Thursday, November 9, 2017

Autumnal Musings and Goodbyes

Jack 2006 – 2017
Early in the morning of October 9, my wife and I had to say goodbye to our dog, Jack, who had been suffering from a cancerous tumor. Despite the fact he was a 120+ lb dog, he's always been my little guy, happy to be anywhere, as long as he was at my side. In years past, that was often on the hiking trail. In recent years, it was more often on the carpet alongside my writing desk. It's bizarre and sad working from home now without him here anymore, but I'm glad he's not suffering anymore, at least.

The science fiction and fantasy community also suffered a loss this October with the passing of author ElizaBeth Gilligan. I met Beth last year at a convention, and she was kind enough to invite me to join her local writers group. As part of that group, she provided invaluable feedback on my work-in-progress, The Beasts of Qaza, and I had the pleasure of reading her work-in-progress, a sprawling fantasy novel about a tribe of women wylf soldiers. She and her husband were also gracious enough to give me advice on being a parent and a writer. I regret that Beth didn't get a chance to meet my daughter after she was born, and my sympathies go out to her husband and the rest of her family. Beth was a kind and wonderful person, and she'll be missed.

These two events made for a sad autumn, and I was further dispirited to discover that it's been two years since Souldrifter was released, and that I still don't have a completed new novel to my agent. I have plenty of excuses, of course—moving to a new city, transitioning from teaching to freelancing full-time, abandoning a near future sf novel, ghostwriting someone else's novel, and oh yeah, having a baby—but excuses don't make for a successful career as an author.

So, it's back to it for me. I've got The Beasts of Qaza to finish and then I'll be jumping straight into writing the third and final Dreamwielder book. To that end, I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year to get some momentum going. If you're doing it, too, buddy me up. Here's my NaNoWriMo profile.

In the interim, expect more articles and interviews with new and exciting SF/F/H authors here on the blog, along with the occasional update on my end. I'm looking forward to what will hopefully be a productive winter and spring. I'm finally starting to find my footing being an author/father, and now that I've finished with the ghostwriting project I was working on, a big chunk of time has opened up in my schedule. So here's to it.

Onward!

-Garrett Calcaterra



Friday, August 11, 2017

What Will be the Next Breakout SF/F Novel?

Sure, we've all heard of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Game series, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, and more recently Nnedi Okorafor's Binti series, but what are some new under-the-radar SF/F pieces that deserve their time in the spotlight? Sometimes the best pieces are the ones found in the nooks and crannies of the literary universe; you just have to dig hard enough to find them. We took the Minotaur by the horns and have compiled a few book recommendations from esteemed SF/F reviewers to give you some suggestions on what book to pick up next!

Reading Recs from the Pros

Marion Deeds from FantasyLiterature.com

Image result for certain dark thingsCertain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I thought I had hit my vampire threshold until I read Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Certain Dark Things. (My review at fantasyliterature.com is here.) Morena-Garcia shows us a new take on supernatural bloodsucking creatures, and she provides a gritty, Gibsonian Mexico City as a backdrop. The book gives us novelty by creating various “races” of vampires; our main character, Atl, is from a line indigenous to the Americas. She is described as avian and her family crest is the hummingbird. Other vamps are more in the Bram Stoker tradition, and there is infighting among the bloodlines. Atl, a rebellious party girl, is the sole survivor of an attack on her clan by an encroaching vampire crime family, and she’s fled to the supposedly vampire-free Mexico City. As you might imagine, it’s not vampire-free at all. Once there, she enlists the aid of a scrappy human street kid named Domingo. The descriptions of Mexico City are sharp, by turns gritty, beautiful and romantic.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Dreamrush: Free Download and Author Q&A

Good news! The Kindle version of my short story collection, Dreamrush, is available to download for free on Amazon.com for the rest of the week (8/8/17 – 8/12/17). Get your free download here.

To celebrate, my intern-extraordinaire, Jayna Bosse, and I are hosting an author Q&A over on Facebook. So please do head on over there to hit me up with whatever burning questions you have, either about the stories in the book, the writing process, my favorite color, etc., etc. (after downloading the free book first, of course).

Lastly, to get some intel on the stories in the book (in case you're still not convinced), here's a great story-by-story review of Dreamrush from steampunk author Robyn Bennis.

Enjoy!

-Garrett Calcaterra

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Introducing Jayna Bosse

As an emerging author, I’m always looking for unique ways to get my work out there and connect with new readers, so when author John Fox, a good friend of mine, mentioned that he had worked with student interns to help him with his popular writing website, Bookfox, the gears started spinning in my head. After contemplating the idea for a while, I decided to bring on an intern of my own to work with me as a writing assistant.

Intern extraordinaire, Jayna Bosse 
As luck would have it, Jayna Bosse, the applicant who ended up being the most qualified and enthusiastic, is a student at the Orange County School of Arts (OCSA) Creative Writing Conservatory, a high school writing program that was founded by author James P. Blaylock and brags Tim Powers as a master teacher. And oh yeah, and I used to teach there, too (although I left before Jayna became a student there).

In speaking to her during the interview process, I could tell right away that Jayna and I were on the same page. She’s already a strong writer, has great ideas, and is enthusiastic to learn more. In addition to helping me with the business end of my writing, she’ll also be writing here on this blog. With that in mind, she was kind enough to share some thoughts about herself in the way of an introduction to readers.


GC: So Jayna, when I was there teaching at OCSA, students in the Creative Writing Conservatory really embraced sci-fi, fantasy, and geek culture in general. Have things changed much, or is there still a healthy love for SF/F among students?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mowing Down Greenhouse Gases

Global warming finally captured mainstream news headlines last week when reality star President Trump declared he would pull the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. While withdrawing from the agreement will have negative environmental and economic ramifications that won't manifest themselves for years, maybe even decades, I won't pretend to be surprised by this turn events, just like I wasn't surprised by the Dakota Access Pipeline getting rammed through. I've long believed that any meaningful action to curb global warming would come from the private sector and local efforts.

To that end, it's been encouraging to see cities like Pittsburgh pledge to go 100% renewable, and cities like Oakland block the construction of coal terminals in their ports, largely thanks to pressure from local groups. Similarly, municipalities, academic institutions, and churches have been divesting from the fossil fuel industry. All of these efforts began well before Trump became president and can continue despite his efforts to gut environmental regulations.

My electric, mulching mower has a
lot of miles on it...for good reason
As individuals, we have little control of federal legislation, but we can take individual efforts and band together to put pressure on businesses and local governments.

One avenue that I feel has been overlooked is a simple one: mulching our lawns instead of bagging out the grass clippings. I know, I know, it sounds sort of stupid, but hear me out.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

I'm Now an Author/Dad

Introducing Ruby, my new excuse
for not getting work done!
If I've been quiet online for the last month, and I have, it's because my wife gave birth to our daughter. I'm happy to announce that both she and my wife, Mandy Burke, made it through labor just fine and are happy and healthy.

This is our first child, and as we were warned, the first month has been a blur. Needless to say, I've done little in the way of fiction writing (and by "little" I mean none). Each day is getting easier, though, and I'm looking forward to the prospect of getting back in the saddle again.

Apart from becoming a new dad, I don't have much in the way of news, but it does appear that there's been a price reduction for the Kindle editions of Dreamwielder and Souldrifter. Cheap is good, right? I'm not sure how long the prices will stay there, so I'd jump on board with  the series quickly if you're thinking about giving it a whirl.

-Garrett Calcaterra


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fantasy Author Interview: Craig Comer

Craig Comer
Readers of this blog have heard the name Craig Comer often enough in the past. He and I go way back, and along with Ahimsa Kerp, we co-authored the mosaic novel The Roads to Baldairn Motte. In addition to both of us being writers, we both love to travel and backpack, although he’s much more well-traveled than I. He also knows a hell of a lot more when it comes to history.

That being the case, it’s not surprising that Comer’s new novel, The Laird of Duncairn, is as much about travel and historical settings in Scotland as it is about magic and steampunk. In this interview, we discuss what the new book is all about, what inspired it, and what Comer has in store next.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Reading Recs, Random Projects, and Life Things

Photo courtesy of Craig Comer
As my lack of new posts here probably indicates, April was a busy month for me. The shenanigans kicked off with a great hike in the California redwoods with fellow authors Ahimsa Kerp and Craig Comer. A week later, I turned 40, and my wife threw a steampunk themed party for me where I got to see a lot of great family and friends (and eat cake, of course).

Since then, it's been all about prepping for our new baby, due in the coming weeks. My wife and I don't have a big place, so my writing office is now a combo writing office/nursery. (I figure this will last a year or two at best, and then the kid will kick me out and I'll be relegated to writing in the garage or the backyard.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spec-Fic Author Interview: M.E. Parker

M.E. Parker is the creator of the erstwhile literature and photography magazine Camera Obscuraas well as author of Hinterland Trilogy, a series of novels that melds elements of dystopian, post-apocalyptic, steampunk, and literary fiction. Book 1, Jonesbridge, introduces his main characters, Myron and Sindra, in a dystopian work farm, and book 2, The Nethers, picks up the action with Myron as he ventures out into a post-apocalyptic world beyond Jonesbridge. Book 3, Bora Bora is due for release later in 2017.

In this interview, M.E. Parker and I discuss his love for craftsmanship, how the real world influences his dystopian visions, and his place in the world of literature which is so keen on creating categories. In doing so, he lands upon a term for a subgenre that's new to me, and one that I particularly like: junkpunk.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The List of Cli-Fi from SF/F Authors

(Click here to get right to the list!)

At FOGcon 2017, I'm moderating a panel on climate change and the geography of daily life. To facilitate our conversation, I put together this list of notable climate fiction (cli-fi) written specifically by science fiction and fantasy authors. I should point out that there is a much larger body of cli-fi work from writers in mainstream fiction, but I'm not including them here. Additionally, I'm inclined to include SF novels based on other planets, as well as secondary world fantasy, if climate change is one of the over-arching conflicts or themes.

Just a couple of other quick notes on the list. This will be a working document that I'll update periodically. As such, please share any books you think should be added in the comment section.

Unless the annotations are in quotes, they come from me. Having said that, I haven't read all these books (yet), so some of the annotations are simply me paraphrasing plot summaries from the publisher or author's website. (To that end, if you're making a book recommendation in the comments, feel free to write your own original annotation, and include a link to your homepage or social media handle and I'll quote you in the main article itself if/when I add the book.)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

FOGcon 2017


Once again I'll be attending FOGcon this year, and I'm excited to be participating in three scheduled events. FOGcon takes place in Walnut Creek from March 10 – 12, and is an all around awesome convention that takes great care to be inclusive and diverse with its programming topics. Tickets are available at the door. You can learn more info here.

Here's my personal schedule, but I will also be hanging around most of the weekend attending other panels (or at the bar), so if you're attending and see me loitering around, please say hi!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Art of Resistance

So hey, this is going to be a post with a good bit of politics. To sweeten the deal, get started with some tunes by rocking this resistance playlist I put together.



Okay, now that you’re rocking out, let’s talk about the word of the day: normalization. The word is being used a lot right now, and for good reason.

In the SF/F community, the word has been out there for a couple of years as we’ve pushed for normalizing diversity in the field, both diversity among the authors published as well as diversity of the characters and cultures portrayed in the genre.

Friday, January 13, 2017

2016 Writing Recap

For better or worse, 2016 is done and gone. For me (like many people, I imagine), it was a year of transition. For the first time in my life, I made all my income from writing and editing. Most of that income, of course, didn't come from book sales but freelance work, but hey, that's still quite an accomplishment.

On a more personal note, my wife and I also learned we're going to be having our first child—so yeah, if that's not transition and change, I don't know what is. The baby is due in May, and it's exciting, a bit terrifying, and most definitely motivating for me to work harder at the writing I do.

A lot of other writing-related stuff happened, too, so here's a quick recap of the noteworthy tidbits, along with my goals for 2017: