Category Archives: Fandom

Why Fandom is My Family, and Family Don’t End With Blood

I don’t usually write blog posts that are about someone else’s book. BUT–Lynn Zubernis asked for my ‘thinky thoughts’ about her new book, Family Don’t End With Blood, so here I go.

The story so far….Lynn runs the Fangasm Supernatural fan site and is @FangasmSPN on Twitter. She’s very active at SPN conventions and both she and Laurena Aker of the WinchesterFamilyBusiness site are pillars of the Supernatural fandom community. Family Don’t End With Blood is Lynn’s new book about how Supernatural–the show, the characters, the actors and the fandom–changed lives and helped people through depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, grief, physical challenges, self-harm and other issues. It includes interviews with actors, fans and others who are part of the SPNFamily.

IMG_0078I knew I was in trouble when I choked up on the introduction. Trust me when I say I’m not a big crier. I was teary before I was even into the first essay. Not sad tears, but that sense you get when you come home and know it.

I’ve talked candidly about how fandom saved my life when I was 15. And I’ve also talked about why, in these frightening and unstable times, we fans need each other and our fandoms more than ever. And I’ve also shared how Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles’ #AlwaysKeepFighting (#AKF) campaign via the Supernatural fandom inspired me to pull together 100 science fiction/fantasy authors for the #HoldOnToTheLight campaign.

Fandom has been part of my life since I was about 15. Now that I’m an author of epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk, I’m not only a fan, but I’m up on the stage on panels, talking about how we create the worlds readers escape into, as well as other fannish interests. Most of my friends are involved in fandom at some level or another, either as pros or fans–or both. I travel for about 15 sci-fi/fantasy conventions a year all over the U.S. and sometimes Canada. I am writing eight novels this year, plus some short stories and novellas. I spend most of my waking hours surrounded by the characters in my books. So I take fandom very seriously.

I came late to the party on Supernatural, diving into the show during late S11 and got completely caught up on all eleven seasons plus all the tie-in books (and reading more fan fiction than I will admit to sober) by the start of Season 12. I haven’t gone this deep into a fandom since the first Star Wars movie came out in 1977. And gradually, I came to understand why.

I knew about Supernatural because one of my daughters had watched it when the show first came out and she said I would like it. Then last April, all of a sudden it seemed like the right time to start in. I was hooked from the start, and we binge watched a couple of episodes each night. Little did I know that I was also just heading into a storm of personal upsets and set backs that still hasn’t fully worked its way out. I found myself getting immersed in the show–and then the books and the fan fiction–as a way to hang on.IMG_0347

One of the first ways Supernatural changed me happened when I saw how much good came out of the #AlwaysKeepFighting campaign. I was really impressed that Jared and Jensen and Misha would use their platform to do something so personal and important. That got me thinking. Writers aren’t famous like actors, but our books create the worlds that inspire TV shows and movies–we create the genre. I know a lot of writers, and I also knew that we all had our own demons. So I asked 100 of my author friends if they would be willing to write a post on their own blogs about how mental health issues like depression, suicide, PTSD, anxiety, self-harm, etc. had affected them, someone they loved, their characters and their writing. I called it #HoldOnToTheLight, and the goal was to decrease the stigma about mental health issues within fandom, to stand in solidarity with fans, and to encourage readers to seek help. You can find more about #HoldOnToTheLight and the master post of blogs at www.HoldOnToTheLight.com. We also encouraged convention runners to add panels on mental health to con programming or to expand/promote panels they already offered. The list of cons with those panels is growing, and now includes GenCon (approx. 70K attendees) and Dragon*Con (approx 80K attendees).

But Supernatural wouldn’t let me go–and going through a personal rough patch, I dove in deeper. I found my way into online fandom, first by immersing myself in fan fiction, fan videos and art, and then gradually getting involved in the lively, ongoing conversation on Twitter.

