Read Across Durham Event Seeks Volunteers

Karlene Fyffe Phillips, Manager of Family Literacy and Community Services for Durham County Library, writes to ask for help recruiting volunteers for Read Across Durham, a city-wide event taking place in every 3rd grade classroom: “I need your help as we begin recruiting volunteers for our Read Across Durham event scheduled for March 2. Please share the link with as many folks as possible. We need volunteer readers for every third grade classroom. The details are included in the link.”

The details include: “Volunteers are needed on (Monday) March 2, 2015, 9:00-12:00 p.m. to read to third graders. We will meet at 9:00 a.m. at the DPS Staff Development Center for a mini training and presentation. The address is 2107 Hillandale Road, Durham, NC 27705. Breakfast snack items will be available from 9-9:30.”

Interested volunteers can click on “Sign Up” links at the event’s VolunteerSignup page:

Durham County Library

The Hardest Part: Darin Kennedy on The Mussorgsky Riddle

Charlotte “doctor by day, novelist by night” Darin Kennedy‘s debut novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle, is squarely right up my alley. “The Great Gate of Kiev” (part of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition) is one of my favorite pieces of Russian symphony, and Kennedy turns the mythopoeity up to “11” combining music, paranormal mystery, and classical mythology in a heady, panpsychic mix. All set in Charlotte — and the infinite mindscapes therein. Here, Kennedy writes about the hard part of discovering the first person present tense voice of psychic Mira Tejedor, as she struggles to unravel the riddle of 13-year-old Anthony Faircloth’s catatonia. In person, in addition to appearances at MystiCon, ConCarolinas, and ConGregate on the regional convention circuit, Kennedy will take part in the Bookmarks Movable Feast – Winston-Salem, NC on Sunday, January 25 from 3 pm to 5 pm.

By Darin Kennedy:

Tom Petty said “The waiting is the hardest part,” and I have to agree with him. The writing process does seem to be fraught with lots of hurry up and wait. Read the rest of this entry »

“Friday” Quick Updates, Thursday Morning Edition: new Piedmont Laureate James Maxey this afternoon, Stephen Hren tonight, MWWA nominations open, and other news and events

Thursday, January 22, 2015: Two events today of interest and some big news to pass along merit a early edition of Friday Quick Updates this week.

First, at 3:30 pm, Chapel Hill Public Library hosts a Meet the Author Tea with newly announced Piedmont Laureate for Speculative Fiction, James Maxey. I’m looking forward to what Maxey does with this fantastic platform this year, as he’ll be tapped for a series of blog posts and appearances throughout the region, throughout the year. (Speaking of Maxey, he has also just unveiled new print and ebook editions of his Dragon Apocalypse series.)

Second, this evening at 7 pm, The Regulator Bookshop hosts Durham author Stephen Hren for a reading from his latest novel, Max’s Hungry Ghost. It’s a recommended Indy Pick and I’m looking forward to a lively talk, as Hren attempts to explain how his non-fiction work (Tales from the Sustainable Underground) intertwines with his speculative fiction. Read the rest of this entry »

Paul Kincaid’s From the Other Side, December 2014: new books from Ben Elton, Russell Brand, Neil Gaiman, Jenny Erpenbeck, and Brian Baker

From the Other Side, December 2014

By Paul Kincaid

[Editor’s Note: From the Other Side is Paul Kincaid’s monthly column on books and news from the other side of the Atlantic.]

It’s the time of year when publishers (like the rest of us) tend to concentrate on parties, on closing early for the holidays, and on hoping that books published earlier in the year keep providing an income now. So I have, inevitably, less that’s new to talk about this time around.

Christmas is, of course, the time for celebrity books. And science fiction is not, alas, immune from the disease. This year, for example, we have Ben Elton, stand-up comedian and one of the writers of Blackadder, with a time travel novel, Time and Time Again (Bantam). Elton is no stranger to writing novels, this is his 15th, and one or two have played with genre ideas before. In this one, alas, the familiar title leads us into a very familiar plot: someone travels back in time to prevent the First World War by assassinating the Kaiser. It’s mostly a sightseeing tour of Europe immediately before the war, with a distinctly shop-soiled plot tacked on.

