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My essay is up at THE TOAST!

February 25th, 2015 (11:25 am)

I'm super excited!

If you read it, I hope you enjoy. :D

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Strange Horizons Dec 2014 / Jan 2015 Poetry Acceptances:

February 1st, 2015 (01:45 pm)

My website hasn't been cross-posting the past few months; not sure what's going on, but this I can at least share here. :D  (Thanks for the heads-up, csecooney!)

Originally posted by ajodasso at Strange Horizons Dec 2014 / Jan 2015 Poetry Acceptances:

"Ghost Irises," by Jenny Blackford

"Shadowskin," by Shveta Thakrar

"Not With Flowers," by Deepthi Gopal

"Reversed Polarities," by Nin Harris

"Challenger," by Bronwyn Lovell

"To My Creators," by Lore Graham

"Dronin'," by Peter Medeiros

"Post-Apocalyptic Toothbrush," by Betsy Ladyzhets

"The Art of Constellations," by Stephanie Wytovich

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Today’s the day: KALEIDOSCOPE is out!!!

August 5th, 2014 (10:59 am)
current mood: chuffed

Originally published at Author Shveta Thakrar. You can comment here or there.

You can buy Kaleidoscope today! I’m so excited; I’ve been waiting to share my color vampire story with you for a while, and now I can. It’s a story about hunger and art and sisters and belonging. And eating colors, of course.

I have a guest post up at Visibility Fiction on why I wrote “Krishna Blue” and a brief interview at DiversifYA.

And while we’re at it, here’s a sample of the story!

Mr. Stone.

Neha blinked back her tears. That ignorant jerk wanted to see her heritage in her work. Which to him meant melodramatic imagery from the kind of red-sari literature she couldn’t stand. And instead of refusing, she’d frozen.

A thought unfolded. Her heritage, huh? Her palette with its bold smears of color was the artist’s version of her mother’s steel spice box, the same way her mother’s canvas was the tongue. There, multihued pools of fragrance and flavor joined to create something even more sensual and complex.

In the same way, Neha could blend the paints that would create the shades of turmeric and chilli and garam masala, amchur and cumin and coriander.

She uncapped another tube. Turmeric yellow oozed out, making her gasp. It was so bright, so beautiful. Its golden glow promised to fill her, to illuminate the corridors of her arteries and veins and soothe the dark, lonely chambers of her heart.

Images and ideas slipped through her mind in dreamy golden waves. If turmeric was like paint, then paint was like turmeric . . .

Stupid. Oil paint was toxic. How many teachers had drilled that into her head? Neha shook her head and reached for a paper towel.

Turmeric, something within her insisted. Somehow, instead of the paper towel, she’d seized the blob of paint. The tip of her index finger glistened yellow.

Neha paused, trapped between possibilities, teetering between potential universes. She might hate her life, but she didn’t want to die.

Yet her finger was at her lips now, parting them. She was so sick of everyone knowing better than her. She wanted to do this for herself, to taste turmeric yellow.

At the brush of her lips, the color exploded, bursting over her taste buds and splashing liquid saffron into her bloodstream.

Everywhere Neha looked she saw sunlight. The yellow was hers now, bright and bubbling. She twirled joyfully, radiant with it.

Then she glanced at the smudge on her finger. Horror and wonder fought to leave her breathless.

The paint had turned a lifeless gray.

Want to read more? Want to read the many other awesome stories in the anthology, too? Here you go: BN.com, Amazon.com, or indiebound.org.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

July Recap: Bewinged and With a Good Tailwind!

July 31st, 2014 (01:38 pm)

Originally published at Author Shveta Thakrar. You can comment here or there.

Hi, everyone! I hope you’re having a good summer (or winter, depending on where you are). I am, though it’s flying by. I’ll tell you why below, but first, some news!

I recently had my first ever poem sale—“The Nagini’s Night Song,” to issue 1.3 of Mythic Delirium! I could not be more excited about this and am super grateful to C.S.E. Cooney, Julia Rios, and Mike Allen for their editorial guidance. I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

Okay, on to the recap of July!

On the weekend of the fourth my friend and super-talented jeweler Meenoo Mishra and her husband came to visit, and I bought one of her gorgeous mythic necklaces. I’m modeling it in the picture! We baked cupcakes and ate and laughed a lot. Good times.



Then it was off to Readercon in Burlington, Massachusetts, to catch up with dear friends, make new ones, and give readings! I read from “Krishna Blue” during the Midnight Speakeasy reading, and even though I was the last one to go, I’d say it got quite a great reception. The other readers were wonderful, too, and one of them won the Shirley Jackson Award!


Me, Patty Templeton, and Matt Kressel (Matt’s camera)


Our haunted Midnight Speakeasy reading! (Marco’s camera)

I also spoke with a panel of smart people on horror for diverse audiences, and then my fellow car-mates A.C. Wise and A.T. Greenblatt and I headed off for home.

Then just a few days after returning from Boston, I boarded a train bound for New York City to attend the monthly KGB Bar Fantastic Fiction reading. (The readers were Sofia Samatar and Victor LaValle.) I got to see lots of wonderful people and meet one of my Viable Paradise roommates-to-be! And tour the offices of TOR, thanks to the always lovely Marco Palmieri.


Tempest Bradford and me (Tempest’s camera)

Then I gave a talk to a group of kids at my local library. They all perked up when we talked about horror, I read them a bit of “Krishna Blue,” and they wrote the beginnings to their own (horror-inspired) stories. That was all a little nerve-wracking at first, but I did it, so yay! (And who knows; maybe I inspired some of them to give writing a try.) I also raffled off a copy of an Amar Chitra Katha comic.


Asking what books this reader likes and why (Miss B’s camera)


Reading from “Krishna Blue” (Miss B’s camera)

And then I went to my brother-in-law’s fifties-themed wedding. I wore a borrowed fascinator and a polka-dot dress and round-toe heels. We ate lots, and I danced with my nieces and nephews. Fun! (Meeting my newest niece and having her select me as her dancing partner was the best part.)


