Joining the Alliterates

Today, I am pleased to announce I have joined The Alliterates. This professional group of writers encompasses a range of talented authors from every facet of fiction imaginable. What are we up to?

Let me start with some of the other authors who have gotten back to me before I share some of my news. Matt Forbeck just released his new ’12 for ’12 Kickstarter Dangerous Games, which is a trilogy of thrillers set at GenCon. He also just released Brave New World Revolution.

Dave Gross started as lead writer over at Overhaul Games, where their first project is Baldur’s Gate: Expanded Edition.

Doug Niles is celebrating a nonfiction release called We Were Berliners – From Weimar to the Wall. He was the ghostwriter on the project.

Jeff Grubb hit the New York Times Bestseller’s List with his first Star Wars novel titled Scourge.

Stephen Sullivan has been working on short stories and there’s quite a few of them out including a few collections. The Crimson Collection is his most recent book and Front Harrow #1: Scream Lover will be an upcoming debut.

Bruce Cordell has a new novel coming out in June called Spinner of Lies, too.

My recent news is that Prime Books will be publishing Extreme Zombies. Edited by Paula Guran, the anthology will include “Tomorrow’s Precious Lambs,” a story by yours truly. Of course, I have a new science fiction novella out called Redwing’s Gambit, which is based on the Bulldogs! setting, and a new short story titled “Don’t Ignore Your Dead” which is part of the Don’t Read This Book collection put together by editor Chuck Wendig for the Don’t Rest Your Head RPG. We just got on the Stoker reading list, too! I’ll have a few more announcements as the summer goes on, but that’s about it for now.

On Amanda Palmer. The Music.

Fire She-Ra Avatar

To understand what I think of Amanda Palmer‘s music, you should probably know I am a music snob. After being in and around music so long, you tend to have certain preferences or you get stuck with your favorites. Sure, I had a long, cold pause of not investigating the new and the shiny, which is why that’s pretty much all I’ve been doing lately. Only, I can’t stand auto-tuners or pre-manufactured songs that don’t fit the artist’s range. I understand why these things exist, but to me a lot of technological “bling” removes that irreplaceable personal element. I don’t want perfection. I want soul. Empathy. Humanity. Personality. I want the singer’s voice to show who they are and not turn into something we — the listeners — worship.

The artists I most admire are the ones who have a range, depth, and breadth to their repertoire. Who are not afraid to be naked up on stage in a way that makes them vulnerable, that forces us to understand our own pain and joy. To force us to plummet into the depths of ourselves and lift us up at the same time.

Being as picky as I am, you can imagine how turned off I am by any sort of hype. It’s impossible for me to embrace that shiny new release without hearing samples first or waiting a month until the reviews come out. But this time? I did something that I didn’t expect. I fell for the artist *before* I listened to her music. On the first day of Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter, you better believe I donated. This wasn’t marketing, this was personality. This was art. This was excitement in a way that is not faked, replicated, or disingenuine. This was an experience.

Then, last week, I got the first single Do It With A Rockstar in my InBox which is the first time we’ve also heard the musical stylings of The Grand Theft Orchestra. I had no expectations mind you. None whatsoever. For all I knew, the music could have been crap, and I still would have bought it because of my views on art as Art. And then? I fell in love. With orchestration. With complexity. With vocals that weren’t auto-tuned or prefabricated, but a voice that had to sing, because in between each note was pure, unadulterated joy.

I wound up buying Who Killed Amanda Palmer the other day and heard a story embedded each song. This, even though there is marketing and commercialism and all of that necessary crap, is a true musician working with other artists who are having fun creating music as a shared experience. I imagine Amanda and the artists she’s worked with could bring to life a small stage just as much as she’d be able to light up a stadium. She’d be just as comfortable singing to herself as she would the President, too. We could all be so lucky, to live in our art in way that lights up the world. How damn inspiring.

So yes, as her website declares, she is Amanda “Fucking” Palmer.

    Mood: Hell-bent on selling a novel so I can raise money for my music and art habits.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: I lost count.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Not enough.
    In My Ears: Who Killed Amanda Palmer
    Game Last Played: Battle Nations
    Movie Last Viewed: Harry Potter as part of a marathon
    Latest Artistic Project: Crystal Cluster bracelet in gold
    Latest Release: “Don’t Ignore Your Dead” included in Don’t Read This Book for the Don’t Rest Your Head RPG

Need Some New Jams

Hey, so I’m looking to expand my musical horizons a bit. I have a few playlists that I created on iTunes and I definitely want to add to a few of them and stretch outside the box. First, you should know that I have a very eclectic taste in music. For the right mood, I will play the same collection over and over again, even if it’s not my usual fare. I love movie and television show soundtracks because I can get a really good, eclectic mix of songs that are usually variations on a theme. For example, The Power of One soundtrack is a gorgeous selection of typically a capella music with drums. On the other hand, the Queen of the Damned soundtrack allows me to lurk in the dark and think of vampires. Heh, heh. I tend to go for quality over popularity, too, though I really love Queen, which means I adore Muse, too. Yes, and Metallica. OF COURSE I LOVE METALLICA. For female artists, my current fav is Adelle.

The playlists I have right now are dubbed: Angst Music, Final Fantasy, High Energy, Industrial Heaven, Moody as Hell, Movie Soundtracks, New Agey De-Stress, She-Ra POWAH, and Whiny Uk-ish Boy Bands. My salsa collection is sorely lacking and my blues and jazz? Non-existent. (Also, not a fan of auto-tuning and I have enough dance music for the moment, anyway.) I am, however, getting back into punk and what I call punk-lite.

So recommend me your wildest musicians, your best albums, and your favorite artists. My playlist will thank you later. May even have to add a new one or two…

    Mood: This [<->] close to buying a mike and a keyboard.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Just shoot it up my veins, man.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Walkin’ and walkin’.
    In My Ears: Um… I don’t want to say. It’s embarrassing.
    Game Last Played: Battle Nations
    Movie Last Viewed: Harry Potter as part of a marathon
    Latest Artistic Project: Crystal Cluster bracelet in gold
    Latest Release: “Don’t Ignore Your Dead” included in Don’t Read This Book for the Don’t Rest Your Head RPG

My Balticon Schedule

Next week, I will be reading Redwing’s Gambit at Balticon in Baltimore, Maryland. I’ll also be bringing samples from Steve Jackson Games and will attend and speak on several panels. If you’re at this show, come say hello!

Here’s my schedule for Balticon 46:

G-2. Game Production from Concept To Reality
Friday at 5:30 pm in Parlor 3041

Have you ever come up with an idea for a game and wondered how to go about creating it, play-testing it, marketing it, and producing it? Come to this panel to talk to several game creators as well as someone from the manufacturing and production/marketing side of game design.

Moderator: Bill T. Levay
Speakers: Monica Valentinelli; Peter BL!X Bryant; Neal Levin; Art Blumberg

SE-9a. Friday Face Time: Meet the Guests — Mix and Mingle
Friday at 9:00 pm in Con-Suite

Mix and mingle with the Guests of Honor and Balticon 46 Program Participants.
Moderator: Con Chair Patti Kinlock
Speakers: Jody Lynn Nye (Guest of Honor)

R-67. The Generation Starship Concept As A Locus For Stories
Saturday at 10:00 am in Salon A

Since 1934, we have kept telling stories set inside those space arks, drawing a constant sense of fascination from the basic dramatic premises of the idea. Why? What is it that attracts readers and writers to generation starship stories? Also, what kind of generation starship stories would we like to write or read next?
Moderator: David Batchelor
Speakers: Monica Valentinelli; Paul D, Lagasse; Simone Caroti; Jody Lynn Nye (Guest of Honor)

G-6. What are The Best 2-Player Games?
Saturday at 2:00 pm in Parlor 3041

Do you have trouble finding more than 2 people to play games with? How many times have you looked at your game collection and wondered what game would work well for 2? Come find out what games can be great fun for only 2 players.
Moderator: Donna Dearborn
Speakers: Monica Valentinelli; Cathy Raymond; Art Blumberg; Eric B. (Hymie!) Hymowitz

Reading: Monica Valentinelli
Saturday at 8:30 pm in Pimlico
Monica Valentinelli reads from her works.
Speakers: Monica Valentinelli

R-68. The Nature of Faster-Than-Light Travel as An SF Trope
Sunday at 1:00 pm in Salon A

Some SF writers will not use it in their stories, because it may not even be possible and therefore smacks too much of the magical. Others happily use it, reasoning that what was considered impossible in the past is commonplace technology today, and the same will be true of FTL travel.
Moderator: Eric Raymond
Speakers: Monica Valentinelli; Simone Caroti; David Batchelor; Yoji Kondo/Eric Kotani

Munchkin the Guild!

Guess what started shipping??? Munchkin the Guild!!! This 15 card booster set is compatible with any Munchkin game and it’s based on the web series The Guild. We also released two Munchkin promo cards at PAX East which you can see on our Steve Jackson Games Flickr account. Our online store, Warehouse 23, has been adding these randomly to orders.

Does the artwork seems familiar? This booster set was drawn by artist Len Peralta, who also illustrates the Geek-a-Week cards. It’s pretty cool to see these out now — especially since we debuted them early at PAX East. If you’re interested in a copy, I’m sure your Friendly Local Game Store will have one.

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