People of MAT: Gwyndyn Alexander

More Alternative Truths, coming November 11, from B Cubed Press, is more than a book. It is people.

One of them is Gwyndyn T. Alexander, author of “America, Year Zero.”

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and indoor

Gwyndyn Alexander is the real thing, a mega ohm resister.

With the advent of the Age of Trump she has dedicated herself to the Resistance.

Up to her neck in the work associated with the various grass roots organizations, she is putting her self out there in the struggle to retain voting rights, spreading truth to counter the deluge of lies from the White Supremacist House, and working locally both to elect sane and normal human beings, and to help local charities to fill in the gaps of care.

But wait, there is more to offset the insanity of being a thinking person in a sometimes unthinking society, she channels energy into creating fabulous feather costume pieces and accessories, because the options were that, or heavy drinking.

She even has her own Etsy store, and found a way to mesh her obsessions by donating creations to political and charitable fundraisers.


She can be found, these days, railing savagely on Twitter against the tide of cartoon villainy that is destroying our country, ( @GwynTAlexander), or helping people get in touch with their inner Miss Fisher with her fabulous feathers (Feather In Your Cap NOLA on Etsy.)

Be the parade you want to see in the world!

B Cubed Is glad to have Gwyndyn Alexander on board and looks forward to introducing you to the other writers who are going to make this volume a must have.

Advertisements

People of MAT: Melinda LaFevers

More Alternative Truths, coming November 11, from B Cubed Press, is more than a book. It is people.

One of our authors is Melinda LaFevers, who wrote “The Healer.”

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing

We asked her for some background on her story and here’s what she said:

“Hmmmm.

My father was a wise man. A sociologist, he studied mankind and society for well over 70 years – he was in his mid 80s when he passed. He was very able to predict the future, based on the past. I was told about race riots well before Ferguson, class riots long before Occupy Wall Street, and police assassinations two full years before Dallas. He also predicted the refugee situation in Europe – and when that started making the news, he looked at me and said “I really thought we had another generation to go before this happened.”

He made two predictions that have yet to happen: He said that if Trump was elected, America would go up in flames. He did not know if it would be internal revolution, or if Trump would get us involved in a war. He also said that my knowledge of medicinal plants would make me a valuable commodity “soon.” That last statement scares me.

While he passed away before Trump was elected, with the accuracy my father had in his other predictions – well, let’s just say I am continuing to study about plants and their properties.

My story, “The Healer,” is, in a way, a tribute to my father, and was inspired by his predictions.

One more thing: mullein has been scientifically shown to have a compound that acts as a bronchial dilator, so its traditional use for bronchitis and chest congestion has been scientifically verified. Plantain seeds are known to lower blood sugar, and studies are currently being conducted on its properties.”

Please get a copy of this anthology so you can read her powerful story.


Melinda was kind enough to do a guest blog for me in September. She performs at Mid-South Renaissance Faire, where I volunteer as Lady Marbury and Goodwife Slocombe.

People of MAT: Vonda McIntyre

More Alternative Truths is coming November 11, 2017. It truly is more than just words. The people matter. One of these is Vonda N McIntyre. I could go on, but words about a woman this grand should be from those who know her best. Thank you Eileen Gunn, for allowing us to use your words about this great woman.

The Real Story

by Eileen Gunn

(For Lunacon, 1994)

You people attending Lunacon probably think you know a lot about Vonda N. McIntyre, right? That’s why you invited her to be Guest of Honor, right?
Well, you’re wrong. Maybe you know some things about her. Maybe you know her books, for instance. Maybe you know her unassailable generosity and strength of spirit. Maybe you even know her middle name. (I will not reveal it here, but it distinguishes her from her mother.)
But do you know her lost novel Droomslang, her secret persona Ygor, her clandestine taste for country music? Do you know that she used to stable her horse where Microsoft sits right now? You don’t? Then you do not know everything about Vonda N. McIntyre. Come closer, and I will tell you more things of which others are unaware.
Very few people, for instance, know that Vonda keeps a large personal menagerie of wild snakes, tame wolves, and cloned dinosaurs, plus a huge mole named Philby that sleeps on the hassock in her office, and a wolverine named Ursula, of which she is inordinately fond. In addition, Vonda has created an urban-wildlife rescue area, with crocuses, on the parking strip in front of her house. It attracts and nurtures native Seattle wildlife, such as raccoons, possums, wombats, slugs, grunge bands, and bald eagles.
She also controls a vast woodland empire, where she’s building a stately pleasure-dome out of recycled popsicle sticks. She personally oversaw the planting of thousands of tiny trees on this preserve, which contains a trout-stream with genuine trout in it. She feeds the trout home-made chocolate-chip cookies, which they take from her hand, emitting chirps of pleasure. From time to time, salmon wend their way upstream to spawn. it’s extremely bucolic and picturesque, or will be when the trees get bigger.
You are all aware, I am sure, that Vonda is a superb cook, specializing in certain Seattle delicacies: coffee, chocolate decadence with raspberry sauce, and the occasional geoduck sushi for fiber. But not many of you know that she prepares an excellent hot-and-sour soup. It’s true, and if it were more widely known, she would undoubtedly have gained an unsought three-star rating in the Guide Michelin, and the crocuses on her parking strip would be overrun with BMWs. So we’ll let this be our little secret, won’t we? And you might keep mum about the chocolate decadence, too, while you’re at it — there’ll be all the more for those of us in the know.
This weekend you will witness Vonda’s ability to make an elegant personal fashion statement: suede boots, silk shirts, the restrained use of gemlike color. I will disclose here the darker side of her fashion sense: the stuffed effigy of a beaver (Castor canadensis) named Roscoe that she dressed for Westercon last summer. Roscoe, bedecked with velvet, satin, gold spray paint, brass chains, and iridescent glow-in-the-dark fishing lures, like some sasquatchian Infant of Prague, may foreshadow an in-your- face, go-for-broke rebellion on Vonda’s part against her accustomed wardrobe. Or he may not.
Many people writing about Vonda would mention how responsible she is, how loyal to her friends, how helpful to those in need. Such talk makes her seem much older than she is, and gives the impression that she’s part sheepdog and part boy-scout, which she isn’t. But I would like to add here that Vonda can be a very forgiving person. How do I know this? Well, one lovely June evening, I lured her to a railway siding where the Survival Research Laboratories seated her amongst tall strangers, then assaulted her with noise and drenched her in crickets and rocket fuel. She forgave me for that. She may even, some day, forgive me for this biography.


Copyright © 1994 by Eileen Gunn


 Reprinted with the kind permission of the author, and shared from the Alternative Truth Anthology page on Facebook.
Cover for Superluminal     The Moon and the Sun, by Vonda N. McIntyre, cover painting by Gary Halsey

People of MAT: K. G. Anderson

More Alternative Truths, coming November 11, from B Cubed Press, is more than a book. It is people.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses, grass, outdoor and closeup

One of them is Karen Anderson, author of “The Right Man for the Job.”

Karen, who writes as K.G. Anderson, has been working as a journalist since the day she left college. She’s written about vegetarian restaurants, the final days of the war in Vietnam, Johnny Cash, the drug paraphernalia industry, hazardous waste dumping, travel in Italy, cross-dressing, and how to choose a dentist. She’s also worked in corporate communications and marketing, with clients in publishing, high tech, medical technology, government, and landscape design.

All this comes together in her equally eclectic speculative fiction. Especially in the story she wrote for More Alternative Truths, where journalists and politicians from the past and present collide in her hometown of Washington, D.C.

While Karen had written extensively about city and state politics, she’d never gotten involved in a political campaign until 2016. She was part of a West Coast fundraising effort for Clinton coordinated by science fiction fans and Star Trek writers and actors (SF writer David Gerrold was one of the hosts).

“As we came into the final months of the 2016 campaign, I had this sense of impending doom,” she said. “When my worse fears were realized, I was inspired to write ‘Patti 209,’ a dark, dystopian story that B Cubed bought for Alternative Truths.”

For More Alternative Truths, Karen changed gears and went for political comedy with “The Right Man for the Job.”

Karen has written about the experience of being part of the B Cubed writing/editing/publishing community on her blog, WriterWay:

https://writerway.com/…/alternative-truths-an-unexpected-s…/

Image may contain: 1 person

People of MAT: Susan Murrie Macdonald

More Alternative Truths, coming November 11, from B Cubed Press, is more than a book. It is people.

One of them is Susan Murrie Macdonald, co-author of “Donald, Where’s Your Taxes” in MAT and author of “As Prophesied of Old” in Alternative Truths.

Image may contain: 1 person

Susan Murrie Macdonald was a fifth generation Republican – her great-great-grandfather voted for Fremont in 1856 and Lincoln in 1860 – but left the party on November 9, 2016, after DJT was elected.  Susan can’t knit pink hats.  She doesn’t have piles of money to donate to politicians.  But she can write, so that’s what she did.  Inspired by the words of Walt Disney, Toni Morrison, and H. G. Wells, Susan called upon others to join her in the CREATE Initiative. “Sing. Compose. Write. Perform. Draw. Sculpt. Blog. Remind Americans of our better selves. Remember our rights and responsibilities as citizens, lest those rights be washed away.”

Walt Disney Dream Quote

“That’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.” Walt Disney

Toni Morrison quote

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” Toni Morrison

H G Wells writing

“Civilization is in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.” H. G. Wells

Thousands of miles away, Bob Brown and Phyllis Irene Radford were doing the same thing, so Susan was eager to submit a story to their anthology. She was pleasantly surprised (OK, shocked but delighted) when Alternative Truths shot to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 12.05.13 PM

In addition to having a story in the first volume and a song in the second volume, Susan has been on the proofreading teams for both Alternative Truths and More Alternative Truths.  She is a freelance proofreader and copy editor, who has worked with B Cubed Press, Norilana Press, and Gold Rush Publishing.

B Cubed Press is glad to have Susan Murrie Macdonald on board and looks forward to introducing you to the other writers who are going to make this volume a must-have.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, tree, outdoor and nature

Susan M. Macdonald, dressed as an extra for the 1908 county fair scene in TIME BOYS.

What is Fanfic?

What is fanfic?  Is it a crime to write it?  Is it a sin?

There’s a lot of misunderstandings about fanfiction (aka fan fiction, fanfic), especially since ‘netfic became more popular than fanzines.  (Don’t worry.  All terms will be explained presently.)  Fanfic is generally defined as writing stories based on TV shows or movies, without the permission of the copyright holders.

Stephen Downes defines fanfiction as “any work which embellishes, alters or rewrites the work of another (usually a published author) with new storylines, characters, alternative endings, beginnings and substitute sets of morals, ideals or sexual politics.”

The Urban Dictionary says “fanfiction is when someone takes either the story or characters (or both) of a certain piece of work, whether it be a novel, tv show, movie, etc, and create their own story based on it. Sometimes people will take characters from one movie and put them in another, which is called a crossover. ”

Wikipedia says “Fan fiction or fanfiction (also abbreviated to fan ficfanfic or fic) is fiction about characters or settings from an original work of fiction, created by fans of that work rather than by its creator. It is a popular form of fan labor, particularly since the advent of the Internet.”

Please note the last seven words of the paragraph above.  Fanfic predates the Internet.  Many people are under the misapprehension that the Internet created fanfic.  The Internet simply made fanfic cheaper and more accessible.

Once upon a time, there was a TV show called Star Trek.  (You may have heard of it.)  Some fans felt three seasons wasn’t enough, so just as Tom Sawyer played Robin Hood and King Arthur with his friends, they played Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura and Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy and Nurse Chapel and Scotty.  Only instead of going outside to play make believe, these fans wrote down their stories.  Some were good.  Some were dreadful.  Some were eventually professionally published (often with the names and serial numbers filed off).  Many of these writers wanted to do things that the censors wouldn’t let NBC do at the time:  “adult” stories, what-if stories, crossovers, deathfic.

Examples:

  • What if Spock went into pon farr and Kirk was the only other person there?
  • What if Spock and Kirk were stuck in the 1930s with Edith Keeler?
  • What if the Enterprise found Captain Buck Rogers’ capsule and thawed him out?
  • What if the Enterprise went forward in time and was trapped in the Planet of the Apes future?
  • What if Kirk were never rescued in “The Paradise Syndrome” and Spock became captain of the Enterprise?
  • What if Spock really killed Kirk in “Amok Time”?
  • What if the Enterprise met the Battlestar Galactica and its ragtag fugitive fleet?

These stories were printed in homemade magazines called fanzines (fan magazines).  The fans didn’t invent fanzines — they were already around, but more for discussing SF and fantasy than writing stories based on other people’s characters.  But with mimeograph machines in their parents’ garages, these fannish authors abducted the term fanzine and refused to give it back.  Eventually, printing methods improved.  Photocopying costs came down.  (Oddly, photocopying costs were much lower on the West Coast than the East Coast, which affected the price of ‘zines.)  Kinko’s made editors’ lives easier.

Once writers get in the habit of writing, they don’t stop.  Fans of one show seldom like just that show, they become fans of other shows.  Star Trek fanzines and letterzines started having material from other shows and movies.  Eventually, those shows and movies started having their own ‘zines.  There were genzines.  There were multimedia ‘zines.  Under the table and in a whisper, there were slash ‘zines and het ‘zines.

