When Words Collide Wrap Up

When Words Collide was a fantastic weekend full of informative panels, inspiring speakers, fun parties, networking opportunities, old friends, and new acquaintances.

In recent years, conventions have been less about panel discussions and more about growing my network of friends. Disillusioned, I have been under the impression I wasn’t learning much. Maybe it’s because my choice of panels has been the same. This weekend, I stretched myself and sat in some discussions that are out of my typical comfort zone. ARWA (Alberta Romance Writers Association) had a fabulous panel on “Alpha vs Beta Heroes” where in the discussion discussed traditional and modern heroes. I’m of the opinion that blended heroes are realistic because they accurately reflect people. The true Alpha is a stereotype, and often people will exhibit Alpha and Beta characteristics. Personally I’m beta, but when needed I can step up and be Alpha.

I also had the opportunity to meet one of my favorite authors this weekend, Jack Whyte. We drank scotch with his fabulous editor, Adrienne Kerr, and a wonderful author,
Jacqueline Guest. Later in the weekend, I was lucky enough to have lunch with Kim Grayson, Jack and Adrienne. I think Jack and I may have gotten a little excited talking history, tactics, and armor. Oh, well.

WWC 2014 RPG Storytelling

RPG Storytelling panel, where some poor girl didn’t know Brandon Sanderson without his name card. Sheesh.

At the keynote address, Jacqueline spoke at length about taking chances and traveling. Then we heard from, what’s his name?

Brandon Sanderson!

Only the most popular guy at the event. Moderating panels, reading stories, or delivering a keynote address, Mr. Sanderson was incredibly engaging and equally friendly. Another powerful speaker, Mark Leslie, had a great message about ebooks removing barriers and allowing authors power they struggled to previously hold. By the end of Friday, I was so inspired, I ripped my laptop out at the con, found an empty table, and wrote while everybody else was upstairs partying.

As usual, the convention provided a great venue for visiting with friends, including those I was expecting to see, fellow IFWA members such as Adam, Erika, Craig, Jodi, Lesley, Janice, Clare, and the rest of the gang. Party in #RM864. There were also those who traveled to visit, such as Robert J. Sawyer from Toronto, Chadwick Ginther from Winnipeg, Sandra Wickham from Vancouver, and a surprise appearance from Jessica Corra and Simon Larter from Pennsylvania. I met them at World Fantasy back in 2012 learned they have just moved to Calgary.

The dealers room bustled with activity, and some rooms held open reading sessions. Congrats to everybody with new books out: Patrick Swenson, Mark Leslie, and Sherry Peters, just to name a few. I would hate to forget all the great people whose paths crossed for the first time, and those I’ve met before. I can’t even begin to name you all.

When Words Collide 2014 was one of the best cons I’ve attended, full of great times.

And to cap it off, we built a fort…WWC 2014 We Built a FortUntil next year.

-DJF

Clockwork Universe – Table of Contents

Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs AliensIt’s been a while since the Table of Contents was announced for the upcoming anthology Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs Aliens. It happened before my website went live, so I’ll post a quick link to the official Kickstarter update page and list the great people whose stories will fill the hallowed pages of this steampunk/sci-fi mashup.

Table of Contents:

Introduction by Patricia Bray

“The Cavorite Job” by Ian Tregillis

“Gracie’s Fire” by Leah Cutter

“Quinta Essentia” by Bradley P. Beaulieu

“When Comrade Ekaterina Died for the Motherland” by J.R. Hargenrader

“A Clockwork Alien” by Gini Koch

“Heart of the Empire” by Jason Palmatier

“The Red Queen and the White” by C.B. Pratt

“The Wizard of Woodrow Park” by Jean Marie Ward

“Of War and Wings” by Tansy Rayner Roberts

“Airship Down: A Sound and Fury Adventure” by Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin

“Steamsuit” by David J. Fortier

“Fingers of Steam, Veins of Gold” by Brad Hafford

“Heart of Clockwork” by S.C. Butler

“Lady Antheia’s Guide to Horticultural Warfare” by Seanan McGuire

There’s a great mix of new author’s and professionals, including some big names that fantasy fans are sure to recognize. I simply cannot wait to get a copy and start reading these.

-DJF

A Novelist Sells a Short Story

Last fall, I received an email from novelists Patricia Bray and Joshua Palmatier who also edit anthologies, inviting me to write a story for Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs Aliens. It wasn’t a guaranteed sale. They had some big name authors to anchor the project, allowing a bunch of newer authors to compete for the final story slots. I was part of the latter group. Excited? Absolutely. Nervous? Hell yeah.Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs Aliens

I’d come close a few times on previous anthologies and my short stories were starting to get some traction in the markets. I’d sold one story back in 2012, but it was more a fluke than anything. I’d written a story about a gaming thief and sold it to a magazine that specialized in games and loved thieves. Nothing like a great fit to make a sale.

For this anthology, I read some steampunk, researched Victorian times, and pulled my hair out trying to figure out what to write. I really didn’t have much. A few random ideas about a main character, but nothing solid. In the end, I sat down and started hammering out words. A character emerged, with a goal, and people arrived to mess with her. Sounds like a story, or a start of one.

A chapter later, I had a pair of characters and an opening. No, really, a chapter later. I had 3500 words written without getting my character out of the first scene. Novelist problems combined with not planning anything. My first draft of Steamsuit was about 8800 words, far meandering and convoluted. No worries. I just needed to cut most of the beginning, flesh out the characters, fix the ending, and sharpen everything. Yes, I have an S on my chest, but I still need a cape.

I sent Steamsuit to a couple of friends for critique (excluding Joshua Palmatier since he is an editor for the anthology) and they provided me with some excellent feedback, including suggestions to tighten the story up. Thank the gods. Brevity is not my strength, in case you didn’t notice during this post. At the end of December, after yet another revision, the story came in around 5600 words when submitted it for rejection. I mean, for selection. I get those mixed up too often.

January 26th, after what seemed like a year (note: it was less than a month), Patricia Bray emailed me to say they conditionally wanted to publish my story. Cue angelic fanfare. I just had to fix a bunch of things by the end of February. No worries, except that there was quite a bit to fix and part of it stemmed from conflicting character motivations. I hemmed and hawed, as all good procrastinators do. I then emailed Patricia about the motivations and we sorted out what I think was the best course. This resulted in even more changes, but they fixed the motivation issues and really added a nice layer to the character.Clockwork Universe Cover Flat

After final edits and a run through for typos, the story was officially sold. The entire process definitely developed me as an author. I only hope people enjoy reading the story as much as I loved writing it.

– DJF

Poetry

I will be sorting and posting some old poetry here. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to revise the poems, which were mostly written in high school, or keep them in their original form.

 

Blalan’s Game

Blalan’s Game was originally written based on a writing contest at Flashing Swords based on a writing prompt that something fell through the ceiling. What a great way to start a story. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun creating Blalan and his adversary for the story. It didn’t win the contest, but received good feedback in the revision process.

The story was a perfect fit for Bards and Sages Quarterly, since both the magazine and the story are both about games, and Blalan a former master thief, fits nicely into the tie-in fiction you would find in game worlds. Thanks to the gang over at Bards and Sages for my first sale.

I’m hoping to get Blalan’s game and some follow up tales online soon.

DJF