This Week’s Short Fiction Review! Paladins of Shannara: Allanon’s Quest

I seem to be on a fantasy thing lately. If it has swords and magic then I’m game. I want to read it. I would say that I’ve read a lot of fantasy in my reading career and I keep coming back for more. Spend enough time in a genre and you start to know the major authors whether or not you’ve read them. But given the nature of Fantasy literature, it seems difficult to be well versed in the plethora of authors this genre has simply because it isn’t easy (for me at least) to hop between series, worlds, magic systems etc. Also, some of the volumes can be quite lengthy so if you’re going to try an author for the first time, you probably aren’t going to bother unless you get a pretty huge recommendation from someone you know and trust, that has similar tastes in reading as you do.

Oooh Cover

Oooh Cover

This is not why I picked up Paladins of Shannara: Allanon’s Quest. To be honest, I can’t give you a particularly good reason as to why I went ahead and jumped into Shannara at all. I think I’ve just seen the name Terry Brooks (and by association Shannara as well) around for many years and figured I should take a gander at the work. It’s funny though, now that I write this post, I realize that this isn’t my first exposure to Terry Brooks at all. I read his adaptation of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace when I was a younger (it came out in ’99 so that would make me exactly nine when I read it). I remember loving that book (I should probably read it again), so I suppose my expectations of Terry Brooks should have been pretty high.

But they weren’t. I had read a few reviews of Paladins and wasn’t expecting much. It turns out, Allanon’s Quest is the first in a series of shorts, set in the world of Shannara (the others being The Weapon Master’s Choice and The Black Irix). I’m told that long time fans of the series will recognize characters and gain a better understanding of the events happening in Shannara’s history (I’m also told these shorts contradict some of the other Shannara Novels but I don’t know this for a fact). For a newbie though, it was a good way to kill an hour or so.

It’s pretty classic stuff. There’s a prophecy, a sword (the sword which I’m assuming The Sword of Shannara Trilogy is all about), and an evil warlock bent on harming Shannara in anyway possible. Of course lineage is important and is the call to action for our formidable druid, Allanon. He must seek out the last remaining descendent of some king and protect him from harm until it is time for him to take up the sword and defeat the Warlock. Granted, this was only a short story, so all of these things don’t come to pass in the 30-40 pages which make up Allanon’s Quest. Really, all that happens is Allanon drinks at an Inn, interrogates an old man, is nearly killed by a Skull Bearer, and finally discovers that the lead he was pursuing was not meant to bear fruit but there is still another chance to succeed with a young boy named Shea who the warlock has not discovered yet. I’d say it was a pretty good appetizer and I’ll probably pursue the whole course later. Maybe I’ll take a few more samples before I dive in to Shannara full though. After all, there are still two more shorts that I can read to get my feet wet.

In all, as I said before, it was a good way to kill an hour, and if you are not familiar with Shannara at all (like I wasn’t) I think it could be a useful introduction to the world without having to commit to reading a full novel. I had heard some complaints about Terry’s writing style. Complaints that said that he was getting lazy and really only writing these shorts to feed the commercial side of what is now Shannara as a business. I didn’t feel that the writing was lazy or overly “commercial”. He has a good command of language and doesn’t dwell on unnecessary details. This seems important to me in a genre that is prone to over description. Perhaps his other work is better but Allanon’s Quest is good enough.

Lastly,  I really wished there had been more description of the Skull Bearers. These guys seemed curious and made me wish I had read more of the series so I could have had a  better picture of what these creatures were actually like. I suppose that was my only complaint.

I’d say if you’re into fantasy, take a look at this one. It’s only a dollar. Anyway, until next time . . .

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I Dreamed a Dream . . .

In times gone by . . .

Fantasy was high and it was still worth reading. I dreamed this golden age would never die. And if I saw tropes I’d be forgiving. For I was young and unafraid. Archetypes were made, and used and wasted. Around $7.99 was all I’d paid. Left no healing chant unsung, no gleaming sword untasted . . .

