How to Write Space Opera Class On-demand Version is All Finished Up!

I pulled this quote from Ann's class and it still seems to sum up so much.

I pulled this quote from Ann’s class and it still seems to sum up so much.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been taking the material from the live classes on how to write space opera with Ann Leckie and turning it into an on-demand class for the Rambo Academy. I am charmed and pleased with the results, and I think this will be the model for future classes. One thing I did was film an hour and a half of conversation about space opera with Ann and split it up into video clips to go with the different sections, and I am so pleased with the way the class flows, the useful resources it provides, and the overall look and feel of it.

One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it, I’ve found, because it makes you think about the material and how to assemble it. I learned a lot from listening to Ann talk, including at least two things I’ve incorporated into my own process, and I considerably swelled my own reading list in putting together one of the resources, a compilation of space opera titles.

Here’s a sample, taken from early in the class:

I’m scheming a little to add some more video to the class overall if the opportunity presents itself. I think it’d be fun to do a couple of video interviews with some of my other favorite space opera writers, like Elizabeth Moon and C.J. Cherryh, and it’d be really interesting to hear their take on some of the same points.

Next I’ll finish up doing the same thing with the rewriting and revision class. I think the video adds a lot, and one of the things I want to do with this one is get some folks talking about their own revision process.

Today I taught section 1 of the Writing F&SF Stories class starts, with sections 2 and 3 happening Wednesday and Sunday. I haven’t taught this workshop for about a year, since scheduling usually is a huge pain in the butt, but I had a slack time January through March, so I decided to do multiple sections. Each has enough students that it will be held, but I’m hoping to get a few more sign-ups in the next few days, because the classes are more fun (IMO) when we hit the critical mass of 5-6 people.

I’m also doing a Character Building Workshop on Sunday – want the super sekrit discount rate of $30? Mail me with the subject line Super Sekrit.

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WIP: Last Week’s Ghost

Picture of a coffee cupI’ve written two stories so far this week, but I think this is the one that will be the next Patreon story. Here’s how it begins.

The ghost had chosen the apartment because it was as good a place as any. His body had died in the hospital, but that place was odd and unsettling, seething with the ghosts of things other than human: bacteria and viruses and parasites. Those filled the corridors along with all the childrens’ ghosts, which he found most troubling of all.

He had spent five years altogether in the apartment, the longest he had ever lived anywhere other than his childhood home, which had been torn down decades ago. So he chose it, and furthermore chose the final week of each year, rather than enduring throughout the full 365 days.

There was something about that last week of the year, the stretch between Christmas day and New Year’s eve, that drew him. His wife lived in the apartment for a year after his death, and he stayed a great deal of time in the week, watching her write out overdue Christmas cards, her eyes red rimmed, her jaw set to avoid thinking about the thing that had devastated her.

He was sad for her in the way that ghosts are sad, an abstract and gray sympathy. Ghosts choose this state deliberately. Otherwise they can be torn apart by the grief of their loved ones. It is a choice that shames them, although all of them make it, and so he hid from her, even knowing that she could not see him.

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GoodReads Giveaway for 2 Signed Copies of Neither Here Nor There

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Neither Here Nor There by Cat Rambo

Neither Here Nor There

by Cat Rambo

Giveaway ends December 23, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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WIP: Written in Cinnamon Foam (working title)

nhntfrontHere’s something from the current piece. For fellow West Seattleites, the coffee shop in question is indeed the Admiral Bird. This is a sequel to “The Wizards of West Seattle,” which is available in Neither Here Nor There, just out this week!
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7 Ways to Spread The Word Everywhere of Neither Here Nor There!

Announcing my new collection, Neither Here Nor There. If you’re familiar with earlier collection, Near + Far, this is the same double-sided format, with secondary world fantasy stories on one side and fantasy set in our own world on the other, including an original story, “The Wizards of West Seattle,” that will appeal to fellow Seattleites.


Publisher’s Weekly gave the book a starred review, and other advance reviews have been very kind. Will you help me get the word out in time for people’s holiday shopping?