Rocking the netting and polka dots (my camera)

And now I can collapse (or else return to work on Star Daughter). Whew! Well, until Friday, anyway, when I go see Mike Allen, Anita Devi Allen, and Nicole Kornher-Stace for Mike’s reading from his upcoming story collection Unseaming . . .

How’s your summer so far?

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Viable Paradise XVIII and the Happy Writing Life

June 23rd, 2014 (10:37 am)

current mood: delighted

Originally published at Author Shveta Thakrar. You can comment here or there.

Sometimes you write short stories about color vampires and sleeping beneath blankets of sea, sometimes you critique other people’s equally odd and wonderful stories, and sometimes, well, sometimes you apply for writing workshops and find out you got in.

In other words, I’ve been accepted to Viable Paradise XVIII!

Dear readers, I am so excited. I get to have a story workshopped among speculative fiction pros like Scott Lynch, Elizabeth Bear, and Sherwood Smith (and many others)! I get to talk about writing and books and narrative and YA fantasy for a whole week! On beautiful Martha’s Vineyard in the autumn! I get to eat delicious dinners prepared for us every night and take walks to see bioluminescent jellyfish! I get to meet writers I don’t yet know and room with them! I haven’t done anything like this since I attended Clarion back in 2006, and I can’t wait!

Just before I learned I’d been accepted last week, I visited my incredibly talented friends C.S.E. Cooney and Julia Rios and read them the story I’ll be workshopping at VP (which was also my application story). We also wrote, watched Firefly, discussed what makes a poem work, and ate lots of vanilla ice cream drizzled with Bailey’s Irish Cream. If you haven’t tried that last, do. It makes writing retreats even . . . sweeter.

And I’ve been reading so many wonderful books. Stories–the core of a writer’s diet. It’s like you’re a butter churn, and you fill yourself with rainbows and pieces of sky and end up with new seeds of your own stories. The latest on my to-read pile: Welcome to Bordertown, Zombies Vs. Unicorns, Dark Metropolis, Otherbound, and Stargazing for Dummies. Check them out if you haven't!

Anyway, back to work! I’ve got a novel draft to finish, after all.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Story sale, story sale!

May 1st, 2014 (12:17 pm)

Originally published at Author Shveta Thakrar. You can comment here or there.

I’m so delighted to announce that my short story “Krishna Blue” will be in the amazing lineup of the forthcoming YA speculative fiction anthology Kaleidoscope. Check it out below!

(Yay, wonderful diverse fiction that isn’t just about being diverse!)

This story is particularly dear to my heart; I began it in 2006 at Clarion, when I had the idea of an artist who eats colors, and then I kept rewriting it over the years until I finally got it right. And now it’s in . . .


Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories

Table of contents (in alphabetical order by author’s last name):

“Welcome” by Will Alexander
“Double Time” by John Chu
“Celebration” by Sean Eads
“The Truth about Owls” by Amal El-Mohtar
“Careful Magic” by Karen Healey
“Chupacabra’s Song” by Jim Hines
“Ordinary Things” by Vylar Kaftan
“Every Little Thing” by Holly Kench
“End of Service” by Gabriela Lee
“Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon” by Ken Liu
“The Day the God Died” by Alena McNamara
“Signature” by Faith Mudge
“Kiss and Kiss and Kiss and Tell” by E. C. Myers
“Happy Go Lucky” by Garth Nix
“Cookie Cutter Superhero” by Tansy Rayner Roberts
“Walkdog” by Sofia Samatar
“The Lovely Duckling” by Tim Susman
“Krishna Blue” by Shveta Thakrar
“The Legend Trap” by Sean Williams

Just look at all those great names! I’m so excited. The anthology will be available soon, and you can find out more here: http://kaleidoscope.twelfthplanetpress.com/.

*happy dance*

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Peeking into the box of forgotten dreams

February 13th, 2014 (12:00 pm)

Originally published at Author Shveta Thakrar. You can comment here or there.

(Laini’s Ladies “Blue Wings”)

I am committed to living a magical, creative life. I’m a writer, as you know. Writing’s not always easy, and I don’t do it as regularly as I wish, but I am a writer, and I make stories. But there are other ways creativity manifests in my life, and I want to talk about them now.

When I was younger, I drew and painted and made things out of Sculpey clay. I came up with magical adventures I went on both in my backyard and in my head. I put myself into the stories I read. If in life I thought something bad might happen, I brainstormed many different, richly detailed potential solutions. I imagined objects that no one had invented yet (I was so excited the day I learned there was a thing like GPS after years of yearning for it!).  My thoughts narrated my life as though I were the heroine in a novel. I felt magic in the air around me. In short, I was a very creative child.

But in high school, when I had to draw a portrait, when I had to draw a plant from, when I had to do a cut-paper record album, and everyone else in my art class was clearly so much better at all those things, my already bruised and beaten self-confidence crumbled. (I had a terrible, terrible time in high school.) I wasn’t anywhere close to what some of the other students could do without even trying, and so, I quit art altogether.

I was terrible, so why bother, right?

photo (15)

The sad thing is, there was no one to tell me I had talent and just needed more practice, more training. That I could do this, too, if I just stuck with it. That maybe I didn’t know the difference between a 2H pencil and a 4B, but my shapes and my eye were good. So I went off to college, became even more intimidated, and then spent most of my adulthood convinced I was not creative.

That’s right; the incredibly imaginative child grew into an adult who thought she wasn’t creative. And she suffered for it.

As a kid, I wanted to learn how to dance. I wanted to learn how to sing.  As an adult, I had no idea how people made things, how they played instruments, how they envisioned things. That was totally beyond me, right?

photo (23)

Any time I did dare to start something, I never stuck with it. I couldn’t make myself, not when I didn’t believe in myself. Instead, I just felt like a failure and quietly envied others.

But in 2006, I wanted to write fantasy starring people who looked like me, and somehow I applied and got into the Clarion workshop, and I began to study the craft of writing. I’ve been learning ever since.

Yet I still didn’t think of myself as a creative person. In 2010, I felt the strangest nudge inside me: it suggested I should take harp lessons! I had no musical training, no idea how to read music, no clue what the levers were for. But I found a teacher, I leased a harp, and I started learning how to pluck the strings–and for a year, I kept the whole thing a secret, just to show myself I could do it.

And I started to learn songs! Me, who thought she could never do anything like that!

photo (25)

In 2012, I began dabbling in the crafting I so admired other people doing: paper crafts, felt pillows, hair accessories. And to my surprise, I found I could do it. My anxious mind loved coming up with ideas, and I kept trying them out, and the cycle began to feed itself.

Last month, I decided it was time to commit to learning how to draw. Enough of saying I couldn’t do it. Sure, I wish I hadn’t quit when I was seventeen, but I did, so all I can do now is move forward.

And I am. It’s frustrating, and of course I would love to be a lot further along than I am, but the only way to get there is to keep going. I’ve sprinkled the still lifes I’ve done recently throughout the post, mistakes and all. (Note: I’m not looking for critique on the art. It’s scary enough making these public!) I know they’re flawed. But I think it’s worth sharing them to prove that you really can start doing what you want at any age.

As poetess Mary Oliver said, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/With your one wild and precious life?”

photo (24)

Dreams aren’t just important; they’re vital. When we live our passions, when we use our gifts, we add to the beauty and light in the world, and we inspire others to do the same. Whether or not reincarnation exists, we only live this particular life once, so we might as well live it to the fullest.

If I can do this, so can you.

So tell me, what are the things you’ve always wanted to do but never have? And what’s stopping you from doing them now?

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Telling the truth

February 5th, 2014 (10:30 am)

Originally published at Author Shveta Thakrar. You can comment here or there.

One of the greatest things about the Internet is the ability to talk honestly about life, to make yourself vulnerable and know you might be helping someone in the process. I can’t count the times seeing someone tell their truth has let me know I wasn’t alone. That affirmation, especially in this age of social media, where it seems like everyone else has found the secret to a perfect golden life—well, it’s a balm for my heart and a reining-in of my depressive tendencies.

So let me tell you a secret, and maybe it’ll help you, too.

I had a birthday in the late fall, and one of the things I promised myself was that I wouldn’t stop believing in my dreams, even if it seems like there’s no chance they’ll ever come true—that the closer I get, the faster they move away.

The other day I broke that promise. I woke up anxious to a rainy gray sky, and in my chest, something tugged. It pulled at things outside me, things I have no control over. It felt wistful and sad. It turned me into an outsider again, as I’ve been for most of my life. I tried to distract myself with errands and a book, and reminding myself of what I’d done thus far in my writing career, both publicly and privately. But none of it helped. I wandered into a library and just knew my books would never be on that shelf.

And it made me want to cry.

If you’re on this website, you know I’m a writer. Writers write, and writers usually want to sell their stories and see their books published. What’s scarier than the idea that the book you poured your heart and many years into might not go anywhere at all?

Is it because you wrote about brown people and used “weird” names for your characters?

Is it because you should have known better and gone straight to a niche publisher as you were advised, because writing about brown people with “weird” names immediately makes your book niche?

Is it because you just can’t write, despite all the years you’ve put into honing your craft?

Is it because you’re too strange in the way you see the world, so no one can relate to the stories you have to tell?

Or is it just because no one cares about those stories?

I’ve cried a lot this past year. Privately, in the company of my husband and friends, but I have cried. And I’ve said more than once that I want to give up, because who cares, anyway?

Even typing that is hard; the world insists I should be shoving down all this fear and wearing my game face. Never let anyone see I doubted even for a second. A professional doesn’t do that, even when things are stuck in limbo.

And things are in limbo, and I’m scared. Here’s where my narrative arc says I’m supposed to put on a bright smile and soldier forward. I’m doing that; I haven’t given up, and I do believe in my dreams, even if I falter. But I am scared. Scared that they might not come true after all.

My arc isn’t done yet, of course, “improper” as it may be, and I don’t know where I’ll end up. On bookstore and library shelves, I hope, as I work hard at putting down more words about weird-named characters who look like me. I can’t see the end of the story until I get there.

E.T.A.: Some of you have expressed concern to me after reading this post, and I thank you, but I want to stress that I’m doing fine and have no plans to give up. I just wanted to address some things that don’t get talked about enough. We all struggle on our artistic path in some way or another, and I personally find hearing I’m not alone in having doubts from time to time really helpful, so I’m sharing mine for anyone else who could benefit.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Two exciting things!

October 2nd, 2013 (11:57 pm)

Originally published at Author Shveta Thakrar. You can comment here or there.

So I have two exciting things to kick off this October: First, my dear, dear friend Jennifer Walkup is officially a published novelist! Her debut YA paranormal, Second Verse, is out in the world as of yesterday, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It turned out so beautifully, just as beautiful as the words inside. I [...]

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Guest post with author Clovia Shaw and giveaway of her new book!

September 6th, 2013 (04:06 pm)

Originally published at Author Shveta Thakrar. You can comment here or there.

Hello, hello! Life’s been here and there and everywhere, but today I’m back on the blog with a treat for you. Copper artist and debut author Clovia Shaw has graciously agreed to write a guest post about what inspired her to write her new urban fantasy novel, Nogitsune. Lincoln Black is nogitsune–a “field fox” cast aside by [...]

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

My Readercon schedule

June 26th, 2013 (02:23 pm)

Originally published at Author Shveta Thakrar. You can comment here or there.

I’m super excited to be going to Readercon (www.readercon.org) for the first time! It’s a fun convention for people who love books, and it takes place in the Boston/Burlington, MA area from 11 to 14 July. Four whole days of talking to awesome people, eating good food, thinking about books, and generally having a blast! Some friends I can’t wait to see again, and others I’ll be meeting for the first time.

Here’s my schedule, in case you’re in the area. Hope to see you!

Saturday, July 13

10:00 AM    F    To YA or Not to YA. Jordan Hamessley, E.C. Myers, Phoebe North, Charles Oberndorf, Veronica Schanoes (leader), Shveta Thakrar. There are plenty of adult books with teen heroes, like Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Some books that were not aimed at teens when they came out are mostly read by them today, like Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Some books are marketed as YA in one country and adult in another. So what makes a book “a YA book”? Do we just know it when we see it, or is there a way to pin this down beyond listening to marketing campaigns?

Sunday, July 14

12:00 PM    G    Writing for Younger Readers. Lisa Janice (LJ) Cohen, Jordan Hamessley, Alaya Dawn Johnson, E.C. Myers (leader), Phoebe North, Shveta Thakrar. How do middle grade (MG) and young adult (YA) authors and editors write for children and teen readers? How do they make science fiction more accessible for kids, build complex fantasy worlds, and develop authentic characters with diverse backgrounds? This panel is ideal for anyone writing MG or YA or interested in finding books with plots as rich and complex as any novel targeted to adult readers.
Proposed by E.C. Myers.
2:00 PM    G    Teen Violence, Teen Sex. Steve Berman, Gwendolyn Clare, Jack M. Haringa (leader), Donald G. Keller, Phoebe North, Shveta Thakrar. As seen in bestsellers like The Hunger Games and The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, today’s literary teen heroes, and especially its heroines, are more likely to commit violence than to have sex. Coming of age and coming into your own is often marked in YA spec fic by survival and destruction rather than sexual awakening. How is the exploration of violence in books related to consensual sexual exploration, and cultural anxieties and mores around it, in real teens’ lives?

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Arts and Crafts and Spring!

April 7th, 2013 (10:18 pm)

Originally published at Author Shveta Thakrar. You can comment here or there.

Spring! Hooray, it’s spring (even if a bit of chill lingers like a unwanted memory of winter, haunting and gray around the edges but fading with each day that passes). And with spring comes the need to wake up, stretch, and refresh the creative spirit with movement. Like the purple crocuses dotting my lawn, I find myself eager to rise from my winter hibernation, tilt my head skyward, and greedily drink up every cheery yellow ray of the sun.

There are so many colors coming back to life that I find I’m deeply inspired to play with them and make my own version. I’d already tried my hand at paper crafts, which I still love, but now I wanted to branch out—not to mention I’d accumulated a pile of felt squares I had no idea what to do with. So I turned to a couple projects I’d bookmarked months ago and challenged myself to make them. (The Internet is amazing! So many creative, generous people just bursting to share their vision with you.)

First we have this happy flag bunting. (You can find the tutorial here, if you want to make your own.) I’ve loved flag bunting for a while now, and the smaller flags were perfect for my house, vivid and eye-catching without dominating the walls. I don’t know much about sewing—yet—and my little stitches came out crooked. Plus I didn’t have any red thread handy, so I used white. But a red Sharpie came to my rescue, and now you’d never know. *grin* Every time I see the bunting, the colors and the letters remind me to, well, be happy!

photo (9)


As some of you know, I love cupcakes, and my kitchen is decorated with a cupcake theme. So when I found this tutorial for felt cupcakes, I knew I’d have to adapt that to make a garland to hang in my kitchen. And I did! I’m really pleased with the results.


Cupcake garland


A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine was going through a very difficult time, and I wanted to surprise her with a gift, one I’d made myself. So knowing her favorite color is yellow, and she really loves flowers, I experimented and eventually came up with this magnet. It made her day, which in turn made mine! (A goal we share is to continually work on ourselves, blooming one petal at a time.) Also, how pretty is copper glitter?


Bloom Flower Magnet
Finally, my niece just celebrated her seventh birthday, so I made this sparkly butterfly barrette (tutorial here). I attached it to a bobby pin. It looked so sweet in her hair!


photo (8)


So yes, lots of crafting lately. It’s fun and intensely gratifying, and the more I do it, the more inspired I get! It’s been a wonderful outlet in many ways, because it’s mostly just for me, and there’s something so empowering about looking at something and thinking, I made that! What should I try next that I used to think I couldn’t do?

Creativity really is a form of magic. You imagine something, you bring it into being, and then it exists where nothing was before.

Of course, let’s not forget my favorite medium of all, words. I’m cooking up a feast of story ideas and getting ready to start my second novel . . . more on that soon.

For now, what are your favorite arts and crafts? Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try but never have? Then why not give it a try now? You might be surprised and delighted by what you come up with!

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Cover Reveal: Jennifer Walkup’s SECOND VERSE

March 18th, 2013 (03:51 pm)

Originally published at Author Shveta Thakrar. You can comment here or there.

I’ve basically fallen off the face of the earth lately, thanks to freelance deadlines and other things, but I am thrilled to be back long enough to share some wonderful news with you. My dear, dear friend Jennifer Walkup has been given the go-ahead to share the cover for her debut YA novel Second Verse.

I read Second Verse while it was in draft form, and I’m super excited for this wonderful part ghost story, part thriller to appear on shelves this October, just in time for Halloween!

So you can share in the joy, Jenn’s having a giveaway to go along with the reveal! Read on for details.

* * *

Cover Reveal for Jennifer Walkup’s Second Verse–with an Epic Giveaway Contest!

Check out the cover for Jennifer Walkup’s Second Verse and click below to enter the Epic Cover Reveal Contest over at Me, My Shelf and I–she’s giving away signed ARCs, signed bookmarks and an Amazon gift card!




Bad things come in threes. In Shady Springs, that includes murder.

Murder Now
Lange Crawford’s move to Shady Springs, Pennsylvania, lands her a group of awesome friends, a major crush on songwriter Vaughn, and life in a haunted, 200-year-old farmhouse. It also brings The Hunt: an infamous murder mystery festival where students solve a fake, gruesome murder scheme during the week of Halloween. Well, supposedly fake.

