Antimatter Press is up and running, with Bad Wizard, James Maxey

Hey! after more than 18 months of preparation, Antimatter Press is up and running.

www.antimatterpress.com

Our first publication is Bad Wizard by James Maxey.

It takes a lot to put a publishing house together, and a lot to put a publication together. On my end, I had three editors and an an illustrator for the project itself, plus the support of friends and family patient with me when I needed to talk about fears or more socially unavailable and stupid than I normally am.

James had a bevvy of wise readers helping him to shape the story. He describes that process here.

Antimatter Press has more to come, actually very soon, but for now, we present:

Bad Wizard by James Maxey

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Reading List Context 27

There were many good things that came out of Context 27. One of them was a large index card of scribbled titles making up a to-be-read list culled from panels and fellow readers. I ended up making a list of TBR and TBreR (to be re-read). These are classics, graphic novels, old faves, Star Trek novels, poems, novellas, but they have all been recommended by a person here at the convention. The availability on these selections varies wildly as does the reason for recommendation so I leave the treasure hunt to you. But rest assured! The folks recommending these were dribbling in booky love for these.

Full Metal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa

Pump 6 – Paolo Bacigalupi

Mirabella and Spin, Nina Allen

Uhuru’s Song, Janet Kagan

Defenders, Will McIntosh

Scale Bright, Benjanun Sridungkaew

City of Stairs and American Elsewhere, Robert Jackson Bennett

Afterparty, Daryl Gregory

The Last Policeman, Ben Winters

Pen Pal, Francesca Forrest

Transmetropolitan

Elfquest

Santiago, Mike Resnick

Mythago Wood, Robert Holdstock

The Integral Trees, Larry Niven

Gossamer Axe

Ann Aguirre, new series

Jean Johnson, new series from DAW

Heaven of Animals, a poem by Dickey

Devices and Desires, K. J. Parker

The Knights of Breton Court, Maurice Broaddus

Shadows Fall, Simon Green

The Master Builder, Henrik Ibsen

The Anubis Gates, Tim Powers

Leigh Brackett

Maureen Johnson

Kaliedoscope

 

That’s a long list. I’ll leave the TBreR list for next week.

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new Words: salsify

I can stand here in the old pasture where there’s nothing but sun and rain, wild oats and thistles and crazy salsify, no cattle grazing, only deer, stand here and shut my eyes and see: the dancing place, the stepped pyramid roofs, a moon of beaten copper on a high pole over the Obsidian.

Always Coming Home, Ursula K LeGuin

sal⋅si⋅fy /sælsifaɪ/
noun
edible root of the salsify plant

syn: oyster plant
Mediterranean biennial herb with long-stemmed heads of purple ray flowers and milky sap and long edible root; naturalized throughout United States

syn: oyster plant, vegetable oyster, Tragopogon porrifolius
either of two long roots eaten cooked

ORIGIN: 1675, from French salsifis, from Italian erba salsifica, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Latin sal “salt” + fricare “to rub.”

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Ursula K. LeGuin To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Copyright 2014 by Paula S, Jordan

Ursula K. LeGuin Photo by  Marion Wood Kolisch

Ursula K. LeGuin
Photo by Marion Wood Kolisch

It isn’t often that a genre writer is recognized with a prestigious literary award. So when it happens, any SF/F bookish blog worth its pixels should take note.

And so it is noted here, with endless respect for the author and gratitude for her work, that Ursula Kroeber LeGuin is to be presented the 2014 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

The award was created in 1988 to recognize a lifetime of literary achievement and has previously been awarded to Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Toni Morrison, along with some 23 other authors, including Eudora Welty, David McCullough, John Updike, Joan Didion, and E.L. Doctorow.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) report that Ms LeGuin has been named this year’s honoree in recognition of, among other accomplishments: “… her transformative impact on American literature,” saying that “ …for more than forty years she has defied conventions of narrative, language, character, and genre, and transcended the boundaries between fantasy and realism to forge new paths for literary fiction.”

She is the past recipient of numerous other awards, including the National Book Award, the PEN/Malamud Award for short fiction, and a Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, plus 21 Locus Awards, 6 Nebulas, 5 Hugos, 3 Asimov’s Readers Awards, a Pushcart Prize, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and a Newbery Silver Medal plus many other honors.

Ms, LeGuin’s blog, biography, bibliography and much more may be found at her web site.

The National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner will be held on November 19, in New York City. Neil Gaiman will present the award.

Further Links:

National Book Foundation

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)

io9.com article

Wikipedia

banned books personality quiz

http://www.playbuzz.com/columbusstatelibrary10/which-banned-book-are-you

the community college at which I serve as a customer service Cheerful Morning Person received a grant for Banned Books awareness work.

they created this “personality quiz” (linked above).