It was a glorious time for fanfic authors and readers.


Vocabulary:

AO3:  Archive of our Own (archiveofourown.org), a popular ‘netfic site that has quite a few “adult” stories, theoretically by invitation only, but it’s easy to get invited.

AU:  alternative universe, a what-if such as what if your favorite Harry Potter character that J. K. Rowling killed off lived, what if the Pevensie children stayed in Narnia, what if Leia Organa had been trained since childhood as a Jedi knight

canon:  what happened in the original material

crack or crackfic:  a very silly story, not meant to be taken seriously

crossover:  a story that combines the characters from two or more fandoms, such as Batman meeting Jessica Fletcher or Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory and Dr. Spemcer Reid of Criminal Minds collaborating on a physics project together/

crunching:  The Mills Brothers sang “you always hurt the one you love.”  Crunching is showing how much you love a favorite character by writing a story where he is physically and/or emotionally hurt.

deathfic:  a story that features the death of a major character

fanfic or fanfiction:  an amateur story written by a fan, based on characters and situations created by someone else (usually a TV show or movie, sometimes a book or series of books)

FanFiction.Net:  one of the more popular fanfic websites, sometimes referred to as the Pit of Voles because it obeys Sturgeon’s Law.  Proofreading is regrettably rare.

fanon:  something that happens so much in fanfic that it is accepted by other writers as semi-canonical

fanzine or ‘zine:  a homemade magazine containing fanfic stories, poems, artwork, etc.

genzine:  a fanzine that has stories rated G to PG-13, with limited sex in the stories

het:  R or X rated stories focusing on male characters with female characters

hurt/comfort or h/c:  a story where character A is badly hurt, so that character B can comfort and console him

letterzine:  a homemade magazine with little or no fiction, with the emphasis on letters between fans discussing and debating their favorite shows

Mary Sue:  a character who is beautiful, intelligent, has multiple skills, is often of royal or noble birth, frequently has psi-powers, a born leader, and whom the hero falls head-over-heels in love with; very common in beginning writer’s stories as they attempt to have a character who is good enough to keep up with the canon cast, and winds up outdoing them in every category.

multimedia:  a fanzine that has stories from multiple fandoms

‘netfic:  fanfic that originates on the Internet, instead of being published in a ‘zine first

slash:  stories of any rating focusing on romantic relationships between two characters of the same gender, especially if they were heterosexual in canon, ie, Ellison/Sandburg, Kirk/Spock, Solo/Kuryakin, etc.


Then came ‘netfic.  Now, ‘netfic is not inherently bad, just as ‘zines are not always good.  But ‘netfic has a tendency to jump from writer’s brain to keyboard to posted on-line, without stopping for a breath in between.  This is especially true of the younger writers.  Paula Smith had this to say of the difference in the writing process between ‘zines and ‘netfic:

In writing, there is a crucial step of rewrite which is not regularly being seen these days. This is one difference we noticed in the late 1990s with fans coming in from the Internet. In the old days, I would write the first draft of a story in longhand, type it up, read it again, fuss with it, type it up again. And then the editor would read it, recommend changes, and you would have to type the whole bloody thing up yet again. The stories went through the typewriter more than once, and a lot was changed slowly but crucially. I’ve noticed the difference in my own writing. Now, you write something, put it aside, write something, put it aside, and then jam it all together.  {Paula Smith}

On the one hand, ‘netfic is free.  (Due to printing costs, ‘zines can be as expensive as hardcover books.)  The feedback is almost instantaneous.  On the other hand, GIGO.  Since no editor looks over the story before it’s posted, typos abound in ‘netfic.  Typos aren’t unknown in fanzines, of course, but authors and editors at least try to catch and correct them.  As Paula Smith said, “Another difference is the level of literacy of people coming to it—and the level of entitlement about their level of literacy: “Well, I don’t care if this is misspelled because that’s how I want it to be.” I may sound a bit snotty, but heck, I’ve seen typos completely wreck the point of a story.”


Is fanfic a sin?  Is it a crime?

Most people say that fanfic violates copyright.  This is why is must be done on an amateur basis, and fanzine editors and publishers can only charge enough to get their printing and mailing costs back.  They cannot make a profit.

However, there’s the Fair Use argument.

Like every other potentially infringing thing we do on the Internet every day, from reblogging a photo on Tumblr to uploading a song cover to YouTube, in the U.S. fanfiction writers are protected by a magical thing called the Fair Use clause. The Fair Use clause states that if use of someone else’s work is “fair,” it’s OK. Traditionally, “fair” has usually been granted to purposes of education or commentary, but this is also the clause that allows and protects parody. (By Gavia Baker-Whitelaw AND Aja Romano )

Many “real” authors got their start in fanfic  Mercedes Lackey, Jean Lorrah, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Lois McMaster Bujold, Rosemary Edghill, Jean Graham.  Dr. Lorrah uses the supporting characters she developed in her Star Trek fanfic stories in her professionally published by Pocket Books Star Trek novels.  (I don’t know whether Pocket Books is aware of this.)  Take a close look at Bujold’s Hugo-winning Miles Vorkosigan series.  If you squint, you can see the roots of a Klingon admiral in Aral Vorkosigan and a Starfleet officer in Cordelia Naismith.  Rosemary Edghill’s Hellflower trilogy started life as Star Wars fanfic, with Butterfly St. Cyr as a business rival to Han Solo.  I’ve seen a series of romance novels where the heroes were very clearly based on the men of TV’s Magnificent Seven, although again, I’m not sure if the publisher was aware of that.

If you are willing to risk the legal issues, fanfic is a good way for writers to practice.  Since the settings and characters already exist, the writer can concentrate on plot, description, etc.  Fanfic does not require a plot; many fans see nothing wrong with a vignette that is just character development.

And then there’s the success story many fanfic readers and writers are both proud of and embarrassed by:  Fifty Shades of Gray.  It started life as Twilight fanfic.  People are pleased (and jealous) that one of their own made it to the big time.  They’re embarrassed because it’s so dreadful.  But then, so was Twilight, IMHO.

“Author Orson Scott Card (best known for the Enders Game series) once stated on his website, “to write fiction using my characters is morally identical to moving into my house without invitation and throwing out my family.” He changed his mind completely and since has assisted fan fiction contests, arguing to the Wall Street Journal that Every piece of fan fiction is an ad for my book. What kind of idiot would I be to want that to disappear?’ “(Wikipedia)

The inimitable but oft-imitated J. K. Rowling says she’s flattered by fanfic set in the Harry Potter universe.  (Which is a good thing, because there are over 776,000 HP stories at FanFiction.net and 154,267 HP stories at AO3.)  Shannon Hale admits she still writes fanfic on occasion.  Raymond Feist, Anne Rice, and George R. R. Martin are opposed to fanfic and have requested their fans not write any based on their novels.

I think fanfic is A, harmless fun, and B, good writing practice.  My opinion may change when other people start writing stories about my characters without permission.  As the saying goes, YMMV;  your mileage may vary.  What’s your opinion on fanfic?

I’m A Movie Star!

Last weekend my husband, daughter, and I were extras in a movie that was filming in our area.  It’s called Time Boys, and it should be released next summer.

#timeboysfeaturefilm

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, tree, outdoor and nature

The movie is written and directed by Randall Terry.  He’s a documentary maker; this is his first narrative feature.  Mr. Terry also plays Josiah O’Neil, a widowed inventor.

We were extras in the county fair scene set in 1908.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, people sitting, beard, tree and outdoor

Here’s my husband with Johnny McPhail, who plays the richest man in town.  His real life wife, Susan McPhail, played Miss Violet, a friend of the O’Neil family.  The “time boys” of the title were played by Mr. Terry’s real life sons.

My husband was assigned to the Civil War memorabilia booth, and he showed off various artifacts from the War Between the States to other extras who were playing fairgoers.  I spent most of my time sitting on a hay bale, clapping along to the music as the Dickens Dancers danced the Virginia Reel.  My daughter wound up joining the dancers.  She’d learned the Virginia Reel from watching Felicity, and filled in when one of the dancers had to go home early.

Josiah (or was it Joshua?) O’Neil is a widowed inventor who is trying to make a time machine.  He wants to go back in time to save his wife.  Somehow, his sons go forward to 2016 and must figure out how to get back to 1908.  This will be a family-friendly film, G or PG, with no more violence than juvenile fisticuffs and no foul language.

There was a lot of hurry up and wait, and we got a little sunburned, but it was fun.  We were fed.  We met some nice people.  We learned a little bit about movie making.  (When they say “quiet on the set,” they aren’t kidding.)  It took a day and a half to film what will only be a few minutes of movie.  I’m looking forward to seeing the movie when it’s released next summer.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, outdoor and text