Jennifer Brozek | All posts tagged 'Tell me'

Tell Me - Donald J. Bingle

by Jennifer Brozek 19. October 2014 23:07

Don Bingle is a longtime convention buddy who is as kind as he is well spoken. I’m happy to let him tell you about the Frame Shop and why he, as an author, will never use you in one of his books.

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Writing Characters to Fit the Plot

Every once in a while, I see a t-shirt that says “Be nice to me or I’ll put you in my next novel.” My non-writer friends think it is funny. Heck, a few writers I know have worn such shirts. Truth is, those t-shirts really irritate me. Why?

First, they disrespect writers and the process of writing. They suggest that writers don’t work and struggle and subtly mold their own creations; they just steal them fully-formed as they are walking by. This is a corollary to my irritation when I hear people—not just people, but authors—say that the characters simply tell the writer what to write and he or she just writes it down, like a scribe or personal secretary who takes dictation. Writing is simply not that easy; writing characters is not that easy.

Look, I’m not only a character, but I’ve played lots of different characters (about six hundred different characters) in classic roleplaying tournaments), from dwarves and elves and orcs to spies, princesses, occultists, librarians, paladins, thieves, mercenaries, monsters, pirates, artists, clerics, mages, kender, femme fatales, little kids, clones, and aliens (even sentient weapons and insects). So I know about getting into character and creating dialogue and actions that remain true to that character’s personality, abilities, and world view. I understand how certain behavior or dialogue may not ring true for a given character. But, that doesn’t mean it springs forth from the ether and doesn’t take any effort to create. Even if struck by sudden inspiration, a writer must craft an idea and word and place it so as to effective for his or her purposes in a story or novel.

Second, they misunderstand the relationship between characters and plot. When I was writing classic roleplaying adventures, one of the key components was building characters with the correct skills, equipment, abilities, personalities, and motivations to be able to take on the quest and, with difficulty, be able to handle the tasks necessary to succeed. On top of that, the characters had to have a reason to stay and work together, but enough conflict to make the group dynamics interesting.

The same is true in writing stories and novels. You just can’t drop your buddy, Bill, into whatever you happen to be writing. Your psychotic neighbor, Adriane, also isn’t a natural fit to be a mob boss or liche queen. The characters need to have motivations, quirks, flaws, personalities, abilities, and speech-patterns which are appropriate for the setting and story you are telling. Sure, everyone’s a product of their environment and their experiences, and there may be aspects of characters, turns of phrasing, physical features, personality quirks, flaws and phobias, and minor vignettes or small pieces of business (business in the theatre sense of identifying or defining physical movements) that are translatable into your writing project. But that’s different than wholesale incorporation of a real life person into a story.

Since my most recent project, Frame Shop is a mystery/thriller set in a writers’ group and I am, not surprisingly, in a writers’ group, this topic has been much on my mind. I confess that I hid much of this project from the group during most of the primary writing to avoid speculation about whether this or that character was, or was based on, this or that real life person. I showed the group action scenes or bits of dialogue between one of the writers and a hit man, but I never asked the group to review the scenes that take place at the writers’ group, itself. Even then, when I sent the full draft to a few beta readers who are in the group, cautioning them that I build characters with the characteristics needed for the story, the first responses I got were all about who they thought the various characters resembled.

For the record, none of them are meant to be anyone I know. Sure, some are of the same age or sex or artistic specialty or profession as people I know, but one or two superficial attributes does not a three-dimensional character make. To the extent the characters were based on anybody, I’d have to say they were all based on various aspects of me (including the hack writer, the aw-shucks NYSE best-seller, and the self-doubting, shy memoirist), especially the unlikeable ones.

So the next time you read a book or chat with a writer, give the author a bit of respect, because writing, especially good writing, takes some work. And, if you think you recognize a personality characteristic or quirk or bit of dialogue from real life, chalk it up to their ability to weave their experiences into credible, realistic fiction, not laziness and theft.

Some writers only write what they know, but plenty of writers make up most of what they write. As I put it in a bio once:  “[Donald J. Bingle] has written short stories about killer bunnies, civil war soldiers, detectives, Renaissance Faire orcs, giant battling robots, demons, cats, time travelers, ghosts, time-traveling ghosts, barbarians, a husband accused of murdering his wife, dogs, horses, gamers, soldiers, Neanderthals, commuters, kender, and serial killers. Of those subjects, he has occasional contact in real life only with dogs, cats, gamers, and commuters (unless some of those are, unknown to him, really time travelers, ghosts, demons, serial killers, or murder suspects).

Sorry, but no, you won’t be in my next novel.

Aloha.
Donald J. Bingle
Check out the Kickstarter for Frame Shop.

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Tell Me - Derek J. Goodman

by Jennifer Brozek 13. October 2014 19:14

As a fellow Permutant, I'm happy to showcase a new endeavor by Derek J. Goodman and our mutual publisher, Permuted Press. I would love to have one of my books turned into a movie.

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Hi, my name is Derek J. Goodman, and I would like to talk about the Kickstarter for the movie The OneStop Apocalypse Shop, based on my novel The Apocalypse Shift.

The one thing I get asked the most about the novel is if I, like the characters, have ever worked the graveyard shift at a convenience store. The answer is yes, I did indeed work for a year doing the night shift at a 7-11 in a seedy section of Denver. It is, without a doubt, the worst job I’ve ever had. I could tell you stories. But after a certain amount of time passed, I found myself actually growing nostalgic about it. Not because I actually wanted to go back and do it again, but because, unlike most of my jobs since, it was interesting. The idea occurred to me that if vampires, werewolves, and zombies had walked through that door, it wouldn’t have changed anything. That job would have been equally as crazy.

And so I came up with stories of the OneStop and the poor schmucks who worked there. The OneStop was in a special section of the city that tends to attract magical forces once the sun goes down. Most of the monsters that walk through the door are just minding their business like any other customer. They want Twinkies, nachos, doughnuts, Slim Jims, and Froztees. But every so often some mad power-hungry demon might come in for a quick bite on their way to destroying the world. The crew at the OneStop need to stop them. It’s part of their job, right up there with mopping the floor, keeping the coffee pots full, and ringing up the customers.

The Kickstarter is being run by my publisher, Permuted Press, who happen to have several really talented film students among their staff. The script will be by Ryne Driscoll and it will be directed by David Walker. I recently had the opportunity to talk to them in person and I’m confident that the project is in good hands. This is all around a great opportunity and I’m happy to be a part of it.

For further information about the Kickstarter and how to donate to it, you can go to the OneStop Kickstarer site. I really hope that other people will be as excited about this as I am.

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Tell Me - Erin M. Evans

by Jennifer Brozek 6. October 2014 10:03

I've had the pleasure of meeting Erin M. Evans several times and we will be reading together at the University Bookstore in November. She is here to tell you how to do romance in Forgotten Realms—epic style. FIRE IN THE BLOOD comes out on Oct 14th and is available for pre-order.

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Love is a many-splendored thing. Except when it’s messy. Or boring. Or downright frustrating. Or heart-breaking. All the highs and all the lows, the swamp of emotions and risk-reward assessment. Love is a fractured, fractious thing and who and what we choose to share our lives with is one of the greatest decisions in a person’s life. But it doesn’t always get that kind of respect in fantasy.

Oh, I don’t mean paranormal romance, stories where the romance is the driving force. I mean the vaunted “romantic subplot” you’ll find in every subgenre, in nearly every classic. Too often it’s treated as “Here is your partner, a reward for successful heroing.” When you don’t have both parties points-of-view in play, it’s an easy route to take, and even when you do, it can be tempting to mold one party into a gift of sorts for the other.

When you’re a woman writing fantasy—even blood-and-guts sword and sorcery—your romantic subplots get an extra special scrutiny. After all, romance is What Women Write. Make romantic relationships 10% of your book, and you’ll find folks talking like it’s all bedroom eyes and unfortunate misunderstandings, Moonlighting-style arguments and sexy makings up. I’ll admit it, I took this a little personally. So I decided why not unleash the kraken? Why not write a Forgotten Realms story about romances?

Of course, it’s a story about romantic relationships when the one you choose might determine the future of a kingdom at war, or the success of the god of sin, or whether you’re assassinated by the shadowy empire to the north. It’s about realizing love is not a panacea and the good doesn’t always make up for the bad. It’s about people dealing with life and this big, messy series of decisions that hinge on your life continuing on, while the world seems to be trying to end it. (In other words, a fantasy novel.)

Delving into matters of the heart—really diving in, looking at it from the perspective of an individual character—can add dimension and tension and realness to a story about wizards and ancient kingdoms and looming empires of shadow. But I think it’s critical that you really rip into it. No easy answers. No “rewards for heroing.” Consequences, choices, pushing yourself to do the right thing—realizing you don’t want all that heartache or realizing it’s all worth it. Fire in the Blood begins with a love triangle of sorts—Brin loves Havilar, but is engaged to Raedra. There’s a well-worn formula here—Havilar is the true love, and Raedra is the mistake, the one who exists to make you see how loveable Havilar is—but it doesn’t work for me. Raedra’s only engaged to Brin because it helps keep her country stable—did I mention she’s a princess? Did I mention the kingdom is really her truest love? We decide who or what we share our lives with, and sometimes it’s not a person at all. So why demonize her? Readers can handle a little complexity, after all. It’s part of being human.

Romance may not be the first thing you think of when you hear Forgotten Realms or sword & sorcery or even fantasy, but when we’re talking about crafting characters for readers to fall for? It’s worth all the frustrations and heartache (and occasional miscommunications) to make it work.

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ERIN M. EVANS got a degree in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis–and promptly stuck it in a box. Nowadays she uses that knowledge of bones, mythology, and social constructions to flesh out fantasy worlds. She is the author of The God Catcher, and she lives in Washington State.

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Tell Me - Scott M. Baker

by Jennifer Brozek 1. September 2014 13:56

I've not had the pleasure of meeting Scott yet but I do think his book sounds interesting.

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My latest project is Yeitso, a horror novel published by Blood Bound Books.

Big city life is dangerous. Rape, murder, gangs… not the best place to raise a teenage daughter on your own. That’s why big-city cop and recent divorcee Russell Andrews agreed to move to the desert and be the sheriff of a sleepy little New Mexican town. But the desert has secrets. Giant secrets. Secrets that eat men alive and threaten entire towns. Andrews comes face to face with a thing out of a myth, something that modern man has no name for. The Navajo call it Yeitso.

I had wanted to write this novel for years, but kept placing it on a backburner while I delved into the worlds of zombies and vampires. Then, in the fall of 2009, I took a training course at Los Alamos National Laboratory, fell in love with the area, and knew I had found the ideal setting for my novel. Shortly after that, I came across the monster I wanted to inhabit the desert, and the concept for Yeitso was born.

While all my previous works have been violence-laden, gore-splattered novels detailing the struggle between the living and the dead, Yeitso is my homage to the B-grade giant monster movies of the 1950s that I grew up with as a kid and that influenced me as an adult. As such, I wrote Yeitso in a different style, toning down the excesses of my previous books and creating a novel that will appeal to a wider audience. Fans of movies from that era will feel a sense of nostalgia as the novel opens with the authorities attempting to determine what type of creature is preying on local citizens and concludes in an epic struggle to stop the monster from taking over the world.

I enjoyed writing Yeitso because it challenged me to step outside my comfort zone and adapt an entirely new style, and I’m pleased with the results. As the natural progression of this, my next project will be a foray into the Young Adult genre with a series of novels set in a post-apocalyptic world where a sixteen-year-old boy must not only fight for his survival but deal with the guilt of knowing that it was his mother’s science experiment that opened portals between Earth and Hell.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest, and I look forward to hearing from some of you.

 
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Author’s Bio: Scott M. Baker was born and raised in Everett, Massachusetts and spent twenty-three years in northern Virginia working for the Central Intelligence Agency. Scott is now retired and lives in Gainesville, Florida as a full-time writer along with his wife and fellow author Alison Beightol and his stepdaughter. He has written Yeitso, his homage to the giant monster movies of the 1950s that he loved watching as a kid; The Vampire Hunters trilogy, about humans fighting the undead in Washington D.C.; as well as Rotter World, which details the struggle between humans and vampires during a zombie apocalypse. Scott is currently working on the next two books in the Rotter World saga and a series of young adult post-apocalyptic fiction. When not writing, Scott can usually be found doting on the two boxers and one cat that kindly allow him to live with them.

Please visit the author’s website at http://scottmbakerauthor.blogspot.com or follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ScottMBakerAuthor?ref=hl.


Links:

trade paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Yeitso-Scott-M-Baker/dp/1940250129/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1408748819&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=yeitso

Kindle:  http://www.amazon.com/Yeitso-Scott-M-Baker-ebook/dp/B00MZFVLEM/ref=sr_1_2_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408843111&sr=1-2&keywords=yeitso

Nook:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/yeitso-scott-m-baker/1120192527?ean=2940150621350

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Tell Me - Jean Rabe

by Jennifer Brozek 25. August 2014 09:20

Jean is a wonderful friend of mine and we’ve talked about this book, The Cauldron, off and on for months. Now, Silence in the Library has put together a multi-book kickstarter that is 2/3rds funded for three books (including one by Timothy Zahn) that includes The Cauldron. Here, Jean talks about how The Cauldron, co-written with Gene DeWeese, came to be.
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The Cauldron (once called Mnemorphosis)

There’s a spaceship inside, aliens, an elephant, and the Civil War . . . oh, and a love story, too. How wonderful is that?

Not in a million light years would I have thought to combine those elements into a science fiction novel.

In fact, I wouldn’t have thought to attempt this book. Well . . . I did write it, you can see my name on the cover illustration. I mostly write fantasy, and I dabble in urban fantasy and modern-day adventure yarns. I love to read science fiction, but I haven’t written a lot of it.

So how did I end up writing what I consider an amazing book?

Gene DeWeese called me one day some years back.

Gene was one of my writer-buddies and at the time (‘cause I used to live in Kenosha, WI) a fellow Cheesehead. I’d met him many years ago when we both wrote books for TSR (he, Ravenloft, me, Dragonlance). I had read his books even years before that, and I’d invited him to a lot of the anthologies I edited. Gene wrote just about anything . . . contemporary, fantasy, horror, and science fiction. And he wrote all of it well. He was a New York Times Bestselling author, and he was known for his Star Trek novels.

Gene had a novel fragment in his computer that had been vexing him. Its working title was called Mnemorphosis, but it didn’t sit well with him, as he thought readers wouldn’t pick it up. He wanted to turn that fragment into a full novel, but he didn’t seem up to finishing it on his own. He asked if I’d like to tackle the project.

Dear God yes!

Although I usually work alone, I’d collaborated with Andre Norton and John Helfers, and had great fun doing so.

Working with Gene DeWeese was a dream. He had such an incredible imagination . . . hence the elephant and the Civil War. And he had such an elegant, beautiful, gentle soul. I cherished every day I spent working on The Cauldron, and every phone conversation and e-mail I shared with him. I wanted to get the book “just right,” just the way he’d envisioned it. And I managed to weave my own elements and side-trips in it too. Part of it is set in Wisconsin (familiar to both of us) and Indiana (where I’d lived for a time when I was a news reporter and he’d lived many years ago). So it was a perfect coauthor pairing.

The endeavor wasn’t without its difficulties. Gene was suffering with a form of dementia (and was well aware of it; he’d lament to me about things he couldn’t recall and memories that had been scattered to the winds). The disease claimed him before he could see The Cauldron in print. I’d like to think that his scattered thoughts helped make The Cauldron so wonderful. When you read it, you’ll see how so many disparate elements combine to tell one story.

My agent pronounced the book “weirdly good,” and endeavored to market it. After one of the New York publishers sat on it for more than eighteen months, deciding whether or not to take it on, I told my agent I’d get it into print myself.

It’s a Kickstarter project that starts in August. The Cauldron is perfect for a Kickstarter. It’s ready to be printed; it’s not one of those Kickstarters where if enough contributions are raised, the author will write it. Silence in the Library is the publisher. They’re awesome folks, and they love the book…maybe love it as much as I do.

It does, after all, have an elephant in it.

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Jean Rabe is the author of thirty fantasy, adventure, and mystery novels, a heap of short stories, and has edited a few dozen anthologies. She shares her office with three dogs and a cantankerous parrot. Visit her at www.jeanrabe.com.


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Tell Me - Erik Scott de Bie (Justice/Vengeance)

by Jennifer Brozek 7. August 2014 08:53

I asked Erik Scott de Bie to talk to me about Justice/Vengeance: Libations for the Dead (Vol 1). I love comic books and I like Erik's writing. So, this kickstarter was a no brainer for me. I've worked with Eric on RPGs and and I've edited him. I think ya'll are going to like Justice/Vengeance. Here's what he had to say about it.

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Heroes.

That’s what it’s all about.

Since I was a kid, I’ve loved superheroes: people who stand out and above the rest, using the powers for the good of everyone. They may have got their special whammy from radiation, magic, aliens, or maybe they’re born with it (maybe it’s Maybelline), or maybe there’s nothing super-powered about them at all but their drive to do the right thing. The common denominator is that they can do something to help the world, and so they do.

It’s the same with the heroes of the character driven Justice/Vengeance, around whom I’ve built the entire concept.

Pre-law student Marcus Orestes has only just learned the identity of his birth father: Justice, one of the greatest heroes the world has ever known. The revelation sets him on a quest to learn more about his father he never knew, the great power he wields, and the super-heroic destiny that awaits him: to become the new Justice.

His path crosses that of two powerful women.

The Latina superstar Angel “A-Girl” DeSantes is a superhero celebrity heiress melting in the spotlight with her own legacy to uphold. Possessed of superhuman strength, durability, and flight, she is stunningly effective in fighting crime, but her inherent clumsiness and lack of experience lead to a great deal of collateral damage that doesn’t play well in the tabloids. She’s coping with the pressures of fame and the niggling feeling that she’s supposed to be doing something more—much more—with her powers.

Enter also the retired former villain Vivienne “Lady Vengeance” Cain, a functioning alcoholic who struggles to control her dark, demon-fueled fear powers that threaten the world itself. She drinks to defend herself and everyone around her. After she was implicated in the murder of her former superhero team by their combined rogue’s gallery, most of the world thinks she’s dead, and those who know she’s alive want to fix that.

And lots of booze, ninjas, robots, demons, monsters, gods, demi-gods, and whatever else you can imagine.

Justice/Vengeance is my first comic book. It’s about doing the right thing, even if it isn’t always clear what that is. It unpacks some of the big themes I explore in my other work: the nature of good and evil, the difference between justice and vengeance, identity and moral agency. I make a concerted effort in J/V to embrace diversity of story and characters in a way comics haven’t always done all that well, across the lines of age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and motivation. And most of all, I'm just telling an awesome story: taking what is already fully formed in my head and communicating it to my audience.

I’ve wanted to do this since before I started writing. Here’s my chance.

And it’s going to be awesome.

Promise.

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Erik Scott de Bie is a 30-something speculative fiction author and game designer. He has published eight novels to date, including novels in the storied Forgotten Realms fantasy setting, the famous Traveller universe (his forthcoming novel Priority: Hyperion), a stand-alone novel for Broken Eye Books (Scourge of the Realm), and the original World of Ruin epic fantasy setting (his recently released novel, Shadow of the Winter King, is the first in that series). His short work has appeared in numerous anthologies and he is the author of the multimedia superhero project, Justice/Vengeance (live on Kickstarter during GenCon 2014!). In his work as a game designer, he has contributed to products from such companies as Wizards of the Coast and Privateer Press, and he is a lead creative consultant on Red Aegis from Vorpal Games. Check out his website: erikscottdebie.com

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Tell Me - Kenneth Mark Hoover

by Jennifer Brozek 28. July 2014 13:33

I have to admit, I have a soft spot for the Haxan world by Kenneth Mark Hoover. I love a good weird west tale and Haxan is it. Someday, the worlds of Mowry, AZ and Haxan, AZ will collide and it will be epic.

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HOW I CREATED HAXAN

I fell into writing westerns, and dark fantasy westerns, entirely by accident.

About five years ago I started listening to the Old Time Radio Gunsmoke series. These were created and written by John Meston, a writer who wanted to bring adult sensibilities to the western. He hated what Hollywood had done to the Old West, relying on crude mythology and cliches. He wanted to write adult stories about the men and women of that time in a responsible way, leaving behind more cartoonish aspects which had taken root in the collective mind.

The OTR portrayal of Matt Dillon is very different from the television version. John Meston created Matt Dillon as a man as violent as the men he has goes up against. In fact, in the radio series, Matt Dillon is almost a psychopath who beats men within an inch of their life. Kitty, in the radio series, is a worn-out prostitute, and Doc Adams is a gibbering ghoul intent on collecting autopsy fees.

While listening to these episodes it wasn’t long before I knew I wanted to do something along the same lines. I had no intention before then of writing westerns or using a western setting as a backdrop in my fiction. John Meston, and his work, set the hook in my mind. I feel I owe him a lot.

Around the same time I finished reading the entire comic book run of Jonah Hex. I liked the hard-bitten edge of the character as written by John Albano, and the art of Tony DeZuniga has never been matched, in my opinion.

One afternoon I went outside to sit in the sun and I started making notes. I first had the town as Hex, New Mexico, probably a result of the comic influence. But I quickly changed that to Haxan, which is a Swedish word for “witches” and is the name of an excellent silent horror film from 1922. Just like that I had the entire plot of “Haxan” in my mind.

I started doing research, and to make things a little different leavened dark fantasy in the story. Not a lot. I didn’t want the fantasy to overwhelm the historical aspect at all. I had seen this in other “weird westerns” and frankly, never thought much of it. I didn’t want the West to be another generic (and replaceable) backdrop to my story. I wanted “Haxan” to be about the West, and any dark fantasy present would be included to illuminate that singular aspect.

I must say I have never thought I wrote “weird westerns” although the Haxan stories, and the novel published by CZP, are categorized that way. Being pigeonholed is a crux every writer must bear, and I don’t let it bother me too much. But, to me, your typical weird western is just another cliched story with vampires, werewolves, and the occasional Cthulhu-type monster in a walk-on role. I am a big reader of history and philosophy. I know the most frightening monsters have always been human. So that’s what I set out to write.

I’ve said many times Haxan is my own little dark corner of the universe where I get to play with matches. The setting and the characters lend themselves to many different story styles and genres. But I am always careful to make the West, and its culture, and the men and women of all races who struggled everyday to survive, my central focus. This came home to me in a big way when Jennifer Brozek remarked I should start writing stories about the other people in Haxan rather than concentrate on Marwood. I immediately saw what she was getting at. The whole mythos of Haxan needed to be told, rather than one slice from an individual viewpoint.

I haven’t looked back since. I’ve published about 20 Haxan short stories and more are coming. The novel Haxan was published by CZP earlier this year, and they’ve scheduled the next one, Quaternity, for May 2015. I will begin work on the third Haxan novel, Seven Devils, this fall.

So far I’ve enjoyed writing in the world of Haxan very much. People tell me they like the stories and the characters a lot. But I haven’t done it entirely by myself. I have some very good writers and friends I bounce ideas off to gauge their reaction whether a story idea is worth pursuing.

No writer writes a story entirely by himself. But as of today I am a citizen of Haxan, New Mexico, circa 1874, and I think I am going to stay there for a while.

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Kenneth Mark Hoover has sold over fifty short stories and articles. His first novel, Fevreblau, was published by Five Star Press in 2005. His work has appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons and the anthology Destination: Future. He is a member of SFWA and HWA and currently lives near Dallas, TX. Mr. Hoover can be reached through his website kennethmarkhoover.com where extra content, including character biographies and photographs, can be found regarding the world of Haxan.



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Tell Me - Ken Scholes

by Jennifer Brozek 26. May 2014 09:50

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Ken for years. He is a gregarious and generous man as well as a spectacular and lyrical author. He talks about how he was inspired by Jay Lake to write the latest in the METAtropolis series.

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METAtropolis:  The Wings We Dare Aspire by Jay Lake and Ken Scholes, Wordfire Press.

 

Back in 2010, Jay took on the editing role for Audible’s award-winning METAtropolis series, a “near-future” SF audio anthology featuring a diverse range of authors all lending their talent to a shared world.  Jay had appeared in the first volume, edited by John Scalzi, and in his novella, “In the Forests of the Night,” he introduced the characters of Tygre, Tygre and Bashar.  When Jay took over editing METAtropolis:  Cascadia he offered me the opportunity to play along and I jumped at the opportunity.

 

I read the first anthology and, as often happens with Jay, I instantly sparked a story.  What if Bashar took what he’d learned from Tygre, Tyre and wrote a book about it – a kind of Saul of Tarsus to Tygre Tygre’s unusual Jesus – and what if the plot that Jay started unpacking in his tale was suddenly expanding?  I told him my idea and we decided that we would link our stories for Cascadia.  I wrote “A Symmetry of Serpents and Doves” and then Jay took my story and wove his own around it in “The Bull Dancers.”  That volume went on to win the Audie award thanks to the amazing writers and the amazing voice talent that Audible brought together. 

 

Of course, that set the stage for METAtropolis:  Green Space and because of Jay’s failing health in his years-long fight with cancer, I was brought in to co-edit with him.  This time around, we decided to continue the story of Bashar and Charity Oxham and to connect our stories even more tightly.  Jay wrote “Rock of Ages” and set us up, then I ran us across the goal line with “Let Me Hide Myself in Thee.”  Both stories stand alone but work much better as a set.

 

Meanwhile, while we were drafting our stories for Green Space, I had breakfast with Kevin J. Anderson at Norwescon.  Jay and I had met Kevin as a result of our Writers of the Future wins and he shared with me that he and his wife, Rebecca Moesta, had launched Wordfire Press, an author-friendly publishing company that hit the ground with a solid catalog of well-known writers in the genre.  Kevin and I talked about doing something together one day down the road.

 

Ideally, we had hoped a publisher would pick up the entire anthology, putting all of the stories from volume two and three into print, but no markets bit and we all collectively decided we would pursue publishing our individual stories on our own.  But…in looking at the five tales Jay and I had crafted, it was readily apparent that we had something that stood up fairly well as a shared collection of stories telling one overall story.  Jay and I talked about it and decided to approach Kevin.  Kevin was excited about the project and once he took it on, brought in artist Jeff Sturgeon to create a cover that captured the Pacific Northwest flavor of the book.  And so METAtropolis:  The Wings We Dare Aspire was born.

 

This is an especially meaningful project for me.  Jay has been one of my closest friends for over a decade now and as his fight with cancer winds down, I’ve wanted every opportunity I can get to work with my friend and to support his career.  This book, coming out now in the last few months of Jay’s life, is a tangible marker of that friendship and a great example of what has happened whenever our muses (Fred for him, Leroy for me) come out to play.  These our paper children, born from a love of story and the bonds of our brotherhood.  I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy today.

 

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Ken Scholes is the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of over forty short stories and four novels with work appearing both in the US and abroad.

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Tell Me - Friday Elliot

by Jennifer Brozek 28. April 2014 09:05

I met Friday at Norweson this year and found her to be delightful. Her geeky themes teas were a welcome addition to the dealers room and I enjoyed what I tasted. When I found out she had a kickstarter (5 days left and less than $2000 to go), I knew I had to have her tell me something about how she creates her tea blends. And, frankly, the idea of Friday creating a set of teas based on some of my books is really cool. Maybe. Someday.

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My interaction with the world is hugely based on flavor. I have a sensory integration condition known as Lexical-Gustatory Synesthesia. Translation: my brain applies flavor profiles to abstract concepts. I've managed to find a strange little niche market, selling geeky tea blends to awesome nerds.

It all started with a friend's Dark Alice-themed tea party, for which she requested some custom blends based on Lewis Carroll's work. I didn't even have to think about it. Carroll's characters have been so richly entrenched in my mind since childhood, they already had strong flavors to them. Thus, the Queen of Hearts and Wonderland blends were born.

Since that first Alice tea party a few years ago, I've almost exclusively been blending themed teas. I now have customers from all walks of nerd-dom commissioning custom blends based on their LARP characters, their favorite characters from various fandoms, their favorite music, etc.

If you want a more in-depth description of my blending process, please read a blog post I wrote about it a bajillion years ago here: http://fridayknowstea.blogspot.com/2013/04/synesthesia-and-blending-as-sensory-art.html

My tiny tea company has thrived and grown in the last few years as I've been working the convention circuit, selling to sci-fi and fantasy fans, steampunkers and gamers of all sorts. My nerd teas are now carried at several gaming cafes and bars, and I'm on the cusp of expanding my entire operation!

I've recently launched a Kickstarter project, now in its last week, to raise funds for my company to level up. Specifically, we're planning to revamp our entire website (it won't just be a crappy template-built site anymore! Huzzah!), get new labels, new packaging, lots of great stuff all around. Pledge levels run from $1-$850+, and rewards are anywhere from a thank you note to co-designing a full collection of teas with me!

We're rocking right along, and it's looking like we'll at least meet our goal. I'm hoping we get to some of the stretch goals, because they're just too fun! We have a collection of blends inspired by My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a collection inspired by Sailor Moon, and the possibility of a collection based on a community vote!

So hey, if you like nerd tea, weird brain science, small businesses and nice people, check it out.

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Tell Me - Erik Scott de Bie

by Jennifer Brozek 21. April 2014 10:54

When I told Erik Scott de Bie to "Tell Me about Shadow of the Winter King" I meant it in all senses. I didn't know a thing about the book but I did know Erik. He's a great author whom I've published and shared a TOC with. We're even working on an RPG project togther. Now, Erik talks about why persistence is one of the keys to writing.

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SHADOW OF THE WINTER KING, my latest fantasy novel coming out this week, is the culmination of a long quest that started when I first picked up a pen professionally.

In 2003, before I even submitted the novel proposal that would eventually become my first novel GHOSTWALKER, I wrote a novella about a character named “Tear”: a retired assassin on the run from a very bloody past. That particular writing exercise never went anywhere itself, but the character stuck in my mind. I wanted to capture that particular perspective—to provide a character that was both a deadly warrior and a broken man, torn by regret and longing for a life lost to him.

In 2004, writing for the Forgotten Realms setting, I crafted a character called Arya Venkyr: a canny, capable knight who faced impossible odds without flinching. That book was a stand alone, but again, I never forgot the character or her uncompromising sense of duty. Not Arya herself, exactly, but a character like her: passionate, determined, and unwavering. And having just read Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart, I absolutely wanted to instill some of that same erotic power in the character: to up-end expectations of female characters the way Carey does so eloquently in her work.

In 2005, I ran a warmage in a D&D game who broke the mold of what one might expect in a spellcaster: an androgynous waif of a creature who spoke in a rasping tone and wore to hide a body ravaged by destructive magic. I played “Mask” exactly once, but the character persisted as a NPC with (as you might expect) a massive, complex back story. Mask was the most compelling NPC I ran in that game: vicious, sardonic, fatalistic, but with an undercurrent of undeniable destiny. Unforgettable.

These disparate characters had one thing in common: I needed to write more about them.

But where?

I first wrote about the World of Ruin in 2005-2006, about the time GHOSTWALKER came out. I loved writing in the Forgotten Realms, but that wasn’t an end-point. I wanted to tell stories that were entirely my own in a setting entirely of my own creation. This was my first genuine attempt at that, and I got to the point of shopping it around to agents.

Most of them turned it down, and for good reason. The novel I created was flawed—too dark, too squicky, not quite balanced—and will never see the light of day (don’t worry!). A few saw the potential in my style and setting, and I received important words of encouragement, particularly from the late Brian Thomsen of TOR. I had what it took, but this particular book wasn’t quite ready. Not yet.

The novel may have failed, but the setting that came out of it was a dark masterpiece: a fantasy world after environmental collapse, reduced to a new Dark Age after greed and excess destroyed civilization. Where empathy was a rare, almost perverse impulse, and cruelty was the nature of life.

Thus, with these four elements, I crafted the book I’d wanted to write all along: Shadow of the Winter King, the debut of my sweeping World of Ruin series.

And that was the first lesson this book taught me: sometimes the writing process is messy and unexpected, blossoming out of failure and dead ends. You pull inspiration and concepts from things you’ve done, things you’ve dreamed, and sometimes it all fits together into one amazing whole.

The second lesson was perseverance, which is a writer’s first and most essential trait—before talent, connections, or anything else. Whenever you get knocked down, you pick yourself right back up and keep writing.

And the third lesson is something that all artists know well and true: when you believe in something, you make it happen.

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Erik Scott de Bie is the author of numerous speculative fiction novels and multifarious short stories. He dabbles as a game designer, occasional fitness junkie, and swordsman. His latest work, SHADOW OF THE WINTER KING—an epic tale of love and revenge set in the dark full-metal fantasy World of Ruin—will be available soon through Dragonmoon Press. Catch up with him on his website, erikscottdebie.com, or find him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/erik.s.debie


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Jennifer Brozek: Writerholic

Jennifer Brozek is an award winning editor, game designer, and author.

 Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited ten anthologies with more on the way. Author of In a Gilded Light, The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting, Industry Talk, and the Karen Wilson Chronicles, she has more than fifty published short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions.

 Jennifer also is a freelance author for numerous RPG companies. Winner of both the Origins and the ENnie award, her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity, Savage Worlds, and White Wolf SAS. Jennifer is also the author of the YA Battletech novel, The Nellus Academy Incident.

  When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. Jennifer is an active member of SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW.