Category Archives: Writing

Paying for Our Passion – Pete Aldin

In this series of guest posts, I have asked a number of writers and editors to share the price they pay for pursuing their creative passion or what they sacrifice–whether that is money, time or lost opportunities. It might be how they pay the bills that writing doesn’t, or how they juggle working for a living or raising a family with the time it takes to write or edit. The people who have contributed have shared their personal stories in the hope it might help those new to the scene manage their expectations, or help others dealing with similar things realise they aren’t alone. You can read about the inspiration for this series here, and if you want to be part of it please let me know.

I’ve known Pete Aldin almost as long as I have been actively writing–I met him at one of the few first few conventions I went to, and ever since he has been a huge supporter of my writing career.. Pete is one of those guys who keeps quietly in the background, but doesn’t miss much. He is first to be there with congratulations, but also with an encouraging word just when people need it. He’s a very talented writer, but you’d never hear that from him–he would rather talk about the work of others than his own. It’s safe to say that the writing world–and the world in general–would be a better place if we had more blokes like Pete, and I am really happy to have him on board today.

Some blokes build a boat in their backyard. Some work on their handicap over 18 holes. Some tinker with cars. This gives them peace, and meaning, and a skillset that affirms them.

I write.

Ten years ago (almost to the day), I was turning 40 and I decided it was now or never. I’d had this dream since I was 13 years old to walk into a bookstore, look on a shelf, and see a book there with my name on the spine. And so at 40, I put legs on the dream (and fingers on the keyboard).

I started putting words on pages, meeting other writers, learning to critique and be critiqued, and so on and so on.

A passion was born. An obsession formed. An addiction slid its warm hooks into my soul.

We all pay for our passions, our addictions, our obsessions.

B is for Broken

I’ve paid in time lost with friends and family. I’ve paid in the usual author-trope of self-doubt and self-flagellation. I’ve paid in late nights.

I’ve also paid for it financially, hiring a writing coach in the early days, paying for books on writing, seminars on writing. The trickle of money that’s come from selling stories hasn’t reached anywhere close to the costs of writing them.

I am blessed to have a wife and kids who trust me. Who believe in what I do. Who’ve seen that this obsession actually staves off my other mental illnesses. They’ve backed me to work a four-day week for several years so that I can have one day to write.

And here’s the rub. That one day each week is a sacrifice. It’s holy (a word which means devoted, set apart). And I’ve been often irked when people find out I’m not working on that day and assume I’m “free.” (Lee Murray mentioned this in her own recent post on the subject).

igms

“You’re not working this Wednesday, are you? We should catch up,” they say. “Hey Pete, you’re free this Monday; drive over to my work and we’ll have a coffee on my teabreak.” “Hey, Pete, you have Thursdays off. You can drive me to my medical appointment.”

When I try to tell them that I am working on that day, that I’m working on a novel draft, I get that awkward pause that comes when something simply does not compute. Stuttering eyelids. Twitching lips. A fading smile. Then, I suggest Saturday and invariably get the Oh-sorry-but-I-have-something-on responses. And, understanding soul that I am, I think “So it’s fine for me to lose time doing what’s important to me, but it’s not okay for you.”

Oh, sure, I forgive them, for they know not what they do. But I’m bloody well not taking anyone to the airport this coming writing day, lol.

Deathsmith

I think this has been the biggest challenge for me: to protect that writing day and use it wisely. As much as I’d like to blame the intrusions of others into it, I am much more to blame for any time-wasting that might have happened. I am the Great Procrastinator, Doom Looper, New-Music-Hunter. It’s all to let my other job’s admin creep into my home office on a non-work day.

But I must protect that time and I must use it wisely.

To use this holy time for anything but writing is disrespectful above all to my wife who has encouraged my writing day and made her own sacrifices; I’d be better to take an extra day’s pay a week, climb the career ladder, save up for that holiday my wife deserves.

A Canadian author once told me that over his first decade, his writing cost him all his friends and at least one girlfriend. But it had been worth it in the end: he’d made new friends, he’d found the right partner, and people were reading his writing.

I’m grateful. That my wife lets me write. That I do have great friends, many of whom I have met through my writing. That people are reading my writing.

Art is important. And important things cost.

Pete Aldin

Pete Aldin has been writing stories since he was a kid. A few years ago, he finally decided to take himself seriously, and finishing some.

Pete lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife, two sons and their small yappy dog. His addictions include alcoholic ciders, Fallout 4 and the FIFA franchise on Xbox. He doesn’t like pina colada nor taking walks in the rain.

He can be found lurking in the shadows at www.petealdin.com .

Writing Achievement Unlocked – I’m now a SFWA Active Member!

Most writers like to talk about writing more than actually doing it (I know I do!). One of the things that sometimes comes up is the goals we have, or the targets we have set for ourselves. A lot of writers have a list of things they want to acheive, things that act as a measuring stick, a way of feeling like we are making some progress with this crazy writing game, even if it’s only a little bit.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to tick a few of those things of my list this year, and today I was finally able to cross off a big one–I am now an Active Member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America!

When I first started writing, and thinking about what I wanted to achieve and how to get there, that was one of the first goals I set myself. To me, because it has requirements based on sales, it has always seemed like a pretty good indicator of having reached a certain level. Not all professional writers are in SFWA, and it doesn’t mean that you have reached some sort of finish line, but the standards required to meet their criteria does indicate that you have managed to cross a certain threshold.

I’ve worked hard on my writing for a long time now, and come very close to a professional sale a number of times only to fall short, so this feels like I have really achieved something.

There is no denying SFWA has faced a number of challenges over the years, even during the relatively short time in the scheme of things that I have been paying attention. But, when I look at everything it does for its members, the people involved giving of their time and energy to improve the scene, and the names of those I will get to rub shoulders with (even just virtually), I am really excited and happy to have made it to this pont.

Now for my next goal!

