More on that Gamewriter Stuff, Plus Cat’s Gen Con Schedule

I am part of the Writer’s Symposium this year at Gen Con and looking forward to it. Last time I went to one, it was in Lake Geneva, and a whole lot tinier, I believe, than nowadays.

One lure is the chance to talk with my brother Lowell, who is (is it possible?) a bigger game geek than I. You may be familiar with his Age of Ravens website, which talks a lot about RPG history, design, and gamemastering.

The SFWA Board and the Game Committee are continuing to discuss how to best tweak the qualifications.

Marc Tassin has very kindly set up a town hall event at the con, where I can talk about the decision, listen to your feedback, and take questions. Here’s my schedule overall; if you’re interested in the game writing decision, please let me know if you’re going to miss the Town Hall and would like to set up a time to come and talk to me. I’m currently writing up another blog post on what SFWA offers game writers, because there’s quite a bit.

Photo of game boxes

Here’s my schedule; I’ll be updating it as it fills up. Unless noted, an event still had tickets last time I checked.


9 AM – attend Writers Symposium Opening Ceremonies
1 PM – Writer’s Craft: Writing Stories in First Person
2 PM – Short Fiction: Where to Start the Story
6 PM – Writer’s Craft: Story to Idea Workshop No tickets left
7 PM – Town Hall meeting about SFWA


9 AM – Writer’s Craft: Novel Writing 101 Very few tickets left.
10 AM – Character Craft: Hearing the Character’s Thoughts
12 PM – Signing
4 PM – attending a panel
7 PM – Attend friend’s reading and dinner after


9 AM – attending a panel
12 PM – Lunch meeting
6 PM – Character Craft: Building Them Up
8 PM – Author Hangout Event


9 AM – Read & Critique Session C
11 AM – attending a panel
12 PM – Private event
1 PM – Closing ceremonies

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SFWA Admits Gamewriters, All Heck Breaks Loose, Film at 11

picture of polyhedral diceSo this morning one of the items that’s been hovering in the wings for a couple of weeks now finally went out, which was the announcement of the game writing qualifications. Since there there’s been a lot of stir and some questions about it. So here’s some answers.

Q: Hey, I’m a SFWA member! Why didn’t I know about this earlier?

A: I’m not sure. We publicized the vote before and when it happened, we had a SFWA chat hour devoted to it, and we’ve been talking about it on the discussion forums for over a year, I think, including calls for people to serve on the committee and make recommendations.

Q: Where did these qualifications come from?

A. From the Game Writing Committee, which researched the question first of whether or not we should put the issue to vote and then what form the qualifications might take. We included some game writers on the committee (its members are Jennifer Brozek, Steve Jackson, Richard Dansky, Rosemary Jones, Noah Falstein, and Jim Johnson with Matthew Johnson as the Board Liaison); the SFWA Board used their overall recommendations as the starting point.

Q: What are the qualifications?

A: Here you go. You can find them here too.

Games in any medium may be used for qualification so long as the game has a narrative element, is in English, and in the science fiction, fantasy, horror or related genres.

Prospective members working on games may qualify by showing a sale or income in one of three ways:

By making at least one paid sale of a minimum of 40,000 words to a qualified market, or three paid sales to qualified markets totaling at least 10,000 words. Game publishers may be designated as qualified markets using the already established process and criteria used to qualify fiction markets.
By showing they have earned a net income of at least $3,000 from a game that includes at least 40,000 words of text (not including game mechanics) over the course of a 12-month period since January 1, 2013. Income can be in the form of advance, royalties, or some combination of the three.
If no word count is possible, such as work done for a video game, prospective members can qualify based on one professionally produced full-length game for which they were paid at least $3,000, and with credits to no more than two writers clearly shown on the work.
Note that money from crowd-funding campaigns can be used as part or all of the required income once the game has been delivered to backers, but the amount that can be claimed cannot be more than the net income from the number of games produced and delivered to backers (calculated by the number of backers multiplied by the minimum tier which receives a copy of the game.) Work done for salary is not eligible.

For membership questions not answered above, please contact Kate Baker, SFWA Director of Operations, at

Q: Why don’t game instructions and mechanics count?

A: Because we consider them nonfiction.

