Organizing Your Worldbuilding Wiki

A question I’m getting more than once is ‘how do you organize your wiki so that it’s useful for your writing.’ Which… is not a minor question, because my initial response is ‘I’ve organized it? It’s a big enormous tangled mess of stubs and passages from one blank space to another and then boom! Wall of text.’

It is tempting to go at this like a prescriptive text: “The proper way to organize your wiki is to divide it into the following nine sections, under which you should have some number of these categories.” That would be so satisfying, and anxiety-reducing, because it would suggest there is a Right Way to organize your writers’ bible (because that’s what it is, really), and if you organize it so, you will get it right the first time and it will be perfect.

But… there isn’t a right way. All I can tell you is my organizational principles, and maybe they’ll spark some ideas in your head.

My first and most important guiding principle is: start with the stuff you need. By which I mean the things you know you’re always forgetting and are desperate to have at your fingertips. For me, that’s character info. What color was someone’s eyes? How old are they? What was their middle name? What did they do in that last book? Do they drink coffee or tea? Did they mention any pets? Ever?

So I started by making pages for characters. (I have a lot of characters.) I knew that was a good choice because when I began writing the newest book, I consulted the wiki not even a week into its establishment to check some facts. As I continued writing, I kept finding other frequent offenders: “I remember saying some things about this location, but not what,” and “I can never remember how many provinces are in this nation” and “Didn’t I make up names for these historical figures.” At which point I started making pages for those things too. Every time I ran into something that I needed to know, I made a page for it, looked that info up, and dropped it in the right place.

Wikis aren’t just for writers, either; I have these “oh no I need to look that up” moments about art things too, so I started uploading all the major pieces of art I keep looking for: maps of different continents, uniforms from different services, representations of species, portraits of particular people. If you have images like this, putting them in one place is great for any artists you might want to hire in the future, too. Just make sure you have the rights to reproduce those images if they’re not yours. (Obvious, but must be said.)

All of us have major pain points in our worldbuilding and they will be idiosyncratic. Maybe you keep making up words in a conlang. Or you have named the cuisines of seven different fictitious countries and their ritual significance. Maybe you are fascinated by coastlines and keep creating port cities. The thing that you’ve developed most, and the thing you need to remember, is the place you need to start filling in data. So while my wiki might have grown from characters to those characters’ species to those species’ worlds and foods and religions and histories, yours might begin with types of ships, or noble families, or principle exports and imports.

The thing you need the most is the thing you need to record first.

Once you’ve recorded the stuff you need most, organize it so that you’ll find it fastest. I like the wiki for being able to search, but sometimes search doesn’t get you the results you want, or in the order you want them, which is where categorizing comes in. At several people’s suggestion I enabled the Category Tree extension which lets you create nested categories, and that’s been immensely helpful because it allows the display of all the items in a category. So if I want to keep track of all the Scout-class ships in Fleet, I can add them to that category and then display that category on some master page (like “All the Ships in Fleet”).

As you can imagine, categorization is even more idiosyncratic than “start with the stuff you need.” Because I could tell you ‘you should classify your food pages based on whether they are breakfast, dinner, or lunch’ while what you really need to know is whether each dish is served hot or cold, or whether they’re religious foods or common meals, or what have you.

The nice thing about categories is that you can use more than one… so if you want something to show up as both a brunch and a food served only at a treaty table, you can place it in both “Brunch” and “Peace Feast Foods” and find it both ways. You can also categorize images; most of mine have multiple categories, telling me what stories they’re relevant to along with what characters are in them and what kind of image they are (map? Schematic? Portrait?)

None of which was my idea, but I’ll get to that momentarily.

Use references immediately. Even if they’re imprecise or slapdash. Assuming you’re starting from some existing material you want to backfill, when you begin making your stubs, mention where you got your information, even if it’s just ‘I think it was chap 1 or 2 of this book.’ That’ll give you somewhere to start when you need to doublecheck the data, or add to it. Even when you record something that seems inconsequential, putting down where it came from is immensely useful to Future You: context matters. You can always go back and tidy up the references if they’re imprecise or not pretty, but if you put in the work immediately you will avoid a lot of extra research.

(My faithful volunteers have reminded me that the cool wiki reference tags are an extension that needs to be enabled. Mine is ‘Cite.’)

Another thing that I’ve found immensely useful is to make pages for every story I’ve published, because it gives my references somewhere to point to. If I say “This event happened in Book 2 of this series” or “This character first appeared there,” then the reference can link back to the page and give you the necessary info to either buy or find that story (if it’s in a collection somewhere). My fiction pages give basic citation info (publication date, series, etc), along with summaries and buy links. They’re also a great place to add easily lost material, like the cover images of previous editions, and ephemeral teaser and marketing materials that were used once and never reproduced on any gallery page.

