Friday, August 31, 2007

Quechup Spam

If anyone received an email from me inviting them to Quechup . com, ignore it! Delete it! Don't go to the site! I did not give them permission to spam my address book.

Apparently this is happening every where as I received five invitations from others in the past hour.

Here's more information:
http://www.chuckpalahniuk.net/community/showthread.php?threadid=30394

I apologize for this because I have many professional contacts in my address book and would never intentionally give them out.

Apologetically,
Heidi

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Jeff Houser

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJeff Houser

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
(I'm assuming this means from "Rum Runners" my Sails & Sorcery story?) The totem. Which is to say, "the rum".

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery:Tales of Nautical Fantasy

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

4. What else can you do besides write?
What else can I do well that's reasonably interesting to others? Hmm. Well, besides a lot of reading (which is probably a given for even a hack writer to say), I've been a graphic designer for over a decade, so I can manhandle a Mac and draw reasonably well. I'm a big fat game freak; strategy games, board games, dice and card games, word games, mind games, drinking games, you name it. I got pretty wrapped up in playing Texas Hold 'Em in the local pub circuit last year and made it to a regional championship game where I came in 14th out of 400 people, but I've been lax in that area in 2007. On the weekends I usually end up in some pirate excursion around PA-NJ-DE, the details of which are too many and various to recite here. I used to do all right at volleyball until I destroyed my back and shoulder. I could probably still compete in a crippled old men's league somewhere, if anybody knows of one in the Philly area...


5. Who are you reading right now?
Finishing up George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows in time to get the last Harry Potter before some chucklehead accidentally spoils it for me. After that, I need to devour the latest of the Dresden Files. I've been putting that off for too long already.


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Mostly on the john. Seriously, though? Pretty much everywhere. I get hit with a lot of ideas when I'm soaking in a hot shower, or lying in bed at night trying to convince myself to sleep. I could see something while driving home from work, or shopping at the mall, in the crowd at a concert. There's no limit to when or where I can get struck by it.


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 always enter a new story with a pretty good idea of where it's going to go overall, but I usually leave several parts open to whim, to see where my brain is at that point in the story. Sometimes the story seems to drive the bus itself, going off in a direction that seems better than what I had originally planned in the outline. I think it's a tricky balance between foresight and spontaneity.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
My real focus is on modern dark fantasy. One day soon I hope to be counted as a peer among names like Jim Butcher, Laurell Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong. Also vets like Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker. Actually, the more I think about it, the more names will keep coming, so I'll stop here.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?


Jeff Houser has been shamelessly raiding and pillaging along the outskirts of Philadelphia for most of his 33 years, and has recently teamed up with a shameless and dangerous female pirate and her small but equally ferocious child. As an 11 year veteran of the graphic design industry, Mr. Houser is currently working for a toy design firm in the suburbs of Philadelphia, molding and shaping young minds into his own graven image. He started taking his writing semi-seriously about two and a half years ago, and this story marks his publishing debut — the beginning of what he hopes to be an embarrassingly successful and lucrative writing career. Y'know...to fund more pirating adventures.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Seton Hill Writers Newest Releases

#1: Mary SanGiovanni's debut novel The Hollower, which was also her Master's thesis for Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction Program, comes out this week.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe Hollower

You can read an interview with Mary on Maria V. Snyder's blog.

#2: The Naked Truth, a Harlequin Blaze by alum Shannon Hollis is released this Saturday.

#3: Alum Maria V. Snyder's second novel of the popular Study series Magic Study was just released in trade paperback with a new cover.

#4: Seton Hill mentor Timons Esaias' short story "Norbert and the System" is part of the new textbook Philosophy Through Science Fiction.


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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - J. C. Hay

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJ. C. Hay

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?

2. Tell me about your travels.
I spent two weeks in rural Guatemala and El Salvador as part of a human rights group traveling mostly among various Mayan groups. It was my first real trip outside the United States, and it was an eye-opener both to how we are perceived and how we export our culture as a country. I also learned that amoebic dysentery is a great weight-loss plan, but that's more than most people want to hear.

For a budding writer, there are few things that compare to standing in El Mozote in 1996 (look it up) and listening to a survivor tell her tale. Other than that, well, I try to get up to Canada when I have time and money – It's a wonderful place to visit, and I have a lot of fond memories there. I've seen a lot of Bavaria, courtesy of a boat-trip along the Rhine-Main-Donau from Nurnberg to Buda-Pesht. There's a lot of the world I'd still love to see.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
It's not much of a secret, but I am an avid (some might even say religious) knitter. I hit the yarn shops at almost every convention, and those swag bags pretty quickly repurpose into project totes. There's something calming about the repetition and rhythm of knitting, and I often use it to focus my mind before I sit down to write.


5. Who are you reading right now?

6. Pop culture or academia?
A little of both. I prefer my entertainments to mean something, or at least feel like more than just pabulum. This is especially true in the movie theater – I'd much prefer a quiet independent film over the Hollywood's latest CGI-choked craptacular.

At the same time, I have a guilty love for really bad Z-grade movies. Not the deliberately bad stuff (though some of that has merit too) or the stuff that some execs cobbled together to wring a couple extra dollars out of folks, but the low-budget labor of love films where the crew have a sense of earnestness about their production. That Ed Wood vibe has a certain appeal to me.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
I'm pretty shameless about pillaging history and myth for inspirations. I especially enjoy visiting Chinese and Japanese myth – they have themes that really get to the heart of the stories I like to tell. I guess ultimately I pull my inspirations from everywhere – Fantasy for me is more than Tolkienian/Wagnerian medievalism. I am especially fond of the 18th century, and I think that cusp of the modern age – that beginning time where The Unknown is on the defensive against the encroachment of science and reason – provides a wealth of inspiration.


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 outline everything, even the short stories. Sometimes the outline can be a simple 6-line thing describing the key scenes that drive the story, sometimes they evolve into big complicated things that rival the story themselves. Folks who free-write their stories impress me – I have to use a map to get where I'm going. In many cases, the ending scene is one of the first things I write.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Oh yeah – unabashedly. I think Venture Brothers (Adult Swim) is one of the most clever shows on television, and it riffs on a lot of the boy scientist stuff I read/watched as a kid (Johnny Quest, Tom Swift, Clutch Cargo – you know the genre.) I'm also a big Futurama fan, and still break out my Looney Toons DVDs when I need to laugh.


J.C. Hay lives a thousand miles from the nearest ocean, and so is forced to sublimate the desire to be a pirate into writing, knitting, and writing about knitting. When not cloistered behind the keyboard, or tangled up in yarn, J.C. is subservient to a pair of papillon dogs - the dark masters - and a supportive, loving spouse. A part-time film snob and a full-time food snob, much of J.C.'s free time is spent trying to introduce friends to new experiences and tastes and not enough is spent updating the Web site. In addition to other publications, J.C. Hay's novella "Collar of Iron" will be included in the upcoming anthology Blood and Devotion and his short story "Return, My Heart, to the Sea" in the Fantasist Enterprises anthology Sails and Sorcery.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery:Tales of Nautical Fantasy

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Chris Stout

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketChris Stout

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Single-malt Scotch. In lieu of that, I’ll take Earl Grey.


4. What else can you do besides write?
Tie my own shoes and dress myself (usually). I can mix a pretty decent martini. I’m also working towards becoming a Reiki Master (at the time of this writing I’m a Reiki II).


5. Who are you reading right now?
I just finished a couple of novels by Andrew Vachss (False Allegations and Mask Market). And the last two Punisher compilations (Barracuda and Man of Stone). Next up will probably be Lee Child and David Morrell, with a couple of anthologies of short fiction thrown in for good measure.


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
If I really knew the answer to that, I’d probably write a hell of a lot more. Images and scenes just sort of pop into my head, usually when I’m in the shower. I guess that my travels and studies have a huge effect on what I’m interested in writing, but it sometimes takes years for me to digest and come to terms with the impact of something I’ve experienced. I remember being at the beach late one summer, and trying to find someway to capture how moving it was to walk along it at night. I was thrilled when I finally got it into a story only six months later. I’ll be even more thrilled if that story ever gets published.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
My taste in music is pretty eclectic, but when I write I’ll usually have electronic, techno or Gothic-type music playing. Every now and then I’ll throw a movie soundtrack on, but that usually makes me want to watch the movie and I end up not getting very much done.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
When I’m working on a short story, I usually let it take me along for the ride. I take a hybrid approach to writing a novel. I’ll start off flying by the seat of my pants, and if I run into trouble I’ll brainstorm and outline until I figure out how to get where I want to be. This is one of the reasons I usually like to know how my story is going to end. The journey’s a lot easier if I know where I want to be when it’s over.


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

Chris Stout holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. He also is working to become a Reiki Master. As of the publication of "The Medusa" in Sails and Sorcery, he has attained Reiki II status.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery:Tales of Nautical Fantasy

Hopefully one or the other of these studies will help him to earn a living and become a better-rounded human being.

Monday, August 27, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Paul S. Kemp

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPaul S. Kemp and his twins

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I have several but if I must pick only one, I’ll go with Erevis Cale, my signature character in the Forgotten Realms (a shared-world, sword and sorcery setting from Wizards of the Coast). Cale is very much the anti-hero -- a one-time professional assassin who struggles throughout the books to leave behind his past, create himself anew, and chart a different course. But the past proves quite an anchor.

Through the course of his stories, Cale starts to peel away from his past (or at least put it to good use) and accept who he is, even while he undergoes profound emotional, physical, and spiritual transformations. Cale’s story has been a lot of fun to write and seems to resonate with the readers. You do not need to be immersed in the Forgotten Realms setting to enjoy the stories (or so I think, anyway).


2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee. And I should note that it is my firm belief that life is too short for bad coffee, bad scotch, bad wine, bad cigars, or bad company. My wife got me a French press for my last birthday and it makes a spectacular cup of Columbian.


4. What else can you do besides write?
Something interesting? Hell, not much. :-)

How about this -- I can hit a softball three hundred forty feet. I used to play on a tournament travel team. Hit clean up, played left field. Been a while since I’ve played, though. Family and writing have cut down on my softball time and I think my days on the diamond are now over. Wouldn’t have it any other way. :-)


5. Who are you reading right now?
Steven Brust’s, The Book of Jhereg, on the recommendation of a friend (it’s a compilation of the first three Vlad Taltos novels). I’m enjoying it overall, though Vlad’s voice just doesn’t quite ring true to me at this point. Perhaps it gets explained later, but he seems a bit too full of humor to be a professional killer. I like my assassins a bit colder and emotionally detached, thank you kindly. :-)


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
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 usually have a very comprehensive outline for my novels, and a brief, three-act, two page outline for my short stories. In both cases the outlines serve merely as guides, and I deviate from them as appropriate. But I think it’s quite difficult to write a layered story if you do not have a very firm idea of where it’s going to end up before you start it. Some writers can do it on the fly. I’m not one of them. I wrote my first novel (still a “trunk novel”) without an outline and it shows in the plotting.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
In books – Michael Moorcock’s Elric series, especially in terms of tone. Elric is one of the finest examples of an anti-hero (a tragic anti-hero, at that) that I’ve ever read in fantasy fiction. My writing of Erevis Cale is heavily inspired by Moorcock’s portrayal of Elric. Also R.A. Salvatore’s Drizz’t novels. Bob writes truly excellent sword and sorcery fiction, well paced and well plotted. His popularity makes it fashionable among some critics to dismiss his work. That’s their loss. I’ve learned a lot about plotting and pacing from Bob’s books (I’ve also learned a few things about the business from Bob).


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Paul S. Kemp lives in Michigan. He has written seven novels for Wizards of the Coast, all set in the Forgotten Realms, including the NY Times hardcover bestseller, Resurrection. His new novel featuring Erevis Cale, entitled Shadowstorm ,will be released this August. His most recent short story publications include contributions to Horrors Beyond II from Elder Signs Press, and "The Spinner" to Sails and Sorcery: Nautical Tales of Adventure from Fantasist Enterprises.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery:Tales of Nautical Fantasy

Friday, August 24, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Jon Sprunk

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJon Sprunk

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Oh, that’s a tough one. I’m going to hedge my answer and say all of them, because every character is my favorite when I’m in the process of writing about them. But if I had to choose, I’d probably say Astaroth, the fallen angel from my yet-to-be-published novel, ACTS OF CONTRITION. He’s the main antagonist and villains are always so much fun to depict.


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

4. What else can you do besides write?
Not much! Well, I have a day job so I’m not completely useless to society. I work in a juvenile detention center, which is pretty much like a jail for children. Besides that, I try to be handy around the house. I’d like to believe my best skills involve being a good husband and friend.


5. Who are you reading right now?
I’m always reading something. Right now it’s The Word and the Void by Terry Brooks and George J.J. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga. Some of the best writing advice I ever got was to read, read, read. I love classic fantasy, anything that deals with the struggle between good and evil. Naturally, that theme tends to figure strongly in my own works.


6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
The climax. It doesn’t matter for which story or novel, the climax is always the toughest for me to write because there’s so much to balance. You’ve got the action going on, whether it’s a rousing fight scene or a passionate love tryst. You also have to filter in the emotional aspects, the intellectual realizations that lead to the protagonist’s victory, and also remember to include all the little tidbits like subplots and relationship dynamics that you’ve sprinkled through the story to make sure it all sounds plausible.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
I have no idea. I mean, ideas for stories can come from anywhere: a newspaper article, a TV show, a movie, a conversation, or just idle daydreaming. But where does the actual impetus to write originate? I wish I could tell you. All I know is that I can’t stop. I’ve gone as long as a few months without writing, but I always come back to it like a dog gnawing at an old bone. Somehow, it defines who I am as a person while also allowing me to see the world through the eyes of other people.


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 plotter. I used to try to write stories without outlining, but they all fizzled and died an early death. It wasn’t until I started outlining beforehand that I made real progress as a writer. I like to plan the specific events of the story, controlling the rise and fall of the action, to arrive at a satisfying conclusion right when I want to.


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

Jon Sprunk lives in central Pennsylvania with his wife, Jenny, and their three enormous cats. Between his day job as a juvenile detention specialist and time spent with his family, he tries to squeeze in some time for writing. When not working on his latest novel, he enjoys traveling, collecting medieval weaponry, and pro football. Sea of Madness from Fantasist Enterprises anthology Sails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy is his
fifth story in publication.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Context 20 - The Writers' Con

The programming schedule is up for Context 20 (Columbus, OH - September 28-30). If you're thinking that just because the writing workshops are mostly filled there isn't a reason to go, just check out the awesome panels on writing and science.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Academics of Popular Fiction 1 pm Dayton
With more university writing programs taking an interest in the popular side of fiction, what does it means to be a genre or literary writer in today's publishing market, and can you be both?

Panelists: Michael Arnzen* - Horror Guest of Honor (Read his PICK SIX!), Joseph Martino, D. Harlan Wilson (Read his PICK SIX!), Karen Nagel, Heidi Ruby Miller*, Jason Jack Miller*

Poetry Reading 8:30 pm Board Room 1
Poetry readings by some of our panelists, followed by open reading. Poetry people, bring your poems from the poetry workshop or any of your original work.

Readers: Michael Arnzen, Lucy Snyder (Read her PICK SIX!), Heidi Ruby Miller*,
Timons Esaias* (Read his PICK SIX!), John Dalmas, James Daniel Ross



Sunday, September 30, 2007

How Traveling Affects Our Writing 10:30 am Columbus 1
Traveling is meant to take you some place different, as is reading a good book, so it's no surprise that the writers on this panel are also travelers whose experiences on the road and abroad not only have led to travel writing stints, but also enhanced their fiction.

Mike Resnick - Editor Guest of Honor (Read his PICK SIX!), Timons Esaias*, Heidi Ruby Miller*, Jason Jack Miller*

How Do You Research Things That Don’t Exist? 2:30 pm Dayton
A look at how authors research things like elves, fairies, demons, wizards and gods to name a few.
Walter Hunt, Anne Harris* (Read her PICK SIX!), Geoffrey Girard, Sandy Lender (Read her PICK SIX!), Heidi Ruby Miller*

*notes a Seton Hill Writer


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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDanielle Ackley-McPhail

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I have to say my sprite, Beag Scath, from my novel Yesterday's Dreams (Mundania Press). He is one of the ones that crept in when I wasn't looking and just made the universe his own. He's quirky and wise in an instinctual way, fierce and fun and definitely fae. You can't help but love him. He is so simple and accepting one moment and quite profound the next, and it all works. Amazing considering he never says more than about one line in the whole book. He likes to spend much of his time in the seeming of a cat, which wins him points in my book right there ;)


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

4. What else can you do besides write?
Oh my! How much time do you have? I enjoy just about every creative endeavor. I don't do all of them with the same level of skill, but if it is making something I am happy. What I do most when I'm not writing is either sewing or creating polymer clay masks and sculptures. Because I go to so many conventions to promote my work I find that costuming is a nice way to introduce fun into something that could all to quickly become just about business. For those that are interested in some of the final results, they can go to the craft section of my web page. There is a pretty complete list of my costuming and craft efforts, with pretty detailed explanations of what techniques I used, as well as any awards received. The fun bit is, I even appeared in the paper once, because of one of my costumes, but sadly they did not mention my books...that time ;) You probably can still find it on line, it was in an article on the first year of Ravencon, a new convention in the Richmond, VA area. The paper was the Richmond Times-Dispatch.


5. Who are you reading right now?
I could be a smart-ass and say this email...but no :) Actually, I am splitting my time between The Heart of Stars by Kate Forsyth, and my second novel, Tomorrow's Memories, which I'm giving a final edit before I send it off to the publisher. It is to be released by Mundania Press sometime in the Fall, with luck.


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Wow, where DON'T I find inspiration? I have a very creative mind and I like to view situations and things I see in a slantwise way so there is no telling what the world around me with inspire. I like to enter writing contests that have a particular theme or requirement and find the most original way to meet that requirement that would be completely unexpected. For example, I entered a contest where the theme was Leaving. I immediately went to my dictionary and looked up all the various meanings of the word. I discarded those that would be done to death, and ended up with the definition. To leaf or to put out leaves and turned that into a story about dryads waking in the spring after a long winter. To hedge off any objections I included the definition at the end of the post. Other than turning what I experience around me on its ear, I also turn to mythology. I LOVE using mythology as a base for whatever I am working on. There are so many layers of meaning you can add to a simple passage by using a name or a description or mirroring an aspect of a tale. My Eternal Cycle series of novels is an excellent example of that, as are many of my short stories. This goes for history as well as mythology. I'm currently working on a science fiction story about an exploration team that settles on a seemingly unpopulated and untouched planet. The ship is named The Cortez. Of course, you will have to read the story to find out more and why the name is significant...The story is called Building Blocks (for now) and is being written for an upcoming anthology Barbarians at the Jump Gate. Here's hoping the editors like it :)


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
Celtic music...most definitely Celtic music, and following that any kind of folk music. I love the beat and rhythm of it, the passion and life. I also love that they are often either purely instrumental, or the vocals are in another language, which makes them perfect background music for when I'm writing :)


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Why bother with an outline? The characters would never follow it anyway! I write completely freeform. I'll get an idea for a scene or even just a line of dialog and it will spark something in me. If I have time I run with it, if not, I get down as much as I can. That will often lead to another idea and I'll write that scene. Meantime I'm keeping in mind what has happened and start to get a feel for what I would like to happen. Sometimes the characters cooperate...more often, they do not. I even had one die on me, leaving me in the lurch because I'd started to plan on her being around for several more books...but there was no other way, and I never saw it coming. Once I start to get a good number of scenes down, I start to string them together. Take some clean-up and some things end up never working, but I never was very good at outlines or synopsis. The whole process takes me longer, but I feel it brings the work to life letting it form the way it does. It is more natural, rather than strong-arming it in the direction I planned.


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


Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over a decade. Her works include the urban fantasy, Yesterday's Dreams, its upcoming sequel, Tomorrow's Memories (Mundania Press), the anthologies, Bad-Ass Faeries (Marietta Publishing) and No Longer Dreams, (Lite Circle Books), both of which she co-edited, and contributions to numerous anthologies and collections, including Dark Furies (Die Monster Die! Books) and the upcoming "Consigned to the Sea" in Sails and Sorcery (Fantasist Enterprises) and Breach the Hull, also from Marietta Publishing.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy


On the non-fiction side, she has written a chapter on Writers Groups for The Fantasy Writer's Guide: The Author's Grimoire, which will come out from Dragon Moon Press in September. She is the member of electronic publishing organization EPIC, as well as Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on women authors. Keep an eye out; she has four more anthologies coming out over the next year and a half.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats.

Monday, August 20, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Gerard Houarner

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketGerard Houarner

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee, black, no sugar. Like life.


4. What else can you do besides write?
I practice tai chi (poorly), mental health counseling (professionally - licensed and certified, supervising in a psychiatric facility), basketball (running after all those misses sure is aerobic -- don't know if this is actually a "do," perhaps more of a "try"), cooking (as the son of a French chef, I have, alas, failed in carrying on any kind of tradition in that area, but I'm not afraid of fire or cooking utensils), and survive in NYC. That last one may be my greatest accomplishment.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
In people, their desires, hopes, destructiveness, love and hate -- that whole shebang. I'm fond of saying people suck, but where we would be without them? As long as you don't ask the rest of the living and dead species of the world, and a majority of humanity itself (I suspect), you'd probably get an answer like "not anywhere I'd like to be!" Bully! I also get ideas from myth, which has already encoded humanity's great and small obsessions in imagery and stories. And science -- I have a hard time wrapping my head around physics and cosmology, but I find most of that type of theoretical exploration terrifying; easier to grasp is the biological world of this planet, but it's often equally frightening.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
The blues, rhythm and blues, soul, jazz, and any version of rock and hip hop that truly plays with melody and/or rhythm and has something interesting to say, which eliminates anything commercial.


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

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Early on, Andre Norton, Poe, myth, Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury. Lord of the Rings was my Harry Potter. Howard, Lovecraft, Smith, Moorcock, Leiber broadened my horizons about what could be done with horror and dark fantasy. The Ballantine Adult Fantasy line changed my life, introducing me to Cabell, Peake, Hodgson, and the rest of the foundations of modern fantasy and horror. Kafka, Conrad, Shelly, Dostoevsky, the Greek tragedies, taught me about reality. Heller and Vonnegut taught me how to laugh.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Boo-yah! Old school Fleischer, Superman, Tex Avery, Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies, Betty Boop, Felix the Cat; Middle school Bullwinkle and Rocky, Johnny Quest, and while not technically a cartoon, puppet shows like Captain Scarlet, Fireball XL5, Planet Patrol, Supercar; and finally New School Venture Brothers, Samurai Jack, iterations of Batman, JLA, Superman, Teen Titans, Chung's Star Wars and Aeon Flux. And for something completely different, Cowboy Beebop, Samurai Champloo, Boogiepop and that kind of (rare) anime flavor.


