Announcing the Next Wayward Wormhole – 2024 in New Mexico

The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is pleased to announce the second annual Wayward Wormhole, this time in New Mexico. Join us for the short story workshop to study with Arley Sorg and Minister Faust, or the novel workshop with Donald Maass, C.C. Finlay, and Cat Rambo.

Both intensive workshops will be hosted at the Painted Pony ranch in Rodeo, New Mexico. The short story workshop runs November 4-12, 2024, and the novel workshop runs November 15 through 24, 2024.

The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers has been in existence for thirteen years, serving hundreds of students who have gone on to win awards, honors, and accolades, including Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards. “I attended Clarion West, and have taught at multiple workshops now,” says Academy founder Cat Rambo. “While others have delivered the gold standard, I decided to stretch to the platinum level and deliver amazing workshops in equally amazing settings. Last year’s was a castle in Spain, this year a fabulous location in southwestern America. And wait till you hear what we’ve got cooked up for 2025!”

More details about these exciting workshops and how to apply!

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Reminding People of My Editing Rates

Next spring, I need to get new windows for this ancient house. Accordingly, if you ever wanted to give yourself the gift of an edit from an experienced editor/writer/teacher who is also a Locus and World Fantasy Award nominee and Nebula award winner, I highly encourage it. All edits/reads include the chance to identify particular spots for feedback in advance and to ask questions afterward.

Here’s what I offer:

Story editorial read

$50 per 5,000 words. This is not an edit. It is a 1-2 page analysis that includes notes on suggested changes, weak spots, and other editorial feedback. Stories over 5,000 words will be pro-rated at $5 per additional 500 words.

Novel editorial read

$1000 per 100.000 words. This is not an edit. It is a chapter by chapter analysis that includes notes on suggested changes, weak spots, and other editorial feedback. I will include a copyedit of the first chapter (up to ten pages) to show patterns and suggestions at the sentence level. Works over 5,000 words will be pro-rated at $10 per additional 1000 words.

Story copyedit

$100 per 5,000 words. This is a rigorous edit of something you consider finished, with changes tracked and explanatory notes. If you are not happy with it, I will return your money. Stories over 5,000 words will be pro-rated at $10 per additional 500 words.

Novel copyedit

Because this can vary greatly, the fee is based on how much work I’m looking at. Send one chapter and the word length and I can provide an estimate.

Got a project that doesn’t fit any of these? Feel free to mail me at cat@kittywumpus.net (it would be handy if you use the subject line “Edit Request”) with the details.

Projects will be added to my work queue in the order they are received. If you need your work prioritized due to a deadline, there is an additional rush fee.

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New Classes, Including Short Story Workshop, and Small Changes

This year I’ll be alternating two months of offering classes followed by two months of focusing on other work. In theory this should have been Jan-Feb, but it’s more like Feb edging into March. After that the next round will be May-June, and then September-October. I am also doing some price raising, reasoning that since I haven’t done it since the school started fifteen years ago, it’s a bit overdue. As always, there will be plenty of Plunkett scholarships.

I’m pleased to say we’re moving ahead on the next Wayward Wormhole, and 60% of our faculty is locked in so far. I hope to make an announcement about that soon.

Writing Short Stories Multi-Session Workshop

I will be offering a 6 week session of my writing short stories workshop on Saturdays, 12:30-3:00 PM Eastern time, starting February 3, 2024 and going through March 9.

In these six sessions, we will cover plot and story structure, character, world-building, style and technique, and how to move forward to begin (or continue) selling short stories. Each class will consist of lecture, discussion, and writing exercises for the first half and then turn to a critique of each other’s work. Students are expected to turn in at least one story for workshopping as well as critiquing each other’s stories.

To apply, please mail cat@kittywumpus.net a 1000 word writing sample (does not need to be a complete piece) as well as a brief (1-3 paragraph) statement about why you’d like to take the class. If accepted, the cost is $400 for Patreon supporters and other Rambo Academy community members; otherwise $500. There will be three Plunkett scholarships.

Single Session Workshops

Cost is $89 for Patreon supporters, otherwise $119. To register mail cat@kittywumpus.net with the name of the class and how you’d like to pay (Venmo, Paypal, check, something else.) There are three Plunkett scholarships in each class.

