Sunday, July 29, 2018

Guest interview: Donald J. Bingle | Wet Work Blog Tour


I'm honored to welcome Don Bingle on his blog tour, promoting his new thriller Wet Work. Join us for an interview and $25 raffle!



Don is the author of six books (The Love-Haight Case Files (with Jean Rabe); Wet Work; Net Impact; Greensword; Frame Shop; and Forced Conversion) and about fifty shorter stories in the science fiction, thriller, horror, fantasy, mystery, steampunk, romance, comedy, and memoir genres. 


MSM: Tell us about the inspiration for Dick Thornby and his adventures.

DJB: I wanted to have a spy who wasn't a James Bond type or a Jason Bourne type, but instead a middle-aged guy with a wife and a kid and a mortgage, plus a boss who gives him grief about using too many explosives, but still a hero in that he always does what needs to be done to protect the world, regardless of the personal cost to him. I think this makes Dick relatable, even if he isn't always likeable.

MSM: You write in a lot of genres, and a lot of your stories are thrillers--what attracts you to that type of story?

DJB: I used to write adventures and scenarios for roleplaying games and gamemaster such adventures. In a way, all such adventures are quests with danger and obstacles attached to completion, plus a lot of interpersonal stuff going on at the same time. You have to control clues, red herrings, pace, comic relief, provide fun new things to learn/do, and make sure everyone is entertained throughout the journey. Thrillers are basically the same thing, so my tendency is to write thrillers.

MSM: How do you research for a spy thriller novel?

DJB: There's two different kinds of research involved in my spy thrillers. First, there is the base plot. For that I want to make use of several interesting tidbits of information I've run across in my reading that the average reader wouldn't necessarily already know about, but would find compelling, then find some way to string those bits of compelling information into something that would involve the Subsidiary, my spy agency. Reading offbeat articles and magazines or checking out certain websites can help with that. Of course, some of the stuff is wild and incredible, but I can often get something credible out of even weird conspiracy theories and such. The second kind of research is stuff like vehicles and weapons, geography, the look and feel of specific locations, even what types of non-alcoholic beer might be available at a certain place. You just have to knuckle down and look that stuff up--you don't want getting basic things wrong take the reader out of the story. Of course, my browser history gets pretty bizarre. I spent the better part of a day once trying to figure out the largest yield Russian nuclear weapon I could fit in an old Volkswagen Microbus. Of course, I also spent hours trying to figure out if the Microbus came standard with an FM radio.


MSM: Will we see more stories about Thornby?

DJB: The smart way to answer this question is to say "Of course!" But the true answer is only if Wet Work sells well enough to make it worthwhile. I've already got the base plot and a cover made up for the next adventure (the title is Flash Drive), but I won't put in the time to write up the book if it does not make financial sense. I've got other things I could write instead.

MSM: GenCon is right around the corner (or has just happened, depending on our schedule). What are you most looking forward to \ was your favorite experience there this year?

DJB: This will be my 39th GenCon. I was the world's top-ranked player of classic RPGA tournaments in the last fifteen years of the last century, so GenCon is an annual pilgrimage of sorts. (An older vendor a few years back told a cashier who asked me how to spell my name. "Don't you know who that is? That's Don Bingle. He used to be famous at GenCon." which is a cringeworthy compliment, I guess.) Classic style games have given way to campaign style, but there's several sessions of TimeWatch, a time travel game in the old classic style of things like Timemaster, Chill, and Star Ace, which I'll be checking out.

MSM: We often hear author advice about "write what you know". What are elements of your stories that are based on your own life or interests, like pets, places, people, or hobbies?

DJB: It's always handy to be able to shorten your research burden by using locations or aspects of real life, but I don't really like the "write what you know" advice. I write genre fiction. Fantasy, scifi, time travel, steampunk, supernatural horror--that's not real life stuff. Write what you enjoy writing or finding out more about.

MSM: What’s the most memorable thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

DJB: I went to the mailbox one day and found a box had been posted to me. Inside was a jewelry box with a cloisonnΓ© pin from the Time Travel Research Association with an unsigned note that simply said "Thank you for your contributions to time travel." I really need to get around to doing that some day. But I guess it worked. I put the pin on one of my suits and just went about my business at work and parties and such. Every once in awhile, someone would lean in close and ask, what's that lapel pin for. And I would simply say "I got it for my contributions to time travel research." with no additional elaboration. I expect it confused and befuddled my colleagues and clients.

The biggest compliment I ever got was when one guy who I knew to be a Viet Nam veteran asked me what unit I served in after reading a military action sequence. Never served, but I knew that I'd gotten the scene right for him to have asked.

MSM: I wrote a short story about a rainmaker who was struck by lightning every time he "called the rain." I would have asked your insight if I had known about your own experience with lightning! Can you tell us about it?

DJB: Just to be clear, it did not rain the day I got struck by lightning, nor was there any other thunder or lightning in the area. I was eleven. It was a hot, muggy day, and my mom had to go to a doctor's appointment. Since we didn't have air conditioning back then, she said if I got hot I could was my dad's car. So, I went out, soaked myself with water from the hose and was washing the hood of the car with a sponge when lightning apparently hit the car, passing the charge through me to the ground. All I remember was hearing a loud noise and arriving at the front door running very fast just as my thirteen year old sister opened it. I was very hyper and we decided I had gotten scared by the thunder and should lie down and calm myself. I couldn't calm down, so she called the neighbor lady, who called my mom at the doctor's office, and the decision was made to drive me to his office. 

I remember walking in, not stopping at reception, and going back to an exam room where my mom was waiting with the doctor. He checked my heart rate, then reached over and picked up a hypodermic needle and plunged it straight into my chest without waiting to get my shirt out of the way. He turned to my mom, who was horrified by the size of the needle, and simply said. "If I hadn't done that, he'd be dead within a half hour. He has the fastest heart rate I've ever seen." There was a burn on my forearm where the power jumped from the hood to me, but the fact I was soaked with water (allowing most of the charge to pass through the water, rather than my nerves and bones, probably saved my life.

MSM: What do you like to read, and what are you reading now?

DJB: Just finished a not-so-compellingly written history of the Hoover Dam. I read a lot of stuff by Robert J. Sawyer, Jean Rabe, and Niven, Barnes, and Pournelle (in any combination). My favorite time travel book is Replay by Ken Grimwood.

MSM: What else are you working on now?

DJB: About to start up a ghost-writing project that I can't talk about. Also, getting ready to do a short story which deals with quantum entanglement in an odd setting.

MSM: Where will you be – in person and online – this summer?

DJB: You can always find me at my website at www.donaldjbingle.com, or @donaldjbingle on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks, Don!


As part of Don's blog tour, we have a raffle (through 8/10) for a $25 gift certificate:


Rafflecopter giveaway



I'll be posting a review of Wet Work here soon. 
You can pick up your own copy here:
Here's the rest of Don's blog tour schedule!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Announcing Chasing the Light: A Benefit Anthology of Speculative Fiction

 Chasing the Light
Once upon a time, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Faith Hunter and award-winning authors David B. Coe and John G. Hartness agreed to mentor a group of rising authors—the Roaring Writers. Chasing the Light—with tales across the spectrum of science fiction and fantasy—is their celebration of success. 


It is also a tribute honoring Melanie Otto (aka Melanie Griffin), one of the founding authors, who died unexpectedly in 2016. Melanie critiqued many of these stories at the Roaring Writers' annual writing retreats, and the authors will never forget Melanie's sparkling eyes and delighted laugh as she found passages she loved in each. With this collection, including stories by Melanie, the Roaring Writers share her light with readers everywhere.

Many thanks to our mentors, David B. CoeFaith Hunter, and John Hartness for all they have done to help us become our best. Thanks to fellow RW Emily Leverett for editing this anthology--she's a terrific editor and expert cat herder! Thanks also to Melissa McArthur Gilbert for the extra polish of proofreading, and to Natania Barron for the beautiful cover.

Thanks to the generosity of their mentors and contributors, all profits from the sales of this anthology will be donated to help Melanie's lifelong partner defray medical and legal costs. 
Remembering Melanie
The first thing I remember about Melanie, always, is her beautiful smile. Her delighted laugh as we shared our love of stories, books, authors, movies, photography, nature, friends, and life. We met at ConCarolinas 2013 in Charlotte, NC. Afterward, she emailed this wonderful summation of the weekend: “Truly, a person never knows what fine folk or fortunate things one might discover coming one's way.” Through email, phone calls, and our eagerly anticipated annual retreats, we shared stories, editing advice, writing goals, travel adventures and dreams, and so much more. I knew from the beginning that Melanie had some serious health issues, and to her chagrin, they often impeded her participation in our retreats and activities. Even so, I could never have been prepared for the shock of losing her so suddenly.
But Melanie hasn’t left the Roaring Writers. If anything, she continues to bring us ever closer together. In honoring her, in sharing our grief together, in committing to this benefit anthology project, we continue to write and grow and learn and succeed together. And I still see Melanie’s beautiful smile, just beyond the light.
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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.
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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Illogicon Schedule


Illogicon is a great way to start the New year -- and the con season!
Come join the fun in Cary, NC this weekend!
Here's where you'll find me:

Friday, 3pm
Geeky Gateway Drugs – Smith
Have a friend who “doesn’t like sci-fi”? We can help ease them in!
Panelists: Joey Starnes (M), Margaret McGraw, Gray Rinehart, Carol Cowles, John Lapoint

Friday, 7pm

Open Your Own Book: Personal Interests and Storytelling – Smith
They say to “write what you know” or “write what you like,” but it can be hard to weave in your personal interests in your storytelling. Let’s get into it!
Panelists: Margaret McGraw (M), Holly Walrath, Stuart Jaffe, Darin Kennedy, Emily Leverett

Saturday, 12pm
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading – Crescent
Don’t miss the women of the Broad Universe Association in this whirlwind sampler of work!
Hosted by Broad Universe

Saturday, 2pm
MFAs, Workshops, and Writers’ Groups: Which One is For You? – Reynolds
Do you need them and are they right for you?
Panelists: Julie Steinbacher (M), Holly Walrath, John G. Hartness, Ian Muneshwar, Margaret McGraw

Saturday, 6pm

Geeky Rants – Smith
It’s a like a real-life TWEETSTORM full of only the ANGRIEST NERDS. What petty hill would you like to die on today?
Panelists: Chris Shrewsbury (M), Janet S. Planets, Jason Gilbert, Michael G. Williams, Carol Cowles, Darin Kennedy, Margaret S. McGraw

Sunday, 10am
How What We Read for Fun Sculpts Us – Reynolds
“But it’s just a story!” Well, yes and no. How what we consume can shape our ideas–for better or worse
Panelists: Jim McDonald (M), Tera Fulbright , Margaret McGraw, LeAnn Rettell, Stacey Lantagne

Sunday 12pm
Steampunk’d! – Reynolds
Panelists “steampunk” and movies based on audience suggestions!
Panelists: Margaret McGraw (M), Tera Fulbright, Jason Gilbert, Natania Barron, Andrew Greeson

 

Sunday, 1pm

Crowdfunding: Is It Right for Your Project? – Smith
Kickstarter and other crowd funding sites can be huge, but is it right for your project?
Panelists: Alex Matsuo (M), John Hartness, Margaret McGraw, Stacey Lantagne, Suzanne Adair

Sunday, 2pm

Greatness Past 50 – Reynolds
Characters “of a certain age” still have a lot of offer–a discussion of ageism, aging characters, and older characters
Panelists: Samantha Bryant (M), Chris Shrewsbury, Margaret McGraw, Dave Ellis, Gail Martin