That’s how I met Nightsky, and as we chatted–first with tweets, then direct messages, then emails–she asked me to do a guest blog post for Winchester Family Business based on some comments I’d made. Then I was heading to Chicago to a non-SPN convention, and we agreed to meet up between my panels. We ended up spending most of the day together and having a wonderful dinner, and then continuing the conversation via email afterwards. I’ve written another guest blog since then for WFB and might do so again. Along the way, I started to live tweet the new episodes, and met even more fans. Now going out on Twitter is a highlight and social point of my day, responding to conversations, posting photos and memes, and enjoying the SPNFamily’s online companionship. I’m still not through that rough patch, but the SPNFamily is helping me hang on–they mean more to me than I can express, and I hope I can pay the favor forward.

There’s one more reason Supernatural is so special to me, and I didn’t realize it until I was well into season six.

Sam and Dean faced down the specter that dominated my childhood and convinced me that I would never live long enough to become an adult: the Apocalypse.

Now maybe that sounds strange. But I grew up in a church that expected the literal Biblical Apocalypse/Rapture/Armageddon to happen any day. And simultaneously, my parents were involved in the far right’s conspiracy-fueled underground expecting a Communist take-over (a la the Chinese Cultural Revolution and Stalin’s purges) to happen at any time. (Note: I disavowed both these religious and political views decades ago, but they unquestionably warped my childhood and framed my world view as a child/adolescent.)

IMG_0106One of my favorite books as a child and pre-teen was Clarence Larkin’s The Greatest Book of Dispensational Truth. It was–I kid you not–an illustrated, fold-out guide to the Apocalypse that did not consider itself to be fiction. If you wonder where Supernatural got its horsemen, Leviathans, the Witnesses, the Seals, the Whore of Babylon, the Beast, the AntiChrist and so much more–it’s all in there, in pictures. Larkin and John Nelson Darby popularized the Rapture and Armageddon mythos by reading several prophetic books of the Bible (Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation as well as the apocryphal book of Enoch–yes, it’s where Enochian comes from) and interpreting them outside of generally accepted methods of textual criticism and archeological/cultural study. In other words, they in a sense wrote fan fiction of the Bible, and it stuck.

When these frightening images are part of what all the adults around you accept as real and inevitable, it is terrifying to a child–like finding out that the monster under the bed is real. It was too big to handle, and the only advice from adults was just to make sure my soul was ok when it came my time to die.

At the same time, my parents got pulled into a secretive network of conspiracy theorists who believed that Communists had infiltrated the world governments at every level and that–any day now–we were all either going to die or be imprisoned in gulags. One of my earliest memories is my mom coaching me on how to behave when the day came that we would be taken to a prison camp. I think I was around four or five.

My uncle got us into it. He had been in infantry and then tanks in World War II and saw combat in the Battle of the Bulge. I believe he returned with severe PTSD, which went untreated and unacknowledged, and I think it made him vulnerable to the nightmarish scenarios of the conspiracies. My uncle’s friends were also WWII vets. They passed information via short-wave radio (no internet back in the 1970s), through secret get-togethers, and by word of mouth–always wary that ‘They’ were watching.

IMG_0107So I grew up with people who stockpiled ammo and hid guns in the walls of their houses, who had bunkers and safe houses, who talked about keeping a stash of silver coins on hand so that when–not if–the banks collapsed and currency lost its value, we could run and go to ground. I grew up with caches of freeze-dried food–enough to last five years–and survivalist tactics and friends who trained their kids to strip a gun blindfolded. My uncle and his friends saw themselves as the thin gray line of sentries in a war against evil, willing to die for a cause kept secret because others would think it was crazy.

I don’t think John Winchester and Bobby Singer would have shared the political views of my uncle and his friends, but they could have walked into the room and had a drink with them and understood those guys. They were damaged men, trying to do the best they could, protecting the people they loved.