Q. Why don’t multi-book contracts count?

A. Actually, they do. They are not considered “salaried” but often given with contracts w/ advances.

Q: Why have you excluded work done for salary?

A: That was built into the original set of requirements and in talking to the committee, it seems to me to be an oversight. Looking back through discussions, the original thinking was in practice salaried writers are unlikely to qualify because of the rule against works by more than two authors.

So are we re-examining this in light of the many people pointing out the issues with it? Yep! The Game Writing Committee, the SFWA board, and a couple of staff members have all been mailing and talking back and forth about it most of the day.

Do I think it will get changed? *shakes magic 8-ball* All signs point to Yes — but I cannot say definitively. We’re discussing things right now, and I’m pushing to tweak that part.

Q: Why did you put this out if it wasn’t perfect?

A: Because this is how we make it perfect, by putting it into action, seeing how it works, and adjusting accordingly. It’s what we did last year when admitting indies and that also remains an ongoing process. If you’re a SFWA member who wants to help with that process or a non-member who wants to provide useful feedback, mail me at

Q: Will there be a gamewriting Nebula Award?

A: Not at the 2017 Award ceremony, but stay tuned for further developments…

Q: Do you, personally, support gamewriters joining?

A. Dude. I’ve been playing D&D since I was 11 and that was the ancient, original set that came out right after Chainmail. I worked in a book/game store for close to ten years. My bachelorette party was a Call of Cthulhu scenario that turned out to be Paranoia by the end. Of course I support this. I love gaming, and a good game is a work of art. I’m really looking forward to what this change brings.

ETA: I tweaked a couple things to make them clearer. I cannot say what the Board discussion will result in, but we are certainly paying attention.

Posted in SFWA | Tagged , , | 61 Comments

Patreon Post: Gods and Magicians

Woodblock by Bertha Lum.

Woodblock by Bertha Lum.

This piece of fiction is brought to you by my awesome Patreon backers, who get bonuses like versions of new books, peeks at story drafts, and sundry other offerings. If backing me’s not in your budget, you can still sign up for my newsletter and get news of posts, classes, and publications as they appear.

This is a piece of flash fiction written last year – I just got around to going through the notebook it was in lately and transcribing the fictional bits. This didn’t take too much cleaning up. For context, think of the hills of southern California, and a writing retreat with no other human beings around, and thinking a great deal about fantasy and epic fantasy at the time.

Is this a Tabat story? Naw. Just a little flash piece.
Continue reading

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SFWA is Many Things, But Not a Gelatinous Cube

picture of SFWA banner detailing membership benefitsI was looking at Twitter the other day and reading through mentions of the Nebula Conference Weekend, including celebration of our new Grandmaster C.J. Cherryh, when I hit a tweet saying something along the lines of, “I hope SFWA doesn’t think this excuses the choice of picking (another author) in the past”. The way the sentence struck me got me thinking about the sort of perception that allows that particular construction.

No, SFWA, aka the organization known as The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America doesn’t think that. Because SFWA isn’t a person. It doesn’t think. Sometimes I like to imagine that SFWA. It lives in a basement somewhere and looks much like a pale green gelatinous cube, covered with lint and cat hair, and various unguessable things lurk in its murky depths, like discarded typewriter ribbons, empty Johnny Walker Black Label bottles, and that phone charging cable you lost a few weeks ago.
Continue reading

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Westercon 2016 Schedule for Cat Rambo

Friday 11am Writer’s Workshop
Fri Jul 1 11:00:am – 12:00:pm
This is a pre-registered event. Potential writers meet with a selection of professionals for constructive feedback regarding recent work.
Cat Rambo, Frog Jones, Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Lizzy Shannon

Friday 3pm Kaffeeklatsch
Fri Jul 1 3:00:pm – 4:00:pm
Small group discussions with authors, artists, and other interesting personalities (referred to as “hosts”) Sessions are limited to the host and a small group of attendees.
Cat Rambo, Charles Mason, Jemma Everyhope-Roser, Loretta McKibben, Michael Brugger, Sienna Saint-Cyr

Fri Jul 1 5:00:pm – 6:00:pm
Get your goodies signed!
Cat Rambo, Diana Pharaoh Francis, James Glass

