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A List of Some Awesome Authors on Patreon

_ Believe in Magic _It seems Patreon was on everyone’s brain the other night. While I was at Orlando Book Festival, a few budding authors asked me how to launch a Patreon campaign–I recommended they first Follow a few established authors already there. It’s good to see what variety of content is being created for Patrons right now…because there are some really talented authors out there doing a plethora of really amazing things.

So yesterday I asked my author friends on Facebook to link to their Patreon pages — which was AMAZING, because it seems I have friends on Patreon that I didn’t even know were out there! Like most of y’all, I don’t have the money right now to support every single one, but you can bet I’m going to Follow them and keep on top of what they’re doing. BECAUSE FOLLOWING IS FREE. I highly recommend it!

And then–in a completely unrelated conversation–Mikki Kendall Tweeted this Extremely Important Thing about artists (edited for blog):

Folks get mad about creators “selling out” but don’t seem to understand that most are poor or just barely above the poverty line. There comes a point where you can’t have a day job & make the transition successfully to being a full time creative without sacrifice.

Patreon & Paypal took a lot of pressure off for me. I don’t have to chase checks because I can just write now. I could use more money. We could all use more money I’m sure, but man…that’s so many hours back from pitching & nagging outlets to pay me. I’m way more productive. And I am writing more fiction (better fiction tbh) as well as longform nonfiction.

Because money stress kills creativity. Just so you know. 

I feel bad that more people aren’t getting their work supported so I retweet people’s book posts & Patreons etc. Because I know poverty. I want people to be able to eat & see a doctor & have decent housing.

If you can’t afford to contribute? That’s fine. RT & post it on FB. Do that for whatever stuff moves you. Seriously that does a lot. Matter of fact, reply to this tweet with your Patreons & Paypals & GoFundMe’s etc & I’ll retweet you. Go on.

…and she did. If you want to see an AMAZING collection of artists creating EVERYTHING and making the world a more magnificent place with every breath they take, click here and just skim down Mikki’s Twitter feed. The links are still coming!

But here, for posterity, I will list a bunch of my own friends, and friends-of-friends, and heroes-of-friends who are authors on Patreon. Most of these are science fiction, fantasy, romance, or horror. Some will just plain-old write for money, but many offer additional perks, like writing tips and advice. There are also authors who do art and cosplay, record podcasts, give sneak peeks, and release original videos!

CHECK US OUT, YO. Follow us, support us…invite a little magic into your life!

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Alethea Kontis is creating a Wonderful World of Writing and Costuming

Lisa Mantchev is creating An Overabundance of Nonsense

K Tempest Bradford is creating Steampunk Novels Set In Ancient Egypt

Mikki Kendall AKA Karnythia is creating new worlds to escape to via original fiction

John G. Hartness is creating Fiction

CE Murphy is creating short stories
Juliette Wade is creating the Dive into Worldbuilding Show and Workshop
Laura Anne Gilman is creating Fiction
Tobias S. Buckell is creating Fiction
Gareth L. Powell is creating fiction
Saladin Ahmed is creating stories
N. K. Jemisin is creating Fiction
Emmie Mears is creating Science Fiction and Fantasy Universes
Scott Edelman is creating the Eating the Fantastic podcast
Ari Marmell is creating fantasy fiction
Chaz Brenchley is creating Fiction
Tracy Clark is creating Books, Blogs, and Transformational-Life-Courses with Team TLC
Gwenda Bond is creating stories and sharing the process. Welcome to HQ.
Simon Haynes (Hal Spacejock) is creating Novels
Tim Pratt is creating Short stories
Nick Rowan/Angelia Sparrow is creating writing, lovely bits of yarn and more writing
Adam P Knave is creating story of all sorts (comics, prose, and more)
Sephera Giron is creating stories, videos, and blogs.
Rich Larson is creating Speculative Fiction
John C Wright is creating LOST ON THE LAST CONTINENT, a high flown pulp adventure serial
Sue London is creating Books
James A. Owen is creating Words and Pictures
Patricia Loofbourrow is creating the city of Bridges
Matthew Sanborn Smith is creating fiction and podcasts
M. Darusha Wehm is creating books, stories and a cyborg revolution*
Valerie Ford is creating Writing

Don’t see an author on this list? Leave a link in the comments!

Want to link to someone who is an artist or a musician? I’ll make separate posts for those soon!

xox

Alethea

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Everythinghas astory.

 

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Living in the Future, the Right Way

On Saturday, I woke up sad. I’d had a lovely time at the beach with old friends the day before, but for some reason (which I now blame on ragweed) Saturday morning brought with it a weepy sort of melancholy.

By Saturday night, my heart was full again. I was reminded what an amazing life I lead. And I didn’t even have to leave my house.

