Westercon 2016 Schedule for Cat Rambo

Friday 11am Writer’s Workshop
Lincoln
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
Multnomah
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

Autographs
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?
Roosevelt
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
Madison
Sat Jul 2 5:00:pm – 5:30:pm
Cat Rambo reads from selected works.
Cat Rambo

Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
Broadway
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
Gather
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
Broadway
Mon Jul 4 11:00:am – 12:00:pm
Business Meeting
Cat Rambo, James Fiscus

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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

KnowingWhatAStoryIsAbout

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

#sfwapro

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Celebrating Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Yet another pretty BCS cover.

Almost a decade ago I was part of a terrific workshop run by Walter John Williams and Connie Willis in the Taos Ski Valley. It was a talented group, and the two week session was a happy blur of lots of writing, lots of critiquing, and lots and lots of shop talk, plus assorted movies and a lot of wine.

One of the participants mentioned that he planned to start a literary fantasy online magazine. Since he happened to like the stuff I was workshopping, I figured that would be a surefire sale. So as soon as he opened up the magazine, I fired off a submission.

And he rejected it, because he didn’t feel it had the right flavor for his magazine.
Continue reading

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2016 Online Writing Classes, Plunkett Scholarships, Upcoming Releases, and More

photo of Cat Rambo with flowersHere’s what’s coming up in June and July, which is also the last round of classes for 2016. I am taking the rest of the year off from teaching (other than maybe a co-taught class or two) in order to focus on writing and SFWA and because I am traveling all over the place, which is awesome but exhausting. The newsletter will continue and is the best way to know about classes before they are publicly announced.

Writing Class Scholarships

Going forward, each class has one slot that is the Plunkett slot, which is reserved for someone who couldn’t otherwise pay for the class. To apply for a Plunkett, mail me at catrambo AT gmail.com with the subject line Plunkett Application (class name/date). In the email, provide a brief statement regarding you want to take the class. Plunkett eligibility is self-determined and covers the cost of the class in full; it is based on whether or not you can afford to take the class otherwise. If you can’t but feel it would be helpful to you, I encourage you to apply. The name of the recipient remains private. I particularly welcome QUILTBAG and PoC participants. The Plunkett scholarships are named for Edward Plunkett, who wrote as Lord Dunsany.

Why am I calling them the Plunkett scholarships? Because it amuses me, and because that’s the name I gave the little press I’m using to self-publish some story collections. There’s some interesting class-based tensions coiled inside the Plunkett/Dunsany name and I figured that made it a good name for a scholarship whose criteria are economic.

Why am I doing it? Recently Keffy R.M. Kehrli paid for one of my classes for a student and it got me to thinking about it. F&SF has a rich tradition of paying it forward, and while I’m trying to do some of that with the SFWA Presidency, this is another way to help ensure a rich range of new voices in the field. I want these folks around to write wonderful fiction for me to read. So yep, this is a purely selfish move on my part.

New Class on Linguistics with Juliette Wade

I’m excited to be co-teaching a class on Linguistics for Writers with Juliette Wade on July 10th. While linguistics and worldbuilding is something workshops often explore, this one will also cover linguistics at the sentence and word choice level. If you’re curious about my co-teacher, you can find her website here. An on-demand version of the class is also in the works.

List of Live Online Classes for June/July 2016

You can find links to listings for the separate classes on this page; be aware pages are still being updated with dates, and that this post is the definitive listing.

ALL CLASSES ARE IN PACIFIC TIME

Writing F&SF Stories Workshop (six sessions)
Wednesdays 5-7 PM June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, July 6

Advanced Workshop (six sessions)
(prerequisite: Writing F&SF Stories workshop)
Tuesdays 5-7 PM May 31, June 7, 14, 21, 28, July 5

June Single Session Classes, 9:30-11:30 AM
June 4 (Sat) Writing Your Way Into Your Novel
June 5 (Sun) Moving from Idea to Finished Draft
June 11 (Sat) Creating an Online Presence for Writers
June 12 (Sun) First Pages with Caren Gussoff
June 18 (Sat) Flash Fiction Workshop
June 19 (Sat) Literary Techniques for Genre Writers Part I
June 25 (Sat) Character Building Workshop
June 26 (Sat) Literary Techniques for Genre Writers Part II (prerequisite, Lit Tech I)

July Single Session Classes, 9:30-11:30 AM
July 9 (Sat) Moving from Idea to Finished Draft
July 10 (Sun) Linguistics for Genre Writers (with Juliette Wade)
July 16 (Sat) Writing Your Way Into Your Novel
July 17 (Sun) Creating an Online Presence for Writers
July 23 (Sat) Description and Delivering Information
July 24 (Sun) Rewriting and Revising
July 30 (Sat) Literary Techniques for Genre Writers Part I
July 31 (Sun) Character Building Workshop

How to Register
To register for a class, mail me with the name of the class, the date, and whether you prefer to pay via Paypal or some other means. If you are a new student signing up for multiple classes, you may apply the former student discount to every class after the first one.