I was in 6th grade when I first read Lord of the Rings. Likely younger than that when Harry Potter first arrived on the scene. I conquered realms in Warcraft III and read the tie-in novels. I’m pretty sure I read all of the ‘Lore’ in the instruction manual too. And whether I played ‘Human’, ‘Orc’ or ‘Undead’ (yes I also played ‘Night Elf’) I waged war upon my enemies with the utmost fury. I sought every tome and magic ring, every cloak of invisibility etc . . . etc.

No lie. It's hard to find an old Merlin on Google these days.

No lie. It’s hard to find an old Merlin on Google these days.

And as I got older so did the tales. King Arthur and his table of knights, MERLIN, and of course Guinevere. It didn’t stop there either, I kept going further back. Beowulf (eww), Grendel (more gross), Grendel’s Mother (can you tell I didn’t like this one? I mean he does slay a dragon at the end so I guess that redeems it). But I kept reading more contemporary (ish) writers as well. Brandon Sanderson, and Robert Jordan. I’ll say Christopher Paolini though I don’t really want to admit to reading him.

But the tigers come at night . . .

But eventually, it all began to run together. The constant ‘Epic’ of such obvious good, versus those who where so obviously evil.  Always a dark lord or demon and without fail a young peasant who’s circumstance leads him on a quest against this evil. A quest against the longest, most impossible odds. But it’s ok. Our young hero will develop through the course of his journey with the help of a few unlikely companions who’s various skills will serve to teach and guide him. And if that journey should take us through nearly a thousand page volume or two . . . or four, or twelve, then so be it. After all, if you are going to tell the tale of one great hero, isn’t it necessary to give the history of an entire race of people in the next town over? (For some good farces of Fantasy I’d recommend Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett and Orcs, Bears, and Assholes by Robert Bevan. I’ve linked to my reviews.)

For me, Fantasy as a genre had become stale. I’d say stagnant even. It had become so formulaic that an entire industry of card games, guidebooks and roleplaying games formed so that individuals could perpetuate the formulas and mistake subtle variations in their content for true innovations. And so, I read page after page of tales filled with ‘magic’ and ‘wonder’, but all I wondered was where the magic had gone.

The part of the post where my metaphor fails me.

But seriously, how sad is this?

But seriously, how sad is this?

It’s true. The last lament of a dying prostitute is simply too depressing to continue on with. Especially because it would imply that I feel that my dream of Fantasy (Insert some quip about Fantine sounding similar to Fantasy) is going to die on some street, with but a single outlaw to mourn her passing. In fact I feel quite the opposite.

Why?

Because I’ve discovered a new well from which to draw forth water. A new spring (Not to be confused with New Spring). A new source of Fantasy Literature from which I can read and enjoy and dream . . .

Yes, BCS or Beneath Ceaseless Skies is that source. They are an online magazine specializing in ‘alternate world’ fantasy. Perhaps their own website describes it best:

” . . . adventure fantasy plots in vivid secondary worlds, but written with a literary flair. Beneath Ceaseless Skies will feature exciting stories set in awe-inspiring places that are told with all the skill and impact of modern literary-influenced fantasy.” – About BCS

And that is exactly what they do.

Take for example A Sword of Love and Kindness?

Yes, you read correctly. A Sword of Love and Kindness. Don’t make it weird. Just let it happen. This is a little story by author Chris Willrich that was featured in the Best of BCS, Year One. It tells of two thieves (well one is more of a poet) who break in to a bank, not to steal its contents but deposit some of their own. Of course they are caught and their punishment is to take an evil sword to the City of Pain. Sounds like a pretty nefarious and world ending plot to which they must agree or be killed. It is slowly revealed what power the Sword of Love and Kindness possesses over those who wield it. The master thief wonders at his rugged life style. Wonders that he should never have raised a child or run for civic office. The Poet is also effected by the sword. They are nearly killed by a group of spiders after Gaunt (the poet) admonishes the disorderly fashion in which they have constructed their webs.

