Hugo nominations

Mon, Jan. 19th, 2015 01:24 pm
scarlettina: (Book love)
It's that time of year. I'm genuinely ashamed that it didn't occur to me to suggest this earlier, but I suppose that The Kobold Guide to Combat, published by Kobold Press, which I edited, would be eligible for Best Related Work. Via essays by bestselling novelists and award-winning game designers, it examines combat in gaming and storytelling from a number of different perspectives.

You can find it at the Kobold Press web site or at the Barnes & Noble site. You can also get it on Amazon as a Kindle ebook.
scarlettina: (Creating yourself)
1) Loving my swing dance class. The last session is next Tuesday, and the instructors suggest that students proceed to Jitterbug 1. I'm thinking about that. I'm thinking either that or West Coast swing because one ought to be bicoastal. No decision yet but it's coming. Also, many of the take-aways from my first class (see second-to-last paragraph) still hold.

2) My Halloween costume was a huge hit. Haven't taken the time to write about putting it together--especially the makeup--yet but I still really want to, even though Halloween is nearly two weeks in the past. For those who haven't seen it, here's a glimpse: What if Jane Austen were assimilated by the Borg? She'd be Austen, Powered....

Austen, Powered
Austen, Powered: prosthetic by me and [ profile] ironymaiden, makeup by [ profile] ironymaiden, dress created by and on loan from [ profile] akirlu

More pics, and a how-we-did-it post to come...

3) By every reasonable measure, the Kobold Guide to Combat book signing at University Bookstore was a success. We had five of the contributors plus me at the store and ran a panel on combat in games. We all signed books. Other events around the signing conspired to take some of the celebratory sweetness out of it for me, and I'm still sort of recovering from that. A lot to process, but it's not my stuff to talk about. Here's a pic of all of us.

Left to right: John A. Pitts [ profile] bravado111, Rob Heinsoo, Chris Pramas, Jeff Grubb, Steve Winter, yours truly

4) My kitchen light fixture broke in my hands when I tried to clean it last week. I've got a temporary fix in place that is satisfactory for the moment, but it looks like I'll be spending some money to replace it. I wasn't a big fan of the fixture in any case; I just wasn't planning on attending to it right now.

5) There are things about which I'm feeling discontent and impatient about in my life right now, but some of them are just beyond my ability to change. It's making me cranky.
scarlettina: (Book love)
I opened my mailbox yesterday for the first time since I returned from the rain forest to discover that I'd received a copy of Eastlick and Other Stories by Shannon Page (our own [ profile] calendula_witch), including an introduction by yours truly, cover art by [ profile] markferrari, and collaborations with said Mr. Ferrari, our own [ profile] jaylake and Chaz Brenchley. It's a terrific collection and I recommend it.

Honestly, I was gobsmacked when Shannon asked me to write the introduction. I'm still a little confused by it; I was (and still am) convinced that there are others who could bring far more to the project than myself. She was determined, however, and so I decided to accept the honor and did the best I could. Her stories are worth my best effort, and I was delighted to do it.

Now you should go read it. Really.
scarlettina: (Book love)
The last freelance project I delivered in 2012 is now available: The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding from Kobold Press, a collection of essays on the subject by some of the top RPG game designers in the business, on the subject of worldbuilding for game play. As it happens, a lot of the thought and insight they offer applies to fiction writing as well. I think we put together a pretty great collection and I'm really quite proud of it. [ profile] the_monkey_king gave us a gorgeous cover, and I got to work with a terrific designer to get the look of the inside just right. Yesterday, on the Kobold Blog, I talked a little bit about the project.

Kobold Guide To Worldbuilding CoverIt's kind of a gift to be able to do a project like this with friends who also happen to be some of the top people in their field--so many people who have worked in role-playing games since almost the beginning, or who came in later to work on some of the most popular and bestselling stuff around. As a friend you get a glimpse into their professional side, and as a professional you're given a front-seat view toward why they are so respected. It's a joy.

So go check it out. My friends--these writers and designers--are brilliant, every one of them, and they offer some great advice on the business of creating worlds.
scarlettina: (I've been reading)
Had to share the absolutely awesome cover of my next project from Kobold Press: The KOBOLD Guide to Worldbuilding. It's targeted mainly at roleplaying game GMs and designers, but there's some great stuff in it that applies to fiction writing across the board. Look!

Kobold Guide To Worldbuilding Cover

It's got essays from some absolutely awesome authors (including some stellar stuff written by the estimable [ profile] the_monkey_king and--good God--an essay from me!*), a wonderful introduction from our own [ profile] kenscholes, and it's available for pre-order now!

*My piece is about writing in licensed universes (having edited a number of such projects), including interview material from conversations with [ profile] kradical and another well-traveled game designer in the field. When I read it against the other essays in the book, it's kind of an outlier, a little hard-nosed maybe, and as much about the mechanics of getting such a gig as well as actually executing on it. But my publisher supported the idea of including it, and I was delighted to do it. I'm pretty pleased with the piece. But then, I'm pretty pleased with the whole book.
scarlettina: (Book love)
The SFWA Pacific Northwest Reading Series continues tonight with Louise Marley, Rhiannon Held, and Isaac Marion at the Wilde Rover in Kirkland. The University Bookstore will be selling books and all the authors will be available to sign. Come on down for food, brew, and books!

When: Tonight, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Where: Wild Rover Irish Pub and Restaurant, 111 Central Way, Kirkland, WA 98033
scarlettina: (Default)
Tonight, at the brilliant suggestion of [ profile] ironymaiden, we (Miss Maiden, [ profile] varina8, and [ profile] shadow_and_veil) attended an event at Richard Hugo House called Two Books Enter, One Book Leaves. The idea was that attendees bring two books as admission, and take one book home. The leftovers will be donated to the Friends of the Library, whose book sale each year raises money for Seattle Public Library. It was a perfect thing for booklovers like us.

Lately I've been keeping a shopping bag full of books in the trunk of my car for trading in, so I grabbed a couple of books out of it for my admission. Of course, I found two books I wanted instead of just one, so I fetched another two books from my trunk. And what did I get? Fool on the Hill and Sewer, Gas, and Electric, both by the remarkable [ profile] matt_ruff, both of which have been recommended to me by several people (and, by the way, have gotten stellar reviews), and neither of which I've actually read (though I'm a fan of his Bad Monkeys). The copies I picked up were pristine. I'm completely delighted. While we were there, I also ran into JH, whom I see mostly at science fiction conventions. I wasn't surprised but I was pleased to see her. I'm just surprised I didn't see more of our tribe at the event.

Afterwards, the four of us went to Ballet, an Asian restaurant just a few blocks over, and had Chinese food for dinner. Also, to celebrate the Chinese new year--the Year of the Rabbit Bunneh! Gung ho bok choy, everyone! ::wink::
scarlettina: (Writing: More fun)
Recently, a friendly acquaintance contacted me via Facebook to ask me, as the most knowledgeable person he knows with regard to publishing, if he could talk to me about his novel. Sure, said I, though quietly I admitted to myself that he needed to expand his network if I was his key resource. Nevertheless, we got on the phone last night and talked about writing fantasy and what makes a book salable.

I realized in short order that, partly, he was looking for reassurance, which we all need from time to time. But then he asked about me the right age for a protagonist. He asked me about whether or not high fantasy still sells. He asked me if a book in the vein of Dennis McKeirnan or Mike Stackpole was still viable (which is funny given that I'm Mike's current editor at Night Shade; I may be biased). He started to edge toward the discussion about what trends were hot. He was worried about whether or not anyone would want to read a story in the setting he'd chosen, if it was passe, if everyone had done it already. At that point, I stopped him cold.

The long and the short of it, I told him, was to write a good story with strong characters in a unique and interesting world. Age might matter if you're writing YA, but in the end, it's about the people. He repeated the sentence back to me word for word: "Write a good story with strong characters in a unique and interesting world." This was the point at which he confirmed my suspicion: he was looking for a formula. Then he asked, "Does there have to be something really new? Some twist no one's ever seen before?" I told him that it could be Lord of the Rings pastiche if he wanted it to be--as long as people play Dungeons & Dragons, it'll have an audience--but why, when the whole world was available to him for inspiration? (Besides, George R.R. Martin is about to open up the medieval-style fantasy again once the HBO series based on A Song of Ice and Fire premieres.) It could be rural or urban Asian landscape (wait, wait, I liked that, and that, too) or a second-world setting where wine-making is magic (hmmm...I liked that one, also...).

My point was for him to write the book he wanted to write just like the people who wrote the aforementioned books did, the book he wanted to read, to let himself just be himself as a writer. The idea seemed (pardon the pun) novel to him.

I'm no longer surprised by people who are looking for The Secret to It All. Lots of people think that there must be some key they just haven't found yet. The truth is, it's different for everyone. If my advice to this writer sounded basic--write a good story with strong characters in a unique and interesting world--it was both the most and least prescriptive advice I could give. On the one hand, what works for Mike Stackpole almost assuredly won't work for, say, Greg Bear or Kate Elliott or China Mieville because they're different writers with different interests, areas of expertise, writing styles, levels of skill. But on the other hand, they all have this one thing in common: they've learned the tent poles of strong writing and good novel construction. This comes from working the craft: writing, writing, writing--character and plot and setting and language. And if you look at their books, all of them offer good stories with strong characters in unique and interesting worlds--but they couldn't be more different. And while I'm sure that, like all of us, each of them wondered if their books would sell, they all wrote first and foremost the books they wanted to write, and have been very successful doing it: powerful stories, unforgettable characters and places (I still get creeped out by Perdido Street Station, but I also know I'll read it again at some point).

The weird thing to me was how new this sounded to someone who's been going to conventions and writing panels for years. At the same time, I will often go to workshops and writing panels to be reminded of the lessons I already know, as both an editor and a writer. First principles matter. Maybe that's the Secret to It All: get back to basics, write the stories that matter to you, setting and character and plot. And then, as [ profile] jaylake says, the story belongs to the reader.

Cheap Bastards

Wed, Dec. 15th, 2010 10:50 pm
scarlettina: (Book love)
Tonight I attended a launch party for my friend David Volk's new book, The Cheap Bastard's Guide to Seattle. The event was held at Richard Hugo House, an excellent venue for this sort of event. David and his wife Cindy laid out quite a spread with food and wine, as well as chocolate tastings and other nummy treats. It meant I got to visit with David and his wife a tiny bit, but also with [ profile] oldmangrumpus and [ profile] varina8, as well as DS WINOLJ. The evening included a reading as well as a contest to see who could provide the best hints for finding cheap or free stuff in Seattle. My contribution to said event was to mention the free iTunes songs you can pick up at Starbuck's each week.

I'll admit that David's humor isn't always to my taste, but he can be witty and insightful, and he certainly finds terrific bargains all around town. The book is great for locals and visitors alike. [ profile] scarlettina says, "Check it out!"
scarlettina: (Happy Sun)
Photography: I've signed contracts for short stories and articles in the past, but yesterday was the first time I've ever signed a contract for a photo--for National Geographic! One of their designers apparently sniffs around on Flickr for source material. They found one of my Africa photos--no, none of the pretty wildlife pictures but, rather, the shot of the interior of my tent. They're going to use it for one of their educational programs. It's not glamorous and it's not sexy, but it's a sale to a venue I love and admire. It feels like coming full circle after spending time, as a kid, with my hobbyist photographer father reading NatGeo on the living room couch. I'll take it!

The hand: The hand heals apace. It appears to be stuck in a mild, semi-permanent Vulcan salute, with the pinkie and ring finger slightly separated from the middle and pointer fingers. I'm working to remedy this situation whenever the hand isn't in the splint. I should be getting to the doctor in a few days to get another x-ray to see how it's healing. I miss being two-handed: I hate the discomfort I feel when I drive, I hate the waste of using paper plates and plastic cups because I can't wash dishes, I actually miss housecleaning. And so I double-dose on the calcium and hope for health.

Book, publishing, and gaming: One of my recent freelance projects was editing The KOBOLD Guide to Game Design, Vol III: Tools & Techniques for Open Design and Kobold Quarterly. The book is on sale as a PDF now, and will be available in hard copy in a couple of weeks. If you have any interest in roleplaying games or designing same, you ought to check out this book as well as its predecessors (volume 1, volume 2). It includes essays by some of the major names in game design (including our own [ profile] the_monkey_king whose work features prominently in the book, as well as folks like Ed Greenwood and Monte Cook), and nuts-and-bolts advice about game design. Pretty spiffy, if I do say so myself.

Foolscap's Twitter presence: Some of you may know that I'm on the con committee for Foolscap, a local convention that takes place every September. There's been a lot going on behind the scenes. I've been one of a group posting to our Twitter streams (@flatstuff, the fun one, and @foolscapcon, the informative one). There's been some great stuff on @flatstuff lately, including announcements of local genre readings, interesting articles from a wide selection of sources, live tweeting from other conventions and so on. Give it a look-see.

ETA: Zoo penny smashing: I've just heard that Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma has three new penny machines. It's time for a day trip. Anybody wanna go to the zoo in the next couple of weeks?
scarlettina: (DrWho: Ten Sonic)
Writing: In the wake of my weekend on the coast, I have determined to parcel out my day such that writing--in one form or another--always happens. At this point, I'm getting up a little earlier and giving myself an hour for writing. I then go to work, come home, have dinner, and work on the freelance stuff. I've done this two days straight now, which ain't much, but it's a start. Good habits must begin somewhere. Having re-outlined the novel completely, for the last two mornings I have been reviewing and revising what's been written already, pulling out the text that is no longer relevant, and planting the seeds of the new direction to come. Actual writing, rather than mere revision, should start tomorrow morning.

Book signing: Tuesday evening was J.A. Pitts' ([ profile] bravado111) reading and signing at University Bookstore. Mark Teppo read and signed as well--and many of the folks in the crowd knew him--but the evening was John's and he did wonderfully well. He gave a good reading from his fine, fun first novel Black Blade Blues, and answered questions with thought and care. I was so happy to be there. I felt a little bad for Mark, who's a strong writer and whose books Lightbreaker and Heartland have been beautifully produced by Night Shade and generally well reviewed, but who was presented with almost no copies to sign at all. Still, his disappointment was at least mitigated, I think, by going out with a group of us after the reading for dessert at the Continental, a Greek place on the Ave. Lovely evening.

Hamlet: By sheer luck, I logged on to LJ last night to discover [ profile] twilight2000's post about the David Tennant Hamlet airing on Great Performances that evening. With perfect timing, I turned on PBS to discover the production just beginning. No freelance work got done last night, but I did watch an astonishing production. I love Hamlet; always have. And Tennant was amazing. If I hadn't been a fan before (which, of course, I was), I'd be a fan now. His conception of the melancholy angry, sarcastic, perceptive, and vengeful Danish prince was a wonder to watch. Patrick Stewart's performance was excellent, I thought...right up until the last moment, when he indulged in a gesture that I thought weirdly out of character. Everyone else in the cast was uniformly good. I must see this again for the things I missed, riveted as I was by Tennant's performance.

Theater: Did I mention that last week I fell into a ticket to see a production of "On the Town" at the 5th Ave Theater? Well, I did. This is the show that was adapted for the screen to star Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller, and Betty Garrett; music by Leonard Bernstein, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolf Green. The Seattle production's star was really Seattle's Spectrum Dance Theater, which coopted Jerome Robbins' choreography and made the production just shine--especially since I've rarely seen leads who--despite hard work--so completely lack charisma. The dance took center stage here. The only cast member who had any stage presence that mattered was Sarah Rudinoff, who played Hildy the cab driver with gusto, and who stole every scene she was in. But the music was excellent--I'd never really appreciated, until I saw this production, how thoroughly difficult some of this music is to sing--but it's Bernstein; having sung some of his music, I now Get It. The dancing was flawless and marvelous to watch. The staging was quite well done. Most of the leads were professional but not terribly special. But it was a pleasant evening out and I was grateful for the opportunity.

Work: The release cycle at the day job has started again, so I'm back to commuting to the Eastside on a daily basis. It's hours and pay that I need, so I go forth. It turns out that I'm the only member of my little group that survived into this release. On the one hand, this is flattering and affirming. On the other hand, I saw it coming. I suspect there are more shake-ups on the horizon. I met my new coworkers yesterday. They seem like decent fellows. We'll see what happens now.
scarlettina: (Book love)
I don't ordinarily do a full-blown pimp for friends' books quite like this, but since a) this is an example of using one's resources to their full potential and, b) I know that people who dip into my LJ come from many different communities, I really wanted to share as much of this as I could.

[ profile] lisamantchev's first young adult fantasy novel, Eyes Like Stars, is currently nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Best YA Novel in 2009. (Great book for anyone who's got an interest in theater.)

Check out the trailer she's put together for the upcoming sequel, Perchance to Dream. Gorgeous stuff.

This is a woman who knows how to promote her own work. And it's good stuff, too.

I asked Lisa how she did this. This is what she said:

The website is called Animoto, and for a commercial purpose like this,
I needed to purchase a one-year pro-level subscription.

Then I plugged in the pictures and the text, picked the music, synced
everything up, and a computer program generates the graphic fades. I
rerendered the dang thing about 25 times trying to get everything the way
I wanted it, but I think it's pretty slick looking, I don't have any video
editing experience to do it myself from scratch, AND they have the music
library as part of the deal.

Pretty cool.
scarlettina: (Writing)
The spring issue of Kobold Quarterly is finally available in print and PDF featuring, among other things, two book reviews by yours truly. I review [ profile] bravado111's first novel Black Blade Blues (favorably, I might add), and the Nebula Award-nominated Finch by Jeff VanderMeer. I'm very excited to be a part of KQ, as I feel like it's the first time, after more than a decade of association, that I'm finally one of gaming's cool kids--or, at least, I'm now worthy to hang out with them. ::grin::

I also want to mention that the magazine's editor, our own [ profile] the_monkey_king, wrote a fine editorial for the issue that ends up being the set-up for a rather impressive pun. Feel free to poke him when next you see him; he deserves it for treating his readers that way.
scarlettina: (Ashamed)
Let me share with you the links that have thus far distracted me from being truly productive this morning:

Tea partiers try to express themselves (care of [ profile] mistymarshall). What a world Fox News is creating.

The trailer for a new IMAX 3D film about the repair of the Hubble telescope makes the film look awesome. Must see it.

"The top 25 most ancient historical photographs" is a fascinating gallery of early photography that I couldn't stop looking at (care of [ profile] jaylake).

Today's Post Secrets post intrigued me (for no particular reason--it always intrigues me).

I've been kvelling over the number of friends who contributed to Family Games: The 100 Best edited by James Lowder. I travel in such a high-falutin' crowd (though I wish it included more women)! Buy your copy today!

I've been researching links and news with which to update the @flatstuff Twitter feed.

I must needs move on to other things. I have projects to work on, posts I want to compose for LJ on subjects other than my personal life, and laundry to do. Must also cuddle cats. Cuddling cats is key. Also alliterative.
scarlettina: (Book love)
I'm not talking about any ole book (though I'd never discourage that). I'm talking about one book in particular, just out from DAW Books:

This anthology features my story "A Long Night In Jabbok," in case you were wondering what really happened the night Jacob wrestled an angel. The anthology also includes stories by our own [ profile] bravado111 (J.A. Pitts) and [ profile] kenscholes, among others. I'm delighted to be between the covers with these and other wonderful friends.

Go! Buy! See what we've perpetrated! (awesome indie Powell's | regrettably convenient Amazon)
scarlettina: ("So Many Books...")
The Third Claw of God is the next in Castro's series of novels about Andrea Cort, prosecutor at large for the Hom.Sap Confederacy and allegedly a notorious murderer, the last survivor of a massacre on the planet she grew up on, Boccai. (First book was the Philip K. Dick Award-winning "Emissaries from the Dead.") In this entry into what will surely be a longer series, Cort is presented with what is essentially a locked-room mystery: a murder set in an orbital elevator halfway between a space station and the planet below. And just why are Cort, a prominent scholar, and a well-known, philanthropic terraformer the special guests of the universe's most notorious arms manufacturer anyway? In the course of the story, not only is the murder mystery well-solved, but so are the answers to these questions. And previously unknown details about Cort's past emerge.

Third Claw is that rare case of a sequel being as strong as its predecessor. Yeah, I might be biased--Adam's an old friend--but I really feel he didn't stint, keeping the pace quick, the emotional stakes high, and the characters prickly and interesting. Cort herself is prickliest of all, one of her signature characteristics, and always interesting. And the mystery is nicely layered, offering more than just the resolution of a murder.

As long as the author keeps providing his readers with interesting mysteries and keeps Cort prickly and slightly mysterious, I think these books will continue to be successful. There's meat on them thar bones. It's a good book, I recommend it. For the inevitable question about whether or not one needs to read the first book, I'd say it certainly makes the experience of reading Third Claw richer, but I think Castro's done a pretty good job of offering up enough background detail to keep that from being a requirement.

Drink it in!

Mon, Aug. 10th, 2009 10:41 pm
scarlettina: (Book love)
Our own lovely [ profile] suricattus has been interviewed in Publisher's Weekly on her new hardcover fantasy novel. Go read. You'll learn about the books. You'll learn about wine. Then go pre-order a copy for your autumn reading list.
scarlettina: (Book love)
If you're unfamiliar with Adam-Troy Castro's work, you're doing yourself a large disservice. As it happens, you now have an easy opportunity to familiarize yourself with it. Podcaster StarShip Sofa is featuring his brilliant story, "Of a Sweet Slow Dance in the Wake of Temporary Dogs." (Tip o' the hat to [ profile] kradical, the original acquiring editor of the piece.) Of the story, Adam says:

The story starts about about 38 minutes in[to the audio program], and is fifty minutes long.... This is the best story I've ever done, the best I'm ever likely to do. I do, however, need to warn the unwary that it's no walk in the park. Its gentle beginning leads to some dark, violent and upsetting places, before ascending back to relative light.

It's a remarkable piece of writing. Go listen.

Oh, and if I haven't mentioned it already, his novel "Emissaries from the Dead" is terrific, well worth the read.


Tue, Jun. 2nd, 2009 01:15 pm
scarlettina: (Awesome me)
Swordplay edited by Denise LittleSwordplay, an anthology edited by Denise Little, launched today. It includes my story "A Disappearance in Basra," of which I'm quite proud.

It also includes stories by our own [ profile] bravado111, and many others whose names escape me. (If you're in the book, comment so I can update this entry!)

Keep an eye out for it!
scarlettina: ("So Many Books...")
Here I was all ready to post my Norwescon report when I learned about's bone-headed behavior. In case you're one of the .1 percent who doesn't obsessively read the Web, Amazon has decided that "adult" titles will have their rankings pulled, removing these titles from search results. How it actually works is that books with any gay, lesbian or transgender subject matter can't be found, but Playboy titles, for example, still can. So far, I can still find [ profile] nancykayshapiro's most excellent novel, What Love Means to You People (link goes to author's site for an excerpt, not to Amazon), but there's plenty of other stuff that can't be found. According to the L.A. Times, National Book Award winners are disappearing, for heaven's sake! Amazon's hometown news Web site, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, now has the story with the enlightening links.

I've already written to Amazon to protest this absurdity. Other fine LJers have discovered other ways to protest.

My way to protest is to post a link to [ profile] nancykayshapiro's novel on other online stores. Go and buy it, read it, tell others. And then tell others to post a link to their favorite novel in these categories at other sites as well.

Find What Love Means to You People at:

Elliot Bay Book Co.
Third Place Books

What books can you recommend and where can they be found? Tell me here or, more importantly, on your own LJ, and spread the word.


[ profile] e_bourne, a well-informed layperson, wonders if this ranking debacle is even legal. Interesting points.

Apparently [ profile] meta_writer is tracking disappeared titles.

Other theories are emerging.


scarlettina: (Default)

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