Recent Newsletter Stuff

Hello!

It’s full-on spring here in Seattle. Trees are in bloom, and construction projects have shifted into high gear, so the sidewalks are full of pylons and freshly poured concrete.

I’m looking forward to comparing this weather to other places in a few days. First South Bend, Indiana, where I’ll be speaking at the University of Notre Dame, and then Tempe, Arizona, for a two-day workshop working with scientists to write a story about solar power.

Then home for a while, where I’ll have a chance to talk with people at Crypticon here in Seattle at the end of the month (https://www.crypticonseattle.com/attend/crypticon-2018-tickets/) . Come to the Saturday writing workshop with me! I’ve secured the awesome Kay Kenyon as a co-teacher.

This newsletter marks some changes in the structure of my Patreon campaign (https://www.patreon.com/catrambo) , and its linkage into the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. Even if you’re not a Patreon supporter, you’ll want to bookmark the page, because I’ll be providing some free stuff there each month, courtesy of the supporters.

Everyone, signed up or not, gets the following on the Patreon page:
* 1-2 writing snippets each week from Cat’s current work and the chance to ask questions and offer feedback about them
* Access to the first Ask-Me-Anything Friday session of each month. Check out the post and ask whatever you like. Past questions have included career advice, recommended reading, insider SFWA news, writing feedback, and more.
* Occasional random stuff

All Patreon supporters get the above plus:
* 1-2 monthly stories or chapters and the chance to ask questions and offer feedback about them.
* Access to weekly Tasty Thursday recipes andAsk-Me-Anything Friday sessions
* Special patron-only events & giveaways at conventions
* The former student rate on live classes thru the Rambo Academy ($79 instead of $99)
* More random things at whim

$2 supporters get the above plus:
* 1-3 market news or advice posts per week
* 1-3 writing tip or resource posts per week
* One photo of Taco each month
* Random (usually writing-focused) things

$5 supporters get the above plus:
* All ebooks as they are released
* Access to the Chez Rambo Discord server and the #general, #bookclub, #critclub, #motivation, #news, and an exclusive #patreon channels.
* The usual randomness, usually in the form of chatter in Discord

$10 supporters get the above plus:
* 1 live or on-demand class per year (non-cumulative, starts on 3^rd month)
* Oh surprise, random things

$25 supporters get the above plus:
* Monthly story prompts post
* 1 live or on-demand class every 3 months (non-cumulative, starts on 3^rd month)
* *Rolls a dice* Something random

$50 supporters get the above plus:
* 1 live or on-demand class each month (non-cumulative)
* Even more

$100 supporters get the above plus:
* Monthly 15-30 minute coaching session, live class, or on-demand class

If you’re curious what Patreon is and how it works, there’sa two minute video of me explaining it here (https://www.patreon.com/catrambo) . We’ve been really enjoying the Discord community so far, and using it for writing sprints as well as chatter and questions.
Look what arrived literally moments ago! Yay! So excited to see all my hard work in tangible form. The electronic version is available for pre-order here (https://amzn.to/2qQuhEW) ; the hardcopy preorder should be available again sometime this week.

** Class News
————————————————————
The next class coming up is Cassandra Khaw’s Writing Better Food (http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/how-to-write-better-food-with-cassandra-khaw/) on Saturday, May 12, followed by Ideas are Everywhere with Rachel Swirsky (http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/ideas-are-everywhere-with-rachel-swirsky/) the following day on Sunday, May 13.

Scott H. Andrews has kindly agreed to give his Short Story Openings workshop (http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/short-story-openings/) again for people who missed the first version, this time on June 16. A recent addition is a workshop with Doug Smith on July 14 on story rights and reprints. Keep an eye out for it or drop me a drop to go ahead and preregister; usual price.

Find out about all current classes here (http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/academy/) .
If you enjoy gaming, check out Cat in Esper Genesis (https://www.twitch.tv/videos/252653827) – D&D5E in space — in which Cat runs Petra Cinis, a woman with a Very Large Hammer.

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Press Release: Hearts of Tabat

Cover of Hearts of Tabat by F&SF writer Cat RamboLook at the pretty press release Wordfire put together!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dryads. Minotaurs. Centaurs. Can magical creatures force social revolution in Tabat?

Monument, Colorado. WordFire Press is proud to announce the release of HEARTS OF TABAT, Book 2 of the Tabat Quartet by Nebula and World Fantasy Award Nominee, Cat Rambo.

“a fascinating world of magic, intrigue, and revolution.” —Publisher’s Weekly on Beasts of Tabat

In Tabat, Beasts — magical creatures like dryads, minotaurs, and centaurs — question a social order forcing them into its lowest level. Adelina Nettlepurse, scholar and secret owner of Spinner Press, watches history being made around her as the city prepares for change, only to find herself faced with the greatest challenge of her life.

