Pi (chart) Day!

Happy pi (π) day! Those of you who’ve watched one of our recent virtual events know that I’ve been making astrological charts based on one of the magic systems and the in-world calendar of The Mask of Mirrors. Because that system (numinatria) is so intrinsically tied to mathematics and sacred geometry, it seemed fitting to do a chart for pi day.
Numinatria is an esoteric magic system of numerology and sacred geometry. The numbers 0 through 10 and their corresponding shapes have magical associations and divine power through the Seterin godhead, the Lumen. Numinatrian astrology is based on the Seterin calendar, which divides the 365 day year into ten months of 36 days each, and five intercalary days around the summer solstice (the Seterin New Year). These intercalary days split the month of Colbrilun, representing the division of Illi as both 0 and 10 and the break in the cycle that is death, the return to the Lumen, and rebirth. Two centuries ago, Kaius Rex conquered Nadežra and imposed the Seterin calendar, setting the year of his conquest as year 1. The date at the start of The Mask of Mirrors is 1 Suilun 210. However, astrologers use the original Seterin year to chart horoscopes. The year at the start of the book, according to the Seterin calendar, is 983. Astrological charts, sometimes called trines, are composed of three parts: the Prime (based on the birth month and time of day), which represents the personality of the individual or state of the situation in question, the Alter (based on the birth date and placement in the month), which represents the life path or trajectory of the person or situation in question, and the Trisect (based on the birth year), which represents how the person or situation fits in the larger world context. Charts can be made for a variety of reasons beyond birth dates, from planning an auspicious day to hold an event, to figuring out whether two or more people, families, or institutions are compatible. Remnants of an old Vraszenian tradition similar to the “Monday’s Child” poem associates personality with the day of the week someone was born on. It has nothing to do with Seterin astrology, but many Nadežrans still put some faith in this system. Here’s the reading for Pi Day:
  • Date
    • Gregorian Calendar: March 14, 2021
    • Nadežran Calendar: 30s/e Pavnilun 985 (212)
  • Calculations
    • Prime: Sebat influenced by Sessat
    • Alter: 3rd day of 4th iteration, Tricat (Quarat)
    • Trisect: Ninat, Noctat, Quinat
    • Moon Phases: Corillis Waxing Crescent, Paumillis Last Quarter Fading
    • Charting Notes: Quad 3 sunwise spiral, Sebat on earthwise side, Sessat on sunwise side; Quarat inside Tricat in quad 4; Ninat, Noctat, Quinat on outside.
  • Reading:
    • Ruled by Sebat – Perfection-in-Imperfection
      • Associations: Creativity, Transformation, Renewal
      • Metal: Prismatium
      • Gem: glass prism
      • Color: rainbow (light spectrum)
      • Animal: peacock
    • The individual
      • Sebat – Today is a day to create — do art, craft stuff, make food, channel whatever is in your heart and mind and put it out in the world. It might be imperfect, but you have to make it first before you can make it better. Embrace perfection-in-imperfection.
      • Sessat (influence) – Appreciate friendship, camaraderie, cooperation, and collaboration. We are each one among many, and we can only reach greatness when we’re lifted by others.
    • The path
      • Tricat: All paths have a beginning, a middle, and an end, even if we can’t see those when we’re on them. Home and family are found in the people we meet along the way.
      • Quarat (influence): The path leads to wealth and luck — both good and ill. It is best to share good fortune and let bad fortune pass quickly.
    • The world
      • Year – Quinat: The world is shattered and shaped by great events and great people, like a chisel sculpting stone.
      • Decade – Noctat: The world is a gift meant to be experienced and enjoyed; it is the birthright of every person. But we corrupt that right when we make others pay the price for the pleasure we take.
      • Century – Ninat: This is the final truth of the world: People die, regimes fall, empires crumble. From the ashes springs new life.
    • Interesting Takeaways
      • This is 3.14 Pi day!
      • Seven numena from Tricat to Ninat (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) are represented with no repeats. Seven numena is the most that any chart can contain.
      • Sebat is the numen of perfection in imperfection because it is mathematically impossible to create a perfect heptagon. Pi is 22 (11 doubled) divided by 7.
      • Weekday: Ošidny (Anoshkin/owl) – astute observer, aloof cynic, “Ošidny kept his watch at night.”

Upcoming events of awesomeness!

It has been bonkers around here for the last two months or so, with a nigh-constant stream of interviews and promotional events. That’s slacking off at last, but there are two more coming up that I want to particularly draw attention to . . .

First, this Sunday, February 28th, we’re getting the band back together! Myself, Alyc, my husband, and two friends of ours from my grad school days (Emily Dare and fellow author Michael R. Underwood) are getting together for a Rook and Rose Blades in the Dark tabletop game. We all used to game together back in Bloomington — and in fact, the only reason I use the past tense there is that Mike doesn’t live out in the Bay Area with the rest of us, so he’s not in our current gaming group. But he’s offered to GM a one-shot game this Sunday, from 6 p.m. Eastern/3 p.m. Pacific until about three hours later, which will be streaming live on Twitch. (My first time doing this kind of thing for an audience, eek!) We’ll be playing members of the Oyster Crackers, an Upper Bank knot of thieves that appear briefly in The Liar’s Knot; I suspect we may run into the Rook. But I have no idea! It’s in Mike’s hands! This feels so weird and so awesome at the same time!

And second, on Wednesday, March 10th, Alyc and I will be doing an event with Tubby & Coo’s, a great independent bookstore in New Orleans. This is set up courtesy of fellow author Bryan Camp, a New Orleans local; we’ll have a reading and a conversation with him. That’s at 6 p.m Central, which is 7 p.m. Eastern and 4 p.m. Pacific.

. . . plus some more interviews, but those are more of a “record it and then it’ll go live later” kind of thing. Oof. Full court press in promoting The Mask of Mirrors has been fun, but it’s also tiring, y’all.

A deleted scene from The Mask of Mirrors!

I posted about this on Twitter a little while ago, but for those who either don’t follow our joint account or missed it in the general flood of Twitter-ness (all too easy to do): we’ve added to this site a scene we cut from The Mask of Mirrors. It originally took place late in the book — Chapter 19 of 24 — so I don’t recommend clicking through if you haven’t read the novel yet, as it is very full of spoilers. But if you have read it, enjoy!

Will you trust THE LIAR’S KNOT?

We are delighted to announce that the second book of the Rook and Rose trilogy will be called . . .

The Liar’s Knot

Like The Mask of Mirrors, this is a card from the pattern deck. It’s the card of trust . . . and also the card of betrayal, depending on whether its position is revealed or veiled.

Our characters? Having trust issues? And maybe betraying or being betrayed? Nah.

Currently it’s slated to come out in November — yes, of this year! We’re doing our best not to keep you all waiting for the next set of twists and turns. Stay tuned here for more news, or sign up for the newsletter to get goodies while you wait!

THE MASK OF MIRRORS IS OUT + where to find us in the next month

The time has come, the walrus said, to celebrate the fact that The Mask of Mirrors is out at last!

cover art for The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick

Now we begin to enact the ritual dance of the Author With a New Book Out — which is to say, our schedule is chock-full of Things we are doing for promotion. Right now you can find our Big Idea piece up at John Scalzi’s blog and our My Favorite Bit piece up at Mary Robinette Kowal’s, not to mention the various other interviews and podcasts we’ve been lining up for the last two months. But that’s not all — we’ve also got several events coming up in the near future!

TONIGHT, at 7 p.m. Pacific, we’ll be doing a joint event with Christopher Paolini at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. Signed and personalized books are available!

On Thursday, January 21st, at 6 p.m. Pacific, we will be doing a joint event with Andrea Stewart (author of The Bone Shard Daughter) at Orbit Live. This event will also be made available on YouTube afterward, for those who aren’t able to attend.

We will be doing an AMA at r/Fantasy on Tuesday, January 26th — so if you have questions you’d like to ask, get ’em ready!

Marie will also be teaching a workshop on how to do public readings of your work, through the auspices of the Dream Foundry.

On Wednesday, February 3rd, at 7 p.m. Pacific, Marie will be reading at The Story Hour.

And finally (for now, anyway), Marie will be participating in virtual Boskone, from February 12th-14th! Precise programming schedule TBA.

Go forth and tell everyone the book is out! We know the world is very full of other stuff going on right now, much of it bad and more important for the general state of the world than the publication of a fantasy novel . . . but also, live goes on at the same time, and so does work. Pandemics and white supremacists be damned — we want to enjoy this moment!

Book Week Launch Events

We have two exciting events coming up for next week’s publication of The Mask of Mirrors.

First, Mysterious Galaxy is hosting a virtual book launch on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7pm PT. It’s a joint event with Christopher Paolini, author of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, where we’ll chat about our books and writing and try not to dwell too much on the state of the world but instead focus on our hopes for the new year.

Then, on Thursday, Jan. 21 at 6pm PT, our publisher, Orbit Books, is hosting a livechat and Q&A with us and Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter, where we’ll… chat about our books and writing and try not to dwell… you get the idea!

It’s free to register for the events, so come join us for the launch of our new adventure!

And YOU get a book, and YOU get a book, and YOU get a book!

Y’all, there are so many giveaways right now for The Mask of Mirrors. In no particular order:

* Alyc and I are asking people to design a Rook and Rose cocktail and mocktail! (We want something celebratory to drink on the book’s release day.) You have until noon Pacific on Monday the 18th to send us a recipe for either one or both, with the only real restriction being that Alyc loathes all forms of gin, so probably best to avoid that. We’ll choose one winner in each category and send them a signed copy of The Mask of Mirrors, along with one of the gorgeous bookplates Orbit had made! (US only — our apologies to people overseas, though we still welcome recipe suggestions from you.) You can post your recipes here or on Twitter or Facebook, or send them via our site.

* Beneath Ceaseless Skies is running their own giveaway, ending Wednesday the 13th. All you have to do is respond to that post with your favorite caper/thief story published in BCS (and there’s a list of candidates to get you started). And in case you missed it, they have a Rook and Rose short story, too!

* And our publisher is running a giveaway, too! This one is open to both US residents and UK residents, with separate portals for each. That goes through the end of the month.

* Finally, you’ve got about two days left (as of this post going live) to enter a Booksweeps giveaway for fifty epic fantasy novels, The Mask of Mirrors included! That one ends in the wee hours of the morning for U.S. residents on Thursday the 14th.

The Clothing Makes the Con Artist

The Mask of Mirrors is a book shot through with textile metaphors, from slang terms like ‘knots’ for the gangs and ‘cuffs’ for the nobility; to the pattern deck and its suits of the spinning, woven, and cut threads; to the interweaving of multiple PoVs to create a dense cloak of intrigue. We didn’t consciously start out with that model in mind, but once we started crafting the world, the textile metaphors only got stronger.

However, one thread that isn’t metaphorical at all is the importance of clothing and fashion, something we knew from the beginning would be central to Ren’s ability to sell her con. There aren’t many human cultural universals out there, but the importance of clothing and fashion in determining whether a person is in-group or out-group might be one of the closest things to a constant that we’ve got. And Ren has her sister, Tess, who might not be able to weave lies with her words, but she can damn well tailor them into her clothing designs.

Something so intrinsic to the main plot couldn’t be handwaved (not that we wanted to!) We had to figure out a complex language of fashion in the same way we’d done with the magic, social, political, and economic systems. We’re fairly well-suited to this kind of work: Alyc has a hobbyist background in costuming for theater and historical re-creation, and although Marie likes to downplay it, she’s no slouch in the sewing department either.

For Nadežra, we knew we needed two ‘looks’ – one for the indigenous Vraszenians and one for the descendants of the colonizers from Seste Ligante (who follow the fashion changes from their parent countries). We also wanted a hybrid look for common Nadežrans – people who might have a mixed Ligante/Vraszenian heritage, but don’t have cultural ties to either group.

One of the silhouettes was dictated by the image we already had in mind for the Rook. That character was so closely tied to his conceptual forebears — Zorro, the Scarlet Pimpernel, the Dread Pirate Roberts, Ezio — that we had to dress him in a tailored coat resembling a justacorps or frock coat, and high leather boots so the coat could swing around the tops of the boots when he swashes and duels.

Look, we are simple people. We delight in simple pleasures. And one of them can best be summed up in a stanza from Alfred Noyes’ “The Highwayman”:

“He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh!
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
   His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.”

The Rook’s costume is a bit of an echo of a bygone era (his coat is of a longer, looser, more functional cut than current Liganti fashion trends), but in order to not make it seem like someone’s grandpa was running around on rooftops, we decided to take advantage of the old adage about fashion recurring in cycles. That let us have that same swishy skirted coat/waistcoat style for our contemporary Liganti look, with one of the main differences being colors (the current fashion is for pale neutrals and pastels) and preferred textiles (brocades, velvet, and satin-woven cottons and silks thanks to advances in technology and trade).

Little details like this might seem unimportant, but having them means we can figure out ways to use them — and use the fashion — to further the story. For example, pastels can be difficult to maintain, which means there are a lot of stained pieces at remnant stalls that Tess can pick up for cheap… which is one reason that trendsetter Renata begins setting a fashion for brighter, bolder colors and a more streamlined, tailored look. Dyeing is easier than bleaching, and tailoring means you can creatively use smaller pieces and less fabric!

With Vraszenians, it all came down to the textile metaphors we mentioned. They are central to Vraszenian culture, to the point where lineages are tracked by embroidery, hair braiding is an art, and knotwork charms abound. Thus the panel coat became the core of that silhouette – a simple design that allows Vraszenians to display their love of and appreciation for embroidery, blackwork, needlepoint, and other fabric manipulations in that vein.

Because fashion is so important, we want readers to experience it as more than a parade of descriptions of colors and clothing pieces. We explore the sensual elements of clothing like draping, layering effects, embroidery, and the ‘hand’ of the fabric. We want readers to feel the pile of the velvet under their fingers, hear the whisper of a lace overlay as it slides past the satin underneath, move with the weight and drape of the skirts of the Rook’s coat as he fights a duel. We want the clothes to feel lived in; we want our readers to want to live in them.

Lumen knows we do!