Wednesday 4/27, 7:00 PM, Seattle Central Library: In-person event!

Image description: Square graphic with pink moiré borders top and bottom and on the left, a black and white headshot of a short-haired white woman and on the right the cover of a novel, Spear, showing an illustration of a Celtic hanging bowl bubbling in the flames and images of people curling up out of the fumes.


Tomorrow evening I’ll be doing my first live, in-person event for Spear (simultaneously live-streamed), at SPL’s Microsoft Auditorium downtown at the Central Library:

This event is being presented in person at Central Library, with the option to view the livestream from home. It is presented in partnership with Elliott Bay Book Company, and is supported by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and the Gary and Connie Kunis Foundation. Thanks to media sponsor The Seattle Times.

There will be ASL interpretation and CART transcription for this event. The event will be recorded, captioned and then posted on the Library’s YouTube channel after the event.

For this one, I won’t have an interlocutor: it will just be me and Spear and the audience. In some ways it will be a throwback to pre-pandemic days when I always did these events on my own—reading from the book, and talking about why I wrote it, what I hoped for it, what was tricky, what was a delight, followed by a Q&A, then signing books and chatting to readers. In other ways, of course—such as the live-streaming component—it will be different.

But the essentials that I love will be the same: meeting you in-person, finding out what reading gives you joy, how you’re doing, what you hope for—or don’t like, or want more of—and signing your books. So do bring questions! I love—love love love—to talk about my work!

For more information, see SPL’s event page. Or just go register directly.

See you tomorrow!

April 27, 2022 | 7:00 PT
IN PERSON EVENT
Seattle Public Library (Hosted by Elliot Bay Book Co)
Central Library, Microsoft Auditorium
1000 Fourth Ave
Seattle, WA 98104
Info/Register

Spear adjective competition: Clue #13

Here is Clue #13 in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from a review by Andrea Rittschof in The Nameless Zine. The background illustration is taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by Rovina Cai.

Make sure you check the list of possible adjectives—because it keeps growing. And check out previous clues.

Image description: Square graphic in blue-grey showing a great, Celtic-style hanging bowl over the flames with smoke and steam fuming up, forming images of a woman in the woods, a fortified wall, a horse and rider, and more.. Centred in white text, “Spear is both subversive and brilliant… It is sublime, a work of art.” And below that, in red-orange, “Andrea Rittschof, The Nameless Zine”


The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

For the rules, and how to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that I’ve amended the rules so you can enter once a day—refining your guesses as the clues mount up!

DO CHECK OUT THE UPDATED LIST OF ADJECTIVES THAT HAVE BEEN USED MORE THAN FOUR TIMES! We have a couple more words that crossed the threshold…

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

Today: Harvard Bookstore & Third Place Books, 4 :00 PM PT/7:00 PM ET, with Alix Harrow

In just a few hours, I’ll be talking with Alix Harrow for Harvard Bookstore, cooping with Seattle’s own Third Place Books (which now has a stack of signed copies specially for those who register for this event). And, oh, do we have plans for you!

Alix and I are both fascinated by the uses and abuses of retold tales, the way cliches can be both useful and dangerous. We both have Many Thoughts on subverting national fantasies—and fantasy in general—plus what works and what doesn’t, and why. Honestly, I think we could do five of these things and still have more to say, so it’ll be a jam-packed evening, fast and furious. Especially as we’ll also be gushing about each other’s work. (If you haven’t read A Spindle Splintered, you really should.)

So do please come listen to us talk about the past and present, representation and art. Bring a friend—bring two friends! Bring questions—lots of questions! I AM SERIOUS: BRING QUESTIONS! For me, part of the point of these things is to find out what you do and don’t like, what you want to know, what you don’t much care about. This is your chance to find out what you want to know. I really do like talking about my work.

Register here. It’s free.

See you soon!

April 25, 2022 | 4:00 PM PT/7:00 PM ET
VIRTUAL EVENT	 
Harvard Bookstore and Third Place Books
In Conversation w/Alix E. Harrow
Platform: Zoom Webinar			
Info/Register

Spear—plus furred, finned, feathered, and fluttery friends

When Hild came out, readers began to send me pictures of their pets variously disapproving, disdaining, destroying, dozing on or delighting in the book. Before Spear came out I made a few graphics of the ARCs with various beasts—T. rex, a horse, a hedgehog, a leopard—and now, five days after publication, others are continuing that noble tradition. So far we have a beagle, a parrot, butterflies, and several cats. But there’s always room for more!

