I’m so honored to be asked to serve as a judge for the 2020 Endeavour Award, which recognizes a distinguished science fiction or fantasy book, either a novel or a single-author collection, created by a writer living in the Pacific Northwest. I look forward to working with my fellow judges Michael Capobianco and John G. Hemry.
The finalists this year are:
- Merlin Redux by Dave Duncan, who was from Victoria, BC, Night Shade Books
- Middlegame by Seanan McGuire, who is from Kenmore, WA, Tor Books
- Shadow Stitcher by Misha Handman, who is from Victoria, BC, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
- What The Wind Brings by Matthew Hughes, who is from Victoria, BC, Pulp Literature Press
- The Witch’s Kind by Louisa Morgan, who is from Port Townsend, WA, Redhook
The Endeavour Award is sponsored by Oregon Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. It will be announced in November at OryCon. Because of Covid 19, Orycon will be held on-line.
Dear Readers, The marvelous Catherine Schaff-Stump prodded me into revealing a few of my tricks for bringing dinosaurs to life in your imaginations. Hears hoping the writers among you may find something useful in creating wonders of your own. Oh, and hey, if you’ve never checked out Cath’s Abigail Rath series, you are in for a treat!
The Hugo awards ceremony this weekend has drawn outcries from those who are dismayed at the treatment of diverse voices in the science fiction and fantasy fields we love. I don’t want to take time cataloging small slights and larger injustices. Instead, here’s one thing I can and will do to work toward positive change.
Spoiler alert: Like many aspects of our lives, it’s about the money.
Some years ago, I made a concerted effort to record what fiction I bought and read, with a focus on finding marvelous new writers, including some who have been doing great work for decades but get overlooked. That felt right, even joyful.
But it still wasn’t enough.
Then Patreon came along and I began kicking in modest amounts to support writers and publications whose work I admired and devoured. Last year I took a hard look at my list and saw that the number of white men were over-represented by a lot. I thought about why this might be. I do think it was partly a function of who had publicized their Patreon and who was more assertive in seeking support. Those reasons matter not at all. I knew I needed to be more inclusive. So I added more marvelous creators. Again, that felt better, and encouraging.
But this, too, isn’t enough.
Today is the first of the month, a day on which Patreon sends me a list of who I support and the dollar amounts for each one. Doing some basic arithmetic, I see that the white men are still over-represented in total financial donations by a fair bit. Sure, I can explain how one person has dropped out and I added another and I increased my financial support for another two. But the point remains. It still isn’t enough.
The best time to fix this would have been when I first joined Patreon. The next best time is now.
A few years ago, I began taking classes to learn techniques for flower arranging. Yes, there are techniques one can learn! I find it a wonderful way to relax as it stimulates creativity. Here’s one result from last summer.
Writers fill my screen, their faces showing intense concentration as we sit silently before our laptops, each in our individual rooms, plying our craft. Three months ago, I would never have dreamed of writing fiction this way. Heck, I was never terribly fond of writing in a coffee shop with others at nearby tables, let along with a group of my colleagues in the same room.
Then came the pandemic and all of my words fled. Every single last one. After struggling for weeks, in desperation I completely shook up my long-standing writing habits. I’ve always found accountability to others to be a useful tool, whether on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. So I gave group writer sprints a try, reasoning that the result could hardly be worse than zero words. To my great surprise, my words came back.
How does a writer sprint work, you ask? A bunch of writers assemble via Zoom at a prearranged time and begin by saying what we each intend to write. Sometimes we’ll take a “Twitter pledge” to stay off social media, that great distracting bane of many writers and destroyer of productivity. Someone will set a timer and we’ll spend thirty minutes or so of silently writing. Well OK maybe with an occasional comment in Chat. Then we’ll all unmute and go around with brief updates as to how we each acquitted ourselves.Those who accomplished their goal for the sprint get applause, cheers, thumbs up, etc. Lather, Rinse. Repeat.
I have no earthly idea why this radical overhaul of my method works. Maybe it has something to do with an occasional cat waving its tail at a webcam or a dog come to beg for treats. Anyway, I’m putting it out here NOT to say you must adopt this method, or any specific method whatsoever. My point, instead, is that if what you are doing no longer seems to work, try something else. Whatever helps during this terrible pandemic is good.
