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Welcome to the forty-ninth essay in my fifty-essay series on the art, craft, business, and occasional weirdness that is writing. All fifty of the essays in this series are based around my original fifty thoughts on writing, which means I only have two more essays to go. Almost there! Our thought for today:

Thoughts on Writing #49: Leave Reviewers Alone.

And now, because context is king, our expanded thought:

Try not to argue with reviewers in public places. It makes you look petty and it makes them feel attacked, and that's going to start a vicious spiral leading all the way down into the deepest, darkest depths of Hell. Feel free to whine at your friends if that makes you feel better, but don't make public scenes, and don't make huffy comments where other people are going to find them. Also, if everyone who's known to be a friend of yours starts attacking the reviewer? People are maybe gonna catch on. Play nice.

This one isn't very complicated on the surface: reviews are for readers. Now, most of us are readers. Sometimes, reviews are for us. When are the reviews not for us? When they're reviews of our books, or of books written by our friends. When those reviews come to the party, we're not invited. And sure, it can seem like we're invited, especially when those reviews are posted publicly on the internet; after all, it wouldn't be public if everyone wasn't allowed to comment, right?

Wrong. Today we're going to be talking about reviews, why they're not for us, and why you don't want to know what happens when you engage.

Ready? Good. Let's begin.

My thoughts are not your thoughts; my process is not your process; my ideas are not your ideas; my method is not your method. All these things are totally right for me, and may be just as totally wrong for you. So please don"t stress if the things I"m saying don"t apply to you -- I promise, there is no One True Way. This way for my thoughts on reviews.Collapse )

Everybody loves a road trip.

Just in case any of y'all managed to miss it:

There is a new Fighting Pumpkins story in the world! Read "Fiber" now at Tor.com.

For those of you keeping track, this is the same iteration of the Fighting Pumpkins as appeared in "Gimme a 'Z'!" and "Turn the Year Around" ("Dying With Her Cheer Pants On" ended in a total party-kill). This takes us to four published stories about everyone's favorite genre-savvy cheer squad. (I estimate we need ten for a Fighting Pumpkins story collection.)

Gimme an "F"!
Gimme a "U"!
Gimme a OH SHIT RUN THEY'RE AFTER US GO GO GOOOOOOO--

If you want to support more Fighting Pumpkins in the future, "Fiber" also appears in the anthology Unbound, which is fine and swanky and would look great on your shelf!
If you're at all aware of the U.S. musical theater scene (and there's a sentence), you've probably heard of a show called Hamilton. In case you haven't: it is, quite literally, a musical about the life, career, and death of Alexander Hamilton, the first United States Secretary of the Treasury. I...yeah. If you were to make a list of "historical figures about whom a musical should be written," Alexander Hamilton probably wouldn't make the top fifty. He is, sadly, too obscure (or was until very recently); most people think of him as "the dude on the ten-dollar bill," if they even know that dude's name.

So it was a bit of a shock to basically everyone when suddenly Hamilton became the hottest ticket on Broadway. Written by Lin Manuel-Miranda, who had previously written In the Heights and contributed to Bring It On: The Musical, the show seemed to go from zero to ABSOLUTELY FUCKING EVERYWHERE. Several of my friends became obsessed. As is often the case with the people I tend to surround myself with, they began talking about it constantly.

Have I told you about the power of my irritation?

See, when something starts to annoy me, I have a very narrow window to learn to like it or wind up hating it forever. As I was about to go to New York, I declared my intent to see Hamilton, so as to keep myself from hating it. Several people pointed out that it was, you know, sold out until next year. Whatever, I replied. I was going to see it.

Come the day we had reserved for Hamilton-going, Diana and I went to the theater, where she already had a friend at the front of the cancellation line. Said friend was able to get us three tickets at face value (one for each of us, one for herself). Sarah and Katie joined us, and put their names in for the lottery. Now, when you do a show lottery, the popularity of the show pretty much decides your chances. A show like Hamilton means they're not...good. So we're standing there as the names are being drawn, and name after name does not belong to any member of our party.

"This is our last draw for the night," announces Daveed Diggs (Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson)...and reads Sarah's name. Our entire group makes a terrifying, drawn-out screeching noise, like we have been possessed by the spirits of every velociraptor currently in residence at the Museum of Natural History.

The five of us proceed to a local Italian place for dinner, bolt our spaghetti, and meet up with Josh in line. Josh has secured a ticket through the simple, if nerve-wracking expedient of waiting for the StubHub prices to drop back to "just trying to recoup my investment" levels, and then running from their last-minute ticket office to meet us. So yes. The power of my spite* got six people into a completely sold-out show at the last minute, all with good seats, no one paying scalper prices. Behold the power of spite.

(*Odd as this may seem as an ordinary superpower, I have never lost a ticket lottery. Either I or someone in my immediate group has always won. It's weird, but useful.)

Hamilton is very simply staged: there are few props, even fewer sets. It's mostly just stark wood and people implying their surroundings through context. The cast is intentionally diverse, representing America as it is today through the faces on the stage. And it never stops. Not for one second. Even the slow moments are fast by the standards of most shows.

I hoped to like Hamilton. I didn't expect to love it. I certainly didn't expect to sob through great swaths of it. The soundtrack is available now, and there is so little speech in the show that just listening to it is more than enough; you'll get basically the whole show.

But I am so glad I got to be in the room where it happens.
Today is January 15th, 2016. My last day of full-time employment for someone other than myself was January 15th, 2014. The last time I set an alarm for anything other than a trip to the airport or a convention was two years ago.

Two years. Where does the time go?

Two years ago today, I came home from work and crawled pretty much directly into bed. I wanted to be overjoyed. I wanted to be elated. I wanted to feel like I was free at last, finally free to write all the books I wanted to write and see all the places I wanted to see. Instead, I went straight to bed. I stayed there for about three weeks.

That sort of marathon of sleep usually indicates depression, at least for me. Not then. That was the sleep of being broken, of trying to fix myself. This last weekend Brooke said to me, sincerely, that my job--which had been a reasonable desk job, with reasonable people--had been killing me, and she wasn't wrong. I needed to either stop writing or stop working, and since there was no chance I was going to stop writing, I needed to stop working for someone other than myself. Or I was going to die.

