Sherwood Smith

TGM Fundraiser: Autographed Books from Sherwood Smith

Welcome back to the third of 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions!

Transgender Michigan was founded in 1997, and continues to run one of the only transgender helplines in the country, available 24/7 at 855-345-8464. Every tax-deductible donation helps them continue to provide support, advocacy, and education.

Auction number three is for a personally autographed hardcover set of either the INDA or the DOBRENICA series, by author Sherwood Smith. Sherwood is also willing to personalize the books if the donor wishes — doodles, notes about something they’re interested in on the text, etc.

Cover - Inda Cover - Coronets and Steel

About book one in each series:

INDA: Indevan-Dal is the second son of the Prince and Princess of Choraed Elgaer, destined to become his elder brother Tanrid’s Shield Arm-his military champion. Like all second sons, he is to be privately trained at home by Tanrid, the brother whose lands he will one day protect. When the King’s Voice comes to summon Inda to the Military Academy, he might well feel foreboding, or even fear-war is imminent-yet youthful Inda feels only excitement. But there are things that Tanrid hadn’t prepared him for, and Inda will soon learn that the greatest threats to his safety will not come from foreign enemies, but from supposed allies within his own country.

CORONETS AND STEEL: Aurelia Kim Murray is a California girl who wishes there were more to life. And there is. For Kim is part of a royal family from a tiny eastern European country, and soon finds herself swept up in the romance and mystery she always wanted-and more, because there’s something very different about her bloodline and the magical nature of her ancestral country.

The hardcover books are available in the U.S. only. Anyone overseas is welcome to bid, but you’ll be bidding on e-book copies of the books instead.

How to bid:

  1. Minimum bid is $40. Bidding starts the moment this post goes live!
  2. Enter your bid in the comments. Bids must be a minimum of $1 more than the previous bid. (No bouncing back and forth in the bids one penny at a time.) Make sure to include an email address I can use to contact you.
  3. Each auction will run for 24 hours, starting at noon Eastern time and running until noon the following day.
  4. To discourage last-minute sniping, I’ll wait until 10 minutes after the last bid to close an auction.
  5. If you want to be notified about other bids, check the “Subscribe to Comments” box when you bid.

Winning the auction:

I’ll contact the winner, who will then donate the winning bid to Transgender Michigan. You’ll forward me a copy of the receipt, at which point, I’ll contact the donor to arrange delivery of your winnings.

About Sherwood Smith:

Sherwood Smith studied in Europe before earning a masters in history. She worked as a governess, a bartender, an electrical supply verifier, and wore various hats in the film industry before turning to teaching for 20 years. First book published in 1986. To date she’s published over forty books and been nominated for several awards, including the Nebula, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and an Anne Lindbergh Honor Book.


Don’t forget about the DAW Raffle!

My publisher, DAW Books, has agreed to contribute:

6 Tad Williams Bundles: each bundle includes one copy of Otherland: City of Golden Shadow (hardcover first edition, first printing)  plus 1 Advance Review Copy of The Heart of What Was Lost.

6 DAW December Release Bundles: each bundle includes one copy of all DAW December titles: Dreamweaver, Tempest, Alien Nation, and Jerusalem Fire, plus a bonus ARC (dependent on stock).

At any time between now and the end of the fundraiser, donate $5 to Transgender Michigan and email me a copy of the receipt at jchines -at-, with the subject line “DAW Raffle Entry.” Each week, I’ll pick at least one donor to win their choice of either a Tad Williams or a December Release bundle from DAW.

You can donate more than $5. For example, donating $20 would get you four entries. However, you can only win a maximum of one of each bundle. This is separate from the individual auctions. Winning an auction does not count as a raffle entry.

Stranger, by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith

Three years ago, Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith went public with a post about a post-apocalypic YA novel they had written together. During the submission process, they received a response from an agent who offered to represent the book, “on the condition that we make the gay character straight, or else remove his viewpoint and all references to his sexual orientation.”

They refused.

Their post led to a great deal of discussion about the need for gay characters in YA literature. The agency in question also posted a rebuttal.

Stranger - CoverSo that’s the backstory. The book eventually sold to Viking Juvenile, with a publication date of November 2014. I’m happy to have gotten my hands on an advance copy 🙂

Stranger [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] definitely has a western feel to it, as noted in the publisher’s summary:

Many generations ago, a mysterious cataclysm struck the world. Governments collapsed and people scattered, to rebuild where they could. A mutation, “the Change,” arose, granting some people unique powers. Though the area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, its technological marvels have faded into legend. “Las Anclas” now resembles a Wild West frontier town… where the Sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can warp time to heal his patients, and the distant ruins of an ancient city bristle with deadly crystalline trees that take their jewel-like colors from the clothes of the people they killed.

