Spooky is 5 am at an Airport?

That was the weekend that was. I dropped Jane Yolen off at the airport at 5 am. She tells me she’s going back to around 20 inches of snow and no electricity. But her flights were on time. Her son, Adam Stemple, was also at the convention. Yesterday I took both of them to see Puss in Boots. They were good guests, and we appreciated them coming out.

And now, back to reality. I have finished the ELA proposal that took 2 months to write. Now it is with the dean, so we’ll see what changes she might like before it goes upstairs.

Tonight is the last night of Klarions for about a month. Tomorrow we change gears and move toward vampire hunting children. Which might echo my evening at home, depending on how the kids are dressed tonight when they stop by.

Happy Halloween to you all.



I spent the morning essentially working on what I would call the final first draft of Substance of Shadows. Not that I expect that to make any sense at all.

Right now I’m having to choose between writing the book and writing the blog. I think I’m making the right choice, although I miss writing insightful blog thoughts and commenting large scale in your lives. It’s always something. Still, it does me no good to pretend to be a writer by writing here and not writing real stories.

I’m going to leave you with a link to Chuck Wendig’s Twenty-Five Reasons You Won’t Finish That Story.


The Other Weekend Convention

No, I will not be at World Fantasy. It would be a blast, but I am not coming. Instead, I am going to be at Icon this weekend. Yup, in exotic Cedar Rapids.

Most of my weekend will be spent shuttling around fiction and folklore icon Jane Yolen. Which will be pretty cool, actually, because we can talk folklore.

And I’ll be reading and on a few panels. Here’s my schedule, in case you’re, you know, at Icon too.

Fri. 5:00 PM: Adapting the Brothers Grimm and Other Fairy Tales – Boardroom 234

Sat. 11:00 AM: The Books that Influenced Us (And Still Do) – Chestnut

Sat. 3:00 PM: Catherine Schaff-Stump Reading – Boardroom 234

Sun. 10:00 AM: Writing Other Cultures – Dogwood

I hope you all have a great time at World Fantasy. I’ll do my best to have a good weekend as well.


The Standard Bearer, Part 2

The Standard Bearer pointed at the castle and said to her Companion, “There. This is the home of the lord and lady I serve.”

Stones littered the ground in front of the castle, and as they watched, the roof of a parapet crumbled and sprinkled to the ground. The Companion said nothing, but followed the Standard Bearer into the courtyard. They picked their way around the rocks and ducked under the stuck portcullus. No one greeted them. The Standard Bearer led the Companion past a rotting smoke house and into a hall. Above, the tapestries, shredded and moldy, glittered as they crumbled around them in the wind that entered from the collapsed roof. One large door hung askew and behind the door sat a king and queen.

The King, gaunt and shadowed, would not meet the eyes of the Companion. The bloated Queen spoke. “You’ve returned. Where have you been?”

Continue reading “The Standard Bearer, Part 2”

The Shout Out Thread

I would like to promote some of my writer friend’s recent publications and acceptances, but there are so many of them that I worry about forgetting many things. Given the amount of brain space work is taking up these days, that’s almost a guarantee.

It is my hope that if I BEG my writer friends, they will be happy to comment about their latest and/or upcoming releases, either here, at Dreamscape, or at Live Journal, and I can edit them into this thread. Heck, even if you feel like reminding people about something you’ve got out there that needs a little love, go for it.

So, guys, tell these nice people where they can read your work. And don’t be shy. I did ask you.



And here are the authors! YES!

Naomi Clark: I’m in the middle of release panic as my second Urban Wolf book, DARK HUNT, came out this week! If people like queer fiction, werewolves, and Paris, they might like this 🙂 All the info is at my blog.

George Galuschak: My short story, “Middle Aged Weirdo in a Cadillac,” is still available at Podcastle. It’s read by Norm Sherman, who does a great job!

Jon Gibbs: My debut novel, Fur-Face (Echelon Press, 2010), is scheduled for paperback release this month. I heard from the publisher yesterday that it’ll be available at Amazon.com within the next week.

Chang Terhune: Some of my work can be found on my site where much fine dining, whining, droning and writing occurs.

Shveta Thakrar: For my part, a bunch of awesome writers and I have stories coming out in Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories, due to release next week on the twenty-sixth. Anyone who’s interested in finding out more can contact the editrix, JoSelle Vanderhooft.

Martha Wells: Most recent for me is fantasy novel THE CLOUD ROADS, which came out from Night Shade last March. The second book in the series, THE SERPENT SEA, will be out in January.

Kurt Wilcken: A project I was working on last year has finally seen daylight: A children’s book entitled “Trouble on Earth Day” by a writer and teacher named Kathy Stemke, which I illustrated.

