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I am signing on to Mary Robinette Kowal’s Convention Accessibility Pledge. I’m doing it in this blog post because I think it’s important as many people as possible are aware of this issue.

I’m not going to pull out of convention appearances that I’ve already committed to. (And as it happens, ConFusion and Vericon have both assured me they’re taking accessibility issues seriously, so kudos to them.) But going forward, I will only attend cons that meet the (let’s be honest, pretty minimal) criteria outlined in MRK’s post:

  • The convention has an accessibility statement posted on the website and in the written programs offering specifics about the convention’s disability access.

  • The convention has at least one trained accessibility staff member with easy to find contact information. (There are numerous local and national organizations that will help with training.)

  • The convention is willing and able to make accommodations for its members as it tries to be as accessible as possible. (We recommend that the convention uses the Accessibility Checklist for SFWA Spaces as a beginning guideline. Other resources include Fans for Accessible Cons, A Guide for Accessible Conferences, and the ADA rules for places of public accommodation, which apply to US conventions.)
  • This shouldn’t be an issue, in the US. Hotels and convention centers are already required by law to provide accommodations like ramps and lifts. It doesn’t take that much extra effort to assume you’ll have folks with mobility issues attending your con, and to say so to the hotel when you’re talking about how things will be set up.

    I’ve heard complaints that this is just too expensive–well, you’re already shelling out for the facility itself. That is, in fact, a kind of accommodation. Why not just have your con out in a park? That would be uncomfortable and inconvenient for a lot of congoers, right? Especially in bad weather. But imagine if a convention insisted that paying for an indoor facility was just too expensive and would drive up the cost of membership? Imagine the indignation.

    But having a con inside a dry, heated and/or cooled building with sufficient space for people to move around and stairs between floors is in fact an accommodation. We just don’t think of it as one, since we’re used to seeing that particular attention to our needs and comfort as normal and understandable and worth going to some effort to ensure. And yes, stairs are an accommodation. What, you can’t climb up that rope ladder to the next floor?

    Claims that arranging in advance to have some ramps or lifts on standby is just too much trouble or expense are, frankly, claims that the needs and comfort of members who need them just don’t matter to you.

    And let’s consider the question of the $800 charge for a ramp at World Fantasy. That was a quote for a last-minute request for a ramp–likely if WFC had told the facility in advance that they’d need one, it would have been much less, or possibly even not an extra charge at all. But let’s consider hiring one ramp for WFC, at $800, and how much that would affect the cost of membership. Now, WFC has a membership cap, right? It’s 850, according to this. So if requesting a single ramp in advance of the con costs $800, to be added to the cost of memberships, that comes out to less than one dollar a person. Let’s say they only get half that (I’m given to understand they routinely sell out and have a waiting list, but perhaps that’s not the case). Two dollars a person. And I’m not even counting supporting memberships.

    Now of course, since this charge was coming after memberships had already been paid it was dauntingly large. Which doesn’t make me more sympathetic–it would have been easy enough to say, up front, during the planning stage, “And of course we’ll need some kind of access to the dais or stages in case there are wheelchair users or folks with other mobility issues. How do we make that work?”

    I do understand feeling defensive when you’re caught out in a mistake. Okay, feel defensive. Complain to your spouse and/or close friends in private, have some ice cream or a hot bath and some tea. And then go to whoever it is you’re working with at the facility for the next event and let them know that you’ll need to accommodate members with mobility issues, and what are the options and how will you make that work? Have SFWA’s Accessibility Checklist in hand.

    The fabulous Lee Martindale had a hand in that checklist. Lee has been fierce in her advocacy for accessibility at cons–and elsewhere. Walking around a con with her is an eye-opener, I’ll tell you. There are so many things you don’t notice if you’re not currently in need of mobility assistance. I was pretty appalled, though not terribly surprised, honestly.

    And Lee makes a good point:

    But for her part, Martindale says she won’t be signing the pledge, because she’s learned in 40 years as a human rights activist that “change is not brought about by using only one approach.” And in addition to public protests and boycotts, another valuable approach is “those directly affected by the exclusion communicating with those perpetuating it, explaining and demonstrating why the exclusion is a problem and what to do about it.”
    “If I’m not there, as a scheduled guest, a rolling reminder of why accessibility is important and capable of explaining what I need to do the job I was brought in to do, it all becomes purely academic and easily dismissed,” says Martindale. “It’s hard to dismiss someone sitting right in front of you.”

    Not everyone is as fierce as Lee–she’s a pretty impressive lady–but for those who are willing and able to get right in there, that needs to happen, too.

