The slice of my life that is all about helping new authors find and hone their voices has been on fire lately, and I have been burning to tell you about all the nifty upcoming developments. Over at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, registration is open for “Creating Universes, Building Worlds,” my workshop course in short speculative fiction. This class makes a nice trial run for something like Odyssey, Clarion or Clarion West: you can write in any of the speculative fiction subgenres, and the workshop is run like one of the aforementioned programs (or as close to it as one can get with an online class.) You get to stay home, write one complete work of fiction, workshop it with the group, and make plans for revision and marketing.
Want more? You also get to read and discuss awesome stories by Kij Johnson, Nalo Hopkinson, Harry Turtledove, Tanith Lee and so many other fantastic writers!
But why is that exciting? You may well ask… I’ve been teaching this class for years. But for those of you who’ve taken CUBW and its follow-up, Writing the Fantastic, it does look like there will be a new and more advanced option for you at UCLA come Spring 2016. So that’s one very exciting thing.
The other wildly delightful development is that come January I will be teaching a realtime, face to face, honest-to-deity speculative fiction workshop at the University of Toronto in Scarborough, Ontario. Are there (or do you know) any U of T students who might be interested in that? If so, write me and I will give you the scoop as it develops.
Even as I wend my way toward Saratoga Springs and the World Fantasy Convention, Tor.com is running an excerpt from A Daughter of No Nation. This is your very first chance to get back aboard the sailing vessel Nightjar, captained as always by the impossibly upright Garland Parrish and his intrepid crew.
If you haven’t been to the world of Stormwrack before now, and this taste persuades you to try a little more, Child of a Hidden Sea is on sale for $2.99 in all the major ebook retailers. Or check out the first two of The Gales, “Among the Silvering Herd” and “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti.” (A third Gale story is in the works, folks–it’s called “The Glass Galago” and will be out in early 2016.)
Some of you may also remember that I ran a draw in October, for a copy of CHS or any one of my previous books. I have rolled a many-sided die (once a gamer, always a gamer) and thereby chosen a winner, but contacting her has proven tricky so I’m going to hold off on announcing a name for now.
For anyone looking to connect with me at the World Fantasy Convention, here’s my schedule as it stands now…
Thursday November 5th
Real World Nomenclature, Taboos, and Cultural Meaning
The panel discusses the thorny issue of real world terms that often bear loaded meanings and concepts being transported wholesale into Fantasy worlds. Swearing, cursing, and racial epithets can cause controversy and out-cry. Commonly accepted terms change meaning over time and become taboo. As the politics of the real world change, is there a concurrent transposition into Fantasy worlds?
A.M. Dellamonica (mod.), Didi Chanoch, Steve Erikson, Don Pizarro, Mark van Name
When Magic Meets Science
Fantasy, and the Epic in particular, have a tendency to ignore the progress of the sciences, but there are some great stories out there which tackle the issue of technological advancement in a Fantasy world. Our panel will discuss the tension between science, technology and magic, and some of the narratives that play with our notions of technological progress in a Fantasy world, from the Discworld to Malazan and to Flintlock Fantasies.
Julie Czerneda (mod.), Donald Crankshaw, A.M. Dellamonica, Chris Gerwell
Friday November 6th
Politics, Economics and Power in Fantasy worlds
Some fantasy authors give little thought to the underlying notions of power and politics that underpin the nations of their Fantasy realms, while others are only too aware of what they borrow from the world. The panel discusses the issues of politics and power dynamics in works of Fantasy that explore, explode, or subvert the norms.
Paul Park (mod.), A.M. Dellamonica, Mark van Name, Rick Wilber, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Saturday November 7th
Right after I turned in The Nature of a Pirate Kelly and I had a vacation, followed by a lot of out of town company. I’ve spent much of the time since then considering a possible Nanowrimo project, mostly because I was feeling the need for a bit of a mental kickstart while I waited for notes on that third Sophie book.
I wasn’t sure cranking out a draft in November was the best idea ever, though the book (tentatively titled Exposure) has some definite cool things. But we’re on the road in November, headed to the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs–I’ll post my schedule soon! I’ll be in the lucky position soon of having to do promotion for A Daughter of No Nation. And my nano drafts tend to be shambling, unlovely things, studded with wonders, blood and miracles, but a lot of work to beat into shape.
The other recent project was pulling together a grant application to do just that, polish up a book set in the same universe as the newly outlined yet purely theoretical Exposure. It’s called The After People, and it has an excellent beginning, one chained like a plow horse to a somewhat mud-spattered middle and end. I’ve wanted to set aside time to clean up AP for awhile, but Stormwrack things have, of course, been more important. Writing a trilogy while lunging across the country, it turns out, is something of a long haul.
Anyway, my somewhat cursory records seemed to show that I had sent out a grant application for AP in the spring, but I was sure that couldn’t be right. There was no rejection in my files, for one thing, and anyway I didn’t remember applying. Remembering is something I apparently can’t be bothered to do anymore if I think the information is somewhere in my sent e-mail archive. So I hauled my nicely polished beginning and attendant paperwork off to the slowest copyshop ever, to watch teams of monk-scribes scratch out every page by hand (all while taking union-mandated coffee breaks and indulging in quick bouts of Gregorian chanting) and from there I schlepped the whole thing off to not one but two post offices, because the one near the house was experiencing technical difficulties.
Then, coming home from the further-away post office and having finished precisely that errand, I opened my mailbox… and found a grant cheque from the Ontario Arts Council. For The After People.
This means I did apply in May–go me! It also means that if I’m going to insist on forgetting every act I commit as soon as I hit SEND on it, I should at least trust my electronic records. On the other hand, it created an incredibly cool illusion: to mail something and then receive the answer, to have it waiting for you at home before the package has even hit a sorting station? Very cool.
More importantly, though, it means: WHEEEEEEE!!! Thank you, Ontario Arts Council!!
Finally, it means I can allot some serious time to turning the shambling 30K-word back end of AP into something twice as long and actually worth reading.
Needless to say, I am very pleased.
If you follow either of us on social media, you could hardly have failed to notice that Kelly and I were guest hosts at the ChiSeries Toronto reading yesterday evening. We got to introduce three readers: E.L. Chen, Tony Pi, and Carsten Stroud. And three musical guests: Kari Maaren, Peter Chiykowsky and the Handsome Devils. It all went swimmingly in both important senses of the phrase–the readings and performances were great, and there were no logistical hiccups.
Tony Pi’s reading, by the way, was from his story “No Sweeter Art.” It’s a Parsec Award finalist for BEST SPECULATIVE FICTION STORY: SMALL CAST (SHORT FORM) and you can hear it here.
Two other things that rocked this week
: Primo, Kelly’s cousin Emilly came to town with her boyfriend Darcy and we deliberately set about showing her Toronto in a way that made Calgary look, well, maybe just a bit ho hum. A spin past the Monets, Van Gogh, and Bernini at the AGO to start, a quick trip to the all hats all the time ballcap store for souvenirs, and a run to Tatyana
to see if Emilly could discover her inner pin-up girl were all part of the agenda. They spent a little time browsing the food and drink choices on Queen Street, and then we all hit YukYuks for a comedy show hosted by Michelle Shaughnessy
Secondo: And Jessica, who’s coming to visit, characterized the weekend as DuaCon. And I like that very much. I like the idea of Kelly and I being a free-roaming science fiction convention ready to break out with programming, reading or whatever just when you least expect it.
Here’s a shot of E.L. Chen’s gorgeous ChiTeen cover.