But as we finally reach the City of Pain, it becomes apparent that while the sword pushes virtues of love, kindness, cooperation, etc. those who wield it to do not necessarily affect ‘good’ in the world.

Pretty clever right? I thought so too. And I can’t say enough about Willrich’s characters. Specifically Guant and Bone, but they are all well done. Expert descriptions, and great development. It’s easy for writers to get lazy with character back stories, alluding to them whenever it’s convenient for a turn of phrase or bit of rhetoric but never really giving you the whole picture. It is much more difficult to write with a character’s background firmly in place, then give it to your audience a morsel at a time, until eventually you understand the motivation between each character’s thoughts and actions. It is even more difficult to write plot which changes those motivations because of past events, or better yet, in spite of them. Willrich does all of this and in a short story to boot. Well done.

Anyway, I think this post has gone on long enough. If you haven’t already, please start reading Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and pay attention to Chris Willrich. He’s got a new book coming out (featuring Gaunt and Bone) in September I believe. Order it now. I’ve already ordered my copy.

Remember all, fantasy is not dead. It was just sleeping. Or something like that. Bye all!

Kobi Update: The Terror of Chez Weber

I shouldn’t be writing this post. Not in the mood I’m in. Plus it’s Monday so that means I should be posting about some short fiction or other. That can wait.

It’s been a long time since I gave you all a Kobi update. There are several reasons for that but the primary reason is that I just moved into a new place and I no longer reside in the same location as the cutest of little puppies. Well, I suppose he’s a little bigger. The doctor says he’s put on ten pounds. Probably because of this new diet we’ve got him on. Hamburger, rice and Kibble. Not bad. We feed him three times a day now and he always wants more. He’s also nearly impossible to wear out. I took him on three walks yesterday and he still woke me up at 4 this morning. We’ll get to all that later.

First more pictures!

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No wonder he’s growing so quick!

See how big he is! Ok well he looks bigger to me.

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He went to a play date! Cool right?

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I think he’s a little shy. And kind of a wimp.

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Who has the shorter attention span? Me or Kobi?

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Should have been an Abercrombie model.

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Well maybe not.

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So why have I termed him the terror of Chez Weber? Because he is. Let me set the scene:

It’s a Saturday night. You promised your parents you’d watch the little rascal so they can have a vacation (although I think it’s a working vacation for both of em. Not sure how they managed that but well played). It’s a little bit lame that you have to stay in on a Saturday night but whatever. I’m mean be an adult right. You still got to go out Friday and they need this. Suck it up.

So, according to the schedule that you know the little monster to be on, you have to make sure he goes potty every couple hours. Not so bad in the middle of the afternoon but it’s a little tougher during the night. You know he’s going to need to go out around 2am, and then you can probably stretch the last bit until 5 or 6am. Oh and this new weird feeding schedule. Whatever, feed him at 6am, around 1pm, and then again around 6pm. That first one’s a little early but otherwise you can feed him when you feed yourself. No problem.

Sunday ends up being a long day. Instead of sleeping between 10:30 and 2 (Saturday night) like the little brat did, you tried to squeeze in a computer course on using Adobe InDesgin (so far I can make a bunch of rectangles -_- ). You woke him up and the poor guy nearly fell down the stairs into the yard he was so drowsy. It’s ok though. He went potty. Mission accomplished. He wakes you up around 5am. You feed him (and yourself) and take him for a walk. He goes potty again. Two for two. But now what? It’s approximately 6am now and you’ve still got the whole day ahead you. Don’t make any plans. You can’t leave the house. If you go anywhere, make sure you’re only out for like an hour so you can get back and let him out again. At this rate it’s just easier to stay home. So you get the little twerp enraptured by a tennis ball and give a two hour seminar on how to play fetch. He doesn’t pick it up and he never brings it back (although he does like to chase it). So you’ve just spent two hours walking back and forth in your backyard and it’s only 8am. Take him for another walk? Might as well.

Finally, around 11:30am, the little guy is getting hungry. You’re looking at your schedule and think “How do Mom and Dad ever stretch this to 1?”. You listen to him bark at you for about an hour before feeding him around 12:30pm. Rinse and repeat around 4pm. Take him on another walk. Play with him for another indiscriminate amount of hours (he still can’t fetch). Finally, he falls asleep just in time for you to watch Mad Men (thank god for small miracles right?). After that you try to wake him up to take him out one final time so that you can go to bed. He is still way too tired. You actually carry him out of the living room and lay him down on the grass outside. If this were some movie, you’d kneel over his body and look  into the eyes of some wise old sage asking: “Is there really nothing you can do for him?”

Thankfully, this isn’t that movie and the little twerp gets up and goes potty. You note that he only tinkles but think nothing of it. This time he wakes you up at 4am. You put him out but he doesn’t go. You try to catch another couple hours of shut eye before you’ll need to feed him at 6am. He’s up again at 5. And he’s pooped all over the kitchen by the time you go to feed him at 6. Damn. You feed him, put him out and clean up the mess. You’re not getting any more rest so you decide to play with him for a few hours before you have to leave for work (10:30 seems a year away). Around 7am you decide it might be safe to slip out for a little jog. You don’t know any of the trails around your new place so you haven’t been in a week. But this is your home turf and if you do it right you’ll only be gone for 40 min.

This is what you come home to find . . .

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Kobi’s nearly destroyed an entire roll of paper towels and pooped on the floor again (I decided that it was best not to document that mess). Can’t catch a break. In his defense, it’s almost like he tried to clean up after he pooped. I appreciate the gesture little guy but you don’t have any thumbs.

Anyway, that almost brings us to about right now. I’m not mad at him anymore. They say writing is therapeutic. I also squeezed in another walk in the middle of this post (he’s so needy). We met two other huskies along the way, ate an entire rose bulb, and hunted a wasp. According to the owner of the other huskies, he’ll calm down . . . and start waking up later too. Apparently her two sleep in until 7am (oh boy!). I suppose this movie really does have a wise old sage.

That should be all for now. I really need to leave for work. We have someone looking in on him in a few hours. I hope he’ll stay like this until then:

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Thinking way too much about The Rithmatist

There’s a blurb on the back cover of this book. It says:

There are very few authors about whom I can say, without a doubt, that I will read every single book they ever write. Brandon Sanderson is a member of that club. He’s brilliant and has an imagination I’ve only seen in the likes of Stephen King and J. K. Rowling.” — James Dashner

Trying to get all artsy with a pic of the cover

Trying to get all artsy with a pic of the cover

I cannot agree more. I won’t read every book by Stephen King. I won’t even try. I couldn’t even remember who the other author was when typing the rough draft of this post (a little embarrassed now to see it was J. K. Rowling). Certainly I won’t read all of her books (although I’m 7 for 8 right now). But Brandon Sanderson stands apart.

It seems cliched to say that Sanderson’s writing envelopes you as you read. That he builds worlds that surround you and bring you out of the day-to-day into something wonderful and fantastic. But that’s what they do. The Rithmatist is no different. I wonder what new revelations will await me in the next chapter even as I’m reveling in the discoveries of the current one. What really happened in that last scene? Was he hinting at something in that last line? How is this going to play out? And the detail with which each story is constructed is sublime. I read Sanderson and feel like every story fits its setting perfectly. That one could not exist without the other. Perfectly intertwined.

But it makes me wonder about the world Sanderson himself lives in. Does he walk around with dotted arcs dancing across his line of sight, connecting bits of metal in a room, as if he’s wearing some kind of allomantic heads up display (might be a cool app idea for Google Glass)? Does he imagine chalk lines moving across the floor in an attempt to penetrate the circles we surround ourselves in?  Can he close one eye and see the same dotted lines and chalked circles, instead connecting countries and presidents as empires rise and fall. If we could somehow tap into this stream of conscious would we see the world like everyone else or would we see  a world complete and utterly foreign, with only shades and vague outlines of the familiar, not entirely unlike the map we see behind the cover of The Rithmatist.

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I think I like this one better

Then I wonder about my own world view. Can a foreign observer read my posts and detect the path that has made me the man I am today? Would they be even remotely right? Perhaps my training as a musician continues to shape the way I view the world though I’ve hardly struck a note in the last year (I’ll admit my training in writing certainly allowed me to assign meaning to my music through this next metaphor)? There is a part of me that thrives upon routine. Enjoys repeatable tasks and choices which upon subtle variations and ornaments build to create something beautiful. But also, I have a great need to experience new events completely and utterly different from that which has come before. A need for improvisation. I’ve often thought about my writing as mutually exclusive from my music which is again separate from my work. However, now I wonder if all of these aspects couldn’t simply be divisions in a larger work. My training in music might form the exposition, while my writing might be something of a developmental section (I’d certainly say I’ve been developing recently) and perhaps the recapitulation is still to come in which elements from both previous segments combine to finish the work. One can only hope.

I think The Rithmatist was supposed to be Young Adult, which encompasses and age range of maybe 13-19 (from what I’ve been able to tell), but here I am, well on my way to turning 23 and the novel has made me think through all of that. Sanderson doesn’t mess around.

The Rithmatist is no exception.

If you haven’t already, go and read it. I’d be interested to see what it has to offer you regardless of age. I strongly believe that this book has something in it for everyone. Or perhaps my commute in the morning is too long. Either way, I think the fact that I’m still thinking about it, is a tribute to its excellence.

I think that’s enough for now. Bye all.

PS: Apparently there is a Trailer for the book. I’m not sure what I think about this but here it is:

Balticon! Yea, I went. Be Jealous.

Memorial Day weekend marked the passing of the 47th iteration of Balticon a Science Fiction and Fantasy convention hosted by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. I was only able to attend on Sunday, but needless to say, it was AWESOME! And I was so tired afterward. I think I’ll just write everything that I did in one massive post that will just go on and on. Really there’s no better way to do it. Here we go:

The Morning & Double Dragon Publishing

I woke up Sunday around 8am or so and the first order of business was . . . breakfast duh! Then get ready, then drive to Hunt Valley, then park, then go to Balticon! So I finally arrive at around 10am, pay for admission, and then get/look at the schedule . . .

Holy Molly! This con is intense. Literally, there are 11 different panels going on as I stand there interpreting the schedule and its only 10am. Also, I can hear somebody in the background heatedly discussing the merits of Klingon and why it is superior to Latin as a lingua franca.I’m starting to get worried. I like Star Wars a lot and have seen the most recent Star Trek movie (which was awesome! KAAAHHNN!!!), but I couldn’t tell you anything about designing believable airships or Poptop Chainmail (both of which were names of panels).

DDP_logo

Excuse my French but this is a bitchin logo

Yes, I was feeling a little bit out of my depths. I started heading for the door. That’s when I hear someone hawking their wares: “You like Rum?”

I stop.

It’s only ten in the morning but . . . I do like rum. It turns out, I’ve just passed the Belmont room (not anywhere close to the door) which is hosting a few authors from Double Dragon Publishing. I enter cautiously but am soon enveloped by the friendliness of the atmosphere. The room is bright and warm. There’s a few people standing around a table talking politely over coffee. There’s donuts too!

The rum comment had to do with a pirate anthology one of Double Dragon’s authors was promoting. The title, Rum and Rune stones, is apparently a set of tales set upon the high seas that will send shivers (me timbers) down your spine. Here, this is from their page on Amazon:

“We are, we are Pirates! Pirates and magic. Tall ships and dark rum intermingle with spells and romance in this collection of short stories of nautical derring-do guaranteed to send chills and thrills down your spine. Join the crew, and push off to worlds unknown. Just be warned…thar be pirates in them thar waters.”

I liked the author’s pitch a little better but after all . . . Who doesn’t want to read about Pirates? Anyway, I inquire more and am fortunate enough to encounter Michael A. Ventrella and Peter W. Prellwitz (who’s awesome! Met up with him again later. Great guy). Ventrella is there pushing a fantasy anthology, Tales of Fortannis: A Bard’s Eye View, and the sequel titled A Bard in the Hand. I get the impression that both titles are supposed to be humorous and provide a selection of short stories that will satire some of the more ridiculous aspects of fantasy literature (I haven’t read em yet though; I could be wrong).

Prellwitz was there promoting some of his titles as well as encouraging any writers (Seemed like there were a lot of writers/authors at the con) to send submissions to Double Dragon. I took samples of two of his titles, the first being Shards: Book 1, a military sci-fi thriller, and Horizons, a sci-fi noir. After reading the samples, both look great but I’m more excited about Horizons (although apparently Shards is the one that’s been selling better). However, after an hour of talking, donuts, and coffee, the clock struck 11 and it was time to move on to the next event.

Joe Haldeman reading

I originally had my own picture but this one is better

I originally had my own picture but this one is better

Yes, Joe Haldeman attended Balticon this year. I saw him give a reading from an up coming release entitled “Work for Hire”. It’s about a retired military sniper who becomes an author after the war. I won’t lie, it seemed pretty gruesome. However, after doing the reading, ‘Jack’ as they called him (‘they’ being his publishers, editors and so forth that attended the con), started to go into some more detail about his life as a writer, his method etc. All pretty interesting stuff. Apparently, Joe writes all of his stories long hand in a notebook type thing and then types the pieces up after he’s finished. He was an engineer in Vietnam (which is probably why he writes so much about war; write what you know), which I didn’t know but it makes sense.

I think perhaps the most interesting part of his discussion was when he started talking psychology. Something to do with the affect of killing on the mind is directly proportional to the distance at which the act is committed. If you kill someone with your bare hands, you’re going to be a lot more distraught about it than say . . . with one of those fancy drones flying around the Middle East. Kind of interesting. The main character in “Work for Hire” is a sniper so I imagine that he isn’t too broken up about his 16 confirmed kills. But he’s an author too. We get to see the work that he writes and interestingly enough its all face-to-face killings. Some of them quite gruesome (well at least the two chapters he read from).

I’ve been wanting to read Haldeman for a long time. Maybe when “Work for Hire” comes out (I think he said December?) that will be a good excuse to start. They certainly had enough of his books on sale at the con. I was looking for The Forever War but couldn’t seem to find it. I hear that’s the one to start with. Anyway, another hour has gone by and it’s time to go to the next panel.

Independent Study

This next panel wasn’t actually part of the con. It was held a block away at Chipotle and sadly I was the only one in attendance. It was called . . . LUNCH!! and it was delicious.

Oh podcasts . . . ye of lax momentum

The next two panels I attended were on Podcasts. The first was called Talk to Me: How to Conduct Podcast Interviews, and it was super insightful. The members of the panel were Hugh J. O’Donnel , Thomas Gideon of The Command Line, Christopher Lester, Alex White & Stephen Granade of Disasterpiece Theatre (these two were super funny; I’m definitely going to start following their work) and Tim Dodge from If My Thought-Dreams Could Be Seen & The Geek Side of Life was the moderator.

There weren’t a lot of audience members so it was super easy to ask questions and each of the members gave thoughtful responses. I’m pretty sure that I will attempt to do a podcast interview as some point on this blog and hopefully these guys’ helpful hints and tips will guide me to a successful interview! We’ll see.

