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Author of queer, wry sci fi/fantasy books. On Amazon.
Editor of all fiction genres.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Fan Fiction: Reloaded

Hello hello!

This is just a short note about a rather excellent article and a hilariously bad one. Copying things is an accepted technique across disciplines to improve one's skill. I learned to knit and bead from patterns; I learned to draw from classes and photographs. I won't deny enjoying fanart...but I have get to find fanfiction to read that hasn't made my eyes bleed or hasn't had 'visible cracks'.

 I've got a prejudice against messing with proper timelines and 'head canon' stuff--JK Rowling's experiences with people demanding that Harry and Hermione get together are a prime example--but I'm
pretty amazed by how respectful, careful, and loving most fans are.





However, I've come to respect that it's a way for people to play and experience a story again. I think serious fanfic writing should wait for the development of original characters, because it can teach poor habits. That being said, caricature and re-interpreting a story is part of human culture and the way we experience stories. The 'what if' nature of thought and the teasing some shows provide--Farscape, one of my absolute favorites, is far from immune, and has several jokes and moments that blatantly tease fans about certain relationships--opens a door to speculation. Often, that door can lead in interesting directions. Sometimes the directions are awful and dull, or worse, awe-inspiringly awful.

I mentioned Rowling's work above; this is a fine example of how fanfiction can make one a worse writer. If you rely on shortcuts and make them a habit, it's hard to improve or get over them. However, the creation of a web-series based on one of the worst stories of all time was pure genius, showing the power of reinterpretation. Please note that you will probably have to run to Youtube proper to watch it, because DRM is evil. I apologize in advance if you laugh your self sick.



There's also the really cool aspect of crossing influences and expanding a world. H P Lovecraft had an open world. Hugh Howey does as well. Doctor Who does, too, to a certain extent. Going to the musical side of things, Queen would not have existed without Freddy Mercury--a fan of the band. Clearly, there are times when the interpretations we get from fans can make the source material better. I'm already experiencing this with The Stolen, and the screenplay an actor fan is working on.

Also, why the hell are the only artists here dudes? I don't think I even know any male fanfiction artists/writers--maybe one? Maybe?

*****
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the phuquerie. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr. More interviews and witty commentaries are coming. Keep checking back to see those surprise posts, too. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

And the Stars Will Sing (Book 1 of The Meaning Wars)

Now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo eBooks





In the far future, travel is made possible by controlled wormholes made in the fabric of space-time. Crystal, a young woman freshly graduated from university, finds herself on her first job aboard the base-ship 'Crossing Paths'. Workplace politics and a romance make it complicated. The last thing she needs are the frightening errors beginning to crop up on her maps...


Buy it here: 

Amazon 
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Smashwords

The Stolen: Two Short Stories (Book 2 of The Meaning Wars)

Now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo eBooks





The city of Corinth is beautiful, but a cancer eats at its soul. Sarah Jean White is that cancer. The tube city is a tranquil, clean paradise--exactly the wrong place for her. She steals words, swears, and indulges in forbidden vices. When someone finally notices her heresy, her status as a threat to peace of mind will be dealt with...


A strict Caste system rules dry, distant Indus. Clarice dares to break through the taboos the old-fashioned way: with sex. Finding herself at a moral rehabilitation facility once again, she doesn't expect things to be much worse than before. Soon, she figures, she'll be back outside, free to 'sin' privately once again. Then her classmates start to disappear... 

When Sarah and Clarice reach for basic human rights and challenge the law, their playful indulgences are treated as dire crimes. The peace and harmony in their separate worlds comes at a horrifying price.

The Loved, The Lost, The Dreaming (Includes Book 1 of the Nightmare Cycle)

Now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo eBooks





Nightmares bleed into the waking world. 

Featuring a full-length novel, "The Underlighters", and eleven stand-alone short stories, this collection blends fairy tales, horror, and science fiction. A city of shadows lurks underground. Restless ghosts, eerie dolls, and spiteful stepmothers wait among other dreams. These are haunting stories of love, madness and small disasters.


"The Underlighters" is a dystopian horror coming-of-age adventure that follows the life of Janelle Cohen from insignificance to bitter-sweet triumph. "Footsteps in the Snow" is a Lovecraftian nightmare set in a Canadian winter. "A Shot of Vodka", a darkly realistic exploration of life after trauma, rounds out the collection. More and stranger stories fill in the gaps. 

