Thursday, October 15, 2009

Writers' Symposium Ezine #9

The Writers’ Symposium Ezine

“Helping Writers Write”
Issue #9, June 2009
The Geeks and Gamers Issue

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From the Editor: Paul Genesse
Featured Author Bio: Kerrie Hughes
Featured Content: Intro to Gamer Fantastic by Kerrie Hughes
Featured Content: Just A Geek by Jim C. Hines
New and Current Releases from Writers’ Symposium Members
List of Current Writers’ Symposium Members & Contact Info
Final Thought

From the Editor

Warning! If you’re reading this there is a chance that you might be a geek. Or a gamer. I am definitely both. Some of you may prefer other terms, and that’s fine. Whatever label you choose to accept or reject, you probably love fantasy and science fiction. You read it. You might write it, and you are very interested in it. This issue will give some support, rather than techniques on how to be a writer, in addition to announcing all the new releases from Symposium. There’s a great treatise on her love of geeks and gamers by editor Kerrie Hughes, and a very honest examination of his geek self by Jim Hines. I think that many of you will recognize Jim and Kerrie’s stories as having parallels to your own lives, and their words will tell you a lot about what it’s like to be a writer, and a geek.

Paul Genesse, Editor and Author of THE DRAGON HUNTERS

Featured Author: Kerrie Hughes

Kerrie Hughes is having a midlife crisis; she has the experience of someone 200, the whimsy of someone 12, but being 45 is making her dream of body upgrades. She writes, studies, and amuses 4 cats, and 1 husband on a daily basis. She collects LEGO, Uglydolls, bizarre purses, Hello Kitty, Toki Doki, and various toys. She has edited 7 anthologies, and written 7 short stories and worked on 2 compendiums. Current work includes more anthologies, compendiums and some longer projects. In her spare time she enjoys gamer and writer conventions and traveling to various museums. She’s considering becoming a starving artist/writer. Her life’s ambition is to leave behind a large body of work and enjoy every single day of immortality.

Featured Content: Gamer Fantastic Intro by Kerrie Hughes

I love Geeks. That’s right, I said it. I love geeks . . . and gamers and nerds . . . and writers of course.
If I had not been living in the Bible Belt when D&D was first created I would have been playing in someone’s basement instead of drinking beer in a cornfield with my friends around a bonfire. What can I say? It was Kansas and there was nothing else to do. Mind you it didn’t stop me from becoming Wiccan at age 16. Thank you Scott Cunningham and independent bookstores everywhere. Nowadays Wichita is the main hub for drug smuggling in the Midwest. See what becomes of good clean living and thinking that slaying dragons and rescuing princesses is satanic.

It would be years later, and I would be in my thirties before I played my first role-playing game, it was Vampire: The Requiem, and that’s where I met my third and final, I hope, husband John Helfers. What a geek! He was honest and kind and a diabolical gamemaster who lived vicariously via the game board. I became a geek and never looked back. Now for my fellow feminists, I did not become a geek because of a guy. I became one because it freed me to be anyone I wanted to be and to wield a sword or magic missile with careless abandon or as a team. It empowered my imagination like nothing had before. I could play a villain or a saint or possibly even a monster with fangs and claws. Yum!

I know every geek in this book and I admire them all. It’s a great community with ups and downs, subtleties and intrigue. The behind-the-scenes stories are just as good as the public ones and I delight in hearing everything they have to say. Well, almost everything. I must admit that when people quote rulebooks like they know them by heart I have to take a mental snooze. Probably because I just can’t keep up with the details.

My one regret was that I did not meet Gary Gygax. I had a chance at the 2007 Gen Con but I was too chicken. I walked past a jolly fellow in a loud shirt and made note of the name on his badge, he smiled and nodded as did I but it took a full 10 seconds for the name to register. I turned back to introduce myself but he was talking to some fans in really cool costumes and I figured I would just move along. After all, I’m just one of a million other geeks, and not a sorceress in flowing purple robes with loads of arcane spells and cleavage. I should have just walked up and introduced myself anyway, I met James Doohan many years back at a Star Trek convention and he blessed me with compliments and kissed my hand! I’m sure Gary would have been just as gracious. At least that’s the way it goes in my geek fantasies.

But I digress . . .

What I really want to say is I’ve done a few of these anthologies now, and I have to conclude that this one has been my favorite. Special thanks go to Chris Pierson, who wrote the story, “Escapism.” His stories always seem to be filled with death and destruction, he gave me nightmares about the future of the world. On a completely unrelated note he has recently become a father for the first time, and will be raising the next generation of geeks and releasing them unto the world.

I also just love Don Bingle and his story “Gaming Circle.” He always gives me a great story and if you ever get a chance to hear him read his work, give yourself a treat and go, he has an incredible speaking voice. Also check out his website for more of his work, some of which appears in my other anthologies.

Thanks also go to Jody Lynn Nye, who just happens to strongly resemble an elf (coincidence—I think not!), for her story that combines the origins of psychology with that of gaming. I have been called the “Queen of the Geeks” by many of my friends but I assure you she is the one who deserves the royal title.

Speaking of origins and Fantasy royalty, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, who is an authority on fairies, takes us to Lake Geneva with “Game Testing.” It might make you want to take a trip to lower Wisconsin some day, as she assures me that much of the story is true. I’m definitely going to look more closely at the houses the next time I get down there.

I also want to give special thanks to Ed Greenwood. Not just for his deviously delicious story, “Rescuing The Elf Princess Again,” but for writing the very heartfelt eulogy for E. Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons who passed away last year.
And finally, before you enjoy these wonderful tales remember this . . .

The geeks shall inherit the earth, and if not then they will at least survive in the dark with a game grid, some die, a gallon of caffeinated beverage and some very unhealthy crunchy cheesy things. (Hail Wisconsin!)

Kerrie (Keridwyn) Hughes, Editor of Gamer Fantastic

Just a Geek, article by Jim C. Hines, (Book by Wil Wheaton)

It was early 2004. I had just signed a deal with Five Star to publish Goblin Quest. This would be my first published fantasy novel, hopefully bringing me one step closer to actually Making It As A Writer. With Five Star being a small specialty press, I was on my own when it came to blurbs. So I e-mailed a few people I knew. On a whim, after reading one of Wheaton’s blog columns about gaming, I wrote him a quick e-mail.
Six hours later, I bounded away from the computer, grabbed my wife by the arms, and said, “Holy @#$%, Wil Wheaton said he’d read my book!”
Not only did he read it, he provided my favorite blurb ever, calling Goblin Quest “Too f***ing cool for words!” He also hooked me up with John Kovalic, who went on to provide another blurb.
It’s hard to put into words how much that meant. I was a nobody in the writing world. I had friends signing deals with major publishers, and I was with a press that might sell 500 copies if I was lucky. I felt like a fraud, and I was terrified people were going to find out.
Having Wil Wheaton agree to read the book, and his follow-up e-mails saying how much he enjoyed it . . . well, it didn’t make the crazy go away, but it helped. It helped a lot.

So now it’s five years later, and I finally got my hands on Wil’s book Just a Geek, a collection of blog posts and original material chronicling Wil’s decision to leave Star Trek, his efforts to find work in Hollywood, the struggle to balance career and family, and his eventual decision to give this writing thing a try.
I’ve read for years, so I knew he was a good writer, and I fully expected to enjoy the book. What I didn’t expect was how much I would relate to the stories he shared. How many of you writers out there can connect to this:
The hundreds of adoring fans I’d hoped to see did show up . . . when people like Kevin Smith and the cast of the short-lived Witchblade took up temporary residence at tables near mine.
Yep. That could be me at one of several group book signings I’ve done next to folks like John Scalzi or Mike Resnick. Or how about:
“I would often be one of the final two or three actors to be considered. But consistently coming in second or third was actually worse than not making it past the first round of meetings. It was like scaling Mount Everest, only to die within sight of the summit . . . over and over again.
I think every writer goes through this stage, where we’re getting ‘Almost, but not quite’rejections and going bugnut insane trying to figure out why we can’t make the cut when we’re so freaking close!”
There were other pieces that jumped out at me. Wil mentions legal battles with his stepsons’ father, and the overwhelming lawyer bills that come with them. (Been there, done that.) He writes about choosing between going with his family on a vacation or staying home in order to make it to auditions. (Some of you might remember when I missed half of my family vacation in order to make the deadline on Mermaid).

The point is, it’s an aptly-named book. There’s a blunt honestly to the writing. You don’t feel like you’re reading about a celebrity; you’re reading about a guy who, like most of the folks reading this review, is just a geek (albeit one with 10,000 times as many Twitter followers as most of us). If writing is about creating a connection between author and reader, then Wheaton is a damn good writer.
If you’ve read his blog, you know Wil Wheaton can write. Just a Geek shows he can do it at book-length, tying individual stories and blog entries together into a larger story, one which starts with Wil Wheaton trying to Prove to Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake, and ending with Wil Wheaton, Author. Wil’s book is now out in paperback. Check it out.