We are all different people with many and varied approaches to our creative processes. My friend Jason Sanford has written an insightful piece on how the pandemic has affected a number of writers. Some keep chugging steadily along. (Awesome!) Some have been unable to produce anything. Some have had to abandon works in progress and begin afresh. The approaches are as varied as the writers and their creative endeavors. My point is to simply suggest that this could be the time to try a fresh approach.
Every year, the readers of Analog and Asimov’s Science Fiction get to vote on the best stories and poems that appeared in these venerable fiction magazines. I remember the thrill when I got an email a few years back saying that my novelette, “Diamond Jim and the Dinosaurs,” was a finalist. I was deeply honored to be among such talented writers. This year, I am exceedingly pleased to see the list of winners for 2019!
Analog Science Fiction and Fact Analytical Laboratory Winners
Best Novella–The Gorilla in a Tutu Principle or, Pecan Pie at Minnie and Earl’s—Adam-Troy Castro (September/October 2019)
Best Novelette–Bonehunters—Harry Turtledove (May/June 2019)
Best Short Story–All Tomorrow’s Parties—Phoebe North (July/August 2019)
Best Fact Article–The Venus Sweet Spot: Floating Home—John J. Vester (May/June 2019)
Best Poem–Sequoias and Other Myths—Stanley Schmidt (September/October 2019)
Asimov’s Science Fiction Readers’ Award Winners
Best Novella–Waterlines—Suzanne Palmer (July/August 2019)
Best Novelette–In the Stillness Between the Stars—Mercurio D. Rivera (September/October 2019)
Best Short Story–Sacrificial Iron—Ted Kosmatka (May/June 2019)
Best Poem–A Street Away—Jane Yolen (January/February 2019)
Better yet, this year you can watch astute editors Trevor Quachri and Sheila Williams announce the winners and watch the finalists acceptance speeches and letters. What could be better? Well, reading these insightful and engaging works! You can do that too!
Check out all the Asimov’s finalists!
Check out all the Analog finalists!
There I was, chatting with writers, readers, editors spanning the globe: Vancouver, Virginia, Poland, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Thailand…the list goes on! I’m talking, of course, about the very first Amazing Con, brought to you by the terrific folks who write for, edit, and publish Amazing Stories.
What a kick! With the talented and enthusiastic Frank Wu, I got to update con-goers on new developments involving dinosaurs. Plus, like any author, I had a great time reading a soon-to-be-published short story involving…dinosaurs. Then I switched hats to moderate a panel of short-fiction and novel and game writers talking about world-building.
For everyone who thinks virtual events are but a pale imitation of the face-to-face gatherings those in our field prize, I assure you they are not! Despite the time differences, virtual conventions facilitate participation by people around the globe-literally. This includes
- those who don’t have the financial means to transportation and hotel rooms
- those who have physical conditions making such attendance difficult or impossible
- those whose time constraints and/or family situations preclude in-person events
The first Amazing Con was such a success that plans are already afoot for the second one next year. I hope everyone will check out the Amazing kickstarter to keep this esteemed publication going!
There’s still time to sign up for three fun days watching your favorite SF authors talk, sing, and read their works next weekend. There’s even an art show! Hope you’ll all come hang out with me (virtually) at Amazing Con. Find out more and register here.
I’m super excited to be invited to be a guest star at Amazing Con June 12 – 14! Want to hear me talk about new developments in old dinosaurs? Or how to go about designing a fantasy or science fiction world? Or read a new story before it’s even published?
Come one, come all! Registration is free.
Check out all the Amazing Guest Stars.
What better time than Halloween weekend for the World Fantasy Convention in LA, with a fantasy noir theme! For me it was a memorable time renewing friendships with writers, editors, agents, and others in our science fiction and fantasy community. Plus, you never know who you will meet for the first time! Here I am with one of the Amazing Stories first readers, Rebecca Partridge. I loved that she had on hand a copy of the issue with my latest story, “Conservation of Mismatched Shoes.”
You can find her con report here.