Category: Resources


Post-AwesomeCon Update

This past weekend was my fourth AwesomeCon, which was also the fourth AwesomeCon, period. I’ve seen it grow over those four iterations, and I’m very glad that I’m in the neighborhood. It’s great fun, with great people and great entertainment, including some people, stories, games, and more that I probably never would have encountered without it.

Speaking at this convention is truly a highlight of my year, and has been since the beginning. Despite its size (starting out as a postage-stamp-sized event and growing this year to be a so-far-estimated 50k+ mass of humans, elves, dwarves, robots, and space marines), it’s always been laid-back, relaxed, and focused on fun. I’ve been to cons that took themselves too seriously, or let their success get to them, and AwesomeCon has always been the most welcoming, joyful event I’ve ever been to. Continue reading

No, that’s not all one topic (though it sounds like it would make an interesting discussion). I’m just giving you an update on some things over at my other site that you might be interested in.  Continue reading

Elantris

20151222_000616[1]Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity.

These are the opening words to one of the best novels ever written: Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson. I first read it in 2011, barely more than a year into my career as an editor. It immediately became one of my favorites, if not my most favorite novel ever.

It had been sitting on my shelf for years, though, waiting to be read. The problem was that the paperback copy doesn’t tell you what the story is about, and so I never knew if I was in the mood for it. My reading list is so long, and I stopped counting at a hundred, that I kept deciding to try something else. This is after reading both Mistborn and The Way of Kings. I’d heard good things, but not knowing what to expect kept making me pick something else.

Well, now it’s the only novel I’ve ever considered worth getting in a collector’s quality leatherbound edition. And not to give you a clickbait kind of hook, but what Brandon Sanderson put on the personalization inside made me tear up.

Considering how I feel about this book, I should have done a review on it years ago. I even said on this blog that it deserves its own review. For some reason, I kept putting it off. Maybe it’s just that I didn’t know if I could do it justice. I’m glad I didn’t, though. If I had, then I couldn’t have given my readers this story.  Continue reading

Son of the Black Sword 1A few weeks ago, I finished Son of the Black Sword, the latest book from Larry Correia. I’ve been delaying on writing blog posts, so this review isn’t the only one on my to-do list; but the thing is, if you like fantasy that’s a little bit different, you need to read this book. You’ll thank both me and Larry later.

Son of the Black Sword is the first in a new series for Correia. It’s also marketed as the first in a new genre; that’s not really true, since he’s been writing Iron Kingdoms tie-ins, but when it comes to his original fiction he’s known as an urban fantasy writer. He’s most famous for his bestselling Monster Hunter series, a contemporary story about a group of contractors whose job it is to hunt and kill the monsters humanity would rather pretend don’t exist. Second to that (and my personal favorite) is his Grimnoir Chronicles, an epic-scale alternate history/fantasy set in an alternate Great Depression where magic exists and the West is in a cold war with Imperial Japan. (Also, there are airships and Tesla superweapons.)

Compared against that, Son of the Black Sword is definitely something different — and not just because there isn’t a single gun to be found. It’s an epic fantasy, of the sort that might normally be described as “traditional fantasy” until you read through the first chapter. Son of the Black Sword is set in a world that heavily draws on South and East Asian concepts, in terms of society, politics, philosophy, and even the fantasy itself. But that’s all mere backdrop, however well-painted, supporting a story with three major twists, five minor twists, and a story where you’re not sure quite what’s going on but you’re hungry, starving for more.

This is epic fantasy at its finest. My favorite epic fantasy remains David Eddings’ The Belgariad and The Malloreon, despite such personages as Brandon Sanderson redefining and expanding the genre. Larry Correia is now approaching a rival for Sanderson, and after this start I would not be surprised if he starts rivaling Eddings for me on pure enjoyment.

Spoiler Warning

As you might expect, minor spoilers ahead. Only minor ones, though, so if you want to read more you should be safe.  Continue reading

Customs of the WorldWhenever I talk characters and worldbuilding, at conventions or in classrooms, I always recommend several books. One of them actually isn’t a book at all, and it’s the only one that I mention in both contexts.