SFWAcolor

 

Paying for Our Passion – Lee Murray

In this series of guest posts, I have asked a number of writers and editors to share the price they pay for pursuing their creative passion or what they sacrifice–whether that is money, time or lost opportunities. It might be how they pay the bills that writing doesn’t, or how they juggle working for a living or raising a family with the time it takes to write or edit. The people who have contributed have shared their personal stories in the hope it might help those new to the scene manage their expectations, or help others dealing with similar things realise they aren’t alone. You can read about the inspiration for this series here, and if you want to be part of it please let me know.

When I was in the New Zealand I got to meet a whole new group of writers and fans, and realised how much our two countries have in common, and how we face many of the same struggles when it comes to distance from the big markets and smaller support networks. However, I realised that we also shared the same close knit community attitude of supporting and helping one another–the realisation we are all in this together and we need to do what we can to help one another.

I wassn’t lucky enough to meet Lee Murray in person, but it shows the generosity of New Zealanders that she was still willing to share her story with me–and my readers–for this blog series, and I am very grateful for her honesty and for this wonderful post.

A research scientist by training, I left paid employment to care for my children because my husband’s career in medical image software had us gallivanting all over the world—England, France, and the United States. All wonderful places with wonderful cheese, so I was happy to go there, but the children were small and needed stability, which meant having a parent at home. That parent was me.

I’ve always been a bit of a scribbler. I started writing during the children’s nap times and while waiting at karate lessons, when my daughter was at pre-school, and later at school. Raising children is rewarding but, ask anyone, by mid-afternoon, your brain is going to porridge. Okay, so there will be people who will tell you that my brain was already going porridge, but imagine what it might have been, had I not been writing.

Into The MistLater, when  we returned to New Zealand and the children were in school, I considered re-joining the workforce at least part-time, but we discovered our son’s developmental issues were related to Asperger’s and ADHD and as a result he needed my support with his learning. Around the same time, my dad began his slow decline into dementia and blindness, and, naturally, I wanted to maximise the time I spent with him.

Two good reasons not to go back into full-time work. And the third: I wanted to write. Staying at home allowed me to invest in my writing: to study, and to get stuck into actually finishing some manuscripts. Then, two years ago, my dad went into care, and with my son becoming more independent, I moved into the office on the porch and became a full-time writer. My day begins at 8:30am when my family has left for the day, and I work until my son comes home from school, and often again in the evening.

The DogBeing a stay-at-home writer is wonderful. I love it. I make coffee when I want, can work in my pyjamas, and my dog, Maxi, curls up at my feet while I write. But like everyone who works from home, the boundary between home and work is a difficult one to maintain. I have a tendency to spend too much time being my at-home self, or alternatively, to spend too much time working. It’s a delicate balance. And then, there are family and friends and their attitudes to my work:

“You work from home, so would you mind feeding my cat?”
“You work from home, so how about I pop in on Tuesday morning for coffee?”
“You work from home, so can you collect me from the airport?”
“Delivery? Send it to Lee’s. She’s bound to be home.”

I get a lot of interruptions. It’s hard to block out chunks of time to write. I’m exaggerating: I’m always willing to stop for coffee ‒ of course, I am ‒ but  I can’t deny that there’s a tension because people don’t perceive what I do as being a ‘real job’. They think it’s a hobby. A parlour game.

“It’s nice that you can call yourself a writer,” one of my running buddies said once.

I asked her what she meant. Turns out she thought saying you were a writer was a euphemism for being a stay-at-home mum. It was what you said when you didn’t want to admit you did nothing.

“But I am a writer,” I said.
“Oh yes, I know,” she said. “But not really.”

I don’t run with her anymore.

Earlier this year, when I accompanied my son to see a new specialist, the doctor asked me what my profession was.

“I’m a writer,” I said, and he wrote ‘housewife’ in his notes. (The thing about being a writer is that we work with words and that makes us very good at reading things upside down.)

And then there are the lovely people who accept that you are a real writer and therefore think your life must be lifted from an episode of Castle. Making up worlds. Killing off people you don’t like in your stories. Regular critique groups with James Patterson and Michael Connelly. Attending glittering launches. Going to interesting exotic places in the name of research. Going to seedy dangerous places in the name of research. Reading. You know, all the things that Richard Castle does.

These people know nothing of the isolation, the self-doubt, the rejections, the lack of interest in genre writers by our literary funders, the readers who moan about the cost of books, launches where no one turns up, and the pay cheques which tell us we are worthless. To put it in perspective, my daughter earned more in two months at her university holiday job than I did working full time as a writer-editor last year. Yes, that includes my mentoring fees, editing fees, story payments, everything. It’s grim. And in New Zealand, I’m probably doing better than most.

“But hey, you don’t do it for the money, right? You do it because you love it. Because you can’t help yourself. Writing, it’s like breathing for authors, isn’t it?”

Hmmm.

If my plumber whistles while he works, does that mean I don’t have to pay him?

At the EdgeOf course, I’m one of the lucky ones. My husband sponsors my passion. David supports me entirely: both emotionally and financially.

Early on in my collaboration with Dan Rabarts, my co-editor of Baby Teeth: Bite Sized tales of Terror, we emailed each other about our respective time commitments and how we would fit our editing tasks in around our families and our other work. I told Dan that my husband supported my writing as long as I put out from time to time.

Dan replied, “Um, unfortunate typo there. I assume you mean, put out a book from time to time.”

No, I didn’t. I’m a kept woman. My husband supports my writing habit because he loves me. He doesn’t even read fiction, but he reads everything I write. He doesn’t blink when the Amazon account comes in and he sees how many books I’ve bought. He doesn’t flinch when I subscribe to another online mag. “I see you’ve supported another Kickstarter,” he’ll say. Yes, I’m lucky. People tell me all the time:

“You’re soooo lucky.”
“Some of us have to work for a living, you know!”
“I could write a novel if I didn’t have to go to work.”
“God, I wish I didn’t have to go to work.” (To clarify I do work, just from home—at writing.)

These kinds of comments—some from other writers—fill me with guilt. I am lucky. There is no doubt about it. My husband’s income means I don’t have to worry about how we’re going to pay the electricity bill or where we’re going to find the money for the second school jersey to replace the one my son has lost.

