Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Solarpunk Story Sale!

I announced this last week on Facebook, but now it's time (at long last!) to share my news with the whole Internet. I've sold another short story to an anthology. The story is called "A Shawl for Janice," and it will appear in the solarpunk Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters anthology. (If you're not familiar with the solarpunk genre, it's an optimistic take on the future, with the premise that we will avert (or simply survive) climate change through community, renewable energy, and technology. My particular short story is set during a Christmas bird count. The anthology will be published on January 7th, 2020. I'll share more updates as they become available. The next one will probably be in October. In the meantime, here's the publisher's announcement and the Table of Contents.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Semi-Annual Reading Update 2019

Normally I report on my reading progress twice a year, at the beginning of July and January. I didn't want to include it with the IWSG post, so I postponed it a week. I'm actually writing this post on Sunday, July 7th (Ringo's birthday), so the numbers may change slightly by the time this post goes live.

So far, I've read 76 books in 2019, which means I'm on track to make my goal of 150 books. (If Goodreads lists it as a separate book, I include it, from short stories to three-book bundles.) Here's the breakdown by genre:

Fantasy: 34
Science Fiction: 18
Non-Fiction: 11
Other (mostly mysteries and historical novels): 13

Some of the percentages are slightly skewed from my normal pattern. About 20-25% of the books I read each year are non-fiction, but I'm only at 14% this time. The other category is higher than it normally is. We'll see if they balance out by the end of the year.

Here are some of the standout books for me:

Code Girls
How Long 'til Black Future Month?
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The Girls Who Went Away
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Storm of Locusts
Here and Now and Then

Feel free to share some of your favorite reads in the comments.

I haven't done much to promote the blog lately or even respond to comments. That's not going to change this week, since my family and I will be on vacation. Hopefully after I get back and finish some other projects, I can do more to promote this blog and my books. See you then!

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

IWSG: Getting Personal with My Characters

It's hard to believe 2019 is halfway over, isn't it? Normally I post in early July about the books I've read so far for the year, but I'll wait until next week for that discussion. I should have some other writing news later this month. For now, it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. You can learn more about the group on their website and Facebook page.

Our hosts this month are Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre, Jennifer Lane, M.J. Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen at the Cynical Sailor.

This month, we've been asked the following question: What personal traits have you written into your characters?

I believe that I put a bit of myself into all of my characters, but I admit some characters feel more like me than others. Joanna from Lyon's Legacy shares my love of science and sense of humor. Gwen from the Season Avatars series (in particular, Scattered Seasons) is also a rather practical and intelligent woman.

Which of your characters is most like you, and in what ways? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Authors to Support

For the last week of Pride Month, here are a few LGBTQIA authors to support. I know some of them; others I've met at conventions. Many of these were mentioned a few years ago in my SF Authors A-Z series. To keep this short, I'm just going to post Amazon links. (Sorry, Alex; I know you like Apple! I'm not sure if some of the indie authors have wide distribution.)

Aviva Rothschild--the author of two Beatle fanfiction novels: With Strings Attached and The Keys Stand Alone.

Lauren Jankowski--author of The Shape Shifter Chronicles.

Mary Anne Mohanraj--Her work ranges from science fiction to erotica to short story collections. She also ran a Kickstarter for a Sri Lankan recipe book, but that's not yet published.

Catherine Lundoff--I'm still waiting for a sequel to her book Silver Moon, but she also has three short story collections available.

April Daniels--I enjoyed her duology about a transgender teen superheroine.

Ellen Kushner--Best known for her stories of Riverside.

Delia Sherman--Ellen's wife and author of Through a Brazen Mirror and several other books.

Nicola Griffith and Kelly Eskridge are another married pair of authors.

Lyda Morehouse writes award-winning science fiction.

I haven't read Laurie J. Mark's Elemental Logic series, but I hear it's very good.

I'm sure there are many more authors I could list, but I have to end my post here. Are there more LBGTQIA authors you would recommend? If so, please share in the comments.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

LBGTQIA Characters in My Writing

As an author, I believe a diverse group of characters, if written with empathy and knowledge, can enrich a story. Diverse characters bring different perspectives, goals, and values to the story, leading to conflict and/or collaboration. That said, it's important when writing someone who's different from you to treat them as a three-dimensional human being, not a stereotype or a trope to serve the main characters. Writing the Other is a lifelong project. I've learned a lot about creating characters with a different gender or sexual orientation than mine.

