20 July 2012

Amazon Yesterday Shipping

Cute little animation with a time travel paradox theme. No doubt this service is right around the corner.

19 July 2012

Pre-Order Dark Faith 2 and Receive a Discount

Dark Faith 2, aka Dark Faith: Invocations, which includes my story "Kill the Buddha," is available for pre-order. The book is scheduled for release at the end of August.

Pre-order here. Use the code DFTwist to receive a 10% discount.

About Dark Faith: Invocations:

Religion, science, magic, love, family — everyone believes in something, and that faith pulls us through the darkness and the light.  The second coming of Dark Faith cries from the depths with 26 stories of sacrifice and redemption.

Sublet an apartment inside God’s head. Hunt giant Buddhas in a post-apocalyptic future. Visit a city where an artist’s fantastic creations alter reality. Discover the deep cosmic purpose behind your office vending machine. Wield godlike powers and suffer the most heartbreaking of human limitations.

Join Max Allan Collins, Mike Resnick, Jay Lake, Jennifer Pelland, Laird Barron, Tom Piccirilli, Nisi Shawl, and a host of genre’s best writers for an exploration into the things we hold dear and the truths that shatter us.

~via Apex Publications

13 July 2012

Interview at The Death Writer

My maternal grandmother.
With apologies for the late notice, I wanted to let you know that on Monday, an interview with me went up over at The Death Writer. For those of you not familiar with Pamela's excellent blog, she collects people's experiences of death and movies that include death as a theme. She interviews people who work with death as part of their professions, and writers who have written about death. She is creating quite the amazing archive on this topic. She examines it from a multitude of angles, and is always impartial but compassionate.

She interviewed me about the death of my maternal grandmother ten years ago. It was good to write about her, and great to receive some thoughtful and very kind comments about it. Check it out!

12 July 2012

By Far the Most Disturbing Thing the Grimm Brothers Ever Wrote

Okay so I'm reading the Lucy Crane translation of select tales collected by the Brothers Grimm. While this is the source of such eternal classics as "Little Red Riding Hood" ("Little Red-Cap"), "Cinderella" ("Aschenputtel"), and "Rapunzel" (same name), as well as lesser known but wonderful stories like "Mother Hulda" and "The Fisherman and His Wife" (what does the ending mean? Anyone know?), not all of the stories are gorgeous gems. Some are just...bizarre.

Today I read "The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage." This is a good example of a tale with a fairly straightforward message (everyone has a special skill and should stick with that lest disaster strike), but with content so weird and awful that the message does not matter because you'll forget all about it while trying to get the weirdness out of your mind. Follow that link to read it. It's short. I'll wait. In case you're busy here is a synopsis:

Mouse, Bird, and Sausage live together and each perform their own household tasks. It works pretty well: the sausage cooks dinner, the bird collects firewood, the mouse does pretty much everything else. Don't look too closely though at what you're eating, because the sausage dips himself into the broth and swirls himself around to make it taste better.

If your life looks like this, get out while you still can.
(That is all you need to know. Oh, and the bird screws it all up by deciding he would like to switch jobs. Sausages are not good at collecting firewood. 'Nuff said.)

The following is a transcript of Dave's comment on the story after I explained it to him this morning:

"So...after the sausage flavours the broth, does he eat it?"

I think the answer is yes. THE ANSWER IS YES.

It will take man's best friend to get us out of this hell.

09 July 2012

Guest Post at World Weaver Press, and a Fun Online Course for Us to Try

I've got a guest post on horror, "Should Horror Be Its Own Genre?" over at World Weaver Press today. In that post I wax philosophical about horror denial, why people think they don't like horror when in fact they probably do, and ways in which we can more accurately define and classify horror.

WWP, in case you don't know, is a small press specializing in science fiction, fantasy, and science-fictiony and fantastic horror. They have a particular interest in steampunk. They're looking for novels, novellas, and, for anthology projects, short stories and novelettes. Their submission window for novels and novellas is open now. Editor-in-Chief Eileen Wiedbrauk, also known as Speak Coffee to Me, has great taste in fiction and is an impeccable editor. I've had the pleasure of receiving critique from her; she is good at it, and she has the writer's best interest at heart. If you're looking for a press that will take care of your project and make it amazing, you should try submitting to them.

The other thing I wanted to tell you about is this online course I'm taking, via Coursera, Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World. Fun, right? It starts with Grimm's Fairy Tales and ends with Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. As far as I can tell, you do the readings, view a video lecture, write a bit about what you've read, read what others have written, and offer a bit of commentary on that. It's like power blogging! I'll be posting my writings about the readings here on my blog.

The course is free and most of the readings, with the exception of LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness and Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, are available free online in e-reader friendly formats. (My course texts are already loaded onto my Kindle.) You can find the links on this page, if you're looking for some good free editions of classic fantasy and sci fi stories. (The Grimm's and Alice in Wonderland have the gorgeous original illustrations embedded in the text, so bonus.) The course officially starts July 23rd, if you want to sign up.

06 July 2012

Funding Your Novel Launch With Kickstarter: An Interview with L. Blankenship

I met L. Blankenship through her excellent writing blog, Notes from the Jovian Frontier, during this year's A to Z challenge. I've enjoyed her posts on everything from how to decide where your story should begin to resuscitating comatose stories, especially because she uses examples from her own writing, and let me tell you, these little peeks at her story ideas are most intriguing.

When L. started writing about using Kickstarter to raise funds to help her launch her fantasy series, Disciple, I pricked up my ears. I'd read the opening excerpt and thought it looked great. I have much respect for L.'s plan to hire an editor and proofreader, as well as an artist to design the book cover. We all know how hard it is to do line edits and proofreading for our own projects.

Kickstarter is a great way to give a project an extra edge before releasing it into the wild. At the same time, relatively few writers use it. To get a better idea of what's involved, I interviewed L. about her writing, about Disciple, and about her Kickstarter campaign.

ET: What led you to writing fiction?

LB: I don't think I was ever led to it, actually. My life has been more about the things that led me away from writing fiction and how long it took me to get back. Like a lot of people, I started writing stories when I was quite young and it's always been that thing I've returned to when others failed.

ET: You're preparing to release the first book in your six-part fantasy series. What was it about this particular story that made you want to develop it?

LB: I had to think about this question a lot. DISCIPLE has had its claws in me for so long that I don't question it anymore. Deep down, it's a story about realizing what you are capable of -- which is something I think many people never do. Myself included, perhaps. And there's a dozen other things I love about the story: the action, the gritty details, the characters, the triumphs, the agonies, and yes, the romance. I couldn't not write this story, to be honest.

ET: For people who haven't heard of Kickstarter, can you give us a quick explanation of what it is and how it works? 

LB: is a fundraising platform for all sorts of creative projects. Artists post a profile of their project and offer rewards in exchange for pledged money. The pledges are not collected unless the artist's funding goal is reached within a set period of time. If the goal is reached, the artist receives the money, carries out the project and distributes the rewards promised. It's a fascinating site and easy to lose time in!

ET: What made you decide to post your project to Kickstarter?

LB: I've been hearing about Kickstarter for several years now, and they've hosted a lot of interesting projects and helped them raise money. It's been quite a boon to the role-playing-game industry to be able to fundraise by pre-selling their games. Every time I wander around Kickstarter, I'm stunned by the creativity and talent I see.

There are other fundraising sites, but Kickstarter has earned its reputation. It was really the only contender, for me.

ET: Artists, filmmakers, inventors, game designers, and creative types of all kinds post projects on Kickstarter. Are there any writer-specific advantages to posting your project on Kickstarter? 

LB: Kickstarter is a very even playing field, really. The advantage goes to those who can clearly explain their project in an interesting manner -- and that could be anybody. We writers learn how to do that in the process of querying agents and editors. A Kickstarter project page is really just a query letter to the whole world.

OK, I realize that's kinda terrifying but I didn't mean it to be. The same principles apply: be clear, be interesting, give people a taste of your work.

ET: Your project posting included making a book trailer, which I understand you created yourself. How difficult was it to put together? What tools did you use? 

LB: The trailer was a lot of work, but I would not say it was all that difficult. The difficult part is figuring out what you want to do, what you actually can do, and reconciling those two to each other. Everything else is putting it together -- which can be tedious, but it's just a matter of putting the work in. I took a multimedia arts class at a community college a few years ago, and I have a long-standing interest in amateur film-making (though I've never made anything) and those were both a big help when I was planning out what the trailer would be.

Don't let this intimidate you, but I used Adobe Photoshop, AfterEffects, and SoundBooth -- which I only have because I'm also a freelance graphic designer and I have the full Adobe Creative Suite. I've been using Photoshop for 15 years, but the video and sound editing programs are still very new to me. Making my book trailer barely scratched the surface of what they can do. Everything I used in the video was freely available on various stock photo and sound effect sites, with the exception of one photograph that I paid a flat fee for.

ET: You recently wrote a great blog post ("Did I promise you a rose garden?") about the promises a writer makes to her readers, and the importance of fulfilling those promises. I'm wondering if you'll be kind enough to give us a glimpse of the promises you're making with the first Disciple volume. 

LB: I know I've promised my readers action -- swords, magic, and monsters. I've promised them an entire war, in fact. I promise my readers a certain level of gritty realism, but I like to think it's optimistic. My main character, Kate, is a healer and she sees a lot of blood and suffering, but she's there to save lives. I've promised my readers romance, and because of that there are going to be tough choices, tears, and consequences. There's also going to be hope, though. How happy will the ending be…? :)

ET: Give us the official campaign blurb. 

LB: I'm running a Kickstarter project to fund the professional editing, proofreading, and cover artwork for my gritty fantasy romance, Disciple, Part I: For Want of a Piglet. There will be six parts in total, published over the course of the next few years. I'm offering e-books, paperbacks, promotional bookmarks, and more at various pledge levels (ranging from $1 - $100). Check out the project page for my book trailer, budget, and production schedule.