The Hardest Part: Jeremy Zerfoss on Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative FictionPosted: 13 November, 2013
Life is sometimes a fortuitous sequence of events and meetings all leading to someplace interesting. For example: artist Jeremy Zerfoss started doing work with Jeff VanderMeer; I was publishing a review of VanderMeer’s non-fiction collection Monstrous Creatures and found room for Jeremy’s fantastic limited edition dust jacket cover; and then was later able to commission Jeremy to put together his amazing cover for Bull Spec #6 to celebrate all things VanderMeer. Looking back, I barely remember the process on my end of asking for that cover: “Do something weird and cool, thanks!” is probably as far as I got, and before long this amazing thing grew and became the cover. This process was quite short and brief, not taking years of back and forth collaboration via email, phone, and perhaps coded telegraphs or carrier pigeon missives, as the process Jeremy writes about here: that of working with Jeff to create Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction.
By Jeremy Zerfoss:
Blunderbook: Or The Hardest Part Of Working With A Murderous Bear
Hello everyone – my name is Jeremy Zerfoss and I’m the main illustrator of Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer, newly released by Abrams and available wherever awesome can be found.
Sam asked me to write a bit about the hardest part of working on this two year (OMG!) project and it took a bit longer than I expected since for a book that was this crazy, and this unprecedented — there were quite a few obstacles to tackle.
So… let me break this down as best I can: Read the rest of this entry »
Monday miscellany: call for winter short stories for charity; the Odyssey workshop announces winter classes; and the Piedmont Laureate Program seeks candidates for its short fiction awardPosted: 11 November, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013: Here I’m just going to put out three unrelated things that I’ve been meaning to write about but just haven’t found the time or space to do so.
1. TRIANGLE RADIO READING SERVICE ISSUES CALL FOR LOCAL WRITERS WINTER STORIES
First, and this one’s a long, long time in coming, with a hat tip to Pete Wood for sending along this call for stories, on behalf of Triangle Radio Reading Service:
Triangle Radio Reading Service is planning a “Local Writers’ Christmas/Winter Stories” program. Our readers are all volunteers; our listeners are all print-and-visually-impaired. Stories must be twenty minutes or less and “for some reason appropriate to be read on or about December 25.” Multiple one-hour episodes with be recorded and aired one or more times on-and-around December 25. Writers must be willing to allow stories to be read this year and in the future.Send stories to (or address questions to) email@example.com. Learn more about the service at trianglereadingservice.org.
I know there’s quite a few local folks with stories of this nature, so if anyone’s interested, please contact Kurt at TRRS. I did send some of my own questions to Kurt on 5/28 about deadlines and also previously podcast stories and he promptly got back to me, at which time I promptly neglected to do anything further with them:
Addressing your questions:
1. Deadlines: I can start collecting stories now and can continue to collect until the end of November. At that point, I should be “calling it” and determining just how many stories we have, thereby establishing how many shows I can put together.
2. Previously recorded stories: Yes! It would certainly save time and trouble on this end. I listened to the link you sent, however, and I would want to ask permission to edit some of the “extraneous” information before inserting such a story into one of our shows. We normally just have the reader’s name and that of the author. Information to share with potential contributors: We will be broadcasting each show that I “cobble-together” one or more times during the month of December. They will also be available in podcast. And we do re-broadcast holiday programs in following years. Examples of previous Christmas Story programs (note that these are not “local originals”):
Other podcasts of ours are here: http://www.ibiblio.org/trrs/
I know I’m planning to beg Tina Connolly to lend her reading of my own Bad Elf for this, which I hope there’s still time to squeeze in.
2. ODYSSEY WRITING WORKSHOPS CHARITABLE TRUST ANNOUNCES WINTER 2014 ONLINE CLASSES
Second, the folks at the Odyssey Writing Workshop wrote to announce their Winter 2014 online classes, adding that “Odyssey’s winter 2014 courses focus on key issues for writers”. Here they are in brief:
- Powerful Dialogue in Fantastic Fiction — Course Meets: January 2 – 30, 2014; Instructor: Jeanne Cavelos; Application Deadline: December 7, 2013
- The Heart of the Matter: Bringing Emotional Resonance to Your Storytelling — Course Meets: January 6 – February 3, 2014; Instructor: Barbara Ashford; Application Deadline: December 10, 2013
- The Secrets of a Satisfying Short Story — Course Meets: January 23 – February 20, 2014; Instructor: Nancy Holder; Application Deadline: December 27, 2013
3. PIEDMONT LAUREATE PROGRAM SEEKS CANDIDATES FOR ITS SHORT FICTION AWARD
Lastly, the NC Laureate folks wrote to let me know that “The Piedmont Laureate program is accepting applications from writers of short fiction to serve as the 2014 Piedmont Laureate. Would you be kind enough to help us spread the word? Authors must be residents of Wake, Alamance, Durham or Orange counties. The selected Piedmont Laureate will serve from March 1 to December 31, 2014. Laureate activities include presenting readings and workshops, encouraging creative writing and promoting literature at public events. Typical appearances last between twenty minutes and one hour. Honorarium: $6,500. Application Deadline: January 9, 2014.“
Guidelines and Application: http://piedmontlaureate.com/guidelinesapplication.html
Piedmont Laureate website: www.piedmontlaureate.com
I know John Claude Bemis has enjoyed his turn as the Piedmont Laureate for Children’s Fiction; here’s hoping that the area gets a fantastic representative among its collection of fantastic short fiction writers for this posting.
