Needing a dose of geeky fun now that dreary January is here? Try Illogicon! It’s this weekend!
The Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction (or Eugie Award) celebrates the best in innovative fiction.
A Redditor on r/fantasy asked the following question: Can women writers write (non-romance) epic fantasy?
Barnes & Noble presents seven great YA novels marked by complex examinations of fate, choice, responsibility, love, and everything else under the sun.
Automated book-culling software drives librarians to create fake patrons to “check out” endangered titles. (I love that the fake patron’s name was Chuck Finley. My fellow Burn Notice fans are all giggling right now…)
The judges for the 2017 World Fantasy Awards, for work published in 2016, have now been impaneled. In case you have any materials that you wish to be considered.
The Written Word has compiled a list of the top 10 trends in publishing that will impact indie authors the most.
Mary Robinette Kowal announces she will not be running for SFWA President after all.
Amanda Green is unhappy that some of the Sad Puppies jumped the gun and released their own recommendations for Hugo nominations.
The problem with the new and yet very important desire to portray realistic, strong women with agency, is that some people fixate entirely on the first part of this – the word “strong” – and take it to mean something very specific.
David B Coe offers his first Quick-Tip Tuesday of 2017 – Mapping Out the New Year.
If you have ideas for characters as iconic as Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman, stories that will inspire generations of readers for years to come, and the chops to work for the longest-running publisher of comics, then you want to apply for the DC TALENT DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP.
BANJAXED BOOKS is proud to announce short story submissions for Chaos of Hard Clay, an anthology concerning post-apocalyptic fiction. Whether it’s nuclear war, environment out of control, grey goo, zombies, or any other contributing factor, Chaos of Hard Clay will be an exhilarating and terrifying look into a world gone wrong.
David Weber talks about five authors with magical world-building skills.
Zoetic Press invites writers to eulogize the fallen icons who have profoundly shaped your relationship to yourself and your place in the world.
Have you ever wondered why libraries weed books from their collections?
Do you write chronologically? Or are you prone to writing whatever scene strikes your fancy?
Mark Lawrence says, “To get a book off the ground you need either a lot of luck or a significant push.”
So you’ve decided to look for an agent. Yay! Welcome to the club!
We’ve added a pretty amazing reward level to the Lawless Lands Kickstarter. It’s a bit expensive, but if you’ve always wanted to see a tall bearded Southern guy belly dance, you might want to check this out. *grin*
When Magical Words asked me to write up a post for January, to go with the release of THE COLD EYE (Book 2 of The Devil’s West, ready for you to buy TODAY!), I suggested “writing the second book in an open-ended series and how to keep your sanity while doing it” as a topic.
There’s just one problem with that topic. I have no idea how to do it. I’m not even sure if it’s possible, honestly.
Seriously, I’ve done this “open-ended, multi-book series” thing three times now (four, if you count the novellas). And each time, I hit the same second-book Oh Fuck moment, that coal-squishing pressure of not only keeping everything straight and connected and clear from book one to book two, but also setting up threads to be used in books three, four, and five (and maybe six and seven too, if you’re keeping options open).
At that point, you’re reaching for the antacids and the whiskey, wondering why you ever let your agent/your editor/your mother/your lizard brain talk you into this.
Talking to other writer-friends, it seems this is a common phenomenon.
“But why?” innocent one-off writers ask. Why can’t you just…plan better?
There are two ways, generally, a book series happens. One: you sit down at the very beginning and plot out the full arc of what’s going to happen to your characters, and how long it will take to get there.
Or, Two: you write the first book, come to the end, and think “Oh. Shit. There’s more to this, like another hundred thousand (or three, or four hundred thousand) words to it.”
And yeah, you would think that the first way is the sanity-saving one, right?
Nope. They’re both open invitations to hell.
Because, and this is a really big because, for many writers (myself included), Shit Changes During the Writing of the Book. And so what had seemed like the perfect and perfectly logical thing to happen in the outline of chapter 4 of book 2 is now utterly redundant, or needs to be saved for book 3, because what happened in chapter 3 changes the direction of the adventure/revelation.
It is at this point that the self-aware writer starts to feel her grip on sanity – not to mention the timelines – slip.
So. How do we keep from burning it all to the ground and running off to become yak herders? What’s the secret?
There isn’t one.
The truth is, no matter which approach you take, or how you try to hybridize them both into one workable plan, there will come a point when all the threads and all the details and all the character motivations and growth arcs become a whirl inside your head, and all the databases, spreadsheets and wikis can’t save you.
At which point, you have two more choices. Try to hold fast to the idea that you’re totally in control, you’ve got everything handled, you know exactly what’s going to happen and if you don’t you’ll figure it out before you have to totally revise book 3….
Or, you take the advice of the world’s greatest fictional psychiatrist, Dr. Sydney Freedman of M*A*S*H, and “pull down your pants and slide on the ice.”
Trust me, the ice is more fun.
People Of Color Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, edited by Nisi Shawl, is open for submissions!
Natania Barron discusses falling in love with the novella, and thoughts on story structure.
Most women in publishing don’t have the luxury of being unlikeable.
Writers of color continue to struggle with Lovecraft’s racist legacy.
In the wake of Carrie Fisher’s death, the team responsible for future “Star Wars” projects is reportedly reconsidering the place of her character, Leia Organa, in the franchise’s ever-expanding universe.
And hey, while we’re on the subject, there’s a movement to make Princess Leia an official Disney princess.
The new reality of Trump’s America means a lot of creatives have to readjust — find a new balance to get back to creating.
The vision of 2017 depicted in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 30-year-old dystopian action movie The Running Man captures how our world is changing today.
Cat Rambo says, “One question comes up more than any other when I teach writing: how do I know when a piece is ready for submission?”
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson was published in 2003 and it does exactly what it says on the cover.
Incoming Trump tweet about how much Star Wars sucked in five, four, three…
Laura Anne Gilman has a new book coming out in a few days (and it’s killing me to wait!) It’s the second in the Devil’s West series, called The Cold Eye, sequel to the marvelous Silver on the Road.
We’re delighted to host her here on the blog today!
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As some of you know, I work part-time at a winery tasting room here in Washington State – it’s a nice change from sitting alone in my office staring at my computer screen, only interacting with the voices in my head and the characters on the page, and the steady(ish) paycheck’s not bad, either. But it does mean that I tend to have a lot of open wine around the house. I mean, more than the average person who isn’t an actual indecisive alcoholic.
So I challenged Misty – one day when we both should have known better – to a game of Ask a Drinking Writer. And she – because she is fearless and easily amused – took up the challenge.
First glass: Des Voignes Cellar’s Untitled, appropriately enough. It’s a Cabernet Franc blend.
1) Do you think moving to the Pacific Northwest has had an effect on your creativity?
I’m not sure it had a specific impact directly on what I’m creating – although that will likely change, as things settle into my mental storage room and have time to ferment. But it has definitely had an impact on how I’m creating – and how I’m creative. There’s no way not to have your mindset changed, creatively, when you get to say “hello, Mountain” several times a week (yes, we talk to the mountain here in the Seattle area. Which mountain? Well, I’d say hello to Baker if I saw it on a regular basis, because I quite like Baker, but no: when we say Mountain, we generally mean Ranier.
Anyway, I see a massive mountain nearby, and I bike along a river where otter play and buck meander and bald eagles swoop overhead, and then I can go downtown and be around high-rise buildings and a city undergoing massive growth spurts (for good and for ill), but with an energy that’s completely different from the NYC energy I left behind. So yeah – it’s all definitely changing me, but it’s a work in progress.
2) What subject did you never expect to have to research for the Devil’s West?
So many. So, so many. Candy-making in the 18th century. Paleontology. Amazonian river critters. Dental pharmaceuticals pre-1900. Jesuit philosophy and philanthropy. The technical details of human circulation and why our limbs “fall asleep.” The linguistic differences of Arcadian French. Portuguese naval history. And that’s just what I still have research cards out, for.
Second Glass: Rocky Pond’s La Domestique, a Merlot blend.
3) How many books have you planned for the series? Is there a definite end game for Izzy?
There are three books currently under contract (THE COLD EYE is out in January, the third book is scheduled for 2018), and that will bring the story of Isobel’s mentorship ride to a close. However, that’s hardly the end of the story for her, or The Devil’s West (I know how her story ends, eventually, but Izzy is just one thread in a much larger tapestry).
4) Someone wants to produce a radio show of the Devil’s West! Whose voices would you like to hear as your characters?
Oh, that’s a tough one – I’ve very much a visual story consumer, so audio plays don’t quite scratch the same itch for me.
I do know that I’d still want Rupert Graves for the devil. He was always, from the start, in my head to play him – there’s something about his gaze that gets to the core of the boss, and I think he could handle his voice quite well, too.
For the rest, I can only describe what their voices sound like, to me, in my head, and maybe someone else can give me names to go with it?
Isobel is a mezzo soprano, but a very sturdy speaking voice. I was definitely influenced by growing up hearing Puerto Rican-influenced Spanish spoken around me: she’d need to have that smart but not smooth edge to her, very much a woman’s voice, without losing any of that teenaged anger in her tone. Ideally, someone who grew up multilingual, who could slip between Spanish and English without hesitation.
Gabriel is a tenor, with a lot of pauses in his speech, even when he’s not actually, obviously pausing; he’s learned to think before words escape, and that shows up in his voice patterns. When I think of his voice I think of dark yellow amber, and a small, fierce insect caught in it.
And if anyone ever does a version with Flatfoot’s rumination added in, he needs to be the most Eeyore of equines, ever. Definitely a baritone.
Third Glass: Newton’s Claret (a red wine blend)
5) What would you like people to know about your books?
That every book sold goes entirely to support my in-house support felines, who thank them for their continued patronage? They should know that the Devil’s West books are an ongoing alternate magical history, asking what might have happened if the Louisiana Purchase remained an independent territory, under the guiding hand of a character of unknown/unknowable power. Magic, history, politics, and a lot of grubbily-accurate period details. Plus a mule.
In fact, the entire Devil’s West universe was born out of a writing exercise, with the opening paragraph that would become the short story “Crossroads,” combined with the question “if we’re supposed to write about our culture, and I’m 3rd generation American, what does that mean for my culture, and how do I wrote about it?” mixed with the swivel stick of a BA in US History. It was always plotted to lead to a certain destination, but recent political events put a slightly more poignant twist to what’s reflected – the question of “whose land is it, and why?” that the USA constantly (and should constantly) wrestles with.
Also, that they can get a taste of both SILVER ON THE ROAD and THE COLD EYE at my website: www.lauraannegilman.net
Are you planning to attend ConCarolinas? Memberships go up tomorrow – buy your badge today!
Cohesion Press is sponsoring an open call for their anthology of post-apocalyptic military horror, SNAFU: Judgement Day!
And Weirdbook Magazine will be accepting submissions for its themed annual beginning April 1st.
io9 invites you to greet the new year with some fantastic new books!
Pat Cadigan says, “Every day is Anything-Can-Happen Day until further notice.”
The fantasy section of bookstores exists for our convenience, but it pays to wander outside of it every now and then. Here are five fantasy books you won’t find in the fantasy section.
Diana Pharaoh Francis says, “I’m not saying that self-editing is bad. It’s not. It’s just we often do it while writing and that’s when it’s evil.”
Fantasy Faction suggests three real-world ways you can explore the realm of potions, poisons, remedies and alchemy.
Not sure weird westerns are your thing? John Joseph Adams asks the contributors to the Dead Man’s Hand anthology to tell a little bit about their favorite examples of the weird west.
Speaking of weird westerns, have you backed Lawless Lands yet?
Happy New Year, all! We here at Magical Words wish you all a wonderful year full of joy and success.
Elon Musk, Tesla founder and billionaire, is now considered Earth’s most future-oriented person. Here are 10 books he thinks you ought to read.
I don’t go to nearly as many movies as I’d like. Between the expense and the time involved, I have to be picky. But there are some good ones getting ready to tempt me. How about you?
Dennis Mathis says his favorite story is “here on my bookshelves somewhere, I’m certain, and I’m closing in on it. I’m determined to find it and tell you about it.”
Laurie Gough says she’d “rather share a cabin on a Disney cruise with Donald Trump than self-publish.” I know a whole lot of people who’d disagree.
Need a distraction? How about Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Theater?
When you’re a kid, the adult world is filled with mysteries. Sometimes the best way, or even the only way, to understand these huge ideas is through movies.
Goodreads wants to help you give yourself a resolution you’ll want to keep: a promise to spend more time reading this year. (I read 42 books last year, and I hope to best that record this time around.)
Fantasy Faction discusses holidays in fantasy fiction.