Sometime on Saturday afternoon, Jonah Knight emailed me to remind me of something I’d promised him a while back: that for two weeks I’d be sponsoring his new Twitch site, where he is now streaming live performances.

For those who might not remember, Jonah and I met at a Mysticon (Roanoke, VA) back around 2013. We had a mutual friend whose work we admired: James Maxey. In particular, James’s fabulous superhero classic Nobody Gets the Girl. I loved it so much, my blurb is still on the cover. Jonah loved it so much, he wrote a soundtrack for it.

So yeah…we were pretty much destined to be friends. He invited me to be a guest on his podcast. I saw him perform at a bunch of cons. And then he moved to California. BOO.

Of course, with all I’ve had going on this year, I’d totally forgotten about the promise I made him. (Surprise!) I immediately dropped everything, put my ducks in a row, got Jonah’s link, signed up on Twitch, and followed Jonah’s profile.

I also shared his most recent Facebook post, where he announced that he’d be performing a livestream event THAT VERY NIGHT. How fortuitous! I still had so much on my to-do list, but I could stand to do it all while watching/listening to one of my favorite people perform live, right? Why not?

So I tidied up a bit and lurked silently in the chatroom while Jonah warmed up. He already had visitors from Spain and New Zealand online. And he’s in California. And I’m in Florida. Instant global party!

I also worked on my art homework — Bianca has taken to giving me assignments, which I’m totally cool with. She told me to stop working on butterflies for a while and do something different like…chalkboard art! White pencil on black construction paper. Write some quotes in fancy handwriting. Doodle some things. But what was I going to draw?

Well…Jonah was right there, so I let him be my inspiration. I started writing down my favorite lines from his songs. I doodled rocket ships and robots and steampunk gears and stars. And it was wonderful.

I didn’t jump in on the chat until he mentioned my name…and then we interacted in that 21st century way kids do — I spoke via chat, and he answered on the video. He even played “King of Nebraska” as the finale, which totally made my night. I danced around my kitchen and sang along with gusto.

Sometime in the middle of all that, it occurred to me to be present…to look at my life from an outside perspective and appreciate it for what it was. I started off having a crummy day, and ended it with a private home concert, during which the performer talked DIRECTLY TO ME and played me a song.

Even better? The video from that night is up on Twitch, so any of us can pull it up and watch it again. Be sure to follow Jonah — hang out with us for the next couple of weeks and win some things!

The world we live in right now is AMAZING. It’s a world in which Willie Wonka would have had a ball. We can have just about whatever life we choose, with a little bit of effort.

The magic is there. We just have to find it.

***************

Follow Jonah Knight on Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/jonahknight
Follow Alethea Kontis on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/princessalethea

 

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Choreographing the BEST SURPRISE EVER

Today on the Waterworld Mermaids, I tell the whole story of how a podcast with my 11-year-old Fairy Goddaughter turned into the surprise of a lifetime!

Click here to find out!

Congrats, Princess Allie!!! We love you! xox

WPA 5-30-16

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The Unbreakable Princess Alethea

(I should totally have my own television show with this title. Right? Netflix, call me.)

*

Nebulas PostcardNobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Nor does one expect, after months of carefully planning two simultaneous conferences (BEA and the SFWA Nebula Awards weekend), a spectacularly sprained ankle.

It sounds like such a small thing, doesn’t it? Yet, this sprain was severe enough to keep me on the ropes until the day before my flight left, waiting for the Orthopedic doctor to officially declare the injury “non-surgical.” It also kept me off my feet. Even though I was cleared for takeoff, I could not walk. Nor could my bad neck & shoulders handle crutches or a wheelchair. Thankfully, we live in the age of the knee scooter. Renting one of these made BEA and the Nebs possible for me. Difficult, still…but possible…and that happy thought propelled me right into Chicago.

BEA 2016A good thing, because that first day was hell.

Wednesday’s schedule was the most packed: Fly in to Chicago. Get to the Palmer House hotel. Extract BEA go-bag and drop the rest of luggage off with bellhop. Get to BEA and SFWA table. Meet with Ingram Spark. Change in bathroom for Audie Awards black-tie gala. Get to Audie Awards. Have champagne and pray Katy Kellgren walks away with Best Female Narrator of the Year again. (I’m her lucky charm, dontcha know.)

Even before the sprain, I was glad that my toughest day would happen first. The first day of a conference is the day fueled by the most adrenaline, and I was counting on that. Especially now that I had to do it all on a scooter.

Mom still thought I was crazy. I brushed it off. I’m young! I’m adventurous! I can do this! Think of the stories I will have to tell!

By the time I got to the Palmer House, the bloom was definitely off the enthusiasm. TSA had put me through so much grief that I wept once I reached the terminal. (If you are traveling while disabled, wear shorts or pants. Know your rights. Also know that 95% of the other passengers in wheelchairs are ambulatory. TSA is spoiled by this. If you are not able to stand or walk, TSA agents will make sure you are aware just how much of an inconvenience you are to them. You will be punished by waiting and condescension, and you will receive the wrath of the overworked and underpaid.)

And this was all before I fell off the plane. Yes, when I arrived in Chicago I was made to disembark in the middle of everyone, when I wasn’t ready, and a physically capable person was not present to help me off the plane. So the tiny flight attendant (and all the passengers behind me) watched as my scooter and I went sprawling onto the ground.

Discovering later that my shampoo had leaked all over my bathroom bag was almost silly. But I pulled up my bootstraps, pulled out the bag containing my glitter dress for the ceremony that night, and went up to where the books and bags were being organized and assembled for the Nebulas.

Normally, I’d be helping with that. It’s a task Peggy Rae Sapienza conscripted me into many years ago, and whenever given the chance, I cheerfully pitch in. Except, with the scooter, I was forced to keep quiet and stay out of everyone’s way.

I took the opportunity to relax and chat with Lawrence Schoen until Beth Dawkins and Fonda Lee were ready to head to BEA. I got to the show floor, met the fabulous Derek Kunsken, and then rushed off to my meeting.

The Spark meeting went great. I came away with good info and better contacts. Plus, I got to hug some old friends, which is never a bad thing. It was tough tearing myself away to change, Superman style, in a show-floor bathroom…an experience with which I am not unfamiliar. Once tiara bedecked in glitter and red silk, I made my way to the very long taxi line. (The BEA show greeters were incredulous and very complimentary of my transformation.)

My day was looking up.

I got to the planetarium just in time…and was greeted by a HUGE flight of stairs. If one cannot walk, the sight of the front of the Adler Planetarium is daunting, to say the least. But I was ushered in the back, up an elevator, and through secret hallways behind exhibits that made for a rather fun adventure! I saw more old friends, hugged Katy and wished her luck.

This Audie Awards was bittersweet, as it was my last ceremony as a judge. It has always been one of the highlights of BEA for me. And though I am sad to no longer be part of the judging process, I am up to the challenge of creating audiobooks so fabulous that I am able to return in the future as a nominee. (Fingers crossed!)

The Lucky Star and the Superstar

Alethea and Katy, Lucky Star and Superstar

Speaking of nominees, I ran into my dear Ann Leckie, whose publisher had invited her to attend in celebration of her nomination for Ancillary Mercy. From then on, Ann and I teamed up–she made a wonderful date! Paula Poundstone was the emcee that night, and we laughed through the entire ceremony. Ann, sadly, didn’t end up with an award…but Katy did. Yes, my Audio Dreamgirl Katy Kellgren received the Audie for Best Female Narrator of the Year for the FOURTH TIME. And for the fourth time, we took pictures and danced in celebration.

Well, as much dancing as one can do on one leg. Trust me…the smiles were large and the glitter was high. My first and toughest day of conferencing had come to such a fabulous finale that it was worth all the pain and aggravation I had suffered that morning.

Ann’s publisher put us in a car back to the Palmer House, at which point I collected my bags and went up to the room to wait for Kate to let me in.

I was all smiles. “I have had an absolutely magical night,” I told her.

“I have a story for you,” said Kate. She knows how much I love stories. “You are going to lose your shit.”

Kate Winning

Kate, on winning

After the day I’d had, I was a little apprehensive. “In a good way, I hope.”

Kate looked at me pointedly. She helped me lug my bags into the room and allowed me to sit before telling me the whole story of how she’d just won a Guardians of the Galaxy date with Chris Pratt.

Yeah.

All that pain and aggravation.

Totally worth it.

*

Compared to the magic of that first day of BEA/Nebs, the rest of my con report seems rather dull…but I promise, there was just as much wonderfulness to be had as there was exhaustion.

Most of Thursday was spent on the BEA floor, manning the SFWA booth with Derek and fellow Codexian Dawn Bonnano, chatting with old friends and new folks who will one day be  old friends. I was exhausted by closing, bid all of my show floor friends farewell, and then played the Poor Pathetic Girl card to get me and Dawn to the head of the taxi line.

That night I met up with fellow YA authors Adam Selzer and his wife Ronni — Adam is one of those people I have known for so long online that it felt weird meeting up and realizing that we had never before actually met in person. Well, we’ve fixed that now, haven’t we? And thank goodness! Ronni brought my dearest Zoriada Cordova and Amber Sweeney in tow, which was a super nice surprise, and then they all traded up to the Sourcebooks party, leaving me and Adam to our own devices.

The Princess and the Tour Guide

Princess Alethea and Sir Adam Selzer

Which was PERFECT, really since 1.) I hadn’t yet braved the streets outside the hotel and 2.) Adam is a professional Chicago tour guide. We didn’t go too far, because of the scooter and my increasing level of exhaustion, but it was lovely to have even that small taste of Chicago while I was there!

(Aside: I later discovered that the Terracotta Warriors were on display at the Field Museum, and was seriously depressed that I didn’t have two feet or the energy with which to go. Much to my delight, Bud Sparhawk and his wife had gone, and he was all too happy to share his pictures of the exhibit with me one night in the con suite. Thanks, Bud!)

The rest of the weekend was a blur of surprises, happiness, glitter, and exhaustion. I was on two panels that were incredibly well received, and later met with pros from both ACX and Patreon to dream up exciting plans for the future. Somewhere in there was a business meeting…and a volunteer breakfast (I received a beautiful certificate!)…and a mass book signing. And somewhere in there I went back to the room so tired that I broke down in tears. Maybe more than once. I can’t remember.

Kate and I might have been rooming together, but we were both so busy we barely saw each other after that first night.

Bringing 100% of your awesome to two conventions is tough enough. Bring it all on one leg…honestly, I’m not even sure how I did it. Much of the time, I psyched myself out by convincing myself that I was Acting Disability Quality Control. I was THRILLED that such a to-do had been made over accessibility at the last World Whatever conference, and that Nebula Weekend had stood up to say WE ARE ACCESSIBLE. (Thank you, SFWA!)

There were no panels presented from a dais. A couple of times I had to ask security to lead me to special secret lifts (I felt like Harriet the Spy in the dumbwaiter!), but none of the events were held in places I couldn’t get to. Even the Award Ceremony — seating for the groundlings was up a small set of stairs, but there was a special section behind the banquet tables for those of us who couldn’t climb them.

I have to admit: by the time the Nebula Ceremony rolled around, I was so wiped out that I almost skipped it. I knew I’d have to be escorted up a special lift, so I did miss the reception. I compromised by allowing myself to deprincess a little. I took off the corset. I let my hair down. I even left the tiara in the room. And you know what? No one cared.

Commander Stardust

Radio SFWA!

In fact, so many of my finely-dressed friends were thrilled to see me as they walked in and out of the banquet hall, we decided that I should host a Red Carpet pre-show next year. I became happy that I’d made the effort to come down for the festivities. I joked with John Hodgman as I wheeled into the room. Sam J. Miller was my hero and snuck water to my seat before the show started. And then Henry Lien walked on stage for the Commander Stardust musical performance and blew us all away. “Radio SFWA” is still stuck in my head.

It was a beautiful ceremony. John Hodgman was a perfectly amusing and respectful emcee. And Tom Piccirilli’s photo at the end of the In Memoriam slideshow made my eyes leak all over again.

I miss you, Unca Pic. Forever and always.

I am incredibly proud of all the nominees and winners of this year’s Nebula Awards. I am incredibly happy about all the old friends I saw and thrilled about all the new friends I made — I wish us all the best of luck in our future endeavors. I’m also incredibly proud of all the volunteers: Derek, Beth, Terra, Dawn, Steve, Kate–ESPECIALLY KATE!–and so many others who made this year’s BEA and Nebula Awards weekend run incredibly smoothly.

Dead dogs Terra and Derek

Dead dogs Terra and Derek

Steve said at our little Dead Dog party (yes, I ate Chicago pizza but I scraped all the cheese off…shhh, don’t tell!) that the worst thing about a con with so few hiccups was that there was so little to write about.

I find I don’t have that problem. My only regret is that I was having so much fun that I kept forgetting to take photos. (That’s okay, though, John Scalzi was present with his fabulous camera-fu to make up for it!)

I am happy that I made the journey, despite every hardship. So happy, in fact, that I went ahead and bought my membership for Nebula Weekend next year. I look forward to doing all this again on two legs.

Pittsburgh, here I come!

 

 

#SFWAPro

 

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[Guest Post] The Best Perk in the Business

Alethea & David, 2013Once Upon a Time, after being hired on as Assistant Manager of a local Hastings store, I was asked to take a test. The test included statements like, “It is more WHO you know than WHAT you know that gets you ahead in this world.” There was a five bubble spread, from Very Likely to Not At All Likely. To this statement I chose: Very Likely.

Despite having already hired me, the results of that and other answers flagged me as “high risk of drug usage” and the offer of employment was rescinded.

That’s right. ME.

Sorry, boys, but I only write like I’m on drugs.

It’s been over a decade since I took that ridiculous test, but I still maintain that success is far more about WHO you know than WHAT you know. Moreover, the WHOs that I have known in this world have not only gotten me farther than my Chemistry degree and my perfect grades in Physics and Vector Calculus, they have also saved my life on many occasions.

David B. Coe was one of the first authors I met in the World of Publishing, during the Southern Festival of Books back in 2002. We’ve survived countless conventions and festivals, publishing and traveling adventures since that time, and I count him among my very best friends (in the sense of “I could show up at his house uninvited and he’d offer me a place to crash for the night”).

It is in that spirit that I invited David to guest post here on my blog today and talk about Author Friendships–both ours, and the one he has with Faith Hunter that facilitated their special collaboration: Water Witch, on sale now.

Pick up Dead Man’s Reach next week (I *love* the Thieftaker novels!), and keep an eye out for His Father’s Eyes, releasing this August. And if you’re attending Dragon Con this year, be sure to catch David’s musical performance in Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow!

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The Best Perk in the Business

David B. Coe aka D.B. JacksonAsk any professional writer about the perks of this career path and you’ll hear a lot about the freedom of being one’s own boss, the joy of being creative for a living, the sense of discovery that comes from thinking up new characters, new plot lines, new worlds. And all of that is true.

I love this job, which is also something you’ll hear a lot from writers. We have to love it, because for the vast majority of us, the pay is minimal. Writing is hard work, and because our ability to sell our next book idea is usually contingent on the critical and, far more importantly, the commercial success of the previous book, it can be dispiriting. Much of the time, we work in isolation, alone with our thoughts and imaginations. Most of us, to varying degrees, are responsible for our own promotion, our own marketing. Some writers are responsible for every aspect of their publishing lives. Completing a novel is no small accomplishment. Making a living as a writer? Really, really difficult.

And yet, for those reasons I mentioned earlier — freedom, creativity, discovery — none of us would trade this career path for any other. At its best, a writing career — and really, any professional creative endeavor — is a constant adventure. Sure, we live vicariously through our characters, but they wouldn’t exist without us, so it’s as intimate a vicarious relationship as I can imagine.

But there’s another perk of writing for a living that I don’t often hear authors mention, one of which I’m reminded forcefully right now, as I tour the web, touting my newest novels. I have been fortunate over the nearly twenty years I’ve been writing, to develop some truly amazing friendships with my fellow authors, including the wonderful Alethea Kontis. (I’ll get to that in a moment, but first, those newest novels: DEAD MAN’S REACH, the fourth volume of the Thieftaker Chronicles, which I write as D.B. Jackson, comes out July 21; and HIS FATHER’S EYES, the second book in The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, by David B. Coe, comes out August 4.)

Lee and I met years ago, when she was still working for Ingram Books, and I was a fairly new author, appearing at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, Tennessee. We hit it off right away, but didn’t have much chance to get acquainted. That opportunity came a year or two later when we found each other in the Austin Airport after a World Fantasy Convention. We spent a lengthy plane delay chatting, laughing, and finding, as both of us had previously with others of our ilk, that writers are a unique breed, possessing a distinctive blend of humor, passion, and geekiness. We’ve been buddies ever since, and we share so many friends it’s almost funny.

Dead Man's ReachAgain and again, I have met writers at conventions or conferences, only to discover yet another kindred spirit, another sibling from whom I was obviously separated at birth. These friendships are their own reward. Yes, Lee and I help each other out with promotional cross posts at our respective blogs, and we recommend each other’s work to others we meet, readers and writers alike. But that’s icing on the friendship cake. We’d be friends even without that stuff.

Still, there are times when the friendships we forge with other writers lead directly or indirectly to significant professional opportunities. I’ve been invited to conventions because of such friendships. I’ve been asked to submit stories to anthologies because of them. I’ve met editors, publishers, and agents through friends in the business. I’m not at all unusual in this regard.

Recently, though, a project grew out of a friendship in a very cool and utterly unique way. My dear friend Faith Hunter is the author of the New York Times bestselling Jane Yellowrock series. I love the Yellowrock books, and Faith is a huge fan of my Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy series set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. In the fifth Jane Yellowrock book, DEATH’S RIVAL (or maybe the sixth, BLOOD TRADE), Faith mentions an ancient vampire who “terrorized Boston for a few years before the Tea Party of 1773.” She wrote the line with me in mind, thinking that if I noticed it and said something to her, we’d talk about it, and if I didn’t, no harm done. Well, I did notice, and it made me start thinking about cross-over collaboration possibilities combining the Jane Yellowrock world with my Thieftaker universe. Which was just what Faith intended. The conversations that followed eventually led to the publication earlier this summer of “Water Witch,” an original piece of short fiction set in 1770s Boston and featuring Ethan Kaille, the hero of the Thieftaker novels, and Hannah Everhart, an ancestor of Jane Yellowrock’s best friend. The story is available from several vendors as an electronic download. It may well prove to be the first of several collaborative efforts.

His Father's EyesThat mention of Colonial Boston in Faith’s book remains to this day one of the nicest, coolest things anyone has ever done for me. I love that it led to a story, but even if it hadn’t, it would have been an unbelievably generous gesture. And it points to the power of creative friendships. I have lots of friends outside of writing, and many have honored me with gifts and acts of kindness I will never forget. But this gift has already allowed us to reach thousands of readers with a new work of fiction, and there’s no telling where further mash-ups of our two worlds might lead. Of course, my writer friendships don’t have to produce new stories to be rewarding. It’s nice knowing, though, that they can.

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David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of eighteen fantasy novels. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and, the newest volume, Dead Man’s Reach, which will be released on July 21. Under his own name, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first volume, Spell Blind, debuted in January 2015. The newest book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, comes out on August 4. He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

http://www.DavidBCoe.com
http://www.davidbcoe.com/blog/
http://www.dbjackson-author.com
http://www.facebook.com/david.b.coe
http://twitter.com/DavidBCoe
https://www.amazon.com/author/davidbcoe

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The Princess of Many Half-Completed Movements

“She eased closer to him, studying his face. As if he might be someone she knew but didn’t fully recognize. She shifted to one side and checked his profile, reached out like she might ruffle his hair. He was hoping, but she didn’t. She was a girl of many half-completed movements.”
–Tom Piccirilli, November Mourns

Pic & Lee, MoCon IVNovember Mourns was the first thing of Tom Picirilli’s I ever read. The publisher had given me an advance reading copy, which I’d had him sign when we met at Hypericon in Nashville in the summer of 2005. “Met” in the sense of “bonded like relatives from a past life.” I read the book as soon as I got back that weekend, deep in the throes of missing all my new friends…friends that, ten years down the line, have changed my life in so many ways that I’m not sure who I’d be without them.

I rolled my eyes several times while reading, but that last line from the above quote is when I had to shut the book and walk away for a while. My newest bestest friend, whom I’d begun to refer to as “Unca Pic” in all our emails, was a goddamned poet. I had to put the book down because I was actually pissed that he was such a good writer. All poets—even we lapsed ones—have the ability to recognize brilliance in a single line of text.

Unca Pic was fucking brilliant.

After November Mourns, I read my first novel written by the other Guest of Honor at Hypericon that year. I had to put that one down too, because I couldn’t see from crying. The author was Brian Keene. The book was Terminal. And I had just been diagnosed with a tumor.

My tumor turned out to be a congenital birth defect. When Pic was diagnosed with a tumor, it was a tennis ball-sized gob of brain cancer. Pic never did anything small.

Hypericon 2005, well before anyone referred to me as “Princess,” was also the first convention where I got to sit on panels. Sherrilyn Kenyon and I were roommates. When she was struck down with a migraine halfway through the con, I took care of her before stealing her magic platform corset boots and stomping about the place like the confident superstar I was pretending to be.

I was under strict orders not to become friends with Brian Keene—the sworn enemy of my boyfriend at the time. (Pic was okay, though.) Unfortunately for everyone involved, we all fell in love with each other that weekend. “In love” in the sense of “friendships that would span more than a decade.” The boyfriend—who was already cheating on me at the time—didn’t last half that long.

When the boyfriend discovered my new association—a friendship I boldly defended—he punished me with silence. I shattered. Pic was there, on the other end of every email, to pick up the pieces. And when the depression got bad enough, Pic hunted down my phone number and called my house.

I never answered my phone back in those days (things haven’t changed much—I barely answer it now) and no caller ID meant that I screened every call. So imagine my surprise when the machine beeped and a thick New York accent said, “Are you off bein’ stoopid? You don’t return the emails, you don’t answer the phone…who da hell knows what kind of crisis of faith—” At which point, laughing, I picked up the phone.

I never erased that message. I listened to it for years, because it always seemed to apply. I was always having one crisis of faith or another, and Pic was always there for me. When I finally ran away from home in 2009 (in the sense of “quit my abusive job with no notice and skipped town”), the answering machine was packed up with everything else. I became caught up in the drama of moving my life and settling for another dream I thought I wanted, and the emails to Pic stopped. I mean, we kept in touch on Facebook and whatnot, but the therapy sessions had ended.

With Love, Unca PicThat dream burst like a firework, and then took almost four years to sizzle and fade. I sent Pic another email last November (hello, irony, my old friend), catching him up on my latest bit of craziness. He emailed me back as if it had been five days instead of five years—even remembering to call me “Mimou” (my Dad’s nickname for me as a kid—it’s Greek for “monkey”).

