- Do your research. Find out if they have any weird hobbies or if they are addicted to something fun. Start making a list of questions about things you know they already like.
- Get creative. Remember your listeners also have access to the Internet. If the person you’re going to interview talks about things on their website, why would you want to get repetitive? Try to come up with questions and topics that no one else has talked about before.
- Have them try to teach you something. Humans love it when they can share their passion with other people, and learning something new won’t hurt you, either.
- Breathe. Chill. Don’t imagine anyone in their underwear.
- Be honest. Don’t feel bad about saying, “I have no idea what that is.” Don’t spew your crazy worldviews and start ranting, but don’t feel like you have to withhold your opinion, either. The point is an interesting interview, right?
Monday, February 29, 2016
Friday, February 26, 2016
Like my co-hosts, I wasn't really sure how long this monster was going to go when we first started out. A year sounded optimistic. Now we're staring down the beginning of year three. And being part of this nerdy, writing, weirdness we created has been amazing. Some of the things that really stuck with me through these two years:
- The amazing people we've had the opportunity to meet and talk to
- Interviewing two of my favorite authors
- Having a table at conventions really changes the experience (in a good way; as an introvert, I love having a home base I can retreat to)
- Michelle and I are scarily good at randomly speaking in unison
- Making friends with incredible authors and con organizers
- It's amazing how far asking people and being nice will take you
- Cheddar bunnies are the best snack for recording days
- Talking to people isn't as scary as it first seems
Emily is really looking forward the conventions this year. She's also excited about finally finishing the short story she's editing. And the fact that her Kitsune Tales short stories are available for pre-order on Amazon (until March first, when they come out and the price rises). She's excited about a lot of things.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
You know what? I'm excited for what's coming! We're teaching workshops at a con this year, sitting in on panels, and taking a ROAD TRIP to WorldCon in Kansas City this August. All as individuals and a team.
This thing is going strong. We're putting together a lot of great content, gathering ideas, and making plans for new projects.
Like Michelle said on Monday, it's kind of surprising how far we've come. And that it's such an important part of our lives. If you had asked any of us two years ago what it would be like in two years, the most optimistic answer we could've given would be "I don't know."
Right now, that's kind of the best answer I can give about the next two years. We're nailing down some plans, but we're not going anywhere. When I say I don't know what the next two years will bring, that doesn't mean we're not planning. But I'm pretty certain we'll be here in two more years.
Thanks for staying with us and helping us grow.
Monday, February 22, 2016
“Things To Do Before I’m 30”
by Michelle from 2012
- Don’t start a podcast
- Stay away from conventions
- Never dress up as a superhero in public
- Save money – don’t buy as many books
- Be friends with critique partners, but not “best” friends
- Write good ol’ sword and sorcery fiction
- Keep your thoughts to yourself
- DON’T START A PODCAST
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
But a curious thing happened to me last week: I brewed a batch of beer on a day off, got almost NOTHING else done, and I felt more relaxed than I had in quite some time. My previous brew day was spent worrying about process, the recipe I'd cobbled together last-minute, and all of the other minor things that stress me out when it's been several months between brews.
Hobbies are SUPPOSED to be relaxing. That's the point. A hobby that takes up as much energy and creates as much stress as a terrible job? That's not a hobby. Obviously, when you reach a certain level of passion for your hobby, you'll run into situations that will stress you out. That mint-condition, limited edition comic book you just ordered? Mail man dropped in the snow and accidentally stepped on it. Now it's creased and a little torn. The computer you built for gaming? The motherboard isn't talking to the hard drive for some reason, and the graphics card underperforms when you finally get everything else up and running.
But when those stressful moments are set aside, or conquered, a focused serenity fills enthusiasts to the point where, for a few minutes, they can forget everything that's been bothering them.
For me, brewing is a big deal. I love beer. I love the flavor, the process, the history, and the experimentation. I HATE overdoing it when it comes to consumption, which is why I brew beers under 5% ABV (most of the time). In fact, my sweet spot is between 3% and 4.5%. It's easy to have one or two of those in an evening and not lose the ability to function as a normal human being (give me ONE 12oz. pour of anything over 6% and I'm useful, but not productive). It's fun to try to figure out how, without the "draw" of alcohol, I can make those small beers interesting. And that always comes down to flavor, which, to make pleasing, takes a different skill than just piling in the alcohol.
Thinking about my next brew, planning it out, then getting the ingredients and going through a brew day, they're all relaxing to me. Especially when I'm the only one in the house. I can take my time, review my process, and just enjoy the aroma of boiling barley sugar and hops.
And cleaning. Lots and LOTS of cleaning (but that's a different blog post).
What are your hobbies? How do they help you relax?
Monday, February 15, 2016
READ IT NOW.
Friday, February 12, 2016
And I am so in love with the result. There's something so cool about seeing a character you've only previously written rendered in a visual form. It's like suddenly they're actually a thing outside of your own head. Actually real instead of just make-believe. And, if you're like me and get kind of obsessed with your own characters, it's a great thing to have when you're feeling stuck on a story--you can go look at the pretty art someone else made of your characters and swoon just a little before getting back to work.
Basically, the moral of this rambling, slightly-braggy story is that if you have the desire and at all can, you should totally support amazing artists and buy commissions from them. Not only are you getting some sweet artwork to nerd out about, you're also helping the artist work toward their dreams or, you know, feed themselves. Which is always a good feeling. Just remember to be nice and give the artist as much information about your character as you can, and don't be a jerkface or a client from hell. Pay them on time! And thank them for their work!
Emily has a long list of people she'd love to commission artwork from, when she's rich and famous. And a long list of characters waiting to be drawn. Because of course she does.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
This is my very first advance review of a book. And I was super stoked to read this book. I planned on buying it the day it came out (and STILL plan on picking it up), but getting to read it before we talked to Holly was pretty much the best thing that could've happened for both this blog and the episode we released yesterday.
So, what do I think? The story follows Kali Lang as she maneuvers the world of VR Gaming, along with her teammates. Without giving the story away, I can tell you that it tackles the topics "competition without fun" and "substance abuse" in both a deep, meaningful manner, and keeps them realistic. They aren't ham-handed, the way some "controversial" topics can be, and it's not a bunch of moralizing. But the conflict is there, it's something all of the characters face to one degree or another, and the resolution is satisfying.
I don't want to ruin the rest of the plot, but the main arc alone is worth the read, and the character arcs bring in a depth that fills out the story in a way that makes me excited to see what happens in the NEXT book.
Jennings' word-craft is solid, too. She paints vivid pictures of a world reminiscent of a bright future in direct opposition to old-school cyberpunk. The VR world is just as clear and real, and often times (as designed) more real than the "real world." Many times over the read through, I got lost in the story, rather than focusing on the words themselves, because I could clearly see what was being painted by the narrative.
One line stood out among all the others, though, that smacked me so hard, I was immediately reminded of the opening line Neuromancer by William Gibson. Yes, many of the scenes felt like an homage to classic cyberpunk, but this scene stood out so well that, when we talked to Jennings for the podcast and she told me she'd been reading Neuromancer, I almost shouted, "I knew it!" (I kept my tongue, though, and refrained from killing anyone's eardrums.)
All in all, Jennings has a bright future, and if you DON'T read this book, you're missing out. Seriously, go preorder it RIGHT NOW so you don't forget. And look for the sequel, too.
Monday, February 8, 2016
James Marsters – The Dresden Files
Will Patton – Raven Cycle Series
Tim Curry – Sabriel
Lauren Fortgang – The Darkest Part of the Forest
Emily Gray – Soulless
Friday, February 5, 2016
Now, I have to admit that I love satire/parody (when it's done well), fantasy, and musicals, so this show kind of played to all of my likes. The general gist is Galavant, a daring knight with a huge reputation of daring-do, must rescue his true love. Of course, things don't go as planned and shenanigans ensue. If you're more spoiler-curious, you can read the plot summary for both seasons on Wikipedia, or watch the opening number from season one (complete with sing-along lyrics).
Alan Menken (who wrote the score for Tangled, Enchanted, and other Disney movies, as well as musicals like Little Shop of Horror) and Glenn Slater (lyricist for the stage production of The Little Mermaid) wrote the songs, and the actors pull them off wonderfully. Plus, it's really entertaining watching Timothy Omundson go from straight-laced Detective Lassiter on Psych to goofy, not-quite-grown-up King Richard in Galavant. Because, you know, reasons.
Anyway, one of my favorite things about this show is how it plays with fantasy tropes and points them out as kind of ridiculous. I mean, in the opening number for season one, they call the hero "a fairy-tale cliche." And that's just the beginning. In season two, there's a whole plot line involving a sword in the stone parody. Throughout both seasons there are multiple references to minorities in fantasy--including an entire song about our fantastic squire being Jewish (and Black, but that's not referenced in the song). Plus, there are constant breaks of the fourth wall (which are always entertaining to me), a dragon that may or may not actually be a dragon, anachronisms everywhere, and some really spot-on singing.
For a full list of the entertaining trope-y things Galavant does, check out its page on TV Tropes. Seriously, there's some really fun stuff here.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
If the story is something you don't want to throw away, and if you genuinely believe you CAN fix it, BUT you're having so much trouble that you're not being productive, it's time to step away. Some books should be trunked (NEVER to be seen again unless you want to use them for educational purposes in one of our trunk novel segments), and some should be shelved (to be returned to at a later date).
I'm facing this situation right now. You see, I finished the first draft of a novel back in December. I really like a lot of the scenes, the characters, and parts of the story arc. But many of the vital plot points turned out to be troublesome. I didn't buy them as likely causes/motivations/believable sequences of events. There's a lot that I feel is well crafted in this draft (though the basics still need some solid polishing), just not the story itself. Or the main character's motivation. Both of THOSE are vital elements to a good story, let alone a great story.
But I'm not trunking it, yet. I'm working on something else. A new novel. One that's just flowing right now (I got 1,500 words written yesterday!). I'm hitting pause because spending a lot of time with this broken book could end up being a waste. I need to be writing, stretching my brain-muscles. The part that's supposed to be able to FIX these story problems just isn't working as well as it did for the novel I'm querying right now, which means I need to work it to get it back into shape.
For writers, it's vital to write every day. Even if it's just 200 words. Editing isn't writing. Staring at the screen isn't writing. Working on story ideas and plotting comes CLOSE, but it's still not WRITING (though all of those things are IMPORTANT). And I'm not getting any younger. If I want to make a career out of my passion for story, I need to knuckle down and produce stories. My goal, from here on out, is at least one a year. One novel each year that I can query.
But that's a different post.