SCHEDULE

February 4, 12:30-2:30 PM Eastern Time

Replying to Other Stories with Cat Rambo

Stories shape writers, who spend part of their writing replying to, refuting, celebrating, and exploring those texts. Some stories have inspired plenty, such as Godwin’s “The Cold Equations,” Tiptree’s “The Women Men Don’t See,” or Le Guin’s “Those Who Walk Away from Omelas.” How do you draw on these stories without plagiarizing or leaning too heavily on a reader’s understanding of them? How do you figure out the stories that have inspired you, and how do you use them to make your own?

Join Cat for a workshop in which we’ll talk, listen, and exercise what we’ve learned in order to come away with useful tools as well as a list of possible story ideas and tips on which markets may find such stories appealing.

February 4, 4-6 PM Eastern Time

Generation Upon Generation: Writing Families with Cat Rambo

Almost every character has a family, one that has shaped their psyche deeply. How do you write characters in a way that demonstrates the complexities of family relationships and power struggles? How do you show the interactions between the generations and how they clash and complement each other?

Join Cat for a workshop in which we’ll talk, listen, and exercise what we’ve learned in order to come away from this class with a greater understanding of how to write family relationships, including practical tips, techniques, and exercises.

February 11, 12:30-2:30 PM Eastern time

Project Management for Creatives with Jennifer Brozek

How do you stay on top of the daily demands of being a writer? How do you plan — and carry out that plan — for a novel? How do you make sure one aspect of writing doesn’t swallow up all the rest? Basically, how can a writer stay in control of the daily chaos of existence even when you have multiple projects going at once?

Join Jennifer Brozek for a workshop about how to create a plan that helps you get where you want to go and how to do it without burning out.

February 11, 4-6 PM Eastern time

Creating and Updating Your Newsletter with Cat Rambo

With social media falling apart, more and more writers are returning to newsletters. How do you get started putting out a newsletter? What should – and shouldn’t – you include? What platforms are available, and are they worth paying for? Where do you find interesting visual images to use in your newsletter? How do you go about getting more subscribers?

You will come away from this class with a plan for starting (or restarting) your newsletter and consistently sending it out with interesting content that helps you sell books.

February 18, 4-6 PM Eastern

Rosemary Claire Smith – The Art of the Book Review

Some avid readers want to become reviewers, talking about the fiction they love — and sometimes hate. How do you go about creating a book review that is fair, interesting, and spoiler free? Should you post reviews on platforms like GoodReads and LibraryThing? Where else might you publish such pieces apart from your own blog? Is it possible to get paid for reviews? How do you obtain advance readers copies before books are published? Who does those anonymous reviews in Publishers Weekly?

Join Rosemary Claire Smith to talk about the time-honored art of the book review, and its promises and pitfalls.

February 25, 12:30-2:30 PM Eastern time

Beats, Chapters and Scenes: Ins and Outs of Story Units with Cat Rambo

What’s the difference between a chapter and scene, and at what point in the process do you need to worry about it? What are story beats and how can you use them to move the story along and keeping it emotionally engaging for the reader? Is there a maximum or minimum length for any of these things? Do you even need to think about them, or will you just hamper the writing flow by doing so?

Join Cat Rambo for a workshop in which they teach you how to use story units to their best effect.

March 3, 12:30-2:30 PM Eastern time

Dial Up Your Dialogue with Cat Rambo

Want to make your dialogue more interesting, intriguing, and indicative of character behavior? How do you know to leave in and leave out? How can you use dialogue to successfully deliver vital information? How do you make characters distinctive through their voices?

Join Cat Rambo for a workshop in which they teach you the ins and outs of dialogue.

March 3, 4-6 PM Eastern time

Rewriting and Editing Short Stories with Cat Rambo

Students have found that learning to trust their editing skills has made them more productive when producing early drafts. This class combines lecture, discussion, and in class exercise to help you develop a rewriting practice tailored to your own particular strengths and weaknesses as well as one that lets you know when a story is ready for submission. Topics include how to edit at both the sentence and story level, working well with writers/editors, considerations when writing for anthologies or for franchises, and how to finally let go of a piece and get it out there.

March 10, 12:30-2:30 PM Eastern time

Money Management for Creatives with Jennifer Brozek

Money makes the world go round, and in today’s society your dollar has to stretch farther than it has before. In Money Management for Creatives, Jennifer teaches core fundamentals of money management, debt reducing techniques, and an understanding of how money awareness can work for you. The class includes hands-on tasks, examples of the techniques used, and a discussion about the emotions of dealing with money.

Join Jennifer for a session in which she teaches you how to make the most of your money while handling the often erratic flow of writing income.