Time and Time Again The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales, #1) The Sleeper and the Spindle

Read the rest of this entry »

Coming to Town: Christopher J Garcia for illogiCon, interviewed by M. David Blake

Introduction and interview by M. David Blake:

Christopher J Garcia, who bears the dubious distinction of having delivered the only Hugo Award acceptance to ever subsequently receive its own nomination for a Hugo Award in a different category, is the fan guest of honor at this weekend’s illogiCon at the Embassy Suites RDU. His schedule includes speculation upon the future, spacefaring worth of contemporary, earthbound culture; steampunk, and the “Weird West”; Thunderbirds, Bone-Sharps, and their kin (think Jim Ottaviani’s comic novel, Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards, rather than anything having to do with Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation); Greek sports; and a star-studded, far-ranging, extemporaneous exploration of “The History of Anything You Wanna Know”.

Christopher J Garcia

Q: You’ve had an interesting relationship with fandom, from a very early age. Arguably, any of us who ventured into editing did so because it was cheaper than therapy… but it takes a special type of insanity to assemble a fanzine. What made you want to do so? Was it simply a matter of exposure, or were there deeper influences at play?

A: I’ve always loved writing. That’s really my passion, and I foolishly majored in it at Emerson College. I was taught to read from copies of Granfalloon and Niekas, so maybe it was pre-determined, but for years, I just had no interest. I guess it was a combination of turning 30 and having my first mid-life crisis, followed by basically deciding to give up on fiction writing that led me to look for an outlet for my own words. It also helped that made it very easy to get a zine out to a wide swatch of people, and that I was reading Earl Kemp’s eI regularly, which is enough to inspire anyone to go out and try their hand at it!

Q: Seems to have worked out well, because the last time I saw you was only a few hours after your memorable acceptance of the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. At that point you told me about your big plans for the 300th issue of The Drink Tank. Now, a few minutes ago I glanced at, and realized you are fast approaching another milestone. So, more big plans? How do you top the post-Hugo extravaganza with which you celebrated, a little over three years ago? Read the rest of this entry »

The Hardest Part: Stephanie Ricker on The Battle of Castle Nebula

I met Cary author Stephanie Ricker through publishing her story “Inseparables’ War” in Bull Spec #7, and her reading of the story at a NC Speculative Fiction night event. I was very happy to see her have a story in the Rooglewood Press anthology Five Glass Slippers: A Collection of Cinderella Stories in June of 2014, and very excited when I learned that she would be continuing the universe of her story “A Cinder’s Tale” in a novella series The Cendrillon Cycle. In December, Ricker published the first of those novellas, The Battle of Castle Nebula, and as you might be able to guess from the cover art, this is a planet-spanning science fictional retelling. And here, Ricker tells us about the hardest part of, well, everything.

The Battle of Castle Nebula (The Cendrillon Cycle, #1)

By Stephanie Ricker:

When asked what the hardest part of writing The Battle of Castle Nebula was, I’m tempted to gaze back with haunted eyes and melodramatically whisper, “Everything.” Looking back on the process from a comfy couple months without looming deadlines, I’m forced to admit that’s not really true.

But, wow, did it feel that way. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hardest Part: Bridget Ladd on Ardent Ascension

I don’t have too much of an intro for you this time as I’ve only almost met Raleigh author Bridget Ladd. I can tell you that she came to my attention by way of Bull Spec art director (and fellow ECU grad) Gabriel Dunston, and that her 2013 dystopian Steampunk debut novel The Lotus Effect has received (and continues to pick up) acclaim and readers and reviews, including being named a Cygnus Award Winner. (It’s also available in a fantastic audiobook edition, narrated by Elizabeth Klett.) Last year, Ladd published a sequel, book two in her “Rise of the Ardent” series, entitled Ardent Ascension, and here she writes about “forging” ahead in her series. (For which, incidentally, she’s just unveiled the cover for Soul Arbor, the forthcoming third book.)

The Lotus Effect (Rise Of The Ardent, #1) Ardent Ascension (Rise Of The Ardent, #2)

By Bridget Ladd:

Last night, after what felt like hours of scouring through my extensive Netflix queue, I finally settled for a Nova documentary, Secrets of the Viking Sword, which showcased the legendary Viking sword ‘+VLFBERH+T’ which may have you thinking, what’s that got to do with this article? Well, many things! First off, now you know I’m a dweeb and secondly, I’m going to illustrate how forging a sword (an awesome sword) relates to writing a great second novel. Read the rest of this entry »


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