Shedding those two pervasive world views that had shaped my understanding of reality nearly destroyed me as a teenager in my college years. Fandom and my early attempts at writing the novel which would someday become The Summoner kept me alive. Back then, I discovered I could entertain and amuse my friends by writing fan fiction for Star Wars, Star Trek, Space: 1999 and other shows. We passed the typed or hand-written stories around at convention room parties in the early 1980s. For a short time, I even ran a fanzine.

I belonged in fandom the way I didn’t ever belong in my birth family, at my church, at my college or with most of the people I knew growing up. Inside fandom, I was safe. Inside fandom, people understood and liked the same things I did, they got the jokes and the catchphrases. They validated, affirmed and encouraged. We might have been freaks to the outside world, but we were freaks together.

When I started watching Supernatural, I didn’t realize the connection at first. Then one day, it hit me and I was poleaxed. Sam and Dean faced down my personal bogeyman–the Apocalypse–and survived. Scarred, yes, but still standing and stronger than before. True heroes.

So when I read Lynn’s awesome book and the essays by creators, actors and fans alike about the strength and healing of the fandom family, I totally understand. I cherish my time at conventions when I can be with my tribe–although the events at which I’m a panelist are general sci-fi/fantasy cons instead of the SPN cons (which do sound like a lot of fun). I’m so thrilled that because of Supernatural, a much larger group of people have come into fandom and found that refuge. We all find our corner of fandom, whether it’s books, movies, TV shows, cosplay, gaming, LARP, comics, filk music, art or a mix of all of those.

One of the most affirming thing you can hear as an author is that your book and characters got someone through a hard time. I have read books by favorite authors that got me through depression, loneliness, deaths in the family, and stressful circumstances. And my most cherished notes from readers are the ones who tell me that my books kept them company at the bedside of a dying loved one, got them through two tours of duty in Afghanistan, or otherwise helped them survive hard times.

As Lynn shares in her book, that two-way support is taken to a whole new level of special with the Supernatural fandom and its creators and actors. I’ve seen that kind of support in action, and I know how powerful it can be, and how wonderful it is to belong to a community that welcomes you and encourages you to be your real self.

I’ve felt that welcome myself as a newcomer to SPNFamily–take a look at my Twitter feed, It’s turned Twitter into one of my favorite activities. I look forward to seeing what new wonderful comments and photos my SPNFamily is going to share that day, and enjoy trying to return the favor. Getting adopted by this wonderful group of people has meant a lot to me.

So go buy Lynn’s book. Give it to a friend who needs encouragement. But even more importantly, continue being the wonderful fandom and SPNFamily you already are and be there for each other. Because family really doesn’t end with blood–in the end, our true families are the people we choose.

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Why fandom matters now more than ever

by Gail Z. Martin

Now, when the world feels more hostile and frightening than it has in a long time, I believe fandom (the creators and organizers who enable it, as well as the fans who participate) is more important than ever because when we are afraid, we need our tribes.

It is perfectly reasonable to seek comfort and encouragement from those who share a love for the same stories and our fandom mythologies.

In my experience, fandom shares a deep belief in honor, loyalty, friendship, integrity, courage, family (both family by blood and family by choice), and in spite of apocalypses and dystopias, a conviction that we will survive if we keep faith with each other and refuse to leave anyone behind.

Fandom has also been a shelter for those of us who don’t always fit in out there. We’re different, and we belong together. That means right now many of us feel vulnerable and at risk. Be gentle with each other, support each other, and protect each other.

If you’re a creator, keep telling stories, making movies and shows and videos, writing songs and acting, cosplaying and making art. If you’re a fan, gather your tribe and immerse yourself in the stories that sustain you. If you’re a convention organizer, blogger, site admin, keep bringing us together.

Fandom is fierce. We’ve got the biggest damn BAMF heroes who stand for truth, justice, and most importantly, the idea that humanity’s better self can ultimately prevail. Our heroes are flawed and scarred, they make mistakes and they pay a price, but they do not give up, give in, or give way. They inspire us to find the hero inside of ourselves.

