Familiar Spirits and other news

Familiar SpiritsMy latest story, “The Cold Earth,” is appearing in the ghost anthology Familiar Spirits, edited by my good friend (and Sidekicks! contributor) Donald J. Bingle. The anthology is currently on Kickstarter, so if you like spooky stories, please back the project, so the contributors can get paid! Just check out the gorgeous cover!

In other news, the humble bundle featuring Steampunk World has only about 24 hours remaining, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to get about $190 worth of books and comics for $15 and support worthy charities in the process.

Thanks for your support! Time for me to go back into the salt mines…#amwriting

Humble Bundle Madness

In case you haven’t heard yet, Steampunk World is part of a Humble Bundle going on for six more days! All the books featured were funded via Kickstarter, and Steampunk World is in some very illustrious company. For less than the price of the anthology alone ($10.04 as of this posting) you can receive over $190 worth of digital books and comics, and help out the charities Electronic Frontier Foundation and First Book. I’ve purchased Humble Book Bundles in the past and found the system very easy to use. Your purchases are saved forever in your personal Humble Bundle library, so you never have to worry about a server crash or alien invasion destroying your bundle!

I recommend buying the bundle right away. Don’t wait, because the average has already increased two dollars since the bundle was first posted! If you pledge more than the average now, then you get everything, even if the average increases later. Thanks for supporting Steampunk World and these great charities!

Special Call for Submissions: Steampunk Universe

Much like the award-winning anthology Steampunk World, Steampunk Universe will be a multicultural anthology of steampunk stories. But this time, the anthology will focus on characters with exceptionalities.*

This call for submissions is aimed particularly at marginalized writers, especially those who are identify as members of a minority, LGBTQ, or living with exceptionality. Whether or not you qualify and feel this call for submission is appropriate for your work is at your discretion.

Stories are due by June 1, 2016 to steampunkuniverseantho@gmail.com. Ideally, decisions will be made by July 1, and the anthology will be crowdfunded shortly thereafter. Writers will be paid $.06/word for original stories. I’m not looking for reprints at this time. Deadline extensions will not be granted. Your story should be submitted in Standard Manuscript Format (please check and double-check that your name and email address are on the first page!) as an email attachment in .doc, .docx or .rtf format. The subject of your message should read [Submission: Story Title by Author Name]. If your submission doesn’t conform to these specifications it may be deleted unread.

What I’m looking for:

Your story should take place in a non-Western culture. I’d love to have a variety of stories that take place in the diverse cultures of Central/South America, Asia, and Africa.

Your story should contain a character with at least one exceptionality. It should be a major element of the story, providing the character with extra challenges but maybe also special insight or abilities. I want to explore how steampunk technology changes the lives of people with exceptionalities, for better or for worse.  I’d love to see characters who are also members of other marginalized groups (such as LGBTQ characters).

Your story should contain steampunk elements. I get a lot of submissions with steampunk exoskeletons and dirigibles, but not many with spaceships or submarines. I’d really like authors to stretch themselves and instead of just writing alternate history, set the story in a parallel universe or on another planet. Read Tobias Buckell’s excellent story “Love Comes to Abyssal City” for an example.

If your story lacks one of these three elements, it will very likely be rejected, even if it’s an excellent story.

I’m unlikely to buy stories that:

-Take place in North America, England or China (or feature characters from those cultures)**

-Feature characters with prosthetic limbs, steam-powered hearts, or who are blind**

-Involve the protagonist bravely sacrificing himself/herself at the end of the story so the characters without exceptionalities can survive (seriously, this is becoming a cliché)

-Are longer than 5,000 words (bonus points if you can keep it under 4,000)**

-Contain graphic sex or violence, rape, women in refrigerators, etc.

-Have only magical elements and no technological ones. I love a good gaslamp fantasy, but this is not the market for it. I want gadgets and goggles!

If you have questions, please comment here or hit me up on twitter @steampunkpanda. You can also email me but I respond faster to blog comments and tweets. The best way to tell what kind of story I’m likely to buy is to read Steampunk World.

Now, go get your write on! ^_____^

*The publisher and I prefer the term “exceptionality” to the term “disability,” because disability is often heavily influenced by perception and culture.

**I’m unlikely to buy this type of story because I have already committed to purchase stories that fit this description.

Origins Game Fair Schedule

This weekend I’ll be at Origins Fame Fair participating in the Author Library. I’m really excited about some of these panels!

Friday

1:00 Writing From a Feminist Perspective

Saturday

2:00 Creating a Steampunk Setting

4:00 Flash Fiction

5:00 Diversity in Speculative Fiction

6:00 Story Time

Sunday

11:00 Crowdfunding Your Novel

12:00 Writing YA and Middle Grade Fiction

When I’m not at panels you can find me in the dealer room hanging with the other authors in the Library. Sound off if I’ll see you! :D

Milestones!

Writing is a pursuit full of setbacks and disappointments, which is why it’s extra super important to celebrate those rare successes, especially those that are first-time events. I’m not sure where the road to writerly success is leading me, but here are some milestones along the path I’ve recently passed. They tell me that I’m going in the right direction, even if I’m not quite there yet:

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My story “Sa fè lontan / Long Time, No See” was in the coveted first spot in the anthology That Hoodoo, Voodoo, That You Do edited by Lincoln Crisler. The anthology was actually released (with a gooorgeous cover, OMG) in January, but I was so busy that month I didn’t have a chance to say anything about it. I get paid royalties for that story, so if you buy a copy of the anthology a few pennies actually go straight into my pocket, which is pretty neat.

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I sold my first reprint a few months ago to Whispers from the Abyss Vol. 2, edited by Kat Rocha, which should be released soon. The story is “Shadows of the Darkest Jade,” the first story I ever sold, to Historical Lovecraft, way back in the day. “Shadows” is arguably the story that started all this, so it’s particularly poetic that it’s my first reprint sale. The antho also has a spectacular cover! I’m thrilled to be included in what looks like a really great horror anthology. I can’t wait to see the Table of Contents!

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I’ve saved the biggest, best news for last! Steampunk World took home the 2015 Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award for Best Fiction a couple of weeks ago. I’m so proud of the team of authors, publisher, cover artist, and editor (that would be me, haha) who earned the popular vote. My thanks go out to all the people who voted, because I never expected to win the award for my first nomination. There’s nothing quite like the endorsement of your chosen community to encourage you to do another volume! I’m so over the moon about this, words can’t really express it. So I’ll link you to this video of Kermit flailing so you can get an idea of what I was like after I’d heard.

I’m also working on a novel that I hope to finish soon, so I’ll finally have that to add to my list of milestones. It’s important to remember one’s accomplishments, because there are long dry spells in writing where one feels like every email is a rejection and every review is negative. So, dear reader, what are some milestones you’ve achieved recently? Tell me about them so we can celebrate!

PenguiCon Schedule

Here’s my schedule for PenguiCon this weekend!

Saturday

10:00 How to do Dystopia

1:00 Making the Fantastic Believable

2:00 Editing for the Unitiated

5:00 Rejection: Dealing with the Dark Side of the Creative Life

9:00 You Can’t Kill the Undead

Sunday

11:00 Author Reading with Jen Haeger

2:00 Crowdfunding Your Way to Success

Will I see you there?

Cleveland Concoction Schedule

Cleveland Concoction is this weekend! My schedule is packed:

Friday

3:00 Writing for Teens

4:00 Crowdfunding Your Way to Success

7:00 World Creation in Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Steampunk

8:00 Darkness and Light

Saturday

9:00am – So I Wrote a Short Story – Now What?

12:00 Autograph Session

2:00 Mixing Genres

4:00 Writing for YA vs. Adults

5:00 Author Showcase (Live Reading)

6:00 The Heart of Steampunk

Obviously this is all subject to change, so you should check your programming booklet at the convention. Will I see you there?

Not Our Kind is here!

Super excited to say that Not Our Kind: Tales of (Not) Belonging became available this week! If you backed the Kickstarter, thank you! If you didn’t, now’s your chance to get a copy. As usual, the best place to purchase the book is direct from the publisher’s website, but you can also get it in the other usual places. If you read it, please leave us a review. Reviews help writers and editors feed our egos families.

Not Our kind

2015 Convention Schedule

My new convention policy: I’m only attending conventions that invite me to be a panelist on their writing track, because that’s what I enjoy the most, or conventions on writing, where I can learn my craft and network with other writers. So this year’s convention list looks a little different from previous years. I’m also excited there are fewer conventions! Because attending 8-10 a year was just exhausting and stopped being fun around the time they all started to blend together into a gelatinous sort of gray goo. Also, time spent at conventions is time I’m not writing!

So here are the conventions where you can find me in 2015:

Cleveland Concoction – March 13-15, Cleveland, Ohio

PenguiCon – April 24-27, Southfield, Michigan

Mo*Con – May 1-3, Indianapolis, Indiana

Origins Game Fair – June 3-7, Columbus, Ohio

Imaginarium – September 11-13, Louisville, Kentucky

Will I see you at any of these conventions, dear reader?

An Update About Context 28

A week ago-ish, I was super excited to write an update to this post, telling the world things had improved. I was basically waiting until Holiday Stuff calmed down so I’d have time and also for the new FANACO Board to officially take over, because the old Board had miraculously come to the realization that Context needed a change in management.

I’m glad I waited to write that post. A week ago I was notified that the new FANACO Board was meeting with resistance from the old guard. Things were not going as planned.

To make a long story short, the chairman of the FANACO Board agreed to hand off the reigns to a new chair. When the time came, she changed her mind. Then she started threatening the new chair with legal action if he continued contacting her about the thing she had promised to do, so he’s now the former-new chair, for reasons that should be obvious. You can read the new chair’s statement about the whole mess (and his resignation) here. You can also read Steve Saus’s take on it here, which adds some extra details. And if you want to read a really incendiary but very cathartic post from the blogger who is probably still being blamed for a fiasco she didn’t cause, you can click here (NSFW, language. Fantastic, over-the-top, gloves-are-off language that makes me tingly).

Unfortunately, this probably means Context 28 is well and truly dead. It would be extremely difficult to put on a convention with only 9 months of preparation, even with volunteers. At this point, every volunteer I know personally has quit. There may still be a few people willing to work with the FANACO Board in its current state, but not enough to put on a convention of the caliber we witnessed at Context 27.  And even if they can throw something together, will there be enough attendees to field a Context 29? I would guess not, since the people who were instrumental in increasing the convention’s badge numbers are no longer interested in volunteering.

I’m deeply, deeply sorry for the death of this convention. Not in the way that people are sorry when they’re responsible, but sorry in the way of someone who has watched something terrible happen, and was powerless to stop it, and wishes she’d thought of the right thing to say or do that would have fixed it. Context was my favorite convention. It is horrible to watch something you love die a flailing, embarrassing, very public death, especially when that death could have been prevented, and especially when that death hurts so many of your friends. But sometimes the things we love can’t be saved. Sometimes they’re so sick, we’re better off letting them go.

I’m especially disappointed not to be meeting and learning from Chuck Wendig and Ellen Datlow, the scheduled Guests of Honor for Context 28. The disappointment threatens to crush me, actually, if I think about it too hard, so I’m choosing to focus on other things.

I’m choosing to focus, now, on the exciting possibilities the death of Context opens up for a convention to rise from the ashes. I’m choosing to focus on the friendships strengthened and forged in the flames of this fiasco. I’m choosing to focus on how glad I am that I made every second of Context 27 count, since it will likely be the last one I ever attend. I’m choosing to focus on how much more difficult it will be to get away with sexual harassment at a convention thanks to all the people who stood up and said This Is Not Okay.

I’m choosing to focus on all the messages of support and solidarity I received since making that blog post way back in November. I was terrified I would be flayed alive by trolls and people with misplaced loyalty because of that blog post, but it never happened. In fact, quite the opposite was true. I was flooded with tweets, text messages, emails, and Facebook comments in support of Team Harassment Policy Enforcement, letting us know that if we weren’t attending Context 28, neither would legions of other writers. I can’t tell you what a relief that was, what a bulwark, just to know we were heard, and believed, and maybe, despite the echo chamber of the FANACO Board telling us we were being petty and vindictive, that actually we were in fact doing The Right Thing, for The Right Reasons.

I have never been prouder to be a member of fandom, or the writing community. I’m so lucky to have you as my friends and contemporaries. We may not be able to change the world, but together we can change our little corner of it, making fandom safe for all of us one convention at a time.

So, thank you. Keep being awesome, and let’s see where this crazy ride takes us next, okay? I’m in if you are.

Somehow this screencap from Legend of Korra seems like just the thing.

Somehow this screencap from Legend of Korra seems really appropriate for this moment.