Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Peer-Pressure Writing: Offering Encouragement & Just a Little Shame

Sunday, August 16th, 2015 | Posted by Tina Jens

Writing group 3Mama may have warned you as a child not to give into peer pressure, but that all depends on what the chanting crowd is pushing you to do. In more and more cases, in a variety of ways, writers are inviting other writers to pressure them to write, right? These can include formal educational writers’ retreats, but can be as simple as you and a buddy meeting at a coffee shop.

The classic model is to attend a writers’ retreat. There are lots of them with varied focuses on writing form, commercial genre, regional location, school affiliation, and more. Often, these retreats also offer work-shopping of the manuscripts written there, and in some cases, guest lectures by top tier authors and editors.

One of the best in the spec lit field is the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. A six-week program held on a college campus, it was established in 1968 and has a stiff competition among applicants to be accepted. It has other regional offshoots. As you can imagine, paying room, board, and instructors fees can add up: the 2015 Clarion workshop was estimated to cost around $5,000, plus travel, and that’s in addition to being able to afford six weeks away from your job.

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Goth Chick News: Checking In at the Hotel Transylvania

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Hotel Transylvania TV-smallIf only this place really existed, I would never again suffer a Black Gate company road trip, trapped in a zeppelin with a load of less-than-hygienic fan boys, but instead would be enjoying my suite in the goth girl’s equivalent of the Four Seasons.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, my all-time favorite animated film Hotel Transylvania will be coming to the small screen, courtesy of Canadian company Nelvana Enterprises.

Debuting in early 2017 (venue pending), the series will focus on Mavis, the daughter of Dracula, expanding on her teenage years and her friends at the world-famous monster five-star resort.

News of the TV adaptation comes ahead of the sequel Hotel Transylvania 2 hitting theaters this fall, on September 25.

And speaking of the sequel…

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Goth Chick News: World War Z Rages On…

Thursday, May 28th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

World War Z poster-smallIt definitely would have been a very good scoop to have landed back at C2E2. Then again, I might have been too busy having a fan girl swoon to have caught on anyway.

Earlier this month I had the chance to chat with Max Brooks, author of one of my favorite novels, World War Z. At the time I pressed him as much as I dared on the topic of a sequel as it seemed to be a rather touchy subject. Brooks stated he’d do it when the spirit moved him to and not a moment before.

This week I learned two things – first, something has definitely moved Brooks, and second, a possible reason why the topic of a follow up story might have been a tad touchy at the time I asked about it.

Paramount Pictures has just set a release date for the sequel to World War Z, effectively ending speculation, and Max Brooks is on board as one of the writers.

Granted, we’ve been hearing rumors about this for some time. In spite of the original production being plagued by so many problems it came close to being scrapped, World War Z ultimately became a blockbuster hit ($540M worldwide) and is in fact considered the highest grossing film in Brad Pitt’s career.

As Pitt not only starred in but produced the original film via his Plan B production company, it seemed inevitable that Paramount would green light a follow up at some point.

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Goth Chick News: Super Heros, Zombies and Three Guys in Green Tights

Thursday, May 7th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

C2E2 Expo-smallIf you happened to be hanging out in downtown Chicago recently, perhaps enjoying the first wiff of a thaw in the air, then you also ran a fair chance of seeing Khaleesi riding the El train.

After all, April in the Windy City can only mean one thing.

It is once again time for the mother of all spandex parades, otherwise known as the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2 for you cool kids).

Started back in 2010, C2E2 is a fan convention spanning the latest and greatest from the worlds of comics, movies, television, toys, anime, manga and video games. The 840K square foot show floor was packed light saber to body suit with literally hundreds of exhibitors, panels and autograph sessions. And though this year’s attendance has not yet been officially published, estimates place it at a record-breaking 60K plus.

As we have done for the prior four years, Black Gate photog Chris Z and I gleefully donned our official press passes (by far the coolest looking ones in the industry) and waded into the fray; in order to provide you a chance to peep at least a small portion of the sights too numerous to catalog.

Thanks to a pre-opening chat with perennial Goth Chick News fav, horror comic writer Dirk Manning, we were able to skirt the biblical-sized masses queued at the entrance and get an early look at show floor. The sheer number of booths dedicated to comics alone made me wonder (and later discover) the actual size of the domestic industry for comics and graphic novels, in dollars.

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Goth Chick News: Hitting the Show Circuit…Hard

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

TransWorld’s Halloween & Attractions show-smallAnd so this happened last week…

John O (the big cheese): People probably imagined you lot (Photog Chris Z and I presumably – GC) are just hunkered down there in the subterranean offices of Black Gate sequestered with a blender, several bottles of adult beverages and the Roku horror channels.

Me: So…?

John O: So – that’s not the image we want to portray here at Black Gate.

Me: We have an image…?

John O: OF COURSE WE HAVE AN IMAGE! Why can’t you be more like Scott Taylor?

Me: Who?  Oh…you mean Art. Right. Wait, what was that first thing again?

John O: [insert unpublishable adult language] Would you please just go be visible somewhere? Be a reporter – get out in the field and report. That’s what Scott Taylor does.  He reports… on art… for Black Gate.

Me: The ice machine is broken again.

John O: ARG! [insert more adult language and stomping up the stairs]

What John O doesn’t know but what — and I’m just guessing here — he wants to know, is the following.

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The Top 50 Black Gate Posts in May

Sunday, June 29th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

GodzillaMillenniumIt was all about the king of monsters at the Black Gate blog last month.

Ryan Harvey’s Godzilla review was our top article in May. His mammoth 5-part history of the Big Guy was also picked up by Boing-Boing, among other places, exposing the series to thousands of new readers; the final installment came in at #3 for the month. If you visited the site last month and read nothing but Godzilla articles, you weren’t the only one.

My analysis of John C. Wright’s conservative manifesto “Heinlein, Hugos, and Hogwash,” and the frequently hilarious response in the blogosphere, was our second most read article last month. Garrett Calcaterra’s well-researched “Can SF Save the World From Climate Change?” came in at #4.

Rounding out the Top Five was Fletcher Vredenburgh’s warm appreciation of Keith Taylor’s sword & sorcery classic, Bard.

The complete Top 50 Black Gate posts in May were:

  1. Godzilla (2014) Is a True Godzilla Film and a Unique Blockbuster
  2. A Ride Along with the Thought Police: John C. Wright, Foz Meadows, and Rachel Aaron
  3. A History of Godzilla on Film, Part 5: The Travesty and the Millennium Era (1996–2004)
  4. Can SF Save the World From Climate Change?
  5. A Perfect Artifact from the Glory Days of 1970s Swords & Sorcery: Keith Taylor’s Bard
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Goth Chick News: Comic Aficionados, Prepare to Have Your Minds Blown

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Shifter graphic novel-smallWhen attending an event as gi-normous as Chicago’s C2E2, if you come upon a booth with a crowd so large you can’t get close enough to see what is going on, it can only mean one of two things.

Either the girls from Gorilla Tango Burlesque are promoting their Star Wars: A Nude Hope girlie show again or someone is demonstrating something truly amazing.  And though Black Gate photog Chris Z was hoping for the former, in this case it was the latter.

Comic fangirls and boys, allow me to introduce “augmented reality” comics.

To start with augmented reality, or “AR,” is defined by the Mashable tech site as:

A direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory inputs.  As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.  Unlike virtual reality which replaces the real world with a simulated one, augmented reality is in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) information about the surrounding real (or in this case “comic”) world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulate-able. Artificial information about the environment and its objects is overlaid on the “real” world.

Translated, this means by downloading a free companion app and pointing your tablet or smartphone’s camera at pages in an AR comic, you can literally watch the art get up off the page and interact with you.

And this is what drew the insane crowd to the Anomaly Productions booth at C2E2.

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Goth Chick News: Lovecraft Fans, It’s Time for a Road Trip

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Atlas on your phone

The Atlas on your phone

In last week’s coverage of C2E2, I promised to share two of the coolest products from the show in upcoming posts – and I am about to do just that.

Though my buddy and Lovecraft devotee, comic artist Dirk Manning, was hoping for Cthulhu footy pajamas, I believe what I am about to serve up is (almost) as exciting.

Allow me to introduce you to Chris Karr and his Pnakotic Atlas.

Karr was first struck with the idea for the Pnakotic Atlas when driving through Maine. As a fan of Stephen King, Kerr became curious as to the actual locations of some of King’s more famous tales and thought it would be cool if there was a way to easily find some of them. Karr is an app developer by trade and an avid fan of H.P. Lovecraft (in addition to King). He decided to tackle the idea of an atlas that documented Lovecraft locations: a less potentially litigious option, as Lovecraft’s works are in the public domain.

The inspiration for the name Pnakotic Atlas, as all of you Lovecraftians know, comes from The Pnakotic Manuscripts, which are fictional manuscripts created by Lovecraft that first appeared in his short story “Polaris” (1918). They appear again in several other Lovecraft stories, including At the Mountains of Madness (1936), “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” (1926), “The Other Gods” (1933), and “The Shadow Out of Time” (1936).

The fictional library city of Pnakotus is where the Manuscripts are housed and where they, and Karr’s app, get their moniker.

Karr combed through Lovecraft’s works, pulling out any detail he could find about locations (the ones on Earth, anyway), and was able to document approximately 400 potential sites.  Then using the stories as guides, he went about meticulously locating each place on Google Earth.

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Goth Chick News: The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (That’s C2E2 For You Cool Kids)

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Sue Granquist

c2e2 logoThis year’s C2E2 event, held the weekend of April 26th, was reportedly the largest Chicago has seen so far.  And judging from the amount of trench coats and spandex Black Gate photog Chris Z and I observed during our annual pilgrimage, I have no doubt this was true.

Trench coats and spandex, you ask?

Considering this is primarily a comic convention where about one attendee in every four was parading their cosplay best, the spandex is probably self-explanatory, but it might interest you to know that the definition of sexy at this year’s event was none other than the Time Lord himself, Doctor Who.

Attendance was estimated at 70K, which meant even though Chicago is now hosting the show in the same exhibition hall as the Auto Show, the space still seems packed in, which can be somewhat awkward when spandex is involved.

The over 400 exhibitors consisted of comic sellers of course, but also every category of related paraphernalia you can possibly imagine — including costume accessories, figurines and the most amazing collection of genre artists you’ll find under one roof. And that doesn’t even include the celebrities there to meet and greet, as well as participate in panel discussions.

With that much material, it’s downright difficult to decide what to tell you about, but here are a few morsels that caught our attention.

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Goth Chick News: Hanging with Head Smash Creator Vlad Yudin

Thursday, May 30th, 2013 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image008At this year’s Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (“C2E2”), you couldn’t spit a piece of gum without hitting a promotional plug for Head Smash.

To be honest, you couldn’t spit a piece of gum without hitting a lot of unusual things at the May event, but Black Gate photog Chris Z and I couldn’t help but notice that the sheer quantity of Head Smash promotion was on par with the visual assault launched by Marvel for its own upcoming releases.

We had to admit, the curiosity factor was being driven off the scale for a graphic novel that hadn’t yet been released — not to mention an indy film adaptation barely into pre-production.

I had read that Yudin was creating Head Smash (penned by Erik Hendrix and illustrated by Dwayne Harris) for Arcana Comics, as well as writing the film adaptation of the story.  He is also producing and adapting the film’s screenplay with The Twilight Saga producers Mark Morgan and Michael Beckor.

So thanks partially to our nosiness–  but mostly to the tenacity of the PR company handling Head Smash and its creator – Chris and I got an early morning exclusive chat with the Russian-born-US-raised writer, director and producer Vlad Yudin.

And yes, I admit it, there’s no way I’m not going to talk to a guy named “Vlad…”

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