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Anthology Builder Interview

Anthology Bulder is this really cool website, created several years ago by my friend & fellow Codexian Nancy Fulda.

For only $14.95, you can create your own anthology from a vast archive of previously published stories form your favorite authors…or authors you’d like to try out. Going to a convention? Create a custom anthology of guests who will be there and get them to sign it…like Nancy did for Nebula Awards Weekend this year.

It’s the Mixed CD of print-on-demand short story collections. And the best part? Every time you choose an author’s story, they get a royalty.

I have enough short stories on Anthology Builder to even have a small, little-known collection of my own — Magic and Monsters.

But my stories crop up on other Tables of Contents from time to time — most recently, my infamous vampire little mermaid story “Blood and Water” (with pirates!) was included in the featured anthology From the Shadows.

Jim Fox asked me a few brief questions about the story (and a few other fun tidbits) to post over on the Anthology Builder blog.

Do be sure to click on over and drop by…especially if you don’t know what Charlie’s real name is…

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Genre Chick Interview: Misty Massey

One of the original items on my to-do list that launched May 2011’s Month of Writers here on the site was a series of interviews I planned with the contributors of How To Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion.

Are you familiar with the Magical Words site? If you’re a writer, you should be! The contributing bloggers there are some very experienced folks who have exceptional insights about all things wise and wonderful in the world of publishing.

So this week in the Month of Writers is special — It’s Magical Words Week! Every day I’ll be hosting an interview from a contributor from the Magical Words website. Today, my guest star is the beautiful Misty Massey!

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Name: Misty Massey

FB or Twitter?
I’m Misty Massey on FB, and MistyMassey on Twitter. And I’m madkestrel on Livejournal, if anyone wants to drop by.

Most recent publication?
My first novel, “Mad Kestrel”, was published by Tor in 2008. “At Map’s End”, a short story featuring the characters from my novel, appeared in the anthology Rum and Runestones in May 2010.

Associations or affiliations?
None. I keep meaning to join SFWA.

Short Stories or Novels or both?
I started out writing only short stories, and never thought I could manage an entire novel. I still like the short form, but nowadays I tend to come up with ideas that go a lot longer.

Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?
I started out as a complete pantser, letting the story carry me along as it would and not stressing about where I’d end up or how I’d know when I got there. As time has gone by, I’ve discovered the delight of planning ahead. There’s a lovely comfort in having a road map to follow, and being able to see the end coming. Especially when there’s a real deadline attached to that end. I still occasionally write by the seat of my pants, but only when it’s a short work and never when someone is actually waiting on what I’m writing.

What’s your average words per hour output?
It depends on the day. I’m a slow writer, because I can’t help editing as I go (which makes revisions easier, once I eventually get to that point!) I set myself a goal of 500 words a day, and do the best I can to reach that. Some days I spill words as if they were kernels of corn and I left the silo door open. Other days, not so much.

What’s your favorite part of writing?
My favorite part of writing is also my favorite part of reading – getting to know the characters and spend time in their world. When I’m overwhelmed with laundry and cooking dinner and paying bills and dealing with family issues, I can fall into the world of my own making, and all those pressures slip away. Of course, I have to deal with my characters’ issues, but hey, at least they’re different.

What’s your least favorite part?
The stiffness that I only notice after I’ve been in the chair a while, and I suddenly stand up. Or try to stand up. Ow!

What motivates you to mentor other writers?
I began writing seriously in 1995. I’d been playing with stories long before, but I had no one to tell me if what I was doing was any good. Sure, I had family, but family is always going to have a vested interest in my happiness, and I couldn’t be sure their opinions were completely unbiased. So I joined a local critique group. Those writers were supportive, helpful and friendly, but they also never hesitated to tell me if the work was crap. It was Faith Hunter who first strong-armed me into trying to write a novel. I was terrified of trying, but more scared of letting her down, so I gave it a shot. I wouldn’t be published today if it wasn’t for Faith. Helping other not-yet-published writers is my way of paying forward the help she offered me.

Is it difficult to come up with a fun and interesting essay topic every week on top of your current workload?
Sometimes, yes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself sitting at my computer the night before my posting day, staring at a blank screen and wondering what on earth to write about. But more often than not, those last-minute scrambles turn out to be my most well-received posts.

I do worry that I’ll repeat myself on a subject that we’ve already covered. Or worse, that the readers will realize I’m just making this up as I go, and show up outside my house with torches and pitchforks to punish me. But even when I touch on a subject I’ve covered before, I find that there’s still plenty to talk about. And our readers are very forgiving.

Describe how words are magical to you.
Words create worlds, worlds that can carry me away for moments or days. The writer puts the words together and suddenly, I’m a dark elven ranger, wandering the world. I’m a woman riding a dragon through the skies desperate to save my people. I’m a pirate chasing down my quarry. All it takes is the perfect combination of amazing, transporting, magical words. Anyone who says there’s no such thing as magic clearly hasn’t read the right books yet.

Edmund has an essay discussing useful and distracting similes and metaphors. Please put yourself in a simile. Example: “Edmund Schubert is like a dead penguin wedding cake.
Misty is like a dictionary grenadier in comfortable shoes.

A.J. quotes Steven Spielberg i one of his essays, about how the core of a film should be able to be summed up in 26 words or fewer. Please sum yourself up in 26 words or fewer.
I’m the girl who never stopped believing in faeries. I keep writing in the hope that they’ll come dance with me.

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How To Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion is a compilation of essays originally published on MagicalWords.net, a popular writing blog with thousands of regular followers. Distilling three years worth of helpful advice into a single, portable volume, it contains nearly 100 essays covering a wide range of topics. Many of these essays are accompanied by comments and questions from the blog’s readers, along with the author’s response, making this volume unique among how-to books on any subject. The core members of Magical Words—David B. Coe, A.J. Hartley, Faith Hunter, Stuart Jaffe, Misty Massey, C.E. Murphy, and Edmund R. Schubert—have experience writing and editing fantasy, mysteries, thrillers, romance, science fiction, non-fiction, and more. This group is uniquely qualified to cover the full spectrum of writing-related issues. How To Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion is a book that belongs in the library of anyone interested in the craft of writing, the business of writing, and the writing life.

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Famous Last Words

I passed The FairyGodBoyfriend in the bathroom yesterday. I was leaving and he was coming in to take a shower. I patted him on the bum and said, “God, I love your butt” before taking my leave.

I promptly started picking up the bedroom and collecting laundry, which is a good thing to do when Joe is not present. As I was reaching for a sock hidden under the bed, I stumbled over a pair of shoes and caught myself before taking a nosedive into the desk.

I sat on the bed for a second to contemplate my near brush with death, and then went back in the bathroom to tell FGB what had happened and ask him a very important question.

Me: So if I had just died right then, and my last words were “God, I love your butt,” would you tell people?

Joe: Hell yes I would! I’d write it on your tombstone. “She loved my butt.”

Surely you can see why I’m head over heels in love with this man. I giggled over the prospect of my interesting tombstone while I tossed the laundry in the washer. When I returned to the bedroom, FGB was poring solemnly over the computer screen. “The lead singer of Ceann died in a car wreck earlier this week.”

Needless to say, my morbid sense of humor politely took its leave.

If you’re not familiar with Ceann and you like 1.) Irish music, 2.) drinking songs, 3.) hilarious and clever lyrics — well then, look a few of the songs up on YouTube. I recommend “Pretty on the Inside,” “Pittsburgh Makes Me Drunk,” and “Blame the Viking” for starters.

Some of you might remember, “Blame the Viking” was sort of our theme song for Necon 2009, the fateful weekend I met Dickie and Joe and Mary and Jack. In the past couple of years, we’ve changed the song’s title to “Blame Ron Dickie,” and altered the lyrics to reflect our favorite beloved Canadian drunkard. Joe will turn up the radio so the Fairy GodDaughters and I can belt it out on long trips and giggle mercilessly.

It is always a blow when such a brilliant, creative mind and enthusiastic heart leaves this world. It will be a while before hearing their songs on the iPod shuffle doesn’t make me mourn the loss of future songs we will never hear.

Thank you, Patrick Halloran, for the fun you gave us and the memories we made. I raise my glass of orange juice and make a toast to you: may whatever ends up on my tombstone be as clever as one of your songs.

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Genre Chick Interview: Geoffrey Girard

In celebration of National Talk Like a Pirate Day, Genre Chick Alethea Kontis risks life, limb, and certain death in Davy Jones’ Locker to bring you this interview with the bloodthirsty Captain Geoffrey Girard, author of this summer’s Tales of the Atlantic Pirates.

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It was with great trepidation that I boarded the ship of Captain Geoffrey Girard, the most notorious author on the High Seas. I had grown up hearing the colorful tales of Cap’n Geoff’s mischievous tricks and daring deeds. I knew my nerves would need to be steel in order to complete my mission-almost-impossible: interview the Cap’n and escape with my life, my undergarments, and all my teeth.

For those of you who haven’t heard of him (what do you mean you haven’t heard of him?), Geoffrey Girard is the author of Tales of the Atlantic Pirates–13 original stories for ages 10 to 90 based on the real-life pirates who once sailed America’s Atlantic coast. From ghostly crews and cursed islands to the capture of Blackbeard and modern-day treasure hunts, readers join these seafaring outlaws through more than 300 years of American history, folklore, and adventure. Legend has it he chased down the Beast himself to pen Tales of the Jersey Devil.

My knees shook in anticipation of meeting the man himself.

Especially since I heard he bears a striking resemblance to Johnny Depp.

Alethea Kontis: So what’s with the funny hat?
Cap’n Geoff:
Method writer. It’s been an interesting year.

AK: No beard?
CG:
Too itchy and troublesome for my complexion. I’m more about the two-day scruff. Roguish enough for those matters requiring roguishness.

AK: What made you want to write a book about pirates?
CG:
Johnny Depp in drag. Everyone suddenly remembered again what fascinating characters these guys were–as dependable as vampires or cowboys for a great story. My publisher and I were discussing a broader follow up to Tales of the Jersey Devil, and there was no doubt that pirates were IN to stay. I also wanted a topic that would require me to really hit the books. I really enjoy the research side of writing. America’s rich history of pirates provided that opportunity.

AK: When you’re in port, do you check out the local library?
CG:
Libraries have always been my most beloved treasure chest. Since grade school, I can literally spend hours just wandering those aisles, running my hands over the possibilities, always checking out more books than I could possibly read. More directly, Tales of the Atlantic Pirates has stories set from 1671 through 2006. Three-hundred-plus years, seven states, and 200 characters, many of whom are real people. The research involved countless books, maps, and even letters and newspapers from these various years and places. So, off to the library with me. In several cases, the research led to new story ideas I hadn’t planned on. For instance, I had no idea gangs of pirates hunted the docks of New York City during the 19th Century, or how important privateers were to the American Revolution. I added those yarns right away.

AK: What flag do you fly?
CG:
Me? Oh, one of the mates read in Glamour that “brown is the new black,” so we’re trying that out this year. We’ll see. In strict adherence to union rules, we’ve still got the ubiquitous skull front and center, framed by a book on one side so they know it’s me who’s attackin’ and an hourglass on the other. The hourglass image was once as popular as the skulls. Probably ’cause it helps pass the sea time as we spend hours arguing over whether it’s half full or half empty.

AK: What percentage of the booty do you give to your crew?
CG:
They get most all of it. I’ve always sailed out more for the chase than the actual booty. (winks) Savvy?

AK: (blushes) Why do you think our fascination with pirates has endured for hundreds of years?
CG:
If we can forget about the brutal murders, revolting hygiene, and court-decreed hangings for just a moment–which Hollywood and books typically do–what we’ve got left is a man who lives as he pleases, one who travels the world and seeks danger for fun, a man who enjoys a good drink and a good kiss, some laughs with his mates, and maybe a good fight or two thrown in for good measure. They’re everything most of us secretly, or not so secretly, want to be. And these guys were real! Of course, we’re fascinated.

AK: What’s your favorite brand of mop for swabbing the deck?
CG:
That new Swiffer’s a right proud beauty. Cleans up the blood and shrapnel with the best of ’em and also makes that wee little whirrr sound we all get such a kick out of. A bloody pain always havin’ to find new batteries, of course.

AK: Have you ever keelhauled a man?
CG:
Once, in college. Next question.

AK: What are your thoughts on women pirates?
CG:
As wavering as the wind, lass. Most women I’ve met shipboard were men in disguise and they hadn’t done nothin’ but change their names for that. ‘Course, most of the men I’ve come across ashore seemed they were men in disguise also. It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world.

AK: Do you have a “favorite” pirate?
CG:
Does Captain Hook count? I prefer the made-up rogues like Hook, Long John Silver, and Captain Blood who, through the veil of fiction, have only the “good” pirate qualities: cannon fire, wind in the face, and really cool accents. The real pirates always disappoint at some point. Blackbeard’s a proper scoundrel. I mean, his name alone use to make women faint. What’s not to like? He is, of course, featured in one of the stories.

AK: What got you interested in writing in the first place?
CG:
Reading, naturally. At a fairly young age, I was already into fantasy and horror stories by guys like Tolkien, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Stephen King. These books led me to a hundred other authors. I just wanted to do what they do: Tell stories. And sail the seven seas, naturally.

AK: What is the greatest satisfaction you receive from writing?
CG:
I’m a fanatical reader who loves fiction and books. My college degree was in literature, and I now teach the same at a high school. In writing, I’m contributing something back to that world of books. Tales of the Atlantic Pirates will end up in the hands of a reader somewhere, whether a kid checking out his or her first adventure book or an adult reading something fun. Hopefully these stories will entertain, inform and, ideally, inspire them to pick up their next book.

AK: Do you have any hobbies?
CG:
Reading, Sudoku puzzles, scraping the barnacles off of me rudder. And I’ve got enough fine mates and lasses about to distract me for a lifetime. So long as me life is violent…and short.

AK: Last question…will you say ‘Argg’ just once?
CG:
(with a twinkle in his eye) No.

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