Brenda Cooper

Apr
25

The Importance of Science to SF

I am writing this from a coffee shop in DC.  One of the reasons I came here at this time was to participate in the March for Science right here in the capital.

The March

I ran into three friends, fellow writer Brenda Clough and her husband Larry Clough, and another fellow writer, Chris Cevasco. What a small world. Brenda introduced me to Michelle Lighton (who they had just met), and she and Larry gifted me and Michelle with their signs as they attended the rally but had to leave before the march started. Here are the signs and some quotes from me and Michelle in the New York Times.

We were wet and cold and yet everyone was smiles and enthusiasm. The signs were great. The march was quiet (I suspect it’s easier for many scientists to think of and create great signs than to scream loudly). It touched me to do the walk here, in the seat of so many debates and decisions.

We walked past the EPA building, and people chanted “Save the EPA!”  I can’t believe that phrase should even make sense, much less that we might have to fight tooth and nail for it.  That’s like saying “Save the blue in the sky” to me.  But then, I’m old enough to recall the bad smog days in California, and I read enough to know what China’s air looks like.  Air should, of course, look like nothing.  And the EPA does so much more than that. We need them. But end rant, for the moment.

Why I Showed Up

I’m not a scientist.  Some SF writers are actual scientists, but I understand science at the level of an informed reader. I do read a lot. As an SF writer, I’m dependent on the work of scientists. The world building in my next book, Wilders, was partly based on Half Earth by biologist E.O. Wilson and the sequel is informed by Carl Safina’s book How Animals Think and Feel.  There’s more, but it could take a page to list all of the research I’ve done for these two books, about half of which is straight science reading.

As a writer I take what I learn from science and engineering and expand and extend it, and wrap character and feelings around it. When I’m done, it’s not science. But it’s based there.

It doesn’t stop there, though. Scientists sometimes take our ideas and make them happen.  Many inventions have been attributed to Star Trek.  Second Life talks out loud about its based on concepts in Neal Stephenson’s excellent book, Snow Crash. I could make a list.  But mostly I want to make the point that there is a loose but valuable circle of ideas that moves from scientist to science fiction writer to scientist to science fiction writer….

It felt important to march. It’s a way to be counted.  There are so many ways we can all show our resistance to backward policies, and it’s so important to do so. We cannot get tired or confused or give up. Politics has never mattered as much as it does now, and moving forward with policies based firmly on peer-reviewed science has never been more important.  The lives of many plants and animals, many people, and maybe even of all of us are at stake.

Mar
18

Norwescon Schedule

I’ll be at Norwescon 40 in Seattle April 13th and 14th. Here’s my schedule:

Friday

Dystopia / Utopia

10:00am – 11:00am @ Cascade 10

What-Ifs of Ancient and Medieval History

2:00pm – 4:00pm @ Evergreen 3&4

A Writer’s Toolbox for Description – Writing Workshop – 2 spots left as of 4/2!

2:00pm – 3:00pm @ Cascade 12

Saturday

Reading

11:30am – 12:00pm @ Cascade 2

Autograph Session 2

3:00pm – 4:00pm @ Grand 2

Koffee Klatsch

5:00pm – 6:00pm @ Pro Suite

The Year is 2067

7:00pm – 8:00pm @ Evergreen 1&2

 

 

Feb
23

I’ll be at Emerald City Comicon and Norwescon

There are two places you can find me shortly — I’ll be at Emerald City Comicon which runs March 2nd through 5th at the Seattle Convention Center.  You can find me on Sunday for sure, when I’ll be moderating a panel on science fiction: predicting the future. Books should be available at the University Bookstore booth there. I’m also hoping to get there part of Saturday, life allowing.

Not long after, I’ll be at Norwescon. I just got my programming, which is great. I have some good panels, a reading, a Kaffeeklatch, and I’ll be teaching a one-hour hands-on workshop about description on Saturday at 2:00.  You can sign up now, and if you’re interested, that’s probably a good idea. Participation is limited.

 

Nov
30

Enter to Win a Free Book! Join my mailing list…

The holidays are coming and we are giving away books!

Want to know how to win? The official rules are listed below, but read on for the highlights.

postWe are giving away one copy of one of the following books, POST, Edge of Dark, Spear of Light, or Cracking the Sky to TWO lucky winners.  Winner chooses the book.

If you have signed up for my newsletter you are already entered to win. If you are not signed up for the newsletter, you can sign up right on the front page of my site. The newsletter comes out no more than once a month, and contains information about upcoming releases, personal notes from me, and sometimes recommendations about other things.  Or even unexpected treats (for example, someone already on the list could win a book!).  Riley, who won last round, wrote me a note and said, “Edge of Dark is one of the best books I have read this year.” There is a link to his review of the book in the December newsletter.

The contest ends on December 14th.

OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES (BECAUSE THEY ARE REQUIRED)

This is a sweepstakes — that’s what they call it anyway, upon some research.

  1. There will be two winners selected.
  2. The easiest way to enter sis to be a subscriber to my newsletter. To subscribe, go here: http://www.brenda-cooper.com/.  You can also send me an email via the “contact” form and I’ll enter you in the drawing.
  3. cracking-the-sky-e1430148705679The prize is a physical copy of one of my books: POST, Edge of Dark, Spear of Light, or Cracking the Sky, which I’ll mail to you at my cost (anywhere in the US). If a winner already has all of the books listed, I’ll offer a different book from my inventory if they want that instead.
  4. Prizes will be picked by random drawing. All prizes will be awarded.
  5. Winners will be notified by email.  They must respond within 7 days or a new winner will be chosen.
  6. The contest is open to anyone over the age of 18 who lives in the United States.
  7. The contest opens December 1st, 2016 and closes at midnight on December 14th, 2016 (Pacific time).
  8. No purchase necessary.
  9. I’ll publish a list of winners on this blog.
  10. Winners may be asked to provide a photo of themselves (hey, maybe with the book!) for the blog and to sign a release allowing me to use it here on the blog.

THANKS!

 

 

Nov
21

Orycon: Edge is Awarded, POST is talked about….

This is my brief Orycon report. Orycon is held once each year in November, in Portland, Oregon.

I always enjoy this convention, and this year was no different.  I had many great conversations with friends. Most, of course, were about politics. So I’ll let you imagine those for now, since we’re all talking politics this month.  There will be a lot for all of us writers to say in the next year, hopefully with our pens and not just on social media.

The big news, of course, is that Edge of Dark (Pyr) won the Endeavour Award, which is given for a “distinguished SCIEendeavor-picture-brenda-lag-jimNCE FICTION or FANTASY BOOK written by a Pacific Northwest author or authors and published in the previous year.” I’m truly honored by the award, especially given the strength of the competition.  Pictured is Laura Anne Gilman, who was also a finalist for the award for Silver on the Road, Jim Fiscus, who does a lot of work to make this award work every year (he also has a team), and me.

At my reading, most of the audience had read Edge of Dark, so I read from POST (eSpec Books) for the first time. It went well, and I’ve already gotten some great feedback from readers who picked it up there are started it.  The Goodreads giveaway for POST runs through November 30th if you want to enter. POST is a near-future post-apocalypse story that explores the early parts of recovery after a complex set of disasters driven by climate change, economic stress, and illness.

I spent some time in the bar getting feedback from my official first readers for the first draft of Wilders. That’s the next book from Pyr, which will be out in June of 2017.  I was a little worried, but while there’s a lot to do to improve it and fix challenges, everyone who’s read it so far likes it.  So now the trick will be finding time to finish it and improve it! That will start after Thanksgiving.

Edge of Dark coverI enjoyed the ride to and from Orycon, in spite of driving rain and big trucks throwing spray all over our windshield during our late-night sprint home on Saturday. I’ve known Laura Anne Gilman for some time, but hadn’t had the pleasure of long conversations with her (I love her writing – I haven’t caught up, but her Vineart fantasy series is fabulous, and her Silver on the Road was a finalist for the Endeavour). Since we rode together to and from Portland, we talked, some of our conversation tired and silly as we struggled to get home safely. Which we succeeded at, in spite of being tired-out writers post-convention.

Please consider signing up for my newsletter. It comes out once a month, and its a great way to keep up with me. More news on that front soon, but of note, there just might be a giveaway that ALL members of the mailing list get to participate in soon. Consider that a hint.

Oct
25

Wilders: Mentioned in PW, First Draft in!

News on my next Pyr book — Wilders!

My editor, Rene Sears, mentioned Wilders in a PW article on post-apocalyptic fiction.  I can’t link to the article since it’s behind a paywall, but here’s what Rene said in the article:

“The fear of climate-related disaster, particularly disaster in which humankind has played a terrible role, is prevalent right now—as is a desire to amend it,” says Rene Sears, editorial director at Pyr, which is publishing Wilders by Brenda Cooper in June 2017. The book launches a duology set in a future megacity called Seacouver, at a time when the planet’s wilderness has been devastated due, in part, to climate change.

I’ve just finished the first good draft of this book. while hiding all by myself in a house in Sedona, Arizona.  Which, by the way, is a lovely place to hide and finish a book. Here is a picture to prove it:

img_2241

This could have been in a scene from the book.  So could really, really fantastical cities. 🙂  Wilders can be pre-ordered now. Note the Amazon description is from before my characters and I agreed on different names. 🙂

 

Oct
15

Orycon Schedule

I’ll be at Orycon 38 in Portland, Oregon from November 18th and 19th. Here’s my schedule:

Friday from 5:00 – 6:00

Minor Characters (Moderator) 

Friday from 6:30 – 7:00

Endeavour Awards (Edge of Dark is a finalist!)

Saturday from 10:00 – 11:00

Hybrid Vigor: Choosing both traditional and self-publishing

Saturday from 12:00 – 1:00

Science Fiction as  Tool for Social Change (Moderator)

Saturday from 1:00 -1:30

Reading

Saturday from 2:00 – 3:00

The Usefulness of Productivity

Saturday from 5:00 – 6:00

Science is not boring

Hopefully I’ll see some of you there!  Note I will probably NOT be around Sunday – I will have spent much of October traveling and I’ll probably jet home Sunday morning around dawn.

Oct
09

Post #8: The Last Hurrah!

postThis is the seventh post in my POST series of postings.  🙂 We’re funded, but not yet finished. We’re at $3,967 out of $3,500 and there are 45 hours to go.  This, of course, is great news.  It means POST will be read — we have 143 backers (collectively – for the two books – it could be split down the middle or in any other way). It will also be available for many to see.  I do want to thank Danielle for all of her hard work right now, even before we really finish. So, thanks Danielle the indefatigable!

In the meantime, there are a few days to go and some excellent stories to unlock.  I doubt we’ll hit all of our stretch goals, but I’m going to take a few moments and say nice things about three of those writers up the stretch goal chain.  After all, anything can go viral on the Internet….If you want to help — here’s the link. Please consider dropping it anywhere you like on social media.  🙂

So I wrote about John A. Pitts and Ken Scholes already and their stories are now available to all backers. Backers for the win!  After you read Ken’s story you may go out and buy Lamentation – the first book his fabulous fantasy series.  After you read John’s story, you might end up curious enough to grab a copy of Black Blade Blues.

Three other friends also helped me out by providing stories for stretch goals, and I want to mention them here….

AfterTheFall_BookpgeNancy Kress has been one of my idols for a long time. I used to haunt bookstores looking for her next work.  Now we play Words with Friends, get together for meals, see movies, and share the same science book club where we do experiments together.  But the old me that haunted bookstores would never have imagined that.  Nancy has a heart of gold, and she writes awesome science fiction stories.  If there is any reason you’ve missed her work, you should fix that!  She has almost as many awards as Connie Willis.  Maybe she has more. I can never quite keep track.  One of my favorite recent works is After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall.

Nancy moved out here (and thus helped create the science book group) so that she could marry Seattle writer Jack Skillingstead.  Jack is a brilliant writer, and a sweet, thoughtful man.  He’s also got a wry sense of humor. Try Are you There? for a great short story collection or Life on the Preservation for an award-nominated novel.

Darragh Metzger is another of my very best first readers, and she was in the same writing group that John Pitts and I were in, lo those many years ago when none of use were published.  Darragh is one of the best character writers I know – her fantasy is absolutely fabulous.  Start with Ironwolfe and you’ll fall into yet another completed and fabulous fantasy series by a truly character-driven writer. She donated a long story to this Kickstarter, and if we get to it, you’ll be lucky.

Oct
07

Post #7: The Recovering World of POST

postThis is the seventh, and probably next to last, of my posts about POST.  We’re funded, which is great news.  $3778 out of $3500.  Now every new backer helps make the Kickstarter an even better deal. We have four days left. Three of my friends put in stories that are in the stretch goals, and I know you want those tales –  by Darragh Metzger, Nancy Kress, and Jack Skillingstead. They are  great writers, and I’ll tell you more about them in my next post.  Please back or repost or post or tweet or whatever. Thanks!

Every bit of help is appreciated.

I wanted to return to talking about the story….or more accurately, the setting.  POST is set in a post-devastation Pacific Northwest. Other places have been hit harder, but this place – my home – has been through a lot in the story.  Devastation in the Northwest is a fiction, but there is devastation now in many places.  The devastation is Syria is far worse than I am depicting; refugees are struggling for a safer place in droves, and dying for it.  Pacific Islands are becoming uninhabitable as sea levels rise. Haiti has just been scoured by a large storm, merely 6 years after it was devastated by a major earthquake. The list could go on.  We live in a charmed place in a charmed moment, and I tend to be an optimist. But sometimes you write your fears and you write about overcoming them. POST is fiction, but at least some of the setting — with its crumbling infrastructure and climate-ravaged natural places – could be pulled from real locations. I’ve probably depicted my home as far less destroyed than parts of the world are now.

That this could be us bears remembering.

For those who may have missed it, here is chapter one and here is an excerpt from not too long after that.

Once more, thanks for all of your help.

Sep
23

Post #6: With a little help from my friends

Introduction:

postThis is the sixth entry in my series about POST, the novel that eSpecBooks is crowdfunding via Kickstarter.  For reference, we’re at $2796 out of $3500 at this moment, which is Friday morning.  18 days to go. I’m telling stories about POST….and this is a story about old and valued friendships.

One of the advantages of crowdfunding is that it’s often a great deal for the backers.  I support one or two Kickstarters a month, sometimes publishing Kickstarter like ours, sometimes a new tech toy. Note that the books are reliable – only a few of the publishing projects I’ve funded have even been late!  Ours won’t be – the books are written and copyedited and the covers designed.  Only about half of the tech toys actually seem to show up in a useful way and on time.

This Kickstarter is already a great deal.  The price for a single ebook is reasonable at $5.00. If you back at $5 or more, and we hit $3,000, you’ll get five great stories included, each of which is worth at least $1 all on it’s own…..and of course I think the two stories that are by my friends John and Ken are worth a million dollars each.

Let me explain….

As we were putting the campaign together, Danielle asked if I knew of any great writers we could get stories from. I immediately asked a few friends, and five said yes.  Pretty cool.  I hope I get to write about all five of them.  Let me tell you about two of them, Ken Scholes and  John Pitts.

Ken Scholes (Of Metal Men and Scarlett Thread and Dancing with the Sunrise)

lamentation-revised-jacket2-1Isn’t that a lovely title? If you haven’t discovered Ken’s work yet, you want to.  He generously asked me which story I wanted to use, and I chose this one on purpose.  It’s a seed story for one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read. It’s a long series – five books, and the last of them is done, but not out yet.  Still, you know it won’t be left half-done and finished by someone else…

I personally can’t wait to binge read them all – the first three will be re-reads and then the last two will be fresh for me.  As soon as I finish my MFA….

Ken is one of the finest writers (and humans) I know. His work drips with authority and magic and creativity. If you back or have backed us, and we get to $3,000 (almost certain), you’ll get the story. Then you’ll want to buy the series.  Consider that warning — you’ll need to set aside some time to be enchanted. You’ll also want all of Ken’s other short fiction.  He’s up to three collections, and I had a really hard time choosing between this story and his Edward Bear story.

I’ve known Ken since before he started selling novels, maybe even since before he started writing novels. He sings at conventions. He has a huge, funny, loving heart. He’s overcome much and worked incredibly hard to become the brilliant being that he is.

John A. Pitts (Towfish Blues)

John and I were in the same writing group years ago, before either of us were published (with another friend who’s story might appear here). We’ve stayed friends ever since. He’s one of my best first readers, the guy who catches the plot problems and is always brave enoughblack-blade-blues to tell me when something doesn’t work.  He’s also a brilliant writer.  I love Towfish Blues, which you’ll get to read if you back or have backed us. It’s a dirigible story, and an adventure.  I also love his novel series that starts with Black Blade Blues.  Warning – both titles have “Blues” in them. Different worlds entirely.  John just likes the word blues.  His short story collection is Bravado’s House of Blues.

He’s currently serializing a set of novels as he writes it.  It’s called “Dear Father Mulcahey” and it’s pretty darned awesome. You can find it for free online.

In addition to being a fine writer and delivering great critique, John and his wife Kathy are two of the most fabulous people I know. They’re better humans than I am (and I think I’m a good human – I just think they are stellar role models for the rest of us. They have this intense and rare unselfish generosity).

Hopefully I’ll get to tell my stories about the next three — that will require funding and  hitting stretch goals.  So help us out if you have a moment.