy. Friends who know tell me these are all the signs of the dreaded M-word: migraine. But I’m 36, for pity’s sake; why would my body wait ’til now to hit me with this? ::grumblemutter:: Well, I guess denial ain’t just a river in Egypt; I’ll have to go talk to a doctor.

But the only reason I’m online right now and not draped across my couch groaning and contemplating trepanning, is because I got an email from L, my intrepid agent, who let me know that a German publisher has made an offer for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and its sequels. Farfegnugen! (Translation: I know absolutely no German, but I’m thrilled.)

Today, Germany. Tomorrow, some other parts of Europe and maybe Russia!

Important recommendations!!

Sorry for the silence lately. Moved into a new apartment on Monday, and my life has only just begun settling back into sanity. Hopefully my new writing study will be configged by tomorrow, at which point I can finally resume work on BrightGod, which has been on hold for about a week. I’m itching to get back to it.

But!! Before I do, I must share the following. With extra exclamation points!!!

Those of you in New York City, or ever to visit New York in the near future — you must visit the Dessert Truck!! Before now, my favoritest dessert place in all the world was Boston’s Finale. And… well, Finale’s still up there, mostly because they do hot toddies and coffee/chocolate drink mixes that are to die for. (Mmmm… hot chocolate with Bailey’s.) But finally I’ve found someplace in my new hometown that’s just as good. And so unpretentious and inexpensive! Every one of the Dessert Truck’s items are $5 or less. But bottom line: the taste. I’ve had their Molten Chocolate Cake, their Creme Brulee, and — tonight — their hot chocolate. All three are stunning, but let me tell you about this hot chocolate. Think of the richest, finest, smoothest imported chocolate pieces you’ve ever had. (Imported because most American chocolate has issues.) Then liquefy it — but leave it thick, I mean molasses-thick, so heavy on the tongue that you actually have to stop and take a moment work it around in your mouth before swallowing. “Swallowing” is in fact a misnomer, because you can’t swallow this. Instead you have to sort of relax the muscles in your mouth and throat and let it find its own path to your stomach, which it does, but in its own good, thick, sweet time. But before it goes, it lingers awhile in your mouth, just kind of hanging out, kickin’ it with your taste buds. Your taste buds are all like, “YO!! I can’t believe this! I never felt anything like this in my LIFE!!” And the chocolate is all, “‘Sup.” And it grins and winks and leans back, knowing full well it’s amazing.

Like that.

I think this might be deadly. Thick rich gourmet chocolate is attacking my braaaain. Lord knows what it’s doing to me, but if I die, know, all of you, that I died happy. ::wistful sigh::

Also!!

I’ve been hearing about this phenomenal webcomic called Bayou by Jeremy Love, and I finally decided to check it out. It’s utterly brilliant. A fantasy take on life in just-post-slavery Louisiana, beautifully and powerfully rendered. Little Lee is trying to enjoy her childhood as the daughter of a hard-working sharecropper, though the ugliness of racism rapidly erodes what carefree innocence she had. After a day when she dives into the bayou to fetch the body of lynched child, Lee sees the child’s spirit in the act of transitioning into a supernatural, magical realm. Eventually she travels to that realm herself — a place that is home to talking animals, terrifying creatures like the carnivorous Jim Crows, and monsters. But not all of the monsters are terrible. Lee befriends a big green monster called Bayou, who has great strength but not much courage. Since Lee’s got courage in plenty, but she’s still just a little girl, they pair up and go off on a quest, hoping to rescue Lee’s friend Miss Lily (and in the process, also saving Lee’s father, who is in danger of being lynched for Lily’s disappearance).

The story is superficially a children’s tale, referencing everything from Alice in Wonderland to European faerie myths. But it goes deeper than that, retooling many African and Native American myths (and true stories) to meld seamlessly with the rest. The result is sheer beauty.

I’m not sure it’s really meant for children, though, given the amount of violence and ugliness in the story. It’s mostly stuff that really happened back in those days — lynchings, whippings, and worse — and it’s portrayed unflinchingly, with an artful starkness that’s both beautiful and shocking. I would show it to my kids if I had any, because this too is educational; I think all American children should know both the good and the bad about our country’s history. It would be a great springboard for discussion, IMO. But if any of you reading are parents, I’d advise you to read the comic yourself before sharing it with your kids, and decide whether yours are ready for it. Some of the stuff in it is gory and a bit scary, even for me.

All that said — let me reiterate. Bayou is brilliant. Quite frankly, it’s one of the most original pieces of fantasy I’ve ever read, period. Apparently others have figured this out too: DC Comics is going to be putting it into print. Yay for Jeremy Love! And yay for me, because now I’ll be able to read my new favorite comic on the train commute.

Go read it! Oh, wait, forgot. Go read it!!!!!!!!!!!!

WFC pics, thoughts

I brought a camera with me to WFC, and of course completely forgot to use it 95% of the time. So the best photos I have from the con were actually taken by other people. The first is from Doselle Young, whom I met on Saturday night, along with his wife Janine. We were discussing an odd incident that had just occurred, in which a stranger had stared at me and then asked me whether I was Nalo Hopkinson. -_- Since I look nothing like Nalo (though our first names do share three letters!), I could only laugh about it — but then we found out my fellow writing-group member Alaya had been mistaken for me throughout the con. (We also look nothing alike.) At this point we started joking about all the other people we could be mistaken for, finally culminating in the great (but dead) Octavia Butler herself. So in the spirit of Halloween, here is me as “undead Octavia Butler”:

\"But I thought you were dead!\"

The night before this, there was the Signing Session, which was huge and a lot of fun. As I mentioned before, I completely lost it over meeting several of my favorite authors. Here’s me fangirling on Marjorie Liu, snagged from her:

Squee!!

I’m so geeky.

All that said… the mistaken-identity incident does bring home some realities in the wake of Obama’s victory. As powerful a symbol as he now is — and yeah, I’m thrilled — it doesn’t change a lot. People will still mistake the only two black women at a small convention for completely different black people. I will still have conversations in the bar with random strangers who insist that “you people” should stop complaining now that “racism is dead”. (Yeah, that happened too.) And racism won’t be dead, by any stretch — in fact I suspect it’ll get a little worse for awhile, as more people go into denial and decide that it’s no longer worth talking about or working to eliminate.

Just like a Democratic sweep doesn’t indicate some sudden progressive awakening among the American people, as the Prop 8 horror illustrates. So my feelings right now are best encapsulated by a fortune cookie message I got the night after I found out 100K would be published, and which I’ve kept as an inspiration: You had a great start! Now work harder.

We’ve still got a lot of work to do to fix this country.

Anyway, back to writing.


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