Science fiction and fantasy has a long history of being subversive to tyrants. SF was the language of dangerous ideas behind the Iron Curtain. We speak the truth in myth. There’s a reason so many of our sacred tales are about rebels. We aim to misbehave.

We are the people of Aragorn and Galadriel, of Sam, Frodo and Arwen, of Mal and Zoe and River, Kirk, Janeway, Sisko and Picard. Of Sulu and Spock and Uhura. Of Harry and Ron and Hermione, McGonagall and Dumbledore. Of Captain America, Wonder Woman, Batman and Black Widow. Of Sam & Dean and Team Free Will. Of Frozone and Mulan and Moana (yes, I count Disney as part of fandom). Of Leia and Han and Lando, Finn and Rey, Jyn and Cassian. Sheridan and Delenn. The Doctor and Capt Jack Harkness. We are strong, and we fight for what we believe in, shoulder to shoulder.

So take heart in Aragorn’s speech at the Black Gate. Close your eyes and repeat Paul Atreides’ Litany Against Fear. Be ‘proud of us’. Stand up for what you believe in and stand up for each other. Take your place at the Battle of Hogwarts, or Yavin 5, Sector 001, Stull Cemetery, Serenity Valley, Demon’s Run or the Battle of the Line. We come from a long, proud heritage of people who don’t want to be told the odds.

And if you haven’t read my personal story about how fandom saved my life, it’s here https://holdontothelight.com/…/fandom-takes-care-of-its-ow…/

#AlwaysKeepFighting #HoldOnToTheLight #YouAreNotAlone #FamilyAlwaysHasYourBack #YANA #AKF #FAHYB

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Jumper–A #HoldOnToTheLight post by Chris Kennedy

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I watched in horror as the girl slid between the rails of the 10th floor balcony, looking at the ground far, far below.

It was my third year of college at the University of North Carolina, and I had come back to school early after the summer break to be an orientation counsellor for the new freshman class. I had just gone to bed when one of my counselees started banging on my door. “You’ve got to help me!” the guy outside the door exclaimed when I opened it. “Sarah was drinking at one of the parties, and now she’s up on the 10th floor talking about killing herself.”

We ran up the six flights of stairs (I was in much better shape then) to find one of my other counselees forcing herself between the rails of the railing. As I raced to her, she made it the rest of the way through. I don’t know if she would have jumped or not, and looking into her eyes as her head turned back to us, I’m not sure she did either, but I could tell she was seriously contemplating it (as if being on the wrong side of the railing wasn’t giveaway enough.) It was probably the scariest moment of my life.

I grabbed her through the rails, pinning her to the railing, and after several minutes of talking convinced her to come back through to our side. While the other counselee ran to call the hospital, I talked with her to find out what drove her to step outside the rails.

She was alone at school, away from home for the first time, and her boyfriend of several years had broken up with her. She didn’t have anyone she thought she could talk to and she had several drinks at one of the parties that were being held that night. It was a bad combination, and almost a fatal one for her.

At the time, I didn’t understand why she would want to throw it all away. She was just starting college and was an attractive young lady; she would have had a number of folks interested in her. Back then, I didn’t know anything about depression…how it eats away at you from the inside, causing you to think that no one cares until you finally believe it. How the world would be better off without you. How it would be better to end it all and make the pain go away.

Having had a serious bout of depression since then, though, I do understand those things, and here’s what I know. Depression isolates you from everyone else. You don’t think that anyone else could ever understand what you’re going through. This deprives you of the one thing you need: someone to talk to. I didn’t have anyone I thought I could talk to, for a number of reasons, so I kept my problems bottled up. I could deal with them myself, I thought; better that than worrying anyone else. And that’s when the first tendrils of depression started working their way into my mind. And once they’re in, they strangle off all reason and eat you from the inside out, until you give up hope.

