Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Genre Round-Up 2014

I was asked by SF Signals to join another "Mind Meld" to answer the question: "What was your favorite movies, books, video games, television, podcasts and other media that came out in 2014?"

It will be a surprise to no one that anime and manga dominated my list: MIND MELD: Favorite Genre Works 2014

I've linked here to my MangaKast reviews of a lot of the manga that I've been reading. The ones that made the list that were new this year (by which I mean, of course, new in official English translation) were: Hitogatana (which actually isn't yet collected in English, but I liked it enough to want to include it), Gangsta, Deadman Wonderland, and What Did You Eat Yesterday?

Anime for this year included two brand-new ones: Barakamon and Gekken-Shojo, Nozaki-Kun.

Neither are particularly science fictional, but they're both DEEPLY charming in their own ways. Barakamon was my all-time favorite this year and it's about absolutely nothing at all. That's not fair, of course. There's a very strong story and even wacky hi jinx but the pace and feel of it is extremely peaceful, which is what I enjoyed about it. If you want to know more about the plot, check out the article. The short of it is that there's a calligraphy master who needs to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city (and mistakes he's made) to find his inner peace/inner art. Stuff happens, it's f*cking adorable an you should be watching it. (Who had this? Hulu+ maybe? I don't think Crunchyroll had it, but I might be wrong.)

The other new, new anime I featured in my round-up was Gekken-Shojo, Nozaki-kun (Girl's Monthly, Nozaki-kun) which is wonderfully silly and really, really hard not to love. Interestingly, this one is also about an artist, though this time our title hero, Nozaki, is a mangaka (writer/artist of manga) who happens to write and draw Girl's/shojo stories. The American analog would be discovering that a high school jock was secretly writing Harlequin Romances (of the super-thin serial kind). You can see the humor potential instantly, of course, but what I loved about this anime is that it could have ended up in the land of gender stereotypes, but instead worked hard to constantly flip expectations, types, etc. while also providing fairly real people that you could actually believe in and root for. (This one Crunchyroll has, for sure.)

The other anime I mentioned in the article were Yowapeda (or Yowamushi Pedal) and Free!, both of which were technically in their second seasons this year (both of which I watched on a pirate site, but I'm sure by now they're up on Crunchyroll). But the second season of Yowapeda/Yowamushi Pedal only finished up last week, I think, so it's very current. I love them both for very different reasons. Free! (second and final season: "Eternal Summer") was bittersweet. I'm not sure I've seen enough sports manga to know how typical it is to follow Third Year students through their final year of participation and spend much of the anime dealing with the whole idea of "Well, that was high school, so now what are you going to do??" That made the show... almost heartbreaking in places. And, of course, the other fun thing about Free! this year was that it was clear that the anime writers were very aware how GAY everyone thought this team was and there was a lot of teasing fan service to the point that I was constantly on Skype asking my friend, "Are they even pretending any more???" which was actually quite fun.

Yowapeda/Yowamushi Pedal's second season is called "Grande Road' or something similar and it's the second and third days of the Inter-High race. The entire season has been them racing, so that means there have been a lot of upsets, a lot of 'leave no man behind' moments, and general high tension. The first season has the distinction of actually making me cry. This season less so, though we've gotten to know a lot more of the characters from the other teams. It's still one of my favorites because Oonada is possibly the hugest dork in the history of dorks. This year my favorite scene involved Oonada following one of the rival team's captains basically because he thinks he's spotted a fellow otaku and even though this guy is a complete jerk to him Oonada just wants to talk anime.

Brother, I hear ya.

So, yeah, I mention a few other things in my review, but most of those I also discussed here (Guardians of the Galaxy movie and Ms. Marvel the Marvel comic book.)

What about you? Read, watch, listen to anything really good this year??

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Up Early, So I might As Well Write

've always been a lark. I function best before normal people aren't even out of bed. BUT, like most people, I have a natural biorhythm, one that usually does NOT involve getting up at 5:30 am. Thanks to Mason's new school start time of 7:10 am, we all have to propel ourselves out of bed every day, just about (for me) a half-hour earlier than my body likes.

Here it is the weekend, and I'm up before 8:00 am. The cats were concerned when no one started moving around 5:30 am. I mean, I could be mad at them, but how are they to know it's Saturday? They're thinking something's wrong. On top of being a lark, I've been a light sleeper since Mason was born. ANYTHING resembling a cry will bolt me awake. So when Inky was all, "Hey, hey, guys? Aren't you late for stuff?" meowing, I was AWAKE for better or worse.

The problem with Inky is that, while it DOES work to say to him once or twice, "Don't worry, it's Saturday" or "Gimme another 5," he's a persistent bugger who really, really thinks ROUTINES ARE BEST. So, to save the rest of my family some sleep (because of course he's the type to be like, "Oh, okay, that monkey wants to sleep in. I better alert the others!"), I dragged myself out of bed.

Now, of course, Inky is happy that things are as they should be and is perched on the back of the overstuffed chair SOUND ASLEEP.

The last few days I haven't been posting much here or anywhere else for a couple of reasons. First, Yuletide deadline is today, so I had to finish up my assignments. Secondly, Yuletide, the actual one, as in Solstice, is on Sunday. My pagan family celebrates both Solstice and Christmas, because: presents. But, so I had to do a lot of last minute running around collecting various bits of holiday cheer yesterday. On top of that, Inky's prozac prescription ran out and it turns out the type of pill we used to use is no longer available. Or rather it is, but the price of it suddenly went through the roof and our vet no longer keeps any on hand. So, we're switching him to a liquid version of the same thing that's apparently cheaper than the old pills. I'm finding this hard to believe and we're going to have to talk to the vet, because, previously, his pills, which we cut in half to last us two months was $8. This new liquid which will only last 30 days? $38! It stops him from peeing on things and, generally relaxes him (see above. He love routines. He gets VERY UPSET when they aren't followed.)

But so that was an extra trip yesterday, all the way down to Richfield, that I could have done without.

Meanwhile, I've been working on restructuring the serial story that Rachel and I have been working on into a novel. This has involved writing whole new chapters because, well: novel. I'm doing this first pass myself and then will give it over to Rachel next. We're hoping to have in shape for my MarsCON GoH gig, as I've said.

In the meantime, a new chapter came out: "The Tensile Strength of Wood" (the final battle scene).

Even if you've been reading along as these have come out, the book will have lots of new content for you. And, likewise, there are points of view and such that I've trimmed from the version of the book so far that will be only found on the web.

Right-o, I should probably get back to that.

The only other thing we have today is meeting my folks at the Radisson Blu (the hotel attached to the MOA.) We'd hoped to wander the Mall as part of their visit, but that'll be complicated by the protest that's scheduled there today. Black Lives Matter: Minneapolis Event: MOA Of course,it feels really weird to be headed to the Mall to shop when people are trying to make an important statement I happen to believe really strongly in. I feel a little like a scab, crossing a picket line. So I'm really, really hoping that we get our visit over and done with before these folks move in. I do NOT want to be part of the problem, as it were.

But that bridge when we come to it, I suppose.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Demon School Updates

I neglected to point you to last week's School for Wayward Demon's chapter: "Ferret 'Porting to the Rescue" and today's "Pop Goes the Weasel"

Also, I'm taking a brief hiatus from Unjust Cause for the holidays.  I'm working on getting the Demon School project into something resembling a book so that Rachel and I can have it on hand for my Guest of Honor appearance at MarsCON (March 6 - 8, 2015).

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Running with Wolves and Other News

It's Tuesday, so I've got some more Alex on tap for ya. In this installment, now that Valentine is gone, Alex is feeling like a total failure as an adult. As if on cue, Mac shows up to call her out to play with the wolves... "A Wolf at the Door."