Murder Then
Weeks before The Hunt, Lange and her friends hold a séance in the farmhouse’s eerie barn. When a voice rushes through, whispering haunting words that only she and Vaughn can hear, Lange realizes it’s begging for help. The mysterious voice leads Lange and Vaughn to uncover letters and photos left behind by a murdered girl, Ginny, and they become obsessed with her story and the horrifying threats that led to her murder.

Murder Yet to Come
But someone doesn’t like their snooping, and Lange and Vaughn begin receiving the same threats that Ginny once did. The mysterious words from the barn become crucial to figuring out Ginny’s past and their own, and how closely the two are connected. They must work fast to uncover the truth or risk finding out if history really does repeat itself.

CLICK HERE FOR THE CONTEST, AND GOOD LUCK! http://www.memyshelfandi.com/

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Shimmering warm and bright

January 14th, 2013 (07:26 pm)

Originally published at Author Shveta Thakrar. You can comment here or there.

From Friday’s fortune cookie: “Through greater effort and hard work a precious dream comes true.”

That could not have come at a better time! :D

I’m feeling a bit at loose ends right now, since along with eating Chinese food on Friday, I also finished the final pass of my novel Sipping the Moon and sent out my first batch of queries to literary agents. (Eek!) Wow, I can’t believe it’s finally at that stage. I’d worked on the novel since 2007, tossing out drafts and starting over until it finally felt book shaped and the best I could make it. So now it’s time to trust, to go read other people’s words, and to write more of my own.

First, though, I want to take stock. So far 2013′s been intense, with some ups and downs, but one of the highlights was a visit a couple weekends ago from friends, amazing author and performer C.S.E. Cooney–GO READ HER STUFF!–and equally wonderful artist Katie Redding. We chatted and ate yummy Indian food and laughed and baked cupcakes in my cupcake-themed kitchen and drank tea and generally filled my house with light. It was so lovely. I forget sometimes how inspiring it is to be surrounded by other creative people. I’m still glowing. :)

And let me sign off with a plug for a couple awesome fantasy novels not steeped in Western mythology:

First, The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda. Basically, Chadda picks up from where the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, left off, adapting it for modern-day India. His hero, a thirteen-year-old boy from the UK, Ash (Ashoka), quickly learns just how relevant the old myths can be, especially once he discovers who he was in them. Rich and action packed. Tagline: “Heroes aren’t made. They’re reborn.” SO GOOD. I cannot wait for books two and three! In fact, I loved the first one so much, I’m going to leave a review for it on Amazon, which I usually don’t do.

Secondly, I’m reading Ellen Oh’s Prophecy, a young adult high fantasy based on Korean culture. I’m really enjoying it so far! Kira, the heroine, is the only female warrior in the king’s army, and she’s also a secret demon slayer and an outcast. Can’t wait to see where Oh goes with this.

Obviously I want to see books like these be the norm, not the exception, so please consider giving them a read, whether you buy them or get them from your library. And then talk about them!

And now for some vacuuming and putting away of laundry. Oh, the glamorous life of a writer . . .

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Reposting someone else's news: Our novel, "Stranger," has SOLD!

September 18th, 2012 (10:26 pm)

I could not be more thrilled. Wahooooo!

Originally posted by rachelmanija at Our novel, "Stranger," has SOLD!

I am delighted to announce that Stranger, the post-apocalyptic YA novel that I co-wrote with Sherwood Smith, will be published by Viking (Penguin Group) in Winter 2014.

The acquiring editor is Sharyn November. I have wanted to work with her ever since we met twelve years ago, at World Fantasy Con in Corpus Christi, Texas. She said that she was reprinting classic children's fantasies. I grabbed her by the shoulder and said, no doubt with a mad gleam in my eye, "Lloyd Alexander's Westmark! Elizabeth Wein's The Winter Prince! Patricia McKillip's The Changeling Sea" She smiled and said, "We're doing all three. Got any other suggestions?" Sharyn, thank you so much for championing our book.

Also, thank you very much, Eddie Gamarra and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein of the Gotham Group!

Yes, it's the Yes Gay YA book. Here's a little more about it:

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.

There are five main characters. One is Ross, who knows all about prospecting, fighting, and desert survival, but hasn't had to interact with other human beings on a regular basis since he was twelve. The others are teenagers from Las Anclas: Mia Lee, introverted genius and town oddball, who can design six different weapons before breakfast; Yuki Nakamura, an aspiring prospector who is dying to get out of his small town and explore the rest of the world; Jennie Riley, Changed telekinetic and over-achiever, who must choose between becoming the teacher of the one-room schoolhouse or joining the elite military Rangers; and Felicite Wolfe, the Mayor's narcissistic daughter, who likes to spy on people with the help of her pet mutant rat.

And yes. Yuki is still gay. So is his boyfriend, Paco Diaz, the drummer in the town band. And Brisa Preciado, who has the power to make rocks explode, is still dating shy Becky Callahan, who works after school waiting tables at the saloon. As you can see, this isn't so much a "gay book" or a "straight book" as an ensemble book.

Sherwood and I wanted to write something fun and exciting, with adventure and romance and mutant powers and martial arts and a vivid sense of place. And we wanted it to be about the people who are so often left out of those sorts of books: Latinos and African-Americans, Jews and Asian-Americans, gay boys and lesbian girls, multiracial teenagers and teenagers with physical and mental disabilities. We didn't do this to fulfill some imaginary quota, but because we wanted to write about teenagers like the real ones we know, the real ones in Los Angeles, the real ones we were.

We hope that, however flawed it may be, our novel will make even a few of those teenagers happy.

This is a very personal project for me. People often ask me if I'm ever going to write about coming back to America, after spending most of my childhood in an ashram in India. In a metaphoric sense, this is that book. To tell the story of what it was like for Ross to come to Las Anclas, I drew upon my own experiences of stumbling into an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar rules, beset by memories I couldn't bear to recall and reactions I didn't understand, longing for connection but with no idea of how to relate to people.

Stranger is a post-apocalyptic adventure, not an issue novel. But all stories have their genesis somewhere, and for me, it was my wish to say, "It's okay. You're okay. You'll get better. You'll make friends. You'll fall in love. You can be a hero." I hope it finds its way to the people to whom it will speak.

If you would like to be notified when the book actually comes out, please comment to this post to say so. I will reply to your comment when the book is published, and you should get an email notification. Or you can leave your email address in a comment. (I can copy the address, then delete or screen the comment.) If you're not on LJ/DW, you can comment anonymously (or email me) with an email address where I can reach you.

Incidentally, I am putting out an e-book anthology of my short stories and poetry in a couple months. If you'd like to be notified when that's available, please comment to say so.

If you're interested in reading our book, you may also be interested in this list of YA science fiction and fantasy with major LGBTQ characters. And here's a list of YA fantasy and science fiction with protagonists who aren't white..

I would be happy to answer any questions you might have, about the novel or anything else.

Finally, please feel free to Tweet, link to, or otherwise promulgate this post. Lots of people mentioned during Yes Gay YA that they would like to know what happened to this book, but the vast majority probably don't read my blog.

Crossposted to http://rachelmanija.dreamwidth.org/1070729.html. Comment here or there.

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Interview and giveaway: Pearl North's The Book of the Night!

September 15th, 2012 (01:22 pm)
current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current music: Qntal's "Spiegelglas"

I am delighted to have Pearl North join us again as she celebrates the release of the third and final book in her Libyrinth trilogy, The Book of the Night. (Read my first interview with her here.)

Pearl and her publisher, Tor Teen, have generously offered up three copies of The Book of the Night to commenters in the U.S. and Canada! Just leave a comment at the bottom of this entry or its Dreamwidth mirror by 11:59 EST on Saturday, 22 September, and I'll use www.random.org to pick the winners.

The blurb: "The world of the Libyrinth has experienced a series of wrenching changes. After the Libyrarians and their longtime foes the Singers discovered their common heritage, a young healer named Po found the Lion's Bloom, an ancient and enormously powerful artifact capable of rewriting reality.

Behind the mysteries of their shrouded past has always been the legendary Book of the Night. Sought for generations, both feared and revered, it is the key to this world of wonders. When vain, grasping Queen Thela steals the Lion’s Bloom and imperils the very reality of the world, only the Book can heal what she has rent asunder. An epic journey through strange lands, a perilous encounter in a clockwork city, and the revelation of the truth beyond reality will lead those who find the Book to a moment when their world will either be saved...or cease to exist.

Told with the grace and skill that only Pearl North can bring to the tale, The Book of the Night is a breathtaking adventure that will linger in the memory long after the final page is turned."

And now, onto the interview!

Congratulations on finishing the trilogy, Pearl! Now that I've had a chance to read the book, which I really enjoyed, I have some questions for you.

1. First of all, without spoiling anything, you seem to play with tropes: what is fantasy, what is science fiction, even what is the meaning of story and myth? Could you talk a little about that?

Sure. I like to examine my assumptions as much as my awareness of them will allow. Any time I make a story decision automatically, without debating over it at all, that's a red flag to me. So it seems natural that in the course of this trilogy, which is by far the most complicated thing I'd ever written, I'd eventually get around to questioning all kinds of things. As you say, what is story? Is it something separate from what we call reality, or is reality really just another story? Yeah, it can get kind of deep inside my head. :)

2. There's a steampunk city in the Libyrinth universe! With lots of gears and dangerous springs! What was the inspiration behind that?

I'm a bit of a pantser, so I sometimes surprise myself. For example I didn't know much at all about Thesia when I first mentioned it in Libyrinth, the first book of the trilogy. By the time I got to The Book of the Night, I knew that Thesia was where the minerals and metal goods came from on my world. And then into the story came the Tollkeeper. He just sprang right out of my head and on onto the page, and lo and behold, he was all decked out in Victorian garb and was messing around with gears and such. I said to myself, well, I guess the Thesians are steampunks.

3. Finding your own family seems to be a prominent theme in the novels: Selene chooses the Libyrinth, Queen Thela chooses Jolaz to replace her, and of course, Haly and Clauda rely on each other. Could you speak a bit to that?

The drive to find a place and a group where we are valued as ourselves is something that I have always identified with. It is a theme that shows up in my work again and again. I find something at once painful and beautiful in that search, and I experience, still, a strong emotional catharsis when my characters find their true home.

4. The Ancients have pretty sophisticated technology. Whether that is a positive or negative thing, I'll leave up to the reader, but what do you as author think about technology and our future?

I love technology! No, I'm not entirely uncritical of it, and I do think it is important to thoroughly examine the ramifications of technological developments and the process by which technology is made. But I and many others who are dear to me would not be alive today without technology. And on a slightly less dramatic note, the internet and the rise of ebooks has vastly improved my life as an author.

There's something deeply ironic about the fact that at the same time I was writing the Libyrinth novels, which valorize print books, I was also exploring ebooks and digital publishing in a different genre. The technological shift in publishing happened so fast that by the time I was writing The Book of the Night, it was an entirely different landscape from the one in which I initially conceived of the idea for the Libyrinth. I hope that the conclusion of the trilogy leaves room for a broader perspective on both books and technology--and books as technology.

5. The question of balance comes up often. Balance between faiths, between genders, between peoples, balance between those with enough to eat and those without. Do you think we can ever really find true balance between all those things?

Perfect balance would probably mean stasis, which would probably mean death, though we're speaking quite abstractly here. I think that in real life, balance is a process, not a state. We are always adjusting, correcting, balancing--moving. That's what's important I think. Keep moving!

6. Finally, on a much less philosophical note, what can we expect from you in the future?

That's hard to say. I have no immediate plans for another Pearl North book at this time, but I am always writing. At the moment I am working on a science fiction romance under another name. You can always check out my website, http://anneharris.net, for links to all of my current projects.

Thanks so much, Pearl! And as I said before, readers in the U.S. and Canada, just post a comment (including a way for me to contact you) to be entered to win one of three copies of The Book of the Night!

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Dead Can (Still) Dance!

August 27th, 2012 (11:25 am)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: delighted
current music: Dead Can Dance's "Children of the Sun"

Hey, everyone! *blows the dust off this LiveJournal* I haven't felt much like posting these past couple months, but the concert I went to last night was fabulous enough that I had to write about it.

As some of you know, I am a huge Dead Can Dance fan. My husband introduced me to them via a mix CD he sent me when I was living in Germany back in 2000. I listened to it and thought, Wow, I really love these songs. Only once I came back to the States did I ask him who the various bands were. It turns out the song "Cantara," which I'd adored, was by this group I'd never heard of called Dead Can Dance. Ed had listened to them since he was seventeen.

I borrowed all their CDs from him and loved almost every song. Just one, "American Dreaming," seemed off to me, and I always skipped it. :P I loved their gloomy, otherworldly sound, the way they incorporated instruments and flavors from all over the world into their music. And Lisa Gerrard's voice, her glossolalia, always sounded like magical spells, like gold and silver notes floating into the air, promising enchantment and secrets if I just knew how to hear the words. It was a doorway to the fey, no matter what culture the listener came from, no matter what form the fey took for that person, because it contained so much from so many places within it.

So it's no surprise that Lisa and Lata Mangeshkar (totally different sound, obviously!) provide the soundtrack to my novel.

I'd been heartbroken to learn they'd broken up and never stopped hoping they'd get back together, so I could hear them in person. So of course, when they did get back together to put out a new album and tour, I grabbed us tickets right away.

DCD has a big goth following, so I wasn't surprised to see so many people turned out in their black and often Victorian-esque best. I had to do my part, of course, so I showed up in a black dress with spaghetti straps and a peacock feather barrette.

Our seats were in the middle of the first row of the second tier, so we had a bird's-eye view. I couldn't have picked better ones, unless we'd actually been on the ground. I was thrilled.

And the show, oh, the show was amazing. As much as I'd loved the music before, it couldn't compare to hearing the band live. And when Lisa opened her mouth and sang, the sheer power of her voice sent chills up my spine. Brendan was as deep and evocative as ever, and even their new songs were interesting, but it was Lisa's voice, as always, that did it for me. I found myself so full, I kept sighing, which made me laugh.

They played a lot of crowd favorites, a couple songs I didn't know, which I'm guessing are from their solo albums, and a few from the new CD. It was a good selection, giving both Lisa and Brendan chances to shine.

Somebody insisted on fiddling with her cell phone next to us, which was annoying, but whatever. I was too happy, drinking in the sounds and the colors of the beautiful lighted backdrop (which ranged from whirling suns to twinkling stars to a cityscape), to really care. Even Ed, who hadn't been feeling well, was sucked in.

And we got three encores! Three! At the end, Lisa blew us kisses and told us to have beautiful dreams, and that we were very, very special. Someone gave her a bouquet of roses, and she pressed his hand. Someone else yelled out, "I love you, Lisa!"

Of course, I had to buy the new CD on our way out. Ed said I was grinning so much and looked so in my own world, he'd better take it, since I was unintentionally holding it out like an offering to the streets of Philly.

I know this entry doesn't even begin to describe how great it was, so let me give you a song instead. Two songs, actually, just for comparison's sake. :)

Lisa Gerrard with Dead Can Dance

Lata Mangeshkar, Queen of Hindi film music

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Presenting the Cultural Imperialism Bingo Card

June 12th, 2012 (06:56 pm)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: tired
current music: David Sylvian's "

If you think colonialism is dead… think again. Globalisation has indeed made the world smaller–furthering the dominance of the West over the developing world, shrinking and devaluing local cultures, and uniformising everything to Western values and Western ways of life. This is a pernicious, omnipresent state of things that leads to the same unfounded things being said, over and over, to people from developing countries and/or on developing countries.

It’s time for this to stop. Time for the hoary, horrid misrepresentation clichés to be pointed out and examined; and for genuine, non-dismissive conversations to start.

Accordingly, here’s a handy bingo card for Western Cultural Imperialism–and we wish we could say we’ve made it all up, but unfortunately every single comment on this card was seen on the Internet.

Card designed by Aliette de Bodard, Joyce Chng, Kate Elliott, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, @requireshate, Charles Tan, @automathic and @mizHalle. Launch orchestrated with the help of Zen Cho and Ekaterina Sedia in addition to above authors (and an army of willing signal boosters whom we wish to thank very much!)

Per aliettedb: "Would very much appreciate signal boosting of any kinds (reposts, links, RTs, …). Thanks in advance!"

And via qian:

[personal profile] ardhra's brilliant essay What is cultural appropriation is now public.

Cultural appropriation isn’t simply the "taking or borrowing of some aspects of another culture from someone outside that culture". Cultures throughout time have traded, adapted, and borrowed artefacts, symbols, technologies and narratives from one another. The issue isn’t the aesthetic and material mingling of cultures, hybridity, or that human creativity crosses cultural boundaries. Those are aesthetic and perhaps moral issues, separate from the real political issue of cultural appropriation.


The problem isn’t that cultures intermingle, it’s the terms on which they do so and the part that plays in the power relations between cultures. The problem isn’t "taking" or "borrowing", the problem is racism, imperialism, white supremacy, and colonialism. The problem is how elements of culture get taken up in disempowering, unequal ways that deny oppressed people autonomy and dignity. Cultural appropriation only occurs in the context of the domination of one society over another, otherwise known as imperialism. Cultural appropriation is an act of domination, which is distinct from 'borrowing', syncretism, hybrid cultures, the cultures of assimilated/integrated populations, and the reappropriation of dominant cultures by oppressed peoples.

Per qian, "Read it all -- it's the best explanation of cultural appropriation I've seen. I read an earlier version of the essay and it was one of those moments where it's like something goes click in your brain and suddenly the world makes more sense."

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

The key to the queendom

June 11th, 2012 (04:13 pm)

current location: The Victorian Dollhouse
current mood: contemplative
current music: "Love or Above"

Or csecooney's invitation to me to post again. How can I refuse when it comes with my very own key? ♥

The other impetus for this post is the panic attack I had yesterday, on and off for hours. I hadn't had one in months and months, and I've grown enough spiritually and emotionally that they only come now in response to a specific trigger--fear of making a mistake that messes everything else up for good. Luckily for me, I didn't, not outside the scenario painstakingly detailed in my looping, crazed thoughts, and also luckily, I have dear friends who listened and empathized until I was able to calm down. People I can trust with my most shameful self and who love me, anyway. Or even because of it. Because a lot of that "shameful" stuff is just the part of being human most of us don't talk about openly.

I decided to write this post about telling truth, because I really and truly believe if more of us were open about the not-so-nice things that happen to us, there would be a lot less pressure to pretend everything is fine all the time. We could relax and just be real, because we weren't alone. I know that one of the worst things of all for me has been thinking I'm the only one: the only one who had messed-up friendships, whether my fault or the other person's; the only one who didn't understand people; the only one who struggled; the only one who made mistakes. The only one who didn't get it. The only one on the outside with no way in.

Learning that wasn't true has been so incredibly freeing, I can't believe it. It's not that I'm glad other people have gone through their version of this pain; in fact, hearing that wakes my empathy. But it is comforting to be reminded that we're all on this journey. It's not like everyone else was born knowing how to live life, while I somehow missed the manual. We're all learning, every day, every minute. We all do things we wish we hadn't or have other people do things to us. It's just part of living.

And if I had just known that sooner, it would have saved me a hell of a lot of grief and self-loathing. I'm still learning how to have compassion for myself, how to allow myself have the good things I've always yearned for. Something wonderful happened on the personal front a few weeks ago, and at first, I simply could not accept it. I panicked! Why? Because it didn't fit into my still-entrenched (though not as much as before) worldview that insists I'm always on the outside, always on the fringe of things. The worldview that kept me from finishing my novel and getting it out into the world, because good things like book deals happened to other people, not me. The worldview that said I didn't have friends.

Well, that last definitely isn't true anymore. It actually hasn't been true for a while, but I couldn't let myself see that. I'm still learning social cues, still trying to understand why people do the things they do. But to be heard and understood with love and compassion--wow. I stop wanting to censor myself so much, stop wanting to stay hidden because what if something thinks I'm horrible? I start to be braver and more of who I am, all because I was received just the way I was. That's a huge, amazing blessing.

I try to do the same for others, because I do know the truth sets you free. It's a matter of finding the right person to tell it to. If we just judged less and accepted more, the world would be alight with peaceful people. Instead, we carry these things inside, ashamed to speak of them, because what if someone thinks badly of us? And we feel alone and hopeless.

It's funny, but being heard without judgment is like a magic spell. The parts of me that carried so much weight suddenly become like feathers. Some I can even put down for good. Some I'm not ready to put down yet, but I get a sense that maybe one day, I will be. And that frees up so much energy for the things I do want to come into my life. I've become a lot more crafty (paper crafts, anyone?), for example, and I'm nudging myself to finally start dabbling in natural perfumery, something I've wanted to play with for years.

Speaking of writing, I did get the fourth draft of my novel done. I set myself the month of May to do it in, and that was a hard, hard month. Legions of old doubts and fears came up, and it was . . . not fun. But I'm proud to say I met my deadline, thanks in part to the loving encouragement of friends and my husband, in part to my own determination. Seeing I could do it was so validating, even if I'm nervous about the forthcoming feedback. (That's just normal, I think.) So yay!

I'm going to tell you another secret. I'm scared of interaction on the Internet, scared that I'm doing something wrong when I enter an ongoing Twitter conversation or leave a joking comment on someone's LJ. I get really, really scared that I'm going to say or do the wrong thing, and that'll be that. That trigger I mentioned above? Yeah. This did happen to me when I was much younger, and letting that stay in the past instead of coloring my perception of now is challenging, especially when I feel threatened by circumstances. But neural pathways don't get changed overnight, and trauma doesn't go away that fast, either. I'm doing my best, even when I forget that.

That fear of wondering what's okay and what's not has made me stay away from LiveJournal these past couple of months, and even now, I'm asking myself if I really want to press "post" when I finish this entry. So why even make it? Because maybe I'm not the only person with these fears. And if my brave friend and fellow writer Jessica Corra can make a post like this one, then surely I can share a couple of my own secrets, especially if there's a chance that hearing them might help someone else.

Thanks for reading. I send you all love and compassion. ♥

Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

How to Flirt in Faerieland

May 7th, 2012 (02:30 pm)

Originally posted by papaveriapress at How to Flirt in Faerieland



It is with the utmost glee that I announce the release of How to Flirt in Faerieland & Other Wild Rhymes. This collection of fantastic poetry by C.S.E. Cooney is a combination of reprinted and original work by a woman whose talent never ceases to amaze me. Rebecca Huston has done an incredible job of capturing the essence of this book, and therefore the essence of faerieland, in the illustration she created for the cover. And Amal El-Mohtar of Goblin Fruit fame has written an introduction that will lure you and woo you and convince you that here you have entered faerieland. (Whether or not you are able to leave is up to you.)

How to Flirt in Faerieland & Other Wild Rhymes by C.S.E. Cooney

As with all of Papaveria’s books, I accepted this collection for publication because I loved it. There is not a poem among the seventeen gathered here that did not make me smile, make me laugh, make me cry, or make me want to get up and dance. If you click on through to the portfolio page for this title, you can read what others have to say — I agree with every one of them. You will also see the full table of contents, with links to several of the poems that were previously published online.

Poetry is often a serious art; it delves into the secret parts of life and death and all that dwells in between. But it can also be an act of utter joy. While there is sorrow here in Cooney’s collection, there is also a steady undercurrent of whimsy, where myyth and fairy tales unite and part in a wonderful array of emotion. These are old folk tales, yet they are new tales created under the sure nib of Cooney’s pen.

If you would like a free pdf for purposes of review, all you have to do is contact me. I’ll be more than happy to open the way to faerieland for you.