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#

Friday, November 17, 2017

AtomaCon Schedule

For the past few years, several friends have told me how much they enjoy AtomaCon in Charleston, SC. I'm delighted to be a guest this year! Here's where you'll find me:

Friday, Nov 17

7:00pm Female representation in books and film. How far have we come?
Nicole Kurtz, Samantha Bryant, Margaret McGraw, Kamika Mattis, Misty Massey, SL Figuhr
Room 3 (Lit Track)

Saturday, Nov 18

10:00am Gods and Humans
A discussion of the popularity of Gods interacting with humans as Portraited (sic) in American Gods, Legion, Percy Jackson, Clash of the Titans, etc.
James McDonald, Margaret McGraw, William Fripp
Room 2 (Fandom/Costuming Track)

7:00pm Diversity and Inclusion in Literature
Samantha Bryant, Margaret McGraw, Kamika Mattis, Nicole Kurtz
Room 3 (Lit Track)

8:00pm Writing for an anthology, series or shared universe
The ins and outs of writing in someone else’s universe
Nicole Kurtz, Margaret McGraw, Misty Massey, Melissa McArthur, Alexandra Christian, John G. Hartness
Room 3 (Lit Track)

9:00pm Falstaff Books Mixer
Stop by the bar, buy a drink and have one on one conversation with the authors, maybe buy a book or two!
Embassy Suites Bar

Sunday, Nov 19

12:00pm Geek Rants
A good-natured discussion about what bugs you about your favorite fandom. From continuity to cancellations.
Jason Gilbert, Chris Shrewsbury, Chuck Carte, Margaret McGraw
Room 2 (Fandom/Costuming Track)

1:00pm The Wild West in a Sci-fi Universe
From Wild, Wild,West, Firefly, West World, and Cowboys Vs Aliens; the Wild West Culture is becoming a staple in the Sci-fi genre.
Margaret McGraw, Misty Massey
Room 3 (Lit Track)

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#




Sunday, October 22, 2017

This stone sparkles

This stone soaks up starlight

Sparkles with silver frost

And feels almost beautiful

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

“The True Feminine”

I am in love with this poem. (I did not write it - link below)


 “The True Feminine”

I am not sugar and spice and everything nice.

I am art.

I am a story.

I am a church bell, gonging out wrongs and rights
and normal nights.

I was baby. I am child. I will be mother.

I don’t mind being considered beautiful,
I do not allow that to be my definition.

I am a rich pie strong with knowledge.

I will not be eaten.

πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ


http://www.scarymommy.com/third-grader-poem-feminism-twitter/?utm_source=FBIP

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

DragonCon Schedule (actual)

I'm still unpacking -- literally and figuratively -- from DragonCon. I'll post some notes soon, but here's what my panels looked like -- including a few I attended for fun, like the "Extreme Steampunk Makeover" and the "Wynonna Earp" cast panel.


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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

DragonCon Schedule (planned)


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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#


Monday, August 21, 2017

New post on TheMillionWords.Net: Stream-of-Consiousness

Over the years I have found stream-of-consciousness writing to be an excellent tool in my writer's toolbox.

So I talked about it on my latest blog post on TheMillionWords.net




TheMillionWords.net is a shared blog about our journey to become great writers. Join us as we talk about writing advice and our own experiences. 

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#


Monday, June 26, 2017

New post on TheMillionWords.Net: Exploding the small moments

There are lots of ways to think about descriptive writing. I like the idea of "exploding the small moments"...

So I talked about it on my latest blog post on TheMillionWords.net



TheMillionWords.net is a shared blog about our journey to become great writers. Join us as we talk about writing advice and our own experiences. 

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Happy Book Birthday to Lawless Lands!


(Paperback available next week)


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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

#

SaveSave

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Prompt: City super powers

Boston speaks to me in dreams. Washington is wary, worn out by lies and broken promises. New York has never said a word, but she can be such a bitch--guiding hopes for one and crushing dreams for another. Paris really is the city of love.

Every city has a super power, a spirit imbued by the human lives that built them, live in them, give their last breaths in them.

But they're becoming quiet. Ordinary. They don't speak to me, and I can't feel them any more.

Someone is stealing their souls.

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.


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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Con Report: ConCarolinas 2017 Art of the Short Story

I moderated this panel on Saturday afternoon, with panelists: 
  • Bobby Nash
  • Robert Bevan
  • JD Blackrose (Joelle Riezes)
  • Melissa Gilbert
  • Tonia Brown 
These are mostly my prep notes.

Hemingway said it was no accident that the Gettysburg Address was so short.

Mario Puzo said, "If I'd had longer, this would have been shorter."

Panel Introductions

I asked the audience: are you all writers or readers?
If all readers, we'll talk more about examples of good writing than how to

What do you see as the critical differences between writing short stories vs longer works?

How do you think about short story structure?
  • Plot has a beginning, middle, end
  • Reversals (backstory), recognitions
  • Tension/pacing
  • Setting
  • Characterization
  • Motivation
Strong opening is even more important than for a novel!
Set the tone
Grab the reader and pull them in
Build curiosity

Roberto BolaΓ±o, Chilean author, said "It is best to write short stories three or five at a time. If one has the energy, write them nine or fifteen at a time."
I asked the panelists: Do you write stand alone or related stories? Do you write several at once, or one here and there?

Let's talk about the short story market 
Can you make any money - significant income - with short stories?

Lots of themed anthologies recently:

Magazines like Asimov's, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and so many more

4-5 or 10 cents a word - not going to get rich, but you *can* get published and get recognition

Look for anthology calls
Examples of great short stories in the genre

Master: Edgar Alan Poe
Gardner Dozois' "The Year's Best science fiction" collections
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, James Tiptree Jr (Alice Sheldon)
Isaac Asimov
Nine Billion Names of GodArthur C Clarke 

Google "speculative fiction short stories" for links to lists

Resources:


Short Story Writing, Charles Raymond Barrett, 1898






Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Appearance: ConCarolinas, Fri June 2nd - Sun June 4th

It's one of my favorite weekends of the year! So many friends to see again or meet for the first time. Come join the fun at ConCarolinas! Here's where you'll find me:


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Prompt: If you open the door, you are not the only one who goes through

This is all Robin's fault. "Let's go see a psychic for your birthday," she said.

A pedicure would have been great--a chair massage and pretty toes. And I wouldn’t be standing on this porch staring at the rain and wondering what the hell to do now.

I went to a psychic once at my school's fall festival. There were three generations, and I got stuck with the teen granddaughter. She puzzled over my hand and gave me some generic nonsense. I figured she just didn't know how to fake it well yet.

When Robin and I walked into this psychic's drawing room, she came out in a welcoming swirl of silks and patchouli. As Robin was telling about my birthday, her daughter Nina's custom Hamilton ringtone sounded from her purse. She fished it out, handed the psychic a few bills, excused herself and stepped outside. The psychic turned her attention to me, motioning me through the curtains into her reading room.

"Come now, sit and give me your hands," she said as she waved her fingers in a flourish over the table. But as soon as she touched my hands, she paled. She gripped my palms and stared with widening eyes, then snatched her hands away and jumped up from the table.

Annoyed, I asked, "What are you doing?"

She didn't answer as she picked up a pen and notepad and scribbled something on it. Returning to the table, she sat and  laughed ruefully. "Ordinary has never sat well with you has it?"

I drew back and wrinkled my brow, trying to make sense of all this. What was this act all about?

She tore off the piece of paper from her notepad and slid it across the table. "Go. He will tell you what you need to know." She hesitated. "If you really want to know."

She reached her hand out over mine, then pulled back without touching me. "Because once you do, you can't take it back."

"What do you mean?"

"If you open the door, you are not the only one who goes through."

She jumped up and swept aside the curtains, motioning me to leave. "Now, go. Latcho Drom. Be careful."

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And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
Namaste
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s my favorite:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.


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