This genre-breaking anthology is a new and ferocious look at the frailty of the human condition. Gender and sexual mores are rewritten; dreams and reality merge. Primal fears take physical form. This beautifully-written thrill ride will captivate you long after the last page.


Buy it here: 


Amazon 

Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Smashwords

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Dark World Sci Fi, Part 3: The Long-Awaited Conclusion

Hello hello!
Well, I promised to examine a new theory on why we’re so into the idea of the end being very nigh indeed. I don’t think it’s merely a natural follow-through of the zombie trend, and in spite of the influences from 40s, 80s, and 90s culture, I’m inclined to say that there’s more to the trend than just mining previously successful movements for more juice and marketable extruded pop culture product.


What's in a trend? 


That which we call popular by any other name would seem as ubiquitous. Zombies rose to fame partly because they hadn’t been done to death before their current rise to fame; unlike vampires, which have enjoyed several waves of popularity, it’s arguable that the undead hoardes hadn’t really had a main-culture breakout since their first surge in popularity.  Dark-world sci fi, as I’m going to call the three genres of cyberpunk, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, and dystopian fiction, has maintained an ambient level of popularity but hasn’t really been ‘in’ consistently since the 80s. That’s plenty of time for trend necromancy to occur.

 The final movie in the Blood and Cornetto trilogy by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost will also be coming out at the end of the year. As it happens, that will also be about the apocalypse.  Is the trend rising because it’s time for another pop-culture recycle round, or is there a bit more to it?





Let’s start with how ‘it’s gonna be the future soon’ and the many ways that ‘it’s already here’.


A long time ago, I was talking about posting a ‘cool stuff in science’ article once in a while. My interest in activism and various kinds of rights issues ate most of the room for that, but the other issue I ran into was that I had no idea where to start. Science has been on fire, with stunning discoveries emerging every single week, and this is shaping up to be an impressive decade.
Those who follow the news might be aware of a number of amazing advances in medical technology—from artificial veins to 3-d printed ears to an artificial heart (no, not that one, but a real artificial heart), we’re finally hitting the point sci fi has been racing towards. Artificial blood, a new layer of the retina we didn’t know about, the ability to inject genetic therapies right into the eye for treatment…I remember being a kid in the 90s and feeling starry-eyed wonder at the research projects and shiny tech.  Now, the stuff I’ve been reading about is real as real can be. (We even have basic replicators, dammit! What else do you call a 3-D printer that can make pizza? Now I just want earl grey tea, hot.)
n spite of stubborn industrial stalling, electric and hybrid cars are defiantly ploughing onto the market. More and more countries are switching to solar and wind for power needs, with nuclear in a position of both favour and intense scrutiny. At the same time as all this shiny wonderful stuff, we have some resource struggles beginning.  Oil and gas are significant factors in the Middle East’s most recent turf wars. Add in the damage from global climate change and the undeniable surge in extreme weather catastrophes in the last few years, and you have more pressure on our remaining natural resources.  Alternate power from George Orwell spinning in his grave alone could probably replace half of oil and gas’s energy requirements.



Source. 


But wait! There's a precedent!

Now we get to the fun part—I probably don’t have to mention the recent revelations about privacy that have come out of the states. With America receiving international scrutiny and the president sweating under his collar about the Patriot-Act style policies that have been passed, little things like Microsoft’s Xbox One (a console that had, functionally, the same features as the watching television from 1984) have drawn explosive reactions from online communities. And, of course, the Occupy movement’s influence  increasing distrust of government, revelations of more censorship, and now, heating tensions in the middle east as America and Russia prepare to shadow-box, have all played into the heady atmosphere. Not to mention that Britain's PM recently decided that banning porn and giving it request-only access would be a good way to save the children. Think of the children!

If you've read my work, you know how I feel about this. 


With this kind of background, why wouldn’t dystopias have caught the limelight again? Ancient cultures often viewed time as cyclical, an end in sight somewhere in the distant future—Hindu understanding of the cosmos, Norse concepts of Valhalla, Mayan and Aztec cyclical calendars, and, of course, the Book of Revelations all feature concepts of beginning and ending, fiery death and mass holocausts before rebirth. Since the 20th century, however, we’ve been much closer to and much better at actually achieving this kind of thing. Holocausts aren’t a new invention, but a large population and better technology to coomit them with has made the concept much more relevant. Add media and its power to amplify a message, and you have an interesting possibility.



The really sad thing is how relevant this still is.


 Why so morbid?

Are we fascinated with ‘the end’ because we’re more capable than ever of realizing it? Or is it an attempt to prepare ourselves for ‘it’ just in case ‘it’ happens tomorrow?  It’s important to note the cultural trends in the 80s as well—punk had mutated into New Wave, Japan was extra cool, ‘sci fi’ sound was common as synthesizers were becoming trendy, Goth fashion and music had become an anti-trend, and, of course, the year of ‘1984’ itself flavoured the decade. Throw in the conflict in the middle east, the personal computers that were now readily available, the beginnings of the internet, and the tail end of the Cold War, and you have a perfect recipe for the weirdly dark media that North America and Britain managed to churn out at that point. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that whole ‘AIDS’ thing and the entrance of women into the corporate world, plus the commercialization of starvation and other humanitarian causes:  more factors guaranteed to shake everything up.
When you line up the 2010s and the 1980s, there are a lot of similar patterns. The sense of instability and international conflicts are certainly telling, and hopeless straits definitely inspire more contemplation of ‘the end times’ than an era of peace and prosperity might.  Orwell’s work was based on satire of the Soviet Union. The famous red sash around Julia’s waist, and the even more famous “2 + 2 = 5” were just a couple of the direct references to Soviet organizations and, in the latter case, slogans (referring to Stalin’s famous 4 Year plans).
Really, though, the desire to escape from modern problems, an easy out that sort of involves blurring the difficult and violent parts of the collapse--or casting them in a heroic light--is responsible for our obsession with Dark World fiction. There's also the appeal of a new beginning, the renewal that follows death. 



Source.

Does this mean that the end of the world is coming soon?


That implies that we're going to see tomorrow. I suppose that's an answer in and of itself. I'm not going to deluge you with environmental or activist-related information, but I will say that in order to keep on reaching tomorrow, we need to keep the biosphere and our society in a state where it can run long enough to reach another sunrise--preferably a bit longer. 

The short answer is 'probably not'. We've done reasonably well at muddling things up to a medium extent so far. I'm not going to commit to a firm 'no', but I certainly won't say that total annihilation seems likely. Ask me tomorrow. 

Whatever the reason for our obsession, it's not going away any time soon...and I am very all right with that. 


*****
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the phuquerie. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr. More interviews and witty commentaries are coming. Keep checking back to see those surprise posts, too. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

ASK AN AGENT Event w/ Sheree Bykofsky Literary Agency July 17th -- 19th

Hello hello! Another exciting writing event--join up RIGHT NOW so you don't miss it, writers! ANd yes, I AM working on that dystopian post. 


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-BKR2d5aFeFE/UeWrs4LOdnI/AAAAAAAAA0E/nik65H8GMqE/s640/Goodreads+Banner.jpg

Modern Good Reads Presents:
ASK AN AGENT ~ Sheeree Bykofsky
SHEREE BYKOFSKY ASSOCIATES, INC.
July 17th-19th

Discussion here═► ASK AN AGENT w/Sheree Bykofsky

Sheree Bykofsky Associates, Inc., AAR, represents hundreds of authors in all areas of adult non-fiction as well as literary and commercial fiction. Her non-fiction specialties include popular reference, business, health, psychology, poker, spirituality, self-help, humor, cookbooks, pop culture, biography, women’s issues, decorating & crafts, music, and much more.

*Full list of Authors/Books Represented Here ═►http://shereebee.com/books-represented-by-sheree-bykofsky-associates-inc/

Sheree is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Publishing at New York University and an Adjunct Professor at Rosemont College. She teaches and lectures at a variety of conferences and symposiums around the country, including the upcoming interactive workshop, SPEND A DAY WITH A LITERARY AGENT, held at the Ocean City Public Library, Ocean City, NJ, Saturday, July 13, 2013, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information about SPEND A DAY WITH A LITERARY AGENT, please contact Karen Mahar at: Karen@oceancitylibrary.org

Author and Speaker:

Sheree Bykofsky is the author, co-author and editor of more than twenty books, including the best-selling The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published (Pearson), now in its fifth edition.



