My Thoughts on the Hugos

I haven’t really commented on the whole fiasco with the Hugos this year. I’m not a big name writer, and I haven’t been as involved in the fandom while I fight cancer. So, I don’t have a stake in the awards in the simplest sense – I’m not nominated for anything and I haven’t lobbied on behalf of anyone who did make the official nomination list. The only stake I have is in the overall Hugo’s integrity, which I believe we all have a stake in.

As I’ve read, watched, and listened to various points of view –I refuse to call them “sides”–I’ve reached the following conclusions:

  1. Some Sad/Rabid Puppies* really believe there is a conspiracy against their fiction. I haven’t seen any evidence of this, but I know how heated opinions can get in fandom.
  2. Some Sad/Rabid Puppies intentionally gamed the system because they were butthurt over never winning an award. It’s hard to lose, and there is the temptation to “right” the perceived wrongs, but it doesn’t make it just.
  3. Some people were caught up in the Puppy slates, both those who supported the Puppies and those who did not. Those who stayed or withdrew were damned either way.
  4. A lot of good fiction was either pushed out, withdrawn, or tainted because of the scandal.
  5. Nobody truly wins when SFF stays fractured.
Based on results from the Hugo ceremony last night it’s clear that the voters were not going to be intimidated by slates and championed diversity in the SFF fandom.
This year was ugly. I saw people who I admired become monsters. These people came from several points of view, but mainly from a particular one. And that particular point of view was often disingenuous. Look, there’s room for a variety of beliefs and types of fiction under the SFF banner, but there is no room for hate. In those moments of weakness, we need to ask ourselves, is this what it means to be human? Is this who were want to be?
We should be celebrating each other’s successes. Fellow writers aren’t the enemy. We’re all adding our own unique spin on the world. Isn’t that was SFF is?
What happened this year guarantees there are no winners. Let’s be better. Let’s write better. Let’s make SFF fandom a place where we’re all welcome and can celebrate the best fiction there is.
*Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies are two different groups of writers who feel wronged by the overall SFF fandom. They both swing more conservative, with the Rapid Puppies extreme far right. They perceive the Hugos as flawed and run by an elitist liberal clique. Their movements are to bring science fiction they perceive as being slighted into the mainstream award-worthy sphere.

The Big C

So I have cancer.
For a while, I thought about how to tackle this devastating news. What does this mean to me as a person? Am I going to die soon? Do I kill my hopes and dreams? Is this all I am now? Do I keep it to myself? Do I tell my family? Friends? If I do tell people, will they think I am looking for attention or that I don’t want to work?
These are questions I’m still wrestling with, but as time goes by, I’ve become more and more open about my diagnosis.
I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer 7 months ago. I probably had it longer than that. We tried medication to preserve my organs for potential child-bearing later on, but the medication has had minimal effect. It appears I have early grade cancer, but it won’t be staged until after I have surgery. Naturally, I’m hoping the cancer hasn’t spread, but I won’t know until I have surgery. I won’t be able to have children.
I’ve been devastated.
I’m not sure why some of us–I can’t speak for all cancer patients, obviously–feel like keeping it a secret is best. I’m sure it’s a personal decision. For me, I think it was a bit of pride and denial. Like, if I don’t talk about it, it’ll all just go away. That works fine for a while, right until you have to face it all over again.
I’ve been slow in telling people. I told my parents first, then the rest of my family. I told my closest friends, and then I told some people on social media. I told my bosses. By the end of six months, most people who knew me knew about my diagnosis. If my students know, they haven’t said anything.
But I do think you reach a point where you have to own it and not be ashamed of it anymore. I still go through the cycle and grief: what did I do wrong? What could I have done better? If I had only done this or that…Which of course just throws you deeper into despair. It’s counterproductive, but I would be lying if I said I’ve made it past that.
The reason I’ve decided to talk about it here on my blog instead of behind cryptic messages is that I don’t want to be ashamed anymore. I don’t want to be afraid that people will pity me and not love me for who I am. I have cancer, and I need to be strong to beat it.
This is why I might have been more distant. This is why I had to take a break from writing. This is why I am sad and haven’t had the same joy I used to. Every day is a struggle and I shouldn’t be embarrassed about that.


So this is the new normal for me. I have cancer. As a workaholic, it’s hard for me to slow down, but I know that I need to take care of me right now. I can’t say what will happen to me tomorrow, but I am not living in shame anymore.

Guest Blog: Abner Senires — Cyberpunk is Dead, Long Live Cyberpunk

It’s my pleasure to have Abner Senires as a guest on my blog today. So without further ado… 

First off, I want to thank Kerri for hosting me for today’s book blog tour stop. And now….

Cyberpunk is Dead, Long Live Cyberpunk

A few years ago I was listening to a podcast (sadly I can’t recall which one) and heard one of the panelists say cyberpunk was dead genre so don’t submit anything cyberpunk.

Over the past couple of years I’ve noticed that many sci-fi/fantasy literary agents have listed almost all subgenres in their “wish lists” except cyberpunk.

And looking at the shelves at Barnes & Noble, the only cyberpunk books I see are the subgenre classics like Neuromancer or Snow Crash.

So is cyberpunk really dead?

There are those who posit cyberpunk has transformed into post-cyberpunk. According to this definition (via Wikipedia), post-cyberpunk stories continue to focus on social implications within a post-third industrial-era society, such as a ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information and cybernetic augmentaion of the human body, but without the assumption of dystopia. Still others have said that we already live in a cyberpunk world so the genre, as speculative fiction, doesn’t work.

I’m of the opinion that cyberpunk has morphed into what I’d call “near-future noir.” It’s basically our world, just fast forwarded two or three decades. We still drive cars. We still watch TV. We’re still on the Internet. But maybe the cars drive themselves or they fly. Maybe we watch immersive, 3D TV. Maybe we connect directly to the Internet through a data plug in the side of our head. Maybe we can replace a bad leg with a robotic prosthesis or a new biological one cloned from our own cells.

Not yet Star Trek.

But not quite the present.

That’s the “near-future” part.

The “noir” part comes from the focus on the underbelly of society. Those people who live and work in the darker places of the city. Thugs. Gangsters. Rogues. Con men. All portrayed in half-shadow. Some bad. Some not so bad. Morally gray.

We’ve seen movies like this: Minority Report. Dredd. Heck, even the recent reboot of Robocop.

And even television (briefly) gave us Almost Human.

This is the world I write about in the Kat and Mouse stories. Kat and Mouse are mercenaries operating outside the law, in that underbelly of society. They live in the typical near-future urban jungle of steel and glass towers, forests of neon signs, and perpetually rain-drenched streets.

And the sky is always the color of a television tuned to a dead channel.

See? Not dead.

Just morphed. But when you really get down to it, when you strip away the label “near-future noir,” I’m really writing good ol’ cyberpunk. Cyberpunk with an adventure story flavor.

So the big question: why write in a seemingly “dead” genre?

Because it’s fun.

Because I like blending modern and possible future tech. Because I like the idea of plugging your brain into the Internet. Because I like the idea of cybernetic body part replacement and augmentation. Because I can use my knowledge of contemporary weapons and weapons use.

And because I like adventure stories.

I see myself much in the same mold as someone who writes sword and sorcery. Taking elements of a fantasy world and crafting a fun adventure tale from it. In this case, I’m taking elements of cyberpunk–the look, the tech, the setting–and using it to write an adventure story.

At it’s core, I’m writing escapist fiction. There’s no exploration of the social implications of technology typically inherent in cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk stories.

I’m writing about car chases, gun battles, and walking slowly away from that explosion behind you.

That’s why I’m writing cyberpunk.

Dead genre?


Still alive, I say.

AUTHOR BIOAbner Senires writes cyberpunk pulp and probably drinks far too much coffee. He lives just outside Seattle, WA with his wife and a pair of rambunctious cats.

TWITTER: @abnersenires

Things are heating up for near-future female mercenaries Kat and Mouse as they tackle even more hair-raising jobs for shadowy clients and run afoul of terrorists, freedom fighters, hired assassins, a Japanese crime syndicate, and warring punkergangs. And smack in the middle of this, an enemy from the past is back and wants revenge on the duo.

Now these two sassy sisters-in-arms must fight back and survive…and still get their jobs done.

Available from: KindleSmashwords/epub


Update: This story has been claimed by  ALYAHsOurVictoryCryLovesIslanders.

If anyone else needs a story in a pinch, please let me know ASAP and I’ll try my best to help.

Original Post: I’ve been reading the controversy about GISHWHES participants and several published authors. I can’t speak for any of the authors out there, but if they choose not to participate that is their right and their business. Time is precious, and most writers have a full plate as it is. Multiply that but hundreds of requests and I’m sure I would be overwhelmed, too. Please don’t harass them.

I do hope that there are some authors that can participate. It’s fun and silly and harmless, and I fully support the craziness that ensues. I’d like to help, though, so I’ve written a little story of 140 words. It’s a wacky little thing that doesn’t take itself seriously. Now, I write science fiction, fantasy, and historical, and have been published through small presses. I don’t know if that counts, but if it does, anyone can use it for their scavenger hunt.  The story is below. Good luck!

Misha hacked at another thick vine, hesitating to wipe the sweat from his brow. Four hours into the Sunderbans and still no sign of their prey.

Another tangle of vines twisted through the brush. Before he could act, it fell with an unceremonious thump.

Her Majesty lowered her blade. “I do believe you’ve managed to get us lost.”

“It’s here, look.”

The elusive Elopus hovered before them, tentacles whipping outward, its huge trunk twisting toward the sky.

“Excuse me.” Misha said. “Can we get a photo?”

It blinked.

Misha and the Queen snapped a picture and trekked out of the jungle. Definitely getting into the books on that one.

“At least this is better than that dreadful Yeti. I can still smell the kale on its breath.”

Misha nodded. “So, what’s next?”

“Loch Ness, perhaps?”

He grinned. “To the kilt-mobile!”

Go forth and GISHWHES! Gotta beat Shatner, people!

Matchmaking Manuscript Style

Do you have a manuscript who is alone, desperately hoping to find the perfect certain someone?

Maybe manuscript matchmaking is for you!

All joking aside, you should check out MS WishList. It’s a collection of hashtags detailing what various agents and publishers are looking for in a manuscript. Who knows, maybe you have written a story that fits an agent’s desire.

Aside from a list of agents’ wants and needs, it’s also a great general resource on what works for queries and what doesn’t, and how the publishing process works.

MS WishList

No Fear

I’ve spent the last year working on various projects and following the advice of “write what you love.” Still, I keep hitting roadblocks. Why? Why can’t I mentally get past these obstacles that are getting in the way of polishing my manuscript? Or allowing a new idea to flourish into an outline or plotted story? 

Perhaps I am slower than the rest, but it finally dawned on me that I keep falling into another trap that many writers face: playing it safe.

What I mean is that it’s easy to guard your imagination or ideas, keep them in check into these acceptable little boxes so they fit nicely into categories. It’s safe, and it’s not as messy. It keeps us in our comfort zone. But man, does it cripple any kind of potential a story might have.
I don’t have a fix or an easy solution. Just like it’s hard to shut up the inner editor in your had, it’s equally as hard to shut up all the other voices. (Thank goodness we’re writers, and we can get away with saying things like that.)
Just ask yourself when you’re plotting or outlining or reviewing or whatever process you have: is this as far as I can take my idea? Or am I afraid? What places can I take this story?
You might be surprised what you find. I know I was!

Write What You Love

Inspired by my friend Janet M. Carter’s post, I thought I would talk a bit about how my perception of writing has changed over time.

Finding your niche as a writer can be hard. There are so many pressures out there to conform. Follow the latest trends. Write what is popular. Who doesn’t want to be published?

With all these temptations pressing on you, it can be easy to lose your way and just write whatever you think will make people happy. Now, there’s nothing wrong with writing for money. There’s nothing wrong with writing popular themes or in popular genres. If you love it and your heart is in it, why not? Or hey, maybe you can write something you’re not passionate about, and it’s still amazing. There are writers who can do that.

I’m not one of them.

I find it problematic when you write without passion, and that’s exactly what I’ve tried to do in the past.

I’d find a call to submissions and think, hey I can write that! Not surprisingly, I would fail miserably.

Sometimes a call or a trend fits what I’m passionate about. What a great motivator! But more often than not, they aren’t compatible. Instead of chasing trends, I should be writing what I’m passionate about. It’s wasted time. Or maybe a stalling technique?

The past few months I have been focusing once again on my own style, my own passions, and you know what? I’m having so much more fun with my writing. My contemporary/urban fantasy novel rewrite is coming together better than I had hoped, and all I needed to do was to write to my passions. (And to learn to let go which is a whole different conversation for a different time.)

I know what I love. I love ghosts, monsters, demons, and angels. I love humor and drama wrapped up together. I know old cities and country, myth and history, folklore and urban legends.

I know I want to tell stories of people searching for who they are, who love each other, whether they are lovers or family or friends.

It comes back to that old adage: Don’t write what you know. Write what you LOVE.

Meant to Be Broken

It’s not a New Year’s Resolution unless it’s meant to be broken 😉

I might not have been posting often here, but I’ve been busy. The Novel of Doom is going through a rewrite which is exciting and frustrating at the same time. However, it’s becoming a much better novel which makes me all mushy inside. I can’t wait to see where it goes.
I have a few short stories circulating and we’ll see what happens with them.
I’m in the process of doing some major reassessments and reorganization, which I’m sure will impact this blog in a positive way.
Never have I been this excited about the journey. 🙂