Nature Is A Real Mother

As you know, I live in Omaha, Nebraska now. Been here for about 15 months and both my wife and I love it.

We decided to take a drive down to Missouri, about an hour south of here on Interstate 29 after you cross the Missouri River into Iowa. Along the way we passed the towns of Pacific Junction and Hamburg.

We also saw areas still underwater from last spring’s massive flooding. That’s right, months later – despite very warm temperatures and not so much rainfall – there are areas in Iowa and Missouri that are still flooded.

IMG_1544Roads disappeared beneath the water. Houses lie abandoned because there is no way to reach them by car. Several silos had collapsed and were lying where they had fallen. We turned around once we got to Rock Port, MO and headed back home – making Missouri the 27th U.S. state that I have either lived in or visited (Cheryl trails me by 2 in that count). If you look in the distant background of this photo I took from the Sinclair gas station in Rock Port, you can see a lot of water where no water should be.  The featured photo for this post is from this spring, after the snow melted, a dam failed and a lot of water headed south. The house in the picture was near the Elkhorn River. It still stands and they have moved back in. It is also less than five miles from where I live.

Looking at that vista made me realize that we have much to be thankful for. The area of Omaha we live in was not directly impacted by the spring floods. But there are still some folks who have been unable to return to their homes, even to retrieve what little might have survived.

Today is a day that many travel to their respective houses of worship. Offer up a prayer of thanks for your good fortune and be sure to include a prayer for those still dealing with the impact of the flooding here in the midlands.

 

A Tribute to H.G. Wells

I started reading early, very early. My parents have told me I started when I was three. All I can confirm is that before I hit the fourth grade I had discovered the works of Poe, Doyle and Wells.

They started me on my way to discovering many other authors and their great works of mysteries, thrillers, science fiction and fantasy. Herbert, Clarke, Rice, Crispin, Duane, McDevitt, Ludlum and Clancy. It also laid the groundwork for me writing my own books and short stories in these genres. But Wells will always have a special place of honor, being the first sci-fi author I read while Doyle holds that distinction in mysteries.

So when Belanger Books announced they were putting together an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories set within the stories of H.G. Wells, I got right to work. My story was accepted and the anthology was released in 2017.

Not too long ago, Belanger Books put out a call for a tribute to H.G. Wells anthology and I submitted a story, The Fall of Denver. It was accepted and now the Kickstarter for this two-volume anthology is live. If you are a fan of H.G. Wells like I am, here’s your chance to enjoy 20 stories set within the many worlds Wells created.

Here’s the link to the Kickstarter: Tribute to H.G. Wells

There are plenty of options and rewards, as there always is with a Belanger Kickstarter. Check it out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

*     *     *     *     *

Voting for the 2019 Dragon Awards are now open. Be sure and go to the website and register to vote and cast your votes for any and/or all of the categories. Its absolutely free and the more that participate the better:

Dragon Award Voting signup

*     *     *     *     *

Like what you’ve read so far? Be sure and sign up for Richard’s newsletter, “Postcards From Infinity“, and if you’d like to become a patron you can do so right here. Any amount you choose will be appreciated and will help keep this blog, these weekly serials and Richard’s podcast, “A Scribe’s Journey” up and running. Thank you for reading and for your support.

POSTCARD_INFINITY copy

 

The 2019 Dragon Award Finalists

The 2019 Dragon Award Finalists have been announced by DragonCon on its website (2019 Finalists). Unlike last year when I went 0-11 in works that I nominated making the finalist list, this time around three works in the 11 categories I nominated made the final list. Like last year, I did not nominate in any of the games categories. I just haven’t the time to try out the new games so I feel I have no business weighing in on them.

Below you will see the list of the finalists, followed by who I nominated and who I plan to vote for along with some additional comments.

Before we begin though, I wish to offer my sincere congratulations to all of the finalists below. Whether you are a repeat finalist, or if this is your first time on this list, well done. You should be dancing on your desks, in the streets or wherever you choose to celebrate. Enjoy every minute of the next month until the winners are announced in Atlanta. Win or lose on that first Sunday in September you should be very proud.

When this award first started in 2016 I was among its early supporters. In what will be its fourth year, it has survived withering – and very unfair – attacks from self-appointed gatekeepers. These cretins have tried to discredit the Dragon Awards as an “unimportant fan award”, which tells you all you need to know about what they really think of you the fans. I have said it before and I will repeat it now: The Dragon Awards are the premier award in all of science fiction and fantasy. They represent the best of SF/F. They alone represent what real SF/F fans enjoy and do so based on the quality of the work itself and not on some political-based checklist of “rightthink” either.

And, finally, I want to thank everyone who nominated When The Gods Fell. While it did not garner enough nominations to advance to the final ballot as Escaping Infinity did in 2017, I am just as appreciative of all of the nominations it received and as proud of that book as I am of Escaping Infinity. Thank you for your votes.

