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Evil Jester, DC Comics Artists and Editors Team For Gaslamp Terrors Steampunk Horror Anthology Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 2, 2013

Evil Jester logoDC Comics artists and acclaimed editors Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Tim Marquitz are partnering in 2014 for Gaslamp Terrors, a steampunk horror anthology from Grant-Day Media to be released through their Evil Jester Press Imprint. The project will be an anthology of prose stories with illustrations by comic book artists, not a comic or graphic novel.

One of the most popular subgenres of speculative fiction going today, steampunk is as much an aesthetic as a genre, and involves stories set in the Victorian Age in which science and steam power go hand in hand. With top authors from science fiction, fantasy and horror, Schmidt, Marquitz and company will be presenting stories of the terrors that haunt the streets, stalk the shadows, and lurk in alleys. Headliner by New York Times bestselling authors Jonathan Maberry and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Gaslamp Terrors will also include stories by Weston Ochse, Jody Lynn Nye, John Skipp, Esther M. Freisner and Mike Resnick, amongst others.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s prior anthologies include Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales 6 for Flying Pen Press in 2012 and the critically acclaimed Beyond The Sun (Fairwood Press, August 2013) and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age (Every Day Publishing, December 2013) as well as a forthcoming anthology for Baen Books. Schmidt’s prior Kickstart anthologies have received good reviews in Locus and Analog, amongst other sites. Tim Marquitz’s anthologies include Fading LightManifesto and the Kickstarter success Kaiju Rising (forthcoming). His anthologies and work have gotten frequent mention in Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year anthologies. Both editors have had prior Kickstarter successes between them and both are also successful authors.

Charles Day - Evil Jester

The editors and Owners of Grant-Day Media, Charles Day and Taylor Grant will be crowdfunding the project on Kickstarter in February and March 2014 with the goal of releasing both hardcover and trade paperback editions in Fall 2014. We will be showcasing and selling this at many of our conferences and venues throughout the country. Rewards will include signed editions, signed artwork, multiple copies and more. Details to come.

“I couldn’t be more excited to partner in this endeavor with such a great team as Charles and Taylor,” Schmidt said. “Their enthusiasm is infectious and their love of genre unparalleled. They have the experience to really make a great book, and we have a ton of experience to bring them great stories. It’s the perfect combination.”

Tim Marquitz
Tim Marquitz

“We look forward to working with them closely,” Marquitz added, “And hope this is the first of many collaborations to come.”

Bryan Thomas Schmidt can be found via his website at www.bryanthomasschmidt.net or as @BryanThomasS on Twitter. Tim Marquitz is online at www.tmarquitz.com and on Twitter as @marquitz. Evil Jester can be reached via Charles Day at cday3067@hotmail.com and on the website at: http://eviljesterpress.com/main/

My Agenda: OryCon 35 Nov. 8-10, 2013

OryCon 35 Launch party CoversWell, I’m off to Portland Thursday. My first time in Oregon. And I’m looking forward to it. While I was disappointed to not be included in ORYCON programming for the first time ever at a Con in three years, I do have two key events I’ll be a part of.

BOOK LAUNCH – Brenda Cooper/John A. Pitts/Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Saturday, November 9th @ 8:00 pm SUITE 1569, Portland Doubletree Presidential Suite

Brenda Cooper, John A. Pitts and I combine forces with publisher Patrick Swenson for a 3 book launch, THE party of Saturday night at OryCon. Beer, wine and snacks will be served. We will launch Brenda’s “The Diamond Deep,” book two of her terrific “Ruby’s Song” Scifi trilogy from PYR Books, John’s collection “Bravado’s House of Blues” from Fairwood (who published Beyond The Sun) and “Raygun Chronicles” my third anthology as editor, contemporary space opera in retro pulp style.

Join us if you dare!

THEN, on Sunday:

SCIFI AUTHORFEST 7 – Portland, OR

Sunday, November 10th @ 4:30pm Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd. (800) 878-7323

A starfleet of science-fiction and fantasy authors descends for one galactic booksigning event. Attending authors include:
Camille Alexa
Claude Lalumiere
Alma Alexander
Patricia Briggs
Brenda Cooper
Diana Pharoah Francis
Jay Lake
David Levine
Louise Marley
Andy Mangels
Devon Monk
Mike Moscoe/Shepherd
Phyllis Irene Radford
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Dean Wesley Smith
Ken Scholes
Brent Weeks
Daniel H. Wilson
Anne Bishop
J.A. Pitts
Kay Kenyon
Rhiannon Held
Eldon Thompson
Adrian Phoenix
Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Lilith Saintcrow
Ian Doescher
Steve Perry
Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Jason Hough
and the Cloud City Garrison of the 501st Imperial Legion

So  come on out and join us!

New Blurbs and Reviews For My Newest Anthology Babies — Raygun Chronicles & Beyond The Sun

RC Arc Front coverWe have four blurbs in for my soon to be released pulp space opera anthology so far:

“RAYGUN CHRONICLES breathes supercharged life into the space opera genre with exciting and inventive new tales by a superb line-up of writers. This is why science fiction will live forever!”—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of PATIENT ZERO.

“RAYGUN CHRONICLES is an impressive anthology with an impressive list of contributors, a real showcase of the color and scope of what science fiction can be.”—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Saga of Seven Suns

“Wonder, adventure, romance, humor–space opera delivers all of these, and this anthology brings together some of the finest talent in the business. Strange new worlds await. So lower your shields, engage your thrusters, and prepare to jump to warp speed!” — Dave Wolverton, New York Times Bestselling author of Star Wars: The Courtship of Prince Leia

“These stories bring the reader back to the days when we dreamt of blasters and flying cars. Golden age space opera fun with a strong Western feel.” — Alex Shvartsman, Editor Unidentified Funny Objects and Official Ken Liu Hugo bearer

Now I just have been mailing out review copies for Raygun Chronicles. It takes a while, but those efforts for Beyond The Sun have landed us two major reviews and a major podcast appearance this month. The two major reviews are out this week in LOCUS’ October 2013 issue which is THE industry zine and thus a huge boost for us. These are also my first Locus reviews EVER. The first comes from Gardner Dozois, year’s best editor, award winning anthologist and writer:

There’s nothing really exceptional in Beyond the Sun, a mixed original/reprint anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, but it is a fun read, with some solid core SF work, although a similar concept was explored better last year by Jonathan Strahan’s Edge of Infinity. The theme appeals to me, as stories of exploration and adventure in space beyond the bounds of Earth remain one of the foundation stones of SF, but don’t expect to find hard science and rigorously worked-out physics here, as this isn’t that kind of book. Instead, it belongs to the old Pulp Adventure school, where spaceships flit between planets in days and sometimes even hours, and there are lots of exotic alien races to interact with and/or battle with. The best of the original stories here is probably Nancy Kress’s ‘‘Migration’’, a compelling look at the power instinct can hold over even the most rational minds, but also good are Brad R. Torgersen’s ‘‘The Bricks of Eta Cassiopeiae’’, Jaleta Clegg’s ‘‘One-Way Ticket to Paradise’’, and Nancy Fulda’s ‘‘A Soaring Pillar Of Brightness’’. There is also solid work by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Cat Rambo, Mike Resnick, and others, as well as good reprint stories by Robert Silverberg and Jason Sanford.

Also from October Locus, Karen Burnham reviews BEYOND THE SUN for Diverse Hands:

Beyond The Sun revised coverKAREN BURNHAM Beyond the Sun, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, ed. (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-38-5, $17.99, 296pp, tp), August 2013. Cover by Mitchell Davidson Bentley. [Order from Fairwood Press, <www.fairwoodpress.com>.] 

There are many reasons people may want to settle out beyond our solar system: religious freedom, economic opportunity, exploration, contacting other life, or simply the desire to be left alone. A little bit of all of these can be found in Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s broadly themed anthology Beyond The Sun. There are aliens, religious fanatics, soldiers, and plenty of people just trying to get by in this diverse volume. 

One story about going to the stars in search of a simpler life is ‘‘Respite’’ by Autumn Rachel Dryden. In it a more-or-less Puritan couple are trying to reach the main settlement by wagon while the wife is in labor and the local fauna is about to launch into a feeding frenzy. Ann’s internal perspectives on events gives us a wonderfully dry take on a very tense story, and the troubles between her and her husband are deftly sketched. What I found particularly interesting is that the story ends up admiring a particular view of father- hood that is directly critiqued in the anthology’s strong opening story, ‘‘Flipping the Switch’’ by Jamie Todd Rubin. Rubin uses a trope similar to Joe Haldeman’s classic The Forever War to describe a father who is providing for his family but is fundamentally detached from them. The story effectively portrays the increasing tension the man feels as he drifts farther and farther away from his loved ones. 

Returning to religious themes, Jean Johnson’s ‘‘Parker’s Paradise’’ depicts a colony that’s been vastly oversold by its religious leader; the acerbic perspective of a soldier tasked to protect the first contact group makes me want to go read some of her military SF, because this was hilarious. Jason Sanford’s ‘‘Rumspringa’’ gives us the space Amish, with a team of post-humans looking to manipulate an Amish colony through one of their own that went out into the world and came back. ‘‘The Far Side of the Wilderness’’ by Alex Shvartsman depicts a man driven by religious faith to hijack a ship and try to find Earth; his single-minded pursuit leaves him dissatisfied with a most amazing journey. Maurice Broaddus’s ‘‘Voice of the Martyrs’’ gives us an interesting blend of military, religion, and colonization – no easy answers in this one. 

There’s one final story that features a religious colony: ‘‘The Dybbyk of Mazel Tov IV’’ by Robert Silverberg. Unlike most of the stories, which are original to the anthology (there are two other reprints, both from the 2000’s), this is a reprint from 1973. This is the second anthology I’ve read this year that has done this: taking a solid selection of contemporary stories and adding in a cherry-picked story from many decades past. Inevitably, the reprint by an old master (it was a Le Guin story the last time, I recall) blows the others away. Robert Silverberg’s story seems fresher, livelier, and more three dimensional than so many of the stories here – not that any of them are bad, but simply that they don’t get over a bar set that high. Some of them do; I would put Rubin’s story in that category along with Cat Rambo’s ‘‘Elsewhere, Within, Elsewhen’’ (a lovely tale of alien contact that literalizes the metaphor of being trapped in a shell of bitterness and resentment). But it really seems unfair to most of the authors involved. I understand the incredible temptation when you’re offered a Silverberg or Le Guin reprint that perfectly suits your theme, but in a mostly-original anthology I wish the editors would stop and reconsider. 

That said, there are plenty of solid and enjoyable stories here. Various forms of libertarianism feature in Nancy Kress’ ‘‘Migration’’ and Brad Torgersen’s ‘‘The Bricks of Eta Cassiopeiae’’. Massive miscommunications with and about aliens feature in Simon C. Larter’s ‘‘Inner Sphere Blues’’ and Jennifer Brozek’s ‘‘Dust Angels’’. Jumping to conclusions is ill-advised in Nancy Fulda’s ‘‘A Soaring Pillar of Brightness’’. Luckily, aliens can be just as quick to misjudge a situation when Mike Resnick depicts them examining our television broadcasts in the concluding story ‘‘Observation Post’’. 

Overall, this is a collection of solid stories in the somewhat neglected outer space exploration genre of science fiction. Post-humans are rare and garden variety humans occupy center stage, which feels a bit unusual these days. I worry that it seems that aliens in this volume are so difficult to communicate with: it often takes personal sacrifice to do so, or something improbably hand-waving to do with biology and telepathy. Compared to Silverberg’s 1973 story, in which communication with aliens is not terribly more fraught than communication with a rival human religious sect, this anthology seems a little discouraging about the real potential for relating to and communicating meaningfully with the Other. 

Nonetheless, these are enjoyable tales with serious themes, worth the time spent reading them.

Lastly, several authors, the cover artist and publisher gathered with me in San Antonio at World Con for Hugo-nominated SFSignal’s podcast as well, and you can find that here: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2013/09/the-sf-signal-podcast-episode-204-2013-live-worldcon-panel-with-the-authors-editor-and-publisher-of-beyond-the-sun/ So lots of new stuff to enjoy.


View More: http://emilymeganphotography.pass.us/bryanBryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012), Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and is working on Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

Announcing My Schedule For Archon 2013 in St. Louis, October 4-6

100_3440This weekend, I will be attending ARCHON 37 in St. Louis, my first time there. I had to cancel last year due to unforseen circumstances and despite living in St. Louis from 2000-2009, this will be my first time attending. (I know, for shame, for shame.) Once you get over booing me, there are some very cool guests coming including:

Writer GOH: David Weber
Aritst GOH: Donato Giancola
Toastmistress: Lee Martindale

And such SFF luminaries as: Glen Cook, Angie Fox, Laura Resnick, Dr. Charles Gannon, Michael Z. Williamson, Rich Horton, Sharon Shinn, Mark Tiedemann and my favorite artist collaborator Mitch Bentley and friends Sherry Dean, Allison Stein and Guy Anthony DeMarco, amongst many others. Full list here.

ARCHON 37 is taking place at Collinsville Convention Center, just over the river in Illinois from downtown Saint Louis at Gateway Center Drive – Collinsville, IL – 62234 with a few events, as noted on the schedule here, at nearby hotels.

I’m doing a number of panels, and I hope local folks will come say hi, as my schedule is lighter than usual and I’ll be hanging out a lot. Glen Cook will also have my books on sale in the dealer room, so I’ll likely be hanging with him a l0t.

My agenda:

Friday, October 4, 2013

5:00 PM GATEWAY CENTER Illini Author Readings A trio of Authors give a short reading and allow for comments and questions. (In order) Lee Martindale, Mark Tiedemann, Bryan ThomasSchmiDoubleTree Hotel
8:30 PM GATEWAY CENTER West Hallway Autographs Please restrict your requests to three items at a time. Thank you. Laura LeHew, Van Plexico, Bryan Thomas SchmiDoubleTree Hotel

Saturday, October 5, 2013

11:10 AM

GC

Marquette A

Writers Workshop

Closed to Public. Open only for those who sent in manuscripts. Mark Tiedemann, R.J. Carter, Kristin Bailey, Bryan Thomas Schmidt

3:50 PM

GC

Mississippian

The Future of Space Opera

Are today’s stories enough to make a series? How has space opera changed over the decades? What might it’s future look like? Bryan Thomas Schmidt (m), David Weber, Charles Gannon, Rich Horton

5:00 PM

GC

Mississippian

Editors are not the Everything (Enemy)

The collaboration between editors and writers. Bryan Thomas Schmidt (m), Charles Gannon, Rich Horton

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I’ll hang around the dealer room and common areas for part of the day and take off mid-afternoon to be with family.

