I Make Up Worlds

SFF/YA writer Kate Elliott

Posts tagged Cold Fire

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Spiritwalker Monday 8: Reflections on Cat Barahal

For Spiritwalker Monday 8 (only 8 weeks to go!) a post answering the question “What was your thought process for the creation of Cat?”

First, I wanted Cat to be physically confident, someone who knows when to run and when to stand her ground, and who isn’t afraid of a physical challenge. At the same time I wanted her to NOT be a person whose feelings are bottled up; Cat is very free with her feelings, she laughs and cries easily and does not judge herself for having strong feelings.

That is the initial contrast I was going for: She is both physically confident *and* emotionally confident in the sense that she doesn’t try to hide, disguise, or be embarrassed by her emotions nor does she see being emotional as something inherently weak. She wears her heart on her sleeve and she is not afraid of a challenge.

The rest on my website.

Filed under Cold Magic Kate Elliott Cold Fire Spiritwalker Trilogy

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Spiritwalker Monday 23: The Creole of Expedition

For this week’s Spiritwalker Monday, a really long post and in fact the first of two (next week’s will be even longer with more nuts and bolts, this one is more discussion about the world building in general) about how and why I used a creole in Expedition (reasons, pitfalls, etc). Showcases my geeky worldbuilding side!

The central question discussed:

As I worked on Cold Fire, I had to face this crucial question: Do I use a creole to represent the local language of Expedition or do I write people’s speech to be indistinguishable from Cat’s own?

Filed under Spiritwalker Trilogy kate elliott cold fire

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Why Cat Sews (Spiritwalker Monday 30)

In my latest Monday morning post (is it Monday already?) I talk about why Cat sews but, more importantly, why it matters and why I emphasize it in Cold Fire.

In Cold Fire, Cat’s skill at sewing gives her a way to make a place for herself in her new circumstances. It gives her a bit of status and respect, and as well creates an interesting contrast to her old life because in the city of Expedition, sewing (as well as tailoring for both men and women) is a predominantly male profession. Additionally, she mends while conversing with other women (because hand-work like sewing is a job that can be done while listening and talking), and the ties she builds with other people are crucial to her success in being accepted in a new place.

Sewing helps her to survive.

As a character, Cat sews because in the cultural landscape and time she grew up, she would have learned how to sew. She sews well because sewing well is a challenge she relishes. Because she likes fashionable clothes that flatter her figure, sewing is the only way she has to fit herself in such clothing.

As a writer, I emphasize Cat’s sewing because it is true to the character and the time and  because it works well within the plot.

I emphasize her sewing because it allows me to give life to the world through details of daily life that intersect with the character and the plot rather than simply using discrete details pinned on like photos or backdrops. Sewing is a detail that helps to illuminate Cat: She is a very physical character, very active, and of course very talkative, but her facility at sewing also reveals that she is painstaking, likes to do things well, and that despite her talkative nature she is also a good listener.

Finally, I emphasize her sewing because I want to make a statement about the importance of all the different kinds of work that underpin human society, especially those that, in my experience, are too often brushed aside in the science and fantasy fiction that I love to both read and write.

The whole thing is here.

Filed under Cold Magic Cold Fire Spiritwalker Trilogy Spiritwalker Monday Kate Elliott

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Cold Steel: The Good News & the Bad News (Spiritwalker Monday 35)

The good news: Cold Steel is finished, revised, and in production at my publisher, Orbit Books.

The reality: Production is a process that takes many months.

The book gets copy edited for grammatical, punctuation, and consistency errors, and then I have to go over the copy edits as well, at which time I can make any last line editing changes. For instance, I think I am going to have to cut the word “cocky” from one sentence. [Copy editing is good news, though, since a good copy-editing job makes the book better.]

More good news: After copy editing, the book gets “typeset”—that is, converted from double spaced manuscript format into the format seen in books. The interior of a book is designed, just as the exterior cover design is. Font, kerning, spacing and other graphic design elements are just as important for ease of reading and a positive aesthetic look even when it is just text. A beautifully designed text is a pleasure to read.

Several proofeading passes are made through the typeset pages to eradicate as many typos and errors as possible (although some will always slip through). The text must be converted into various ebook formats. A cover is designed, tweaked, printed. Marketing, orders, and distribution also have to be dealt with in the lead up to printing and the actual arrival on the shelves. And this accounting is just the quick, simplistic version of all the things the publisher does. (I haven’t even touched on how my editor helps me make this the best book possible, because that part of the process has already happened.)

The other thing the publisher does is schedule books a year or even farther in advance. While there are exceptions of faster turn around times, a novel that is part of an ongoing series is often published (on the shelves) about a year after the manuscript is turned in (sometimes a year after it is turned in with all final revisions). Even if a publisher is trying to hold open a slot, if the book comes in too late, they will then have to move the book to a later open slot because they need the time for production, and sometimes an even later slot because they have already scheduled books that have been turned in.

That’s what happened with Cold Steel.

Let me explain: I started writing Cold Steel in late February or early March 2011. My wonderful brother in law (my sister’s husband) was at this time dying of brain cancer (he died in June 2011). His death hit hard, and combined with some other life stressors (nothing life threatening) to make writing the book slow going. Meanwhile writing the last volume in a trilogy is always challenging because it is important to tie everything together in a way that fits with what came before as well as fulfilling—as far as humanly possible—the promise of the opening. For instance, at one point I wrote 150 pages of material I ended up cutting (for branching down the wrong story tributary) as I tried to figure out what approach to take to the story.

Note: Cold Steel is 227,000 words in final draft. The first draft was more like 270,000 words, but I cut about 50,000 words before I even turned it in to my editor. That doesn’t take into account the aforementioned 150 pages I had cut while in the process of writing the first draft. Naturally, my editor wanted more cuts, and she wanted revisions as well. So, all in all, I expect I wrote about 325,000 total words (give or take ten thousand or more) for a final revised draft of 227K.

Meanwhile Orbit was holding open a January 2013 slot, but when I could not make the March 1, 2012, turn-in date they had to move the book. The next available slot — and remember that meanwhile they have other books by other authors being turned in and scheduled — was June 2013.

So that’s the bad news: Cold Steel will be published on June 25, 2013.

As it happened, I finished a draft in mid April, revised it and turned in a preliminary draft to my editor in May, got revision requests in June, and turned in a final draft in late August.

However, the EXCELLENT news remains that the novel is complete, is proceeding through production, and is (I can safely say) the very best book I could write (with the aid of the always crucial comments from my various beta readers and the firm hand of my evil dedicated and mild-mannered editor Devi Pillai).

Cold Steel completes the Spiritwalker trilogy.


The other excellent news is that I have the best, most perspicacious, and remarkably patient readers, and I appreciate each and every one of you.


Therefore, from now until publication, I hereby commit to making a post a week (in countdown format) specifically about the Spiritwalker books and/or the Spiritwalker universe that may include answers to your questions, my comments about the writing process or the characters or the world, biographical vignettes, and (I hope) a few short stories. It will be tagged “Spiritwalker Monday” and will, I hope, mostly appear on Mondays. I’m also going to try to continue with more regularity my long-promised semi-regular world building posts, but I’m trying to not be too ambitious here.


That makes this post Spiritwalker Monday 35 (next week will be 34, etc).

Again, my thanks for your patience.

If you have any questions or a subject you would like to see addressed over the next 7 months, please let me know via email or here on Tumblr or on Twitter or Facebook.

I will post the final cover as soon as I have it. Now I have to get back to work on my next project.

Filed under Spiritwalker trilogy Cold Magic Cold Fire Cold Steel Kate Elliott Spiritwalker Monday

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Cold Steel (Progress Report) & Cold Fire (mm release)

COLD FIRE has just released in the mass market (less expensive) paperback format in all English language markets. The ebook has also dropped in price.

I have completed major revisions for COLD STEEL and have now embarked on a close line edit to trim, polish, and make sure all the details are consistent. The book will go into production at Orbit Books next week. Production is a bit of a long process, but I plan to write a post next week describing how it works. Thank you for your patience.

Here is the first page, after the cut:

Read more …

Filed under Kate Elliott cold steel cold fire cold magic spiritwalker trilogy

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L.A. area signing

This is a reminder that I’ll be doing a signing at Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach  (L.A. area) on Saturday  July 28 at 2:30 pm, with author Lynn Flewelling (Casket of Souls is her most recent book). I will be reading a short excerpt from COLD STEEL, and I will have printed pamphlets available of the Cold Fire Bonus Chapter (you know which one). Both Lynn and I will be taking questions. You can ask anything!

If you can’t make the signing, be aware that you can order a signed book (and even pre order one that can be personalized to you if you so choose) via Mysterious Galaxy.

This is basically my only signing this year, although I will be at two conferences in the fall: The Sirens Conference (near Portland, Oregon) in mid October and the World Fantasy Convention (this year in Toronto) the first weekend of November.

I really would love to see anyone there who can make it.

Filed under Cold Steel Spiritwalker trilogy Kate Elliott Cold Magic Cold Fire corssroads Crown of Stars Jaran signings are actually very nervewracking for me; the more friendly faces the better

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Maps (and miscellaneous): A Post

On my blog, a bit of musing about maps:

In world building as it happens on the page, I believe there is another way at looking at “mapping.” By this I don’t necessarily mean an actual drawn graphic map as a representation of a place, but a map of geography and society and history that is created in the mind of the reader as s/he walks through the story.

Here’s the map of North Amerike and the Antilles from COLD FIRE.

Filed under cold fire spiritwalker trilogy fantasy maps

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I shouldn’t but I did (Cold Steel)

On April 17 I finished a draft of COLD STEEL. I just spent the last month revising that extremely imperfect draft and will send this revised draft to my editor tonight. She will read through it and beat me over the head until I revise it more (that’s her job).

If she accepts the revisions I make to her direction, then I’ll be able to announce a confirmed publication date. However, due to how long it has taken me to write the novel, I can sadly say that it will not be out in 2012. My apologies (partly the book was hard to write and partly we had a death in my extended family in 2011 that took a toll).

On the other hand, I want this book to be the best it can possibly be.

I try to only write the books and let people have their own images in their heads of the characters, which strikes me as kind of the whole point — readers are supposed to create the images in their own head as they read and have their own reactions and relationship to a book. Once I’m done with it, it’s out of my hands.

But, because I am finally sending a complete manuscript to my editor, in celebration I am going to indulge myself by posting this photo which is kind of close to how I picture Andevai (but which DOES NOT have to be how any reader has to picture him)

 The actor is Tobias Truvillion (who is now too old for the role; the photo is from about 7 years ago).

Thanks for your patience.

Filed under cold steel cold magic cold fire spiritwalker trilogy

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In honor of finishing my read-through of the page proofs of COLD FIRE (forthcoming in Sept 2011), I’m posting the preliminary cover. This is not the final. There will likely be small changes. I’ll post the final when I get it and it is officially launched at Orbit Books net.

In honor of finishing my read-through of the page proofs of COLD FIRE (forthcoming in Sept 2011), I’m posting the preliminary cover. This is not the final. There will likely be small changes. I’ll post the final when I get it and it is officially launched at Orbit Books net.

Filed under cold fire spiritwalker