Teenage prospector Ross Juarez’s best find ever – an ancient book he doesn’t know how to read – nearly costs him his life when a bounty hunter is set on him to kill him and steal the book. Ross barely makes it to Las Anclas, bringing with him a precious artifact, a power no one has ever had before, and a whole lot of trouble.

I liked this one. There’s a lot of imaginative worldbuilding going on, particularly around the different powers people develop and the new forms of wildlife. The crystalline trees are awesome and terrifying. Also: telekinetic squirrels. They don’t get a lot of page-time, but just the fact that there are telekinetic squirrels makes me happy.

Smith and Brown rotate chapters through five (I think) different PoV characters, which was a little tricky to keep track of in the beginning, but I think it worked well. I’m less thrilled about the different font used for each PoV, but since I was reading an ARC, I’m not sure the publisher will keep that quirk in the final version. It might not bother you, but it distracted me.

There’s a lot going on here. You’ve got the eponymous stranger Ross Juarez, a loner with a bit of PTSD who finds a sense of community for the first time in his life … but there are those who don’t want him around, and others who just want to use him. There’s the larger conflict with a power-hungry king who’s been conquering neighboring towns. There are multiple romances. There’s internal political struggles between a family trying to create their own dynasty as leaders of Las Anclas and the changed sheriff who messed up their plans.

There’s also an ongoing story about discrimination and prejudice. You have open hostility and fear, and some of that fear is almost understandable, given the damage changes can do when people can’t — or don’t — control them. Poor Ross gets fear and suspicion from both barrels, as a stranger and someone with a suspected change.

I’m impressed by how well the multiple relationships, stories, and characters all come together. It did feel like there were some loose ends when I finished, and I’m hopeful those will be addressed in future books. But Stranger provides enough closure that I didn’t feel cheated. It’s a good ending, one that makes me want to pick up book two.

Oh, and yes, there are several non-straight couples in the book, and they’re treated with the same respect and variety as the straight couples. Surprisingly enough, I did not burst into flames, nor did my own heterosexual marriage immediately crash and burn. Go figure.

ETA: I’m told there will be a sequel, and it’s called Hostage, and it’s already written!

Promo Stuff

1 – I did an interview about Libriomancer [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] over at the Paranormal Book Club, where I mention my legendary battle with disco ninjas. There’s a giveaway at the end for a copy of the book, and five others will win autographed bookmarks.

B) Anton Strout had a new book out this week. Alchemystic [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] is the author of the Simon Canderous series, which I enjoyed. (I’ve talked about a few of them on the blog.) I haven’t read the new one yet, though it’s sitting on the pile waiting for me. But I can say Anton writes fun, fast-paced fantasy, which just might appeal to some of the folks reading this blog. He’s also one of my favorite people to taunt online. Penguin has posted an excerpt of the book here.

III. Vera Nazarian is doing a Kickstarter for her book Cobweb Bride. I’ve reviewed some of Vera’s work here and here, and generally enjoy her stuff. She tends toward a more mythic style in most of what I’ve read. The premise for her new book sounds interesting.

Lastly: Belated congratulations to Sherwood Smith and Rachel M. Brown on the sale of their novel Stranger. Smith and Brown turned down an offer of representation last year that came with a condition: “The agent offered to sign us on the condition that we make the gay character straight…” I’m happy and proud of both authors for refusing to compromise on that, and I’m delighted to hear that the novel has now been picked up by Sharyn November for Viking. Rachel has more details on her LiveJournal here.


And that’s all I’ve got today. Any other new books/projects/announcements we should know about?

New Books

Admin. note: I’ve drawn a winner for the Libriomancer giveaway – congratulations to Amanda over on Goodreads!


As some of you might have heard, I have a new book coming out tomorrow. This means I’ll be spending the rest of the week whipping back and forth between TOTAL MELTDOWN and SQUEE-SPLOSION about various book-related things, from an interview at Wired for GeekDad to a giveaway I’m doing at Bitten by Books to reviews and so on. In the meantime though, I wanted to highlight a few of the other books coming out this week.

Seawitch [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy], by Kat Richardson. This is the seventh book in Richardson’s popular Greywalker urban fantasy series. You can read an excerpt here.