Well, that’s where you can find me. If you plan to be there and want an extra way to reach me, message me for my cell number. I promise not to lose it this time (fingers and toes crossed).

Look forward to seeing everyone. I will have sneak peek copies of Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age available if you want a peek.


Beyond The Sun revised coverBryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012), Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and is working on Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

 

 

Write Tip: Creating Releases To Send With Review Copies

WriteTips-flat

Okay, it’s been a few months since I did one of these. I’ll admit, my well was running dry and needed a break to refresh. But I’m going to pick it back up now with a subject that many authors and even small publishers might benefit from: creating releases to go with review copies as you send them out.

If you’re not on a list to receive ARCS from majors, you may not have seen one. But all ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) come with a press release containing key information about the book. They are easy to create. I did mine in Word. And yet, they entice the recipient to read as well as making it easy for them to find key information about the author and book in case they want to write reviews, do interviews, or more.

I recently made these for my latest anthologies and here’s what they look like for Raygun Chronicles:

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So let’s break it down. First, your header should include the publisher’s logo and primary business address.

The footer should include the meta data about the book (as shown), including page count, release date, sale price, ISBN, format, etc.

360 pages · ISBN 978-0-9881257-5-9 · Hardcover: $29.95US/$34.95CAD ·
Publication: December 3, 2013 · Paperback: ISBN  978-0-9881257-6-6 $17.95US/$19.95CAD ·
ebook: ISBN 978-0-9881257-7-3 $6.99US/$8.99CAD

Usually centered. This is the key information for both reviews and articles as well as booksellers and others who might want to order the book.

The header and footer should be the same on every page of the release. And I should tell you, two pages is usually more than enough. In fact, most are a page and a half.

Now let’s look at what lies between.

First, at the top right corner, put contact information. An email address, name hyperlink and even phone number if you want, usually for a publicist or publisher who will serve as key point of contact for inquiries about the book. Sometimes the release date is also included in bold above this information.

Next, key quotes. If you’re fortunate enough to have early reviews or blurbs back, use them. If they’re too long, trim or use judicious ellipses, but don’t change the meaning of anything. This is very important. You will be called on it and having those kinds of questions raised in the middle of a release is not advisable. It’s an unneeded distraction at the least.

Then, centered, in large text and bold, Title and author’s name as a reminder which book this release pertains to. After all, most reviewers and interviewers get many ARCs and releases and they can be easily separated and all look alike. Make it easy for them to be matched up again if necessary.

Then a brief summary about the book, using your best exciting, sales language, of course, to make them want to read.

This should be followed by a bio of the author. 100-150 words should suffice. Less if possible. Concise and quick is what matters here. You want to excite and tease them but not make them stop reading.

Then after the bio, usually on page 2 (as shown) include blurb clips from author’s previous work. Sometimes there can be images of the book, but these increase printing cost. Often a list of the author’s other titles with ISBNs and prices is included.

Regardless, this is the standard information for such releases. The purpose is to get the recipient to prioritize attention to the book in question. And so keep it concise, clean, and positive. But also be honest and don’t overdo it. After all, the book should speak for itself. Remember, with all the requests inundating them and the fact that not every book, subject or author appeals to everyone, your book may not be chosen. Sometimes they’ve reviewed too much in that genre recently or even an0ther of your books. Sometimes, there are other reasons. Regardless, getting it into their hands and getting their attention is your job. What happens after that is not.

Printing these double sided is a good idea, but stapled double pages is also common. Regardless, they are easy to make and cheap to print and they will make even your self-published or micropress book look professional alongside the books from the majors. Provided your cover design and layout can compete, that is. But that’s a different post.

So that’s how to make your own professional Release Cover Letters For Review Copies of your books. I hope it’s useful. For what it’s worth…


Beyond The Sun revised coverBryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012), Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and is working on Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

Statement on Quitting Blue Shift Magazine

blueshift_minicover2013I’ve been delaying this for a month but the time has come to clear my slate.

In August, I resigned as editor of Blue Shift after several frustrating circumsatances.  First, while I and several contributors were paid, in some cases more than we were due, others were not. Ad payments only came after I asked twice about them. I was reassured five times that people were paid. I even provided a detailed pay sheet with who got paid for what and how they wanted to be paid as well as their addresses for contributor’s copies.

When the magazine published in August, I anxiously awaited copies. None came. So I went online and paid for one. That money went to waste. Repeated inquiries brought excuses and then no responses.

I have not had a response from White Cat owner Rick Ferrell Moore in weeks.

Now, Rick was good to me, and his goals are admirable. He even gave me a free laptop, shipped at his expense from Detroit to Kansas, when my laptop died.

But Rick also tried to launch way too many zines at one time, despite several advisors warning against it. And he is a freelance consultant in a very busy industry. Every time his regular business had a crisis, he disappeared. When his managing editor had a life threatening illness, instead of hiring someone else, he decided to do it himself, but it wasn’t getting done. And despite the fact that I like him as a person, I felt forced to draw the line. Because I am a professional. I’ve worked hard to get good writers involved, even big names, and my reputation is at stake when people don’t get what’s due to them.

I enjoyed editing a magazine. So much so that I am planning to launch my own zine soon, details to be revealed at the appropriate time. I enjoyed discovering new writers and working with them. But it must be done professionally and run well, or I can’t be a part of it. And so I regretfully tendered my resignation. I have not heard from Rick since other than one email to say he’d be in touch to wrap up lose ends. I’m still waiting.

I hereby release officially all stories for issue 2 to contributors with apologies for those who wrote specific items for this. I’m sure the stories can find other homes, and I will do my best to find homes for the others. But in the meantime, I felt I had no choice but to part ways and move on to better endeavors, and I hope everyone will understand.

Integrity has always been important to me, and I continue to strive daily to practice it. That includes a philosophy of treating people the way I want to be treated. I got into editing with a desire to help others, in the process not only creating new opportunities for me but for 0thers and getting the chance to work with writers and artists I admire. I plan to continue doing so. My fourth anthology, Shattered Shields, coedited with Jennifer Brozek, will be turned in to Baen soon. And I have more projects in the works with Mike Resnick & Pierce Watters, Cat Rambo, Tim Marquitz, Maurice Broaddus, and Jennifer Brozek. As well as on my own. But for now, my relationship with White Cat Publications is over.

I do hope they can get things together and wish them well. And I thank them for the opportunity to try editing a magazine. I hope to edit more.


View More: http://emilymeganphotography.pass.us/bryanBryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012), Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and is working on Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

World Con 2013: The Trip of A Lifetime

With Toni outside Marriott Rivercenter's main Restaurant
With Toni outside Marriott Rivercenter’s main Restaurant

Well, I’ve been away from blogging for a month due to various reasons, with apologies to those who follow the blog. And so I’m going to try and get back into the swing of it with this report on my recent trip to San Antonio for World Con. As those who’ve seen my pictures on Facebook can already tell, I had the trip of a lifetime.

This year’s World Con brought my first solo sit down meal with a Big Five editor. My first sit down meal with a Grand Master and writing hero. And my first chance to sit in the front rows at the Hugo Awards. Amongst other things. I met so many people, built on preexisting relationships, laid foundations for new relationships, and explored new possibilities in so many ways.

For me, World Con is the most important business meeting of my year by far. So many publishers, authors, editors, booksellers and others come together in one place that it just creates tremendous opportunities. So I plan my trip accordingly. I arrange meals in advance, focusing mostly on people I want to do projects with, friends or not. I try to get on panels and a reading and signing. But then I leave the rest of time free to just mingle and network.

Although this year’s trip started rough with a lost cell phone (a bit of a handicap when trying to meet up with people at a con spread over 3 buildings with 3500 attendees), I quickly shoved it aside and launched into my second day by having lunch with Toni Weisskopf, who was delightful. I remembered chatting with her in 2010 at ConQuest in Kansas City, when she was Editor GOH, but this time we met as publisher and author, as I am coediting an anthology for Baen. We mostly talked about life, ourselves, and anything but business but she did inquire how the anthology is coming and wound up inviting me to pitch another, so I offered two ideas. I’ll be more formally presenting them soon. One is an immediate follow up to Shattered Shields, the military fantasy anthology I am editing with Jenn Brozek for Baen right now. (We just closed our Table of Contents and are doing final edits now). The other is a collaboration with the delightful Cat Rambo.

I also got to finally meet Lezli Robyn for lunch. She’s been my online friend for ages and we had missed each other completely in Chicago, so we made a point of getting together this year. She’s delightful. We sat on a Mexican restaurant’s outdoor patio overlooking the River Walk and were soon joined by Kay Kenyon. Two lovely ladies. Such fun.

In between I had done my first panel, a science panel titled “My Favorite Dinosaur” and had fun with Elizabeth Bear and the other panelists, including artist-author Spring Schoenhuth, a paleontologist, and a scientist from Japan. Later that night, I did a panel with the flawed question: “Do SF Stories have Fewer Happy Endings Now?” which the panelists and I basically deconstructed for an hour. When you name panels, narrow questions work best. Broad ones so dependent on people’s perspectives, tastes, etc., generally don’t work as well, at least for writing panels.

My moderating seemed to go over well, so I was excited for my last panel with Gail Carriger, Robin Hobb and Amanda Downum the next day on “Intricate Worlds.” But first, I spent the evening at parties and BarCon, then did a little crit work for my Writer’s Workshop session that Sunday.

Saturday I slept in then worked on panel prep and workshop stuff before meeting Dave Farland to get Raygun Chronicles bookplates signed. We had chatted the night before for ninety minutes at the Writers and Artists of the Future panel and wound up hanging and chatting again for a while, with David Brin even stopping in at one point. Dave is a really nice guy who is in two anthologies for me this year, and I am very glad, after hearing about him for years, to finally get to meet and work with him.

Mid-day, JM McDermott took Maurice Broaddus, Django Wexler and I off site for a signing and panel on faith in fiction. We had a small crowd but a great discussion, then Django and I hit the food court for a quick meal before I headed to the worldbuilding panel. The ladies and I had decided in advance to not do the stereotypical worldbuilding panel, so I launched us off with worldbuilding pet peeves and we went for there. In all, I was told, it was a favorite and very helpful panel for many. We covered the under valued areas of worldbuilding, favorite examples and more. And the hour simply flew by. Fun people, and, of course, sitting between Carriger and Hobb, I was fanboying the whole time.

After that I just took a nap and worked on my crits so I could print them, then hit a couple parties. The Baen party was a priority, and due to all the rushing around and walking, wound up being my sole stop for the night, though I did grab dinner for a “date” with my pals Jay Werkheiser and Lisa Montoya, whom I met last year and joke around with now constantly on Facebook. Jay is in Analog a lot as a writer and has generously beta read for me a couple times. Just delightful folks.

Sunday I had my Bucket List breakfast with Robert Silverberg and my roommate, Alex Shvartsman–fellow editor and author, tagged along. Silverberg was a blast, as usual, being funny and a great conversationalist, and soon his wife Karen Haber joined as well, and she is a similar delight. Alex and I both got the All-You-Can-Eat buffet but ate only one plate because we didn’t want to go back and miss any of the conversation.100_0458

Then it was off to print my crits and lead my two hour Writer’s Workshop session. I think at least two of the writers were quite receptive. The third was polite but didn’t seem to agree with an assessment all four of the rest of us made of his work. But I hope all of them found benefit in it nonetheless. Time will tell, as always.

At one, I met Patrick Swenson, publisher of Beyond The Sun, John A. Pitts and Brenda Cooper and we had lunch and discussed our mutual book launch at OryCon. These are three of my favorite people in SFF. Normally, I see them once a  year at World Con. Excited that I’ll see them again, and that working on books has had me in touch with them a lot more this year than normal as Patrick published Beyond The Sun and Brenda and John each wrote stories for others.

The last bit of official duties was to record SFSignal podcast with Patrick Hester, Patrick Swenson and Beyond The Sun contributors, including authors Jean Johnson, Cat Rambo, Jamie Todd Rubin, Alex Shvartsman, Maurice Broaddus and artist Mitch Bentley. It flew by but was fun and I hope brings more attention to our collaboration, a project we’re all very proud of. Good reviews keep coming in and Gardner Dozois is reviewing it for Locus next month. Mitch also gifted me an original canvass of his cover art, which was a nice surprise I’ll treasure. I’ve worked with Mitch on four books now and his cover for Beyond The Sun is getting him accolades from Toni Weisskopf, Jack McDevitt, Robert Silverberg and more. Since I do anthologies to help myself and others build our careers, it’s nice to see it paying off for friends like that.

The night was taken up with Hugo Awards, where Alex accepted for Ken Liu and we spent the night carrying around a Hugo.

It was delightful to be together with the community and see recent conflicts and kerfluffles not interfere. That was probably the best surprise of all. Even Silverberg had confessed his fear that there would be a dark cloud over the proceedings but I was as warmly received by all as anyone, and clearly those who matter don’t pay much attention to rumors based on assumptions and innuendo, thankfully. We all had better things to do than discuss such overwrought unpleasantness. And I was relieved.

I am not naming everyone I met, but I did also meet several fans and Kickstarter backers, as well as other top people in the field. It was just an all around delight, and I wish I could afford to go to London. At this point, it appears World Con will be out for me, but we’ll see. It sure is a once a year time of greatness I’d hate to miss. The trip of a lifetime, as I said in the title to this post, and I look forward to many more to come.


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. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. In addition to Shattered Shields, he edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012), Beyond The Sun (2013) and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age (2013). He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter as @BryanThomasS.

Back To My Blog aka Jamie Todd Rubin + Shot Of Tequila = Genius

I have basically been unable to even look at my website since I switched laptops at the end of July. I was locked out. 403 errors if I tried to either pull up the main URL or the login URL. Today, Jamie Todd Rubin swoops in and tells me how to fix it in 30 minutes or less. One shot of tequila and that man is a genius.

