Latest writing news

Christmas Wedding is reprinted at GigaNotoSaurus. This story is secretly one of my favorites. Okay, not so secret since I’m telling you. 🙂 Queer polyamorous wedding. I wrote this one after Shannon and I eloped at Christmas some years ago. After we married, I turned to him and said, “You know, we have just smooshed together two of the sappiest things ever. Christmas and weddings. …Wait, now I have to write a story called Christmas Wedding.” And that is how that started.

I just signed a contract for “Ink of My Bones, Blood of My Hands” to appear at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This is pretty damn dark, so if you like me when I’m violent and angry, this might be the story for you. It’s my homage to Lovecraft, sort of, without the overblown prose. There are dinosaurs in it.

I did an interview about the Singularity and the current state of science fiction, which I will link to when it’s up.


Ordinary Things sold to Kaleidoscope

Woot! My story “Ordinary Things” will appear in Kaleidoscope, a new YA anthology dedicated to YA fantasy from diverse perspectives. It’ll have stories showing diverse races, classes, gender identities, and many more.

I think this is awesome because a young adult antho has the power to reach diverse younger readers, who will have the chance to see people like themselves shown in the stories–especially readers who may not have seen many characters like them.

If you like this idea, please help support the anthology and make it possible!


Worldcon schedule

Here’s my schedule for Worldcon programming! I think in particular that the alternate history panel and the short story writing panel are going to be amazing. And a full hour for reading! That is going to ROCK. 🙂

Things They Never Tell You about Getting Published for the First Time
Friday 11:00 – 12:00

What should you look for in a short story contract? What might you hear about your story from readers and reviewers? What should you be doing in terms of social media? Does getting published once help you get published again? Bring your own questions about publishing in the early part of your career.

Moshe Feder (M), Vylar Kaftan, David Liss, Michael J. Martinez, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

“What If” Moments in History
Friday 14:00 – 15:00

How would things have turned out if Charlemagne died as a young man held hostage by the Turks? What if Henry Wallace succeeded FDR instead of Truman, and made a different decision about using nukes on Japan in WWII? What if Pizarro’s quest to conquer the Inca failed (as it should have!). What’s your favorite turning point?

Vylar Kaftan (M), Jo Walton, Harry Turtledove, David Liss

Reading: Vylar Kaftan
Friday 17:00 – 18:00

[I haven’t decided what to read yet, but I promise it’ll be worth your time.]

How to Write a Short Story
Saturday 11:00 – 12:00

A Q&A session. You can ask pros all your questions about how to write short stories–including plot, characters, themes. Learn techniques to improve your writing.

Vylar Kaftan (M), Michael Swanwick, Cat Rambo, James Patrick Kelly

Gender in SF
Saturday 12:00 – 13:00

How has SF influenced and reflected the changes in gender and gender roles over the past half century? As we look back to the work of writers such as Ursula LeGuin and Joanna Russ in the sixties and seventies, what can we say about their impact and that of their heirs today?

Vylar Kaftan (M), Jonathan Oliver, Eileen Gunn, Tili Sokolov, Lezli Robyn

How to Scare Your Reader
Saturday 14:00 – 15:00

What techniques can you use to write dark fiction? How do you scare the pants off your reader while keep them turning the pages?

Vylar Kaftan (M), John Hornor Jacobs, Amanda Downum, Alastair Reynolds, M. L. Brennan

Autographing: Lois McMaster Bujold, Vylar Kaftan, Nancy Kress, Leigh Perry
Sunday 11:00 – 12:00

Kaffeeklatsch: Vylar Kaftan
Sunday 16:00 – 17:00
[Come ask me things about writing and publishing. Sign up in advance, or just drop by and see if there’s space!]


My life as an extrovert

I got this from @amberdine and this describes my life!


I know, in the wider world there are more extroverts. But in the writing world, I’m a weirdo. This might help describe my alien mind for all you writerly types. 🙂

I’d say I’m a “mild extrovert;” I know some strong extroverts and I’m sure I’m not that. But compared to most of my social circles, I’m the outgoing one with little social anxiety (though it should be noted that I do have some social anxiety, like almost everyone on the planet; it tends to apply in specific circumstances.)

