Archive for August, 2011

DARK FAITH 2 – CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Apex Publications will be publishing a follow-up to the Nebula, Bram Stoker, and Black Quill nominated anthology, Dark Faith.  The book will be 80,000 words and pay five cents a word (up to four thousand words).  It will debut late-summer 2012.  We buy First World anthology print rights and digital rights (for three years).

Everyone believes in something and we want you to put those beliefs to the test.  We’re looking for the story only you could write, something deeply personal and at the same time universal.  We’re looking for smart, literate stories that don’t proselytize or stereotype.  Stories that make you think, that comment on the human condition and the social order.  Stories that are rich in their use of language.

However, as much as we love social commentary, don’t forget to entertain us.  The best way to get a feel for what we’re looking for is to read Dark Faith.

Submissions will be accepted from 1/1/2012 until 1/31/2012.  Unsolicited stories received outside this time frame will be deleted unread.

Please include a cover letter with your submission (even if we know you).  Please send no more than one submission at a time.  No reprints.  Simultaneous submissions will be accepted as long as you tell us up front (and immediately withdraw the story if you sell it).

All submissions must be emailed as an RTF file to Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon at darkfaithantho@gmail.com

***

Here’s how I described the first go around on John Scalzi’s Whatever:

Click here to find some of the reviews of first one.

Upcoming Projects (Told by Pictures)

I have a couple of projects either on the horizon or about to go up for pre-order that you may want to be on the lookout for.   As always, a picture is worth a thousand words, so they will cut down on the length of this blog:

First up is my short story, “Rainfall”.  It is due in the next issue of Cemetery Dance (along with an interview with me).  The story is about a brother, a world weary private investigator, who is helpless to come to the aid of his sister when something terrible happens to her, but he gets an opportunity to do things different the second time around.  This piece of beautiful artwork is done by long time friend of Mo*Con, the much beloved Steve Gilberts.

Sticking to my horror home ground is the story “Trails End”, which is makes its appearance in the anthology, Dead West.  It’s L’Amour meets Lovecraft as a lone Indian scout goes up against an ancient evil.  It’s the last of a trilogy of weird west stories that I wrote.  Art by Noah O’Toole.

Speaking of trilogies of stories that I wrote, there are my barbarian stories set in ancient Africa.  In the anthology, Griots, there is my story “Lost Son” with my recurring warrior, Dinga Cisse.  Griots is edited by Milton J. Davis and Charles Saunders and published by MVmedia (now up for pre-order) and will debut at Onyxcon.  Here’s a teaser excerpt. Cover art by Natiq Jalil and interior art by Stacey Robinson.

Next up while I was in my “sword & soul” writing mood is a personal favorite of mine, “Warrior of the Sunrise”, coming out in The New Hero volume one.  Lalyani isn’t just a male sword fighter with boobs, nor does she have some abusive past which has turned her into a fighter.  She’s just badass.  Art by Gene Ha.  Yeah, I said it, Gene Ha!

Coming in October from Delirium Books is my novella, Bleed With Me.  It is sold out as a limited edition hardcover, but will be available as an ebook.  It takes place on the same streets as my Knights of Breton Court series (between King Maker and King’s Justice).   This is very much me in horror mode, which you’ll figure out by the opening scene (if not the title).  Oddly enough, it’s a love story.  Speaking of which, Kaaron Warren has me going on about the inspiration for Bleed With Me over on her blog.  Artist Mike Bohatch.

Losing That Blogging Discipline

It’s like I feel this compulsion to do the occasional reset on my blog and what/when I choose to write.  Though I suspect that this time it’s more about this pinch of guilt that I feel because I haven’t been blogging even close to regularly lately. (See the Hugh Macleod cartoon)

I’ve had my blog since 2005.  During the first four years of it, I was putting up, on average, two novels worth of words a year on my blog.  I know that in the last two, I haven’t put up quite those numbers, this year especially.  Back when I used to blog a few times a day—A DAY!!!—part of my motivation for blogging was building an audience as my stories were in circulation and hadn’t found homes yet.  But I wanted folks who knew me to have something to read.  There were a lot less bloggers then and it was easier to cut through the noise and build a platform.

Blogging was part of my writing discipline back then and I think that’s the key word:  discipline.  I still have a file folder with a few dozen sketched out blogs from back when I was blogging consistently (because there always had to be a new blog/content).  It had become a habit (for a while, I’d dare say an addiction…a few times A DAY!), but like any other habit, it can be lost when you take a break from it.  There was a lot of overthinking stuff:  do I have anything to say?  Do I feel like offering commentary on the issues of the day?  Does anyone care if I say (or don’t say) anything?