It’s a lecture series from The Teaching Company, titled Customs of the World: Using Cultural Intelligence to Adapt, Wherever You Are. This is intended to be a course on understanding world cultures, but it’s a vital resource for creating cultures in both fantasy and science fiction. It’s also a great secondary resource for creating different personalities between characters.

As of this post, it is currently on sale at The Teaching Company’s website, starting at $35 for an audio download. I cannot recommend it too highly. You should all go get it now. If, however, you’re reading this after the sale has ended, I’ll explain why it’s worth getting. Continue reading

Whose Approval Matters to You?

Last night, I was speaking with an unpublished author who confided a very common fear: that self-publishing isn’t really publishing, because as a newcomer she wants that stamp of approval that comes with a publisher’s imprint.

Now, this author isn’t one of mine, and in fact isn’t even in my category, much less the SF&F genre. She’s a nonfiction author who has written a self-help/motivational book that, frankly, sounds interesting. (And I rarely say that about motivational books, since I find them to be . . . well, less than motivational. Literally the last good one I read was about eight years ago, and it was very atypical.) But this author’s fear is not only understandable, it’s very common.

It’s also part of a misconception. See, as a reader, you naturally look up to authors and their publishers (or, even if you don’t because they suck, you feel that they suck all the more because you’re not able to treat them with reverence). These are professionals. Their opinion has weight, and you would love to be their equal, or at least the rookie on the team. Their recognition is what proves you’ve succeeded.

Not true. Very, oh so very, not trueContinue reading

This has been a very busy summer. Between work and family commitments, I’ve been running around so much that when I get back home I just really haven’t had the energy to blog. Heck, my work has been cutting into my vital goof-off time, and we all know how important that is. I didn’t have time to review a single item on the Hugo ballot this year like I’d expected, and I quite literally finalized my ballot only on the last day. I had to skip the fan and related work categories, too; I just didn’t have the time to finish those.

This last weekend was particularly hectic and stressful, to the point that reading about Hugo kerfluffles online was relaxing by comparison. I didn’t even think I should blog about it, but decided I could probably squeeze off a quick post.

The short version: I can’t say I’m surprised. In fact, I can’t even say I’m disappointed.  Continue reading

WorkingWell, I’ve been silent. That is, I’ve been silent on this blog. Why? Because I’m trying to devote as much effort to my main job as possible. That is, jobs, but the priority goes to the company that pays me the most for my editorial and research skills. That company has been very generous with letting me balance going to places like AwesomeCon (and three more events this year, possibly five), so I’m trying to not take that for granted.

Sadly, thanks to a flare-up with my fibromyalgia that coincided with AwesomeCon weekend, well, I’m a bit behind. But I’m taking a few moments here to talk about the convention and a few other things before I let too much time pass.  Continue reading

Hugo-Award-e1422355571917Things have been very busy on my end, as I deal with a few major projects at my other job and launch a new collaborative blog site (more on that later), and also prepare for my presentations at AwesomeCon.

I’m just dashing off a quick post here to cover a bit of Hugo news: the Hugo Awards Voter Packet is out. Continue reading

It’s been a few weeks since my last post on the Hugo Awards. I haven’t had much to say, because my only concern in this matter is on the subject of writing. I’m not interested in responding to every little thing that pops up, such as news articles that repeat lies, Big Five editors who make up new lies, fans who leave one-star, one-word Amazon reviews on Hugo-nominated works . . . I’ll leave that up to others. Sure, it gets me great traffic, but I’m interested in writing, reviews, and fun stuff to share. The Hugo Awards are too serious, yet too inconsequential in the long run, to just keep harping on the same points over and over and over and . . . you get the idea.

Joker Hugo Awards

(Actually, if you want over-the-top Hugo humor, check out my friend Declan’s parody of the Sad Puppies people encountering SWATing and Worldcon. I make my own appearance in the latest installment. Apparently my house is made of Lego. I don’t find this repugnant.)

bullshit-asymmety-principleAnyway, long story short, I’m writing another Hugo post. This is because someone decided to leave a long comment on a previous post that requires a few more counterpoints than is easy to do in an answering comment. As such, I’m doing a full-on fisk, and invoking Brandolini’s Bullshit Asymmetry Principle.

The commenter’s name is pocketnaomi. As such, I’m assuming this person is a woman named Naomi, and will be addressing her that way. Continue reading

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