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Reading and Gaming Highlights of 2023

I read more than I watch or listen, and so here are highlights from this year of the close to 200 books I read or reread in 2023. I get the majority of my reading from NetGalley, BookBub deals, ARCs, and the library. I include publication dates so I can remember what I will recommend for Nebula reading; bolded titles are eligible for award stuff this year; titles in italics indicate a forthcoming title.

Here are some of my favorites in speculative reading from this year:

  • F.M. Aden – The Bride of Death (Northern Light Press, March 1, 2024) – Lovely fairytale retelling.
  • Emma R. Alban – Don’t Want You Like a Best Friend (Avon, Jan 9, 2024) YA – queer Victorian romance with a whiff of The Parent Trap.
  • Cassie Alexander – AITA? (2021) – Fun paranormal sexy romance.
  • Julia Armfield – Our Wives Under the Sea (2022) Lovely, eerie horror.
  • Rachel Aukes – The Lazarus Key Waypoint, (Jan 8, 2024) – Thriller with fish & wildlife officers going up against dinosaurs
  • Bridget E. Baker – The Birthright Series, 2020. Solid space opera, and I liked the PoV changes from book to book. I read the first three and will be picking up the other five when I get the chance.
  • S.A. Barnes – Ghost Station (April 9, 2024) Great psychological thriller on a space station.
  • Redfern John Barrett – Proud Pink Sky (Amble Press, 2023) Linked short stories of a gay homeland. Enjoyed this a lot.
  • Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett – The Long Earth Parallel earth series, 1st of four.
  • Melissa Blair – A Broken Blade (2021) – Solid YA fantasy, first of three books.
  • Marie Brennan – The Market of 100 Fortunes (Aconyte, Feb, 2024) Loved this Legend of the Five Rings tie-in novel.
  • Tobias Buckell – A Stranger in the Citadel (Tachyon Publications, 2023), Terrific world-building and a librarian questioning that world.
  • Octavia E. Butler – Mind of My Mind. Rerelease of work by one of my favorite writers. Everyone should read Octavia. Over and over again.
  • Sebastien Castell – The Malevolent Seven (2023). Absolutely solid and fun fantasy that lives up to the excellence of Castell’s other works.
  • Heidi Catherine – The Whisperers of Evernow (2019) Interesting premise, YA.
  • Beth Cato – A Thousand Recipes for Revenge (47North, 2023) I love Cato’s work and this was no exception. Plus — food and fantasy! First of 2 and I’ve already preordered the sequel.
  • P. Djèlí Clark – The Dead Cat Tail Assassins (Tor, April 23, 2024) Delightful secondary world fantasy.
  • David Clawson – My Fairy Mother is a Drag Queen (2017) – Fun Cinderella retelling. YA.
  • Lex Croucher – Gwen and Art are Not in Love (Tor Macmillan 2023). YA queer romance, fun and frothy.
  • Alex Evans – I Am a Barbarian (BooksGoSocial, Dec 17, 2023) Fun YA secondary world fantasy.
  • Philip Jose Farmer – Lord of the Trees (2012), The Mad Goblin (2013) Typical crazy-ass Farmer and a certain amount of (literal) cock-swinging.
  • Brandon Gillespie – Atom Bomb Baby (2023) Strong whiff of Fallout fanfic about this book, but in a good way.
  • Nicole Glover – The Conductors (2021) Loved this alternate history with magicians running the Underground Railway; first of two books
  • Kim Harrison – American Demon (2020) I always enjoy Harrison and this was no exception.
  • Christina Henry – The House that Horror Built (Berkeley, June 14, 2024) Solid horror about the cinema, nicely creepy.
  • Kevin Hincker – The Ghost with a Knife at Her Throat (August 13, 2023) I adored this urban fantasy, which had some cool twists. First in a series and I’m picking up the rest.
  • S.J. Himes – The Necromancer’s Dance (2016) First in an urban fantasy series of the vampires/werewolves ilk, fun gay fantasy with lots of action.
  • Dara Horn – Eternal Life (2018) Is living forever a boon or a curse? Lotsa historical texture.
  • Kat Howard – An Unkindness of Magicians, A Sleight of Shadows (2023) Loved this duo of mannerly magician books.
  • Sarah Zachrich Jeng – When I’m Her (Berkley, March , 2024) Compelling story of female friendship.
  • Mary E. Jung – Blossom and Bone (2022) Cozy fantasy feel to this series that I really enjoyed, first of a 3 book series.
  • T.J. Klune – In the Lives of Puppets (2023) Terrific SF retelling of Pinochio. One of my favorite reads of the year.
  • Tim Lebbon – Among the Living (Titan Books, Feb 6, 2024) Lebbon is always good, and this is solid and compelling.
  • Ann Leckie – Translation State (2023) More in Leckie’s complex and compelling SF universe, along with one of my favorite characters of all time, Qven.
  • Britney S. Lewis – The Undead Truth of Us (2021). YA zombie with a lot of emotion to it.
  • Megan Mackie – Death and the Crone (2023) Enjoyed this older woman romance in Mackie’s Lucky Devil setting.
  • Melissa Marr – Remedial Magic (Tor, Feb 20, 2024) Cozy fantasy with a lovely lesbian romance.
  • J.R. Martin – The Engineer’s Apprentice (2023) Solid beginning to a steampunk series.
  • Zoe Hana Mikuta – Off With Their Heads (Disney, April 24, 2024) Great queer Alice in Wonderland riff with Gideon the Ninth vibes.
  • Jo Miles – Dissonant State (2023) Fun space opera that has me looking for the beginning of the series.
  • Premee Mohamed – The Siege of Burning Grass (Rebellion Publishing, March 12, 2024) If you buy one book in 2024, this should be it.
  • Sunny Moraine – Your Shadow Half Remains (Tor, Feb, 2024) Creepy horror of the everyone is the enemy apocalypse variety.
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Silver Nitrate (2023) Sharp-edged horror set in cinematic history.
  • Tamsyn Muir – Harrow the Ninth (2020), Nona the Ninth (2022) I loved Gideon and Harrow but bounced hard off the third book for some reason.
  • Patrick Ness – The Rest of Us Just Live Here (2015) – YA and I LOVE this book about what it’s like to not be the Chosen One so much.
  • Naomi Novik – A Deadly Education (2020), The Golden Enclaves (2022) Fabulous entry into the genre of magic schools.
  • Allison Saft – A Dark and Drowning Tide (Random House, Sept 17, 2024) Loved this secondary world fantasy frenemies to lovers take on a murder mystery.
  • Lilith Saintcrow – A Flame in the North (Orbit, February 13, 2024) I always enjoy Saintcrow and this was a pleasurable read but I like her more modern fantasy stuff considerably more.
  • Robert Shearman – We All Hear Stories in the Dark (2022). I’m still working my way through this massive three volume set and enjoying it enormously. Highly recommended if you love short stories.
  • A.J. Steiger – Eye of a Little God. (January 2, 2024). Well-executed psychological horror.
  • Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland – The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. (2017) Great time travel corps stuff with a fun romance. There’s a sequel, which I need to pick up.
  • Andrew F. Sullivan – The Marigold (2023) Fabulously unhinged horror.
  • Lavie Tidhar – The Circumference of the World (2023) His usual brilliance, so much lovely stuff in this!
  • K.B. Wagers – A Pale Light in the Black (2020) Fun start to a series.
  • Khan Wong – The Circus Infinite (2022) Terrific SF with a runaway teen with special powers.
  • Z. J. Ryder – Twisted Neuros (2023) I love this story of an AI trying to figure out its own existence.