And I was tired.

Writing takes energy, time, commitment and discipline.  But your creative mind is like a muscle:  there’s only so much in it for any given workout.  As the deadlines have increased, not to mention the schedules that come with simply living life, time for words have to be allocated.  Carved out.  And that precious time, and the bulk of that muscle’s workout, goes into projects.  I’m not upset by that (though maybe mildly angsty).

So for the foreseeable future, my blogging will come in bursts.  When the time and ideas hit me, when I have reviews to do, and probably either between writing projects (or when I need breaks from them).  It’s become far from a daily routine anymore, so there won’t be nearly as much commentary on the day’s events (look, I’ve missed entire wars and natural disasters by keeping my head down and working on projects to make my deadlines).

At least that’s the way I see it today.  I could turn over a whole new blogging leaf and suddenly start blogging a few times a day next week.  I doubt it though.  Not with a couple of new books due.

Miseducation of the Writer – CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Call for Submissions for a nonfiction anthology of essays: Miseducation of the Writer

Miseducation of the Writer, will entail (mostly reprint) essays written by people of color, about writing genre fiction. For these purposes, genre fiction includes SF, fantasy, horror, etc.  Put simply, Miseducation of the Writer will explore the unique struggles and hardships that PoC often experience in the publishing world told by the very people who have experienced them first hand.  We hope to explore the multifaceted themes of feminism, racism, religious and or ethnic experiences in the publishing world through the eyes of PoC.

Publisher: Guide Dog Books, imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press

Editors: Chesya Burke

John Lawson

Maurice Broaddus

Word Count: 2000-5000

Deadline: October 15, 2011 The Deadline has been extended to December 1, 2011!

Payment: $20, plus 1 contributor copies for one time anthology rights, ebook and Worldwide English language rights

Reprints: Yes

Esubs: Yes

Multiple: Yes, only after rejection

Simultaneous: Yes

Original Material: While we accept original essays, also accept obscure reprints.

Send questions to miseducationofthewriter@gmail.com.  We will not open attachments.  Although we accept blog entries (as long as they are no longer available on your blog), we are looking for well-written, high quality essays that analyze/evaluate/discuss your chosen subject, while informing the reader without being confrontational or dismissive of anyone or idea. The mission here is to entertain, inform and enlighten, not belittle or scare new writers.  If you believe you have an idea/essay that fits our needs, please feel free to email and run it by us.

That said, this is an anthology of (somewhat) established writers for newer unestablished writers.  Although you do not have to have published work in the field, it is a plus, so please tell us about your publishing credits in your cover letter.  If you don’t have any, you need to have been working in this field in some capacity over the last few years, whether as an editor, agent reviewer, etc. We understand it takes a long time to get published sometimes, so if you have been working and honing your craft as a writer for many years, but still aren’t published, please feel free to submit, however, it may be more difficult to get into this particular anthology. Likewise, if your submission is a reprint, please tell us where it was originally published (even if on your blog), and if it’s new, please let us know that also.

To submit, go to our submission page.

GenCon – GameChurch.com

“Jesus loves you.  Take our stuff.”

Despite what people may think, there are a ton of Christian gamers at GenCon.   The Christian Gamers Guild has a continual presence (as well as church service).  A newer presence made their debut this year, creating a buzz about themselves, both positive and negative.  Handing out t-shirts, popcorn, and a version of the Gospel of John written for gamers, GameChurch.com knows how to enter a room.  So I sat down to chat with its founder, Mikee Bridges.

What led you to found GameChurch?

Mikee:  I’ve been in fringe ministry for a really long time.  We like to do stuff that’s a bit controversial.  We were doing music as our workspace.  And in one of the venues we had constructed, we had a gaming room.  The next venue we built, we put in 31 such rooms.  We started doing what we called Game Church on Thursday nights, just a kind of Christianity 101, hanging out with people.  It grew and we wanted to take it national.

You spent 2010 going to all of the video game expos and saw no one doing it there.  You called your appearances really successful.  How do you define being successful?

Mikee:  We thought we’d get laughed or thrown out.  Instead we got major press and gave out 3,000 Bibles.  We’re not shoving it in people’s faces.  They are coming up to us asking “what is this?”  We’re not trying to sell anything or have an agenda.  We’re just saying “Jesus loves you.”  It’s no different than me saying “my mom loves you.”

If you were to boil the Gospel message down, what would it sound like?

Mikee:  That Jesus loves you.  And to be reminded of that.  Not the American, western version of Jesus.  I think where we get a bad rap is when we take it too far.  We don’t want to just say “Jesus loves you” but we want to “convert” them, change them, control them, and judge them.  It’s not our job to be the morality police.  Who am I to say what you should and shouldn’t do.  “Jesus loves you” is the message and then God takes control.

I’ve seen popcorn.  I’ve seen t-shirts.  I’ve seen these mini-Bibles.  What’s the thinking behind the sort of methods you guys use?

Mikee:  It’s really a tongue in cheek thing.  We like to use irreverent things and joke around.  We have legitimate content from the gaming industry on our website and also doing parodies and viral videos.  It brings people in, folks think we’re funny, and wonder how we could be Christians.  Some people come up thinking that we’re making fun of God.  In both of those cases, a dialogue gets started.

Where do you think the “controversial” aspect of your ministry comes from?

Mikee:  We get way more controversy from other Christians.  I had a guy come up to me yesterday and say I really like your concept, but it’s hard for me because of your imagery.  It’s a giant picture of Jesus with a hand control and a headset.  (Besides the fact that Jesus probably looked more like Said from Lost than this blond haired, blue-eyed version).  But we use it because it draws attention.  People come up taking pictures and asking questions.

How do you think you’ve been received?

Mikee:  We’re stoked.  Every once in a while you’ll get that person that has that uneducated opinion, that judges you immediately and walks off.  I offered one of our neighbors a couple of bags of popcorn.  On it, it says “what would Jesus do?  Give out popcorn, duh.”  He just looked at the Jesus part of it and said “no, thank you.”  It’s weird and hard for me because I’m not out to convert you, just tell you that “Jesus loves you.”  That’s all.  If it said “my mom loves you” he probably would have taken it.  That’s what I want to deconstruct.

GenCon: Games Ahoy

INDIANAPOLIS  (August 11, 2011) – Gen Con Indy, the nation’s largest annual consumer fantasy, sci-fi and adventure gaming convention experienced stunning growth this year. Turnstile attendance was over 119,707 with 36,733 unique attendees present for 96 hours of gaming, cosplay, music, shopping and more. This positive spike in turnout represents a greater than 20% increase in a single year. Game event participation grew even more steeply, with over 250,000 event tickets yielding an over 26% expansion throughout the Best Four Days In Gaming!

The exhibition hall moved to a larger section of the expanded Indiana Convention Center this year, just in time for greater crowds.  The hall felt as packed on Thursday of GenCon as it did on Saturday of GenCon last year. A number of games debuted (Magic: the Gathering 2012) or returned (with DriveThruRPG’s partnership with White Wolf Publishing had their booth packed as Vampire:  the Masquerade was brought back into print).

Cryptozoic Entertainment, home of the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, continued its expansion into card game category with the release of a new original game: Food Fight!  With a mix of a cartoonish look with adult humor (Major Weiner, Private Pancake, Mean Burrito, Bad-Ass Bacon), it plays like a game of war with modifiers.  The object of the game is to “make delicious meals” as the meals battle it out.  Different entrees have different power levels (bacon, as it should be, is the yummiest at 11).  Accompanying its launch were cards exclusive to GenCon.  The game play seemed pretty basic, but that was only in demo mode.  Once you get the hang of the various clever combos possible, there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of.  The game will release concurrently with a digital version for the iPhone, iPad and Android.

I was more interested in their Walking Dead board game, but didn’t get a chance to play test that.

The Family Fun Pavilion continues to be popular with the next generation of game players and their parents. Companies with all-ages entertainment products were swarmed with children, grandparents, educators and librarians looking for games for upcoming birthdays, holidays and back-to-school. Between family fun and regular Sunday badges, nearly 3,000 additional people joined Gen Con Sunday – adding considerable traffic to the show and helping exhibitors reach new fans.

Two games in particular were big hit with my sons:  Angry Birds and Mind Flex.  Angry Birds is pretty much what you think it is:  Jenga meets … knocking down Jenga with spongy birds.  With cards dictating the structures to be built, a played launches foamy birds at the construct (the cards also dictate how many tries they get and with which type of birds).

Mind Flex was the most intriguing of the games.  Each player is fitted with headsets that measure brainwave activity.  Then they battle out, via their ability to concentrate, on moving a ball back and forth.  There are five different games, but the mental tug-of-war proved to be the most fun (especially between siblings).  I’m telling you, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Star Trek:  The Next Generation episode where the entire crew is taken down because they were addicted to playing a mind game.

Four days is not enough time to even come close to playing, uh, looking at all of the games at GenCon.

GenCon Wrap Up Part II

(as seen through my Twitter account)

It’s Geek Mardis Gras, uh, I mean GenCon!

Never forget your towel…you can use it for a blanket when you don’t have a room #gamerhomeless

It’s too early in the morning to deal with LARPers & filkers. Wait, there’s never a good time for that…#gencon

If your IT department goes down, you’re out of luck. GenCon’s expecting over 40K people this year. #geeksonparade #geekpower

“No, playing elves exclusively does not constitute #racefail.”

I love that my sons *had* to come visit me at GenCon. Then the oldest acted too cool to admit missing me.

@mforbeck Had a great lunch with @MauriceBroaddus, @jerrylgordon & @apexjason. Getting ready for next 2 seminars & ENnies tonight.

…and then @jenniferbrozek went insane, smashed a glass, and went after @apexjason’s assistant …

“That ninja bit me.” #thingsoverheardatencon

Dear @apexjason: what’s got two thumbs and you’re now liable for? *this guy* #apexVP

In the champagne room with @apexjason @jerrylgordon @whhorner @darktowhead … don’t ask. #gencon

…and then we invented dance moves based on punctuation & were asked to leave … (@whhorner @apexjason @darktowhead)

Crashing the Steampunk panel! with @antonstrout

Ok, I’m done at my signing. The first person to buy my books: R.A. Salvatore. #geekgasm

Spandex is unforgiving, I don’t care what you look like. And guys, we can tell when you’ve packed a potato. #genconcostumes

On hour #4 of dinner at Ambrosia  with @apexjason and @jerrylgordon. #gencon #greattimes #greatfriends

When you hang out at a place called The Succubus Club, you really regret 8 a.m. panels…

GenCon Wrap Up Part I

ReaderCon and GenCon are the two best cons I’ve been a part of this year and have gone in my top five best convention experiences period.*  As testament to how good a time I had at GenCon, it has taken me nearly a week to recover.  This may be in part due to my hectic convention schedule this year (I’ve been at a pace of a con about every other week, with a couple back-to-back appearance) as well as the fact that I lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle.  And GenCon involves miles and miles of walking each day.  (Which means if you’ve spent the rest of the year living in your mother’s basement, you have to start working out at least a few weeks in advance).

This year marked the first year in the new space of the expanded Indiana Convention Center, which meant a lot more room.  Which was a good thing because there was record breaking attendance this year (over a 20% increase from last year to this year).  I had a great time at my signing (who wouldn’t when R.A. Salvatore is the first one to buy your books?) as well as hanging out with my fans (I may never get used to saying the words “my fans” much less get used to actually having them).

The Writer’s Symposium was made of awesome.  We had over 2800 folks attending the Writer’s Symposium (that’s an increase of 25% from last year).  I got to share space with the likes of Greg Wilson, Brad Beaulieu, Paul Genesse, Jenn Brozek, Kelly Swails and so many others (whom I’ll now get in trouble for not naming).  Not only were the panels informative, but they were entertaining.  Most of my panels were at 8 a.m., but I made up for it by crashing the Steampunk panel and we all ran amuck during that time.  Best. Panel.  Evah!

The networking was meh.  I mean, here I am having to mingle with the likes of R.A. Salvatore, James L. Sutter, Jim Lowder, Elizabeth Vaughan, THE John Helfers, Jean Rabe, Matt Forbeck, and Anton Strout (Guest of Honor!).  Plus having to deal with some of the best fantasy and science fiction artists.  Course, there’s also nothing like hitting various night spots like the Sub Terra and The Succubus Club with the likes of William Horner and Larry Connolly.

GenCon is one of the rare cons that my family gets to hang with me.  The boys wore everyone out Friday, opening and closing the convention.  Then turned around the next day to be a part of the costume parade.

The Apex Publishing booth also was a beneficiary not only of the additional foot traffic and better location, but also of our new intern.  We kept describing McKenzie Johnston as magical (and had to fend off rival/neighboring booths from poaching her) as she came SO close to breaking the all time sales record (coming up short by about $9, which mind you, she started to auction off the Apex executives to make up that $9 difference).

So, yeah, if I’m going to have an up and down con season, it’s good that the two ups were all time ups.  You’ll be seeing me at each of these next year.

*Not counting Mo*Con, as my opinion would be biased to say the least.

Fanboy and Chum Chum – Brain Freeze – A Review

Having recently returned from GenCon, I feel like I spent the week with real life Fanboys and Chum Chums.  Created by Eric Robles, Fanboy and Chum Chum tells the tale of a devoted boy named Fanboy and his best friend and trusty sidekick, ChumChum.  The pair are hyper super fans of all things sci-fi and fantasy.  Though they live in a world of adventure and imagination, there is no LARPing or filking involved.  (And if I have to explain either of those terms to you, YOU are not a resident of fanboy/geek culture).

The most recent collection of theirs is called Brain Freeze and every episode focuses around their favorite treat, a cup of Frosty Freezy Freeze:  “Brain Freeze”, “Berry Sick”, “Refill Madness”, “The Frosty Bus”, “Jingle Fever”, “Back from the Future”, and “Norse-ing Around”.

What I’ve always appreciated about Fanboy and Chum Chum is how they remind us that we have to participate in the story of life.  We’re to embrace all aspects of life, living with the goal of loving everyone and everything with holiness and imagination. It should impact how we work, how we play, and how we relate to one another; finding our redemptive mission in continuing the work God began to reconcile all of creation to Him.

And they remind us that imagination is not only not bad, but a thing to be cherished.  There is room for imagination and make believe in our children’s worlds, in all of our worlds. The idea is to have child-like faith, with the idea of keeping a sense of awe, wonder, and appreciation of mystery.  Underwear over our pants is optional.

The Fanboy & Chum Chum:  Brain Freeze collection is light on episodes and skimps on the extras (we’re left with “Brain Freeze” Original Animatic).  So basically, this is just a quick fix meant only to tide you over.  In other words, just enough to enjoy, but not enough to give you a braaaaaaaain freeeeeeeeeeze.

The I [Love] iCarly Collection – A Review

“iCashgrab”

Disclaimer:  DVDs were provided at no cost by a PR firm.  I say that not so much to say that this didn’t sway my opinion one way or the other, but more because I didn’t want folks thinking I sit around buying and watching iCarly sets.  Even for my kids.

For those unfamiliar with the wildly addictive (well, addictive for the tween set) show iCarly, its premise is pretty simple.  Three friends, Carly (Miranda Cosgrove), Sam (Jennette McCurdy), and Freddie (Nathan Kress), put on an internet show known as iCarly, which Carly and Sam host.  Carly, perky and fun; Sam, her rough and tumble counterpart; Freddie the guy eternally trapped in the “friend” zone.  Carly lives with her brother, a free-spirited artist, Spencer (Jerry Trainor).  So the show follows their misadventures at school and home, as well as episodes of their internet hijinks.

With the I <3 iCarly Collection, we have basically what we can call the iCashgrab, as most of the episodes in this collection could be had in the previously released set, iCarly Season 2 volume 3.  The only episodes not available on that set are:  “iFight Shelby Marx”, “iDate a Bad Boy”, “iLook Alike”, and “iThink They Kissed”.  This collection is also thin on the extras, with them being limited mostly to behind-the-scenes extras.  Also we get “bonus” episodes of Big Time Rush and Victorious, which certainly isn’t about getting your tween watching those shows and buying those sets.

We must live in the midst of a caring community. Love must be shared. Life must be shared.  The friendship demonstrated by the trio of BFFs illustrate how friendship is a beautiful and unique form of love, one that truly provides a genuine opportunity for our need for intimacy to be met apart from family and romance.  Friendship is a protection against isolation and loneliness that many of us, especially the tween and teen sets, battle against.

Friendships are a blessing from God, opportunities to both share and receive His love through another. All relationships have a measure of inherent risk to them and sometimes it can be tough to maintain friendships with the opposite sex (thus the dilemmas of “ISaved Your Life and iThink They Kissed”).  Good friendships, like those seen on iCarly, have several characteristics:

Loyalty. Relationships are built on trust. Defending your friend. Supporting your friend in good times and in bad.
Communication. Listening. Speaking. Accepting. Understanding. Forbearing.
Challenging and stimulating. You ever hear the phrase “iron sharpens iron” (actually, it’s a proverb: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17)?
Fun. What’s the point of spending time with people whose company you don’t enjoy?
Self-sacrificing. Putting your needs above their own.
Loving. All of our relationships should be characterized by love.

The I <3 iCarly Collection is fairly innocuous stuff.  Were aliens to pick up this collection, it would be labeled “Mostly Harmless”.  And this would be a fine starter set for those wanting a taste of the show.