I cordon off these pages by appending (Fiction) to all of them, just to make sure they don’t get mixed up with the data pages.

Some examples:

Make stubs. Then consolidate until it’s time to expand again. (A stub is a placeholder page with little to no data on it.) One of the nice things about the wiki has been that it’s easy to mend. My mantra has been “put it down now, organize it later,” and that works well because it’s trivial to delete or rename pages. I’ve made pages for things that I immediately needed, only to realize they didn’t need an entire page to themselves and that it would be easier to find them on some different page… and fixing that was a few moments’ work, by pasting the material into the other page and deleting its stub (and leaving a redirect, so if I ever searched for it again the wiki would send me to the new page). So, for instance, I had a separate page for a particular hospital, when I realized that there just wasn’t enough data to justify it being on a single page, and that I kept looking for it through its associated city anyway. That was a quick fix.

On the other hand, I discovered several items that became so big that it was far more sensible to break them off their parent pages onto pages of their own, which is how Fleet Procedures ended up on a new page from Fleet, which is where basic facts about the organization live.

The other nice thing about your wiki is that it doesn’t have to conform to any standard, and nothing you do has to be permanent. I had a group of friends that went on to do things together… where one went, the others were usually along for the ride. So I made a page for them as a group: “Jahir’s Retinue.” Is this a formal organization? Not yet. Will I always need a page to group them together? Maybe not. But for now, it’s fantastic to be able to type ‘Jahir’s retinue’ into search and get all those people in one place. And if one day, that retinue is disbanded, then I can move or delete that page, and relegate their prior service to a biographical section on their pages.

I feel that last point is particularly important: that you should feel okay about making completely nonsensical or whimsical-seeming pages that will only be useful to you, and only for as long as you need them. The point isn’t for your writer’s bible to function as a formal encyclopedia. It’s for it to be useful to you, whatever that means.

Which brings me to a theme underlying several of these points that needs to be made explicit: it’s better to get it wrong than to not do it at all. Wikis are forgiving; they maintain a log of all the changes made and allow you to rollback to any version of that history. Given that, there’s no reason not to make pages and flail around until you figure out what you’re doing… and every reason to do that flailing. You can’t work with something that doesn’t exist, so it’s better for your information to be awkward or in the wrong spot or even incorrectly named than it is to not have it there at all. You can always fix it. But until you have it down, you probably won’t know how.

That’s really one of the magical things about wikis: they reward flailing. They reward mistakes. Most of us don’t know all the things in our heads, or the relative importance of their relationships to other things, until we start making those things concrete and visible… and a wiki is a great way to start putting those things down in a form that allows us to see those relationships and decide what about them matters.

A brief digression about wikis as a technology. Most of us think of Wikipedia when we think of a wiki, and that’s a good example of one: it’s clean, easy to use, and feels like an encyclopedia. It’s not a bad mental model for what a wiki is, though what it actually is, is a database. (Here are my heart eyes, because who doesn’t love a database?). The reason it can be so hard to wrap your head around how to get started with a wiki is because it will cheerfully do and organize itself however you decide: it’s the ‘too much freedom’ problem. My suggestion, if you’re going at it for writer’s bible-purposes, is to keep the Wikipedia framing in mind and think of it as an encyclopedia. It has entries (pages) about topics, with accompanying illustration, and links within it are the equivalent of a paper encyclopedia writing “see also This Entry.”

Some of you haven’t ever used a paper encyclopedia, and… um… you probably don’t need my lecture on wikis because you understand them natively. Lol.

Another good example of a wiki framing: TVTropes. No I won’t link there, so if you go and get lost, don’t blame me. But if you do go there, take notes, because that’s an interesting, alternate use of a similar framework.

Okay, resuming the how-to. One of the great things about wikis is that, if you make them public, you will sometimes attract help! (Particularly if you ask for it, though not always.) By design, wikis are meant to be group-editable, which is one of the reasons their tools for repair are so robust. Unless you go to lengths to prevent it, people will be able to make accounts and contribute to your wiki. Which brings me to the most important principle regarding other people’s help: Volunteers are a source of chaos, and chaos is revelatory.

Just as readers bring themselves to your work when they engage with it, they bring themselves to their efforts on a wiki. They’ll have their own areas of interest, and their own experiences with the software, and their own ideas. It will be tempting to give anyone who shows up marching orders: “I really need this data” and “I want it organized this way.” But if you do that, you will shut down any ideas they would generate, and their ideas may be better than yours. Take the wiki’s infinite capacity for restoration to heart—anything you dislike or find awkward, you can adjust or fix, and no one’s going to argue with you about it because it’s your site. But as much as possible, when people show up and want to help, let them decide how and let that educate you… about the software (as I was, by one volunteer’s suggestion about Category Tree); about organization (someone made a section for family trees under biographical data, and that was brilliant); and even about the canon (someone made me a martial arts page, when I never thought I had enough data about martial arts to warrant one—I was wrong).

Besides if you let them have their heads, they make stubs like the one at the top of this page, and that’s worth any pain and suffering. 😆

If you have no volunteers, you can “borrow” this random seed by examining how other people organize their writer’s bibles, wikis, or data… which is how my template for planets got borrowed from the CIA’s World Factbook. (Also not my idea.) (Also brilliant.)

And for those of you who are thinking ‘does that mean I can borrow your ideas,’ the answer is ‘of course.’ 😊

Finally, a related principle, and really the most important one: your canon is your responsibility. The moment you start worldbuilding, you’re the one in charge, and that means to you devolve the pleasures of creating it… and the responsibilities of maintaining it. Eventually, you will have people point out errors to you, and those will be your fault, and their fixing will be as well, whether you fix them by addressing them or by washing your hands of them. There will be times where you change something and will have to stand by it even when it distresses people who didn’t want you to make those changes… and there will be times where people will want to help you with obscure projects you didn’t realize were useful, like recording every meal you’ve ever had your characters eat, or every time you’ve mentioned someone’s relative height, or how every minor character who’s ever died kicked that bucket, and if you accept their help (and why shouldn’t you, because you will learn a great deal!) it does not relieve you of the ultimate responsibility. The buck stops with you. It will never be anyone else’s fault, but on the other hand, it will never be anyone else’s glory, either, so at least there are compensations.

That, for now, is my advice on how to use a wiki for a writer’s bible, and the organizational properties that make mine useful. I’m about 600 content pages into this endeavor, and not even a little bit done, so I’m sure there’s a lot more to learn ahead of me…! And please, hit me with your questions; as you can see, your questions inspire entries, and I’m happy to write them. If I can spare people the problems I run into, I want to.

More Stuff I’ve Learned From Wiki Editing

We are over a month into our work (and I need to call it our work given how many people are pitching in), and I continue to find it illuminating. Here are my latest observations!
People really *don’t* notice typos/continuity errors. I’ve heard it said that readers completely gloss over errors and typos if they’re engaged in a story, and I accepted that must be true without realizing how extensive that blind spot is. It’s like tunnel vision: the more intent the audience is on what’s interesting them, the more detail they demote to the status of distractions. My books have teams of proofreaders, sometimes between 6 and 18 of them, and they catch dozens of typos… but they are more likely to catch typos than to catch other kinds of errors. The minor character whose name was spelled three different ways across his series was not a fluke: at least six other minor characters have had multiple spellings of their names without anyone emailing me to complain about them, or even realizing it until they started reading the books for research purposes.
Are there people who notice these errors and find them so annoying they stop reading my books without pausing to leave a negative review or send an email? I’m sure. Are they vastly outnumbered by the people who didn’t even see those errors? I have absolutely no doubt. I’ve gone from ‘don’t beat yourself up about spelling this guy’s last name Levy, Lery, and Leary because your brain has only so much capacity and you exceeded it a decade and a half ago’ to ‘don’t beat yourself up about spelling this guy’s last name Levy, Lery, and Leary because 90%+ of the people reading don’t care.’ 
The people who do notice even the smallest details are going to tell you about them, of course, because that’s the type of person they are. But even those people are missing something when they send you their laundry list of errors, because their tunnel vision is going to exclude an entirely different set of data.
Does that mean I shouldn’t try to make the background as consistent as possible? Of course not, because I’m a perfectionist. But it has been illuminating to realize how many errors completely flew under the radar, and no one cared or noticed.
The reason why your favorite author can’t write a good ending or finish a series is probably because the background material overwhelmed them.This is a problem I have wiggled around (sometimes by means of truly wild gyrations) by having multiple series within a setting and overarching story arc. While it took research to maintain the continuity within Dreamhealers, or Her Instruments, or Princes’ Game, it required far less work than if those books had been sequential installments in a single series. I could see, out of the corner of my eye, the looming horror that was trying to stitch all those series together, logically, but I never had to make them perfectly align because they were happening to different people in different places, and hey, planets conveniently have different day-and-year lengths so I have lots of wiggle room! (Have I mentioned the wiggling yet.)
But the more data I put into this central repository, the more it boggles me that I was managing it with a few sketchbooks and Evernote entries. Princes’ Game is the longest of the in-setting series I’ve written and by the final installment I was making reams of notes, and re-reading all the prior books (and some of the books of the other series) and making more notes, and drawing notes, and creating diagrams and charts, and did I mention the notes? 
None of this stuff went into a database, which meant that all that research became more things I would have to re-read and re-evaluate and make more notes on if I wanted to keep writing.
The wiki is a database, and even then it’s astonishing how much stuff there is that needs tracking. I think I was modifying the Fleet beachhead page when it occurred to me that the doomful feeling I had when confronting the writing of From Ruins—a relatively simple task as the capstone of a six-book series—is what must be stopping authors from confronting the ending of any complex series. The writers who continually build the tension in every succeeding book, adding more and more issues, characters, and details, might be looking back on all that preceding work and having a panic attack at the prospects of having to pick out all the loose and dangling ends for wrap-up. They might not even have the first idea how to do that wrap-up. It’s the opposite of writing yourself into a corner: it’s writing yourself into a room with too many doors. Adding more new things becomes easier than resolving old things, particularly when doing so might require the contradiction of previous challenges.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard this problem discussed at length in writing advice columns or seminars: that you can write yourself to a point where ending your series becomes an insoluble challenge, because you just don’t have the brainpower to get your head around all the inputs to your equation. It makes finishing a complex story the equivalent of writing a doctoral dissertation, with all the commensurate research. 
While I know there are writers who enjoy it, I personally did not get into fiction writing because I like spending days doing detailed research. Research is the thing I get over quickly so I can keep writing. Which brings me to:
The reason no one edits Big Name Authors is because the editing process becomes more akin to a researcher’s. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard ‘so and so’s editor has stopped editing them because they’re famous but they really need someone to cut this book down to size!’ But when I recall the times I’ve said that myself, it’s always about a series author, and usually not about the first book in the series. It’s invariably book three or book twenty-six and the assumption is “because this author is a proven money-maker no one wants to joggle their elbow.” Looking at it now, I think it’s more “this person’s story has become so large that editing it properly requires research across all of their books.”
People who are good at broad story evaluation—the kind of editors who say ‘this ending falls flat because you didn’t set it up right in the beginning’ or ‘this character’s death doesn’t work because it contradicts this emotional tone you’re aiming for’—are not necessarily the kind of editors who are good at “I need to comb through Books 1-4 to see if you mentioned whether this technology could be installed on this size ship.” Being able to dissect a story’s structure and evaluate its emotional impact is a separate skill from the meticulous record-keeping a proofreader does. A proofreader’s job is time-consuming and specific, so you can’t expect the same person to be able to do the same level of work on separate authors’ books. If you hire someone to check a bestseller’s 50-book canon for continuity, they will become an expert in that bestseller’s canon at the expense of the time they would have used to become an expert in some new bestseller’s canon. You can’t interchange that widget. 
That makes continuity-type proofreaders too expensive for most people to employ (no matter if it’s a single author or a publishing house). The editor’s not going to have the time or skillset to do it. And since a bestselling author is often going to remain a bestselling author even if his books are lopsided or too infodumpy or not perfectly shaped, it’s easier to give the book a once-over and hope it passes muster than it is to do serious work on it.
If this kind of consistency is to be maintained, it’s not going to happen after the fact. The author has to guarantee it prior to handing it to other people. And, as I’ve said, few authors have the brain capacity to keep all those details handy, so they end up either doing what I did (and making many errors that luckily most people don’t notice) or they freeze up and stop writing.
I feel a lot of sympathy for both those authors and those editors now that I understand the scope of their problems. And it’s not an easy to solve one, or people would be teaching/talking about it casually. No one does, though. You will find thousands of books about how to finish your first story, but let us count the books that will teach you how to handle this type of problem. I bet it’s a section, and it says “Keep a series bible in a separate document.”
Yeah. Good luck with that. -_-
I could probably write a book’s worth of entries on ‘what the wiki has taught me’ and ‘why I’m so lucky that people are willing to help me with it.’ But I do keep learning, I’m still lucky, and my volunteers are still awesome, so I guess I’ll keep going. Let me know when I start boring you. *grin* Also check out those volunteers! I add more of them every week. Y’all the bestest. 💖

The Point at Which Every Author Needs Help


A few days ago I made mention of the Pelted Historical Society and the portraits I was doing for its members as a thank-you for their assistance. It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the Historical Society, so this feels like a good opportunity.

