Jean Marie Ward

fiction, nonfiction and all points in between

I Thought I Was one of the Good Guys : a #HoldOntoTheLight Post

Monday, September 12th, 2016 | Author: jmward14 | jean marie ward | Comments Off

A blog post in support of #HoldOnToTheLight SF/F Authors and Fans for Mental Wellness

Everybody wants to be a hero. Finding our cause might take a while, but it’s always there waiting.

For me the epiphany happened when I was an intern at the old Army Development and Research Command. I thought my office was great. My colleagues were pleasant, respectful and never asked me to make coffee a second time. (Back then men never made their own coffee. In my own small way I helped change that. All it took was a little lemon juice.)

Then the excellent colonel who ran the office went away on an extended training course. His temporary replacement was a part-time lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves who thought his rank and gender entitled him to chase me around the office desks when nobody but the colonel’s secretary was looking. Accustomed to friendship and support from all the other women in the office, I approached her for help.

“Get used to it,” she sneered. “It used to happen to me all the time. Now it’s your turn.”

Her voice seethed with malice and a warped kind of triumph. What was wrong with this woman? Harassment wasn’t something you passed on like a family heirloom. It was something you fought, not just for yourself but for all the people who came after you. I resolved I would never be like her. I would fight for people being sexually victimized by their supervisors, colleagues, or anybody who thought themselves entitled to prey on others by virtue of their position or gender.

I was lucky. I found other allies, and together we encouraged the lieutenant colonel to return home seven weeks early. But I never lost my resolve to protect others from sexual predation. It led some interesting throw-downs with military officers, senior enlisted personnel and political appointees during my Pentagon years. But defending others made me feel useful and good, far beyond any of my bureaucratic achievements.

Caught up in my vision of myself as an anti-harassment crusader, it never occurred to me that I, too, could be a bully.

Don’t waste any sympathy the jerks who went trolling the interns, the summer hires and the secretarial pool. They deserved everything they got and then some. But the same ferocity that made me so good at fending off predators also left unintended damage in its wake. Government offices are surprisingly random. They bring together people of all backgrounds, education and personalities, and every single one of them has a breaking point.

Thirteen years after my encounter my life-changing encounter with the colonel’s secretary I was hired as the senior public affairs officer for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. The job entailed managing corporate communications and public relations for the agency’s headquarters, operating centers and field offices. My center staffs included some exceptional writers and publications people, and I held them up as examples to the rest. I had high standards. I wanted us to be the best public affairs outfit in the Department of Defense. But I liked to think of myself as fair. I never insulted or belittled my public affairs personnel in front of their colleagues and peers. I always praised them to their supervisors and center chiefs.

I also judged everyone’s products—news releases, publications, outreach initiatives—against the best of the best. When asked for my opinion, I gave it. In detail. How would those who didn’t excel at writing, design or programming improve if I didn’t tell them when they got it wrong?

In case you haven’t noticed, I can be rather…forceful. I grew up on Army bases where even little skinny little girls in glasses learned to be wicked fighters. As an adult, when I finally graduated to the government’s version of the grown-up table, I was frequently the only woman in the room. I learned to pitch my voice low and hard, and to stare down men twice my weight. As a result, scary became my default setting.

I didn’t realize how intimidating I’d become until we held a conference for center public affairs officers in Indianapolis. Whenever I staged an agency-wide conference, I always scheduled a “fun event” where participants could mingle without worrying about official directions or agendas. At my request, the Indianapolis center made reservations at a restaurant/magic museum the evening before the conference’s official start.

Everyone arrived on time except one center public affairs officer. We waited for her until the group nearly lost our reservation. She still didn’t appear. We double-checked her hotel and the restaurant—it was a magic museum, after all. But she wasn’t in her room or in collusion with the magicians.

Since her boss, the center director, could be capricious, we figured it must be something work-related and settled back to enjoy the meal and the show. Recovering reporters and marketing types have a reputation as heavy drinkers, but we all went light on the alcohol. The night was pouring rain, and all of us out-of-towners had gotten lost at least once on the way to the restaurant. We didn’t want to risk something worse on our way back to our respective hotels.

By mid-meal I was worried. Where was the missing public affairs officer? Yeah, her boss could’ve sent her on a snipe hunt, why didn’t she call and tell us about it? We had some of the best public affairs officers in the department at that table. Between us we could fix whatever her director might have broken.

This was in the Dark Ages before cell phones, so I couldn’t call more than a couple of times from the restaurant. She didn’t answer no matter how long I let it ring. I returned to my hotel and called again. She still wasn’t answering. Now I was really alarmed. I decided to call every hour until midnight. If I didn’t reach her by twelve my next call would be to the police.

I finally connected around eleven. She sounded groggy and upset, like I’d woken her after she’d cried herself to sleep.

I asked her what was wrong. Why hadn’t she come to the restaurant? Everybody missed her.

“Really? Really?” she practically shrieked. “Well, I couldn’t. I couldn’t find the damn place. I got lost downtown. In the rain. I wound up going the wrong way on a one way street. Then this cop pulled me over. And…and…” Her voice broke on a sob.

“Oh no, [Name Redacted], are you all right? Do you need me to pay your ticket?“

“No, I’m not all right! My husband’s in the hospital for a double bypass, and I’m here in Indianapolis for this stupid conference, and a cop pulled me over and now I’m going to lose my job.”

“Your husband’s in the hospital?” I repeated stupidly. For a double bypass? My mind boggled.

“What are you doing here?” Why didn’t you tell me?

“Why do you think I’m here? I’m attending your stupid conference. My center director told me I had to come. He said it was important. You could get me fired. I can’t get fired. My husband has a bad heart. I need this job.”

Your center director said what?

I wouldn’t…

I never…

But in a way I had. This public affairs officer had come up through the secretarial ranks, which gave her a distinct inferiority complex with respect to those of us who’d always been classified as professionals. She never worked on newspapers or studied publication design, which meant she bore the brunt of my “helpful” opinions. I’d never given her a reason to trust me or believe I had her best interests at heart. To her I was an unfeeling, judgmental harpy who kept shoving her into a mold she couldn’t possibly fit. I never praised her for all the things she did right. Hell, I never bothered to find out what they were.

I spent the next fifteen minutes apologizing and trying to find some way to help. Had she received a ticket? Did she need me to pay it?

No to both. She was already crying when the cop pulled her over. He let her go with a warning and drew a map to get her back to the hotel.

Did she want to go home? I’d clear it with her center director. Hell, I’d figure out a way she could stay with her husband for the duration.

No, she wanted to stay. She wanted to do her job.

I was humbled. I was horrified. I was sickened by the unintended consequences of my actions. I was disgusted with myself in ways I hadn’t been disgusted by anyone since that long-ago secretary refused to help me with that jerk of a reserve lieutenant colonel. How did this happen? I thought I was one of the good guys. Yet I behaved like a bully. I terrorized a colleague into abandoning a desperately ill spouse out of fear for her job. She was so afraid of me and what I might do, she couldn’t bring herself to tell me what was happening until it was almost too late.

The experience changed me in many ways. Most importantly, I learned it wasn’t enough to prevent others from doing harm. We need to police ourselves. We’re all heroes in our own minds, but nobody gets a pass for good intentions. The road to Hell is paved with them, after all. What matters is our actions and how they affect those around us. Or to quote an instruction more venerable than any contained in the U.S. Code: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Speaking from personal experience, it’s never easy. But it’s always worth it.

#

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627/.

Posted 1 year, 11 months ago at 10:50 am.

