Orycon Weekend!

It’s time to gear up for the most fun weekend of the year! That’s right: Orycon weekend!

Orycon is Portland’s local science fiction convention, featuring lots of fantastic literary, gaming, art, and filking activities. This year it’s at the Red Lion Hotel in Jantzen Beach, and it’s sure to be a good time.

I’ll be at the convention, of course. If you’d like to run into me, make sure to make it to one of my events.

Friday, 11/17

6:00 – 6:30 pm
Wendy N. Wagner reading
Come for the chocolate, stay for the weird!

Saturday, 11/18

11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Interactive Writing Workshop
Sarina Dorie, Wendy N. Wagner, Sharon Joss
How do you prepare to write and sell a short story for a market? Come prepared to write!

2:00 – 3:00 pm
Autograph Session
Bring your books and get ’em signed!
Irene Radford, Bruce Taylor/Mr. Magic Realism, Wendy N. Wagner, Timothy Zahn

4:00 – 5:00 pm
Wendy N. Wagner, John M Lovett, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Pat MacEwen
From Sawney Bean and Sweeney Todd to The Hills Have Eyes and Hannibal, we explore the role of cannibalism in horror literature and film and its historical/anthropological roots.

10:00 pm – midnight
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Brian Hunt, Manny Frishberg, Ethan Siegel, David D. Levine, Randy Henderson, Wendy N. Wagner
A fanish version of the popular improv gameshow.

And although it’s not actually at the con, be sure not to miss the terrific post-Orycon event on Sunday, 11/19!
SF/F Authorfest 11
4:00 – 5:00 pm
Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills
Meet all your favorite NW writers in one terrific location.


Accidental autumn

From Hepzibah’s Garden
Some late-season ground cherries–so delicious!

First, I have to lay it on the line: I am not a very good gardener. This is because when it comes to anything crafty, I am terrible about following instructions. I don’t follow recipes (because I’m so sure that my variation will be more delicious), crochet from patterns (they’re just so boring–it’s much more fun to make something up as I go along), and I have yet to ever think “this worked in last year’s garden, so I should do it again this year.” Sigh. Nope, if there’s an experimental gardening technique out there, I have got to try it.

This year that meant making a hugelkultur bed for the zucchini because I’d read hugelkultur was a great way to save water (the zucchini did great, but August was our highest water bill ever … although since I doubled the size of the garden, that might not be the hugelkultur’s fault). It meant trying to grow clover and strawberries in the same bed so the strawberries had their own nitrogen-fixing living mulch. That worked great until after the clover got their flowers. Then the clover doubled in size and began sending out aggressive runners. If I clipped and pulled clover at least once a week, the strawberries thrived, but once I got sucked into book promotion activities, I kind of lost track of the clover. I got about three strawberries out of that whole strawberry bed. (Remember gardeners: when you mix plants together, make sure they don’t fulfill the same role. Two ground covers compete.  Clover under the kiwi vines, though, is awesome.)

Look, ma! I planted myself!

After all the gardening disasters I experienced this spring and summer, I then forgot to plant an autumn garden. I realized just this week that it was probably too late to plant anything, and I felt a bit sad … until I took a walk in the garden. The one perk of having all my spring plants bolt is that I had a ton of self-seeding plants, who took it upon themselves to have cool-weather loving babies. The garden is full of lovely little turnip and chard plants, and I’ve never gotten so many carrot seeds to sprout in my life!

My next big experiment in the garden will be building an in-garden compost pile. I read about it in The Complete Compost Gardening Guide, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be perfect for next year’s zucchini patch …

Tiny carrots spring up in last year’s tomato bed.

August/September Author Events!

After spending most of August relaxing, I’m back to promoting An Oath of Dogs. If you live in the Pacific Northwest and want to hang out, be sure to check out one of these fun events:

8/31 (Thursday), 7pm
Wendy N. Wagner and Spencer Ellsworth: Reading & Word Nerd Gameshow!
Barnes & Noble
Eugene, Oregon

9/1 (Friday),  7 pm
Wendy N. Wagner and Spencer Ellsworth: Reading & Word Nerd Gameshow!
The Book Bin
Salem, Oregon

9/9 (Saturday), 3 pm
Build-a-World Workshop: Join a panel of SF/F writers and learn how to take your crazy ideas and turn them into fully functional fictional worlds.
Rose City Comic Con
Portland, OR

I can’t wait to hang out with Spencer and to share our  crazy books with all of you!


July Author Events!

With An Oath of Dogs coming out on July 4th, I’m bustling around trying to help introduce the book to the world. I’ve got a couple of events coming up in July.

For those of you outside the Pacific Northwest, I’ll be doing hanging out on the Science Fiction subReddit on Wednesday, July 5th–ask me anything!

If you live in the Pacific Northwest and want to hang out, be sure to check out these live events:

7/6 (Thursday), 7 pm

Wendy N. Wagner Lets the Dogs Out: A reading with trivia and prizes!
University Bookstore, U District Store
Seattle, WA

7/9 (Sunday), 2 pm

Wendy N. Wagner Signing & Meet-and-Greet
Ledding Library
Milwaukie, OR

7/10 (Monday), 7:30 pm

Wendy N. Wagner Unplugged: A reading with trivia and prizes!
Powell’s Books on Hawthorne
Portland, OR

I’m also hitting up Salem and Eugene the end of August, so keep your eyes peeled for more fun events.

And don’t forget: If you really want my signature for your copy of An Oath of Dogs, but you can’t make it to any live events, just contact me for a free signed bookplate!

Writing Snacks with Jennifer Willis

Jennifer Willis is one of my best friends; she’s also a terrific writer who helped beta-read An Oath of Dogs. Jennifer knows how much I love to snack while I’m writing, so she gave me a few recipes. They were so great I wanted to make sure to share them with everyone!

Like me, Jennifer’s got a new book out. Hers is the spicy, funny science fiction romance Mars Ho!, which  combines reality tv shenanigans with a lot of in-depth research on what it takes to send people to Mars. It’s my recommended beach reading!

I have a tendency to snack when I’m writing — especially if I’m not doing a timed writing session, like a pomodoro — and my snacking habits over the years haven’t always been the healthiest. I’m looking at you, Goldfish crackers. Also, not all of my favorite snack foods are appropriate for writing productivity. In case you’re wondering, salsa and keyboards do not play nicely together.

So I’ve gotten a little creative in the kitchen to satisfy my snacking urge while also keeping myself fit and focused. Note that Wendy Wagner’s roasted garbanzo beans have been an important mainstay of our writing sessions, and you should absolutely give those a try, too.

The first of the goodies I’ll share here is a blueberry kale smoothie. Don’t look at me like that! Kale and blueberries absolutely go together. My sister surprised me with a Nutri Ninja last December and the blueberry-kale concoction has been one of my more successful experiments. A regular blender would also work, so you don’t need fancy equipment.

(* I’ll go ahead and admit that when I’m cooking, I rarely measure anything.)
Frozen blueberries: about 2 cups
Kale: 1 leaf (minus the stem)
Water: about 1 cup
Agave/honey: to taste

Note: you can use fruit juice instead of water, and then skip the sweetener. Cocoa powder also makes for a yummy addition.

Blend this all together. Drink it. Easy.

The second snack secret I’ll share is one that became quite popular with my Call of Cthulhu RPG group. It’s homemade kettle corn. This one probably falls in the “not as bad as real junk food” category and is also my go-to during football season. I use a pretty beat-up Stir Crazy to make mine, but I’ve also had success using an old pot for popping.

(Again, sorry I’m bad with measurements. Use your best judgment)
Coconut oil: about 1 tablespoon
Popcorn kernels: six handfuls (I prefer white popcorn to yellow, but either will work)
Sugar: a bit less than half a tablespoon (use however much you think you’d like)
Salt: to taste.

Heat the oil in the Stir Crazy or pot. Combine the un-popped kernels with the sugar in a separate container. I sometimes add a little curry, cayenne, and/or paprika to the mix. Once the oil has melted, add the kernels and sugar simultaneously and make sure everything gets spread out. Wait for everything to pop; if you’re using a pot, shake it occasionally to ensure even heating and prevent burning while the corn is popping. As the popping frenzy slows down, remove from heat, transfer your kettle corn to a serving bowl, and add salt to taste.

If you have leftovers, you can enjoy the kettle corn for another day or two past “popping day.” Just zap it in the microwave for about fifteen seconds first.

An admitted sci-fi nerd and urban fantasy fan, Jennifer Willis is the author of the Valhalla urban fantasy series and the MARS science fiction romance series. When she’s not hiking, knitting, baking, star-gazing, or reading like a fiend, she spends her time bringing enchantment to the world. She is also the writer behind the Northwest Love Stories feature in The Oregonian and has a byline in the BASF award-winning Women Destroy Science Fiction! from Lightspeed.

