Category Archives: Writing

MARS NEEDS CHILDREN

Calling all Moms and Dads: Would you send your kids to colonize Mars? I tackle this subject in my guest editorial in the July-August issue of Analog. Available now. Hope you’ll give it a read. I’m always happy to hear from my readers what you think.

And while you’re at it, check out some first-rate new fiction by my writing buddies, Martin L. Shoemaker and C. Stuart Hardwick. These hot new writers are ones to keep your eyes on, and to read! Here’s the complete Table of Contents for a terrific double issue:

 

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I’M EATING THE FANTASTIC WITH PODCASTER SCOTT EDELMAN

I was interviewed on today’s episode of the Scott Edelman’s podcast, Eating the Fantastic! That in itself is pretty fantastic. In case you don’t know, Scott’s a writer, editor, foodie, and the driving force behind the podcast, Eating the Fantastic. Over scrumptious meals (and you ALWAYS want to go to restaurants he picks out), Scott interviews science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers, as well as editors and other creative types about how they got their start, what they’re working on now, and whatever else comes up. I’ve been enjoying his interviews for well over a year.

Now it was my turn to be interviewed over lunch at Momofuku. This relatively new restaurant in downtown D.C. has made a big splash. I get what the fuss is about. We’d both highly recommend it. Such fond memories of these pork buns:

But anyway, I hope you’ll listen to the podcast as it was my chance to talk about attending Clarion and Taos Toolbox, writing for Analog, doing readings, and other topics before unveiling my major new writing project involving dinosaurs. I hope you’ll listen. I’ll blog more about my latest project in a few days. Until then, Scott has the exclusive.

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I AM AN ANLAB AWARD FINALIST!

Analog Cover APRIL2016web

ZOMG! Look! My novelette, “Diamond Jim and the Dinosaurs,” is a finalist for the AnLab Readers’ Award! It was published in the April/May issue of Analog, the one featuring this gorgeous Bob Eggleton cover. For a short period of time, you can read it for free here. And who wouldn’t want to read about Antarctic dinosaurs?

I want to extend my gratitude to all those Analog readers who thought my story was worthy. I am deeply honored to be among such talented writers including my pal C. Stuart Hardwick, who made the finals with his Analog debut novelette, “Dreams of the Rocket Men” and Effie Seiberg with her Analog debut, “Rocket Surgery.” Also, my thanks go out to astute editor, Trevor Quachri for doing vital behind-the-scenes work to improve stories way more than many readers ever suspect.

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MY YEAR IN REVIEW

To my surprise, several people have asked if I intend to blog about what I’ve had published in 2016. Well, alrighty then, since a few of you asked …

Diamond Jim and the Dinosaurs– This novelette (3rd in the series) appeared in the April issue of Analog. Not only am I rather fond of it, but I’m also totally in love with the Bob Eggleton dinosaur cover on the magazine.

Not With A Bang-My first time travel story featuring Marty and Julianna was reprinted in the anthology Time Travel Tales.

Dino Mate – The sequel to Not With a Bang was reprinted in Ctrl Alt Delight.

Zombie Limbo Master – My sole zombie story was reprinted in Quickfic Anthology 1.

Our Right, Our Duty, Our Privilege was the March Analog guest editorial.

On the Money: Scientist of Inventor Wanted – This guest editorial appeared in the November issue of Analog.

 

All in all, this hasn’t been a bad year by any means. In fact, it’s been a better year for me than this list might lead one to suppose. The reason I say this has to do with several things I’ve written that will be unveiled next year.

MY AWARD-ELIGIBLE FICTION

Analog Cover APRIL2016web

It’s that time of year, once again, when writers set out to gently remind our faithful–but perhaps forgetful–readers as to what we published that is eligible for the Hugo and Nebula awards, as well as for the plethora of other literary awards.

For me, it’s simple: most of my work was either nonfiction, like my 2 Analog guest editorials, or reprints of previously published stories. However, I did have one novelette published in the April 2016 issue of Analog. It’s title is, “Diamond Jim and the Dinosaurs.” I’d be honored if you’d give it a look-see because who doesn’t need to read about dinosaurs roaming around Antarctica?

As for next year, I’ve got a passel of new dinosaurs, with extra ferocity, ready to serve up to my readers!

OH PARADISE!

Exterior view of the historic Alamo shortly after sunrise

Are you a newish professional SF & fantasy writer? ‘Tis the season to contemplate taking your fiction writing to a new level via a terrific writers’ workshop. What’s that I hear you muttering—you’ll give it some thought after the holidays? That may well be a mistake. You see, one of the premier workshops, Paradise Lost, accepts memberships on a rolling basis. It has a limited number left for both its critique track and its retreat track. There aren’t many left. I’ve been to Paradise Lost three years running and must say that I’ve learned wonderful new things every year. Plus it’s a four-day event set in beautiful San Antonio, Texas at a perfect time of year: April 27 – 3o, 2017.

Paradise Lost isn’t for beginners as you must have a pro sale, or have attended Viable Paradise, Taos Toolbox, or be a member of Codex. But it is way less intensive than those other workshops. At Paradise Lost, you’ll have a few weeks in advance to critique roughly four works of 5000 words apiece.  20,000 words total is doable even if you’re not a fast critiquer, and I’m definitely not. There will also be time to work on your own stories, attend class, and socialize with other writers. What invariably gets shorted is sleep, but yeah you already knew that, right?

In a supportive environment, Paradise Lost really shines at:

1) Providing top-notch classroom instruction by some of the best writers in our field, and for the first time this year, by an agent.
2) Teaching you how to identify what’s working well and what could be improved in others’ stories, which translates into improving your own fiction.
3) Having experienced professionals give you thoughtful critiques of your stories.
4) Removing the preponderance of day-to-day distractions from writing, such as your day job, your family, etc.
5) Fostering genuine friendships with other newish pro writers who know what you’re going through, who can provide moral support and be there for you for years to come.

Nonetheless, a workshop is not a magic potion and cannot:

1) Make sure you keep on writing daily, weekly, monthly, or ever,
2) Force you to finish all – or any – of the stories or novels you began in a burst of enthusiasm,
3) See that you press the ‘submit’ button, and keep doing so each time a rejection comes back.

So back to the question – should you sign up? Keep in mind that-
1) It’s less time away from family, job, friends, and your day-to-day life than other writers’ workshops.
2) There is financial aid, as well as the possibility of sharing a hotel room with another attendee to reduce costs.
3) It can sure give you an injection of determination that can be vital to getting established in the tough field of writing science fiction and fantasy.

One last thought, Paradise Lost stands head and shoulders above trying to muddle through by perfecting your craft in isolation. Anything that can reduce the fundamentally isolating nature of the writer’s job is a remarkably good thing.

Sure hope I’ll see you there.

WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION 2016

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Goodbye Columbus: At the end of World Fantasy Convention 2016, I came back from Ohio and my city was NOT gone. So how was the convention, you might ask?

Well, as this photo of me shows, the mass autographing session was a lot of fun. You can see a few of the recent Analogs featuring my stories and guest editorials.

Another highlight was my panel with David Drake, S.M. Sterling, Eric Flint, & Rhiannon Held on how new archaeological findings influence SF and fantasy. Our panel was both well attended and well received.

Then too, I got to attend several author’s readings–always a treat! Thank you Camille Griep, David D. Levine, Lawrence Schoen, Rajan Khanna, Kathleen Goonan, and Max Gladstone.

Yet, what really stands out the most is several stimulating conversations I had with long-time and recent friends in the field. Perhaps it’s been a while since I’ve noted how much it lifts my spirits to be part of a community composed of many good people, creative people, witty and insightful people, enormously generous of spirit. As we ply our writer’s craft, each of our individual boats is swept along by currents seen and unseen. We call out warnings to one another of the rapids and shoals that lie before us. We applaud one another’s deft navigation. Our flotilla makes its way into the future.

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ON THE MONEY

november-2016-cover

I have a new guest editorial in Analog’s latest issue: November 2016. I give some thought to placing a scientist and/or inventor on United States currency. Give it a read and find out who might merit this honor. Do you have suggestions of your own — someone I don’t mention, perhaps? Let me know in the comments.

And hey, look at the other great stuff in this issue. I’m really pleased to be sharing a table of contents with these talented folks.  As always, my thanks go to Trevor Quachri for giving me this opportunity and for unleashing his first-rate editing abilities upon this piece.

november-2016-toc
Also, I just gotta say, man-oh-man this guest editorial-writing gig never gets old!

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COSMOSPHERE AND MIDAMERICON!

Hello Kansas SF readers: I’ll be signing some of my stories at  the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson on Tuesday Aug. 16 from 1 p.m to 2 p.m. Come say “hi” to me and other writers: Martin L. Shoemaker, C. Stuart Hardwick, Daniel J. Davis, and Steve Pantazis. I’ve never been to this space museum and am looking forward to it. Hope some of you can drop by. Here’s the press release:

 

Next, I’ll be in Kansas City on Wed. 8/16 through Mon. 8/22 for MidAmeriCon, the world science fiction and fantasy convention. In addition to signing some of my work, I’ll be on panels talking about dinosaurs, time travel, Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, magic, and cloning mammoths. Those are separate topics (whew!). Hope to see a bunch of you there. Here’s my Worldcon schedule:

What’s New in the World of Dinosaurs!
Thursday 1:00 – 2:00, 2205 (Kansas City Convention Center)
Dinosaurs are cool! New discoveries are being made every day as we unearth bones from the past. In a recent discovery, scientists believe that a pregnant T-Rex found in Montana may have fragments of DNA preserved in her medullary bone. What else is out there? What other news from the past is there to share?

Bennett Coles, Michael Swanwick, Mel. White, Frank Wu (M) Rosemary Claire Smith

Amateur Scientists Doing Real Science
Thursday 2:00 – 3:00, 2206 (Kansas City Convention Center)
We all know of amateur astrophysicists and their successes, but what other science is carried out by non-professionals? What can they teach us about doing science and learning about science in real life situations and in our sf-nal worlds?

Spring Schoenhuth, Rosemary Claire Smith, Renée Sieber (M)

Launchpad
Thursday Aug 18   03:00 PM to 04:00 PM (Kansas City Convention Center)
Launch Pad is an annual event whereby a group of invited writers, editors, and creatives learn about modern science, specifically astronomy, so that they can in turn use it in their work and inspire others. Members who have attended Launch Pad discuss how it has affected their writing and ideas.

Fonda Lee (M), Monica Valentinelli, William Ledbetter, Matthew S. Rotundo, Rosemary Claire Smith

To Clone a Mammoth
Thursday 6:00 – 7:00, 2207 (Kansas City Convention Center)
We’re trying to clone dinosaurs (because that went so well in the Jurassic Park films), but maybe we should start with something smaller. Perhaps… a mammoth! Then again, what would we do with a mammoth? Where would it live? How would we go about cloning it? What are some of the risks, real or imagined, of reviving extinct species using cloning technology?

Rosemary Claire Smith, Mel. White (M), Frank Wu, Takayuki Tatsumi, Lynette M. Burrows

Autographing: Neil Clarke, Brenda Cooper, Rebecca Moesta, Martin Shoemaker, Rosemary Claire Smith

Friday 10:00 – 11:00, Autographing Space (Kansas City Convention Center)

Rebecca Moesta, Neil Clarke, Brenda Cooper, Martin L. Shoemaker, Rosemary Claire Smith

Archaeology in SF

Saturday 2:00 – 3:00, 2503B (Kansas City Convention Center)
Forget Indiana Jones, learn what archaeologists really do and how science fiction and fantasy get it right and wrong.

Dana Cameron, Rhiannon Held, Jason Sanford (M), Jack McDevitt, Ms Rosemary Claire Smith

When The Magic Goes Away

Sunday 11:00 – 12:00, 3501H (Kansas City Convention Center)
In a world once filled with magic, mystery, and beauty, where the Old Magic slipped away from the forests, the gates to Faerie closed, and the last ships sailed to the west, what does it mean when the magic fades? We look at representations of coming back to the real world or letting go, and wonder why it is such a potent part of fantasy writing.

Mr. Jared Shurin (M), Heather Rose Jones, Ms Rosemary Claire Smith, Erin Wilcox, Mr. Kevin J. Anderson

Time Travel and the Search for Redemption

Sunday 1:00 – 2:00, 3501D (Kansas City Convention Center)
Much of literature involves characters’ fraught relationship with the past. They are haunted by memories or spend their lives regretting a single horrible decision.  Time travel permits the character to confront the past directly, to make literal what in mainstream fiction is only metaphorical. Join us as we discuss stories where time travel is a metaphor or device for witnessing and learning about the past or wishing to correct personal flaws and errors.

Kenneth Schneyer (M), Jack McDevitt, Jason Heller, Ms Rosemary Claire Smith

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CALLING ALL WORLD BUILDERS

The Google+ Hangouts with Juliette Wade
When SF and fantasy writers talk about the craft, you hear a wide range of remarks about world building. Some grin and say things like, “That’s the most fun part of the job; I could spend all my time on it.” Others struggle and quietly despair.

So how does one go about crafting a more believable world inhabited by far-future humans, aliens, or magical creatures? My writing buddy, Juliette Wade has a website and youtube program dedicated to “Diving Into World Building”. With her advanced degrees in anthropology and linguistics, she’s got a wealth of knowledge. Better still, some terrific guests have been on her program. That’s great seeing as there are as many approaches as there are writers, maybe more. Hope you’ll dive in. The water’s great!

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