Thursday, February 23, 2012

IGMS Awards Anthology Book Signing

Orson Scott Card, Edmund Schubert, Dena Harris, and Scott M. Roberts were on hand at the Friendly Center Barnes and Noble in Greensboro, NC for a book signing on February 10.
The signing commemorated the release of the IGMS Awards Anthology and Orson Scott Card’s novel, Shadows In Flight.  It kicked off at 7pm.  Edmund and Dena talked about getting the anthology together for publishing, and about the search for good short stories.  Scott read a selection from his story ‘The End of the World Pool’ which appears in the anthology; then Orson Scott Card talked about Ender’s Game, writing, education, history…pretty much everything.
You can purchase the IGMS Awards Anthology from Spotlight Publishing, from Amazon (paperback | Kindle), or Barnes and Noble.
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Orson Scott Card preparing to speak

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Left to right: Orson Scott Card, Edmund Schubert,  Scott M. Roberts, Dena Harris

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Edmund Schubert shows off the anthology

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Dena Harris talking publishing.

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Scott M. Roberts in standard, government approved,  authorial pose.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Contaminant Source Removed—K.G. Jewell

“Contaminant Source Removed” embraces the writer's aphorism "get your character in trouble quickly." The first draft of “Contaminant Source Removed” started when I wrote the first line that remains in the text: “It was the third spell that got Marco into trouble.”

contaminant-source-removedWith that promise of pending conflict, I bought myself a little breathing room to meet Marco and his world. As I got to know Marco, who I must admit, (unlike many of my characters,) reminds me a little bit of myself, it became clear to me his initial challenge was a going to be relatively mundane, personal one.

I have a mundane, personal challenge in my life: Keeping my space clean. Who likes to clean? Ok, bad rhetorical question, because there are folks out there who enjoy such activities. I am not one of them, and I'm pretty sure Marco isn't either. Given that, a magic spell that kept my space clean so I didn’t have to would be great. What could go wrong with that?

"What could go wrong with that magic" is an ingredient, aka trope, in many classic tales. (see, for example W.W. Jacob's "The Monkey's Paw".) “Contaminant Source Removed” is built around that ingredient: Marco casts a spell to clean his room, and finds out he’s what’s making it dirty. Wackiness ensues.

Some authors reject recycling classic ingredients, feeling they are tired clichés. I’m not one of those authors. I generally write fiction to be enjoyed, not pondered, and clichés, i.e. field-tested narrative contaminant-source-removeddevices, are useful structures around which to build new, hopefully humorous, quirks and insights with which to entertain the reader. In the type of fiction I'm trying to write, what matters is not where you are going, but how you get there.

Hopefully you agree.

DVD Bonus Tracks: Although the opening line remained through the (many) drafts of this story, many other were cut. Here’s a couple of my favorite bits that were cut during the critique and editing process for this tale:

· An early working title: Squeaky Clean. (Who doesn’t like a pun involving a hamster?)

· When Tommy and Marco are hanging out at the sleepover: Marco flicked the light on and off. Maybe he could send an SOS with the flashlight and get rescued by the coast guard. That had worked for Scooby-Doo once. (Who doesn’t like Scooby Doo references?)

· There was also an early-draft scene where Marco is at dinner with his folks, trying to cover up the fact he can’t go into his room. (This scene fully deserved to be cut, as it added nothing to the plot and wasn’t funny.)

By the way, I notice Edmund introduced this tale as “a fun YA fantasy.” While I don’t disagree with that characterization, I didn’t set out to write a YA tale when I sat down to write this one. As I see it, cleaning your room is a challenge for all ages.

-K.G. Jewell

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

InterGalactic Awards Anthology - signing event

If you're in (or near) the Greensboro, NC area on the evening of Friday, Feb. 10, please drop by the Barnes & Noble at the Friendly Shopping Center. Orson Scott Card, Edmund Schubert, and Scott Roberts will be doing a signing, featuring Card's latest saga in the Ender universe, Shadows in Flight, and the new IGMS anthology, the InterGalactic Awards Anthology, Vol. 1. The signing starts at 7pm and ends when we run out of books. Hope to see you there.

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Lair of the Twelve Princesses—Amanda C. Davis

I tried to write this story three times, and like a typical fairy-tale idiot with the usual amount of wishes, I borked it up twice and had to fix everything in round three.

Summer, 2004. Take one. Two friends and I were excited about our the-lair-of-the-twelve-princessesnew LiveJournals (those were crazy times! A digital Wild West!) and had epic fantasy on the brain following the release of the LotR movies. Solution: start a role-playing game, obviously. We wrote out character profiles and emailed them to each other.

Turns out we were all getting excited about completely different games.

I was a traumatized lady soldier. Brad was a knight of a holy order. Linda was a six foot tall blue elf.

Negotiations fizzled, and the RP never came together. I scratched out one page of mostly exploratory dialogue for Bay and her genie, then called Cali, and abandoned them in a folder for five years.

Winter, 2009. Take two. I'd been submitting stories for publication and in the process learned to love anthologies. Contributors' copies were the bomb. Send in a story, get a whole book? What a return on investment! I kept elaborate lists of anthology deadlines. Eventually I came across one that was looking for fairy-tale retellings.

I like twisting fairy tales. I like ascribing full motivations to the often-inscrutable, intentionally-cardboard characters that the Grimms delivered unto us, and I like shuffling genders, roles, and the-lair-of-the-twelve-princessesprotagonist/antagonist status. For this story, I lit upon The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I thought it was interesting that the princesses were in charge of their own curse--not the damsels in distress, as they seemed, but the obstacles, the villains. (I'd written a flash piece along those lines recently, but didn't feel like I'd finished the job in 500 words.) It occurred to me that a female soldier might have certain advantages in the investigation over the traditional male one.

"Hey," said the lazy part of my brain (or, more simply, "my brain"), "you've already got a lady soldier. Just use her."

So Bay got a story, and the genie came along. I changed his name to Kalomel.

I got to six thousand words before I realized a) the story was about three times as long as I thought it would be and b) something wasn't working. Pieces of the plot weren't leading naturally to one another. I was procrastinating important scenes because they bored me. It didn't mesh, and I hated it.

The anthology closed. I loved Bay and whatever-his-name-was, I liked the core idea, but I was doing something wrong. I threw my half-done (yet somehow unconscionably long!) story into the False Starts folder and put it on my list of things to get around to when I had a chance.

I didn't quite stop thinking about it.

Spring, 2011. I noticed the excellent Sword and Sorceress anthology series was taking submissions.

"Hey," said my lazy brain, "you've got a swordswoman-and-sorcery story practically done! Just finish it!"

I spent two weeks in coffee shops rebuilding the story from the ground up. I actually did that thing where you cut the scenes apart with scissors and tape them back together. The genie became Khloromain. The plot fell into place. The length exploded to nine thousand words. Exactly two lines of dialogue remained from the 2004 material. (I feel like I ought to send a No-Prize to the first person who guesses them.) Sword and Sorceress responded with a kind, encouraging rejection, so I kept sending it out. Luckily it found a great place to land.

I don't regret spending all that time working on one story. In retrospect, that probably means it would have been a pretty fun RP.

--Amanda C. Davis

Friday, February 03, 2012

New IGMS Anthology Available

The new InterGalactic Medicine Show Awards Anthology, Vol.I is now available, directly from Spotlight Publishing (who has a limited number of copies signed by both editors, Card and Schubert (and only charges .99 cents for shipping)), and also from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

InterGalactic Awards Anthology Vol. I is a collection of stories from Orson Scott Card's award-winning magazine InterGalactic Medicine Show, spotlighting the winners of the magazine's readers' poll for best artwork and best short fiction. Edited by Orson Scott Card and Edmund R. Schubert, this anthology also includes other popular stories from the magazine's six year run, as well as a new introduction by Peter S. Beagle. Includes stories by such award-winning authors as Peter S. Beagle, Eugie Foster, Aliette deBodard, Marie Brennan, Alethea Kontis, recent Nebula-winner Eric James Stone, Scott Roberts, James Maxey, Jason Sanford, and more.