So send me a picture of your beast/s—real or creative (I have a picture somewhere of the Hild hardcover surmounted by a crocheted tardigrade)—and I’ll retweet or repost or add to this post (which I’ll turn into a page).

Happy Sunday, and happy reading to you and your furry, finned, feathered, fiendish, and fluttery friends.

Algernon, always coordinated and fashion-forward — Angelique Corthals
@readingbeagle Instagram
Solomon, who fortunately doesn’t have to choose — @yetanotherkelly Instagram
Romper Stomper, monstrously possessive
@bookish_black_hole Instagram
Stella, star of the show — Lydia Zoells
Bony, being patient
Charlie — who does not like to share his (cough) wheelchair
Marketing moggies of Tordotcom
Hedgepig, heading for safety
Kitty, like Romper Stomper, does not like to share

Spear adjective competition: Clue #12

Here is Clue #12 in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from a review in Publishers Weekly. The background illustration is taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by Rovina Cai.

Image description: Square graphic in blue-grey showing a background image of someone in 6th-century armour, sitting on a stone blowing on a dandelion puffball. The seeds rise like smoke, hiding their face. Centred in white text, “Fresh, emotionally immediate, steeped in period texture…a genuine pleasure.” And below that, in red-orange, “Publishers Weekly”


The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

For the rules, and how to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that I’ve amended the rules so you can enter once a day—refining your guesses as the clues mount up!

DO CHECK OUT THE UPDATED LIST OF ADJECTIVES THAT HAVE BEEN USED MORE THAN FOUR TIMES! We have a couple more words that crossed the threshold…

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

Today: Women and Children First, 2:00pm PT/4:00 pm CT, with Riva Lehrer

In just a few hours: my third event for SPEAR! I’ll be talking with Riva Lehrer, artist (she made the wonderful portrait of me as a snow leopard), memoirist, and disability activist. Riva and I have done a couple of events together before. Come listen to us talk about the past and present, representation and art. So join us! Bring a friend—bring two friends! Bring questions—lots of questions! I love talking about my work.

Register here.

See you soon!

April 22, 2022 | 2:00 PM PT/4:00 PM CT
VIRTUAL EVENT	
Women and Children First (Chicago)
In Conversation w/Riva Lehrer
Platform: Crowdcast
Info/Register

Today: Books in Common, 6:30pm PT, with Nisi Shawl

In just a few hours: my second event for SPEAR! I’ll be talking with Nisi Shawl, author, editor and all around fabulous person. As Nisi says, “Need some magical mists, knock-out sword fights, and Early Medieval lesbian love affairs? Come on over!” So bring questions! Bring lots of questions! I love talking about my work.

Register here.

See you soon!

April 21, 2022 | 6:30 PM PT
VIRTUAL EVENT
Books In Common NW (Paulina Springs Books, Sisters, OR; Madison Books, Seattle, WA; and Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, MT)
In Conversation w/Nisi Shawl
Platform: Zoom Webinar
Info/Register

Spear adjective competition: Clue #11

Here is Clue #11 in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from a review by Margaret Kingsbury in Buzzfeed. The background illustration is taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by Rovina Cai.

Image description: Square graphic in blue-grey showing a silhouette of a rider on a horse surrounded by wind or smoke. Centred in white text, “This immersive and inclusive retelling is breathtakingly beautiful, sharing a vision of Arthurian legend that dismisses earlier retellings in favor of nance and joy.” And below that, in red-orange, “Margaret Kingbury, Buzzfeed”


The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

For the rules, and how to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that I’ve amended the rules so you can enter once a day—refining your guesses as the clues mount up!

DO CHECK OUT THE UPDATED LIST OF ADJECTIVES THAT HAVE BEEN USED MORE THAN FOUR TIMES! We have a couple more words that crossed the threshold…

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

Today: Tubby and Coos, 4pm PT/ 6pm CT

In just a few hours, my first public event for SPEAR! I’ll be talking to Candice, the owner of Tubby & Coos in New Orleans, about all things Arthurian. Then I’ll read a juicy battle scene, then answer questions. So bring questions! Bring lots of questions! I love talking about my work.

Register here.

See you soon!