In the second book of the Tabat Quartet, award-winning author Cat Rambo expands the breathtaking story from Beasts of Tabat with new points of view as Adelina, Sebastiano, and others add their voices. Tabat is a world, a society, and a cast of characters unlike any you have read before.

Adelina Nettlepurse, noted historian and secret owner of Spinner Press, watches the politics and intrigue with interest, only to find herself drawn into its heart by a dangerous text and a wholly unsuitable love affair with a man well below her station. When Adelina’s best friend, glamorous and charming gladiator Bella Kanto, is convicted of sorcery and exiled, the city of Tabat undergoes increasing turmoil as even the weather changes to reflect the confusion and loss of one of its most beloved heroes.

For interviews, more information, or to request a review copy, please contact us at info@wordfire.com.

Hearts of Tabat
Trade paperback $19.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-637-8
Ebook $5.99. ISBN 978-1-61475-638-9

Coming May, 2018

WordFire Press is a mid-size new-model publisher founded by New York Times bestselling authors Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. You can find us at wordfirepress.com. Tweet us @WordFirePress. Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/WordfireIncWordfirePress.

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Guest Post: R J Theodore Gives Away an Old Family Secret

Everybody’s tried to make a meal they mess up. A pile of perfectly good ingredients that just won’t come together into something palatable despite our best efforts. And when time and money and supplies are tight, sometimes tossing out the pot and starting over is not an option.

In each act of my new spacepunk steam opera novel, FLOTSAM, the four-person airship crew sits down to a meal. They come together to eat, to debate, and to problem solve. Their thoughts in these scenes are filled with worry over finding work, getting paid, keeping the ship in good repair, and staying out of trouble long enough to spend any money left after that.

Each meal is a backdrop to what’s going on in the story at that moment: an easy, familiar meal to celebrate getting away from a confrontation in one piece; a load of their favorite takeout as distraction from unpleasant news; and, finally, a dinner that goes horribly wrong before coming together in the end.
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Where I’ll be at Norwescon, 2018

I have a table in the Writers Alley this year and will be there starting Friday morning. Stop by! I will have books for sale as well as the “Writers Just Fucking Write” keychains.

Friday

Literary Techniques for Genre Fiction: Writing Workshop
10:00am – 12:00pm @ Cascade 13
Cat Rambo (M)

Speculative Poetry
2:00pm – 3:00pm @ Cascade 12
Brenda Cooper, Cat Rambo, Alexandra Renwick, Evan J. Peterson

Reading: Cat Rambo
4:30pm – 5:00pm @ Cascade 4
Cat Rambo (M)

Saturday

Kandy Klatch with Cat Rambo
12:30pm – 1:00pm @ Presidential Suite 1360
Cat Rambo (M)

Autograph Session 1
2:00pm – 3:00pm @ Grand 2
Chris Pramas, Galen Dara, Ken Liu, Matthew Wedel, Nicole Lindroos, Alexander James Adams, Brenda Cooper, Cat Rambo, Donna Barr, Echo Chernik, Ethan Siegel, Evan J. Peterson, Greg Bear, Jennifer Brozek, Jeremy Zimmerman, John (J.A.) Pitts, Julie McGalliard, Kay Kenyon, Kent Hamilton, Laura Anne Gilman, Lisa Mantchev, Django Wexler, PJ Manney, Spencer Ellsworth, Dr. Vicki Wedel, Lish McBride, Kurt Cagle

Writer Talk: He Said/She Said/They Said?
5:00pm – 6:00pm @ Cascade 7 & 8
Cat Rambo (M), K. C. Alexander, Fonda Lee, K.G. Anderson

Sunday

What is SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America)?
11:00am – 12:00pm @ Cascade 5 & 6
Cat Rambo (M), Curtis C. Chen

Social Media for Authors
3:00pm – 4:00pm @ Cascade 11
K.G. Anderson (M), Cat Rambo, K Tempest Bradford, G. Willow Wilson

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Guest Post: B. Morris Allen is 5×5

5 stories, 5 times

Have you ever wondered how your favorite story would sound if written by another author? What is it exactly, that makes writers different? What does each one bring to the story they’re writing, in terms of style, mood, tone, etc? How would the story sound as written by someone else?

That’s what the Reading 5X5 anthology explores – twenty-five SFF writers writing five variants of five stories. I asked five groups of five authors to start from the same basic story brief, but write in their own way. The result is fascinating – five wildly different approaches to each of the five briefs, but each telling, at its core, the same story.
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In Celebration of International Women’s Day: Feminist Futures Storybundle

Names of Authors in the StorybundleI’m so pleased that my Feminist Futures Storybundle came out in time for International Women’s Day! This bundle celebrates some of the best science fiction being written by women today, gathering a wide range of outlooks and possibilities, including an anthology that gives you a smorgasbord of other authors you may enjoy!