Gerard Houarner fell to Earth in the fifties and is a product of the NYC school system and the City College of New York, where he studied writing under Joseph Heller and Joel Oppenheimer and crashed hallucinogenic William Burroughs seminars back in the day. He went on to earn a couple of Masters degrees in psychology from Columbia University so he could earn a living. He’s worked in Hells Kitchen, on the Lower East Side at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, and in the Bronx at the start of the crack epidemic before settling into a quiet, contemplative and genteel career as an uncivil servant at a state psychiatric center. Married in a New Orleans Voodoo Temple, he and his wife, writer and poet Linda Addison, reside in a house decorated in Nouveau African Native French Goth Tribal Fantastic atop a hill in the Bronx.

His publishing career includes three novels and over 240 short stories (some gathered into four collections, 44 earning Honorable Mentions in 12 volumes of St. Martins Press’ Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror), as well as editing/co-editing three anthologies and serving as Fiction Editor for Space and Time magazine. People seem to talk most often about his continuing character, Max, a supernaturally endowed assassin on a quest to become human, as well as Dead Cat – a series of collaborations with the artist GAK about, you know, like, a dead cat.

His short story "The Sea in Silence" is part of the Fantasist Enterprises' anthology Sails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy.

Fifty-plus years into life, he has come to believe he is the kind of person who as a child wandered away from the village, spent too much time in the wilderness, and these days is allowed to return for ceremonial occasions or to scare the little children. He also believes, on cold and rainy days, that his purpose in life is to serve as an example for others, much like the crucified humans at the edge of the desert in the original “Planet of the Apes,” or the captured rebel gladiator slaves along the Via Appia in “Spartacus.” On better days, he sees himself standing at the crossroads of myth and nature, the psychological and the supernatural, the real and the surreal, the past, present and future, waiting for someone or something to come along, take his soul and leave him with the voice to tell anybody who will listen the story of how it all happened.

He continues to write whenever he can, mostly at night, about the dark.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Poetry Updates

#1: I sold my poem "Misplaced my keys" to Star*Line.

#2: Michael A. Arnzen still has a few spots open for his "Writing SF/F/H Poetry" workshop held at Context 20 on Friday, September 28, 2007 at the Midwest Hotel and Conference Center.

#3: Poetry readings will take place at Context on Saturday, September 29, 2007, from 9 to 11 PM. So far among the poets presenting are Horror Guest of Honor, Michael Arnzen, Timons Esaias, and Heidi Ruby Miller.


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Friday, August 17, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Patrick Thomas

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPatrick Thomas

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That’s kind of like asking which of your children is your favorite. (I of course love both my kids equally.) With the characters it is a bit easier. John Murphy, the bartender at Bulfinche’s Pub is somewhat close to my heart as he’s brought me the most success. I'm also rather partial to Terrorbelle (featured in Sails & Sorcery) and Agent Karver of the DMA, both of whom will be having their own collections in the not terribly distant future. (Not too shameless a plug I hope.)


2. Tell me about your travels.
I've managed to live all over the county thanks to a job I once held. I've made my home in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Tucson, near LA, San Francisco and New Orleans, not to mention on the beach in South Carolina among other places. It was a great time, made even better by the fact that my employer was paying my rent including some time in Europe. Gives me a lot of settings I'm familiar with to set stories in.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Code Red Mountain Dew.


4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce (much better than the title sounds) and The New Destroyer: Guardian Angel by Warren Murphy & James Mullaney.


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
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?
Both. I like to have an idea where a novel is going when I start although sometimes they can take off on their own and go in an entirely different direction. With stories I do both, but more times than not I know where they will end up. It’s how they get there that keeps it interesting.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Absolutely. I'm rather partial to the superhero genre, but there are plenty of good cartoons still being put out. And with two young kids I get an excuse to watch plenty of them.


Patrick Thomas is the author of over 75 published short stories and fifteen books including seven in the popular fantasy humor series Murphy's Lore. The latest is Nightcaps. The others are Tales from Bulfinche's Pub, Fools' Day, Through the Drinking Glass, Shadow of the Wolf, Redemption Road, and Bartender of the Gods. His stories have sold to various venues including the upcoming Until Somebody Loses an Eye, Cthulhu Sex, Hardboiled Cthulhu, Dark Furies, Clash of Steel 3: Demon, Breach the Hull, Bad-Ass Fairies, The 2nd Coming, Unicorn 8, Jigsaw Nation, Crypto-Critters VOL. 1 & 2, The Dead Walk Again, Lai Wai: Tales of the Dreamwalker, Time Capsule and Warfear.

Patrick has been an editor for Fantastic Stories and Pirate Writings, co-edited Hear Them Roar and the upcoming New Blood. His novellas appear in Go Not Gently from Padwolf, Flesh and Iron from the Two Backed Books imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press, and the Fantasist Enterprises' anthology Sails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy.

He also writes the syndicated satirical advice column Dear Cthulhu.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Jordan Lapp

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJordan Lapp

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
The character in my latest story of course. I mainly write near-term science fiction, so I don't have as many recurring characters as, say, a fantasy author might have. My characters inevitably get crushed under the weight of technology. No, I'm serious, terrible things happen to my characters. I wouldn't want to be any of them.


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

4. What else can you do besides write?
Um, I can balance a pencil on my nose, point first?

In my day job, I'm a computer programmer, so robots and artificial intelligence feature in a lot of my fiction. It's my sincere fear that one day our robot creations will eventually assume the mantle of master and we will be relegated to the doghouse, or a small place in front of the hearth. I use my fiction to try and figure out a way where we can co-exist with robot to come. I haven't found one yet.


5. Who are you reading right now?
I read a lot of fantasy as a child-Terry Brooks, Dave Duncan, Piers Anthony. Now I'm trying to "catch-up" and get current in sci-fi. I've been reading Heinlein, Vinge, Scalzi, Mieville, and many others. I recently read The Road by Cormac McCarthy in order to figure out how a sci-fi piece both gets on Oprah and wins the Pulitzer Prize.