Free Bookplates!

That’s right: FREE!

I’ve had these glorious stickers designed by the very talented graphic designer (and fellow fictioneer!) Andrew S. Fuller, and they’re just perfect to use as a bookplate.  So if you live far away and would like to add my signature to your copy of An Oath of Dogs, this is the perfect opportunity.

All you need to do is email me (at wendy at winniewoohoo.com) something that shows you pre-ordered the book and to let me know what address you want your signed sticker mailed to. You can even cc the whole thing to penny.reeve @ angryrobotbooks.com to make sure your preorder gets counted toward our donation drive for Freedom Service Dogs of America!

May Flowers

From Hepzibah’s Garden

Being a gardener means taking what the world gives you. Last week our little corner of Oregon lurched out of chilly early spring weather straight into a blast of summertime. In the house, that meant melted cats and a kid who needed an emergency shoe shopping trip. In the garden, that meant I could finally stop worrying about the tomatoes and melons and watch them grow. (I think my pumpkin plant doubled in size last weekend.)

It also meant that flower season was really here and that summer fruit was close at hand.

The blueberries bloomed weeks ago, but now you can really see their fruit developing. Like many kinds of fruit trees, blueberries require a cross-pollinator to set fruit. We’ve planted four different kinds of blueberries around our house who are all supposed to bloom at the same time, but for whatever reasons, their bloomtimes don’t always overlap. You can see that this bush is fruiting up nicely:

But its buddy to the right didn’t do quite so well:

The little flat star-shaped spots are the remnants of unpollinated flowers.

In some cases, the surge of new flowers is very welcome. Bees love these sage blossoms, and if the plant actually produces seeds, maybe I’ll see some more sage plants next year.

But these turnip flowers are a bit disheartening. I pulled up half of the turnip crop when I saw it was going to seed. We enjoyed the delicious greens, but the spicy turnips themselves never got a chance to develop. (Behind the turnips, you can just see the nubbly top of a radish beginning to bud. No radishes? May salads just won’t be the same.)

On our last trip to the garden, I showed pictures of the apple tree in bloom and the great green expanse of the strawberry and clover bed. I’m not quite as in love with that bed as I was the last time I posted. The clover is incredibly vigorous, and I’m spending an awful lot of time cutting it back to give the strawberries more sunshine. The berries on the edge of the clover thicket are doing great. Here’s a beautiful berry enticing me with a hint of red:

The other strawberries are beginning to develop fruit, but are definitely lagging a little behind, and the plants are a bit smaller than the giants on the edge of the clover field. But on the plus side, the plants didn’t clamor for water even during our 90 degree heat blast. Strawberries have pretty shallow root systems that demand a lot of water, so that’s a major benefit.

I like to think of my garden as an experimental plot, so I’ll keep watching the strawberries and cutting back the clover to see how the fruit develops and tastes.

I’ll leave you with just one last shot. The garden is a place for people, plants, insects, and animals of all stripes. One of my favorite animals had to take a bit of a break from the garden after having a major asthma attack. Here he is studying the great outdoors and wishing he could spend more time out there:

Sic Parvis Magna

From Hepzibah’s Garden

Three years ago, I planted a bare root apple tree. When it came in the mail, it looked like a stick with some squiggly roots sticking out of the bottom, but planting it felt momentous. Someday–I didn’t know when–that stick, if I was lucky, would grow branches, take over my yard, and even produce delicious apples. It’s not there yet, but this spring it has produced its first blossoms.

But the apple tree isn’t the only thing bursting into flower in my garden! All the spring ephemerals are doing their thing. Many of the daffodils have already wrapped up their show for the year, but the muscari and bluebells are still going crazy, and the strawberries are beginning to get in on the action.

Here’s a picture of my new strawberry bed:

The strawberries in the foreground are easy to pick out, because I transplanted them this spring to an area that was freshly weeded. The other strawberries are hiding in the lush clover growth. Every few weeks, I’ll give the clover a smart haircut, which causes it to prune down its roots. Since clover is a nitrogen-fixer, every time it sheds bits of roots, it sends a flush of nitrogen into the soil that feeds my berry plants. I just leave the chopped clover on the ground, where it adds organic matter to the soil.

At the beginning of last year, this bed had suffered from terrible erosion, and the soil refused to hold water. I topped it up with compost and planted a mix of clover and flowering plants. After about three weeks of chop-and-drop mulching (cutting the leaves off the clover and leaving them on the soil surface), water stopped sluicing off the bed when I watered the plants. After three months, the soil was visibly deeper–the bed had gained about half an inch of height, and the top two inches of soil were now fluffy and dark, perfect for strawberries.

Since I’m a writer, I tend to think of gardening as “worldbuilding.” When I start a new story or novel, I have to sort out the relationships between the different plants, creatures, and people in the worlds I’m imagining, because nothing lives on its own. In my garden, the other plants have a real effect on each other, and I have to keep that in mind. My strawberries love living with clover, and last summer I accidentally brought a cucumber plant back to life when I planted a bed with wheat and vetch cover crops that apparently sheltered and nourished my withered cucumber. If I keep these things in mind, I can make my garden a far more vibrant place than if I just grow my plants in isolated, sad strips of dirt.

Here are some other pictures from the garden today:

This fern and this heuchera are native plants who have just found their way into my garden. When we first moved into this house, none of the plants you can see were here at the base of the birdbath (except the very stringy lavender plant that’s currently hidden under the fern). A massive (and massively needy!) rosebush covered most of this. I finally gave up on nursing it along this year and dug it up.

I just love our birdbath and so do the local birds! Squirrels really like to hang out in it, as well. I think the way the water is reflecting the cherry blossoms is just exquisite.


Every year on Easter weekend, science fiction and fantasy fans gather in the Seattle area to celebrate everything fun about SFF. This will be my first trip to Norwescon, and I’m really looking forward to it. It looks to be a busy con, as I’ve got lots of panels and a reading on Saturday (where you can hear a little snippet of An Oath of Dogs).

Here’s my schedule:


Worldbuilding: Coin of the Realm
1:00pm – 2:00pm @ Poolside1
Laura Anne Gilman (M), Nancy Kress, Renee Stern, Wendy N. Wagner
Art and Craft Open Time (Kids programming)
2:30pm – 3:30pm @ Olympic 1
Wendy N. Wagner, Adia, Raven J. Demers
Koffee Klatsch: Wendy N. Wagner
5:00pm – 6:00pm @ Pro Suite
Wendy N. Wagner (M)
Dress-up RPG/Intro to RPG (Kids Programming)
6pm -7 pm @ Olympic 1
(I’ll be helping talented author and storytime expert Dale Ivan Smith, so this should be really fun for your little ones!)
Grounded Sci-Fi
9:00pm – 10:00pm @ Poolside0
Liz Argall (M), Crystal Connor, Wendy N. Wagner, Marc Gascoigne


Why Editors Pass
11:00am – 12:00pm @ Evergreen 3&4
Wendy N. Wagner (M), Gordon Van Gelder, Marc Gascoigne, Patrick Swenson, Shannon Page
Reading:  Wendy N. Wagner
12:30pm – 1:00pm @ Cascade 2
Wendy N. Wagner (M)
Autograph Session 1
2:00pm – 3:00pm @ Grand 2
Ethan Siegel, Ian McDonald, Catska Ench, Cory Ench, Nancy Kress, Marc Gascoigne, Mike Underwood, Carol Berg, Alex Irvine, Annie Bellet, Caroline M. Yoachim, Curtis C. Chen, Dean Wells, Greg Bear, Jack Skillingstead, James C. Glass, Jeff Sturgeon, John Cramer, Kat Richardson, Lee Moyer, Nathan Crowder, Nisi Shawl, Peter Orullian, Randy Henderson, Scott James Magner, Todd Lockwood, Tori Centanni, Wendy N. Wagner, PJ Manney, Julie McGalliard, Crystal Connor, David D. Levine
First Page Idol
5:00pm – 6:00pm @ Cascade 9
Curtis C. Chen (M), Wendy N. Wagner, Patrick Swenson, Mark Teppo
If you’ll be at Norwescon, stop by and say hi!

Cover reveal for An Oath of Dogs

I’m beyond happy with the fantastic cover art Joey Hi-Fi has put together for Oath.  It’s not easy making a world of forests and lumberyards look high tech and science fictional, but he’s captured the tone of the book perfectly. For the first glimpse, check out the post on Tor.com.

Along with showing off the terrific cover, that post kicks off a special project my publisher is doing: For every pre-order of the book, Angry Robot will donate a dollar to Freedom Service Dogs of America, which helps connect veterans with service dogs. It’s a fantastic cause, and I’m really hopeful that we’ll be able to help them raise a nice chunk of money!

An Oath of Dogs

I make words happen.