Make that HUGO NOMINATED Ditch Diggers!

The news is out, it’s very exciting, so exciting we may vomit.

Ditch Diggers got nominated for BEST FANCAST Hugo Award!

I have been sitting on this news for two weeks, freaking out quietly. I didn’t really believe it, and since I’m writing this on Monday I am secretly* worrying that in the next 24 hours something will happen to take it away from us. It happens, after all.

Matt and I are very proud of what we’ve turned Ditch Diggers into, and we are so grateful for the nomination. I’ll be representing us in Finland at WorldCon 75, and we’ll be working hard to keep the awesome content coming in the meantime!

*I know, I’m blogging so it’s not so secret…

Writing Podcast News For Your Ear Holes

It’s been a banner few weeks! In the past 10 days or so, I’ve managed to get back onto a weekly schedule, writing podcast-wise. I guess this means my ADHD treatment is working, which is awesome.

So the new podcast plan: I’ll be doing ISBW and Ditch Diggers in alternating weeks. This week had ISBW #373 released on Monday, and next week will feature Ditch Diggers #38 with Tobias Buckell about “The Power of ‘No'”. I have episodes planned through May, and my brain fog has lifted, for the most part, which is making this planning so much easier.

(If you’re a Patreon subscriber, you get the podcasts as soon as I edit them, instead of waiting for release day. All the supporters got the Ditch Diggers episode today, for example.)

More writing podcast news outside the Murverse:

New writing podcast: Get To Work HurleyGet To Work, Hurley: Frequent Ditch Digger guest host Kameron Hurley has her own writing podcast now! She produced this podcast as a Patreon supporter goal, and she’s doing it for everyone who wants to listen. Episode one just dropped, and she’s as fun and natural on the mic as she is when she guest hosts Ditch Diggers.

New writing podcast: Critiki PartyThe CriTiki Party: This is an interesting idea for a writing podcast that my old friend, Travis Heermann, let me know about. Listeners can submit work that will be read aloud and critiqued on the podcast. If you wonder how to give a good critique, or just want to see how people critique common errors made by beginning writers, then check it out.

Other Recommendations:

Do you not have enough writing and SF podcasts in your life already? Of course not! There are some other fine podcasts also are finalists for the Hugo Award for Best Fancast, and if you want to check them out, here they all are!

 

ISBW #373: About all those writing rules

Don’t use adverbs. Show, don’t tell. Often blanket terms, what do they really mean, and why should we use them? And what does it mean when someone makes the effort to carefully follow those rules?

Recommended book: Nabokov’s Favorite Word Was Mauve
~
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Ditch Diggers #37: Listener Request & HUGO HUGO HUGO

Show Notes:

  • Mur and Matt come to you live from the mud room of Morgan Freeman’s trophy solarium (because they haven’t earned the right to go inside yet).
  • Ditch Diggers has been nominated for a Hugo Award! You did it! Mur and Matt will go up against the likes of The Coode Street Podcast and Tea & Jeopardy in Helsinki for Best Fancast (even though we’re all professionals. Because there’s only one podcast category)! Thank you to all Ditch Diggers listeners who supported the show and don’t forget to vote for Mur and Matt for the Hugo itself!
  • It’s listener’s choice! Mur and Matt select questions from their listeners to address in detail as the topic of the show.
  • First up, for those who write many kinds of things, which writing medium/format to focus on when you being pursuing freelance writing as a serious job. Blogging? Books? Screenwriting? Should you focus on one thing or two things or all of them?
  • Secondly, Mur and Matt talk about writing prep, everything from outlining to creating playlists. What’s necessary for the task ahead and how much is too much?
  • Regular Twitter and email Q&A.

Here are all the Hugo finalists, with the most important category first! (Bold categories have guest-hosted Ditch Diggers!) Continue reading

On Letting Go (and killing darlings)

[It’s really freaking hard to not have every blog post be OMG I AM HUGO FINALIST HEAR ME SQUEE! but I think that might get old.]

I got a “domain about to expire” email from my domain provider a few days ago, and I’ve let it sit for a while, trying to figure out what to do. It’s strange how we get tied to simple things.

heavennovel.com is up for renewal. And I don’t think I’m going to do it. This was a surprisingly difficult decision.

Background: Ten years ago, when I was publishing via podcast only, I wrote a bunch of novellas that got a very passionate fan base. I tried to combine them to become novel-length to sell them to a publisher, and didn’t get any interest. I finally decided after two agents and a bunch of rejections, that I would crowdfund to pay for a good ebook transfer so I could get it to the fans who had been asking for it for years. The kickstarter funded at almost 1000% and I created hard copies as well as ebooks. And the ebooks sold!

The popularity of the kickstarter got another agent interested in me. By now, I had edited the books so many times, to make them flow as novels, then to make them skew more YA, then to skew them back to adult when the YA version didn’t sell, that I was entirely sick of them. I told her I really didn’t want to work through them again, but she encouraged me. When she saw the edit she said, “Oh. You really don’t want to work through this again, do you?”

What gave you that idea?

Note that years are passing here. I’m becoming a better writer, I’m writing a new urban fantasy about monsters needing travel guides. I’m attending grad school. My agent had zero interest in my urban fantasy, so I sold it myself by networking at a con and sending my manuscript to an editor I had coffee with. Then my agent quit being an agent and passed me to her boss, a longtime veteran of publishing. This agent did not do SFF. She was not interested in the stuff I was currently writing and how I was growing. She called my new writing “brutal” more than once. She did not mean this in a good way. (I guess she hadn’t read Hunger Games.) 

Yes, the gentle Hunger Games.

Instead, new agent wanted me to revise the novellas. Again.

Or I could do this, which would be more productive.

I told her that I’d been down that road before and it was a dead end, and she said the market had changed and she thought it could be a breakthrough hit. I liked the idea of a hit. But then I thought about going back to what I was writing seven years before, and the anxiety and dread was similar to the feeling one gets coming home from vacation and realizing your cat sitter hadn’t scooped the litter once. I politely asked her if she had any interest in the stuff I was working on at the time, and she said no.

So we parted ways and I found an awesome agent who represents SFF and likes my stuff. As for The Afterlife Series, I’ve put it behind me. I love the fact that the books helped build my fanbase, and it was an important step I took toward the writer I am now, and heck, the ebook sales still trickle in, but I think it’s time to stop spending money on the domain for a project that makes me spike anxiety just to think about it. Still, it’s a tough step. It feels like killing a darling in a book.

Hey. Note that nowhere in this history of this failed series did I decide the world wasn’t ready for my genius and I should quit.

Ditch Diggers #36: Cassandra Khaw and Lack of Self Preservation

Matt and Mur come to you live from Morgan Freeman’s Harry Potter-themed Escape Room with special guest co-host Cassandra Khaw!

  • Morgan and JK Rowling have dueling Escape Rooms based on each other’s work and Cassandra is very perplexed.
  • Matt and Mur talk to Cassandra about developing her first video game, She Remembered Caterpillars, which encourages parents to talk with their kids about mortality and has been nominated for Best Children’s Game of the Year.
  • Matt makes it clear Mur is NOT encouraging parents to leave their kids in funeral home escape rooms to teach them about death.
  • Cassandra talks about her sophomore year writing and publishing fiction ranging from cthulhu noir to paranormal romance involving were-bears.
  • Breaking into video game reviews and tech writing, the Ditch Digger way.
  • Mur, Matt, and Cassandra discuss the mentality it takes to drop everything and physically relocate to pursue your writing career.
  • Long term vs. short term goals and motivation.
  • The Ditch Diggers discuss how technology has and will alter both of those things.
  • Mur reaffirms the DD commitment to discuss politics when it’s relevant to the show, whether you like it or not.
  • Twitter/email Q&A! Topics include finding freelance work, taxes for writers, pandas, non-fiction books vs. online markets, organizing multiple projects, and much more.
  • Cassandra Khaw on Twitter: https://twitter.com/casskhaw
  • Cassandra’s website: http://www.cassandrakhaw.com/

BOOKS AND GAMES BY CASSANDRA

MENTIONED BY CASSANDRA IN THE EPISODE


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ISBW #372: Metacast: State of the world, state of Mur

(I know Friday evening is probably the worst time ever to release a podcast. But I wanted to release one more Hugo nomination reminder! Deadline tonight!)

I discuss where politics fall within the topic of this show, what I’ve been up to, some challenges, and some future stuff. Little bit of catching up.

Also, it’s the last night to nominate for the Hugos! Please consider Ditch Diggers for Fancast, and I’m also eligible for Best Semi-pro zine (Mothership Zeta) and short fiction editor (Also for Mothership Zeta). And then I have to put in my plug for Splendor and Misery for Short Dramatic performance because WOW. (I’m not associated with Clipping at all, I just love it so much and would love to see an album on the ballot. I don’t usually endorse because I know how crappy I feel when others endorse and I’m not included in the endorsement, or when people flat out tell me that they purposefully didn’t vote for me, so I keep most of my votes private.)

Remember: Thanks for your support, listening, and patronage. And if you decide not to do those things after this podcast, it’s your call.

It’s still looking a lot like…

I’m one of THOSE people. When Christmas decorations/merchandise start going up in September and everyone begins groaning, I am secretly thrilled. I like looking forward to Christmas. I like the anticipation. When I was a kid, I used to listen to our old Christmas records in August, much to my parents’ annoyance. Nowadays I’m a little less tolerant of constant carols, but otherwise I have the same child-like joy when those decorations go up and the merchandise comes out.

I am fully aware I’m like one of three people in the whole world who thinks this.

However. I am trying to figure out why my neighbor had their Christmas tree up — AND LIT — on January 31 this year. When I went to visit my dad in the mountains, Banner Elk, NC still had the city snowflakes and reindeer decorations hanging downtown. When I went to Pigeon Forge, TN this month, they also had lights, decorations, and more just up and twinkling away.

Yesterday (March 10) I passed a car with a Christmas wreath on the hood.

Shel Silverstein didn’t know he was prophetic.

Here’s where I’m confused. I don’t like this and I have no idea why the world isn’t whining and complaining now as much as they do in September. Because in my mind, anticipation is awesome. Let’s look forward to Christmas! Food and family and presents and carols and love and stuff! But afterward it feels like keeping your ex-boyfriend’s stuff around after he ragequits your relationship. You miss him being there so you keep his t-shirt lying around, you don’t remove his loving voice mails, you still look at the Pinterest board you two were building for the trip to Italy you were going to take one day.

Christmas detritus feels so sad. Like we have to hold onto the limp tinsel in order to try to hold onto the feeling instead of trying to move forward and enjoy the year.

Part of me wonders if it’s a sort of post election depression, that as a society (the Christmas-celebrating people, anyway) we are hanging onto the last bright spot in our collective memories: Christmas was here, Obama was president, and they year from hell was almost over. Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds were still hanging on to life. And that present under the tree looked like a new PS4 instead of a new stew pot, which is what it turned out to be.

It’s so widespread – mountains and city, at least three states – I don’t know if anyone can put their finger on exactly why Christmas is lingering so much. You might say it’s societal laziness/depression, but I know some places that are still lighting their lights (Although I haven’t seen a Christmas tree since mid-Feb.) which requires some action.

But damn, I wish they would clean it up and look forward. If we’re still focused on last Christmas in March, then we’re really not approaching the new(ish) year in the proper assertive mindset.

But if anyone wants to talk Christmas, 2017, let’s talk in August.

For your Hugo Consideration (Best Dramatic Presentation: Short)

Tony-winner Daveed Diggs (from Hamilton and the hip hop group clipping.) is a science fiction fan. He’s a fan of Afrofuturism, having studied works by N.K. Jemisin, Octavia Butler, and Samuel R, Delaney. After he left Hamilton he began work on a concept album called Splendor and Misery.

Splendor & Misery is an Afrofuturist, dystopian concept album that follows the survivor of a slave uprising on an interstellar cargo ship. As he struggles alone and lost, the AI on the ship falls in love with him.

Many of the songs have Diggs’ signature rapid fire lyrics, and I found it helpful to read the discussion at Genius.com to catch all of the lyrics and find some of the more obscure literary references. And there you can learn about the baffling coded track “Interlude 02”:

Foxtrot, Uniform, Whiskey, Romeo
Whiskey, Charlie, Oscar, X-Ray
Echo, India, Uniform
[Beep]
Delta, Lima, Quebec, Foxtrot
Echo, India, Quebec, India
Foxtrot, Uniform, Whiskey, Romeo
Whiskey, Charlie, Oscar, X-Ray
Echo, India, Uniform
[Beep]
Delta, Lima

The key to decoding this is hidden elsewhere on the album.

It’s an amazing experience to listen to, and I haven’t grown tired of it yet. So if you have any slot open on your Hugo ballot for Best Dramatic Presentation: Short, I fully think this is worthy of a nomination.

Mothership Zeta Issue 6

I just made live the final issue in the current run of Mothership Zeta, Issue 6. We’re featuring stories about murderous mechanical bears, spirits of mango trees, a sphinx that has relocated to Montreal, and a disgruntled worker’s diary. Our nonfiction includes movie reviews and, of course, the very talented James Patrick Kelly giving us a story doctor report on one of our stories. You won’t find this kind of column in any other magazine.

I am very proud of this one, and proud of how we ended this run.

MZ is going on hiatus now, where we will figure out how to make it sustainable. We will be back. Promise. In the meantime, please check out our previous issues.

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