Now, on to the finalists:

 

2019 Dragon Award Finalists

 

Best Science Fiction Novel

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

A Star-Wheeled Sky by Brad R. Torgersen

Europe at Dawn by Dave Hutchinson

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson

Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey

 

My Nomination:  Octavia Gone by Jack McDevitt

Who I’m voting for: A Star-Wheeled Sky by Brad Torgersen

Thoughts: Seriously, what is it going to take to get Jack McDevitt nominated people? The man is one of the all-time best. Sigh.

 

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

House of Assassins by Larry Correia

Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

 

My Nomination:  When The Gods Fell by Richard Paolinelli

Who I’m voting for: House of Assassins by Larry Correia

Thoughts: I will be shocked if Larry doesn’t take this one home. And if this Central California native (Turlock) can’t win it this year, then the other one (Merced) had better, for the honor of the San Joaquin Valley!

 

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

Armageddon Girls by Aaron Michael Ritchey

Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

Imposters by Scott Westerfeld

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

The King’s Regret by Philip Ligon

The Pioneer by Bridget Tyler

 

My Nomination:  The Timeless by Richard Paolinelli & Gibson Buffa

Who I’m voting for: Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

Thoughts: Ok, my nomination was biased because my grandson was my co-author here. But Susan would be a worthy winner.

 

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

A Pale Dawn by Chris Kennedy, Mark Wandrey

Order of the Centurion by Jason Anspach, Nick Cole

Marine by Joshua Dalzelle

Sons of the Lion by Jason Cordova

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley

Uncompromising Honor by David Weber

 

My Nomination: A Place For War by Daniel Humphreys

Who I’m voting for: Order of the Centurion by Jason Anspach & Nick Cole

Thoughts: Okay, in the past I have hated voting in a category that included two authors who I was friends with. So, ask me how I feel when I know six of the eight authors and they are vying for an award in the same category. It sucks, thank you very much.

 

 

Best Alternate History Novel

Black Chamber by S.M. Stirling

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Iron Codex by David Mack

The World Asunder by Kacey Ezell

Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar

 

My Nomination:  Brave and the Bold by Hans Schantz

Who I’m voting for: Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar

Thoughts: I really feel Hans should have had a seat at this table and Lavie would be a great winner. I have a sinking feeling, tho, who will win this and this will be one category I will not be happy with the winner if it is.

 

Best Media Tie-In Novel

Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove, Nancy Holder

Darkness on the Edge of Town by Adam Christopher

Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray

The Replicant War by Chris Kennedy

The Way to the Stars by Una McCormack

Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn (2019 Helicon Award winner)

 

My Nomination:  Thrawn: Alliance by Timothy Zahn

Who I’m voting for: Thrawn: Alliance by Timothy Zahn

Thoughts: Tim is the only 2019 Helicon Award winner to make it onto the Dragon Award ballot.

 

Best Horror Novel

Cardinal Black by Robert McCammon

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Riddance by Shelley Jackson

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

Zombie Airman by David Guenther

100 Fathoms Below by Steven L. Kent, Nicholas Kaufmann

 

My Nomination:  Hell Spawn by Declan Finn

Who I’m voting for: Zombie Airman by David Guenther

Thoughts: This was a close one for me, I nearly went with 100 Fathoms Below.

 

Best Comic Book

Batman by Tom King, Tony S. Daniel

Black Hammer by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart

Mister Miracle by Tom King, Tony Daniel

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man by Chip Zdarsky, Adam Kubert

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

The Batman Who Laughs by Scott Snyder, Mark Simpson

 

My Nomination:  Flying Sparks by Jon Del Arroz

Who I’m voting for: Batman by Tom King & Tony S. Daniel

Thoughts: I suspect Saga will win, but what? No Wonder Woman?

 

 

Best Graphic Novel

Berlin by Jason Lutes

Hey, Kiddo by Jarret J. Krosoczka

I Am Young by M. Dean

Monstress Vol. 3 by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

X-Men: Grand Design – Second Genesis by Ed Piskor

 

My Nomination:  PD Wodehouse by Chuck Dixon

Who I’m voting for: Berlin by Jason Lutes

Thoughts: Aside from Lutes, I kept saying “Who?” as I read this list. Then again, I don’t read a lot of graphic novels these days so that’s not a surprise.

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

Game of Thrones, HBO

Good Omens, Amazon Prime

Lucifer, Netflix

The Orville, Fox

The Umbrella Academy, Netflix

Star Trek: Discovery, CBS All Access

 

My Nomination: The Orville, Fox

Who I’m voting for: The Orville, Fox

Thoughts: Again, I suspect I know who will win. But The Orville is still one of the best sci-fi shows on broadcast TV today.

 

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

Alita: Battle Angel by Robert Rodriguez

Aquaman by James Wan

Avengers: Endgame by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Captain Marvel by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Spider-Man: Far From Home by Jon Watts

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

 

My Nomination:  Aquaman by James Wan

Who I’m voting for: Aquaman by James Wan

Thoughts: Hey, I know Endgame is going to destroy this category, but I’m riding my fish all the way to the finish line!

 

In the following categories I made no nominations, nor will I be casting a vote in them. I simply had no time this year to check any of these games out and I do not feel I should be voting on them in this circumstance.

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

Apex Legends by Electronic Arts

Assassin’s Creed: Odysssey by Ubisoft

Life is Strange 2 by Dontnod Entertainment

Red Dead Redemption 2 by Rockstar Games

Outer Wilds by Mobius Digital

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth by Blizzard

My Nomination: NONE

Who I’m voting for: NONE

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

Cyber Hunter by NetEase

Elder Scrolls: Blades by Bethesda Softworks

Grimvalor by Direlight

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite by Niantic, WB Games San Francisco

Reigns: Game of Thrones by Nerial

Sega Heroes: Puzzle RPG Quest by SEGA

My Nomination: NONE

Who I’m voting for: NONE

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

Architects of the West Kingdom by Garphill Games

Betrayal Legacy by Avalon Hill Games

Cryptid by Osprey Games

Everdell by Starling Games (II)

Nemesis by Awaken Realms

Root by Leder Games

My Nomination: NONE

Who I’m voting for: NONE

 

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

Call of Cthulhu: Masks of Nyarlathotep Slipcase Set by Chaosium Inc.

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare by Modiphius Entertainment

Keyforge: Call of the Archons by Fantasy Flight Games

Magic: The Gathering Ravnica Allegiance by Wizards of the Coast

Magic: The Gathering War of The Spark by Wizards of the Coast

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team by Games Workshop

My Nomination: NONE

Who I’m voting for: NONE

 

There you have it. Be sure and go to the website and register to vote and cast your votes for any and/or all of the categories. Its absolutely free and the more that participate the better:

Dragon Award Voting signup

*     *     *     *     *

Like what you’ve read so far? Be sure and sign up for Richard’s newsletter, “Postcards From Infinity“, and if you’d like to become a patron you can do so right here. Any amount you choose will be appreciated and will help keep this blog, these weekly serials and Richard’s podcast, “A Scribe’s Journey” up and running. Thank you for reading and for your support.

POSTCARD_INFINITY copy

This Week’s “A Scribe’s Journey”

New author A.M. Freeman is this week’s guest – after a 12-hour marathon by the show’s 65480776_10158623304884972_2886602559923945472_nproduction slaves, er, team to recover from Google ending the Hangouts over the weekend and leaving the show with no way to record the guest.

Happily, a back-up plan was installed (because we didn’t want to be on the receiving end of THAT look) and we had a great time talking to a young author we expect to hear great things from for many years to come.

 

And here are the links mentioned during her appearance:

Maryanne Project

Lost In La-La Land

Impossible Hope

 

Watch the show here: VIDEO

 

Or listen to it here: AUDIO

Audio Player

And, as always, you can listen to the show on iTunes, iHeartRadio, Spotify and other platforms that host podcasts.

*     *     *     *     *

Like what you’ve read so far? Be sure and sign up for Richard’s newsletter, “Postcards From Infinity“, and if you’d like to become a patron you can do so right here. Any amount you choose will be appreciated and will help keep this blog, these weekly serials and Richard’s podcast, “A Scribe’s Journey” up and running. Thank you for reading and for your support.

POSTCARD_INFINITY copy

Google Giveth and Google Taketh Away

I was going to tag this post with the headline “Really, Google? Really?” But the one above seemed a little more catchy.

As you tune in tomorrow for this week’s episode of A Scribe’s Journeywith my guest A.M. Freeman, you’ll hear about the jolly good time I had in the 12 hours before we recorded the show on Monday. Needless to say, I wasn’t the only podcaster in full scramble mode over the weekend.

Many of us, I dare say most of us, used Google’s Hangouts to record our podcasts – especially when we had guests who are not in studio with us. It was nicely integrated with YouTube, making it very easy to upload. post and share our podcats over that platform.

Then Google looked over the cyberscape and decided we had it too good. Over the weekend they shutdown Hangouts. All along they said there would be other Google-related platforms to migrate to. Only thing is, as of this writing, those platforms don’t exist as promised. Yes, they have a Google Meet and a Google chat in their G Suite. And I wouldn’t mind shelling out $12 a month for it – if you could record your meeting like you could in Hangouts.

But you can’t. Unless you upgrade to the much more expensive Executive Suite. Which is aimed at the big corporations – with a price tag to match. My wallet laughed hysterically when I opened it to see what funding I had. So guess who isn’t signed up for either?

