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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.

Bubble & Squeek for 10 August 2016

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Believe it or not, I've kinda laid low this past week... so more Bubble & Squeek. A lot of reading for Speculate! getting caught up on that. Blog posts. Mostly convention prep for Worldcon and Tracon. Still, it's been exciting. I officially signed the contract for Sekrit Project Alex (complete with NDA, thus the name), and had agent Cherry Weiner accept one of my novels for representation. Right now, I'm trying not to freak out over all the forthcoming travel. We've got everything in place, including house/cat sitter, neighbors warned, etc... And then, after Worldcon, I'm going to see two countries I've never seen before. It's going to be awesome.

Anthology: Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales. A project I had going on in the background. Kinda of excited about this one. I like WordFire Press.

Article: Here is my Shadowrun tarot card, The Shadows, for the Shadowrun anthology Drawing Destiny, and how I used it.

Article: Why Writers Make Incredible Friends. A fun article I just had to share.

Article: I was the author spotlight on MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape. It was unexpected and cool.

SFWA: In the second SFWA Chat Hour I participated it, I talk about how to hand sell your books to convention attendees. That all said, there is more to this. There are some attendees who do not want to talk to you. Watch their body language. If they won't make eye contact, leave them be or ask them if they'd like to hear about their books.

WorldCon: I will be at Worldcon/MidAmeriCon II. Come say hello. There is a no-shyness zone around me. I'm happy to chat with you. Here's my schedule:



  • Thursday all day, SFWA Board of Directors meeting

  • Friday 12:00 - 1:00, Rising Stars in SF, Fantasy & Horror

  • Friday 3:00-4:00, Kaffeklatch with Jennifer Brozek

  • Friday 5:00 - 6:00, Dwarf Planets and Beyond the Kuiper Belt

  • Saturday 10:00 - 11:00, Finding the Right Podcast for You

  • Saturday 11:00 - 1:00pm, SFWA Business Meeting

  • Saturday 2:00 - 3:00, Autograph Session

  • Sunday 11:00 - 12:00, Is Mining the Asteroids Feasible?



The largest news is that I am now represented by Cherry Weiner. It's been an exciting couple of weeks.

August Monthly Stat Thing

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

July was all about editing. At least it seems like it. Editing a novel for an agent. Editing a novel for EGM. Editing a novel and a novella for AIP. Doing some maintenance on 2 anthologies in progress—one reprint, one original. Editing a couple of my short stories and, editing the Speculate! story. My mind rebelled on all the editing and started a whole lot of background world building for the MG/YA series I’m going to start writing next year.

Year-to-date stats
:
Fiction words written: 135,810
Article words written: 15,000
My novels/collections edited: 5
My short stories proofed: 6
Other novels/anthologies edited: 10
Events attended: 6

August and September are going to be weird stat-wise because I’m doing so much traveling. Much of it will be in Europe. I do not expect to get /any/ work done.

Bubble and Squeek for 26 July 2016

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I've finished MAKEDA RED. I've edited 3 novels and I'm on a novella. I'm starting to prep for WorldCon and Tracon—both of my schedules require research. Life is slowing down. It is. But this is the calm before the storm.

Article: On the Semiotic Standard: The Collective: Bringing Books to Film. I didn't cheat and say Melissa Allen. I talked about my true love... THE DARK TOWER.

Awesome: The daughter of a friend has just cosplayed one of my characters: Melissa Allen. Achievement unlocked!

ReviewNice review for the World of Shadows anthology from Forgotten Tomes.

In the SFWA section...

SFWA Chat Hour about game writers... wherein we talk about the background behind the decision to admit gamer writers.

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America to Admit Game Writers. The actual guidelines.

Follow-up SFWA Admits Gamewriters, All Heck Breaks Loose, Film at 11

No, the guidelines aren't perfect. Yes, we are looking at specific cases. Yes, it will take time. We will not be making a knee-jerk reaction to everything.

A Year of Ingressing

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Yesterday was Jeff’s one year of playing Ingress. Today is mine. It’s both a surprise and a long time coming. We joined Ingress after leaving a LARP that ran too late, became too toxic, and just wasn’t for us anymore. My friend, Heather, likened Ingress to us LARPing without all the drama. I agree. There’s drama, yes. But a lot less of it.

Over the last year of Ingressing, the Husband and I have met a lot of great new friends, visited all kinds of places we wouldn’t have without Ingress. Revisited old places with new eyes. Got us both out hiking. I mean, I willing went and got hiking shoes. That’s not something I ever thought possible. I’m not as in good shape as the Husband. So, he does other hikes solo or with a friend.

I’ve participated in a Mission Day—GenCon because BigMatty told me to, and a couple of anomalies—field team for Obsidian, recharge for Aegis Nova.



Yesterday, I did something I didn’t know I would ever do: I got my onyx illuminator, throwing a 4 layers of a 15 layer Pongolyn field for about 9.62 million mu. The husband also got 4 layers for the same amount. We also met up with the other field team and they helped me throw a YOLO (you only link once) to Hawaii for 4048km.

I’ve recruited a number of people to come play. Unfortunately, about half of them half of them have chosen the blue (wrong) side because the Resistance has better PR. :) The in-game storyline is interesting. The Resistance is currently run by an extremist who recently caused the death of a beloved scientist and is working for the N’Zeer (think tech-based inter-dimensional aliens). The Enlightened is currently run by an extremist working for a man who wants the death of ADA, the sentient AI who is aligned with the Resistance. The Enlightened work for the Shapers (think mind-based inter-dimensional aliens).  It’s kinda like Skynet versus Vorlons. The whole thing is actually very complex.

There are many in the Resistance who don’t like Jahan and want her gone. There are many in the Enlightened who don’t want the death of ADA. As stories go, neither side is perfect and that is what makes it work. No one really knows what’s going on (except the storytellers—sorta) and it’s in the gray areas that we all exist, figuring out the mysteries presented to us. I appreciate that.



It’s one of the reasons I started Project Isthmus on G+ with 5 other agents (BigMatty, Morgyan, derp, pORFECTION, labeljumper). And even that has grown beyond the in-character storyline I originally designed it to be. Now, there’s the in-game Isthmus storyline, a “world at large” storyline, and the cross-faction investigative community. We have the Project Isthmus Street Team hangout. I’ve written a Glyph Talk series and now run the Glyph Drill Down Roundtables. Working with agents from both sides to investigate the mysteries has been wonderful. We’re not as big or as extensive or as scholarly as Project Essex, but I think we do well enough. 

Over all, I’ve enjoyed my year of Ingressing. I’ve met so many new people, gone so many new places, and have a new set of eye to look at old places. Especially at conventions when I’m a dealer, a panelist, or a GoH. It’s been the perfect “couples” game for me and the Husband who like road trips and experiencing new sights, new adventures, and, of course, huge green triangles. [Note: If you would like to join Ingress, let me know. I'll send you an invite. That will give me more points towards my recruiter badge. And, of course, I encourage you to choose the Enlightened side.]



May the skies ever be in your color.

July Monthly Stat thing

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I finished up Makeda Red in June, did a couple of rewrites on short stories, and went to Origins Game Fair. This month will be all about editing for me, Apocalypse Ink Productions, and Evil Girlfriend Media.

Year-to-date stats:
Fiction words written: 135,810
Article words written: 14,120
My novels/collections edited: 4
My short stories proofed: 4
Other novels/anthologies edited: 7
Events attended: 6

Also, I participated in an hour-long SFWA roundtable, discussing the vote to admit game writers into the organization. This is something I’d worked for since I joined SFWA. I’m super happy about it.

Plus, I am the featured author at Capitol Indie Book Con in Olympia this month. Come by and say hello.

Tell Me - Curtis C. Chen

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Curtis is one of those good guys I enjoy meeting up with at conventions. He's smart and eloquent. He's also a good writer. Here, he talks about the importance of names in his debut novel, WAYPOINT KANGAROO.



DOFF THY NAME


What’s in a name? that which we call a rose   
By any other name would smell as sweet;   
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,   
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title...


— Juliet, Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene II)



Shakespeare did many clever things as a writer, and Juliet’s “balcony speech” is one of the cleverest. The literal interpretation of her words is, of course, false: names
do matter, especially in fiction. “Humbert and Juliet” would have been a totally different story. (See what I did there? Referencing Lolita to creep you out? The power of a name, my friend.)

When I’m writing a story, I always check my character names for variety (dialogue between “Mike” and “Mick” is hard to follow), historical and cultural associations (“Monique” implies a different person than “Millicent”), and
the quality TV writer Jane Espenson calls “subliminal”—when a name alone implies things about the character.

Over several cycles of revising my debut novel
Waypoint Kangaroo, some characters changed names a lot. I was also writing more short fiction over the same period—i.e., naming lots of new and different characters—and I got into the habit of always doing a quick web search to make sure I wasn’t inadvertently Tuckerizing a real person. (TV showrunner John Rogers’ “LEVERAGE Post-Game” blogs often mention name clearance issues: network lawyers prefer either something totally unique and unreal, or something very common. That’s also my rule of thumb.) This research was why my randomly-named-in-the-first-draft characters “Alan Parker” and “Jerry Manning” had to change later.

Other names in
Waypoint Kangaroo changed because I wanted to make them more meaningful. “Andrea Jemison” started out as “Pauline Deschanel”—again, chosen at random, because we’d recently watched an episode of Bones (starring Emily Deschanel) with our friend Pauline. I renamed that character “Jemison” to honor the first woman of color in space, and “Andrea” from the Greek for “adult male”—because she does present as fairly masculine, and that’s important to her personality.

Another change was “Eleanor Gavilán,” who started out as “Ellie Sparrow”—a nod to both Ellie Arroway from
Contact and Mary Doria Russell’s book The Sparrow. There, the primary motivation was to make my cast more ethnically diverse (this is an actually post-racial future setting), and also to connote greater strength: “gavilán” is Spanish for sparrowhawk.

(Changing those two names did preclude one of my favorite dumb jokes, where Kangaroo realizes the women call each other “Polly” and “Sparrow” because they’re “a couple of birds,” but I’m
so glad I can share that bit here and now. YOU’RE WELCOME.)

And what about “Kangaroo”? I never divulge my protagonist’s “real” name, because
every name he adopts—from his spy agency code name “Kangaroo” to his current alias, “Evan Rogers”—is real. Each identity simply implies a different way for him to interface with the world. We all use different monikers in different situations, and whether someone calls you “Robert,” “Bobby,” “B-dawg,” or “Mr. DeNiro” says a lot about the relationship between you two.

So what’s
really in a name? Pretty much everything. That’s the irony of Juliet’s speech: she knows exactly how significant Romeo’s name is, and she’s trying to convince herself that it’s a surmountable obstacle (“Just change your name, dude!”). But we all know how that story ended.


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Once a software engineer in Silicon Valley, CURTIS C. CHEN now writes speculative fiction and runs puzzle games near Portland, Oregon. His debut novel WAYPOINT KANGAROO, a science fiction spy thriller, is forthcoming from Thomas Dunne Books on June 21st, 2016.
Curtis' short stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, the Baen anthology MISSION: TOMORROW, and THE 2016 YOUNG EXPLORER'S ADVENTURE GUIDE. He is a graduate of the Clarion West and Viable Paradise writers' workshops. You can find Curtis at Puzzled Pint Portland on the second Tuesday of every month. Visit him online at: http://curtiscchen.com


 

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Reader Reactions at Origins

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

I am home from Origins Game Fair. It was a good time, if exhausting. I had multiple business meetings that were awesome for things in the future. I got to see people I don’t usually get to. I love that. However, the thing that stood out to me were the fan reactions to meeting me. More than any other convention, Origins is where people seek me out to tell me what my writing means to them.

Two stories:

The first was a young man and his girlfriend. The guy couldn’t talk. He stood in front of my table saying, “I… I… I…” His girlfriend poked him and grinned. I said hello and asked how he was doing. He said, “Excuse me. I’m kinda fanboying over here. Wow.” I assumed he’d gone to talk to Tim Zahn or Mike Stackpole. I told him that there were lots of awesome people to fanboy over and asked who he was excited for. He grins and bursts out, “I love your writing. I love DocWagon 19. You write some of the most amazing Shadowrun I’ve ever read.” I was pleased and surprised. We talked more and he was so enthusiastic about what I’ve done and looked forward to everything else I had coming out. He even talked about The Nellus Academy Incident, and asked when it would be out in physical form. It was a wonderful feeling.

The second one was a young woman who walked up to my table, clutching the World of Shadows Shadowrun anthology. She looked at me and said, “Best day ever.” We talked as I signed her book. Then she told me, quite seriously, that my Shadowrun stories saved her life. That she had a medical condition that caused memory loss and her brain to shut down. She needed to do something to keep her brain stimulated. She dove into Shadowrun reading and it was what saved her. The fact that she could remember my stories, that I wrote them, and details about them meant the world to me. It wasn’t just my stories, it was all of the Shadowrun stories, but she wanted me to know that my writing saved her life and she couldn’t wait for my next stuff. I almost cried. We talked more. She showed me her Shadowrun tattoo. I made sure she met some of the other Shadowrun writers.

These two moments were highlights among several—including someone telling me they got their dream job of writing for an RPG company because of Industry Talk and my advice—that illustrate why I write. It’s more than the fact that I have stories to tell. It’s the fact that these stories mean something to those who read them. They touch people in ways I can’t imagine. That is worth everything in the world.

2016 Origins Game Fair Schedule

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Here's my Origins Game Fair Schedule. If I'm not here, I'm at my dealer's table in the Author Library area. I'll have copies of the Melissa Allen omnibus, the Karen Wilson Chronicles, Lost Tales, and more. Come say hello. Buy some books/ebooks. Get stuff signed. The usual. Don't be shy.

All of the panels will be in the Origins University section, hosted by the Library.

Thursday, Jun 16
12 Noon – Where are We? (worldbuilding)
How do you create a believeable setting without having a degree in sociology, biology, or geography? Our panelists will tell you the ins and outs of making a fantasy or science fiction setting.

6pm – Story Hour (Reading from Never Let Me)
With Bryan Young


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Friday, Jun 17
1pm – Writing a Series

Writing one book is hard enough--what about three? Or ten? Listen to our panelists discuss how writing a trilogy or septology is different than stand-alone novels.


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Saturday, Jun 18
11am – Business of Publishing 101

Traditional publishing, self-publishing, and crowdsourcing all have their place in today's industry. Our panelists tell you how it all works together to make a career.

2pm – Networking
Building relationships is crucial to an author's success. This panel will teach you how to build a career through meeting people and cultivating relationships.

Origins Award Ceremony (because John says I have to go)


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Sunday, Jun 19
10am – Tales From the Slush Pile (Solo)

The slush piles are where dreams die. Or is it? An editor and author discusses the good, bad, and ugly in the slush pile, as well as what one can learn.

4pm – Break down dealer table

Tell Me – Che Gilson

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)


Food is a huge part of culture, everyone can agree on that. It has whole networks and TV channels devoted to it. Game shows, reality shows and competitions. People blog their dinners, and subscribe to boxes that promise healthy food in under half an hour. For a long time now I've been outside looking in on a world of food I can't eat. I'm allergic to corn, wheat, peanuts, and I can't eat sugar. I just can't (and this isn't the place to describe why).

About seven years ago I decided to write a book, back then it was a comic book, about my drink of choice tea, my favorite fantasy characters, witches, and all the food I couldn't eat. It was my ode to cake. Originally, Tea Times Three was going to be a comic book. A manga based on a genre I'm not sure exists but which I like to call "Eccentric English Village Comedy". It was going to take place in England. There would be a charming Cotswold style village at the heart of it filled with eccentric residents, none entirely sure they wanted a magical tea shop in their village.

That version of the story got rearranged and, instead, the book takes place in the made-up town of Midswich, Maine. While the setting changed, the food did not. I wrote in all the food I love but can no longer eat. I filled the pages with dessert, or as much as I could justify without turning it into a cookbook. There are cookies, cakes, and Scottish shortbread, which I can eat in a modified gluten free, sugar free form. I even have the character with the most food hang-ups, a sugar free, gluten free carob cheesecake based, again, on something I can actually eat.

Tea Times Three was written during my transition from a time I ate sugar to having – for health reasons
to giving up sugar cold turkey. Not an easy task if you've tried. I poured all my cravings and longings into the food described in that book. Years of obsessively watching Food Network went into that. Recipes I could never eat. Food I wished I'd eaten more of. I even made magical marshmallows into a climactic plot point.

My inability to eat wheat, corn, and sugar is unlikely to change anytime soon, but I have learned that writing your obsessions can not only be fun, but productive. I also learned how to have my cake and eat it too thanks to the wealth of gluten free recipes and the availability of stevia powder.

So, for everyone out there with food allergies I'd like to leave you with the recipe for gluten-free, sugar-free Scottish shortbread. One of my favorites, and one which shows up in Tea Times Three.

Shortbread
1 cup room temperature butter
1/4-1/3 cup stevia powder (I buy it at Trader Joes)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour
2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
Mix and pat into an 8x8 inch pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes

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Che Gilson is the author of several graphic novels including Avigon: Gods and Demons from Image Comics, and Dark Moon Diary from Tokyopop. Her short stories have been published in Luna Station Quarterly and Drops of Crimson. She draws copious amounts of Pokémon fan art which can be found with her original work at http://spiderliing666.deviantart.com.


 

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