I laughed out loud when I got to the part about how yoga and meditation are nearly impossible. I have tried _so_ hard to get into meditation and it just leaves me exhausted. The only thing that works well is “meditation in motion”: trance dance, aka dancing to wordless music until I completely wear myself out physically, and only then can I hear the silence inside. Such a nice place to visit! Wish I could get there more.


My summer so far

In a holding pattern of sorts, waiting. At least three different home improvement projects have dragged out all summer. The windows that were supposed to be done in May will be done in September. The shower which broke last Thanksgiving will be done in September. (You wouldn’t believe the series of events which have delayed that repair…) My root canal from May has to be redone in September and I’ve been in discomfort all summer. (Bet you didn’t know THAT could happen! Anyone who ever wants to argue with me about my tooth luck, remember this.)

All I need to finish revisions on my current project are time and focus. Guess what I don’t have. 😛

Well, looking forward to Worldcon anyway…


A long absence

You know how you commit to doing something (say, regular postings on a blog), and then you slip off schedule? And you feel bad, so you resolve that whenever you do make a post, you’ll make it a really good one? And then you get so worried about making the new blog post awesome that you never figure out what to say? And then you feel so guilty you keep not-posting, and then four months go by?


Well, here I am again. I am deliberately making this post pointless and stupid so I’ll get over the idea that I have to make an Awesome Post to justify the time I’ve missed. I will attempt to make several more pointless posts in the next few weeks to get myself back in this habit. And then I will make some more thoughtful posts about writing. Eventually.

I like My Little Pony. A lot. I’m just saying.


FOGcon is coming!

Hey folks! It’s almost time for FOGcon 3!

FOGcon is an annual sf/f convention in the San Francisco Bay Area. It takes place from Mar 8-10. Our honored guests are Terry Bisson and Susan R. Matthews. Our theme is Law, Order, and Crime.

FOGcon is a seriously awesome convention. We’ve got a focus on writers and story–so if you write, this is a great place to come for networking and improving your craft. There’s also excellent panels (people keep telling us our programming is amazing), and this year the focus is on mysteries and crime in speculative fiction. We have karaoke, a writers’ workshop, and special presentations by our honored guests.

Registration for the weekend is $85 and you can get them at the website. Daypasses are $35 for Friday, $40 for Saturday, and $30 for Sunday, and will be available at the door.

I would be very grateful if people could link to this post and help promote FOGcon! If you have friends in the Bay Area, please make sure they know about the event.

Here’s a sample of the program items (you can see them all here):

It’s All About the Gravy

How do you thicken the plot in your fiction? What techniques can you use to increase tension? How do you change your story from a string of unrelated events into an exciting story? Writers talk about the craft of building a strong plot.

Liars’ Panel

Four experienced liars will sit on this panel and lie their butts off–solely for your entertainment. We might be lying about there being four of them. Ask them anything! See what they say.

Let’s Build a Legal System

Most of the time, if law gets involved in speculative fiction, it’s either an imitation of the legal system of the author’s home country or a kangaroo court — but there are so many other options for how to handle matters of guilt and innocence. How does the legal code change in a world where uploading is possible? Or psychic compulsion? How do you balance the rights of methane-breathers and oxygen-breathers? Let’s explore.

Anarchists! Innnn! Spaaaaace!

Outside of the law can mean outside of the city. The classic justice systems offered exile as an avoidance of fatal sentencing, considering exile equally terminal. But what happens when all of Earth is girded with awareness and broadcasting, how far do you go to find exile? How do you opt out from the water you’re swimming in?

Working-Class Heroes

Far too often in F/SF, the protagonist is Lord (or Lady) McSpecial of Bluebloodia, or else King Plotdevice’s long-lost child. Or, they’re just rich enough to have access to the Cool Toys that the author wants them to have on their travel through space. Terry Bisson, Lucius Shepard, Pat Murphy, and Joanna Russ are among many authors who present us with working-class heroes. What advantages do those heroes bring to the telling of useful stories, and how do the stories themselves change when we have protagonists without big bank accounts and high-brow accents?