Today it shaping up to be a writing day. Several weeks ago, on my way to Wyrdsmiths, the ice was slick and I slid very hard into the curb at a stop sign. Ever since then, to go straight, I've had to cock my steering wheel at a very sharp angle. Even though the car has been drivable, I decided I should take it in. My usual shop, Dave's in Roseville, has been super-busy with everyone getting ready to travel for the holidays, so I finally made an appointment for today. I dropped off the car at 7:30 am and walked across the street to Dunn Bros. Coffee. This is the coffee shop that's attached to the Roseville Library, so it's got good wifi and a lot of comfy spaces to sit. Once the library opens at 10 am, I'll probably relocate and hang out there for the day--or however long it takes them.

Rachel Gold and I have decided to try to get our School for Wayward Demons into shape as an e-book/book, hopefully in time to sell it at MarsCON this year, since I'll be guest of honoring there. Part of what I plan to do with the time I have to today is finish editing the stuff we have written in the first part and then start re-jiggering it to be less serial and more book-like.

Wish me luck. I suspect that's going to be a big project.

But, it'd be nice to have something out for MarsCON and something out as Tate Hallaway again.

Anyway, if any local folks feel like dropping by the Roseville Library for a chat, I'd totally be up for company.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Wayward Waywardness....

Wayward is just a fun word, isn't it?

Anyway, there's a new installment of the School for Wayward Demons up, called "Magical In-Take Exams." Go check it out.

As I think I MAY have mentioned here, I'm going to be one of the Guests of Honor at this next year (2015)'s MarsCON. They're currently soliciting ideas, and I've been wracking my brains trying to come up with things I want to talk about. It's weird, because this not usually an issue... me, having trouble rambling on about any old subject. But, I guess the problem I'm having is, what do I know that's not just super-detailed fannish squee about the latest chapter of Bleach or whatever. I mean, I could totally talk about how awesome all the things I'm watching and reading are, but... do people really want an entire hour about Barakamon? And is anyone else in the entire Twin Cities watching it?

So, you know, if you can think of anything I might be good at talking about, let me (or MarsCON) know.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Links Galore

I have some links for you. Why? Because it's Tuesday, the day I put out all the content. We have for your reading pleasure a new installment in the Wayward Demons story: "Tracking Trouble." In this story, we get a little bit closer to Erin.... Also, I have posted a new bit in UnJust Cause (which is a bit of a heart breaker): "The Stubbornness of Dragons."


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

More Waywardness!

In case you're following the School for Wayward Demons as it comes to press, we had another installment yesterday "The F.U. Cake":

Art by Alexis Cooke

Things are starting to get interesting at the School, so you don't want to miss any installments.

In other news, my Japanese class had a dinner out at Tanpopo last night. I had the Age-Dashi Tofu appetizer, and, because it was a blustery winter night, the Nabeyaki Udon, which is a kind of hot-pot stew that comes in a clay pot with (in this case) fish cakes, chicken, mushrooms, hrimp tempura, tamagoyaki (the rolled omelet thing I've only ever before written about!) and, as advertised, udon noodles. I had a weird kind of flush of pride when I realized that the instructor and I had ordered the same thing. Made me feel like I was making good choices, you know? I also had edamame mochi for desert, which was terrific, though not a lot of people liked it because it is green bean paste inside a kind of rubbery rice wrapping. I'm a big fan of any kind of bean paste, though, so I was very happy.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In case you missed it...

Rachel and I published our next episode last Thursday to the School of Wayward Demon's site: "Aftershocks Run Deep."

Check it out. We're pretty deep into the story now and a lot of the ensemble cast is really starting to show off their personalities and the world around them is deepening. It's that part of the story that starts to feel lived in.

I also did a really fun back-and-forth via email interview with Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith, the authors of a new YA dystopian novel called, Stranger that will eventually be published on Gay YA. I'll post a link here when that happens.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Lot of Links...

I'm doing a lot of things right now, and I've gotten behind on telling you where they are, so this is going to be a lot of linkage, as it were.

First, I managed a chapter on my WattPad WIP.  This chapter is called: "Mending Fences."  In it, our heroine finally has a little down time.

There's a new chapter from Tuesday up on the joint project I'm doing with Rachel Gold on our Enter the UnSeen page:  "Post-Apocalyptic Pizza." In a moment of synchronicity, this is also a kind of downtime moment for our ensemble cast, and, like in the Alex piece, it's a time for learning things about the characters, the world, etc.

Probably, by the time you check out the pizza story, there will be another chapter for you to read, since today is Thursday and we have them set to come out around 10 am.

If you're interested in seeing me read from my book Resurrection Code, the embedded link is below.  This is video from the November 9th reading at Acadia Cafe, which was part of the Local Authors' Showcase, here in Minneapolis/St. Paul.  As I say in the video, I had to follow a really hilarious short story about time-traveling sperm....

Monday, November 10, 2014

Requires Decency

I don't know if you've been keeping up with the latest in the science fiction/fantasy community, but there's a very big discussion going on right now about the author who has been outted as the "Requires Hate" blogger. For a full, insightful rundown on all the things regarding this, I point you to Laura J. Mixon's post on the subject: A Report on Damage Done by One Individual Under Several Names.

I've mostly stayed out of this one, as I do most of them, because I've been fortunate enough to never REALLY be a target of "Requires Hate" under any of her pseudonyms. Now, she did "review" Archangel Protocol in her usual style. I wrote about my reaction to finding it skewered there in my post: Nerves of Aluminum. It was painful to read, but, in my case, what she wrote was no more than what any writer who publishes professionally can expect (to some degree.) Which is to say, she kept her reactions within the context of her personal reaction to my writing. She was gleeful to discover I was out of print, which is a little more personal, but again, nothing I can't just shrug off (with my nerves of aluminum, by which I mean, easy to say now, but yeah, it stung at the time.)

I, however, was not harassed or internet stalked or... worse.

So, I can't really complain about a review, except to say that for my part, I believe in this model: "It Costs Nothing to Encourage An Artist."

This does NOT mean that I excuse her harassment of anyone. Anywhere. Ever. Full stop.

But, I write this after reading Jim C. Hines's post: "Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes." Some books should be taken to the mat and CONSTRUCTIVE criticism makes us all better readers, writers, and people. Similarly, there should be a place for snark and snide comments and humor with an edge. And, if you go back and read my post, I actually considered her complaints of my work with some seriousness, because, you know, that's part of the dialogue between reader and writer.

You can do this, however, with minimum douchbaggery.

That is all.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

"Live Tweeting" A Reading

I'm just back from the Minn-Spec Annual Local Author's Showcase reading, which I participated in. As I was heading out the door, Mason asked me if I'd live tweet my experience. So I took along the iPad, which would have been perfect, except I forgot my Twitter password and so attempted to fake it on FB. Here's how it went:

Who knew Acadia was the old Riverside Cafe? ‪#‎latetothereading‬
Got the stare of doom when I sat in an empty chair. Guess it was taken? ‪#‎nerdsocialskillz

Tyler Tork awesome short and an alien invasion involving tax evasion.‪#‎supercool‬
New story involves mandibles clicking. ‪#‎IloveSF‬
Plus "forearm barbs" #notsureitgetsbetterthanthis

Wait, it got better. "A post-apocalyptic steampunk story about a circus traveling through the remains of civilization."
Now not the least prepared... ‪#‎thankyouthankyouthankyou‬

Paranormal military SF... That involves German World War I werewolves.‪#‎fuckIloveSF‬
Next story is "Amish science fiction spy story." ‪#‎notsureIcancompare‬*

(*The author just posted a link to the story he read, so if you're interested:

At that point I quit, because Shawn informed me that Mason had wandered off to do more interesting things. There were several more amazing stories including one about 'time traveling sperm' which was ridiculously funny and probably the very worst thing a writer could ever hope to have to follow. So, of course, I went on next, after the time-traveling sperm.

I have to admit I'm not overly fond of readings. I do them because I feel like I ought to and this seemed like a really good way to get out there and such, since it was a shared venue with SO MANY talented people. We were given about 7 minutes a piece, so that made things even sweeter, because how can you screw up 7 minutes? Well, I may have since I probably only read for about half a minute.