(This is not hyperbole. I was sick constantly. I was stressed to the point of panic constantly, trying to figure out how to get enough money to let me quit so I could stop working all the time and actually get some sleep. I was miserable constantly. If my body hadn't broken and killed me, the thin line in my brain over which I usually manage not to step would have shifted, and I would have done something stupid.)

It's been two years of self-employment. I'm still learning. Budgets aren't easy, either of time or money. I'm still figuring things out. But I'm still moving, and I'm still not bored.

Saying "I quit" was the smartest thing I ever did.

Current projects, January 2016.

Every month I make a post to tell folks what I'm working on, a) because it seems polite, b) because it keeps me accountable, if only to myself, and c) so you will understand why I do not have a social life. This is the January 2016 post. I am already making posts for 2016. This is faintly awesome and faintly horrifying, all at the same time. Hooray for contradictions!

To quote myself, being too harried to say something new: "These posts are labeled with the month and year, in case somebody eventually gets the bizarre urge to timeline my work cycles (it'll probably be me). Behold the proof that I don't actually sleep; I just whimper and keep writing."

Please note that all books currently in print are off the list, as are those that have been turned in but not yet printed (Chaos Choreography, Every Heart a Doorway, Feedback). Once Broken Faith, The Nativity of Chance, and Magic For Nothing are off the list because they're finished and in revisions with the Machete Squad. The cut-tag is here to stay, because no matter what I do, it seems like this list just keeps on getting longer. But that's okay, because at least it means I'm never actively bored. I have horror movies and terrible things from the swamp to keep me company.

Not everything on this list has been sold. I will not discuss the sale status of anything which has not been publicly announced. If you can't remember whether I've announced something, check the relevant tag, or go to my website, at www.seananmcguire.com. Please do not ask why project X is no longer on the list. I will not answer you.

What is Seanan working on now? Click to find out!Collapse )

In which Seanan sees FUN HOME.

Some of you may remember that I went to New York for, essentially, the month of November. This is not an unheard-of occurrence, me going out of town for an entire month: when it works out, logistically, it's easier on me to go, stay, get everything I need to done, and then come home to sleep for a few weeks. I recognize that this is a privileged way of doing things, predicated on my a) having a job I can do from anywhere, b) being able to actually do that job while traveling, and c) having someone to feed the cats while I'm away.

Some of you may also remember that I adore musical theater. It's customary for me to try to catch a show with my editor from DAW while I'm in town; for this trip, I had selected Fun Home. Fun Home is based on the memoir of the same name, written by Alison Bechdel, chronicling both her relationship with her father and the process of her own coming out. I had read the book once, years ago; I knew the author mostly from her work on Dykes to Watch Out For; and I had seen one of the musical numbers, "Ring of Keys," performed at the Tonys. That alone had been enough to make me want to see the show.

Originally, it was going to be me, Sheila (my editor), and Betsy (also from DAW). Sadly, Betsy couldn't join us, for personal reasons. Thankfully, Josh (also also from DAW) was able to take her place, so her ticket wasn't going wanting (not that we would ever have a problem finding someone to come with us to a good show). We met up at the office and proceeded from there to Sushi Zen, aka, "the place we seem to keep winding up before we go to a show." I had the sashimi boat. I always have the sashimi boat. If you ever have the chance, have the sashimi boat.

I also had the edamame and the steamed mushrooms. Both were excellent, although not as good as the sashimi boat. Mmmm, sashimi boat.

Ahem.

We decided to skip dessert and head straight for the theater, which turned out to be a good thing, as the show started in twenty minutes and was performed without an intermission. I am so grateful to be walking better. I was able to bolt for the bathroom, pee, and meet up with Sheila and Josh with five minutes to spare (no small trick in a theater with only one girls' bathroom).

Fun Home is performed in a theater in the round. Our seats were front row, right on the "stage," so that the actors would be passing only inches away at certain points. It was amazing. Like, genuinely amazing. We got settled. I started reading my Playbill, and squealed when I realized that Bruce Bechdel, the male lead, was played by Michael Cerveris, aka, "September from Fringe." Sometimes I am twelve.

All I really knew about the show as a show was the song "Ring of Keys." Even after seeing it live, I feel like all I really know is "Ring of Keys," because that's where I started sobbing and didn't stop.

Alison (there are three Alisons in the show, portraying the author in various stages of her life: small, medium, and large) and her father are at the diner, having breakfast. A woman walks in. And Alison, small, tomboy, brilliantly rebellious Alison, looks at her, and sees her, and knows her. Knows her for being the same as she is; knows her for being alike. There's this feeling of glorious recognition in the song, of "if you are, then I can be too, and if I am, then we are, and neither of us is alone," that I recognize from my own clumsy, confused process of coming out.

The whole show is glorious. It's confusing and confounding and brilliantly staged, and I hope it goes on tour so I can take my sisters. But that moment, that song...

I would take the whole show for just that song.
In early 2015, Borderlands Books announced that they were going to close for financial reasons, and I was heartbroken. I cried. A lot. So did quite a few people I know. We fumbled, we flailed, we prayed for a miracle, and a miracle came along, in the form of the sponsorship program, by which patrons of the store could buy a one-year sponsorship and, if enough were sold, the store would stay open.

It's time for sponsorships again.

Alan (the owner) has worked his tail off making sure that Borderlands sponsorships would carry some value apart from "we still have a bookstore." There are events for local and visiting sponsors, special merchandise, panel events, and more. But best of all, we keep a bookstore in the world, and it's a bookstore the world really needs.

Please, consider taking a look at the sponsorship program, and maybe helping my local bookstore continue to be a force for good in the world.

Thank you.

INDEXING: REFLECTIONS is finished today!

If you've been following the serial from the start, episode #12, "Never After," is available today! If you've been waiting for the whole story to drop, then you're in luck, because the serial is complete and the full season is available for purchase now, in either e-book or physical form!