Alcohol is no help. As Sarah found out, it only removes that last bit of rational thought keeping you from doing something really stupid. Having seen it in action once, I knew better than to drink…even though I wanted to really badly. That kept me together, barely, until things changed a little and I found someone to talk to. Just the simple act of talking about part of my problems let me release enough of the stress to start on the way to recovery. I survived, but it was a lot closer than I liked. I heard the voices…whispering, urging…but was able to keep them at bay. I still hear them, sometimes, when things aren’t going well. Once they’re in, they never completely go away.

Not everyone is able to keep the voices at bay, though, and the only way they’re going to get better is to talk to someone. A professional, if possible, but any outlet helps. If you see a friend withdraw from society, be there for him or her; talk to them. You never know, you just may save their life.

chris-kennedyChris Kennedy is a  bestselling Science Fiction/Fantasy author and speaker, a former naval aviator and elementary school principal. Chris’ stories include the “Occupied Seattle” military fiction duology, “The Theogony” and “Codex Regius” science fiction trilogies, and the “War for Dominance” fantasy trilogy.

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/.

 

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DragonCon is this coming weekend!

FB Tairens LareDragonCon is this coming weekend—and I’ll be there! Here’s where to find me:

Friday
11:30 a.m. Effective Promotion for Writers Embassy CD Hyatt

2 pm Signing at The Missing Volume in the Vendor Hall

2-3 pm Larry N. Martin will be signing in Booth 1223-1225 Author’s Lair

3-4 I will be signing in Booth 1223-1225 Author’s Lair

5:30  Magical Tropes Embassy EF–Hyatt

7 pm Avoiding Historical Mistakes 204J Mart2

8:30 Social Media as Tool not Trial Embassy CD–Hyatt

Saturday
10 – noon Signing in Booth 1223-1225 Author’s Lair

1 pm The Craft of Dystopia Chastain F-H Westin

2:30 pm Signing at Larry Smith Books in the Vendor Hall

2:30 pm Larry N. Martin will be signing in Author’s Lair

4 pm Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading Piedmont–Hyatt

5:30 Plotting/Sustaining a Series Embassy CD–Hyatt

7 History or Alternate History 204I Mart2

shadow aliance t-shirtSunday
10 a.m. Literary Comfort Food Embassy AB–Hyatt

11:30 Awesome Women of Podcasting 202-Hilton

1:30 – 3:30 Signing in Booth 1223-1225 Author’s Lair

4 pm Niche Markets in Ebooks/Print 208-209 Hilton

Monday
10 a.m. Hiding in Plain Sight: Closed Worlds in UF Chastain DE-Westin

1:30 – 3 Signing in Booth 122301225 Author’s Lair

Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

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Come see me at DragonCon!

Labor Day weekend, I’ll be at DragonCon in Atlanta—and if you’re there, stop by and say hello!

Here’s my panel and signing schedule:

  • A Magical Place: The Role of Setting in Urban Fantasy–Time: Fri 10:00 am Location: Chastain BC – Westin
  • Fictional Writing and Skepticism–Time: Fri 04:00 pm Location: 204-207 – Hilton
  • Critique Groups and Beta Readers–Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: Embassy D-F – Hyatt
  • How ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Has Changed Publishing and Writing–Time: Fri 10:00 pm Location: 201 – Hilton
  • Athena’s Daughters Authors Meet & Greet–Time: Sat 10:00 am Location: A708 – Marriott
  • Wreaking Havoc in Many Guises: Demons in Urban Fantasy–Time: Sat 11:30 am Location: Chastain BC – Westin
  • Book signing at Larry Smith Books —Time: Sat. 2 p.m. Location: Dealers’ Room
  • Who Needs Dystopias When You Have History–Time: Sat 10:00 pm Location: Augusta 3 – Westin
  • Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading—Time: Sun 11:30 a.m. Location: Hyatt Vinings
  • Peopling Your Fiction–Time: Sun 04:00 pm Location: Embassy D-F – Hyatt
  • Athena’s Daughters book signing—Time: Mon. 11-12 a.m. Location: Artists’ Alley
  • Werewolves, Vampires, Demons, Dragons-Oh My! –Time: Mon 01:00 pm Location: Embassy D-F – Hyatt

News Flash! Solaris Books has asked for a second Deadly Curiosities book for 2015!

In other news….

Four new anthologies with my short stories are now available!

If you missed the @Kickstarter, you can still get Dance Like a Monkey from @sitlpublishing here: https://www.silenceinthelibrarypublishing.com/product/dance-like-a-monkey/

Realms of Imagination with my Deadly Curiosities story, “The Restless Dead” now available https://amzn.com/1941754031

Clockwork Universe now for sale w our Steampunk story “Airship Down” https://squareup.com/market/zombies-need-brains-llc

The Heroes anthology w my superhero story from @sitlpublishing here: https://www.silenceinthelibrarypublishing.com/product/heroes/

Check out the Anthologies page of this website—it’s updated with the whole list of anthologies that are now available with my stories.

And here’s where you can find me for the rest of the year…

  • Oct.3-5 ContraFlow, New Orleans, LA
  • Oct. 24 – 31 Days of the Dead Online Event
  • Nov. 7-9 World Fantasy
  • Nov. 14-16 Atomacon, Charleston SC
  • Nov. 21-23 Philcon, West Orange, NJ

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Kicking the Athena’s Daughters Kickstarter Up a Notch!

kickstarter, anthology, women, science fiction, fantasy,

Help fund the Kickstarter campaign to bring the Athena’s Daughters campaign to life!

Athena’s Daughters is the second Kickstarter anthology I’ve been part of. (The first is the upcoming Clockwork Universe: Steampunk Vs. Aliens by Zombies Need Brains Press.)

Once again, I am amazed by our fantabulous backers! We have passed Stretch Goal #20, which means all backers at $5+ get the audio book of War of the Seasons Part I by Janine Spendlove, plus the amazing print of Athena by Ginger Breo, plus a new anthology story by Jennifer Brozek, plus a new e-story by Tera Fulbright,–we added all those goodies just in the last couple of days, thanks to you!

Each time we make another stretch goal, all backers at the $5+ level get new stuff. The more people who back the Kickstarter, the more loot we all get. Got it? Fund it!

So what’s Stretch Goal #20? A limited edition hardcover of Athena’s Daughters will be published. This won’t be a freebie, but it will be available to order, and the funding at this level makes publication a possibility.

Stretch Goal #21 will mean an additional story will be added to the anthology by Diana Peterfreund.

Goal #22 will fund the creations of a companion anthology, Apollo’s Daughters, featuring female characters written by some of the top male science fiction and fantasy writers! Writers like Michael A. Stackpole, Aaron Alston, Aaron Rosenberg, David Mack and Brian Young, so you know this is going to be good!

And Goal #23 adds a story by Alma Alexander to the anthology!  We are adding new stretch goals and new pledge rewards almost daily! There’s still plenty of good stuff–but you’ve got to fund it to get it!

In addition to the Stretch Goals, there are still some awesome Pledge Rewards waiting to be gobbled up. These exclusive packages have limited quantities, and offer unique bundles of ebooks, print books, art, music and surprises. Support at the FIERCE level and get personalized, signed copies of my books The Sworn, The Dread and Ice Forged, plus other goodies. Support the REGAL level and get a personalized, signed copy of a limited-edition ARC of my book The Blood King. Support at the MENTOR level and get a manuscript review by one of our anthology’s published authors—perfect for your own work or to give as a gift to the writer in your life!

Here’s something else that’s awesome–for every book sold, Athena’s Daughters will contribute to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network), the largest anti-abuse network in the U.S.  You get the whole stretch goal package–books, ebooks, e-stories, artwork, music, and victims of abuse get the help they need to survive. It’s a great way to do good while getting goodies.

