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[sticky post] Welcome to My Blog

Hello and welcome to my professional blog. In this blog, I will mostly write about writing, editing, publishing, slush reading and the calls for submission I am making or responding to. There will be writer advice based on whatever lesson I am relearning, interview links for current projects and random bits that relate to writing in some emotional or technical way. I have no filters and make liberal use of the tag system.

See my profile for my event appearances, book covers, bio and other such things.

My personal blog, gaaneden, is where I talk about my husband, my cats, my gaming and other randomness of everyday life. It is a lot less structured and a lot more fluff. Feel free to add my personal LJ as well.

Tell Me - Joe M. McDermott

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Joe is spot on with one of my complaints about glorifying war and the military through fiction in his novel The Fortress at the End of Time. I come from a military family and background. His thoughts hit the nail on the head.
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The student loan crisis is also a spiritual crisis. We tell students this dream, sell them on the idea of a future where anything is possible. Then, we encourage them to sign up for the dream, and to take out loans. Then, after schooling and the promise of the bright, shining future arrives, it's not so bright, and not so shining, because wages have not kept up with the cost of tuition. That college degree becomes an anchor that holds aspirants down into the lower classes for the crime of trying to lift themselves up.

My family members all served in the military. (Yes, all of them. My parents met in the Army. My sister is a West Point graduate and decorated Iraq war veteran. My brother is a retired Marine. I got an MFA in Writing. I chose a different path than them. That is another story, though, for another time.) The military sells folks a dream of glory. There are all these videos of people jumping out of planes, and running, and shouting, and it's very exciting. On TV and Film, it all looks so vigorous and important and intense. Yet, that is not true to the stories I hear around the kitchen table. Even my sister, a decorated war veteran, an MP (the only combat MOS available to women at the time), who has jumped out of planes and all of that exciting stuff, will not tell you about shooting a weapon in the direction of an enemy. I will leave her stories for her to tell; they belong to her.

I just think that there's this huge disconnect between what is sold and what is experienced. In fact, from where I stand, military service looked like a lot of paperwork and a lot of training for something that, for most soldiers, never comes. The vast majority of military personnel will never stare down a gun barrel at the mythical enemy. The gunships will be kept ready, but rarely fire. What little extreme violence occurs will be rare, I hope, very short and precise. It's not a bad thing, that so few actually face down the guns and bombs, comparatively, but it is also the opposite of what is being sold to us in the stories of military service that are often not at all like 24 or Saving Private Ryan.

While I was reading Military Science Fiction, I felt that this fact of military life was not present. Very few members of the military actually train for combat. The rest live and work inside an exceptionally brutal version of a government bureaucracy. Inside this massive bureaucracy, the facade of war is maintained, and desk clerks shout HOORAH! but even in an actual war, most members of the service are not hopping between houses hunting after bad guys. The majority of the military is a bureaucratic support structure for those few and proud that do that dangerous, bloody, patriotic work. And, I did not see a lot of military science fiction about this side of the military: the soul-crushing bureaucracy that chews up bright, young, energetic people and dumps them out on the other side more broken than when they began, and nary a shot fired, nary a moment of the glory they dreamed about.

It's a hard career, and it isn't for everyone. And, everything around it, everything inside of it, sells this dream of glory; for an overwhelming majority, the glory never comes.

This is one of the things I was thinking about when I thought about writing an old-fashioned space opera. There are all these huge, beautiful exciting ships and battles and weapons. But, most of the people who spend their whole careers inside those ships will never get what they want. They will never experience the dream that they were sold when they were young.

That crisis of spirit, when the revelation comes, is what I wanted to write about inside this deep space universe, inspired by Ursula K. Leguin and Dino Buzzati and Julian Gracq. I wanted space to be the thing that strips the dreams away, to reveal the self, and the lengths that people will go to survive, mentally, the soul-crushing bureaucracy wrapped in a shell of the dream of glory. What happens at the deep space stations when the enemy is not imminent? What happens in those long stretches of darkness where nothing and everything is looking back, and you don't even know what you're looking for? What happens when you realize all those dreams you had are narrowed to a room more like a prison cell than a home?



Different characters deal with this crisis of spirit differently. Captain Ronaldo Aldo deals with this by committing a crime against every human colony in the universe, and calls his crime his triumph.

His confession is out in January from Tor.com, called FORTRESS AT THE END OF TIME, and I hope you check it out. Thanks, Jennifer, for letting me come around and talk about it.

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JOE M. McDERMOTT is best known for the novels Last Dragon, Never Knew Another, and Maze. His work has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. He holds an MFA from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast Program. He lives in Texas.


 

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Tell Me - Glenn Rolfe

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I've worked with Glenn in the past and I appreciate his deft story telling. I also like the way music inspired him unexpectedly. I love it when that happens.

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Three years ago, I began a short ghost story for a writing group. I was trying to come up with something when Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town” came through my headphones. Bruce is one of my favorite artists of all-time, and although I had listened to this song about half a million times, I heard a line in it that I’d never really heard before:  “tell ‘her there’s a spot out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge….and tell ‘em there’s a darkness on the edge of town.” The lyrics go on to tell about how “every man has a secret” and how they carry that secret with them “every step that they take.”  I took notice. I asked myself what kind of darkness, what kind of secret was out ‘neath Abram’s Bridge?

My short story quickly turned into something larger. The deeper I went, the more the mystery aspect of the story began begging to come out. At that time, I’d never written any kind of real mystery piece, and I wasn’t comfortable trying to do so, but at the end of the day, the story dictated where it wanted to go. I took a shot and let go of the reigns.

Aspects of the book are heavily influenced by two of my favorite writers: Mercedes Yardley and Ronald Malfi. Without Yardley’s Beautiful Sorrows and Malfi’s Floating Staircase, I’m not sure this story would have ever come to fruition. Yardley showed me it was okay to write something sweet into the horror we create, while Malfi showed me how to capture atmosphere, and how to funnel that swirling danger into an explosive and effective crescendo.

When I was finished writing, I knew I had something special. Abram’s Bridge is a about a twelve-year-old boy named Lil’ Ron, and Sweet Kate, the ghost girl he meets beneath Abram’s Bridge. Ron sets out to discover who or what is responsible for her death. He discovers is that the small Maine town his father has moved him to is full of secrets. When he starts asking about Kate, he disturbs a slumbering darkness that digs deeper and closer than he could ever know.

Part ghost story, part mystery, and part coming-of-age, this novella is still one of my favorite pieces in my catalog. Not the blood and gore horror of some of my other works, Abram’s Bridge is more of a supernatural-tinged thriller. I am extremely proud of this book and happy to see it back in circulation thanks to Crossroad Press.

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Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Hunter Shea, Brian Moreland and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

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Awards Eligibility for 2016 Publications

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

The nomination period for the 2017 Hugo Awards is now open. Below is what I am eligible for and what I published in 2016 I believe deserves to be nominated.

Novels
The Last Days of Salton Academy, YA horror novel - Ragnarok Publications
(While I had two other omnibuses and a fiction collection published, none of those are eligible and I am not eligible for the John W. Campbell award.)

Short Stories
“ARMIN LAAS” - ROBOTS! Origins Game Fair anthology (Science fiction)
“Inky, Blinky, and Me” - Man and Machine anthology (Science fiction)
“Dark Side Matters” - Drawing Destiny, a Sixth World Tarot anthology (Science fantasy)
“The Unfortunate Case of Sister Ruth” - Shockwaves, a V-Wars anthology (Urban fantasy)
“Feathers in Flight” - Tempest, All-New Tales of Valdemar anthology (High fantasy)

Editor – Short Form
I edited both EGM Shorts and Speculate! short fiction in 2016.

Remember, you need have been a member of last year’s Worldcon, and/or be a member of this year’s Worldcon, and/or be a member of next year's Worldcon to be eligible to either nominate or vote.

Setting Expectations for 2017

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

As I finish up my work from 2016, I’ve decided that 2017 is going to be a year of experimentation. I have very few deadlines scheduled for me. The month of January is taken up with completing the tie-in story due this month and final edits to Sekrit Project Alex. After that, my year is mostly open. I will assign my own deadlines and stick to them.

This is the time to experiment. Under the Apocalypse Ink Productions umbrella, I have two really interesting projects (in addition to the books we’re already doing).

The first is the “Five Minute Stories” podcast. This podcast will run for thirteen weeks. I’ve never done a podcast. This will be a series of flash fiction pieces, old and new, written and read by me; hosted and produced by AIP. This podcast is for me to figure out whether or not I like podcasting as a storytelling medium. If I discover I like it, I’ll write and produce an original podcast story. If I don’t, I’ll consider the next option.

The second is The Prince of Artemis V comic. I’ve wanted to do a comic book for a long time. The Prince of Artemis V is my most popular short story. I’ve signed a contract with an artist to do the comic and, already, she’s bringing the goods to the table. I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out in the end.

The third is to publish at least one short story as a Kindle Single. This is mostly to figure out how this works and if it is a viable thing for the future. As a full-time freelance author/editor, I must always diversify my revenue streams. It might be a good outlet for my erotica writing (under a different name).

Getting down to the nitty-gritty of writing goals for 2017, I want to write at least six new short stories and get them out to market. That is a good goal as far as short stories are concerned. They are a good thing to write in-between novels.

As for novels, I plan to write at least two novels in my new teen horror series called Fever County. I’m super excited about this series. I’ve already created the world and set up a map as well as done a lot of the world building. More of that will happen as I write. I’ve got the 2 page synopsis of the first book completed with a paragraph synopsis of the second book completed.

When it comes to travel, I’m limiting myself in 2017. I do have 3 definite conventions and 3 one-day events on the schedule with 4 “maybe” conventions waiting in the wings for me to decide what to do with them. Most likely, I’ll only do 2 of the maybes. It depends on a whole lot of factors including time, effort, and money.

There you have it. There are a couple of other interesting things on the horizon, but nothing is contracted/set in stone. 2017 is going to be an experiment. I’m going to stretch myself in some uncomfortable ways creatively to see what happens. At the same time, I’m going to set up a writing schedule that lets me finish those 2 novels and 6 short stories. It’s a little scary to focus mostly on my own stuff after more than a year of tie-in fiction.

Not only am I ready for it, I’m excited for it. That’s the best feeling.

2016 Stat Thing

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Since I’ve figured out that I’m not going to write any more this year… Final stats for 2016. As a full-time freelancer, stats are important to me. They give me a concrete, discrete measurement for accomplishments. None of the word count below includes social media or blogs.

Year-to-date stats:
Fiction words written: 195,416 (2 novels, 1 novella, 12 short stories, 3 RPG projects)
Article words written: 25,780
My novels/collections edited: 11
My short stories proofed: 9
Other novels/anthologies edited: 14
Events attended: 12

Short Story Submissions:
Total subs: 19
Acceptances: 6 (35% average)
Rejections: 11
Pending: 2

This year was almost all tie-in fiction. 2017 will be all about my new teen series. (And, of course, all the edits for the turned in novels and novellas.)

Bubble & Squeek for 14 Dec 2016

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I'm working on revisions for the Sekrit Project Alex extras and the final tie-in story for 2016. They both have fiddly bits to get correct. So, here's a Bubble & Squeek for you.

All I want for my Birthday (and Christmas for that matter). Please consider buying one of my books for yourself or as a gift for someone else. It helps keep my cats in kibble and me working on the fiction you know and love.

Article: On the Qwillery – The Perfect Line in the Sand on why zombies are the perfect kind of monster and why we used them so much.

ebook Release: The kindle version of THE LAST DAYS OF SALTON ACADEMY is live! Here is the Barnes and Noble link.

Interview: On Wag the Fox focused around THE LAST DAYS OF SALTON ACADEMY and YA fiction.

Interview: On Ginger Nuts of Horror. This was one long, meaty interview filled with intriguing questions I’ve never had to answer before.

Release: TEMPEST, All-New Tales of Valdemar. I've got my second story of Hadara and Kitha in here. This is the fourth Valdemar anthology I've written for. I'm still pinching myself at how lucky I am I get to play in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar world.

Review: Ginger Nuts of Horror reviewed
THE LAST DAYS OF SALTON ACADEMYIt doesn’t look like the reviewer liked it very much. But they are correct in saying the book was written for a different age group. (I much prefer these kinds of reviews. :) )



And a picture of Mena being oh-so-dignified. I love this picture of her.

Tell Me - Jean Rabe

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Jean Rabe is a friend of mine whom I adore. She is kind, smart, generous, and talented. I've just started reading The Dead of Winter and I'm in love with it. The woman can write a mystery. If I didn't have revisions and a short story due, I'd be curled up in my comfy chair with some coffee, reading. Later. Work now, play later.

As an aside, this is the 100th “Tell Me" guest blog post. Woo-hoo!
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Tell me…

…I’ll tell you that I’m worried, nervous, downright frightened.

I’ve read mysteries for years, decades. Love them. Harry Bosch, Elvis Cole, and any investigator penned by Val McDermid are among my favorite characters. My bookshelves are filled with mysteries.

And now I’m writing mysteries. I’ve written 35 fantasy, urban fantasy, SF, and adventure novels. And one mystery, The Dead of Winter, which came out in November. And which has been getting awesome reviews. It even received a glowing review by Steven Paul Leiva in The Huffington Post. Floating, I am!

I received an email this morning: “So... Good time to be reading your book. :-) I'm a handful of chapters in, and really loving it. In fact, I think -- though you've done well in many genres -- you may finally have found your "thing." So far, this sings "Jean Rabe" to me more than any of your other stuff I've read. Of course, I've never read a bad book or story by you, but something about Piper and her cast strike me as "it."

I worked really really really hard on The Dead of Winter. I wrote and rewrote and polished until my fingers ached. I “knew” I had a good book. I was pleased with it. It was a finalist for the Claymore Award. I love my publisher, who asked that it become a series. Floating, I am!

And nervous. Worried. Downright frightened.

I fret that I can’t equal that effort. I suppose a lot of authors feel that way, but I hadn’t until this plunge into mysteries. The genre is tough because there are sooooo many mystery books out there. Can I equal the effort with the next book?

I’m working on it now, 10,000 words in. I should be 40,000 words in, but I’m writing, rewriting, polishing as I go. I’m the sort of writer who can’t keep going until I’m happy with what’s in the computer so far. I fiddle. I finesse. I fret.

And I keep going. Because I made the jump to mysteries. And this is where I want to be. This is the stuff I want to write. I’m determined to win at this. Losing isn’t viable for Piper Blackwell and her fellow cast members.

I’m hoping my readers will stay with me as I meander through the sleepy little county and spice it with murders and thefts and cold cases. Here’s an excerpt of The Dead of Night:

     The old man sat in the middle of a bench under a big oak, his shoulders hunched and back curved, reminding Piper of a turtle. Hard to make out more details from where she stood under the streetlight.
     The light didn’t quite reach his perch, and she suspected he’d picked the spot for that reason; there were closer benches. The clouds hindered, a dense gray dome that coupled with the hour had turned the stretch near the bluff into a mass of twisting shadows. Lights in houses at the edge of the park were flickering dots, will-o-the-wisps, she mused, more fitting for Halloween than spring.
     She started toward him as threads of lightning flashed. Maybe the rain would hold off for a little while. Despite the frequent storms of the past several days, Piper hadn’t brought an umbrella. The ground felt spongy, comfortable to walk on. She quickened her step.
     Maybe this wouldn’t take long and she could go home and crawl into bed with the latest Harry Bosch book.


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USA Today bestselling author Jean Rabe has written thirty-five fantasy and adventure novels and more than eighty short stories. The Dead of Winter is her first mystery, a cozy police procedural, of which she was told there is “no-such genre.” When she’s not writing, which isn’t often, Jean edits. She has edited more than two dozen anthologies and over one hundred magazine issues so far. She’s a former news reporter and news bureau chief who penned a true crime book with noted attorney F. Lee Bailey. Her genre writing includes military, science-fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, mystery, horror, and modern-day adventure. Jean teaches genre writing courses at conventions, libraries, museums, and other interesting venues. Her hobbies include reading, role-playing games, visiting museums, dog-minding, and buying books to add to her growing stacks. She lives in central Illinois near three train tracks that provide “music” to type by, and she shares her home with three dogs and a parrot. Visit Jean at her website: www.jeanrabe.com

Jean has newsletter filled with tidbits about her upcoming books, reviews of things she’s reading, and writing advice. You can subscribe here.


 

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Forthcoming Birthday Wishes

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

On Friday, December 9th, I turn 46. I didn’t have a problem with 29, 30, 35, 40, or 45. But, for some reason, 46 is messing with me a bit this year. I don’t if it’s because 2016 has been a rough year all the way around or what.

All I want for my birthday (and for Christmas for that matter) is for you to buy one of my books (for yourself or as a gift to someone else) and leave me a review. It’s been my standing birthday wish for a few years now. Please consider getting yourself a gift of one of my books for my birthday. You have a great selection. I would love to see pictures of you and my books, too.

This year, I’d like to highlight a couple of books that came out in 2016.

Never Let Me – This is the omnibus of my Bram Stoker nominated YA sci-fi thriller series. It contains Never Let Me Sleep, Never Let Me Leave, and Never Let Me Die as well as an original short story in the universe, “Never Let Me Feel.” This omnibus is only available in print form.

The Karen Wilson Chronicles – This is the omnibus of my urban fantasy quartet. It contains Caller Unknown, Children of Anu, Keystones, and Chimera Incarnate as well as every Kendrick short story ever written and a John Corso story that is only published in the omnibus. This is available in trade and ebook as well as a signed, numbered, limited edition hardback.

The Last Days of Salton Academy – This is my most recently published book. It’s YA horror. Think Night of the Living Dead meets Lord of the Flies. It’s been called a “gothic zombie book” and I’m just fine with that. It is available in trade and ebook formats.

Of course, if you have those already or aren’t interested in them, you can pop by my website and see the whole list. As always, if you want a signed book by me—even my obscure stuff—the University Bookstore is your best bet. Also, I signed a bunch of books for the Cedar Hills Powell’s Bookstore, too.


November Monthly Stat Thing

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Sekrit Project Alex already has revision notes back. So, I’m in the thick of that. I’m also almost done with an interview for a conventions and I’ve finished several interviews for The Last Days of Salton Academy as well as turned in another short story. Left this year… revisions and another tie-in short story that has been outlined and started and maybe do quickie RPG splat for a funded kickstarter. The year is wrapping up nicely.

Year-to-date stats:
Fiction words written: 185,645
Article words written: 23,200
My novels/collections edited: 11
My short stories proofed: 9
Other novels/anthologies edited: 14
Events attended: 12

One more of these after the new year, then I’ll have to think of something else to stat for you guys on a monthly basis. I like to mix it up. Next year, I’m going to attempt to do less conventions and 90% original, non tie-in fiction. But, the universe sometimes laughs at my plans.