After that, I need only remain in my chair to attend Jake Bible We Hardly Knew Ye: The Current State of Podcast Fiction. This panel was pretty interesting as well but for different reasons. It was more of a ‘state of the art’ type discussion as in what is the state of the art of podcasts. Apparently this guy Jake Bible (I was able to find two of his links. Looks like the Podcasts are here and his blog is here) had a pretty great following and did some pretty great podcasts and decided to give it all up. Apparently the moment had past. Podcasts were no longer a ‘Thing’. The panel seemed to think otherwise and discussed a lot of seemingly cool ways to carry on podcasting tradition while still moving towards innovation etc. This one was a little over my head as I’ve never really gotten into podcasting previously. The panelists were:

Phew! Time to take a break and chat up some authors in the dealers room.

Editors Q&A

BCS Cover

Take a look at this Cover! Beautiful.

After the break, I attended a panel entitled Editors’ Q&A. It was moderated by Neal Levin and the panelists included: Trisha J. Wooldridge, Damien Walters Grintalis, Darrell C. Schweitzer and Scott H. Andrews. Scott Andrews was the only name on the list I recognized. He is Editor-and-Chief for an online fantasy magazine: Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It’s a great read and their cover art is always amazing. If you don’t already know it, please GO READ IT NOW!

This panel was very interesting for me because of its audience. All writers. Well, pretty much all writers. Of course writers always seem to think there is some big secret to getting published. Maybe a handshake or a card or something. They talked about numbers (how many stories do I have to write before one will get published? etc.) and networking strategies and on and on they went.

Turns out there’s no secret.

It’s a pretty subjective business. Right place, right time and your work has to be good. That’s all there is to it (I make myself laugh at the thought of all that being simple). As I consider it now, it seems to me it’s really the publishers who have the tougher job. Writers just need to write but the publishers are the ones who need to anticipate demand, markets, numbers (how much of this type of story, how much of that etc), when to publish a story. If it’s a magazine, how do you get the stories to fit. Is one story really good but too long? Maybe do it and another long story in a special issue. Do you have another long story? Are they similar in content? It all seemed like quite a headache (but certainly a headache I think I would enjoy having). In conclusion, the panel seem to say: “Writers, just keep writing and don’t worry so much about getting published. Let us worry about publishing you.”

Social Media!

Ok. The final stretch. Just two more panels to get through and they’re both in the same room and about the same topic . . . mostly. The first was called Social Media Promotion and the second was WordPress 101. The first session was pretty interesting. Very helpful. The second . . .

Not so much.

It got super technical, super fast. PHP servers and different hosting websites. I’ve been surfing around the blogosphere for a little while now and everything out there seems to point to the same idiom: “Content is King”. Create good content and it will be successful. This seemed to be the general theme of the social media panel but it certainly did not cross over to the WordPress Panel. Honestly, I’m not sure I remember much about that panel. It all flew right over my head and I seemed to be one of the audience members who was keeping up the best. Sad story. Anyway, I think it would be cool if they did a class instead of a panel. Maybe have several across the 4 days of the convention with a curriculum. That way you could leave feeling like you had something tangible to go home and use. Just a thought.

The second hour was nearly a complete waste; however, during the first, I met an author named D.H. Aire (here is his book The Highmage’s Plight) who told me about the Blogger Book Fair. It’s a blogging event (see the ad I posted for them) in which bloggers ‘host’ authors on their blogs in different ways. I’m doing two reviews and hopefully some interviews which will be super fun. More to come on that later though.

Enough Said

Well, I think that about sums up my entire Balticon Experience. I’m about to hit two thousand words for this post so it’s time to get to the short and sweet of it. I met a lot of really cool people and was exposed to some really great work. It is always nice to attend conventions because you really get to participate in a community that is way larger than just the typical relationship of author and reader etc. Also, it’s a great time for networking and I learned a hell of a lot about things I know I would never have been exposed to otherwise. 100% worth the price of admission (which I thought was pretty steep at first).

Finally, the more I consider it, I suppose Klingon could be more useful than Latin as a lingua franca. There are certainly a lot of Trekkies out there. As many as there are Catholics? Well I suppose that remains to be seen.

Live long and go to Balticon next year!

Live long and go to Balticon next year!

