24 Mar

An Interview goes live!

Fun stuff today … an interview I did with Tracy Cooper-Posey is live this morning. You can find it here!


I met Tracy at a workshop last October, and was immediately impressed with her overall approach to her work and her business as an independently publishing writer. It’s a different beast to be an indie, really. The creative and production mindsets are quite separate, and it’s hard to juggle between the two. in some ways, it’s a classic Goldilocks problem: Too much of one makes the porridge bitter, too much of the other leaves it unfinished!

Tracy gets it just right.

I would strongly suggest stopping by and picking up one of her books.

18 Feb

The Horror Genre & Toni Morrison

As result of a workshop we’ll be going to soon, Brigid and I were recently talking about the horror genre, and some of the difficulties it has. Specifically, we were talking story structure, and how the key to the genre is handling the root of the terror–the “monster” as it were. I posited in that discussion that stories in the genre were often not traditional stories when it comes to their structure, that stories in the horror genre were often written primarily just to reveal the depths of the big bad thing rather than to tell a tale, and that once this big bad thing was revealed the “story” was done and the “validation” began.

I should say that I am no expert on the genre. I’m not deeply read in it, and I’m 100% certain that you can find examples of great horror being written today. But I think it’s fair to say that the great horror being written today has a lot of undertow to fight against.

Brigid, for her part agreed in general to my view, saying something like: “Once the monster is revealed, I get a lot less scared.”

Against this conversation comes a great piece written by Grady Hendrix at Tor.com regarding Toni Morrison’s Beloved and the horror field‘s reluctance to embrace it.

It’s a good read for the insider and the fan alike. And it’s something worth thinking about from all directions. I was particularly taken with the juxtaposition of the genre’s present state of playing with its tropes as a foundation vs. Morrison’s focus on the individual and the sense of terror that springs from the things we do. I’m not suggesting one thing is better than the other–though I’ll admit I personally enjoy reading stories written from Morrison’s viewpoint better than the other. But I do think there is value in understanding the difference between the two. Morrison’s viewpoint is probably harder to write, and it’s certainly harder to read (meaning it makes one become introspective in the process of consuming it rather than be more of an outside observer).

I also appreciate that Hendrix spends a moment looking at the content and the social viewpoint of something like Morrison’s work in that its content forces us to look at things that we don’t always want to look at. This is a quandary.

It’s actually a quandary that we’re seeing in the area of comic books as they transform from the printed form onto the big screen. Comics were once a field for big morality tales, in reality. Pulpy at times, of course, but they were plays on good and evil, and individual responsibility, and the cost of being a good person vs. the shame of evil. The art in these things was often glorious, sometimes not. But the stories were huge. Today it seems to me that the entertainment value of a comic is more related to the effects one can put on the screen than the stories themselves. A related area is that the social conversations around comic films are focused more on inclusion regarding casting (which I fully agree with), rather than on inclusion regarding the portrayal of cultures in fuller ways. Perhaps that will be next. I don’t know. But it seems to me that comic book movies are really just playing with the tropes of comic books rather than focusing on things that made them (for me) great.

Anyway, I digress.

If you have interest in genre, or interest in Toni Morrison’s work, I suggest you read Hendrix’s thoughts. Definitely worth the time.

09 Feb

An interview, with me!

Yeah, I’ve been a little quiet lately. Such is life. 🙂 Let’s just say I’ve been steeped in story, and leave it at that for now.

In the meantime … as part of promoting the 2015 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, author Vanessa MacLellen has posted an interview with me. I figure I’ll just link to it here.

I’ll run for now, but I’ll be back.

Promise!

07 Aug

Mark Evans Makes Me Smile

We got back from an impromptu trip to Arizona, and upon return I was pleased to see my contributors copy of the October issue of Analog complete with my story “Following Jules.” The story itself is getting some good chatter around the web (here, here, and here, for example), but what had me hopped up about the contrib copies was that I saw that the internal illustration for the story was a fantastic piece done by Mark Evans.

This is one of the best perks about being published–I’m still a pretty small fry, but I can say that my work has been illustrated by several remarkable artist, including Frank Wu, Kelly Freas. Mark Evans’ work on “Following Jules” makes me smile.

19 Jul

WotF and Galaxy’s Edge, and a Review

My Google collector brought me this nice little piece that appeared on WatchListNews. I suspect Mike actually met the other two guys at the WotF workshop, whereas I wrangled my way into that contest sometime after I had begun corresponding with him. Not that it matters at all. I found it interesting to see the numbers, though. 348 writers and 276 illustrators have wound their way through the workshop over the years. Add to that folks who went through the various Clarions and other workshops and you see why it’s such a “competitive” field.

Except, of course, the only real competitor we all have is ourselves.

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I also note that Locus Online’s Lois Tilton has reviewed “Following Jules.” I think she liked it, though the commentary is fairly neutral. At least she seemed to get the point that I was focusing on in the telling and she stated it well, and at least she had none of the snarkyness that seemed to be leveled on a few others. So I’ll just interpret that in my own selfish best interest (he said, grinning).

04 Jul

A Couple Brief Reviews

Always nice to see a nice blurb/review of something I wrote, in this case a bit on “The Legend of Parker Clark and Lois Jane”, which this reviewer gave 5-stars. Yay!

Lois Tilton at Locus also reviewed “Operation Hercules” in what I’ll take as a favorable light. I’ll repeat it here since I can’t link straight to it:

An alternate WWII, in which the Axis powers have employed triceratops against the weakened Allies. Newman has no weapons that can stop them, and no reinforcements on the way. Instead, HQ comes up with the idea that he should capture one alive.

Irony here, and the eternal idiocy of war. One has to feel sorry for the triceratops, which never wanted to get shot at in human wars.

26 Dec

Who Says Star Trek Wasn’t Fashion-Forward?

Here’s a fun little bit on Star Trek fashion.  I think my favorites are the pink and yellow pasties and the karate get-ups.  The green slave dancer’s pretty good, too, but then a costume that consists mostly of body paint is already a few rungs up the ladder.

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On the writing front, I think I’m through with the third episode of Lords of Existence.  I get another two or three under my belt and I’ll see about getting them into a publication cycle.  I’m trying to spend a good chunk of this week+ off in a voracious attempt to breathe in as much as I can related to today’s publishing environment.  Sure, I’ve been trying to do that for months and months already, and that it’s an endless and futile task because, of course, once you get it down pat you find everything has changed (if it was ever how you thought it was in the first place).  But hey, a guy’s gotta have something to do in the middle of a show storm, eh?

 

24 Dec

goodreads, here I come

In another sign that I’ve joined the modern age, I finally got around to joining goodreads. I admit I’ve been interested in it for some time, and that interest was tweaked by friends Tammy and John, who are both big-time readers (and, of course, John’s a guy I’ve collaborated with a few times). I was most intrigued by the recommendations it might come up with for me based on other books I rank.

So I got onto the site and started rating a few books–mostly what I’ll call “old standards,” books I’ve read longer ago, but that have stuck with me. Those, I figure, are my sweet spot. So I tagged, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game series and Mike Resnick’s Kirinyaga stories, and Harlan Ellison’s Deathbird Stories. To this I added Some Neil Gaiman, a little Rob Sawyer, and an Isaac, of course. No good SF list can be complete without an Isaac Asimov–though I realize now in retrospect I left off Bradbury (reminds self to go the hell back there to fix this clear problem).

Mix in a Harry Potter book, and Elric, of course. There is probably the first sentence ever written in which the names Harry Potter and Elric of Melnibone both appear. (The last is, of course, the second). And, of course Jacqueline Carey’s first three books in the Kushiel series. Then there’s my fave Stephen Leigh book Dark Water’s Embrace … though in truth I need to rethink that a bit after having read his story The Woods. And Michael Chabon, Neal Stephenson. Finally, a quick rating of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games.

After noting that I’m now reading Patty Jansen’s Shifting Reality, I then took a spin to the page where Goodreads’ recommendations awaited me. It was interesting.

Scalzi’s Old Man’s War lept out at me. As did a collection of Bradbury shorts. Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep (which I sadly must admit I have not yet read). Plus a bunch of Guy Gavriel Kay and Robert McCammon, among others.

So, overall, it was interesting. The selections seem in the right directions, anyway. I’ll have to spend more time building up my library of reads and see how it changes things.

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I also have to admit to doing a search for books under my own name, and of course got back a bunch of anthologies–most of which were positively rated. Always beats the alternative.

02 Dec

My Next Big Thing: Wakers

I’m a little late on this, but I’ve been busy on NaNoWriMo. Yes, life is tough. Anyway, a local writer, Paul Hoffman, invited me to participate in a My Next Big Thing blog tour. Paul is a local guy (assuming you live–like I do–in Columbus, Indiana, anyway), and he’s written A Murder in Wautosa, a book detailing the true-life murder mystery that happened in his boyhood city in the years before he lived there. You can pick up a copy here. I suggest you do.

Paul’s suggested I talk about a book I’m working on, so I’ll discuss Wakers, the book I’ve just finished the first draft of. Since Wakers won’t be available for a bit, you’ll have to look into See the PEBA on $25 a Day or my collection Picasso’s Cat and Other Stories (available through links on the sidebar) if you’re interested in checking out my work while you’re waiting.

So, here it goes.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I sat down to write this book with a completely clean slate. I had earlier agreed with Lisa Silverthorne (who I’ll link below) to write a book in October–it’s something we’ve done occasionally before, doing tandem novels removes that feeling of being alone you can sometimes get. Anyway, she had an issue, so we pushed it back to November. I sat down on the first of the month with no idea, really. Except … well … except that I had been thinking about what the world might be like if there were no need for money.

So I thought about that some more.

What kind of things would have to happen for such a world to actually evolve? What kinds of people would this create? Suddenly I had an idea and a couple characters I really enjoyed, and we off to the races. Turns out the book isn’t really about the lack of money at all, of course, though that’s still in there.

What genre does your book fall under?

This one is clearly a work of science fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

These are fun questions. I’ll put these forward, realizing that the story is still in first draft. But what the heck…

  • Bexie Montgomery – Maybe Leroy McClain
  • Kinji Hall – My brain is stuck on someone like Emma Stone
  • Maine Parker – This will be a debut role, filled by a guy who will go on to be a heart-throb superstar
  • Tania DeBrae – I could see Dakota Fanning doing this
  • DeJenna – Mila Kunis? Maybe. Strong expectation to learn more about DeJenna in the second draft.
  • Pauli – Shia LaBeouf in an un-credited, but scene-stealing appearance

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A modern-day capitalist wakes up in a not-quite-so benevolent future.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’ll decide what to do with it after I finish the second draft. I think it will be under 70,000 words, though, which makes me think it will be more successful in the indie-world. I am really hoping that the “new” world of publishing will see us return to the days of short 50-60,000 word novels. I love those things.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Thirty days. I believe in driving first drafts pretty quickly.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

This is such a hard question. I don’t like comparing them, really. But I leverage a lot of Asimov’s robot framework, and there’s some cyber-punkism in there that might pay homage to Sterling/Stephenson/Gibson. I play with a deviation from the standard futurist’s conversation around the singularity concept (if there can be said to be a standard, anyway).

So it’s hard to call. I hope it’s unique, but of course others will bring their own associations. That’s the beauty of books, really. The way I interact with a story will be different than the way you interact with it. So in that sense, they are two different stories.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It was a mix of things–not the least was probably watching the latest round of political debates around the topic of our economy. I was interested in exploring the concept of a world without monetary currency, and it was a great deal of fun to think through elements that make our society work, to research economic levers that we all take for granted, and to apply them into a more human framework that help me understand those concepts even more. All that research was also a fabulous way to justify spending hours goofing off on the internet. [grin]

In all seriousness, I think writing this book was a great educational tool, and it’s probably changed the way I think about the world as a whole.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Stories are really about people, and I love the characters in this book. I really enjoy their take on what freedom means to each of them, their flare for art, and love. I think people who read Wakers will find themselves seeing nobility in places they hadn’t expected it. I think they will want to know more about them, which, to me, is always great fun.

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I’m really excited to pass the torch to a pair of writers:

I’ve known and read Lisa Silverthorne, a writer who lives in West Lafayette, Indiana, for a number of year now and can say that she is one of my absolutely favorite writers. She has publishing a bunch of short stories in the fantasy and science fiction genres, and works in romance and paranomal-ism genres. I absolutely adore her work, which has been on the preliminary ballot for the SFWA Nebula Award. You can find more of it at Elusive Blue Fiction.

I very highly recommend her duet titled “Shipwrecks in Sea Minor” (of which I intend to write more about on this blog later). I also think her collection Sound of Angels should be on everyone’s bookshelf.

 

Vera Nazarian is a Russian-born writer who found herself living in a myriad of European countries before growing up in California–only to later make house in the eastern regions of Vermont. Talk about a world-traveler. Not too surprisingly, she’s an eclectic writer and publisher, writing work that spans the spectrum from high literary (serious stuff, right?) to quirky comedy and Jane Eyre send-ups.

I adored her debut novel, Dreams of the Compass Rose, and recently supported her kickstarter effort “The Cobweb Bride.” You can find her work at http://www.norilana.com/