The Last Quarter & Letting Go of Outcomes

Also Announcing a Monthly Worldbuilding Webinar

I’m not quite sure what happened to August and September but I do know that October is almost upon us and with it the last quarter of 2020.

The profound upheavals and difficulties of this year can’t be summarized easily so I’ll just mention that on a personal level the issue I most struggled with was the practice of letting go of outcomes for things over which I have no control. Expectations often create an extraordindary barrier to moving forward on the most basic emotional and physical (work and health) levels.

For those interested in the personal practice I’ve been trying to engage in on this specific issue, I’ll share with the caveat that I am a long way from succeeding.

One thing I have been doing is to write out all my expectations and also my hopes. These aren’t necessarily the same thing but sometimes they are, and sometimes they are related, and often they interact so that if a hope isn’t realized then it post-facto hardens into an unmet expectation staring at you with brutally disappointed eyes.

After I write out expectations and hopes, I mark the ones clearly out of my control and do my best to write a mirror list of actions within my control. For example, I can write a book but I can’t control how well it sells or what readers think of it; what I can do is write the best book I’m capable of at the time I’m writing it.

It’s strangely difficult to give up the belief that somehow you could have done more in a specific way at a specific moment, waving a lucky rabbit’s foot, if only. If only.

And I don’t believe it is ever easy to “let go of expectation.” Part of the human condition is to live as if we are looking into the future when really we can only see our present while looking into the past. Humans walk backward into the future while often thinking their eyes are open to what will come.

That’s a long way of saying that my goal for the final quarter of the year is to work as a writer (seems simple, right?) and therefore to write with the end goal being to write, not to worry about what will come of the writing. Finish first.



The UK/Australia/New Zealand/Commonwealth & other regions edition of UNCONQUERABLE SUN publishes October 1. I have credible reports — in other words, photographic evidence — that the print version has already appeared in bookstores in the UK.

You can also pre order (from anywhere in the world) a signed and very limited first edition from Goldsboro Books. This is the only signed first edition of the novel available anywhere since because of COVID I was not able to do a short West Coast book tour as my publisher and I had discussed back in the ancient days of February 2020 which seems like a hundred years ago.

I love the UK cover, and I hope you all do too.




I’ve been wanting to do a podcast or vidcast of world building dialogues for years but simply never had the energy to set up a platform, much less figure out how to do distribution. When SFWA set up an ongoing Nebula Conference Online for the May 2020 Conference, I asked if they could accommodate me on their platform. They said yes.

To provide both in-reach benefit and out-reach benefit, SFWA and I agreed on the following: The live Webinar will only be open to Nebula Conference Online members (they will be the ones who can ask questions). You do not have to be a member of SFWA to join the ongoing Nebula Conference Online, but there is a conference fee.

About a week after each Webinar, a recording of the full session will be posted to the SFWA YouTube channel, open to anyone anywhere to watch for free.

Narrative Worlds: The goal of this monthly Sunday series is to dig into the idea of narrative worlds and the theory and practice of building the worlds in which stories are set. Rather than focusing on a survey of basics like “what elements do you need to create a setting,” Kate Elliott and a guest will discuss a specific topic in more depth. Topics will include technology, language, power, cosmology, use of details, agriculture, material culture, social space, and more.

The general outline of the one hour videocast will be an introduction, forty minutes of dialogue, and 15 minutes of Q&A.

The first Webinar is October 11 with Tade Thompson, and we’ll be discussing “What is world building? How much is too much? How little is too little?”

Future sessions will happen on the third Sunday of each month at 6 am Sydney, Australia / 1 pm PT / 2 pm MT / 3 pm CT / 4 pm ET / 5 pm Rio de Janiero / 8 pm Dakar / 9 pm UK / 10 pm Western Europe. Those dates are: 15 November 2020, 20 December 2020, 17 January 2021, 21 February 2021, 21 March 2021, 18 April 2021. Among others, I’m planning to talk to Ken Liu on "Worldbuilding Through Technology: It's Not About the Machines,” Zen Cho on “Prose Style as World Building,” Aliette de Bodard on how details can create worlds, Nilah Magruder (who is both an illustrator and a writer) on "The Visual & Tangible as Detail in Background Setting", Rebecca Roanhorse on archaeoastronomy and cosmology, and N.K. Jemisin on power in worldbuilding and worldbuilding as power.


But wait! What about Finn? Here he is at camp.

As always, thank you for your support. I could not do this without you all.

If you’ve read this far, a heads up: Before the end of the year I’ll have a special gift of a short story and illustration for all my readers in honor of the 10th anniversary of the publication of COLD MAGIC (September 2010). More on that later.

Kate Elliott

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