In anthologies and collections, I recently began a project to go through all my anthologies and collections to see which I want to keep. So far that’s included:

  • Space Opera, edited by Brian Aldiss. Keeping for historical relevance more than any innate quality.
  • Light Years and Dark, edited by Michael Bishop. Keeping for the high degree of original fiction, the quality of writers and works, and the editorial vision.
  • The Black Science Fiction Society’s Genesis: An Anthology of Black Science Fiction Book One, edited by Jarvis Sheffield. Keeping for the breadth of established and new voices.
  • A Larger Reality: Speculative Fiction from the Bicultural Margins, edited by Libia Brenda. Keeping because I love books with the stories in the original language as well as English, plus the range of established and new voices.

In my short fiction reading club, in which we read classic stories of F&SF, we read: Ray Bradbury’s “The Fog Horn,” Karen Joy Fowler’s “Standing Room Only”, Robert Heinlein’s “All You Zombies,” and “The Green Hills of Earth,” Anne McCaffrey’s “The Ship Who Sang,” Vonda N. McIntyre’s “Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand,” C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner’s “Vintage Season”, Clifford Simak’s “Desertion,” Connie Willis’ “A Letter from the Clearys”, and Roger Zelazny’s “Auto-da-Fe.” I’ve found these craft-focused sessions, which are part of my Patreon community, illuminating and useful in terms of learning more about F&SF history as well as craft tips and tricks.

In video/computer games, I started playing the early version of Baldur’s Gate 3 in early September, and I’ve been obsessed with it. Earlier in the year, I was playing Sun Haven and really enjoyed it, along with occasional bouts of Darkest Dungeon. If you’re a Stardew Valley fan, you will like Sun Haven, because there’s a lot of similarities and fun writing. I continue to play Pokemon Go on my phone.

RPG-wise I’m running a live game of D&D 5e and playing in two f2f homebrew D&D campaigns, one virtual D%D campaign plus Esper Genesis on Twitch. That sounds like more than it really is, which is a chance to game once or twice each week. Early in the year, I played in a game of Apocalypse Hearts run by Lowell Francis and want to recommend the Open Hearth gaming community for people interested in finding interesting story-focused games to play online. I also used the Party Backstory Generator tool by Justin Sirosis in my D&D game as the session 0 and found people really grooved with it and generated some interesting connections.

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The Annual $5 Sale – Last Time

Hello! This is your last chance to take part in the annual all-the-online-classes for $5 each sale. Next year prices will be going up, along with some other cool changes.

Here’s your choices:

The Basics: A Toolkit for Writing Fiction

Character Building Workshop

Description and Delivering Information for Genre Writers

Different Kinds of Love: Writing Non-romantic Relationships

Dunking Your Reader in the Details: Toolsets for Writing Immersive Worlds

Epistolary Fiction

Getting Your Pod On: Podcasting for Writers

Hex Engines & Spell-Slingers: Writing Steampunk &Weird Western

Historical Research for Writers

Literary Techniques for Genre Writers

Moving From Idea to Finished Draft

Old Stories Into New

The Power of Words: Linguistics for Writers

Principles for Pantsers

Reading to an Audience

Rewriting, Revising, and Fine-tuning Your Fiction

SEO Basics for Writers

To Space Opera & Beyond with Ann Leckie

Twenty Types of Terrors: Writing Horror Subgenres

Writing Flash Fiction

Writing in the Cracks: Finding Time for Writing When You Have None

Writing Interactive Fiction

Writing Your Way Into Your Novel

Want everything together? For $125 you can have the whole shebang.

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Wrapping Up the Year

I’m finally catching up, post-Wormhole Workshop in Girona, Spain, and pronounce it a success! We had a great time, and the students wrote their tails off, producing amazing, sometimes location-flavored, stories, such as “We Have Always Been Going to the Castle,” and “Murder at the Castell de la Cava.” Being in a 10th century castle was an evocative space for our first effort, and a number of moments, including my 60th birthday celebration, will live in my memory for the rest of my life. This newsletter is illustrated with sunrises and sunsets from the stay.

So many thanks to my partner in the effort, Janet K. Smith and her indefatigable husband Geoff. We learned a lot for the 2024 Wormhole, which will be a fully accessible location inside the United States. Look for a formal announcement mid-February but the scheduling will again be for November.

If you want access to the recordings from the workshop in Spain, featuring Tobias Buckell, Ann Leckie, Sarah Pinsker, and myself, they are available individually or as a group – and best of all, we implemented sliding scale so more people can afford it. Please check out what’s available and spread the word if you know people who might be interested. Find out more here.

Some Wayward Gift Ideas

Want to give your favorite writer a gift from the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers? Here’s some possibilities:

  • A subscription to the community ($50 for a year)
  • A class credit ($75, good for any two hour class)
  • A coaching session ($50, 30 minute consultation via Zoom)
  • A story edit ($50 for up to 5000 words)
  • One of these stickers or cool zippered pouches for their pens

For any of the virtual gifts, mail me at cat@kittywumpus.net. You will receive a .pdf that can be mailed to the recipient or printed out to give them physically.

What I’m Working On

The year is passing away with fierce quickness and I’m trying to wrap up the draft of Wings of Tabat in order to get that in before the end of the end. I’m planning changes for next year’s Rambo Academy classes and events – if you’re a community member, please weigh in on the post asking for feedback on what you’d like to see!

Lotsa Links

Cat-Related Links

Rambo Academy Community Links

Market & Related Links

Informative Links

Pictures from Life the Casa Rambo Way

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Announcing The Reinvented Detective!

I’m pleased to announce that we have final cover, release date, and table of contents!

December 12, 2023, The Reinvented Detective, the second installment of the Reinvented Anthology series from Jennifer Brozek and Cat Rambo, appears from Arc Manor.

The evolution of crime, punishment, and justice in the future.

What happens when time and technology change the definition of crime and punishment?

Science fiction often focuses on future technology without considering the society housing it. Social norms may change as tech changes — or not. What will criminals, investigators, judges, and juries look like in a complicated future of clones, uploaded intelligences, artificial brains, or body augmentation? What stories emerge when we acknowledge the possibilities of new laws, new police methods, and the birth of sentient Artificial Intelligence, as well as all the ways they can clash or combine?

The Reinvented Detective presents stories that complicate law and order as well as the concept of criminals, detectives, punishment, and justice for all by showing how shifting technology, the rise of sentient AIs, and shifting social attitudes may affect what is not only acceptable, but expected, within both real world and digital communities—and everything in-between. These stories reinvent detective and true crime tropes, recasting them for the 21st century, and above all, experimenting, astonishing, and entertaining.

Table of Contents

Foreword – Jennifer Brozek

REPORTS
Poem: That Missing C: Police Report #1 – Jane Yolen
The Best Justice Money Can Buy – C.C. Finlay
The Gardener’s Mystery: Notes from a Journal – Lisa Morton
Someone Else’s Device – AnaMaria Curtis
Coded Out – Frog and Esther Jones
Murder at the Westminster Dino Show – Rosemary Claire Smith
The Unassembled Victims – Peter Clines

ARTIFACTS
Poem: Ghosts – Seanan McGuire
Agents Provocateur – Lazarus Black
Great Detective in a Box – Jennifer R. Povey
Color Me Dead – E. J. Delaney
The Unremembered Paradox – Maurice Broaddus and Bethany K. Warner
Go Ask A.L.I.C.E. – Lyda Morehouse
Request to Vanish – Lauren Ring
Overclocked Holmes – Sarah Day and Tim Pratt

JUDGMENTS
Poem: Final Judgement – Jane Yolen
Dead Witness – Marie Bilodeau
We Are All Ourselves Inside Our Skins – Sam Fleming
Inside, Outside, Above, Below – Premee Mohamed
To Every Seed Their Own Body – Guan Un
In the Shadow of the Great Days – Harry Turtledove
Gum5hoe – Carrie Harris

Afterword – Cat Rambo

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes & Noble
Buy from Powells Books

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Wormhole Lite Changes – Because You Asked For Them! (And Other Recent Stuff)

Making Wormhole Lite More Accessible

People told me the way we had Wormhole Lite configured didn’t work so well, because of time differences. So I’ve swapped things around and made it so you can get the recordings and not worry about time zones, but instead watch them at your leisure, because I’ve also extended the amount of time they’ll be available from 30 days to three months.

You can take them individually or as a group – and best of all, we implemented sliding scale so more people can afford it. Please check out what’s available and spread the word if you know people who might be interested.

Details. Registration Link.

Who’s teaching what?

  • Sarah Pinsker – Beginnings and Endings
  • Cat Rambo – Conflicts in Short Stories
  • Tobias Buckell – Plot Your Way to Amazing Characters
  • Ann Leckie – Setting & World Building

Results of Our First Pitch Session
Based on a suggestion, The Rambo Academy hosted a special practice pitch session. People submitted their pitches ahead of time and I read each one out loud, then we took 5 minutes or so to discuss each one after it had been read. We had an amazing time with this, and people found that having their pitch read out loud and being able to discuss it without people knowing it was there was comfortable and productive. Speaking as a teacher, it was a great session, full of good energy.

I plan to do one of these every other month going forward, so keep it in mind when you’re getting ready to develop a pitch for your novel.

If you’re a Patreon supporter, remember that this month we’re discussing Karen Joy Fowler’s “Standing Room Only.” There’s a Wednesday session and a Saturday one; both will be recorded for people that can’t make it.

Also for Patreon supporters, we have a special talk this month with Michael R. Underwood discussing American writers and unions – why we can’t unionize, and what we can do about it. The date had to get moved, and it’s now October 24th at 12 PM Eastern time.

Want to join us? Details here.

This weekend’s classes are:

  1. Hitting the Road: How To Send Your Characters on a Road Trip with A.T. Greenblatt, Saturday, October 14th, 9:30-11:30 Pacific time.
  2. Power and Politics in Worldbuilding: Schemes, Factions, and Culture with Michael R. Underwood, Saturday, October 14, 1-3 PM Pacific time.
  3. Crimson Peaks and Menacing Mansions: Writing Gothic Horror with Catherine Lundoff, Sunday, October 15, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time.
  4. Twenty Types of Terror: Exploring Horror Subgenres with Cat Rambo, Sunday, October 15, 1-3 PM Pacific time.

