Friday, July 27, 2018

Gen Con 2018!

I'm returning to Gen Con this year! I had a great time last year, and I'm very much looking forward to my second appearance at the Con. I'll be participating on a number of panels and other programming items as part of Gen Con's writer's symposium, so if you're attending, find me and say hello!

Thu 2 Aug

12:00 PM (Boston): Artificial Intelligence and Speculative Fiction
I'm particularly excited about this one. I've been researching artificial super intelligence quite a bit lately, and I think this could be a very fun discussion.

3:00 PM (Ballrooms 3-4): Religion in SF/F
Some of my bread and butter, you could say. Religion plays a very significant role in the Chaos Queen books, so no surprise here.

4:00 PM (Ballroom 1): Finding Inspiration
Not sure of any details but I think it'll make for an interesting, and hopefully helpful, panel.

Fri 3 Aug

1:00 PM (Signing Table in Dealer's Room): Signing!
I'll be signing books! I'll also have a few for sale in the dealer's room.

Sat 4 Aug

2:00 PM (Atlanta): Vampires: Undead, or Just Dead?
Vampires! Because Astrid! And BtVS!

Sun 5 Aug

9:00 AM (Boston): Read and Critique 3
I think you have to sign up for this in advance, so if it interests you, look into it!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Thoughts on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Reboot

I'm late to the party on this (I've been summer vacationing for most of the past two weeks--playing with bears in Alaska and then at the beach in SoCal), but news broke a few days ago that Joss Whedon is exec producing a reboot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with Monica Owusu-Breen as showrunner. The series is still in very early stages of development--no script, no casting announcements--but some of the more interesting details include the producers' intention to cast an African American woman as Buffy, and their hope to keep the metaphorical aspect of the show intact.

Hmmmm. Interesting.

I many feelings about this. Like, very conflicted, convoluted feelings. Allow me to break those feelings down into something reasonably coherent, if you will, in an old-fashioned pro/con list.


  • More Buffy! BtVS is, of course, my favorite show of all time. While I'm hardcore side-eying the reboot concept, even the slightest chance that I could get more of what made the original series so great is, in a word, sublime.
  • A black Buffy. I'm all for this! The original serious had a very white-washed cast, and it would be awesome to see it take a more diverse direction.
  • Hitting metaphor hard. "High School is hell" is one of the concepts that made the show take off to begin with, and some of the best episodes succeed largely through their use of metaphor. Given our current socio-political climate, there are more issues and concepts than ever to tackle, either through a monster-of-the-week or with much grander plot strokes. I would love to see this done well in a contemporary supernatural television program.
  • Joss Whedon's involvement. This is a tough one because my feelings about Joss Whedon have largely changed over the past year (look at what they once were, and while I've yet to publish anything specific on how I've been feeling about Whedon lately, it's safe to say I'm disillusioned at best), but a reboot of BtVS without his name attached in some capacity just...wouldn't seem right?
  • Monica Owusu-Breen. She's tentatively in the pro column--in looking at her IMDB writing credits page I see she's worked on some interesting shows, but none of her individual episodes stand out to me. This isn't a dealbreaker--hence her place in the pro column--but it mainly means I'm just very curious to see how she handles the show. I think she could add fresh, interesting, potentially delicious blood (see what I did there) to a reboot of the series.

  • ...more Buffy? (Seriously, ya'll, I'm conflicted.) The original television series (not the film, for the record) stands as one of the best television shows of all time, even now, twenty years later. Why change what is so incredible? Can you even change it without inevitably making the new product worse? I'm not sure you can. Joss said it himself:“I see a little bit of what I call monkey’s paw in these reboots. You bring something back, and even if it’s exactly as good as it was, the experience can’t be. You’ve already experienced it, and part of what was great was going through it for the first time.” And yet, here we are, I guess. Shrug.
  • A reboot? Really? I'd be much more interested in a continuation--in which we follow a new slayer, oh, say, 20 years after the original series--of the story. New characters, new villains, new apocalypses. Sarah Michelle Gellar could even make a few (ideally rare) cameo appearances as an older, wiser, perhaps more jaded and/or grizzled (or, perhaps, retired and very happy? I don't know!) Buffy--and Alyson Hannigan could totally show up as a bad-ass witchy woman in her prime! That would be amazing. An adaptation of something else in-world would also work--Frey being a prime target (And Hannigan could still cameo! It would be so cool!). That would also be amazing. When you could do something like that, why reboot the already incredible, much lauded original series? (For the record, I know why, and it's money. But still.)
  • How they're using the African American casting as a marketing ploy. Or at least it feels that way. As I mentioned above, I think a black Buffy would be very cool. I also think it's weird of the producers to offer that as one of the only bits of information they give us when they've only just barely announced the reboot in the first place. It sort of feels like they're really nervous about the response to the show (a reboot of an original that was notoriously popular, albeit with very mixed opinions, among minorities), and are trying to placate the potential audience with such an announcement. In short, I don't like how they're going about it. It feels condescending and poorly planned. That said, I still think it'd be a potentially awesome casting choice. We will see.
  • Ugh. Joss Whedon. (Did I mention my feelings are conflicted and convoluted here?) This is tough because despite Joss Whedon's objective strengths as a writer and creator, he's kind of been an asshole to women (allegedly)--particularly his ex-wife--in spite of his feminist proclivities. There was once a day where I would have consumed anything Joss Whedon remotely had a hand in creating, but that day has long past. Instead, I basically ask myself "could I like this in spite of Joss Whedon's involvement?" So...yeah.
  • But...Joss Whedon isn't showrunning. (I'M ALL OVER THE PLACE ABOUT THIS, OKAY?) The way Joss Whedon ran the original BtVS TV series revolutionized the way stories were told on the small screen. If he's only involved as EP, well...look at it this way: the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer film is notoriously bad, precisely because the people involved didn't know how to handle the character and the premise. They twisted Whedon's original vision into a joke instead of playing it straight. There's a risk of that sort of thing occurring here, even with Owusu-Breen involved.
  • Things Are Different Now. BtVS came about in a particular climate, with a particular message. Many particular messages, in fact, that were particular to the sociopolitical climate of the time--providing a strong, heroic, dynamic, profound, and multi-faceted central female character perhaps foremost among them. This was a revelation. The reboot, however, could not replicate this. It's attempting to following in the footsteps trailblazed--and subsequently etched, carved, and gilded--by it's own direct predecessor. The original series was both a product of and a reaction to its time, and while the reboot has some interesting ground to potentially cover (as I mentioned above about "metaphor"), the cultural moment simply doesn't exist. (Which is not to say that the reboot couldn't create a new cultural moment, but lightning doesn't strike twice, as they say--it could, technically, but I wouldn't hold my breath.)
So. I'm sure I'll have more thoughts about this as the project develops, but I don't know, ya'll. Right now I'm worried. I'm very tentatively, very small-ly excited about the prospect, but mostly I'm worried. And I'm not alone. With response articles like "Is the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Reboot Doomed to Fail?" and "Talent of Color Do Not Need White TV Show and Film Hand-Me-Downs," and Twitter in an outrage about it all, I'm clearly not alone.

I do have hope, don't get me wrong. But hope and fear go hand-in-hand.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

r/fantasy Writer of the Day!

Hey alls!

I'm Fantasy Writer of the Day over at r/fantasy (the reddit subgroup), so that's neat. If you're curious about me, the Chaos Queen books, writing in general, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you should definitely head on over and chat/ask me questions/whatever!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


So last week my family and I went on adventure.

We took an airplane to the tiny town of King Salmon, AK, and from there a float plane to Katmai National Park.

While there, we camped in an electric fence enclosed compound, for reasons you'll understand later.

We hiked into the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, where the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century occurred.

My daughter was a straight up adventurer. She's also freaking adorable.

Like I said. Adorable.

Also, we saw bears. Because that's what you do at Katmai.

Lots of bears.

Lots and lots of bears.

We were very close to these bears.

Fortunately, they were distracted by other food. Also, there were pretty strict rules in place around the camp that helped. Bears have the right of way throughout the entire place, which means they're often wandering through the middle of camp (only the campground itself has the electric fence). It was crazy.

This cub was not happy with his sibling.

B was often oblivious to the bears.

But on occasion she thought they were pretty cool. DID I MENTION ADORABLE THO??

Seriously though. BEARS.
Anyway, it was quite the adventure. If you want to get a taste of what we saw, check out this bear cam, set up in one of the major viewing areas at Brooks Camp (where we stayed) in Katmai.

Nice to have some time away. Now, back to book four! 🐻 💪🙌⚔️

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Brandon Sanderson Reviews DARK IMMOLATION

In case you missed it, Brandon Sanderson recently reviewed Dark Immolation on Goodreads!

So, yeah, that's a thing.

For those who aren't aware, Brandon has been a mentor of mine for some years now. I took the class he offers at BYU (and which you can now see online, check it out if you're remotely interested in writing!), twice officially, and twice unofficially (audited). He taught me just about everything I needed to know to get an agent and eventually land a publishing deal, and his feedback on my work the first time I took his class (when I was writing the very first, very different version of Duskfall) was encouraging enough to motivate me to actually pursue a career in this crazy business.

So, anyway, it's cool that he's been able to read my books and has nice things to say.

Just a few highlights:

"...A series full of strong ideas, intriguing questions about morality, and solid writing--books I think will appeal to anyone who enjoys my epic fantasy."

"I think an aspiring writer can study these books as an excellent example of blending the familiar with the strange in a way that's different form my personal approach. Though magic plays into the books, it often takes a back seat to interpersonal relationships."

"...A thoughtful epic fantasy series that explores religion in an interesting way, and which has an impressive depth of characterization."

🙌👍👌💯💪🎉 ⚔️🛡🖋📚🖤

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Hannah Gadsby: Nanette

After seeing several people on social media recommend it, last night Rachel and I watched Nanette, the stand-up piece by Hannah Gadsby on Netflix.

...honestly, I'm not sure what I could possibly say about it other than: go watch it, please. Through 'til the end. It is absolutely worth your time. It is truth.

I think, and hope, it has changed the way I view, and tell, stories.


* Addition on 19 July 2018 *

I've still been thinking about Nanette. Found some interesting reactions to it, which I'll place here, mostly for my benefit.

John Scalzi's reaction

Various Twitter reactions (via Buzzfeed)

Monday, July 02, 2018

The Five Building Blocks of Storytelling

At Salt Lake Comic Con last fall, a fellow was interviewing authors and pulled me aside. What follows is the result of THAT FATEFUL ENCOUNTER, and I completely forgot about it until I saw a link to it the other day.