He’d been in remission for two years at that point—he was about to go on vacation to San Diego with Michelle, and he was looking forward to being Guest of Honor at World Horror in 2015. I, too, had been invited to be on panels at World Horror, and I had said yes because I’d seen Pic’s name on the postcards. I couldn’t wait to see him again.

Pic didn’t make it to World Horror. By then, his health was back in a steady decline. Michelle was posting for him on Facebook all the time now, updating us on his progress. I sent him another email, but he didn’t respond. I think I knew then that he never would.

Which sort of sucks because I could really use Pic right now. I’ve been in a horrible slump all summer—ever since I got back from the Atlanta/Nashville trip. I’m in my new place here in Florida, and I know it’s where I’m supposed to be because I feel at home here. But I still have a living room and garage full of boxes. I’m still trying to get myself untangled from this most recent ex. I pared everything down so that I could work on two projects this summer and I suddenly find myself in the middle of five. One of those projects is recording and editing the audiobook for Beauty & Dynamite. The only voice I have 100% down—other than my own, of course—is Pic’s.

My house stalled in the midst of renovation. I feel like there’s a missing piece in the puzzle of my career but I can’t put my finger on it. I realized this morning, when I slid to the floor and cried for two hours after hearing the news, that I had become the girl of many half-completed movements. And as much as I wanted to send an email that said, “Help me, Unca Pic, you’re my only hope,” I knew it would be a futile gesture.

He’s still with me, though, out there in a box in the garage, a faded recording on the twenty-first century equivalent of an outdated R2 unit. I don’t need to play it to hear his voice, loud and clear, asking me if I’m being stoopid. Asking me if I’m having another crisis of faith. The answer is yes. The answer is always yes.

But my Obi-Wan has left the building and now I have to face the dark forces of this universe all on my own. Fortunately, his faith in me is the one thing I don’t have doubts about.

Thanks, Unca Pic.
Dear gods, I miss you.

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In Which Alethea Interviews Sharon Shinn for USA Today

I am happy and honored today for two reasons: 1.) that I have the opportunity to interview one of my favorite authors, Sharon Shinn, and 2.) that I get to do it for USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog.

The graphic novel publisher First Second is announcing today a collaborative effort between Sharon Shinn and Molly Ostertag called The Painted Warrior (if you’re not familiar with Molly’s superhero webcomic  Strong Female Protagonist, I highly recommend you to check it out).

Needless to say, I am SUPER EXCITED about this graphic novel, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to ask Sharon a little bit about the project.

Click here to read the full interview!

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In Which Edmund Schubert Withdraws From the Hugos

Edmund Schubert is a dear friend and has been since IGMS was but a twinkle in Orson Scott Card’s eye. For this reason (and because he has no true platform of his own from which to speak), I am posting this on his behalf.

I fully support Edmund in his decision. He continues to have my love and respect.

–Alethea

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Hugo AwardMy name is Edmund R. Schubert, and I am announcing my withdrawal from the Hugo category of Best Editor (Short Form). My withdrawal comes with complications, but if you’ll bear with me, I’ll do my best to explain. I am withdrawing because:

1. I believe that while the Sad Puppies’ stated goal of bringing attention to under-recognized work may have been well-intentioned, their tactics were seriously flawed. While I personally find it challenging that some people won’t read IGMS because they disagree with the publisher’s perceived politics (which have nothing whatsoever to do with what goes into the magazine), I can’t in good conscience complain about the deck being stacked against me, and then feel good about being nominated for an award when the deck gets stacked in my favor. That would make me a hypocrite. I can’t be part of that and still maintain my integrity.

2. Vox Day/Theodore Beale/Rabid Puppies. Good grief. While I firmly believe that free speech is only truly free if everyone is allowed to speak their mind, I believe equally strongly that defending people’s right to free speech comes with responsibilities: in this case, the responsibility to call out unproductive, mean-spirited, inflammatory, and downright hateful speech. I believe that far too many of Vox’s words fall into those categories—and a stand has to be made against it.

3. Ping pong. (Yes, really.) A ping pong ball only ever gets used by people who need something to hit as a way to score points, and I am through being treated like a political ping pong ball—by all sorts of people across the entire spectrum. Done.

Regrettably this situation is complicated by the fact that when I came to this decision, the WorldCon organizers told me the ballot was ‘frozen.’ This is a pity, because in addition to wanting ‘out’ of the ping pong match, I would very much have liked to see someone else who had earned it on their own (without the benefit of a slate) get on the ballot in my place. But the ballots had already been sent off to the printers.

Unfortunately this may reduce my actions to a symbolic gesture, but I can’t let that prevent me from following my conscience.

So it seems that the best I can do at this stage is ask everyone with a Hugo ballot to pretend I’m not there. Ignore my name, because if they call my name at the award ceremony, I won’t accept the chrome rocketship. My name may be on that ballot, but it’s not there the way I’d have preferred.