This is your talkpost and discussion zone for the full serial, including episode #12. There will be spoilers in the comments here. As always on talkposts, I have partial comment amnesty, and will not be responding to everything.

"Never After" takes us home. Thank you for making this journey with me.

Once upon a time...
We have successfully weathered both the release of A Red-Rose Chain and the start of a new year, complete with my birthday (it's my birthday!), which means you deserve a treat. And here it is:

A brand-new story about Patrick and Dianda's first meeting! "Heaps of Pearl" has been posted on the Toby Daye short fiction page. It is available in ePub, MOBI, and PDF formats, and is free for download. Please download rather than trying to read locally; my server will thank you. (It's at the bottom of the page; scroll down.)

This story is best read after The Winter Long if possible, as it contains relationship spoilers through that point in the series. It is a story about meetings, and mermaids, and the terrible strain of living up to expectations. It is narrated by Patrick, because he's less likely to punch people for funsies.

Cover graphics are by Tara O'Shea. All short story electronic conversion thus far has been done by scifantasy. As both of them are awesome, we applaud them now.

Go forth, read, and please feel free to use this as a discussion post, which means there may be spoilers in the comments. Tread carefully.

Enjoy.
It's time for a Chaos Choreography giveaway! Hooray! This giveaway is going to be US addresses only; I'm still mailing Hogswatch prizes and other such items, and my post office workers are starting to mysteriously go on break when I show up, because of all the international packages. I know it's not fair, but I can't add more customs forms to the pile or they're going to close completely.

I will do open-to-international giveaways before the book is released, and I'm hoping to clear out more of the pending packages in the next week or so.

So, the rules for this one:

1. Leave a comment.
2. Indicate that you have a US address I can ship to. (You don't have to live in the US. You just have to have a US address.)
3. Name your favorite cryptid and why.

I will use the RNG to choose three winners on Tuesday, January 26th. But there's a twist! Only one person can win for each cryptid. So be honest! Name your favorite! Just be aware that the odds are lower for the Aeslin mice than for, say, the swamp bromeliads.

The field guide is here, if you need some help.

Game on!

What did I publish in 2015?

Welp. That was sure a year. And it sure is over. And I sure did come out with a lot of stuff. Here's what I published during 2015.

Novels.

Pocket Apocalypse
A Red-Rose Chain
Chimera

Novellas.

"Rolling in the Deep"
"Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus"

Novelettes.

"The Way Home"
"Down, Deep Down, Below the Waves"

Short stories.

"No Sooner Met"
"Broken Paper Hearts"
"There is No Room For Sorrow in the Kingdom of the Cold"
"In Skeleton Leaves"
"The Happiest Place..."
"Resistance"
"The Myth of Rain"
"The Star of New Mexico"
"The Moon Inside"
"Survival Horror"
"Reading Lists"
"Something Lost, Something Gained"
"Into the Green"
"Hello, Hello"
"Fiber"
"Snake in the Glass"

Non-fiction.

"That Nitro-9 That You're Not Carrying: Violence and the Companion" in Companion Piece

I also edited Queers Destroy Science Fiction, which I am choosing to believe explains why my output was down from 2014 (well, that, and I was sort of scary depressed for most of the year, and when I'm depressed, I write less). And even with the decrease, that is...that's a lot when I put it all in one place like that. I'm going to back away slowly, and maybe go drink something fizzy and faintly alcoholic.

Yes.

Tags:

What did Seanan write in 2015?

It's the end of year review! (This is not the same as my awards eligibility post, which will come later.)

Short stories...so many short stories. Like, I am actually not sure how many short stories, because there are the ones that were written in 2014 and came out in 2015, and so are firmly fixed in my head as "2015 stories," and then there are the ones that were written in 2015 and haven't come out yet, and anyway. Short stories. So many, many short stories. My head hurts if I think too hard about the short stories.

Novellas, only really six to speak of. "Every Heart a Doorway" was written in 2015, as was "Dawn or Dusk or Dark or Day," my first two Tor.com novellas. I wrote a Limbus, Inc. novella. I wrote the last two novellas that will be included in Rise. I also wrote an unannounced October Daye-universe novella, which I am listing here for the sake ofcompleteness, but please do not ask me about it or comment saying how you can't wait. You'll get more details when I can give them, and anything before that will just make me feel bad.

Novels! This is where I get a little head-cocked-and-contemplative, because, well. On the one hand, I think I only wrote four novels this year: Once Broken Faith, Magic For Nothing, The Nativity of Chance, and a fourth, as yet unannounced Mira Grant novel (I finished it yesterday, so I'm still feeling all fancy about it). On the other hand, two of those books (Nativty and the new Mira Grant project) were in excess of 150,000 words. That's their "I have written a book, look at it, look at how shiny it is" length, not their "put this baby in the printer machine, it's gonna be a book now" length. I have no idea how publication-long they're actually going to wind up being.

So that's six novellas, or roughly a book and a half's-worth of words, and four novels, two of which were a book and a half long. Which gives me, sans short stories, roughly the number of words that you would find in seven and a half books of average (101,000 to 120,000 words) length. If I look at it this way, I feel less like I spent 2015 slacking off.

This is why I sometimes need a nap.

Verity Price, not a subtle rabbit.

It's time for some free fiction, and for checking in on Verity and Dominic as they continue their trip from New York to Oregon, with plenty of stops along the way. They've weathered their meeting with Rose Marshall remarkably well. So where to next?

The Carmichael Hotel, of course.

"Snake in the Glass" takes us back to Chicago, where Dominic is going to continue meeting the family...whether he likes it or not. Let's just hope Verity can keep him from getting himself into too much trouble.

You can download the new story now from the InCryptid short fiction page. There is currently a problem with the cover graphic on the page: it is smaller than the others. I am aware, and am working to get it fixed, but didn't want to make you wait any longer over something so (relatively) trivial. (ETA: Fixed.)

Big thanks to Will, for emergency last-second eBook conversion, and to Tara, for getting me the replacement cover so quickly.