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My schedule for Dragon Con 2016

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016 | Author: jmward14 | Dragon Con, cons, jean marie ward | Comments Off

Almost forgot the promotional part of running away to join the circus that is Dragon Con—my schedule! Hope to see you there. This year’s con is sure to be more amazing than usual, since the Dragon is turning thirty. My, they grow so fast. I remember when it was just a little wyrm, too small and too young to vote… ;-)
Happy Labor Day Weekend, everyone!

Time: Fri 08:30 pm Location: Embassy CD – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: Social Media as a Tool–not a Trial
Description: Face it, savvy authors use social media to their advantage. But, it’s a two-headed demon…Secrets of taming that beast.
Moderator / MC for panel
(Tentative Panelists: Gail Z. Martin, Jean Marie Ward, Debbie Viguie, Sheila English, Julie Kenner)

Time: Sat 02:30 pm Location: Embassy AB – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: Getting it Wrong and Living to Tell About It
Description: Writers aren’t perfect. (I know, shocking, isn’t it?) Sometimes, they get their research wrong, or publicly insert both feet in their mouths and try to run with them. Sometimes, they even change facts on purpose. Panelists talk about the times they screwed up, and how they fixed it.
Moderator / MC for panel
(Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward, L. M. Davis, A. J. Hartley, Milton J. Davis, Roshani Hitesh Chokshi)

Time: Sat 04:00 pm Location: Piedmont – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: Reading: Broad Universe
Description: The ladies & gentlemen of Broad Universe read snippets from their work.
(Tentative Panelists: Gail Z. Martin, Jean Marie Ward, Trisha J. Woldridge, John G. Hartness, Clay and Susan Griffith)

Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: Embassy AB – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: Kicking You Out – What Throws You Out of a Story?
Description: You’re reading a really good book, caught up in the storyline. Suddenly it happens. A factual mistake, a really bad typo, a favorite character suddenly acting totally wrong…or something else. What is it that can kick you totally out of the world the writer is presenting?
Moderator / MC for panel
(Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward, Trisha J. Woldridge, Chris A Jackson)

Time: Mon 01:00 pm Location: Embassy AB – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: SF Win, Lose or Draw!
Description: Compete with fellow fans in getting your team to decipher your drawings of words, phrases and items from around the SF world. The winners will receive prizes and accolades.
(Tentative Panelists: Jean Marie Ward)

Time: Mon 02:30 pm Location: Chastain DE – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: The End of the Line: A Lost Girl Fan Panel
Description: A moderated fan-panel discussion of the beloved series’ last season, and whether or not it provided closure and a satisfying ending.
(Tentative Panelists: Kevin Bachelder, Jean Marie Ward, Valerie Hampton, E.J. Stevens)

Posted 1 year, 11 months ago at 8:25 pm.

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My Schedule for Balticon 50

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 | Author: jmward14 | anthology, balticon, broad universe, jean marie ward, rapid fire reading | Comments Off

Taking a moment away from baking double batches of molasses cookies and pecan snowballs to share my tentative schedule for Balticon 50. Why did I tantalize you by mentioning baked goods made with butter and sugar and vanilla and all sorts of wonderful things? Because they and a lot of other homemade goodies will be waiting for you at the E-Spec Books Launch Party on Sunday night. I’m also bringing chocolate to the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading Sunday afternoon.
This means you’re coming to Balticon, right? Right?
Can’t wait to see you there!

Saturday 1-1:50 PM, Guilford (Renaissance)
Writing: It’s My Job AND What I Do For Fun—Our panelists discuss how awesome it is having their job be something they love to do: the work itself, the fan, the other authors they meet, the places they get to visit.
Panelists: Carl Cipra (Moderator), Keith DeCandido , Jody Lynn Nye, Jean Marie Ward

Saturday 6-6:50 PM, St. George (Renaissance)
Steampunk and Urban Fantasy Readings with Keith R. A. DeCandido, Christine Norris, Jean Marie Ward, and D. C. Wilson

