Tuesday, July 30, 2019

ArmadilloCon 2019 Schedule

ArmadilloCon is this weekend!  I have quite the action-packed schedule.  I hope to see everyone there!  Come say hello, please!

Friday, August 2
7pm: ArmadilloCon 2019 Opening Ceremonies
Ballroom D, 7pm - 7:30pm
Track: Fandom
Type: Panel
Jennifer Juday (moderator), Patrice Caldwell, Dan Tolliver, Rebecca Roanhorse, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Moriba Jah, Martha Wells
Everyone should attend! This event kicks our 2019 convention into full swing. Afterwards, join us in the Lobby for Meet the Pros!

8pm: Crossover SF
Ballroom F
Track: Speculative Fiction Literature
Type: Panel
Rebecca Schwarz (moderator), Marshall Ryan Maresca, Jacob Weisman, Derek Austin Johnson, Thomas Wagner, Sanford Allen
Who owns science fiction? With the recent controversy over Ian McEwan as the latest “outsider” to proclaim that they are the first to write a common science fiction trope, the question arises: Is knowledge of the current state and history of the genre necessary to write something good or original? Should there even be a distinction between SFF and literary at all?

Saturday, August 3
10am: Game of Thrones
Ballroom E
Track: Media
Type: Panel
Marshall Ryan Maresca (moderator), Aaron de Orive, John Picacio, K. Tempest Bradford, Rie Sheridan Rose
That ending! That battle! The Starbucks cup! The deaths, the lives, the dragons. Our panelists talk Game of Thrones, and its groundbreaking impact on television.

11am: Author Reading: Toastmaster Marshall Ryan Maresca
Conference Center
Track: Readings
Type: Reading
Marshall Ryan Maresca (moderator)
Author Reading: Toastmaster Marshall Ryan Maresca

1pm: Missing Men
Southpark A
Track: Speculative Fiction Literature
Type: Panel
Marguerite Reed (moderator), C. J. Mills, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Ari Marmell, Jessica Reisman, Barbara Ann Wright
Where are the Strong but Vulnerable Male Characters?

2pm: Entropy: The Play
Conference Center
Track: Readings
Type: Drama
Marshall Ryan Maresca (moderator)
A play by Marshall Ryan Maresca. Do you want to see a ten-minute time loop play? Do you want to see a ten-minute time-loop play? Do you want to see… uh-oh.

3pm: Fannish Feud
Ballroom D
Track: Gaming
Type: Participatory Event
Mark Finn (moderator), Professor Griffin, A. T. Campbell, III, Dan Tolliver, Rebecca Roanhorse, Mikal Trimm, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Matthew B. Tepper, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Troyce Wilson
Fans vs. The Pros try to score points in ArmadillCon's long-running live action contest.

4pm: How to Build A Religion
Southpark A
Track: Writing, Editing & Publishing
Type: Panel
Matt Cardin (moderator), Gabrielle Faust, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Mark Finn, Jessica Reisman, Stina Leicht
Going beyond gods and demons and hells and magic spells. What are the possibilities in creating realistic belief systems?

Sunday, August 4
11am: The Myth of the Apolitical Novel
Ballroom D
Track: Speculative Fiction Literature
Type: Panel
Christopher Brown (moderator), Suyi Davies Okungbowa, K. Tempest Bradford, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Ari Marmell, Rebecca Schwarz
Science fiction has always been political; fantasy has been better at obscuring its political underpinnings. Why do some readers call for authors to stay out of politics, and what does that mandate really mean?

12pm: Food in Fantasy
Ballroom E
Track: Speculative Fiction Literature
Type: Panel
Michelle Muenzler (moderator), C. J. Mills, Amber Royer, Gabrielle Faust, Marshall Ryan Maresca, Amanda Downum
It’s not just Hobbit bread and second breakfasts. Our panelists talk food, recipes, and inspirations for their favorite meals in the books they write and the books they read. There may be samples.

1pm: Autographing - Sunday 1-2 PM
Dealers Room
Track: Readings
Type: Panel
Michael E. Marotta, Michael Wolff, Marshall Ryan Maresca
Autographing - Sunday 1-2 PM

Friday, July 26, 2019

ArmadilloCon, Shield of the People and Masochism

Hello dear friends,

How is July nearly over?  I'm losing track of the summer, and there is so much going on. 

For example, ArmadilloCon is just a week away.  I'm going to be the Toastmaster at this year's con, which is very exciting, as I get to make the Toastmaster speech, but that also means I have to write the Toastmaster speech.  I'm excited, though.  It's going to be a great event, with other Guests of Honor being Rebecca Roanhorse, Patrice Caldwell, Martha Wells, Moriba K. Jah and Dan Tolliver.  If you're in the central Texas area (or can get to it with little hardship), then come down to see us all, August 2nd-4th.

And if you are there, and you see me, there are two ways you can get one of these beautiful ARCs of SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE, months before it comes out on October 29th!  (Of course, you can always pre-order it.)

ARMADILLOCON METHOD #1: Come up to me in anything that could be considered a reasonable attempt at Maradaine Cosplay.  First person who does this will get an ARC.

ARMADILLOCON METHOD #2: Come up to me and recite the Tarian Oath, or at least a good faith attempt.  First person to swear their fealty to putting themselves between the innocent and harm will get an ARC.

"But Marshall," you say, "What about those of us who cannot make it to ArmadilloCon?"

Well, I've got up to three SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE ARCs to give away on line.  Post FAN ART of Maradaine-- anything that can reasonably called Fan Art-- to twitter with the hashtag #Maradaine by JULY 31st. 

I will send ARCs to the artists behind my TOP THREE PICKS.  If you are not Twitter-enabled, then email it directly to me, and I'll post it on Twitter on your behalf.

You would think that doing all this right now would be enough things to keep me busy, but, APPARENTLY NOT, because I've also started a podcast. 

I've teamed up with Alexandra Rowland (A CONSPIRACY OF TRUTHS) and Rowenna Miller (TORN, FRAY) and launched WORLDBUILDING FOR MASOCHISTS, where we talking about fantasy worldbuilding and doing the sort of deep-dive, well beneath the surface kind of worldbuilding.  It's available on iTunes and Spotify and most other places you get your podcasts.  We've released two episodes so far, and it comes out every other Wednesday.

That's all from this side of the screen.  Back to work, as there's so very much to do.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Seven Deadly Writing Sins

All right, if you want to WRITE BOOKS and GET THEM DONE, you've got to do the work.  There's no getting around that.  So, do the work, and avoid the Seven Deadly Sins:

SLOTH- Don't be lazy. Sit down, but in chair, and do the writing.
GLUTTONY- Don't try to shove EVERYTHING into a story.  Save some ideas for something else.
WRATH- Don't get angry and destroy the work you've done when it's coming out wrong.  Walk away, cool down, look at it fresh.
PRIDE- Take your critiques with humility and grace.  Seek out critique partners who will challenge you.
LUST- Avoid the lure of the New Shiny.  Work on the project you've got going on, get it DONE.
ENVY- Eyes on your own paper. Don't worry about what other writers are doing.
GREED- ... ummmm....

Greed's fine in this business, actually.  Go after whatever money they'll pay you.  You've earned it.   Don't work for free.  Or "exposure".  Or copies that you need to sell.  GET PAID.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.


So what are you still here for?  Get down in those word mines, get to work.  I'll see you down there.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Juggling the cat herders of interwoven plots

So let's talk about plot weaving.
I'm working right now on the draft for People of the Citywhich is the culmination of Phase I of the Maradaine Saga, and... friends, it's a lot.
I mean, I've been the person who's been all "YES LET'S DO THIS" but bringing together the threads of four different series in a way that comes together in a single book that needs to be A. a solid story in its own right, B. the third Maradaine Elite novel and C. the twelfth Maradaine Saga novel that closes and caps and satisfies a bunch of storylines, while setting the stage for more things in Phase II and beyond.
It's a lot.
I've been saying it's like juggling a chainsaw, a flaming machete and a baby. 
However, this is what all those outlines have been for.  I've been working up to this moment, and I've known what this one was going to be about, and how the different elements were going to come together here to unite the plot lines into what the plot of this book needed to be about.  I knew what I needed to seed in the previous eleven books.  The work has been building to this.  Seven main characters from four different series coming together into a big event.

But that doesn't change the fact that it's A LOT.  And I'm more than a little scared I won't pull it off.  But I've done the work, laid the foundation, and I think I've got it.
Because I fought to do this, and wow, I'm really getting to do it.  That's incredible.
So mark your calendars for Fall 2020.  We're going to have something awesome.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Announcing Two More Projects for 2021

My friends, I've been a bit radio silent the past few weeks, but it's because THINGS HAVE BEEN AFOOT.

Some of those things involve just doing the work.  At any given time, I'm drafting one thing (currently, PEOPLE OF THE CITY), expecting or working edits on another thing (THE FENMEREJOB) and copy-edits/final proofs on yet another (SHIELD OF THE PEOPLE). And if you've been paying attention to my blather, you might recall that PEOPLE OF THE CITY will mark the end of Phase I of the full Maradaine Saga, but also that it's the last thing I've got currently announced, and if things go to schedule (things are currently on schedule), the drafting of that will be done later this year.

So, I needed to have something to do next.

WELL GUESS WHAT.  I can now tell you a bit about that.  I have signed contracts for two more novels with the wonderful people at DAW Books: THE VELOCITY OF REVOLUTION and A CONSTABULARY OF ONE.

First, what these books are NOT.  They are not Phase II of Maradaine.  And not because I don't have EVERY INTENTION AND PLAN for Phase II-- I do, and I hope I've earned some good faith about delivering books in a timely manner.  BUT, I also feel I need a bit of a palate cleanser before diving into Phase II.  But it is definitely on the agenda.

So what are VELOCITY OF REVOLUTIONand A CONSTBULARY OF ONE?
First, VELOCITY OF REVOLUTION.  This is going to be a standalone dieselpunk fantasy novel, in a brand-new secondary-world setting. In a post-war, post-colonization city, occupied by foreign administrators, rebellion is being sparked by a mysterious messiah figure, and an undercover cop of mixed heritage has to infiltrate the local cycle-racing rings to find his way to this leader.  

Or, as I've been pitching it: FAST AND THE FURIOUS meets JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR with MOTORCYCLES and PSYCHIC MUSHROOMS.

Second, A CONSTABULARY OF ONE.  This is not Maradaine, but it is set in the same world.  If you've read A PARLIAMENT OF BODIESthen you might have an idea of what this book is about.  Briefly, it follows one secondary character from the Maradaine Constabulary as she ends up stuck in a city on the other side of the world.  She'll have to navigate her way through the foreign culture, struggle to earn her way home, and fight for the new chosen family she forms there.

So, it's not part of the Maradaine Saga, strictly-- it's more or less standalone.  But with the comparisons of Maradaine to the MCU: This is the Guardians of the Galaxy of the world.

With both of these novels, I've set a new high bar for myself, taking on new challenges.  Both of them are going to be hard, but I think I'm ready.  I'm super excited about both of these books, which should be coming out in 2021.

(And then?  We'll get to Maradaine Phase II.  But let me get Phase I done first, and we'll talk.)

Back to work.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Con Appearances

Man, I love a good SFF-lit con.  I wish I could go to more, but any that involve travel, unless I'm invited as a guest of honor, is out of my own pocket, so... I have to make judicious choices.

Especially since the fan-run, SFF-lit con is... maybe not dying, but it's definitely in an "evolve or die" place right now.  I see some of them evolving, and I see some dying.  Which is a shame. I will go to the bigger media comic-con if it's feasible (I'm at Comicpalooza in a few weeks!), but I find them less than useful for novel writers.  It's the difference of an event with 800-1000 people, who are pretty much all into books, and an even with 50,000 people, but only a sliver are into books.

However, I definitely feel like my local fan-run, SFF-lit con is on the "evolve" side of the coin, and each year it's gotten stronger.  And that would be ArmadilloCon, and HOLY CATS check out who's the Toastmaster this year.  YES IT'S ME.  So if you were looking for an excuse to check out ArmadilloCon this year, here you go.

BUT if  you need more reason, check out the Writers' Workshop, which is a fabulous one-day intensive workshop. I highly recommend it for beginner SFF writers looking to improve their craft.

And if you've got a con and you want me to come? Invite me!  I'd love to come.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Harsh Rejection Stories

My story isn't technically a rejection story, but it's right up there.  It's as devastating. I was on one small, private on-line critique group.  The set-up was pretty casual: upload things to a shared folder, and then critiques are either A. sent via group email or B. also uploaded to the shared folder.  No specific timeline, just put it up and people will get to it or not.  Because of this system, I had some things up there that I wasn't actually seeking critique on anymore.  I hadn't taken them down, mostly because I wanted the other members of the group to be able to look at the whole body of work/larger plan if they were so inclined.
And then I got this on one manuscript.

I made it no further than page 5 before nearly chewing my left arm off in the frustration of knowing that a writer with a great imagination, a lot of drive, and most likely a wonderful story to tell hasn't bothered, after all these years of effort, to learn the basics of story crafting. To improve your writing, you need to, at the very least, read some well-crafted books and analyze the plotting, sentence structure, foreshadowing, and subtlety of the writers' works. No one is born knowing how to write or craft a story. Those are skills that take some effort to learn. You could be a great writer. If you don't put in some study time, all your efforts and talents are wasted.
Wow.  That's brutal, no?

That's the sort of critique that could send someone running for the hills.  Heck, that's not even a critique, that's a dressing down.  

Fortunately, I just laughed at it, and then promptly deleted myself from that group.
Because the manuscript in question was The Thorn of Dentonhill, which at that point had already netted me an agent and was out on submission.  And it was bought by my publisher just a few weeks after I got this.  I mean, what exactly was this person trying to accomplish with this critique?  I'm not sure.  But I feel like they were trying to just grind me down.

This business is tough, and you do not get handed anything and certainly don't deserve anything you don't earn-- you don't just get handed accolades and awards and film options-- but you need to keep pushing on as they try to grind you down.  Success could be right around the corner, and if you let them beat you-- you let a drubbing like that one up there break you-- you won't get there.

Don't let it grind you down.  Because every rejection and drubbing can be followed by that call.  Be ready for it.