Well, see, I have an excuse. I ended up being slated last, and, frankly, it seemed like a fine choice to get up there say a few words and get the heck off the stage so people could go home/mingle/etc. I hung around for a little while afterwards chatting with Micheal Mirrim and a few of the other authors. They're a good group. I'm proud to be a long-standing member of Minn-Spec.

Even though I feel like the least professional among them these days. Sure, I've books out, but these folks are all very serious, hardworking writers.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Podcast Madness

Mason and I have done our podcast thing again "Villain's Soliloquy: #32" in which we discuss the current happenings in Bleach, Toriko, and Fairy Tail. We also talk a little about the current line-up in Weekly Shounen Jump because a lot of people out in Tumblr land are wondering what might replace Naruto now that it's ended. I did actual research about this, so you know...

It might sound a bit choppy this time because I ended up editing out a lot of us shuffling around trying to find things. So, if you're wondering about that, that's what it's about. Because all THREE of you are probably deeply concerned.


Beyond that, here is another reminder to local folks that if you want to come hear me read, I'll be doing a rapid-fire type reading thing at Acadia Cafe on Sunday (Nov. 9) from noon to 3 pm. I'm still not sure what I'll read, but it'll be something I'm working on.

My folks are coming up for a visit today, so I dragged some things up to the attic. For a brief moment, I lost Ms. Ball (our black-and-white) cat up there for a while (I think she was investigating the various squirrel nests.) But, she came back down eventually. She's very social and is our number one lap cat, so it was cold and unfriendly up there. Now her face whiskers are covered in dust.

I should do the dishes and other fussing about so that I'm ready.  Although it looks like I forgot to let you know that a new School for Wayward Demons is up, too:  Devil in the Details.  It's a short one, but we make up for it with AMAZING art by Alexis Cooke.  So you absolutely must check that out.

See you later!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Fiction... Come and Get your Piping Hot Fiction!

So, I've got some fiction for 'ya! Come get your pipping hot fiction!

First up is the continuing saga of UnJust Cause. This episode is called, "Why Did the Centaur Cross the Road?" The answer is: he didn't. He started to, but got hit by a car before he made it. Now, Jack and Alex (who, if you recall, were taken off the jumper/drop-victim case) are sent to investigate what happened.

After reading that, you can make your way over to the School for Wayward Demons and read: Theo Uncovers Secrets! with an illustration by Mandie!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Treasure Trove

Just for fun today, I decided to look through that folder that I think every writer must have on their computer, the folder of stuff that never got more than a couple of pages.  In my case, it's called "Novel Starts" but it could just as well be called "Sh*t I Never Finished" or "Ideas that Died on the Vine."

I have a similar file for short story ideas that I never finished, too.

But, by chance, I came across a keeper today.  Possibly two.  They both involve thieves, strangely enough.  The first one I called "Coyote Moon" and here's a teaser from its owning....

According to the thermometer on the outside of Allie Red Hawk's pressure suit the moon's surface clocked in at xx°. Except for the temperature, the flat, white expanse reminded her North Dakota in the winter. The horizon came up too soon, but there was the same familiar, bone-crushing sense that the sky could swallow you whole.

 Obviously, I still ended to do some research because I wasn't sure what the surface temperature of the Moon was.  What's cool about this bit, is that it actually goes on for at least twenty-five pages, which is a sample chapter.  So, if I decided to return to this one, there's a lot of material to work with.

The other one starts like this (and is from a novel start I called "To Catch a Gene Thief"):

The first thing I noticed about the man laying face-down on the floor was that he was missing three fingers. Both pinkies were gone, and part of a ring finger. The scars looked like ritual yubitsume, which screamed yakuza, as did the brightly detailed tattoo curling around his wrists. Then it dawned on me that he was dead. As if finding yakuza here wasn't bad enough, he had to be dead?
This one has almost sixty-one pages, so, dang, that makes me happy.  I have things to play with if I want to work something up for a novel sample!

Tell me, which one is your favorite?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Let's see, I guess I have a lot to report. First, link salad: Mason and I did a Halloween podcast in which we did our usual reviews but also sang too much and put on bad "vampire" accents: 31st on the 31st. Then, if you forgot to check out the Thursday installment of the School for Wayward Demons, it's up on the Enter The Unseen web site: "A New Home for How Long?"

Mason and I did our usual pumpkin carving/pumpkin seed roasting last night. This year, for the first time, Mason did all the carving and scooping of his own pumpkins. I'm going to get pictures of all of the pumpkins we did tonight when the candles are in them, but here are some "action" shots from last night:

The pumpkin above is going to have a bunch of knives sticking in its head when we're finished with it, which is why he looks a bit like he's wincing.

Here's a shot of us in progress:

There will be more pictures, particularly once Mason is in full costume tonight. He's decided to take up the long standing Morehouse tradition of preferring to stay home and hand out the candy. As part of this, Mason has made a featureless black mask and plans to dress all in flowing shadowy robes in order to 'haunt' anyone who shows up to the door for Trick-or-Treat. So you could say he's going as the Trick in Trick-or-Treat.

My only hope is that he doesn't make too many little kids cry. But, you know, he's a good kid. I know that's not his intention. In fact, it would break his heart if he made some little Elisa cry. I'm pretty sure who he has in his sights are the neighbor boys and those late straggling teenagers.

We've also been invited to a neighbor's costume party so I might struggle on my Renji cosplay and head over to try out their appetizers and such. As a bonus, I can bring along about six zillion roasted pumpkin seeds, because OMG we had so many this year. They were big and juicy too, so they're delicious!

I have a few other announcement to pass on. First and Foremost, I was invited to be the Guest of Honor at MarsCON again for 2015. MarsCON is going to be held March 6 -8, 2015: MarsCON 2015: Heroes and Wizards & Fae--OHhh MYyy.

Secondly, I'll be reading at this year's Minnesota Speculative Writers' Showcase. It's Sunday, November 9th from noon to 3 PM at Acadia Cafe. The Local Author Showcase has a Facebook Page with more information than you'll ever need! But, if for some reason, you can't see that, the salient bit of information is that Acadia Cafe is located at 329 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis. The event is FREE and open to the public. I was told I'd have only a very short period to read, so I think the idea is kind of like the Broad Universe Rapid Fire readings. You'll get a tiny sample of everyone's work. It should be fun. Hope to see some of you there.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New School

Too cool for the School of Wayward Demons?

Aw, c'mon, give it a try.  I know you'll like it!  Rachel and I have just posted another chapter:

And check out this amazing teaser art by Alexis Cooke!


Because I forgot to come back and post our podcast link, "30: Still No Aizen" and my link to the Gangsta manga review: Gangsta by Kosuke, A Review, you are now inundated with the linky-links.

Also, today is a new Tate chapter. I'm rather proud of the opening line this time. It goes like this: "After being told I was off the case, I did what any well-adjusted grown-up would do: I sat at my desk and sulked." You can find this gem (and others) in Part 27: With a Little Help from Friends.

Later today, there will also be a new School for Wayward Demons chapter for you, but I think that Rachel has those set to go up around 1 pm. If you go there, be sure to check out all the little improvements we've been making around the site. We have a lovely new Table of Contents page, which you can go to to check out any chapters you may have missed (or want to re-read!) We also have link to our Patreon page, so you know, if you feel like supporting our work, you should go for it.

I support you supporting us.

In other news, I'm starting to get excited about Yuletide. I checked out the Sign-Up Summary and I found out that someone actually requested that funky little food manga I adored called, "Kinou Nani Tabeta?/What Did You Eat Yesterday?" and I'm super-duper hoping that I get assigned to write that one. But, seriously, OMG, if I don't get this one, I'm SO writing someone a treat in that universe. Because: food! Because: gay men! Because: ridiculously boring slice-of-life. IT IS ALL THE THINGS I LOVE.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Road to Hell is Paved with "Wait, What...?"

Last night, Mason and I recorded another podcast. I started working on editing it and I thought I was going along just fine and then I did a REALLY STUPID THING, didn't save, quit the program, and LOST EVERYTHING.

Yes, yes, I searched all the temporary and back-up files. It's gone. I did a really dumb thing. I do not what to talk about it, especially since it's one of those things that even as I did it I thought, "Wait, No!"

However, it's easy enough to re-record. Mason and I always have such fun doing these that I plan to up-sell the idea of my royal [bleep]-up as and "opportunity" to make an even more cogent and funny show. Even though we can't get to re-recording until later this evening, we won't be that much later than we would have been if we published this morning. Normally, when I'm not being a moron, it only takes me a half-hour to edit, anyway.

Also, yesterday was a crazy day. I had work yesterday at the library.  That's not a hard job, but there have been some small stresses (though I can report those went well.)  HOWEVER, yesterday was just this big, huge ball of "WTF, EVEN??" (because, honestly? It started with Mason forgetting his backpack and us having to turn around and fetch it, making him tardy), I forgot to mention that a new chapter in the story I'm co-writing with Rachel Gold came out: Kitty Regrets, Erin Takes...

This one is actually a two-in-one in which we get short vignettes from Kitty (the demon hunter with mommy issues) and Erin ("the broken one"). Go check it out, see what you think.

The big writing project I'm going to try to tackle this weekend is to gather all my Unjust Cause bits into one big file and try to start restructuring and see what the hell I'm even doing with that novel. It's gone a bit off the rails, like my projects do, so I need to spend some quality time with it and get things back on track. I did have a lovely image come into my mind for the next scene I want to write, though, so I may just go ahead and write that today as well.

But the keyword today? SAVE. SAVE. SAVE.

Because... *sighes*

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A New Chapter, A New Character....

I write so many things these days I'm sure it's hard to follow along, but, if you ARE following the School for Wayward Demons (looking at you, Frank G.) there is a new chapter up: Gabe Sees Demons... And They See Him. Today's story is the introduction of one of "my" characters, Gabe Herrara. The story also features art by Alexis Cooke:

If you didn't know, we actually have TWO artists working on the School for Wayward Demons. So far, you've mostly seen the work of Mandie Brasington, but today, we not only get Gabe's debut, but Alexis' too. This is just a small bit of a large piece I'm sure we'll see later on.

So, go check it out.

Also, if you were expecting a new UnJust Cause chapter today, I'm sorry.  Life jumped up and swallowed me whole.  I had work today, Japanese class this evening, and things just plied on from there, I guess.

Tomorrow, perhaps!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Podcast and Fan Fic Pet Peeves

First, because I know you've all been waiting.... the new podcast is up: Ni-ju kyu, Oetsu. The title is my attempt at combining the number of our podcast 29 (ni-ju kyū, in Japanese) with the character Oetsu who CONSTANTLY does this kind of number rhyming thing with his name in the current chapter of Bleach. We also review Fairy Tail, Toriko, and Ao no Exorcist (even though I wrote that one up as well.)

I have to say, for us, this podcast is pretty darned articulate, and since we forget to sing the spoiler song, there's 50% less annoying singing!

All wins, in my opinion.

I also wanted to report on my fan fic class at the Loft, which was part of the Youth/Teen Writers' Conference. The nicest thing about the conference is that it's free, which means that attendance is huge. There were probably about 25 teens in my class, which means there was a TON of energy. It helped that I started class with a "what's your fandom?" question that elicited some squee when people heard their own favorites mentioned. I also said before we started that this was a no shaming class, so you know, if you wanted to confess to still reading some One Direction bandom fic, no one was allowed to laugh TOO loudly at you.

The thing that I decided to do since everyone seemed keyed up to share was to ask them what THEIR list of fan fic pet peeves were. I got some interesting results.

NUMBER #1: grammar/spelling errors.

So, for all you grown-ups who think that the next generation doesn't give a toss about language because they're texting all the time, you would be so very, VERY wrong.

NUMBER #2 (and actually some other ones later could fall under this one): Tagging, Get it Right

The complaints for this one including being surprised by a fic that started out moderately dark that then took an unexpected left-turn, "Mature" rating that wasn't hot enough, and similar things.

We did discuss how hard "tagging the dark" can be when you're posting as you write... since you might not notice how dark something is getting. But, a lot of the answers boiled down to: get a beta reader and listen to them. I learned that there's apparently a beta reader/writer connection place on Tumblr called "Writer's Halfway House", which among its many tips, will connect writers to beta readers.

NUMBER #3: Self-insertion/Mary Sue.

No surprise there. Mary Sue has been disliked since the very first fic of its kind was penned. HOWEVER, I did point out that there's nothing wrong with Mary Sue especially when you're young and first trying things out. My very first piece of fan fiction (which happened to be my very first piece of fiction, period) involved Han Solo rescuing me from my dreary life. Nothing wrong with that... IF YOU TAG IT.

Which, by the way, was pretty much a solution to a lot of problems: tag, tag, TAG.

NUMBER #4: Weak endings/Didn't stick the landing.

Far more problematic, especially given the way a lot of fic gets written--which is to say, on the fly. We talked about general strategies, especially the idea of outlining or starting with an actual point. (Not required, of course, particularly for drabbles and such, but if you want to have a strong ending, you need a strong start. A strong start is far more certain when you have a THING you want to say, a point, a theme, a thesis, if you will.)

NUMBER #5: OOC for no reason

If you're a fan and you're writing to other fans about beloved characters, for goodness sake try to keep the characters IN CHARACTER. This lead to a side discussion about the point of AUs. Some people suggested that Alternate Universes were good for focusing on character, because you're taking them away from the world and it's about the core of what makes them who they are. I suggested that this can also be the pitfall of Alternate Universes, which I tend not to like, because more often than not they feel, to me, like original fiction with the names stuck in just to trick people into reading it--but that may be harsh. I have been burned. But, I've also been pleasantly surprised. One of my favorite fics is an AU involving Renji and Byakuya were it all starts as a sleazy hook-up in a bookstore's back closet and they're entirely human, living in the modern world.

NUMBER #6: Spearbearers made of cardboard/OC (original characters) who are flat

I felt particularly capable to talk about how to do original characters right because more than once I've gotten complimented on my original characters in my fan fic. (I suppose this skill comes from inventing characters for, well, novels, but still.) The answer, in it's simplest form is: treat all your characters as human beings. No human being has only one characteristic. We are all interesting, even the vile ones have something about them that is redeeming and charming, etc.

NUMBER #7: Evasion of plot

I was very surprised and pleased to hear this one come up. What is meant by "evasion of plot" is two things, 1) a tendency of fan fic writers not to go for the gold. They'll get to what should be a very painful moment and they back away out of a desire not to hurt their babies. But, what ends up happening is that the reader feels cheated of a bigger moment, a bigger payoff. And, 2) the similar, if different, problem of the author being coy with information that really just needs to be said. It's the whole 'why didn't they just say that earlier' problem. Or it's something that the reader should have been told, but is instead held back in the wrong-headed assumption that this makes the story more dramatic. The solution to that was: yeah, don't do that.

NUMBER #8: Fucking up the fucking

Yeah, we went there. There were a number of very interesting complaints about sex in fan fic. Firstly, the teens in my class do NOT want you to use inappropriate lubes. Please, people, do your research. A quote from class: "Peanut butter? JUST NO. So much NO." Similarly, do not break the laws of physical possibilities, which we labeled "parts doing the NO." I recommended the classic fan fic resource: Minotaur's Sex Tips for Slash Writers.

