This weekend was amazing, and I’m absolutely exhausted. (I apologize in advance that this con report will not be as in-depth as usual.) I’m very glad that spent the weekend at the hotel, despite Capclave being a “local” convention to where I live (Rockville, Maryland, is a 40-minute drive from my house without traffic). But it meant plenty of social time to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, which is really the best part of conventions anyway! Continue reading
This weekend I’ll be attending Capclave, sponsored by the Washington Science Fiction Association, for the first time! Even though it’s a fairly local convention to me, I’ll be staying at the hotel for the full experience, and I’m excited to spend time with everyone who will be there. Below is my schedule for the weekend, but as usual, feel free to PM me on Facebook or Twitter if you’d like to meet up for a meal, a coffee, or just a chat!
I will have copies of all of my books available all weekend, including the newly released Steel Time!
- 4 PM: Secret Origins of Writers (panel)
- To MFA or not to MFA. Pros and cons of workshops like Odyssey, Clarion, Taos Toolbox, and MFA programs such as Stonecoast and Iowa Writers Workshop.
- With Scott Edelman, Suzanne Palmer, Jack Stillingstead, and James R. Stratton
- 6 PM: Reading
- 7 PM: Taxonomy of Fantasy (panel)
- Urban fantasy, paranormal romance, dark fantasy, high fantasy, epic fantasy, mythic fantasy, etc. How many types of fantasy are there? Reader’s tastes evolve over time. Which types of fantasy are currently the most powerful, which are becoming less popular, where is fantasy headed, and why?
- With Craig L. Gidney and Lawrence Watt-Evans
- 9 PM: How to Self-Edit that Lousy First Draft
- Sometimes a first draft of a story is just not in a state your want to send to an editor or publisher, and yet too promising to simply set aside. What’s a good mindset to identify the pieces that can best be salvaged in revision? How can a first draft go from lousy to respectable with the least amount of exertion that could perhaps be spent on other works?
- With Doc Coleman, Michelle D. Sonnier, and James R. Stratton
- 10 PM: Author Table
- 10 AM: Throw Out the Genre Definitions (panel)
- Intersections of YA, horror, romance, erotica, literary fiction, and SFF and their current successes. Who is doing it well?
- With Jeanne Adams, Kelly Dwyer, and Joan Wendland
- 1 PM: What Makes Alternate History So Compelling? (panel)
- Alternate histories continue to proliferate, though in accordance with Sturgeon’s Law, most fail the plausibility test, the storytelling test, or both. Why do the what-ifs continue to fascinate us, and what makes a power story in this subgenre?
- With Tom Doyle, Bjorn Hasseler, Alan Smale, and Jean Marie Ward
- 5 PM: Writers as Fans: How Fandom Influences Our Writing (panel)
- A panel of writers discusses their favorite fandoms and how their passions have inspired and influenced their writing.
- With Andrew Fox, Victoria Janssen, and Hildy Silverman
- 7:30 PM: Mass Autographing Session
- 10 AM: Ask Me Anything–Author Edition (panel)
- Ask our panel of authors absolutely anything about what they do–writing, getting published, elevator pitches, getting an agent, dealing with writers block, writers workshops, etc. Includes many non-writer-parts-of-being-a-writer, such as being your own boss, setting schedules, and so on
- With Alyssa Wong, Jonathan Brazee, Suzanne Palmer, and Lawrence M. Schoen
- 12 PM: Don’t Go There–Unless You Really Want To (panel)
- Taboo subjects in fantasy and science fiction. Are there any? What lines won’t you cross? What lines should you cross?
- With Sarah Avery, Shahid Mahmud, and Lawrence Watt-Evans
By now, you all know that I’m a total wuss. I don’t like jump scares. I can do gore in movies/on television because I desensitized myself through a research binge on practical effects, but there’s no protective layer between the visceral on the page and my imagination. So while I desperately wanted to read Jessica McHugh’s latest novel, Nightly Owl, Fatal Raven, to support my friend and fellow Raw Dog Screaming Press author…I “noped” right out of there at about the 20 percent mark on my Kindle. This book is raw, evocative, and fabulous. You should go read it to make up for my inability to finish it!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Since the rise of The Council, an oligarchy of despots and deviants, the legendary Capesman undertakes daily soul collections from Cartesia’s wasteland cities and battlefields. He also frequents Malay Prison, where a vigilante named Shal plots her escape. Armed with a thirst for vengeance and a sharp Shakespearean tongue, Shal must navigate a maze of trauma to save Cartesia and protect her sister from the brutal machinations of Chancellor Doa.
It will require all of Shal’s strength and cunning to resurrect her former army, battle the betrayals of the past, and avenge her father’s death. Will she survive long enough to see the Council fall, or is the Capesman coming for her next?
This novel has a long and storied history. I know you’ve probably shared it a million times by now, but do you mind humoring me?
I was twenty when I jotted down my first notes about what would become Nightly Owl, Fatal Raven on the guest checks at a sub shop called Bubba’s. At the time it was called A Mover of Stones but still focused on the character Shal, who ultimately leads a revolution against a corrupt government. As I developed Shal and the world of Cartesia, the book changed into From the Herald’s Wearied Eye and became an ultraviolent tale about trauma and revenge. It was published by Reliquary Press in 2009, and I thought that was where the story would end. But when that contract ran out, I took another look at the story and realized there was a better way to tell it. While it’s still violent, I brought more thoughtfulness and maturity to the rewrite. In the end, out fluttered Nightly Owl, Fatal Raven, and I was so overjoyed that Raw Dog Screaming Press wanted to take it on. The concept of “home” is extremely important in this novel, so the fact that the novel itself has finally found its proper home is a wonderful feeling. Continue reading
Wow. What an absolutely amazing trip.
[If you’re here to find the copy of my alternate history presentation, you’re in the right place! It’s included below!]
I’m not even going to recap last year, because this year blew it out of the water. I was honored to be invited back, and I hope to return again next year. Many thanks to Jay Whittaker and Blake Casselman for their continued support — I genuinely feel like I leveled up as an author last weekend, and it could not have happened without the support from both of you.
My husband Bach and I traveled to the airport early in the morning, where we met two friends we were traveling with. Our trip was smooth, including the connection in Chicago and catching the new Utah train service from the airport in Salt Lake City to our hotel downtown. We checked into our hotel 30 minutes ahead of my mental schedule, and then it was off to the races! Continue reading
This weekend I will be attending my second FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention (formerly Salt Lake Comic Con)! My husband joins me at this con, and we use it as our annual anniversary celebration because it falls near the date of our wedding. We have a great time people-watching, spending too much money on nerdy things, and catching up with friends. My husband refers to himself as my sherpa-slash-arm candy while I promote my writing, and this year, I’m excited to have our friends Lauren and Chad fly out with us.
I will be presenting on the alternate history genre and participating in a few panels. You’ll also definitely be able to find us at anything related to the Geek Show Podcast to support our buddies there. Schedule and additional details below.
I acknowledge that there has been some controversy surrounding this convention due to harassment issues between guests and fans that were not resolved satisfactorily during or after the 2017 event. While I am not 100% satisfied with the way things turned out after the issues last year (from what I know through the press and the Internet grapevine, at least), I do see that changes have been put in place that will hopefully make the 2018 event a success for all involved. For example, I personally know two of the people on the new community council and trust in them to help the convention through these issues. Though this is a larger convention (by many magnitudes) than the others I attend, my usual policy still stands: If you feel unsafe in any way, even if it’s just mildly uncomfortable, you can find me and I will be your new best friend (and help you out with whatever steps you need to feel safe). Fandom is a community, and communities look out for each other.
To anyone who might be at this convention, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to meet up for a meal, a drink, or even just to chat, especially since this is the one event a year that I’m not on the Easy Coast! I’d love to meet you. This applies to pretty much anytime I’m not busy. Facebook and Twitter DMs will be the best way to reach me before or during the event.
Thursday, September 6
- 4 PM: Alternate History: Creating Stories by Changing the Past (Room 150G)
- Join author and editor J.L. Gribble as she leads an interactive presentation on alternate history as a genre, subgenre, and storytelling technique, using examples from all forms of pop culture media. Appropriate for authors and readers. Hosting and color commentary provided by comedian Jay Whittaker.
- 5 PM: Book signing at The Printed Garden (Booth 801)
Friday, September 7
- 5 PM: Avengers, Re-Assemble! Infinity War and Beyond (Room 151D)
- With the fate of the universe (well technically, half of it) hanging it the balance will the Avengers be able to put their differences aside and become The Universe’s Mightiest Heroes? In this panel we will discuss what we think/hope we can expect from the next Avengers movie as well as the movies leading up to and following ‘Avengers TBA’!
- With Robert J. Defendi (moderator), Jacob Dietz, Christian Lambert, McCord Larsen, Cameron McVey, and Travis Tate
- 7 PM: Book signing at The Printed Garden (Booth 801)
- 8 PM: Get Your Geek Off: Two Teams Debate Random Topics Suggested by the Audience (18+) (Room 251A)
- With Shannon Barnson, Scott Drakeford, Kerry Jackson (moderator), Jimmy Martin, Kyle J. Steenblik, Jay Whittaker
Saturday, September 8
- Wandering around and having fun!
I didn’t travel anywhere this month, but I still managed to have plenty of adventures! The highlights of the month were definitely the cover reveal for my next book, Steel Time, and buying the very first new car for either of us with my husband, a Tesla Model 3! Other fun things included some home improvement (installing a storage room under the stairs in our house), an epic ropes course through the treetops with my best friend at Adventure Park, and escaping a Nicola Tesla-themed escape room with my husband and friends with 45 seconds to spare.
Oh, and I got some work and reading done, too.
- Book 5, Steel Shadows, has been submitted to my editor! WOOT!
- To celebrate, I will be building the Star Wars Y-Wing Starfighter LEGO set this weekend while I binge the most recent Marvel movies to prepare for a panel I’m on at a convention next month.
- Prepping for the launch of Steel Time put my book 6 plans on hold, but I’m looking forward to buckling down on an outline in the next few days (technically, I’m writing this post on Wednesday, even though it’s going up on the blog on Friday).
August Book Reviews
- Doctor Who: Time Lord Fairy Tales by Justin Richards & David Wardle (4 stars)
- Escaping Exile (Escape #1) by Sara Dobie Bauer (5 stars)
- Red and Black by Nancy O’Toole Meservier (4 stars)
- Perfect Day by Sally Malcolm (5 stars)
- Invincible (Volumes 13-15) by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley (4-5 stars)
- In a Suspect Universe by Albert Wendland (5 stars)
- Rights of Use (Black Book Project #1) by Shannon Eichorn (4.5 stars)
August Speculative Chic Contributions
- Well, to start, build a LEGO set while I watch Thor Ragnorok, Black Panther, and Avengers Infinity War to prep for that panel. I have such a hard life.
- Create a detailed scene-by-scene outline of the as-yet-untitled book 6 and write 5 to 10 thousand words of the first draft.
- Prep for a short and sweet blog tour to promote Steel Time. It comes out on September 6! Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?
- Attend FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention 2018! I can’t wait to return to this awesome convention and meet up with friends. This is the convention my husband attends with me (happy 6th anniversary to us!). I’ll be giving my presentation on the alternate history genre, participating in a few cool panels (including one on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, hence the film rewatch), and getting my picture taken with David Tennant!
- Later in the month, I’ll also be participating in a more local convention, Capclave 2018 outside of Washington DC. Plans are afoot for a Steel Time launch party, and I’ll be sure to share the info here.
So much to do, so little time! I could use my very own time machine right about now.
To celebrate the release of her first novel, I was delighted to interview author Shannon Eichorn about topics near and dear to both of our hearts. If you’re at DragonCon this weekend, be sure to track her down in the armory and pick up a copy of Rights of Use for yourself!
For those of us not at DragonCon, Rights of Use is now available for pre-order at the link below! The book comes out tomorrow, so there’s no time to waste!
Look for my full review on Wednesday — this is definitely one book you’re not going to want to miss.
ABOUT THE BOOK
In the 1960s, Project Blue Book assured America that no aliens visited its amber waves or shining seas.
Thirty years later, Project Black Book knows better and has the flying saucers to prove it, but they still can’t stop the body-possessing Kemtewet from scooping their pick of young women from Earth to host an alien queen.
Sarah Anderson yearned for an escape from her new life in Pennsylvania, but not for this: being kidnapped by aliens and faced with a choice between having a Kemtewet queen erase her brain or sharing her body with a Gertewet insurgent. Unless the Air Force can rescue her in time, it’s either death or a chance to make a difference in the galaxy, because with Sarah, the Gertewet have one last shot to end the Kemtewet Empire and free billions of humans subject to their body markets.
In a war over consent, only some things are black and white.
UFO sightings are one of my favorite mysteries, so your riff on “Project Blue Book” is one of the things that attracted me to your book. Do you believe that aliens have ever visited Earth?
The universe is so vast, and chemistry and life are at once so predictable and so surprising. Everything we know says it’s so unlikely that aliens have ever visited Earth. Space travel is harsh. Wide-open nothingness lies between stars, and everything we know about physics says that it’s going to take decades to get from one system to another — if there’s even life on the other side. If it’s even life that humans can communicate with.
I don’t think aliens have visited Earth, but I don’t know all the facts. Maybe I’m wrong. At the very least, I would love to see first contact in my lifetime. Continue reading