There are, at present, 27 books in the Peltedverse setting (not counting the one I just finished and have not yet published), and some number of short stories I haven’t enumerated and have failed to collect into books. I did a rough count and it comes to about 9300 pages. In addition to the published fiction, there are two pieces of published nonfiction (the Summaries and the Guidebook), all my notes in various notebooks and sketchbooks and files on computers stretching for more than 25 years, and the new vignettes and partially written pieces that are sitting on my hard drive, waiting their turn in the queue for completion. I also have the older pieces waiting to be rewritten so they can be added to the published canon… Zafiil alone would add another 1026 pages to the total.

I’d like to say that if I’d been a smart author I would have planned from the beginning for the sprawl of my main setting, particularly since as an ambitious teen I was absolutely planning to turn the Peltedverse into a creative empire. But Young Me was born at a time when you took notes on paper, and then later, if you were well off, saved them on enormous floppy discs… and then on harder floppy discs, and then on CD-ROM drives, and all in a succession of different programs that became obsolete and unreadable as technology marched on. There are media in my closet that I’d have to send to a specialized service to be read (I’m looking at you, Syquest cartridge, among others), and getting that DVD back wouldn’t guarantee I’d be able to read the resultant files because the programs used to make them are long gone.

Younger Jaguar strived diligently throughout the years, but there’s no helping it if the database you made on your Apple IIe in the 80s reads as gibberish in 2020.

Granted that, I have to deal with what I’ve got after the fact. The horses have left the barn, and there were so many of them I was lucky to get a rough notion of their numbers before they escaped and started breeding in obscure corners of the property. And maybe if the Peltedverse had been a tidy little universe set in a single town, with only a handful of people in it, I might have been able to get my arms around it… but its cast list is in the hundreds (conservatively), the timeline covers multiple planets and nations, and I like detail so in addition to basic information like people’s eye color I’ve also made up chains of stores, cuisines local to tiny parts of separate planets, products as specific as holographic riding horses and series of fake books by multiple authors, languages with minor dialects, movie stars, cocktails, and fancy resorts.

Now, there might be, in this human populace, someone with a memory prodigious enough to keep all this stuff straight in their heads. I am not that person: I am lucky to remember my own birthday, or what I just ate. In the past, my method for maintaining the continuity of the setting was… are you ready… to read every single Peltedverse book prior to writing the next. Which worked great as a method when there were three, or five, or ten Peltedverse books, because I read quickly. But I am standing on the precipice of Book 28, with another four waiting right behind it and about a dozen more behind them, and even if I could fit in an entire re-read before writing a new book there are now so many books that I begin to forget the details of Book 2 when I’m on Book 16. It’s just too big a job for any one person. Or even any two or three. Certainly it’s too large a job for this Jaguar. But I don’t think I’m unusual in this regard, because I’m not the first author I’ve heard of who’s started relying on their readers for help… and for every series writer who visibly thanks the readers who’ve helped them with continuity, I bet there are ten who are relying on those readers without advertising it.

The Pelted Historical Society, then, grew out of my need for that help, and as the canon grows, so have the Society’s endeavors. It started with timeline sanitizing, and while that’s still ongoing, it’s also grown a dramatis personae arm. There are now Society members who specialize in answering my ad hoc questions (“Did I mention this at any point?” “You did, yes, I just read that part in this book.”)… and Society members whose expertise lies in asking me questions. (“You implied this in previous books… is this an error or are you adding complexity?”) No one reader has all the answers, but the group is stronger than any one individual, and even a person adding one or two notes to the database is making an enormous difference to the whole effort.

I feel like this bears repeating: for myself, because I hadn’t realized it until this moment, but for everyone else too. At some point, an author can no longer get by on their brain alone, or on the services of only an editor, and maybe a proofreader. There’s a reason authors of long-running series or settings have such active reader communities. There might be a few authors out there so meticulous and well-organized that they have all the data they need in a series bible they’ve been maintaining—and updating—since they’ve begun, but with rare exception I’m betting the overwhelm gets to us all… if not on Book 28, then on Book 50.

That’s why I like drawing portraits of my Historical Society members, and why I had a sticker made for them (which I can’t wait to send them), and why I’m always brainstorming new ways to thank them. (Look for the newest one in my forthcoming novel!) As the Peltedverse expands, they will continue to become more important to the quality of the fiction that reaches retailers, and I think they should be justly proud of it. I know I couldn’t do it without them, and I’m grateful for the help.

