New Class! Writing the Other – Weekend Intensive Summer 2016

Nisi and Tempest writing the other

Nisi and I are teaching another Writing the Other Weekend Intensive! These classes take place from Friday night to Sunday night and are a super concentrated version of our longer classes. They’re designed for folks who can’t do a full 6 weeks or can’t come to a retreat but can carve out one weekend.

This class is appropriate for all writers, not just novelists or speculative fiction authors. The topics we cover will benefit comic writers, playwrights, screenwriters, YA writers, litfic writers, and more.

Also, writing inclusive fiction isn’t just about race or cultural appropriation (we do of course cover that), it’s also about writing people who come from any identity different from yours, including gender, class, physical ability, religious or spiritual background.

If you want tools to help you write characters different from you in significant ways sensitively and convincingly, this class is for you.

Writing the Other – Weekend Intensive Details

When: June 10 – 12, 2016 (detailed schedule on the ticketing page)
Where: ONLINE via Google Hangout
Price: $250 + service fee
Registration Begins: April 30

If you want a reminder when registration opens, join our announcement list. And if you missed this class, that’s also the place to go to get notifications when we do it again.

The Write Gear Laptop Buying Guide For Writers

Write Gear laptop Buying Guide

Episodes 10, 11 and 13[1] of The Write Gear podcast are all about laptops — the best laptop overall, great laptops for if you want something small and light, laptops for small budgets, etc. These episodes, plus the extensive links in the show notes, constitute my Laptop Buying Guide for folks who write.

As I say in the intro to episode 10, “Which laptop should I buy?” the #1 query from writers asking me for tech advice. My answer depends on a lot of factors, but I often end up recommending one of the laptops mentioned in the two podcasts.

Listen to TWG #10: The Best Laptop for Writers right here or subscribe in iTunes

      The Write Gear: Episode 10

Episode 10 Show Notes

Episode 11 is partly about recommending small, inexpensive laptops, though mainly a conversation with Brad Linder about the history of netbooks and the current state of things. We do talk about what you should look for in these netbook-like machines if you go out on the hunt for one.

Listen to TWG #11: Small And Light Laptops for Writers

      The Write Gear: Episode 11

Episode 11 Show Notes

Writers often ask me about Chromebooks because they’re inexpensive and seem like a good idea. My general advice is that you’re better off with an inexpensive PC or even an AlphaSmart over a Chromebook most of the time, though they do have uses as a secondary laptop.

Listen to TWG #13: Are Chromebooks Good For Writers?

      The Write Gear: Episode 13

Episode 13 Show Notes

Keep in mind, my anti-recommendation of Chromebooks is based solely on a writer’s needs. They are great machines for other folks and other purposes. So don’t come banging don my door in anger, Google. I just got it fixed from the last time!

Footnotes

  1. Post updated April 22nd[]

The Write Gear #9: From Farscape to Fountain Pens

From Farscape to Fountain Pens

When I was a wee Tempest, I read in some book by a fancy author that all real writers write with fountain pens. And being a dutiful person who wanted to be a real writer, I took this to heart and went out and bought a fountain pen. And for a few days it was The Best, and then it got ink everywhere and became The Worst.

Does this experience feel familiar to any of you? I bet it does. Fountain pens do seem a proper tool for those of us who still write by hand (more thoughts on that on an earlier post). They may also seem daunting. Are inexpensive fountain pens even any good? If you want something that will last, where do you even go to figure it out? Is dealing with ink as fraught as it seems?

I decided to put these and other newbie questions to Richard Manning, screenwriter, producer, and fountain pen geek. Richard was a producer on Farscape, and started down the long, twisty path to fountain pen love thanks to seeing a certain actor’s fancy Montblanc. Which actor? You’ll just have to listen to our nerdy pen conversation to find out.

Listen to TWG #9: From Farscape to Fountain Pens – A Conversation with Richard Manning right here or subscribe in iTunes

      The Write Gear: Episode 9

There are links to all the pens and inks and websites Richard mentions in the show notes.

So, where my fountain pen geeks at? Fly your flag in the comments or over on Twitter with the hashtag #FountainPenLove.

4 Reasons Why You (Yeah, You) Are Qualified To Nominate for the Hugos

Hugo Award

The Hugo Award nomination period closes in just a few days. You’ve seen my recs, and over the weekend the #hugoeligible hashtag showcased so many more. But I know some of you are still thinking that you aren’t qualified to nominate because:

  1. You haven’t read/watched/listened widely enough (according to you).
  2. You don’t have enough nominations in every category to fill ever slot you’re allotted.
  3. You don’t have time to read all the cool stuff recommended here and elsewhere and on the tag.
  4. You’re “just a fan” and not anyone fancy.

I’m here to tell you that none of those things disqualifies you from nominating for the Hugos. None. Zip. Let’s break it down.

I Haven’t Read/Watched/Listened Widely Enough

Have you read/watched/listened to eligible media at all? Then you’ve done so widely enough. I’m serious. No one can read, watch, or listen to every single thing, and very few people can even consume all the stuff that gets floated as good by reviewers, friends, and the folks you follow on social media. Even as a person whose job it is to read and review short fiction I have not read every single piece of short fiction out there.

How do you know what stuff is best, then? It’s all relative. If you read just 4 novels last year and one of them wowed or moved you, then you nominate that one. It was the best of what you read.

I Don’t Have Enough Nominations To Fill Every Slot

This is fine as well. Like I said, if of the novels you read you only loved one, then you nominate one. Only two good movies, only one podcast, and no particular thoughts on Fan Writer? That is all fine. You are not required to fill out all the slots in every category nor are you required to nominate in every category.

I Saw All The Recs But Didn’t Have Time To Assess Them All

That’s fine. You’re not a bad person for not having gone through every single recommendation.

Do you know what you can do? Keep track of the people who made all those recs, because they probably share a lot of stuff they love throughout the year, not just at award nominating time. That way, you’ll have more time to check out stuff you might like for next year.

I’m Not Anyone Fancy, Why Should I Nominate When Better Read/More Engaged/Highly Connected People Are More Qualified To Do So?

I’m going to loop back to: did you read, watch, and listen to things? You are eminently qualified. Also, the Hugo is a fan award, driven by fans and what they like. It is absolutely not a requirement to be anything other than a person who loves SFF stuff and wants to see the stuff they like recognized for its awesomeness. That is all.

Your voice matters. What you love matters. It matters to the award even if the stuff you nominate doesn’t get on the ballot. After all, the people who create the fiction and movies and TV shows and podcasts and fan writing and art you love look at the list of what was nominated but didn’t make the final and go: oh hey, this many people thought my story was award-worthy! That’s the best.

In Summary

Nominate what you think is best of what you’ve read, watched, and listened to, no matter the number of overall things. Don’t worry about filling every slot if you can’t. Don’t worry about not getting to every recommendation. Your voice matters.

Got it? Excellent. Go fill out your ballot.

Tempest is on Patreon! (And Looking For Your Support)

As of this month, I’m officially on Patreon and looking for patrons! You can support me creating cool stuff for $1 per month on up to $500 per month if you have deep pockets like that.

If you listened to my interview on the Less Than Or Equal podcast[1], you might be wondering why I said I was going to launch my Patreon page last year (wow, six months ago…) when I only just did so this month. There are a few reasons, but the biggest one can probably be summed up with the words Impostor Syndrome.

What’s so insidious about Impostor Syndrome is that even though I can identify it in other people and always attempt to beat it back with the “You’re awesome and your voice is needed and I’m glad you’re alive and loud and sharing your talent with the world” stick, I cannot always turn that on myself. Luckily, I do have friends to do so for me. After finally wrestling my brain weasels into a bag, I put my page together and even made a video.

Because I know that people think the Tempest Challenge and the video series that goes with it are valuable. I know that the Write Gear podcast has already helped some writers. I know that my writing on this blog and over at Medium and the other places I publish has added more signal than noise to discussions about genre and race and gender and writing. And I know that you all want to talk about Jem and the Holograms endlessly, just like I do! (And sing the songs, right? RIGHT?) That’s why I finally launched the Patreon, and I hope you’ll click and pledge and support.

Right now the support is for making vids and podcasts and writing non-fiction and not directly for me writing fiction. Why? Because I am a s.l.o.w. writer of fiction. And deadlines do not change that one iota. But I find that my own creative projects are much less draining than my freelance assignments. The opposite, actually: they energize and inform my fiction writing. So by pledging money to me for making vids and podcasts and writing essays and columns, you’re supporting me writing fiction as well.

Plus, you know you wanna see more You Done Fucked Up vids.

You can Make It So[2].

Footnotes

  1. You really should! It’s a great interview, if I say so myself.[]
  2. To all those who click and pledge: Thanks![]

New JEMcast: Alone Again

JEMcast Alone Again

On this week’s JEMcast we talk about a bunch of people’s favorite episode: Alone Again. Season 2 seems packed with PSA-type shows. We had two on literacy and now this one about drug use. What I find fascinating is that the main character, Laura, goes through the entire drug addiction arc in the space of 22 episode minutes and 6 days of in-show time.

Feeling depressed/worthless –> falling prey to slick drug dealer with free product –> getting hooked immediately and can’t live without the drugs –> Can’t afford to pay for drugs, so steals from loved ones –> Discovers that drug dealer is the worst ever –> Told they must go to therapy/AA/rehab –> Won’t admit they have a problem –> Finally admits they have a problem. In 6 days.

This episode also provides more evidence that Jerrica is a terrible foster mom as well as the world’s worst CEO.

Listen and let me know what you think! Also, just a reminder: the JEMcast is eligible for the Best Fancast Hugo Award!

Subscribe to the JEMcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, via RSS, or listen below.

      JEMcast: Alone Again

The Write Gear #8: All About AlphaSmart

Alphasmart and Jennifer Stevenson

The last Write Gear podcast got a lot of positive attention–even more writers struggle with the distraction thing than I thought. This week’s episode keeps it going with a deep dive into the AlphaSmart. I learned about this wonder of distraction-free writing from a Clarion West classmate back in 2003, and bought one right away. A few years ago I met someone who loved it even more than I did: author Jennifer Stevenson. I knew she’d be the perfect person to talk to about it, and she is.

Check out the podcast for everything you need to know about the AlphaSmart and then click over to the episode page if you want to buy one. There are a few different models available, and I link to them all.

Listen to TWG #8: All About AlphaSmart right here or subscribe in iTunes

      The Write Gear: Episode 8

Awards Season Is Upon Us #3: My Not-Fiction Hugo Reccommendations

awards

Hugo nominations are due in 10 days! And I have some more recs for you, this time in the categories that aren’t fiction. You can find my fiction recs here and after that you should check out which Hugo nomination categories I’m eligible for and hopefully you will deem me worthy of your nomination nod.

I don’t have a rec for every not-fiction Hugo category. I don’t have a good sense of the field for some, and the others I don’t care about as much (dramatic presentation, for ex). So I’m happy to read other people’s recs or just wait for the final ballot before consuming everything and making a decision.

Best Related Work

A Critical Review of Laura J. Mixon’s Essay” by Édouard Brière-Allard

I know my listing this will be interpreted as some pro-Requires Hate move and more proof that I am her specialest best friend[1]. Sorry y’all: No. My strong recommendation for this essay is about my strong conviction that if a person is going to publish a call out post with a long list of receipts, it needs to adhere to some strict standards evidence, labelling, and truth. Mixon’s post about Benjanun did not, and this essay is, in part, about explaining that. It points out the huge problems with that post and is an important part of the conversation about the fallout from the post. It’s long. Longity-long. It’s well worth reading.

Invisible 2, edited by Jim C Hines

This anthology series about representation in SFF is so important. The essays cover all the big questions when it comes to representation–why it’s necessary and needed, the effects of bad representation on individuals and culture, the effects of good representation, getting beyond false binaries of choice, and much more. This is an anthology that’s just as important for fans and readers to have as it is for genre writers.

A Wiki of Ice and Fire

There are a ton of fan-maintained wikis around, and I know many of them are great. This is one of the best I’ve ever come across. It’s well organized and edited, kept up to date consistently, and contains a breadth and depth of information that astounds me. Even George RR Martin uses this wiki to look up details of character and history (or so I hear). This wiki is why I can have conversations with people about Game of Thrones even though I haven’t read any of the books or watched much of the show.

The Call of the Sad Whelkfins: The Continued Relevance of How to Suppress Women’s Writing” by Natalie Luhrs and Annalee Flower Horne 

Bad Life Decisions: In Which Natalie Luhrs Reads a Theodore Beale Book for Charity 

Sad Puppies Review Books: Children’s Books Reviewed By Childish Men by John Z. Upjohn

This book collects all the excellent SP review posts, hilarious send-ups by the ever funny Alexandra Erin. Stuff like this is why she’s also on my Best Fan Writer list.

Best Editor (Long Form)

Devi Pillai, Orbit Books

Devi is the editor at Orbit that acquired N. K. Jemisin’s books and for that she should have won a Hugo long ago. Nora agrees with me: “Devi has done a lot to help change the face of the genre. It’s in large part thanks to her influence that Orbit Books has consistently cranked out some really edgy, different, high-quality fiction in its relatively short lifetime. The books she likes are anything but the same-old same old; there’s no formula in her fantasy, no tiresome adherence to tradition at the expense of a good story.”

Her authors also include Kate Elliott, Gail Carriger, Lilith Saintcrow, Joe Abercrombie, and Kate Locke among many others. If you loved The Fifth Season or any other book Devi edited, then she should be on your list of nomintees.

Miriam Weinberg, Tor Books

Miriam edited Fran Wilde’s Updraft and V. E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic.

Best Editor (Short Form)

Nisi Shawl

Co-editor of Stories for Chip

Ann VanderMeer

For me, this is based mainly on her editorial work for Tor.com. She consistently acquires outstanding stories by amazing authors.

Ellen Datlow

Similar story here. I’m not that into horror. But the stories Ellen acquires for Tor.com are always worth reading and often surprise me with how much I like them even if they’re horror or dark fantasy.

C.C. Finlay

Charlie turned F&SF into a magazine I wanted to read on a regular basis instead of something I threw across the room on a regular basis.

Best Semiprozine

Luna Station Quarterly

Strange Horizons

Uncanny Magazine

Best Fancast

Fresh Out of Tokens

Less Than Or Equal

A podcast dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of geeks facing inequality in their industries, hosted by the awesome Aleen Simms.

Best Fan Writer

Mark Oshiro

Alexandra Erin

Natalie Luhrs

Tanya DePass

Édouard Brière-Allard

Please share your recs in the comments!

Footnotes

  1. I still have a long essay of my own in me about that and why that’s very much not the case, and one day I’m sure I’ll have the emotional fortitude to write it.[]

The Write Gear 7: Tools to Block Electronic Distractions While You Write

The Write Gear 7 Tools to Block Electronic Distractions While You Write

I used to feel a sense of shame around the fact that I am easily lured away from writing by the Internet shiny things such as notifications and new comments and tweets and whatever. To solve this problem, I would sometimes ask people for suggestions on minimizing or blocking distractions and there would always be one person—usually more—popping up to say that I should just have self discipline instead of looking for crutches.

This is some ol’ bullshit, I hope you know[1].

Not only are there some people who can’t just have self discipline in the way those jerks mean, every person has to own up to their limits or needs and find ways to work with how your brain works. And that sometimes means employing outside help.

That’s what this episode is all about. I’ve found quite a few useful distraction blocking tools to help me, and I hope they’ll help other folks. If you use different tools and have found them useful, please say so in the comments!

Listen to TWG #7: Tools to Block Electronic Distractions While You Write right here or subscribe in iTunes

      The Write Gear: Episode 7

Footnotes

  1. Anytime someone says that “You should just” as if their ability to “Just” isn’t based on factors they never have to think about–i.e. privilege–and is the absolute correct way of being, you have my permission to tell them to go to hell.[]

JEMcast Catchup: The Jazz Player, Danse Time, & Roxy Rumbles

JEMcast - 3 new episodes

I am behind on posting about new JEMcast episodes! My apologies. (Though if you subscribe to the podcast you don’t need me reminding you. Hint.)

The most recent three episodes have been okay, though none are among my favorites in season 2. I do have fond memories of Roxy leaving the Misfits after winning the lottery. That episode also taught me to never trust the IRS.

Subscribe to the JEMcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, via RSS, or listen below.

      JEMcast: Roxy Rumbles

The Jazz Player is one of those episodes that solidifies the fact that Jem exists in a parallel universe where the United States is about 500 miles wide at best and going between Los Angeles and Chicago is a matter of minutes on a plane.

Subscribe to the JEMcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, via RSS, or listen below.

      JEMcast: The Jazz Player

I like the songs in Danse Time, especially the Misfits one, but what is up with Danse being completely whiny throughout it?

Subscribe to the JEMcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, via RSS, or listen below.

      JEMcast: Danse Time

Alex, Aleen, and I explore all of this and far more, and you should listen and laugh along with us.