The Unnaturalists [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy], by Tiffany Trent. A new steampunk adventure set “in an alternate London where magical creatures are preserved in a museum.” Yes, please! (Also, I love that cover!)

Shadowlands [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy], by Violette Malan. This is the sequel to The Mirror Prince, which I enjoyed and reviewed back in 2007.

The Grass King’s Concubine [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy], by Kari Sperring. This is set several hundred years after the events of Sperring’s award-winning novel Living With Ghosts.

The Spy Princess [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy], a new YA title by Sherwood Smith. Sherwood talks about the process of writing this one – a process that began when she was fifteen years old – in her LiveJournal.

You should totally rush over to the bookstore to pick these up. (And hey, while you’re over there, you might as well check out that Libriomancer [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] book. I hear that one’s fun.)

So what books are you looking forward to this month, and what great titles did I miss?

First Book Friday: Sherwood Smith

Welcome to First Book Friday, with today’s guest star, Sherwood Smith (sartorias on LJ).

How to introduce Sherwood … I’ve never met her in person, but we’ve been chatting online for years.  She’s a delightful person, warm and genuine, and if you’re not reading her blog then you’re missing out.

She’s been a writer pretty much her entire life.  Read on to learn how she went from writer to published writer.  And when you’re done, see here for my review of her book Once a Princess [B&N | Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy].


I started typed up my novels and sending them out in eighth grade. I knew zip about quality—I was writing the sort of book I liked to read, so they were all kid adventure stories, heavy on the castles, princesses, sword fights, and pie fights . . . kid drama and kid comedy. No romance! There were plenty of boys, but only as friends. Or rivals. But girls got the lead roles.

The very first one was written with a friend. We wrote it in secret code, trading off bits and delivering chapters each day to one another’s locker. It was set in the Netherlands around 1700, so that there were not only castles and princesses but wigs that could be lifted on fish hooks, a comedy plus to thirteen-year-olds. We were so thrilled with our masterpiece that we learned how to type, and typed it up. I illustrated it copiously—still have some of the drawings, and most of that first submission.

We submitted it to the eighth grade writing contest at our junior high. It was 400 pages long. I remember one of the teacher judges turning pages over with her fingertips, and looking down at it with this peculiar expression . . . rather as one might regard a fish long since gone to its reward. We did not win, needless to say—some kid who wrote inspirational poetry did. I bet her poetry was good. Our story was . . . *ahem* . . . enthusiastic.

By that point I’d already been writing about another world for some years, but I knew from my reading that “they” would never publish anything in which kids from Earth went to the world and never came back. Never grew up, either, but had great adventure lives. For hundreds of pages! (In those days, kidzbooks were max 60k words. It was hard to find a good long adventure until I started reading adult historical novels.) So I knew that if I wanted to actually get anything published, I’d have to write “they” books as well as my “me” books.

So, to the first published book. When I was seventeen, a friend said to me, “I wish all the heroines weren’t blond with blue eyes.” So I told another friend that I was going to write about a brown-skinned, brown-haired, brown-eyed heroine, but that friend got quite angry, saying that I ought not dare to write about minorities as I was a WASP and didn’t know how minorities suffered. (We were in high school at the time, remember.) I got the idea for Wren, and blithely began writing it—and I found my way between the wishes of the two friends.

The first line was: “The phone rang.” The title, which I thought so cool at age seventeen, was Tess’s Mess. Since I knew no one would publish my real secondary world, I thought I’d make one that publishers of kids’ books would like. It would have some of the fun stuff that I loved, but it wouldn’t break the “rules” I perceived in children’s literature at the time. I also wouldn’t commit the error of presuming to write about a minority; I might mention Wren’s brown skin, but she would have blue eyes, and the brown and blond striped hair, so she’d be in between.

I submitted the first half, as was (handwritten into a notebook) to a local contest—and won! So I thought, fame and fortune here I come! Finished it, laboriously typed it out on my Mom’s WW II-era typewriter, with its fading ribbon, sent it out . . . and it came back. And back. And back.

So when I turned nineteen, I figured I needed to learn something about writing, and I pretty much stopped trying to send things out for another fifteen years, though I never stopped writing. Every five or six years I’d take out Wren again and try a new rewrite, and in the late eighties, I was lucky enough to catch the eye of Jane Yolen, who taught me a whole lot about rewriting by having me give it three or four more drafts before she published the first one, Wren to the Rescue, at Harcourt, under her own imprint, Jane Yolen Books. By then I’d actually already gotten published, but these were work-for-hire without my name on them. Wren was the first with my name, and one of the first ones I’d tried to get out there.

