I am thrilled to announce that Underwords Press has a brand new website. It has been a long time in coming, and I am really excited to share it with all of you.
Along with the new look and feel of the site, we now have the ability to sell and ship books to readers within the US and Canada. (So, rather than giving your money to another online retailer, you can come direct to the source.) We are also set up for pre-orders. So, now you can pre-order your very own copy of Futuredaze 2: Reprisefor delivery on August 12, 2014.
I’ll be at Loncon3 this year, which is more commonly know as “WorldCon”. It’s a rotating convention held in a different host city every year, and this year…you guessed it…it’s in London!
I just received my final program schedule, which will keep me busy. Plus, I’m doing some volunteer work at the convention. So, I’ll be a busy girl.
August 14-18, 2014 London, England At the ExCel Campus in the Docklands area.
Speaking of volunteer work. If you’re going to be at Loncon3 and you’d like to help me with staffing the Kaffeeklatches/Literary Beers or putting on the Doctor Who Party on Thursday night… let me know!
Here’s my schedule. Be sure to come say hello because I will be handing out awesome glow in the dark wristbands to celebrate the launch of Futuredaze 2: Reprise (Aug 12th)!
The Retrofuturism of JJ Abrams
Thursday 16:30 – 18:00, Capital Suite 2 (ExCeL)
From Super 8 to Star Trek to Almost Human, JJ Abrams-developed projects often seem to take particular delight in updating or simply inhabiting the futures of days gone past. To what extent is this nostalgia, and to what extent can elements of critique or challenge be identified in his work? What are the implications for the upcoming third Star Wars trilogy, and other Abrams-driven franchises?
Val Nolan (M), Pawel Frelik, Sorcha Ní Fhlainn, Ashley Pollard, Erin M. Underwood
Wholapalooza – Doctor Who Party
Thursday 22:00 – 02:00, Fanac Tent (ExCeL)
A Doctor Who party for one and all to come and celebrate a great British – and science fictional – institution. There will be games and prizes!
Erin M. Underwood (M), Galia Bahat
Cover Art for Young Adult and Middle Grade Books
Saturday 16:30 – 18:00, London Suite 3 (ExCeL)
With the explosion and evergreen popularity of science fiction and fantasy for young adult and middle grade readers, the need for artwork is constant. What books have the best covers? What are some of the key elements within YA and MG cover art? Which artists are actively making and selling art for these readers? How have the styles and elements within YA and MG cover art changed over time and what trends are coming in the future?
Ann VanderMeer (M), Christopher Gibbs, Klaus Æ. Mogensen, Erin M. Underwood
Staging the Fantastic
Saturday 18:00 – 19:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)
Is this a golden age for genre theatre? On both sides of the Atlantic, fantastical theatre has seen notable successes in recent years – from ‘blockbuster’ productions at the National Theatre of His Dark Materials and the original Tori Amos/Samuel Adamson musical, the Light Princess, to smaller, thought-provoking independent work from groups such as The Alchemist Theatre Company, Unlimited Theatre, Luna Theatre Company, and the BFG Collective. Earlier this year, Stage the Future was the first international academic conference on SF theatre; and the forthcoming anthology Geek Theater collects genre theatre by numerous playwrights and other SF authors. So what are the challenges and opportunities of putting SF and fantasy on stage? How does SF theatre use special effects, which are so central to other forms of visual SF? And how is the audience for SF theatre growing and changing?
Erin M. Underwood (M), Susan Gray, James Patrick Kelly, Geoff Ryman, David Wake
On The Blogs: Bloggers Discuss their Roles in the World of YA
Sunday 10:00 – 11:00, Capital Suite 16 (ExCeL)
Bloggers have become an integral part of YA book promotion. How do authors find these bloggers? Why should readers trust their opinions? What are the best book blogs out there right now and what makes them so useful?
Foz Meadows (M), Patricia Ash, Liz de Jager, Shaun Duke, Erin M. Underwood
I just received the following email from Jarvis Sheffield about submissions being open for Genesis Magazine. So, I am posting it here because it’s a great magazine that you should know about and submit to! Now, go write and send in those stories and images.
ATTENTION SCI-FI CREATORS! SUBMISSION FORGENESIS MAGAZINE (SUMMER 2014) NOW OPEN!
The submission deadline for the Genesis Science Fiction Magazine is Wednesday, July 23, 2014…
Please email us your stories, photos and graphics, etc… to be showcased in this and upcoming publications. Get your submissions in before then if possible. Stories should be between 1,500 to 3,000 words. Graphics should be at least 300 dpi saved as .png, .jpg, .psd or .pdf.