April 20, 2022 | 4:00 PM PT/6:00 PM CT		
VIRTUAL EVENT
Tubby & Coos Bookstore (New Orleans, LA)
In Conversation w/Candice Huber (Store Owner)
Platform: Streamyard to Crowdcast/FB Live
Info/Register

Spear adjective competition: Clue #10

Here is Clue #10 in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from a review by Gary Wolfe in Locus (it’s a great review!). The background illustration is taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by Rovina Cai.

Image description: Square graphic in blue-grey showing a figure kneeling in the shallows of a river, leaning their weight on a sword. In the upper third of the image, the figure is framed by bleak, bare trees. Beneath her, under her knee and barely visible, there is the hint of another submerged figure. Below this is the figure’s reflection in the moving water—darker and sharper and violently spattered and streaked with loose brushstrokes that cascade down the rest of the image. Centred in white text, “Mesmeriszing… A lyrical bildungsroman drenched in the natural world. A marvelously concise epic entirely Griffith’s own.” And below that, in red-orange, “Gary Wolfe, Locus”


The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

For the rules, and how to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that I’ve amended the rules so you can enter once a day—refining your guesses as the clues mount up!

DO CHECK OUT THE UPDATED LIST OF ADJECTIVES THAT HAVE BEEN USED MORE THAN FOUR TIMES! We have a couple more words that crossed the threshold…

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

Spear is here!!

My author copies finally arrived! And I am thrilled: Spear is a very handsome book indeed. Obviously it looks fabulous—and I’ll talk more about that in a minute—but what really struck me is how it feels in the hand. First of all, the jacket has a seriously matte, tactile feel, with a little process on my name and title—not a lot; it’s subtle, just enough to feel substantial. But what’s really lovely is the size and weight.

When I was a teen I preferred reading library hardcovers; paperbacks were okay but they felt flimsy. Over the years, though, I’ve found my preference changing to trade paperbacks and I realise it’s a size issue. Many modern hardbacks are massive and heavy, too unwieldy for comfortable reading unless you have big hands, which I don’t.1 This book is perfect! I could hold it for hours—which of course I wouldn’t need to because it’s only 184 pages long.

Given its length I worried the book might feel too thin, but look: it’s beautifully proportioned. And the spine of the jacket is very attractive. (Whenever I hold it I just want to stroke it.)

We’re always told not to judge a book by its cover but, hey, we all do. But I can tell you, this book just gets better and better the more you explore.

The front flap is nice—nothing massively special but nice:

Ditto the back, and here I’m pleased by the colour coordination: Black and white photo with black end papers; red titles to match the red title and author name on the front:

But it’s when you start to take the jacket off that you start to get a sense of the glories within:

Just look at that foil stamping—see how it glows! You can see the individual rivets on the shield. The spine is shiny, too, but I couldn’t get as good a picture of it.

Then there are the interior illustrations by Rovina Cai: five altogether: the perfect moody complement to the text.

The whole thing is just very nicely designed: exactly what a hardcover should be. I hope you enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed writing it.

Buy it anywhere books are sold. But if you want a signed, personalised hardcover, then order from Phinney Books, Third Place Books, University Books, Elliott Bay Book Company, or Brick & Mortar before tomorrow at noon. Anything after that—except if you get them signed in person—will be just a plain signature. But, as you’ve seen, the book itself is far from plain, very far…

IndieBound | Amazon.com | Bookshop.org | Barnes & Noble | Apple | Amazon.co.uk


1 This, apparently, surprises people. Perhaps because I have big shoulders and muscled arms people expect big shovel hands at the end of those arms, but, no; my hands are small.

Spear adjective competition: Clue #9

Here is Clue #9 in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from a review in Kirkus. The background illustration is taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by Rovina Cai.

Image description: Square graphic in blue-grey showing a great, Celtic-style hanging bowl over the flames with smoke and steam fuming up, forming images of a woman in the woods, a fortified wall, a horse and rider, and more. Centred in white text, “Griffith mines the Matter f Britain while turning tropes upside down. A fresh, often lovely take on Arthurian legend.” And below that, in red-orange, “Kirkus”


The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

For the rules, and how to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that I’ve amended the rules so you can enter once a day—refining your guesses as the clues mount up!

DO CHECK OUT THE UPDATED LIST OF ADJECTIVES THAT HAVE BEEN USED MORE THAN FOUR TIMES! We have a couple more words that crossed the threshold…

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

The Legendary Tour!

Most of my events will be virtual—most (but not all!) in conversation with others. I’m doing two in-person events—both solo presentations: one in downtown Seattle at the Seattle Public Library’s Microsoft Auditorium, and one at Brick & Mortar, in Redmond. It’s been an age since I did a live event on the Eastside, so that should be fun.