As for writing, I’ve been doing a lot off blogging about Science Fiction and Fantasy novels on the Daily Kos website. I’ve just started a discussion of Roger Zelazny’s “Lord of Light”.

And I would indeed be remiss if I did not plug my webcomic, HANNIBAL TESLA ADVENTURE MAGAZINE, a pulp-era adventure about a two-fisted scientist in the Doc Savage mold. I’ve recently started a storyline about how Ginger DuPree, gutsy girl reporter, encountered the “CAT-MEN from MARS!”

The Same Thing We Do Every Night, Pinky…

Here I am, thinking.

What I am thinking is that I now have only one short story circulating. Mark Twain’s Daughter came home yesterday, and true to my word, I sent it out to Writers of the Future. Well, I wrote the nice people at WotF with a question, and they were so solicitous and helpful I felt like I really should send them something.

When I came back from Viable Paradise in 2009, I was given the gift of confidence. I have been very careful to prune that confidence so it doesn’t turn into overconfidence. (Confidence gone to seed is pretty ugly and can smell like yesterday’s marijuana.) At the time I received a real gift from many of my fellow VPers. Lots of them suggested that what I had taken to the workshop was unique, and that it might go somewhere. I felt renewed in my resolve to do the kind of thing I do. Not so commercial, me, but I know what I do.

Flash forward to now. Here I am in the middle of the Klarion third book rewrite. My initial readers tell me it’s working, but I feel like I’m floundering. The only thing for it right now is to keep writing and not let the editor turn on until I at least have a first draft. This is hard, but I am trying.

At the same time, this is taking me a long time. I am not competing with anyone but myself, but I feel strange that I’m doing only this isolated thing. I have no avatars in the world right now but one. And I know this can’t be the best way to meet editors, make connections, and all that jazz. It seems counter-intuitive to that end.

I find myself pulled in several directions. I have a lot of ideas of things I’d like to try, and finite time to try them in. I’m trying to focus myself on one project right now, but I feel other projects slipping away from me.

It hasn’t been all morass this last year. What I feel I have done this year is gotten better at writing short stories. I have one story coming out in November, and one I wrote last year coming sometime. And I have expanded my sense of belonging and participation in the writing community. That’s something.

Nevertheless, I feel that I must do a bit more. I work best with goals and an action plan. Cue the action plan.

Continue reading “The Same Thing We Do Every Night, Pinky…”

VP Profile #20: Marion Engelke

Marion Engelke is a praticing psychotherapist who just moved to Hamburg, Germany to get married. She is also a fantastic writer.

Tamago: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Marion: I don’t remember ever wanting to be a writer. What I wanted was to write stories as gripping as the one I’d just finished reading.

Writing seems the truest form of being me. I don’t feel that there’s a choice involved, only the courage to become who I am. And getting better at it.

As a child, I was a voracious reader. Back then, I’ve found more comfort and advice and friendship in stories and books than I got from the people around me.

That sad state of affairs has changed, thank goodness, but it has shaped who I am today: a writer.

I’ve found the courage to write my first novel ten years ago, in my mid-thirties, shortly after I’d made the jump into self-employment as a psychotherapist. Getting better at it is an ongoing process.

Tamago: What is your favorite genre to write in? Why?

Marion: What I am inspired to write seems to depend on where I am, as if stories grew from the soil like trees. I seem to have a strong sense of place, of genus loci. That’s why my favorite genre for now is urban fantasy. I like to walk through a city, and watch, and listen, and scent and find a city’s stories and put them into words. As I’ve moved from one city into another recently, I’m curious of what that move will do to my writing process.

Tamago: Does your professional career in psychology impact your writing?

Marion: The biggest impact is that my job as psychotherapist limits my writing time. But then again, as a means of earning my living it’s not too bad. I decide when and how much I work and being my own boss suits me.

Other than that: My wife thinks that I’m doing a better job as a therapist because I am a writer. She says she would prefer a therapist who is passionate about writing novels over one who is passionate about listening to other people’s problems.

I’m not so sure, but as she is a wise person, she may be right.

Tamago: Which writers are your influences?>

Marion: I find that any story that moves me deeply makes me want to answer with a story of my own. Ten years ago, when I embarked on writing my first novel in earnest, it was Robin Hobb’s Farseer novels that inspired me to do so. Other author’s whose stories have touched me like this are: Nicola Griffith, Elizabeth Bear, and most recently N.K Jemisin. Earlier influences are Ursula K. Leguin and Dorothy Leigh Sayers. I admire Ms. Sayers for her ability to characterize with a few lines of dialog.

I prefer stories with queer characters and subtle emotional layers and good prose. Sarah Waters and Charles de Lint come to mind. As a young adult Hans Bemman’s “Stein und Flöte” was a very important book, not that I ever want to write a tome of 800 pages in that fairytale voice of his. As a child my most beloved book was Astrid Lindgren’s “Brothers Lionheart”.

Cathie Dunsford and her partner Karin Meissenburg taught me much about the spiritual dimension of the writing process.

Does your composing process vary between English and German writing? Does being a native German speaker influence your English writing?

Marion: I’ve always had an affinity for English and during the last twenty years I’ve easily read more fiction in English than in German. All that reading makes me rather fluent, I think. Still, when it’s a matter of subtle nuances and complex sentences, I can express myself better in German. As a result, my English writing tends to shorter sentences and more action, which can be an advantage.

Lines of dialogue often come to me in English and I have the hardest time to translate them back into German.

When I translate something I’ve written in German (and that’s more a matter of rewriting than truly translating the sentences) the text usually emerges leaner and more straightforward than the German original. Sometimes I think of translating as an unusual kind of editing. It’s a joy to be able to write in two languages.

Tamago: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start writing?

Marion: Prepare for a kind of madness and good luck.

Tamago: What was the most valuable part of the Viable Paradise writing experience for you?

Marion: Coming home with confidence in my ability to write in English.

Tamago: Where do you hope to be in five years as a writer?

Marion: I hope to be able to write a good plot and have at least one novel published.

Tamago: What is your dream writing project?

Marion: Well, the good thing about dreaming up your own stories is that you can write whatever you want. For me there’s nothing like a dream writing project, there’s only the next writing project. As I have just now too many unfinished stories floating around, I need to finish or retire the lot of them before a start a new one.

The new one will be an urban fantasy novel set in Hamburg, the city I moved into a few weeks ago. I’m looking forward to taking long walks through my new city’s streets, learn about her past and present, and find the story idea that suits her.

Tamago: What are you working on right now?

Marion: I haven’t written enough words to count them since April. Instead of writing, I got married, moved from Berlin to Hamburg, sold my practice in Berlin and bought a new one. All the space in my brain was taken up with organizational details. No room left room for breeding stories.

I hope to be back to a proper writing routine come November, though. I’ve been working on an urban fantasy novel set in Berlin for some years now, and at Viable Paradise Jim MacDonald said that he saw that I will work on it until I get it right.

Well, I’m not there yet. Come November, I’ll take the Berlin novel apart and recycle some of its chapters as short stories featuring an involuntary witch and the ghost of an elk. The rest needs to be rewritten (again). I hope that the next draft will work (at last).

I’ve had the good fortune to read that Berlin novel in its last incarnation, and my hope is that some of those characters resurface. It was moody, broody,

The Standard Bearer

I did mention that I wanted to write a post related to Sean Craven’s recent entry over at Renaissance Oaf, entitled An Immigrant in the Country of Love.

I’ve been finding a lot of parallels in my own earlier transformation and Sean’s current ones, as he begins to see himself as part of a larger community of artists. It’s good reading. He’s written very frankly about this experience. Do read his entry. It will NOT disappoint.

And it moves me to write something of my own, which is about my own tranformative experience. You can sort of see the overlap and the differences in how we both became larger than where we came from. Mine’s more than one part, I’m afraid. Bear with me.

Continue reading “The Standard Bearer”

A Neo-Con Proposal

Mississippi, don’t make me come down there. I mean it. And I’m not really happy with Kansas either right now.

Perhaps no where have I seen more righteous anger about what’s being done to women than in Tamora Pierce’s journal.

Jim Hines elaborates on Topeka in two posts.


Well, then. I guess there’s no need to worry about the inequality of women in the US anymore, is there? Got that one sewn up, do we?

And I guess the life of a woman is not as important as that of an unborn child. That doesn’t make women second class citizens or anything. We’re tough, women. Rape, incest, dire medical conditions. Hey, it’s okay. We can suck it up.

And I imagine that supporters of these two movements have plans to provide for impoverished children of the poor, or unwanted children, or children that grow up in homes like mine, where maybe parents who shouldn’t have children had them? Excellent. Glad to know you’ve got our backs! No wonder we could repeal domestic violence as a criminal act. I also feel comforted that all American children won’t be growing up in poverty any longer.

What? You say you don’t have a plan? Happily, I do. Actually, in all fairness, it’s not my plan. But it is a plan to help the women who will be forced to have children get a little money for them, or get rid of them if the child is unwanted or an unfortunate reminder. Domestic violence might be reduced too, because wives and babies are a valuable commodity.

It’s all good, Neo-cons. Me and Jonathan Swift, we got your back. At no cost to you, and at some profit for the families. Reduced domestic violence, and fake virtue for the women having children. It’s all good.

Since this is a bottom up approach, it will ultimately also solve your Occupy Wall Street problem.

Well, that was a good morning’s work. I’d best get to work on world peace…