What can you do? Well, sure, buying the book is great. Here’s the links to the physical and electronic versions.

Amazon (hardcopy) (Kindle)

I’ll make B&N, Kobo, Powell’s, etc links available when I have them as well.

But here’s some other, better ways that you can help spread the word:

seattleisadragoncity1. Request it through your library. Most will even let you do this online. The information you need is publisher: Hydra House and ISBN: 978-0989082877

2. Request it at your local bookstore. It’s available through Ingram, a major book distributor, so they should be able to get it.

3. Write an Amazon, GoodReads or other booksite review. Amazon reviews are great! So are other book selling/reviewing sites such as Goodreads, LibraryThing, and Shelfari!

Here’s the book listing on GoodReads. While there, enter the giveaway.

4. Blog about the book. Any mention of the book, particularly one that explains why you liked it, is awesome. Or come blog for me! I’m looking for guest posts about writing, F&SF, or related subjects. Mail me if you’re interested; the offer has no expiration date, since this is something I’m planning on doing on a regular basis.

5. Share news of it on social networks. Sharing links on Facebook and other social networks is great. Just favoriting, plusing or liking posts helps give them a little Google juice. Even going to the Facebook page and clicking “Like” helps. I’ve attached a couple of images that can be used as social media icons and/or backgrounds.

6. Share news of it on mailing lists and other groups. Pass the news along to your fellows on writing, literary, or SF-related discussion boards, BBSes, mailing lists, and other forums

howtobeawizard7. Let me know if I’ve overlooked something! Many of you are writers and creative types who also often have something to promote. Please feel free to send me your notices, and if you like the idea of this post, feel free to use what you can from it.

Thanks for reading through all this, and thank you very much for your support in the past. I’m pleased with how lovely this collection looks, and very happy that it’s out in time for holiday shopping!

All the best,

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Live Classes for January Through March 2017

I pulled this quote from Ann's class and it still seems to sum up so much.

I pulled this quote from Ann’s class and it still seems to sum up so much.

There is still room in the two live classes left this year, both happening next weekend. The first on Saturday is Linguistics for Genre Writers with Juliette Wade, at the usual 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time. This class differs from pretty much every other one I’ve seen in that Wade doesn’t just cover linguistics and worldbuilding, but how to use the principles of linguistics to strengthen, deepen, and otherwise improve your prose. I heartily endorse it.

The second, which is also a really fun and informative class, is To Space Opera and Beyond with Ann Leckie. Technical difficulties hindered the first sessions but everything is smooth and running well now! In this class, Ann talks about space opera, its characteristics, how to handle them, and the process of writing not just a single novel but a series, while we provide writing exercises to take away and use to apply what Ann has told you. Ann is a lively and congenial teacher, funny without being snarky, and above all encouraging and inspiring. I’m really looking forward to the next class, which happens on Sunday, December 18, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time. There is still room in that and the Saturday, January 7 class at the same time.

I am offering the six session Writing F&SF Stories Workshop again, in three different sections:

Section 1: Tuesday afternoons 1-3 PM, January 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, and February 7
Section 2: Wednesday evenings 7-9 PM January 4, 18, 25, and February 1, 8, 15
Section 3: Sunday evenings 5-7 PM January 8, 15, 22, 29 and February 5, 12

I am offering the Advanced Story Writing Workshop on Tuesday evenings 5-7 PM starting January 3rd and going for six weeks. The Advanced Workshop focuses on workshopping stories each week along with lecture, discussion, and in-class writing exercises designed to help you continue to refine your skills and expand your toolset.

I am also doing a very limited number of individual tutorials. This is a one-on-one class composed of 15-30 minute sessions scheduled to fit your time demands and aimed at what you want to cover. In each one, we will go over the past week’s writing assignment, discuss problems, focus on what you want to be working on, and help you create a writing practice that is productive, energetic, and above all enjoyable. Initial cost is $100 for a commitment of four sessions; the tutorial can be extended as desired. For either of these options, you must either have taken the Writing F&SF Stories Workshop or send me a story (4k words or less) that convinces me you don’t need that workshop.

Other classes are single sessions, usually two hours, although we often spill over another half hour in order to answer questions. All of the following take place 9:30 to 11:30 AM, Pacific (Seattle) time.

Class space is limited, so I suggest registering sooner rather than later. To register for a class, mail me with the following details:

  • The email address that you use for Google stuff.
  • Which class or classes and the dates.
  • Please remind me if you have already taken a class with me so you can get the former student rate ($79 for individual classes, $199 for the six-week workshop). Otherwise the cost is $99 for individual classes, $249 for the six-week workshop.
  • Whether you would prefer to pay via Paypal, check, or some other means.

Upon receiving that, I will send you an invoice .

Important! Remember every class has a Plunkett scholarship for students who could not otherwise afford the cost. To apply for a Plunkett, mail me and tell me why you want to take the class in 100 words or less. Include the name and date of the class, please!

Trying to find a gift for that writer on your list? I’m happy to do gift certificates for both live or on demand classes and tutorials; mail me to work out details.

Did you make it all the way down here? If so, here are some holiday baby goats for you:

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What I Wrote in 2016 and The List of Award Eligibility Posts I’ve Found

christmas_carenOh, it’s that time! The season of looking back at the year and seeing what you did or didn’t get done. And the season for starting to nominate for awards. I’ve been reading and recommending for a while now, but it’s always fun to read all the wrap-up posts and find anything that I missed. I do have a monster post full of some of this year’s reading, but I’m still working on that. (When I have it, there will be a link here.)

Writers wondering whether or not they should put up an awards eligibility post, the answer is yes, yes you should. Do us all the favor of collecting your stuff and making it easy to find. If you’ve got a lot, point out some favorites.

The stories of my own I am pushing this year are “Left Behind” (short story), “Red in Tooth & Cog” (novelette), “Haunted” (novella co-written with Bud Sparhawk), and the fantasy collection Neither Here Nor There. SFWA members should be able to find copies of those on the member boards; I am happy to mail copies to people reading for awards whether or not you are a member. Drop me a line and let me know the preferred format. I am looking for reviewers interested in Neither Here Nor There and happy to send copies as needed.
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Nattering Social Justice Cook: Prepare to Ride, My People

photo of someone saying yeahTo those who have said “wait and see” about the results of the election, I have seen enough events and phenomena to feel that I am sufficiently prepared to venture an opinion on the results of the election. Here are some, listed in random order:

I need to stop because the more I look, the more the hits keep on coming. What a bizarre time to live in.

So. For those of you who either didn’t vote for Trump or did and now are all “I’ve made a huge mistake“, aka the sane and/or informed ones, yeah, buckle up because it’s going to be a rocky ride. At best, a lot of wealthy people are going to skim money from our government while changing laws so they can exploit us even more while at the same time, hatred and intolerance are normalized and neo-Nazis are allowed to try to silence dissent. At worst our rights are stripped away and things go up in flames.

There were election shenanigans, to a point where people should be at a minimum auditing the results. There was documented Russian interference and more than that, there was the result of sedulous gerrymandering on the part of the Republicans for the past decade along with their removal of the Voting Rights Act.

In my opinion. You may disagree, and that’s fine. This is what I think and what’s driving my actions over the next four years. I am going to speak up and object and point things out. I am going to support institutions that help the groups like the homeless, LGBT youth, and others whose voting rights have been stolen and whose already too-scant and under threat resources are being methodically stripped away.

I am going to continue to insist that honesty, tolerance, and a responsibility for one’s own words are part of our proud American heritage, the thing that has often led us along the path where, although there have been plenty of mistakes, there have been actions that advanced the human race, that battled the forces of ignorance and intolerance, and that served as a model for the world. That “liberty and justice for all” are not hollow words, but a lamp lifted to inspire us and light our way in that direction.

I will continue to love in the face of hate, to do what Jesus meant when he said hate the sin while loving the sinner. I will continue to teach, formally and by setting an example of what a leader, a woman, a good human being should do, acknowledging my own imperfections so I can address them and keep growing and getting better at this human existence thing. If I see a fellow being in need, I will act, even if it means moving outside my usual paths.

I will not despair or give way to apathy. And as part of that, I will celebrate the good, point out the wonderful, witness the absurd, the amazing, and even the wryly amusing. I will let my sense of humor buoy me, and I will continue to consider the alt-pantless, sorry, alt-right, petty, pathetic, and laughable. They know that they are. Writing in 1944 about anti-semitism in his essay Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate, Sartre stated things with a prescience that makes his words apply to their theater of outraged outrageousness, in which they prance around with the self-importance of bright preteens who have just discovered death metal and nihilism.

Never believe that anti-Semites are completely aware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert.

I will not be intimidated or disconcerted. Feel free to laugh at my naiveté, my over-earnestness, and idealism. I’m going to dance right past you, m-fers, and you will never know what hit you.

Language matters. Truth matters. Even in the face of this sort of thing:

The world is broken. Love isn’t enough to fix it. It will take time and effort and blood and sweat and tears. It will stretch some of us almost to the breaking point and others past it. We must help each other in the struggle, must be patient and kind, and above all hopeful. We must speak out even when we are frightened or sad or weary to the bone.

The millennials, may the universe bless them, are inheriting a shitty world. Those of us from older generations must teach and support and help where we can, realizing that what we do now affects the rest of their lives. We cannot let things slide into any of the nightmarish worlds we see depicted in so much science fiction, but if we do not act, they will. I will not sugarcoat things; it may be too late. But living as though it is not is the only way we’re going to survive.

Act now. Even if it’s just saying hello or smiling at someone that you wouldn’t normally. Start putting some good energy out in the universe to counteract the fog of hate. You’ll be surprised by how much better it makes you feel. Don’t pay attention to the trolls; they’re trying to keep you busy so you won’t act, to discourage you into slumping back onto the couch before you can even take a step out the door.

And here’s a recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies I know. In case you need a little chocolate in your life. We’ve gone through several batches of them in the past week here at Chez Rambo.

Bright blessings on you all,

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For Writers: Re-visioning, Rewriting, and Other Forms of Fine-tuning Your Fiction

image of a griffon statueYesterday I taught a day-long workshop on rewriting and editing one’s work for Clarion West. I usually do this as a two hour online workshop, so it was interesting to take the class and get a chance to really flesh it out, particularly since I can use this version to create an on-demand version.

As with all writing advice, mileage will vary according to the individual. The best thing as a writer that you can do is to pay attention to your own process and make it more effective. Experiment with lots of things, identify the practices that work, and incorporate them into your process. Keep experimenting, mixing things up a little, every once in a while, writing to the sound of whale songs, or dictating while hiking, or using a pen rather than the keyboard — it doesn’t matter what as long as you keep testing things in a way that lets you grow as a writer.
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Nattering Social Justice Cook: Stay the Course

we are not islands. We are part of humanity, a deep rich pool in which we swim, and we will either do so or sink, collectively.Like many of you, I was taken aback by the results of the recent election, to the point of depression, dismay, and concern for our future. Part of my past week, though, was spent in Chicago at a conference for nonprofit leaders, and that served as a heartening antidote in some ways.

Part of that experience was the reminder that our world holds people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, or if they’ll have a dry place to sleep that night. That there are children who are abused, animals who are tortured, nations being oppressed, even eco-systems being destroyed. That so much is wrong. That so much needs fixing. Is it odd to say that was heartening? Because it was so inspiring to be around hundreds of people who have given their time and energy and so much more to help others.

It underscored the fact that we are not islands. We are part of humanity, a deep, rich pool in which we swim, and we will either do so or sink, collectively. The question of where to start with that is one that divides many of those who desperately want to fix things. And the truth is this: that helping wherever and whenever you can is fine, no matter what form it takes. The act of helping others enriches our souls and keeps them nourished.
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