This also serves as your discussion post.
The penultimate episode of Indexing: Reflections is available today! This is your talkpost and discussion zone. There will be spoilers in the comments here. As always on talkposts, I have partial comment amnesty, and will not be responding to everything.

"Mirror's Face" takes us back to familiar places and familiar faces, as the inevitable continues to unspool all around them. Only one episode remains in this season. Shit is getting vicious, and there are no more second chances.

Once upon a time...

Velveteen vs. Trick or Treat.

Title: Velveteen vs. Trick or Treat.
Summary: The trials of a formerly retired superheroine are destined never to be done, especially when the heroine in question was foolish enough to agree to serve the seasonal lands...

Time did not pass in the Seasonal Lands the way it did in the Calendar Country...Collapse )
...if you're the Queen of California, then baby, I'm the King of the Rain.

Inchworm, inchworm, measuring the never-ending parade of ongoing projects, keeping me from losing track of what I'm doing and dissolving into a weeping pile of insecurities and confusion. Hooray!

Publications

Indexing: Reflections, episode eleven, December 29, 2015 (47North).

"Heaps of Pearl," January 5, 2016 (website).
Indexing: Reflections, episode twelve, January 12, 2016 (47North).
Indexing: Reflections collected edition, January 12, 2016 (47North).
Chaos Choreography, March 1, 2016.
Every Heart a Doorway, April 5, 2016.
"Regulation," June 7, 2016 (Galactic Games).
Rise, June 21, 2016.
"Tailed," July 26, 2016 (Urban Allies).
"Forbidden Texts," August 26, 2016 (What the #@&% Is That?).
Once Broken Faith, September 6, 2016.

"Long Way Down," unknown (Genius Loci).
"Opening Band," unknown (The Paul and Storminomicon).

Conventions/Appearances/Travel

ConDFW, February 12-14 2016, Dallas TX.
Chaos Choreography and Borderline release party with Mishell Baker, March 12 2016, Borderlands Books, San Francisco CA.
Minicon, March 25-27 2016, Minneapolis MN.
Emerald City Comic-Con, April 7-10 2016, Seattle WA.
Marcon, May 6-8 2016, Columbus OH.
ConQuest 47, May 27-29 2016, Kansas City MO.
CrossingsCon, June 24-26 2016, New York NY.
San Diego International Comic-Con, July 21-24 2016, San Diego CA.

Worldcon, August 8-13 2017, Helsinki Finland.

No fixed deadline/being written/unsold:

The Best Thing
"Carry Me Home"
"Pixie Season"
"These Antique Fables"
"Best in Show"
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
"Dreams and Slumbers"
"vs. Going Home Again"
"vs. Everything You Ever Wanted"
"vs. SPOILERS"
Echo

Again, to clarify some recent confusion: some things, especially novel-length things, may appear more than once, on both the "publication date" and "being written" lists. This is because the "being written" list is an aggregate, which also includes "no fixed deadline" (IE, being written on spec or for the website) and "unsold" (IE, being written because I can). So new books will appear there for a long time before they vanish, since books take a long time to write, but may also have pub dates listed higher up.

In the case of stories listed with a publication note of "website," these are approximate dates only, and should not be viewed as binding. If the story does not appear on that date, it has been delayed, and will be posted when I can.

Look at that list. It's so shiny!

Sometimes a girl just wants to go dancing.

I love Kelley Armstrong. I mean, I've only met the actual human being Kelley Armstrong a few times, so I guess what I feel for the real person is strong affection tempered with professional respect, but her work? Her work, I love. So when I was offered the opportunity to co-write a story with her, I died a little bit. Of joy.

Announcing the Urban Allies anthology.

Kelley and I co-wrote a story called "Tailed," in which Verity Price meets Elena Michaels while both are investigating strange events in a New York forest. VERITY MEETS ELENA, Y'ALL. My protagonist and her protagonist kicking ass not...well, not together, exactly, but very close to one another. I'm so excited.

The story itself is non-canon, because reasons, but we had a great time writing it, and Sarah is there being snarky, and it's just amazing, all told. I am so pleased.

July!

A little holiday greeting.

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through my room
Were bunny girls grumbling and portents of doom,
And fairy tale murders and things from the deep—
My friends hope my dreams will stay safely asleep—

And Tara is working on graphics so fine
To help and promote that new novel of mine
(The fifth in a series I love beyond Price;
Come watch as our Verity takes the stage twice).

I'm staying at home for a change and a shot
To catch up on sleep and do what's been forgot,
For changes are coming, and coming so fast,
And it's time that we leave this last year in the past.

Two thousand fifteen is a year nearly spent.
Oh, the things that we did, and the places we went!
With DAW and with Orbit, and now Tor.com,
And I went to Disney World, taking my mom.

A whole week of Dayes can now sit on your shelves,
With wise-cracking Cait Sidhe and underslept elves,
Another adventure is coming this year,
Which ought to be good for your holiday cheer.

In March, there's InCryptid, and then in September,
An October girl who I hope you remember.
If you've missed my zombies, you'll be happy soon,
With stories so new in November and June.

With Dodger and Velveteen, Babylon Archer,
And so many more all prepared for departure
At seanan_mcguire the updates are steady—
I'm keeping you posted. You'd better get ready.

The year yet to come will bring wonders galore,
And I can't start to guess at the great things in store,
So whatever you celebrate when the world's cold,
Be it secular, modern, or something quite old,

I hope that you're happy, I hope that you're warm,
I hope that you're ready to weather the storm,
And I wish you the joys that a winter provides,
All you Kings of the Summer and sweet Snow Queen brides,

And I can't wait to see what the next year will bring,
The stories we'll tell, and the songs that we'll sing.
The dead and the living will stand and rejoice!
(I beg you to rise while you still have a choice.)

The journey's been fun, and there's much more to see,
So grab your machete and come now with me,
And they'll hear us exclaim as we dash out of sight,
"Scary Christmas to all, and to all a good fright!"

A quick musical update.

I just got the confirmation from CD Baby: Wicked Girls is back in stock. Stars Fall Home and Creature Feature have been in stock this whole time.

