Archive for Randy Henderson

Why You Should Virtual-Hug A Writer (aka it’s Write-a-Thon Time)

 

Let’s talk for a second about dreams, and passions, and the need for art that provokes speculative thinking and deep Feels — and the insane masochistic lives of the writers driven to provide that.

Clarion West Write-a-thon

There are a lot of folks out there working hard to create for us the stories that we deeply crave and need, even when we don’t realize we crave or need them.  Stories that take use into fantastical worlds to escape our Darkest Timeline for a while.  Stories that explore social, psychological, political and technological problems and stimulate our thinky organs and inspire future solutions.  Stories that fill us with the Feels and help us to explore experiences unlike our own.

This act of creation is hard work.  And lonely work.  And often masochistic and depressing and ego-shredding work, because like all art it requires a lot of time and effort to become good at and then there is still no guarantee that anyone will appreciate or pay for it.  Writing, like so many professional arts, is facing constant rejection and not quitting.

Each hour spent writing is glorious agony, and the difficult resistance of a thousand tempting distractions.

Each story completed is a big middle finger to screaming self-doubt and the whispers of futility that haunt them as they write.

These folks continue to write despite the sacrifice and rejection and doubts because it is their passion.  They themselves have sought escape and inspiration and growth in the works of others, and were so deeply affected by the experience that they wish to do the same for us, to participate more fully in the genres and the artforms that have given to them, and in doing so they give of themselves to you.

There are many ways you can give back and help a writer get through the struggles and doubts and hours of staring alone at words on a screen.  Send them a quick message saying you admire their passion and believe in them.  If you have read something of theirs and enjoyed it, let them know, and certainly let others know through word of mouth, posts, and reviews.

And right now, you can also let one group of emerging authors know you support them and their art by donating to Clarion West in their name.  Clarion West is a workshop for up-and-coming genre writers, with a mission to support diversity in voices and content.

It is a huge sacrifice for many of these authors to attend the workshop.  Some travel from far away.  All must be apart from their loved ones and their source of income for six weeks in order to go “all in” on their dream of being a writer.  Donating to the workshop helps provide scholarships to these, your future favorite authors, among other things.

Go to https://www.clarionwest.org/groups/write-a-thon-2017/ to select writers and donate in their name.

If you’re thinking of donating $20, feel free to spread it around between a few of them.  Donating $5 in a writer’s name to the Clarion West write-a-thon may seem like a small thing, but you would be surprised at how much it means to the writer that you showed belief not only in this workshop, but in them.

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Wonder Woman: Inspiration and Pain and Moving Forward

Wonder Woman. So many reactions to this movie.  And for me, the movie itself has not only inspired the Feels, but the reactions to the movie have as well, good and bad.

Wonder Woman

 

Most reactions that I see are inspiring and wonderful, such as this list of reactions from students in a Kindergarten class, or this awesome video of a woman inspired to play like Wonder Woman and kicking imaginary butt.  The garden hose bit gives me endless joy.

I see all of the people uplifted and inspired by this movie and it makes my heart sing.

There have also been negative reactions too.  Some, as one would expect, from men who just don’t get it (or feel somehow threatened in their worldview).  But also criticisms from women who felt the movie misstepped with hurtful exclusions or stereotyping, or was too narrow in its feminism.

I posted before about how I wished we could have more “Yes, And” rather than “Yes, But.”
I see “Yes, and” in the reactions to the Wonder Woman movie like the Bazaar piece, and I find that as inspiring as the movie itself.  Because how we talk about issues even in a Wonder Woman movie has implications and impacts that go way beyond this one movie.

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Writing Workshop: Level Up as a Writer

One Day Workshop

 

What will help you reach the next level as a writer? What is that thing you can’t quite put your finger on that would take your stories to the next level?  Come to my workshop on May 21 and I will walk through the stages I see most writers grow through, from beginning writer to published pro, and some of the common challenges and lessons found at each stage. The workshop will include handouts and a number of exercises.  No matter where you are at in your writer’s journey, the goal is for you to walk away with a clear idea of what you can do to “level up” as a writer.

 

There are limited seats available, so sign up now!

 

Randy Henderson, May 21

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I Loved My Visit to Black Mirror’s San Junipero

Black Mirror San Junipero episode

Black Mirror: San Junipero hit all of my (and Finn’s) sweet spots!

I think part of the positive reactions might be due to the fact that Black Mirror is pretty consistently bleak, but reality right now is practically a Black Mirror episode, so an episode that was (possibly) hopeful was such a nice gift.

And yes, the concept’s been well covered, so I understand why some may feel that viewer’s reactions to that concept are overblown, but many viewers may not be deeply read in scifi, so their “mind blown” reactions are understandable and a perfectly good thing.

I am fine if people discover, say, robots through Star Trek or Westworld without going back to read Asimov first (or at all) if Asimov doesn’t appeal to them (and no I’m not saying San Junipero is about robots).

We each have limited time to read and consume media, I don’t think it makes someone less of a genre fan or their love of or reaction to something less valid if they only have experience with recently produced media and not the foundational classics or the past century of fiction.

Yes, knowing the whole history of robot fiction might enrich one’s experience of a new robot story — or at least allow one say clever literary things like “this story was in dialogue with the works of Obscure Author, exploring the metaphor of so and so.”

But it also might not. And in the end, I love the possible conversations a story like this might spark among a group of friends around a table (in between Instagramming whatever artisanal fare they are eating, of course).

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Justice League Movie Review (From the Future)

I have run fast enough from the theater in the future to break the time barrier and return here to give you my review of the movie.

There was a lot about the JLA movie that was sheer awesome!  A lot of cool, snapshot poses, a lot of awesome uses of superpowers.

But by the end I felt disappointed, and even a bit bored.

 

The first problem was the character intros.

As expected, we spend a good chunk of the movie meeting the new heroes, and getting bits of their backstory.  Flash.  Aquaman.  Cyborg.  This was the first big challenge of the movie, to make us care about these characters, so that later when they are fighting and in danger, we actually care whether or not they win, whether or not they are hurt.  Care whether or not they achieve some kind of happiness, or peace, as a result of the choices and changes they make through the course of the movie.

But we simply did not get enough time with each character to feel connected to them, to care.  I rooted for the Flash just because he was funny and likeable.  But what Pixar did in five minutes at the beginning of Up, JLA did not manage to do in the roughly ten minutes of character establishment per character.

Even Batman did not move me much, because we haven’t really spent much time with Affleck’s Batman except in his ragey conflict with Superman, so all his pain and the tragic experiences of his past that would make forming a team and being responsible for others a fear to overcome for him (e.g. the loss of a Robin to the Joker) has not really been established here.

Wonder Woman, at least, we understand a little after her LONG overdue solo movie.  Which is probably one reason she was the most relatable hero beside Flash.

 

Heroes aside, though, I think the biggest problem was the enemy.

Steppenwolf and his MacGuffincubes

Steppenwolf and his MacGuffincubes

 

Basically, our heroes did not have an interesting villain with goals and motivations that we could relate to on some level.  I never felt the villain had personal stakes that I cared about yet knew would be bad for our world and our heroes.  Instead, we had a CGI Alien Armor Big Bad who wants some evil boxes, and a bunch of CGI aliens and robots to help him get them, and that would be bad.  Because it is bad.

Yes, the battle scenes were epic and full of superpowered awesome.  But I never felt that Steppenwolf forced a hero to confront their deepest fear or flaw and overcome it.  I never felt that Steppenwolf presented a personal challenge to any of the heroes, that he was the worst possible enemy the hero could have had to face at this time because of what they had been through, or what they were struggling with.

Steppenwolf is a master strategist, yet I never really felt there was a clever cat and mouse game going on between him and Batman that made Batman question his own brilliance or ability or willingness to lead others into danger and death.  Steppenwolf never really made me feel he had pushed Batman to the edge and the Bats might lose it if anyone died on his watch.  They just were racing each other to get the boxes, a simple set of escalating challenges.

Steppenwolf is a badass, but I never felt that in his conflict with Wonder Woman or Aquaman that any of them were forced to question their own strength, the responsibility or consequences of strength, or who they were without it.

Part of the reason the Avengers worked well by comparison is that they faced off against Loki, a villain we had come to know already, a person filled with pain and anger and tragic, twisted need that drove him, a guy who really just wanted to be loved above all others (is that so wrong?).  And because Loki played on each hero’s insecurities and flaws and fears, and turned friend against friend.  Likewise, in Civil War, the enemy plays the heroes own flaws and pain against each other, turning friend against friend.  And in Avengers 2, Scarlet Witch does something similar.

