Jennifer Brozek | All posts tagged 'Tell me'

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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Tell Me - Steven Savage

by Jennifer Brozek 14. April 2014 07:10

I met Steven Savage at Convolution 2013. He is enthusiastic in his love of fandom and doing what you love as well as integrating technology into life. He's here to help you make your hobby and your passion work for you.

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I just wrote "Fan To Pro", subtitled "Leveling Up Your Career Through Your Hobbies."  What do I want to Tell You?

This book is a rewrite of my very first book.  I want to tell you not why I wrote it so much as I why I rewrote it.

Many years ago a friend and I noted that a lot of geeks, otaku, hobbyists, and so on had so much career potential due to their hobbies but didn't know how to use it.  We kicked around ways to help them, and eventually started doing a blog at www.fantopro.com (now www.musehack.com).  I started speaking at conventions on the subject, doing what I could to help.

Eventually I realized I should write a book (which, ironically, is something discussed much earlier).  Since it was an age of self-publishing, I decided to do it myself, compiled all my advice, and wrote the first "Fan To Pro" book.  It was an interesting write, I learned  a lot, and I got some great reviews - and most importantly people telling me how it actually changed their careers for the better.

I wrote other career books over time, touching on Cosplay, Fanart, resumes, and the job search.  Each time I wrote, I learned more.  Each time I wrote, I did a little more research.  Each time I wrote I saw my own work a bit differently.

In fact, as I blogged I was constantly learning, reviewing, re-thinking, and integrating new information into my whole "Geek Job Guru" routine.  Everything you write changes you, and at times we can forget that.

So I looked back at my old book (and, frankly, the rather weird art deco cover) and said "I really ought to rewrite this."  After all I had a lot more to share, a lot more to tell people, and the world had changed since the first book.  Then again, I had changed as well.

I wasn't the same author that I was those years ago.  So it was time for a rewrite, which took a good 8 months, involved adding a lot more information, expanded it by 100 pages, and involved an entire rearrangement of the contents.  It was, to be brutally honest, not as easy as I'd expected.

After finishing it, I realized just how much I'd changed, discovered, grown, and even forgotten.

So what do I want to Tell You?  That rewrites are worth it, and sometimes they're even inevitable (especially if you do advice books and similar).  We all change, and there are times our books need to change with us.

This isn't true for all books.  Some books are a statement of a time or place, some are meant to be so personal or intimate that we don't alter them.  But this isn't every book.  Sometimes books are dialogue in slow-motion.

I'd also say that rewrites are important as, since we grow as authors, our works can grow with us.  Even works we think are flawed or are ashamed of we can return, revise, reconstruct, and breathe new life into.  Sometimes a work is finished - sometimes it can be re-finished.

Now I can't say I'm going to rewrite everything I've done.  But in the future, I'll be more open to it . . .

 

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Tell Me - Danielle Ackley-McPhail (Dance Like a Monkey)

by Jennifer Brozek 7. April 2014 14:30

I’ve with Danielle off and on over the years. She’s a wonderful writer, an excellent editor, and has a warm heart. She has spearheaded this campaign to help CJ Henderson and is waving the pom-poms for all she’s worth. This is why she’s spearheading the campaign. I, being a stretch goal author, am not unbiased. This Indiegogo campaign has funded but every little bit helps.

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I have a secret for you. I…am the Queen of the Outcasts.

No…really. With a few, rare exceptions I fit nowhere in society. Not at work, not at church, not among my family. Always I have been that awkward figure on the fringes wanting to be embraced and brought in to the crowd. Always. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t welcome or loved, just that in general the world—yes, even my family—doesn’t get me and can’t relate.

Halfway through my life I found my exception to this rule.

Fandom. From the moment I entered my first convention I was greeted with open arms, with smiles, with understanding. A heady experience, I can tell you! I think this, more than anything else, keeps me doing what I do, no matter that it often feels more work than reward. When I walk among the community I am at peace and I am comfortable. When things go wrong, I find support without even asking.

What does this have to do with Tell Me? Well…let me tell you…

Things have gone wrong. Very wrong. Not for me, but for an icon of the community, CJ Henderson. He has cancer. Again. Twice in less than six months’ time he is fighting for his life and losing his livelihood. With the first course of treatments unsuccessful CJ is now subjected to 96 hours of continues chemotherapy every two weeks. He can’t write. He can’t go to conventions. In short, he can’t make the money vital to his family’s continued well-being.

Here is where the community comes in. Within two days of learning of the reoccurrence of CJ’s lymphoma plans were already in place for a charity anthology, Dance Like a Monkey. From stories to artwork, to publisher and administrative and marketing staff not only was everyone on board, but everything was in place and ready to go. Jean Rabe got on board as editor. Gail Z. Martin stepped in as Promoter. Silence in the Library Press agreed to not only fund this anthology, but also run the crowdfunding campaign that would make it possible. Authors Timothy Zahn, Joe Haldeman, Gene Wolfe, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Jack Dann, Jonathan Maberry…I could keep going, but soon I’ll be running out of words. But in short, over sixty authors have pledged short stories, artwork, and music with absolutely no compensation to them. Before word even got out, fandom was lifting CJ up and helping to bear his burden.

Since then we have gone live with our campaign, Monkeying Around for a Good Cause. Unfortunately, due to Kickstarter’s policy against charity projects we have had to take this to another platform, Indiegogo, which is equally as able, but not nearly as frequented. Support has been heartening with over 220 donors getting behind the project, and whole legions of people helping us to spread the word via social media and news websites, professional organizations and fan bases. The love being shown to CJ heartens me every day. But sadly, it still is not enough. You would think something as inconsequential as a platform would not make a difference to such a worthy cause. Nearly ten days in and we still have not funded, let alone started to work our way through the many fabulous stretch goals that have been donated. But we have time and we have the support, so now it is up to us to spread the word. And that word is…

Help!

We aren’t asking for a handout. Really. Despite our purpose we are not asking you to GIVE us anything. No. We are offering you an amazing collection of fiction in either DRM-Free ebook or in print (depending on your donation choice), plus plenty of awesome pledge rewards and potential stretch goals—ALL donated—we offer you value that well exceeds any contribution we are requesting, and all the money save the platform fees, print costs, and shipping, go directly to CJ Henderson so he can stop worrying about bills and focus on kicking cancer’s ass.

Between his years of fiction writing, mentorship, advice, and general jocularity, CJ has given so much to fandom. Let’s give him something back. And not just something, but the very best we can manage. I have seen what that looks like and we aren’t even close yet. If you can’t participate in the crowdfunding please help us spread the word to those who might be in a better position to.

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Tell Me - K.W. Taylor

by Jennifer Brozek 1. April 2014 09:28

I’m honored to have my novelette The House on Concordia Drive offered as an all-backers reward for Lucy A. Snyder’s Kickstarter! Lucy is in collaboration with Alliteration Ink to release Devil’s Field, a new novel in her Jessie Shimmer series. The Kickstarter runs through April 13th, and Lucy’s book is due out in late 2014. All backers receive several great rewards, one of which is an ebook copy of Concordia Drive. This novelette is a prequel to my forthcoming urban fantasy début novel, The Red Eye, which is also being released by Alliteration Ink this spring.
 
The House on Concordia Drive is part mystery, part horror, and part character study. I wrote it on a lark, challenged by a fellow writer to write something new for a literary critique event we were both attending. Since The Red Eye was forthcoming, I decided to rewind the main character’s story a little bit and explore what leads up to that adventure. Sam Brody is the host of a late night radio show that debunks supernatural events. He’s a caustic cynic with personal problems, and underneath his rough exterior he wishes he could be a believer. In Concordia, Sam goes on assignment to a famous haunted house featured in a 1970s documentary. His search for the truth—Was it real or a hoax?—leads him to face some deep truths about himself. In The Red Eye, we see Sam about a year later, still hosting his show, but now supernatural forces reach out to him even more, leading to epic battles against evil. Ghosts and magic, sirens and prophecies, knights and dragons…Sam lives through a lot in these pieces. Fans of Joss Whedon, Jim Butcher, and Kevin Hearne will enjoy this relatable, world-weary new hero.
 
I conceived of The Red Eye and its protagonist as a response to monomyth/hero’s journey stories where a “chosen one” is called early in his or her life. The question I really wanted to answer was what would it be like if someone were called to heroic duty later in life? What did urban fantasy for and about adults in their thirties and forties look like? Even though Sam is not exactly the most mature of adults, his concerns and experiences are very different from those of a teenager. This is a guy who’s lived through college, divorce, and job issues. He’s flawed—and deeply so—and his heroic calling takes a lot more convincing because of his natural cynicism. My other purpose in writing about a character like Sam was to see if I could infuse a protagonist with the same sort of comic relief personality traits we normally see in supporting characters. In genre fiction, the protagonist can often be a bit dull, stiff, and humorless, while the things audiences tend to find interesting about secondary characters or even villains—sense of humor, whimsy, “bad attitudes,” unconventional behavior—are largely absent from the protagonist. My feeling was that a protagonist doesn’t need to be dull, nor does he or she need to be perfect and upstanding. You can still be a good guy in your fight against the forces of evil, even if you’re not the sort of everyday good guy who pays his bills on time or would make a good boyfriend.
 
The House on Concordia Drive is a great entry into my work for new readers, and it pairs nicely with Lucy A. Snyder’s brand of horror/urban fantasy. Jessie Shimmer is exactly the sort of heroine I love to read about, and I’m excited for the revival of her series.

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Tell Me - Lucy A. Snyder (Jessie Shimmer)

by Jennifer Brozek 31. March 2014 08:43

Lucy is a friend of mine and I enjoy her short fiction, reading and publishing it whenever I can. I’ve also been published by Alliteration Ink with good results. So, this particular kickstarter has my double support. It’s a perfect way to get all of the Jessie Shimmer novels at once.
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First off, I’d like to offer my thanks to Jennifer Brozek for giving me the chance to write about my current crowdfunding project. Courtesy of my new publisher, Alliteration Ink, the Kickstarter for my urban fantasy novel Devils’ Field is going on now and will end at 9pm EST on April 13th.

This is the sixth crowdfunding project that I’ve participated in, but it’s the first time that my work has been front and center. The other projects were four anthologies and one game, and I was just one of several contributors each time. The Devils’ Field Kickstarter has gone well so far, but I must admit that it’s been far more nerve-wracking than the others I’ve been involved with. Most of the others handily made their funding goals, but a couple didn’t. For those crowdfunding failures, it was easy to not take it personally. After all, I was just one creator among many; it didn’t mean the projects foundered because people were indifferent to my fiction, specifically. But now my novel is the main course, and of course I want people to be receptive to it.

So, it’s simultaneously exciting and queasy-making to see my work up on the public block like this. One might fairly wonder why I went this route. Why didn’t I seek out a more traditional publishing situation?

Well. Let’s flash back a couple of years: I was working on my Jessie Shimmer trilogy for Del Rey. I’d sold the trilogy on the strength of a finished first novel (Spellbent) and synopses for the next two books. I was working on the second book, which would be released as Shotgun Sorceress. It was already 65,000 words long and was due in two months … and I hadn’t gotten through half the narrative I’d described in the book’s synopsis. Whoops!

So, I had two choices: turn in a book that was wildly late and twice as long as my editor had expected, or figure out a way of gracefully wrapping up the primary plot threads, get my book turned in on time like a pro, and write the rest of the second volume narrative in Switchblade Goddess. I hoped that Del Rey would want more books past the original trilogy so that I could finish up the narrative arc I’d planned for the series.

Alas, Del Rey declined more books. My series did well – the three books earned out their advance, which 70% of standalone novels don’t manage to do – but none of the books were bestsellers. It was frustrating, but I was glad to have my work published by a very big house that was able to get lots of copies of my novels into readers’ hands. And I took some comfort knowing that writers such as Tim Pratt, Harry Connolly, and Carolyn Crane were also cut loose.

But I still had an unfinished series, and plenty of ideas for more books. At the very least, I wanted to write the novels containing the storyline I’d planned for the third volume in the trilogy.

Readers would approach me at conventions and ask me when the next Jessie Shimmer book would be coming out, and I didn’t know what to tell them. I knew I would write the books, but who would publish them? Most big houses are pretty reluctant to pick up a series that a different publisher started. I knew I could self-publish, but successful self-publishing involves a tremendous amount of non-writing work. I’d mostly rather be a writer.

I weighed my options while I worked on other writing projects, and I kept an eye on what my fellow writers with newly liberated series were doing. Harry Connolly and Tim Pratt both turned to crowdfunding, and Pratt’s Marla Mason series was resurrected as strong as ever thanks to highly successful Kickstarter campaigns.

When I got involved with Alliteration Ink as an anthology contributor, I was really impressed by what publisher Steven Saus did behind the scenes to coordinate the Kickstarter campaigns for What Fates Impose and Steampunk World. It seemed to me that he had exactly the skill set I was looking for in a crowdfunding partner. So, I talked to him at the Context convention, and we made a plan of action.

That plan is bearing fruit, and once the campaign reaches its funding, I’m going to get to work on that fourth Jessie Shimmer novel I’ve been promising myself and everyone else ever since Switchblade Goddess came out. If all goes well, the book should be out in late 2014 or early 2015, and I hope readers enjoy it.
 
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Lucy A. Snyder is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, Switchblade Goddess, and the collections Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, Orchid Carousals, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger.


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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.