The last of the Wren books just came out as an e-book. It pretty much stands alone. It’s available at Kindle and Book View Café.

Sunday Stuff

1. Alma Alexander has been chronicling the Rebirth of a Novel, publicly rewriting an old manuscript.  She’s interspersing this with guest posts by various authors, including yours truly.  I talk about how I got started writing, and even share two paragraphs of my very first (very bad) unpublished novel.

2. Beth Bernobich’s debut novel Passion Play [B&N |  Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] comes out this Tuesday.  Sherwood Smith and I talk about the book over on the Book View Cafe blog.  Some of the early buzz for this book has focused on Bernobich’s portrayal of rape.  We discuss that, the characterization, the Cool Stuff theory of fiction, and more.  (It’s a fairly long chat.)

3. A question for anyone in Denver, Seattle, or Portland.  My agent noticed that sales of the goblin books had spiked in these three regions, mostly in “nontraditional” venues.  I’m told this usually indicates a few supermarket chains, and stores like Toys R Us and Starbucks.  Has anyone out there seen Jig & crew popping up in Kroger or Fred Meyer or anything like that?  We’re curious where those extra sales are coming from.

4. More on e-book pricing.  One of the complaints that came up a lot in response to my e-book post was the ridiculousness of e-books costing more than hardcovers.  Writer Beware explains why this happens.  (Short version: it’s the effect of two competing sales models.)

My Job Rocks, Part XVIII

For anyone in mid-Michigan, I’ve got a booksigning at pizza party tonight from 6:00 – 8:00 at Schuler Books in Okemos.  (Former Lansing signings have been at the Eastwood location.  If you go to the Eastwood store tonight, I won’t be there, and neither will all of that hot, yummy pizza.)

Any suggestions or requests for what you’d like me to read?


I also wanted thank everyone who’s posted reviews or comments about Red Hood’s Revenge on Amazon, Twitter, blogs, or wherever.  It’s very much appreciated, and I’m glad most of you have been enjoying it.


Not writing-related: my daughter Clara returned last night after a week up north with a friend.  She brought a monarch butterfly chrysalis and a caterpillar who’s about to form another chrysalis.  (She’s always been interested in the bugs.)

I’d never seen a monarch chrysalis before, and I couldn’t photograph the thing, but they’re beautiful.  Light green with metallic gold highlights.  It looks exactly like someone painted gold leaf over the raised ridge and bumps near the top.  Very cool.


Anyway, back to the rocking job.  In the past week, I’ve received books by Stacia Kane (autographed!), Sherwood Smith, and Beth Bernobich, and I should be receiving a copy of Erin Hoffman‘s forthcoming novel Sword of Fire and Sea soon as well.  Three of these four books won’t be out for a little while yet, but I get to read them all.  Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!  I love my job!


Open Book Thread

82000 words and counting.  23 chapters done, with 2 more to go.  I can do this….

But forget about me.  A few of my friends have books out this week.  Let’s talk about them.

Treason’s Shore [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] is the fourth and final book in Sherwood Smith’s Inda series.  Check out her LiveJournal announcement for details about the book and the series, or just head over and congratulate her.

This week also marks the release of Vanished [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy] by my JABberwocky buddy Kat Richardson.  (katatomic on LJ.)  Vanished is the fourth Greywalker novel, for the handful of you who don’t already know about the series.  Richardson has an excerpt of the novel posted on her web site.

Finally, we have C. F. Bentley’s novel Enigma [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy].  This is the sequel to Harmony.  Bentley describes the books as “a spiritual journey with a literary twist in a space opera landscape.”  Bentley is one of my fellow DAW authors, and you can find her at her web site or on LJ as ramblin_phyl.


I’ll also give a shout out to James Van Pelt’s story collection The Radio Magician and Other Stories [Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy | B&N]. This one doesn’t come out until 9/1/09 (and I don’t think the Amazon or MG links work yet, but the B&N one does).  I’m only about 1/3 through, but … well, let me put it this way.  I was tempted to stop reading the thing, because I got through the first two stories and was embarrassed that I’d ever tried to write short fiction.  I’m behind on my reviewing, but I will be posting a review of this one later.  Van Pelt also posts some great writing-related stuff at jimvanpelt.

So what else is out that we should know about?  What have you been reading lately that you loved?  Let’s just make this an open book-chat thread, because I don’t think I’ve done that in a while.

Jim C. Hines