And I’m not alone. Nor was I alone in the search for how to continue doing my podcast the way I’ve been doing it for nearly seven months. Fortunately, for now, Skype is a usable service. I’m not thrilled with the recording quality or the split-screen instead of Hangout’s flipping to whoever was talking at the time. But, beggars can’t be choosers so you take what you can get to keep the lights on, right?

But what is Plan B now if Skype is out – of if Skype decides to pull a Google? After a few hours of scrambling on the Internet I stumbled across Google Voice, which allows a guest to call me and I can record the interview, save it as an MP3 file on my computer and at least have a guest. There’s no video, but again, at least the show goes on.

I can’t help but feel this could have been handled better by Google. They could have allowed a similar recording option in Meet as they had in Hangouts – and charged $12 a month for it. I know I, as well as many others, would have ponied up that monthly fee.

They chose instead not to have an option available for their customers, who are now looking to find other platforms that will treat them better. Will Google miss that business? Time will tell.

But it reminds me of my interview with Sen. John Glenn back in 2011. It was shortly after NASA had decided to end the Space Shuttle program with no viable U.S. replacement ready to take U.S. astronauts to space. Instead, we’d pay the Russians to fly us to the Space Station that was constructed – mostly – with American money.

No matter how old he is, a mad Marine is not something you want to hear. Even over the phone with thousands of miles distance as a buffer. And John Glenn was mad about the decision.

I once worked at a place where we described such decision making as “Ready! Fire! Aim!”

It’s a poor way to run a railroad, a space program or a digital platform.

*     *     *     *     *

Like what you’ve read so far? Be sure and sign up for Richard’s newsletter, “Postcards From Infinity“, and if you’d like to become a patron you can do so right here. Any amount you choose will be appreciated and will help keep this blog, these weekly serials and Richard’s podcast, “A Scribe’s Journey” up and running. Thank you for reading and for your support.

POSTCARD_INFINITY copy

The Dreaded Rejection Letter

As is my morning routine I fired up my e-mail and right there at the top of my inbox was a rejection letter on a short story I had submitted last week.

Now, I’m closing in on my 40th year of writing. I’ve received my fair share of these in my time. So when I get one, its not the end of the world. It still sucks. But I’m not going to throw in the towel whenever I get one.

In this case, about 15 minutes later I had submitted that same story to another publication. And that is the best thing any writer can do after a rejection letter hits their mailbox. Have your pout for 10-15 seconds and then move on to the next publication submission and/or the next story.

Let’s say you are a first-timer and you are naturally thinking the worst: I’m terrible at this and I should go find a job flipping burgers.

In the first place: Never think that. A rejection letter is just one person saying they didn’t think your story would fit what they do. That’s it. There are way too many publishers and content seekers out there looking for stories for you to throw in the towel on the first no. Yet, I see new writers on the verge of doing just that when they get their first, or second, rejection letter.

Whenever I am asked about my first rejection letter I am happy to share the experience, especially with new writers. Because that first one was a soul-killer. It was 1982 and I had submitted a short story to a national magazine that I personally enjoyed reading and was edited by someone I respected. This is back in the days when you typed your story on a typewriter and if you made a mistake, you got to retype the whole page over – unless you had one of those expensive machines that had the correction tape in the cartridge. I didn’t have one of those. So, after all that hard work, off it went to the publisher.

And back it came from the publisher with a severely scathing rejection letter that suggested that “I never again befoul the holy calling of writing again and resign myself to the realm of food service.” And yes, that is a direct quote and yes, that was the nicest thing this editor said. Trust me, I’ll never forget that line or the feelings I had as I read that letter.

Obviously, I didn’t let that letter stop me. Nearly 40 years later, I’ve carved out a pretty good run as a writer. As for that letter, did I just wad it up and throw it in the trash?  Nope.

I tacked that letter up on the corkboard above my typewriter – and later above my computer monitor when I made that transition – and left it right where I could see it for several years. I used that letter as motivation. Any time I considered giving up I just read that letter again and used the anger to fuel my drive to keep going. Eventually, I threw it away. I no longer needed it to motivate me to write.

And that’s what I tell new writers who just got their first rejection letter. Yes, its disappointing. But use it to motivate yourself to keep writing, to keep submitting and to finally succeed.

*     *     *     *     *

Like what you’ve read? Be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter, Postcards From Infinity, for all of the news and updates on my writing and my podcast, A Scribe’s Journey.

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP URL: https://mailchi.mp/8583bc43d04a/postcardsfrominfinity

 

One thought on “Nature Is A Real Mother

  1. Thanks for the update. The aftermath of the floods haven’t been in the news for a while, so it’s easy to lose track. People forget that just because CNN and NBC have moved on doesn’t mean that people aren’t still suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s