Some of the virtual events (maybe all; I haven’t checked) require preregistration, so follow the links and then the instructions.

April 20, 2022 | 4:00 PM PT/6:00 PM CT		
VIRTUAL EVENT
Tubby & Coos Bookstore (New Orleans, LA)
In Conversation w/Candice Huber (Store Owner)
Platform: Streamyard to Crowdcast/FB Live
Info/Register

April 21, 2022 | 6:30 PM PT
VIRTUAL EVENT
Books In Common NW (Paulina Springs Books, Sisters, OR; Madison Books, Seattle, WA; and Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, MT)
In Conversation w/Nisi Shawl
Platform: Zoom Webinar
Info/Register

April 22, 2022 | 2:00 PM PT/4:00 PM CT
VIRTUAL EVENT	
Women and Children First (Chicago)
In Conversation w/Riva Lehrer
Platform: Crowdcast
Info/Register
				
April 23, 2022 | 4:30 PM PT/7:30 PM ET
VIRTUAL EVENT 
Charis Books & More (Decatur, GA)
In Conversation w/Ed Hall
Platform: Crowdcast
Info/Register

April 25, 2022 | 4:00 PM PT/7:00 PM ET
VIRTUAL EVENT	 
Harvard Bookstore and Third Place Books
In Conversation w/Alix E. Harrow
Platform: Zoom Webinar			
Info/Register

April 27, 2022 | 7:00 PT
IN PERSON EVENT
Seattle Public Library (Hosted by Elliot Bay Book Co)
Central Library, Microsoft Auditorium
1000 Fourth Ave
Seattle, WA 98104
Info/Register

April 28, 2022 | 7:00 PM PT
VIRTUAL EVENT
Mysterious Galaxy
Solo Presentation
Info/Register

April 29, 2022 | 6:00 PM PT 
IN-PERSON EVENT
Brick & Mortar Books
7430 164th Ave NE, Suite B105 
Redmond, WA, 98052
Info/Register

The following bookstores will have signed books for sale—personalised to order while you’re there (for the SPL/EBBC event and the B&M event) or already prepared if you’ve preordered (Phinney Books), or to buy later if you’re not there in person. Some will also come with enamel pins!

  • Phinney Books, Seattle
  • University Bookstore, Seattle
  • Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle
  • Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park
  • Brick & Mortar, Redmond

All other bookstores in the above list will have signed bookplates. They may also have enamel pins while supplies last.

I hope you come. I’ll be reading sometimes, sometimes not, and depending on my interlocutor talking about everything under the sun. I love doing these things—but what I love most is talking to readers. So come! Bring questions! Bring a friend! Or two!

See you soon!

Spear adjective competition: Clue #8

Here is Clue #8 in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from a review on Grimdark. The background illustration is taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by Rovina Cai.

Image description: Square graphic in blue-grey showing someone in a grave, their eyes covered and a bloody knife on their chest, and surrounded by forget-me-knots and flying petals. Centred in white text, “Gorgeous… It blew my mind.” And below that, in red-orange, “Fabienne Schwizer, Grimdark”


The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

For the rules, and how to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that I’ve amended the rules so you can enter once a day—refining your guesses as the clues mount up!

DO CHECK OUT THE UPDATED LIST OF ADJECTIVES THAT HAVE BEEN USED MORE THAN FOUR TIMES! We have a couple more words that crossed the threshold…

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

Fab podcast interview!

In which—after Jason Concepcion and Rosie Knight say lovely things about HILD (1:06:00)—we talk (1:15:06) about SPEAR and HILD, my fantasy origin story & centring the Other, Talking Rabbits, nature & journeys, queer lit and #criplit, answering questions with hard work, guessing, and alcohol, MENEWOOD, and why for me writing is the best job in the world. Listen to X-Ray Vision here.

Spear adjective competition: Clue #7

Here is Clue #7 in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from a blurb by Hugo award-winning John Scalzi. The background illustration is taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by Rovina Cai—also a Hugo Award winner!

Image description: Square graphic in blue-grey showing a silhouette of a woman on a horse surrounded by wind or smoke. Centred in white text, “There is magic in Nicola Griffith’s words. Prepared to be enchanted.” And below that, in red-orange, “John Scalzi, author of The Kaiju Preservation Society.”


