Monday, February 16, 2015

Radcon Wrapup

Oh dear, where do I begin when it comes to Radcon? I mean... it's kind of hard to sum up a con, as anyone who has ever been to an SF/F con knows.

So Friday, we get there and set up our dealer's room to sell books and crafts and such. Those people there have good taste, too. I all but sold out of my copies of The Park while I was there. And the rest of the authors did fairly well. We even managed to drag in Frog and Esther Jones, two of my favorite people who I talk about a lot, if you haven't noticed. So that was fun. Then, from that moment on, I was running full tilt almost the entire con. Got to moderate my first panel, gabbing about multiple pen names, and then sat on a panel on tropes in fiction with the totally awesome Jim C. Hines and Keffy Kehrli. And then, of course, I got all made up to do The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Probably the biggest highlight of that con was when I got one of my favorite people (and a woman who intimidated me for a long time... and kind of still does) up on stage with me: Alma Alexander, the Duchess of Fantasy.

Saturday wasn't much calmer, talking inclusive fannish communities and gender/sexuality. And I ended Sunday with a cryptozoology panel with Sam Knight and a couple of artists who, though they claimed to know nothing about cryptozoology, I found out later wrote a whole children's book on it... which I cannot find a for sure copy of, right now, but it's called The ABCs of Cryptids, Meg James and L. James.

All in all, this is one of the most peaceful cons I've ever been to. Which was surprising, because it was one of the biggest, if not the biggest Radcon to date. They ran out of supplies Saturday night on some things, we had so many attendees. But there was a very chill vibe. I might be able to attribute that to the fact that I've done this several times, now, but it felt like it ran deeper than that. It felt like things have finally settled and, after a lot of hardship, the con has finally found its center again. And I like that, not just because it sounds like new-age bullshit.

And now, I really do have to get back to work on the next book. Working on the sequel to The Park, so that should be out this half of the year, hopefully.

Voss

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Conning I Shall Go... Again

It's that time of year again. Normal people are buying chocolates and roses and pretty cards.

Which means I'm packing up books and clothes and makeup and all sorts of other things I'm going to need for Radcon 6C. Yes, I do need the makeup. Why?

Because I'm bringing Rocky to Radcon this year.


Yep. That Rocky.

And on top of all that, the ConCom's got me running ragged this year... mostly because I kind of asked them to. And I don't have much to complain about, I suppose. Frog Jones has, if I counted correctly, 14 panels to attend to this weekend. He also brings this on himself... but it puts my six in perspective.

So Friday, I'll be chatting it up with folks on what it's like to write under multiple pen names (courtesy of The Other Me), then later be going over one of my favorites: tropes. That panel's a bit terrifying, because they stuck me on it with the writer guest of honor, Jim C. Hines. Yeah. But I'll manage. And then, of course, Rocky that night, which promises to be amazing.

Then comes Saturday. Myself and some others go over tips for including more minority, QUILTBAG+, and female fans into the still largely homogeneous geek community. Should be entertaining, at least. Then that night, I'm back for a talk on gender and sexuality. I guess Saturday is my social justice day this con.

And of course, Sunday is a nice, light workload. A single panel, talking about cryptozoology. Which I love, if you didn't know. Hopefully a good end to what looks like it might be a really good con.

And just like last year, me and mine will be in a dealer's room, trying to schlep our word-monkey output to the masses. If you're at the con, bychance, stop on by and take a look at the Moses Lake Muses shop.

And now, I fear I must away... because I still have a lot of crap to pack up, and some serious wordsmithing to get to so this week isn't a total bust. Tata, for now, my lovelies,

Voss

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Webcomic Roundup: Top 3

I've been very productive this week. Wrote up a short story for Swords v. Cthulhu, did a couple or three rounds of edits on Silverfall for The Other Me (18+, please!), and got more stuff ready for Radcon 6C.

I also, you know, couldn't walk for a couple days, but that's not part of me being productive.

Now, along with my productivity came... well, let's call it a shock. Shock seems good. See, I've written a lot of words... but I've also actively slacked off for quite some time, too. And I have one person to thank/blame for it.

Frances.

Pauli.

See, she got me into Homestuck.



Now, I tried to read Homestuck about, oh, a year ago. My nieces were (still are) slightly obsessed, and I figured what the hell? Problem was, it made my eyes bleed. It was so slow and boring and had absolutely nothing to do with trolls, which was part of why I gave it a shot. I had that issue with Harry Potter, too. I was promised phoenixes and shit, and instead I got some old cat lady.

But, just like with Harry Potter, I've become a fan. Although I'm still a much bigger Potterhead than I probably ever will be a Homestucker. But Homestuck got me thinking, too. And not about trolls. About webcomics. I read anywhere from 5-10 pages/panels of a webcomic in an average week, and lately it's been more as I try to catch up with Homestuck. I really do love them. So I thought I'd gather up my top 4 webcomics to share, in the hopes that you, too, will grow to love them.

Note that this list includes those webcomics with long-running stories. So sorry, no XCKDCyanide and Happiness, or The Unspeakable Vault of Doom.

3: Homestuck
See all that stuff I talked about above.

Now, why do I love it? The story is incredibly complex and far-reaching. Above anything else, that's the real reason I'm sticking with it, even through the parts that drive me nuts, like Andrew Hussie's meaningless self-insertions.

2: Earthsong Saga




Earthsong is an interesting one. I got turned onto it by SJ Tucker, who is far and away my favorite singer. I know, it's weird to take a suggestion for a webcomic from a singer. Listen to her music and it might make a little more sense.

Anyway, I started in. And it was actually quite fascinating. I've been with it for more than a year, now. It's brilliant worldbuilding, and Crystal Yates does a pretty good job on the art, too. The story is also fairly solid.

Where Earthsong falls down? The dialogue can be a little questionable, at times, but that's forgivable enough. But the schedule is brain-rakingly slow. Once a week. Some comics can do that. But Earthsong is often so reliant on what happened on the last page, or God forbid, two pages ago, I find myself having to go backwards and recap.

But even that's not a big deal. It's well-worth the read and, if you find that you jut can't stand the schedule, we're in the last chapter now. So wait and read it all in one go.

1: Gunnerkrigg Court
For once, the order of my list actually mattered! Woo! Gunnerkrigg Court is, in my opinion, the best webcomic out there.


(Sorry. I had to go with a Coyote picture for this one.)

A combination of fantasy and science-fiction, with just the slightest dash of 'what the actual fuck' mixed in for good measure. Like with the old 90's kid's show, Gargoyles, everything is up for grabs in Gunnerkrigg. Reynard the Fox and Isegrim. Old Man Coyote (obviously). World War II. Robots. Reality-warping mind powers. Alchemy. I could go on for paragraphs, here, but there's so much more to talk about.

The art has definitely evolved over the past 10 years, although it took me an embarrassingly long time to notice. However, I would never say that the art was bad at any point in the run of the comic. And today? Breathtaking.

Now, it's not complete, and I don't know when or even if Tom Siddell plans to end it. And, at almost 1500 pages to date, it's a bit of work to get caught up. But if ever reading something long and intense has been worth it, it's Gunnerkrigg Court. I can't sing the praises highly enough.

So seriously, go start it. You'll thank me.

What are your favorite web comics? Let me know so I can procrastinate even harder next week.

Voss

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Guest Post: Sara Burr - Underground Rose

Today, I'm thrilled to have Sara Burr here to talk about her new book, Underground Rose. I couldn't resist talking about this book, because it hits close to home. Quite literally. About an hour away from where I live, in the Tri-Cities. I love Washington-based books and TV and always have.

Anyway, enough blathering from me: let's talk about Underground Rose.



After her surprise discovery of a mystical gift, fourteen-year-old Rose Wilson thinks her life is ruined. It turns out she comes from a long line of gifted women, and despite her protests, Rose’s mom ships her off to her grandmother’s house to spend the summer learning about her family’s well-hidden secrets. To make matters worse, Rose is expected to carry out this tradition alongside her mousy, bookworm cousin, Megan. What a waste of a summer.

With some effort, Rose and Megan manage to find common ground and by the time they get home, they’re working together to adjust to their new life. But everything is turned upside down again when their families are exposed by witch hunters who call themselves The Witches’ Hammer. With killers on the loose, their tiny town isn’t safe anymore. Rose’s entire family is fragmented and forced to flee through a network of hiding places, dubbed The Witches’ Underground Railroad.

As she journeys to the sea, Rose learns more and more about who she really is. The closer she gets to her destination, the more danger she encounters, until she is forced to make the ultimate decision: follow her family’s edict of non-violence and become an orphan, or save her mom’s life.


About the Author:

Sara has been entranced by the written word for as long as she can remember. The daughter of a school teacher, she fell in love with books as soon as she could read them. She wrote her very first story, about a girl who ran away and hid in her cousin’s lilac bush, when she was just eleven. Although her stories have grown more complicated and less petulant since then, Sara still loves to entertain kids with her words.

When she isn’t writing, Sara has a big family to keep her busy: a husband who is her other half, and four children who are wonderfully individual. They live next to a beautiful lake in a tiny town with no street lights. Sara spends lots of time taking care of little superheroes. She likes to camp with her family, enjoys traveling, and hopes to see the Northern Lights someday.


Excerpt:

A pool of blood already surrounded Amber's head, and she was as pale as a ghost. Her breathing was shallow and labored.

Rose started parting her wet hair, little by little, trying to find the wound. Finally, after the longest minute of her life, she found it. The wide cut was right on the crown of Amber's head – how could she have missed that? – and it was bleeding fast.

Fighting not to gag at the metallic smell, Rose put her hands on the slippery gash and pushed, like the lady said, but the blood just seeped through her fingers. The bleeding wasn't stopping. Was she doing it right?

Feeling completely helpless, she began to sob.

She didn't dare leave Amber again to go back to the phone.

“I don't know what to do!” she cried out. “Help,” she croaked, knowing no one could hear. “Please help.”

Suddenly, she felt something strange happening, deep inside her chest. A comforting warmth, like hot chocolate on a freezing cold day, heated her from the inside out. It spread and expanded from her chest, bubbling and tingling like a fizzy drink, growing like wild morning glory vines, covering every part of her insides.

Was it coming from her heart?

It grew until she felt like she couldn’t contain all that heat for one second longer. Then, when she thought she might just explode, the heat-vines raced down her arms. An effervescent mixture of blue, pink, and purple light exploded from her hands, and surrounded Amber's head like a quivering, transparent cocoon.

Rose sucked in a breath and blinked in disbelief.

She was frozen – afraid to move or even breathe. She stared with her mouth agape, her emerald eyes wide, as the bleeding slowed.

What the heck is happening? she thought. Is this a dream?

She didn't understand what she was seeing. Was it ... magic?

The glimmering cocoon continued pulsating from her fingertips, surrounding Amber's head. Rose didn't dare let go, for fear of undoing this miracle.

Then Amber started to stir.

This was not something Rose wanted to discuss. What kind of a freak would Amber think she was? Reluctantly, she removed her hands.

The vines of warmth snapped back into her, like a recoiling measuring tape. Then, the peculiar sensation was gone. No more heat. No more colors. She looked at her hands in a mixture of awe and disgust.

What was that? she asked herself.

She didn't know, but she was glad it was over.

A few short seconds later, Amber opened her eyes. Her face so pale her freckles looked three dimensional and her icy blue eyes were even more clear than usual.

_______________

You can find more about Sara and Underground Rose HERE

And as always, have a lovely, lovely day,
Voss

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Release: The Mountains of Good Fortune


The Rot covers the planet, destroying life, scorching soil, decaying even metal to dust. Humanity has only one option: the sky. Massive ports spread throughout the atmosphere. Docking stations for the ships that fill the air. The last refuges of a doomed race.

Captain Nila Yeden controls the skies. She’s sworn to protect the ports, protect the people, and hand down judgment to criminals who threaten society. Her job is vital, keeping the peace in a ravaged world, and she never questioned her importance. But one fugitive forces her to hesitate.

Can she bring down her own sister?

The balloon beasts provide food for all the ports, and only the bravest crews man the hunting ships. Commander Sitha Yeden devoted herself to the hunt, but something changes when she finds the map, and her bravery leads her to mutiny. And now the police forces looms over her, her sister among them. But in her hands, she holds a tether to her past, and a map to a new future. For herself and the world

Will the quest destroy her, or will she finally find the fabled Mountains of Good Fortune?

Excerpt:
“We’ve got her in sight.” Captain Menit nudged the wheel to the left and pulled back the power, slowing the Nedell to a hover. With his free hand, he pressed the intercom button, broadcasting his voice through the whole ship. “If it takes more than five minutes to take this bitch down, you can all jump down and get taken up by the Rot.” He released the button, then turned and sighed to Sitha. “Be ready with the shockers. We’ve got a big female. She could haul us all across the sky, if she wanted.”

“Aye, Captain.” The control panel, stainless steel studded with buttons, levers, and screens, stretched out before her. She wrapped one hand around the power lever, her fingers sliding into familiar ruts in the rubber handle, and put the other on the winch switch. “Ready, Captain Menit.”

He nodded and pressed the intercom on again. “Why don’t I have harpoons in the air, yet?”

A gruff, crackling voice came over the line. Desyet, the lead harpoonist. “Firing now, Captain.”

Sitha looked at the balloon beast floating next to them. Its bluish-gray skin filled the whole portside window, blocked the sky from view. Huge, black eyes blinked at her. She had to be at least a ton. All good meat they could take back to port. It would feed a lot of people. Her hands sweated around the handles.

The Nedell vibrated as the harpoons left their barrels. They flew, tiny metal barbs compared to their quarry, and stuck into the thick hide. The beast noticed. She pulled, yanking the ship into a heavy tilt, almost ninety degrees. Sitha jerked back the lever, loosing the Nedell’s stored electricity along the shockers’ cables, right into her body. More than enough of a charge. The beast calmed in death.
Captain Menit spun the wheel around, righting the ship. “Start that winch, Commander!”

She pulled the switch back. The hum started, then the rumbling as the shockers reeled in, pulling the balloon beast’s carcass along with it. She thought of the food it would mean, again. The food and the payday.

Sitha sighed and stopped the winch. “I’m sorry, Captain.”

He must not have heard. “What’s wrong, Commander?”

She reached into her pocket and pulled out the handshocker her sister had given her. For protection, she’d said. Just in case. Sitha aimed it straight at Menit’s chest. She looked at his polished copper buttons, not into his eyes. “I’m taking the Nedell.”

“Commander, stand down.” He boomed, using the voice that made people listen. It made Sitha shiver. “This is ridiculous.”

“I don’t want to hurt you, but I’m taking the Nedell. It can be peaceful, or it can be otherwise.”

“My crew—”

“My crew, Captain.” Still not making eye contact, she gestured with the weapon. “Get into the escape pod and go. We’re only a few hours out from Ausin Port. You’ll only be traveling for a while.”

“Commander—”

“Go!” She pushed him in the chest, knocking him back. He stumbled toward the pod door. “I won’t ask again.” She brought her other hand to the shocker and primed it. A single button press and he’d be unconscious. “Please, Captain. Don’t make this difficult.”

“I can’t give you the Nedell, Commander.”

Staring at her feet, she shook her head. “Then I have to apologize again, Captain.”

The barbed needles flew, landing in Captain Menit’s chest with a scattering of tiny thuds.



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year, Same Me

Although I'm starting 2015 with about fifty pounds less of me than when I started 2014. Yeah, so, I guess that's different. But other than that, I'm still just the same old me.



Nope. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

And, just like in years past, I'll be attending Radcon this year. I think we're on Radcon 6C this time around. And I think it's going to be a good con. Kevin J. Anderson, Jim Hines, and Dragon Dronet all together in one hotel? Can't really go wrong with that.

On the writing front... well, things might be a little bit different, there. In 2014 I think I put out two or three books, total. In 2015, I'm aiming for 12... or more. It all started with The Park, which has since hit the Hot New Release list in both Dystopian fiction and Technothrillers. But that leaves me with at least 11 to go. Now, they probably won't all be under Voss Foster. At least 1 or 2 will hopefully be as Raven de Hart (no clicking if you'e under 18, please!). But either way, that's a lot of new work out in the market, and a lot of hours and words for me. Combine that with Write 1 Sub 1 and all the other various things I'm sure I'll be doing aside from my schedule, and you can bet your sweet britches I'm looking at a productive year.

So, what is in store this year? Well, I won't give specific dates, because I don't have anything nailed down too far, but:
A Fool's War (King Jester Book Three): That plan could get derailed a bit, but barring the unforeseen, this will definitely be hitting the net in 2015.
4 King Jester Novellas: They'll give stories of some of the characters from before Zirkua Fantastic (Right now, I'm working on Madame Zerga's book: The Psychic.).
The Mountains of Good Fortune: This one should come out sooner rather than later. I'm calling it electropunk, for lack of a better term. Definitely aiming it for the first half of 2015.
Rings of Treachry: The first book of the Rings of Vivak books. People who've been around for awhile on here might have some inkling of just how long I've had this book written. Well, Things are in motion to where I can actually get the thing out this year.

And at this time, that's all I can say. Well almost all.

I wouldn't be where I am today without a lot of wonderful people. The good folks at Torquere/Prizm, who gave me the confidence to actually keep going when they took that first book. My writing group, the Moses Lake Muses, who catch me on all my crap when it comes to writing and publishing. And of course, my readers. You are the lifeblood of this whole thing. I heard something, back when I was a little baby writer, just taking my first toddling steps into the murky waters of publishing. And it's something that stuck with me through all these years.

"Once you write the book, it's no longer yours. It belongs to the readers."

So these books, like all my books, are for you.

Peace and a groovy New Year,
Voss

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

4 Short Stories You Need to Read Today

With 2014 drawing to a close, as I do every year, I'm feeling the distinct desire to ingest media. Most specifically, literature and television. I know, TV's going to rot my brain. Doesn't mean I don't partake of it occasionally, particularly when I'm too tired to properly absorb literature. After all, it would just be a waste to let the written word slide over me, rather than penetrate deep.

But I'm getting way off topic.

Lots of lists float around this time of year: 10 Things to Make 2015 the Best Year Ever, 46 Shows to Watch Before Netflix Rends Them From Their List Next Year, 268 Things You Wish You'd Found out About Early Enough to do Them Before the New Year.

I'm hoping to provide something a little more doable. So I give you my end of the year list: 4 Short Stories You Need to Read Today.

Or, you know, whenever you have the time.

No pressure.

This list spans genre, length, subject, time periods, complexity. The only thing I really tried to do was make sure that, if I included it, it was free to read online. Click the story title in the list and it'll take you right to it. These aren't in any order, other than which story weighed on my mind the most at that exact moment.

So, let us begin.


Borges is arguably the very first writer ever identified with the genre of magical realism. And in a lot of ways, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius is most certainly magic realism. But in a lot of ways, it's more. Or less. Or just something else. The 'story' is sort of it's own thing. The closest examples I can give you aren't all that close. It reminds me of Flatland, in the way that the main body of the 'story' is a description of the culture of Tlön. It reminds of me of the early 90's PC game Myst, in the way that the described and heavily detailed world of Tlön becomes it's own sort of reality. And it reminds me of the Codex Seraphinianus… which makes perfect sense, since the Codex was inspired by the short story. But as fair warning, you'll want to make sure you have ample time to read it. It's only about 5,000 words, but you'll likely need to stop at several points to look up certain philosophical theorems, or translate the sprinklings of German and Latin throughout. And then you'll need time to mull through the story after you read it. It's very dense and a very mentally tiring read. But well worth the effort.


Loved by critics, hated by high school students. Which is so often how it goes. But if they could just look past the necessity of their teenage rebellion, they could see how wonderfully tragic The Lady, or The Tiger? is. A princess loves a man too low for her status. When the king finds out, he puts the man to the usual trial for crimes he's put his royal interest in: he must choose between two doors. One hides a woman of appropriate social standing, the other a nearly starved tiger. He doesn't know which door hides which, of course. If he chooses the door with the tiger, it eats him, of course. If he chooses the woman, she doesn't eat him, but he is required to marry her on the spot. The beauty of this story is that the princess knows which door has the tiger, and which door has the woman. But the woman is an attendant the princess despises. As to the fate of the man, it's never revealed.


I often bring up Berenice as one of my favorite short stories, or among the best of Poe, or good short stories you haven't heard of. And for good reason. More than really any story I've ever read, Berenice is just straight-up creepy. And I know that Poe is known for horror, but most of his stories never really got to me. Berenice did. The obsession. The strange catatonic episodes. The memory loss. It all builds to the climax, one of the eeriest scenes ever penned in the English language, in my opinion. Thirty-two little ivory things scattered on the floor.

4: For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn by Ernest Hemingway

Well, possibly by Ernest Hemingway. Technically, the jury is still out on the actual author, but it's widely accepted/purported that it was penned by Hemingway. I don't have a link, because the title is also the full text of the piece. Widely considered the epitome of flash fiction, and for good reason. It is everything flash is supposed to be: tiny, powerful, memorable. And it's among the tiniest, most powerful, and most memorable out there. Just think about it for a moment, think about what it must mean. Or what it might mean. And whether it's really Hemingway or not, the 'Six Word Story' has taken hold of writers everywhere, both as an exciting medium and as a challenge.

Of course, this isn't in any way a comprehensive list. But these are stories you will find jumping to my tongue when someone needs a recommendation.

What are your must read shorts?

Voss