For an email discussion initiated at work, this was my response:

“I got brave new world which is, interestingly, the book I hate most in all of the whole wide world. Of a book that should never have been bothered to have been published, it would be that one. Dystopian fiction=not me. We cannot live without hope.
I’m totally an Alice in Wonderland girl. Weirdness Prevails.”
Let me know what you get. With your permission within the comments, I’ll alert the Librarians.

Jazz Funeral

Copyright 2014 by Paula S. Jordan

You might think of this post as a book review trailer, an early comment about a great read that will get more detailed examination sometime soon. Because it deserves it.

It is also a hint to writers looking for the secret to satisfying character creation and development: Read this book. This is the way it should be done.

Julie Smith, Author

Julie Smith, Author

There is no science fiction or fantasy about Jazz Funeral, by Julie Smith, only the magic of New Orleans and Jazz and the mysteries and foibles of the human soul in all its imperfection.

Ms. Smith’s infinite knowledge and talented depiction of human nature, aided and abetted by an unwavering devotion to honesty mellowed by endless sympathy, have produced here a tour de force: the most massively dysfunctional extended family I have ever run across in literature or out.

What is this family like? Occasionally loving, but most often consciously, stunningly cruel. Variously talented. Greedy, but occasionally giving. Or, poignantly, emphatically not all those things, but creative, generous souls too young or too insecure to escape the emotional tyranny of the family long enough to discover the never-normal but at least more normal world of New Orleans just outside.

Jazz FuneralIt is important to note that each of the major elemental forces in this perfect human storm gets his or her moment of clarity, the revelation of causes (redemptive or not) where we readers may glimpse the reasons why, and occasionally the seeds of a more generous humanity waiting for one spot of sunlight to show them the way out.

I hasten to explain that there is much more to this book than the conflicts suggested here. There are imminently readable elements of love and laughter and friendship, as well as the mystery and suspense of unsolved murder.

Also, like the prize at the bottom of the box, there is Skip Langdon, a sterling, six-foot-plus, somewhat over-weight, female New Orleans police detective. Skip has her own complications, of course, but along with them come the skills and the heart to sort out at least most of this mess.

And over, under, around, and through it all are the incomparable, worldly-wise strains of New Orleans Jazz.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Links for Julie Smith:

Goodreads.

National Public Radio

Wikipedia

Photo Credit

Getting to Draft Two, A Cheeky Introduction.

Copyright 2014 by Paula S. Jordan

illuminatorFinishing that first draft of your first novel is a genuinely splendid moment in a writer’s life. Enjoy it while it lasts. Because once your hard-earned champagne is drunk, another, less happy mood is likely to take its place.

It’s called ‘terror,’ and it can be summed up in five words (more, with appropriate expletives): “What the blanketty blank do I do now!?”

The answer to that Cri de Coeur involves a number of useful terms which most any writer at that point of experience already knows. But all of which, you now learn, require more detailed instruction:

  • Tighten: To remove unnecessary modifiers:
  • Trim: To remove unnecessary phrases.
  • Prune: To remove unnecessary sentences or paragraphs.
  • Cut:: To, remove unnecessary scenes, or characters, or subplots.
  • Unnecessary: Anything that doesn’t advance the story.
  • Fix weak verbs: To replace verb+adverb [walked quickly] with stronger verb [hurried]
  • Structure.
  • Edit: All the above, plus whatever else your book might need.*

“Wait. Hold on,” I hear someone saying. “That word, just before ‘edit’. Structure? It makes it sound like you’re building something.”

Good for you!

Structure is the thing that gives your novel shape, that arranges the logical, carefully planned, tension-building and ultimately tension-relieving chain of events that keeps your reader flicking (or clicking) through the pages till half-past late-for-work.

There are several useful structures to choose from:

ThreeActStructureFlatThe basic 3-Part structure: [1) beginning, 2) middle, 3) end]

TriangleThe 5-Act structure (Shakespeare liked this one): [1)exposition, 2) complication or rising action, 3) first climax or crisis, 4) resolution or falling action, 5) final climax and resolution.]

The 7-Act structure: like the 5-Act structure but with an extra climax and an extra falling action in the middle, Obviously it makes a somewhat different diagram!

The Six-Act Two-Goal structure: where the protagonist achieves the initial goal, finds that it isn’t adequate to the need, and sets out to achieve a better one

Oh yes, and The Lester Dent Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot. You’ll want to read this one for yourself.

And there are many more.

heroIt does take some effort to get the best results from any of these structures, as well as from the other tasks I’ve mentioned. Fortunately the details are easy to find. Just Google the general topic or question, or ask at your nearby library or bookstore, to find all the sources you need.

Of course, once you have all that down pat, along comes the correcting and refining and polishing and beta reading, and correcting and polishing some more. That’s what the rest of the drafts are for.

But don’t despair.

There is a legend — and I’ve spoken to several writers who swear it’s true — that beyond all that toil and struggle, when your book is finally on its way into the world to wreck the work habits of readers everywhere, finishing that last draft is even more delicious than the first.

*World building, character development, spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc, etc all those other necessary things that never get done well enough in the first draft.

Additional image credits:

The Illuminator

The Hero’s Journey

 

New Words: peripatetically

(Found my dictionary… you’re relieved, I’m sure.)

Forced into a relaxing vacation away from the city, Vimes makes the best of a miserable situation and takes a walk in the countryside, quite out of his element:

After ten minutes of walking, Vimes was lost. Not physically lost but metaphorically, spiritually, and peripatetically lost.

Snuff, Terry Pratchett

per⋅i⋅pa⋅tet⋅ic /,pɛrɪpə’tɛtɪk/
noun: a person who walks from place to place
adjective: of or relating to Aristotle or his philosophy
syn: Aristotelian, Aristotelean, Aristotelic

traveling especially on foot • peripatetic country preachers

syn: wayfaring

ORIGIN: early 15c., from Latin peripateticus “disciple of Aristotle,” from Greek peripatetikos “given to walking about,” from peri- “around” + patein “to walk.” Aristotle’s custom was to teach while strolling through the Lyceum in Athens. In English, the philosophical meaning is older than that of “person who wanders about” (1617).

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Octopus!

Copyright 2014 by Paula S. Jordan

 

     Kelp Forest, Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

Kelp Forest, Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

There are plenty of ways to research a novel at arm’s length: Internet, libraries, books, conversations with practicing professionals. But sometimes you have to step in a little closer, get your hands on the real thing.

Great Pacific Octopus, Birch Aquarium

Great Pacific Octopus, photo courtesy of Birch Aquarium

For some time now, that real thing for me has been a living, thinking octopus, the basis for several characters in my present-day alien-contact novel-in-progress.

I had read about these wily animals, seen video evidence of their astonishing feats of camouflage and intelligence, and asked about a zillion questions of patient professionals. Still I needed to know what the critter felt like. How slippery or squishy or cold might those eight arms be? And how tightly might those suckers grip? What would their skin, with its quick-changing colors and textures, actually look like? How might I feel, looking into the eyes of an octopus that was looking back at me?

Click for larger image

Photo by Ken Jordan. Click any photo for a larger image

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, it happened. Big “Thank you!” to the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

I first saw the large, reddish Great Pacific Octopus clinging suckers-out onto the thick glass of his tank in the aquarium’s Hall of Fishes. Those suckers were impressive, but it was hard to tell from that tangle of arms just what he looked like, and certainly no way I could reach in for a quick handshake.

Jenn Moffatt introduces Ken and me to the Octopus!

Jenn Moffatt introduces Ken and me to the Octopus! Photo by Cindy Watson

Wandering out to the seaside plaza, I found a dozen or more middle-schoolers petting the residents of a tide-pool aquarium. When I asked, one of the staffers on duty there pointed me to a sea cucumber as the next best thing to touching an octopus. So I too, the oldest kid in the bunch, reached into the chilly water and touched carefully, as directed, with no more than two fingers. Cold and soft and squishy the sea cucumber certainly was, and not too slippery for comfort.

But friends, he wasn’t an octopus.

Jenn points out larger suckers. Note triangular extrusions at left center.

Jenn points out larger suckers.  Note the triangular extrusions at left center.  Photo by Ken Jordan

Meanwhile, back in the Hall of Fishes, my husband had arranged a visit with the real thing. Yay!  Jenn Moffitt, a trained marine biologist and the aquarium’s Director of Husbandry, ushered us into the dark space behind the scenes. She emphasized that it is never wise to handle any animal without proper training. Then she removed a panel from the lip of a tank, and there, in a wash of blue light, was the big guy himself.

My long-awaited handshake. Cold but very nice.

My long-awaited handshake.  Cold. Slippery.  But not unpleasant.  Photo by Ken Jordan.

I touched his arm, holding only the lower end of it as Jenn directed, felt it slide between my fingers, felt the surprising strength of even the smaller suckers near the tip. His flesh was a bit firmer to the touch than the sea cucumber’s, colder too. And really slippery. This is good, among other things, for sliding free of an attacker’s grasp while still holding tight with his suckers to whatever he wants. Another theory suggests that it keeps his boneless arms from tangling into knots. Well, maybe.

Some color shift was subtly discernible, even under the blue light, and Jenn pointed out 1-to-2-inch triangular extrusions on his head. These, she said, seem to appear when he is thinking. When she touched one of them I was surprised at how easily it flexed, not at all the rigid structure it appeared. Hmn. Interesting insight into the tricks of this master of disguise.

Sadly, I never quite achieved an eye-to-eye with him, and our visit was done.

Maybe next time.

We left him to his unimaginable thoughts.

Thank you, Jenn.