How Writing Fantasy Prepared Me for Dementia Care

I have an essay up at Tor.com about dementia care and the suspension of disbelief.

I also highly recommend reading the comments section, where people have been sharing their stories and making really beautiful and valid points.

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Book day!

Today’s the day! A BREACH IN THE HEAVENS, the final book of the Godserfs Trilogy, is out today! You can buy it at your local bookstore or at any of these fine retailers (my favorite is IndieBound, at the bottom, which supports independent bookstores).

In celebration of the end of the trilogy, DJ at MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape has posted an interview I did with him a couple weeks ago. Check it out!

Reviews are good. Even “bad” ones.

I have been completely blown away by the response to a recent $1.99 Bookbub promo for Silent Hall. If you are one of the many people who picked up my first book for just a couple of bucks, thank you! If I may request just one more favor, would you please consider leaving me a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads? Reviews really matter.

They matter because they make authors’ work more visible, and they help readers tell which books are worth the time and which might not be their bag. For every reader who leaves a review, there are dozens who have similar tastes and are looking to find their next great read. So please, do them a favor. Tell them what you loved about the books you read, what squicked you out, what disturbed you. It’s all appreciated. Whether you think my books are excellent, lousy, or just okay, voicing that opinion in the form of a review helps everybody in the system.

I want to be clear here: I love sales. I want sales. I love great reviews that help drive more sales. But I appreciate the negative ones too, and the mixed bags, because I want my books to reach the right audience. A well elucidated criticism isn’t a bad review, it’s a great way to make sure a book will reach only people who will appreciate it despite (or because of) its flaws.

When you say “hey this book was mostly enjoyable, but CW: there is the threat of harm to children, and also icky sex stuff,” that doesn’t cause me harm, and you know, it may save some readers from trauma. I’d rather miss those readers and the $0.47 in royalties than hurt them. My books do not have content warnings. I didn’t even think to suggest it before publication, and in any case it would be up to the publisher and not me to weigh whether CWs would be good for business and decide whether or not to include them. But you know what can help fill the gaps? Reviews!

I’ve had reviews that complained about the way my first book included menstruation. You know what, that’s not for everyone! If you’re a person who can’t handle reading an awkward scene where an awkward and isolated teenage boy learns about menstruation for the first time, that’s totally okay! I’d rather not put you through that scene if it’ll just bother you. That’s the kind of stuff we rely on our reviewers to bring to light.

So please, all it takes is a minute or two. If you love a book, write a review. If you hate a book, write a review. If your feelings about a book are mixed, write a review.

My Arisia Schedule

Arisia is coming up, and I have a fantastic schedule that I’m really excited about! Check it out!

Saturday January 13

9:00 AM    Grand Ballroom CD    Bad Prose Reading. N.S. Dolkart. An interactive reading of the hardboiled Bad Prose story “The Maltese Pelican” by Alias MacPenname (N.S. Dolkart). Laugh or correct the text, and your turn is over! PG-13
4:00 PM    Burroughs    Technology’s not a Cure: Disability in SFF. N.S. Dolkart (mod), LJ Cohen, Bekah Anderson, LB Lee, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Tikva. Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction Kickstarter reached almost all of its stretch goals, and completed funding. Defying Doomsday, an anthology of post-apocalyptic survival fiction that focuses on disabled characters was published in 2016. The conversation around disability in SFF is growing, but there are still many problems and problematic tropes in common use. Where do we, as a genre, need to go to create a better genre for disability representation?
8:30 PM    Douglas   SFF and the Feminine Elder. Lisa Batya Feld (mod), Greer Gilman, Andrea Hairston, N.S. Dolkart (I am super excited to be on a panel with these women. They’re freaking geniuses. I plan to do a lot more listening than talking). As our population ages and more people are living longer lives of greater vigor, older folks remain underrepresented as protagonists in SFF. Older women, in particular, rarely appear even as supporting characters, and often only appear in trope-laden roles we’ve all seen before. What stories break this mold? What stories are there yet to be told for older women in SFF? How do the fem-of-center relate to technologies of life extension or body replacement?

Sunday January 14

8:30 PM    Faneuil    Beyond Metaphor: Explicit Representation in SFF. N.S. Dolkart (mod), Sabrina Vourvoulias, Sarah Lynn Weintraub, Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Steve Berman. There are many SFF works that talk around an issue, rather than facing it head-on. What works are there that directly talk about race, sexuality, gender identity, disability; things that have been addressed in the past mostly as metaphor? Are there any ways we are moving away from only being able to imagine ourselves in our protagonists in vague and subtle hints? What still has to happen before explicit representation works properly for everyone?

Monday January 15

11:30 AM    Hale    Fantasy Reading. N.S. Dolkart, Stephen R Wilk. Authors will be reading their own original works about dragons, mysticism, and epic fantasy. (I will be reading a passage from the forthcoming third book of the Godserfs series, A Breach in the Heavens)

Writing Update

So, what has the great N.S. Dolkart been up to recently? Working on the next book?

In short, yes, though progress has been very slow. I recently had the unenviable task of writing to my editor to request that we delay publication of Godserfs book three until October 2018 (from an original pub date in August 2018) because I simply haven’t been writing quickly enough. My excuses are valid: new job (salaried, sucking up extra hours until I get used to the routine), house hunt (to move closer to said job), kids who need me to not disappear from their lives…anyhoo, my new first-draft deadline of April 1st is going to be much more attainable than February 1st.

So what does this mean? If you enjoyed AMONG THE FALLEN and are already awaiting the climactic Book Three, you can mark your calendars for October of next year. While you’re waiting, perhaps I can convince you to write a review.

My Readercon Schedule

Next weekend is Readercon, for which I am incredibly excited. How could I not be? Check out the amazing panels I’m on!

Friday July 14

12:00 PM    6    Back from the Dead. Judith Berman, John Crowley, N.S. Dolkart, Nicholas Kaufmann, Sioban Krzywicki (leader). There are many characters in SF/F who die in what appears to be a permanent fashion, only to be brought back from death. Examples, left intentionally vague to avoid spoilers, appear in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, Daniel José Older’s Bone Street Rumba books, and as far back as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books. How do the characters interact with resurrection (their own or someone else’s) and in some cases even prepare for it? When do readers feel like this works and is believable and satisfying, and when does it feel like a cheap trick or a cop-out? What is it like to read these stories while grieving, or keenly aware of one’s own mortality?
7:00 PM    6    Race and Historical Accuracy in Cod-Medieval Fantasy Fiction. S.A. Chakraborty, Phenderson Clark, N.S. Dolkart, Tom Greene, Catherynne M. Valente. Too often, we’ve heard the excuse of “historical accuracy” used to explain the lack of PoC in historical fiction. Yet their presence is profoundly felt throughout European history, including in the medieval era so often used or modified as a fantasy setting: Arabic numbers have been used in Western societies for centuries, philosopher Ibn Rushd preserved and notated the works of Aristotle, the Silk Road brought traders and diplomats from all over Asia, and Moors in Spain were credited with promoting astronomy, medicine, and literacy. This panel will discuss how to populate cod-medieval fantasy novels with characters of color who have dimension, depth, and humanity, while avoiding stereotypes of swarthy villains and uncouth sidekicks.

Saturday July 15

2:00 PM    C    Lines of Consent in Fiction. Samuel R. Delany, N.S. Dolkart, Lila Garrott, Kiini Ibura Salaam, Josh Jasper. In science fiction and fantasy, consent is often handled in fuzzy, imprecise ways. Obvious scenarios of non-consent, such as the enslaved house elves in the Harry Potter books, are easily identified as problematic, but less is said about magical destiny that compels an ordinary person to become a hero; inherited magic, rank, or family feuds that empower or endanger a character without their consent; soul mates, who are forced to love and be attracted to each other; werewolves compelled to change shape under the full moon; and other strictures that are so common we’ve come to take them for granted. This panel will discuss work that either explicitly deals with consent or appears oblivious to its relevance, and will explore the writer’s responsibility when placing characters in a scenario (or plot) that hinges on questionable consent or non-consent. Content note: this panel may explicitly discuss violations of consent and their consequences. For the purposes of this panel, trigger warnings and content notes are assumed to be valuable tools that assist the reader.

Sunday July 16

12:30 PM    A    Reading: N.S. Dolkart. N.S. Dolkart. N.S. Dolkart will conduct an interactive Bad Prose reading of his dreadfully-written story, “The Maltese Pelican.”