Archive for fantasy

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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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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Bigfootloose Paperback Release Day, and Finn Fancy Giveaway!

Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free is now out in Trade Paperback! (links below)

Now is the perfect time to jump into the series if you have not already, with book 3 coming out in March to complete the trilogy arc.

In fact, Tor has re-posted the first three chapters to book 1 on the Fantastic Firsts online series if you want to check it out, and is also sponsoring a Goodreads Giveaway for book 1.

Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free

About Bigfootloose: In this sequel to Randy Henderson’s acclaimed debut novel, Finn Fancy Necromancy, Finn Gramaraye is settling back into the real world after his twenty-five-year-long imprisonment in the otherworld of the Fey. He’s fallen in love with a woman from his past, though he worries she may love a version of him that no longer exists. He’s proved his innocence of the original crime of Dark Necromancy, and he’s finding a place in the family business–operating a mortuary for the Arcane, managing the magical energies left behind when an Arcane being dies to prevent it from harming the mundane world.

But Finn wants more. Or different. Or something. He’s figured out how to use the Kinfinder device created by his half-mad father to find people’s True Love, and he’d like to convert that into an Arcane Dating Service. It’s a great idea. Everyone wants True Love! Unfortunately, trouble always seems to find Finn, and when he agrees to help his friend, the Bigfoot named Sal, they walk right into a Feyblood rebellion against the Arcane Ruling Council, a rebellion being fomented by unknown forces and fueled by the drug created by Finn’s own grandfather.

 

 

Links for Book 2: Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free:

Bigfootloose Trade PB on Amazon

Bigfootloose Trade PB at University Bookstore (Seattle)

Bigfootloose Trade PB at Powell’s (Portland)

Bigfootloose Trade PB at Mysterious Galaxy (CA)

Bigfootloose Trade PB at Tattered Cover (CO)

Bigfootloose Trade PB at Barnes & Noble

 

For UK readers, it remains available in paperback from Titan UK at:

Bigfootloose at Amazon UK

Bigfootloose at Waterstones (UK)

 

 

Links for Book 3: Smells Like Finn Spirit:

Smells Like Finn Spirit (Tor US) on Amazon

Smells Like Finn Spirit (Tor US) at University Bookstore (Seattle)

Smells Like Finn Spirit (Tor US) at Powell’s (Portland)

Smells Like Finn Spirit (Tor US) at Mysterious Galaxy (CA)

Smells Like Finn Spirit (Tor US) at Tattered Cover (CO)

Smells Like Finn Spirit (Tor US) at Barnes & Noble

 

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)

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Where Are the Interactive Books We Were Promised?

CYOA and Adventure Gamebooks

One of my big nerdjoy moments recently was when I found a virtual Choose your Own Adventure book while adventuring in Skyrim, titled Kolb and the Dragon.

And that got me remembering all the big predictions and promises at the dawn of ebooks and tablet computing about living, interactive books.

And that made me think of all the awesome IF games I used to enjoy, such as Zork and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

And then I ran downstairs to our library and grabbed a handful of my “interactive” books, pictured above.

There are, of course, the classic CYOA books, like Space Vampire, and the awesome new breed of CYOA books, like the Choose-o-matic series from Matt Youngmark.  

In fact, he did create one specifically intended to be easily played on your tablet or phone: U, Robot.

U, Robot by Matt Youngmark

Some CYOA books, such as Wizards, Warriors and You, present an option in the story itself to choose between a set of characters, and then continue the adventure as the chosen character, increasing the variety of readings.

But there were also books that tried to take it even further, incorporating character stats and other RPG elements. 

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The Real 2016 Election Map

I created this handy election map in case folks were trying to understand where we stand.
Polls show that much of the blue areas are due to Hobbit, High Elvish and Good Wizard influence, thus the movement to #unmakethe3rings that gave the elves and Gandalf power to influence the vote, and the push to send all Hobbits back to the Shire and build a wall around them.
Per Sauron, “It would be great. It wouldn’t even have to be a tall wall. Have you seen the Hobbits? Even smaller than those fat ugly dwarves. But believe me folks, there’s nothing small about me.”
Middle Earth Election 2016
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Why I Talked to Word Sluts at WorldCon

I found myself in a number of conversations at WorldCon where persons were seeking my advice or thoughts on their writing, or seeking advice of a group in which I sat, and would say some variation on:

“People seem to have a problem with me calling it Warrior Wanda the Space Slut.  But I mean slut in a positive or ironic way, because she is a powerful woman so she can have sex with whoever she likes.”

Or

“I have a pretty graphic rape scene in my novel, but if I didn’t have it she wouldn’t have that motivation to get stronger from it and learn to fight that is so important in my story.”

These persons were clearly seeking someone to say, yes, that is okay.

And I engaged in these conversations in a calm, friendly, positive way.

Why?

Because I have the privilege to do so.

By this, I do not mean the honor, though really it is an honor to be asked my opinion on anything.  Rather, I mean that had such questions been asked of someone who identifies as female, for example, such questions would have been understandably offensive and anger-inducing, and made the person feel unsafe, along with a host of other reactions.

I’m not saying I found the questions pleasant and encouraging, but I recognize that my con experience as a cis white male who presents as het is entirely different from that of anyone who is other than that.

So while I cringed internally, I did not walk away, or mock these persons then, or later with my friends.   I gave them a clear but disgust-free expression of “Oooooo, I wouldn’t do that,” and proceeded to lay out in positive terms how they could improve their stories, and their chances of reaching a broader audience.

Here is an example of the types of thing I try to say in these cases, with the goal not being to score points or put him in his place, but to help guide the writer in the right direction where they will hopefully learn for themselves in time what cannot be forced into their understanding in a single argument (And to be clear, I am not in any way saying there are not other approaches, or that outright anger is in any way not a valid response for others to have):

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Finn Fancy 3 Cover: Smells Like Finn Spirit!

Two big bits of news for book 3, Smells Like Finn Spirit:

First off, revised Finn 3 has been officially delivered to my editor!  And I am so proud of it.  Of course, I’m biased, but honestly there are just so many parts I can’t wait for people to read — funny moments, emotional moments, fantastical moments, moments that made me tear up or laugh on my own re-read — and I think that’s a pretty good sign.  It has more of the humor of Finn Fancy Necromancy, and expands on the world building of Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free, with some deep character moments I think reflect all I’ve learned as a writer while working on these books, and it completes a nice three book arc (with seeds for future books of course should Tor buy more).  Not trying to sound braggy, or like I think so much of my skill or anything, I just am proud of what I created, and feeling pretty happy about being a writer right now.

And second, COVER REVEAL!  Thanks to the awesome Peter Lutjen!

Smells Like Finn Spirit

 

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The Fate of Grimdark the Grimdarian and the Rise of Shiny Fantasy

Like most people I think, I read by both taste and mood.  Sort of like how I eat.  Or make lo — uh, make the food I eat.

 

While I enjoy dark fantasy and so-called “grimdark” (official term and sponsor of the 2000’s Stuff Nobody Agrees What the Official Term Should Be For-athon), it feels like heavy lifting to me, as it is often filled with a sense of hopelessness, of fear, of pain, etc. that, even when cut with the occasional moment of joy, can still feel draining to read (at least for me).   I have to take my dark in small doses, like absinthe, or Carrot Top, or the awareness of my inevitable death.

Grimdark Hamlet

Swallow My Darkness!!!

 

Don’t get me wrong.  I think that Shakespeare guy has a real future with those crazy dark tragedies of his.  And when done well, “grimdark” can be satisfying reading in the sense that you feel these complex and sometimes uncomfortable emotions evoked by the work, and feel rewarded for that heavy lifting.  It also is able to explore deep and difficult themes and subjects in a more focused way than other fantasy, topics such as the darker side of human nature, moral ambiguity, torture, the origins of cruelty, etc.

 

In the words of that wise bard Trent Reznor, “I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel.”

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My Upcoming Readings and Signings – Not Just for Writers of the Future

The point of my readings and signings will not truly be to sell copies of Writers of the Future volume 30 (although that is encouraged), but to celebrate our love of the genre together.

All questions will be answered, many laughs will be had, and many words shared.

And I understand that many folks may have already bought the anthology by the time of the reading, possibly in e-form, or maybe don’t want the anthology for some strange unknowable reason (possibly involving alien probing and the suppression of human emotion through nano technology). If so, bring your copy, or buy something else! I’ll have Other Stuff to sign freely for you if you do.

Let’s share in a celebration of speculative fiction, and support other authors and the bookstore as well (ideally through sale of the anthology which does so much to support new writers, and is also of course a handy way to understand the market if you wish to submit to them; but if you buy any book, that is a good thing in my, er, book).

Perhaps you were wanting to buy awesome fiction from other local authors like: Forged in Fire by J.A. Pitts; or The Age of Ice by J.M. Sidorova; or Hild by Nicola Griffith; or Requiem by Ken Scholes; or The Thousand Names by Django Wexler; or the latest Greywalker Novel by Kat Richardson; or The Creative Fire by Brenda Cooper; or Reflected by Rhiannon Held; or Copper Head by Tina Connolly; or The Book of Joby by Mark Ferrari.

Or you wanted to pick up some mind-expanding goodness, like: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor; or Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie; or Authority by Jeff Vandermeer; or 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami; or Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson; or We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, or Cory Doctorow’s latest, Homeland.

Or grab the latest (or first) book in a series you are interested in, be it the Dresden Files or Game of Thrones or Divergent.

Perhaps you prefer the comic stylings of Jim C Hines, John Scalzi, or Terry Pratchett, or the magic realism of Charles de Lint?

Or heck, come in and place pre-orders on books like: Hurricane Fever by Tobias S. Buckell; or The Ultra Thin Man by Patrick Swenson; or Last Plane to Heaven by Jay Lake; or Prophet of Bones by Ted Kosmatka.

But again, of course, the hope is to sell many copies of Writers of the Future Volume 30, officially called by The Critic** “The besterest volume ever.”

Hope to see you there, with (some) book or eReader or receipt in hand*.

*No purchase required to participate as a viewer. Mileage estimated based on in-city reading. See book dealer for additional details.
**That’s me. I’m The Critic. I may be biased, but I’m also completely biased.

See my Schedule page for details on upcoming readings/signings/Q&As.

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Dragons in Space!

Today, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule docked with the International Space Station.  A huge step towards commercial passenger flights into space and galactic Empire!  And of course, the company hired specialists to help them achieve their goal.

Dragon Shout!  This is the Shout for Clear Skies.

Daenerys Conquers the Moon with her Dragon

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