And also, Better WP Security plugin was the culprit. Be very careful with that one folks. I was using it to make it harder for trolls and spammers to access my site but in the process, I wound up being unable to access it myself. The culprit were changes to the .htaccess file, which, once reset to default, made the problem go away.

But it was a frustrating and perplexing month that basically left me blogless. I was so busy with deadlines and other issues, I let it go. Until I got locked out of sffwrtcht as well. Thank goodness Jamie responded to my tweets.

Kudos to him. He also wrote a great story for Beyond The Sun, which is getting great reviews so far at Goodreads, Amazon and Functional Nerds.

Anyway. I’ll have a lot to catch up on, but first World Con. I’ll blog from there. Find my agenda here. Hope to see some of you there!

Bryan

My World Con Schedule 2013

LoneStar 3 Con Schedule – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Thursday, August 29

Arrival: 1:30 p.m. on Southwest then scramble to get to hotel, check in, unpack, drop books at dealer room and make:

Thu 17:00 – 18:00 Autographing: Taylor Anderson, Paul Herman, Bryan T. Schmidt, Sharon Shinn (Autographing) (Participant), (Convention Center)

Friday, August 30

10 a.m. – Breakfast with Toni Weisskopf/Baen (private) 

Fri 12:00 – Fri 13:00 Panel: My Favorite Dinosaur (Science, Panel), 007B (Convention Center)

Panelists:

  • Elizabeth Bear
  • G. David Nordley
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Takayuki Tatsumi
  • Bryan T. Schmidt (M)

1:30-3:00 p.m. – Lunch With Lezli Robyn (private)

Afternoon free

Fri 18:00 – Fri 19:00 Panel: Do SF Stories have Fewer Happy Endings Now? (, Panel), 007A (160) (Convention Center)

Panelists:

  • Grant Carrington
  • David Nickle
  • Jessica Reisman
  • Bryan T. Schmidt (M)
  • Martha Wells

Dinner with J. Kathleen Cheney, Chris Kastensmidt and whomever is around

Saturday, August 31

 Morning Free

Signing (off-site at Viva), Sat. 12:30-2:30

Panelists:

  • Django Wexler
  • Maurice Broaddus
  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt
  • J.M. McDermott

 

Intricate Worlds (, Panel), Sat 15:00 – Sat 16:00, 007A (160) (Convention Center)

Panelists:

  • Gail Carriger
  • Amanda Downum
  • Robin Hobb
  • Bryan T. Schmidt (M)

Evening Free

Sunday, September 1

 7:30 a.m. – Breakfast with Robert Silverberg (private)

Sun 10:00 – Sun 12:00 Writers Workshop O (Writers workshop), Conference 4 (Rivercenter)

Panelists:

  • Linda King
  • Bryan T. Schmidt

2:30-3:30 – Podcast Recording: SF Signal

Beyond The Sun panelists:

  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt
  • Patrick Swenson
  • Jean Johnson
  • Jamie Todd Rubin
  • Cat Rambo
  • Alex Shvartsman
  • Maurice Broaddus

Hugo Prep/Pre-Reception/Hugo Ceremony

I leave at 9 a.m. Monday morning on Southwest. So hope to see some of you during some of these times. My books will be on sale in the Dealer’s Room at Book Universe. They’ll be signed but find me to personalize. Bar Con is a good bet when none of the above.

Rumors, Scandals and Other People’s Drama, oh my!

I went through a lot of drama in my former marriage due to my wife’s mental illness. I didn’t realize until recent events how much that changed me. For one, I have a very low tolerance for other people’s unnecessary drama these days. There are things worth drama and things that are blown out of proportion. I see this a lot these days. Rumors, scandals and drama abound. People assume, get angry, start hurling insults, and it just escalates into real nastiness from there.  In the midst of such overwrought drama, real issues, real problems that deserve the attention get lost. People lose interest because they hate conflict and drama. Change doesn’t occur.

There are a few things I have learned that I wish a few others would learn about these kinds of situations. Here they are:

1) Freedom of Speech does not just apply to those you like and agree with.  People these days are quick to demand that those they find offensive shut up. So much for freedom of speech. Apparently it only applies to those who say the right things. Unfortunately, a little document called the United States Constitution would take issue with that.

2) People have a right to an opinion of their own. Even if it’s not the same as yours. That’s a founding principle for democracy, folks. And it should be treasured and respected.

3) When someone is offended by something because of their assumptions and background, not specific words, they are not due an apology. Happens a lot these days. Someone writes something and people interpret it as offensive. They demand an apology. Others line up to support them. But what the author owes them is: nothing. Common courtesy would suggest a clarification might be prudent even polite. And if the words themselves were clear and inherently offensive, then an apology would be appropriate. But if the complainers takes meaning not inherent in the words, they are choosing to be offended by interpreting the words a certain way. It’s not them to whom an apology is due. They owe one to the author. Especially if a clarification was offered and they refuse to accept it.

4) Sensitivity and Respect go both ways.  If you want people to be sensitive to your feelings, etc. or those of others around you, you cannot be dismissive of theirs. Impugning anyone with whom you disagree is no more appropriate or acceptable than anything you might accuse them of saying. If the response is just as or more offensive than what provoked it, you are also just as wrong. Bullying in the name of anti-bullying is still bullying, folks. Bigotry in the  name of anti-bigotry is still bigotry, too.

5) Your views can be just as offensive as those of your opponents. Especially for those watching you shove them arrogantly down everyone’s throats. In fact, I know many people who agree in principle with the loud voices who wouldn’t stand up and be counted because they don’t want to “act like that.” The harshness of the behavior does more harm than good to the cause. You won’t convince anyone to change by chasing them off with rudeness and insults.  If you are so aggressive that people shut up and walk away, you have lost, not won. You have defeated your cause. You have not been heard.

6) Just because a group someone belongs to was guilty in the past or has currently guilty members does not make all members of said group responsible. This is a big one. “You are a priveleged white male, so you are guilty of racism, sexism, etc. by being a white male.” This is just one common example. Sorry, but no dice. I am not responsible for the sins of my ancestors. I am responsible for my own sins and actions. If you can’t separate the two, the problem lies with you. This article on Kafkatrapping and Logical Fallacies addresses how ridiculous these claims really are. And I think we should judge people as individuals not classes, groups, etc. Isn’t that what eliminating discrimination is all about?

If more people remembered these things, I think the internet and society would be more pleasant. Certainly Science Fiction and Fantasy as a community could benefit, but I believe that’s just a reflection of broader culture. I need to remember these things.  I hope my readers will as well. Most of all, I hope some will learn to do them. Productive and effective communication doesn’t occur well in the irrational environment of inflamed emotions. But it can occur in productive, reasoned dialogue. As I said before, I’ll say it again, stopping the insult hurling and talking is the better path.

For what it’s worth…


Beyond The Sun revised coverBryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013) and is currently editing Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website at www.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

Take Time To Be Present aka Turn The Damn Cell Phone Off

This weekend I had the privilege of attending the funeral of two high school friends’ mother. I call it a privilege because this was no somber mournfest. This was a celebration of life and love. In fact, it was so good, it made me regret not taking time to get to know their mother better when I had the chance.

The pastor recalled how when the mother learned her cancer had recurred she came to him and told him her diagnosis, the treatment, and that if didn’t work she’d die. Then she said something he hadn’t heard in twenty years of ministry. “I’m ready. Like anyone, I’d like more time. But I can deal with all of that. What I need your help for is helping me to walk my husband and family through this with me.”

Yep. The woman had been given horrible news about her life and possible death and he first concern was helping her loved ones.

But that’s the kind of person she was. And the more he talked about her life and joys, the more moving it became.

Until that cell phone rang.

And not only did it ring, but the guy reached for it then let it ring. He didn’t shut it off right away.

First of all, it ruined the moment. Which is selfish and disrespectful to say the least.

Second, if you left work in the middle of the day to come to a funeral, what’s so important that you can’t at least put your cell phone on vibrate?

Or better yet…turn the damn cell phone off.

The funeral isn’t about you. It’s about honoring a woman and her loved ones. I hadn’t seen my friends in twenty years, but I went because I remembered them well. Because of the closeness once experienced by me and them and by our parents who were colleagues. I went to show my respect, my support, and my caring. I didn’t want anything in return. I drove forty-five minutes each way, took ninety minutes out of my day. It’s a sacrifice, yes. But is that too much to ask?

I remember when my birth mother and grandmothers died. The people who surprised you by showing up just to let you know they care often were the ones whose presence meant the most.

And in this case, I was all the more blessed by the message of a life well lived. I’m sure I got more out of my presence than the family did. And what a blessing.

But thanks to the bozo who disturbed the moment. He didn’t ruin it for me, but he did interject a bit of a reminder of how selfish and stupid people can be into things.  The opposite of the person being recognized and honored, in fact.

Taking time to be present is a lost art these days, I think. But it’s so important and meaningful, I think we all should learn to do it more often.

Making time for others is an act of kindness, respect and love that means so much and takes so little. I still got my editing and work done that day. I just had to schedule around it. And in doing so, I got to see some old friends and get insight into their family I never would have had in a way that brought admiration and joy despite their sad loss.

Oh, they were all happy to see me and we spent time catching up, for sure. I even saw another high school friend.

But the most important thing was to be present in the moment and join with them. That’s why I went. It’s kinda why I assumed everyone went, and the service was well attended. Except the cell phone guy. He was too busy to make time, apparently. At least, that’s what the cell phone rings and his response implied. And it’s too bad.

One of my pet peeves in church and movie theatres has always been people who can’t be bothered to silence their cells. My dad’s a doctor and can’t turn off his cell or pager, but he always had a headphone earpiece he wore to keep them from disturbing anyone else. If he had to talk, he’d quietly slip out and do what he needed to do, then return.

I wish more people had such manners these days. Because sometimes people need your presence. They need your attention. They deserve your respect.

Turning off the damn cell phone is just one indication that you want to be there, that they deserve and have your respect, and that being there at that moment is priority number one.

Is that too much to ask to honor the life of someone?

I hope not.  If it is, maybe don’t bother. Don’t ruin the moment for everyone else. Don’t call attention to your lack of dedication. Just don’t come.

At least that’s what I’d do.

For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

 

Ruminations on Freedom

Freedom is a funny thing. Celebrated far and wide as an ideal. Yet when you have it, you don’t always feel it, because freedom does come with a certain weight of responsibility. Some choose to ignore that. More and more these days, it seems. But that’s still true. After all, unrestrained, unabashed freedom can lead to chaos and conflict. Unless you live alone on an island with a volleyball, like Tom Hanks, perhaps.

Certainly I’ve always valued and appreciated freedom, most particularly freedom of speech, without which I couldn’t practice my trade as a writer and musician. And I’ve traveled enough to have some appreciation, though limited, of how fortune we are in the U.S. to have the freedoms we have. I used to take it far more for granted than I do today. But all things considered, we really do have it better than many, even most.

We haven’t always exercised our freedom wisely, for sure. The longstanding tradition of hailing ourselves as “the greatest country in the world” strikes me as arrogant these days. After all, others are proud of their countries, too. Do we deserve to consider ourselves better than everyone else? I certainly feel like the country has gone some negative directions of late. And history reveals many missteps as well, from those in times of war, to those in economic, political and civic matters and more. No doubt we are fortunate to be where we are. But we can do better, and we should do better. And one day, I hope we do again.

No, this is not one of those down on America posts. But given that patriotism tends to flare during July 4th, and it’s reflections of that Independence Day celebration which have led to this post, I wanted to admit, this is not one of those raging patriotic posts either.

For me, life is much too complicated.

Nations are only capable of being the best they can be on the heads of the people themselves, and given that people are flawed, with good and bad parts all, nations also struggle to rise to the top from time to time and even more to stay there. Doesn’t mean our nation isn’t wonderful. Doesn’t mean we aren’t fortune. But it does remind me that we mustn’t become to complacent or comfortable. There’s ongoing work to be done.

One of the things I appreciate about freedom is the ability to listen to and compare opinions with people from a variety of places, backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs. Compromise, after all, has always been vital to successful democracy, and from the very start it’s played a huge role in the successes of this country. And one cannot compromise, if one does not understand everyone’s wants, needs, etc. Understanding them doesn’t mean you agree with them or even like them, but that you acknowledge they exist.

And, to me, compromise is what’s missing all too often from our society these days. Everyone is so polarized, something the media and pundits love to exacerbate. Tempers flare and people rage at the slightest provocation, it seems. And people are quick to assume and impugn motives, too, seemingly always reading everything in the worst light, rather than the best, which just feeds their tempers.

For me, part of maturity has been learning to think calmly whenever emotions come into play. After all, while emotions are free, we all have them all the time, they should not just be given free reign. Emotions are fickle and irrational, the antithesis of common sense, the enemy of compromise. And especially in days of the world wide web, it’s hard to really know what someone means or intends without deeper conversations, unless you know someone well and have had interpersonal contact.

And sadly freedom these days also allows people to have ignorant opinions in an ongoing way. After all, to be informed or not informed, to be educated or not educated, are choices people make.  Intellectual capacity is not, however. And some of both come into play.

But I think racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry, while I wish they’d gone away, will always exist as long as humans exist, because we humans love to categorize everything from other people to beliefs, systems, things, etc. Inevitably such categorizations lead to comparisons, and feed the desire to distinguish one’s self from the pack in various ways. And that leads many, out of arrogance, insecurity or both, to find ways to  belittle others in order to elevate themselves. The fact that such is occurring using false criteria goes ignored. And that’s unfortunate.

As I said, there’s much work to be done. I’m of the belief that with freedom comes responsibility. And the greater the freedom, the greater the responsibility. Exercising freedom with responsibility means taking time to not assume and impugn but to question and dialogue and try and understand. You don’t have to agree, but chances are you’ll discover more common ground once you take that time and that will give you a foundation for deeper discussion. T0 me, such discussions have always proven worthwhile. The chance to look at the world through the eyes of Africans, Brazilians, poor, rich, and in between has made me a better person and broadened my worldview and perspective in every way. It hasn’t always changed my opinions. Often it’s affirmed them. But it has given me an ability to respect and value the diversity of our world.

For me, that’s one of the best parts of freedom–the ability to go and experience the world in broad and diverse ways through people, places, and things. It’s certainly been one of the freedoms I’ve most exercised, having traveled to Africa, Europe, South America and Central America numerous times over the past twenty years. And it’s one I hope to go on valuing, along with the freedom to take what I learn, process it, and let it inform how I live, what I do, what I say, what I write and more.

Freedom is a wonderful thing, indeed. I’m glad I have it. I hope others gain more daily. But I also hope they learn to use it responsibly. If everyone did, I have no doubt we c0uld create a better world. And that’s a goal I consider always worthy of hoping for.

For what it’s worth…


BTS author photo 2Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

Guest Post: Genre Mashups by Michael J. Martinez

Daedalus Incident coverI love a good genre mashup. Elves in the 1940s? Awesome. Cybernetic werewolves? Bring it. Steampunk dragons? You bet. Horatio Hornblower in space?

…actually, I wrote that, more or less. Crashed a frigate into Mars and everything. Anyway.

Take your favorite sci-fi and fantasy subgenres, critters and tropes, write them on 3×5 cards and shuffle the deck. Chances are, when you draw two, you’ll end up with a whiz-bang clash of genre goodness. Unfortunately, turning that pairing into a setting, let alone a piece of fiction, isn’t quite so easy.

When you combine different genres, you have as much potential for an unholy mess as you do for greatness. It may sound good (“Dude…cybernetic werewolves!”) but I would suggest that it’s harder in some ways to create a mashup than to stick to one particular genre and make it your own.

Readers, I’ve found, are exceptionally and, at times, annoyingly perceptive. When something doesn’t make sense, their antennae twitch. Some can’t keep suspending their disbelief and have to put down the book. Others will keep reading, but look for more errors along the way, and may even take issue with stuff you’ve meant to put there. Two (or more) disparate genre elements can create a lot of potential for twitchy antennae.

Thus, genre mashups may start with an “ah-ha” moment and an aura of geeky awesomeness, but getting them to stand on their own requires discipline and diligence. This is where traditional world-building techniques come into play, but with special attention to the mashup elements. So you have cybernetic werewolves…OK, awesome. What happens to the hardware when they change? Do they have the mental capacity to use advance tech in their wolf-man state? Who, exactly, had the insane notion of rigging up a werewolf (a ’ware-wolf?) in the first place?

When I created the settings for The Daedalus Incident, I asked a ton of questions like those, often with answers leading to multiple additional questions. And as I wrote, I was careful to note other problems and disconnects as they arose, so they could be dealt with all together, at the same time, so that there’s a continuity of setting.

Now, I would say perhaps only 50% of that fully fleshed-out setting is in the book…but I’ve plenty of fodder for the next ones.

And of course, setting is only part of it. One of the mistakes I see in some genre mashups is that it’s enough to have a very cool mashup setting…sometimes at the expense of plot and character. Of course, any good book needs to have strong characters and a well-developed, well-executed plot. The mashup can’t serve as a crutch to prop up the other two.

Likewise, the plot and characters need to interact with the setting organically. You can certainly overlay a noir detective plot over an urban fantasy setting, but that’s not entirely original, now is it? How do the particulars of your mean-street faeries and vampires feed into that noir plot?

The point is, you have to stand strong against the geeky aura and do the hard work. People will expect a lot from a genre mashup – either because they love the idea, or because they think it’s a gimmick and it’s up to you to prove them wrong. The intensity and depth of your world-building after your ah-ha moment – and your plot and characters – will determine whether or not it turns into something great.


MJ MartinezMichael J. Martinez is the author of The Daedalus Incident, coming this summer from Night Shade Books, and is serializing his novella, The Gravity of the Affair, on his blog at michaeljmartinez.net

 

Revised Table Of Contents and Cover For Beyond The Sun

Beyond The Sun revised cover

10 Introduction • Bryan Thomas Schmidt
13 Migration • Nancy Kress
30 The Hanging Judge • Kristine Kathryn Rusch
45 Flipping the Switch • Jamie Todd Rubin
61 The Bricks of Eta Cassiopeiae • Brad R. Torgersen
77 The Far Side of the Wilderness • Alex Shvartsman
85 Respite • Autumn Rachel Dryden
97 Parker’s Paradise • Jean Johnson
111 Rumspringa • Jason Sanford
132 Elsewhere, Within, Elsewhen • Cat Rambo
146 Inner Sphere Blues • Simon C. Larter
161 Dust Angels • Jennifer Brozek
169 Voice of the Martyrs • Maurice Broaddus
185 One Way Ticket • Jaleta Clegg
200 The Gambrels of the Sky • Erin Hoffman
206 Chasing Satellites • Anthony R. Cardno
219 A Soaring Pillar of Brightness • Nancy Fulda
236 The Dybbyk of Mazel Tov IV • Robert Silverberg
253 Observation Post • Mike Resnick

**

BEYOND THE SUN, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Orig. Price: $17.99
Sale Price: $14.99
Availability: in stock
Prod. Code: FP13-2

 

AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER

This title will be published in August 2013

Colonists take to the stars to discover new planets, new sentient beings, and build new lives for themselves and their families. Some travel years to find their destination, while others travel a year or less. Some discover a planet that just might be paradise, while others find nothing but unwelcoming aliens and terrain. It’s not just a struggle for territory but a struggle for understanding as cultures clash, disasters occur, danger lurks and lives are at risk. Eighteen stories of space colonists by both leading and up and coming science fiction writers of today. Mike Resnick spins a tale of aliens who find Earth future diverse and surprising as they plan an invasion. Grandmaster Robert Silverberg examines what happens when Jews tired of fighting for their homeland start over on a planet then must deal with a dybbuk (spirit) and aliens who wish to convert to Judaism. Autumn Rachel Dryden has colonists threatened by alien animals which burst out of shells on the ground like piranhas ready to feed on flesh. Jason Sanford has Amish colonists on New Amsterdam finding their settlement and way of life threatened by a comet and the English settlers who want to evacuate them. And a new story from Hugo and Nebula-winner Nancy Kress.


“Jack Williamson used to say that spaceflight was to science fiction what the Trojan war was to the Greeks. In recent years, myth is being replaced by the pragmatic, and this insightful anthology demonstrates that truth.”

—James Gunn, SFWA Grandmaster

Beyond the Sun mixes courage, redemption, and stark terror in tales of distant worlds. Buckle in.”

—Jack McDevitt, author of Firebird

“Thomas Wolfe said, ‘You can’t go home again,’ but in this thoughtful, exciting collection of stories about mankind’s push to the stars, we see that we take the attributes with us that make us human. A wonderful collection of space-faring stories that reminds us that all we can depend on when we explore the universe is the unexpected.”

—James Van Pelt, author of Summer of the Apocalypse

“This is science fiction doing what only science fiction can do—pushing us out past the warm envelope of our biosphere,exploring our ultimate destiny as a species. A truly phenomenal collection.”

—Ted Kosmatka, author of The Prophet of Bones


BTS author photo 2Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

A Culture of The Worst?

Optimist Pessimist memeI love interacting with people from other cultures. Discovering the world through their eyes, looking through that other lens, exploring it, seeing where it leaves, discovering new questions, new answers, new approaches. It’s why I got hooked on traveling to foreign places like Ghana, Brazil, Mexico and more, interacting with natives and trying to understand their lives, their world, etc. for over a decade. Those times enriched me and expanded my own box in so many ways. So it’s ironic to find myself a bit flummoxed by my own culture these days.

I grew up being mostly an optimist. While, as Christians, we believed in the depravity of man and doctrine of sin, my basic assumption was that most people are good people or trying to be. Every once in a while you’d run into someone who tested your faith in that theory, but mostly it panned out. A lot of people were doing good things to make a better world, a better life, a better community, sometimes with great sacrifice. And most people I met, it seemed, had a sense of fairness and politeness that dominated them.

But these days I run into more and more people who seem to believe the opposite: all people are evil and trying to be evil. They seem to automatically assume the worst in every case from actions to words to events, etc. Everything someone says is analyzed, and dissected with the assumption it’s meant to insult, offend, or malign. They jump right onto it too, accusing, blaming, critiquing and riling up their allies about it, all the while impugning motives that may or may not be the truth. Intent no longer matters. Who can be bothered to try reading intent in the modern technoage anyway, right? Intent can’t be discerned well via the web, so why bother?

Yet, I come from a belief that intent matters, and more than that, you can choose be insulted or upset, or you can choose to assume the person means well until they prove you wrong. Not so this new breed. (Or maybe they’re an old breed I just hadn’t encountered much before.)

Although we definitely are a more cynical and nihilistic culture now than we were then, it’s flummoxing for me because you really can’t argue or respond to that kind of flawed reasoning. It’s emotionally based, which is irrational by its nature, and it’s fed by deep seated hurts and insecurities that no words can ever heal.  It’s a rather unfortunate way to go through life, if you ask me. I certainly don’t enjoy wallowing in misery or past hurts and pains. I’ve tried it, believe me. Moving on is always better.

After all, there’s plenty more to come. And plenty to be genuinely upset about without looking for opportunities. They will find you no matter what. No need to seek them out.

But for some reason there are people who operate this way. It continues to puzzle and sadden me. The results are often false assumptions, broken relationships and destructive behavior patterns, all of which seem to feed on themselves.

In a nation already polarized over politics, religion and more, that just adds to existing problems, I think. And it’s unfortunate, because, again, trouble will find you all by itself without asking or going looking for it. That’s the world we live in. Regardless, I hope that this way of thinking remains the minority. I certainly have no desire to culturally adapt. It offers no appeal whatsoever, just a whole lotta unneeded drama, and who needs that? I’ve had enough, thank you very much.

Unfortunately, it’s become more and more the kind of trouble that will find you whether you look for it or no. As has happened to me and several others of late. So be it. If it happens to you, my advice is be nice, don’t waste time trying to argue or engage, just let your life speak for itself. And know that, in the end, that will speak louder than any rumors and last far longer. You’ll be happier, too.

You can be the hero of your own story, despite the flaws. And I’m talking about the kind of hero others might look at and identify as heroic, not the kind that makes people wonder are there any heroes left these days? You don’t have to put on tights and a cape and be perfect. We’re all flawed, that’s not the point, but you can choose to rise above your flaws and work harder to be a better person and positive contributor, or you can live for “me first.” That choice is yours.

Not that I have that all figured out, mind you. I’m still flummoxed. But that’s the dynamic of cultures for you. There are always things we struggle to understand about each other; things/ideas/concepts/behaviors/traditions that challenge us to accept or reject them but refuse to allow us to deny they exist.

When you’re a guest in someone’s country, the polite thing to do is to make those reactions internal while maintaining a respectful interior — something not always easy, I admit but which all too many American tourists get wrong to our country’s detriment. But when it’s in your own country, it’s harder. You start seeing it around you more and more, and there’s no escape. You can’t go home and remove yourself, because it’ll still be there tomorrow, waiting, lurking in the shadows, so to speak.

So you carry on and find a way to live with it, I guess. For me, that involves learning how to identify it and also how to avoid adapting it myself. That might not solve the issues it creates, but it sure makes for an easier walk, if you ask me.

For what it’s worth…


BTS author photo 2Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

WriteTip: Using Assumption as a Dramatic Device

WriteTips-flat

Since I’ve talked a lot about assumption over the past week, it seems appropriate to point out how useful it can be in creating conflict and tension in your fiction. Assumption is deadly for unity and relationships, most of us have learned this by experience or will at some point. The same can be true of your characters. Nothing quite ups the ante like having characters miscommunicating about something. When readers realize they are doing so because of false assumptions on the part of one or both, it just ups the tension and desire to see not only a resolution but how they’ll get there.

As a device, this is quite common in interpersonal relationships. The wife sees the husband talking to a woman. They’ve been fighting. She begins suspecting him of an affair. Then various circumstances happen and the wife assumes the worst about each. Pretty soon she’s c0nvinced the affair is real and confronts her husband, who can’t imagine where she ever got the idea.

This also commonly works well in detective stories. The detectives/cops/investigators gather evidence and make certain assumptions. They choose suspects and treat them accordingly. When an assumption is proven wrong, they move on to the next suspect, but in the process, they’ve been in conflict with several suspects during the investigation as they narrow down the list.

In any scene, this device can add tension and conflict as the goals of various characters oppose each other and they begin assuming things. How they get around the assumptions and resolve the situation, creates the dramatic arc of the scene. Now, sometimes the assumptions only last for that scene, but often, it’s far more effective to have them carry over further into the story, acting again and again to misdirect and mislead the protagonist or antagonist as they work through obstacles toward their goal.

It’s a very effective device. How do you put it into action?

First, identify what each character’s goal is for a particular scene. Then identify what their goal is for the entire novel or story. All characters, even minor ones, have driving goals. Identifying them allows you to juxtapose them against each other for dramatic tension.

Second, once you’ve identified the characters’ goals, ask yourself how the goals can act as obstacles for other characters? What are some was they can lead to miscommunication, misconstruing of another character’s actions, etc.

Third, decide if the resulting conflict is just for the present scene or something to carry out over two or more scenes.

Then construct a scene wherein the character’s goals cause them to come into conflict with each other.

If supporting characters embrace the assumptions of one or the other, this can only up the tension. For example, the detective who suddenly finds himself confronting an angry crowd who support one key leader’s assumptions. Or the knight up against angry villagers when he takes on one of their own. None of the supporting characters must have exactly the same goal as either key player here, just aligning themselves on one side or another is more than enough.

The result is a rice in tension that helps pacing and drives to story forward, making readers want to know what happens, how it happens, etc.

There’s nothing quite as effective for drawing in readers as a conflict which deepens despite its apparent simplicity in clever ways due to the characters’ actions and assumptions. When they are characters we care about, especially, these situations remind us of similar situations in our own life experiences. And we feel empathy for the characters experiencing them because we know how difficult they were to deal with ourselves. If the characters get themselves into more and more trouble with further assumptions, that just makes the tension all the stronger, creating more and more questions readers can’t wait to see answered as the story continues.

This is a device which works well in any genre or dramatic setting, too. It’s often something storytellers use without being aware of it. But building awareness allows you to be more deliberate in how you employ such a tool and to use it more fully when you do so.

What are some devices you enjoy using in fiction? What are some devices you’ve discovered through another author’s work? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For what it’s worth…


BTS author photo 2Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

A Mistake I Don’t Regret

Don't be a hater logoTwo days ago, I posted a post I’m proud of. I worked hard on it. Since then, it has led to anger and vitriol being aimed at me. The intention was to promote civility and temperance in important discussions on issues in the SFF community. Not to silence anyone but to encourage dialogue presented in a way that it can be heard by those who need to hear it. The result was a lot of support but also some people who just want another target for bashing. It’s unfortunate. I remain a nice guy. I won’t behave that way, even if they do. But I did temporarily take the post to private for a few days until things die down, because, frankly, I’m just exhausted from the emotional drain of dealing with the vitriol.

Was it a mistake to post such a call? I don’t think so. Some friends don’t think so. I certainly don’t regret it.

But I do regret that the SFF community is unready to hear such a call. I think it’s to the detriment of that community. It’s most unfortunate. I wish it were more surprising.

Oh well. I tried. My conscience is clear. If people want to misconstrue, mischaracterize and assume the worst, they are going to do it no matter what I say or do. I choose a different path. Hate breeds hate as they say. But I choose love.  That hasn’t changed. I hope these attackers find the healing and help they need. Because clearly there’s a lot of brokenness out there. And stop attacking someone who actually support equality in so many ways, including equality in stories I buy and more. Giving back to someone else what was done to you is not a victory. It’s a diminishment of self.

B

In the meantime, posts on related topics which might be of interest:
On Sexual Harrassment: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2013/06/03/lets-talk-about-hitting-on-girls-boys-i-e-dont-sexually-harrass/

Cat Rambo’s great post on arguing on the internet, which is similar in take to mine: http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/2013/06/17/arguing-on-the-internet-the-dwarves-are-for-the-dwarves/

On reaching beyond female stereotypes: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2012/05/24/the-importance-of-reaching-beyond-female-stereotypes/

On being true to yourself in world-building: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2013/06/03/write-tip-worldbuilding-follow-the-truth-not-someone-elses-agenda/

And finally, if you just need a laugh, our most popular post ever: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2012/06/11/guest-post-your-punctuation-personality-type-by-leah-petersen/

Enjoy!

My Campbell Conference Agenda

I am privileged to be an Author Guest at the Campbell Awards Conference at University of Kansas this weekend, sponsored by Center For The Study Of Science Fiction. Here’s the agenda items I’ll be involved with. You can find a full agenda here.

Friday, June 14

 

 

 

  • 9:00am – 4:45pm: The Spencer Research Library will display a selection of rare SF materials from the special SF collections in the Johnson room. Stop by any time. If you ask about the SF display at the front desk, Special Collections Librarian Elspeth Healey will come out and personally tour you around the items, so don’t miss this great opportunity!
  • 2:00pm – 2:45pm: Best-selling author Kevin J. Anderson talks about dreaming big and making unrealistic expectations pay off.
    LocationKrehbiel Scholarship Hall 1st Floor lobby (1323 Ohio St – information here) near the KU campus.
  • 3:00pm – 4:30pm: “Secrets of Successful Speculative Fiction” discussion with our attending guest authors during the Workshop. Though this is of special interest to our Workshop attendees, all Campbell Conference registrants with writing aspirations are welcome to join.
    Location
    Krehbiel Scholarship Hall 1st Floor lobby (1323 Ohio St – information here) near the KU campus.
  • 6:00pm – 9:00pm: Awards Ceremony and Banquet for the John Campbell Award for best SF novel of the year, the Theodore Sturgeon Award for best short SF of the year, and the newLifeboat to the Stars Award. The Banquet costs extra, but all Conference attendees are invited to attend the Awards Ceremony (starts at about 7:00pm) that follows the meal. Even if you do not intend to eat dinner, you must contact Lydia Ash (lash@ku.edu) in advance so we can arrange for seating.
    Location
    : Griffith Room in The Oread hotel. Valet parking in The Oread‘s garage; parking is free on the hill as marked.
  • Evening: Reception immediately following Awards Ceremony.
    Location
    : Griffith Room in The Oread hotel.

Saturday, June 15

  • 9:00am – noon: Round-table discussion. 
    Location
    : Gathering Room 1 in The Oread hotel near the KU campus.
    This year’s topic: “To the Stars.” Valet parking in The Oread‘s garage; parking is free on the hill as marked.
  • Noon – 12:45pm: Break for lunch. The Oread contains several eating establishments. If you wish to dine downtown, click here for a good list of Lawrence restaurants.
  • 12:45pm – 1:30pm: Autograph session with attending authors and editors.  Location: All Season’s Den in The Oread; you can purchase books in the adjacent bookstore. This event is free and open to the public.
  • 1:45pm – 4:30pm: Readings from new work by by Kevin J. Anderson, Andy Duncan, and James Gunn. Location: Gathering Room 1 in The Oread hotel.

Sunday, June 16

  • 9:00am – 11:00am: “Meet the authors and editors” informal talk with our attending guests and authors. Some pastries and beverages provided.
    Location: All Season’s Den in The Oread hotel.
  • Noon – late afternoon: Informal afternoon gathering at the home of Ruth Lichtwardt. Munchies, wine, and craft beers will be served.
    Location: (information in your membership packet). Sponsored by Kansas City in 2016, a bid for the 74th Worldcon.

Let’s Talk About Hitting On Girls, Boys (i.e. Don’t Sexually Harrass)

No crossed outYou know, it always amazes me the gall some people have. There are guys who can just walk up to women, have a friendly conversation, and then decide that the woman wants to have sex. They then start hitting on her. Some guys skip the friendly conversation altogether and go straight to propositioning. I’m not talking about behavior just in bars, either. I’m talking about behavior on airplanes, in parks, on the street, at work–everywhere.

Maybe it’s residue from my background as an outcast, in part, but I was also raised with strong women around: my mom, grandmas, and sister. It never occurred to me that this kind of behavior was okay. So it always puzzles me. Even in a dating relationship, I have to know the girl is comfortable with such talk to even initiate it. Otherwise, I wait for her to make it clear she wants to go there. That’s just respectful to me. And it always amazed me some people see it any other way.

Richard Branson must. Virgin Airlines now has the ‘Get Lucky’ policy.  No surprise, it has led to sexual harrassment. I’m sure legal trouble will follow.  I can’t believe his corporate lawyers even let that one slide through. Of course, he is the boss. Maybe he ignored them. It will be at his peril, I guarantee.

And in the past year, we’ve heard more and more reports of serious–egregious–sexual harrassment at conventions. People grabbing, stalking, etc. What’s up with this behavior, guys? I could write it off as sociopaths, but it happens to so many women, it scares me to imagine our society is filled with that many sociopaths.

Instead, I think it’s just arrogance and ignorance. Or maybe  bad social training.

Here’s another question: do women encourage it? And should they have to?

First, you can argue that if men are so bad at reading signs, then perhaps some indication of interest would be a good idea. At the very least, this would avoid accidental harrassings (if there is such a thing). But beyond that, it would at least make men aware of mutual interest, even though it would not tell them where the line is.

Second, I know women have been direct with me in the past and I appreciated it, so I think they do do this. But again, should they have to? In an ideal world, probably not, but in our confused culture, maybe it’s one way to start straightening things out for the foolish men (all of us to some degree).

I’m not here to man bash. But I do think male behavior in these cases is clear evidence of a drought of common sense.  If women were going around harrassing men like this, it wouldn’t be an issue up for debate. It would have been cracked down on or solved. I’ve actually had someone come on to me and make me feel uncomfortable, and it was not pleasant. You feel helpless and trapped. And it’s frustrating when the person can’t understand or refuses to accept the word “no” as a literal response to stop.

I think the moment the word “no” is uttered, one should pause and determine the context in which it was said. I just don’t understand the excuse of “she didn’t mean it” or, even worse, “I got carried away.” That’s ridiculous. If someone is saying “no,” then you should assume they mean it and find out. Heat of the moment aside, I’m serious here. If you are moving so fast that you have lost control, then think twice about what you’re doing altogether. As my friend Rosie says: “Don’t wait for a ‘no.’ Get an emphatic ‘yes.’ It’s way sexier, anyway.”

Let’s ask some female friends when they consider it appropriate to “hit” on them. What are the signs a woman might use to encourage it?

First from my friend Leah Petersen: “I’m never offended by a tasteful and polite come-on, but I expect the man (or woman) to take an equally tasteful and polite brush-off without having to be hit over the head with it. I’ll qualify that with: It’s never OK if I’m clearly with my husband. Though even that one I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt on, if it’s not clear. I don’t wear a ring that people identify as a wedding ring easily and half the time I forget to put it on, so I assume anyone who chats me up has done so with the assumption that I’m single.”

From Rosie at makemeasammich.org: “I’ll start by saying that it’s even important to recognize signs that a woman isn’t interested. It’ll save you a lot of time and energy and will reduce discomfort on both sides. Here are some signs (and their counterparts when appropriate) (and note that these are generalizations referring to heterosexual women, because someone will always point out that not everyone is the same, some people are shy, etc.):

– If a woman tends to turn away from you, she’s probably not interested. When a woman is attracted to a man she tends to turn toward him–full on–when they’re interacting.

– If a woman makes moves to put distance between you, she’s probably not interested. Don’t keep closing that distance, because if she is interested (and is just defending her comfort bubble) that is very likely to drive her away. Give her space and watch for other signs.

– If a woman refuses to look you in the eye while you’re interacting, this is a sign that she may not be interested. Women who are attracted to a man and want to encourage more engagement tend to look him in the eye and fully engage.

– If you touch a woman (which you should never do without permission), and she doesn’t respond by touching you back in a way that is unmistakably affectionate and encouraging, she is probably not interested. If you touch a woman without permission, chances are you will know right away whether she likes you enough to forgive your rudeness. If not, she will move away from your touch and possibly injure you, depending.

Now, here are a few signs a woman is interested:

– She’s fully engaged when you talk to her, looking you right in the eye and smiling or otherwise emoting appropriately.

– She closes the distance between you.

– She engages in surrogate touching: playing with your keys, touching your drink glass, messing with a button on your sleeve.

One thing I think people need to learn to recognize is the difference between that feeling of ‘I find this person attractive’ and ‘Zing! We are attracted to one another.’ Being pursued by someone you’re not interested in is one of the biggest turnoffs I can imagine, so it behooves you to know the signs and signals and to recognize the mutual (vs. one-way) chemistry that occurs when two people ‘fit.’ It’s really pretty simple in many cases: A woman who is interested will make excuses to be around you. A woman who is not interested will make excuses to get away from you.”

Pretty helpful stuff. It comes down to this: don’t assume. If you have to guess, you’ll probably be wrong. Wait for definitive encouragement.

And don’t give me that “it’s part of the game” crap either. Because no, it isn’t. It’s not a game to make someone feel threatened or scared. It’s no game to make someone feel uncomfortable. Yeah, there may be masochists out there who get off on such things, but find a group of like minded people. Don’t try them out on random strangers. Seriously.

It sucks to hit on girls a lot of times. It’s nerve wracking and it takes guts. That’s why so many men put on the machismo attitude and pretend it doesn’t matter. In truth, a rejection from one woman doesn’t matter much. It may feel humiliating in the moment, but it’s not going to stop a woman who’s really interested from saying ‘yes’ five minutes later. I’d much rather be with someone who has the same desire to be with me as I have to be with her. Wouldn’t you? Seriously. Even if you’re looking for a one night stand.  If someone wants to screw their brains out mindlessly, it should be mutual. And there are women out there who might. But it’s not your call to pick them. They must nominate themselves.

If Richard Branson is your hero, well, I don’t know what to say about that. Because he’s certainly lost some respect with me for his new policy. Regardless of the publicity stunt and humor angle, it’s irresponsible. And it creates and encourages situations bound to make flying Virgin anything but pleasant for a whole lot of people. Why would a business owner in his right mind want to do that?

Why would a man looking for love want to make a woman uncomfortable? Why would a man looking for a willing sex partner want to make a woman uncomfortable?

If you don’t have good answers for these questions, then I hope you’ve gotten the point. If not, please find a friend and read it together. This is too important to miss the point. Rape culture has to stop. And men, I hate to tell you, but the onus is entirely on us.

For what it’s worth…


Beyond The Sun revised coverBryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

Write Tip: Worldbuilding – Follow The Truth Not Someone Else’s Agenda

WriteTips-flatWant some unsolicited writing advice? Don’t let someone else’s selfish advice box you in on your worldbuilding.

Okay, perhaps an example is in order.

I recently read an article by a fantasy writer who suggested that if you create a world in which females are wives or slaves or not strong, then you are making a political decision to discriminate against women.

Uh no. I could not disagree more.

If you envision a patriarchal society because it fits your world? That’s legitimate. Especially if you’re modeling it after a historical patriarchal society. What’s not legitimate is to write the female characters in that world as if they are not leaders or given to strengths of their own, despite their political realities. Even in traditional western households where the father brings home the bacon, the mom cooks it and raises the kids, women are often very strong and influential in their households. In fact, many are domestic queens. And that is being strong. Just because a women doesn’t carry a weapon, does not make her weak.

I don’t think every worldbuilding you make should be based on a political agenda, yours or someone else’s. I think there’s a dishonesty in that at times, if it forces you to write a world that doesn’t fit your story or is forced into an unnatural formation for the story.

That’s why advice like that quoted above needs to be disregarded. It assumes that everyone who is not writing the kinds of women that author wants to see written is anti-women. That’s just not the case. Maybe she’s just not your audience.

I do think it’s important to question your motives and decisions in worldbuilding. But don’t let manipulative advice guilt you into bad decisions for the wrong reasons either. The real world should always be an influence, yes. Because it is the only example both author and readers have about what a realistic world should look like. That’s why most made up worlds have religions. We know of no culture on Earth without them. That’s why male-female marital relationships dominate. That’s the world as we know it. It’s also why we often see men as soldiers and workers and women caring for the homes. That refection of reality is honest, not a political decision to discriminate.

At the same time, any author, if he or she is being honest about the world around him/her, will write women in diverse roles, because that is also the world in which we live. And readers will notice if your world is modern and those elements are missing. But if you’re writing an authentic historical setting, you should very much make that setting feel real and honest and reflect those realities in your books. That doesn’t mean you can’t step outside the norm to create interesting characters and elements which stand our from the stereotypes. You can and you should. But someone’s political agenda shouldn’t play a part in manipulating it, period.

The same is true of writing different races and anything else. Allow your world to reflect the world as we know it as appropriate to the time, setting, etc. It also should reflect your experience. And I think that naturally occurs. For example, I tend to write women who are housewives, women who are soldiers, women who are politicians, women who are teachers and more. I grew up with strong women who did many things and were influential leaders at home and in the community, so the women in my stories almost always reflect that when I invent secondary worlds. When I am writing historical settings, I tend to write something much more a reflection of the historical record. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you think you’re called to write stories about strong women in non-traditional settings, more power to you. If your story comes from a different place, that should be okay, too. Even if those with a different agenda don’t care to read it. Don’t be bullied by someone else’s guilt trip. There’s a really big difference between writing the world as it fits the story, setting, etc. and forcing the world to reflect what you want it to be. Both are viable, but just because you don’t choose to write the world differently than the story dictates doesn’t make you a bad person. So don’t let the kind of advice I mentioned cramp your style. Be conscious of your decisions, but also be true to yourself and your work.

You’ll write better stories, stories that will find the right readers.

For what it’s worth…


AbeLincolnDino_CoverV2Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

Write Tip: 5 Tips For Choosing The Right Independent Editor

WriteTips-flat I get this question all the time: “How Do I Know What’s Reasonable?” about independent editors and their fees. You’d think people would consider me biased, but in truth, I’m not because although I have absolutely confidence in the quality of our work at Finish The Story and my own independent work, I understand the issue from a writer’s perspective and I want clients who hire me to be comfortable and feel they belong there, not constantly wondering if they made a mistake.

So here are some tips for choosing the right Independent Editor for you.

1) Do Your Research — Don’t take our word for it off our website or business cards and brochures, ask around. Check with people on our client list, others in the industry who might know our reputation, etc. Ask about what we do, how we do it, and the quality. Ask any question you can think of that. That’s just proper due diligence, after all, editing is an investment and your art is in the balance.

2) Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions — Feel free to ask us questions directly, too, about all of the same things and more. An editor who won’t answer questions is not one who values the communication necessary to work well with authors. It’s okay to be inquisitive. Better that than miscommunication that damages the relationship. Ask about past experience in your genre, for example. Ask about time frame and how they handle it when they exceed the quote: do they check with you before proceeding or just plow on and expect you to foot the bill?  (I always do the former.) Will they recommend your work to others in the industry if they feel it’s worthy? etc.

3) Ask For A Free Sample Edit — Most of us will edit 5-10 pages free as an example of our work. Take advantage of this.  You can get a sense of what we do, how we do it, and if it will be helpful to you in your process. We get a sense of whether you’re at a level that we can be of benefit. If I don’t think it’s worth the money for you to hire me right now, I’ll tell you honestly. Because I’d rather work with people for whom I can be of benefit, not people who need to spend more time developing craft. Because most writers can’t afford to come back again and again, and I don’t want to ghost write for you.

4) Compare Rates With Industry Standards — What are fair rates? Check the Editorial Freelancer’s Association’s posted Rate Standards here. You’ll get a really good sense from this if the editor you are dealing with is in line with the going rate. You’ll also get a sense of whether your expectations are realistic. In my experience, the latter is most often more of an issue than the former, because writers just don’t realize how much work goes into editing or what that’s worth, and they often undervalue it. If that sounds biased coming from an editor, so be it. But to do well, I have to make multiple passes of your document. I have to work with extreme focus, without distractions, and that means concentrating, and that can be draining. As a result, I set limits on how many hours I edit at a time and even per day. And I also only work on one project at a time, to avoid mixing them up in my mind. Not everyone works that way, but that’s how I get best results. And so I charge what I think is reasonable compensation. I’m still working on the low end of industry standards. But that’s okay, I’m new and still proving myself. But make no mistake, I earn your trust and I don’t have a single unsatisfied client yet. So check out my rates. I want you to know that I’m worth it.

5) Ask Their Prior Clients — Yes, I said this before but it needs to be emphasized again, because it’s perfectly fine to ask for references or track them down on your own. In the writing industry, people often know each other, and most are always happy to answer questions about someone they enjoyed working with or someone they didn’t. Don’t look to create drama. Tweet or Facebook or Email and tell them: “I’m thinking about hiring so-and-so as an editor for my project, and I was curious about your experience working with them.” If what they have to say needs to be kept private, they’ll let you know and find a way to communicate appropriately. If what they have to say is good, chances are they’ll be happy to say it loudly and often. But it never hurts to ask. I’ve never had someone refuse to be a reference in such cases.

So there you have it, five helpful tips for choosing the right independent editor. I hope these give some of you a better sense of what to look at and good questions to ask. Happy editing and continued success!

For what it’s worth…


Beyond The Sun revised coverBryan Thomas Schmidt’s debut novel The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His other books include The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012), Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, or his website at www.bryanthomasschmidt.net.

My Schedule For ConQuest 44

ConQuest 44 logoWell, ConQuest 44, our local con, and the first SFF con I ever attended in 2010, is back this coming weekend and here is my tentative schedule:

Friday 1600-1700: Building a Fantasy World [MOD] (Monarch) Bryan Thomas Schmidt [MOD], Patrick Rothfuss, Patricia C. Wrede, M.C. (Mary) Chambers, K.D. McEntire

Saturday 1300-1325: Reading/Q&A/Autographs [MOD] (Regency) Bryan Thomas Schmidt/ Mark L Groves

Saturday 1400-1500: How to Introduce SciFi to Kids (Embassy) Tyrell Gephardt, Patrick Stutzman, Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Saturday 1600-1700: Relationship between Writers and Editors (Embassy) Jean Stuntz [MOD],Teresa Neilsen Hayden, Selina Rosen, Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Sunday 1100-1200: Collaborating with Cover Artists [MOD] (Monarch) Bryan Thomas Schmidt [MOD], John Picacio, Mitch Bentley, Claire Ashgrove

Sunday 1500-1600: Editing 101 for Writers [MOD] (Embassy) Bryan Thomas Schmidt [MOD], Claire Ashgrove

Glen Cook in the dealer room will have copies of all of my books, including my children’s books which will finally be out in paperbacks.

Sadly, due to my current financial crisis, I may not make all of this programming. I will certainly try to be there as much as I can but, at this point, Saturday is iffy because I have a long drive due to no money for hotel and I am going to have to just really be careful about going a long way when I have no credit cards or anything else to bail me out if my car broke down, etc. Let alone to buy meals. In any case, some great guests this year and a great Con. Patrick Rothfuss, John Picacio, Teresa Neilsen Hayden, Patricia C. Wrede and more will be there, see the link above. We’ll just have to see what happens.

 

Write Tip: Thou Shalt Not Sin With Commas

WriteTips-flatI know what you’re thinking: a Write Tip on commas? It’s so basic. I must admit, it’s the last subject I thought I’d ever tackle in one of these tips. But please don’t find it insulting. The more I edit, the more I find it is often the very basics of which we writers most need reminding. After all, commas matter.  It seems to be one of the more common errors my editing clients are making.  So perhaps a reminder might be helpful for us all.

Some examples:

She remained standing, firm in her resolve.

She remained, standing firm in her resolve.

Now, he knew it was over.

Now he knew, it was over.

Now he knew it was over.

Suddenly running toward the street, he realized how stupid he’d been.

Suddenly, running toward the street, he realized how stupid he’d been.

Suddenly running toward the street he realized how stupid he’d been.

She served all of his favorites: tossed salad, macaroni and cheese, and carrot cake.

She served all of his favorites: tossed salad, macaroni and cheese and carrot cake.

In each of these examples, you may notice how clearly the comma placement changes both the meaning and the pacing of reading each sentence. Commas provide separation of elements in series, separation of clauses, indications of where readers and speakers should pause in their inflection, and more. Lazy comma usage can do far more than demonstrate your lack of grammatical knowledge, it can also create real confusion in what you’re trying to communicate.

Here are 10 Key Rules for correct comma usage according to http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/commas.htm:

1. Use a comma to separate the elements in a series (three or more things), including the last two. “He hit the ball, dropped the bat, and ran to first base.”

Okay, yes, the comma before the “and” is often called the Oxford Comma, and some consider it unnecessary, which is fine when you have control of things. But some publishing houses’ style guides require it, and, more importantly, there are cases in which leaving it out can cause confusion when two list items appear to go together in ways not intended. Using a comma between all the items in a series, including the last two, avoids this problem.

Take the last two above examples:

She served all of his favorites: tossed salad, macaroni and cheese, and carrot cake.

She served all of his favorites: tossed salad, macaroni and cheese and carrot cake.

Is it macaroni and cheese being served along with carrot cake? Is macaroni being served along with cheese and carrot cake? Are there two kinds of cakes: cheese cake and carrot cake? I think my point is obvious.

 

2. Use a comma + a little conjunction (and, but, for, nor, yet, or, so) to connect two independent clauses, as in “He hit the ball well, but he ran toward third base.”

Sometimes the conjunction makes the separation clear and a comma isn’t needed. But if there is any doubt, use the comma, as it will never be incorrect in this situation. In fact, one of the most frequent comma errors is placing it after the coordinating conjunction. For example,

He ran as far as he could and, then he stopped.

or less obviously perhaps:

Her statement was obvious but, in case there was any doubt, he paraphrased for the others.

A comma before the “but” would be appropriate, but after it is unnecessary and potentially confusing. We do sometimes pause after the little conjunction when speaking, but there is seldom a good reason to put a comma there.

 

3. Use a comma to set off introductory elements, as in “Running toward third base, he suddenly realized how stupid he looked.”

Again, you may omit the comma in such cases if the statement is clear and will not cause readers to stumble, but if there is ever any doubt, use the comma. It will never be wrong.

Several examples from above may serve here:

She remained standing, firm in her resolve.

She remained, standing firm in her resolve.

Now, he knew it was over.

N0w he knew, it was over.

Suddenly running toward the street, he realized how stupid he’d been.

Suddenly, running toward the street, he realized how stupid he’d been.

I see this one a LOT in editing.

 

4. Use a comma to set off parenthetical elements, as in “The Founders Bridge, which spans the Connecticut River, is falling down.”

The term “parenthetical element” here refers to a part of the sentence which could be dropped without changing the essential meaning of the sentence, sometimes called “added information.” This can be one of the more challenging punctuation rules, as what is “added” may not always be clear.

Without hesitation, he ran.

Dropping “without hesitation” would still leave the essential meaning: “he ran.” The parenthetical, in this case, serves to add motivational i.e. emotional context to the action that follows.

 

5. Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives.  If you can put an and or a but between the adjectives, a comma will probably belong there.

A good example of this might be:

Sarah lives in a very old and run-down house.

Instead, you’d more often say:

Sarah lives in a very old, run-down house.

Here’s a good example of an exception,  however:

That lady is old and little.

Instead, we’d more commonly hear:

That was a little old lady.

Note the lack of commas between “little” and “old lady.”

 

6. Use a comma to set off quoted elements. Generally, use a comma to separate quoted material from the rest of the sentence that explains or introduces the quotation.

This can be difficult to remember because most of us don’t use quoted materially constantly.  But in fiction particularly, it is important when using speech tags or action tags for dialogue.

“General, we have word from the Governor,” the aide reported, handing Gent a message tube and stopping beside him.

or

Gent called back to her as he ran, “Don’t let him out of your sight!”

or

When asked about the issue, Congressman Roberts replied, “I have no comment on that matter at this time.”

But this one can also be abused and confused. As I see incorrect things like this way too often:

“Don’t do anything stupid, Keely!”, he yelled as he went to open his door.

 

7. Use commas to set off phrases that express contrast.

She smiled as their eyes met,  sadness and longing shining from their depths.

 

8. Use a comma to avoid confusion. This is often a matter of consistently applying rule #3.

I think we’ve covered this but it’s a good reminder.

 

9. Grammar English’s Famous Rule of Punctuation: Never use only one comma between a subject and its verb. “Believing completely and positively in oneself is essential for success.” [Although readers might pause after the word “oneself,” there is no reason to put a comma there.]

I see this one a lot, too.

“Mark my words, all of that garbage you’re ingesting, is going to be the death of you!”

No, no, no, no, no! The comma before “is” makes me shudder.

 

10. Typographical Reasons: Between a city and a state [Hartford, Connecticut], a date and the year [June 15, 1997], a name and a title when the title comes after the name [Bob Downey, Professor of English], in long numbers [5,456,783 and $14,682], etc. Although you will often see a comma between a name and suffix — Bob Downey, Jr., Richard Harrison, III — this comma is no longer regarded as necessary by most copy editors, and some individuals — such as Martin Luther King Jr. — never used a comma there at all.

That one’s often determined by personal taste and style guides. Just be consistent within the body of your manuscript. And be prepared for editors with other preferences to raise the issue.

 

So, there you have it, some examples of sinful comma usage to avoid, and legal ways to employ them instead. I hope this is a helpful reminder, even for those of us who feel current on our grammatical knowledge. I know I need reminders myself from time to time. For what it’s worth…


Beyond Sun Cover.inddBryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

A Different Kind Of Logic: Thoughts On Terrorism, Boston, 9/11 and More

I make it a habit not to comment on politics and such here very often. And I shall again try to do so with this post. But given recent events, I do want to share some thoughts on the Boston Marathon attack, terrorists, etc. Because these issues have faced our country boldface since September 11, 2001, and we continue to wrestle with how to react.

It’s always interesting to me how some people want to apply Western reasoning to people whose minds don’t operate like ours. Muslim extremists, Chechnian extremists, sociopaths — you can’t say if I was ignored, I’d stop crying for attention, so ignore them and they’ll go away. Because they don’t operate on the same system of logic we do.  For all we know, ignoring them will make them more determined. After all, these are patient people who spend years planning their attacks. They don’t tend to just fly off the handle and strike spontaneously. Meticulous planning is a part of their process. These are calculating people with specific goals, however warped those might seem to us. So when I hear people say: “Want to end fear of terrorism? Shut off the TV” or “keep on living,” it doesn’t compute to me.

Now, I am not in favor of brutality. I am not in favor of a country that has always valued life and held high ideals about morality and honor in how we treat others abandoning that tradition entirely. However, I am reminded of what a friend, a former U.S. intelligence officer, once told me decades ago. This was before September 11, 2001 by almost 10 years, in fact.

He said: “You can’t fight these kinds of people by being nice. You can’t treat them as operating under the same logic as everyone else. That’s just not who they are.” He went on to explain how the Russians dealt with terrorists when their people were attacked in the 80s. “The Russians found the terrorists, decapitated them, cut off their balls and sent the heads with balls stuffed in their mouths back to their families. Terrorists left the Russians alone.”

Brutal, yes. Horrifying even. I’m not suggesting it.

But his point was that when you deal with people who don’t think as you do, you have to approach them differently than people who do. You have to change tactics, take risks, and sometimes up the scale of response, as unpleasant as it may be.

I have spent a lot of time working cross culturally–in Ghana, Brazil, Mexico and other places–both living and working with people and working hard to understand who they are, how they think, how they view the world. My goals was never to impose my values or perspective but to understand theirs and offer tools they could apply in context to solve problems. I believe we had a great deal of success. Certainly we never heard the kinds of complaints so many other foreign groups get about trying to make them like us. I took pride in that. Still, do.

As a result of that time, I learned how to listen and study more, different questions to ask, and became aware of a much bigger box than the one in which I typically live. And it broadened my world in ways I can’t escape and don’t want to. The lens through which I view the world is a different one now, and it is through that lens that I view anyone I encounter whose actions, attitudes, culture, etc. are different from my own.  And that’s the case with these terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center, airlines and the Pentagon. I feel certain it’s the case with those who attacked Boston as well. And I know it’s different with those overseas who continue to terrorize or plot terror and attacks on others around the world.

When I worked with African or Brazilians, I very quickly learned I couldn’t assume they think as I do. That was a direct route to conflict. I found myself surprised at times by the differences in our perspectives, how our minds worked. Not that they were necessarily wrong. I was not there to make judgement calls. But they saw it differently, so to understand them and relate and work with them, I had to make an effort to understand their perspective. It was the only way we could find satisfactory solutions.

I believe the same is going  to be true in dealing with terrorism and the many problems we face in the world today. As I watch our country grow more and more divided by ideologies, I am more and more certain that’s going to be required here as well. In a country founded on compromise, at least in government and media, we seem to have forgotten that history, the art of compromise. It’s us v. them. Every ideology must be right and the others wrong. We’ve seen the results of that already–failure of the government to solve problems, angry citizens, and an increased sense of disunity amongst Americans. Sometimes, I wonder what America is anymore? I don’t recognize it many times.

Whenever a different kind of logic is at work, such misunderstandings are a risk, but they are also a danger.

And that’s what we face with these sociopaths who plant bombs or shoot up schools or attack us in other ways–a different kind of logic.

I’m not proposing particular answers, per se, but I am suggesting that to continue looking at it through our cultural eyes and understandings, through our mores and beliefs, is never going to provide a solution that ends the problem. It may prolong it. It may ignore it. It may make it worse. It won’t bring peace or a conclusion.

That’s scary stuff when you think about it. I was reading author Dan Simmons’ 2006 essay imagining a message from a Time Traveler  today and it demonstrates that very much, in so many ways. Until more of us realize this and act accordingly, I fear the heartache will continue. I fear the struggle will not be resolved, and I fear the harm will be caused as much by our ignorance as that of our attackers. And, if you ask me, we’ve suffered enough harm.

For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook.

Write Tips Guest Post: Bestseller Tips for Writing A Fiction Series by Faith Hunter, author of the Jane Yellowrock series

WriteTips-flatHey Y’all. Thanks for having me here today. I’ve been a commercially published writer since I sold my first book in 1989. I know that makes my first book older than some of you, but like any good mom, I remember the birth-day of the book quite well. However that is a post for another day. Today we are talking about things every writer needs to do in order to write a successful series. The bestselling part – well that is up to the fans and readers. They make or break you, and if they love you, you are golden. So, (in no particular order) on to it!

  1. Keep it all straight or your readers will remind you for YEARS about how you missed this or that. I live in constant fear of breaking this rule. I am about to hire a continuity editor, someone who will create for me a bible of the Jane Yellowrock world, with every character’s: description, history, weapons, skill, ability, diet preferences, clothes, house floor plan, love life, and more. Also, history of the world Jane lives in. To this point in my writing career, I’ve never written more than a 4-book-long series, and it was easy to keep up back then. Now, not so much.
  2. Blood-Trade-Blog-Tour-175Develop a thick skin. There will be good reviews and bad reviews. There will be people who love you and your work and people who call you bad names on book review sites because you did something in your book they didn’t like.  I am very careful when I read reviews to pick ones that don’t A.) Call me names. B.) Seem to have an ax to grind against the world, and picked me as the whet stone. C.) Love me and everything about my books. When I read reviews, I pick ones that do  A.) Seem rational and calm and mostly sane. B.) Seem to have actually read the book and the series that came before. C.) Offer constructive criticism. I get really good ideas from reviews that are reasoned and well thought out. But mostly I am kind to myself. No matter how thick my skin is, I don’t torture myself and end up depressed.
  3. Maybe this should come first or last, for emphasis, but let your characters develop and grow. One of the first things a writer learns is to have good character development in every novel, but in a series, it is paramount to let them change and grow through problems and really develop. If you want a more in depth overview how to make your characters develop, there a lot of really good posts a www.magicalwords.net, a writing site created by two writing pals and me years ago. Here is one I wrote back
    in 2009 http://www.magicalwords.net/faith-hunter/character-development-%E2%80%93-what-is-it-really/ where I break down the how of character development.
  4. 9780451465061_BloodTrade_CV.inddBe willing to try new things. One of the worst things writers can do is let their writing get stale. Take a break, write something different every now and again. I have been writing inside the Jane Yellowrock world, but outside of Jane’s Point of View in short stories lately, and I am really enjoying it! In the series, I am locked into a first person POV, which I adore, but it can be limiting. Writing from third person, from another character’s POV, is very freeing, and also, it lets me see my main character through eyes of the secondary characters in the series. I had no idea she was so lean and menacing. And cuddly. Depending on the POV I am writing from.
  5. Voice. I think this is probably the most important part of a successful series. Finding the different voices in the stories and keeping them true.  There are many different voices in a novel: A.) Voices of each and every character, both internal thoughts (depending on the POV, of course), and dialogue patterns. Every character should not sound alike. Just like real people, they should have unique verbal and physical tics, and unique word placements and phrasing. B.) Narrative voice. This is the writer’s voice. It is composed of many disparate things: the tone of book, the setting, the character’s temperament, sentence length and the number of detached non-full-sentence-dangling-phrases to name a very few. This voice should remain constant throughout the book.

I hope this helped. Check out my books and website, and my latest release, BLOOD TRADE, from Penguin/ROC! Faith Hunter www.faithhunter.net https://www.facebook.com/official.faith.hunter?fref=ts

Faith Hunter is the fantasy author of the Jane Yellowrock vampire hunter series and a long time professional fiction writer. Including her other pen name, Gwen Hunter, she has over 25+ published books in 28 countries around the world. Her latest addition to the Jane Yellowrock series, Blood Trade, was released by Penguin/ROC on April 2nd, 2013. She is an original creator of and regular contributor to MagicalWords.net, an industry blog for sci-fi and fantasy writers. You can find out more about Faith at her home on the web, FaithHunter.net, or visit her official Facebook page to connect with her and other fantasy fiction fans.

Online Class: Basic Networking & Platform Building For Writers

NETWORKING AND PLATFORM BUILDING BASICS FOR WRITERS

Instructor: Bryan Thomas Schmidt

About Bryan: Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website atwww.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bryanthomass?ref=hl.

“Bryan is an absolute genius at using his network to obtain blurbs and anthology participation from pro authors. I’m super impressed at the connections he’s built and how he makes things happen.” — Camille Gooderham Campbell, Editor/Publisher, Every Day Fiction

Publishing like every sector of the entertainment business is highly dependent on who you know and how you present yourself. This class will cover the basics of building a network, how to network, and how to leverage those relationships and manage them well. It will also cover the author platform. Tools you’ll need. How to get started, what it is and why it matters.

Since starting to pursue an SFF writing career  in 2009, I have used my networking and platform building skills to land contracts with publishers like Baen Books and create opportunities to work with the likes of Robert Silverberg, Glen Cook, Mike Resnick, Elizabeth Moon, Larry Correia, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Nancy Kress, Dean Wesley Smith, Seanan McGuire, David Farland and more. Let me show you how to do the same.

Cost: $60 (discounted from $75 as a special launch deal)
Time: 2 two hour sessions a week apart
Date: 10 a.m. ET two Saturdays in a row. Dates specified when class full.
Students per classses: 9
Location: Google Hangout or Skype (based on students’ preferences)

To sign up, email me at bryan at bryanthomasschmidt dot net

Write Tip: Using Nuances and Subtext to Bring Characters and World To Life

WriteTips-flatOkay, this week’s write tip is going to be a bit different. I want you to watch this video first before you read the rest of this post. And you need to watch the whole thing to really get what I’m saying here. Watch it. It’s not cheesy. It’s surprisingly touching and funny. And you won’t know what I mean if you don’t make it through the first two minutes. So you have your assignment. Watch and then we’ll get to the tip.

In case you have trouble with the embedded video in your browser, find it on You Tube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcVXCeWk0PE

Now. Showing this to people I’ve gotten several varied reactions.

1) Oh, I would never make a fool out of myself like that.

2) Best dad ever!

3) That’s cute!

4) How creative and fun!

5) I couldn’t do that.

My own reaction: this is a man who loves his daughter enough to demonstrate it and celebrate it.

The typical father-daughter dance at weddings is symbolic. We all know why. It’s the passing of the torch of responsibility for the care of the daughter from father to husband. It signifies a letting go, a goodbye, an acknowledgement of leaving home and that everything has changed.

But not really.

What do I mean?

He could have just danced with his daughter. “Butterfly Kisses” is without a doubt one of the best songs written by a father for his daughter ever. It evokes memories for almost anyone who hears it. F0rget about the mention of Jesus and that it’s from a Christian singer. What makes this song work is that it paints pictures of experiences almost every father and daughter have shared and recognize instantly. And it does so over a moving melody with touching arrangement and score.

It’s the perfect tribute for a memorable moment. And in and of itself, I’m sure that it will be the song by which singer Bob Carlisle is forever remembered. So at any wedding, and it’s sung at thousands every year these days, it makes for the perfect accompaniment to this symbolic moment.

But something happens here. Something unexpected. Something that knocks us out of that moment and into another. It could have been cheesy. It could have been ridiculous. But it’s not. It’s done so well and with such good spirits that instead it is perfect. It absolutely makes for one of the most memorable and meaningful father-daughter dances I have ever seen. Because what I see here is a father who is remembering being silly with his baby girl and celebrating that by doing it one more time. He’s saying, “this dance is not for you or what you think, audience. This is for me and my girl. And it’s a moment we’ll never forget.”

It gives me chills. It’s a celebration of a father’s true love for his daughter, of the joy they find in each other. Of the magic that exists in a parent-child relationship. It’s one last chance to marvel and wonder at what they’ve found together in each other. And it’s a fearless example of self-sacrifice.

This father in no way looks like the type of guy who would just shake his booty like he does here. Now, I don’t know him. He could be a trained pro dancer for all I know. (I doubt it. He wasn’t slick enough, but it doesn’t matter.) The point is that instead of letting a moment be entirely melancholy just because it’s fitting, he decided to turn it into a celebration of the joy of fatherhood with his daughter.

Honestly, that’s love.

And to me, it’s a great example of nuances and subtext.

As an editor, I’ve seen a lot of beginning writers who write transparently. They don’t know how to impart subtext intentionally. Occasionally it happens, but it’s all an accident. It’s a lesson I admit to having to learn and continuing to learn myself.  Because for a story and a world and a character to be real, we as readers need to recognize them. And real people live lives full of subtext and nuances in everything they do.

The simple act of a father dancing with his daughter is just an example. You could assume the motive is transparent. It’s tradition. It’s something you’re expected to do. He doesn’t want to disappoint his daughter or family. It’s that simple.

And if all they had done was dance to “Butterfly Kisses,” that might be all we see here. But that’s not what happens.

Instead, they break it out into something quite different and unexpected and delightful. And from their expressions, their enthusiasm, we can see that it’s about so much more. Missed it? Watch the video again. Seriously.

These are not people who have rehearsed so much that they look like robots. They clearly rehearsed. They match their dance moves too closely for that not to have been the case. But it’s clear they are enjoying it. It’s not done rotely or robotically with no emotion. They look comfortable, relaxed and happy doing it. This is from the heart.

As a result, for me, it’s magic. And that’s the kind of magic we as writers need to earn to work into our stories to make them jump off the page and come alive.

You character hugs his wife goodbye before heading off to battle. It’s what husbands do. What soldiers do. But what else could be behind it? Maybe their marriage has grown cold and routine, and they have to work harder to recapture the passion they had when they first fell in love. Maybe they don’t touch like they used to, and the husband wants to remind the wife one more time that she matters to him, that she’s in his heart.

Or maybe the husband is remembering all the previous times they’ve said goodbye, not knowing if they’d see each other again. Maybe it reminds them of the friends, other married couples, who played out the same goodbye only the warrior never came home.

All kinds of things can be going on.

Our job as writers is to figure out what those things are for these characters and find ways to evoke it through their actions, their thoughts and their words, without necessarily spelling it out directly. It takes subtlety. And it takes good set up. Little hints and moments before and after that multiply together to tell us what’s going on in that moment. But it’s these nuances and the subtext that results which add a depth and poignancy, when done well, that brings both characters and world a level of realism that makes it pop. And sells it to your readers as s0mething they can imagine really happening.

So yes, it’s a wedding video. But I hope now you can see why I’m saying this is so much more. Because I think it is. And our stories need lots of moments with so much more, too. At least, if we want to elevate them beyond the ordinary to the memorable and special, that is. And I know that’s what I’m shooting for. What about you?

For what it’s worth…


Beyond Sun Cover.inddBryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He also edits Blue Shift Magazine and hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website at www.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bryanthomass?ref=hl.

Sneak Peek: Duneman (Dawning Age Book 1) Epic Fantasy WIP

All right, here’s a confession. Yes. I’ve become a very bad blogger. Whereas for two years I posted twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, with regular aplumb, I now find myself posting every other week at least once, two if I’m lucky. So I apologize. Amazingly, the audience for the blog remains steady, even when I don’t post. Some of my posts continue gaining new views regardless, so it’s encouraging that my content matters. But still, my drain creatively from being so busy with editing and writing has hurt my blogging. I am just not thinking up ideas or having creative energy for it like I used. I’ve failed to do some interviews too and had to back off on others. Sincere apologies for that. But I also do not want to be one of those people who posts boring blog posts just to post.  You don’t care if I bought new socks, changed shoe sizes, or what I ate. This blog is about writers and editors and helping the same. So I need content that’s appropriate with substance.

So, I hope this will be a worthwhile post. Those who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know I have been working on my first fantasy novel, Duneman, since January2010.  Well, it’s finally done, four drafts later, and four agents are considering it for representation. In the meantime, I have started work on book 2 of that cycle, called The Dawning Age, which I expect to be 4-5 books total. Yeah, that’s right, I’m not sure. I’m a discovery writer, a pantser. The only reason I have an idea I can’t do it in three is because the agents asked for synopses of the next two books, so I had to throw something together. I did a pretty good job with Book 2, I believe, but I was totally lost on book 3…because book 2 isn’t done yet.

So meanwhile, here’s a sneak peek at my first fantasy novel. I hope you enjoy it. It took a while to write but I enjoyed every minute.

DUNEMAN

(Dawning Age Book 1) 

CHAPTER ONE, Scene 1

He gained consciousness sweaty and hot, lying on his back. It took a moment for the black spots to fade, replaced by the blinding sunlight and white sand stretching as far as the eye could see. Where am I?

The sandy landscape reflected sunlight and heat back at him as he sat up, shaking off the sleep. Scattered belongings—clothes, canteens, a shattered barrel and trunk, torn saddlebags—

stretched off into the distance toward the remains of a wagon. Footsteps led toward him, smeared and uneven as if perhaps he’d stumbled to where he lay. Sunlight glinted off flesh atop a nearby dune. Was someone else alive? Scattered severed limbs—an arm severed at the elbow, the hand still attached, fingers stiffened like claws, a leg severed mid-thigh, another cut off mid-calf—provided the answer.

His back ached as he examined himself.  Tattered brown pants stretched down to just below his knees where threads of scattered lengths were all that remained. He had no shirt or shoes or socks. The skin of his feet was sunburned cherry red. No wonder his body felt aflame. How long had he been there?

And then it hit him like a stone from a slingshot: Who am I? He searched his memory but no name would come. His mind was like an unpainted canvas or a new fence awaiting its first coat of color.

His left shoulder cried out with every movement of his arm, so he reached back to examine it with his right and found a long, scabby cut running in an arc down his back. Had he been in a fight? Who did this to him? He checked himself again for cuts and abrasions. His forehead hurt, and dried flakes of blood came away on his palm and fingers. He had a large bruise on his abdomen and small ones on his chest and stomach. Pain flared as he moved his right ankle, but he couldn’t tell if it came from sunburned skin or a jagged cut, scabbed over now from the heat and sun.

He stood and his feet cried out in protest. He wobbled, losing his balance and forcing him back down to his knees. He buried the pain in the back of his mind and turned slowly in a circle, looking around him. Scattered, thin cumulus clouds filled the clear blue sky overhead. Thick sandstone walls and clay-tiled roofs topping white stone buildings rose in the distance, a few spires and towers looming in their midst. A trail of smoke curled into the sky from behind them. A city!

Water!

Wait! Why didn’t he hear anything? A few sheep bleated from the west, their cries mixed with scattered insect chirps and bird calls, but there were no sounds of people, wagons, horses, tools. Maybe when he got closer. Ignoring his feet’s protests, he stood again and stumbled across the curved white dunes toward the sandstone walls.

Ahead, beside the city walls, a boy herding sheep stopped a moment to use the untucked tails of his loose-fitting light blue shirt to wipe sweat from his darkly tanned forehead. His boots stretched up over his brown pants well past his ankles, and he held a tall, curved wooden staff in his right hand as he watched the desert grassland and the herd around him.

Drawing near, the man called out to the shephard. “Ho, neighbor!  A fine day for herding.”  His chapped lips and parched throat hurt from the effort, reminding him how much he longed for water.

The boy nodded, staring at him with caution, his left hand wrapping firmly around the staff just below his right.
“What city is this?”  The man smiled, not blaming the boy for his wariness. I must look a fright.

“Chyllos, stranger.” The boy’s voice cracked in the way that occurs when one transitions from a boy to a man.

He must be older than I thought. “What day is it?”

“Third day.” The boy spoke with a gentle, plain accent, his words slow and deliberate.

Orean Midlands? The question popped into his head along with images of the Lands, his home. Multiple states, the Elbian pass and mountains, the mighty Esos River, source of water for much of the inlands. Then: I remember seven day. Could I have been unconscious that long?  “Do you know where I might get water?” He hocked, trying to call up enough saliva to wet his cracked, painful lips and throat, but none came. The boy carried no canteen, and there was no sign of a well.

“There’s a well in the square.”  The boy nodded toward the city walls.

The man limped past the first of the sheep, the boy shrinking away as soon as he moved. “Thank you kindly.”

The boy turned his body to keep the stranger at his front, and the man continued feeling the shephard’s gaze on him as he waded through the grazing herd and on toward the city. A wide, wooden gate stood open to one side with no one standing guard.

The stranger entered through the high stone walls, moving along a sandy street past shabby, rundown houses packed in side-by-side. Their second floors projected out over the boardwalk and into the street where crude signs dangled from creaking rusted hooks. The city appeared to be on the verge of collapse. What city would be this deserted at mid-day?

He hurried up the street, garnering surprised stares from a couple shopkeepers sweeping the wooden boardwalk in front of their stores. Ignoring them, he continued toward a sign labeled “tavern” at the far end, then stumbled up onto the wooden boardwalk. The tavern stood along yet another sandy street which wound off into the distance in both directions. A quick search revealed no currency in his ragged pockets. For a moment, he considered passing by to look for the public well, but the sun continued its baking blare and surely a tavern had water. He grabbed the door handle and swung it open, assaulted immediately by the smell of sawdust and smoke. Stepping inside, the scent of stale ale filled his nose as he waited while the door shut behind him and the sunlight faded away.

The tavern seemed typical for a small city, dimly lit with torches spread evenly around the room on hooks attached to the white plaster walls. The bottom half of each wall consisted of wooden slats hung side-by-side, the floor of matching dark wood with a thin layer of sawdust. As his eyes adjusted, he spotted a bar across the room beyond scattered round wooden tables and chairs. A bartender eyed him from behind the worn, polished surface with the same wary look as the shepherd boy.

“Good afternoon, neighbor,” the man said. “Can you spare a cup of water for a stranger?”  For a moment, he wished he could ask for clothes, too.

The bartender was large and muscular, his skin dark like the shepherd’s, a brown leather apron tied over the top of a loose fitting white shirt and brown trousers.He scowled as the stranger approached. “How did you get here?” he demanded in a scratchy baritone, as the stranger sat on a tall stool in front of the bar.

“I don’t really know. I’m told this place is Chyllos, but I’ve never been here before.”  He shrugged.

“What happened to your clothes?” The Bartender said, staying put at the far end of the bar.

The man shook his head. “I awoke on the dunes. The sun is brutal today. Can you please spare some water?”

The bartender grunted and turned to a large wooden barrel in the corner, reaching into it with a long metal ladle and pouring water into a wooden cup. Setting the cup on the bar, he slid it down to the stranger, watching as water splashed out onto the scarred surface.

The stranger drank eagerly. The fresh water cooled his mouth and throat. Even as he finished, he longed for more. He held out the glass to the bartender and croaked: “More please?”

The bartender grunted again, approaching with the metal scoop and pouring its contents over the wooden cup on the bar until he’d filled it once more. The man noticed the bartender held the scoop as far from the cup as he could manage so they didn’t touch. He drank again, smiling. Water had never tasted so good. He sighed, wiping his dry, cracked lips on his sleeve. “Thank you very much, neighbor.” His voice was louder and warmer now as the water lubricated his throat and the pain faded.

The bartender glared at him. “Okay, now be on your way.”

The man nodded. The bartender must not care much for nonpaying customers. “Can you direct me to an inn?”

“There are no inns available here for the likes of you,” the bartender said, ending the conversation.

“If I have offended you somehow—”

“You offended me the day you were born—you and all your kind.” The bartender’s eyes narrowed, cold and flat. The stranger finished drinking and set the wooden cup back on the counter. What have I done to deserve his wrath?  The bartender motioned to the cup. “Keep it. It’s worthless to me now.”

The stranger nodded and grabbed the cup off the counter, stumbling toward the door.

Sunlight blinded him again as he stepped back out onto the street. He looked around for an inn, searching the creaking wooden signs hanging from the buildings but seeing none in sight. He had to find some clothes and shelter. He limped west along the street past startled citizens sweeping storefronts or moving along the boardwalk with parcels. They hurried out of his path as he passed, scowling at him much as the bartender had. What have I done?  He couldn’t remember ever being in Chyllos before, and, the further he went, the more the silence bothered him. Where were the people who patronized these establishments?

At the end of the boardwalk, he turned into a dirt alleyway between buildings and bumped into a well-dressed woman in a lacy, silk dress who’d just emerged there. “Excuse me,” he said, stepping away from her.

Her brown eyes went wide and she stared at him in horror. “Get away from me!”

The stranger turned, confused, as she ran away down the street, startled by her fear and hostility. How could someone who’d never been here before be so disliked?  What was it about his kind that made them react with fear?

The bartender stood on a boardwalk, chatting with neighboring store owners and pointing at him. All three frowned, squinting angrily. Down the street, dust flew from wagon wheels as a large, dark-bearded man steered his team up the street in the stranger’s direction.

The stranger ducked into the alleyway, hearing the braying of donkeys and whinnying of horses ahead. At the end, he passed a stack of hay bales and moved onto another sandy street beside a large wooden stable. Maybe he could at least get shelter from the sun there.

As he turned right, onto the street, he saw the bartender and several others appear from an alley further down and hurry toward him up the street. Why are they chasing me?

Ducking back into the alley, he turned right again at the main street. Chattering voices came from behind and he glanced back over his shoulder as the frightened well-dressed woman pointed at him, jabbering to several men.

Quickening his pace, he looked for another alley or a good place to turn. He heard shouting and looked back to see the men following him now. The bartender and shopkeepers swooping in from the same alley the stranger had just used to join them.

Turning onto a narrower side street, the man hurried on past storefronts with faded paint fronts and a rotting boardwalk of crumbling wood. Where could he go? Then he heard whinnying and felt the dirt street vibrate as the dark-bearded man in the wagon turned onto the street, following him.

The stranger started running, his burned feet aching from the effort, but then the wagon was passing him. The driver looked down, whistling and motioned toward the wagon. “Get in, stranger!”

The man shot a questioning look. “I didn’t do anything to anyone, sir, I promise.”

“Get in unless you want to explain that to them,” the driver said, slowing his team to a crawl. “Trust me.”

The man could never outrun them. He sighed and jumped onto the back of the wagon.

“Cover yourself quickly!” the driver instructed as he spurred his team forward again.

The man slid down into a bed of straw and pulled the old blanket the driver had indicated over himself. The wagon increased its speed, bouncing harshly up onto cobblestones now as it turned sharply around another corner. What am I doing here?

He stretched out his arms, bracing himself against the slat sides of the wagon as best he could and ignored the outcries of his aching body as the wagon continued racing along, then slowed. Shadows fell over them as he heard the crunch of straw or hay and felt the wagon lurch forward and then stop again, suddenly.

It wobbled as the driver hopped down and the man heard creaks of hinges and the sound of wooden doors sliding together and a bolt snapping into place.

He slid the blanket back, his eyes struggling to see through the darkness. Whinnying and braying came from animals other than the team somewhere as the smell of smoke, hay and manure made him wince, then he realized he probably didn’t smell much better himself.

As his eyes adjusted, he focused on a metal stand nearby containing rows of horseshoes, expertly crafted. Then sat up, blinking.

“You plan to stay there all day or come out a greet a man properly?” the driver’s baritone voice asked.

The stranger brushed hay from his worn clothes and crawled toward the back of the wagon, spotting the driver waiting there with a pensive look. “Who are you and why are you wandering the streets scaring women?”

The stranger sat on the back of the wagon, gathering himself to hop down and fumbled for words. “I didn’t mean—”

“Come now, I’m only jesting,” the driver said with a laugh, wiping his hands on the dark apron covering his brown cotton pants and loose fitting tan shirt. Even his boots resembled those of the shepherd boy. The driver reached out a thick, muscular arm, extending his hand.

The stranger clasped it and slid down, his feet thumping onto the dirt floor as the driver stepped closer and got a closer look at the man, his face a mix of wariness and concern. “Why are they after you? Did you give them a reason?”

Fire raging in a nearby stove cast dancing orange and yellow flames across the walls around them. “What is this place? A smithy?”

The driver laughed. “That’s what they call me around here.” In the light of the fire, the blacksmith’s skin appeared lighter than the other residents the stranger had encountered. His eyes narrowed, locked on the stranger’s face.

“I just asked for water. That’s all. The woman bumped into me by accident.”

“What happened to you?” The smith looked him over, examining his clothes and face.

“I don’t really know.” The stranger leaned against a wooden pillar beside the open fire. “Is it a crime to be a stranger here?”

The blacksmith nodded. “Only if you’re a wizard.”

“Wizard?” the man asked. