“The only way to cope with something deadly serious is to try to treat it a little lightly.”

1. I have a piece in the Weekly Humorist this week.

Buy My Book, It Will Protect You from the Coronavirus, Says Author Whose Public Appearances Have All Been Canceled

(For the record, I didn’t have any launches or appearances planned. But a great many authors have, and you should totally buy their books.)

2. Good Unicorn, Bad Unicorn.[Good

(Good Unicorn: “Feeling ill? Here, let me cure you with my magical horn.” 
Bad Unicorn: “Get your unicorn-purified hand sanitizer here—just $500 a bottle!”)

Hang in there, everyone.

The Rise of Skywalker: New hopes, old choices, and spoilers

I have a fondness for seeing worlds torn apart.

Fictional worlds, that is.

I’m not talking about post-apocalyptic fiction, though I enjoy the genre and have even written in it. I’m talking in the broader sense, when a fictional world is built on assumptions that the reader or viewer comes to accept, and then those assumptions get questioned, and one way or another it becomes clear they cannot hold.

When I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I loved it for affirming a science fantasy world that I’d loved since elementary school. But when I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I loved it for questioning that world, for showing characters I loved as flawed, for giving us the sense that the Jedi, in their way, were as problematic as the Sith, or at the least, problematic enough that a something had to give, to change.

When Luke Skywalker said the Jedi had to end, he seemed to have a point. And at the very end of the movie, when we saw an unnamed young stable sweeper using the force, without training and without any apparent danger, I saw what seemed to be the first hints of a new world, a new way of looking at the force and its place in the world, and what it was for and who it belonged to.

After all, we’ve been hearing for ages about the need to bring balance to the force. Perhaps balance meant moving beyond the rigid dichotomy of Sith and Jedi, of black and white, of starkly clear-cut good and evil.

So I settled in to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker with hopes that I was about to see this universe that had for so long been a part of my life undergo a fundamental, mythic transformation.

Perhaps I should have known better.

But for much of the movie, it seemed the story was heading just that way. Time and again, Rey found third options, alternate solutions, instead of going with the standard attack or retreat, fight or flight responses I’d come to expect.  She got creative, thought outside the teachings of the first eight movies, and even, in the end, figured out that the force could be used for healing, not just for inflicting damage and teleporting small objects and convincing the occasional stormtrooper that you’re not worth bothering with. (I’ve long thought that magical healers and magical warriors must have, at the core, the same basic magic.)

And then there were Rey and Kylo, both closer to the middle than the edges of their respective orders, so close they could fight back to back, surely poised to set that fundamental change in motion.

But in the end, the final battle is literally a battle between all the Sith that ever existed and all the Jedi that ever existed. If the Jedi fought defensively, and with love rather than hate, in the end it was still their greater power that won the day.

A friend who writes tie-in novels for another fictional universe once told me that he had the freedom to do whatever he wanted, so long as he put everything back where it started by the last page.

I felt like this is what happened in The Rise of Skywalker, which is in retrospect unsurprising for a franchise with many more stories to tell.

I enjoyed the movie, which may not be clear from all I’ve said about it so far. At times I enjoyed it a lot. There are bits that I’m squeeeeeing about in various forums, even now. The importance of chosen family. The fact that the force can heal. Jedi master Leia Organa. Flying stormtroopers. C3POs sacrifice. A certain Wookiee, receiving his medal at last.

The importance of remembering we’re not alone, no matter what fear tries to tell us.

Yet in the final moments of The Rise of Skywalker, that unknown stablehand is forgotten. Rey buries Luke and Leia’s lightsabers, letting me think, for just a moment more, that maybe everything was going to change after all. Then Rey pulls out her own lightsaber, consciously chooses Team Skywalker over Team Palpatine, and the status quo—a dichotomous world with two choices and two sides, is affirmed.

The universe I’ve long loved was still there, intact.

Unchanging and unchanged.

Megamania!

Join me this Saturday, July 13, at the Pima County Public Library’s annual Megamania — a (free!) summer reading event and mini-comicon all rolled into one.

Here’s where I’ll be:

  • 2pm: Writing for Children, Middle Grade, and YA
    with Janni Lee Simner, Adam Rex, and Kathleen Glasgow
  • 3pm: Signing
  • 4pm: How to Beat Writer’s Block
    with Janni Lee Simner, SF Edwards, Kathleen Glasgow, and KS Merbeth

The full event runs from 1-5 down at Pima Community College’s downtown campus. Hope to see some of you there!

For a sneak peak at where I’ll be speaking this fall, check out my appearances page.

Tiernay West on Arizona Spotlight

I’m reading from the new edition of Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer on Arizona Public Media’s Arizona Spotlight tomorrow (Thursday). If you’re in Southern Arizona, tune in to KUAZ at 8:30 a.m. or 6 p.m. to hear me. Or you can listen anytime, from anywhere, by visiting Arizona Spotlight’s website.

Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer is available in from Antigone Books and Mostly Books, or you can order a copy anyplace else books or ebooks are sold.

Faerie Winter’s new edition

Faerie Winter

Faerie Winter has a new look—and new paperback and ebook editions! If you missed this sequel to Bones of Faerie the first time around, now is your chance to revisit Liza’s post-apocalyptic world and its treacherous, haunting magic.

Order the new Faerie Winter paperback online or from your favorite brick-and-mortar bookstore (ISBN: 978-1798950708). Order the ebook edition from Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, or wherever ebooks are sold.

Missed the first book? You can still order the first edition of Bones of Faerie from your favorite offline or online bookseller, and you can still order the ebook wherever ebooks are sold.


More about Faerie Winter

Liza is a summoner. She can draw life to herself, even from beyond the grave. And because magic works both ways, she can also drive life away. Months ago, she used her powers to banish her dangerous father and rescue her mother, lost in dreams, from the ruined land of Faerie.

Born in the wake of the war between humanity and the fey, Liza lived in a world where green things never slept, where trees sought to root in living flesh and bone. But now the forests have fallen silent, and even Liza’s power can’t call them back. Winter crops won’t grow, and the threat of starvation looms.

And deep in the dying forest a dark, malevolent will is at work. To face it, Liza will have to find within herself something more powerful than magic alone.

This sequel to Bones of Faerie will thrill both new readers and fans eager to return to Janni Lee Simner’s unique vision of a postapocalyptic world infused with magic.

“Simner paints a hauntingly exquisite portrait of a postapocalyptic world. Fans of both fantasy and dystopian fiction will devour this one.” —School Library Journal


In Tucson? Book signing Saturday!

I’ll be signing the new paperback of Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer at Mostly Books this Saturday.

Where: Mostly Books, 6208 E. Speedway
When: Saturday, December 15, 2:30-4:00 p.m.

Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer coverStop by and get a copy personalized for the adventurer in your life—even if (especially if) that adventurer is you.

Copies of Bones of Faerie will also be available, and Jennifer J. Stewart will be signing her Twelve Days of Christmas in Arizona, which makes an excellent gift for out-of-town friends.

Can’t make the signing? You can find Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer in stock at both Mostly Books and Fourth Avenue’s Antigone Books.

Not in Tucson? You can also order Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer at your favorite local bookstore, or you can buy a copy online.

New in paperback: Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer

Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer coverTiernay West, Professional Adventurer is now in paperback!

Order a copy your favorite young adventurer online or from your favorite bricks-and mortar bookstore (ISBN 978-1719955553).

Originally published as Secret of the Three Treasures, this classic book about a would-be adventurer who isn’t about to let anything stop her has a new look and has been updated for a new generation of young readers.

Get one for the kid in your life today—and for yourself, too. For a limited time, when kindle users order the print book, they can add their own e-copy at no additional charge.

Do share with anyone in your life who might enjoy a bit of adventure this winter holiday season.

Doing What You Love: Practical inspiration for writers

doingwhatyoulovecover-medium Doing What You Love: Practical Strategies for Living a Creative Life is now out in paperback! This chapbook draws on my quarter-century of writing experience to share insights and inspiration previously only available by attending one of my talks or, more recently, downloading an ebook.

It makes a great gift for any writer in your life who could use a bit of a pep talk. (Including you!)

['Taking risks, rather than being an impractical and foolhardy act, might be  one of the most practical and business-savvy things we can do.']

Available wherever books are sold:
Amazon (bundle with the ebook for 99 cents more)
IndieBound
Barnes & Noble
Or visit your favorite local bookstore and ask them to order you a copy!