    Worldbuilders Fundraiser

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    Y’all know about Patrick Rothfuss’ Worldbuilders fundraiser, right? Basically, various cool items are raffled or auctioned off–the proceeds go to Heifer International. If you’re not familiar with Heifer International:

    Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Our animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market.
    When many families gain this new sustainable income, it brings new opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses.

    So, every year people donate those cool things to be raffled or auctioned off. This year, I’ve donated signed copies of the Ancillary trilogy. And also a second signed set of the Ancillary trilogy, plus sample tins of my Adagio Imperial Radch teas.

    But I’m not the only person donating things. Check out Rothfuss’ blog, check out the Worldbuilders website for more information about how it works, and check out the Worldbuilders auctions that have gone live so far!

    Tonight I’ll be at the University City Library!

    Wanna come meet me? Maybe hear me read a bit, maybe ask me a question or two? Wanna buy a copy of Ancillary Mercy and have me sign it?

    If you answered yes to any of those questions, consider coming to the University City Library at 7pm this evening.

    Subterranean Books (not the publisher, the St. Louis bookstore) will have copies for sale, and if I get my act together there will be cookies.

    See you there!


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    So, the tour was a thing that happened. In fact, it was an awesome thing that happened!

    Along with Greg Bear, I hit five cities in five days. I was really glad to be sharing the tour with Greg, since he’s done this book tour thing a few times before and knew what was what, and he was generally just great to travel and hang out with.

    I met a lot of fabulous people, and signed a lot of books. I was given fabulous gifts–the artist who made this:

    Ors Diorama

    was at one signing, and actually gave me the amazing original. Really, amazing is an understatement.

    (And now I see that when I pin stuff from a tumblr search, it links back to the tumblr search page, and not the artist, which means I need to maybe be more conscientious about adding comments or tags to credit people, hmm. Sorry about that, didn’t realize until now, though I probably should have.)

    Another artist gave me this:

    2015-10-14 08.02.53

    Yes, that would be a picture of Brother Her-Breath-Contains at his daily devotions to She-Commands-Me-And-I-Obey. Awesome, right?

    And yet another has produced embroidered Emanation bookmarks:

    2015-10-14 08.02.47

    And that’s just the art! I also got delicious pumpkin bread, tea cookies, and some tea the giver told me was Daughter of Fishes, which from the (mmm delicious) flavor is some kind of oolong.

    It was an absolute delight meeting everyone who came to the various signings.

    It was also completely exhausting. I was basically on an airplane every day. Most stops I wasn’t even at for a full 24 hours. I got home Monday night and collapsed in a heap, sat on the couch staring for a while and then went to bed. Spent Tuesday recovering. Today I have errands to run, and then…I’m off again! This time to ICON. Which I am looking forward to–not only will I be in the same place for more than a day or so, but I’ll be there in the company of a lot of fabulous folks.

    Some folks asked me about the etsy store–I probably won’t be listing things until after October. Partly because this October is incredibly busy for me, and partly–a more recent development–because I have in fact run out of Awn Elming pins. I still have some Translator Dlique pins and some Spoiler pins for giving out at ICON, and I’ll have badge ribbons with me (unless something goes awry in my packing). But it takes a couple of weeks to get pins, even if I order them right away. So those won’t be available for a bit. But when things calm down, I’ll be listing what pins I have. So if you really want a Dlique pin or a Spoiler pin and don’t have a chance to get one in person, I do intend to make them available on etsy.

    Anyway. Thanks again to everyone I met during the tour–it was a pleasure and a delight to meet you. And I’m looking forward to seeing folks in Cedar Rapids!

    Future Visions

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    Regular readers will know that I used to mostly write short fiction. Which I’ve kind of missed since starting in on the novel thing, actually. But as it happens, there will be some new short fiction from me very soon!

    Basically I have a story in a new anthology called Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Stories Inspired by Microsoft, coming out on all major eBook platforms for free on November 17th. Authors were given inside access to a Microsoft Research lab; the visits served as inspiration for new short fiction.

    The book features eight award-winning, acclaimed writers of science fiction, and also includes a short graphic novel and an original illustration for each story.

    To learn more, go to and/or follow the hashtag #FutureVisionsBook on Twitter.

    And look for online news from Blue Delliquanti in the next few days about her contribution to the anthology!

    Ancillary Mercy is out!

    It’s Book Day! Ancillary Mercy should have downloaded to your device by now, if you pre-ordered the ebook, and bookstores should have the paper version on their shelves.

    This post is visible due to the magic of WordPress scheduling–I myself am not home right now. I’m in Seattle! If you are too, you could come to University Temple United Methodist Church The Sanctuary, 1415 NE 43rd Street, Seattle, WA at 7pm to meet me, and also Greg Bear, who has a book coming out today too–Killing Titan.

    Actually, quite a few people have books out today. Ferrett Steinmetz’ The Flux is out, the sequel to Flex. I enjoyed Flex quite a bit, but haven’t had a chance to read The Flux yet.

    Also, Kameron Hurley’s Empire Ascendant, sequel to The Mirror Empire.

    And probably other books–books tend to come out on Tuesday.

    Anyway! If you’ve been waiting for Mercy, you should be able to get it now! I hope you enjoy it!

    Where I’ll Be This Week

    Release week is upon us! Here’s where you can find me:

    First of all, I’m doing a Reddit AMA on Monday, the fifth. I’ll be in the air when that link goes up, but watch Orbit’s twitter, and I’ll try to tweet the link when I can. Or Tumbl and blog, but I’m more likely to be able to tweet from my phone, and likely to only be able to Tumbl or blog when I get to the hotel, which will be very shortly before I begin answering questions. (Yes, the timing on this is dicey. We’ll make it work, one way or the other.)

    Then! (Copied from my previous “where I’ll be” post):

    Tuesday, October 6
    7 PM: University Temple United Methodist Church The Sanctuary, 1415 NE 43rd Street, Seattle, WA
    Wednesday, October 7
    7 PM: Tattered Cover, Denver, CO
    Thursday, October 8
    7 PM: Powell’s, Beaverton, OR
    Friday, October 9
    7:30 PM: Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, CA
    Saturday, October 10
    3 PM: Borderlands, San Francisco, CA


    I’ll have some swag to hand out, as long as supplies last. I will try to have Awn Elming and Translator Dlique pins on me, as well as these:

    I’d love to show you what these Book Three pins look like, but that would be a spoiler! As long as I still have some, I will hand them out to anyone at a signing who wants one, and once you’ve read the book you can find out for yourself!

    If you can, come see me! I’m looking forward to meeting you! Also, if you’re coming to an event, please consider buying your copy of Mercy from the store in question. They’re being super nice and helpful having me in, and their being able to sell some books as a consequence makes that worthwhile for them. If you can’t, or can’t afford a copy just now, no worries, it’s all good.

    See you soon!

    How Best to Buy Ancillary Mercy

    So, quite a few times, I’ve been asked what’s the best way to buy my books–in what format, from what seller? “Best” as in would benefit me the most.

    Turns out, John Scalzi already answered this question:

    1. Buy it in whatever format you like, whenever you like. Honestly, you’re the customer. You want it in hardcover? Get it in hardcover. Want it in ebook? Get it in ebook. Want it in audio? Get it in audio. Want to wait until the price goes down? Get it in paperback or in ebook when then paperback comes out. As long as you pay for it, I will also get paid, and in every format I get paid a fair share of the money. The variations of what I get paid in each format are small enough that on an individual level (that’s you), it’s not worth your time to fret about it. So please, buy the book in whatever format pleases you, whenever it pleases you to do so. And thank you.
    (Dead broke? Ask for it at your local library, because they buy the book, and I’ll still get paid.)

    Basically, read the whole thing, because his answer is my answer. Except, where you see “hardcover” mentally replace that with “trade paperback.” Because aside from Subterranean special editions, or large print editions, none of the Ancillary books are available in hardcover.

    I’ve also seen some speculation about what it means for my sales when bookstores put the book out before the official release date. So, I’m told that those sales don’t go toward pre-order numbers, and they don’t count for first day/first week sales for the purposes of bestseller lists. So if I had my heart set on being able to put “Best Selling Author” in front of my name, and if I thought the margin was really narrow and a dozen or so books would make the difference, that might stress me out. Or if I were in a position where I was living or dying by pre-orders and was hanging on by my fingernails in the hope that B&N won’t decline to buy my next book, then that would really matter to me.

    I have been incredibly fortunate so far, though, and I am in neither of those positions. For me, Scalzi’s point number 4 is the relevant one. Justice and Sword have both been selling consistently since they came out. I am, of course, hoping Mercy will do the same.

    So, the best way to benefit me when you buy my book? Is to enjoy the heck out of reading my book! And if you can’t afford the book, then please do wait for a sale, or patronize your local library (I LOVE LIBRARIES!). It’s all good.

    On a related point. Next week I go on tour! (ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED) And I’ll be appearing at several bookstores. And I’m looking forward to meeting the folks who show up, and of course will be signing books. I would say, my one tiny exception to “buy your copy wherever and however you like” is, if you’re coming to one of these events, please consider buying your copy of Mercy from the bookstore that’s hosting me. If nothing else, it makes it worth their while to have had me there, which is something I appreciate tremendously.