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Often I'll be reading a piece and think, "Pawshah (yes, I actually make that sound in my head), I could do better than that!" or "It would have been way cooler if this happened" and so I write the story the way I'd like it (except it always turns out so different from the source that the original comparison is moot).


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 used to just dash off a piece, but lately I've been outlining with great results. When you can see the whole story laid out before you, potential twists and turns, and even weak points spring out at you in a way they wouldn't if you were just plowing through a story. Outlining allows you to see the forest instead of just the trees.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Whoever I'm reading right now. This is dangerous for me. I was reading Asimov's Foundation series and wrote a bunch of stories in that style. The problem is that no one writes like that any more. Lately, I've been reading contemporary authors who are getting published in the same markets I'd love to break into, for this very reason.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Jordan Lapp writes computer programs by day and short fiction by night—when he's not running around Gotham in a bat costume. He is most famous for inventing toast, and in 1989, led the first successful expedition to the West Pole.

Jordan writes mostly science fiction, with the occasional foray into fantasy. In 2005, Jordan won the Vancouver Courier Short Fiction contest, and he has recently been picked as a Semi-Finalist in Writers of the Future. In 2007, he co-founded the flash fiction magazine Every Day Fiction dot com which he tends to like a small child.

His short story "The Second Voyage of the Stormreaver’s Blade" is part of the Fantasist Enterprises' anthology Sails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy

Monday, August 13, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Gerri Leen

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketGerri Leen

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
I'm reading Elizabeth Von Armin's The Enchanted April, the book that the movie Enchanted April was based on, and since the movie's not out on DVD yet, this seemed the next best thing to reliving the VHS. The book was written in 1921, so it's interesting to see how some things have changed in terms of craft but how the basic storytelling concept has not. I also just finished The Foretelling, a young adult book by Alice Hoffman, Moon Called, a contemporary fantasy by Patricia Briggs, and Donorboy, an absolutely stupendous literary outing by Brendan Halpin.


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
I've been told by those who know me that I have certain themes I hit repeatedly. Loss is one of them--especially of a mother (I lost mine almost a decade ago and am still trying to come to terms with it). Also redemption--I love to take someone who appears to be on one path and turn them around. I play with other themes like loyalty, love, trust, choice, and consequences. And sometimes I just like to be silly and forget the themes. I'm heavily influenced by mythology and love to incorporate it into stories whenever I can. I also enjoy fantasy because it allows me to play with magic, and incorporate those earlier themes of loss and redemption and love into a not quite true-to-life world. I'm inspired by things I see: beautiful landscapes, birds flying, people interacting. And I don't know where some stories come from. They just are.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I'm a big music collector. My favs are alternative rock and female singer-songwriters. Groups I enjoy are Theory of a Deadman, Linkin Park, 3 Doors Down, Lifehouse, Hoobastank, Garbage, Evanescence, The Calling, Antigone Rising and others. Other musicians I enjoy include Tara MacLean, Vienna Teng, Kendall Payne, Fisher, Happy Rhodes, and Michelle Branch (both alone and in The Wreckers). I don't tend to buy country, but I adore Trisha Yearwood. I find I write best to loud male alternative groups. I have no idea why, but that music disappears into the background for me in a way others don't. It may be because I used to have really noisy downstairs neighbors, and the loud alternative music was the only way to drown out their theater vision TV.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Generally, the muse is in control and I'm just the scribe, especially on shorter stuff. There are times I know the entire plot, and other times I just sit down at the keyboard because I know something is ready to come out, but I have no idea what will emerge. Novels I tend to chart out; there are more loose ends to take care of and you need to work out where sections will break, where chapters will end, etc. I also tend to write the end of the longer stuff (if I know the end) early on. One of my pet peeves is a book that is wonderful all the way through and then finishes abruptly, as if the author grew so sick of it they wanted to end it right that second. I think the end should be the most satisfying part of the thing--doesn't have to be happy, or even resolve everything, but there should be some sense of completion and "intent" to it.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
I adore anything by Joss Whedon. The man is a genius, and I love the way he uses dialogue (not to mention his ability to create a story that can make you laugh and rip your heart out, all within seconds of each other). I listen to any audio commentary I can find he's done, because I learn a lot about storytelling that way. Others who I admire and try to emulate would be Kevin Smith and Christopher Guest for the way they use ensembles and humor, and Doug Coupland, Max Barry, and Brendan Halpin for their ability to make a story humorous and tragic all at once--their work is both accessible and thought-provoking.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Yes, I watch Justice League (does that count since they it's off the air now?) but I don't watch many others, never got into The Simpsons or South Park (although I think Team America is genius, and the soundtrack cracks me up every time I listen to it). I also read comics, primarily DC superhero stuff--although DC's last reset did me in, so right now I'm only buying the Buffy Season 8 comics.


Gerri Leen lives in Northern Virginia and originally hails from Seattle. She writes in many genres, but her favorites are fantasy or myth-based stories. In addition to "The Drum of the Sea" in the Fantasist Enterprises' anthology Sails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy,
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery:Tales of Nautical Fantasy

her short stories have appeared in Fusion Fragment, Mytholog, Shred of Evidence, The First Line, and three editions of the Star Trek Strange New Worlds contest anthology (her story, "The Smell of Dead Roses," won the grand prize in Strange New Worlds 10). Her work has also been accepted by the Fantastical Visions V anthology, Renard's Menagerie, GlassFire, and GrendelSong. She has written a contemporary fantasy novel, which she is currently trying to find a home for, and is working on several other novels. She also writes poetry when the mood hits her and has one poem published.

Friday, August 10, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Jaleigh Johnson

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJaleigh Johnson

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Tall Cafe Mocha with whipped cream and a shot of raspberry. It's not really coffee, but I still like to pretend. I also love Darjeeling tea, the stronger the better.