Empathetic Diversity Chat
Ross Island
Sat Jul 2 10:00:am – 11:00:am
Maybe you’re that one person in your gaming group who is always pointing out the lack of racially diverse characters in that one show you all like. Maybe you are the DM who is accused of being homophobic, though you’re not sure exactly how that happened, or quite what to do. Whether you are a frustrated advocate or flabbergasted, confused and accused…or even if you’d just like to learn more, let’s have a chat! Learn to give and receive diversity information with empathy and an open mind. Learn how nerds have an edge in this area and what we can do to hone our skills to an even finer point!
Amanda Baldwin, Amber Clark, Cat Rambo, Roget Ratchford

How do you get published today?
Sat Jul 2 3:00:pm – 4:00:pm
What worked yesterday won’t work now. Do you need an agent? Do you need a big publisher (assuming there are any left) Should you go small press or do it yourself? Come hear folks that are trying it one way or all of them.
Cat Rambo, David Boop, Frog Jones, Stoney Compton

Cat Rambo Reading
Sat Jul 2 5:00:pm – 5:30:pm
Cat Rambo reads from selected works.
Cat Rambo

Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
Sun Jul 3 11:00:am – 12:00:pm
Broad Universe is a writer’s guild that supports women authors of science fiction and fantasy novels. 10 Broad Universe members read from their work.
Cat Rambo, Wendy Van Camp

Literary Beer
Sun Jul 3 10:00:pm – 11:00:pm
Small group discussions with authors, artists, and other interesting personalities (referred to as “hosts”) Sessions are limited to the host and a small group of attendees.
Cat Rambo

SFWA Business Meeting
Mon Jul 4 11:00:am – 12:00:pm
Business Meeting
Cat Rambo, James Fiscus

Posted in conventions | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

How to Get Tuckerized In One of My Stories

Image of a baby two-toed sloth, taken at the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica.

Want to name this baby sloth? It’s a possibility (at least a fictional version of it).

This month my newsletter subscribers and Patreon supporters have a chance to win a Tuckerization in one of my stories. It’s not too late to get next week’s newsletter with details about how you can enter.

If you haven’t heard of a Tuckerization, that means you supply the name of one of the characters for a story – you may want to name them after yourself, a friend, or someone else you want to pay tribute to. I will offer you your choice of three possible genres, and do reserve the right to reject names that will not work with the story. In such cases I will work with you to find an acceptable name.

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Idea to Draft Finally No Longer Just a Draft


One of the things that I’ve been working on in the past six months is converting all of my live classes to on-demand versions. A few months ago I decided to try the Idea to Draft class and found it presented more problems than any of the others. I will spare you the saga, which I have blogged about elsewhere. Here’s the section on story basics, and here’s the one on what to do when you have just a scene. I will be teaching the live version, in which I work with students on their specific ideas, on July 9, which will be the last time I teach the live version in 2016.

I am very proud of this class, because I don’t think there are any other classes that take the same approach. I’m turning it into a book, which may be e-form only because it’s going to have a wordcount in the 100k+ range when you add in all the example stories. While Creating an Online Presence is, I think/hope, useful for writers on the business and career level, this is a book that works at the craft level and incorporates a lot of my story theory, the stuff that has evolved out of teaching and writing and thinking a lot about these things.

Things that I hope people like about this class:

  • I’ve included not just exercises but what I’ve called an Overachiever’s Version for most of them.
  • Each section tells you what the starting point is, what it gives you, what you need to think about, possible pitfalls, and next steps in a consistent, understandable format.
  • I’ve included a section on working with structures that have cultural weight to them, and how to do so respectfully but in a way that that lets you employ them to their full potential.

I will confess something — I have images for this class and I do intend to add them at some point, but in order to get this thing out the door I had to just go okay, and let go, and send it out into the world, because it’s the textual part that matters.

So, another item crossed off the list for the year, huzzah. Next on the class list is that I’m converting the Rewriting and Revising class, which should only take me a week or two, and doing it as a mini-class, along the same length as the Reading to an Audience Workshop. I know Rachel Swirsky is working away on her Retelling and Retaleing Workshop and I’m talking to someone about a VERY cool workshop that I think will be unique, informative, and exciting.

Posted in publications | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

Your Online Presence: Is It Fun At Parties?

Picture of carnival masks

Your online persona is a mask, created out of what your words. You do have some control over how you’re perceived, perhaps even more than in real life.

I’ve updated my book, Creating an Online Presence, and it’s part of this terrific Storybundle of writing books. Since the Internet moves at the speed of an animated gif with Yakety Sax as the background music, I had a lot of work to do with the update (like checking every link to make sure it was up to date), and it included adding a few essays. Here’s one of those additions, talking about how you present yourself online. Continue reading

Posted in blogging | Tagged , , , | 35 Comments

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers News: SFWA Chat Hour Debuting May 30, 2016, Noon Pacific Time

Photo of speculative fiction writer Cat Rambo with Cinderella's Wicked Stepmother at Disneyworld.

In my position as SFWA President, sometimes I have to confer with fictional characters.

I talked to some folk about this at the Nebulas, and I finally figured I need to just go ahead and start making it happen.

So starting May 30, every two weeks I’ll host a SFWA Chat Hour that will be broadcast live via Google Hangouts. Each session will feature 4-5 SFWA officials, staff, and volunteers, along with the occasional special guest. During it, we’ll talk about what SFWA is doing at the moment, efforts that will be appearing, recent accomplishments and/or problems, and the F&SF industry overall. You’ll be able to watch live or catch it later on the SFWA Youtube channel.

This first one will include SFWA Vice President M.C.A. Hogarth, our Operations Director Kate Baker, SFWA CFO Bud Sparhawk, and possibly a couple of others. We’ll talk about the Nebulas, the Bulletin, our calendar, and more.

We’ll also answer questions. Feel free to e-mail or message them to me or leave them here in the comments.

Posted in SFWA | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Storybundling the Write Stuff

Listing of Storybundle Write Stuff offerings.I have several maxims that I have developed over the course of my writing career. One of them is, “If Kris Rusch invites you into a project, you say yes.” Because Kris is one of the people who understands independent publishing and its possibilities, and she is a savvy, savvy marketer.

When Kris came and asked about including my book Creating an Online Presence in a Storybundle, I was thrilled and also a little panicked, because I knew it had to be updated before it went in there. Too much had happened on the Internet in the two and a half years since I’d first put it up. I was also flattered that she thought the book was worth including, because I value her opinion.

And the truth is, if you’re a writer, you do need to at least think about this stuff enough to make an informed decision. If you’re being traditionally published, your publisher will probably expect you to be helping out with the marketing in the form of social media or other Internet efforts. Every book launch, for example, seems to involve a slew of guest blog posts and similar promotions.

If you’re small press published, again the publisher will probably expect you to be helping out with the marketing and I would regard a lack of such expectations as a possible danger sign.

And if you’re going indie, there’s no way around it. You’re going to have to think about this stuff, and the more you do, the more it will pay off — IF you are writing good stuff and making that the focus, not the marketing.

The world is changing rapidly in many aspects; publishing is definitely part of that change. Writers must stay informed of that if they want to make a living at it. Look at this Storybundle. E-bundles are easy to do and even easier to download. Storybundle and Humblebundle have both been making big strides in this area. Kobo lets you bundle your books, I found out in talking to Mark Lefebvre from Kobo last weekend at the Nebulas.

Here’s what you get beside the brand new version of Creating an Online Presence:

  • The Rational Writer, Nuts and Bolts by Mindy Klasky
  • Weinberg on Writing – The Fieldstone Method by Gerald M. Weinberg
  • How to Make a Living With Your Writing by Joanna Penn
  • Heinlein’s Rules – Five Simple Business Rules For Writing by Dean Wesley Smith
  • How to Negotiate Anything – Freelancer’s Survivor Guide by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Stages of a Fiction Writer by Dean Wesley Smith
  • Writing the Novel from Plot to Print to Pixel by Lawrence Block
  • Business For Breakfast Vol 2.: The Beginning Professional Publisher by Leah Cutter
  • The Writer’s Business Plan: A Plain English Guidebook by Tonya D. Price, MBA

Part of the success of such bundles is using online marketing like this very blog post. So please — help me out by spreading the word of this excellent bundle (which might make a great graduation gift for a new writer) and its contents.


Posted in publishing | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments