Wednesday, February 28, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - K. J. Howe

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingK. J. Howe

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?

2. Tell me about your travels.
Traveling has been part of my life since I can remember. My dad worked in telecommunications and we moved every couple of years to different locales— including Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Austria, Switzerland, and Puerto Rico. I still have the travel bug, so I set all of my books in places where I’d like to visit! I’m fascinated with exploring foreign places, cultures, and languages.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
I love trying new things, especially when they involve a thrill or speed! Flying small planes, hot air ballooning, motorcycling, rafting—you name it, I’ll try it unless it involves heights! Scuba diving, snorkelling, sailing, water skiing, and anything else that involves warm water also rate high on my list. I’m convinced I was switched at birth with someone who is now residing in the Virgin Islands.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
My first novel, FALSE DAWN, opens with an eight-year-old African boy named Mamadou being accidentally shot by the hero during a blinding sandstorm. That scene and the sequel where the hero unsuccessfully seeks medical help hit me hard. While Mamadou’s death was devastating, it created a volcano of motivation for the hero to seek redemption. His pain drove the plot forward and I was just along for the ride.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Everywhere. I people watch all the time and somehow, there seems to be a nefarious turn in everyone’s innocent actions. Ah, the bane of suspense writers!


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I’m a pantser, not a plotter. I’ve learned to accept that even though it leads to endless sleepless nights and anxiety-ridden moments. I often write myself into a corner with no way out…but then somehow, after interminable grief, I find that hidden door!


13. Celebrity crush.
Matthew McConaughey. Oh la la. The bone structure, the accent, the glint in his eye…but would someone please send him an electric razor?


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Isaac Asimov put it poignantly when he said, “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.” Writing is KJ Howe’s lifeblood, the cadence of the words her pulse. Words have captured her imagination since she first read See Spot Run in nursery school. An eclectic education followed, as she was shuttled across Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Caribbean due to her father’s work. Books were her sanctuary, an escape from the pressure of being the new kid.

After graduating from University of Toronto with a Specialist Degree in Labor Management Relations, KJ tried the business world—but the creative pull to write was irresistible. She works as a medical writer, an excellent training ground for research and answers to countless Jeopardy questions. Determined to make her dream of becoming a novelist a reality, she pursued every writing course available. Her education continues to this day with a Master’s Degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

KJ has the honor of being a finalist in the Golden Heart and the American Title III Contest, where you can vote for her by emailing webmaster@romantictimes.com with ONE SHOT, TWO KILLS in the subject line. She is represented by the Evan Marshall Agency. She currently lives north of Toronto with her husband, an attorney and her first reader.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Kaye Dacus Blog Series

Kaye Dacus is doing a daily blog series at Write Place, Write Time about finding a writer's unique voice. Here is today's line up:

Tuesday, February 27:
Deb Raney (Romance & Women's Fiction)
Chip MacGregor (Literary Agent)
Terry Burns (Westerns, also a Literary Agent)



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Monday, February 26, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - MIKE RESNICK

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Mike Resnick

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Lucifer Jones has been my favorite since the moment I created him back in the early 1980s. He’s appeared in 3 books so far – Adventures, Exploits, and Encounters – and is currently working his way through a 4th book, HAZARDS, in the pages of Argosy, ADVENTURE, and Subterranean. His titles tell it all: “The Clubfoot of Notre Dame”, “The Insidious Oriental Dentist”, “The Island of Annoyed Souls”, and so on.

2. Tell me about your travels.
We love Africa, and have been to Kenya 4 times, and Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Egypt once each. We’ve been to England and France a number of times, to Canada a few times, Mexico a couple of times, and have been on a number of Caribbean islands, of which our favorites are Jamaica, and probably Barbados and Petit St. Vincent. And I got to spend a week in Slovakia when I was a guest at a con there that Carol was unable to attend. I still want to see the Tahitian islands, especially Bora Bora and Moorea, and Carol still wants to cruise the Greek islands. But now that we’re in our mid-60s, I think except for that and the occasional foreign convention, we’ll do most of our touring in the USA.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
80% of the time, coffee (and I especially like iced coffee with cream and a straw when I’m having a meal). Milk 20% of the time. Tea never, not even in Chinese restaurants.

4. What else can you do besides write?
Read a bit, travel a bit, watch sports a bit, go to an occasional play or, less often, a movie. Mostly I write. You can’t produce as much as I’ve produced and have a lot of time left over. In our younger days, we bred and exhibited collies, and had 23 champions in a 12-year period. We named most of them after science fiction books and characters. The two champions in the photo I’m attaching – it was taken in 1975; I don’t look quite like that any more – were Ch. The Gray Lensman and Ch. Silverlock.
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMike and the Champions

5. Who are you reading right now?
Seriously Funny, a wonderful history of the untraditional, intellectual comedians who appeared in the early 1950s and were pretty much through showing up by 1965 – Mort Sahl, Severn Darden, Jean Shepherd, Tom Lehrer, Nichols & May, all the ones I used to watch and listen to at every opportunity, and who would be totally out of place today, when being dirty counts for much more than being funny.

6. Pop culture or academia?
How about: my notion of pop culture, which may not fully agree with anyone else’s? But never academia.

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
Probably the first sex scene I wrote. I felt like all the readers were peeking into my bedroom. 5,000 sex scenes later – I wrote and sold a couple of hundred anonymous “adult” novels in my starving-writer days back in the 1960s and early 1970s – it didn’t bother me a bit.

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
I love to write. Some writers hate writing but love having written. Me, I get no particular kick out of seeing my name in print…but I love the act of putting words down on paper and arranging them so that they affect people. That’s my kick – to read what I wrote at the end of the work day (in my case, about 6:00 AM) and realize that it came out almost the way I’d hoped it would when I sat down to work.

9. Food you could eat everyday.
Food I do eat just about every day: cheeseburgers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Food I would love to eat every day: veal parmesan, shrimp de jongue, lobster thermidore, beef stroganof, duck in orange sauce.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
Carol says that if they score it, I’ll watch it. True, except for baseball, which lost me forever after the 1994 strike. Many years and many pounds ago I played Little League baseball, was on my high school’s football team, and won 3 letters on the fencing team at the University of Chicago.

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I have a vast collection of show music – Broadway, off Broadway, bootlegs of shows that never made it to New York. My favorite composer/lyricists are Stephen Sondheim, Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt, William Finn, and Michael Legrand & anybody (he works with a lot of lyricists.) I also like a lot of music from the 1940s – the Andrews Sisters, Helen O’Connell, Xaviuer Cugat’s Orchestra, others. I hate all forms of rock, and figure all good popular music ended the first day some jerk plugged his guitar into a socket.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I always know what I’m going to say, if not exactly how I’m going to say it. My characters never run off with the stories. I pull the strings, they do the song and dance.

13. Celebrity crush.
Sophia Loren. Still. Even at seventy-something.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Robert Sheckley, Robert Ludlum, Alexander Lake, Catherine L. Moore, probably a dozen others I can’t think of right now but would instantly agree with if someone else suggested them.

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
No.

Locus, the trade journal of science fiction, keeps a list of the winners of major science fiction awards on its web page. In the short fiction category, Mike Resnick is currently the leading award winner, living or dead, in the all-time standings. When novels are added, he is fourth on the all-time list, ahead of Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Philip K. Dick.

Mike was born on March 5, 1942. He sold his first article in 1957, his first short story in 1959, and his first book in 1962. He attended the University of Chicago from 1959 through 1961, won 3 letters on the fencing team, and met and married Carol. Their daughter, Laura, was born in 1962, and has since become a writer herself, winning 2 awards for her romance novels and the 1993 Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Writer.

Mike and Carol discovered science fiction fandom in 1962, attended their first Worldcon in 1963, and 81 sf books into his career, Mike still considers himself a fan and frequently contributes articles to fanzines. He and Carol appeared in five Worldcon masquerades in the 1970s in costumes that she created, and won four of them.

Mike labored anonymously but profitably from 1964 through 1976, selling more than 200 novels, 300 short stories and 2,000 articles, almost all of them under pseudonyms, most of them in the "adult" field. He edited 7 different tabloid newspapers and a pair of men's magazines, as well.

In 1968 Mike and Carol became serious breeders and exhibitors of collies, a pursuit they continued through 1981. (Mike is still an AKC-licensed collie judge.) During that time they bred and/or exhibited 27 champion collies, and were the country's leading breeders and exhibitors during various years along the way. This led them to purchase the Briarwood Pet Motel in Cincinnati in 1976. It was the country's second-largest luxury boarding and grooming establishment, and they worked full-time at it for the next few years. By 1980 the kennel was being run by a staff of 21, and Mike was free to return to his first love, science fiction, albeit at a far slower pace that his previous writing. They sold the kennel in 1993.

Mike's first novel in this "second career" was The Soul Eater, which was followed shortly by Birthright: The Book of Man, Walpurgis III, the 4-book Tales of the Galactic Midway series, The Branch, the 4-book Tales of the Velvet Comet series, and ADVENTURES, all from Signet. His breakthrough novel was the international bestseller Santiago, published by Tor in 1986. Tor has since published Stalking the Unicorn, The Dark Lady, Ivory, Second Contact, Paradise, Purgatory, Inferno, the Double Bwana/Bully!, and the collection, Will the Last Person to Leave the Planet Please Shut Off the Sun? His most recent Tor releases were A Miracle of Rare Design, A Hunger in the Soul, The Outpost, and the The Return of Santiago.

Even at his reduced rate, Mike was too prolific for one publisher, and in the 1990s Ace published Soothsayer, Oracle and Prophet, Questar published Lucifer Jones, Bantam brought out the Locusbestselling trilogy of The Widowmaker, The Widowmaker Reborn, and The Widowmaker Unleashed, and Del Rey published Kirinyaga: A Fable or Utopia and Lara Croft, Tomb Raider: The Amulet of Power. He has recently completed A Gathering of Widowmakers for Meisha Merlin, Dragon America for Phobos, Lady with an Alien and A Club in Montmartre for Watson-Guptill, and Starship: Mutiny, Starship: Pirate, and New Dreams for Old for Pyr. He has most recently delivered World Behind the Door to Watson-Guptill, and STARSHIP: MERCENARY to Pyr.

Beginning with Shaggy B.E.M. Stories in 1988, Mike has also become an anthology editor (and was nominated for a Best Editor Hugo in 1994 and 1995). His list of anthologies in print and in press totals more than 35, and includes Alternate Presidents, Alternate Kennedys, Sherlock Holmes in Orbit, By Any Other Fame, Dinosaur Fantastic, Down These Dark Spaceways, and Christmas Ghosts, plus the recent Stars, co-edited with superstar singer Janis Ian.

Mike has always supported the "specialty press", and has numerous books and collections out in limited editions from such diverse publishers as Phantasia Press, Axolotl Press, Misfit Press, Pulphouse Publishing, Wildside Press, Dark Regions Press, NESFA Press, WSFA Press, Obscura Press, Farthest Star, and others. He recently spent two years as the science fiction editor for BenBella Books.

Mike was never interested in writing short stories early in his career, producing only 7 between 1976 and 1986. Then something clicked, and he has written and sold more than 140 stories since 1986, and now spends more time on short fiction than on novels. The writing that has brought him the most acclaim thus far in his career is the "Kirinyaga" series, which, with 64 major and minor awards and nominations to date, is the most honored series of stories in the history of science fiction. In 2007 Mike became the Executive Editor of Jim Baen's Universe.

He has been a prolific writer of non-fiction as well. He wrote a 4-part series, "Forgotten Treasures", to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, produced 59 installments of the how-to column, "Ask Bwana" for Speculations, has (with Barry Malzberg) produced 32 installments of "The Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues" to date for the SFWA Bulletin, wrote a bi-weekly column for the late, lamented GalaxyOnline.com, and will now be writing editorials and columns for Jim Baen's Universe.

Carol has always been Mike's uncredited collaborator on his science fiction, but in the past few years they have sold two movie scripts -- SANTIAGO and THE WIDOWMAKER, both based on Mike's books -- and Carol -is- listed as his collaborator on those. Readers of Mike's works are aware of his fascination with Africa, and the many uses to which he has put it in his science fiction. Mike and Carol have taken numerous safaris, visiting Kenya (4 times), Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Botswana, and Uganda, and have two more planned for the next four years. Mike
edited the Library of African Adventure series for St. Martin's Press, and is currently editing The Resnick Library of African Adventure, and, with Carol as co-editor, The Resnick Library of Worldwide Adventure, for Alexander Books.

Since 1989, Mike has won five Hugo Awards (for "Kirinyaga", "The Manamouki", "Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge", "The 43 Antarean Dynasties", and "Travels With My Cats:), a Nebula Award (for "Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge"), and has been nominated for 28 Hugos, 11 Nebulas, a Clarke British, and six Seiun-shos (Japanese). He has also won a Seiun-sho, a Prix Tour Eiffel (French), 2 Prix Ozones (French), 10 HOmer Awards, an Alexander Award, a Golden Pagoda Award, a Hayakawa SF Award (Japanese), a Locus Award, 3 Ignotus Awards (Spanish), a Futura Award (Croatian), an El Melocoton Mechanico (Spanish), 2 Sfinks Awards (Polish), a Fantastyka Award (Polish), a Xatafi-Cyberdark Award (Spanish), and has topped the Science Fiction Chronicle Poll six times, the Scifi Weekly Hugo Straw Poll three times, and the Asimov's Readers Poll five times. In 1993 he was awarded the Skylark Award for Lifetime Achievement in Science Fiction, and in 2001 and 2004 he was named Fictionwise.com's Author of the Year in open competition with Dan Brown, Stephen King, Robert Ludlum, Louis L'Amour, Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.

His work has been translated into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Hebrew, Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Czech, Dutch, Swedish, Romanian, Finnish, Chinese, and Croatian.

He was recently the subject of Fiona Kelleghan's massive Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work. Adrienne Gormley is currently working on the second edition.

Friday, February 23, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Nancy Kress

Kress, NancyNancy Kress

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
My favorite character is Robert Cavanaugh, from two books, out-of-genre thrillers, that were not great successes except with me. Cavanaugh is an FBI agent. He's a wonky agent (my editor thought I should make him "tougher, more masculine;" I didn't) who faxes weird cartoons to women he's trying to court. He's funny, dogged, honorable, and terrible at courting. Strange people attach themselves to him. I fell in love with Robert Cavanaugh but, as Mia Farrow points out in THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, this lovable man "is fictional, but you can't have everything." Cavanaugh lives in my novels Oaths and Miracles and Stinger but, alas, nowhere else.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
I can play chess, badly but a lot. I can cook, not too badly but definitely not gourmet. However, my meatloaf is a contender. I can teach writing. I can pull my right thumb out of joint at will. I'm superb at having lunch out. I can read: quickly, compulsively, with full-body attention. I get very involved in books; reading is for me a contact sport.

Things I cannot do but wish I could: Dance. Sing. Understand royalty statements. Remember faces and names. Write like Ursula LeGuin. Stay awake later than midnight.


5. Who are you reading right now?

6. Pop culture or academia?
Suspended halfway between. This is difficult, as the intersection of people who like both Jane Austen and John Grisham appears to be a null set, except for me. Ditto liking both Hollywood movies and art films, ballet and square dancing.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?

9. Food you could eat everyday.
Chocolate. Is there any real disagreement on this point?


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
The kind with words. Being almost tone-deaf, musical subtleties are lost on me. I like show music, pop tunes with good lyrics, even some country and western. This, my friends tell me, is very low-rent and I should pretend to understand Schubert, which I don't.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?

13. Celebrity crush.
Aaron Sorkin. I have never met or seen Aaron Sorkin, or even a picture of him, and a man who periodically gets arrested for doing mushrooms is perhaps not the best choice for a secret heart-throb. Nonetheless, a man who can write like he did for WEST WING has me gasping. Although -- what on Earth happened with STUDIO 60? My personal theory is that an invasion took Aaron away and left a pod person behind.


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Nancy Kress is the author of twenty-one books: thirteen novels of science fiction or fantasy, one YA novel, two thrillers, three story collections, and two books on writing. Among her novels are Probability Space (Tor, 2002), the conclusion of a trilogy that began with Probability Moon and Probability Sun, Crossfire (Tor, 2003), Nothing Human (Golden Gryphon Press, 2003), and Crucible. The trilogy concerns quantum physics, a space war, and the nature of reality. Crossfire, set in a different universe, explores various ways we might co-exist with aliens even though we never understand either them or ourselves very well. Nothing Human concerns a bleaker future, in which we have trashed Earth beyond the point of human habitability. So we genetically engineer our descendants--who may or may not be considered human.

Kress’s short fiction has appeared in all the usual places. She has won three Nebulas: in 1985 for “Out of All Them Bright Stars,” in 1991 for the novella version of Beggars In Spain, which also won a Hugo, and in 1998 for “The Flowers of Aulit Prison.” Her work has been translated into Swedish, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Japanese, Croatian, Lithuanian, Romanian, Greek, Hebrew, and Russian.

Kress is the monthly “Fiction” columnist for Writer's Digest Magazine. She teaches regularly at Clarion and was a guest lecturer at Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program in June 2005.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Author Website Giveaways - Joshua Palmatier

Joshua Palmatier is having a book review contest and the prize is an ARC of his latest novel The Vacant Throne. To enter, read either The Skewed Throne or The Cracked Throne and post a review on your website, your blog, your MySpace account, on amazon.com, or at barnesandnoble.com. Send him an email at: jpalmatier@sff.net with your name and a link to your review and you'll be entered. Post a review for both books and be entered twice. Post the same review on multiple sites and be entered once for each site.

The Contest ends on May 31, 2007.


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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Joshua Palmatier

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingJoshua Palmatier

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I'd have to say Varis, which isn't a surprise since the first three books revolve around her. In The Skewed Throne, not too many characters survive the book, let alone the chapter in which they appear. That cuts down on choices. But I like Varis because she isn't "good" and she isn't "bad," she's just a person. She's practical, and is willing to do what needs to be done in order for things to change. Not at first. A lot of the first book is getting her to realize that she needs to change the situation herself, and her finding the strength to do that. She's faced with morally ambiguous questions at points, ones that don't have good or perfect solutions, but she makes the best she can of the situation. I think people can relate to that. In the end, I'm hoping she comes across as a strong but vulnerable person, one who can be hurt and has been hurt herself in the past.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
Well, let's see . . . I have a significant musical side. I play the piano, and after 12 years of lessons I can do a little bit more than play chopsticks. I haven't been practicing much lately at all, though, so if I sat down to play I'd be rather rusty. I also learned to play the clarinet, the violin, and some of the percussion instruments. (In high school, I played the clarinet in band, then switched over to percussion during the marching season.) I went to school for mathematics and ended up getting my PhD, so I'm somewhat good at math. This is really just as a day job, to earn money to, you know, pay bills and such. To entertain myself, I also play raquetball (although it has a tendency to seriously screw up my knees), teach a spinning class at the gym, and work out at the gym on a regular basis. I can also cook decently, and REALLY enjoy baking cookies.


5. Who are you reading right now?
At the moment, I'm nearing the end of Michelle West's Sun Sword sextet. I'm reading book 5, The Riven Shield. The series was recommended to me by my editor and after reading her first Hunter books, and now this series, I can see why. Michelle West has a character (Jay) who is very similar to Varis in a lot of ways. Jay was a thief in the city, but has her own moral code that is essentially good but practical, and she struggles with many moral issues and decisions throughout the course of the series. Also, some of the themes in Michelle West's books are close to themes in my own novels. The idea that an object can store the knowledge of people from the past, for example. In my books, the throne serves this purpose, holding the personalities of all of those who've touched it over the last 1000 or so years. In my book, the throne has so many people that it has essentially gone insane. Michelle uses a similar device in her books, although she doesn't have insanity as a consequence. I definitely think that anyone who's read Michelle West would also like the Throne novels, and anyone who likes my books should read Michelle West's series as well.


6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
The toughest scene I've ever had to write would be the scene in The Skewed Throne in which Varis realizes that Bloodmark, her rival on the Dredge, is going to kill the white-dusty man. The white-dusty man (a baker) is the only person on the Dredge that cares for Varis when she's younger. He leaves her food on a regular basis, but they never really "meet" and aren't friends in any sense that we'd think of as friends. But there's still a connection there, and Bloodmark realizes that, and so when he wants to hurt her he goes after the baker. The scene was hard to write simply because of the emotions involved. Varis is desperately trying to reach the baker in time to save him, but she doesn't even come close. When she "feels" the baker's death, it crushes her. Trying to find the words to express this, to make the reader feel what Varis is feeling, was extremely difficult.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?

9. Food you could eat everyday.
Chocolate. I eat chocolate every day, in some form or another. I am a chocoholic. I prefer milk and dark chocolate, although I won't say no to white either. I particularly like chocolate mixed with peanut butter. My favorite is probably the peanut butter smidgens from Gertrude Hawk, although I've rarely said no to any form of chocolate. Chocolate cake, cupcakes, chocolate bars--any form will do. *grin* If you're looking for something less . . . cocoa-y, then I'd have to say this artichoke dip that is a family recipe. It's delicious. Note I do not say that it's healthy. It is extremely not healthy (it uses an entire cup of real mayonnaise). But get a box of Triscuits and a bowl of the artichoke dip . . . and I'm happy for an extremely long time.


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Oh, my stories always take me along for the ride. I typically start with a few scenes in my head, strong scenes, from various parts of the book. One of these scenes is the first one, so I write that, and then I see where the characters lead me. I shoot for whatever I feel the next strong scene is and see what happens along the way. In general, these later scenes get rewritten or revised along the way as the story changes, and sometimes they get eliminated completely. I just handed in the rough draft of The Vacant Throne to my editor and it's ending is completely different from what I initially imagined. I realized about halfway through the novel that the ending I thought would be perfect wasn't going to work, and once I allowed myself to "give up" that ending, the rest of the book fell into place. The fun of writing, to me, is NOT knowing where things are going and seeing what develops along the way. If I outlined everything, had everything plotted out before I began, I don't think I'd enjoy writing as much. In fact, I don't think I'd bother to write at all!


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Joshua Palmatier was born in Coudersport, PA, but since his father was in the military he moved around. Alot. He's lived in the states of Pennsylvania (three times), Florida (twice), Washington, California (briefly), Virginia, Texas (twice), and now resides in upstate New York. He has spent the majority of his life so far going to school, earning a Bachelors of Science and a Master of Arts degree in mathematics from the Pennsylvania State University, followed by a PhD in mathematics from Binghamton University. He is currently teaching mathematics (what else) at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, and taught for three years at Bloomsburg University while taking a break between his masters degree and the PhD.

Joshua started writing science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories in the eighth grade, when the teacher assigned a one page short story. He wrote a story about Atlantis. It was from the perspective of one of the inhabitants as he escaped in a spaceship, watching his world being destroyed by water from one of the viewports of the ship. He got an A. Joshua has never stopped writing since, mainly focusing on novels.

The Skewed Throne, Joshua's first published novel, is now available in paperback. The sequel The Cracked Throne is out in harcover, and third in the series The Vacant Throne will be out early next year. You can email Joshua at jpalmatier@sff.net.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Publication News

#1: Christopher Paul Carey will be editing the upcoming Philip Jose Farmer anthology from Subterranean Press titled Up from the Bottomless Pit and Other Stories. Pre-orders will be available this fall.

#2: The premier issue of Doorways is now available through Lulu in print or for download. It features work by Michael A. Arnzen, Jack Ketchum, and others.

#3: K. J. Howe is giving away two $100 Victoria's Secret gift certificates to celebrate making the final round of the American Title III Contest. You can vote for her by emailing webmaster@romantictimes.com with ONE SHOT, TWO KILLS in the subject line.

#4: A. G. Devitt reports that Fantasist Enterprises' latest fantasy anthology Bash Down The Door And Slice Open The Badguy is available for pre-order from Barnes and Noble. It is edited by W. H. Horner, illustrated by Chris Chua, and has works by Lawrence C. Connolly, Jim C. Hines, A. G. Devitt, Susan Sielinski, and others.


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Monday, February 19, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Shelley Bates

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingShelley Bates Photo by Robin Ruth

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Julia McNeill, the heroine of 'Grounds to Believe.' She just walked into my head fully formed and named, which hardly ever happens. Usually a character starts out as a nebulous fog, or a body without a head, a head without a body, or just a trait, and I build them from there. But Julia was complete. I participated in a booksigning recently outside of San Francisco, where two actors were doing staged readings of scenes from our books. Actress Melanee Nelson portrayed Julia--and absolutely nailed her. It was amazing to see someone I'd never met before bring to life a person who had been living in my head for years.


2. Tell me about your travels.
I'm from Canada. I live in California. I turned 21 in Paris. Doesn't that sound romantic? My best friend and I backpacked across Europe 25 years ago. We saw 22 countries, I think. I've traveled to Europe three times so far, with another trip scheduled in the fall. I've also been to Thailand and Singapore, where the company I worked for had factories. That was the first time I ever saw a real, live elephant. Not in the company factory, however. Out in the fields, pulling logs.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
Rescue chickens and make them happy and affectionate. Make an amazing English fruitcake, California style. Edit marketing copy. Drive a motorcycle (under duress). Make people feel comfortable. Own a room. Sew period costumes. Not sew buttons on my husband's shirts. Ski. Play the Celtic harp. Play the piano.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
The murder of the heroine's pet chicken in 'Pocketful of Pearls'. It was only a paragraph, but it took me three weeks to work up the courage to do it. And that's the scene readers invariably write to me about ("I can't believe you killed her chicken!"). But it had to be done. Dinah had to have her last love taken from her so she would be impelled to attempt suicide, which would force the hero to finally get involved in her life.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat every day.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Outline. Must outline. I have to know where I'm going and how to get there, otherwise I paint myself into corners and can't get out.


13. Celebrity crush.
Whoever the current model is for the current book. David Duchovny and Johnny Depp have kindly provided inspiration for heroes, as have Clive Owen and Callum Keith Rennie. I'm beginning a series now for Christian teenagers, and the model for the boy the heroine will eventually end up
with (after six books, poor girl) is yummy Jared Padalecki from 'Supernatural.' She'll thank me. You'll see.


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Whether typing search warrants and making undercover phone calls as an admin for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or editing marketing material for the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley, Shelley Bates has found that everyone has a story. Most people have stopped telling her theirs in case she puts them in her books.

Shelley has a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. She sold her master's thesis to Harlequin after she graduated in 2002, and it subsequently became a double finalist in the 2004 National Readers Choice Awards.

Grounds to Believe, her debut novel from Steeple Hill Books and the first book in her Elect Trilogy, won the 2005 RITA Award for Best Inspirational Novel of the Year from the Romance Writers of America. The second book in the trilogy, Pocketful of Pearls, was an August 2005 release from Warner Faith, and the last book, A Sounding Brass, was released in June 2006.

Friday, February 16, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Penny Dawn

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPenny Dawn

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I have a soft spot for Lucas K. Jackson of Rolling In Clover. He's a decent, hard-working guy, who doesn't always make the best decisions. He's a Gulf War veteran, father of two, and he wears a tool belt every day. He isn't a great husband, but he wants to be. His potential for growth is amazing, and he's determined to reach his goals. Luke is all the wonderful things about my daddy, and for that reason, his middle initial is a tribute to my father, Ken.


2. Tell me about your travels.
I regularly vacation in the Caribbean, but I can't say I enjoy much more than the hot sun there. I've never been to Europe, but I plan to go, once I've combed over the U.S. a few hundred times. I'm a big believer in knowing one's homeland, so I prefer to stick within our borders.

I have a crush on the United States of America, and I adore the east coast, Virginia, in particular. When I was 12, I saw Jefferson's Monticello for the very first time, and I'm still smitten (which is why I wrote the plantation into "Ancient History".) I can't wait for my girls to be big enough to tour old colonial homes with me. There isn't enough vacation time in a lifetime to view all the fabulous architecture/interior design in this vast land.

While I enjoy the lakes region (north of Chicago) May through September, I'd rather be near South Florida during the colder months. Ah, serenity. (As a tribute to Fort Lauderdale, I situated my first novel, Measuring Up, there.)


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
I have a syndrome I call "Creative Restlessness." I sleep very few hours a day, often only 3 or 4, and the rest of the time, I'm creating. I design kitchens, bathrooms, libraries, entertainment centers. I paint everything from walls to stoneware. I dance and choreograph, sew and reupholster. One of my favorite things to do is to tear apart a challenging (code word for "ugly" or "inefficient") room and put it back together in a gorgeous new form. In short, there is beauty in everything, and my life is enriched every time I discover the fabulous parts of the mundane.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
The toughest scene I ever wrote was a menage a quad involving two of my characters and two of Jacki King's. Jacki and I had teamed up with 3 other novelists for Amberheat's Blue Silver AmberPax (which is the eBook equivalent of a short story anthology, see http://amberheat.com) and in this imprint, the hotter/kinkier/quirkier, the better the sales. Thus, I searched my mind's dirtiest depths, thinking, "What will make my mother squirm with distaste, yet at the same time turn her on, if her daughter hadn't written it?" After much mucking, I approached Jacki about writing an overlapping sex scene in my 'Making Noise' and her 'No More Pretend'. The result? Four bodies, one bed.

This was challenging, due in part to the pronoun issue. "His" and "her" became ambiguous and the scene was a literal game of naked twister. Also, one of my requirements in writing erotica is that emotion must override the sexual act. Without emotion, erotica is cheap sex, and I don't do that. It was quite a challenge to write deep emotion into a quad scene, but I think all four of our characters walked away from that hotel room enriched. I was going to say "having grown," but that's a bit too tongue-in-cheek...even for me. :)

Furthermore, at the time, this was undoubtedly the most risque I'd ever allowed my writing to be. In the back of my mind, with every word I wrote was, "My father is going to read this." Eek.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?

9. Food you could eat everyday.
Ice cream. I can't get enough of it. At any given time, I have at least 6 half-gallons in my freezer. Chocolate-based flavors are my favorites, although I've found only one flavor I'd rather not eat--black walnut--and if push came to shove, I'd probably eat that, too. I love ice cream so much I tattooed it on my body.


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take
you along for the ride?

13. Celebrity crush.
I like Matt Damon. I have hazy recollections of "knowing" him (if you know what I mean) back around 1993, before he was famous. I have regular dreams about him, and I inexplicably know personal things about him. I also know we respect each other, although I'm not sure he knows who I am. Someday I'm going to learn whether or not we actually romped together. (All right...how's that for insanity?)


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Penny Dawn began her writing career at the tender age of seven, before she realized it's impossible to be all good, all the time. Romantic stories with passionate twists have since become her forte ... and she unleashes her demons on paper, over and over and over again. Her most recent novel Ancient History is a paranormal romance. Penny holds a B. A. in history and English from Northern Illinois University and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Seton Hill University, whose alumnae include spicy novelists Jacki King, Shannon Hollis, Suzanne Forster, Dana Marton, and others. When she isn't writing, Penny enjoys tap, ballet, and jazz dance, physical fitness, and renovating her 1906 Victorian lady with her husband and two daughters. Drop by her website to discuss all things decadent.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Scott A. Johnson

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingScott A. Johnson

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. I recently discovered that a person can achieve "caffeine poisoning," and that it is quite dangerous, so I've been attempting to cut down my coffee intake. As things stand now, I drink coffee starting at 6 a.m. and continue throughout the day until about midnight. If I'm still writing at midnight, I'm still drinking coffee. That might explain the manic expression, the buggy eyes and the jumpiness.


4. What else can you do besides write?
I've had a very strange life, meaning I can do quite a few things. I was trained to sing operatic tenor (yes, I was once an opera singer in training), I play guitar (blues style), I was once a stand-up comic and, believe it or not, a professional model. You should see the photos from that last one. You wouldn't believe it was me and I only keep them around to prove that I was once a decent looking fellow. I also play blues harmonica and teach Karate. Other than that, I can flair my nostrils and wiggle my ears.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
The toughest scene I have written to date was a scene from my first novel, "An American Haunting." In that scene, Gabriel Rosewood, who is a manic depressive father that is loosely based on me, is attacked inside his mind. The being attacking him hits his insecurities hard, driving him to feel worthless and like he hasn't a prayer of winning out. The scene was hard to write because having to call those feelings to light made me examine some very painful times in my life. That his wife found him and saved him was no accident. As I said, the character was based on me.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I'm a third-degree black belt in Kajukenbo Karate. I like watching hockey, but I don't watch any of the "traditional" sports like football, baseball, or basketball. I also play golf, albeit very badly.


11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I've tried outlining, but my style of writing doesn't allow me to follow it very well. I begin with an idea and let the characters develop as they will and the stories develop as they will. Generally I have a beginning and an ending, and getting there is wherein the story lies. Sometimes the characters surprise me, sometimes the story goes in an entirely different direction. It really just depends on the story.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Writing-wise, Richard Mattheson and H. P. Lovecraft. Edgar Allan Poe also fits in there, but the first two are the biggest writing influences. Otherwise, my family is the biggest influence on what and how I write. My daughters and my wife drive me to want to succeed to make them proud of me. It sounds corny, but I look to them for inspiration and support more that most could imagine.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Scott Johnson's first novel, An American Haunting, is a classic haunted house story in the vein of Richard Matheson's The Legend of Hell House and Stephen King's The Shining. His second book, Deadlands, was released in 2005 by Harbor House Books, as was The Mayor's Guide to the Stately Ghosts of Augusta, the first in a series about real ghosts across the nation. Coming up soon from him is the novel Cane River: A Ghost Story and the next in the "Mayor's Guide" series, about ghosts of Austin, TX.

He also writes "Cold Spots," a monthly column for Dread Central, about real haunted places, and teaches creative writing in the innovative Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Horror News

#1: Michael Arnzen's poetry contest is in full swing in his gorelets newsletter. Check it out here to win a copy of Mike's movie Exquisite Corpse.

#2: Doorways Magazine is having a Horror Film Festival and looking for entries.

We're proud to present:

The First annual “Doorways Unhinged” Horror Film Festival

We decided to do this to give you a chance to show your talent. We want to be scared and hypnotized by your sinister imaginations. The film can be no longer than 5 minutes. A challenge yes, but, I've seen a lot of good ones done at that length or even shorter.

You're probably wondering why you should spend time entering our contest. Why would we be able to judge your work and say if it's good or not, if we don't make movies ourselves? I have found three judges that will look at your pieces:

Director: Greg Lamberson --- www.slimeguy.com
Director: Christopher Alan Broadstone --- www.blackcabproductions.com
Artist: Peter Mihaichuk --- www.mihaichuk.com

As you can see your work will be judged professionally. This is a way of letting you show your work to the public and we want contestants who are serious about being discovered.

Prizes will be awarded and the top three winners will be interviewed for Doorways magazine.

The movies will also be posted linked on Doorways so people can make recommendations to our judges. This will allow you to see how a general audience views your work.

There will be no theme but we do want one thing. There must be a Doorway in your piece. Doorways can lead to anything, show us what's behind yours.

The entry fee is only $10.00.

All entry fees must be received and all films must be posted no later than October 1st, 2007. First, Second, and Third place winners will be announced here on October 31st, 2007. Prizes and awards will be announced on the Doorways site and in the magazine.

For more information visit the forum.



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Monday, February 12, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Nalo Hopkinson

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingNalo Hopkinson Photo by David Findlay

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
If I had children, I wouldn't tell you which of them was my favourite, either.


2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
None of the above. (Caffeine-sensitive and lactose intolerant.)


4. What else can you do besides write?
I make weird-ass mashups of creepy mass market kids' toys. I speak so-so French and bits of Russian and German. I edit fiction anthologies. I cook. (I mostly don't clean.) I sew. I do altered art and collage art. I do arts consulting. I know how to facilitate a meeting. I dance. I sing. I have power tools and I know how to use them, or I'm learning. I teach creative writing. I once taught aerobics, and probably could again if I had to. I know First Aid and basic CPR. I'm good at research. I know very basic silversmithing. I can drive a car. I know how to pump iron. I can accessorize.


5. Who are you reading right now?

6. Pop culture or academia?
Both. I like theorizing about pop culture as much as I like participating in it.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Deadline terror is great inspiration. Other than that, whatever catches my fancy. You learn to be sensitive to that tiny kick in the gut that tells you that something might be a good story idea, if married with another notion or two. I perceive primarily kinetically, so for me it's a phantom kick. For you, it might be a visual image or a sound.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?

13. Celebrity crush.
Meshell Ndegeocello. Marilyn Manson. Divine. Snoop Doggy Dogg. No, I'm not kidding about any of them.


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?



Nalo Hopkinson is Canadian by way of Jamaica, Trinidad, and Guyana. She's sister to an artist and daughter to a craftsperson and a poet/actor/playwright/teacher. She's published five books of her own fiction and edited and co-edited five anthologies. Her writing has received Honorable Mention in Cuba's "Casa de las Americas" literary prize, and has received a number of awards, including the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, the World Fantasy Award, and the John W. Campbell Award. She writes science fiction, fantasy, and erotica. She's lived in Canada for thirty of her forty-six years. Her current novel, The New Moon's Arms, was released this month from Hachette Books (formerly Warner Books). It's about menopause, mermaids, and magic.

Nalo, a graduate of Seton Hill's Writing Popular Fiction Program under mentor James Morrow and former faculty member at SHU, will be touring this month and next. Visit her blog for dates and cities.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

Tomorrow begins the HEIDI'S PICK SIX blog series over at ambasadora where I present fifteen questions or prompts to dozens of authors, but they can only respond to six.

You'll get to see which questions they answered and what they had to say.

Here's the line up for this week:

MONDAY - Nalo Hopkinson / SF

WEDNESDAY - Scott A. Johnson / Horror

FRIDAY - Penny Dawn / Romance and Erotica

Tell your friends! ;)


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Saturday, February 10, 2007

PARSEC - Joshua Palmatier

Jason and I went to our first PARSEC meeting tonight at the Squirrel Hill Library thanks to nudging from Diane Turnshek.

Along with some familiar faces (Anne and Kevin) were some new people full of great conversation, interesting stories, and warm welcomes.

The guest speaker was Joshua Palmatier, author of The Skewed Throne and The Cracked Throne. He did a nice reading from his second novel and answered lots of questions from the crowd, then joined us all for dinner afterward.

It was an inspiring evening.


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More Random Writing Bits

#1: Asimov's Reader's Choice Award Winner Timons Esaias has three poems in Bathtub Gin #19. Look for "Domain", "A Break for Freedom in the 61C Cafe", and "To Demur".

#2: In case you hadn't heard last month the Offworld Report is back at SFcrowsnest. The UK SF Book News Network, Locus Online, SF Site, SFX, SF Signal, Sci-Fi Storm, and William Gibson all supply news headlines to the report.

#3: Perseus Books Group is planning to merge with Avalon. Here's part of the press release they sent us:

"Perseus and Avalon share a similar history, both being built through a series of acquisitions and having strengths in general fiction and non-fiction, and the wellness category. Avalon is also the largest independent travel publisher based in the U.S., with the Moon and Rick Steves series of travel guides."

Because Jason and I have a contract with Avalon which calls for us to revise our guidebook Moon Pennsylvania Camping for redistribution every three years, we're watching this to see what happens.


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Writing Workshop News

#1: If you're interested in taking a writing workshop abroad, check out The Writing Salon in Ireland. It's April 17-21 at the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel in Clifden, Connemara, Ireland. They also have upcoming salons in France, Taos, and Spain.

#2: You can download free podcasts from Odyssey workshops on their website. They are also taking applications for this summer's workshop.

#3: Seton Hill University is taking applications for their June 2007 Writing Popular Fiction Residency. This is a two year Master's program with professional authors as mentors in each particular genre. I just graduated from Seton Hill in January.


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Monday, February 05, 2007