4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
I'm reading Jorge Borges and Gabrial Garcia Marquez for a class on non-western literature, and I'm reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at night before I go to bed.


6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
My first sex scene in a novel. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if my mother (who lives forty miles away) was going to pop into my room and say "oh, horror!"


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Music, movies, books, paintings, cities...it's a big list. I get so many good experiences from different art forms that it's like a drug. I want to share that feeling with someone else. I can't play an instrument or be a painter, so my contribution has to come from writing. If I can make a faceless stranger feel good at the end of his day because of a story I wrote, then I feel like I've done something right.


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 have to outline so my stories don't take me for a ride! If I get too many ideas in my head at once, and I haven't planned where my story is going to go, I can send my plot off the rails really quick. I envy writers who can just sit down in front of the computer and go. I wish I had their discipline, but until I do, the whole story gets sketched out on paper first.


13. Celebrity crush.
Matthew McConaughey. Mmmm....and just....mmmm....


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


Jaleigh Johnson lives and writes in the Champaign area of Illinois. Her debut novel, The Howling Delve, was published in 2007 by Wizards of the Coast. Her short fiction has appeared in various small presses. Her story "Albatross Dark" is in the Fantasist Enterprises' anthology Sails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery:Tales of Nautical Fantasy

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Chun Lee

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketChun Lee

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
Dracula. I never read it and I thought it was about time. It’s full of sex like crazy which is funny since Stoker was one of those guys that advocated censorship. But do you know what surprised me the most about the book? Dracula sports a moustache. Bela Legosi cemented the look of Dracula so much that no one even knows that the guy in the book liked to grow the old lip caterpillar.

I’m also reading The Idiot’s Guide to Graphic Novels. It’s useful because it teaches me about aspects of comic book making that I am not aware of and I think it’ll help when working with artists if I know what exactly they are doing.


6. Pop culture or academia?
Does it have to be one or the other? Somewhere along the way people found that talking about art was just as important as the art itself, and in some ways I agree, one can’t exist without the other. Pop culture is just a form of art, its target audience may not be for the high intellectuals but neither was Shakespeare. If I had to choose then I would have to go with pop culture because the works that are popular now will very often become the object of study for the future. Why? Because the fans know how to keep something alive in the general consciousness better than an academic.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
Sex scene. Alien sex scene. I kept on thinking, what will my family think if they read it?


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

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
Lakers basketball. I think heaven is a place where I sit watching a Laker game and a never-ending bucket of chicken rests right beside me.


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. I have to outline or I don’t know what the next word is. This is why I never start a story without knowing the end. I know that it all sounds like I have no room for sparks of inspiration but that’s not the case. Sometimes I can get surprised by where the writing is going and I have to follow that path, it’s just that when that happens I have to stop and plan it all out again.

One benefit of doing it this way is that I rarely have to look back at my story and say, nope that doesn’t work and have to rewrite an entire chapter or scene.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Hell yeah. I love anime in its many forms, I even wrote a 50 page essay about Neon Genesis Evangeline. Some of my faves include Gargoyles, Bleach, Cowboy Bebop, Ranma, Inuyasha, RoadRunner cartoons, He-man, Transformers, Robotech, Samurai Champloo, Ninja Scroll, Clone Wars, Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Lab, The Last Airbender, Spider-man… the list goes on and on.


Chun Lee has been a huge fan of comic books since he was twelve and collecting Marvel Universe Cards. So, it's no surprise he would be writing his own comic for FE Comics. The Fracture, co-written with Diana Dru Botsford with artists John R. P. Nyaid and Axel Medellin Machain, tells how five fractured humans band together to change a future where aliens use humanity as test tubes, even if that means changing the past.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe Fracture

Chun now lives in LaFayette, Louisiana, deflecting questions of why he went from the frozen wasteland of Maine to the scorching heat of the South, after growing up in Southern California. His short story “A Contained Inferno” was featured in the March 31st issue of the The Late Late Show, and his short story “Stillworld” will be in the FE anthology Sails and Sorcery.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery:Tales of Nautical Fantasy

Chun graduated with a Master's in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and is currently pursuing his doctorate at the University of Louisiana.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Renee Stern

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketRenee Stern

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?

2. Tell me about your travels.
We're Northeast transplants to the Pacific Northwest; our domestic travels have focused on the edges of the U.S. and Canada. We're nibbling away at the interior, such as last summer's road trip through Salt Lake City and Moab into Colorado as far as the Continental Divide. We landed here on the West Coast after four years in Germany, where we sampled some of the surrounding parts of Europe as well: London, Florence, Switzerland, Austria, Normandy and Brittany in France, Scotland, Ireland, Luxemburg. We were in-country when the Berlin Wall came down, and had the opportunity to see the city before and after. The intersection that was Checkpoint Charlie turned into a shrine to capitalism! Surreal.

But my husband, Mike, wins hands down for globe-trotting, touching down on all seven continents. Yes, Antarctica too. He worked a summer season at the South Pole on a National Science Foundation project. We joined up in New Zealand when he came off the ice and we took a leisurely tour of North Island. I wasn't able to join him on the rest of his travels for the most part, unfortunately, but he's a great observer and storyteller -- the ultimate writer's resource if you can't do the fieldwork yourself.

His passport will be getting much less wear, however, now that he's changed jobs. Work trips these days are back and forth to West Texas -- and it's much simpler for me to tag along! I've already seen a tarantula the size of my fist down there. Maybe next time I'll catch a glimpse of the Marfa Lights.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
Navigate by map and compass. We volunteered for five years with the county Search and Rescue organization, which is a terrific way to spend time outdoors in all conditions and learn all sorts of interesting skills -- highly useful for a writer! And, yes, help people while you're at it. We were tasked on one mission to follow a compass bearing from Point A to Point B, through the woods at night, with all the difficulties you might imagine. We made our target dead on. GPS is terrific technology, but if your batteries die or you can't hit enough satellites to fix your location, you're carrying an expensive paperweight. A map and compass won't let you down, as long as you know how to use them.


5. Who are you reading right now?
I just finished a long travel weekend, which meant more reading than I've managed in a while: I tore through the last volume in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, which I missed somehow when it first came out, as well as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and John Scalzi's Old Man's War. And I'm halfway through Mary Rosenblum's Water Rites.


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?

9. Food you could eat everyday.
Noodles in all their forms. Just about any and all: macaroni and cheese, lo mein, wonton, pho, yakisoba, lasagna, pasta in its myriad forms and sauces. Two exceptions: clam sauce and pad thai.


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I dabble. Downhill skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and cycling are the main activities, though since I put my bike on the trainer it hasn't gotten much road or trail time. Sailing, too, but there I'm just along for the ride.


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 need a good idea where I'm going when I get started, but I don't work with overly detailed outlines on novels. They're more lists of key events and developments along the way -- landmarks, if you will, rather than Mapquest directions. That gives me room to detour and spend a little more time in one spot over another if the story inclines that way. For the historical fantasy I'm working on now, I needed a lot of research up front to know what was going on in that time and place that would impact my characters.

With short stories, I prefer to have the start and end points, and I can usually find my way between them as I go. The few times I just started wandering off from the start point without knowing where I was heading have been much more difficult. I try to avoid it, but sometimes you have to get lost to figure out where you need to be.


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

Renee Stern is a former newspaper reporter turned free-lance writer whose articles for trade publications range from building custom furniture to developing agricultural robots. Her short fiction credits include Oceans of the Mind, Aeon Speculative Fiction and Black Gate. A fan of true accounts of exploration -- Lewis and Clark, Thompson, Franklin, Amundsen and Shackleton -- she is currently at work on a historical fantasy trilogy set in part during the Age of Exploration.

Her short story "Hostage" is in the latest Fantasist Enterprises anthology Sails and Sorcery.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery:Tales of Nautical Fantasy

Monday, August 06, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Murray J. D. Leeder

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMurray J. D. Leeder

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Hope this doesn't sound too pretentious but I'd like to make this a "watch this space." I have every hope that the characters I'll create in the future will go far beyond any I have so far.

For the moment, the trio of leads in my unpublished ghost novel, Will Bowyer, Cassie Pontifex and Jason Pynchon probably take the lead. Not one but all of them; they cannot be separated.


2. Tell me about your travels.
As it happens, I'm abroad at present, at my sister's in Bournemouth, Dorset. I've come over to England for a few months' change of scene, and then it's back to Ottawa for a month spend preparing for what should prove the most intense exam I've ever written. But first it's off to London for a week of fun.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
I'm reading Infinite Thought by Alain Badiou. At any time these days you're more likely to find me reading hard theory than any fiction. Which brings me to . . .


6. Pop culture or academia?
As a writer/academic, they can't truly be separated for me. Writers take inspiration from the things around them, and academia is around me. There are plenty of stories I've written that go back to things I've read for my studies. Certainly, "Female Rambling Sailor," contribution to Sails & Sorcery, must owe something to Judith Butler, though I won't vex my brain wondering if she'd approve of it.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSails and Sorcery:Tales of Nautical Fantasy

Further, I'm not sure it's ever possible, at least ever advisable, to separate the two. The days of the rigid high/low division are long past, and those who disdain academia ought to look at the range of stuff being written about and analyzed on university campuses these days.

But then, I'm not without bias here.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
"Female Rambling Sailor" borrows its name from an old nautical ballad. This is a rare time that the title preceded the story. It was too brilliant not to use -- telegraph-succinct with instant punch. I first encountered the song on a Bob Dylan bootleg, so I'll take the occasion to give props to the master.

I'm listening to "Nettie Moore" as I write this, a song off his most recent album. It sounds at once timeless and fresh, like an ancient standard just written today. It leaves me awestruck. I've seen Bob five times in concert, including once in a standing-room-only venue in Glasgow that skirted very close to a spiritual experience. I wish I could produce a body of work in my lifetime which comes close to that which he threw away in the form of his outtakes.


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

13. Celebrity crush.
Lately, Meg White, drummer sphinx. If you don't believe me, ask my sister about the White Stripes concert we went to in London in June, and my reaction when she stepped to the centre of the stage to sing "In the Cold, Cold Night."


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

Murray J.D. Leeder can't remember a time when he wasn't reading and writing. To his amazement, by his twentieth birthday he found himself published in Realms of Shadow alongside names like Elaine Cunningham, Troy Denning, Ed Greenwood and R.A. Salvatore, and making a mark on a fantasy world he had loved since he discovered it a decade earlier. He was subsequently invited by Wizards of the Coast to write Plague of Ice for the Dungeons & Dragons novel series, and then got to write his own Forgotten Realms novel, Son of Thunder.

In addition, he has written around twenty published short stories. One, The Traumatized Generation, originally released in Red Deer Press' Open Space: New Canadian Fantastic Fiction, received honorable mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2004. In this story, he vindictively subjects his home town of Calgary to a zombie invasion; it has been reprinted in Permuted Press' The Undead: Skin and Bones this year. He has also had four stories in Fantasist Enterprises' high quality anthologies. He particularly looks forward to the release of Blood & Devotion and his mad, Cocteau-influenced reworking of the Orpheus myth, Sparagmos Suite.

Murray is pursuing a Ph.D. at Carleton University's Institute for Comparative Literature, Arts and Culture. His first and so far only academic publication is Closet and Confessional: Television and Hybridity in Mambo Italiano, published in the Canadian Journal of Film Studies. He has done research on haunted house films, French magicians from the mid Nineteenth Century and Hollywood "gimmick films" from the 1950's. He is currently shopping his ghost novel Lights from the Third Floor, inspired by his own time working in a purportedly haunted historical village in his teens.