- It’s Blog for a Beer day @ Fantasy. It’s open thread/freeform today; no theme.
- On SFBookswap there’s a list of fiction published by women in print magazines from January – April. I’d love for folks to stop by and give some opinions on any of those stories that you’ve read. Are there any I should definitely hunt down and read?
- PodCastle is finally up and running! I know I’ve been waiting with baited breath and all that. First story is Come Lady Death by Peter S. Beagle. I believe my story is set to appear this summer. Several weeks ago when editor Rachel Swirsky announced what the first few stories were going to be, I expressed delight at seeing Hillary Moon Murphy’s Run of the Fiery Horse on the list. I loved that story so much when I first read it that I wrote a fan letter (something I’d never done before). Rachel asked me if I’d like to introduce the story for PodCastle due to all my squeeing, and I said yes. I believe the story is episode 3, so add PodCastle to your feed thingydoo and don’t miss it.
- One of the prettiest (and most anticipated) anthologies of the year is finally out: Paper Cities. Filled to the brim with authors I adore, edited by yet another person I adore (Ekaterina Sedia), and published by a guy I tolerate ;). There are already many glowing reviews of the book and I’m sure there will be more. So buy it and stuff.
- If you haven’t checked out the Weird Tales 85 Weirdest People of the last 85 Years list, you should. Weird Tales is celebrating its 85th anniversary (starting this month, actually) and it’s absolutely amazing how Stephen and Ann have turned the magazine around. The design, the fiction, the non-fiction, just everything is awesome.
I have some commentary up about wikis, both large, famous ones like Wikipedia and small ones with narrow focus.
The Carl Brandon wiki-ers ran into [some ugliness on Wikipedia] pretty soon after they started heavily editing, when a category they created–People of Color in SF–was nominated for deletion…
…This led to Carl Brandon members renewing their interest in having a CBS wiki, just as FeministSF.net has an FSFWiki. I think this is a great idea for many reasons, not the least of which is the nastiness one often experiences on Wikipedia. That nastiness has a few things at its core. One being that some people have serious power issues and play them out in whatever venue allows them to–Wikipedia is an easy fiefdom to conquer, if one has the time and no life. Another being that American culture, the culture which many people contributing to the English language Wikipedia are steeped in, often devalues the contributions of women and minorities, but does so in a backhanded way: by claiming that their contributions shouldn’t be called out on the basis of race or gender or nationality, but instead thrown in with the “mainstream”, which just happens to be overwhelmingly populated by white males.
8am today. I’m lying in bed, my alarm has just gone off, I’m contemplating getting up but it’s overcast outside and that always makes me sluggish. My phone rings, and it’s the ringtone for my Ohio relatives. I jump up to answer it because 1: they never call in the morning and 2: my grandmother is very sick (like, on Hospice care), and anytime they call me at strange hours I’m afraid it’s news about her.
My aunt is on the phone and she asks if I have an MP3 player. I say yes. She asks if I have any bootleg music on it. I say maybe. She says she’s listening to the Tom Joyner morning show and they’re warning people that if you have bootleg MP3s and you download another one, your MP3 player will blow up.
Now, let me pause here to point out a few things. The first being, as I said, I’d just woken up. I was fuzzy. Also, my aunt does not understand technology, really. So when she said the player would “blow up”, I didn’t think she meant that literally, or even that they’d literally said that. I figured they meant the songs would all get erased.
Anyhow, she called to warn me. I told her it was probably just some nonsense that record companies were spreading around to scare people about downloading (which happens), or perhaps it was a fake MP3 download that contained a virus (that could happen). She was quite concerned, and said that a caller had phoned in to say it happened to him on an old song he’d downloaded yesterday. “Fire” by the Ohio Players. The news was “all over the Internet” according to Tom Joyner. I told her that I’d be careful and hung up.
It wasn’t until I fired up my computer and checked my email that it even occured to me what day it was. And then I facepalmed… because what else can you do?
I wonder if Tom Joyner will clue his listeners in later.
This is a long way of saying that I’m officially outdone by April Fools this year, because I was up earlier than I wanted to be, have already had a slightly panicky moment, and now I have a headache due to how fast I leaped from the bed. (This did not stop me from sending out an April Fools silly thing to some friends, though.)
The whole concept of this day makes me roll my eyes. Actually fooling people about stuff is so 3rd grade. I rather prefer when people do silly yet real things on AFD, like the year we published the grocery lists of famous authors. That month we had more BNAs that F&SF! And the lists were actually pretty awesome. Why can’t more people be as clever as we were, hmm?
A lot of people have linked to the thing about Amazon telling POD publishers they have to print their books though Booksurge (owned by Amazon) or they won’t be listed. Some are very upset about it, some have determined that it won’t impact their business, and others are freaking out!
I will admit that I am not entirely sure of all the ramifications, but two bits of information floated my way that make me think that the situation is not so dire. The first is that, according to Deborah Layne, nothing will change for her and Wheatland Press, and she’s with Lightning Source. So rumors that Lightning Source people have to switch over are, apparently, not entirely correct.
Which leads into the other thing I heard. The first bit of news about this came from Writer’s Weekly/Angela Hoy. And let me tell you, I don’t trust a damn thing that woman has to say. In part because she’s a vanity book publisher dressed up as not, but because I’ve had personal dealings with her that convinced me she’s really not as knowledgeable or interested in helping writers as she seems.
Several years ago, back when I was teaching writing classes, I pitched some ideas to her for the writing classes area associated with Writer’s Weekly. The full account of what happened is here, but essentially I came away from the encounter thinking that Angela didn’t know a lot about fiction writing and selling, yet was acting if she did. At the time, I just thought she was deluded, but after reading and hearing more about her, I’ve come ’round to the opinion that she’s more than a little scammy.
Someone on the BroadUniverse list pointed out that this news from Amazon really only affects POD publishers who are not part of an existing distribution system, like Ingram. The kind of POD publishers that can’t get their books stocked in Brick&Mortar stores because they won’t accept returns. The kind of publishers that have names like PublishAmerica. So really, this is terrible news for PA and that ilk, but not necessarily for all small presses. Again, this is the impression I’m getting from various sources, but if anyone has information to the contrary, I’d like to know. Mainly, I feel like anything that upsets Angela Hoy can’t be all bad.
All right, I’m going to be brave and post this story for you all. It’s the first story I ever had published (Peridot Books, 2000) and was published in the first venue I sent it to, which both encouraged me and set up extremely unrealistic expectations for my career. My favorite thing about this story is that it stars my roleplaying characters, because I am just that much of a cliche. There are times that I’d like to write that novel about Nera I always intended to. I also have this whacked out scene from a grocery store with Nera, Tannim, and some character named Tasi that I do not remember at all. It involved teh gay, though.
What We Make of It
by K T Bradford
Last year, after joining the Altered Fluid writing group, fellow Fluidian Matt Kressel asked me if I’d like to slush read for Sybil’s Garage. I said sure, as I’m an old hand at slush.Many, many, many, many submissions later, we were done, and I’d found at least one story that ended up in the final issue. I wasn’t the only one working in the slush mines (thank Hera!), and ultimate praise goes to head honcho Matt for selecting the amazing stories now available in Sybil’s Garage No. 5. It’s a very pretty magazine filled with a lot of amazing fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. I’m proud to have played a small part. Buy your copy now!
Table of Contents
Elizabeth Barrette – “With Every Fine and Subtle Sense Perceive”
Amal El-Mohtar – “Orpheus”
Miranda Gaw – “Last Supper”
Aaron Leis – “Glass”
Pam McNew – “No Word for Goodbye”
Adrienne J. Odasso – “River Girl”
David M. Rheingold – “Macduff’s Lament”
Eilyahoo Talgam – “Look Away”
Samantha Henderson – “The Ballad of Delphinium Blue”
Vylar Kaftan – “The Girl Next Door”
Barbara Krasnoff – “All His Worldly Goods”
Caspian Gray – “Waiting for Spring”
Jason Erik Lundberg – “Wombat Fishbone”
Alex Dally MacFarlane – “Tattoos of the Sky, Tattoos of the Days”
Gary Moshimer – “Salesman”
Hazel Marcus Ong – “Roses”
Daniel A. Rabuzzi – “Last and First”
Veronica Schanoes – “Lost in the Supermarket”
Dinner with Lauren McLaughlin, an Interview by Devin Poore
The Best-Dressed Man on the Court, a memoir by Mercurio D. Rivera
Looks like Clarion and Clarion West are starting to send acceptances (or phone them). Congrats to everyone who gets in, it’s going to be awesome (and tiring, and maddening… but mostly awesome). I thought this would be a good time to link to my Clarion Journal, as it is still online. Back then I was calling myself Finley Larkin–ah, the old days.
No clue how helpful this will be for folks, but it’s all I have in the way of advice and usefulness on this topic.
Some of you may recall that last summer I sang the praises of the Launchpad Workshop, a week-long immersion in science and astronomy sponsored by NASA. I had a really wonderful time, learned a lot, and came back with several cool ideas for stories that I’m still working on.
They’re doing the workshop again this year and, if you haven’t applied already, I suggest you do. The deadline is March 31st.
Last year several people (who were completely jealous–in a good way–that I got to go) said that they didn’t bother applying because they thought that only major pros would be able to get in. Such is not the case. It does help if you have some publishing track record, and being a Clarion alum probably doesn’t hurt, either. But our group was a nice mixture of neo-pros and not-so-neo-pros and it worked out just fine. Writers all along the spectrum can benefit from learning more about these concepts, and the admins know that.
Another thing I like about the workshop is that they are very interested in getting women and minorities to apply, and they’re not just going for tokenism. Our group was diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity.
If you have any interest at all in astronomy and learning correct scientific principles to enhance your already amazing science fiction (or even fantasy… trust me on this), apply, apply, apply. It’s free to do so, the workshop itself is free (you’ll have to cover your own meals, possibly your transportation, but they have funds for those in need on that front, too), it’s a good time, you’ll learn a lot, Wyoming is beautiful, if incredibly empty.
A couple of weekends back I went off to a writing retreat with some folks from my writing group and other assorted author friends. The trip was amazing in many ways, despite the evil snow that wouldn’t let us get up the mountain, and I can’t wait to do it again.
The retreat was nothing fancy — five days at a house in Woodstock. But my first real vacation in a long time. Five days where I had nothing to do except write, write, and write. It was a productive trip for me; several scenes on my YA novel written, a whole short story drafted, some serious background work on other stories, and relaxation. Oh the pleasure of actual relaxation. Continue reading “Strategic Retreat”
All last month on the Angry Black Woman I posted short essays written by black writers about how history intersects with their writing. I’m lucky enough to know or have contact with some really amazing authors who agreed to contribute. Now that February is over, I can link to them all. They are definitely worth reading if you have any interest in writing and authors.
Weaving My Herstory With My Fiction by S. Renée Bess
Have I taken that risk and written about the unknown, or have I created plots and characters borrowed from familiar territory? I need to be honest with my readers and with myself and confess that I’ve used bits and pieces of my personal history in writing three novels thus far. Don’t most writers do the same thing? …in committing my characters to the computer screen, I couldn’t escape my past and present realties any more than I could walk on my hands for a mile while singing my favorite Gladys Knight and the Pips song.
Fiction Is Just Nonfiction Through A Distorted Lens by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
When you are athletically gifted, in many ways, it’s like having this weird magical talent. You can just do these things that people find amazing, yet, it comes easily to you. I was always the first chosen during games on the play ground. I was always the one racing and beating the boys. It was all easy, natural. Being in motion always brought me great joy. So I’ve known this kind of ability.
My storytelling often takes the form of a poem by Linda Addison
As the world whispers to me, as stories and poetry fall from my hands, history personal and impersonal take form, teaching me many lessons. I try to be a grateful student.
The personal history of the author is tangential at best by Alaya Dawn Johnson
…my daddy, this reviewer said, was white, my mom was black, and I just didn’t know what I was talking about. This reviewer did not know me personally. Information about the ethnicity of my parents is not available online. There was, however, a photograph of me at the end of my offending story, revealing the salient detail: I’m one pale black person.
How can we conjure the wondrous world we believe in? by Andrea Hairston
People with power, talent, and beauty don’t necessarily get wealth, success, and happiness. The tragedies that befall us are not simply caused by the flaws in our characters. Power and talent can be a torment in a system stacked against you. People can shun the magical ones, be jealous or frightened of brilliance. Social forces can thwart even the strongest will and structural reality can crush individual imagination and agency.
Each turn of a writer’s imagination creates a different history by Charles Saunders
I used real history to change fantasy history – a reversal of the usual mode, in which fantasy history is a transmutation of real history. Were it not for the historical sources provided by the books of Du Bois, Davidson and Diop – along with many others that line the shelves of university libraries – I probably never would have started writing at all.
I’m a die-hard multiculturalist as a result of my very existence by Tobias S. Buckell
Later, when I started my first novel, I took a Caribbean-settled world cut off from the rest of the universe, developing on its own. I wanted to place Caribbean people out in outer space, something I’ve actually gotten hate mail for doing (I was told by the emailer I had no business writing about 3rd world people in outer space because only westerners had the ability to pull of the technological grunt work do ever reach the stars). I guess my writing set out to provide an antidote to attitudes such as that.
I’ve grown to love complexity by David Anthony Durham
Early stories are likely to be autobiographical. That one was. I was Marcus. I experienced all those moments, and in some variation had that cultural awakening, spurred by images of Hannibal. My awareness may not have happened in the tight time frame of the story, but the motion of it is accurate as far as I can remember. It marked the connection with history – and with the history of people of African heritage – that became fundamental to my life ever since.