Rambling On

Anthony R. Cardno's Fiction and Commentary

A couple of folks have asked, so I’m finally putting together my wrap-up post for 2016: what I wrote, what was published, and what I read.

 

WRITING

Not much to report on this front. 2016 was not my most consistent year for creating new content. I didn’t blog much, and I didn’t really track how much writing I was doing, other than knowing that there were a majority of months where I didn’t write or edit at all. I finished a couple of stories, including “Chasing May” which sold to the anthology Kepler’s Cowboys from Hadrosaur Productions. I sent out a few attempts at getting reprints sold, as well, but not much came of that. (Admittedly, I didn’t make the strongest effort I could possibly have made.)

 

PUBLISHING

2016 saw the release of three anthologies with my work included:

  • “Threshold” appeared in One Thousand Words For War from CBAY Books
  • “Stress Cracks” appeared in Galactic Games from Baen (My first professional-rate story sale!)
  • “Yeti” appeared in Robbed of Sleep, Volume 4 from Troy Blackford.

I also sold one story, the aforementioned “Chasing May,” which releases in just a few weeks from this writing.

 

READING

I set myself a variety of reading challenges in 2016. I managed to complete a few of them.

On Goodreads, I challenged myself to read 100 books. I read 105.

Here’s the breakdown of what I read:

  • Fiction: 97 books
    • 4 anthologies
      • 1 noir
      • 2 horror
      • 1 fantasy
    • 1 single-author collection (1 urban fantasy)
    • 17 graphic novels
      • 11 super-hero
      • 4 YA adventure
      • 1 YA comedy
      • 1 comic strip collection
    • 12 magazines (all issues of Lightspeed magazine)
    • 43 novels
      • 1 crime
      • 1 mystery
      • 1 noir
      • 1  Fantasy
      • 1 historical fiction
      • 1  historical fantasy
      • 2  historical romance
      • 3  historical urban fantasy
      • 3  alternate history
      • 3 horror
      • 1 literary
      • 4  pulp adventure
      • 2 science fiction
      • 13 urban fantasy
      • 1 YA urban fantasy
      • 1 YA science fiction
    • 8 novellas
      • 2 horror
      • 3 fantasy
      • 1 science fiction
      • 1 urban fantasy
      • 1 mystery
    • 1 picture book
    • 1 playscript
    • 10 short stories published as stand-alone ebooks
      • 4 urban fantasy
      • 3 mystery
      • 1 modern romance
      • 1 thriller
      • 1 historical fantasy
  • Non-Fiction: 8 books
    • 5 Memoir/biography
    • 2 History
    • 1 Writing Advice

Other Book Stats:

# of Authors/Editors: 86 (including graphic novel artists); 34 of these were female authors. (I didn’t do a good job of tracking other sub-group metrics, such as writers of color, queer writers, etc. I’m going to make a better effort this year.)

Shortest Book Read: 20 pages (Forbid the Sea by Seanan McGuire)

Longest Book Read: 496 (Feedback by Mira Grant)

(Interesting that the shortest and longest read were by the same author, albeit one under a pen-name.)

Total # of pages read: 24064

Average # of pages per book: 229

Format Summary:

  • 4 audiobooks
  • 28 ebooks (5 Nook, 23 Kindle)
  • 73 print
    • 17 hardcovers
    • 56 softcovers

 

On my Livejournal, I challenged myself to read 365 short stories (1 per day, basically), but I only managed 198 this year. I did not read as many anthologies or single-author collections cover-to-cover as I have in previous years.

Those 198 stories appeared in:

  • 5 Magazines
    • Asimov’s
    • Cemetary Dance
    • Daily Science Fiction
    • Disturbed Digest
    • Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
    • Lightspeed Magazine
    • One Story
    • One Teen Story
    • The Dark
    • The Strand
    • Three Slices
    • Unbound
  • 10 Anthologies
    • Candle in the Attic
    • Clockwork Phoenix 5
    • Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop
    • Dark and Dangerous Things III
    • Ghost in the Cogs
    • In Sunlight or in Shadow (Stories based on the paintings of Edward Hopper)
    • Robbed of Sleep Vol 4
    • Shattered Shields
  • 1 Single-Author Collection
    • Two Tales of the Iron Druid by Kevin Hearne
  • 8 Stand-alone (self-pubbed or publisher-pubbed in e-format)
    • Seanan McGuire (mostly from her website)
    • Jordan L. Hawk (email newsletter)
    • Lawrence Block (purchased in e-format via Amazon)

Those 198 stories were written by 166 different authors. 82 of those were women (again, didn’t do a good job of tracking any other author-identifying metrics). The work was published by 26 different editors, roughly (there were a few for whom I’m not sure who the editor was / who to credit).

 

So there you have it: my writing, publishing and reading, by the numbers, for 2016. (I was going to include other media consumed, like music, movies, and television, but I didn’t do as good of a job compiling those numbers in 2016. Oh well!)

 

Share

I hope everyone is well and enjoying the December holidays as they roll across our calendar. Hard to believe 2015 is almost over. Hannukah has passed; Christmas and Solstice are almost here, and then it’s New Years. Kinda crazy.

I’ve had lots of work stuff going on, and have also been doing much writing and quite a bit of reading. I’m intending to do some year-end wrap-up posts here as a way of relaunching the site. I’ve been intending all year to revise the look of the site and start posting content again, but real life has been getting in the way.

This past Weds, one of my previously-published short stories, “Chasing Satellites” (from Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s Beyond The Sun anthology), was released in audio form on the StarShipSofa podcast. Narrator Rikki LaCoste did a fantastic job with the character voices, pacing and tension of the story; the producers did a fantastic job adding sound effects to enhance the story. I really love what they did, and I’m submitting another “reprint” to them soon. Check it out, on their website (direct link to the page for my story above) or find them on iTunes. Either way, it’s free. (Note: my story starts at about the 20 minute mark of the podcast. It’s preceded by a fascinating interview with Zoltan Istvan, and followed by a neat discussion of historical precedents for the Jedi Order.)

