Friday, November 30, 2012

Simon Winchester at Town Hall: Skulls

Skulls provided by The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

Last night I went to Town Hall Seattle to hear Simon Winchester talk about his new book Skulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley's Curious Collection. I found the subject fascinating.

The book describes the life's work of an ordinary man, Alan Dudley, who has amassed a significant collection of skulls at his bedroom in Coventry, England. You can read about the sensational aspects of Dudley's situation here.

In addition to the hardcover book, Touch Press has released an app for around $13.99 that allows a reader to zoom into each skull and rotate 360 degrees. The photographic detail is amazing, and for each skull you can also find out more information about its associated animal. It's really a glorious example of what's possible when you experiment with different mediums.

Simon Winchester describes the parts of the skull

I also had the opportunity to attend the reception that preceded the talk, which featured lovely conversations over brie, goat cheese, and wine, followed by a a short introduction to Winchester and a chance to get my book signed early. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these receptions at Town Hall, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Last Wednesday I was tagged for "The Next Big Thing" by Lincoln Crisler. Here are my answers:

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Last of the Soul Eaters.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Earlier this year I wrote a short story called "Last of the Soul Eaters," and submitted it to the ArmadilloCon Writers' Workshop in Austin, TX. I received some very useful feedback from the writing group participants as well as our group leaders: Scott A. Johnson and Joe McKinney. Both Scott and Joe suggested I expand the short story, and I'm a little ashamed to admit that it hadn't even occurred to me until they said something.

You can read the short story in the e-book anthology Fresh Blood, Old Bones.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Young adult horror.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I have no idea.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

After a young woman is murdered her ghost takes justice into its own hands.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I'm still in the process of writing the book, but I wouldn't rule anything out.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I wrote the short story in about a month and that was around 4,000 words. I'll let you know how long it took to write the novel when it's finished.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I'm going to squirm around this question by saying I grew up reading Christopher Pike, Richie Tankersley Cusick, and L.J. Smith's "The Secret Circle" series. These are the authors who have influenced everything I've ever written.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I've always been fascinated with the subject of where we go after we die. Probably we just close our eyes and that's it, but wouldn't it be more exciting if we woke up in another world with its own rules?

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Do you like ancient Egypt? Ancient Egyptian views of the dead figure heavily in my story.

Next Wednesday, visit the following writers’ blogs. I’ve passed the Next Big Thing buck to:

Angel Leigh McCoy

Nathan Crowder

Eliza Hirsch

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Too Many Tabs

I suffer from browser tab fatigue. Too many open. Can't decide what to do with the information, but pretty sure it's important and I'll be sorry if I lose it. Sometimes I'll add the page to my "Favorites" but who am I kidding? I never go into that folder. It might as well be the chalky abyss of denial.

The source of these tabs is my preparation for a trip. I'm trying to figure out public transportation in a language I only sort of understand, which is always fun.

I don't expect sympathy.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll be posting some answers for this next big thing, thing. I'll be telling you all about this project I've been working on, the one that's required me to watch a lot of documentaries and read a lot of books. And then I'll tag a few talented authors to carry the torch.

As I write this post the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen is playing on the TV across the room. I'm...not sure why I'm watching this, but I can't look away. Which is probably why this post is so scattered. I mean, Mike Tyson is roasting Charlie Sheen. Wha?

The thing about having recently signed up for Netflix is I'm just catching up on popular culture references that are several years old. Jer and I just watched the first three seasons of Warehouse 13 -- excellent, can't wait to see more -- the one season of Dresden Files -- which could have been so much better. What were they thinking delaying the pilot and recutting it for the 8th episode? Did they have so little respect for the audience that they thought we wouldn't notice how disjointed that choice made the series?

And lots of documentaries. But that's not really a pop culture reference. That's just me bragging about my giant brain. (She says as she watches the Roast of Charlie Sheen.)

See you, tomorrow!

Friday, November 16, 2012


Last week I went to a four-day workshop called Storymasters. Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, and Christoper Vogler each took a day to instruct a room of about 95 writers their specific storytelling philosophies, and on the final day we all came together to deconstruct The Hunger Games.

I really enjoyed the workshop and came away with over 20,000 words of notes and a few new friends. Technically I didn't need to take quite SO many notes, but it helps me learn when I can transcribe the audio.

Since then I've been to the dentist and to the vet and I've been hacking away at my newest pile of words. After almost two years of studying stories, I know just enough to be dangerous--with a side effect of gnawing insecurity. Most of what I do now is fight myself to get the words out, and once they're out I get swept up in revision. Revision is my favorite part.

So that's my process.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

World Fantasy Con in Toronto: A Few Photos

Now that I've had a full day to recover from the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto, I'm ready to attempt a write-up. First, I'll cheat and post a Halloween photo of myself. It has nothing to do with the convention, but it'll let you know what I look like.

My half-assed steampunk costume. All about the goggles.

Aaaand my disclaimers: I won't even attempt to list all of the events I attended or the people I met because I will inevitably forget someone or something. Also, I used the crummy camera on my old iPhone. While the quality is bad, the intentions were good.

I arrived in Toronto on Halloween with a number of other Seattle writers. We shared an expensive cab ride out to the hotel. Later we met up at the bar and made merry until jet lag caught up with us. The next day I went on a walking adventure, but it was cold and returned back to the hotel after about an hour. Lunch was at a wonderful Chinese restaurant across the street, where I tried fried noodles, Canton style, for the first time and had some sweetened mashed taro cakes. All excellent company and cuisine.

And then the con started and my narrative begins to skip over huge chunks of time and space.

Patrick Rothfuss reads his work at the EPIC event (EPIC is a collection of epic fantasy stories)

Brandon Sanderson reads his work at the EPIC event

EPIC authors answering questions. Mary Robinette Kowal, Aliette de Bodard, John Joseph Adams, Brandon Sanderson, and Patrick Rothfuss. In the lower right you can also see Andrew S. Williams, my con roommate.

The con hotel was located in Richmond Hill, north Toronto.

Peter Straub reads his work.

Robert J. Sawyer reads his work.

Ada Milenkovic Brown, Cat Rambo, and Deanna Francis

Gemma Files reads her work.

Scott H. Andrews reads his work.

Andrew Penn Romine reads his work at the Lightspeed event.

Poutine with smoked meat, pickles, gravy, fries, and cheese curds from Jack Astor's Bar & Grill. I ate poutine three times on this trip!

Angel Leigh McCoy and friend at one of the parties.

I'm a sucker for signs with closing times listed as "question mark." Also, in this room I discovered the joy of Sortilege Maple Syrup and Whiskey Liqueur.

Hanging out with M. Bennardo. Not pictured: Malki-time.

James L. Sutter and Andrew Penn Romine at breakfast.

Panel about creating cover art. Richard A. Kirk, David Malki, Ed Greenwood, and Charles Vess.

One of the highlights of this con was chatting with Ed Greenwood over dinner at the Fox and Fiddle. The man is amazingly prolific! He'd written 6,000 words just that morning.

Deanna Francis and Cat Rambo before the banquet.

I never managed to take a photo of Nathan Crowder it seems, but I spent a lot of time hanging out with him as well. Overall, it was great to meet so many new people and reconnect with others. I am in awe of everyone's talent and incredibly happy I could have this experience--especially since I can now compare it to last year's WFC in San Diego, my first con.

By the way, the photos I took at last year's WFC are over at Facebook if you'd like to see them. Those were much fancier because I lugged along the Nikon D700.