Not a Blog

From Terra to Taos

April 3, 2018 at 11:20 pm
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(Actually, the Toolbox is now in Angel Fire, but Taos works better with Terran).

Walter Jon Williams has picked the recipient of the first Terran Prize, the scholarship I am offering to bring writers from overseas to our Land of Enchantment.

Here’s his official press release:

The 2018 Terran Prize, founded by George R.R. Martin and consisting of a full tuition scholarship to the Taos Toolbox master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy, has been awarded to Joey Yu.

Joey Yu was born in Taipei, educated in Vancouver, and now works in Shanghai as a freelance creator. He is the author of several novels published in China, including The Sunlight Trilogy of futuristic fantasy novels, The Mirrored Truth, and The Locus, which won the Excellence Award of the Taiwan Fantasy Foundation.

Joey has also written indie comics, mobile games and is the co-author, with Dr. Weiru Chen, of the nonfiction bestseller Platform Strategy, about the internet era and the evolution of business models.

Joey says, “I believe storytelling— the science and art of developing immersive metaphors and symbolism— is an important way (maybe the only way)— to bridge cultures and inspire empathy. In all met works I talk about the importance of unlocking an individual’s potential through challenging and reshaping the system.”

Taos Toolbox will take place over two weeks this June in Angel Fire, New Mexico, and will be taught by award-winning writer Nancy Kress and Walter Jon Williams, along with guests speakers Carrie Vaughn, George RR Martin, and E.M. Tippetts.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Worldbuilding in Seattle

January 27, 2018 at 2:48 pm
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Every great story requires interesting characters, an engrossing plot, evocative prose, an important theme… but epic fantasy also requires a memorable setting. A “secondary universe,” as J.R.R. Tolkien termed it, a world both like and unlike our own, with its own rich history and geography and customs, its own beauties and terrors. Tolkien himself was a worldbuilder without peer. It was not happenstance that when Lord of the Rings first achieved national popularity on the college campuses of America in the 1960s, the poster that appeared on tens of thousands of dorm rooms across the country featured neither a character portrait nor an action scene, but rather a map of Middle Earth.

The best fantasy carries us far from the fields we know, to worlds beyond the hill, worlds that, once visited, live on in our imaginations for the rest of our lives. They assume their own reality, these imaginary worlds. Millions of people have never visited Rome or Paris, yet they know the Colosseum and the Eiffel Tower by sight. Rivendell, the Shire, and the Mines of Moria are instantly recognizable in much the same way to countless readers around the world. The history of fantasy is rich with such imagined landscapes. Robert E. Howard gave us the Hyborian Age, Roger Zelazny showed us the way to Amber, Stephen R. Donaldson the Land, Terry Pratchett the Discworld. Jack Vance took us to the Dying Earth, Fritz Leiber to Lankhmar, Ursula K. Le Guin to Earthsea, Andre Norton to Witchworld. Oz, Neverland, Narnia, Wonderland, Zothique, Gormenghast, the list goes on and on and on…

These days, the world is more need of wonder than ever before. To that end, I am pleased to announce that I am sponsoring a new annual scholarship at the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle. https://www.clarionwest.org/ An intensive six-week course for aspiring authors of science fiction and fantasy, Clarion West is one of the longest-running and most successful workshops in the world. Its instructors and graduates make up an honor roll of the best and the brightest in science fiction and fantasy. This summer the instructors will be Daniel Abraham, Ken MacLeod, Karen Lord, Yoon Ha Lee, Karen Joy Fowler, and Ellen Datlow. The deadline for applying is March 1.

Our new WORLDBUILDER SCHOLARSHIP will cover tuition, fees, and lodging for one student each year. The award will not be limited by age, race, sex, religion, skin color, place of origin, or field of study. The winner will be selected each year in a blind judging to an applicant who demonstrates both financial need and a talent for worldbuilding and the creation of secondary universes. For further details, query Clarion West at info@clarionwest.org

Clarion West offers a wide range of other scholarships and financial aid packages, but you can never have too many. I remember very well what it was like to be a writer starting out, struggling for sales, and counting every dime. It is my hope that the Worldbuilder Scholarship will help the next great fantasist on the long journey ahead. As Tolkien himself wrote, every journey begins with a single step.