CD Baby is currently offering one cent standard shipping anywhere in the world. So if you've been waiting for the price to drop, because shipping things to, say, Australia is spendy, now's your chance! Complete your collection, or just find out for yourself what the heck we're talking about when we say that I make music!

There will be no further restocks before the end of the year; if you wanted any of these three CDs with the cheapest shipping you're ever going to see, now's the time.
It is with absolute joy and no small amount of confusion that I make the following announcement:

Velveteen vs. The Seasons is under discussion to be released this coming Memorial Day weekend at Marcon in Columbus, Ohio. Like the first two volumes, it will be a hardcover from ISFiC Press. It will include all the stories released after the end of volume two (and possibly a few that I haven't had the chance to post yet, depending on how my schedule shakes out).

Action! Adventure! Punching things! Vel having a really, really lousy time! Honestly, I can't wait.

This does, however, bring us to a point of administrative order: my contract terms with ISFiC are for two year periods. This means that at the end of this month, the first two Velveteen volumes will no longer be available for purchase in eBook form. The physical books will remain available until they sell out, and the stories will remain available for free on this blog, but the collected eBooks? Gone. So get 'em now or get 'em never.

I am so thrilled to know that Vel's next big adventure is going to be a book, and I think you're really going to like where things go. My bunny-girl sure did make it a lot farther than I ever thought she would.

For justice!

FOR CAKE!

Bacon creamed corn, take one.

You will need:

1/2 pound of good, fatty bacon
2 pints of heavy whipping cream/1 pint heavy whipping cream, 2 cups of whole milk
2 1-lb. bags of frozen corn
4 tbs. of sugar
2 tsp. of salt
1/4 cup of quick polenta

A deep skillet
A spoon

Take your corn out to thaw (you want it as non-frozen as possible). Cut your bacon into 1/4" to 1/2" squares (I find that using meat scissors works really well for this). Put the bacon into your skillet, and cook until you want to just eat it.

Add your thawed corn to the skillet, pouring it on top of the bacon, and mix thoroughly before adding your first pint of cream. Mix again. If the cream does not cover the bulk of your corn-and-bacon mixture, add more cream (or milk, if that's how you're rolling). Reserve half the remaining cream/milk for later.

Bring your heat up to medium-high. Stir your mixture until the cream begins to warm. Taste it. You should find that you need sugar to balance the richness of the cream. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the sweetness is to your liking (you can leave some of the sugar out). Sprinkle your polenta evenly over the mixture, stirring thoroughly after each pass.

Turn the heat down to medium-low, and give the mixture about four minutes to cook, stirring occasionally. As the polenta cooks, it will thicken more and more, creating a paste. You may wish to add more cream/milk at this stage, to render the cream more, well, creamy. I like my creamed corn to be thick but still a little bit runny.

Taste the mix. You should find that you need salt. Add salt to taste. Stir thoroughly. Bring back up to medium-high and stir for another three to five minutes, while your polenta finishes cooking. Be careful not to burn your cream (burnt cream is unpleasant).

Serves eight, reheats beautifully.

I will be modifying this recipe to begin with an onion cooked alongside the bacon, and will report back.
I hate making posts like this one, so I'm just going to go ahead and get to it. Here we go:

I am not a vending machine. You can't put a quarter in me to get free stuff exactly when you want it. You can't actually put a quarter in me at all. You can give me a quarter--I like quarters--but I am not a coin-operated story dispenser. I am a people.

I give away a lot of free fiction around here, both via my website (InCryptid shorts, Toby Daye shorts) and via this blog (Velveteen stories). In the case of the website shorts, they represent a lot more than just my writing time. I commission (and pay for) the story covers. In order to make the reading experience as easy and pleasant as possible, I have to ask my friend Will to convert the text files to ePub, MOBI, and PDF (which is, by the way, why I tend to shrug when people report typos; they're free, and the conversion is done on a volunteer basis, which means I am not going to ask him to completely reformat a file unless the error is so catastrophically large as to make the story unreadable). Once the stories are prepared, all the uploading and formatting on my website is done by hand, by me.

There is a lot of invisible back-end labor involved with bringing you a free treat. That's part of why I do the tip jars: they don't just justify my making time to write the stories, even if it means I might have to pass on an anthology. They pay for the covers, and for the administrative time I have to take away from writing in order to make sure everything is working correctly.

This is not me gearing up to asking for money, by the way: there was no tip jar in October, in part because one of the stories funded by the last tip jar has not been posted yet. Because even a "prioritized" story has to fit in around all my other publications and commitments, all the release dates I have to promote, all the conventions I have to attend. Because at the end of the day, while I want to tell you these stories as much as you want to hear them, I still have to be able to tell my publishers that they will come first. They pay my bills. They keep my main series going. They have to come before the freebies.

So why am I saying all this?

Because people keep emailing me going "hey when do we get the next free story." And this makes me feel terrible. It makes me feel like a party trick, like a vending machine, like I have no value apart from what I give away for free. I released a novel in November! I had several short stories come out, in several different genres! But when is the next free story. When is the next free story. Why don't we have it yet. Why aren't you doing it.

I understand eagerness. I genuinely do. I understand wanting to know what happens next now. I used to follow Kelley Armstrong's free fiction, back when she posted it regularly on her website; I get frustrated when my favorite fanfic writers don't publish chapters on schedule. But I am so outnumbered, and when all I hear is "why aren't you giving us more," it's really demoralizing. It kills my desire to give things away for free, and it makes it harder to keep working on those stories.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. But please, remember that I am a person, not a vending machine; I am not just here to give things away. And if I'm not posting something new, it's probably because I'm working my ass off at the things that keep the lights on, not because I'm lounging on a beach somewhere. Please have patience.

Thank you.

Hogswatch day thirteen winner!

The random number generator has spoken for the last time this year! To those of you who followed this blog out of the hope of free stuff: it's over until next December, although there will always be occasional giveaways. I'm good like that. To those of you who unfollowed this blog until the deluge was past: it's over until next December. Thank you for your patience.

And the winner of our mystery prize is...

killjoy188!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Tuesday, December 22nd to be considered valid.

We're out. Thank you all for playing, and Happy Hogswatch!

Seven years of Alice.

Seven years ago today, my beloved Maine Coon girl, Alice, came into the world. We met ten days later. It was love at first sight, for me; for her, I was another large, lumbering thumb-beast to trouble her.

Things remain much the same today.

As I type this, Alice is nearby, being vast and content and absolutely at ease with her world. She is Best Cat, and as I often tell her, my very favorite thing.

Here's to seven more, baby girl.

Hogswatch day twelve winner!

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of a copy of Indexing: Reflections is...

kimuro!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Monday, December 21th to be considered valid.

One more day to go!

Hogswatch day eleven winner!

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of a copy of Chaos Choreography is...

phoenix_singing!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Sunday, December 20th to be considered valid.

Two more days to go!

SPARROW HILL ROAD shirt inquries.

We've talked about Unicorn Empire and how awesome their stuff is. Now let's talk about why it may be relevant to you.

Here is the design I commissioned from Amber for Sparrow Hill Road. A very limited number of shirts were printed, for conventions I was attending. Some people have asked me what they'd have to do to get one. I've spoken to Amber about whether she'd be willing to do a small run, and she's agreed, as long as there's enough interest.

So this is me, checking interest. Note that if we were to move forward with this, all ordering and fulfillment would be done by Unicorn Empire; no waiting for me to go to the post office or fear of cats in boxes. I would also not be the one handling the money. It will go through her store, as with a normal order. This makes me very happy.

And now...the poll. If your answers are conditional, "IE, I will only order if it's not pink" or whatever, please indicate in the comments.

Poll #2031114 Shirts!

If we did a T-shirt pre-order, would you order one?

Yes
132(94.3%)
No
8(5.7%)

Would you prefer tank top or T-shirt?

tank top
30(22.1%)
T-shirt
103(75.7%)
other (in comments)
3(2.2%)

One color or two (two will cost more)

One
97(72.4%)
Two
37(27.6%)

Would you prefer a tote bag option?

Yes
17(12.4%)
No
73(53.3%)
Both
47(34.3%)

Hogswatch day ten winner!

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of a copy of Pretty Little Dead Girl is...

mac_arthur_park!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Saturday, December 19th to be considered valid.

Three more days to go!

Hogswatch day nine winner!

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of a copy of The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination is...

loree!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Friday, December 18th to be considered valid.

Five more days to go!
We are deep in the winter holidays, and by now most of you will have finished your shopping, such as it is; after all, unless you're planning to go to the mall (don't go to the mall), things will not likely reach your house before the timer runs out and the presents are being plunked beneath the tree, grievance pole, decorative pig, or other symbol of your holiday. But!

There are other reasons to need gifts. Birthdays, special events, or just the need to have something nice. I frequently lay in presents against the rest of the year, sacrificing storage space for the sake of savings. Or maybe I get myself a nice thing, because it's nice to have nice things. I try not to practice too much retail therapy. That doesn't mean I don't occasionally treat myself.

May I present the Unicorn Empire holiday sales?

Unicorn Empire Designs is an artist-owned shirt and print design shop belonging to the fabulous Amber Whitney, who has designed some of my favorite shirts (I'm wearing my Steven Universe shirt right now, and seriously considering ordering myself a second "We Are Not Things" tank, because I wear it so damn much that why not?). If you're one of the lucky ones who got a Sparrow Hill Road shirt, she did that design.

It's too late to order from her for holiday delivery, especially if you're not in the US, but her holiday sales are still ongoing. You can get some incredible fannish gift sets, and better yet, free shipping on any orders of $75 or more. Check out her stuff, and see if some of it needs to come home with you.

More seriously: Amber is an independent artist who does incredible things. So incredible that the art theft has, naturally, gotten more and more common as other people went "oh, it's just fan art" and tried to profit off it without compensating her. So if you've been considering a shirt, consider it now, and help give her the happy holiday that assholes attempted to steal away.

Yay, shirts!

Hogswatch day eight winner!

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of a copy of Symbiont is...

diseasedwits!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Thursday, December 17th to be considered valid.

Five more days to go!
The tenth episode of Indexing: Reflections is available today! This is your talkpost and discussion zone. There will be spoilers in the comments here. As always on talkposts, I have partial comment amnesty, and will not be responding to everything.

"Untold Truths" is hard to talk about in an unspoilery way, but wow, is it bringing us closer to the end. Only two episodes remain in this season. Shit's about to get vicious.

Once upon a time...

Current projects, December 2015.

Every month I make a post to tell folks what I'm working on, a) because it seems polite, b) because it keeps me accountable, if only to myself, and c) so you will understand why I do not have a social life. This is the December 2015 post. It's the last post of 2015. That makes me sad. Where the hell did the year go?

To quote myself, being too harried to say something new: "These posts are labeled with the month and year, in case somebody eventually gets the bizarre urge to timeline my work cycles (it'll probably be me). Behold the proof that I don't actually sleep; I just whimper and keep writing."

Please note that all books currently in print are off the list, as are those that have been turned in but not yet printed (Chaos Choreography). Once Broken Faith, Rewind, The Nativity of Chance, and Magic For Nothing are off the list because they're finished and in revisions with the Machete Squad. The cut-tag is here to stay, because no matter what I do, it seems like this list just keeps on getting longer. But that's okay, because at least it means I'm never actively bored. I have horror movies and terrible things from the swamp to keep me company.

Not everything on this list has been sold. I will not discuss the sale status of anything which has not been publicly announced. If you can't remember whether I've announced something, check the relevant tag, or go to my website, at www.seananmcguire.com. Please do not ask why project X is no longer on the list. I will not answer you.

What is Seanan working on now? Click to find out!Collapse )

Hogswatch day seven winner!

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of a "Wicked Girls" poster is...

heavensgardener!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Wednesday, December 16th to be considered valid.

Six more days to go!
Many people don't realize this, because it hasn't come up much lately, but I am part of an acapella group. I am, in fact, one of the three founding members of Lady Mondegreen, an all-female filk acapella group with members all over the world (or at least, all over North America and Europe). Because I live on the West Coast and the other two founding members live on the East Coast, we have not actually performed together since 2007. So when ChessieCon asked us to do a concert, we said sure. Why the hell not?

Batya, Merav, and I rehearsed as much as we could while I was in New York, and made our way to the con, where we took the stage for a surprisingly (dauntingly) large crowd. Our set list was as follows:

Sound check:

Theme from Banana In Pajamas
The shunning of Josh (ala Charlie the Unicorn)
Theme from Disney's The Gummi Bears
Theme from Disney's Rescue Rangers

Actual concert:

"The Three Fine Daughters of Farmer Brown" (Eddie From Ohio)
"Bottom of the River" (Delta Rae)
"Lorelei" (The Pogues)
"Flu Pandemic" (The Flying Fish Sailors)
"If I Had a Boat" (Lyle Lovett)
"Mordred's Lullaby" (Heather Dale)
"Lilo" (parody)
"All In Green" (e.e. cummings, music by Batya Wittenberg)
"Anything For You" (Ludo)
"Bedroom Eyes" (Uncle Bonsai)
"Reunion Hill" (Richard Shindell)
"This Side of the Knife" (Talis Kimberley)
"Don't Go Down to the Quarry" (Peter, Paul, and Mary)
"Leaving On a Jet Plane" (John Denver)

Post-concert:

"We are Wyld Stallions!"
"We are Sex B-Bomb!" (Quoth Batya: "I don't want to be Sex B-Bomb.")
"We are Mouse Rat!" (Cue me bouncing up and down singing "Sex Hair/Sex Bears.")

...all in all, not bad for our first show in years.
...a MYSTERY.

Welcome to the last of the Thirteen Days of Hogswatch. Each giveaway in this year's extravaganza has come with different rules and a different deadline, although all prizes will be mailed on December 30th, because I am bad at going to the post office (and also, avoiding the post office until that other winter holiday is over).

The thirteenth, and last, giveaway is for a MYSTERY ITEM of some kind. What will it be? No one knows! Not even me. This is going to be a random number drawing, because why I said so. So...

1. To enter, comment on this post.
2. If you are international, indicate both this and your willingness to pay postage.
3. Tell me one thing you hope the prize is. (ETA: Please only ask for things I might actually have. I can't give you a new job or world peace. I wish I could.)
4. Tell me one thing you hope the prize is not.
5. Tell me why the RNG should pick you.

I will choose the winner at 1PM PST on Sunday, December 20th.

Game on!

Hogswatch day six winner!

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of copies of Half-Off Ragnarok and Pocket Apocalypse is...

metairiegirl!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Tuesday, December 15th to be considered valid.

Seven more days to go!

Hogswatch day five winner!

The random number generator has spoken, and proven that it is truly random by choosing...1. I've never actually seen that happen before. I was very impressed. Anyway, the winner of copies of The Winter Long and A Red-Rose Chain is...

bree_ramsey314!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Monday, December 14th to be considered valid.

Eight more days to go!
...a copy of Indexing: Reflections.

Welcome to the twelfth of the Thirteen Days of Hogswatch. I will be starting a new giveaway every day between now and December 13th (tomorrow). Each giveaway will have different rules, and a different deadline, although all prizes will be mailed on December 30th, because I am bad at going to the post office (and also, avoiding the post office until that other winter holiday is over).

The twelfth giveaway is for a copy of Indexing: Reflections, the second outing for the ATI Management Bureau. This is going to be a random number drawing, because why mess with something that's working? So...

1. To enter, comment on this post.
2. If you are international, indicate both this and your willingness to pay postage.
3. Tell me who your favorite member of the team is.
4. That's it.

I will choose the winner at 1PM PST on Saturday, December 19th.

Game on!
As I've said a few times, I'm using simple questions ("name a favorite song" or "tell me which characters you're curious about," etc.) to try to filter out the "I'm just here because a free stuff blog linked to you" comments. Not that free stuff isn't keen no matter who you are, but since the Thirteen Days of Hogswatch are about getting things to my fans and readers, I want to have some sort of "please don't let me be completely overwhelmed" filtering scheme in place. Don't follow the instructions, which the gimme-gimme-gimme crowd usually won't, don't win a prize.

In the case of the copy of Pretty Little Dead Girl, I asked people to tell me why they wanted to win. A surprisingly large number have said that it's because they've never heard my music/didn't know I had CDs/wanted to start at the beginning. So...

I have CDs! Three albums, currently. Stars Fall Home (the reissue of my first studio album), Creature Feature, and Wicked Girls (currently out of stock at CD Baby, which means the link doesn't work). Two earlier albums, Pretty Little Dead Girl and Red Roses and Dead Things are out of print.

Many of the songs on Pretty Little Dead Girl appear on Stars Fall Home, including "Pretty Little Dead Girl," the girl-group doo-wop story of Rose Marshall. I will be re-stocking Wicked Girls within the next week.

This is not "please don't enter the drawing"; the drawings are there to be entered, and I am thrilled that so many of you are participating. But if you've been curious about my music, I actually consider Stars Fall Home the best place to start, and I would love it if you'd consider picking up my studio albums.

Thank you.
...a second ARC of Chaos Choreography.

Welcome to the eleventh of the Thirteen Days of Hogswatch. I will be starting a new giveaway every day between now and December 13th. Each giveaway will have different rules, and a different deadline, although all prizes will be mailed on December 30th, because I am bad at going to the post office (and also, avoiding the post office until that other winter holiday is over).

The eleventh giveaway is for an ARC copy of Chaos Choreography, the fifth InCryptid adventure. This is going to be a random number drawing, because I am about to take a nap. So...

1. To enter, comment on this post.
2. If you are international, indicate both this and your willingness to pay postage.
3. Tell me which member of the family you want to know more about.
4. That's it.

I will choose the winner at 1PM PST on Friday, December 18th.

Game on!

ETA: This drawing is now CLOSED.

Hogswatch day four winner!

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of a copy of Indexing is...

runiechica!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Sunday, December 13th to be considered valid.

Nine more days to go!

A treat for Toby fans is coming!

So hey, remember how at the end of Chimes at Midnight, Quentin was all "now you get to meet my parents," and Toby was all "OH FUCK NO," and then we got The Winter Long, but we never got to see the meeting?

We're going to get to see the meeting.

"Full of Briars" is a novelette set between Chimes at Midnight and The Winter Long, narrated by Quentin as he faces that most terrifying moment in a young squire's life: the meeting between his parents and his knight. With bonus "how Quentin sees Tybalt" and "how Quentin and Raj interact when Toby isn't around" (hint: they're glorious shits to one another).

"Full of Briars" will have a price point of $1.99 USD/$2.59 CD, and be released in August 2016, a month before the next October Daye book comes out. The cover art is being done by Tara O'Shea, who does the short story covers for my website. (Right now, it is only available in the US and Canada, because of regional rights issues. I have faith in all y'all's ability to get around that without resorting to illegal downloads. Since wow do I want DAW to let me do more of these.)

Quentin!

Glee.

Hogswatch day three winner!

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of a copy of Creature Feature is...

sabine791110!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Saturday , December 12th to be considered valid.

Ten more days to go!
...a copy of Pretty Little Dead Girl.

Welcome to the tenth of the Thirteen Days of Hogswatch. I will be starting a new giveaway every day between now and December 13th. Each giveaway will have different rules, and a different deadline, although all prizes will be mailed on December 30th, because I am bad at going to the post office (and also, avoiding the post office until that other winter holiday is over).

The tenth giveaway is for a copy of Pretty Little Dead Girl, my out-of-print first album. This is going to be a random number drawing, because I am going to see Cavalia tonight. So...

1. To enter, comment on this post.
2. If you are international, indicate both this and your willingness to pay postage.
3. Tell me why you want this album.
4. That's it.

I will choose the winner at 1PM PST on Thursday, December 17th.

Game on!

Hogswatch day two winner!

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of a copy of Chimera is...

Rachele Willoughby!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Friday, December 11th to be considered valid.

Twelve more days to go!
...either a copy of The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination OR a copy of Indistinguishable From Magic!

Welcome to the ninth of the Thirteen Days of Hogswatch. I will be starting a new giveaway every day between now and December 13th. Each giveaway will have different rules, and a different deadline, although all prizes will be mailed on December 30th, because I am bad at going to the post office (and also, avoiding the post office until that other winter holiday is over).

The ninth giveaway is for a copy of either The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination OR a copy of Indistinguishable From Magic. This is going to be a random number drawing, because I just got a big deadline dropped on my head. So...

1. To enter, comment on this post.
2. If you are international, indicate both this and your willingness to pay postage.
3. Indicate which prize you are hoping to win.
4. That's it.

I will choose the winner at 1PM PST on Wednesday, December 16th.

Game on!
...a copy of Symbiont in paperback!

Welcome to the eighth of the Thirteen Days of Hogswatch. I will be starting a new giveaway every day between now and December 13th. Each giveaway will have different rules, and a different deadline, although all prizes will be mailed on December 30th, because I am bad at going to the post office (and also, avoiding the post office until that other winter holiday is over).

The eighth giveaway is for a copy of Symbiont in paperback. This is going to be a random number drawing, because Kate is sitting on the porch waiting for me. So...

1. To enter, comment on this post.
2. If you are international, indicate both this and your willingness to pay postage.
3. That's it.

I will choose the winner at 1PM PST on Tuesday, December 15th.

Game on!

ETA: This drawing is now CLOSED.

Hogswatch day one winner!

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner of an ARC of Chaos Choreography is...

... sylira!

Instructions for the winner: Please comment on this post letting me know that you're claiming your prize and send me an email via my website (www.seananmcguire.com) with your mailing information. Both comment and email must be received by Thursday, December 10th to be considered valid.

Twelve more days to go!

A reminder about holiday book buying.

Hello, world!

This coming Thursday (December 10th), I'm going to go by Borderlands Books to sign anything that is waiting for me to sign it (and that has been paid for, in the case of something that needs to be personalized; I cannot stress enough how important it is to actually pay for things). While I can't guarantee that anything ordered as a holiday gift will get to you before the holidays, I can't say it's impossible, either. So! Do you want to give a signed, personalized book to the person of your choice, after exchanging money for it? Here's how!

1. Contact Borderlands Books (http://borderlands-books.com/) in San Francisco, California. You can contact them by either email or phone; check the website for specific options.

2. Order books! You have to tell them which ones, naturally, and whether you want them signed and personalized, or just signed. Personalized books must be paid for up-front. You can request a specific inscription. Some inscriptions (ie, my phone number) will be refused, although your book will still be signed.

3. While you're at it, order anything else that you'd like to get. I mean, hello, bookstore, and you're already paying for shipping, so why the heck not? May I recommend The Girl With All the Gifts, by M.K. Carey? Or Libromancer, by Jim Hines? Or The Hum and the Shiver, by Alex Bledsoe?

4. Give the store any information they need, like shipping address and billing and stuff.

5. The store will contact me, and I'll go in and sign things!

But wait, you cry! What books are currently available?

TOBY: Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, An Artificial Night, Late Eclipses, One Salt Sea, Ashes of Honor, Chimes at Midnight, The Winter Long, and A Red-Rose Chain.

INCRYPTID: Discount Armageddon, Midnight Blue-Light Special, Half-Off Ragnarok, and Pocket Apocalypse.

NEWSFLESH: Feed, Deadline, Blackout, the Newsflesh box set, and When Will You Rise.

PARASITE: Parasite, Symbiont, and Chimera.

VELVETEEN: Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots and Velveteen vs. The Multiverse.

OTHER: Sparrow Hill Road, Letters to the Pumpkin King.

ANTHOLOGIES: The store doesn't always have everything in stock (there are a lot of them), but they make a solid effort, especially with the newer titles. Feel free to ask! The worst they can say is "sorry."

Because Borderlands does not carry non-fiction, none of the Mad Norwegian Press titles are available from them.

Any questions?

(Post concept gleefully stolen from John Scalzi. I love you, John!)

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