WWW: The Great Hugo Read

Most of you already read my blog, so you’ve seen me talk about this already. However, the short turnaround before the event begins and the pressure of figuring out what to talk about every Wednesday means I’m going to cross post some information about the upcoming Great Hugo Read.

What is the Read? It’s my attempt to ground myself in both the past and present of the science fiction genre. This will include a read through of all past Hugo winners for Best Novel, as well as nominees for each year between announcement and award. I’m choosing to read one book a month. This is to give the Read more of a book club feel if anyone else chooses to join in, and so as to not completely take over my reading time. The plan is to read past winners in chronological order during the months of September through March and the current year’s nominees between the April and August. This means the potential for some off months for someone who reads the nominees ahead of getting nominated.

While I’m going to continue through the Read whether I have anyone else along for the ride or not, if you’ve ever wanted to catch up on the past of Hugo or wanted to go into the awards more fully read up on the nominees, I invite you to join as much of the event as you’d like. I’m going to share my thoughts on each book at the end of the month, and I’d love it to turn into a conversation. The Read will kick off in just two short weeks, and the first two books are both only available used, so this isn’t much notice.

If you’re curious or interested, I’ve got a proposed schedule for 2013 up at my site, including where to find the first three books online. Year one will require a lot of digging around alibris or through your local used book stores, as the novels by authors not named “Robert Heinlein” are harder to track down and are currently out of print. I can’t even claim all those will be worth it, as February features a book universally described as the worst book to ever win the Hugo. Seriously, I can’t find anyone who has an opinion on the worst Hugo winner who doesn’t point to that book. Still, completion is completion.

So come on, let’s together dive into science fiction’s history together!

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WWW: The Old Weird South

Updated December 6

This isn’t what I was originally going to write about today. Originally this was going to be a post about common tropes within generation ship stories. That post can wait because I’m thrilled to announce that The Old Weird South anthology, published by Q&W and edited by Tim Westover, hit the stores yesterday! It is currently available in print from Amazon and electronically from Smashwords, and will be coming soon to most other book selling platforms, including the Kindle Store, over the next few days. You can also check it out over on Goodreads.

The anthology explores the supernatural side of the south and features my story “The South, Rise Again,” and “The End of Grace” from fellow Unleaded contributor Meriah Crawford.

My contribution to the anthology was one of those accidental stories, the kind of thing where a few different points of inspiration come together to form a narrative and the right anthology market appeared. Primarily it was inspired by Drew Gilpin Faust’s fantastic book This Republic of Suffering, which explores how the US Civil War forced the nation to reevaluate its notions about death. How a war suddenly transitioned us from a country where most people would live and die within a few miles of where they were born to a country where thousands of men were being hundreds of miles from home, and with military technology that often left remains unidentifiable to contemporary medicine.

The story was specifically inspired by Faust’s portrayal of the attempts to repatriate remains after the war was over. Or, rather, the attempts to repatriate Union remains after the war. The push to identify fallen Union soldiers and inter them in marked graves was in sharp contrast to how Confederate dead were left to rot or were piled into mass graves. “The South, Rise Again,” focuses on a supernatural resurrectionist using his powers to temporarily reanimate the dead to help bring closure to fallen Confederate soldiers.

So check out “The South, Rise Again,” and twenty-three other stories in this new anthology. And this time, I’m not even begging for money through Kickstarter to get it published! Next week I’ll be back with a post that’s less self-serving, I promise.

Update: In fact, check out my story, “The South, Rise Again,” complete and unabridged, at The Old Weird South’s website, and while you’re there you can also check out Megan Engelhardt’s “A True Story about the Devil and Jamie’s Shoes.”

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National Book Award Time! Check out the Finalists

November 14 is the National Book Awards!  Just thought I’d put that out there now along with a note to check out some amazing books.  For those of you are unaware, let me gaak from their website:

“On March 15, 1950, a consortium of book publishing groups sponsored the first annual National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Their goal was to enhance the public’s awareness of exceptional books written by fellow Americans, and to increase the popularity of reading in general.