You’ve got it fund it to get it! Please become a backer of Athena’s Daughters: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/103879051/athenas-daughters-women-in-science-fiction-and-fan’s  (You’ll also see all the contributing authors, artists, editors and musicians, plus the AWESOME stretch goals, pledge reward levels and add-ons.)

Watch the Athena’s Daughter’s video.

Get to know the Athena’s Daughters awesome authors with our blog hop! Just follow this link to blogging bliss!

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Athena’s Daughters is a Kickstarter anthology featuring short stories by women writers in science fiction, fantasy and steampunk. Introduction by retired astronaut and former space shuttle pilot Pam Melroy. Authors include Mary Robinette Kowal, Gail Z. Martin, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Marie Ward, Janine Spendlove, Maggie Allen, Conley Lyons, Cleolinda Jones, Cynthia Ward, C.A. Verstraete, Tera Fulbright, Tanya Spackman, EJ Lawrence, Nisi Shawl, Vicki Johnson-Steger, DL Stever , Diana Peterfreund, Jennifer Brozek, Tricia Barr. Art by Tietjen Alverez, Kellie Neier, Betsy Waddell, Ginger Breo.  Edited by Jean Rabe.

 

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The Broad Universe Year in Review Blog Ring of Power starts 12/1 – 12/31

BRoP Year in Review 2013Seventeen women speculative fiction writers (including me!) talk about 2013 milestones and what’s coming up in 2014 on the Broad Universe Blog Ring of Power!

Authors include Hichelle Hauck, Heidi Vlach, Anne E. Johnson, Bonnie Milani, A.W. Exley, Gail Z. Martin, Tracy Lane, T.J. Loveless, E.B. Black, Ellen Larson, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Lori Sjoberg, Beth Barany, Lauren Jankowski, Jennifer Allis Provost, Terri Bruce, T.W. Fendley, Emily LaBonte, Sandra Ulbrich Almazan and Vicki Lempe Weavile.

Includes drawings for awesome prizes!

Prizes include:
ebook copies of Render (A story of Aligaire) by Heidi Vlach (3 copies)
ebook copy of Home World by Bonnie Milani and ebook copy of Trades by Bonnie Milani
ebook copy of Nefertiti’s Heart by A. W. Exley
$25 Amazon Gift Card from T. J. Loveless
paperback copy of Going Thru Hell by T. J. Loveless
ebook copy of Medusa’s Desire by E. B. Black
signed hardcover first edition of In Retrospect by Ellen Larson
ebook copies of Bad Apple by Kristi Petersen Schoonover (2)
ebook copy of Grave Intentions by Lori Sjoberg
copy of Henrietta the Dragon Slayer by Beth Barany (print for U.S. or ebook for Int. winner)
$10 Amazon gift card from Terri Bruce
ebook copy of Twinned Universes by Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
signed copy of Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin

Details here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find all the blog goodness here:

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What are some things you learned from writing fantasy?

by Gail Z. Martin

Q:  What are some things you learned from writing fantasy?

A:  One thing I’ve learned is a definite respect for the hardships which our ancestors endured—plague, famine, lack of clean water, lack of indoor plumbing and central heat, high mortality rates from curable conditions, etc.  At the same time, I’m intrigued by how much joy they were still able to take from life through family and friends, small comforts and conveniences, celebrations and holidays, and good food when there was food to be had.

I’m in awe of what they were able to do with the technology that they had to work with, whether it’s the invention of war machines such as those DaVinci designed, or the creation of complex water and sewer systems, or the sheer temerity to sail across an ocean without modern communication and navigation tools.  And then there’s the cooking.  I’m amazed at the complicated recipes they created to be cooked over open flames or in “ovens” without any reliable temperature control!

I’ve learned a lot about medieval weapons and society, not in a bookish sort of way, but by needing to apply what I learned from history and then live with it in the skin of my characters.  It’s one thing to read about something.  It’s another to put yourself into the moment and have to live with it.

I’ve also learned how much contemporary stories rely on instantaneous communication and modern travel speeds, neither of which were available in the medieval world of epic fantasy.  This has major plot ramifications.  If something happens on one battlefield, there is no way to get word to someone hundreds of miles away faster than a horse and rider can travel, unless you use magic (but magic must be unreliable to avoid being a cheat).  We don’t think about those kinds of delays today, but they were very real throughout most of history.  If a character needs to go to a distant place, they’re constrained by how fast a man can walk or how fast a horse can sustain a gallop.  Especially in battle scenes, these two issues are crucial, because there is no good way to communicate among far-flung  battlefields, no way to know real-time information, no fast way to move an army from here to there.  These kinds of things make a big impact on how you can tell the story, what can be known by your characters, and what options are open to them.

I’ve also learned fun things, like word origins.  For example, people have been retching since 1540,  puking and heaving since the 1600s, but only barfing since the 1960s.  They’ve been pissing since the 1300s and leaking since the 1500s, but they didn’t start to pee until 1788.  If your character needs to do one or the other, you’ve got to get the historically correct term. These things are important for a writer to know!

 

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Filed under Books, Fandom, Gail Z. Martin

Last Friday Night at Dragon*Con (with apologies to Katy Perry)

by Gail Z. Martin

There’s a Klingon in my bed
There’s a Vorlon in my head
Guinan’s serving in the bar
Reavers  passed out in the yard.
Con suite’s closing for the night
Is that a tattoo or a bite?

Photos of last night
Posted on the site
Dude!
It’s a fandom blur
But I know for sure
It ruled.

Last Friday night.
Yeah we gamed on tabletops
Then we did some True Blood shots
Think we filked but I forgot
Last Friday night

We went LARPing in the park
Crashed the Green Room after dark
Had some panels jump the shark
Last Friday night
Do it all again…Do it all again

What can I say—it was Dragon*con!  Just got back from Atlanta, and it was wonderful, as usual.

I had a great panel schedule, because it also gave me time to wander the vendor rooms and art show and catch some live music, as well as the panels with the stars of True Blood, and appearances by William Shatner and Carrie Fisher.

Panels were a lot of fun and very well attended.  How can you not have fun when you’re on panels with folks like Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Carole Nelson Douglas, Brent Weeks, David B. Coe, Scott Sigler, and other fun guests!  And I saw lots of other friends, like my esteemed co-blogger J.F. Lewis, my Ravencon roomie Jean Marie Ward, and all the Broad Universe crew, plus folks from my Thrifty Author Meetup group, and many more friends, colleagues and con buddies.

Costumes were fantastic, as always.  Saw a lot of great Steampunk interpretations.  My favorites were the Steampunk Green Lanterns and Captain America.  Lots of anime-inspired costuming too, as well as characters from all the big hit summer movies and top video games.  I think my favorite con t-shirt was the one with a white anime cat dressed in camouflage with a big gun—Halo Kitty, of course.

Of course, it was a total mob scene, and the elevators can only be compared to the Japanese subway, but otherwise it wouldn’t be Dragon*Con.  So now you know where I was Last Friday Night.  And all I can say is—Do it all again!

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Filed under Conventions, Fandom, Gail Z. Martin

Paranormally Speaking

By Tina R. McSwain

Dragon*Con

The granddaddy of the Southern Cons has hit Atlanta for the next three days.  Always scheduled for the Labor Day Holiday Weekend, this is one Con you need to attend.

There is a dedicated Paranormal Tract at Dragon*Con, being held at its own hotel and continuing its success from last year.

Following is the link of speakers and programming:

https://paranormal.dragoncon.org/

If you’re into the paranormal and in Atlanta this weekend, this is the place to be to see all of your favorites.  The Sheraton Hotel hosts the Paranormal Tract.

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Filed under Conventions, Fandom, Tina R. McSwain