Current Mood: creative creative

Aliens In Taos

January 12, 2018 at 2:05 pm
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When astronauts look down on Earth from orbit, they don’t see borders, national boundaries, or linguistic groups; they see one world, a gorgeous blue globe spinning in space, streaked with clouds. I don’t know if humanity will ever reach the stars (though I hope we will), but if we do, it won’t be Americans who get there. It won’t be the Chinese or the Russians or the British or the French or the Brazilians or the Kiwis or the South Africans or the Indians or the folk of any other nation state either. It will be humanity; in the language of the SF of my youth, it will be Terrans or Earthlings or Earthmen. The future belongs to all the peoples of the world.

With that in mind, I want to announce that I am sponsoring a new scholarship, to bring an aspiring SF writer from a non-English-speaking country to the Taos Toolbox, the graduate level writing workshop that Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress run every summer in the mountains of northern New Mexico. The TERRAN AWARD, as I am calling it, will be given annually, and will cover all tuition and fees to the Toolbox (travel and meals not covered, alas). Applicants will need to speak and write in English, but must be from from a country where English is not the primary language. Walter Jon and Nancy and the Toolbox staff will select the winner. For more information on applying for the workshop, and the scholarship, check out the Toolbox website at http://www.taostoolbox.com. If you have further questions, you can contact WJW at wjw@taostoolbox.com

Oh, and while we’re speaking about Walter Jon Williams… he’s got a new book out, volume one in a new fantasy series, called QUILLIFER, and he’ll be signing copies of it on Sunday at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe.

The event starts at 3:00 pm on Sunday. I’ll be there as well, so we’ll open with an interview and discussion, then open for some questions from the audience, then put Walter to work signing.

See you at the JCC on Sunday… and in Angel Fire come summer.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Deep Ones and Night Gaunts and Shuggoths, Oh My

January 8, 2018 at 2:04 pm
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Early applications are now being accepted for this summer’s Odyssey Workshop, for aspiring writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. See here for details:

http://www.odysseyworkshop.org/workshop.html

Odyssey is held in the hills of New Hampshire, not far from Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth, with all their associated horrors. With that in mind, I am sponsoring the MISKATONIC SCHOLARSHIP, for some new talent who wants to walk in the footsteps of HPL and explore vistas of cosmic horror. Let’s bring the Mountains of Madness to New England.

You can read more about Odyssey and the scholarship in my post from last April, here:

https://grrm.livejournal.com/534795.html

Good luck, all you shambling horrors. I hope you make your sanity rolls.

Current Mood: artistic artistic

Some Odds, Some Ends

June 23, 2017 at 1:55 pm
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Had a great visit with Walter Jon Williams and his Toolbox students up in Angel Fire. It’s a lovely drive from Santa Fe, and it was nice to meet (however briefly) the fledgling writers. How many of them will actually go on to make it, well, one can never be sure of that, but I shared what wisdom I could from my years in the field, and showed them a few of my scars as well. They have some good teachers in Nancy Kress and Walter Jon. As I mentioned to the class, I workshopped with WJW for years, and he was right almost 75% of the time. 🙂

Back at the homestead, we’re facing a certain amount of disruption. Santa Fe is a lovely town and one of its charms is its pueblo style architecture… but be warned, those damned flat roofs will LEAK, don’t let anyone tell you any different. My office roof has been leaking off and on for years, and has been patched and repaired at least a dozen times since I’ve been here… to the point that my contractor finally threw up his hands and said he couldn’t keep putting patches on the patches on the patches. I need a whole new roof. And since that process requires me to vacate the premises, I figured this is the perfect opportunity to do some of the renovations I’ve been planning (and putting off) for the better part of the decade. So, bottom line, I’m moving to new workspace, while the old workspace gets a new roof and some cool additions. But I should be settled in at the new place within a week or so.

Also have the big trip coming up. I cut way way way back to my travel this year, to give myself more time to work. Back in April/May I did Stokercon on the Queen Mary and the benefit for Clarion, but come August I’ll be off again, first to NYC for a wedding and the usual round of publisher and agent meetings, then off to Finland for worldcon, then on to Russia for a con in St. Petersberg. I have been to Finland twice before, but this will be my first time in Russia… though I know I have a lot of Russian fans from the emails I receive. It will be nice to meet them. Two trips for all of 2017 is the least amount of travel I’ve done in twenty years.

LOTS of things going on with television and film. Season 7 of GAME OF THRONES will be here on July 16 (and we’re doing a season 6 marathon at the JCC), the five successor shows are moving forward at various rates of speed, and we’re talking with UCP about not one, not two, but three possible Wild Cards series. And there are a couple other TV projects that I can’t tell you about… how much of this will come to pass, nobody knows. Ah, the joys of development…

Oh, and football will be starting soon. Don’t ask me to explain what the Jets are doing. I don’t understand it either. I foresee a very painful season for fans of Gang Green. But hey, what’s different about that?

Off to Angel Fire

June 21, 2017 at 12:02 pm
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Been a while since I posted here, I see. That doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Quite the contrary; it means lots of things are happening, and I’ve been way too busy to worry about my Not A Blog.

I seem to have an insane amount of things on my plate. Would that there were more of me. Would that there were more hours in the day. The work is actually going well, I think… but there’s so MUCH of it, on so many different fronts…

Anyway…

Today will be a pleasant interlude. I’m taking the Tesla up north to talk to the students at Walter Jon Williams’ Taos Toolbox workshop… which no longer seems to be in Taos, but further north in Angel Fire. But it’s a beautiful day and it should be a beautiful drive, and I always relish the opportunity to corrupt some young minds.

Home Again

May 13, 2017 at 2:08 pm
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Got home from nigh on two weeks in California on Thursday night.

It was a great trip, but damn, I’m tired. No rest for the wicked, however. I don’t check email when I travel, so it does tend to pile up and up and up and up. So now I am digging as fast as I can, but there’s lots going on here as well. M-M-Max Headroom is in town all week.

Had a great time on the Queen Mary with the Horror Writers. If you’ve never visited the Queen, you should. Even tied up to a wharf, she puts modern cruise ships to shame. All that wood, all that art deco. The public rooms are just gorgeous. And the good folks at HWA let me present one of their Bram Stoker Awards. Which is not, incidentally, a bust of Bram, but rather a Creepy Little House. Not to be confused with the new World Fantasy Award, which is a Creepy Little Tree.

The last time I visited the Queen, the Spruce Goose was still housed in the giant dome next door. The Goose is long gone, alas, but the dome is still there, cavernous and empty. I kept gazing out at it and thinking, “hmmmm, just think what Meow Wolf could do with that.”

After Stokercon, it was on to San Diego. Raised a few sheckles for Clarion with my conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson, which I believe should be turning up on line sometime soon. Spoke to a couple of classes at UCSD as well. The real highlight of the visit, however, was my visit to a high school class which is studying… yes… my books. I was greeted by two pretty young ladies in Kingsguard cloaks, and presented with a lovely raven drawing and a sword with a map of Westeros on it. The kids were really sharp, too. They asked better questions than half of the journalists who interview me.

Then it was back to LA and meetings, meetings, meetings. Some exciting stuff is happening. A lot of it I can’t tell you about — yet — but the trades have already spilled a few of the beans so I suppose I can acknowledge that, yes, HBO is developing a successor show to GAME OF THRONES, and yes, SyFy may be doing a series based on my novella “Nightflyers.” More on all that later. There’s lots more too, but the beans remain unspilled on that, so mum’s the word… for now.

Oh, and I had a few spare hours in Beverly Hills, so I swung by the B&N at the Grove and signed all their stock of my books. So if you’re in the neighborhood and looking for an autographed copy, get there while their supply lasts (and if you’re too late, you can meet your signed book needs via mailorder from my own Jean Cocteau).

Sometimes it is nice to get away from the desk. But it’s nice to get home as well.

A Horrifying Announcement

April 26, 2017 at 12:53 pm
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A long long time ago, in the projects of Bayonne, New Jersey, I fell in love.

I fell in love with comic books and superheroes, thanks to Stan Lee and Julie Schwartz. I fell in love with science fiction, thanks to Robert A. Heinlein, Andre Norton, and Eric Frank Russell. I fell in love with fantasy, thanks to Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, and J.R.R. Tolkien. And I fell in love with monsters and scary stories (later in life, I’d learn to call them ‘horror’ or weird fiction, but as a kid, they were just monster stories to me)… thanks to a gentleman out of Providence who had died before I was born.

I first encountered the work of H.P. Lovecraft in a paperback anthology entitled BORIS KARLOFF’S FAVORITE HORROR STORIES. I knew Boris from his Frankenstein movies and from TV’s THRILLER, the scariest show on television at the time, but I had never heard of HPL until I read “The Haunter of the Dark” in that volume. I had never read a story that scared me more… so of course I sought out more Lovecraft wherever I could find it (not an easy task in those days). No werewolf, no vampire, no thing going bump in the night could give me chills to equal those provided by the cosmic horrors that Lovecraft evoked in tales like “The Whisperer in Darkness,” “The Colour Out of Space,” “The Shadow Out of Time,” “The Rats In the Walls,” “The Strange High House in the Mist,” and so many more. I have read a lot of horror since, some good, some bad, some indifferent… but only the best work of Stephen King has ever equalled Lovecraft, and that in a very different way.

Our world of imaginative fiction is fortunate in having several terrific writer’s workshops specializing in science fiction and fantasy, where aspiring authors can hone their talents and learn from established professionals… but New Hampshire’s Odyssey workshop is one of the few that gives equal emphasis to horror, to the monsters and scary stories.

I’m excited to announce that I will be funding a new horror-writing scholarship for the Odyssey workshop. Founded 22 years ago, Odyssey’s six-week program is held each summer on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Combining intensive, advanced lectures with in-depth feedback on students’ manuscripts, Odyssey has become legendary for the challenges it sets for students and the enthusiasm with which they meet those challenges. And all that writing, learning, critiquing, and sweat yields great results. Among Odyssey’s alumni are New York Times bestsellers, Amazon bestsellers, and award winners.

It’s my hope that this new scholarship will offer an opportunity to a worthy applicant who might not otherwise have been able to afford the Odyssey experience.

The Miskatonic Scholarship will be awarded to a promising new writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. Let us be clear: we are not looking for Lovecraft pastiches, nor even Cthulhu Mythos stories. References to Arkham, Azathoth, shoggoths, the Necronomicon, and the fungi from Yuggoth are by no means obligatory… though if some candidates choose to include them, that’s fine as well. What we want is the sort of originality that HPL displayed in his day, something that goes beyond the tired tropes of werewolves, vampires and zombies, into places strange and terrifying and never seen before. What we want are nightmares new and resonant and profound, cosmic terrors that will haunt our dreams for years to come.

The Miskatonic will be a full scholarship, given annually, and covering tuition, fees, and lodging for a single student each year. The award will not be limited by age, race, sex, religion, skin color, place of origin, or field of study. The only criteria will be literary. A panel of three judges will select the winner from among the applicants who have demonstrated financial need, solely on the basis of their story samples. Since this year’s class of students has already been selected from among the pool of applicants, the Miskatonic Scholarship will be awarded for the first time next year, to a student from the class of 2018.

H.P. Lovecraft himself during his lifetime gave generously of his time and talent to many a younger writer, including Frank Belknap Long, Robert Bloch, Donald Wandrei, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, and many more. It is our hope that the ongoing annual Miskatonic Scholarship will provide the same sort of encouragement and inspiration to a new generation of writers, for all the long dark nights ahead.

George R.R. Martin

Walter’s Toolbox Opens Again

December 14, 2016 at 5:54 pm
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New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment, and the little mountain city of Taos is one of its most enchanting spots… and a great spot for aspiring authors to sharpen their literary skills.

Taos is where my friend Walter Jon Williams hold his annual “graduate level” writing workshop, the Taos Toolbox. There are a number of great workshops for writers just starting out — Clarion, Clarion West, and Odyssey, to name three — but the Toolbox is a little different, intended for writers who have already gone to one or more of those and maybe made a few sales. The next step in building a career in our genre.

This year’s faculty includes Walter Jon himself — author of DAYS OF ATONEMENT, HARDWIRED, The Praxis series, and many many more, and creator of Golden Boy, Modular Man, Black Shadow, and Gordon the Ghoul for the Wild Cards series — and Nancy Kress. Guest lecturers and scheduled visitors will include E.M. Tippetts, Steven Gould, and myself (Walter has promised to buy me dinner).

Further information at http://www.taostoolbox.com

Taos Toolbox will make you a huge bestselling author. Or not. But what the hell, Taos is lovely, and the food is really really good.