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Catching My Breath and What’s Coming Up

Altered-America-Revised-Cover-ebookMost of the last couple of months has been focused on one of several things: finishing the beta draft of Hearts of Tabat, finishing up the second edition of Creating an Online Presence for Writers, sorting through details for the release of Altered America: Steampunk Stories, or SFWA’s Nebulas Conference, which took place midmonth in Chicago, and which I blogged about last week.

So here’s some highlights of my summer schedulee.

Tomorrow I’ll post the list of classes for June and July, which includes a round of the Writing F&SF Stories workshop (Wednesday evenings) as well as the Advanced Workshop (Tuesday evenings). I’m not 100% sure, but I think that’s the last round of classes for 2016, aside from a workshop I am doing for Clarion West this fall and maybe a co-taught one every once in a while. I’ve got a lot of travel coming up in the latter half of the year and I’d like to be able to focus on writing and SFWA as well. Whether or not I decide to run for office again next year depends in part on how much I can manage to get done this year.

In answer to several people asking about the difference between the two multi-session workshops — I created the Advanced one for people who took the first F&SF one and wanted more. If you haven’t taken the first, you should do that rather than the Advanced Workshop, regardless of skill level, because it lays out my theories of storytelling in a coherent way while the second ranges wildly all over the place.

June 10 is the release of Altered America, which is a compilation of all my steampunk stories. Patreon supporters at the $5 level and above will get a free electronic copy ten days in advance. This has ten stories in it altogether, a number of which were published on Patreon. I hope to do a similar mini-collection of near-future SF by the end of the year, which will also go to Patreon supporters beforehand.

June also sees the release of a Storybundle of writing books organized by Kris Rusch that includes the 2nd edition of Creating an Online Presence, which is why I spent part of last month frantically getting that updated in time.

Bud Sparhawk and I wrote a novelette together, “Haunted,” that should appear in July’s Abyss and Apex. It’s space fantasy. I think. We had a lot of fun with it,but it’s definitely not a comedy.

July 5th will feature the release of both the class and book version of Moving from Idea to Draft. You’ll see several other classes appearing in the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers, including classes from Rachel Swirsky, Juliette Wade, and a couple of other folks.

Summer conventions include the Locus Awards weekend, Westercon, GenCon, Worldcon, and Dragoncon. After that I am off to Beijing for the Chinese Nebulas and will spend several weeks in China. Following that, Griffcon in Indiana, the Surrey Writers Conference, Orycon, and maybe WFC. (I’m not sure about that last. It’s been a travel-heavy year, and WFC isn’t my favorite convention. It always feels very anxious and unwelcoming, no matter what city I experience it in.)

Writing wise, I am completing the currently half-drafted YA novel based on “Circus in the Bloodwarm Rain,” which is currently laboring under the working titleConflagration and starting to flesh out the outline for the next Tabat book, Exiles of Tabat, which is the third of the quartet.

As always, plenty of stories are flowing and currently floating around in forms ranging from inchoate to semi-final draft. Right now I’m completing the Wizards of West Seattle story and realizing the concept’s going to end up becoming an ongoing series that probably will go out once a month or so on Patreon. I’m also thinking about a RPG supplement based on the copious notes I’ve been accumulating.

In SFWA areas, I’m focusing on a new committee that I’ll be working with, the Membership Retention Committee, whose job will be to look at the new member experience for SFWA members as well as how to keep the organization useful for members. (If you’re interested in volunteering with that, feel free to drop me a line.) Other efforts include a) working with SFWA fundraising, b) a small musical endeavor that I just prodded someone about and which involves Tom Lehrer (yes, that Tom Lehrer), and c) helping out where I can with some of M.C.A. Hogarth’s amazing efforts, such as this mysterious thing here lurking under a tarp that I am not at liberty to discuss. *mouths the words “SFWA University” then is dragged away by the SFWA honey badgers while shouting something about a guidebook*

Three other important SFWA things:

  1. I’ll be watching the results of our decision to admit game writers with keen interest. I can tell you that the initial set is criteria is being voted on right now and I expect to see it announced soon.
  2. An effort is in the works that I think will prove a lovely tribute to longtime SFWA volunteer Bud Webster and which will, in the longtime SFWA tradition, provide a benefit for professional writers at every level of their careers.
  3. And we’ll (finally) be announcing some of the partnerships we’ve been making — you saw reps from Amazon, Audible, BookBub, Draft2Digital, Kickstarter, Kobo and Patreon at the Nebulas and those relationships are going to extend beyond the weekend and give our members special resources and relationships at all of those companies — and others, including one that I am super-stoked to have facilitated.


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Nebula Conference 2016, Chicago

John Hodgman and Cat Rambo

With our wonderful toastmaster, John Hodgman.