Sunday 3-4:20 PM, Pride of Baltimore (Renaissance)
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Readings—The woman of Broad Universe are back with flash readings to tweak your appetites!
Panelists: Randee Dawn (Moderator), Roxanne Bland, Carmen Webster Buxton, LJ Cohen, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Kelly A. Harmon, Lisa Hawkridge, Tamara Siler Jones, Paula S. Jordan, Gail Martin, Jody Lynn Nye, Jean Marie Ward

Sunday 7-9 PM, MD Salon B (Renaissance)
E-Spec Books Launch Party—The authors contributing to Gaslight and Grimm, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil and Defending the Future invite you to help them celebrate!
Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, R. S. Belcher, Danny Birt, Keith DeCandido, John L. French, Eric Hardenbrook, Kelly Harmon, Chris Hiles, Emily Leverett, Diana Bastine, Gail Z. Martin, Mike McPhail, Bernie Mojzes, Christine Norris, Jody Lynn Nye, Ken Schrader, Bud Sparhawk, David Lee Summers, Jean Marie Ward, Robert Waters, Jeff Young

Monday 12-12:50 PM, Parlor 8029 (Renaissance)
What’s Hot Short Fiction?
Panelists: Sarah Pinsker (Moderator), Alex Shvartsman, Michael Underwood, Scott Edelman, Jean Marie Ward

Posted 2 years, 2 months ago at 11:03 am.

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My Capclave 2015 Schedule

Thursday, October 8th, 2015 | Author: jmward14 | Blog | Comments Off

This weekend I get to see some of my favorite people at my hometown con, Capclave in Gaithersburg, Maryland. From 4 PM Friday, October 9, until 3 PM Sunday, October 11, we’ll be hanging at the Hilton and doing what writers to best: telling tall tales and partying until we drop. I’ll also have the last three copies of Tales from the Vatican Vaults available for purchase and autographing in the Western Hemisphere–at least until Hachette gets around to releasing it on this side of the Pond. (It’s currently only available for purchase in the UK and Australia.)

So come and join the fun. And if you’re looking for me, this is where I can guarantee I’ll be:

Friday 6:00 PM: Writing in Multiple Genres (Ends at: 6:55 PM) Bethesda
Panelists: Charles E. Gannon, Sunny Moraine, David Walton (M), Jean Marie Ward
In the 1940s and 50s, sf writers wrote in a wide range of genres, especially mysteries. Today’s writers are more likely to specialize in either SF or Fantasy (exceptions like L.E. Modesitt still exist.) What are the advantages and disadvantages to writing in multiple genres? Are the knowledge and skills gained from writing fantasy transferrable to SF, to mysteries, to romance? Should a writer use pseudonyms when writing in a different genre? Does it hurt one’s career, or does it refresh an author to write something different?

Saturday 2:00 PM: Workshop – Allen Wold Writing Workshop (Ends at: 3:55 PM) Seneca
Coordinators: Jean Marie Ward, Allen Wold, Darcy Wold
Allen Wold will lead a panel of authors in a hands on workshop. Learn many skills as you work on a short story. All you need is a pen and paper.

Saturday 6:30 PM: Reading – Jean Marie Ward (Ends at: 6:55 PM) Frederick
Author: Jean Marie Ward

Saturday 8 PM: Mass Autograph Session (Ends at: 8:55 PM) Salon A/B/C

Sunday 1:00 PM: Workshop – Allen Wold Follow-up (Ends at: 1:55 PM) Suite 1209
Coordinators: Jean Marie Ward, Allen Wold, Darcy Wold

Posted 2 years, 10 months ago at 1:16 pm.

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The Baltimore Book Festival and me

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015 | Author: jmward14 | jean marie ward | Comments Off

For the second year in a row, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has invited me to participate in the Baltimore Book Festival, September 24-26. *user rubs hands in anticipation and utters a muted “Mwahahaha!” then looks around guiltily and hopes no one saw*
This year, you can find me in the SFWA tent for two full hours on Friday afternoon (September 24). My schedule is:

4 PM
Find your new favorite author
Four writers, one hour. Prepare to be surprised and intrigued. Readers: Anatoly Belilovsky, Robin Wyatt Dunn, KM Szpara, Jean Marie Ward

5 PM
When sci-fi and fantasy get sexy
It’s not all ray guns and unicorns… join our writers to talk about the hotter side of science fiction and fantasy. Panelists: Kelly Harmon, Carmen Maria Machado, Emmie Mears, KM Szpara, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator)

Not only will these panels give you a chance to sample the wit and works of some great authors, you’ll get to hear me read a bit from “Cooking up a Storm” from Tales from the Vatican Vaults, which is only available in the UK–or in the few places I happen to be speaking. It’s gonna be fun. Looking forward to meeting you there!

Posted 2 years, 11 months ago at 11:36 am.

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My Dragon Con Schedule, 2015 Version

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015 | Author: jmward14 | Dragon Con, cons, jean marie ward | Comments Off

It’s that time again–Dragon Con time. Starting this afternoon, Greg and Pumba will be on their own for the better part of a week, and I’ll be working panels and catching up with friends at the world’s number one summer camp for wayward adults. If you’re going to be there, too, I hope you’ll join me at one of my panels:

Title: And, That’s the Truth!
Time: Fri 02:30 pm Location: Embassy D-F – Hyatt
Panelists: Mike Bara, Michelle Belanger, Dr. Bob Blackwood, Mike Faber, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator)
Description: How to build a career, or supplement your fiction career, writing non-fiction.

Title: Broad Universe Reading
Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt
Panelists: Trisha Wooldridge, Gail Martin, Kathryn Hinds, Jean Marie Ward and more
Description: The ladies of Broad Universe read snippets from their work.

Title: Navigating the Media/Online Frenzy
Time: Sat 11:30 am Location: Embassy D-F – Hyatt
Panelists: Gail Z. Martin, Tom Merritt, Michael Z. Williamson, Mike Faber, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator)
Description: What else is out there besides Facebook? How to generate “buzz” about a book to promote sales.

Title: The Source: Folklore & Mythology in UF
Time: Sun 01:00 pm Location: Chastain ED – Westin
Panelists: Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, Jean Marie Ward, Jonathan Maberry, Valerie Hampton, Samantha Sommersby
Description: Urban fantasy is rooted in age-old myth, legend, and folklore. Authors discuss influences.

Title: Showcase: Todd McCaffrey
Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt (Length: 1)
Description: Todd McCaffrey discusses his life and work with Jean Marie Ward (Moderator) and answers questions from the audience.

Title: Win, Lose, or Draw, SF Style
Time: Mon 01:00 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt (Length: 1)
MC: Jean Marie Ward
Description: The game of drawing & guessing returns to the Lit track. Prizes & glory!

But even though I’ll be away from my keyboard for the next week, you can still participate the great Zombies Need Brains Kickstarter for two (count ‘em) new anthologies, Alien Artifacts and Were- featuring authors like Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Phyllis Ames, Jacey Bedford, Patricia Bray, David B. Coe, David Farland/Dave Wolverton, C.S. Friedman, Walter H. Hunt, Faith Hunter, Katharine Kerr, Gini Koch, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Gail and Larry N. Martin, Seanan McGuire, Juliet E. McKenna and me. Click here for the details on two of the best anthologies you’ll read in 2016. The Kickstarter will be ending just about the time I return, so don’t miss out!

Posted 2 years, 11 months ago at 10:14 am.

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My Schedule for Balticon 49

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 | Author: jmward14 | balticon, cons, conventions, jean marie ward | Comments Off

Balticon has posted its 2015 program—and not a minute too soon. The con starts in three days! I can’t wait. There will be friends to see, toasts to raise, costumes to praise, and panels to enjoy. This year, I have three formal panels, and three readings, at least one of them involving more than my usual offering of chocolate.
Yes, I share chocolate at all my readings—and bring swag to all my panels. I trust that means I’ll see you there. ;-)

Friday

6 PM, Chesapeake
Readings: Keith R.A. DeCandido, Sunny Morraine and Jean Marie Ward

Saturday

8 PM, Salon B
The Scholar as Author: Not every great author is an academic, or vice versa, but it doesn’t hurt. Our panelists discuss what scholarly experience brings to an author’s tool kit, and what writing techniques can’t be picked up in the academic setting and have to be learned the hard way. Karen Burnham (Moderator), Tom Doyle, Ada Palmer, John Skylar, Jean Marie Ward

9 PM, Frankie & Vinnie’s
Broad Universe Fabulous 15 Birthday Party: The Balticon Broads celebrate 15 years of Broad Universe with readings, goodies, giveaways and food! Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Day Al-Mohammed, Sarah Avery, Roxanne Bland, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Kelly A. Harmon, Gail Z. Martin, Roberta Rogow, D.H. Timko, Jean Marie Ward and T.J. Wooldridge

10 PM, Salon B
Diversity in Popular Culture—Fad or the New Normal: Diversity and representation has been a hot topic
in SF/F literature, gaming, and other parts of fandom and popular culture over the past few years. Is this a phase or a watershed moment in the broader pop culture landscape? What role can individual readers, writers, and fans play in this discussion? Jean Marie Ward (Moderator), Day Al‐Mohamed, Stephanie Burke, William Galaini, Sunny Moraine

Sunday

12-2 PM, Concierge Lounge
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading: Bite-sized readings from your favorite Broad Universe authors. Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Day Al-Mohammed, Sarah Avery, Roxanne Bland, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Kelly A. Harmon, Gail Z. Martin, Roberta Rogow, D.H. Timko, Jean Marie Ward and T.J. Wooldridge

Monday

11 AM, Salon B
Ancient Greece in SF and Fantasy: Greek history—rewritten or reimagined—is one of the more common sources for stories and novels in fantasy and science fiction. Our panelists discuss why it works so well and what still remains to be imagined. Tom Doyle (Moderator), Jack Campbell/John Hemry, Jo Walton, Jean Marie Ward

Posted 3 years, 2 months ago at 10:00 am.

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My RavenCon Schedule, Version 2015

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 | Author: jmward14 | cons, gail z. martin, jean marie ward, ravencon | Comments Off

RavenCon 10th Anniversary

If it’s April, it must be RavenCon, Richmond’s home-grown con. Yours truly will be on the program again this year—as will lots of my favorite people. What you see here is only the smallest part of the whole.

Friday, April 24

5 PM (Panel) Urban Fantasy in the Real World
Room G
Panelists discuss using real-world places and historical figures in your writing. What can you do and what will get you in trouble? How do you keep a place real enough to be recognizable to people who have visited or lived there, but still make it suit your fiction needs?
R.S. Belcher, J. T. Glover, Kurrie Hoyt, Gail Martin, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator)

7 PM Opening Ceremonies
Rooms E & F

11 PM (Event) CJ Henderson Memorial
Bon Air
Friends and fans of CJ Henderson gather together to remember this iconic author and frequent guest of RavenCon.
Danielle Ackley-McPhail (Moderator), Heidi Hooper, Mike McPhail, Michael Ventrella, Jean Marie Ward

Saturday, April 25

4 PM (Presentation/Workshop) Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
Chesterfield
Bite-sized readings from seven of your favorite authors.
Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Meriah Crawford, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Gail Martin, KT Pinto, Jennifer Povey, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator)

7 PM (Panel) Weird Westerns
York
What is it about the west that attracts speculative fiction writers? Firefly, The Dark Tower, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and The Wild Wild West; film, television, anime, and commercial fiction use the west as a setting and place for magic to happen. Why do we love this sub-genre? Where is it going next?
Danielle Ackley-McPhail, R.S. Belcher, Doc Coleman, Nicole Givens Kurtz (Moderator), Jean Marie Ward

10 PM (Panel) The Villain’s Journey
Anna
We all know about the Hero’s Journey. But is there a corresponding Villain’s Journey? Panelists will discuss the arc villains (or antagonists) can and should take through novels and other media.
Emily Lavin Leverett, Kate Paulk, D. Alexander Ward, Jean Marie Ward (Moderator)

Hope to see you at the con and at the book launch parties being hosted by my good friends Gail Z. Martin (Saturday, 11 PM—I love her so much I may actually crawl out of my coffin before noon to attend) and the folks at Double Dragon Publishing (Friday, 6 PM—by far a saner hour). ‘Til Friday!

Posted 3 years, 3 months ago at 9:58 am.

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Getting out the Vote–Awards Version

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 | Author: jmward14 | cons, conventions, jean marie ward, jeanmarieward.com | Comments Off

Buzzy Mag

Whatever side you take on the current Hugo Awards kerfuffle, you gotta admit it highlights the importance of voting for what you want. Roughly two thousand ballots were submitted for this year’s Hugos, which sounds like a lot until you realize that the pool of eligible voters encompasses the members of three different Worldcons, and the 2014 Worldcon alone numbered over ten thousand members.

Where were all the other voters? If as one of my old political science professors claimed, people are more likely to vote when they’re unhappy, it seems like most of the voters must have been okay with recent trends, such as increasing diversity among writers and subject matter. It will be interesting to see the numbers next year. To say nothing of the numbers for the other science fiction, fantasy and horror awards, like the 2015 World Fantasy Awards.

Mwahahaha! You knew I was hiding a big sharp, pointy thing in here somewhere.

Seriously, if you’re eligible to vote in this year’s World Fantasy Awards, please, vote. Vote for the works that make your heart sing, even if they aren’t something your high school literature teacher would dismiss as unworthy.

No. Especially if it’s something he or she would dismiss as “unworthy”. Great writing isn’t always about making you feel awful. Death, despair and dystopias are part of the human condition and need to be addressed in ways that make us think. But great writing also about opening yourself to wonder, possibility, hope and joy. Frankly, a lot more people read Agatha Christie and Bram Stoker than will ever read Henry James. And don’t get me started on how many people have dissed Jane Austen through the years, both for her subject matter and for her gender.

In addition, may I suggest looking at candidates other than the usual suspects in all the awards categories. For example, there are a lot of great books published by small presses. Naturally, I plan to nominate all the 2014 anthologies on my home page. It’s a writer’s version of showing the flag. But I’ll also be nominating a middle grade book for Best Novel–and I almost never read middle grade novels, much less recommend them. That book I wanted to live.

Even more important is coloring outside the lines when it comes to the Special Awards, Nonprofessional and Professional. There are lot of folks in fandom who are critical to the tribal gatherings we call cons. But do you ever stop to think about how important the con chair or department chairs are to your experience as an author or a fan?

For example, writers and fans in the DC/Maryland/Virginia metro area are facing a giant hole in the center of our universe due to the passing of Peggy Rae Sapienza, co-chair of World Fantasy Con 2014. Peggy Rae was a major part of every Washington area convention for close to forty years. She had a knack for finding the right people to do the big jobs and persuading them to do them–including me. I spent much of last year working with her, Sam Lubell and Bill Campbell on the World Fantasy Con 40th anniversary anthology, Unconventional Fantasy, at her behest. The finished anthology comprised six volumes (including an exhibit catalog for the con’s Virgil Finlay exhibit), 3200 pages, over three hundred art works and a hundred historic photos. And that was only part of what she did for that one con.

But there are folks like that associated with every convention. I think of the good folks who run the many tracks at the cons I attend. I may be buying World Fantasy Con supporting memberships for years just to nominate all of them.

Then there are the professionals we take for granted. Maybe it’s the reviewer or interviewer for your favorite online magazine. How about the publishers of that same magazine?

I can tell you one vote I’ll be making this year. I’m nominating Joy Poger and June Williams of Buzzy Mag. Buzzy’s parent company started life creating wonderfully snarky t-shirts and audio versions of novels by Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs and more. But that wasn’t enough. About four years ago they decided they wanted to create an online magazine that covered every aspect of science fiction, fantasy and horror. They post interviews of Hollywood types and writers (in the interests of honesty, some of them by me), as well as reviews of anything that takes their fancy in films, TV, gaming and fiction. But best of all, they are a major market for new SF/fantasy/horror fiction. And the stories… Well, you can read them for yourself. Just follow the link.

Vote your joy. I’m voting mine. ;-)

Posted 3 years, 4 months ago at 10:15 am.

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My first annual awards suggestion post

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 | Author: jmward14 | anthology, jean marie ward, short stories, short story | Comments Off

Yeah, I’m late to the awards nomination party. Surprise! But if you’ve still got space on your Hugo or Nebula ballots–or are looking forward to the 2015 World Fantasy Awards–have I got some suggestions for you.

First the writing. This year I had three eligible stories published. How you classify them depends on the award, so I’ll give you all the relevant details. In ascending order of size, they are:

“The Wizard of Woodrow Park” published in The Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens (Zombies Need Brains, LLC)
Hunting for a rogue anthropologist, Aviann Special Agent Hreaak Meekram finds himself confronting a wizard.
(7,000 words)

“The Gap in the Fence” published in Athena’s Daughters (Silence in the Library Publishing)
Ten-year-old Ana will do anything to save her best friend’s dog–even challenge the fairies who live beyond “The Gap in the Fence”.
(9,600 words)

“Glass Transit” in Hellfire Lounge 4: Reflections of Evil (Bold Venture Press)
Bumbling sorcerers Eddie Woodhouse and Ducky “Duke” Orr get more than they bargain for when they leap from a magical bottle into the skies over Lakehurst, New Jersey, on May 6, 1937.
(13,500 words)

And don’t forget all those anthologies are eligible for Best Anthology or Best Related Work, depending on the award. But honestly, one 2014 anthology knocks them and every other potential contender out of the park: Unconventional Fantasy, a celebration of 40 years of World Fantasy Cons published by the Baltimore Washington Area Worldcon Association.

Go ahead, accuse me of favoritism. I’m one of the editors, along with Peggy Rae Sapienza, Sam Lubell and Bill Campbell. But look at the stats.

The six (yep, six!) volumes of Unconventional Fantasy comprise over 250 short stories, essays and poems by best-selling, award-winning authors and amazing new talent. We’re talking writers like Neil Gaiman, Hideyuki Kikuchi, Guy Gavriel Kay, Patricia McKillip and Joyce Carol Oates. Then there’s the art. In addition to the catalogue of the Virgil Finlay exhibit hosted by World Fantasy Con 2014 and the fifty-image gallery of WFC 2014 Artist Guest of Honor Les Edwards, the collection features over two hundred images of artists from around the world–artists like Alicia Austin, Kathleen Jennings, Dr. Moro and Mahendra Singh. To cap it off, there’s a 100-image pictorial gallery of World Fantasy Cons past. Taken together it’s over 3,200 pages of text.

The anthology was formatted in PDF, MOBI and EPUB on a souvenir thumb drive given away (yep, as free!) to all members of WFC2014. As publications go, it was a very limited edition, but thanks to the generosity of our contributors, we just might be able to offer an electronic version to 2015 Worldcon and World Fantasy Con members if the collection makes it to the final awards ballots.

And if that’s not a reason to vote it on every major ballot, I don’t know what is.

Happy voting!

Posted 3 years, 6 months ago at 10:02 am.

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