Jean Marie Ward

fiction, nonfiction and all points in between

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Getting out the Vote–Awards Version

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 2 years, 7 months ago at 10:15 am.

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Okay, that didn’t work

The subscriber button I posted on my website didn’t work with any of my email addies. So it’s off the sidebar, and I’m back to researching widgets. Ah, the glamour of the Intarwebs–not!

Posted 3 years, 4 months ago at 10:00 am.

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Ah, that new paint smell!

Earlier this year, I got disgusted with the duplication of effort involved in maintaining a blog (which, I admit, I use more as a newsletter than a daily/weekly journal) and a “News” page on my website. Techno-dummy that I am, I wasn’t sure I could rectify the problem on my own. The header needed to be changed and that entailed reconstructing the accidental combination of typeface and format I blundered into three versions of image/photo software ago. But I did it–I did it!–without breaking the site.

Tonight’s blog is something of a shakedown cruise for the refreshed site. The basic organization remains the same. The pages don’t look noticeably different. But instead of the redundant “News” in the header, there’s a shiny new “Articles” tab, which links to my web-based nonfiction. At the moment you’ll find about fifty links to interviews on Buzzy Mag, a global link to Crescent Blues, and links to two YouTube features I did for personal research and entertainment.

My ultimate goal is to resurrect the articles I did for SciFi Weekly back in the day, and post them on the site. Whether I can will depend on the copyright status of the articles. Resolving that will involve buttonholing my former editor at a con, because naturally the program where the electronic contracts were stored crashed and wiped all the data. Lesson to remember, folks, paper is still god.

I’m also experimenting with a subscription button to provide email updates when I blog, but the first version I tried doesn’t appear to work. Obviously, this calls for more experimentation. I’ll let you know when it’s operational. Until then, you can try, but don’t expect the email they keep promising you. Mine has yet to arrive.

On a more writerly note, The Mammoth Book of Tales from the Vatican Vaults has accepted my equally mammoth retelling of the 1814 Burning of Washington, “Cooking up a Storm”. When I say “mammoth” I mean effing HUGE. I turned in over seventeen thousand words on a call for six. And, oh yeah, the editor and publisher are British, so of course, I made the Brits my villains. The saga of its acceptance is a textbook example of how not to get published. The only thing missing was the typo in the first paragraph (which I managed to do in another submission earlier this year–oops!) Needless to say there was much mad flailing and ecstatic happy dancing when the contract appeared in my inbox.

I’ll post more on the anthology as details become available. But for now just let me say I’ll be sharing page space with my good friends John Grant and Dave Hutchinson, as well as folks like Mary Gentle and Storm Constantine. Release is set for spring 2015.

As you might have gathered from the sidebar, I’ve got a lot of stories appearing in pixels and print this year. “District Coincidental” made it to the Akashic Books website in February. The link will take you to all 750 words of noir-ish goodness (badness? Who knows with noir?)

Hellfire Lounge 4: Reflections of Evil hit the stands at the end of May. In it you’ll find the latest adventures of Eddie “WOOD LOUSE!” Woodhouse and Ducky “Duc” Orr. The two hapless sorcerers were last seen at the bottom of a jinni’s bottle stinking of absinthe. “Glass Transit”, my story in HF4 tells the tale of how they escape that predicament only to land in a mirror on the Hindenburg on May 6, 1937. Oh the humanity! Oh, the teeny tiny excerpt!

Speaking of Eddie and Ducky, their first adventure (“Burning down the House” from Hellfire Lounge 3: Jinn Rummy) will be reprinted with added monkey and Tuckerization in Dance Like a Monkey, the charity anthology to support the inimitable C.J. Henderson during his cancer treatments. That anthology is scheduled for release in a month or two.

It should appear on the shelves about the same time as The Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, the first anthology from Zombies Need Brains, Joshua Palmatier’s new publishing venture. Joshua and Patricia Bray were the editors of The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity. They had so much fun with that anthology and After Hours: Tales from the Ur Bar they decided to create their own press to publish more.

My contribution to The Clockwork Universe, “The Wizard of Woodrow Park”, involved stuffing a sentient chicken into the head of a Daniel Craig clone and sending him after an anthropologist missing for seventeen years in a steam-powered world. I also punked out a Chihuahua. Imagine my consternation when I discovered people really are putting titanium crowns on the teeth of dogs attached to Special Forces teams. DUDES! I was trying for ABSURD! Though I suppose the secret agent chicken probably has that covered…

Finally, this entry would not be complete without mentioning Athena’s Daughters, the record-busting Kickstarter literary anthology. The anthology’s tag line is: Stories about strong women by strong women. To which I should add: Introduced and illustrated by strong women, too. Both the print and electronic versions are now available from Silence in the Library Publishing and should be available from online and bricks-and-mortar retailers soon.

Given the company–Mary Robinette Kowal, Sherwood Smith, Gail Z. Martin, Diana Peterfreund, Jean Rabe, Janine Spendlove and so many more–I can’t tell you how honored I was to be included. But it gets better. My story, “A Gap in the Fence”, closes the collection. I still can’t believe it. It’s a gentle story, but one that means a lot to me. I hope readers will feel the same.

That’s it for now. Happy reading!

Posted 3 years, 5 months ago at 8:05 pm.

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Hellebore & Rue is back in pixels

Thanks to Steve Berman and the other great folks at Lethe Press, Hellebore & Rue has been reissued electronically. You can now download the multiple award-winning anthology to your reader for the bargain price of $6.99. What are you waiting for? All it takes is a single click.

Meanwhile, I’ve been adding a number of new items to the web site–mostly links to new Buzzy Magazine video interviews on the And Stuff page. As you can see from the sidebar, my 2013 calendar is filling up, too. I could’ve even included an event in 2014, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. And nothing beats adding a link to a new review, this time for The Modern Fae’s Guide for Surviving Humanity. You can find it on the Books page.

Now back to work…

Posted 4 years, 11 months ago at 10:00 am.

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Six Sentence Sunday: “Fixed”, Part 4

Modern Fae Cover for "On the Shelves"

Here it is, your last Six Sentence Sunday entry for the month of “Fixed”, my story in The Modern Fae’s Guide to Surviving Humanity. And because I am evil, it is a cliffhanger. If you want to read more, well, you just have to buy the book. ;-)

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“Just as I thought,” she said. “Prepare this animal for surgery. I need to operate immediately.”
His head shot upward. Backed against the steel bars, he couldn’t help seeing past her glamour. The lines scoring her forehead and bracketing the corners of her wide, lipsticked mouth floated like a painted veil over a pale, ageless face as perfect as a marble Madonna.

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Posted 5 years, 7 months ago at 8:00 am.

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Six Sentence Sunday: “Billy’s Monster”

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This week’s Six Sentence Sunday offers offers the opening of a story you can read right now, “Billy’s Monster” from Hellfire Lounge 2: Rat Pack Redux. If you like your horror with a big helping of humor and fun, this is the book for you. I haven’t posted my usual information slug on the main page only because resizing the cover is giving me grief. The delay is killing me, too. In addition to great stories by C.J. Henderson, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, KT Pinto, Robert Waters and our fearless editor (and he has to be!) Rick Allen Leider, the book features a fabulous cover by Ben Fogletto and amazing interior art by Ed Coutts, Ben Fogletto, Denny Fincke, Jason Whitley and Paul London. (Face it, I’m all about the pictures. :D )

“Billy’s Monster”

Billy was six years old when he brought home a monster. It had sharp, pointed teeth all around its mouth like a possum. Two rows of three stubby horns each grew from its forehead. Its spotted feathers were as soft as bunny fur, and it churred when Billy rubbed its tummy and fingered the satiny leather of its wings.
Billy’s parents didn’t know what to make of it. But it wasn’t too big, and they never did see a creature better at catching the mice and other varmints around the farm.

Posted 5 years, 10 months ago at 8:00 am.

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Well, Fudge

My main computer has crashed. Guess who’ll be heading to Best Buy tomorrow. I hadn’t planned on buying a new computer this year, but it’s been four years, and my luck with repairs to old computers has been less than stellar.
It’s not like I didn’t expect something like this to happen. Yesterday morning I woke from a dream of babies. To understand how bad this is, you have to know the dream signs my mom taught me:
- Insects, spiders and other bugs: little problems.
- Mice and rats: bigger irritations.
- Cats and dogs: significant problems you need to address quickly.
- Babies: bar the door and hide under the bed, because they’re coming to get you NAO.
At least I didn’t dream of brides = death.
The funny part about this is Mom was a psychiatric nurse and a Jungian. I don’t know if she ever realized what her dream shorthand said about where her head was at. On the other hand, as long as it worked reliably, she probably didn’t care.
Geez, I’m glad I didn’t wipe the SD disks with the Balticon video interviews. Still, I hope they can retrieve my data. There are several days worth of fiction I hadn’t shipped to my various emails. And before you say it: I tried those off-site back-ups. They were, to put it politely, problematic.

Posted 6 years, 4 months ago at 9:48 pm.

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Questions for the NYC experts

I’m going to RWA Nationals in two weeks. Yay!
The workshops are excruciatingly generic. There are only two I’d care to attend. Boo.
But that means more time for New York! Three cheers and a couple huzzahs!
So, ladies and gentlemen of the Empire State, what sights and events would you recommend? Thanks to a wonderful round of parties and commitments (including a reception at the Algonquin!) my evenings are not my own, but any other time of day is wide open. I’m an experienced Metro rider, so subways don’t scare me, and I have no problem traveling to the Bronx, for example, in search of spectacular southern Italian food. (I’m southern Italian. Fettucini Alfredo is death to me, no matter how well-prepared, and danged if all the top Italian restaurants in the DC area don’t dote on northern-style, milk and butter heavy food. *sigh*)
I should probably add that I’ve done the Metropolitan Museum of Art almost as many times as I’ve toured the Smithsonian, so unless there’s a can’t-miss special exhibit, consider MMA as a given. Also, shopping counts as both an event and a sport, so feel free to share any suggestions in that area. Specialty shops, like Pearl River, earn extra points. ;-)
Thanks in advance!

Posted 6 years, 5 months ago at 4:20 pm.

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New & improved–I hope

Just updated the web page to highlight all the wonderful reviews Hellebore & Rue (and “Personal Demons” :-) ) has received of late. With any luck, I’ve also, entirely by accident, figured out a way to crosspost. The proof will be in this post. I hope. If not, I’ll just have to drown my sorrows in X-Men: First Class. Ah, the genetically altered humanity…

Posted 6 years, 5 months ago at 11:59 am.

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With flourishes and fanfares, I give you JeanMarieWard.com

My new home on the web is complete. JeanMarieWard.com is now live. The links work, including the Amazon gifs. (Yes, I’m an affiliate. Don’t hate me.) I still can’t crosspost between blogs, but I can copy and paste for the time being.

I’ll be leaving WardSmith.com up on the web as a tribute to Teri. But all the new stuff–including free reads, banners and videos (when I get good enough to make them)–will be posted at the new place. Enjoy!

Posted 8 years, 8 months ago at 9:16 pm.

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