ADD it to your “want to read” shelf on Goodreads HERE

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY
WIN ONE OF THREE COPIES!! 
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COME JOIN US at Modern Good Reads for a chat with Sheree on publishing, an agent’s role in today’s turbulent world of publishing, and working with NY Publishers.

July 17th-19th

Discussion here══►ASK AN AGENT w/Sheree Bykofsky










 [TWL1]<a id="rc-7824f16" class="rafl" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7824f16/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>
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*****
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the phuquerie. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr. More interviews and witty commentaries are coming. Keep checking back to see those surprise posts, too. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Friday, 12 July 2013

The NightLife: LAUNCH/GIVEAWAY ~ THE ATHERFAE (Weald Fae Journals...

Hello hello!

I loved this book, and highly recommend it. The Weald Fae Journals made my top ten last year, and the sequel lives up to its predecessors. Enough talk--go read it!

The NightLife: LAUNCH/GIVEAWAY ~ THE ATHERFAE (Weald Fae Journals...: "The Weald is No More!" Much has changed for Maggie O’Shea in the past eight months. The Weald is abandoned—its last St...

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Ask A Publisher ~ LISA RUTHERFORD, CEO of digital publisher COLILOQUY, July 11th-12th

Hello hello! 
More exciting news from the world of Modern Good Reads...have a look! I will post the final Dark World sci fi column in a day or two; but for now, enjoy some free publishing tips.

Modern Good Reads Presents:
Ask A Publisher ~ LISA RUTHERFORD, CEO of digital publisher COLILOQUYJuly 11th-12th
LISA RUTHERFORD is the co-founder and CEO of digital publisher Coliloquy. She has been e-reading since 2006 and is deeply passionate about using technology to create new types of books and tell stories in ways that weren’t possible on the printed page.
- Heidi R. Kling’s SPELLSPINNERS OF MELAS COUNTY (YAR) includes multiple pathways and a spooky magic trick in THE GLEANING
- Kira Snyder’s PARISH MAIL (MG/YA mystery) features twisting pathways and choices that unlock special scenes for careful readers
You can see a full list of our titles here:
Coliloquy’s editorial team will read two unpublished manuscripts or self-published books.
*****
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the phuquerie. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr. More interviews and witty commentaries are coming. Keep checking back to see those surprise posts, too. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out! 


BIO:
Lisa started off as an undergraduate English major from Pennsylvania, before making her way west to California. Most recently an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Lisa was named an AlwaysON Top 25 Women to Watch in Tech and has an MBA from Stanford and an MA from the University of Chicago.
ABOUT COLILOQUY:
Coliloquy is a digital publisher focused on active and interactive storytelling. We leverage advances in technology to create groundbreaking new forms of digital content and innovative business models. Originally developed as part of the Kindle Developer Program, we launched in early 2012. Eighteen months later, we have over 30 authors under contract, and our books and apps are available across all tablet, phone, and e-reading platforms, including iOS, Android, Kindle, NOOK, and Kobo.
Coliloquy publishes a wide range of interactive series and standalone novels – from YA to adult suspense to nonfiction and everything in between. Recent projects have included:
HARD LISTENING, a mixed media memoir by an all-star line-up of literary titans, including Stephen King, Mitch Albom, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, and Dave Barry. The book interweaves, essays, fiction, email conversations, fun quizzes, and archived footage for a unique look inside these authors’ lives.
GEORGETOWN ACADEMY, our “West Wing meets Gossip Girl” YA series, just wrapped up its first season in our new mini-series format and featured our popular choice point technology.
KINGDOM KEEPERS INSIDER, an interactive app that invites readers of the Kingdom Keepers MG book series to help author Ridley Pearson write the seventh and final book in the series. Winners of weekly contests will be included in the final book published by Disney in 2014.
Some of our coolest technology implementations can be found in our interactive series
ASK ANYTHING!
I’m happy to answer just about anything…our technology, authors, publishing trends, chief kitten officers, marriage, having it all, why Waynn is the best cofounder, pies, mistakes we made, and things we’ve done right…
SUBMIT MANUSCRIPTS TO WIN A READING FROM OUR EDITORIAL TEAM:
Contest will be open from July 11th through July 14th. Winners will be announced the week of July 15th.
*****
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the phuquerie. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr. More interviews and witty commentaries are coming. Keep checking back to see those surprise posts, too. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

Monday, 8 July 2013

Belated and Awesome: An Interview with Ally Shields

Hello hello! 
I just realised that I never did repost a pretty excellent interview with Ally Shields from a while back. Well, I had to amend that!
You'll definitely want to stop by her blog and grab her paranormal witch-hunting books, but in the meantime, here's a taste of her style. Thanks again, Ally! 
****
We're here for coffee again this morning. Michelle and I have ours, so grab a mug and pull up a chair. 

