Sunday, November 20, 2016

"Seekers" Now Available at Crimson Streets!

My fantasy short story, "Seekers," is now available at Crimson Streets.  John Waltrip did an amazing job with the illustration. 

I really enjoyed writing this story.  I tried to bring some fun into this tale of adventure and treasure seeking.  More than anything else, I think Firefly inspired the style I was going for.

This is my second published story in 2016, and both stories have excellent illustrations.  It's an exciting year!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

World Fantasy Convention Day 2

The first panel I attended today was titled "I Believe I Can Fly."  It was moderated by C. S. E. Cooney and included Curtis Craddock, Dan Koboldt, Alan Smale, and John Tibbetts.

The next panel was "Trilogies?  Small stuff!" with L. E. Modesitt, Jr., David Drake, Sharon Shinn, Mercedes Lackey, and Kay Kenyon.  They spoke about several aspects of "a series of length" (a preferable term instead of "long series").  One of the most helpful pieces of advice for authors beginning a series is to start small and local, knowing only what the protagonist knows, and then to radiate outward.  They also said that for a long-running series, they'll only have a small number of books focused on some characters, and then they'll move on to other characters.

After lunch, I attended the guest of honor speech by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.  He told fascinating stories of his past and his experience with writing.  I found it inspirational and encouraging.

After a dinner break (I was still too full from lunch to actually eat dinner), I headed to the mass autographing at the Regency Ballroom.  I like to use my glossy program book to collect autographs from the guests of honor and other special guests.

There were several parties happening on the fifth floor, so I thought I'd check things out.  I had good discussions with multiple people with topics ranging from space travel to Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Friday, October 28, 2016

World Fantasy Convention Day 1

After waking up and getting lunch (yes, I slept in due to the late arrival), I went to the Dealer Room and Art Show.  Sadly, I was unable to find any issues of Galaxy or Unknown.


World Fantasy 2016 Program Book

Later, I had dinner with John O'Neill (editor of Black Gate) and authors Patty Templeton and Bob Byrne.  Bob and Patty are also bloggers at Black Gate.  John regaled us with stories of publishing and collecting.  It was a lot of fun.

My wife, Bess, and me getting set for evening activities.

Opening Ceremonies... (Top Left: L. E. Modesitt, Jr.; Top Right: Randal Spangler; Bottom: Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon)
You could feel the strength of the bond between Mercedes Lackey and her husband Larry Dixon.  My wife took several pictures of them during the opening ceremony, and these two images seemed to depict their connection and teamwork.  When speaking of his wife, Larry said, "She's my everything."  I thought I was going to cry.

Elaine Isaak reading a short story

After attending one last panel discussion, I went to the bar to mingle.  I met authors Donald Crankshaw (who is yet another Black Gate blogger) and Kristin Janz.  It was interesting to discover how they help each other as married authors.  I like seeing other married teams coming together over writing, similar to my own marriage where Bess is there for me to do whatever she can to try to help me improve my writing and connect with other people.

Writing this blog post while eating Peanut M&M's (which I can't have at home due to my son's food allergies)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

World Fantasy Convention Arrival

Yesterday, we left Indianapolis for Columbus.  But it wasn't a direct route.  First, we dropped the kids with grandparents and then picked up Sara Goodwin (check out her tweets @SoSaidSara).  We got a bit of a late start, but we finally made it to the hotel around 2:30AM.

I'm looking forward to the free book bag, hoping it's as great as the bags issued in past years.  And I don't just mean the books within the bag.  The bag itself is the right size for all kinds of oddities.  For example, I'm using my bag from the 2010 WFC to carry all of my shoes.

"Wait... why did you bring a lot of shoes?"  I wanted options.  For all the times someone is actually going to look at my feet.  Which is probably never.  I hope.  Please don't look at my feet.

The first scheduled events begin at 3PM, which is a short time away.  I still need to run by registration and get something to eat.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

World Fantasy Convention 2016

I haven't attended the World Fantasy Convention since 2014, and I'm excited to be attending this year.  I'm looking forward to meeting with others, listening to panel discussions, and hearing author readings.  This year, I also signed up for my own reading:

"Jigo" features Katsu and Tsukiko from "Shadows in Sakamura".  In this tale, the two venture into Taiyomichi, a small village of simplistic, hard-working people.  Even when they find danger within the village, they can't imagine the true source until it's too late to escape.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Galaxy Retro-Review - July, 1953

My latest retro-review on Black Gate is for the July, 1953 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction.  Two stories were really good.  Check it out!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What Am I Up To?

Earlier this month, I attended Gen Con, focusing on the Gen Con Writer's Symposium.  If you haven't attended the panels in GenCon before, it's well worth your time whether you're aspiring to write or are already in the trenches, submitting your work.  I took copious notes and learned quite a bit.  I'd attended last year, but this year I also chose to pay for a feedback session with professional authors.  They had excellent feedback on one of my short stories.

I'll be attending the World Fantasy Convention in October, and I signed up to do a reading.  I'll be practicing in front of my wife, who will prepare me for any possible distractions, as she did in preparation for my reading at Gen Con.  She would cough loudly, laugh randomly, stand up and walk into the other room, or pretend to check her phone for text messages.  And while she's doing so, she's still observing everything so that at the end, she's telling me how best to focus, emote, etc. (she's a professional actress and comedian).  I haven't decided on what I'll read just yet, but I have enough time left to prepare.

As far as writing goes, I'm working on a novel featuring Katsu and Tsukiko, who are the main characters in "Shadows in Sakamura" that was published in the latest issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.  The novel reveals how they became as they are - one shadowing the other.  I really love writing this story, but it's not easy; this is probably the hardest I've ever worked on any writing project to date.

I can't say how much time I've spent just reading about the Japanese Edo period or looking at art and pictures of Japan.  Sometimes I just get lost in the research - fascinated by all of the details.  So much of what I'm studying will never end up on the page directly, but it's helping me to build this fantasy world - one that I hope absorbs readers.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Shadows in Sakamura Now Available

My short story, "Shadows in Sakamura," is now available at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.  It's a fantasy story set in a world based on Edo-period Japan.  Katsu and Tsukiko attempt to restore a town that's downtrodden in an unusual and mysterious way.

Check it out!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Galaxy Retro-Review - June, 1953

My retro-review of Galaxy's June, 1953 issue is up at Black Gate.  This issue only contains stand-alone stories, so it makes for a good sample of Galaxy for those who are curious about this classic magazine. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Story Accepted by Crimson Streets

Crimson Streets accepted a fantasy short story I wrote!  "Seekers" is about a trio of characters on a quest... but is it really the same quest?  I'm excited to be published in this magazine; its goal is to bring pulp fiction back.  And who doesn't love good pulp fiction?  Here's a quote from their website:

"Pulp, the fiction, much like the paper on which it was printed, was rough with ragged edges, lacking the smooth polish of the glossy works produced by the literati.  Pulp was not – is not – a genre, it is a style of writing, a feeling, which at its epicenter is the anti-literature, stories for Joe and Jane Six Pack, something to read quickly on the train or bus on the way home from the plant or the office.  The pulps in their heyday, featured fast paced adventure stories of aviators, hard boiled detectives, explorers, horrors, mad scientists, and masked avengers fighting crime on the dark streets."

So swing over to their website, and check them out.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Story Accepted by Heroic Fantasy Quarterly

I just had a short story accepted by Heroic Fantasy Quarterly!  "Shadows in Sakamura" will appear in a future issue.  The story takes place in a fantasy setting based on the Japanese Edo period.  This will be my second story published in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.  My previous story, "Aldrom", was published in 2010.  For those interested in reading "Aldrom", click here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Galaxy Science Fiction, April 1953 Retro-Review

My latest retro-review is up at Black Gate.  This one covers the April, 1953 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, which includes a story by fellow Hoosier Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.  Check it out!

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Retro-Review of Unknown, April 1941

My second review of Unknown magazine is up at Black Gate.  This review covers the April, 1941 issue.  Check it out!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Retro-Review: Galaxy, March 1953

My retro-review of the May, 1953 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction is up at Black Gate:

I covered the novel-writing sham separately, so this looks at the fiction.

Check it out!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Galaxy Science Fiction $6,500 Novel-Writing Sham

What could be better than a $6,500 novel-writing contest in Galaxy Science Fiction?  The regular pro-writers wouldn't be eligible due to their own contracts.  Finally, a new voice could emerge upon a great stage.  Or could it?  Check out my latest post in Black Gate for more details!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

What Am I Up To?

January is almost gone, but I thought I'd share some of my goings-on for 2016.

First, I'm editing one of my stories.  It wasn't a rewrite request.  I felt like I needed to tighten it up, though.  I reread part of it and found a propensity for tagging many pieces of dialogue (e.g. Mary said).  My reasoning at the time was to clearly identify the speaker, knowing that readers will skim over those pieces for the most part, anyway.

But I started reading other thoughts on the matter and realized that unless there are more complex scenes with multiple characters, the tags aren't needed at all.  It can just be dialogue that bounces between people, and it's just as easy to track.  For the occasional interjection that could be from anyone, add a tag.  I also permit the tag if I tack on an additional action.  For example: "I don't know what this stuff is," Dave said, wiping the slime from his fingers.

So I'm cleaning up a lot of dialogue tags, which in turn tightens the story up, allowing me to add more flesh to scenes that seem a bit too rushed. 

Once I'm finished with editing, I'll move back to the novel WIP.  I'm still working through the rough draft, and it will take time to complete.  Then comes the editing.  There's a lot to think through with this, and while I've planned most (if not all) high-level points, there is also a lot to think through at the granular level.

Two of my short stories are being held for consideration by editors.  I had mentioned a rewrite request in Twitter last year, and that's one of them.  I don't like giving details beyond that.  But if either turn into a sale, I'll certainly say more.

Something odd I've noticed recently: I can't write to music anymore.  I find myself thinking very hard while writing, and for the past couple of years, I just can't write to music.  It distracts me too much.  I don't think it's old age since I'm still in my thirties, but if something (technique, music, etc.) interferes with my process, then it has to go.

Currently, I'm reading issues of Galaxy Science Fiction.  Sometimes I'll read from Fantasy & Science Fiction, too, but I'm very far behind the current issue.  I also finished the Naruto manga series.  I love Naruto, but I'm glad it had an ending.  I think all great stories need a beginning, middle, and ending, even if the story spans multiple books and takes years to tell.  But if something just goes on and on, I think there's something lacking.  There should always be an end-game, and the story should be heading toward it, regardless of how meandering that path may be.