Sign up for both of Sunday’s classes for a total cost of $99! All class recordings are available to Patreon supporters for $40 or $50 for non-supporters.

Find the full list of upcoming classes here.

Find the list of available videos here.

In November, Jennifer Brozek will be leading the Wednesday Writing Games session. Come play and write for an hour in a comfortable and enjoyable session designed to kickstart your creativity! See the Patreon schedule to find out how to join.

Want to find me on your favorite social network? Here’s all the places I have a presence, along with other pertinent links.

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Where I’ll Be: DragonCon 2023

Cat Rambo's 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Their novel You Sexy Thing was a Dragon Award nominee in 2022. Their most recent works include Gods of Tabat (novel, WordFire Press) and space opera Devil's Gun.Active Diversity: Making Your Story Matter to More People
*Extra Fee Workshop*
Description: Diversity in writing (and reading) matters, but why, and how does an author achieve it? What is a sensitivity reader, when might you need one, and how do you go about finding a good one? How do you write books that are diverse, engaging, and reflect the world’ s complexity without offending anyone?
Panelists: Cat Rambo
Time: Fri 02:30 pm
Location: Inman Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

Small Press vs. Traditional
*Extra Fee Workshop*
Description: What are the main differences – both advantages and disadvantages – in working with a small press versus a major corporate one? How do you know what will work best for you, and how do you find the right publisher once you have decided? What are the signs of a bad publisher?
Panelists: Cat Rambo
Time: Sat 11:30 am
Location: Inman Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

Industry Insiders Unleashed: Cracking the Code to Entertainment Success
Description: Gain exclusive insights from accomplished actors and creators who have successfully broken into the entertainment industry. Join this candid discussion and unlock the secrets to launching your own creative career.
Panelists: Tony P Henderson, Mark Oshiro, Steve Saffel, Anne Sowards, James Minz, Cat Rambo
Time: Sun 11:30 am
Location: Hanover AB Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

So Scary, I Scared Myself
Description: Lackluster horror? Nope. That won’t work. This panel will discuss ways to amp up your scary stories and novels.
Panelists: Jessica Ann York, Cat Rambo, Anya Martin, Cathalson, Chesya Burke, Darrell Z. Grizzle
Time: Sun 07:00 pm
Location: Embassy EF Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

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Heading Into the 2nd Half of the Year

This edition of the newsletter contains:

  • Where I’m at with current projects and upcoming appearances
  • Some new classes for August and September
  • Join the street team for Devil’s Gun!
  • Wayward Wormhole Progress Report
  • Lots and lots of links
  • Moving away from Twitter? Here’s where to find me on other social media platforms.

Where I’m At. Figuratively and Literally

Hello! It’s almost August and time has certainly flown by this year! I’m working on the dev edits for RUMOR HAS IT, the third space opera book and finishing up writing WINGS OF TABAT, the last book in the Tabat Quartet. That’ll make two books delivered this year, along with at least a handful of story sales, several of which I’m really looking forward to announcing!

A non-writing project has been the reclamation of my backyard, including planting lots of insect-friendly flowers and herbs. I harvested my first (but surely not last) summer squash this morning, and spent a few minutes watching a variety of bees enjoying both the newly-blooming sunflowers as well as the (by design) unmowed clover patch that has been christened “Beelandia.”

I will be at GenCon next week and Chicago FanCon the following weekend. After that, my next appearance will be in early September at DragonCon, followed by a reading in NYC mid-September.

 New Classes for August and September

How to Give Great Interviews with Randee Dawn, August 26th, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time

Got a passion project you want people to notice or buy? Then you’ll want to know how to speak to professionals with big megaphones out there: reporters! Veteran entertainment journalist and author Randee Dawn has been on both sides of the microphone, and in this class you’ll learn how to pitch, to prepare for your interviews, and become the kind of expert reporters want to call back.

Join Randee Dawn for a workshop in which she teaches you how to get and make the most of interview opportunities.

Dial Up Your Dialogue with Cat Rambo, August 26th, 1-   3 PM Pacific time

Want to make your dialogue more interesting, intriguing, and indicative of character behavior? How do you know to leave in and leave out? How can you use dialogue to successfully deliver vital information? How do you make characters distinctive through their voices?

Join Cat Rambo for a workshop in which they teach you the ins and outs of dialogue.

How Not To Shoot Yourself In The Foot with Mur Lafferty, August 27th, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time

You’ve mastered submission guidelines and cover letters! But that’s just the outskirts of the wild land of the pro author. This class offers advice on how to avoid some common early career mistakes, from how to choose the right agent to dealing with procrastination, self doubt, and more. We will also run a successful author “LARP” to illustrate some points. It may get silly. Bring dice. F&SF author Mur Lafferty will help you navigate the various pitfalls you may stumble upon in your journey.

Join Mur Lafferty for a session filled with practical, irreverent advice designed to give you practical, applicable skills on planning your career and then executing that plan.

The First Draft Novel Blues with Cat Rambo, August 27th, 1-3 PM Pacific time

You’ve got a first draft of your novel now, in all its messy glory. How do you go about revising it and getting it to the point where you’re ready to give it to your beta readers? How do you track the changes and account for the fact that a change to a first chapter can bubble all the way through to the end. Find out how to create a road map to guide you through the process.

Join Cat Rambo for a workshop in which they teach you what to do next.

Keep Your Reader on The Edge of Their Seat: Creating Tension in Your Writing with Cat Rambo, September 17, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time

How do you keep your reader wondering what’s happening next, and eagerly racing through your pages to find out? How do you create suspense and tension in a scene, and how tense is TOO tense? What factors remove tension from a situation? Find out how to dial up the tension and keep your reader eager to find out what happens next.

Join Cat Rambo for a workshop in which they teach you how to be more tense. 😉

Prosthetic Dreaming: How to Use ChatGPT, Meditation, and Surrealism To Unlock Your Creativity with Henry Lien and Jerry Lee Davis, September 17, 1-4 PM Pacific time.

AI represents an existential crisis for humans, forcing us to face the question of whether there are more of us than needed. This question is particularly confronting for artists, many of whom already question the value of their own creations and themselves.

This workshop embraces AI as an art supply by recognizing that an artist’s contribution is not just to create something out of thin air, but to observe the startling connections between seemingly unconnected things that no one else has noticed. AI, specifically ChatGPT, can be a remarkable tool to bombard your brain, help you enter your creativity sideways, and give you the “x-ray specs” to see those unseen connections.

The workshop uses meditation and Surrealistic parlour games to bridge between ChatGPT’s sometimes spooky, sometimes hollow responses and your own subconscious. The workshop uses AI ethically, consulting it not to create anything but simply as a lens to see connections in the artist’s mind and the world. This workshop is structured to help all artists, but is particularly useful to those working in narrative mediums (fiction, non-fiction, drama, film/tv).

This workshop is taught by author Henry Lien, who has nearly 20 years’ experience as a Surrealist art dealer, and author/playwright Jerry Lee Davis, who has over 20 years’ experience teaching meditation.

“You will need access to ChatGPT for the workshop. You will need to create a free account to do so. Here is the link. Note that there is also an iOS app for iPhone and iPad. Here is the link. Please make sure you are downloading the official ChatGPT app by OpenAI, and not downloading one of the many copy-cats.

Here is a partial list of countries where ChatGPT is available and not available. https://www.mlyearning.org/what-countries-is-chat-gpt-available/ ”

Cost of classes is $99, or $79 for former Rambo Academy students and Patreon supporters. To register for a class or classes, mail the name(s) of the class, and how you would like to pay (Paypal, Venmo, or other means.)

Looking for something else? Here’s the list of available class videos as well as the portal for the Rambo Academy’s on-demand classes.

The school will be on hiatus for the month of November, while the Wayward Wormhole Intensive Writing Workshop is taking place. The resident Wayward Wormhole students have been selected. We’re excited to congratulate M Levine, Beston Barnett, Cryus Fisher, Sarah Grey, Gio Clairval, Em Dupre, Madhu Guruprasad, Marissa James, Rosemary Smith, Stephanie Johnson, and Auden Patrick. Want in on the virtual version? You can find the details here.

Join the Disco Space Opera Street Team!

Check out the cool buttons I just got for RUMOR HAS IT! Want to join the street team for the book and get a pair of these buttons for yourself? Mail me at cat@kittywumpus.net with the subject line Street Team and I’ll stick them in the mail to you. (I have a limited amount for overseas fans, so mail fast if that’s your situation.) Optional street team activities include: posting pics wearing the buttons or of the book in a bookstore, requesting the book via your local library system, posting reviews or recommendations, and the most active promoters will be getting a follow-up thank you!

Lotsa Links

Cat-Related Links

Community Links

Market News and Related Links

Leaving Twitter and want to find me on other social media? Check the list here.

That’s it for now! Take care and keep writing!  -Cat

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