This is my favorite bundle so far, although I’m already assembling one in my head for next year that will be even better and more diverse. Why? Because I used to work in the tech industry, and there I saw how diversity could enhance a team and expand its skillset. Women understand that marketing to women is something other than coming up with a lady-version of a potato chip designed not to crunch or a pink pen sized for our dainty hands. Diversity means more perspectives, and this applies to science fiction as well. I am more pleased with this bundle than any I’ve curated so far.

In her feminist literary theory classic How to Suppress Women’s Writing, science fiction author Joanna Russ talked about the forces working against the works of women (and minority) writers. A counter to that is making a point of reading and celebrating such work, and for me this bundle is part of that personal effort, introducing you to some of my favorites. Ironically enough this bundle idea started with a particular book, Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin, that fell through at the last minute sadly — but that’s all the more reason to do this theme again next year for Women’s History month again. 😉 But don’t wait till then – you can find the Elgin book currently available online and it’s worth the read.
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Up to One’s Hips: Thoughts on Wading Through the Slushpile

I just finished the first pass on the slushpile for If This Goes On. The anthology is intended to be half solicited manuscripts; half from the open call, and I’m happy to say that I don’t think it’s going to be hard to pull that together. I’ve got five or six definites on my list right now, and I’m setting them aside. I did read through every story except for a handful of less-than-serious ones; thank you to the slushreaders and publisher Colin Coyle for winnowing those out.

If I can, I’ll take one more pass through the first third or so of the slushpile, when I was reading and not knowing how strong some of the submissions would be. I suspect at least a third of those can be winnowed. Then I’ll ask the publisher to send out that round of rejections.

By then I am hoping I’ll have narrowed things down to a few dozen stories. These manuscripts have officially made it to the final round. At this point I’ll be looking at some things that include:

  • Is this a common theme or something unusual? A few commonalities have emerged and I will probably only have one underwater people story, one abortions-are-illegal story, one from-a-child’s-POV story, and one post-apocalyptic landscape story, which may or may not be one of the several that featured a particular dietary item.
  • How much bang for the buck does it yield in terms of editorial work? If it’ll be amazeballpants (common editorial jargon), then I’m willing to put more time into it. Along the same lines, I’ve got one serviceable story that would only take a little work to deepen its emotional impact. It’s also a strong contender.
  • What’s the tone? I’ve got lots of gritty, desperate stuff and some humor in there to leaven the mix is necessary. At the same time I don’t want things that will seem incongruous next to each other.
  • What did the slushreader(s) think? Unfathomable as it may seem, I have been known to be wrong. If I was meh about a story but someone else raved, I’ll certainly go back and take another look.

Then will come the final passes, where I’ll be reluctantly saying goodbye to some stories for reasons that might include:

  • They don’t fit the overall theme as strongly as the others.
  • They don’t play off other stories, or else are too similar to another piece.
  • They will take a lot of editing, but the amount of work required by other pieces with similar strengths/themes is significantly less.

I hope that the slushreaders have learned something from all of this, including a better sense of what submitters may or may not want to avoid, and how varied the slush pile can be. With a few of them we’ve done some talking about stories, but not all. For most slushreaders, I would suggest if you’re passing up more than half the stories, you are not being harsh enough, but if it’s only one in ten, you may be leaving out some stuff the editor will want to see, unless your tastes are perfectly aligned.

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Coming Up Next For the Rambo Academy

Yay! So much new stuff for the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. Let’s start with this shiny thing: a calender! That you can click on and see events like classes, upcoming readings, and convention appearances! So awesome!!

So what’s coming up in the next few months? Lots of great stuff.

I have created faculty pages! Here’s the overall page, plus I’m starting to fill in individual ones for instructors:

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Guest Post: Dan Koboldt on Magic Versus Technology in SF/F

It’s always bothered me that fantasy and science fiction get lumped together into a single category. The two genres seem very different, at least on the surface. Fantasy usually features some kind of magic as a core speculative element. It often takes place in a secondary world at a pre-industrial state of technology. Science fiction, in contrast, usually takes us to the future in which some as-yet-nonexistent technology underlies the plot. Granted, there’s a huge overlap between fantasy and science fiction fandoms. Maybe that means we live for escapism, whether to a fantasy world or outer space.

The Crossover Genre: Science Fantasy

It’s rare but wonderful when we get both sci-fi and fantasy elements in the same story (a genre sometimes called science fantasy). Dune is the first example that comes to mind. Disclaimer: Dune always comes to mind when I’m thinking of science fiction, because I love it so much. Most of the series is sci-fi: space travel, drones, laser rifles, and a sprawling galactic empire. But there are other elements that I’d call magic: the practices of the reverend mothers, for example, and the prescient powers achieved with a spice overdose. When the story goes out into the deep desert with the great sandworms, it feels like a fantasy to me.

I could also argue that the original Star Wars also blends the SF/F genres. The talking droids, epic space battles, and planet-blasting Death Star make it mostly a science fiction story, but there’s also magic that plays a pretty central role to the story. Like all great magic systems, this one is accessible to only a select few, requires considerable training, and has certain limitations. And it plays a key role in the central conflict. Obviously, I’m talking about the Force. It’s not just a magic system, but practically a religion among its practitioners.

Technology Versus Magic

The interplay between magic and technology in Star Wars is fascinating. When it comes to technology, the Empire has almost every advantage. Bigger, better ships. Armored combat walkers. And a planet-destroying space station, albeit briefly. The Rebellion’s scrappy fighters win unlikely victories against these overwhelming forces. They did so often with the aid of that mystic religion. The Force, in other words, can level the playing field.

Magic and technology as speculative elements actually have quite a bit in common. Given a new capability – either arcane or technological in nature – we tend to apply it to similar problems. Both serve as weapons (curses and lasers) or in defense from attacks (wards and deflector shields). Healing is another popular application, whether that’s with a medical tricorder or a fistful of athelas. The same goes for teleportation, construction, destruction, and many other forms of speculative wish-fulfillment.

Which Element Matters More?

Given their similarities, one has to wonder: in a world where both magic and advanced technologies exist, which side has the upper hand? It is tempting to say technology matters more, because a technical advantage is both practical and constant. If you have guns and they have bows, you’re likely to be victorious. If the technology gap is wide enough, Clarke’s third law might be applied: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Even so, I can’t help but notice that the scrappy underdogs facing a huge technology deficit often emerge victorious if they have magic on their side. In both Dune and Star Wars, the underdogs manage to topple powerful emperors. And in both cases, they do so with considerable help from arcane sources: the Jedi’s mastery of The Force, and the witch-like powers of Bene Gesserit. In a conflict between two mismatched sides, magic can be a powerful equalizer.

About the Author

Dan Koboldt (website) is a genetics researcher and fantasy/science fiction author from the Midwest. He is the author of the Gateway to Alissia series (Harper Voyager) about a Las Vegas magician who infiltrates a medieval world. He is currently editing Putting the Science in Fiction, (Writers Digest), a reference for writers slated for release in Fall 2018.

By day, Dan is a genetics researcher at a major children’s hospital. He and his colleagues use next-generation DNA sequencing technologies to uncover the genetic basis of pediatric diseases. He has co-authored more than 70 publications in Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other scientific journals.

Dan is also an avid hunter and outdoorsman. Every fall, he disappears into the woods to pursue whitetail deer with bow and arrow. He lives with his wife and three children in Ohio, where the deer take their revenge by eating all of the plants in his backyard. Follow him on Twitter as @DanKoboldt.

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Two Seattle Memorials to Ursula K. Le Guin

We’ve got two coming up in the next couple of weeks and I’ll be at both.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
7:00 PM
$10 at the door
$8 for Folio Members, SFWA Members, and Town Hall Members
Complimentary wine reception to follow

Folio Forum
A Tribute to Ursula Le Guin
Noted local authors and fans honor the great writer.
Plus a recording of Le Guin, reading her famous story

Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum
314 Marion Street, Downtown Seattle
Parking tips and map: www.folioseattle.org

Many deeply mourn and greatly esteem Ursula Le Guin, the famous, and famously prolific, Portland-based writer of science fiction, fantasy, and many other works. To honor Le Guin, who died last month at the age of 88, Folio is hosting a gathering of authors and readers moved by the works of this remarkable author. Le Guin wrote poetry, children’s books, essays, and short stories. Her science fiction works attracted an immense readership and she brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy.

A highlight of the evening will be hearing Le Guin on a recording where she reads from one of her most famous stories, “The ones who walk away from Omelos.” Those sharing memories and tributes include Cat Rambo, president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and critic Edward Wolcher of Town Hall Seattle.

That weekend:

Sunday, February 25
7:00 PM (please support our venue by buying food and drink!)
$free
Celebration of the Life and Work of Ursula K. Le Guin
Blue Moon Tavern, 712 NE 45th St, Seattle, Washington 98105

Please join us for a reading to commemorate the words and worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018). One of the most beloved writers of our time, Ursula K. Le Guin inspired generations of readers with her science fiction and fantasy literature, from Earthsea to Hain-Davenant. Let’s keep her spirit with us always.

Our evening celebration will consist of readings of Le Guin’s work by Eileen Gunn, Nisi Shawl, Cat Rambo, and you. Please bring up to five minutes of your favorite writing by Ursula K. Le Guin to share during open mic. This event is *free* and open to the public.

There will be a sign-up at the venue for open-mic readers. (Slots will be limited, readers selected in order of sign-ups.)

#sfwapro

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