This  is Michelle's bio in her own words: 

I'm a published science fiction author with a love for talking about the end of the world, silver jewellery, nightmares, and chocolate. I'm also fluent in Shakespeare, cussing, and activism,  (passable in Spanish).
I came from a smallish town in Southern Alberta and now live in Calgary with my partner. When we're not saving the world from hipsters or riding our bear cavalry to work, we can be found on the internet or with our friends.

Ally: Lol! I'd love to have you back some time to talk about the bear cavalry, but let's stick to the script today and talkChristmas and books. Why don't you start by telling us your favorite childhood memory connected to the holidays?

MICHELLE: Hmmm. Childhood...Well, I remember one year that Mom really wanted some crystal lambs she'd seen, beautiful little ornaments. I convinced Mom that they were all sold out and not available at all anymore, and Dad and I managed to keep the secret all month long, occasionally mentioning that it had been sold out. Finally, the night before Christmas--also her birthday--we revealed our secret and showed her the mother sheep and three little lambs. There were some tears, and it's one of the best presents I've ever given.

Ally: And best for Mom too, I bet. Okay, now books.  Other than your own, what was the favorite book you read in 2012? What made it so special?

MICHELLE: Aw, shoot, I've read a LOT this year. Honestly, I'm going to go with the first one that comes to mind and then distribute runners-up. Les Liasons Dangereuses, by de Laclos, was magnificent. I couldn't believe how strong the characters were, and how well-implemented the plot was. It's a classic for a reason--sexy, well-written, morally ambivalent...I am so glad I picked it up. Chris Shields' "Fae Journals" series also really impressed me--one of the best teenage female protagonists I've ever read about. A solid third goes to JC Eggleton's "Brookhaven', for being spectacularly creepy and unputdownable. Honourable mention goes to the Game of Thrones series, but book 5 has been a disappointment thus far.

Ally: I'd have trouble just choosing one, too. Thanks for coming, Michelle. I've really enjoyed our chat, and I look forward to having you back sometime.

MICHELLE: It's been a pleasure meeting you, your readers, and I hope you'll stop by my blog! Also, "And the Stars Will Sing" is free from Dec 6 to Dec 10, and "The Stolen: Two Short Stories" will be on sale for .99. Pick them up, you won't regret it. This is your SciFiMagpie, over and out!


Picture



Book Blurb:

In the far future, travel is made possible by controlled wormholes made in the fabric of space-time. Crystal, a young woman freshly graduated from university, finds herself on her first job aboard the base-ship 'Crossing Paths'. Workplace politics and a romance make it complicated. The last thing she needs are the frightening errors beginning to crop up on her maps...

Buy Link:

http://www.amazon.com/And-Stars-Will-Sing-ebook/dp/B0075G7GEA/ref=pd_sim_sbs_kstore_1

Her second book, The Stolen: Two Short Stories, can be found here:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Stolen-Short-Stories-ebook/dp/B0094B0WFY

A new book, "The Loved, the Lost, the Dreaming" is coming soon! "
[Note: Obviously, that's already out, and you can buy it here and here and here!]


Picture

You might recognize my logo. Currently I use my face, but this is the bird that started it all.

Ally: I supposed the readers are wondering about the bird. Perhaps you should explain.

MICHELLE: I generally use a magpie for my author pic. I do have my real face on the internet, but the magpie is my logo, so look for this bird and you'll find me.

Ally: If you're not into bird watching, you might try these contact links. :-D

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3301336.Michelle_Browne
https://www.facebook.com/SciFiMagpie
http://scifimagpie.blogspot.ca/ 
*****
And that's all for today! Hope you enjoyed a chance to catch up on an oldie but goodie. Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the good kind of crazy. Find me on TwitterFacebook, and on Tumblr.  Keep checking back to see those surprise posts, too. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out! 

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