Anyone can join the Society! The timeline and cast databases are Google docs that are group-edited; the ‘asking me questions’ function is mostly done by first readers perusing novel drafts, and the ‘me asking questions’ usually happens on Discord. But no one should feel limited by pre-existing efforts. If you’re really into genealogy and want to generate family trees for all the Eldritch as your personal project, I’m not going to say no. Ditto if you decide it would be interesting to track all the ships in Fleet I’ve mentioned so far. Someone who is fascinated by all the landmarks, locations, or fancy restaurants and wants to jot them all down is welcome to do so (and to ask their friends to help them). I have people updating the vocabulary lists for various languages as I mention words in those languages in the text, and people writing down every food I’ve mentioned in any Pelted story (because they want to make some of it!). All of that is cool by me. Just let me know, and I’ll give you access, or point you at people who might be interested in helping.

Does this mean the canon will be completely error-free? Absolutely not. But will it be more consistent than it would be otherwise? That would be an unqualified yes.

If you’re currently helping with the Society, make sure you add yourself to the portrait request document! I’ll sketch you on one of my streams. And thank you all. You’re the best readers.

Book Launch: Conversations with the Ai-Naidar

Language and locations, culture and customs, biology, psychology, and history… worldbuilding an alien world for a fiction series can be a monumental effort involving notes, maps, drawings, and resources…
..or you can do it Jaguar-style, and just talk to the people.
Conversations with the Ai-Naidar gathers seven years of “meta-conversations” between the author and her aliens as she struggles to understand their culture and language. Interspersed with scribbled notes from the author’s original sketchbooks, Conversationsoffers insight into an artistic process, perfect for lovers of the Kherishdar series, and anyone fascinated by the creative brain.
Come into the writer’s parlor!

Click to Buy!

At your request, I’ve gathered together all the lost meta-conversations originally published on Livejournal, and made them available! I thought this would be a minor undertaking, but it actually took quite a while, particularly since I pulled out a lot of the discussions in the comments and added them, where applicable, and while anonymizing the people asking the questions…
This is not a small book, y’all. Look at the size of the spine on the proof copy! And that was using the same 6×9 format as the books in the series!
I am astonished. 😳

Anyway, I also added a lot of graphics, mostly in the form of something I don’t think I’ve exposed yet in print: my scribbled notes (often in the car, or in a meeting, so in the worst possible handwriting). That, plus some calligraphy. Here’s the copy I was marking up to make sure the graphics were spread evenly through the book (with bonus cat):
That was before I added a few more.
Anyway, I think this is… a unique volume. I hope you’ll enjoy it. If you do, I have almost enough material compiled for a second volume! And would not be adverse to sharing it, if people enjoy this one. Tell me what you think. 💖

Book Launch: Heartskein, a Jahir and Vasiht’h Novel (Peltedverse)

The day is finally here!

For as long as he could remember, Vasiht’h planned on starting a family, a plan that surviving the war only made more urgent. The temple on Anseahla has summoned him at last to pick up his new kits, an errand he decides will be an excellent opportunity to have some alone-time with his partner, Jahir. But his partner is now an imperial prince-consort, and Vasiht’h himself has more responsibilities than he anticipated, and it isn’t long before their private getaway turns into a huge production. And that’s before the children join the party!

But becoming a father is only one of the changes that Vasiht’h must accept as he moves into this newest phase of his life. For the longest time he’s thought of himself as living in an Eldritch shadow. If he wants to thrive–if he wants to lead his contingent of Glaseah to a fuller life themselves–he has to accept that sometimes a supporting role is just an excuse to stay out of the limelight….

Heartskein is a cozy science fiction novel and returns to the dreamhealers in their new roles as powers in the Eldritch Empire: Jahir is now a married man and a prince, and Vasiht’h an administrator, a lord, and a father! But no matter what changes, some things stay the same: like a bond of love stronger than wars and unconquered by time. Come unwind, and meet the babies!

Now Available in Ebook and Paperback! Click to Buy!


Here’s the second of the two books bought by the Major Pieces Kickstarter: another pastoral, revisiting Jahir and Vasiht’h as all-grown-up adults. I wanted to use this one to demonstrate to their loyal fans that despite all the changes in their life (including Jahir’s marriage!) they’re still the same unbreakable pair that made a commitment in Mindtouch. And honestly… this was a fun book to write. I leaned hard into the things people requested and that I secretly wanted to do more of anyway: more sweet scenes, more fun, more references to backstory, more babies, more fantastical Alliance locations, more Eldritch culture and language, more of Vasiht’h being practical and a not-so-closet romantic, more of Jahir being fun to look at and listen to. I even snuck in a cameo, which is something I’m beginning to do more often. Long time readers will be suspicious of all the stuff in this book that sounds like foreshadowing… because they’re right. There are great events coming! But between now and then… babies.

You all asked for it; I had the pleasure and fun of delivering. I call that a match as perfect (and likely to last) as the dreamhealers themselves. Enjoy!