The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

For the rules, and how to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that I’ve amended the rules so you can enter once a day—refining your guesses as the clues mount up!

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

Listen to an excerpt from Spear

I just found that the publisher’s Spear page includes a link to a five-minute audio clip from near the beginning of the book. A frightened mother is telling stories of the Tuath Dé to a nameless child…

Spear adjective competition: Clue #6

Here is Clue #6 in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from a blurb by Bruce Holsinger. The background illustration is taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by the talented Rovina Cai.

Image description: Square graphic in blue-grey showing in the upper left two women by a lake and, larger, in the lower right a menacing figure approaching with a spear. Centred in white text, “Just dazzling!” And below that, in red-orange, “Bruce Holsinger, author of The Gifted School”


The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

  • A signed, personalised first edition first printing of Spear
  • A luscious enamel pin specially designed by Forensics & Flowers
  • A digital download of the audiobook, narrated by moi

For the rules and how to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that I’ve amended the rules so you can enter once a day—refining your guesses as the clues mount up!

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

SPEAR IN ONE WEEK!!!

Spear will be out in exactly one week. (One! Week! 7! Days! Holy shit.) I’ve been making all sorts of things like Zoom backgrounds for the tour—mostly virtual, but some in-person (and I won’t get to use them because, well, most of the virtual stuff will be on Crowdcast)—and nifty quote graphics, etc. for the competition. Now I’m also furiously writing essays and doing interviews.

I also made two very short videos, a combination of one of Rovina Cai’s gorgeous black and white interior illustrations, which she turned into a colour GIF, and a snippet of added narration. (For the story of that narration, see the first of this two-part post on Speaking Spear.)

I posted the first last week. Here’s the second.

Video description: Looped GIF of a black and white illustration with an overlying colour wash of blue showing someone in a grave, eyes covered and knife laid on their breast. The knife blade is red. The grave is surrounded by whirling leaves and cut forget-me-nots. 

Narration: “They took turns digging. She had chosen a spot where the trees told her they had no thick roots, and the badgers knew to be rich with worms, and well-loosened. And her mother was a small woman. It did not take long. Peretur climbed into the grave, laid her hands on the dirt walls, the floor—Come. Eat, grow, let all lives be one—then looked up to Lance. “Pass the ferns.” When she was satisfied with the green carpet, she said, “Now give her to me.” She laid Elen on the ferns and covered her in fur, then laid Talorcan’s knife in its sheath on her breast. Next to that went the spray of climbing rose. “This should have been your cup. I’m sorry. But we must keep it safe.”


Meanwhile, don’t forget there’s still 6 days to pre-order the hardcover, submit your receipt, and receive one of the very cool enamel pins created by Forensics and Flowers.

Image description: A grey jacket lapel with a round enamel pin in the shape of a red shield with raised rim and embossed rivets. On the shield are entwined forget-me-nots, with blue-and-yellow flowers and deep green leaves. Lying over all is a broad-bladed boar spear.

Spear adjective competition: Clue #5

Here is Clue #5 in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from a blurb by Jo Walton. The background illustration is taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by the talented Rovina Cai.

Image description: Square graphic in blue-grey showing a background image of someone in 6th-century armour, sitting on a stone blowing on a dandelion puffball. The seeds rise like smoke, hiding their face. Centred in white text, “Breathtaking. Nicola Griffith knows what she’s doing.” And below that, in red-orange, “Jo Walton, author of Or What You Will”


The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

  • A signed, personalised first edition first printing of Spear
  • A luscious enamel pin specially designed by Forensics & Flowers
  • A digital download of the audiobook, narrated by moi

Here’s what that lovely pin looks like, modelled by me on the lapel of my old but favourite jacket.

Pin design by Forensics and Flowers.

Image description: A grey suit jacket showing on the hand-stitched lapel a round enamel pin in the shape of a shield blazoned wiht fo rget-me-nots and overlaid by a spear. The pin is mostly red, with blue and green for the flowers.


For the rules and how to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that I’ve amended the rules so you can enter once a day—refining your guesses as the clues mount up!

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

Spear adjective competition: Clue #4

Here is Clue #4 in the One Adjective to Rule Them All competition. Words from a blurb by writer Malka Older. The background illustration is taken from one of Spear‘s interior artworks by the talented Rovina Cai.

