FenCon XV

Well, it’s official. I’m very excited to announce that I will be attending FenCon XV. Schedule forthcoming, and many thanks to William Ledbetter, the science track director, for the invitation. I’m also working on getting a new publication out in early September just in time for this event.

What is FenCon? Who’ll be there? Why should I go?

Answers below. Hope to see you there!

It’s Alive!


Join us September 21-23, 2018 at the Westin DFW Airpport. See the hotel link for reservations and directions.

2018 marks 200 years since the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN. Join us as we celebrate 200 years of classic and modern SF! Of course, we’ll have panel programming, concerts, hands-on workshops, and more! All the good stuff that makes FenCon theTexas destination convention!

Oh, and did we mention SCIENCE? You can’t put the “S” in “SF” without it! Oh you could try, but would it be as much fun as FenCon?

Advance memberships are on sale now!

FenCon XV Guests of Honor


 

Guest of Honor: Larry Niven
Music Guest of Honor: Marian Call
Fen Guests of Honor: Aislinn Burrows and Carmen Bryan
Artist Guest of Honor: Travis Lewis
Science Guest of Honor: Marianne Dyson
Special Workshop Guest: Martha Wells
Toastmaster: Timothy Griffin

 

Happy Father’s Day!

As promised, in honor of Father’s Day, To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity is live. If you pre-ordered, your eBook is available for download now.

Whether you like science fiction, fantasy, military sci-fi, historical, or contemporary, adventure, humor, interesting characters, or even thought pieces, this anthology has a story for you.

My story, “Cooper” is a tribute to Jeff Cooper, one of the iconic, real-life figures associated with the M1911 and the 45ACP. This story was inspired not just by the idea of a sentient/sapient gun. I also found inspiration in The Wizard of Oz, in the fact that the Tin Man had in him, what he was so desperately seeking–a heart. Like the Tin Man, my protagonist is in search of something he thinks he’s lost.

Scott Bell‘s gritty cop story, “Earning It” explores the meaning of valor and honor. A writer with a unique voice, Scott balances out the grittiness with his trademark humor.

J Trevor Robinson‘s “Let the Chips Fall Where They May” doesn’t give us the “gentlemen thieves” of the typical pop-culture casino heist story. Inspired by his own father, it is instead the story of a commander, a role model, and a father responsible for the lives of so many others.

William C. Burns answers the question “So, what are wizards doing in the 21st century?” in his fantasy, “The Heaven Beasts.”

Karina L. Fabian serves up a noir-style detective story complete with dragons and fae. If you’re a fan of the movie, Bright, this one is definitely for you.

Michael W. Herbert, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, wrote two stories for this anthology, both based on real life events–one about dealing with rape, and another about defending a gay shipmate. I’m particularly fond of the way he handled both of these controversial subjects. As Michael says, “A mature man does not always know what to do, but he will do what he can to help.”

Richard Paolinelli gives us a dystopian story, “The Last Hunt.” Unlike so many other zombie stories, this one is about one man’s devotion to his duty and his country.

If you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan, I think you’ll really enjoy Ann Margaret Lewis‘s “The Affair of Miss Finney.” Holmes pursued many dark crimes, but Doyle never addressed the crime of rape. So, how would Holmes deal with the worst crime a woman can suffer?

In “For Man or Beast,” award-winning science fiction author Brad R. Torgersen, plunges us into a story about a future, untamed frontier where we discover that it is about being men and women that makes us essential not just to each other, but to civilization.

“Street Fox” by C. J. Brightley is set in her Erdemen Honor universe. Children need to believe in heroes. And not just in this fantasy, but in the real world.

In “Bring the Pain,” veteran and writer T. L. “Tom” Knighton, delights and entertains us with a story about a guy who is, quite literally, a tank.

In “The Messenger” Lloyd Behm II makes us cheer for an aging green beret who keeps his oaths, even in a post-apocalyptic world where the US no longer exists.

Marina Fontaine‘s “Picture Imperfect” is set in the near-future dystopia of her Chasing Freedom novel. Her hero is forced to choose between protecting his family and complying with a system that provides him with comfort and power.

Jon Del Arroz‘s military sci-fi adventure, “Compassion,” shows us that we must continue to fight the good fight, to fight for what is right.

Newcomer Jamie Ibson‘s story, “Priorities” takes us into the world of the school resource officer, the cops that investigate offenses involving students and schools.

No speculative fiction anthology would be complete a werewolf story, right? Julie Frost‘s “Man-Made Hell” mixes science-fiction and the supernatural, giving us a character who embodies virtus (the manly virtues) no matter his form.

 

Story before identity–then, now, and forever

I’ve been a reader for far longer than I’ve been a writer. Not once, during my most voracious phase as a reader, during those summers spent at the library, did I go, “Hmm, I want to read a book by a/an [insert identity group] writer.”

What I was looking for, was escapism, entertainment. A good story, well told. Interesting characters. Interesting milieu. Romance. Adventure.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I spent a lot of time discussing books with my fellow geeks–and to be honest, if you want to get all PC about it, they were a diverse lot. When it came to reading, they wanted the same things I did.

I didn’t need to have a woman as the protagonist in order to identify with a character. I didn’t need that character to be of the same national origin or race either. Why? Because well-crafted characters (and stories) transcend all those things.

