Indie Blow-Out at the Indiepalooza Conference

by Monica Shaughnessy

chairs-1442847If you’re an indie author (or thinking about becoming one) and live in the Greater Houston Area, then you should definitely go to Houston Writers Guild’s Indiepalooza on September 26th at the Crown Plaza (Galleria area). I will be speaking during the first break-out session on “Adding Art to Your Words.” I’ll talk about spicing up your indie works with illustration and building digital picture books and bonus books (for adults) using the Kindle Kid’s Book Creator.

Here’s a summary of my talk:

Images, whether photos or sketches, take your project to a professional level. During this workshop, learn how to jazz up your novel’s interior with illustrations and graphics. You’ll also discover how to work with programs like Kindle Kids’ Book Creator to take your picture book from idea to digital reality. Then we’ll dive into graphic “bonus books” that push creative limits and package extra content for your fans. Lastly, you’ll get an overview of the tools you’ll need to make it happen. Find out why indie publishing doesn’t have to be black and white anymore.

If art isn’t your thing, there are lots of other break-out sessions to choose from. Take a look:

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For those wanting an extra networking opportunity, there’s also a kick-off cocktail party the night before with the Pulpwood Queen’s founder, Kathy L. Murphy. She’ll offer insight on the relationship between book clubs and authors.

If you’re on the fence about coming, don’t be. I went to a HWG conference last year, and it was a great opportunity to meet fellow Houston writers. And I learned a few things to boot! What are you waiting for? Sign up now!

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ComicPalooza 2015

by Artemis Greenleaf

WP_20150523_001_smallI am no longer a virgin. Well, a ComicPalooza virgin – those of you who know I have two kids might have been confused by that announcement. Since I have both Sthenno and Euryale (the two immortal gorgons) appearing in Exit Point, I decided to dress as a gorgon. I also wore my holographic reptile eye sunglasses that I got at Ripley’s Believe it or Not NYC. If you want to see how I created my headpiece, you can read the details at my blog. I sat with some of the wonderful people of the Houston Writer’s Guild and Skipjack Publishing. It was a huge event, with 40,000 people turning up, many in costume, some of which were amazing. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend any of the panels, but it looked like they had some great content. There was a dizzying array of vendors – books, comics, jewelry, art, dragon pets and much, much more. Next year, it’s scheduled for mid-June instead of late May, which works out so much better for me. It seems like half the people I know attended and had a blast. The people-watching alone was worth the price of admission. It was wonderful to see so many creative folks in one place.

Skipjack Publishing has recently released two anthologies of Houston Writer’s Guild writers. One is Tides of Possibility (Space City Scribes’ own Mandy Broughton is in this one), and the other is Tides of Impossibility (both Mandy and I have stories in this collection). After sitting around chatting with my fellow authors and seeing all of the costumed conference attendees walking by, I was inspired to make a trailer for my story in Tides of Impossibility. Those who have read Cheval Bayard or The Hanged Man’s Wife might recognize one of the characters in The Thirteenth Summer.

I’m already thinking about what I’m going to wear to the con next year. Hope to see you there!

A Fantasy Interview: Almost as good as fantasy baseball–

by Mandy Broughton

Last Friday, Houston Writers Guild launched its new anthology, Tides of Impossibility. This collection of fantasy short stories is written by some of the field’s up-and-coming stars. And everyone knows what happens when I hear about a book launch–I find myself a new person to interview. After a flurry of emails, I was able to hunt down speak with one of the editors, C. Stuart Hardwick.

TOI

Mandy Broughton: I’m always curious how editors are chosen. Kyle Russell selected you as a co-editor on the Tides of Impossibility Fantasy Anthology. Is it true that when you gave Kyle a sample of your editing style, you used a gallon bucket of red paint versus a red pen? And you told him the tears of writers fuel you like Dilithium crystals do the Enterprise?

C. Stuart Hardwick: That’s a vile rumor started by the guy Kyle pays to clean out our buckets! Actually, editing an anthology is as much about time and energy as line editing. You spend a lot of time with each story, and you want it to be as pleasant as possible. Kyle and I had worked together promoting the scifi anthology, so we knew we had compatible tastes and temperaments. The guild has done a lot for me, so I was eager to give back. The rest was easy.

MB: Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. Hmm. I see distinct lines separating science fiction, fantasy, and horror, mostly determined on the basis if the story contains robots, magicians, or men in hockey masks. You write mostly science-fiction, but as an editor for a fantasy anthology, what do you see the differences among the three genres?

CSH: That sums it up rather well. It’s principally a topical difference, though fantasy readers are a bit more into world building, and horror of course has its own take on tension and pacing, and each follows its own tropes and conventions. But beneath all that, stories are about people, and the best are about interesting people in interesting circumstances changing in interesting ways. That’s what we tried to put into Tides.

I’ve found that the more I work in the field, the less I feel tied to any one sub-genre. If you asked me to recommend three books right now, they’d be Andy Weir’s The Martian, Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides, and Randy Henderson’s debut, Finn Fancy Necromancy. That’s one hard scifi and two fantasy, and all thoroughly enjoyable. What really drew me to scifi was how readily it skirts reality to act as a foil or lens through which we can view ourselves. But storytelling is more than social commentary. Space opera like Star Wars is arguably really fantasy with a technological aesthetic, and many of my perennial favorites, from Groundhog Day to SyFy’s Warehouse 13, are fantasies that I enjoy for the character arcs as mush as the plot conceit, which is why I think Robert Heinlein has the right idea in championing “speculative fiction” as an umbrella term.. 

MB: [An aside: Warehouse 13 BRILLIANT!] Okay, speaking of speculative fiction, umbrellas, and the great Robert Heinlein, you have been rubbing elbows with the top echelon of science-fiction. Tell us about your awards and publications.

CSH: I was fortunate enough to win the L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest last year, and they flew me to LA for a week long workshop taught by Tim Powers and Dave Farland. I got to meet a whole slew of scifi legends, from Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven to Nancy Kress and Nina Kiriki Hoffman. I dined with Starlog founder, Kerry O’Quinn, shared pizza with Robert J Sawyer, and spent the evening of my birthday standing out on Hollywood Boulevard watching the lunar eclipse with my awesome new writer friends.

I was also a finalist for the Jim Baen Memorial award and a semifinalist for the BSFA’s James White award, and I’m tremendously proud of making those lists. WotF, though, really lit the fire for me. It’s oddly humbling to be welcomed by such an array of luminaries who tell you in no uncertain terms, that while you have the ability, making it or not is still a long slog of hard work and perseverance.

MB: Is it true when Orson Scott Card asked you for your autograph that you told him to get to the end of the line with the rest of the losers?

CSH: Nooo. I think when Orson stepped up, I may have giggled like a little girl while I tried and failed to think up something memorable to write. Ender’s Game is once of my absolute favorites. And Orson was wearing sneakers with his suit, the devil.

MB: Sneakers with his suit, I like that almost as much as I love Ender’s Game. In your bio, you’ve mentioned that you’ve worn a cape. Readers want to know, when wearing the cape, who do you most resemble Bela Lugosi, Snidely Whipslash, or Batman?

CSH: Lugosi, of course. I was in a college production of Dracula. I’ve been told I have a light foot-step. That experience was very valuable, as my Van Helsing was always loosing his place in the script, and I found that you don’t get stage fright if you have something outside yourself to worry about. The image on my website landing page is of me sharing that advice on stage at the Ebell theater in LA.

MB: Anything else you’ve like to share?

CSH: Yes, Everyone check out Galaxy’s Edge magazine, issue 14., where my story appears along with those of Robert A. Heinlein, Larry Niven, Nancy Kress, David Brin, and Alan Dean Foster, among others. Galaxy’s Edge is edited by the inestimable Mike Resnick and filled with scifi and unique and quirky fantasy far afield of the traditional fae and dragon fare My story, Luck of the Chieftain’s Arrow, is a good example, about an elemental spirit that learns about love and loss as the copper it’s trapped in is passed down through human history.

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MB: I do believe May, 2015 is when your story will appear. Everyone check it out, it’ll be on the final exam. Thanks again, Stuart. Great work on the anthology. I’m looking forward to the release of Tides of Impossibility.

CSH: Me too. It’s has quite a variety and some really compelling worlds and characters. I know everyone will find something to their liking.

MB: Artemis Greenleaf has an excellent story in the collection as well a humorous piece from yours truly. That’s it. I hope everyone enjoys. **looks around** Hmm, I believe Stuart still has my pen I loaned him last Friday at the signing…

TOI