Camping out at my keyboard

Camp NaNoWriMo participant badgeI was going to do a big post about Camp NaNoWriMo, but Nicki wrote about it so much better already: Off to Camp.

This post, then, simply serves to say that I am joining in the fun this summer; I’ve signed up for both June and August. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I’m writing epic fantasy this year, or that I’m writing in a world where music and magic are inextricably intertwined. My plan is to start writing on June 1 and keep going until I either finish the series or have to take time off to write sequels to other books (like my next cozy mystery!).

I plan to keep up on my regular posting; don’t worry about that. 🙂

If you’re a writer, are you heading off to Camp NaNo this summer? What summer plans do you have, writer or not?

Defining the genres: Urban fantasy

(If you’re here for the A to Z blog challenge, scroll down for today’s post. This post is one in an on-going series on genres.)

I touched on this when I discussed fantasy a few weeks back. I gave some of the elements that are prevalent in various types of fantasy. For urban fantasy, I mentioned modern world, a big city, often a hard-boiled detective, may be but is not necessarily dark. Oh, and magic or magical creatures, since that’s what makes this fantasy rather than mystery or mainstream. Also, urban fantasy doesn’t focus on a romantic plot; if that’s the focus of a book (rather than a sub-plot at most), it’s paranormal romance. Continue reading

Defining the genres: the edges of science-fiction and fantasy

I meant to write and post this yesterday. I didn’t get to it because I was finishing up a work deadline — updating an index I’d worked on a few years ago. I was really happy to get the index done, and other commitments sort of slipped my mind.

Science fiction and fantasy, on the whole, are fairly easy to recognize: we see a space ship on the cover, and we think science fiction; we see a dragon or a fancy sword, and we go with fantasy. There is a lot in the speculative field, however, that defies easy characterization. It may blend SF and fantasy, or it may lurk on the edges where it’s easy to say, “Well, it’s not mainstream, but I’m not sure what to call it.” Today, I break out a few of those tougher-to-call subgenres for you. Continue reading

On being a neopro

What’s the difference between being an amateur and being a pro? There are all sorts of definitions. From most permissive to least:

The Olympic Standard: You have been paid for your work, so you’re a pro.

Breaking Through: You got paid pro rates for at least one story.

Stamp of Approval: You’ve sold three stories or a novel to a pro market, thus qualifying for a professional organization (SFWA qualifications; other genres may differ).

Going Strong: You’ve passed the SFWA requirements and even sold a fourth short story, thus disqualifying you for the contests for beginners, including Writers of the Future.

One of the Gang: You start feeling like a professional.

Notice what I did there? Feeling like you belong comes last.

Right now, I’ve had three pro acceptances, and when that third one is published, I will join SFWA. I’ll keep submitting to Writers of the Future until I have a fourth published short in a pro market. But am I a pro?


I’ll accept the label neopro, which basically says “good enough to get published at this level occasionally, but still wet behind the ears.” I’ve got a couple of friends who think I should do panels at cons. Seriously? Who’s going to listen to my advice when there are people who’ve been doing this for years? There’s nothing I can say about writing that they won’t say, and probably more cogently. I’m still learning, and I’ve got a long way to go.

I might have moved up to the big leagues (maybe), but I’m still spending most of my time on the bench . . . which reminds me, I need to get back to writing.

Defining the genres (introduction)

Both when I’m talking about what I’m writing and when I’m talking about my reading, I use terms to describe books — space opera, epic fantasy, hard SF, cozy mystery, middle-grade, and so forth. You may know these terms; you may not. More importantly, what comes to mind when you hear these terms may not match what I’m intending to convey. So, rather than point you to somebody’s else’s definition (with a ton of caveats), I’m going to start a new weekly series discussing what I mean by various terms.

As an example of “may not match,” I want to talk a little about epic fantasy. Not defining it yet, just talking about it. If you look it up on Wikipedia, you will be referred to their article on high fantasy. One of the links from there is a list of high fantasy works — which I vehemently disagree with. They include portal fantasy, juvenile fantasy, and comic fantasy books and series (but leave out some authors who unquestionably write epic fantasy, such as Joe Abercrombie). This is why I feel a need to talk about how I define terms.

Oh, and next month, I’m doing the A to Z Blog Challenge again, and I’m considering doing an A to Z of epic fantasy this time (mixing authors, books, and series as needed to get all the letters), which is why now. I figured you should have some idea how I decided what to include.

Any terms in particular you want me to talk about? Or that you have strong opinions on? Let me know in the comments!

An interview of me

Scarlett Archer edited a lovely book, 1,001 First Lines, and she asked my thoughts on first lines. Check out the interview over on the book’s site.

Come back here later this week for my review of the book and my interview of her!