In both of my main series (Catalyst Chronicles and The Season Avatars) there are secondary characters whom I originally envisioned as straight (even giving them partners) but later revealed to me that they have crushes on the same-sex main character. (I don't want to name them in case of spoilers, but one character has lesbian moms and the other a gay son. Refer to Twinned Universes and Chaos Season.) I have a couple of different ways to give the bisexual characters a Happily Ever After; I just have to get the stories written.

The religion of Challen in The Season Avatars gives me plenty of opportunities to explore gender. The people of Challen reincarnate after each life, and they often switch genders between lives. (The exception is the Fall Avatar, who is always female.) Most Challens don't remember their past lives, but they have a slightly higher chance of not being heterosexual or cisgender than people from other countries in their world. Fortunately, the Four Gods and Goddesses of Challen provide a socially acceptable alternative to traditional marriage. People who don't want to marry someone of the opposite sex and raise a family can pledge themselves to either the God of Summer or the Goddess of Fall. (My short story "Rob's Choice" is about a pledging.) These people are commonly known as Summersmen or Fallswomen. Some of them may devote themselves to a business or creative calling, but many of them become layservants for the Four. They may be healers, archivists, assistants to the Season Avatars, or other types of respectable roles. I expect to include more of these characters in the still-unnamed spinoff series.

I have future stories planned that include genderfluid and transgender characters. These types of characters require more research on my part to portray them accurately and compassionately, even though they're not in our world.

I plan to finish off Pride Month by highlighting some LBGTQIA authors I know. Come back next week for some good recommendations!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Pride Month Reading

 With this being LGBTQIA Pride Month, I thought it would be a good time to discuss some of the books I've read that feature gay, lesbian, or other nonheteronormative characters. I'll also talk about my own characters in other posts this month.

The first book I read that featured a lesbian character was Gail Baudino's Gossamer Axe, which is about a harper's quest to free her lover from the fairy realm with her music. It was originally published in 1990 (which seems very long ago now, doesn't it?), and it made quite a sympathetic impression on me at the time. I still have my paperback, though I haven't reread it.

Another series I read long ago that includes gay/lesbian characters is the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey, particularly the Last Herald-Mage Trilogy (Magic's Pawn, Magic's Promise, and Magic's Price.) The characters in these books are a bit stereotypical and ultimately suffer tragic fates. I haven't reread these in a long time, but they would probably feel more dated to me than Gossamer Axe.

There's no way I can list all the other books I've read that include gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender characters. There are some that emphasize romance/sex, while some of the more recent books I've read (such as The Raven Tower and Famous Men Who Never Lived) treat being transgender or lesbian as an almost ordinary way to describe a character. Gail Carriger's books feature a diverse cast. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner also deserves mention, as does Dreadnought and Sovereign

Do you have any favorite books featuring gay/lesbian/bi/transgender/other characters? How do you feel their sexual orientation is handled? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

IWSG: My Favorite Genre

This is my son's last day of school, so in some ways it's the unofficial start of summer for us. Just as the first Wednesday of June is the last day of school, it's also one of the days for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. You can learn more about them on their website, Facebook page, or Twitter. June's co-hosts are Diane Burton, Kim Lajevardi, Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster, Jennifer Hawes, and Madeline Mora-Summonte.

Our question for June is simple and straightforward: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

I analyze the books I've read twice a year, and each time I've done so, fantasy has always come out on top. (After that, it's usually science fiction, mystery, classic literature, and perhaps a couple of mainstream fiction books.) It's probably no surprise that fantasy is also my favorite genre to write. It's flexible; I've used it in many different settings, such as Shakespeare plays, Greek myths, modern-day Madison, and a made-up world similar to Victorian England. It allows me to make up my own worlds and run them the way I want. And, of course, magic is simply fun, and it can inspire wonder in a way most other genres can't.

What's your favorite genre to write? Feel free to share in the comments, or if you're also discussing this question for the IWSG, you can also post a link to your blog.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Happy 12th Birthday, Alex!

 My son's 12th birthday is tomorrow. He already had his party a little early (see the bottom picture), and since it's a weeknight, we won't be doing much more than going out to dinner and enjoying a decorated cookie. Still, I wish him all the best for the upcoming year!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Joy of Books

I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and I'm trying to apply it to our house. It's a slow process. I admit I'm not sorting items exactly as she recommends. Kondo says one should take all of a certain type of item (clothes, or possibly a subset of them), dump them all on the floor, hold each of them individually, and ask yourself if they spark joy. If they do, you keep them; if not, get rid of them. Kondo doesn't offer much advice on how to dispose of items sustainably, and she doesn't get into situations where two people in the same household have vastly different feelings about the same joint possession. Nevertheless, I've been using this method to get a lot of clothes out of my bedroom. (I plan to either sell them at a garage sale or find somewhere to donate them.) Once I finish going through my clothes, the next major category is books. Kondo got a lot of grief from book lovers for this, so I'd like to discuss her thoughts (and mine) on the subject in more detail.

If I recall correctly (I borrowed the book from the library), Kondo said that she personally tries to keep no more than thirty books. Somehow, people thought she meant everyone should reduce their collections to that number, and that's why there was a lot of articles about her back in January. (Here's one example by someone who understood Kondo's advice. And then there's this person...) Obviously, different things are going to spark joy in different people. Kondo may not be a bookworm, but I am, and I do enjoy seeing books on my shelves. Kondo, however, takes a very practical approach to books. She states that once you've read a book, its message is already inside you, and that you probably won't reread it. If you want to save a particular passage, you could rip out the page (blasphemy!) or copy the words into a file. While I do have some books I probably won't reread, I still obtain pleasure from having the physical book. I have purged some books when I get an ebook version, but other books I keep in both versions.

Although I've purged my paperback collection multiple times, this next purge might be more intensive. I also plan to examine some books that typically get a free pass, such as books on writing and the Beatles. We'll see how many books I ultimately end up keeping.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

As we learned from Avengers: Endgame, there are over fourteen million ways things can go wrong and only one way they can go right. This is why instead of writing dystopias, I try to write good worlds, where things may not be perfect, yet people's basic needs are met. A desire to learn more about what makes a society good is what drew me to read Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society, by Nicholas A. Christakis. It's a long book full of ideas, and it took me a couple of weeks to finish. (I don't remember the exact date I started.) It starts off by discussing the history of communities. By examining the fate of people stranded by shipwrecks for an extended time (thus founding an unintentional community) or the history of intentional communities founded in the 19th or 20th centuries, the author looks to determine what traits make them successful or not successful. Communities where there is minimal hierarchy and a love of learning do well, but those that try to break familial bonds don't do so well. Christakis identifies eight traits as part of what he calls the social suite:

1. The ability to have and recognize individual identity
2. Love for partners and offspring
3. Friendship
4. Social networks
5. Cooperation
6. Perference for one's own group (in-group bias)
7. Relative egalitarianism
8. Social learning and teaching

The rest of the book is devoted to exploring the basis for these traits, many of which can be found in other animals.

It's worth pointing out that experiments show that when leaders are removed from a group, chaos and frayed social networks can result. But although leaders are necessary, too much hierarchy is unstable. Although my Season Avatars world is modeled on Victorian England, there are far fewer social classes in Challen than there were in the real world. Something else to consider is that preference for one's group is unfortunately linked to bias against others, even when the groups are artificially constructed. Forcing groups to work together on joint projects of mutual benefit leads to decreased hostilities. It's helpful to belong to many different groups to foster connections between them and to include all sorts of people in your group.

Although human cultures may seem quite different from each other, they also share many similarities. Cooperation is key to human success. As society becomes more and more global, we all need to draw on the principles of the social suite in order to survive and improve our world.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

An Ending Like Endgame (No Spoilers)

It already feels like it's been a while since I saw Avengers: Endgame with my family. We were able to find tickets for the Friday of opening weekend. I made my son this scaled-down version of the Infinity Gauntlet to take to the theater. We enjoyed the movie and plan to see it again this weekend.