What was it like? Like getting to co-host at one of the most awesome weekend-long parties ever, but one with all sorts of interesting conversations full of stuff that was genuinely useful to my career interspersed at intervals.

I write this amid a welter of notes, business cards, and obligations/opportunities acquired over the course of what was, for me, the best Nebula weekend I have ever attended. Part of that was the number of attendees who came up to express their appreciation of the programming, the award ceremony, the events, the overflowing book bags, the volunteers, the Nebulas issue of the Bulletin, the volunteer breakfast, and even with the way that they think SFWA has been going over the course of the last year. That is, to put it mildly, most gratifying, and is among the reasons I returned from Chicago renewed, refreshed, and re-enthused. A little under a year of my two-year presidential term lies behind me; I’m curious to see how much can be achieved in the next year.

Thank you to everyone who attended, both in person or virtually by spreading the word and retweeting. It was a weekend that was full of wonderful community and a chance to connect with new and old friends. There were so many moments that will live in my heart, including:

  • Acceptance speeches that made me weepy, such as Sarah Pinsker’s assertion that “this is the best of all possible timelines.” I agree.
  • Amazing alternate universe acceptance speeches from the other nominees that showed the sort of camaraderie and sportsmanship that inspires us all. I particularly loved Eugene Fischer’s speech, made from deep in the underground warrens, urging us all to believe with him that someday we would see the sun again.
  • Getting to give a SFWA Grandmaster Award to C.J. Cherryh. I mean. Holy smokes. Holy. Smokes. I’ll be thrilled all my life for that.
  • Jane Fancher with doll.

    Jane Fancher, C. J. Cherryh’s partner, with tiny Bren.

  • While I greatly enjoyed all of the works on the ballot, I will admit I had some favorites, and getting to talk to authors Naomi Kritzer, Tamsyn Muir, and Martin J. Shoemaker was very special.
  • The stellar programming assembled by Mary Robinette Kowal and her team. I enjoyed all the panels that I was on or attended, and really appreciated all the “Ask an Expert” panels and chances to network with other industry professionals. While we can still improve, every piece of criticism was offered in a lovely “this was awesome, here’s how it could be even better” spirit that was refreshing in these sometimes acrimonious times.
  • The SFWA volunteer breakfast. The volunteers are what keeps the organization going, and it was very important to me that the board and staff get a chance to acknowledge some of you in person. Thank you so much for all you have done and continue to do.
  • Cards by Walter Day.

    Cards by Walter Day.

  • Getting to hear John Hodgman say, among many other funny things, “Thank goodness the Storm Trooper showed up.” Also watching him almost give SFWA Operations Director Kate Baker a heart attack by pretending he was going to drop his globe.
  • The Radio SFWA synchronized dancing, written, choreographed, and organized by the lovely and talented Henry Lien. So. Much. Fun. Also now everyone else gets to share the earworm.
  • Everyone who took the time to sit down with me and talk about the organization and what they want to see over the coming years.
  • The Autographing Session, where we had an amazing total of 86 (!) authors signing.
  • The fabulous receptions sponsored by our wonderful sponsors, who included Daw, Kobo, Saga, and Tor.
  • The lovely trading cards created by Walter Day, which came in the jam-packed swag bags. I also freely pillaged the book swap table, to the point where I shipped my bag home via UPS rather than try to take it on the plane. Extra books were sent to literacy organization Project Outreach (I believe that was the name I was told, but that may not be right.)
  • One of the the three book swap tables. Yow!

    One of the the three book swap tables. Yow!

  • Getting to hear the game writing vote results announced by the ever-awesome Fran Wilde, whose book Updraft just happened to take the Norton Award Home.
  • Seeing the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award gong to Sir Terry Pratchett.
  • Getting a copy of the new SFWA Bulletin’s Nebula issue. I saw several people using these as autograph books for the autographing session on Saturday night.
  • All the beautiful outfits on awards night, although Alyssa Wong absolutely took the overall prize for sheer glittering fabulosity.
  • Meeting so many SFWA members, both new and old, and getting to hear that overall, you guys think we’re doing pretty well. Thank you for the feedback and the many generous offers of assistance. I will indeed be in touch with all of you.

For me, so much of the weekend was a reaffirmation of joy in our genre and the worlds that we love, worlds created by some of the best and brightest. Opportunity to talk with so many talented, kind, and outstanding members of the industry. A chance to stand by one of my heroes, someone whose work I’ve read most of my life and who has been one of my role models, and see her body of work recognized. A chance to be in a place where people treated each other with respect as peers and took pride in each other’s accomplishments, where there weren’t the sort of meanspiritness and petty behaviors that belong on the playground rather than among fellow professionals. A chance to tell people some of what SFWA’s been working hard at in the past year, and some of what’s coming down the pike.

Here’s some of my favorite Nebula write-ups:

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