Futuredaze 2: Reprise: fifteen of the best and most brilliant young adult science fiction stories, written by the hottest SF and YA authors, are gathered for the first time in one anthology. Wild-west steampunk, true love with the alien next door, a confab with Mr. Darcy’s avatar, musical fluted girls, and Dorothy in alt-China—this is not your mom and dad’s science fiction. Grab a friend and go for launch to worlds of wonder that reveal who we are and what we want to become through our decisions, relationships, and the chances we take on our futures—across all universes!
Many of you attend science fiction and fantasy conventions, which is great. I am hoping to pick your brains for some fun, new topics for panels and events. This year I am in charge of programming for Boskone, my favorite Boston based SF/F convention. They always have a great mix of science topics, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, music, art (oh, the art!), gaming, signing, and all manner of fun stuff.
We have some terrific ideas so far, but I know how clever and creative you guys are…. and so, back to picking your brains… While you’re online cruising the net, reading new fiction, watching films, have you come up with ideas that you’d like to see SF/F authors, scientists, artists, or musicians discuss? If so, I’d love to hear about it.
Help me welcome D. Lynn Smith, my guest blogger for the day. Not only is she a screenplay writer and a fiction author, but she also publishes comic books through Kymera Press, which specializes in “comics about women, by women and for everyone.” It’s pretty exciting stuff. She’s got a Kickstarter going for Kymera Press where people can back and learn more about the project.
Now, without futher ado … D. Lynn Smith and Wonder Woman …
I’m a big fan of the television show Longmire. Last week as I was watching a new episode, one of the lines of dialog was, “Good girls ask for permission, bad girls ask for forgiveness.” UGH! What a load of bull… We women have been fed versions of this time and time again until it is ingrained in our consciousness.
I read an article recently that talked about how men will usually get that coveted project/promotion/raise simply because they go in and ask for it, while their female counterparts wait for recognition of their abilities and is passed over. That seems like waiting for permission to me. What would happen if a woman went into her boss’ office and asked for that project? Would she then have to ask for forgiveness? No way.
So what does it take for women to feel comfortable enough to demand what they want and need without having to ask permission? Do we have to act like men? Do we have to think like men? Some people believe we simply have to boost our testosterone levels. And there’s a very simple way to do it, according to the New York Times.
“Poses are powerful,” said Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Business School. With colleagues, she has, through a series of controlled experiments, shown that assuming an expansive pose (think Wonder Woman with legs planted apart and hands on her hips) for two minutes will increase testosterone and lower cortisol in your bloodstream. Dr. Cuddy’s TED Talk on the subject has gone viral on the Internet, now with almost 4 million views.
Wow, standing like Wonder Women for two minutes will increase your testosterone levels and improve your performance, whether it be for a speech, a job interview, or simply asking for a raise. Why aren’t we all utilizing this little trick? We should all follow her example. Wonder Woman won’t mind.
In the end, maybe Wonder Woman can teach us more than how to stand to boost our performance. Wonder Woman never asked for permission. And I’ve never heard her ask for forgiveness. This doesn’t make her a bad girl or a good girl—just a woman.
I am incredibly sad to hear today that Jay Lake has passed away. He was a force unto himself, full of incredible energy and talent. He was a good person with a good heart, and I wish I had more time to get to know him.
Back when I was still doing my One Word Interviews, he sent in this response to the word “Spark.”
Rushing from the primordial darkness, spark was what God got when She said, “Luke’s Fiat.” Spark, and fire, and ice, and earth, and air, and all the vengeful writhing business of life, love, fiction and the inner light that drives us all to be better than ourselves. Spark is creation. – Jay Lake
His response still makes me smile. Spark will always remind me of Jay Lake and of creation: creation of imagination, creation of fiction, creation of friendship, and creation of life…
The exciting thing about this project is that it exemplifies how SF authors can expand upon their own work, finding new life in existing mediums for new fans. So, this should be a lot of fun for Catherine as well as her readers/listeners.
Creating an audiobook of my anthology, Aurora in Four Voices, which includes the Nebula Award-winning “Spacetime Pool”
When my short story Light and Shadow appeared in Analog Magazine (1994), it was my first published story. It was also began The Saga of the Skolian Empire, also known as the Ruby Dynasty series, which has grown to include at least 14 novels, plus several novellas and a number of short stories. Roland Green at Booklist described the series: “Asaro’s portrait of interstellar intrigue, weird socio-political customs and galactic history has come to approach the neighborhood of such classics as Frank Herbert’s Dune series.”
In 2011, when I was a Guest of Honor at Windycon, they released a limited edition anthology to accompany my appearance. Published by ISFic Press, the anthology collects some of my novellas and short stories into one volume and is titled Aurora in Four Voices after the Hugo and Nebula nominated novella of the same name. The Nebula-award winning story “The Spacetime Pool” is also included in the anthology.
With the increasing popularity of audiobooks, I would like to have the Aurora in Four Voices anthology recorded as an audiobook for those who enjoy listening to stories. My experiences as a writer, dancer, actress, and singer have made me keenly aware of the different forms that storytelling can take, and a well-narrated audiobook adds new dimensions to a story. I’m excited for the opportunity to bring these stories to life in a new medium.
Ever since I opened my first Stephen King novel, I have been a huge fan of the horror genre. Eventually, I discovered the tales of the amazing Shirley Jackson–a author who is, has been, and will always be an icon within the horror genre. So, I always try to share the nominations for the annual Shirley Jackson Awards because … it’s likely the best reading list that you’ll find for horror literature this year!
American Elsewhere, Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)
The Demonologist, Andrew Pyper (Orion-UK/ Simon & Schuster-US)
The Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo (William Morrow)
Night Film, Marisha Pessl (Random House)
Wild Fell, Michael Rowe (ChiZine Publications)
Burning Girls, Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com)
Children of No One, Nicole Cushing (DarkFuse)
Helen’s Story, Rosanne Rabinowitz (PS Publishing)
It Sustains, Mark Morris (Earthling Publications)
“The Gateway,” Nina Allan (Stardust, PS Publishing)
The Last Revelation of Gla’aki, Ramsey Campbell (PS Publishing)
Whom the Gods Would Destroy, Brian Hodge (DarkFuse)
Cry Murder! In a Small Voice, Greer Gilman (Small Beer Press)
“A Little of the Night,” Tanith Lee (Clockwork Phoenix 4, Mythic Delirium Books)
“My Heart is Either Broken,” Megan Abbott (Dangerous Women, Tor Books)
“Phosphorus,” Veronica Schanoes (Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, Tor Books)
“Raptors,” Conrad Williams (Subterranean Press Magazine, Winter 2013)
“57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides,” Sam J. Miller (Nightmare Magazine, December 2013)
“Furnace,” Livia Llewellyn (Grimscribe’s Puppets, Miskatonic River Press)
“The Memory Book,” Maureen McHugh (Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, Tor Books)
“The Statue in the Garden,” Paul Park (Exotic Gothic 5, PS Publishing)
“That Tiny Flutter of the Heart,” Robert Shearman (Psycho-Mania!, Constable & Robinson)
“The Traditional,” Maria Dahvana Headley (Lightspeed, May 2013)
Before and Afterlives, Christopher Barzak (Lethe Press)
Everything You Need, Michael Marshall Smith (Earthling Publications)
In Search of and Others, Will Ludwigsen (Lethe Press)
North American Lake Monsters, Nathan Ballingrud (Small Beer Press)
The Story Until Now, Kit Reed (Wesleyan)
The Book of the Dead, edited by Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
End of the Road, Jonathan Oliver (Solaris)
Grimscribe’s Puppets, edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (Miskatonic River Press)
Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor Books)
Where thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Steve Berman (Lethe Press)
Lit Reactor Horror Writing Workshop – Signal Boost!
Also, for those of you who enjoy workshops, but want to focus on the horror genre, you might consider the Lit Reactor writing workshop. You’ll notice Nathan Ballingrud, one of the Shirley Jackson Awards Nominees, is one of this year’s Lit Reactor instructors. While I haven’t actually participated in this workshop, I’ve heard great things about it. Here’s the link to the workshop to find out more about it: Lit Reactor, June 2-30, 2014!
Descriptions from the Lit Reactor website: This four-week workshop will teach you how to write horror that goes beyond the scares and beyond the gross-out, to compel, challenge, and move the reader.
As part of our Geek Theater Kickstarter project, I conducted an interview with Deena Warner, the artist who designed the cover for the anthology. Deena has also done the cover for Futuredaze (Feb 2013) as well as for Futuredaze 2: Reprise (Aug 2014). So, I thought featuring her in a Kickstarter update would be a nice look into the design process. [Click here to BACK GEEK THEATER.]
We are a little more than 2 days away from the end of the Geek Theater Kickstarter project closing, and we’re still $700 away from hitting our goal. If we don’t hit our goal we don’t collect any of the funds from our backers. Since there is nothing like Geek Theateron the market, science fiction and fantasy stage play anthologies for the theater don’t yet exist, this project is especially important to us. We have some exciting plays to share and we hope you’ll join us in spreading the word…because we really can use your help.
Come check out our Kickstarter project for Geek Theater, but don’t wait too long. Time is short!
In the meantime, here’s the interview with Deena Warner. We hope you enjoy it!
We have a special interview for you that we did with Deena Warner, the cover designer for Geek Theater. Deena was so much fun to work with and so helpful during the design process that I thought you might like to get a chance to meet her as well. We’re happy to share this interview with you and we’d like to thank Deena for taking the time out of her busy day to answer a few of our questions.
You’ve done a number of book covers within a variety of genres. What is it about book covers that you most enjoy?
DW: Covers are a reader’s first experience with a book. They give a visual clue about the content—what genre, what tone the book will have. I like the challenge of synthesizing a book into one representative image, one that will jump out from a sea of others.
Who are some of your influences as an artist? Do you see any of those influences within the design of the Geek Theater book cover?
DW: I am a fan of artists who play with light. Caravaggio is a Renaissance artist known for his dramatic lighting, especially on the human form. William Turner is a Romantic painter who did amazing landscapes. Chris Van Allsburg is a children’s book illustrator who captures light and shadow in dramatic black-and-white pieces. In the Geek Theater cover, it was fun to incorporate light of different colors and directions. The stars sparkle, the planet gives a subtle ominous backlight . . . even the words glint with highlights.
When putting together the cover for Geek Theater, we share with you some basic design elements that we liked. What was your process for taking those elements and coming up with a concept?
DW: I used a combination of stock photography and digital painting. I started by searching stock images for key elements: curtains, a stage, masks, planets. I layered the images, retouched sections of them to match our concept, and adjusted the colors. The traditional red velvet and wood morphed into the cool blues of metal and space. I added small touches like alien-looking text overlayed in the background. I usually rework a cover until the “aha” moment, that time when I step back and say, “Now that looks like a real cover.” It’s trial and error (and a lot of missteps) until that point.
For example, with the Geek Theater cover, we’ll be adding some of our playwrights to the front cover. When adding additional text to an image, what are some of the concerns you have as an artist?
DW: Text on a cover is a key ingredient. You can have an awesome piece of art that isn’t coupled with good text design, and the entire cover loses its impact. Conversely, a simple or mediocre piece of art can be elevated to outstanding with typography. I strive for the text to relate to the art, to be an inseparable part of the image. For this cover, I sampled colors from the photos to use in the letters. I added depth and lighting effects to the letters so they felt like physical objects living in this setting. It’s also critical for your title to be legible from a distance. Your cover may be viewed as a tiny thumbnail in an online store. The title must pop out even when it’s shrunk down.
Do you have a favorite artistic genre? If so, what is it about that genre that inspires or engages your creativity?
DW: Lately, I’ve been into animation. Surely this has nothing to do with me watching movies every day with my sons! Hayao Miyazaki movies are so beautiful they make me ache. His work is natural and comforting, which allows you to accept his fantasy worlds seamlessly. When you can feel every leaf rustling in the wind and hear the babble of a country stream, how can you not trust everything the animator is showing you? Even in my non-animated, two-dimensional pieces, I try to tell stories. I want my work to seem as if it’s a still shot of a great animated film, a moment captured from a bigger story. What is your favorite part of designing a cover? I like the brainstorming phase, that time when you’re studying the source material to invent imagery. I may have the entire finished text or only a description of the contents, but my job is to develop a picture that represents the work as a whole. It’s fun to explore different paths to follow.
What are some of the biggest obstacles that you face when working on a cover design?
DW: My biggest challenge is always time. My husband Matt and I work hard to manage our time well—with two kids and a home business, structure is critical. I’d love to be able to spend weeks and weeks losing myself in artwork, but there isn’t time for that right now. I have learned to listen to my inner voice that tells me when the time is right for each work I do. Staring at a blank canvas or screen isn’t an efficient use of time. I’m usually poring over several projects in the back of my mind, and when one bubbles to the forefront, I know that’s the one to dive into.
Do you have a favorite project? What was it about that project that makes it stand out for you?
DW: My favorites are always the ones I get to do for Matt’s work. I’ve done four of his book covers and a handful of other illustrations for his short stories. We talk about cover ideas over meals and swap sketches of concepts. I know his work better than anyone else’s because I’ve been there for the whole journey. I know the overarching themes and the subtle nuances—how each work stands alone and how it fits in with his body of work. There’s less guesswork involved, and I get immediate feedback. At a core level, I simply love working with him.
If anyone would like to learn more about you and the covers you have created, where can they get additional information?
We hope you enjoyed the interview with Deena Warner, who was a delight to work with on this project.
Click here to back Futuredaze
We’re only $700 and 2 days away from hitting our Kickstarter goal, and the good news is that more backers are joining everyday. Thank you for helping to spread the word and for sharing Geek Theater with your friends who enjoy science fiction, fantasy, and theater!