We're fairly recent fans of the MCU. I was able to see Black Panther and Infinity War in the theaters, but my son didn't get into the movies until last fall. We're mostly caught up (we own most of the movies), although there are a few movies that I need to rewatch because I missed sections while I was doing other things.

Finishing a story arc that spans eleven years and twenty-two films is no easy task. I like that the directors threw some twists in at the beginning and that we got to see the characters react to what happened in Infinity War. What really made the movie work for me was how it revisited key places and events from earlier, as they worked well to show how much the characters have changed over the series. I've read series-ending books that have also revisited key people and places, but the character development wasn't so noticeable in them.

Since seeing the movie, I've read some of the articles about it, both in praise of it and some that are more critical. I think they make some good points (my biggest complaint is that characters' combat abilities feel inconsistent with what we've seen in earlier movies, as if the plot was manipulated a bit to force how it would end), but I really need to see Endgame again so I can pick up more details.

If you saw Endgame, what did you think of it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

IWSG: The Power of Language

Happy May Day! I hope the weather by you is more spring-like than we've had recently.

I'm itching to discuss Avengers: Endgame, but since it's the first Wednesday of the month, today is a day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. You can learn more about them on their website, Facebook group, or Twitter. Our hosts this month are Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin.

Our question for May is "What was an early experience where you learned language had power?"

I've always been a reader, so it's hard to pinpoint when or if I had a language epiphany. Instead, I'll share a couple of stories about events I mention in my bio.

I started to read when I was three years old (and as I say, I only stop when I absolutely have to). I probably learned how from watching shows like Sesame Street. My mom says she found out when she took me to a butcher shop. I read the brand name on the refrigerator display, and the person behind it asked my mom, "Is that your daughter?" When she said yes, the other person said, "Did you know she can read?"

Although my parents taught my brother German as his first language, they only taught me English. I studied Spanish from fourth to sixth grade, but when we moved and I entered a new school, I switched to German. Spanish and French were much more popular, however. When my middle school held a language Folk Fair, French and Spanish got all the attention with songs and dance performances by the students. In an attempt to give German some equal time, I wrote a little play/dialogue I called "A Little Demonstration of German." It had such immortal lines as "Ich muss mein Hund fuettern," which means (if I spelled everything correctly) "I must feed my dog." We didn't get to perform it, but I received a special certificate for German at the end of the school year. It might still be in our basement, but I'm not going to search for it.

Do you have any stories about language? If so, feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Birthday Sale!

My birthday is on Sunday, so I'm giving out a treat. All of my novels are sale-priced at $0.99 through Saturday, May 4th. Lyon's Legacy is a novella and still permafree. Here are the universal store links to the rest of my books:

Twinned Universes (sequel to Lyon's Legacy)

The Season Avatars series:

Seasons' Beginnings
Scattered Seasons
Chaos Season
Fifth Season
Summon the Seasons


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019

When I heard that Star Wars Celebration would be held in Chicago this year, I was stunned. My second reaction was to immediately reserve a hotel room at the convention center. Since we're part of the local 501st Legion (the Midwest Garrison), there was a lot of planning to be done. Eugene and I helped with the local Galactic Academy school, which is a Star Wars costuming group for kids.We knew we wouldn't be able to attend all five days of Celebration, but we knew they would be intense. We knew we wouldn't be able to do everything. My personal goals were to be part of some of the group photos, see friends, participate in the Droid Hunt on Saturday, and meet Anthony Daniels (the actor who played C-3PO) so Alex could get a picture signed. (I would have loved to get a picture with him while I was in my Jawa, but no selfies were allowed.) Panels would have been nice, but the only one Alex was interested in was the Episode Nine panel, and we didn't win the lottery for that.

Since we figured this might be a once-in-a-lifetime event for us, I took Alex out of school on Friday. My brother-in-law drove us to McCormick Place so we wouldn't have to park onsite. I was able to join the Ladies of the Legions (see first photo; I'm the Jawa with two bandoliers in the middle of the first row) and Krayt Clan group photos as a Jawa. I wasn't able to join the Imperial Officer group photo since we won the Hasbro lottery and had to go claim our stuff then. This was around the time the Episode Nine trail debuted, but we couldn't find a good spot to watch the screens on the show floor and settled for watching it later on YouTube.

Alex and I spent most of the afternoon on the show floor, checking out the merchandise and admiring the exhibits. I wore my Imperial Officer costume, but despite trying to stretch my boots, they were still tight and hurt my feet. We left a little early to check into the hotel room and get dinner. When Eugene arrived with the rest of our luggage, we attended a swag trade for members of the official costuming groups. Each group issues a lot of special patches and coins, so we moved from table to table, seeing what interested us. Some of my crocheted characters found new homes that night as well. Here's a picture of some of my new swag, but Alex really made out. He found a few special patches featuring his red stormtrooper costume. The traders were more generous with the kids, but Eugene and I still had to donate patches from our stash to help him out.

Saturday was the Droid Hunt, where attendees wear special patches and selected hunters try to find them. At C2E2, this is an individual event, without competition. Here, we got together in teams to win a medal. Our group didn't win, but I would still do it even without a prize. Partway through the day, Alex and I took a break to get in line for Anthony Daniels. We waited almost three hours. He took a break during that time, but he did come out and allow us to take pictures of him next to a C-3PO. I was still in my Jawa costume when Alex and I finally made it to the front of the line. Anthony Daniels said he liked Jawas (though his character might disagree) and told us a bit about the kids on the set. He asked Alex why he wasn't in costume and who was with him. (Alex's armor is too uncomfortable for him to wear that long.) When Mr. Daniels found out I was Alex's mom, he said I must be a wonderful mother with a great sense of humor. He also asked Alex how he felt about me dressing up, and he said it was fine. After Mr. Daniels signed Alex's photo, I offered him a C-3PO I had crocheted for him. Unfortunately, he wouldn't take it; maybe it's against his policy. I'll definitely keep this droid! By the end of Saturday, I was exhausted and ready to spend a couple of hours off my feet helping out at the Galactic Academy booth. We had dinner delivered and hung out in the hotel lobby a bit to meet other people before calling it a night.

By Sunday, I was too exhausted to dress up again. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe for a special breakfast with the Galactic Academy. While we were there, Alex got to meet Walt, the man who made his magmatrooper kit. Walt gave Alex a sneak peek at a special, secret project. Even Eugene and I didn't know what it was. When we got back to the convention center, we wore casual clothes to wander around the show floor and the droid exhibit. This was the day I got to take pictures of other people suited up. While the movie-style costumes are always good, I enjoy seeing some of the creative mashups. There were Sailor Scout Jedi, a Star Trek redshirt who'd been stabbed with a lightsaber, a guy as a bag of sand, Muppet Troopers, and my personal favorites, Sargent Pepper's Lonely Death Star Band. One of my friends was even an ice cream maker during the traditional Running of the Hoods (too bad I didn't get to see it in person; see the link for video).

Although I was worried about the crowds, they weren't as bad as I feared. We tried to go in after show floor opening and avoided booths/events with long lines as much as possible. I didn't buy a lot at Celebration, since we didn't have a lot of room in the car. That was probably a good thing. One store was selling a Jawa doll for $12, but I found it at another place for $4. There were a couple of things that I was interested in, but they were significantly cheaper online. I did get a Porg flash drive and an exclusive T-shirt. However, I think the memories will be the best souvenir of all.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Hidden Histories Anthology Available for Pre-Order!

A while ago, I mentioned that my short story, "Specimen 1842," had been accepted for an anthology called Hidden Histories. The Kindle version is available for pre-order and will be published on April 15th. (A trade paperback should be available later; when I have more information; I'll share it with you.) You can order it at the link above. Here's the description on Amazon (which is where I also got the cover):

Third Flatiron Anthologies feature multiple winners of science fiction and fantasy reader polls and recommended reading lists.

Hidden Histories is a new speculative fiction anthology with the themes of alternate and secret (shadow) histories.

In Hidden Histories, agents of the ancient Library of Alexandria attempt to steer human history, a witch at the stake explains how she was framed, a missing airliner black box turns up, General Custer is defeated by wendigos, Queen Elizabeth tells Shakespeare she was cursed, a seance saves the Apollo-13 moon mission, an alien ambassador mentors Jimi Hendrix, a competing ship line plots to scuttle the Titanic, were-boars fight Nazis in WW2 Germany, the back room of a bookstore holds histories written in the future, and a girl learns the true history of Chinese dragons. These and many more stories entertain while exploring revisionist interpretations of real and fictional events.

Hidden Histories presents 28 original stories from an international group
of contributors. Writers include Bruce Golden, Matthew Reardon, Brenda
Kezar, Kai Hudson, Brian Trent, Jonathan Shipley, Dantzel Cherry,
Edwina Shaw, Dennis Maulsby, Michael Robertson, Mike Barretta, Ricardo
Maia, J.D. Blackrose, John A. Frochio, Arthur Carey, Sandra Ulbrich
Almazan, Elizabeth Beechwood, Robert Dawson, James Chmura, Tony
Genova, Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, Simon Lee-Price, Shannon McDermott,
Jennifer Lee Rossman, H. J. Monroe, Evan A. Davis, Tyler Paterson, and
A. Humphrey Lanham. Edited by Juliana Rew.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

IWSG: Scene Help

Welcome to April! It's starting to warm up around here (though not consistently), and plants are slowly regaining their green. Hopefully spring will be in full force soon. In the meantime, best of luck for those doing the Blogging A-Z Challenge! This would have been an ideal time to use a Star Wars costume theme, since we're going to Star Wars Celebration in Chicago in a couple of weeks. I still have so much to do beforehand, so it's good for my sanity that I lightened my blogging schedule.

Speaking of blogging schedules, it's time for my monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group Post. You can learn more about the IWSG on their website, Facebook, or Twitter accounts.Our hosts are J.H. Moncrieff, Natalie Aguirre, Patsy Collins, and Chemist Ken. Our question this month is If you could use a wish to help you write just one scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be?

As a pantser, I find this a difficult question to answer. I'm finally working toward the final act of Dryads to Discover.  I know key events, and I also know how I want to end the book. However, I don't have this broken down yet into scenes and viewpoints. So, if I had to pick a scene to get help with, it would probably be the climatic moment when my heroes confront their foe. However, if I could get a general writing wish, it would be to have all the knowledge and research already done for my latest historical novel idea.

What's your writing wish? Feel free to share it in the comments.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

C2E2 2019

I have to admit I wasn't sure about attending C2E2 this year, since we're going to Star Wars Celebration in Chicago next month. However, when I learned Paul Rudd was going to be one of the guests, I knew I had to take Alex, who's a big Ant-Man fan. Alex is also on Spring Break, so he and I would be able to attend all three days.

Friday got off to a rough start when Alex's badge came off his lanyard and was lost. Fortunately, although the event was almost sold out, I could still buy a replacement badge for him. (At least the kid badges aren't as expensive as the adult ones.) I dressed up briefly as a Jawa, but I spent most of the day going around with Alex on the show floor. There was a Dinosaur Parade scheduled for Friday, so I bought an inflatable costume so he could participate. By a lucky coincidence, the dinos ran into a group of Flintstone cosplayers, so that made for some great photos. The best part was when the parade trooped out to the "C2E2" sign, and the DJ played "Walk The Dinosaur." Later that evening, Alex and I went to an autograph signing for Paul Rudd. It was a long wait. (I had enough time to almost finish crocheting a Porg, and we didn't get out of there until after the convention closed.) Paul Rudd was gracious enough to stay until everyone in line got a chance to meet him. I gave him a crocheted Ant Man I made last week, and he seemed to like it. Alex was also happy to get a picture signed.

On Saturday, Eugene joined us and drove us in to the convention center. I wore my Jawa in the morning, and in the afternoon, I switched into my Imperial Officer for Droid Hunt. I spent nearly three hours walking the show floor, searching for people with special badges. (This is why I get my highest daily step counts at C2E2.) Even when I bought a pretzel and lemonade for Alex, I still encountered several people with badges. I also saw a couple of friends.

Sunday was a more laid-back day. We did present a toy landspeeder to a non-profit organization in the morning, and afterward, I changed into my Jawa and walked around with a group of other Jawas, a R2-D2, and a Tusken Raiders. We were quite a hit. One of the garrison members has a new O-O-O (evil C-3PO) costume, so we also got to take pictures with him. Hopefully I'll get a copy soon.

I didn't buy much at C2E2 this year, but I do have some good memories of it, and that's even better.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Song for Spring

C2E2 is this weekend. I'm preparing a bunch of last-minute projects for the event, along with working on Dryads to Discover, working, taking care of family--my usual super-busy load. Rather than write a less-than-inspired post, I thought I'd share some music for the spring equinox, which is today:

What are your favorite spring-themed songs? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Two Fictional Beatles Books

As a Beatles fan, I always enjoy finding new books about them. And if these books are written or edited by my friends, I have to help them get by, right?

Randee Dawn, a writer friend from Broad Universe, is co-editing an anthology of alternate Beatles stories. It's called Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles. They're currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund it (see the link). The project is about two-thirds funded, with about two weeks left. Authors currently signed on to the anthology include Spider Robinson, David Gerrold, Cat Rambo, Gail Z. Martin, Jody Lynn Nye, and many more. If the project meets certain stretch goals, the editors will open up a few slots for submissions. I used to write Beatles fanfic, so it would be nice to get back to where I once belonged....

Actually, my Beatles fanfiction used to be on the e-zine Rooftop Sessions, which was run by my Beatles friend Susan Ryan. Unfortunately, I don't think the site is live any more, though you can learn more about it here and even access back issues. (You might even find very early versions of Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes, along with other stories of mine, through the Wayback Machine.) Susan's husband, Jim Ryan, was another contributor, and he recently collected some of his alternate Beatles stories in Alt Together Now: The Rooftop Sessions Fiction of James Ryan. It's been a long times since I've read them, but they include references to Live Aid, The Twilight Zone, Lord of the Rings, and Doctor Who. Sounds like a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Please support both books if you can. In the meantime, I need to see if I can find my old fanfics. It would be interesting to see if they're worth republishing. Hello Goodbye for now...

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

IWSG: Heroes and Villians

It's time for the monthly post for the Inscecure Writer's Support Group. You can learn more about them on their website, Facebook, or Twitter feed.

Our hosts for March are Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard.

Our question for the month is Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or villain (antagonist)? And why?

 All of my stories are written from the protagonist's perspective, though occasionally I'll include the antagonist's perspective. As a reader, I assume the first perspective I'm exposed to in a story is the protagonist's, so that's part of the reason why I use it more. Stories are typically meant to be a hero or heroine's journey, so it's helpful to follow their perspective to understand how the events in the story change them and help them develop. Antagonists generally don't develop at the same rate or fail to change; however, there are stories where the line between hero and villain can be quite thin. (Some stories make an antagonist from another story the hero, so you see actions from his/her perspective.) Another reason for not writing so much from the villain's perspective is to keep some of his/her actions secret so as not to spoil a twist. Sometimes I do want to show some of a villain's plans, but their scenes are far fewer and less extensive than the hero/ine's.

Whose perspective do you like to write from? Is there a perspective you prefer to read? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Short Story Sale--Specimen 1842

I've been sitting on this news for a couple of weeks, but now that the contract has been signed, I can officially make an announcement. I've sold another short story, this one to the Hidden Histories anthology to be published by Third Flatiron Publishing in April. My story is called "Specimen 1842," and it's about a genetics postdoc who finds some anomalies in an ancient specimen. More details will come as the time draws closer to the publication date.

The exciting thing about this sale is that this market pays at the current U.S./SFWA professional rate (which goes up from six cents/word to eight cents/word later this year), so this is my first professional sale. Hopefully there will be more in the future!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Science Fiction Past and Present

I'm currently reading an omnibus edition of Samuel R. Delany's work. He's one of the authors I always intended to read, so when this collection became available at a bargain price, I bought it. This particular edition includes the novels Babel-17, Nova, and Stars in My Pocket Like a Grain of Sand. I've already finished the first book and am in the middle of the second. It's slower going than normal because I'm not used to reading science fiction from the late 1960s. (I have read some of Andre Norton's work, though not recently. I did reread some of Anne McCaffery's Dragonriders of Pern books a couple of months ago. Although gender relations in those works seem dated now, I found her work easier to read.)

The impression I'm getting from what I've read so far from Delany's work is that the science fiction of the 1960s was more focused on adventure and plot than character development. The focus is more on exploring an idea (at least in Babel-17) than on making the work a united story. (Perhaps this is due to each section of Babel-17 being written in a different style. The reader has to adapt to each new section; perhaps I'm just a lazy reader in wanting the writing to be transparent and not get between me and the story.) The main character, a poet named Rydra Wong, felt a bit Mary-Sueish to me with her abilities and the way so many of the male characters were interested in her. Some aspects of the world-building didn't age well; I can't imagine any teenagers (or even kids) these days who would carry marbles with them.

I'll continue to work my way through Delany; hopefully I'll get more out of it as I become more accustomed to his style. It's useful to get out of your comfort zone occasionally and expose yourself to different styles of writing.

If you've read older classic science fiction, were there stories you struggled with? Is Delany's work typical of his era? Which works do you think held up well? Please let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Help Me Free Scattered Seasons!

I'm trying a new marketing approach with my Season Avatars series. For a long time, the prequel Seasons' Beginnings has been perma-free, and the rest of the books have been priced at $2.99. I'm going to reduce the price of Scattered Seasons to free, at least temporarily. Since Scattered Seasons is more closely linked to the rest of the books than the prequel, I hope that by getting more people to read it, they'll continue with the rest of the series. While it's a straightforward process to set a book price to free on Draft2Digital, Amazon has yet to price-match. I reported the lower price twice already, but I'd appreciate it if more people could help out. If you haven't reported a lower price to Amazon before, here are the steps:

1. Go to the Scattered Seasons page on Amazon.
2. Scroll down past the Product Details until you see "Would you like to tell us about a lower price?"
3. Click the hyperlink and select "Website."
4. Paste in the address of the Scattered Seasons page on another store. It can be Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Apple.
5. Enter 0.00 for price and shipping. You don't have to change the date.
6.  Click the "Submit feedback" button and close the pop-up window.

Thanks for your help, and please feel free to download a copy if you don't have it already.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

IWSG: Creative Callings

January's finally over, so that means we're one month closer to spring. I wouldn't mind fast-forwarding to March, but unfortunately that's not possible. At least we have the Insecure Writer's Support Group to keep us going during the rough weather. To learn more about the IWSG, check out their website, Facebook page, or Twitter feed.

This month's co-hosts are Raimey Gallant, Natalie Aguirre, CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace. For February, we've been asked the following question: Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

 If you've been following my blog for a while, you know one of my other creative outlets is crochet. I focus on amigurumi, figures of characters and animals. Most of the amigurumi I make is from other people's patterns of Star Wars characters, but I'm slowly branching out into other geeky characters and working on my own designs. Here are a few photos of my work. The top one mostly features Star Wars characters; the bottom one displays variations on a porg pattern.

Since getting into Star Wars costuming in 2015, I've also learned to sew. I still consider myself a beginner, but I've made Jawa costumes, lanyards, and a skirt (pictured below). Eventually I want to make my own Jedi robes, but I'm not sure if I want to make General Leia's blue dress from the end of The Force Awakens or have someone else make it for me.

I'm not sure if I should count Star Wars costuming separately from sewing. There's more to costuming than sewing; some people do leatherwork, assemble armor, or paint/embroider as well. Trooping (wearing the costume in public at scheduled events) might also be considered a separate creative endeavor, since it's acting. When I wear my Jawa costume, I try to avoid speaking English and use Jawaese words instead. I also goof around much more than I do as myself or as an Imperial Officer. To save space, I'm not going to post any Jawa pictures in this post, but you can find them in the archives.

Finally, cooking and baking are also creative outlets for me. Most of the time, I follow recipes, but I occasionally tweak them to suit my own taste or use ingredients I have on hand.

Juggling all these creative endeavors takes a lot of time, but it's good to be able to switch between them. It's quite fulfilling to sell an amigurumi to someone or wear something I made myself.

Do you have any creative hobbies? If so, feel free to share them in the comments.

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