I don’t have to be bisexual for Friday Jones to be one of my favorite of Heinlein’s characters. I don’t have to be a gay sadist to love Augustus (one of the minor characters in R. M. Meluch’s wonderful space opera series, Tour of the Merrimack (6 Book Series)).

Believe it or not, I didn’t pick up my first Honor Harrington novel because it had a woman on the cover–shocker, I know!

I don’t go out seeking stories with protagonists of Romanian, or Hungarian, or Greek, or Italian descent. I don’t seek out stories written by immigrants. Or women. Or any of the “identities” or associations some people would love to pin on me.

That’s one of the reasons I am proud that my short story “Cooper” is part of To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity. You see, there was no requirement that you be a man to submit a story. Or that the story even be from a man’s perspective.

Marina Fontaine, one of my co-authors, put it best, when she wrote:

We were going to give them good stories.

Stories about men as heroes and role models, fathers and mentors, hardened warriors and even fantastic creatures. Men who are interesting, capable and worthy. Characters whom you’d want to meet, to spend time with, to learn from, and whose stories will stay with you after the reading is over.

And just like that, the authors’ gender became irrelevant.

The rest of her excellent article on how this anthology came to be can be read here. Give it a look. And buy the book. See what can happen, when stories are about Story [rather than the author’s identity].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A rejection is an opinion, not a death sentence (part five)

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Mar. 1st, 2018

The fifth story was an exploration of dragons.

The first thing the buying editor admitted to was the fact that she did not articulate what she wanted as well as she thought she had. Unfortunately, that wasn’t apparent until she got the stories and it was too late to do anything about it. This brought up another important point about things that influence editorial decision-making. When they get a lot of stories that aren’t quite right (for whatever reason) the pressure on their time increases. They need to keep an eye on these time pressures, so they are more likely to buy stories that don’t need work.

Read the rest here: Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide

Part Six

A rejection is an opinion, not a death sentence (part four)

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Feb. 28th, 2018

 

The theme for story four was “chances,” and although there were plenty of clues in the submission call that it was to be a romance anthology, it was never explicitly stated. Two people that take chances to be together didn’t say “romance” to everyone in the group, and I can see why that would be the case. If you don’t write romance, your version of “two people taking chances to be together” could manifest in other ways—a father and daughter trying to find each other when war comes to their world. Therefore several well-written pieces just didn’t make the cut because they were not, technically, romances.

Others had romantic elements, but the romance wasn’t the main focus, but a sub-plot.

But romances are right up my alley and since one of the examples in the call was “Anthony (conquerer) and Cleopatra (conquered)” that was the first plot bunny I chased down the wrong hole. For four days. Yep, I gave up on it some time late on Thursday and went to bed knowing I’d have Friday and the weekend to start fresh. Fun times. Fun times.

Read the rest here: Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide

Part Five

A rejection is an opinion, not a death sentence (part three)

Part One

Part Two

Feb. 27th, 2018

The story for the third week had to do with strangers dealing with each other. And it was another one of those that made me scratch my head, especially the part about not wanting to read anything icky since it was a parent-child editorial team. No definition of “icky” was provided.

In retrospect I realize that my fear of putting in any details about sexual attraction actually kept me from adequately fleshing out the emotional aspect, which was something they did want. But, apparently, I can’t write anything that doesn’t tend towards having a romantic aspect of some kind—yes, it’s a personal flaw and probably not one I will fix since I like my romantic tensions too much.

This story started with an image of a blonde woman in a white suit and pumps, holding a pearl white briefcase, getting ready to go through a stargate.

I had no idea she was going to end up in Hell, no idea I was going to use a character I’d used in another (unpublished) story, no idea it was going to be about what it ended up being about, no idea that I was going to play off the Persephone/Hades myth. I had no idea I was going to bring in the concepts of war being hell, of military traditions, or a statement on totalitarianism.

Read the rest here: Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide

Part Four

A rejection is an opinion, not a death sentence (part two)

Part One.

 

Feb. 26th, 2018

The workshop’s second assignment was another difficult one. The theme was “Broken Dreams” and the editor specified that she didn’t want the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” Even with the 8000-word limit, I wanted to skip this uncomfortable subject.

But I had to try. Otherwise, I’d be wasting my time and money, and losing a chance at getting some valuable feedback and insight on how to do it better later.

I’d been researching privateers for some reason (probably because something shiny flew by and led me there) so the first thing that came to me was to do a story about a guy that got cashiered and lost his opportunity for command. This turned out to be one of those cases where I was doing pure discovery writing (I had no end in mind at all) and no idea how to get there. I started with a character and waited to see where he took me.

After a couple of false starts, the character took 5500 words to take me here:

Read the rest here: Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide

Part three.

A rejection is an opinion, not a death sentence (part one)

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” – Norman Vincent Peale

One-point-two million words.

Two-hundred-and-seventy stories.

Six editors.

Why sign up to write six stories in six weeks without knowing a single thing about what you were going to be asked to write? Well, one answer is, to see if I could do it. The other answer—the real answer—was that what I really, really, really, wanted was the feedback.

I went into this expecting to sell nothing. As a first-timer, I knew that the likelihood that any of my stories would make the buy pile was going to be extremely low. And I was fine with that. What I wanted was an insight into the editorial process of some real pros, people who have been doing this for decades.

When you want to learn, learn from the best.

Read the rest here: Rejection 101: A Writer’s Guide

Part Two.