I will not, however, advocate for an across-the-board No Award vote. That penalizes people who are innocent, for the sake of making a political point. Vox Day chose to put himself and his publishing company, Castalia House, in the crosshairs, which makes him fair game—but not everybody, not unilaterally. I can’t support that.

Here’s what I do want to do, though, to address where I think the Sad Puppies were off-target: I don’t think storming the gates of WorldCon was the right way to bring attention to worthy stories. Whether or not you take the Puppies at their word is beside the matter; it’s what they said they wanted, and I think bringing attention to under-represented work is an excellent idea.

So I want to expand the reading pool.

Of course, I always think more reading is a good thing. Reading is awesome. Reading—fiction, specifically—has been proven to make people more empathetic, and God knows we need as much empathy as we can possibly get these days. I also believe that when readers give new works by new authors an honest chance, they’ll find things they appreciate and enjoy.

In that spirit, I am taking the material that would have comprised my part of the Hugo Voters Packet and making it available to everyone, everywhere, for free, whether they have a WorldCon membership or not. Take it. Read it. Share it. It’s yours to do with as you will.

The only thing I ask is that whatever you do, do it honestly.

Don’t like some of these stories? That’s cool; at least I’ll know you don’t like them because you read them, not because you disagree with political ideologies that have nothing to do with the stories.

You do like them? Great; share them with a friend. Come and get some more.

But whatever you decide, decide it honestly, not to score a point.

And let me be clear about this: While I strongly disagree with the way Sad Puppies went about it… when the Puppies say they feel shut out because of their politics, it’s hard for me to not empathize because I’ve seen IGMS’s authors chastised for selling their story to us, simply because of people’s perceptions about the publisher’s personal views. I’ve also seen people refuse to read any of the stories published in IGMS for the same reason.

With regard to that, I want to repeat something I’ve said previously: while Orson Scott Card and I disagree on several social and political subjects, we respect each other and don’t let it get in the way of IGMS’s true goal: supporting writers and artists of all backgrounds and preferences. The truth is that Card is neither devil nor saint; he’s just a man who wants to support writers and artists—and he doesn’t let anything stand in the way of that.

As editor of IGMS, I can, and have, and will continue to be—with the full support of publisher Orson Scott Card—open to publishing stories by and about gay authors and gay characters, stories by and about female authors and female characters, stories by authors and about characters of any and every racial, political, or religious affiliation—as long as I feel like those authors 1) have a story to tell, not a point to score, and 2) tell that story well. And you know what? Orson is happy to have me do so. Because the raison d’etre of IGMS is to support writers and artists. Period.

IGMSOrson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show—is open to everyone. All the way. Always has been, always will be. All I ask, all I have ever asked, is that people’s minds operate in the same fashion.

Consider this the beginning then of the larger reading campaign that should have been. To kick it off, I offer you this sampling from IGMS, which represents the essence of how I see the magazine—a reflection of the kind of stories I want to fill IGMS with, that will help make it the kind of magazine I want IGMS to be—and that I believe it can be if readers and writers alike will give it a fair chance.

If you have reading suggestions of your own, I heartily encourage you help me build and distribute a list.

(Yes, I know, there are already plenty of reading lists out there. But you will never convince me that there is such a thing as too much reading. Never.)

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Tempest Hangs With the Mermaids

Today I’m over in the Waterworld Mermaid Lagoon, hosting a very special interview with my dear friend, the infamous K. Tempest Bradford. As some of you may know, Tempest blew up the internet about a month ago when she challenged readers to consider checking out books by authors they normally wouldn’t read. It was a strange thing to sit on the sidelines for all of this…but I’m glad I was there for her, for the good times and bad.

Click here to read my essay and watch my video interview with Tempest: http://waterworldmermaids.com/2015/03/mermaids-friends-k-tempest-bradford/

 

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Like a Box of Chocolates, 2015

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of Andre Norton, Grand Dame of SF.

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been a decade since Miss Andre left us. When Jay asked me to contribute something to the Andre Norton Books site, I thought it only fitting to offer him the essay I wrote at the time, my eulogy of sorts, entitled “Like a Box of Chocolates.”

Despite her physical absence, Miss Andre’s grandmotherly presence, her nuggets of wisdom, her complete faith in who I was and who I would be…these remain with me. As does the very important decision I made the day she died.

In 2011, I had the honor of presenting the Andre Norton Award at the SFWA Nebula Awards ceremony. In 2013 and 2014, I was nominated for the Andre Norton Award. One of these days, I will win that damned thing and make her proud. Because that’s how these stories are meant to end.

Click here to read “Like a Box of Chocolates” — originally posted on this blog on March 18, 2005.

Norton photo

#SFWApro

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