Writing Courageously Through the Lenten Season

abstract trees grass sacred skyscapes photomanipulations 2560x1600 wallpaper_www.wallpaperhi.com_54Writing is a Sacred tradition in many cultures.  We revere the books that come from these cultures.  It’s also a very sacrificial act, one that takes a lot of courage, honesty, and time.  I’d like to talk about writing during Lent.

Traditionally, Lent gives some 46 days to prepare for Easter, a time of preparation for Christians for the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the cross (and the subsequent cool resurrection part).  The idea was that you were not just shocked, surprised, pleased, and quickly through Easter, but that you could think –over 46 days– about the impact this one act of self-sacrifice did for your faith.  It’s mirrored in some ways by Advent.

But whereas Advent is about preparing for joy–a baby, a baby! Lent is about preparing for death and transition.

Christians often give up something for Lent–so that whenever they crave it, they will think of what Christ gave up for them.  Chocolate and Life are not comparable; however, the idea is to be aware of the season through this sacrifice.  Call it the best mindfulness exercise the Christians have come up with yet.

That said, whether you are Christian or not, we can take the Lenten Season to think about Faith, and perhaps, write about it.  Or at least ask ourselves to write with more courage, more honesty, and more faith than we have in the past.

Writers are plagued with insecurity and negative thoughts.  Let’s put those on the altar of Lent and say, hey, no more of these.  We are afraid sometimes of writing our Truth and giving it to others.  And we often have a lack of faith in our own abilities and ideas.

Lent leads us up to celebrating Life from Death.  I don’t want to co-opt Jesus’s very big moment, but he too had a very big mission, and it got harder and harder to be honest, to be courageous and to follow through on what his mission was.

What I want to do is to ask writers to write for 46 days– science fiction, fantasy, memoir, essay, poetry–and write with more courage, more honesty and more faith than you ever have before.  I also challenge you to write a little about faith.

It’s important for us as writers to believe in ourselves and our writing, to give up negative thoughts and insecurities, preparing our hearts to more honestly talk about Life.  There is a lot of struggling that goes on in writing if we are to be honest–and struggling with being honest–and so, for 46 days, let the honesty flow.  Be yourself.  Be creative.  Be courageous. Be honest.  GIVE UP negative thoughts that question YOUR mission, and Create and GIVE something honest and courageous to the World.

MONDAY, FEB 2 Wrestling With Gods ToC Reveal, Author Chat Facebook Party, and 99cent “Special Edition”

T-18-Cover-270x417-100dpi-C8Hey Folks,

Wanted to let you know that on February 2 we’re going to unveil the Table of Contents (ToC) for the anthology Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts 18.  On that day, on a special Facebook page, you can chat with authors and party with us as we celebrate all things Wrestling with Gods.  You can also purchase on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca the Kindle “Special Edition” for 99 cents–get the link at the party.  So if you’ve been dying to read the stories and want to get the anthology for less than a buck, come on over on FEB 2 to this special event.

Please go on over to the Facebook page and join this amazing event!  We’ll see you there on February 2nd!  Join us at 12pm (MST) and there should be authors there till 9pm…but they will catch your questions whenever they drop by too.  You can drop by as you like!  Drive-By Author Chat.

It’s our little Groundhog Day fun….

Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy Afterschool Program?

crocodile_hunter, mauro liraI would love to start teaching an afterschool program for teens to write science fiction and fantasy.  I have often taught this at a local school library–with snacks–once a week for high school students.  If you know of a way to contact or approach Dayton/Vandalia area high schools, or program coordinators at high schools, let me know.  I’d love to be able to offer these classes again.

Rocketfuel ignites imaginations

 

 

Tesseracts 18: Wrestling With Gods Cover Reveal

T-18-Cover-270x417-100dpi-C8Happy Bodhi Day!  Tesseracts 18 has a COVER!  I’m very excited to show you the new cover for Tesseracts 18: Wrestling With Gods, the new anthology of science fiction and fantasy from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, latest in the long running, award-winning Tesseracts anthology series.

The Tesseracts Eighteen anthology is filled with speculative offerings that give readers a chance to see faith from both the believer and the skeptic point-of-view in worlds where what you believe is a matter of life, death, and afterlife.

The work is now available as an e-book download for Amazon Kindle, exclusively, until it’s available in print in March (Canada) and April (USA) and in other e-book formats.  Keep watching for more on Tesseracts 18 in the coming weeks!  Order your Amazon Kindle e-book today–just in time for some holiday reading.

On a personal note, I’m incredibly proud of this anthology! I have enjoyed multiple readings of the stories and poems included and I would say these represent the best of Canadian science fiction and fantasy–stories that also happen to speak on faith and religion in some way.  I think you’ll be surprised how easily science fiction and fantasy speaks on these topics–and remember classic stories and novels that have always spoken about faith.

Click on the cover to take you to Amazon’s Tess 18 site where you can purchase an Amazon Kindle download.  Again, print versions come out in the spring, as well as other ebook editions.

Featuring works by: Derwin Mak, Robert J. Sawyer, Tony Pi, S. L. Nickerson, Janet K. Nicolson, John Park, Mary-Jean Harris, David Clink, Mary Pletsch, Jennifer Rahn, Alyxandra Harvey, Halli Lilburn, John Bell, David Jón Fuller, Carla Richards, Matthew Hughes, J. M. Frey, Steve Stanton, Erling Friis-Baastad, James Bambury, Savithri Machiraju, Jen Laface and Andrew Czarnietzki, David Fraser, Suzanne M. McNabb, and Megan Fennell.

About the Editors for Tesseracts Eighteen:
Liana Kerzner is an award-winning TV producer & writer who was also in front of the camera as co-host of the late night show Ed & Red’s Night Party, and is currently the host/writer of Liana K’s Geek Download, heard weekly on the internationally syndicated radio program Canada’s Top 20.

Jerome Stueart has taught creative writing for 20 years, teaches a workshop called Writing Faith and has been published in Fantasy,
Geist, Joyland, Geez, Strange Horizons, Ice-Floe, Redivider, OnSpec, Tesseracts Nine, Tesseracts Eleven, Tesseracts Fourteen,
and Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead. His novel,One Nation Under Gods, will be published in Nov 2015 from ChiZine.

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For more on Bodhi Day–the Day Buddhists commemorate the Enlightenment of Buddha– see this link.

“Lemmings in the Third Year” and Women in Science

photo by Leo Seta, Flickr, Creative Commons
photo by Leo Seta, Flickr, Creative Commons

For the first time, available now by itself: “Lemmings in the Third Year” for your Kindle, iPad, e-reader device. 

Arctic researchers stuck in a land of talking animals, comedy, runner up to the Fountain Award.  The idea started with Iron John: a Book About Men and ended up being about Women in Science instead.  How did that happen?

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It was the summer of 1992 when I moved to Missouri to sit outside the gates of the University of Missouri-Columbia and hope that I got in to their Masters program.  It was foolish.  I can’t believe the belief I had, the sheer power of conviction that they would pick me if I waited right there.  To wait the year–in order to get in-state tuition too—I worked at Taco Bell, next-door, and I was just barely getting by.  I lived in a house with four roommates, but the rent was about 400 a month for a bedroom.  In the fall, I saw an ad in the Maneater (the student newspaper) for a cartoonist.  It paid 12 dollars a cartoon.  You had to produce 2 cartoons a week, but you had an open subject, any style, whatever you wanted to do.

I was not a student at the time, but maybe they made an exception for me.  I could draw.  I had imagination.  I could do this.  But what would I write about?  I remember that I was reading Iron John: A book about Men, and was very confused by it.  There was a lot I loved, and I lot I argued with.  Robert Bly brings that out in people–and that’s okay.  I had also picked up a book about polar bears from a discount shelf inside an old Hastings store.  By mashing Robert Bly and polar bears I created Captain Bly and submitted six cartoons for consideration.  I got in!  It meant that I had nearly 100 extra dollars a month!  I was thrilled.

I kept that cartoon strip going for four years.  After the year waiting outside, I did finally get into Mizzou, but I kept the Taco Bell job too.  The strip started out being about men, and about bears (I didn’t have a clue that I was a gay man who loved “bears” but drawing them made me happy).  But soon it got into science, and I created three biologists who journey north and are stuck in a north where all the animals talk to them.

Continue reading

Gays Will Save the Church: my story in Queer Story Archives

As a science fiction/fantasy writer, I just want to remind folks that we aren’t all alike, and we don’t live in just one bubble. My blog has always been about the experience of being a science fiction/fantasy writer and not just reflecting the genre/writing parts—but about my whole experience of being a Yukoner, of having a faith, of being gay–AND being a science fiction/fantasy writer. So this is part of it.

The Queer Story Archives came up to Whitehorse–Lulu from OnMyPlanet.ca–in July 2013, recording stories of Yukon Queers, and we recorded this right before I was to leave for Dayton, Ohio. I think it’s turning into a positive story so I’m sharing it. Ultimately I’m suggesting that including gay people can save a rapidly diminishing Church population. To do that, I tell my story. Some of you have heard it–either through the Yukon News, or through DNTO. Both sources were good but heavily edited. This is me telling it in less than ten minutes. It feels better in my own words, complete.

We grow from hard times in our lives and this was a good growth for me. Eventually, I’ve come to retain and re-establish many friendships from the first church. I hope my story still helps others. I’m placing this over on Talking Dog too.

Tesseracts 18: Wrestling with Gods open for submissions

Very proud to announce the new Tesseracts 18 is open for Submissions.  We’ve built a website for it at Tesseracts18.com  Come check out our conversations about faith and science fiction and fantasy.  This anthology is open to Canadian citizens, landed immigrants of Canada, longtime residents and, of course, Canadians living abroad. Yukoners, I hope to see you write a story and submit.

IMG_1094Tesseracts 18: Wrestling With Gods — Faith in Science Fiction & Fantasy

Well this is an all new topic for Tesseracts!  And possibly a completely new topic for an anthology: a multi-faith, creative faith anthology of science fiction and fantasy.  Who would have thought?

Here’s our thoughts on that kind of anthology:

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Jacob wrestled with an angel in the night, earning him the name “Israel”, which means “struggles with god.”  Buddha wrestled, and the hero of the Mahabarata wrestled too.   Wrestling is a part of faith.  Having a faith can help immensely with struggles in our lives, but we also must struggle against the rules, the boundaries, and the very doctrine at times.  We all wrestle with our cultures and our gods, whether we believe in them or not.  Faith is not passive.  Human progress has relied on brave souls willing to challenge convention through their beliefs.  And faith is not separate from Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Fantastic elements are integral to all major faiths–they have their gods, fantastic creatures, miracles, blessings, power and magic.  We continue that journey into space, possibly encountering worlds with their faiths.  Since our cultures all began with fantasy and struggling with faith, Tesseracts 18 will continue the Science Fiction and Fantasy tradition of wrestling with Faith, without declaring all-out war.

The anthology will include a diverse representation of both real-world religions and faiths of fictional cultures.   Instead of looking to pass historical or cultural judgement, it will feature character-driven stories including faith, doubt, miracles, spiritual journeys, and diversity of opinion within a faith.  It will avoid blanket stereotypes of faith-based cultures.  We’d love to see faith surprise us, and surprise science fiction and fantasy readers.

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Some questions we think naturally come from this:

How does Faith inform a culture, change a culture?  What does it mean to really believe?  What kinds of religions and faiths are out there in the universe?  How does faith play out already through established fantasy cultures?  How can people keep believing, sometimes with very little evidence?  Or is there evidence that is so personal, it is never shown to others?  How does faith effect an individual, a family, a city, a society, a race, a conflict, love?

Starting soon, we’ll start posting conversations about how science fiction and fantasy has dealt with faith and religion in the past—just to be able to talk about where we’ve come from, how those representations challenge the genre or challenge readers and writers.

Mostly we just want to create a conversation about faith in fantasy and science fiction–in all its diversity!  PLEASE join us.  We’ll talk a blue streak with ourselves, but we’d just as soon have as many voices as possible in this conversation.

TO SUBMIT: Borrowed straight from EDGE BOOKS.

SUBMISSION DETAILS:

    • This anthology will include as diverse a representation of both real-world religions and faiths of fictional cultures as possible. Stories should not be looking to pass historical or cultural judgment, instead they should feature character-driven plots that include faith, doubt, miracles, spiritual journeys, and diversity of opinion within a faith.  Please avoid blanket stereotypes of faith-based cultures.  The editors want to “see faith surprise us”, as well as “surprise science fiction and fantasy readers”.
    • The Tesseracts Eighteen anthology will reflect as broad a spectrum of stories as possible; highlighting unique styles and manners.
    • Submissions must be speculative fiction: science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy, magic realism, slipstream, supernatural horror, weird tales, alternate history, space opera, planetary adventure, surrealism, superheroes, mythic fantasy, etc.
    • Submissions may be either short fiction or poetry.
    • The maximum length for stories is 5,000 words, with shorter works preferred.
    • The Tesseracts anthology series is only open to submissions from Canadians, landed immigrants living in Canada, longtime residents of Canada, and Canadian expatriates living abroad.
    • Canadian authors who write in languages other than English are welcome to submit an English translation of their work, provided it otherwise falls within the parameters of this anthology. Translation into English is the sole responsibility of the author. Please supply details of original publication for any submission that originally appeared in a language other than English.
    • Deadline: December 31, 2013 (midnight).
    • Do not query before submitting.
    • Email submissions to: tesseracts18@edgewebsite.com
    • Emails MUST contain the word “submission” in the subject line, or they will be deleted automatically by the server. Please also include the story title in the subject line.
    • Submissions MUST come in an attachment: only .RTF and/or .DOC formats are acceptable.
    • Emails MUST contain a cover letter in the body of the email; for security reasons, email attachments with no cover letter will be deleted unread and unanswered.
    • Cover letter: include your name, the title of your story, your full contact information (address, phone, email), and a brief bio. If you do not live in the place where you were born, please also include your place of birth.
    • Do not describe or summarize the story.
    • If your address is not within Canada, please indicate in the cover letter your status vis-à-vis Canada.
    • Reprints (stories having previously appeared in English in any format, print or electronic, including but not limited to any form of web publication) can be considered but will be a hard sell; reprints must come from a source not easily available in Canada. If your submission is a reprint, please supply full publication history of the story. If your story appeared previously, including but not limited to anywhere on the web, and you do not disclose this information to the editor upon submission, you will be disqualified from consideration.
    • Submission format: no strange formatting, colour fonts, changing fonts, borders, backgrounds, etc. Leave italics in italics, NOT underlined. Put your full contact information on the first page (name, address, email address, phone). No headers, no footers, no page numbering. DO NOT leave a blank line between paragraphs. Indent paragraphs. ALWAYS put a # to indicate scene breaks (a blank line is NOT enough).
    • ALWAYS include your full contact information (name/address/email/phone number) on the first page of the attached submission.
    • Payment for short poetry is $20.00. Payment for short stories is prorated as follows: $50 for stories up to 1,500 words, rising to a maximum of $150 for stories up to 5,000 words (longer stories are paid a slightly higher fee, but in order to exceed the word length limit of 5,000 words, the editors must judge a story to be of surpassing excellence.)
    • Rights: for original fiction, first World English publication, with a two-month exclusive from publication date; for all, non-exclusive anthology rights; all other rights remain with the author.
    • Spelling: please use Canadian spelling, as per the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.
    • Response time: initial responses (no / rewrite request / hold for further consideration) will be prompt, usually within fifteen days. Please query if you’ve not heard back within 30 days. Final responses no later than 15 February 2014.
    • Submit only one story or poem. Multiple submissions will not be accepted.
    • Simultaneous submissions will not be accepted.
 

*Image is from a Chihuly glass exhibit in Seattle, WA

Speculating Canada reviews my story, “One Nation Under Gods”

Really thrilled that Speculating Canada reviewed my short story, “One Nation Under Gods” which appeared in Tesseracts 14. It’s hard to get short fiction reviews and they are so valuable.  The SF/F/H community should hold tight and nurture as many reviewers as we can. With a growing market of books, the discerning reader looks to reviews to help choose what to read.  And reviewers who choose short fiction, new authors, and anthologies help support beginning writers who are starting their careers, hoping that someone notices.  So we can’t fete reviewers enough–we need them, we love them, we should be very kind to them.

I’d say this for any thoughtful reviewer, even if Derek had NOT liked my work.  It’s the way he liked my work that makes me happy. 

Speculating Canada has a really great aim:

This site has been created in response to the overwhelming number of people who are surprised that Canadian literature includes the fantastic. Canadian SF, fantasy, and horror have been cast into a literary ghetto under the power structure of CanLit, and cast as either inferior literatures, or literatures that are not ‘of here’, i.e. from abroad. Yet, Canadian speculative fiction has a long history in Canada and engages with ideas of Canadian identity, belonging, and concepts of nationhood, place and space (both ‘the final frontier’ type, and the geographical).

Realist fiction is often seen as the only ‘truly’ Canadian fiction, but even realist fiction speculates, postulates and creates a fantastic idea, just one that is based more closely on the normative world around us than most SF authors are inclined to do.

Canadian SF allows for the engagement with ideas such as What is Canada? What does belonging mean? What is the nature of ‘human’? Why are things the way they are? How do we change things? Can things change?

The appeal of Canadian SF is not just regional, but has implications for a wider audience. Canadians, long un/comfortable with our identity as a hybrid of the American and English, Francophones and Anglophones, Aboriginal and settlers, and the multicultural mix that is embedded in our philosophy, means that we are comfortable with questions of identity and the exploration of our place, ideas that naturally lend themselves to science fiction, fantasy, and horror. We live in a world that is unsure of itself, and uncomfortable with ideas of belonging, and Canadian SF plays with ideas of belonging, disrupts the normal (or what has come to be seen as normal) and allows for a new way of experiencing the world.

As for the review–well, I’ll let you read most of it as his site, but here’s a nice chunk:

Continue reading

Young Fantasy/Sci-fi Writers Write like the Dickens (or the Gaiman) in a Write-a-Thon

You might recognize these two intrepid writers if you live in Whitehorse!  Zeb and Santana Berryman have great talent.  I’ve been privileged to have been working with them now for five years!  And they keep surprising me.

I met them first when I offered a Saturday science fiction/fantasy creative writing class in October 2007.  They were teens…in fact, I think Santana was eleven? Incredibly well-read in science fiction and fantasy, and horror and manga, etc., this brother and sister went on to spin some novels of their own.  Both of them write a novel every September in the three-day novel contest, as well as the November Novel writing month, and short stories, their own novels, and a novella with me.

Now they’ve decided to spur on their shorter works by joining up with the Write-A-Thon happening through Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop.  First link there will take you to the Write-A-Thon page–where YOU can help these writers by spurring them on!  They are using their writing drive to help Clarion with their Fundraising drive.  Folks can click on the “Support a Writer” and will be taken to this page.  There, they can click on the different teams–and Zeb and Santana are hiding in the Team Bears Discover Fire–click on show members.

Or you can go directly to Zeb Berryman’s page here.

Or to Santana Berryman’s page here.

You can spur them on in their writing–as well as lead them to win an iPad–by pledging a bit of money per word or per story or per whatever their writing is divided into.  It doesn’t have to be more than a dollar a story!  And that money goes to develop scholarships for writers to come to Clarion for the summer.

Every year the workshop invites about 18 writers to come join them and gives them real science fiction and fantasy writers working in the field to be their mentors.  Those writers get individualized attention for six weeks!  Six weeks, a different writer every week.

If you want to hear my testimonial about Clarion, and this page on Clarion, I am an alumni and can testify how great it is for propelling a writer forward.

These two writers are going to be great!  I have every confidence in them.  I believe one day, they too might enjoy Clarion.  We three are raising money for that possibility–or the possibility for someone to recieve a scholarship for Clarion some year.

Look for them on that webpage–and then look for them soon in a bookstore!

Clarion Write-a-Thon: Join Team Bears Discover Fire

Wanna light a fire under your writer’s bum and do a good deed?

Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop has developed the Write-a-Thon to help YOU and to help THEM.

You might be in a place in your life where you haven’t been writing much, but you wish, wish, wish, that you could–or that you had the time.  What we need, rarely, is the time—we need encouragement. The time will magically appear when we feel people in our life actually WANT us to write.

So Clarion has developed teams of writers to help you reach your writing goal—AND help Clarion reach their fundraising goals.

Here’s how it works:

1.  You say to yourself, I give myself permission to write for six weeks as much as I can.  I don’t have to take off from work, but I will find some time–with the help of my spouse, my significant other, my parents–to cordon off even a smidgen of time a day to write.

2.  You sign up with Clarion Write-A-Thon by clicking on those words.

3. (from the Clarion write-a-thon website)

  • First, sign up to write! Fill out as many of the fields as you can. It’s especially important to include a bio and excerpts. A link to your website and/or personal blog helps, too. Your name and a link to your new writer’s page will appear automatically on the Browse Writers page of the Write-a-Thon site.
  • Be sure to upload a recent photo of yourself. A .jpg that is a maximum of 200 pixels in width is ideal. But our software can resize it for you if necessary.
  • Post frequent updates everywhere. Refresh your Write-a-Thon writer’s page often with new excerpts. Post writing progress reports on your personal website, your blog, your Facebook page, and your Twitter feed. Make sure all of your efforts link to your Clarion Write-a-Thon writer’s page.
  • Line up your sponsors. Contact friends, family and fans to let them know you’re raising money for Clarion while nurturing your writing life. Your writer page comes complete with personalized donation buttons to make it easy for your supporters. Feel awkward about asking? Here’s a model letter to use as a starting point.
  • Participate as both a Writer and a Sponsor. When you support others, they’ll support you in return.
  • Join a team and get a mentor. Once you have $20 in donations, you’ll have the option of joining a small group of eight Write-a-Thon writers. Each group is mentored by a Clarion Workshop instructor or graduate, ready and waiting with advice and encouragement. To join a team, wait for your emailed invitation, or write to treasurer@theclarionfoundation.org.
  • Get Write-a-Thon badges for your blog and your website.
  • Remember, there are prizes! We’re giving away iTunes, Amazon, or B&N gift cards to our top earners, along with Write-a-Thon keepsakes. And each writer who brings in $250 or more gets a free story critique from a Clarion author!
  • You can also earn Write-a-Thon merit badges. You can begin writing any time. But beginning on the June 24, the official start of the Write-a-Thon, we have a special treat for you. On your Write-a-Thon writer’s page, you’ll see a grid with a question mark in each square. You can earn a maximum of one merit point every 24 hours by clicking the “I WROTE TODAY” button that will soon appear near the grid. As your merit point total passes certain milestones, merit badges will appear in your grid. We’re keeping the formula secret, so you never know when a badge will appear or what it will be. It’s all part of the motivational fun. We’re also trusting you to be honest. Only click the button if you really did some writing!
  • Sign up for the Clarion E-bulletin mailing list. It’s the best way to keep up with the latest Write-a-Thon news

See that part about “JOIN A TEAM”— that’s where I come in.  I’ve volunteered to be a mentor–with advice and encouragement!  My team is called TEAM BEARS DISCOVER FIRE after Terry Bisson’s story, “Bears Discover Fire.”  You’re going to discover fire in this group–as I’ll encourage you to write every day.  I’ll give prompts for those who want them, and encouraging little notes as we go along.  You’ll be in a group of people just like you who are pushing themselves for six weeks!  It’s just six weeks.  I wonder what YOU could do in six weeks if you had the encouragement from family and friends to do a little writing.

MY goal is to churn out six stories—they’re trunk stories, for the most part, but I need to get them finished.  And Clarion is the way to do it!

You might have a book that needs more chapters.  You might have some stories that need to get out.  You might have an idea that needs a story!

This Write-a-Thon is Write Up Your Alley.

Join my team and light the fire you need to get some stories and writing done.

BEARS!  Go light that fire!

[Visit the TEAM BEARS DISCOVER FIRE on WordPress and see what we’re up to!]