My students also really craved sex scenes that skipped all the purple prose of "his alabaster skin" (guilty as charged!) but to the excision of actual feelings. We discussed, actually, the similarity between writing a good fight scene and writing a good sex scene. I told them that in a fight, what you want to concentrate on is a singular point of view and remember that a fight isn't just about the dimensions of the instrument, what part goes where, and for how long (like sex) and that it's actually a highly emotionally charged event (like sex.) So parts are important (like sex), but ultimately it's about feelings (like sex.) So make sure your fight scenes aren't gratuitous either. Make sure there's a reason for the fight and for the sex.

Similarly, we discussed romance and how they want it to be so much more than love at first sight (which this generation firmly believes is crap.) They also absolutely hated when a write had a gay man who spent any time wondering "when they turned into a girl." They found this offensive on so many levels it wasn't funny.

Foreplay was discussed as both something that could go on too long and that there sometimes wasn't nearly enough of. So we ended up spending a lot of time discussing ways in which we could work to make the romance and sex feel REAL. I said that, even though part of the appeal of fan fic is its fantasy element, there is some value in considering real life situations while writing about sex. It can make sex cute, funny and resonate more deeply when you take some time to try to add the people parts of sex that make it awesome--an example I used is consider breaking up the hot and heavy action with the classic... and now the cat has wandered in and is sitting on someone's butt or staring at you from the dresser. This makes the moment (potentially if you can pull it off) funny and real feeling.

NUMBER #9: The art of the Summary

We didn't get to this one because sex and romance ate up the majority of our class period, but people want better summaries from you, oh fan fic writers everywhere. Please take some time to figure out how to best summarize your fic. (This may be something that Rachel and I can spend some class time teaching because I believe it's an art that can translate to original fiction skills, as it's the same one that you use when you write synopses for agents and editors.)

Those were the major ones. We got kind of specific, like "wanton" versus "wonton" but obviously that falls under grammar and spelling. Likewise, there were a lot of specific questions about sex, which I fielded like a pro, that ended up as part of the list which I combined into a giant #8 above.

Yeah... we had to shut the door. No only were we screaming about lube, there was just a lot of general excitement to get to talk to someone about this sort of thing--not just the sex parts but the whole "oh and this drives me insane" thing.

So I would say the class went well. It'll be interesting to see what the various evaluations say.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Demon Stuff

Mason and I will have a podcast once I'm back from teaching at the Loft's Youth Writing Conference today, but while you wait impatiently for that, you can read the newest chapter in the School for Wayward Demons that Rachel Gold/Calish and I are writing:

In the aftermath of Theo's capture, we learn some interesting things about this strange new world she's stumbled into...

That's all for now, unfortunately.  I need to prep still, but I'll have more to write about once I'm done with class.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Link Salad Days!

I am so amazing and busy, you can hardly keep up with me, can you?

Today is Tuesday which is my super-duper productivity day. I've posted a new installment over on Wattpad : In this chapter, Alex thinks she's got everything figured out. So, of COURSE, the universe throws her a curveball... in the form of one Spenser Jones.

Also, Rachel Calish/Gold and I have updated our School for Wayward Demons, which you can read here : In this chapter, the demons finally catch up to our cheeky thief, Theo. Will she manage yet another daring escape? Tune in to find out!

I reviewed a couple of things up on MangaKast, too, in case you were curious about how I felt about the latest Ao no Exorcist chapter (61) or its spin-off Salaryman Futumashi Okumura Yukio no Aishuu, which, in my opinion, has the best tag line in the history of strange manga tag lines, ever: "This is my seriousness!"

Okay, wow. Impressed yet?

If not, you should know that I also taught the Loft's Open Pages class on Fan Fic last night at the Savage Public Library last night. Savage! Savage, Minnesota, which is somewhere down there with the other suburbs like Apple Valley and Burnsville. I did find it last night. Drove right to it, thanks to Google Maps, in fact. The crowd was tough, though not 'savage.' I had two students, which was twice as many as I expected. In fact, in case of disaster, I'd brought along my Japanese to study. One of the librarians decided to stay and.... I guess add warm bodies, but I find that the addition of an adult can make things awkward sometimes. Though, tbf, I was plenty awkward on my own. I had a HELL of a time speaking. Like, words... I stumbled, very uncharacteristically, through my own introduction, but I managed a fairly decent recovery (I think.)

Because there was an adult (beyond me) present, the two kids took some warming-up.

Teenagers, you know.

Plus, the whole point of Open Pages is that the class is supposed to self-direct, so I intentionally come under-prepared, with the idea that if the consensus is "We want to talk about how hard plotting is!" then we do that. But, mouths stayed firmly shut in the presence of another grown-up, so I had to run though that list y'all gave me of 'fan fic pet peeves." Luckily, my teaching style (chaotic good) lends itself to interruption and discussion, so going through that list seemed to spark thoughts, etc., and by the end there was a lot of chatter among the three of us. Also, one of the students boldly asked for time to write, so we spent the last half hour doing just that.

I never know with these things, but it felt, to me, ultimately, successful.

Probably that means I bombed.

I'm constantly surprised by why teens take a class on fan fic... and the levels that they come in at. Like last night, I had one student who didn't entirely seem clear on the concept. When it came time to write, she needed much more than a prompt. She seemed confused as to the point of fan fic, event though we'd been talking about it for about an hour. I explained that some people use fan fic to fill in the corners of a story--the bits you don't get to see, but might like to. So, for instance, if she wanted she could try writing about two of her favorite characters doing something mundane, such as grocery shopping or shopping for shoes. She seemed to thinks this was silly, since most of the time the heroes were in a life-or-death situations. When would they have time to shoe shop? I said, see, that's kind of the point. To take them out of the the plot and see what they're like in their ordinary life. But, then again, I said, not everyone likes curtain fic. So, maybe instead, I suggested, you could do a fix-itabout something that bothered you in the story that you wanted to change or write something that happened after canon had finished... like the story of what Harry Potter is doing with his life after school.

Finally, she seemed to settle on something, but it was kind of baffling to me, especially in comparison to my other student who not only instantly started writing, but also said that they had a FanFictionnet that they'd been active on until they forgot their password.

So... two VERY DIFFERENT students.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

We're Late.. And Early

Because you've all been waiting with baited breath... MangaKast 28 has been posted:

It's called "We're Late" because Bleach and many of the others came out yesterday afternoon. However, because we waited (I had to work last night) the fan translations of Shingeki no Kyojin (SnK/Attack on Titan) came out so I reviewed those as well. In this podcast, Mason and I discuss Bleach, Toriko, Fairy Tail, and Shingeki no Kyojin. There is silliness with interjections of the occasional thinly-thought (what if Grimmjow is actually under the hood of “C” compulsion, has Eren been eaten before, etc.)

So, you know, if it's your thing... it's there for you.

The Hunt is ON...

The newest chapter/installment is up on the School for Wayward Demons (and Misfit Witches) which I'm co-writing with Rachel Gold/Calish is up on our website:

In this episode, we get a sense of the wheels that Theo's little b&e started turning... and now the question is, who will get to her first?  The good guys, or the ones I'm fairly certain want to kill her!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

So Much Writing to Read!

It's Tuesday, so there is a new Tate installment: Bringing Balance and Force in which we learn the TRUE mission of the demon Internal Affairs agents. Dun-dun-DAAAAHHHHH.

There is also new story up on my co-writing project with Rachel Gold/Calish called "Demons, Demons Everywhere" and is the introduction to the character of Erin.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Thursday Chapter! More, More, MORE.....

You know, if the universe rewarded people who wrote a LOT of fictional content, I'm fairly sure I'd be eligible for SOMETHING. :-)

Today, on offer, is the second chapter of the project that I'm doing with my fellow writer Rachel Gold/Calish and the artists Mandie Brasington and Alexis Cooke, the School for Wayward Demons and Misfit Witches. This chapter is called "Lily Has No Choice: and introduces demon-hunter, tracker extraordinary (retired) Lily, who is a character from Rachel Calish's book The Demon Abraxas. (There might be other cameos too....) :-)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I have a lot to announce today. As usual, I have updated my work-in-progress on Wattpad. In this installment, the werewolves are getting restless and the demons discuss fate vs. freewill.

A number of people have been curious about how Wattpad has been working for me. I have to say that it's gotten better. At first, I have to admit to being disappointed by the number of people reading. I'd had higher hopes that Tate's name would draw a bigger initial crowd. But, now that I'm fairly established (this is my 24th installment, which means there's AT LEAST 24,000 words up--I believe there's probably closer to 30,000 or 35,000 because my first few installments ran longer that a thousand words,) I'm pleased with the number of hits I'm getting. People seem to be slowly continuing to find me, too. I've been keeping up better on FB and Twitter and Tate's blog, so I think that's helped when people go looking.

At any rate, I still think that it's not a perfect model. I wish you didn't have to log-in to leave comments or kudos, and I wish more people were willing to critique me, like my colleagues do on AO3 with my fan work. That being said, Wattpad works really well for me and my needs, however. As I've said, what I need most of all is a reason to keep putting words on the page, and Wattpad is making me do it weekly. And I'm getting just enough feedback to make the whole thing seem worthwhile.

So, that's Wattpad...

My other big announcement today is that my friend Rachel and I are launching a website/serial novel WITH ILLUSTRATIONS by artists Mandie Brasington and Alexis Cooke. The main site is here: and you can read the first installment here:

So... this is another grand experiment. If you go to the website, you can see that you can follow us on Facebook and Tumblr. We've also put up a tip jar.... something I've never tried before. We're also going to be going on a fairly aggressive publishing schedule: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays--though Saturday may be bonus content like more art or a podcast of the previous chapters.

The story is going to follow four characters, an ensemble cast. Rachel and I wrote a lot of the chapters together, but ostensibly we've divided the characters between us. She had Theo, a thief and a shapeshifter, pictured above with some of the forms she can transform into. She's also got Kitty, a half-demon with mommy issues. I'm writing Gabe, a lost soul who can see things other people can't...

And Erin, a very special demon-spawn who has had an insanely awful life....

Anyway, it's been a very interesting process to work not only with a collaborative writer, but also with artists.

Generally, though, the site is new and probably has some bugs yet. So, if you go there and you see a problem or just have general comments or complaints, PLEASE LET ME KNOW. I'd like to make this experience as pleasant and intuitive as possible.

Okay, that's the general news! Have a great Tuesday!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Learning fic from a MASTER :-)

Starting in January, I'm teaching (with my friend Rachel Gold) writing fan fic to ADULTS:

So, if you're local, come get your geek on!  We'll help you write that epic fic you've always dreamed of writing and/or improve your writing in general.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


First, I have to apologize for not getting a UnJust Cause segment together this week.  My only excuse is that I worked nearly a 40 hour week, and I had two evening gigs: my Hobbit panel on Monday and the first of many Japanese language classes from Community Ed. on Tuesday.... so it's kind of been an insane week around the Tate Hallaway household.

However, Mason and I did podcast.  Here it is:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday Evening Podcast

Mason and I posted #25, in which we discuss Bleach, Toriko, One Piece, and a number of other monthlies I got sucked into.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Front Row Seat to the Writing Process

And... it's a bit messy.

This is my way of saying that I've had some epiphanies about my work-in-progress, but since I'm writing this 'out loud' I'm having to wrestle the plot back under control in a very public way. Still, I think this whole thing is kind of valuable. I mean, how often do you, as a reader, get a chance to watch a writer figuring a novel out as she goes along?

I feel like this is clunky, but it will be interesting to see what my regular readers make of it. Because, maybe, it's not as obvious as I feel it is. It's hard to say. Go see what you think, if you'd like.

I will admit that I nearly named this chapter, "Part 23: In which things come to a head and a decision is made..." a very A. A. Milnes kind of chapter title, but I decided instead to call it "Part 23: Word Up."

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Manga Chapters Are Mocking Me!

Seriously, so yesterday I get the alert that Blue Exorcist is out the day AFTER Mason and I podcasted, and then, last night, another one came in--Shingeki no Kyojin #61 (aka Attack on Titan.)

To that end, I've written up YET ANOTHER review for the Mangakast page:

In a nutshell, I'm just not sure about this "The End" to the political goings-on in Shingeki no Kyojin. As I say in my review, it seems a bit... simple, which doesn't bode well for the manga's conclusion in general. But, I shall wait and see.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My Unsolicited Opinion of Things

Yeah, you so didn't ask.  But, I'm going to tell you anyway.  The new Ms. Marvel title is fairly frickin' awesome.  I have a couple of caveats (one, actually,) but I give it my full endorsement.  I wrote a whole extensive post about it over on my alter ego's Dreamwidth page:

Also? Mason and I managed to miss the publication of the latest chapter of Ao no Exorcist/Blue Exorcist by ONE DAY, so I wrote up a review of it over on MangaKast:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Ever-Moving MangaKast

The schedule for the publication of our manga keeps getting shifting, but we're trying to stay on top of it!  To that end, Mason and I have published our 24th podcast: 24: Otaku in the Basement.  In it we discuss the recent chapters of Bleach, One Piece, Toriko, and a new manga I started reading Hitogatana.  If you're the sort, check it out!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Tate's Tuesday!

Having completely missed last week thanks to internet fail and school starting with a bang, I am back today with a new weekly installment of her work-in-progress, serialized sequel to Precinct 13 on Wattpad. Check it out! In this one, Valentine FINALLY shares some secrets...

I don't know what else I have to report. I spent part of the weekend reviewing the e-book mark-up of my AngeLINK short story, "The Case of the Missing Devil Child," which Wizard's Tower Press is offering as part of the full AngeLINK e-book bundle that people purchased as a premium for (there are still a few left, btw.) Similarly, I need to go over the proofs for the e-version of Resurrection Code, so we can get that out the door.

I'm also working hard on revising the "seekrit" project I alluded to in the previous post. So, soon there will be EVEN MORE places to read my stuff.

Our cat Inky gets to go to the vet today. He's been having litter box trouble again. This isn't a new problem, but we had it under control, or at least in a more tolerable way. Something seems to have happened--either he panicked after all our various vacations or he's got some new irritation in his bladder. We thought the vet ought to have a look, at any rate. Fingers crossed that it's something fixable. Shawn is kind of at wit's end with all the extra laundry he's caused.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Scheduling and Apologies for Lack of Post

If you were looking for a new chapter of UnJust Cause, my sincerest apologies.  Our internet crashed and burned and we only really got it up and running a day or so ago.  I will be back to my usual schedule next week.  

This was also the start of school for my son and we have a crazy new start time that we're ALL still getting used to.

We actually got the podcast recorded and posted early this morning, but I had to run off to work at the Maplewood Library, so I forgot to do all the social media-ing to let people know it was out and up. If you want to listen to it, you can find ihere:

Figuring out the new manga publishing schedule as well as Mason's o'heck o'clock school start time is kind of doing a number on us. We may end up shifting our 'broadcasting' schedule again... to be timely, we may have to post on Thursday nights. That might work out all around, since I'll be more caffeinated and we won't have to have Shawn breathing down our necks that it's time to get going. (Though that added a certain otaku flavor that I really liked.)

At the library today my manga find was volumes 1 &2 of : (known in Japanese as Kingyoya Koshoten). I've been trying to find an on-line source for it with no luck. It's a combination of two genres I like in manga--slice-of-life and manga about manga. The "main character" (there's kind of couple at the center) is the woman pictured on the cover below, who has taken over general management of her grandfather's legendary used manga store. Stuff happens around them, manga changes people's lives, and a lot of manga are discussed and quoted.

I haven't decided how I feel about it, but it's a lot of fun.

Friday, August 29, 2014

MangaKast has Moved...

As I'm sure many of you have heard, Weekly Shounen Jump has changed its publication date. The translations were scheduled to come out Friday, but we managed (like many people who were crashing the various translation sites) to read them on Thursday afternoon. We decided to stick with a Friday AM publication, anyway, because, honestly, I suspect it will settle into that soon enough. Anyway, you can get the link to our podcast here:

In this podcast, I actually spend some time trying to figure out why this last chapter left me feeling unsettled. Ultimately, I think I decided it was the questions that a certain scene opened... but go listen. I'm actually fairly articulate for once, which is fairly amazing considering how little coffee I had before we started this.

At Wyrdsmiths last night I was overwhelmed by a desire to doodle and drew this on my paper cup:

I call her "meep" and she seems to be at least partly inspired by Digger (by Ursula Vernon), which Mason has been re-reading. She also has a very long, dinosaur like tail on the other side of the cup and has probably been recycled by now.... but she made me think that I should try to draw a graphic novel type thing with these kinds of fantasy characters. Because, you know, if I don't get the bodies just right, WHO WOULD EVEN KNOW?? :-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesdays with Tate

Today is Tuesday, which means you can read the newest installment of my work-in-progress, UnJust Cause, a serialization of the sequel to Precinct 13. In this episode, Alex hangs out with the werewolf biker gang while on run from the demon agents...

Monday, August 25, 2014

When Rivendell Calls, I Answer

The Rivendell Discussion Group of the Mythopoeic Society has invited me to join their discussion of "The Hobbit: That Wasn't in the Book" at Common Good Books in St. Paul on Monday, September 22 at 7 PM. (September 22, of course, being the date recognized as Bilbo and Frodo's birthday by most Hobbit/LotRs fans.)

Apparently, Gandalf David was having some trouble finding a burglar panelist for this gig. I'm not quite sure about this funny mark he's left of my door, but I'm sure it will all be fine. I'm not really the adventurous type, you know. Do hope there might be a bit of singing, though (and some sexy dwarves.)

Fingers crossed. See you there, perhaps.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fingers to the Keyboard, Nose to the Grindstone

I'm having one of those writing days where I feel like every word I write is stupid and nothing comes easily. It's only annoying because I haven't had much time to write this weekend, since I worked both Saturday and Sunday.

When I have days like this, I always remember back to the interview I did with Neil Gaiman for Science Fiction Chronicle back in god-knows-how-long-ago. He talked about that classic idea that really, showing up is the biggest part of writing, but his contribution to that old saw was that it's worth the effort. At the end of a novel or story or whatever, for the most part you can't really tell the difference in the writing between the days when every word was like squeezing blood from a turnip and the ones where you felt like the Muse dribbled gold out each finger. So, you know, the difference between someone who writes and someone who doesn't, is that the writer just keeps banging away, even when it's hard. (That's the gist of it, except, of course, he said it cleverer.)

Also, I take comfort that someone like Neil Gaiman has had shit-for-writing days, too.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Why So Dark, YA?

Today at the library I got cornered by one of those people who you just know is winding up for a rant about something.

After asking me if I worked there, she launched into a Thing about how dark young adult novels were getting and how we shouldn't be surprised when our children axe-murder us in our sleep after reading things like that. Tisk, tisk and all that.

I mostly nodded politely because I don't believe for a minute that teenagers are any more likely to axe-murder me over something they read or a game they played, than I would have when I was that age and read and played the same sorts of things. (Look, when I was coming of age, it was the horrors of Dungeons & Dragons... there's always something that's going to Ruin the Youth of Today.)

However, what this woman complained about is old news to some extent, and she's certainly not alone in worrying about it. I told her so. I also told her that I felt that some of what she was worrying about is actually a somewhat new (though, again, not really) trend in young adult books towards dystopian futures, which aren't actually about feeling sad and powerless at all, but about the need at a certain age to change the world, a desire to have a clear-cut enemy, and to DO SOMETHING to make things right. This is a Good Thing disguised as a Bad Thing.

I didn't tell her, because I knew she couldn't hear that, that I also believe books about self-harm and other things aren't so much 'how-to' books for self-destruction as novels that help people feel less alone (like I did when I discovered that there were other gay people, thanks in large part to science fiction). Maybe these were never issues written about when we were young, but... I knew people who self-harmed when I was a teen, so you know, writing about it doesn't bring it into existence, it just makes the issues less invisible.

But that was an argument I was sure to lose, so I just nodded politely. And, you know, YA *is* darker now than when I was a teen, but when I was a teen it also wasn't its own section. We didn't really have YA as a separate thing. We had juvenile and we had grown-up books. A lot of people my age had to get our parents' permission to have free range of the library once we'd grown out of Dr. Seuss. So, you know, I tried Lady Chatterly's Lover at sixteen (I missed the sex. Seriously. Completely.) I also read Go Ask Alice and didn't become a drug-addict, funny enough. Thus, I've never worried over much about books corrupting people.

At any rate.

When she really, really wanted to agree with me that it was All Bad, I told her I don't make the buying decisions for the library. If the kids want it, we stock it. What are you going to do?

Ultimately, she thanked me for such an interesting discussion

Have I mentioned I love working at the library? I do, actually. I really do.

Friday, August 22, 2014

UP-Coming Teaching Gigs

It occurs to me that people who read me here may be interested to know that I have several fan fiction writing gigs that I'll be teaching via The Loft Literary Center coming up:

First, for TEENS:

On Monday, October 13 from 6:00-7:30 pm I'll be the Loft's "First Pages" instructor for "Writing Fan Fiction" a program for teens at the Savage Library. The library is located at 13090 Alabama Ave South, Savage, MN.

The program description reads: Do you long to carry on the amazing story lines of your favorite novels, and live with your most treasured characters beyond the final page of the final chapter? That's what fan fiction is for! Learn how to carry on your favorite story lines--and invent your own--in this engaging class on extending the lives of your favorite characters.

On Thursday, October 16 as part of the Teen Writing Converence at the Loft, I'll be teaching a 75-minute workshop called "Capturing Kudos: Pro Tips for Improving Your Fan Fiction

The program description reads: Some people might tell you that writing fan fic is 'easier' because so much has already been established in terms of characterization and world-building. The people who say that, however, probably haven't actually tried it. The truth is, fan fiction requires all the same skills as writing anything, plus the author has to be constantly aware of canon and how it reflects on what they're writing (even AU), as well as readers who might scream OOC! This workshop will give you pro tips on how to improve your writing in general and in specific to fan fic's quirks from the perspective of someone who is not only a professionally published author, but also a prolific fan writer as well. As part of this workshop, we will practice beta reading for each other with an eye on setting, themes, conflict, and sensory details.

Second, for ADULTS:

My friend Rachel Gold and I will be co-teaching: "Using Fan Fiction to Improve Your Writing" on Wednesdays, 6-8 p.m. from January 21 to February 25, 2015--which will be part of the Loft's winter course catalogue. Technically, we're waiting for Rachel to confirm, but I wanted to get this info out there so that people can plan ahead. The Loft classes can be pretty pricey, but keep in mind there are always a few, limited number of scholarships available.

I haven;t yet heard from the Loft about whether or not my solo proposal for an in-class winter Science Fiction/Fantasy class is going to go, but I'm excited to be co-teaching with Rachel, if nothing else. Should be a blast. I'll post our course description once everything is 100% confirmed. In fact, you may be hearing about this class a lot, since I really want it to be successful. First of all, I think there's a huge market for it and it would be wonderful for the Loft to recognize that and offer more classes like it. Second, it would just be nifty to have a legit way to get paid to talk about fan fic! :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Textbook Feelings

Every time I pick up a book about drawing, I end up learning more about myself than I do art.

I ordered Foundations in Comic Book Art: Fundamental Tools and Techniques for Sequential Artists by John Paul Lowe from Blogging for Books this month because I’m a frustrated artist.

As the title suggests, this is a book aimed at teaching fundamentals to beginners. It is a book chock full of exercises focused on improving basic skills, from learning to draw straight lines to understanding the specialized needs of visual storytelling. The example art throughout is magnificent, and for every lesson there’s a written and visual example. The tone of the book is fairly serious. It is clearly intended for someone like myself, who is desperately looking a way to ‘level up,’ and gain the extra skill sets needed to become a comic book artist/graphic novelist.

Lowe’s book should have been perfect for me, but after reading through it several times and trying some of the examples, I ended up instead with a visceral emotional response which can be summed up in two words: I suck.

The forward and introduction to Lowe’s book suggest this is the very last feeling that I should’ve come away with. Lowe is very much of the belief (as am I) that art, like any skill, can be learned by anyone regardless of innate talent given enough time and energy.

I’m not sure what it is about this book that left me with that feeling. As I’ve said, this is a textbook aimed at teaching basics. Yet I left it feeling like there was no way I could ever master any of it (despite being far from a novice artist,) and it was all too overwhelming.

I wonder if it wasn’t because all the art shown was so good? This is one of those art textbooks where I’m already green with envy just looking at the instruction images that are supposed to be teaching me to see basic shapes in every day items, and instead of seeing the circles and squares, I’m thinking: damn, look at that cool apple! How come I can’t draw an apple like that??

There are a few playful images in the textbook, but even those examples showcase tremendous skill in background drawing. There were no examples that made me feel: oh, hey, I can do that.

There were no suggestions for work-arounds. Like, for instance, in my own comic book art, I have been known to cheat. I’ll take original photographs and use them as background images:

The other thing that was missing from this book that’s been tremendously helpful for me, as someone who has considered coming into graphic novel writing from the other side is, a script. There’s a very specific kind of writing format that comic book WRITERS use that I’ve been privileged to see thanks to a friend of mine who works for Marvel and DC. What looking at those taught me was how important it is for the writer of comic books (if they’re not the artist) to think visually as well and consider how much text/dialogue can reasonably fit in a panel.

So, while I think this is probably an awesome textbook to go with a class, I’m not entirely sure how well it works for me. There are two huge chapters at the end of this book that are specific to digital programs that I’m not using. I would have preferred that space be used to talk more about the business of comic book writing.

Your mileage may vary.

As I said, my strong emotional reaction to what is essentially a textbook surprised me.

P.S. If you're curious about my initial response, I catalogued it here:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Manga Wednesday

Mason and I giggled our way through our podcast this morning: 21: Zombies Lose Their Sh*t.  Go listen if you're at all interested in hearing us mutter vaguely incoherently about Bleach, One Piece, and Toriko (with smatterings of squee for Bleach List Girl, and discussions of Fairy Tale, Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun [the anime], and Hourou Musuko.)

In other news, our car broke down this morning.  It sucked, but there were some good things about it: it wasn't far from home (just up the block), it was early enough that Shawn could easily catch the bus, and it might be something fairly simple like my alternator.  The tow truck guy was nice and he was able to take it away and leave us at home.  It might be a hassle to go pick it up, but at least we get to wait for news about repair costs in the comfort of our own home.  Sucks, but, honestly?  I can't complain too much.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back from Vacation!

After a short hiatus while my family was on vacation to Washington, DC, I'm back to posting my work-in-progress over at Wattpad.  You can read "Part 20: Shatterer of Worlds" here:

My description for this one is: "In which Alex discovers just how much she sucks as a fugitive from the law."

Also, you may see a spike in activity over here.  My alter ego's LJ has finally exceeded its free photo storage limit, and since I have a TON of vacation pictures I'd like to share, I may post them here along with a travelogue of our adventures and mis-adventures.  I'm still not quite sure if that's the best solution since it's so difficult to tell who uses my LJ and for what.  I mean, for the most part, people have been saying Live Journal is dead for years.  Yet, I know plenty of people who seem to still follow my alter ego there.

Honestly, there's been a lot of talk on one of my e-mail writers' groups about how blogs are kind of dead, too.  Most people are finding out news about their favorite authors through social media like Twitter and Facebook.  So... who knows what the smartest thing to do is.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Latest chapters of SnK and Ao No Exorcist Reviewed...

Because our podcast will be on hiatus next week, I wrote up my thoughts on the latest chapters of Shingeki no Kyjoin (aka Attack on Titan) #60 and Ao no Exorcist (aka Blue Exorcist) #59 on our MangaKast site:

Friday, August 08, 2014

Will Write for Donation...

In support of the anthology Accessing the Future, my alter ego is offering to write your name into a brand-new AngeLINK story.  That bonus is at the $250 level, but, if you buy this, I would also take prompts.  Is there something in the books you always wish I'd write?  A favorite character you wish I would revisit?  Just let me know if you buy this and I'll do my best to fulfill your wishes, PLUS add your name to the story.

You can also donate at a lower level and get e-copies of all my novels, plus a bonus short story "The Case of the Missing Devil Child" which appeared in the first issue of Simulacum back in 2003.


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Updates and Such...

First, since it's Wedsneday, you should check out Mason and I doing our manga thing:

In this one we actually almost touch on something deep... well, to some extent, given that I'm talking about all this without a lot of coffee and very off the cuff. I've been on a not-so-very-serious quest to uncover more information about intersexed and transgendered representations in manga after the appearance of Giselle in Bleach. I found an interesting manga at the library called Wandering Son (which is alternately translated as Transient Son) about boy who wants to dress as/be a girl and After School Nightmare about an intersexed character who is forced to chose a gender identity as part of 'graduation' from a very weird (and dreamscape) high school (I did not, for reasons, read much of that one.) At any rate, I can't say that I've anything terribly insightful to say in the podcast, but I may end up doing a manga review of Wandering Son once I read a bit more of it, because... well, it rather combines all my interests: manga and GLBT issues.

The other fun thing that's happened in my life is that I got tapped to write a story for GISHWHES, which I'd never heard of before, but which is, apparently, a world-wide scavenger hunt organized by the actor Misha Collins (of Supernatural and, in my universe, Tumblr ships.) The request was not hard. The requirement was "a previously published science fiction author" writes a story LESS THAN 140 words involving Misha Collins (see above), the Queen of England, and the mascot of this year's scavenger hunt: an eliopus (a half-elephant/half-octopus.) I felt kind of honored to be asked because, well, truthfully, sometimes I don't feel very much like an author of the sort that gets asked to do these kinds of things (when I asked about this on my super-secret pro e-mail list I found out that people of the caliber like Charlie Stross and Garth Nix were getting inundated with requests.) So, you know, that made me feel like one of big league, which I almost never do.

And anyway, once I read the funny little job interview for "El Eliopus" on Craig's List (linked above) the story sort of wrote itself. Plus, the scavenger hunt itself is kind of amusing and cool-sounding if you read about it, so I was happy to help. It took me ten minutes, if that. So, you know, and easy job that made me feel part of something.

Otherwise, I've been working like mad on a project that will be launching in September. I'll have more news about that soon, but Garnet Lacey fans may have something to look forward to....

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Tuesday Treats (with a bonus question)

I almost wanted to call this one "Dumpster Divining" because that's such a wonderful idea, but Nana Spider has already shuffled off with her plastic bag companions.  Thus, Alex is left wondering just what she is and decides to talk to the one person who would know.... her father, only, he's forgotten his cell at home, so who should pick up, but Alex's stepmonster....

So, go check that out, if you're so inclined.  Once again, it's a bit short.  I was going to go on, but then the final line was just TOO GOOD, so I left it there.

The title of this blog hints at a bonus question, so here it is: I'm doing a thing I can't entirely talk about yet (yeah, it's one of those annoying 'seekrit' project type things,) but as part of it I'm going to be resurrecting one of the characters from my novels.  I'm wondering how excited people would be to see Daniel Parrish again or has everyone mostly forgotten the Garnet Lacey novels?

Yeah... I think I'll just leave that hanging there too..... *wicked laughter*