Adding Diversity to your Writing (Panel Discussion Cosine Comic-Con 2023 in Colorado Springs)

This last weekend I had a great time at Cosine Comic-con. I was on several panels as both participant and moderator and sat in on a number of great discussions. As always, I try to record some of the panels that I think might be helpful for writing or a good resource for people. You can find the recording of, Adding Diversity to your Writing, below. This panel included myself and the following panelists:

Betsy Dornbusch

Betsy Dornbusch writes epic fantasy, and has dabbled in science fiction, thrillers, and erotica. Her short fiction has appeared in over twenty magazines and anthologies, and she’s the author of three novellas. Her first fantasy novel came out in 2012 and her latest trilogy, Books of the Seven Eyes, wrapped up with Enemy in 2017. The Silver Scar, a standalone future fantasy novel, was called “a spellbinding saga” by Publisher’s Weekly.


Thea Hutcheson (Moderator)

Thea Hutcheson explores far away lands full of magic and science with one hand holding hope and the other full of wonder while she burns up pages with lust, leather, and latex, brimming over with juicy bits. She lives in an economically depressed, unscenic, nearly historic small city in Colorado. She is a factotum when she is filling the time between bouts at the computer.

Martha Wells

Martha Wells has been an SF/F writer since her first fantasy novel was published in 1993, and her work includes The Books of the Raksura series, The Death of the Necromancer, the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, The Murderbot Diaries series, media tie-in fiction for Star WarsStargate: Atlantis, and Magic: the Gathering, as well as short fiction, YA novels, and non-fiction. She has won Nebula Awards, Hugo Awards, and Locus Awards, and her work has appeared on the Philip K. Dick Award ballot, the BSFA Award ballot, the USA Today Bestseller List, and the New York Times Bestseller List. She is a member of the Texas Literary Hall of Fame, and her books have been published in twenty-two languages.

Giving Away Free Copies of Build Better Worlds!!!

I’m happy to announce that my co-author Kyra Wellstrom and I, are giving away free copies of Build Better Worlds: An Introduction to Anthropology for Game Designers, Fiction Writers, and Filmmakers over on Goodreads until January 30th! There are 100 kindle copies available for giveaway through the site and while that might sound like a lot, there are already 140 people who have entered at the time of this posting.

If you’ve been looking for a worldbuilding book that incorporates real social science or if you’ve been perusing the free resources on this website, you should definitely enter the giveaway. You can do that here!

Of course, if you don’t win, the ebook version is only 6.99 over on Amazon.com

If you win a free copy, don’t forget to rate and review it once you finish reading! Remember rating and reviewing (yes even negative reviews) are helpful to other readers so that they can find the book that’s right for them.

The Tyranny of Symbols (First Poem of 2023)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your year is starting well. Here’s the first poem I’ve written in 2023, accompanied by some AI generated Art (generated based on lines from the poem).

Generated in MidJourney with lines from the poem

A Tyranny of Symbols

We are like catapults casting symbols across a chasm

At war with abstractions

Where common sense is not so common

And the least common denominator is always left in the back alley to rot in the fifth of our own making.


For what reason did we choose the sounds and muscles that make the word love,

Or truth,

Or creature,

Or tide?

For language is a tide,

With words in and out of fashion

Eb, and flow,

Push, and pull,

All tides have a time of their choosing

And yet so many choose to attack the waters with fist and blade and hate,

Until knuckles are bloody at the long lingering task of


Control

Order

Sameness

Identity


What symbol flung upon your body or taken by choice has ever brought you wholeness

Instead of fracture?


I

Am

This.

You

Are

That.


Lines in the sand for which we dare not cross

We collect symbols to adorn our naked bodies

Rather than recognizing our rapturous reality,

That

We

Are

Star

Stuff


We fling like catapults,

Into the dark,

Hoping for illumination

But instead,

We become,

Weapons of mutually assured destruction.


We set words on fire,

Arguing to unburden ourselves

Shift the load from our shoulders

And weigh down another

To slow their speech,

Their motion,

Their agency.


Grasp the sand,

Hold it tight,

Do not let slip a single grain

Or risk

Unmasking

The arbitrary


The finger pointing to the moon,

Is not the moon.

Experiments with MidJourney and My Writing

I recently started working with the AI art generator MidJourney. Many of you may not know this but I have Prosopagnosia (faceblindness) and so I don’t visualize things the way that many people do. I’ve always wanted to create beautiful visual art, and photoshop helped me to get part of the way there but I never felt like I could create something from my words in a way that made sense for others visually speaking. The cool thing about MidJourney is that I can take my own written work, poetry and prose, and create something visually unique.

I am looking forward to using MidJourney and potentially other AI software in concert with my writing in the future. There is so much potential to collaborate with AI and develop new and unique landscapes of thought and experience.

On that note, Everything in this post is directly inspired by one of my novels, my short stories, or my poetry. Often I simply entered lines of my poetry and the result are many of the more abstract imagines, such as the ship made of leaves, the teacup in space, and the skull rising out of the road.

Which are your favorites? Which ones do you think best represent my work? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


Pronouncement & Ruin (Poetry/Art)

This pair of poetry and art come together as a pair. The poem is titled, I Sat And Watched The Pronouncement Of The King For The Last Time and the artwork it inspired is titled Ruin. More recently, I’ve been putting the poems up on Tiktok but unfortunately this one is a bit too long for that format.

I Sat And Watched The Pronouncement of the King for the Last Time

I sat and watched the pronouncement of the king for the last time

From a tower up on high

Little rose pedals cascaded below, showering corruption alongside their scent

From the eager promises lolling on the lips of a lunatic dictator

The crowd hung on every word

Oh my!

Could he rally such a cry

From tears and jeers of all those who loved him,

And loved to hate him.

But no one seems to be able to get enough of his blather

They consume his every word,

And let it bring warmth and hate to their hearts


I sat and watched the pronouncement of the king for the last time.

For the queen held no power these days,

A living, moldering corpse, propped up by high fashion

Her distraction lives in the expectations of pomp and circumstance

A role model?

No.

A comedy,

A farce,

A prop.

Her righteousness is twisted through a veil made of her undergarments

We lust after her curves and seek to suppress her for our lecherous gaze

So we can make use of her body and discard it when finished

She’s not expected to perform anymore,

For her silence is more desirable.


I sat and watched the pronouncement of the king for the last time

When art hung in tapestries like dead hanging flesh on a rotting corpse

Its soul depleted for the pleasant, the normal, the expected,

Its lukewarm flavor brought to you by your favorite sponsor

Did you see them?

There, below the dais, the mistrals sat in rows of confused passion

Blowing trumpets, bent by the will of the dictator, to change their sound for his delight

And soon their skins will be stripped by the costs of commonsense

Their only sin, to create,

Instead of creating profit


I sat and watched the pronouncement of the king for the last time

When horses were quartered to feed the starving in the streets

So that the poor could dine on the less desirable entrails

And “use the whole animal.”

Undercooked and underpaid they gobble without napkins and nod in agreement when told,

No one wants to work anymore

All the while, the dictator’s allies swim in rivers of gold and blood

With naked slaves serving their whims

And women and children work in foreign lands to satisfy their superficiality

The lords and ladies dance until their decadence destroy all civility

And the enemy is exaggerated to hide their own extravagance

Squandering potential, they let others bet on a maybe, as they cross borders,

For More Empty Promises


I sat and watched the pronouncement of the king for the last time

As fires consumed forests faster than fracking could till the blood of the earth

And men sat in armor on pale horses, blaring lights and sound in the spaces where hope is barren on the storeroom shelves

Where those who protect water were doused and drenched until the last barriers crumbled

And no decency was left

They will die thirsty,

Drenched in the water they needed,

Sucking water from cloth, they will taste the dyes as their eyes close one last time


I sat and watched the pronouncement of the king for the last time.

When the dictator’s corruption grew to great heights and fed on the flesh of all the loathsome worshipers,

As they cast the names of gods around like so many useless hens clucking

When outrage was worth its weight in gold among the bards of the king’s courts, where they made empty promises to capture a captive audience

And whispers of ‘Gods’ will” gagged those who would speak against his crimes

For what is divinity but tyranny,

When they quack about “the Secret”

When change is promised at every step if you just visualize harder,

But theft was the only true golden rule.


I sat and watched the pronouncement of the king for the last time

For the torches are already burning in the hands of those who see the truth

And the trumpet trumps his lies when blown from below

Where the wisdom of crowds grows in magnitude

And so, I sat and watched the pronouncement of the king for the last time

For his end is at hand

Snakeskin (A Sci-Fi Short Story)

I’m happy to announce the release of another short story of mine. This is a dark sci-fi horror story. It just officially went up for preorder and will be available October 17th at all your favorite digital stores.

A dark sci-fi/horror short story

In the near future, it is possible to shed your skin for a better body. The procedure is brutal, but many believe it is worth the cost. There are rumors that the procedure does something else too… something sinister. Kelly, who never really wanted the procedure in the first place, is about to discover the truth one way or another.

You can find it here

It’s Release Day for A Luminous Liminality!!!

It’s release day for my newest (and sixth) book, A Luminous Liminality: A Collection of Poetry & Art. The book represents 10 years of my artwork and poetry and is my very first collection of poetry and art. This last week I got the first proofs of the book and I’ve included some pictures of the final product. A Luminous Liminality has both an ebook version and a paperback version. I recommend the paperback version to get the full experience of all the color images. Please note that prints are always available for my artwork. You can find my artwork at this page if you’re curious about it.


The book is broken down into three seasons. A season of sentimentality (poems and art about emotional life), A season of reflection (Self reflection and reflection on our culture) and, A season of transformation (realization, personal growth, change). I really wanted to show many sides of my life and experience in this book. There are poems about love, loss, hope, bitterness, frustration, hope, persistence, growth, and meditation. Oh, there’s even a poem on anthropology. The book is really about my journey over the last ten years.

I hope you enjoy it. You can find it on Ebook from all your favorite digital stores and on paperback via Amazon all at this one link. Simply click whatever service you’d like to use.

Guest on Indie Book Talk Podcast

A few weeks ago, my co-author Kyra Wellstrom and I recorded an episode with Indie Book Talk. The podcast episode was a lot of fun. We talked about worldbuilding, anthropology, and writing more generally. The episode is on the shorter side (only 24 minutes) so it’s a great discussion of the lot of the things we do in a quick and interesting episode. The episode came out this morning!

Check it out here!

A Luminous Liminality: A Collection of Poetry And Art (My First Poetry Book!)

A Luminous Liminality Book Cover
A Luminous Liminality Book Cover

Hello everyone,

For those of you who have been following this blog and website since it’s inception, you know that I post a lot of my digital art and poetry here. Well, I decided it was finally time to create a book of both my poetry and artwork from the last decade. I’ve been working on this more in secret for the past three months or so, though if you follow me on facebook (where I do most of my posting) you’ve heard me hint about it. So today, I am not only revealing the cover, but the preorder link. Now, keep in mind, if you want a paperback copy of this, you will have to wait till release day, because unfortunately, at the moment, Amazon won’t allow paperback preorders. But the ebook preorder is live and you can find the link here.

A Luminous Liminality will be released on September 17th, 2022. Some of the poems (but certainly not all) are available on the Poetry page on this website. You can check them out for some samples.