Since then, The National Book Awards have become the nation’s preeminent literary prizes, and The National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner the most important event on our literary calendar. Today, the Awards are given to recognize achievements in four genres: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. The Winners, selected by five-member, independent judging panels for each genre, receive a $10,000 cash award and a crystal sculpture.”

And now to the 2012 National Book Award Finalists

2012 National Book Award Finalists

Lovely graphic from NBA’s site. For accessibility and a complete list of finalists –  click here.

WWW: Flashathon Survival Guide

Today is October 24, 2012. This Saturday and into the wee hours of Sunday is a little event called Flashathon, an eighteen hour marathon of creativity, drive, and full out insanity. As such, I’d like to reprint a post from Writerly Words that preceeded last year’s events, with some updates to account for the change in formats.

The Day Before

Make sure you know where you’ll be working.  Have the area set up, have a chair you know is comfortable, you’ll be sitting in it a lot if you’re going for twelve hours of participation.  Eat a good dinner.  In Japanese cultures, schoolchildren will dine on Katsu Donburi the night before a major exam, a bowl of rice, fried meat, onions, eggs, and katsu sauce.  Marathoners will carboload the night before a race.  Don’t overeat, but make sure you get a good dinner.  And then a good night’s sleep.  Even sleep in a little, but not too late.  Sleeping right up to the first prompt will result in a sluggish brain and fingers.

Food and Drink

Eat breakfast.  Eat lunch.  Eat dinner.  A starved body is a starved mind.  Did you know that chess grand masters can burn several thousand calories during a marathon session at the board?  I’m not suggesting Flashathon as your new exercise routine, but I also don’t suggest doing into any hour hungry.

Don’t listen to that temptation to snack on sugar through the whole event, include some veggies, include some protein.  And don’t turn your snacks into your dinner, eat an actual meal in the evening, it’s going to need to keep you going for a few more hours.  This is a marathon, not a sprint, so you don’t want quick twitch energy, you want to keep going for the long run.

For the same reason, also avoid the caffeine temptation.  A little goes a long way.  When you’re a few hours into mainlining caffeinated sodas and your hands are shaking too much to write, then you’re going to have a problem participating.  Keep hydrated.  Water is your best friend in the world.

When it comes to alcohol, know thyself.  Some people write best a little drunk, some people write best a lot drunk, some write best stone sober.  So before you reach for the hooch, know that if alcohol doesn’t fuel your writing, it won’t fuel your Flashathon.

The Flashathon Clumping Strategy

If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to Flashathon, you can still get a lot of participation in.  Show up at a quarter til an hour, stay until a quarter past an hour, and for the investment of 30 minutes of your Saturday, you’ve got two hours of Flashathon covered. We don’t set any minimums for participation, come as long and as often as you can.

Pick Your Hours Wisely

The goal of Flashathon is for twelve hours of participation, but there are eighteen hours to choose from. You no longer have to go noon to midnight non-stop. You can start earlier. Even later if you’re a night owl or live on the opposite coast. You can take a few hours off in the middle. You can call a mulligan on an hour when your brain just can’t cope, or you need to stop for dinner. Just remember that an hour lost is an entire hour lost, and there are limited chances to make it up.

So join us this Saturday. Have some fun, do some writing, and join in a small, but hopefully growing, community of the insane!

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WWW: Writing With a Baby

Regular followers of this blog may have noticed no WWW posts the last two weeks. Those of you who aren’t in CVS or follow my blog may not know the reason. On September 4th my wife and I welcomed our beautiful baby daughter into the world. So I thought I’d make a nice post about how to write when you’re the parent of a newborn.

The problem is, I have no effing clue.

I took two weeks off work as paternity leave. I had such grand schemes during that time. Oh, sure, I’d be caring for a baby, but even the rowdiest of newborns sleeps eventually, and during those restful periods I’ll have all sorts of time to get work done. I’ll finish my novella. I’ll clean up that short story I want to send around to pro markets. I’ll do some edits on the novel. Maybe we’ll even have time to brainstorm the broad plot points of the next two parts of the trilogy. Maybe even break out an old novel and clean it up. Or outline a new one! All of these things and more! The writing time will flow!

Here’s the thing with newborns. When they sleep, you have to sleep. Because when they’re awake, they are your entire world. They have needs that they cannot articulate but that must be addressed, turning them into a really stressful guessing game. Unfortunately I’m not a great napper. Even if I’ve gone a night with exactly zero sleep, as I did during a bout of insomnia about a year back, I cannot nap the following day. It screws up my eating schedule, it screws up my ability to get sleep the following night. So while I’ve gotten more sleep than I expected in my daughter’s first two weeks of life, I’m still operating largely at the mental capacity of a zombie.

That short story? It’s been open on my laptop for most of the past two weeks. I’ve yet to have a chance to read beyond the title. I still like it, so I didn’t change anything. Oh, and the byline. That was still pretty solid.

Any change to a writing schedule can be tough, and this was a big one. Hopefully I’ll get back into some form of rhythm in the next few weeks, but my productivity is probably going to take a major hit until then. It’s all about the smaller goals and simple wins right now. But here I am. I’m back. And I’m still committed to this thing called writing. Somehow. If any of you are writers and have survived newborns, I’d love to know the strategies that worked, even if it’s just “expect to be a worthless sack of not writing for like three months.” I’m not looking for permission to not write, but a warning wouldn’t hurt.

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WWW: Announcing Flashathon 2!

Today is July 18th. Which means we’re only three short months from FLASHATHON! Since it’s never too early to bring it up, and I probably should have done so already, I thought I’d take this opportunity to (a) say that yes, we are doing it again this year (b) explain what it is for those who don’t know and (c) explain what’s going to change this year for those who participated last year.

I feel like (a) is already handled, so let’s get into (b).  What is Flashathon?

Flashathon is a yearly flash-fiction writing marathon of insanity that takes place over on my blog, Writerly Words. The origins of the event date back to about this time last year when I mentioned on Twitter that it would be interesting to do such a marathon, in the spirit of folks who do blogathons and the like. The problem with saying things on Twitter is that, even though I don’t have a lot of followers, I do have some. Particularly one Day Al-Mohamed, co-owner and operator of this here blog and fellow Cat Vacuumer. She saw that tweet and thought it a brilliant idea. From there we gathered prompts from Capclave panelists, friends, and each other, and the first Flashathon was born.

It was a small event, most participants crowded into my living room, but it was a lot of creative insanity. Since them, I’m aware of at least one story that started in Flashathon being sold. For actual money. Which is awesome.

Last year the event consisted of twelve prompts, one posted each hour. The prompts, however, are entirely voluntary. Some folks wrote from them, some folks wrote their own flash-fiction pieces, some focused on adding a given amount to their work-in-progress during the hour. The focus of the event isn’t rules. It’s creativity.

So what’s changing?

First, the date. Last year we did it the Saturday immediately following Capclave. This year I was asked by another Unleaded member if we could push it back one week so that she could better participate along with the students of a class she teaches. So we’re going to do it October 27th this year.

Second, the length. Last year the event ran for 12 hours. This year it will run for 18. However, the goal will still be to participate for 12 hours. This is largely because the noon-midnight time period left a lot of us feeling burned out around 10:30. Running it longer lets participant pick and choose their 12 hours. We’ll start at 9am Eastern and run until 3am, aka midnight on the west coast. 12 hours, whether consecutive or spread out, will still be the goal. Day is already pushing me for an “overachievers” accomplishment, but I’m hesitant.

Otherwise, the event remains what it was: rules light and creativity heavy. I hope this year the event gets bigger and better than it was last year.

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