Image description: Square graphic in blue-grey showing a background image of someone in a grave, eyes covered and knife laid on their breast. The grave is surrounded by whirling leaves and cut forget-me-nots. Centred in white text, “Mesmerizing, epic, and immersive.” And below that, in red-orange, “Malka Older”


The competition is OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD, NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

  • A signed, personalised first edition first printing of Spear
  • A luscious enamel pin specially designed by Forensics & Flowers
  • A digital download of the audiobook, narrated by moi

For the rules and how to enter, see One Adjective to Rule Them All. Please note that I’ve amended the rules so you can enter once a day—refining your guesses as the clues mount up!

Comments on this post are off because the only guesses that count are those on the original blog post or emailed directly to me.

Spear adjective competition: Clue #3

Thursday I started a competition OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD AND NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

  • A signed, personalised first edition first printing of Spear
  • A luscious enamel pin specially designed by Forensics & Flowers
  • A digital download of the audiobook, narrated by moi

So basically this, plus the audiobook:

Image description: Two photos of the novel, ‘Spear by Nicola Griffith.’ On the left, the closed book showing the magnificent cover. The background is charcoal, shading to black at the bottom, with the author’s name at the top in orange-red and the title, at the bottom, and ‘from the author Hild’ in white. The main image is of a great hanging bowl of black iron with inlaid figures and great bronze escutcheons for the hanging hooks. It is wreathed about by smoke and flame and fumes, and the fumes form images: in white, woods with a woman and a stone and a sword; about the trees, shading to orange, is an figure with a spear on a horse; a fort gate and box palisade, and over all, flying up in the smoke towards the author’s name, two birds. Just below the author’s name is a quote from Maria Dahvana Headley, “Spectacular…I’ve been waiting years for this book to exist.” On top of the book is a round enamel pin in the shape of a red shield with raised rim and embossed rivets. On the shield are entwined forget-me-nots, with blue-and-yellow flowers and deep green leaves. Lying over all is a broad-bladed boar spear. On the right, the book is open to the title page, showing the lovely textured paper—again, topped by the enamel pin.


Read the first post, One adjective to rule them all, for how to enter. Please leave a comment on that post, not this, so I can keep track. To facilitate that, I’m turning off comments here.

Here’s today’s clue, taken from Nerdist’s April Is Here To Shower You With Good Books

Image description: square graphic in grey-blue showing silhouette of a woman on a horse surrounded by wind or smoke. Printed in white, “A magical fantasy, Spear feels both entirely familiar and vibrantly new” and below, in orange-red, “Rosie Knight, Nerdist.”

Spear adjective competition: Clue #2

Yesterday I started a competition OPEN TO ANYONE IN THE WORLD AND NO PURCHASE NECESSARY! The winner gets 3 prizes in one:

  • A signed, personalised first edition first printing of Spear
  • A luscious enamel pin specially designed by Forensics & Flowers
  • A digital download of the audiobook, narrated by moi

So basically this, plus the audiobook:

Image description: Two photos of the novel, ‘Spear by Nicola Griffith.’ On the left, the closed book showing the magnificent cover. The background is charcoal, shading to black at the bottom, with the author’s name at the top in orange-red and the title, at the bottom, and ‘from the author Hild’ in white. The main image is of a great hanging bowl of black iron with inlaid figures and great bronze escutcheons for the hanging hooks. It is wreathed about by smoke and flame and fumes, and the fumes form images: in white, woods with a woman and a stone and a sword; about the trees, shading to orange, is an figure with a spear on a horse; a fort gate and box palisade, and over all, flying up in the smoke towards the author’s name, two birds. Just below the author’s name is a quote from Maria Dahvana Headley, “Spectacular…I’ve been waiting years for this book to exist.” On top of the book is a round enamel pin in the shape of a red shield with raised rim and embossed rivets. On the shield are entwined forget-me-nots, with blue-and-yellow flowers and deep green leaves. Lying over all is a broad-bladed boar spear. On the right, the book is open to the title page, showing the lovely textured paper—again, topped by the enamel pin.


Read yesterday’s post, One adjective to rule them all, for how to enter. Please leave a comment on that post, not this, so I can keep track. To facilitate that, I’m turning off comments.

Here’s today’s clue, taken from Buzzfeed’s All The Best Books Releasing in April:

Image description: square graphic in grey-blue showing faint ink outlines of two women by a lake and a menacing figure with a spear approaching along a distant path. Printed in white, “In this beautiful queer Arthurian retelling…every sentence sings” and in orange-red “Margaret Kingsbury, Buzzfeed.”

Competition: One adjective to rule them all—Clue #1

Background

Quite a while before Hild was published I started to notice the astounding number of comparisons to other writers I was getting in blurbs, reviews, and critical discussions. This was not usual for me or my work, so I started keeping track. I totted up the totals, wrote a post, and set up a competition for readers.

Now, just eleven days before Spear hits the shelves, I’m seeing a slightly different trend: use of the same adjectives over and over.1 So for my own amusement I started keeping a spreadsheet of adjectives in trade reviews, blurbs from other writers, and booksellers. (I’m not including reader reviews on platforms like Goodreads—and, after publication, Amazon—because that would get overwhelming pretty fast.) Also, I amalgamated a few things—such as ‘new classic/should be part of the canon’ and ‘spellbinding/enchanting/sorcerous’ and ‘mesmerising/hypnotic’ and ‘genderqueer/fluid’—which mostly mean the same thing (and in fact reviewers often use a mix of these words in a single review). And I left out a few things that are used in almost every mention, words and phrases that are variations on themes like Queer and Queer retelling, or Too short/wanted more, or Gender/Genderbent retelling, or Old-bones-new-story/Makes-it-her-own, and so on.

From that spreadsheet I’ve extracted a list of words that are used 4 times or more:

  • Amazing
  • Beautiful
  • Breathtaking
  • Brilliant
  • Canon/Classic
  • Captivating
  • Compelling
  • Concise
  • Dazzling
  • Delightful
  • Dreamy/Dreamlike
  • Effortless
  • Epic
  • Flowing/Fluid
  • Fresh
  • Genderqueer/Genderfluid
  • Gorgeous
  • Humane
  • Inclusive
  • Intense
  • Lovely
  • Lyrical/Poetic
  • Magical
  • Masterpiece/Masterful
  • Mesmerising/Hypnotic
  • New
  • Original
  • Polyamorous
  • Rich
  • Sensual/Sensuous
  • Spectacular
  • Spellbinding/Enchanting
  • Stunning
  • Subversive
  • Vivid
  • Wonderful

Note: This list occasionally grows as another adjective crosses the 4-mention cut-off. And the list is alphabetical, not in order of frequency—that’s your job!

Competition

The Rules

Guess the adjective used most frequently to describe Spear and then guess how many times it’s been used. (Edited to add: You can enter once a day between now and the end date.) The finalists will be chosen from those who guess the right word and the winner will be whoever gets closest to the noted frequency on my list. Just in case we have some eagle-eyed geniuses out there, the tie-breaker will be how many of the other Top 5 most-used adjectives you can guess. To enter, drop a comment here on the blog or, if you’re shy, email me directly using the contact form. ANY COMMENTS YOU MAKE ON ANOTHER PLATFORM—TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM—WILL NOT COUNT AS AN ENTRY. Mainly because it’s just too hard to keep track. I’ll be dropping at least one clue a day here—but perhaps also on Instagram or Twitter—and of course there is the constantly-updated list of reviews on the Spear page. But it’s highly curated; I’m not including every review, and in fact only the tiniest snippets of the ones I do include

The Deadline

10 days after Spear is published, so 29 April. I’ll be updating my spreadsheet until then—so who knows what word might swoop in from left field and take the top spot. Not me! But maybe you do…

The Prize

Actually not one, not two, but three (3) prizes!

  1. A signed and personalised hardcover of Spear (one of my own Author Copies, so you’ll know it’s a first edition, first printing)
  2. A delicious, specially-designed enamel pin
  3. And the digital audiobook, narrated by me

There might be other things I can come up, but that’s it for now.

First clue:

Image description: Square graphic of a dark blue-tinted background showing the outline of a bubbling, steaming Celtic hanging bowl overlaid by, in white, “Humane, intelligent and deeply beautiful.” and below that, in red/orange, “Alix Harrow, author of A Spindle Splintered.”


  1. This I have seen before, with the Aud novels, where almost every newspaper review (back in the day when many newspapers still ran book reviews) characterised the books, the prose, or Aud herself as both ‘brutal’ and ‘beautiful.’ I don’t think the books are brutal at all; I think critics were just fascinated by the juxtaposition of Aud’s raw joy in her physical body, her use of violence as just one tool in her set, and the occasional lyricism of the prose. (‘Lyrical’ was another word used often.)

SPEAR is an Indie Next pick

Some pretty cool books on this list. I am pleased!