[New Release] Wonderbook (Revised and Expanded): The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

Wonderbook (Revised and Expanded): The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction

Wonderbook has become the definitive guide to writing science fiction and fantasy by offering an accessible, example-rich approach that emphasizes the importance of playfulness as well as pragmatism. It also exploits the visual nature of genre culture and employs bold, full-color drawings, maps, renderings, and visualizations to stimulate creative thinking. On top of all that, the book features sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names working in the field today, including George R. R. Martin, Lev Grossman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, and Karen Joy Fowler.

For the fifth anniversary of the original publication, Jeff VanderMeer has added an additional 50 pages of diagrams, illustrations, and writing exercises creating the ultimate volume of inspiring advice that is also a stunning and inspiring object.

I am happy to announce that my work has been included in this stellar edition. When reviewing the existing material, there was so much great advice in the initial volume it was difficult to figure out a contribution. I opted to provide a methodology for the creation of an alien language simply and quickly; this is something game designers, authors, comic book writers, etc. can use if you get stuck figuring out how an alien species communicates.

Wonderbook (Revised and Expanded): The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction is available wherever fine books are sold. Additionally, if you haven’t checked out Jeff VanderMeer‘s work please do! He’s a very fine author in his own right, and his wife Ann is a stellar editor, too. A perfect blend of literary talents, indeed. To hire them for writing, editing, teaching, or speaking, visit VanderMeer Creative.

Announcing the Table of Contents for Sisterhood: Dark Tales and Secret Histories

Sisterhood: Dark Tales and Secret Histories

In churches and convents and other religious communities, sisterhood takes many forms, forged and tested by such mundane threats as disease and despair, but also by terrors both spiritual and cosmic—Satan’s subtle minions and the Lovecraftian nightmare of the Outer Gods. Sisterhood: Dark Tales and Secret Histories presents sixteen horror stories by some of the genre’s leading female voices. Their settings range around the globe and across the centuries, from 14th century Spain to 17th century Virginia to England in the present day.

Contributors include such award-winning and critically acclaimed authors as Nadia Bulkin, Livia Llewellyn, Molly Tanzer, Sun Yung Shin, Gemma Files, Kaaron Warren, Damien Angelica Walters, and Selena Chambers. With original cover art by Liv Rainey-Smith.

Table of Contents

“The Wine of Men” by Ann K. Schwader
“From an Honest Sister, to a Neglected Daughter” by Monica Valentinelli
“Étaín and the Unholy Ghosts” by Lisa Morton
“The Barefoot Sisters of Saint Beatriz of the Mountain” by Kali Wallace
“Unburdened Flesh” by Penelope Love
“Only Dead Men Do Not Lie: The Trials of the Formosans” by Kaaron Warren
“Jane, Jamestown, The Starving Time” by Sun Yung Shin
“Dorcas and Ann: A True Story” by Molly Tanzer
“The Resurrected” by S. P. Miskowski
“The Low, Dark Edge of Life” by Livia Llewellyn
“The Anchoress” by Lynda E. Rucker
“Siūlais ir Kraujo ir Kaulų (Of Thread and Blood and Bone)” by Damien Angelica Walters
“Gravity Wave” by Nadia Bulkin
“The Veils of Sanctuary” by Selena Chambers
“The Sisters of Epione” by Alison Littlewood
“Red Words” by Gemma Files

Sisterhood: Dark Tales and Secret Histories
Edited by Nate Pedersen
CHA6058
SRP $17.99
ISBN 978-1-56882-464-2
272 pages
Trade paperback

For pre-orders and availability, visit your local bookstore, library, or watch for it on sites like DriveThruFiction.com.

MANW Week 40 Check In: New Theme and Saddling Up

Make Art Not War October Challenge Badge

Hello everyone! As I mentioned previously, I spent September finishing up the Make Art Not War Challenge: Rules, Essays, and 31 Creative Prompts eBook. Now that pledge has been fulfilled and my travel is more manageable, I’m back in my office and here to make art. Rah! Rah!

This month’s theme will be SELF-CARE. Fairly self explanatory, but a topic I’m going to write about further. I think we all need this reminder, especially in the wake of several natural disasters in addition to politics. I’m sure you probably know someone who is affected by what’s happening in the world today, and it can be hard to stay motivated. But, we have to!

Today, I want to revisit my pledge as a means of getting back on track.

My Original Make Art Not War 2017 Challenge pledge:

  • I pledge to devote one hour a day to my original art.
  • If I don’t feel motivated, I pledge to write down the reasons why I wanted to take this challenge for fifteen minutes or one-to-three pages whichever comes first.
  • I pledge to mark down on the calendar whenever I complete a day’s efforts.
  • As the challenge creator, I pledge to create a weekly accountability post every Wednesday beginning on January 9th. Comments will be open. Hashtag #makeartnotwar2017 #manw2017
  • I pledge to check into social media twice a week for personal use, and once a month with my local community of artists and writers.

Here’s where I am sitting with my Make Art Not War Challenge pledges today:

  • I fulfilled my promises in September, and managed to make a few jewelry pieces. I’ve been spending the time getting my space and personal business sorted as well, with a goal of December 31st.
  • I did freewrite a few times, but I haven’t had an issue with motivation lately.
  • I haven’t marked my progress on the calendar, but I do plan on logging time going forward. I’d really like to end this year with a bang.
  • As the challenge creator, I pledge to create a weekly accountability post every Wednesday beginning on January 9th. Comments will be open. Hashtag #makeartnotwar2017 #manw2017 You’re looking at my post, right now! Hee.
  • Connections are proceeding apace, and my social media time and usage will need to be adjusted further. I’m seriously considering further means of altering engagement, especially since Facebook and Twitter don’t seem to take the hint that not all of us use the tools in the same way. But, for now I have it blocked during work hours, and I’ll take it from there as time allows.

Right now, it feels like it’s February all over again, and I’m rocking with new energy, fresh to-do lists, and a heap of goals. The productivity is there, and after this year’s round of ridiculousness I can say this with vigor: if something doesn’t work for you, then consider letting it go. For full-time writers like myself, we have to remain vigilant and focus on work. If something throws our routine off-kilter, that can be disastrous unless we get back up on the horse quickly.

I’ve got some fabulous news, but can’t say anything for quite a while. It does mean, however, all the work I’ve done to clear up my proverbial slate and get my shit together has paid off. My business plan is solid, I’ve been doing some awesome work with Onyx Path Publishing and Wizards of the Coast for games, and I’m very happy with the direction my career is headed. Thanks to Luke Cage, the motto “Forward. Always forward.” is a wonderful thing. No matter how slow the mechanism of publishing moves, it’s still moving. Hah!

Mood: Huh. It’s Wednesday? Okay then!
Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Yeah. It’s “ashamed to admit” levels.
Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: Went for a short walk in the blistering heat.
In My Ears: Tron: Legacy soundtrack
Game Last Played: Pokémon Go
Book Last Read: Loads for work. Loads.
Movie/TV Show Last Viewed: Westworld
Latest Artistic Project: Make Art Not War Challenge eBook
Latest Releases: Over the Edge for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, Dagger of Spiragos for Scarred Lands.
Current State of Projects: Read my latest project update. New project update coming when I get time.




Enjoy One of My Horror Stories for Free!

“Prey” is one of the older pieces I wrote, and it will probably show up in a personal collection at some point. I tend to look back at my older stuff and wince, but this piece is one that I’m still proud of. “Prey” first won a contest quite a few years ago, then was picked up by Pseudopod.org and performed on their podcast. (If you prefer to listen to Flash: Prey read by Christina Ellis rather than read it, be sure to click through!)

Anyway, I wanted to offer “Prey” to you here on my website, as my way of saying “Thanks, for reading!” I hope you enjoy the story!

Prey

A musky scent drifts lazily on stale, moonlit air. Alara knows this scent—fear—it holds little meaning to her. Her hawk’s eyes narrow as she circles above the cemetery searching for her dinner. Focusing on a small, brown mouse huddled against a piece of stone, Alara dives to strike. The mouse sees her and freezes.

Something hot hisses and sparks, burning her dinner to a blackened crisp. Alara leaps to the night air, squawking in alarm. She lifts higher caught by the smell of pungent, moldy earth and burning candle fat. Faint sounds penetrate the smells; a harsh voice interrupts the monotonous droning. Alara knows the voice—it belongs to her master.

Circling above the voices, Alara’s winged form is thinly veiled by the moonlight’s smoke-filled mist. Syllables turn into well-formed sounds; she knows little of the language of men. Swooping again, her watchful eye catches white, wriggling worms breaking free from the ground before her master. Her body streams through the air, diving for her prey. Clamping down on the worm, she leaps to finish it off, but the thing won’t let go.

Alara spits wriggling flesh out of her beak. A human hand rises from the ground and creeps forward. Her master’s mouth turns foul; blackened sparks of menace fly from his skinny lips. The more he speaks, the faster the unnatural thing turns over well-shoveled earth. Alara looks from her master to the rising form and loudly complains. Nothing here is safe to eat.

Carefully placed candles burn brighter than a midday sun. Shaking her foggy head, she casts off a ravenous glare that bores into her feathers. A naked hand grabs for her wing and misses. Alara lifts gently above her attacker and dives, pecking at it. Fingers pry at her tail feathers, she screams out in pain and flings herself on her master. Instead of saving her, he throws bits of oily words at her, coating her wings. She knows her own scent now—fear. A face appears before her, her master’s face, holding something sharp that glints in the moonlight. Inhuman eyes glow as he pulls back his knife. Alara juts forward, pecking blindly at whatever is in front of her.

Howling in pain, her master stops the flow of menacing words. The candles’ light dims; Alara pecks her master again and again with wings outstretched. He swings the knife at her, his anger thick. Pushing herself off the ground, she attacks his eyes with her talons. Black ooze seeps along the deep grooves in his face. Her master drops the blade and Alara forces herself up to a low hover. She cannot move, or fly, or breathe.

Opening her beak, she gasps for precious air. Black ash swirls around her, stinging her eyes. Somehow, she finds the strength to peck hard, claw harder until she has no master left.

Too exhausted to lift her head, Alara crashes into a deep sleep, dreaming of mice and fish and morning’s light.

More on Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling

Upside Down Inverted Tropes in Storytelling Cover

Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling features several authors and essayists, including Maurice Broaddus, Nisi Shawl, and Victor Raymond who are all in town for WisCon 41 this weekend. I thought this would be a perfect time to bring up this collection of short stories and essays again, and post the full Table of Contents for the X-page book. You may recall that I wrote about the anthology for Scalzi’s The Big Idea, and that the concept for the collection came from some serious discussions about tropes and cliches.

Challenging what we think about tropes and cliches can be both fun and uncomfortable, and that has shown in the reviews, like the starred review of Upside Down we received from Publisher’s Weekly. I quote: “When the stories are shocking, they demonstrate how thoroughly these narrative conventions have become embedded in our psyches.” This, by itself, was one of the reasons why I wanted to put together this collection.

I know I’m a smart-ass, but I try to operate from the mindset that I don’t know everything, that I am always learning, to prevent cynicism and bitterness from taking over. Editing Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling taught me that my lessons in life will never be over, and that isn’t something to fear–but to celebrate. Everyone has a story to tell, and sometimes the best thing we can do as writers and readers is to truly listen to that tale to understand our differences and what we have in common with one another. I’m very proud of the collection, and am so pleased to have worked with such fine and excellent individuals.

If you’re interested in this collection, the anthology is available in digital and print wherever books are sold. You can find Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling on Amazon.com, DriveThruFiction.com, and many other bookstores, too!

Table of Contents

Introduction. JERRY GORDON

SECTION I: INVERTING THE TROPE

On Loving Bad Boys: A Villanelle. VALYA DUDYCZ LUPESCU
Single, Singularity. JOHN HORNOR JACOBS
Lazzrus. NISI SHAWL
Seeking Truth. ELSA SJUNNESON-HENRY
Thwock. MICHELLE MUENZLER
Can You Tell Me How to Get to Paprika Place? MICHAEL R. UNDERWOOD
Chosen. ANTON STROUT
The White Dragon. ALYSSA WONG
Her Curse, How Gently It Comes Undone. HARALAMBI MARKOV
Burning Bright. SHANNA GERMAIN
Santa CIS (Episode 1: No Saint). ALETHEA KONTIS
Requiem for a Manic Pixie Dream. KATY HARRAD & GREG STOLZE
The Refrigerator in the Girlfriend. ADAM-TROY CASTRO
The First Blood of Poppy Dupree. DELILAH S. DAWSON
Red Light. SARA M. HARVEY
Until There Is Only Hunger. MICHAEL MATHESON
Super Duper Fly. MAURICE BROADDUS
Drafty as a Chain Mail Bikini. KAT RICHARDSON
Swan Song. MICHELLE LYONS-MCFARLAND
Those Who Leave. MICHAEL CHOI
Nouns of Nouns: A Mini Epic. ALEX SHVARTSMAN
Excess Light. RAHUL KANAKIA
The Origin of Terror. SUNIL PATEL
The Tangled Web. FERRETT STEINMETZ
Hamsa, Hamsa, Hamsa, Tfu, Tfu, Tfu. ALISA SCHREIBMAN
Real Women Are Dangerous. RATI MEHROTRA

SECTION II: DISCUSSING THE TROPES

I’m Pretty Sure I’ve Read This Before… PATRICK HESTER
Fractured Souls. LUCY A. SNYDER
Into the Labyrinth: The Heroine’s Journey. A.C. WISE
Escaping the Hall of Mirrors. VICTOR RAYMOND
Tropes as Erasers: A Transgender Perspective. KEFFY R.M. KEHRLI

SECTION III: DEFINING THE TROPES

Afterword. MONICA VALENTINELLI & JAYM GATES
Trope Definitions/Index of Tropes.

SECTION IV: ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND
ADDITIONAL BIOS

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