Ursa Major Awards

So, I didn’t even know this was a thing–an award for an anthropomorphic point of view story. So cool. Even cooler, my story “Beyond the Great Divide” (from issue #5 of Cirsova Magazine) made it to the finals. You can check out the list of finalists here and, if you’re so inclined, vote for the Slagborn.

UMA

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New rain, old news

The holidays swept through like a storm, and still the grinding continues (not sure if I ever want it to end). The thought of constructing a yearly works post did cross my mind, and I might get to it if I’m lucky enough to breeze through all this work by the end of March. You see, school started today, and my reading list–along with the good ‘ole 75 pages of creative work–is daunting. I’ll be working on a final lecture about the decline of 3rd person omniscient narration and how it can work in modern fiction if done right. Readers don’t trust the voice of an all-knowing intelligence that doesn’t show up on stage. So instead of staying comfortable with genre stuff, I’ll be delving into old literary stuff like The Scarlet Letter and The Brothers Karamazov to excavate some gems.

Atreyu’s non-stop scratching, from some kind of allergy, has stopped. Yeyoo! He got a couple bones in the mail and is doing just fine. Although the rain is a welcome gift around this time of year, I’m hating it because Cymphonee is back on the road.

Residency was great and I’m looking forward to the next one. Went over dialogue tags and it seems my creative juices got lost somewhere around the Hemingway era. Learning modern craft is a breath of fresh air, and work-shopping did wonders for what I’m working on now and what I had in the trunk. I pulled a couple of them out, rewrote them, and the sales prospects are looking good. It’s amazing what a little polishing can do. Should have 2-3 pieces coming out this month, but I’m not sure where edits are right now so don’t hold your breath.

Been really excited about Matt Wallace’s new vlog (from the Angry Writer channel). If any of you get a chance check it out. It’s pouring out now, so until next time, or next story, stay dry and keep the numbers running.

Podcast Roundup

Podcasts are important to me. They’re one of many reasons I have the courage to write. When I was starting out I had no idea how to begin. This was years ago. I was a lab technician in a research facility, working alone with little to no communication with another human being. I thought I’d roundup some of the podcasts that have helped me through the years. Some are strictly about craft, some are short story podcasts, some have absolutely nothing to do with writing, but they planted seeds that later grew into stories.

  1. I Should Be Writing: This one has to go at the top of my list (and order has no bearing on importance, but this one does). ISBW is the first podcast I found about writing fiction, particularly genre fiction. Mur Lafferty has been producing this gem of a podcast for thirteen years and is still going strong. She interviews writers, agents, editors, and talks about the struggles and triumphs writers go through. If you have no support system, or if you struggle with doubt and craft issues, listen to this podcast now. If you have questions, shoot an email to Mur and she’ll answer to the best of her ability. She also does an annual NaNoWriMo series during the month of November for those of you participating. Put this one at the top of your list and check out Mur’s work.
  2. Ditch Diggers: Yes, I’m biased when it comes to writing advice. Ditch Diggers is another podcast produced/hosted by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace. While ISBW is more geared at issues and topics in craft, Ditch Diggers tackles the business side of writing. It’s the John Wick version of ISBW, no punches pulled, no soft soaping. It was nominated for the Hugo after only one year (I won’t ramble about how it was robbed) and is one of the only podcasts out there that deals with the nuts and bolts of publishing, getting paid, and marketing your work.
  3. ARCHIVOS: Formerly know as The Round Table podcast, host David Robison interviews authors about everything under the sun (and I’ve never heard a guy sound so happy and excited about the work he does), followed by brainstorming episodes where a panel of personalities help a guest author (you can give it a try, too) work out the kinks in their manuscripts.
  4. Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy: Produced by editor John Joseph Adams and hosted by David Barr Kirtley, Geek’s Guide has panel discussions and personal interviews (Neil Gaiman, George Martin, etc.) about everything from short stories, to novels, to television shows and popular culture. Kirtley is great, one of the most well-informed hosts I’ve ever heard, and a major genre fan.
  5. Get To Work Hurley: Author Kameron Hurley’s monthly podcast about writing, fans, and the daily grind. Kameron offers interviews and discussions about subjects ranging from metal health and self-care, to owning pets and the business side of publishing. This is another great podcast if you feel like you’re the only one struggling with your work (support is important, folks).
  6. Odyssey Writing Workshop: Normally this workshop will cost you a couple grand to attend (if you make the cut), but director Jeanne Cavelos offers these 10-15 minute lectures from some of the giants in the world of fiction. They don’t come out on a regular basis, but when they do they’re really helpful.
  7. Speculate!: Run by speculative fiction writers Gregory A. Wilson and Bradley P. Beaulieu, Speculate! includes reviews, author interviews, technique and craft, and artist interviews. It’s kind of the ‘jack of all trades’ podcast for both readers and writers.
  8. Story Grid: This one’s about building a story from the ground up. The Story Grid method is used in each episode to cover things like what characters to include, the hero’s journey, motivations, plotting, genre, etc. Most of the work is done using Silence of the Lambs as a template. I listen to this one when I’m cleaning the apartment or washing dishes. It’s a systematic approach to story building, something I lack in my own work sometimes.
  9. The Grim Tidings Podcast: This is one of my personal favorites, and has some of the best author interviews in the genre. Rob Matheny and Philip Overby are super chill fans and hosts who mostly talk about all things GrimDark. Always funny, always personal, they have awesome giveaways, the writer’s pit, D&D character generation, holiday specials, heavy metal, childhood musings, and some of the biggest names in fantasy fiction today.
  10. Once and Future Podcast: Author-host Anton Strout does a version of fiction Vice News with this one. His interviews are top-notch, more friendly conversations than formal events. He covers everything about fiction news, games, comics, science, and popular culture. It’s been running for a while now, and I just recently found it. The episodes are pretty long so make sure you have the time for this one.
  11. Writing Excuses: Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart, is the motto of this short, informative podcast from Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Howard Tayler. They talk craft in bite-sized pieces for the writer on the go. The insight gleaned from this podcast is well worth fifteen minutes of your time.
  12. The Stephen King Cast: Constant Reader dives into everything Stephen King. It’s a detailed look into all his work, and this guy really knows his stuff. You’d think after covering all King’s work he’d have nothing left to talk about, but he just keeps on trucking. It’s one fan’s ode to an author who changed his life.

There are tons more that I just don’t have the time to cover. But these are my favorites. To go into detail about all the story casts out there would take me days. So here are my go to’s for every genre.

  1. Anything by Escape Artists (anything). That includes PodCastle, EscapePod, PseudoPod, and Cast of Wonders.
  2. 600 second saga: Super fast micro fiction.
  3. Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
  4. Clarkesworld.
  5. Lightspeed.
  6. Nightmare.
  7. Anything by District of Wonders: StarShipSofa, Tales To Terrify, and Far Fetched Fables.
  8. Strange Horizons.
  9. Uncanny.
  10. The Dark.
  11. The Manor House Podcast.
  12. The No Sleep Podcast.

Again, just my personal favorites. And when awards time comes around, don’t forget to vote for podcasts. The people behind the scenes put a lot of hard work in to bring you all this free content. You can donate as little as one dollar a month to almost any of the titles above. Let me know about your own favorites, I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg. Keep grinding. Keep listening.

Portents of August

Finally got my registration done for the MFA program I’m jumping into. Locked and loaded. Starts October 2. Stoked, excited, fearful. Finally some smoking barrels. I’ll be working under Stephen Graham Jones for fiction and will attempt some screenwriting for my cross genre elective. This is a reinvention of epic proportions, and I’m not looking back. I’m on page 620 of GRRM’s A Storm of Swords (thanks mom) and have to choose five books a quarter to read and analyze (scatter-brained, so don’t look for transitions or segues). This list keeps changing. I am a huge fan of the grimdark sub-genre (whatever that means) and am tempted to fill those slots with steel, blood, and moral ambiguity, but there’s so much more I enjoy reading.

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is in my top slot. I grabbed it as an Audible trial pick (then cancelled) but can’t really feel the weight of it without a physical copy in my hands. I’ll go all day with audio short fiction, but novel length is a drag no matter who’s narrating. Something by Corey, Fletcher, Okorafor, and Jemisin, perhaps. That leaves out horror, but my dark ways will more than make up for it.

Zero submissions this month. Two publications coming up. Speaking of audio fiction, my short story “Spare Parts” was purchased as a reprint from StarShipSofa and should be coming out any day now (my, how the wheels turn). Their 500th episode is a piece by Harlan Ellison that you probably shouldn’t miss. Doo-doo-bee (a.k.a. our puppy) is going through it lately. Skin scrapes and steroids and runny-runs has me on edge, but puppies are resilient, I keep telling myself.

Disappointed by some pro-rate publications lately. Publicly scoffing at slush pile entries is not cool. Send a form rejection and keep it pushing. Next month marks two years with Grimdark Magazine and I’ve learned a lifetime worth. I’ll get on blogging about the value of reading slush for a strong market one of these days. Deathnote came out on NetFlix this month (or last) and I can’t help but cringe every time a live-action version of a manga series is botched beyond recognition. Stick to the hard-copies (an omnibus of the entire series was just released, pick that up for sure). Huge book haul from my favorite thrift store last weekend. Among them is a Glen Cook novel said to be one of the cornerstones of grimdark fantasy. I’ll hit the lines after Storm of Swords is done.

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