To read more of Jim’s thoughts about writing or being a geek, please visit

Mermaid’s Madness was released October 6, 2009.
What would happen if a star writer went back to the darker themes of the original fairy tales for plots, and then crossed the Disney princesses with Charlie’s Angels? What he’d end up with is The Mermaid's Madness-a whole new take on The Little Mermaid. And with Jim C. Hines, of Jig the Goblin fame, penning the tale, you can bet it won’t be “They lived happily ever after.”

Another awesome book, just released, is Ethan Gilsdorf’s

Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks

This is a great book and I was lucky enough to meet the author at Gen Con in August of 2009, when we did a book signing together.

What could one man find if he embarked on a journey through fantasy world after fantasy world?
In an enthralling blend of travelogue, pop culture analysis, and memoir, forty-year-old former D&D addict Ethan Gilsdorf crisscrosses America, the world, and other worlds—from Boston to New Zealand, and Planet Earth to the realm of Aggramar.
Check out

New and Recent Novels, Anthologies and More by Symposium Authors

The Writers’ Symposium welcomes it’s newest member, Greg Wilson, who spoke on many of the panels at Gen Con this year. Visit him online at

THE THIRD SIGN, a novel by Gregory A. Wilson

“Wilson's fantasy debut recalls the complexity of classic epic fantasy in the tradition of Robert Jordan. Combining adventure with mystery and memorable characters, this is a good choice for committed fantasy fans.”
—Jackie Cassada, Library Journal

“In The Third Sign, Gregory Wilson pulls off the single most difficult feat of magic in an epic fantasy: he makes it real...A very satisfying tale from an intriguing new voice.”
—David Niall Wilson, Bram Stoker award winning author of “Deep Blue” and “The Relic of the Dawn.”

GRANTS PASS, Anthology Edited by Jennifer Brozek

The apocalypse has arrived.
Humanity was decimated by bio-terrorism; three engineered plagues were let loose on the world. Barely anyone has survived.
Just a year before the collapse, Grants Pass, Oregon, USA, was publicly labeled as a place of sanctuary in a whimsical online, “what if” post. Now, it has become one of the last known refuges, and the hope, of mankind.
Would you go to Grants Pass based on the words of someone you’ve never met?

Featuring stories by Jennifer Brozek, Jay Lake and Ed Greenwood, plus many more.
Visit for more.

18 original stories that take familiar fairy tales and shift them around to give them an entirely new slant. Like, Revenge of the Little Match Girl—where one of the most innocent characters of all time becomes a homicidal pyromaniac.
Edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg. Read stories by Dennis L. McKiernan, Chris Pierson, Kathleen Watness, Jim C. Hines, Stephen D. Sullivan, Paul Genesse, Skip & Penny Williams, Elizabeth A. Vaughan, Janet Deaver-Pack, Kelly Swails, and Michael A. Stackpole. Released May 2009

GAMER FANTASTIC, Edited by Kerrie Hughes
From a teenager who finds a better future in virtual reality; to a private investigator hired to find a dying man’s grandson in the midst of a virtual reality theme park; from a person gifted with the power to pull things out of books into the real world; to a psychologist using fantasy role-playing to heal his patients; from a gaming convention where the real winners may not be who they seem to be; to a multi-layered role-playing game that leads participants from reality to reality and games within games—these imaginative and fascinating new tales will captivate both lovers of original fantasy and anyone who has ever fallen under the spell of role-playing games. Edited by Kerrie Hughes. Releasing July 1, 2009. Featuring stories by Donald Bingle, etc. . . .

Released October 2009. From a farmer at war with Nature’s creatures, to dangerous doings when the henhouse goes on-line, to the hazards of keeping company with a book wyrm, here are ingenious tales that will make readers laugh or cry-or double-check to make sure that their windows and doors are firmly locked against the things that prowl the night. Stories by Don Bingle, Anton Strout, Alexander B Potter, Elizabeth A Vaughn, Carrie Vaughn, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Brenda Cooper, John Pitt, Tim Waggoner, Larry D. Sweazy, Richard Lee Byers and more.

GOBLIN NATION, By Jean Rabe. The climactic conclusion to The Stonetellers saga!
Goblin Nation concludes Jean Rabe’s Stonetellers trilogy, finding Direfang and his army of goblins and hobgoblins deep in the Qualinesti Forest. Although they are far from the Dark Knights' mining camp they escaped from, they are also far from safe. The forest is fraught with its own deadly dangers--with the entire world seemingly bent on keeping the goblins from founding their new homeland. But Direfang is resolute and will risk all their lives in a final bid for freedom.

DEADER STILL by Anton Strout
“Following Simon’s adventures is like being the pinball in an especially antic game, but it's well worth the wear and tear.”
-Charlaine Harris, author of the SOOKIE STACKHOUSE series.

It’s hard to defeat evil on a budget. Just ask Simon Canderous.

It’s been 737 days since the Department of Extraordinary Affairs’ last vampire incursion, but that streak appears to have ended when a boat full of dead lawyers is found in the Hudson River. Using the power of psychometry—the ability to divine the history of an object by touching it—agent Simon Canderous discovers that the booze cruise was crashed by something that sucked all the blood out of the litigators. Now, his workday may never end—until his life does.


UNHOLY by Richard Lee. Byers
I saw something 
than I’ve ever seen before.
Something truly
I understand now what drove Fastrin mad.
Why he was willing to slaughter us all.

The formerly green fields lie in war-torn ruins. The formerly living populace is undead. And the formerly brilliant necromancer, the mastermind behind the civil war that drove the ruling council into exile, appears to have gone insane. But rumor spreads of a reason behind his randomness -- a reason all survivors of Thay must rally against.
Releasing February 3, 2009

CATOPOLIS, Edited by Janet Deaver-Pack
Seventeen original stories about the “city of cats.”
Set in a world that exists on the same plane as humans, yet is hidden from us, CATOPOLIS introduces readers to an assortment of cats, ranging from a feline Seer who must take destiny into her own paws to defeat a dictatorial tomcat a black cat who can call upon the powers of the “big cats” to wage a war against a cat who would be the ins and outs of cat politics and the perils of using mice as a cat burglar looking for a musical treasure for his “boss.”
Featuring stories by Richard Lee Byers, Paul Genesse, Don Bingle, Jean Rabe, Marc Tassin, Elizabeth Vaughan and more.

THE STEPSISTER SCHEME by Jim C. Hines. What would happen if an author went back to the darker themes of the original fairy tales for his plots, and then crossed the Disney princesses with Charlie’s Angels? What’s delivered is THE STEPSISTER SCHEME—a whole new take on what happened to Cinderella and her prince after the wedding. And with Jim C. Hines penning the tale readers can bet it won’t be “and they lived happily ever after.”

“These princesses will give ‘Charlie’s Angels’ a serious run for the money, and leave ‘em in the dust.” –Esther Friesner, author of NOBODY’S PRINCESS
Releasing January 6, 2009

GREENSWORD is a dark comedy about the environment, extremism, stupid criminals, and the lengths to which people will go to avoid getting a real job.

They’re about to save the world; they just don’t want to get caught doing it.
Says Hugo and Nebula Award Winner, Robert J. Sawyer: “Science fiction has always been a great vehicle for biting satire and social commentary­­from H. G. Wells’ THE TIME MACHINE right on up to Donald Bingle’s engrossing, GREENSWORD, Bingle is a terrific writer.”
Releasing January 21, 2009

DAY TWO: THE WISE MAN’S FEAR by Patrick Rothfuss

“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”

An escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune.

In The Wise Man’s Fear Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

Releasing sometime in the near future. Visit Pat’s blog for all the details and congratulate Pat on the birth of his new baby.

WHITE STAR by Elizabeth Vaughan

The Lady High Priestess Evelyn, known as Evie to her friends, is a healer, dedicated to using her magic in the service of the goddess to aid others and give strength where it is needed. Orrin Blackheart couldn’t be more different. With his black armor, a black name and a blacker reputation, he’s been feared and hated in equal parts. So on his defeat and capture in battle, the Goddesses insistence that Evie saves him from a death sentence astonishes them both—as does the growing attraction between them. But in saving Orrin Evie condemns herself to a prohibition on her magic and a penance posting on the edges of the land, while to retain his salvation Orrin must battle a spreading plague across the land. Fate clearly has plans for them both—but to fulfill them, both must survive the perils ahead.
Releasing April 7, 2009

THE DRAGON HUNTERS, Book Two of the Iron Dragon Series

On this hunt, you give up everything.

The last of an order of dragon hunters must track down the dragon king’s daughter and stop her from getting the Crystal Eye, an ancient artifact that will cause the destruction of their world.

Advance Praise for THE DRAGON HUNTERS:
“Genesse stresses the necessity of trust between races and cultures and the perils of bias and dissention, and he keeps the plot moving quickly . . .”
—Publishers Weekly

“Paul Genesse is a talented writer with two rare gifts: the ability to create wonderful worlds, and the skill to share them with his readers. Through his deft handling of magic and mythic creatures, Paul Genesse transports us into a realm of wild imagining. Taut suspense and fantastic imagery make The Dragon Hunters a tale no fantasy fan will want to miss.”
—Michael A. Stackpole, New York Times bestselling author of the Star Wars novel I, Jedi

Read the first two chapters for free at, isten to a free podcast of Paul reading the book, or watch a video on YouTube.

DEATH MARCH –Jean Rabe. Escaping from the slave pens of a Dark Knight mining camp was no easy feat, but what awaits Direfang, a former hobgoblin slave who has become the reluctant general of a growing goblin army is every bit as perilous.

BLACKSTAFF TOWER—Steven Schend. Young friends stumble across a terrifying conspiracy that holds the heir to the Blackstaff, the defender of the city of Waterdeep, in terrible danger.

IMAGINARY FRIENDS. We’ve all had them. We’ve all needed them. In this fun fantasy anthology, readers are given thirteen variations on what kinds of friends come in handy. Featuring stories by Jean Rabe, Don Bingle, Tim Waggoner, Paul Genesse and Jim C. Hines

DAGGER-STAR by Elizabeth Vaughan

After captivating readers with her CHRONICLE OF THE WARLANDS trilogy, USA Today Bestselling author, Elizabeth Vaughan now returns to that world with a beguiling tale of daggers and destiny, a cold and beautiful mercenary known as Red Gloves, and Josiah, a lone fighter emerging from the torched fields and razed farms of his homeland. All Josiah knows about the mysterious woman is her dagger-star birthmark, a sign that she is destined to free the people from a ruthless usurper's reign of terror.

DAGGER-STAR was released in April from Berkly Sensation. Visit for all the details.

THE GOLDEN CORD, By Paul Genesse. A hunter must leave behind the woman he loves, give up all hope of survival, as he is forced to guide his most hated enemies to the lair of the dragon king.

“The plot is well constructed, the characters are wonderful, and the middle-ages setting creates an ominous feel. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for more. BOOK ONE OF THE IRON DRAGON SERIES is a rich and compelling fantasy full of adventure, danger, dragons, battles, revenge, magic, and more.”

“THE GOLDEN CORD is indeed a hellishly good read.”

Watch a video about THE GOLDEN CORD and download the first chapter for free at .
Watch a video about The DRAGON HUNTERS ON, coming soon to the website.

UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS, edited by Julie Czerneda and Jana Paniccia. The Prix Award Winning Anthology featuring SHADOW OF THE SCIMITAR by Janet Deaver-Pack. From the true role of the Freemasons to Chronographers who steal pieces of time to an assassin hired by a group that reweaves the threads of history, here are fourteen imaginative tales of time and space and realms beyond our own-all watched over, preserved, or changed by those who work covertly under cover of darkness.

Final Thought

Whether you’re a geek or not, I think that those of us who love fantasy and science-fiction have to stick together. We understand each other’s fascination with other worlds.

I find it so cool that though we may have never met, we’ve actually gone on amazing adventures together many times. How? Because we read The Hobbit or the Narnia books when we were kids, or we’ve seen the same movies, or played the same role-playing games. There is a bond between us that goes beyond whatever label society wants to put on our foreheads. I’m not embarrassed about my passion for fantasy anymore. I embrace it. So what? I’m a fantasy geek. I love dragons and castles and heroes. I want everyone, especially the kids, to know that it’s okay if they love them too.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see many of you while I’m on my Dragon Hunters Book Tour in October and November of 2009.

Paul Genesse, Editor and Author

Visit to see the details, but I’ll be in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Flagstaff, L.A., Santa Maria, San Francisco, San Rafael, Antioch, Sacramento, Reno, and Salt Lake City.

Writers’ Symposium Members—Visit them on their sites or on the W.S. Blog for their contact info

Thank you for reading the ezine. Please forward it to all your friends interested in writing or reading. Please visit the Writers Symposium Blog for more information on writing—and to interact with the members of the symposium. Thanks again!

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