Share

This blog post is part of the NEXT BIG THING meme. No, not Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing — I know a number of former contestants on that (Hollywood Ending, Kicking Daisies, Matt Johnson, Palaye Royale (back when they were “Kropp Circle”)), but that’s a music competition, and this NBT is about writing. The idea here is to talk about a book you’re working on, to generate interest in it and perhaps jumpstart your creativity a bit. I was tagged to be a part of this by my friend Shay Darrach, who in turn was tagged by our friend Sabrina Vourvoulias, and our friend Kay Holt has taken part as well. Our other friend Day al Mohamed was also tagged by Shay, and when she posts her installment, I’ll add the link to this.  They are all wonderful writers who regularly blow my mind, so check their blogs out for what they’re working on.  And then scroll down the bottom to see who I’m going to tag (and if/when they post their responses, I’ll link to those from here as well).

But first, my responses to the 10 questions asked of every Next Big Thing participant:

 

1.What is the working title of your next book?

THE MANY TORTURES OF ANTHONY CARDNO

2.Where did the idea come from for the book?

Last year, Brian White ran Kickstarters for each individual issue of FIRESIDE magazine. Among the “perks” for backing was the chance to be tuckerized into an author’s story as one of the main characters – not just a one line mention, but an actual part of the story. I chose this option for all three issues, and ended up in stories by Christie Yant, Damien Walters Grintalis and Mary Robinette Kowal. In the fall of 2012, Brian was teasing me and said that if I backed enough projects, we could put together a whole anthology of such stories. I thought the idea was so good that I asked a bunch of other authors if they’d be willing to play along and donate their stories so that the proceeds from the book could be donated to the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, in honor of author Jay Lake. This was before Jay officially got his terminal diagnosis, of course.

3.What genre does your book fall under?

Short Stories. Haha. That may seem like a cop-out answer, but the stories in the book are covering almost every genre – time-travel, horror, crime, hard sf, fantasy, even “literary fiction.”

4.What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh man. That would depend on the story.

In my own contribution, “I’m” a teenager, and I’d have to choose Austin MacDonald, whose most recent credit is as a teen serial killer on the episode of HANNIBAL that NBC famously pulled in the wake of the Boston bombings, as “me” and Brandon Tyler Russell (from the movie SMITTY) as the other main character.  In other stories? I see John Krasinski as the “me” in Damien Walters’ Grintalis’ story (as a husband who is largely clueless about what his wife is going through), and Neil Patrick Harris as the “me” in Christie Yant’s (a drunk in a “dry” town in the California of the late 1800s). I think Mary Robinette Kowal’s story would call for someone a bit more pompous, John Laroquette, maybe (an egotistical actor partaking in an “extreme dining” adventure), while Sabrina Vourvoulias’ version of me conjures up images of Robert Carlyle (a US government operative in Central America who has seen things one shouldn’t see). In Jay Lake’s story of a young man drawn back to the ocean he was forced to leave as a child, I picture Freddie Highmore. In Joseph Pittman’s latest Todd Gleason crime story, Stephen Fry would be perfect. I could go on.

5.What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

To paraphrase Parke Godwin: “Who you are depends on who’s telling your tale, and boy do these authors have tales to tell about me.”

6.Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published in e-book format only so that we can get the largest number of stories into the book. I’d love to be able to do a run in print, but that’s going to be expensive (unless some lovely publisher reading this would like to donate a small print run as a collector’s item…). I currently have folks donating their time to do the e-book formatting and such to help me out.

7.How long did/will it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Technically, it’s been over a year since Christie’s story appeared in Fireside #1, but really the idea came into focus in November of 2012 and I anticipate offering the book for sale in September of 2013, so about a year.

8.What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m not really sure.  There’s been a push lately, with anthologies like Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrontonio’s STORIES and magazines like Fireside, to move away from “genre” boundaries and just publish good stories across the spectrum. This anthology falls in line with that goal.

9.Who or what inspired you to write this book?

If I was going to do this, it wasn’t going to be a self-aggrandizing attempt to make money for myself. I knew immediately the proceeds would go to cancer research, in honor of not only Jay Lake, but so many other friends and relatives who are battling or have been lost to cancer: my friends Karen Jenkins, Kristin Meyer, and M. Denise Barnoski, all taken too soon. My cousins Chrissy and Jimmy Hajkowski and my almost-sister Michelle Moklebust, amazing fighters. And of course my parents and maternal grandparents, all lost to one form of cancer or another. Folks like Jay and my cousins inspire me with their willingness to share the details of their fight, even the bad times, and how they do their damnedest to not let cancer rule them.

10.What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Hopefully, it’s the variety of authors involved that will bring people in, as well as the good cause. Jay Lake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Christie Yant, Damien Walters Grintalis, David Lee Summers, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Joseph Pittman and Kaaron Warren are the most well-known among the authors who have already sent stories, as well as songwriters Barry Mangione (of The Dalliance and Apply The Graft) and Frank Dixon. It occurs to me that with Kaaron and Frank in the mix, we’ve got authors from two different continents involved, another nice selling point.

 

I don’t typically do the “I tagged you, so you HAVE to play” thing. However, there are a few authors I hope will play along. I’m not giving them specific dates to post, either.

1. Dennis Miller, author of  ONE WOMAN’S VENGEANCE, a wonderful Western with a female protagonist who, yes, starts out as a victim but who does not allow the label of “victim” to become her identity. Dennis’ book is brutal and beautiful at the same time.

2. Sidney Bristol, author of UNDER HIS SKIN and other erotica. Sidney is one of the “Crazy Writer Ladies of DFW” who I adore, and her work is so completely different from mine and Dennis’ that I cannot resist tagging her.

3. Bryan Thomas Schmidt, author of THE DAVI RHII SAGA, a great space opera based on the story of Moses. Again, someone completely different in style and tone from the preceeding two authors.

I hope all three authors will play along!

Share

Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Today, I welcome my old friend Bryan Thomas Schmidt back to the site. Every so often, Brian and I like to catch up on his latest editorial and authorial goings-on. He’s recently successfully funded a Kickstarter and has another on-going right now, both for anthologies of science fiction short stories. So, without further ado … my latest chat with BTS:

ANTHONY: Welcome back, Bryan. Good to chat with you again.

BRYAN: Thanks, Anthony. Always good to be here.

ANTHONY: Congrats on finishing Beyond The Sun. That was your first Kickstarter success story and from the Table Of Contents, I think it’s going to be well received. Of course, I admit I’m biased, since I have a story in there, but Robert Silverberg, Nancy Kress, Mike Resnick, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Cat Rambo, Jennifer Brozek, and many more recognizable names are a part of it. I feel lucky to be included.

BRYAN: Me, too. It really came together in an amazing, blessed way, and the stories are far above what I expected. Tons of variety on the theme of colonial science fiction stories, and just top notch writers. I’m grateful.

ANTHONY: Was the success of Beyond The Sun part of the impetus for your present Kickstarter Raygun Chronicles?

BRYAN: In part. Every Day Fiction wanted to work with me. And being a small press, they were throwing around ideas to fund this. They really want to pay writers pro rates, and they also wanted to take it to the next level of writers. Plus, they had some great writers they’ve been working with who deserve a better audience. With my experience and contacts, I was able to recruit some top name talent to the project to appear alongside this developing talent, which will ensure greater interest in the project than we would have had without it.

ANTHONY: For sure, with names like Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick, A.C. Crispin, Allen Steele, Seanan McGuire, Brenda Cooper, Robin Wayne Bailey and Sarah A. Hoyt, who could resist?

BRYAN: I know, they are great choices. That’s three Star Trek writers (Smith, Rusch, Crispin), two Star Wars writers (Crispin, Rusch) and five others with experience and demonstrative skill in space opera. Resnick has the Starship space opera series from PYR, Allen Steele has written several, including Apollo’s Outcast, his latest, a YA in a definite Heinlein vein, and Hoyt’s Darkship novels from Baen. Seanan and I met at a Con last year, and I’ve heard her wax on about her love of Firefly, so that’s what I pitched her. “How’d you like a chance to write a story with the Firefly feel?” She jumped on it. Crispin, Resnick and Cooper actually had trunk stories that were perfect. Everyone was very quick to jump aboard when asked.

ANTHONY: You have reprints as well as new stories, correct?

BRYAN: Yes, we have picked some reprints from a defunct space opera zine called Ray Gun Revival, which EDP funded. There were a lot of old school stories with larger-than-life characters and that older feel, but still contemporary, and a few with diverse takes and I thought they deserved a bigger audience and would make a great remembrance as well for RGR fans, so EDF suggested we combine the two and add some new stories  and Raygun Chronicles was born.

ANTHONY: Tell us about the Kickstarter. How’s it going?

BRYAN: Well, we’re almost half funded with 9 days to go. We launched in January and end March 7th, so we need $500 each day for the next 9 days to fund. If we don’t fund, it doesn’t happen. It’s tough because Kickstarters often start slow and drag until you reach a certain level. Then, if it’s a success, people pile on. Projects which fund 50% tend to be more likely to get 100%, so we’re hoping the next 9 days will be exciting, but it’s hard. No matter how you spread the word, people often think “I’ll do it tomorrow” or it gets buried in posts. With all the people who love pulp fiction out there, I know we have an audience. The challenge is to find it. We had a PR firm signed up before we launched, but right after we launched, they backed out, which was a big blow, because we hadn’t planned a huge PR campaign on our own. They were handling it. With all we have going on, including one of the publisher’s first son being born in the midst of this, we’ve really had to scramble. But it’s paying off. Last week was our best week since the launch. We got $900 in new pledges and had our best day ever with over $500 coming in. So that’s the big hurdle. Now we need some slightly smaller big days to make it happen.

ANTHONY: This is your third anthology project as editor, correct?

BRYAN: Yes, I edited Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales 6 for Flying Pen Press last year, and then Beyond The Sun, but in addition to Raygun Chronicles, I have an anthology of military fantasy, Shattered Shields, I’m coediting for Baen Books with Jennifer Brozek, and a YA reprint anthology I’m packaging as well. I have 9 more ideas in development.

ANTHONY: So you enjoy editing anthologies? Why?

BRYAN: Yeah. Anthologies allow me to create a concept and play with other writers, including my own writing heroes like Rusch, Silverberg and Resnick. I also get to help and encourage writers in developing their stories and pay them decent money to do it. And since I love doing that, it’s become part of how I make my living, and it’s a blessing to do what you love, you know?

ANTHONY: For sure. So tell us a bit about some of the Raygun Chronicles stories.

Bryan: Well, as far as the new stories go, Peter J. Wacks has written us a story called “Space Opera” which has a conductor conducting an orchestra as a historical battle replays. It’s actually quite well executed and unique. Brenda Cooper’s “Holly Defiant” about a writer who discovers a talented singer and fears she’s about to be kidnapped by slavers and sets out to save her, finding surprising connections to her (the writer’s) past. That’s just the new ones I’ve seen. Some will be written once we fund. As far as reprints, both Milo James Foreman and TM Hunter have series about classic-style space opera heroes named Captain Quasar and Aston West, and these tales are full of action, humor and satire and a lot of fun. We also have a bit of all-American fun with humans tracking down a UFO in Lou Antonelli’s “The Silver Dollar Saucer,” A.M. Stickel’s Star Trek inspired “To The Shores of Triple, Lee!”, another of Mike Resnick’s great and funny Catastrophe Baker tales, and a never before released short from AC Crispin which is excerpted but expanded from her fantastic space opera novel Starbridge about three travelers fighting to survive and find oxygen to continue their journey, who discover a new sentient life form.

ANTHONY: Sounds great. How can we help?

BRYAN: Well, for as little as $5, you can get the ebook of the entire anthology when it’s published. For $25 you get both print and ebook. There are hardbacks available for as little as $40 and also t-shirts, exclusive bookmarks, story critiques and more. We tried to offer something for everyone at various income levels. We even have a trip to OryCon for the book launch at the highest level. All you have to do is go to the Kickstarter and select your level to preorder the book, and we’ll do the rest. It’ll be in your hands in November.

 

For those curious about the type of book Bryan puts together, you can find the announcement of the Table of Contents for BEYOND THE SUN at sfsignal.com.  You can also find the TOC for his first anthology, SPACE BATTLES, on sfsignal.com as well. You can follow Bryan on Twitter @BryanThomasS, sign on to his Facebook Author page, and visit his website, where he also posts transcripts of the weekly Science Fiction / Fantasy Writers Chat #sffwrtcht that he hosts on Twitter every Wednesday night at 9pm Eastern.

Share

For those wondering, YES, the usual interviews will be resuming soon. I’ve got one in queue waiting on me to send some follow-up questions, and I sent another 2 sets of questions out today. They’re coming, promise!

But first, some personal news I need to share:

Beyond The Sun conceptual cover art

So as usual for a Wednesday, #sffwrtcht started at 9pm tonight on Twitter. #sffwrtcht is a weekly thing, with a rotating series of science fiction, fantasy and horror authors as guests. This week’s guest was my friend Damien Walters Grintalis, whose novel INK, about a tattoo job gone wrong in a horrific way, just came out. Damien tuckerized me into her story “Scarred” for Fireside magazine last year, too. A few minutes into the chat stream, moderator and friend Bryan Thomas Schmidt shoots me a private message on Facebook. “Damien and I both have big announcements to make at the end of chat, so stick around.” Because he knows I sometimes get distracted by 19 other things going on and forget to check back to the chat.  I figured he was going to announce he’d pitched another anthology idea, or something like that.

Near the end of chat, he slips this in: “I’d like to announce that #sffwrtcht regulars @talekyn & @jaleta_clegg have sold stories to #BeyondTheSun anthology.”

Well, THAT took me by surprise.

I knew Bryan liked my story “Chasing Satellites” enough to ask me to do a rewrite and hone it before the final submission deadline rather than reject it outright. But I honestly thought, with the deadline just passed, that it would be a week or so before he made any final decisions.

This is my first semi-pro sale, at the four-cents-a-word rate Bryan quoted when he funded the book through Kickstarter in the fall. Bryan gave me my first book anthology unpaid sale in 2012, with “A Battle For Parantwer” in SPACE BATTLES. Before “Chasing Satellites,” every story I’ve published has been recompensed with copies of the book or magazine.  A semi-pro sale apparently isn’t enough to earn me credits towards membership in the Science Fiction Writers Association, but it is a large step in the right direction, and of course a HUGE boost to my writer’s ego.

A number of you reading this donated to Brian’s Kickstarter for BEYOND THE SUN because you knew if the project was funded and IF my story was accepted (and there was never any guarantee it would be), it would mean a lot to me on a personal level. I explained why in this post. And so now that my story has been accepted … I cannot thank those of you who backed the project enough. If the project hadn’t funded, all of this would be moot.

BEYOND THE SUN will be out from Fairwood Press in mid-July 2013.  I’ll be appearing beside my hero Robert Silverberg, as well as greats like Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jennifer Brozek, Jason Sanford, Autumn Rachel Dryden, and my friends Jaleta Clegg and Maurice Broaddus, in a book edited by my friend and mentor Bryan Thomas Schmidt. I’m honored to be alongside all of them…

…. but dude, I’m gonna be in a book with ROBERT FREAKIN’ SILVERBERG.

 

Oh, and I owe a shout-out to singer-songwriter Thomas Fiss, as well. I promised him I’d write a short story based on the title track of his latest EP, and this is it! Thanks for the inspiration, Thomas!

Share

To Open The Sky by Robert Silverberg

The answer is: To Open The Sky.

The question: What was the first book about colonizing outer space you remember reading?

Robert Silverberg’s To Open The Sky is not anywhere near as well-known as space colonization novels by Ray Bradbury ( The Martian Chronicles, the second colonization book I ever read), Arthur C. Clarke, Gene Wolfe, and countless others. It’s also not as well-known as other Silverberg works (The Chronicles of Majipoor, for example) and in fact is long out of print.  Regardless of all of that, it holds a special place in my heart. I reread it every few years and feel the excitement I felt the first time I read it, as I realize what religious founder Noel Vorst’s long-term master plan is, played out over a century or more, for getting humanity beyond our own system and out to the stars. We never get to see the actual colonies that are founded, but Silverberg’s future Earth and colonial Mars and Venus tell us enough.

I’m not the only science fiction fan fascinated with the concept of humanity’s colonization of other planets.  Bryan Thomas Schmidt is inspired and fascinated by colonization stories, even moreso than I am. With the essential end of NASA’s space shuttle program and the slow beginning of the commercial space program (with SpaceX’s Dragon rocket launching just this week), Bryan sees a need now more than ever for readers to look to the stars and regain the excitement that sf of the ’40s and ’50s, and the real events of the ’60s to the present, gave us.

So Bryan, a writer and editor of science fiction (his own first sf novel, The Worker Prince, was an Honorable Mention on the Barnes and Noble Notable SF List and he recently edited Space Battles for Flying Pen Press), has decided to put together an anthology of mostly-new colonization stories. The book will be called Beyond The Sun. Bryan’s invited twenty-something authors to submit stories to be considered for approximately sixteen slots in the book, joining four headliners: Mike Resnick. Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Nancy Kress. And …. Robert Silverberg.

Now, the Silverberg story will be one of the book’s few reprints but it’s a story I’ve never seen before. This is one of the two main reasons I want to see Beyond The Sun published, to readily access a Robert Silverberg story about space colonization that isn’t part of the universe he gave me in To Open The Sky, but which will be vibrant and exciting nonetheless.

Draft cover art for Beyond The Sun

But the book won’t be published if Bryan can’t raise the funds to pay the authors (the headliners and the mid-list and the newbies he’s invited).  He’s got just a few hours over 5 days to hit the funding goal of $5,000, and with Kickstarter (unlike IndieGoGo), it’s all or nothing. If we get to the deadline and Bryan’s not at $5,000 … no Beyond The Sun. Which is a shame considering how passionate Bryan is about this project, and considering how wonderful the contents are bound to be regardless of which sixteen authors get chosen to join the headliners.

And here’s the other reason I want to see this project fully funded, and it’s a very selfish one: I’m one of the twenty or so authors Bryan invited to submit a story for consideration. If Beyond The Sun gets funded, and Bryan chooses my story to be included … my colonization story would be in the same book with Robert Silverberg, one of the men who excited my own interest in SF more than thirty years ago. And that is just too cool an opportunity to pass up.

So that’s why I’ve backed the BTS Kickstarter at the highest level I can afford — not for the perks I’ll get for pledging at that level, but to increase the chances that the book will see print. It’s a book I’ll want to read whether I’m in it or not (and there’s no guarantee I will be, until I finish the story and Bryan accepts it).

Why should you back it?  Well, if you love good science fiction, especially good sf about colonization, consider it like pre-ordering a book through BN or Amazon, without the risk. If you pledge and the book doesn’t get fully-funded, you’re not out a cent. If you pledge and it does get funded, you’re guaranteed a first printing of a great anthology, and you’ll get whatever other perks are attached to your pledge level (which include things like personalized, autographed copies; having yourself Tuckerized into a story; or a critique by a well-known sf editor, among others).

Why else should you back it? Because (especially if you’re a friend of mine, sf fan or not) you’ll possibly be helping me achieve a dream: being included in the same anthology with Robert Silverberg.

So click the link, watch Bryan’s video explaining why this book is so important to him, read the bios of the headliners. If you choose to back, there are some story excerpts on the Updates page and links to where you can find other excerpts. And even if you can’t back the project financially … please spread the word. Hit the “Like” button and the Tweet button. Get the word out there. We’ve got 5 days to raise over $3,000 dollars. More has been raised in short time periods on Kickstarter, with the right word of mouth.

And thank you in advance to all of you who do help Bryan make his dream, his book, a reality, and thus possibly help mine as well.

BEYOND THE SUN KICKSTARTER PAGE

Share

Beyond The Sun

Posted by admin under authors, editors, fundraisers

Every now and then I like to feature Kickstarter projects that I’m particularly interested in, and more often than not those projects involve short story anthologies. Here’s the latest, a chat with frequent guest Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

Beyond The Sun cover concept

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Lost In A Land Of Legends (forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012.  His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun,forthcoming. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

 

ANTHONY: So Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 seems to have gotten good reviews and had steady sales, and now you’re raising backers for another anthology, Beyond The Sun. Tell us how that came about?

BRYAN: Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by the Universe and space travel, the idea that one day humans could go out and discover what’s out there. An anthology on space colonization seemed a natural extension of that. And with the recent downsizing of NASA and death of Neil Armstrong, I found myself remembering all the times I spent dreaming about other planets and worlds. As an adult, I’ve travelled the world, exploring other cultures, and in large part, it comes from that same drive to discover the other, the different, the new. Beyond that though, I hear about young people, particularly boys, not being into reading like they used to be, and I want to create stories kids like me would enjoy. Additionally, I wanted to create something teachers and parents might use to encourage that urge to discover in younger generations. Lastly, I love working with other writers, and I saw a chance to bring pros and newcomers together to fulfill this in a way that benefits all of us.

ANTHONY: Well, you do have some big names involved.

BRYAN: I do. Robert Silverberg gave me an old story that has not appeared much which is really good, of course. Mike Resnick is a good friend and headlined Space Battles. He’s done so much to help me, my only way to return that is to give him work, and luckily, he gladly accepts.  Nancy Kress is a new friend but she’s explored colonialism a lot in her work so she’s a perfect fit. All of these, of course, are Hugo and Nebula winners on multiple occasions. But I also have a fourth headliner who’s won the same awards and she’ll be joining us if we get the funding.

ANTHONY: Some of the lesser names, you might call them, are not unknown either: Cat Rambo, Jennifer Brozek, Jason Sanford…

BRYAN: Yeah, all of whom have become friends and are people whose work I admire. Joining them are Analog regulars Brad R. Torgersen (Hugo/Nebula nominee this year) and Jamie Todd Rubin, and Sanford’s Interzone fellow Matthew Cook, along with novelists Jean Johnson and Erin Hoffman.

ANTHONY: And then there’s the little people…like me.

BRYAN: Well, you’re not unknown, just not as much for your writing yet, but that will come. You were in Space Battles, and so were several others. But as people may know from SFFWRTCHT (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat), encouraging and helping others, especially fellow writers, is something I love to do. And to be in an anthology with people of this caliber and make pro or semi-pro rates is a huge opportunity. I like helping others achieve their dreams, but the advantage here is that, in the process, they help me achieve mine, which is a cool parallel to have. At the same time, I have to make sure the anthology is the best it can be, so I’ve invited twenty writers to vie for thirteen spots alongside the headliners.

ANTHONY: You mentioned that Silverberg gave you a reprint and I know there are a couple of others, but the plan is mostly for brand new stories, right?

BRYAN: Yes, Resnick, Kress and our fourth headliner all plan to write new stories. Resnick’s promised to use his African knowledge for it, in fact. Those Hugo winning stories are amongst my favorites of his. I have reprints from Silverberg, Jason Sanford, and Autumn Rachel Dryden, whose story, “Respite,” is one of the inspirations for this anthology. Hers and Jason’s appeared previously in early issues of IGMS and it’s a privilege to reintroduce them to people now.

ANTHONY: Like Space Battles, there wasn’t an open call for submissions. Is that going to be your modus operandi? Why not invite the public?

BRYAN: Space Battles wound up with a far more open call than this but I have novels to write and promote, freelance editing clients to please and 7 anthology projects in the works. I just can’t read that much slush and it’s hard to find someone whose sensibilities are identical enough that you can let them do it for you. I do invite new people with every project and I do look for people I’d like to work with and haven’t. But I have to face certain time limits realistically and so, at this time, an open call just doesn’t make sense. I’m not opposed to it in general though.

ANTHONY: Why Kickstarter as opposed to finding a publisher?

BRYAN: One, anthologies are a hard sale right now. Two, KS actually provides me a chance to use more up and coming writers. A publisher would want 10 headline names. Three, I get more creative freedom. Four, I can raise enough to pay far higher rates to artists and writers than a press would allow me, unless a big NY trade house came aboard, and I am still proving myself, so trusting me with a project like this, when they do so few, is a hard sell.

ANTHONY: How hard is putting a Kickstarter together?

BRYAN:  Not too bad but you do need to do your research. The hardest part is that being unemployed since May 2010 and surviving on freelance, I just don’t have much money for videos and promotion. But I found a woman who did a great video for $15 provided I did a voice over, gave her a concept and provided some images. And Mitch Bentley chipped in on cover mock ups as well as other artists. Plus the writers are allowing me to tease their stories to backers when we reach certain levels, so that will also be great to show people that we really will have not just variety but quality.

ANTHONY: Well, the headliner’s names kind of speak for themselves, right?

BRYAN: Yes, but even diehard fans may not love every story an author writes, and the new talent is a question mark for some. Sharing Jason and Autumn’s stories allows me to show stories from all three writing tiers.

ANTHONY: Very cool. Well, I’m going to write the best story I can in the hopes of making one of those open spots, but either way, I can’t wait to see it.

BRYAN: Thanks, me, too. I’m very excited. I loved the diversity I got from my writers for Space Battles, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll do with this concept.

Share

The Borali Military Crest

This week’s guest post is by author Bryan Thomas Schmidt, a frequent guest on this site. Bryan is on a blog tour to promote THE RETURNING, the second in his Saga of Davi Rhii science fiction series. We considered doing another interview, but as we’ve now interviewed each other at least four times between our two blogs, I thought a guest post by Bryan would be a nice change of pace, and what better topic to discuss than how to do a blog tour for a sequel without spoiling the first book in the series?  So here he is, ladies and gentlemen, Bryan Thomas Schmidt:

 

 

How To Run a Blog Tour For A Sequel Without Spoiling Book 1

Okay, first of all, the fact that Anthony asked for this topic proves he’s not really my friend, let’s just get that out of the way first.  I mean, I suppose it’s a compliment that he thinks I actually have the answers to this. After all, The Returning is only my second novel ever published. And having been a beta reader for me on it, he of all people should know how tightly the storylines interlap as well as how much the success of this particular sequel depends on suspense and surprise.  To be fair, though, I did it to myself. I’m the one who wrote the novel this way, after all. The fact that he’s an opportunist taking advantage of my self-made quandary is just an unfortunate side effect really.

So let’s get on with it then. How do you run a blog tour for book 2 of a trilogy? Very carefully. Just as craft goes into the writing, so must it be applied to your marketing.

First, choose some excerpts and plot/character details which can be shared to tease the book without ruining the rest of the plot. Not easy, but doable. They should involve the old familiar characters, particularly the protagonist and also the antagonist when possible. And they should be fast-paced and tension filled. You can share the romantic subplots sometimes but usually those emotional highs are best saved and it’s the drama of the obstacles which draws most readers in.

For example, the reading excerpt from this book I have been using is a subplot scene involving my protagonist, Davi Rhii, fighting with his girlfriend/fiancée, Tela, witnessed by his archrival Bordox. It’s told through Bordox’s POV and so we get not only character and plot development for Davi and Tela but also for Bordox. Their relationships were all established in book 1, The Worker Prince. We knew Bordox would want revenge because he always blames Davi for his troubles and Davi really put him in his place in Book 1. Davi and Tela’s romance developed in book 1, but most couples go through phases where they have fights, so no surprise there. Thus, that scene is not a spoiler but it does have enough juice to intrigue fans of the series and new readers as to the kinds of issues book 2, The Returning, holds in store.

Second, choose story descriptions which don’t give too much away about the prior book or the latest. You can tell them the basic plot without ruining the ending. You don’t have to ruin the first book’s ending. Instead of saying “they fought and so-and-so won, but now they’re at it again,” you can say: “In book 2, the characters find themselves in conflict over x, y and z and the repercussions of book 1 are impacting their personal relationships and lives.” See how that avoids mention of the ending yet sets up the conflict in the second book as well as characters? It tells you there’s going to be obstacles to overcome and that the events of the first book do play a role in shaping things but also leaves you room for new things as well. (Dang, even when I’m describing generic sentences I’m writing generic sentences. This could ruin my craft.)

What intriguing tidbits can you offer to tease without giving it away? With The Returning, for example, I can say: “Davi and Tela find their future together threatened by difficulties with their relationship.”  Generic? Yes, but promising because our favorite couple, the antagonist and his love interest, aren’t so perfect after all. In The Worker Prince, we rooted for them to get together so now that’s threatened? Readers will want to know why. There’s complication and complications make for interesting drama. Here’s another example: “Xalivar is back with a vengeance seeking revenge on Davi and all those who defied him.” We don’t know if Xalivar won or lost in the last book, but he wants revenge and that’s well within his character so we’re not spoiling anything. People who enjoyed the larger-than-life villain will enjoy seeing him up to his old antics and how the heroes overcome it.

Here’s a third: “Davi, Farien and Yao reunite for a mission to investigate the murders of Vertullians throughout the system by those opposed to their obtaining citizenship, finding their lives and friendships threatened by what they discover.” Our three buddies with great rapport are back and they are hunting killers and in danger? Who doesn’t want to know what happens?

THE RETURNING

Here’s the full description I’ve used for the back of the book, Goodreads, etc.:

The Vertullians are free and have full citizenship but that doesn’t mean they’re accepted. Now someone is sending assassins to kill and terrorize them and it’s riling up old enmity all over again. On top of that, Xalivar is back with a vengeance seeking revenge on Davi and all those who defied him. So Davi, Farien and Yao reunite for a mission to investigate the murders of Vertullians throughout the system by those opposed to their obtaining citizenship, finding their lives and friendships threatened by what they discover. Meanwhile, the new High Lord Councilor, Tarkanius, Lord Aron, and Davi find themselves fighting all over again to preserve the unity of the Borali Alliance, while Xalivar’s allies and even Lords on the Borali Council work against them in an attempt to tear it apart. Davi and Tela find their future together threatened by difficulties with their relationship, and Miri’s adjusting to her new status as a non-royal. The action packed, emotional, exciting Davi Rhii story continues.

I tease familiar character names and remind readers new and old that there will be more political backstabbing, family drama, romantic entanglements and life-on-the-line action. All things people loved about The Worker Prince.

Second, choose the types of post you’d most like to feature: interviews, excerpts, reviews, video blog entries, character interviews, humorous dialogues, guest posts, etc. It’s best to have a variety and spread them out so you don’t run a whole week of reviews or excerpts, etc. Then contact the bloggers you’d like to see participate and ask if they’d be interested, offering post options. When guest blogging, it’s usually best to find a topic or way of discussing one that relates to the blog’s theme and offer that. I also use anchor blogs, big blogs with lots of traffic, on Mondays to start my week and Wednesdays for a boost when I can and scatter the others between. When possible, I have each link to the next day’s post.

It’s important to pick a variety of blogs, too. You don’t want all blogs that reach the same audience. You are trying to let as many people as possible know about your book. Now if your book’s family friendly, an erotica blog probably isn’t the best fit (i.e. use common sense) but I’ve had mystery writers invite me to write about craft on their blogs and so on. Small blogs can reach people, too, especially as they grow and the posts sit there over time. Obviously, the more built-in the audience, the better, but still, you can benefit from the variety of sizes just the same.

Third, start writing. It’s best to start a month or more in advance. You’ll have a lot of content to develop and the more time you have to prepare it, the better quality it can be. You’ll also have time to adopt any changes the host sites might request, etc. Remember to capture the excitement you had in writing the book. There’s plenty of elements from craft of dialogue to plotting to genre choices to character arcs and more you can guest post on. By being creative, you can still tease your book and work in aspects of it without a sales pitch, like I’m doing with this post. Readers love to dig in more in depth to the workings of a novelists mind and they find the behind-the-scenes insight helpful and interesting. And, if you want them to buy your book, you need to convince them you’re interesting. Why else should they agree to dedicate hours to hanging with your mind and creative output? Use humor, provide links and examples, and provide pictures and a bio on every post, including links to not just your book page and site but also to other helpful tools and books you might mention in the post.

Fourth, visit the posts and answer comments. Dialogue with the blogger and readers. Don’t just let it post and disappear. A key part of what makes blogs and blog tours successful is the chance to interact with bloggers/authors. Be personable and have fun. If you get a troll, either ignore them or make a joke. Don’t engage in a flame war. Instead, have fun and answer with as much personality, intelligence and interesting data as you can. That will build relationships with whole new readers. I’ve had people buy my book and even become friends doing that. And those people will then help spread the word with no effort from you.

Blog tours are a lot of work. So is book promotion. But in the present climate of publishing, more and more of that onus falls on the authors. The beauty of blogs is that they’re free and you can reach out beyond your own circles to a wider band, helping draw traffic and attention for others doing solid work and writing while, at the same time, promoting yourself. So there you have it, a few tips to doing a blog tour for a second book without ruining the first. Hit me back in a month or two and I’ll tell you if they work or not. Meanwhile, thanks to Anthony for inviting me to Rambling On.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the new anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. His children’s book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing. As  a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

Share

Ye Olde Signal-Booster, Me!

I promise, for those who are missing them, the interviews will be returning. I’ve got a guest post from author Bryan Thomas Schmidt (@BryanThomasS on Twitter) coming up on the 30th, and I’m finalizing interviews with The Brothers Dube, Zach Mills and Mira Grant for the near future.

Tonight, though, it’s all about signal-boosting for friends and their projects/causes. I’m thinking about making this a weekly or bi-weekly thing.

 

First: if you have not yet gone to Youtube and checked out THE GROOVY PROJECT, well … here’s the short version. Students and faculty at the Madison-Oneida County Board of Cooperative Educational Services schools in central New York State wrote and filmed this anti-bullying, pro-acceptance video. Their initial goal was to try to go viral and get one million views in a twenty-four hour period. They hit over 10,000 in 24 hours, and over 13,000 within 32 hours. I’d like to see the momentum not die on this. Check it out below. Click through. Spread the word. It’s never too late to get it to go viral, right?

 

Second: We all know how much a fan of short stories I am. I write them, I read them, I talk about them all the time. There are three genre short story magazines currently engaged in Kickstarter projects. I’ve donated to all three, and I’m hoping my readers who love quality speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) will donate even a couple of bucks. Or if you can’t donate, spread the word.  Here are the links:

NIGHTMARE —  new horror mag edited by John Joseph Adams (he of Lightspeed mag and a dozen excellent anthologies), needs just under $2,000 in pledges with 15 days to go. John is a wonderful editor, and I’d love to see him get this project off the ground to compliment Lightspeed magazine. You can also find him as @johnjosephadams on Twitter.

FIRESIDE — looking to fund their second issue and beyond. I backed the first issue & became the main character of “Temperance,” a story by Christie Yant. If #2 gets funded, my pledge nets me a main role in a story by Damien Walters Grintalis. So please, folks, ensure my streak and help fund this thing. Needs $4500 in pledges with 20 days to go. On Twitter, find @firesidemag and @talkwordy for more info.

CROSSED GENRES – okay, they hit their initial funding goal within the first day (meant to cover book publications over the coming year), but they’ve add a stretch goal that I think is great: reviving the magazine they started out with. So they can still use help getting to that stretch goal and beyond. On Twitter, find @crossedgenres or @metafrantic for more info.

Third: Speaking of writing. My friend Dennis Miller’s book ONE WOMAN’S VENGEANCE is now available in audiobook format! Go listen to it!

Fourth: Speaking of listening: my good friends The Dalliance are about ready to release their new album, BIRTH LOVE DEATH. It’ll be out everywhere on May 29th, but you can get copies before everyone else if you can make it to the Album Release Party on May 27th at The Room, 3 Production Drive in Brookfield, CT 06804. Full show info can be found on the event’s Facebook page.  And if you can’t make the May 27th show, there’s another release party on June 9th in Elmsford NY. The second event also has a Facebook Page! Tell them Anthony sent you, and I’ll see you at BOTH events!  Also, if you don’t know who The Dalliance is, well, they conveniently have a website! And their on Twitter as @thedalliance.

Fifth: Speaking of Touring, my buddies in Burnham are on the road again over the next few weeks. I’ll be seeing then on June 8th at The Raidant in Nutley, NJ, but there are three other gigs in the tri-state area in June. Twitter? @burnham

Sixth: Speaking of June, please don’t forget that although I won’t be physically at the Mahopac NY Relay For Life on June 2nd, it’s still a cause worth donating to. Here’s my personal donation page. And here’s an explanation of why I won’t be there this year after a run of 5 years straight.

Seventh: Speaking of fundraising, please remember that throughout the summer, The Shoe Crew is collecting new shoes to donate to the charity Shoes That Fit. They have a number of events around Southern California over the next few months, and if you can’t be there, they have ways for you to make a monetary donation. Check out their Facebook page for more info. Twitter? @ShoeCrew2012

And Eighth: We started this post with a musical message about acceptance, let’s end it the same way. My young Australian friend Frank Dixon (@frankdixon12 on Twitter) has written an inspirational and empowering new song, “Better Than That.”  Here’s the video:

 

Share

I usually talk about other people (or let them talk about themselves, with me asking questions). But today, it’s all about … ME!

A few months back, I had a short story, “A Battle for Parantwer,” accepted by editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt for inclusion in an upcoming anthology. Today, we got word we could share the cover art and publication info with people. So, here it is:

Full Throttle Space Tales #6: SPACE BATTLES

 

Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6

Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Flying Pen Press, 264 pp., tbp, $16.95, April 18, 2012

 

Red Alert! Red Alert!

This is not a drill…

Anna Paradox’s “Between The Rocks”: The Courtly Vizier, a utility truck, renders aid to a colony ship but when they return to their asteroid home from supply runs to mines on Old Lumpy from Jupiter’s atmosphere, the colony ship they once helped attacks them. But the situation is not what it seems, and strange circumstances are at hand.

David Lee Summers’ “Jump Point Blockade”: While pirating a mine on an asteroid, Captain Ellison Firebrandt and the crew of the Legacy find themselves forced into battle by Captain Stewart of the New New Jersey, serving as shields against the Alpha Comas at a jump point to Rd’dyggia. But instead of obeying Captain Steward, Firebrandt has plans of his own.

Jean Johnson’s “Joystick War”: Scavenging a storage bunker for salvage, Scott Grayson and Rrenn F’sauu stumble onto mint condition Targeting Drone A.I.’s, joystick controlled combat suits and can’t resist taking them for a test run. Then an old enemy, the Salik turn up, and instead of joy rides, they’re fighting for their lives and their people…

Mike Resnick & Brad Torgersen’s “Guard Dog”: Watchfleet sentinel Chang leads a lonely life of extended, dream-filled sleeps in between frenetic, life-or-death battles. The Sortu had almost defeated humanity and the lives of everyone, including his wife and son, depend on men like him. Then, called to battle again, he finds himself up against the last opponent he’d ever expected…

These and more stories await inside…

All personnel,

report to battle stations!

CONTENTS:

Introduction – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Between the Rocks – Anna Paradox

The Thirteens – Gene Mederos

Like So Much Refuse – Simon C. Larter

Jump Point Blockade – David Lee Summers

First Contact – Patrick Hester

Isis – Dana Bell

The Book of Enoch – Matthew Cook

The Joystick War – Jean Johnson

Never Look Back – Grace Bridges

The Gammi Experiment – Sarah Hendrix

Space Battle of the Bands – C.J. Henderson

A Battle for Parantwer – Anthony R. Cardno

With All Due Respect – Johne Cook

Final Defense – Selene O’Rourke

Bait and Switch – Jaleta Clegg

The Hand of God (A Davi Rhii Story) – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Guard Dog – Mike Resnick and Brad R. Torgersen

 

Yes SF fans. You see that right. I’m in an anthology alongside Mike Frakkin’ Resnick. What a way to debut.

Share