How LibreOffice freed my inner rebel from the shackles of Microsoft Office

As moral beings, humans try to align their behavior with their values. I don’t use Microsoft Word to write. I’ve successfully resisted putting Office on my laptop. I refuse to have anything to do with Office, if I can help it. I admit it’s a quirk, but it’s how I live my values. Why would … More How LibreOffice freed my inner rebel from the shackles of Microsoft Office

Five Questions: Sherry Decker, author of A Summer with the Dead

I heard author Sherry Decker read from her upcoming novel A Summer with the Dead at Two-Hour Transport, a monthly open mic and guest reading series at the famed Cafe Racer in the city’s Roosevelt neighborhood. I’m not normally a fan of horror, but her reading was so compelling, that I thought she was perfect … More Five Questions: Sherry Decker, author of A Summer with the Dead

Two-Hour Transport: A journey into Seattle’s sci-fi and fantasy community

Seattle’s reputation as a literary town includes an enormous presence in the science fiction and fantasy universe. The great Octavia Butler, author of the Parable of the Sower, penned her works in the shadow of the Space Needle, the city’s iconic landmark. Other authors include Don McQuinn, Cat Rambo, and Shawn Speakman. Lesser known and … More Two-Hour Transport: A journey into Seattle’s sci-fi and fantasy community

How would King Arthur’s knights cope with a climate-changed world?

My wife and I drove from Seattle to Powell’s Books in Portland a couple of weeks ago to satisfy an itch. At this point, I’ve written three novels and eight shorts in the world of Carbon Run, but the project has run its course. Is there another way to explore the idea of a post-global … More How would King Arthur’s knights cope with a climate-changed world?

Five Questions: Sabrina Chase, author of the Argonauts of Space series

I’d like to introduce you to Sabrina Chase, a Seattle author whom I met through one of my writers groups. She gave a fascinating talk about how to successfully publish as an independent. It can be very rewarding, but it’s a lot of work, she says. Sabrina is the author of the Argonauts of Space … More Five Questions: Sabrina Chase, author of the Argonauts of Space series

Author Mem Fox and Donald Trump’s chilling of America

The recent mistreatment of Australian author Mem Fox by US Customs and Border Patrol heralds a little-discussed effect of President Trump’s plan to shut the door on immigration. Her detention by CBP could have a chilling effect on the cross-fertilization of ideas that makes open societies so powerful. As Trump attacks illegal immigration, he is sending … More Author Mem Fox and Donald Trump’s chilling of America

For me, 2017 will be the Year of the Contest

I’ve been writing professionally for thirty years, and I’ve tended to see entering contests and competitions as a chore. I’m not sure why, except that I’ve never liked competing against other people, preferring to compete against myself. I like to push myself on and on, to see if I can beat my last personal best. … More For me, 2017 will be the Year of the Contest

I must be crazy, because I’m a college student again

View this post on Instagram Thanks to my sister Steph for the writing tools, which I'm using in my networking classes at South Seattle College. ** #seattle #college #computers #computerscience #writing #notes #oldschool A post shared by J.G. Follansbee (@jgfollansbee) on Jan 13, 2017 at 11:32am PST Last October, I wrote about my layoff from … More I must be crazy, because I’m a college student again

Hey, Tacoma. I’m making a rare appearance at Foss Waterway Seaport!

It’s been years since I’ve made a public appearance, but my friend Wes Wenhardt, the executive director of Foss Waterway Seaport in Tacoma, asked me to give a talk. I’ll be at FWS 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, December 10. I’ll be speaking about some of my favorite Puget Sound maritime heritage attractions listed … More Hey, Tacoma. I’m making a rare appearance at Foss Waterway Seaport!

I’m between projects and I need your help deciding what to work on next.

I’m religious about my work habits. I set aside two hours a day for writing only. I decide what I’ll work on and do that thing until it’s done or the two hours are up. I’ll add 15 minutes here, cut 15 minutes there, work on a lower priority item if I finish the high … More I’m between projects and I need your help deciding what to work on next.

Why writers should stop using ‘redneck’ as an ethnic slur, and probably won’t.

Science fiction is awash with discussion about diversity. Almost since its inception, the genre has been dominated by Anglo-European men. (Oddly enough, modern sci-fi was invented by a woman, Mary Shelley, with her novel, Frankenstein.) In the past few decades, however, more women and some African-Americans, e.g., Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, and N.K. Jemisin, … More Why writers should stop using ‘redneck’ as an ethnic slur, and probably won’t.

Reading: Zillah Harmonia, a Carbon Run Story

This spring, I took a short story writing class through Hugo House, a Seattle non-profit dedicated to teaching and promoting poetry and literature. I wrote two stories during the eight-week class, and I’ve produced an audio version of one of them, “Zillah Harmonia“. In a future decade when fixing the environment is the world’s top … More Reading: Zillah Harmonia, a Carbon Run Story

The Girl in the Road: Literary fiction with a sci-fi overlay

As a writer who likes to look at speculative fiction through the lens of climate change, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to read Monica Byrne‘s debut novel, The Girl in the Road, published in 2014. Though its portrait of two women connected across time and space is classified as science fiction by some, … More The Girl in the Road: Literary fiction with a sci-fi overlay

Should you hire a sensitivity reader to scrutinize your novel?

You’ve just finished a novel certain to win a Pulitzer Prize, and you’re particularly proud of one character, an individual not of your race, sexual orientation, and gender. You’ve struck a blow for diversity in literature, one of your core values. Blogger and consultant Mikki Kendall has a suggestion: If you think you’ve done a … More Should you hire a sensitivity reader to scrutinize your novel?

A Tale of Disappointment and Two Endings

Spoilers ahead, including details of book endings You’ve invested days, maybe weeks of time in a relationship, but at the end, you’re disappointed. It happens in real-life relationships, and it happens to readers invested in a novel’s characters. Fortunately, the latter is a rare thing, but when it happens, it can be a gut punch. … More A Tale of Disappointment and Two Endings