Steppenwolf did not really achieve that.  He was not an enemy of the Justice League, of the heroes individually or as a team.  He was just big badass enemy, a threat.

And as demonstrated by the Phantom Menace, simply destroying an army of enemy robots in an epic battle can in fact be extremely boring.

Finally, I understood why of course they had to keep Superman out of it for most of the movie, for much the same reason that Hulk wasn’t in Civil War (he would have just smashed anyone on the opposing team, etc).  But his moping/angst over the events in Batman vs Superman was a bit of a lame reason for the delay.

In summary, I of course went and saw this movie, and overall it was a fun popcorn flick.  How could I not go to see the JLA on the big screen?  Not to mention Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot kicking ass and looking hot doing it.  But if you are going to have all the grimdark and Pew Pew, you need to balance it with a tad more humor, and a lot more heart, than JLA delivered.

Maybe the Extended Cut DVD will fix it.

 

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Favorite Bits and Big Ideas: Smells Like Finn Spirit

Finn Fancy Trilogy US-TOR

Over the past couple of weeks, Finn and I have held a couple of conversations together online in celebration of the release of Smells Like Finn Spirit:

 

In the My Favorite Bit series hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal, Finn and I discuss, well, our favorite bit about book 3.

 

In the Big Idea series hosted by John Scalzi, Finn and I discuss our journey together over the course of the trilogy.

 

Enjoy!  I know I did.

Finn, not so much.

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FINN 3 BOOK BIRTHDAY!

TODAY IS THE BOOK BIRTHDAY FOR BOOK 3: SMELLS LIKE FINN SPIRIT!!!

Logan says RUN to your bookstore and buy the Finn Fancy series! First day sales are a big deal.

Logan gets Finn Fancy!

Tor (US) Version Available for Purchase: 

Amazon

University Bookstore (Seattle)

Powell’s (Portland)

Mysterious Galaxy (CA)

Tattered Cover (CO)

Barnes & Noble

Indiebound

And for UK readers, it is available at (among other booksellers):

Smells Like Finn Spirit at Amazon UK

Smells Like Finn Spirit at Waterstones (UK)

 

Smells Like Finn Spirit

Smells Like Finn Spirit – Tor Cover

 

Book Description:

Finn Gramaraye is back in the third installment of Randy Henderson’s Familia Arcana series, which began in Finn Fancy Necromancy, and Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free.

Finn’s re-adaptation to the human world is not going so well. He’s got a great girlfriend, and is figuring out how things like the internet work, but he is still carrying the disembodied personality of Alynon, Prince of the Silver Demesne, the fae who had occupied his body during his imprisonment. And he’s not getting along at all with his older brother. And oh, by the way, an enemy from his past is still trying to possess him in order to bring about Armageddon.

Read the First Three Chapters

Or add it to your library on Goodreads.

 

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (March 7, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765378124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765378125

Smells Like Finn Spirit UK Cover

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And Book Makes Three!

Squee!  (Er, manly squee!).

I grew up reading trilogies.  I grew up watching trilogies.  I lived in trilogies, walked the lands of trilogies until I knew them better than my own neighborhood, lived many lives through trilogies, fought evil and triumphed in trilogies.  I dreamed of writing a trilogy.  It is surreal to have actually done so.  And wonderful.  But really, it doesn’t feel real.  Yet there it is.  Three books.  That I can hold in my hands. With my name on them.  It’s like I’m living in some bizarro alternate universe.  And it is pretty dang cool.

Finn Fancy Trilogy US-TOR

 

And I love the UK versions from Titan as well!

 

Finn Fancy Trilogy UK-Titan

 

Book 3 comes out in the US on March 7th, and I can’t wait for people to read it!

 

 

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We Need More “Yes AND” and less “Yes BUT”

In writing, you are told to say, “Yes, BUT”. In improv, you are told to say, “Yes, AND.” I think we all need a bit more of the latter in our real lives right now.
~~
“Yes, the character gained invisibility, BUT now she is blind and begins to freeze to death because the sun’s light passes through her.” This is MEANT to create more problems for the character to solve in a way that impedes their progress, to present opportunities for conflict and setbacks that create tension and drama.
 
VS
 
“Yes, your character is invisible, AND they work in a funeral home.” Or “Yes your character is invisible, AND they cannot speak.” This presents opportunities by combining the elements.
~~
 
In the real world, Yes AND leads to growth, and progress. Yes, BUT leads to feeling shot down, patronized, or to conflict and argument.
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“Yes, that is one idea, BUT you didn’t consider X and Z so your idea is flawed/bad.” “Yes, that is one idea, BUT I think this other idea should be considered instead.”
 
VS
 
“Yes, I like X aspect of your idea, great job, AND we should also consider these other ideas, so we can build on your idea together to create something even better.”
~~
 
I feel like the Left has been sabotaged by too much Yes BUT. Yes, black lives matter, BUT. Yes, that women’s march was huge, BUT. Yes, that is a great way to fight Trump, BUT you ignored that this group over here cannot fight that way so your way is bad.
 
I hope we can do more Yes, AND.
 
Not ignore the instances where privilege and blindspots and omissions may be hurtful or harmful, but say Yes you are fighting a good fight, AND we also have this group/ concern over here, AND here’s how we can build on each other’s efforts and lift each other up rather than beat each other down while the real problem goes unaddressed.
 
“Yes, Randy, BUT …”
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Occupy Marching Forward

Seeing the millions of people marching yesterday was inspirational, and the perfect counterbalance to the events of the previous day.

Thank you!

Women's March

But when I woke up this morning, my brain couldn’t help but wonder, what’s next?

It is the day after the march.  Although millions marched, they weren’t even mentioned on Fox News today (how odd!).  And Trump will surely be as delusional and in denial about them as he was about the “millions” who attended his inauguration.

But the marches were not just “preaching to the choir.”  Those in power surely took notice.  Millions of people of all genders, ages, colors, ability and orientation have become actively engaged, and that is no small thing, and not easily ignored — if it continues. If it leads to something.

If I have any concern at this point, it is that this surge of activism will go the way of Occupy Wall Street.

When that movement began, I was hopeful that it would rise up to be the Progressive counter to the Tea Party.  But while the Tea Party was generally united toward specific goals, organized, well-funded, and effectively took over the government from the bottom up, Occupy Wall Street never overcame its beginnings as a sit-in with split focus, unclear demands, little leverage and no real plan to actually effect change.

When I heard one reporter saying how the marchers had struggled with messaging in some cases because, of course, different marchers had different motives and goals and priorities, I felt a brief cloud pass over the bright sun that was the march.

And it seems like other attempts to forge a “Left” movement with equal influence (but more reason and reality-based policy) than the Tea Party also fell away with little effect due (based on my admittedly limited and non-expert understanding) to a lack of cohesion, a lack of strategy and organization, or fell victim to the distractions of infighting and self-policing.

So my personal hope today is that the spirit of activism and participation that swept the country, and the world, yesterday will resolve itself into sustained and effective action.

Here are just a couple of resources that may be helpful with that:

Indivisible Guide is “A practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda where former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.”  It outlines how you can invest your time to best effect, what doesn’t actually work; and, importantly, there is a lookup for finding a local group of fellow Indivisible participants to join: https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

 

Jezebel’s list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-earth and anti-bigotry organizations we can donate money and time to: http://jezebel.com/a-list-of-pro-women-pro-immigrant-pro-earth-anti-big-1788752078

 

VolunteerMatch is a website where you can search for local, and virtual, volunteer opportunities.  I am very happy with my current volunteer positions I found through this site: http://www.volunteermatch.org/

 

And of course, we must act locally so that we have the strength to prevent voter disenfranchisement and to push back at Federal power when it is abused.

 

I am cautiously hopeful for the future.  Not because I hope that Trump and the GOP will suddenly do anything different than the self-serving and destructive actions they’ve promised to do, but because you all have given me hope, you who marched and shouted and stood up to be heard, that together we will push back and prevent, or undo, their damage with time, with hard work, with love for one another.

 

Thank you.

 

And now, I’m going to continue looking at all those amazing photos of marches around the world and grinning ear to ear.

 

Good luck!  And may the Force be with you.

Princess Leia Join the Resistance

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