Well, well, well. It’s early November and already our fantastic local bookstores are working on 2014 events, the first of which on my calendar — other than illogiCon of course! — is now set for Friday, January 17, when Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books will host author Carrie Vaughn at 7:30 pm.
Vaughn is the author of the Kitty Norville urban fantasy series (from Kitty and the Midnight Hour in 2005 through Kitty in the Underworld earlier this year — so far), and she is appearing locally in support of her forthcoming superhero novel, Dreams of the Golden Age, a follow-on to her 2011 novel After the Golden Age.
Thanks to Quail Ridge Books, Tor, and Vaughn for giving us another early reason — on top of illogiCon, of course! — to anticipate the New Year.
I know Roanoke, VA author Mike Allen primarily through his fantastic speculative poetry (his poem “Hungry Constellations” is currently featured at Goblin Fruit) and in his role as editor of both his poetry journal Mythic Delirium and his anthology series Clockwork Phoenix. But he’s also quite an accomplished short fiction writer, with stories in Solaris Rising 2, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Weird Tales, and his Nebula Award nominated story “The Button Bin” in Helix. (Though, admittedly, I didn’t catch it until it was podcast at Pseudopod.) And, with The Black Fire Concerto, he’s a published novelist as well. Here, Mike writes about the potential pitfalls of outrunning your own story.
By Mike Allen:
The hardest part of writing The Black Fire Concerto? Maintaining the pace without losing sight of the story. Read the rest of this entry »
Friday Quick Updates, Monday edition: James Dashner, Chris Hardwick, NC Comicon, and Gabriel Dunston’s Kickstarter for Purgatory PubPosted: 4 November, 2013
Monday, November 4, 2013: I’m late this month with the newsletter to be sure, and have at least one more thing to put the finishing touches on before I can click “send” — that being the annual holiday gift guide to the year in NC speculative fiction. But until then, some quick updates to get to:
- As today was the first Monday of the month, I was on Carolina Book Beat again for the monthly focus on NC speculative fiction, this time with guests Diana Bastine and Debra Killeen. If you missed it live, look for the podcast in a week or so, and in the mean time you can catch up with their previous appearance on the show, in 2011.
- Did you make it or miss it? Some recent events to round up: Lemony Snicket at Quail Ridge Books, The Festival of Legends’ Unseelie Eve, and Duke’s “Race in Space” conference to close October, then on to HonorCon and other conventions, including at least one local representative (Mark Van Name) at this year’s World Fantasy Awards in Brighton, United Kingdom, where both the World Fantasy Awards and British Fantasy Awards were announced. For the latter award, the BFA for best anthology went to Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and the Arcane, which includes the short story “Buttons” by Charlotte author Gail Z. Martin, so congratulations to Gail!
Meanwhile, the current news and events for this week:
- James Dashner, the author of the bestselling Maze Runner trilogy, visits Quail Ridge Books on Wednesday November 6th at 7 pm for his new book, The Eye of Minds.
- The Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick, also the host of AMC’s The Walking Dead talk show The Talking Dead, will have a standup comedy show at the Carolina Theatre of Durham on Friday November 8th.
- Speaking of the Carolina Theatre of Durham, they’re hosting a ComiQuest Film Festival this weekend (Nov 8-10) in conjunction with NC Comicon (Nov 9-10 at the adjoining Durham Convention Center, with a free pre-party on Friday, and a special event with Neal Adams at Ultimate Comics on Wednesday evening). See this Ultimate Comics Facebook note for the full details.
And two more events this Saturday (November 9th) in medium- and far-flung places:
- The Charleston Young Adult Book Festival, YALLFest, in Charleston, SC. With guests Lev Grossman, Leigh Bardugo, Libba Bray, Rae Carson, David Macinnis Gill, Lauren Oliver, Veronica Roth, Veronica Rossi, Victoria Schwab, and many others. More info: http://yallfest.org/
- The First Annual Peak City Book Festival will take place on November 9th, 2013 from 11 am to 5 pm at The Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex, North Carolina.
Whew! But one more thing before I let you go, and that’s this:
Bull Spec art director Gabriel Dunston has two weeks to go on his Purgatory Pub (Book 1) Kickstarter, where he’s already collected pledges of $1500 towards his goal of of $3500. The first of a five book graphic novel series on the afterlife, Purgatory Pub asks “What do the Angel and Devil on your shoulders do when they are done harassing you?” and answers “They go to a bar and talk about you.” There’s a 2-chapter PDF preview available as well, so go check it out!
Charlotte author Gail Z. Martin is no stranger to Bull Spec’s ongoing guest column series The Hardest Part, as she wrote about launching a new epic fantasy universe with Ice Forged in January after six books in her . Here, she writes about an interesting difficulty encountered when jumping between epic fantasy and urban fantasy for her forthcoming 2013 novel, Deadly Curiosities as part of her ongoing Days of the Dead blog tour. Read on past the end for more info on her tour and for info on a one-day Kindle Daily Deal tomorrow (Oct 31) on Ice Forged.
By Gail Z. Martin:
With my new novel Deadly Curiosities (Solaris Books, summer 2014), I make the jump to urban fantasy. I’ve been writing epic fantasy for seven years, and will be continuing my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga books for Orbit with Reign of Ash in April, so I’ll really have a foot in both camps. That’s like trying to ride two horses at once, which are each running at different paces.
I’ve read a lot from both epic and urban fantasy, but it was a bit of a switch shifting from third-person narrative for the epic books into first-person for the urban stories. But I would say that the hardest part has been convincing myself that it’s ok to use modern phrases in the urban book since I worked so hard to become aware of them and avoid them in the epic books.
There are so many words and phrases that we use every day that do a great job of conveying exactly what we mean. In normal conversation, we don’t worry about the origin. In writing, it matters a lot. There are a couple of etymology web sites that have become bookmarks on my computer because I am frequently checking to see when a word or phrase was first used, and how it was used. For example, people have been puking since the Middle Ages, but they didn’t barf until recently. And while they have been pissing for hundreds of years, it’s only in the last few decades that anyone has been pissed off.
It matters because the wrong word choice is an anachronism and it ruins the suspension of disbelief for the reader. The right words take the reader deeper into the atmosphere of the book. The wrong word yanks them out with a hook.
Since I’m a word junkie, I find this fun. I collect cool words like other people collect shiny rocks. So I’m overjoyed when I find a great period-authentic word that is exactly what I need. The trick is to sprinkle those less familiar, but authentic, words so that they are enjoyable little bonuses instead of annoying readers by sending them to their thesaurus on every page.
With Deadly Curiosities, it’s also fun because the book is set in modern-day Charleston, SC, so there are some wonderful concepts and phrases unique to that area that help to set the mood. And while visiting the Middle Ages to check out locations isn’t entirely possible (although it’s amazing how instructive it is to visit what’s left), scouting local spots in Charleston is easy and always a pleasure.
So there you have it–the hardest part is remembering to have characters speak in modern English. Strange, but true!
Come check out all the free excerpts, book giveaways and other goodies that are part of my Days of the Dead blog tour! Trick-or-Treat you way through more than 30 partner sites where you’ll find brand new interviews, freebies and more–details at www.AscendantKingdoms.com.
Ice Forged will be a Kindle Daily Deal with a special one-day price of just $1.99 only on October 31! Get it here: http://amzn.com/B008AS86QY
Reign of Ash, book two in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga launches in April, 2014 from Orbit Books. My new urban fantasy, Deadly Curiosities, comes out in July, 2014 from Solaris Books. I bring out two series of ebook short stories with a new story every month for just .99 on Kindle, Kobo and Nook—check out the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures or the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.
About the author: Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga and the upcoming Reign of Ash (Orbit Books, 2014), plus The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven & Dark Lady’s Chosen ) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn and The Dread) from Orbit Books. In 2014, Gail launches a new urban fantasy novel, Deadly Curiosities, from Solaris Books. She is also the author of two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures. Find her at www.ChroniclesOfTheNecromancer.com, on Twitter @GailZMartin, on Facebook.com/WinterKingdoms, at DisquietingVisions.com blog and GhostInTheMachinePodcast.com.