My Arisia schedule

185 The Body of the Future Otis Literature Sat 2:30 PM Duration: 01:15
SF gives us a view of various future possibilities for human bodies. Whether through evolution, body modification, or genetic manipulation, the SF future holds a lot of possibilities. How do those possibilities reflect the concerns and biases of our current society?

Meredith Schwartz
Resa Nelson
Shira Lipkin
Vylar Kaftan

510 Making a Video Game 101 Carlton Gaming Sat 5:30 PM Duration: 01:15
Though you’ve played video games, you’ve never really been sure how one gets made. How does a game go from concept to code to finished product? How is it marketed and distributed? Come talk with people who’ve worked in the industry and find out what makes a video game.

Brianna Wu
Carolyn VanEseltine
Vylar Kaftan

137 The New Board Game Classics Executive Board Room Gaming Sat 8:30 PM Duration: 01:15
Some board games are multi-generational classics. Monopoly, Scrabble, and Risk still play as well as ever after over half a century. Fifty years from now, what up-and-coming games will be the new classics?

Adam Lipkin
Christopher K. Davis
Walter Hunt
Vylar Kaftan

139 Cooperative Games Executive Board Room Gaming Sun 11:30 AM Duration: 01:15
Most games are a competition between two (or more) opponents. Recently, though, there has been a rise in cooperative games like Pandemic, where the goal is to beat the game, not each other. Find out about cooperative games and what they may be teaching us.

Christopher K. Davis
Cynthia A Shettle-Meleedy
Vylar Kaftan

963 Autograph – Kaftan & Sakers Commonwealth Foyer – Autograph Space Writing Sun 1:00 PM Duration: 01:15
Autograph session with Vylar Kaftan and Don Sakers.

172 Avoiding Culturefail Paine Literature Sun 5:30 PM Duration: 01:15
How can writers best avoid creating simplistic or hurtful imaginary cultures? How can you portray real world cultures (and fictional cultures derived from them) without resorting to stereotypes? Is doing research enough? Where do you start?
[This panel has run before, very successfully each time. This year, there are new examples to draw from, such as the one depicted in Rose Lemberg’s fabulous post here: http://roselemberg.net/?p=405%5D

Panelists’ Publication Names (Badge Names) Email addresses Comments
Woodrow “asim” Hill
Sabrina Vourvoulias
Daniel José Older
Vylar Kaftan

674 Are Rules Meant to be Broken? Bullfinch Writing Sun 7:00 PM Duration: 01:15
Games have rules; societies have rules; guilds, armies, and magic all have rules. In fiction, sometimes the rules are explicit and sometimes they’re implied. Either way, the rules create audience expectations. Panelists will discuss their approach to creating, using, and sometimes breaking rules in their writing.

Joy Marchand
Ian Randal Strock
Genevieve Iseult Eldredge
Suzanne Palmer (Suzanne)
Vylar Kaftan

706 Writing and the Law Bullfinch Writing Sun 8:30 PM Duration: 01:15
What are you legal rights as an author? What are the “gotcha” items to watch out for in a publishing contract? What kind of rights to publish your story should you give the publisher? Are there significant legal differences between publishing via traditional methods versus publishing online?
Additional reference material for discussion http://www.sfwa.org/2012/09/guest-blog-post-writers-be-wary-electronic-distribution-and-control-of-creative-material/

William Frank (Will scifantasy Frank)
James A. Wolf (Dungeonmaster Jim)
Vylar Kaftan
Greg R. Fishbone
Ken Schneyer

930 Reading: Dr. Chris, Kaftan, & Wilk Hale Writing Mon 11:30 AM Duration: 01:15
Authors Dr. Chris, Vylar Kaftan, and Steven R. Wilk will read selections from their works. Dr. Chris will be reading from The New England Horror Filmmakers.

Stephen R Wilk (Stephen R. Wilk)
Dr.Chris (Dr. Chris)
Vylar Kaftan