A quick segue here, because earlier this year I was the convenor of the New Zealand Society of Authors’ mentorship programme. We received 70 applications from hopefuls across the country, all vying for one of 12 mentorships with experienced writers that we had on offer. One of the criteria we were asked to assess, one which my fellow panel members agreed was the most difficult to determine, was an individual’s commitment to writing. When we looked at the applications, the vast majority were from graduate students embarking on their careers and with few family commitments, or from retirees finally able to commit to that novel. People with children and mortgages and jobs were thin on the ground. Obviously, we could only select from the people who applied, but it occurred to me that our selection criteria precluded busy working parents, people on low incomes, singles. And if that were the case, wouldn’t those voices also be excluded from our literary landscape?

Reminding me again just how lucky I am to be able to write.

Yes, it makes me feel guilty. And because I can do what others only dream of, I feel I should somehow be making it up to everyone. Because I’m so privileged, I should do what privileged people do and give something back to the community. I must do good works.

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!

So I offer my editing and mentorship services at cut-down rates—and sometimes for free—because writers have no money. I take on projects that involve writing or editing, sometimes hours and hours of writing and editing, and I do the work for free. I judge competitions, give away critiques, give away books. I facilitate workshops and do presentations in schools. Again, for free. I buy my colleagues’ books and I review, and review, and review. And all these things take me away from my own writing, but that’s only fair because I have time to write.

Often I’ll be so busy contributing to those poor people who are not as lucky as me that I’ll reach the end of the day without writing a single word for myself. Which means that I’m being sponsored to write, and I’m not even writing!

And then there are the anthologies my husband and I have sponsored, are sponsoring. Seed money to cover print costs, guaranteed sums to cover author payments. Projects which would not have had a look in otherwise because New Zealand funders are not interested in speculative projects. In general, if it’s not mainstream, they don’t want to know.

MikaRecently, I applied for funding for an anthology involving six New Zealand literary heavyweights. The application was turned down. I contacted the funding representative and I asked him, among other things, whether it was because the project was speculative in genre.

“Oh no,” the representative said. “No, it isn’t that because we had a meeting six months ago and decided that all genres were eligible.”

And what about the past five years? What about all the other applications I’ve sent in? What about them?

I wasn’t brave enough to ask it out loud. Funders have power after all. I resent (oooh, good pun) the application based on his recommendations. It ran to 37,000 words. For a proposed book project of 42,000 words. But surely a book should have merit enough to pay for itself, I hear you say. Why should it need funding?

Well, that’s right, books should be self-funding, turn a profit even. But margins are so small. Everyone is squeezed. The cost of bringing print books to New Zealand is too high and the cost of printing them here is even higher. The buying market is tiny. New Zealanders don’t rate Kiwi stuff. New Zealanders don’t read fiction. New Zealanders prefer Netflix. Booksellers refuse to stock anything from Ingram or Createspace. Libraries are cutting costs. Schools won’t buy class sets. Publishers are risk averse. There are lots of reasons why books don’t make it here and often it has nothing to do with the quality.

One writer friend of popular mainstream YA fiction tells me she has attended school visits where the school has only one copy of the book—the teacher’s copy—and the teacher would photocopy the pages for the students. Right under the author’s nose. But she should be thrilled, right? Because a whole class of kids were reading her work, and at least the school had bought one copy.

It doesn’t just apply to me—this feeling of guilt. New Zealand writers, on the whole, feel they are privileged to be writing and that they shouldn’t complain. Writing is an exalted thing. Everyone wants to be a writer and those of us who are living that dream need to be grateful.

Perhaps the real problem is readers—not loyal readers who wait faithfully for the release of your next book—but the ones who prefer to pirate a copy rather than pay $2.99 for an e-book. We’re constantly consuming stories, but there is a resistance to paying creators a fair price for that content. It’s not just New Zealanders. Didn’t Ariana Huffington sell the Huff Post for squibillions? Okay, so maybe not that much. But as far as I know, none of the writers of that content saw a cent.

I hosted a Chinese writer in my home a few years ago—another guilt trip thing because I was the writer who didn’t go to work and who had the biggest house. Anyway, this young writer of several books was visiting New Zealand on a fully paid scholarship. Not only had her training been paid for by her government, as a Chinese writer she received a stipend to write and also royalties from her books. Of course, with the government as her employer there might have been some censorship involved, nevertheless all the New Zealand writers in the room swooned with envy.

LeeTime to get off my soapbox here. After all, I’m just that privileged cow whose indulgent husband funds her writing whimsies. I wish every creative had a sponsor as wonderful as mine. But failing that, I’d go for a place where writing is valued and its creators are paid a fair price for their work. That place exists somewhere. I’m sure it does. I read about it in a book.

Lee Murray is a five-winner of the New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award for science fiction and fantasy writing and an Australian Shadows Award for Best Edited Work (with Dan Rabarts) for the charity anthology Baby Teeth. In 2016, Lee’s short fiction has appeared in Starquake, SQMag, and Capricious, among others. Her novel Into the Mist was released this month from Cohesion Press, and the speculative anthology At the Edge (co-edited with Dan Rabarts) will be released in June. Visit Lee at her website www.leemurray.info

Paying for Our Passion – Monica Valentinelli

In this series of guest posts, I have asked a number of writers and editors to share the price they pay for pursuing their creative passion or what they sacrifice–whether that is money, time or lost opportunities. It might be how they pay the bills that writing doesn’t, or how they juggle working for a living or raising a family with the time it takes to write or edit. The people who have contributed have shared their personal stories in the hope it might help those new to the scene manage their expectations, or help others dealing with similar things realise they aren’t alone. You can read about the inspiration for this series here, and if you want to be part of it please let me know.

Monica is one of the many wonderful people I have met through my membership in The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, and I am delighted to welcome her to my blog today. I have felt incredibly privileged in that people have been willing to share so much of themselves, and be so honest with my readers and I, in this series and this post is no exception. So, when I decided to relaunch the series I knew that this would be a wonderful post to start back with.

I’d encourage you to visit Monica’s webpage to have a look at the amazing work she is doing, and for all you Firefly fans out there (and I know most of you are!), check out her book–shiny!

When David and I talked about the possibility of a guest post for his wonderful website, I didn’t expect to be writing about what debts I’ve paid to be a writer. Normally, when I answer interview questions, it’s about my process or the work itself to show a) there is a writer’s brain locked in my skull and b) maybe, just maybe, you’ll be interested in my work. I don’t talk about myself very often; believe me when I say this post is an exception rather than the rule. For me, however, I want you to know the word “debt” doesn’t just translate to finances. It’s also about making gut-wrenching decisions to pay for the ability to pursue my passion: writing.

Growing up, I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t an artist, in every sense of the word, lost in a psychedelic, frenzied dream. I was always a writer plus. I learned to read as a toddler, I began piano lessons in kindergarten, and I had a gift for language. While music was my primary focus for years, libraries were my sanctuary from bullies on all sides, and making art—all art—was my religion. (It still is.) This bit, right here, is why I’m telling you this: I never cared about the business aspect of selling my art as a child, because I didn’t need to. That was my safety net, because the freedom to create without worrying about failure, food, or homelessness, allowed me to make art whenever I wanted to. So, I wrote school plays, children’s books, essays, short stories, and novellas. Drew and painted, too, of course, but much of my brain was also dedicated to my music. My art leaked out of my fingertips and on to the page or the keyboard, because I always pushing, pushing, pushing to break free, to feel free, to simply…be.

Firefly dictionaryPressure, being what it is, usually means something has to give sooner or later, and I was suffocating from it. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t “supposed” to be an adult and focus on my future to marry “well” and have lots of babies. I never was one to listen, however, but eventually I internalized that pressure and realized that being an artist wasn’t enough. At 16, I knew I had to learn how to make a living at it. I just didn’t know how. To that end, I could’ve applied to Juillard or tried living/working in Hollywood or New York—but I couldn’t afford any of that on my own. There was no chance, no way in hell, I could even scrape together enough money for the plane ticket. Financial and emotional support for my efforts was selective; this meant that I wound up in a constant state of anxiety, worried that there was something wrong with me because I was an artist and not a doctor or a scientist. I was a woman, and not a man. I was smart, too, but that only mattered provided I agreed to take the narrow path before me.

Caught between being an adult (making money) and remaining a child (making art), I gave up my idealism and focused on pragmatism. I all but abandoned music, not only because it carried too much baggage, but because I couldn’t see how I could make it work. In this “new, smart and capable” version of myself, I made some great choices and some really shitty ones. Thankfully, my college degree was paid for, but much of my experiences revolved around fighting for approval with little support. There were a few bright spots, though. Back then, I felt surrounded by worldviews that didn’t feel right to me, so I focused on multiculturism and secretly added several courses into my Bachelor’s program to that effect. This was the beginning of a journey I don’t think I’ll ever abandon and that, to me, was a great choice, because it opened me up to a world of literature I never knew existed. The shitty choices, then, originated from not knowing much about anything other than making art. I felt defined by my container, my body, and not by my creativity. And, when my normally-bright mental capabilities failed me, as I futilely attempted to push myself into the sciences, I felt I had somehow lost there, too.

Gods Memes and MonstersAnyway, after college I knew I didn’t want to go to grad school; I was burnt out by the time I graduated and I couldn’t afford it, either. Thus, I felt extremely naïve and unequipped to deal with the outside world. Instead of building the life that was expected of me, I took every job possible, believing that knowing marketing and sales and basic business practices would help me build a career as an entrepreneur, as a writer. I convinced myself if I just “knew enough”, I would figure out a way to make a living at it. Everybody else thought I was being random, but I felt I needed to focus on the basics, especially since I was secretly afraid that my self-worth was only about having babies—a thought that terrified me. How else was I supposed to earn enough money to pay rent if I didn’t find a real job? How could I keep writing if I didn’t have some other practical skills to fall back on?

I did focus on the real world. In fact, I gave up writing for a while, because I wound up lying to myself, claiming it was a luxury I could not afford. I had a normal, ups-and-downs, run-of-the-mill life, because I was desperate to fit in and “be normal” on my terms. Only, I hated those years, because that wasn’t me at all, but it was all I had. I opted to be near my support network, as emotionally and psychologically draining as it was, because it was either that or go it totally alone—and that scared the shit out of me. So, I wound up internalizing a twisted view of the world, which meant that artists fell into the category of “unapproved” and “frivolous” people unless they were successful classicists. Artistic works evolved into this sticky ectoplasm that only famous (male) artists had the right to capture and collect from the ether; only they are blessed for their greatness with fans, money, acclaim. And, if nobody else can achieve that “level”—a word I have now grown to hate with every cell in my body—that means their art must suck. Everybody else is either selling out, or they’re not worth spending time or money on. Right?

Dread Names Red ListEventually I hit bottom, and I blamed myself for not making the run-of-the-mill life work. I bounced from job to job in every industry imaginable, I was laid off multiple times, I was in near-fatal accidents, and I couch surfed. I felt powerless, unloved, and undervalued as a human being, and it almost killed me. I understood that having food on the table and a roof over my head was more than many people got—especially since my college had been paid for—but at what cost? My soul was ripped in half. I hate that word, too, “soul” because it sounds so cliché, but how else can I describe that pain? It felt as if every time I had the opportunity to be myself, I was punished for it. Every time I tried to be anything but myself, I was punished for that, too.

After surviving too many close calls and near misses, I was desperate for change. The alternative was not an option for me; I had seen too many lives taken unexpectedly, and I thought to myself, “If I died tomorrow, what would I regret the most?” The answer was immediate, and I still remember feeling stupid for thinking it at the time: “Not writing, not making art, not being true to myself.” So, I funneled all of my hope into the unknowable future, instead, and burned that old life to the ground. All the while, I prayed I was doing the right thing, hoping I wasn’t hurting anybody by choosing me. I wanted out, not because I desired an esoteric happiness, but because finally realized I was committing the greatest crime of all: I was betraying my true self by pretending to be something I wasn’t.

Upside Down CoverNow, about a decade and many life-altering moments later, I write full-time. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, and some years have been better than others, but I can honestly say I am happy for the first time in my life. I know very little about the Kardashians of the world or who’s who in Hollywood, and I don’t understand the “people” side of the industry, either, with respect to awards-or-organizational drama, but I am writing. I never regained the stars in my eyes, mind you, but I do have a small but tight-knit supportive network of close friends and family. And, I have a partner who supports me for me, both financially and emotionally; he knows this business is incredibly unpredictable. Sometimes, he supports me. Sometimes, I support him.

While I’m not okay with all he’s done to ensure I can continue to write full-time, I make up for it in other ways because that is the nature of our relationship. We are partners. At the same time, I wouldn’t be writing full-time without him, because I couldn’t afford it. After all, making a living as a writer isn’t about “a” sale or “a” gig or “an” advance, it’s about the ability to earn income based on words written and sold on a consistent basis. Thus, if my partner wasn’t around, I couldn’t do what I do year after year, at least not right now. I’d have to make different choices, about what I wrote and how I sold it, and I’d have to get a day job to pay my bills. My goal right now, however, is to make a living plus, which means writing isn’t my hobby. This, for me, is not a calling, and it’s not “just” a job, either. It is my life, and it’s the only one I’ve got.

Monica-Headshot-300x254So, that’s my story. Those closest to me know I am both haunted and fiery to varying degrees at all times, and they know the debts I’ve paid—emotional, financial, social, even physical. They also understand why I am focused on writing, on filling up those blank pages, on getting that next gig, too. And, despite my best efforts to the contrary, that—writing—is all I have control over. Everything else, I’m simply making up as I go along.

Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer who lurks in the dark. She writes both original and media tie-in fiction and works on games and comics, too. To date, she has over seven dozen creative credits with more on the way. She is best known for her work related to the Firefly TV show by Joss Whedon. She was the lead writer and developer for the award-winning line of Firefly RPG books, and also wrote the Firefly: The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Dictionary in the ‘Verse which was released from Titan Publishing in April 2016.

Published stories and games include “Tomorrow’s Precious Lambs” for Extreme Zombies, “The Dig” for the Lovecraft Zine, Dread Names, Red List for Vampire: the Masquerade, and Unknown Armies Third Edition. Monica also recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for a co-edited anthology titled Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling from Apex Book Company. Her debut comic Man Zombie Standing was published in 2013 as part of the Unfashioned Creatures: A Frankenstein Anthology from Red Stylo Media. You can discover more of the author’s creative works through her fiction publications or her game publications.

Her non-fiction repertoire includes online articles, worldbuilding games, reference materials, and essays. She has written for sites including HowtoWrite Shop.com, Sony’s Crackle.com, SFWA.org, GeeksDreamGirl.com, and BookLifeNow.com. Her essays have appeared in books such as Family Games: The 100 Best, The Bones: Us and Our Dice, and For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher.

Monica holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives with two very spoiled cats nicknamed Lord Lardbottom and Captain Whinypants, an albino water frog named Al, and her fiance. In addition to writing and editing, she enjoys traveling, designing jewelry, cooking, taking photos, gaming, watching anime and martial arts movies, exploring old places, and hiking. She is represented by Jennie Goloboy from Red Sofa Literary.

For more about the author, read or listen to an interview with Monica Valentinelli or subscribe to her blog.

Backcountry is a Scribe Nominee!

The nominees for the Tenth Annual Scribe Awards (The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers yearly awards) have been announced and I am delighted to say that Backcountry has been nominated in the Adapted Novel – General and Speculative category.

It’s a huge honour simply to see my name alongside the other nominees (both in my category and across the whole list–which you can see below the pic) and I wish them all the best–anyone of them would be a deserving winner indeed.

Scribe Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Tenth Annual Scribe Awards

The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers is pleased to announce the Scribe Award Nominees for 2016.

Acknowledging excellence in this very competitive field, the IAMTW’s Scribe Awards honor licensed works that tie in with other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books. They include original works set in established universes, and adaptations of stories that have appeared in other formats and that cross all genres. Tie-in works run the gamut from westerns to mysteries to procedurals, from science fiction to fantasy to horror, from action and adventure to superheroes. HALO, Elementary, 24, Star Trek, Mike Hammer, Star Wars, Shadowrun, Doctor Who: these represent just a few.

The Scribe Award winners will be announced at ComicCon San Diego in July. The exact day, time and location of the Scribes Panel including the award ceremony will be announced shortly.

IAMTW says thank you to everyone who sent entries, all wonderful, for consideration.

Congratulations to the following nominees:

BEST ORIGINAL NOVEL – GENERAL
Elementary:The Ghost Line by Adam Christopher
Kill Me, Darling by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins
Don Pendleton’s Mack Bolan: Desert Falcons by Michael A. Black
24: Rogue by David Mack

BEST ORIGINAL NOVEL – SPECULATIVE
Deadlands: Ghostwalkers by Jonathan Maberry
HALO: Last Light by Troy Denning
HALO: New Blood by Matt Forbeck
Pathfinder: Forge of Ashes by Josh Vogt
Shadowrun: Borrowed Time by R. L. King
Star Trek The Next Generation: Armageddon’s Arrow by Dayton Ward
Star Trek Seekers 3: Long Shot by David Mack

ADAPTED NOVEL – GENERAL AND SPECULATIVE
Backcountry by D. E. McDonald
Batman: Arkham Knight by Marv Wolfman
Crimson Peak by Nancy Holder
MANOS ­­­– The Hands of Fate by Stephen D. Sullivan
Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

SHORT STORIES
Mike Hammer The Strand “Fallout” by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Shadowrun: World of Shadows “Swamp of Spirits” by Jason M. Hardy
The X-Files: Trust No One “Back in El Paso My Life Will Be Worthless” by Keith R. A. DeCandido
The X-Files: Trust No One “Dusk” by Paul Crilley
The X-Files: Trust No One “Non Gratum Anus Rodentum” by Brian Keene
The X-Files: Trust No One “Statues” by Kevin J. Anderson

AUDIO 
Dark Shadows “Bloodlust” by Alan Flanagan, Will Howells and Joseph Lidster
Dark Shadows “In the Twinkling of an Eye” Penelope Faith
Doctor Who “The Red Lady” by John Dorney
Doctor Who “Damaged Goods” by Jonathan Morris
Pathfinder Legends: “Mummy’s Mask: Empty Graves” by Cavan Scott

Cover reveal for my latest book – Guardians of the Galaxy: Castaways!

Well, I have had to keep this one a secret for quite a while, and it has been tough. Really tough. The worst thing is that this is only the first half of my big news, but the second half has to wait a little longer….

But, in the meantime, I am very excited to announce the upcoming release of my novel “Castaways” – featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy!

castaways cover

The Guardians of the Galaxy are back in a new adventure, Castaways. Marooned on a mysterious planet that is trapped centuries behind the rest of the galaxy, Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot go their separate ways. But when an alien technology threatens their new home, Castaways becomes a race to see if the Guardians can reunite in time to save it.

I loved the movie, and I love the characters, and getting to play in that world was a whole lot of fun. There will be more news closer to the official release (update: it seems like there is now an Amazon entry) but, for now, I am so excited that all I have to say is, “I am Groot!”.

While I was away – Ditmar and Aurealis shortlists announced

I’ve just gotten back from an amazing trip to the States that included attending Boskone, and I had an incredible time. But, as always, readjusting to normal life has been a struggle. Add that to a major deadline, and blogging has taken a back seat (btw, stayed tuned for some BIG news here soon!).

But, while I was away, the shortlists for both the Ditmar and Aurealis awards were released. I was delighted to get two nominations for the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review. Big thanks to Tansy and Tehani for letting me be a part of those reviews, and to everyone who nominated us!

As always, it’s wonderful to see such a strong list–it says great things about the state of Aussie spec fic–and really nice that so many of the people are friends of mine. I am particularly happy to see Steve Cameron’s first Aurealis nomination. Not only has Steve been a good mate and a great support to me with my writing, he is one of our best “new” writers (Steve and I started around the same time, so to me that is “new”, but he has achieved a huge amount in that time and is certainly a well-established part of the scene). I am sure this only the first of many nominations for him.

Congratulations to all the nominees, everyone on there would be a deservng winner.

If you are eligible to vote for the Ditmars you can do so here–the more votes, the more representative the awards  are!

DITMAR AWARDS

Best Novel

  • The Dagger’s Path, Glenda Larke (Orbit)
  • Day Boy, Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing)
  • Graced, Amanda Pillar (Momentum)
  • Lament for the Afterlife, Lisa L. Hannett (ChiZine Publications)
  • Zeroes, Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti (Simon and Schuster)

Best Novella or Novelette

  • “The Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood”, Deborah Kalin, in Cherry Crow Children (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “Fake Geek Girl”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Review of Australian Fiction, volume 14, issue 4 (Review of Australian Fiction)
  • “Hot Rods”, Cat Sparks, in Lightspeed Science Fiction & Fantasy 58 (Lightspeed Science Fiction & Fantasy)
  • “The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin, in Cherry Crow Children (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “Of Sorrow and Such”, Angela Slatter (Tor.com)
  • “The Wages of Honey”, Deborah Kalin, in Cherry Crow Children (Twelfth Planet Press)

Best Short Story

  • “2B”, Joanne Anderton, in Insert Title Here (FableCroft Publishing)
  • “The Chart of the Vagrant Mariner”, Alan Baxter, in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2015 (Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “A Hedge of Yellow Roses”, Kathleen Jennings, in Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • “Look how cold my hands are”, Deborah Biancotti, in Cranky Ladies of History (FableCroft Publishing)

Best Collected Work

  • Bloodlines, Amanda Pillar (Ticonderoga Publications))
  • Cherry Crow Children, Deborah Kalin, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Cranky Ladies of History, edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)
  • Letters to Tiptree, edited by Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories, Robert Hood (IFWG Publishing Australia)

Best Artwork

  • Cover art, Rovina Cai, for “Tom, Thom” (Tor.com)
  • Cover art, Kathleen Jennings, for Bloodlines (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Cover and internal artwork, Kathleen Jennings, for Cranky Ladies of History (FableCroft Publishing)
  • Cover, Shauna O’Meara, for The Never Never Land
  • Illustrations, Shaun Tan, in The Singing Bone (Allen & Unwin)

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

  • The Angriest, Grant Watson
  • The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
  • Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • SF Commentary, Bruce Gillespie
  • The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

Best Fan Writer

  • Tsana Dolichva, for body of work
  • Foz Meadows, for body of work
  • Ian Mond, for body of work
  • Alexandra Pierce for body of work
  • Katharine Stubbs, for body of work
  • Grant Watson, for body of work

Best Fan Artist

  • Kathleen Jennings, for body of work, including Illustration Friday series
  • Belinda Morris, for body of work, including Belinda Illustrates

Best New Talent

  • Rivqa Rafael
  • T R Napper
  • DK Mok
  • Liz Barr

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review

  • Letters to Tiptree, edited by Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • The Rereading the Empire Trilogy series, Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • The Reviewing New Who series, David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Tehani Wessely
  • “Sara Kingdom dies at the end”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Companion Piece (Mad Norwegian Press)
  • “SF Women of the 20th Century”, Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • The Squeeing over Supergirl series, David McDonald, and Tehani Wessely

2015 AUREALIS AWARDS – FINALISTS

Of particular interest is the inaugural SARA DOUGLASS BOOK SERIES AWARD. What a great idea to honour a trailblazer for Aussie spec fic, and what a great shortlist to launch it!

Not so great–no horror novel? I will be interested to see that judges’ report!

BEST CHILDREN’S FICTION

A Week Without Tuesday, Angelica Banks (Allen & Unwin)
The Cut-Out, Jack Heath (Allen & Unwin)
A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay (Walker Books Australia)
Bella and the Wandering House, Meg McKinlay (Fremantle Press)
The Mapmaker Chronicles: Prisoner of the Black Hawk, A.L. Tait (Hachette Australia)

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL / ILLUSTRATED WORK

The Undertaker Morton Stone Vol.1, Gary Chaloner, Ben Templesmith, and Ashley Wood (Gestalt)
The Diemenois, Jamie Clennett (Hunter Publishers)
Unmasked Vol.1: Going Straight is No Way to Die, Christian Read (Gestalt)
The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin)
Fly the Colour Fantastica, various authors (Veriko Operative)

BEST YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY

“In Sheep’s Clothing”, Kimberly Gaal (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #61)
“The Nexus Tree”, Kimberly Gaal (The Never Never Land, CSFG)
“The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
“The Heart of the Labyrinth”, DK Mok (In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett, Sorin Suciu)
“Blueblood”, Faith Mudge (Hear Me Roar, Ticonderoga Publications)
Welcome to Orphancorp, Marlee Jane Ward (Seizure)

BEST HORROR SHORT STORY

“Bullets”, Joanne Anderton (In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep, AHWA)
“Consorting with Filth”, Lisa L Hannett (Blurring the Line, Cohesion Press)
“Heirloom Pieces”, Lisa L Hannett (Apex Magazine, Apex Publications)
“The Briskwater Mare”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
“Breaking Windows”, Tracie McBride (Aurealis #84)
“Self, Contained”, Kirstyn McDermott (The Dark, TDM Press)

BEST HORROR NOVELLA

“Night Shift”, Dirk Flinthart (Striking Fire, FableCroft Publishing)
“The Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
“The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
“Wages of Honey”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children, Twelfth Planet Press)
“Sleepless”, Jay Kristoff (Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, Penguin)
“Ripper”, Angela Slatter (Horrorology, Jo Fletcher Books)

BEST FANTASY SHORT STORY

“The Giant’s Lady”, Rowena Cory Daniells (Legends 2, Newcon Press)
“The Jellyfish Collector”, Michelle Goldsmith (Review of Australian Fiction Vol. 13 Issue 6)
“A Shot of Salt Water”, Lisa L Hannett (The Dark, TDM Press)
“Almost Days”, DK Mok (Insert Title Here, FableCroft Publishing)
“Blueblood”, Faith Mudge (Hear Me Roar, Ticonderoga Publications)
“Husk and Sheaf”, Suzanne Willis (SQ Mag 22, IFWG Publishing Australia)

BEST FANTASY NOVELLA

“Lodloc and The Bear”, Steve Cameron (Dimension6, coeur de lion)
“Defy the Grey Kings”, Jason Fischer (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Firkin Press)
“Broken Glass”, Stephanie Gunn (Hear Me Roar, Ticonderoga Publications)
“The Flowers that Bloom Where Blood Touches the Earth”, Stephanie Gunn (Bloodlines, Ticonderoga Publications)
“Haunting Matilda”, Dmetri Kakmi (Cthulhu: Deep Down Under, Horror Australis)
“Of Sorrow and Such”, Angela Slatter (Tor.com)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY

“2B”, Joanne Anderton (Insert Title Here, Fablecroft)
“The Marriage of the Corn King”, Claire McKenna (Cosmos)
“Alchemy and Ice”, Charlotte Nash (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #61)
“Witnessing”, Kaaron Warren (The Canary Press Story Magazine #6)
“All the Wrong Places”, Sean Williams (Meeting Infinity, Solaris)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVELLA

“Blood and Ink”, Jack Bridges, Prizm Books
“The Molenstraat Music Festival”, Sean Monaghan (Asimov’s Science Fiction)
“By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers”, Garth Nix (Old Venus, Random House)

BEST COLLECTION

The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After, Shane Jiraiya Cummings (Brimstone Press)
Striking Fire, Dirk Flinthart (FableCroft Publishing)
Cherry Crow Children, Deborah Kalin (Twelfth Planet Press)
To Hold the Bridge, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)
The Fading, Carole Nomarhas (self-published)
The Finest Ass in the Universe, Anna Tambour (Ticonderoga Publications)

BEST ANTHOLOGY

Hear Me Roar, Liz Grzyb (ed.) (Ticonderoga Publications)
The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2014, Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (eds.) (Ticonderoga Publications)
Bloodlines, Amanda Pillar (ed.) (Ticonderoga Publications)
Meeting Infinity, Jonathan Strahan (ed.), (Solaris)
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 9, Jonathan Strahan (ed.) (Solaris)
Focus 2014: highlights of Australian short fiction, Tehani Wessely (ed.) (FableCroft Publishing)

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

In The Skin of a Monster, Kathryn Barker (Allen & Unwin)
Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club, Alison Goodman (HarperCollins)
The Fire Sermon, Francesca Haig (HarperVoyager)
Day Boy,Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing)
Illuminae, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
The Hush, Skye Melki-Wagner (Penguin Random House Australia)

BEST HORROR NOVEL
No Shortlist Released

BEST FANTASY NOVEL

In The Skin of a Monster, Kathryn Barker (Allen & Unwin)
Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club, Alison Goodman (HarperCollins)
Day Boy,Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing)
The Dagger’s Path, Glenda Larke (Hachette Australia)
Tower Of Thorns, Juliet Marillier (Pan Macmillan Australia)
Skin, Ilka Tampke (Text Publishing)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

Crossed, Evelyn Blackwell (self-published)
Clade, James Bradley (Penguin)
Illuminae, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
Their Fractured Light, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
Renegade, Joel Shepherd (Kindle Direct)
Twinmaker: Fall, Sean Williams (Allen & Unwin)

SARA DOUGLASS BOOK SERIES AWARD

The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin [The King’s Bastard (2010), The Uncrowned King (2010), The Usurper (2010), The King’s Man (2012), King Breaker (2013)], Rowena Cory Daniells (Solaris Press)
The Watergivers [The Last Stormlord (2009), Stormlord Rising (2010), Stormlord’s Exile (2011)], Glenda Larke (HarperVoyager)
The Lumatere Chronicles [Finnikin of the Rock (2008), Froi of the Exiles (2011), Quintana of Charyn (2012)], Melina Marchetta (Penguin Random House)
Sevenwaters [Daughter of the Forest (2000), Son of the Shadows (2001), Child of the Prophecy (2002), Heir to Sevenwaters (2009), Seer of Sevenwaters (2011), Flame of Sevenwaters (2013)], Juliet Marillier (Pan Macmillan Australia)
The Laws of Magic [Blaze Of Glory (2007), Heart Of Gold (2007), Word Of Honour (2008),  Time Of Trial (2009), Moment Of Truth (2010), Hour Of Need (2011)], Michael Pryor (Random House Australia)
Creature Court [Power and Majesty (2010), Shattered City (2011), Reign of Beasts (2012)], Tansy Rayner Roberts (HarperVoyager)

Galactic Chat 70 – Peter Clines

One of the first writing websites I started hanging around on when I initially started trying to get published was the Permuted Press message board. The reason I was there was because I had read an amazing book (you can read my review here) and had immediately went on a frantic search to find out more about the author–and when the next book would be out!

It’s hard to believe it has been over five years–disturbing in fact–but, since then, Peter Clines has gone from strength to strength, not only continuing with the “Ex” series, but bringing out other wonderful works.

As he celebrates the latest instalment in the “Ex” series, Peter joined me on Galactic Chat. Yes, I gush, and yes, I had a LOT of fun doing this one. I hope that you enjoy listening to the result!

After a holiday break, Galactic Chat returns! David McDonald interviews author Peter Clines on the eve of the release of his new book, Ex-Isle.

In a wide ranging interview, they cover topics from the”Ex” series to Peter’s Hollywood career, and discuss the nature of heroism and the power of storytelling.

Join them as they fanboy over Classic Doctor Who and Supergirl, and listen in amazement as David tempts Peter into joining him on his soapbox about “Man of Steel”.

NB: Sadly, technical issues mean that David’s first few questions are a bit distorted (though intelligible), but please bear with it as Peter is crystal clear and Skype reins in its anger in time to let you hear David gush.

As Sean is on sabbatical, this is David’s first attempt at creating a podcast so all issues are his fault, and should not reflect on the podcast as a whole!

Peter’s website
Ex-Isle Amazon Page
The Doctor Who episode they are talking about
The Dragon Movie

Credits:
Interviewer: David McDonald
Guest: Peter Clines
Music & Intro: Tansy Rayner Roberts 
Post-prod.: David McDonald
Feedback:
Twitter: @galactichat 
Email: galactichat at gmail dot com
Ex-Heroes 

My Boskone 53 Schedule (I’m shipping up to Boston)

I’ve never been to the United States in winter, but this year that will change when I head over mid-February. I’m also very excited to be attending Boskone 53, their programming looks amazing and a heap of my US friends will be there.

I am also fortunate enough to have been put on a number of panels and, as always, am blown away by the fact I will get to rub shoulders with some of my writing heroes.

If you’ll be attending, I’d love to see you at one of my panels–or in the bar. Don’t be a stranger. 🙂

_Game of Thrones_: Adaptation or Original Material

Friday 14:00 – 14:50, Griffin (Westin)

When the first season of Game of Thrones aired, the material was a clear adaptation of the novel. However, in the following seasons, characters and story lines have morphed. Now, some storylines from the TV series are outstripping the books. At what point (if any) does the HBO series set the pace? Do we now have two independent tales? Who rules? And, as we range into uncharted territory, what happens next?

Django Wexler (M), David McDonald, Sarah Smith,  Erin Underwood

Loose Ends and Contradictions in Doctor Who

Friday 18:00 – 18:50, Marina 4 (Westin)

*Spoilers, sweetie!* Doctor Who has become infamous for its loose ends and contradictions — most of which get explained away with a little timey-wimey flash and sparkle. Yet, we still love The Doctor. In fact, many of those seeming problems tend to open future storylines and plot points. Which do we most want to see resolved? Which seem too far gone to pull back? And will we see River again … or has that loose end been tied?

Susan Jane Bigelow (M), David McDonald, Lauren Roy

Fantastic Australia!

Saturday 10:00 – 10:50, Burroughs (Westin)

A guide to the wide, wonderful, and quite active world of Australian science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Bob Kuhn (M), D L Carter, David McDonald, Garth Nix, James Minz

Appreciating the Historical in Speculative Fiction

Saturday 14:00 – 14:50, Marina 3 (Westin)

Stories set in historical times present a special set of challenges and benefits: from the wonders of worldbuilding to the disguising of infodumps to the artful overcoming of a reader’s knowledge about the way things actually are (or were). Why do we love it? What time periods and cultures are the most fun to recreate? What sets historical fiction apart from its speculative cousin? And do the stories of Tim Powers, Eric Flint, Connie Willis, Naomi Novik, or Cherie Priest qualify as hist fic?

Brendan DuBois (M), Walter H. Hunt, David McDonald, E. C. Ambrose, Walter Jon Williams

Nonfiction on Speculative Fiction

Saturday 17:00 – 17:50, Griffin (Westin)

We often forget about the nonfiction that is being published: literary criticism, reviews, analyses. Nonfiction helps to inform, sustain, and push the genre forward. The proliferation of nonfiction is often a sign of a very healthy literary field. So, how are we doing? What qualifies as nonfiction? Where do you go to find it or publish it?

David McDonald (M), Kate Baker, Daniel Hatch, Christopher Weuve

Requiem: They Played the Game of Thrones and Lost

Sunday 14:00 – 14:50, Harbor II (Westin)

Some were good and some were bad, but all of them are dead. They have ceased to be. Rung down the curtain. Joined the choir invisible. Stiffs. Ex-Westerosi. Let’s pause to pay homage to characters who met their untimely ends at the bloody hands of George R. R. Martin, and recall their glorious or dubious or just plain icky ends. And while we’re at it, let’s speculate about who’s the next to go. Because there’s no use hoping that anyone will make it out alive.

Laurie Mann (M) , David McDonald, Lauren Roy, Michael Sharrow