Book Launch: Major Pieces, a Princes’ Game Collection (Peltedverse)


Everybody’s got a story… even the bystanders.

The staff of the Alliance’s foremost restaurant… the forgotten children of the imperial Chatcaavan harem… the story of how an empress hired a D-per, and an entire ship full of Glaseah came to settle on an alien world… here, woven amid the larger stories of the participants in the Chatcaavan war, are the smaller scenes observed by its minor characters, or shifted by its major ones in moments of contemplation. Major Pieces collects 21 stories starting from before the events of Even the Wingless and ending just prior to the first book of the Jubilee Summer duology. Some are as short as a talk with a therapist and his dog over cookies–others are nearly novel-length examinations of important events previously left off-camera, like the wedding of a wingless freak to an Emperor and his consort. All of them were reader-selected, and many, reader-suggested.

You’ve survived the war. Now come back to the unexplored corners of the story and linger.

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What could I say about this collection to explain the many reasons it breaks my brain? Can we start with a ridiculously awesome Kickstarter that overfunded by over 8000%, charging over the five-figure line? How about the fact that I started out with a handful of ideas for these vignettes and got the chance to brainstorm the remainder with my readers, who requested and then voted on which ones should go into the collection? Let’s top that off with the fact that each of these ‘vignettes,’ which were intended to be short scenes, ended up running long… some to the tune of 40,000-ish words? This is the largest volume in the Princes’ Game series, at 620-ish pages!

I can confidently state that I had no idea what I was getting into when I said, ‘hey, would you all like to see some ancillary material from this series.’ But what I ended up getting into was a really exciting volume of stories that significantly add to the canon of the Peltedverse. Some of it fills in scenes from the series from other viewpoints (like Jahir and Vasiht’h communicating incognito with Lisinthir during Wingless) or that we didn’t get time to see (like Hirianthial meeting Jahir and Lisinthir and Vasiht’h for the first time over Sediryl’s sickbed). Others explore minor characters, like Laniis, the Attendant, or Oviin’s friend Everdawn. And some delve into important events that happened off camera between the conclusion of this series and the beginning of the Summer Jubilee duology, like Vasiht’h’s family moving to Escutcheon, and Lisinthir getting married. And that’s not even half the total. There are 21 “shorts” in this volume, and you’ll have a chance to revisit many of your favorite characters (yes, Uuvek fans, I see you!) and meet new ones.

Writing this book was an adventure, and I loved every moment of it. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it! (And when you’re done, you should absolutely go take my three-question survey and tell me which of the characters you want to see more of. Because if this worked once… well… Reese hasn’t had her collection of interstitial moments written yet…


Book Launch: Kherishdar’s Exception (Books of Kherishdar 4)

In all Kherishdar there is one man with no choices… and one woman with them all.

When alien taint destroyed her former House, Haraa nai‘Qevellen-osulkedi was raised out of casteless despair to translate human languages for the god of Civilization, the Ai-Naidari Emperor. At first her curiosity and intelligence serve her well, but the longer she spends among aliens, the more questions she has about her world. How did Kherishdar come about? Why is the Emperor singular, and the priest who serves Shame? Why does Kherishdar need an Exception, and why is it always a woman, and why does she annoy Haraa so badly?

Kherishdar’s Exception is a coming-of-age story set in a world where everyone has a place. But among the Ai-Naidar, you don’t get to choose that place.


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Of all the books I write, the books of Kherishdar are among the most science fictiony in the old sense, the one I loved best when I first discovered the genre: immersion in an alien culture, complete with made-up language. As such, they’re pretty hardcore. But I love writing them, and I love the language, and their fans, though fewer than the Peltedverse’s, have the most amazing discussions when they talk about the concepts in these books.

So if that’s your jam, try the series by starting with The Aphorisms of Kherishdar, which, with its companion The Admonishments of Kherishdar, serve as primers to the setting and introduce you to the main characters who propel the events of the following two novels. Maybe you’ll bounce off it, but maybe you’ll love it…

For those of you who already do, I say: raiselovrus pinith aishenesh. I welcome you (and will always welcome you) home.

Book Launch: Faith in the Service (Alysha 5, Peltedverse)

An internal threat aimed at derailing the debate about Fleet’s future; an external one opening the way for the worst kind of outlaws in a new part of space. Alysha and Taylitha are on separate sides of the sector, holding down their ends of what’s supposed to be a routine refit and officers’ retreat… so naturally they’re confronted with problems that play to their flaws, and without each other as back-up.

But Fleet is a family—one that bickers, but forms a united front in the face of adversity—and help can come from unexpected places. Will they face their challenges alone? And should they, when faith in their comrades is the glue that holds their organization together?

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I have liked every Alysha book I’ve written (obviously, or I wouldn’t have written them), but rarely have I felt that all the themes in a series came together so completely as they have in Faith. We see characters from every single one of the previous books, including Alysha’s Fall. We get to deal with redemption, and personal change, and working relationships. We grapple with Fleet’s identity crisis… we even take on Alysha’s past, and make some peace with it. Along the way there’s laughter and horror, action and contemplation, stirring battles in space and daring confrontations in living rooms. Alysha gets to be Alysha, magnificently… and Taylitha gets to be so very Taylitha. (While, naturally, Alastar is quietly competent and Laelkii kibitzes.)

Think of this one as a great new episode of Star Trek, with a serious-to-romancey A plot and a funny-to-serious B plot, and you’ve got the gist of it. I loved writing it… I hope you’ll love reading it. Enjoy!

Book Launch: Farmer’s Crown, Jubilee Summer 2 (Peltedverse)

Sediryl has always yearned for responsibility–and power–and she was convinced she was ready for them… until the events of the Chatcaavan war demonstrated just how immense those responsibilities were, and just how parlous the power necessary to fulfill them. Even so, she’s determined to prove herself worthy to her empress and all the Eldritch: the rich, the poor, the disenfranchised and the entrenched. Showing that she can be all things to all people is hard enough without Liolesa’s former heir stirring the pot. And that’s without Eldritch history casting its long shadow over the proceedings….

She has less than a month to convince the Eldritch that she deserves the heir’s coronet, and none of them can afford for her to fail. The road to the future leads through her cropfields, and only Sediryl can take them to it… if they’ll follow.

Farmer’s Crown completes the Jubilee Summer duology and sets the stage for the next generation of Peltedverse novels. There’s a storm on the horizon….



Here it is, Book 2 of the “wedding novella”! No, seriously. It’s even longer than Book 1. But it answers a lot of questions raised in Healer’s Wedding (and other books from other series, even–Reese fans, you’re finally getting a reveal you’ve been waiting for!), and raises some new ones, and sets the stage adequately for the next generation of novels. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. <3


Book Launch: Healer’s Wedding (Jubilee Summer 1), a Book of the Peltedverse


Nearly a year has passed since the conclusion of the Chatcaavan War… which means it’s time for Jahir and Sediryl to marry, and Sediryl to kneel for the coronet of the imperial heir! All their allies are gathering to celebrate, from the expected, like the Queen Ransomed and Lisinthir, to mentors and friends from years past. But life doesn’t pause for momentous events, no matter how joyous or anticipated. There are issues Jahir and Sediryl have yet to resolve, issues that reflect the greater challenges besetting their world and the Alliance. Before they can join hands for the wedding cloth, they’ll have to face at least one of those challenges… and it won’t be the first.

Healer’s Wedding, Book 1 in the Jubilee Summer duology, brings together the characters from Her Instruments, Dreamhealers, and Princes’ Game for a capstone season of politics and pleasure. Return to the homeworld of the Eldritch and the company of friends!

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I knew I wanted to write the story of Jahir and Sediryl’s wedding after the events of Princes’ Game 6: From Ruins. After building toward it in three separate series with mentions dropped across multiple books, you certainly deserved to see their happy ending! My plan had been something like A Rose Point Holiday, a gentle, self-encapsulated, short installment to fill in the gap between all the books that have come before in the Eldritch series, and all the ones I have planned next.

Naturally I wound up with two books. It was the only way to do all the separate threads justice that I’ve left so enticingly dangled in all those separate series, starting with Girl on Fire. The Jubilee Summer series is the result, and it is full of political intrigue, plot set-ups, even more of those enticingly dangled questions… and all of those sweet and funny and satisfying moments I know you’ve been craving. We get to see the Queen Ransomed as a mother and a political power. Not only does Vasiht’h cook and bake, but his mother does too–and so does Kis’eh’t! And Jahir gets to relax, not just with Lisinthir, but with the girl he’s been waiting for all his life. We even see a lot more of Liolesa, and I promise you some of her scenes will have you laughing.

I might have left a lot of those new enticingly dangled questions as set-ups for future books or novellas or shorts… but I hope by now you know when I make promises, I keep them. We’re in this together.

So, Book 1! Which is also the first of my books to have a simultaneous print release with the e-book, so if you’re into paper, it’s there for you! Enjoy! And if you’ve already eaten it whole, the Book 2 pre-order is already up–get that here. That’s in two months… not too long to wait, I hope. Book 2 is even longer than Book 1, and as full of delight.

Thanks for reading, y’all. More, and more, to come. <3