Announcement: Blogger Book Fair

Hey all,

I’m going to participate in this for the first time this year. Should be really fun. I’m quite excited. They asked me to post this ad to help get the word out so please check it out.
Thanks all.

Sincerely,
JD


Check in to the Blogger Book Fair,
and book your trip to far away places!

July 22-26, 2013

Authors and Book Bloggers,

Sign ups for the July 2013 Blogger Book Fair will close on June 15 at midnight central time, so get your registrations in to participate!

As of 5/31/2013, we have:

Authors: 89
Books: 233
Bloggers: 14

If you haven’t yet registered, you can find all of the information on the Blogger Book Fair page.

  1. Check out the Code of Conduct
  2. Fill out either the Author Sign Up form or the Blogger Sign Up form (Deadline June 15)
  3. Kayla will match everyone with hosts and send out this information to you after sign-ups close
  4. Check out the events–all authors are eligible to participate in the events, and if you have an event you’d like to host, just fill out the simple Event Sign Up Form–all of this information can be found on the Events! page (Deadline July 8).
  5. If you’re interested in hosting a giveaway to drive traffic to your site, sign up via the Giveaway Sign Up form (Deadline July 15).
  6. And if your book will be FREE or $0.99 for the duration of the Fair, you can sign up on the Free and $.99 Book Sign Up Forms (Deadline July 15).

Events:

as of 5/31/2013

Art Fiction Gala hosted by Lucie Smoker

Does your fiction promote the visual arts–through featuring an artist, painting, sculpture, performance art, etc? Then, consider entering Lucie’s Art Fiction Gala.
The Art Fiction Gala is a virtual celebration of fiction that highlights the visual arts. Dress up in your finest, pick up some friends–a bottle of wine–and sample mind-blowing fiction that crosses the line between literary and visual art. Plus a gallery of art featuring reading.
More information & entry instructions

Three Wishes hosted by Kirstin Pulioff

Introduce your characters to the world.
Kirstin Pulioff invites you to ask your main character, “If you found a magic genie lamp, what would be your three choices?
More information & entry instructions

Flash Fiction Challenge II hosted by Thomas Winship

Get ready to exercise your flash fiction muscles.
For the Flash Fiction Challenge II, Thomas Winship will provide an opening line.
From there, entrants will craft a flash fiction piece of approx 500 words. Entries will be displayed on Thomas’ blog Vaempires during the BBF, spread out evenly across the five days, in order of receipt.
More information & entry instructions

Snapshot Synopsis Contest hosted by Fel at The Peasants Revolt

Challenge: chisel your synopsis down to 50 words or less.
Voting will be open throughout the fair for visitors to vote on their favorite Snapshot Synopsis.
More information & entry instructions

Reader’s Choice Awards hosted by Sherri at Shut Up & Read

All books registered for the Blogger Book Fair are automatically entered into the running for the Reader’s Choice Awards. Voting will be open from July 22 to July 25.
More information

Indie Soap Box Files hosted by Shah Wharton

Take a turn on the Soap Box.
Shah invites speculative fiction writers to write a guest post about being an indie (or hybrid) writer.
More information & entry instructions
Restrictions: Speculative fiction writers only

Monster Menagerie hosted by Noree at Trip the Eclipse

What’s your favorite monster or supernatural creature?
Feature your creature in a flash fiction piece (500-800) words to be featured on Trip the Eclipse. Visitors will vote on their favorite piece.
More information & entry instructions

Ways to Help:

Blogger Book FairDonate to the Blogger Book Fair via the BBF Donation Fund. To help get the word out about BBF, we would like to place ads on Facebook, Goodreads and other places, but to do, so we need a little help. We’d also like to have some BBF sponsored giveaways, so money donated would also go toward prizes. NO MONEY WILL BE KEPT BY ANY ORGANIZER OR PARTICIPANT.

Spread the word! Share the Fair on your social media accounts and show off the Blogger Book Fair logo in your blog’s sidebar.

Join us on: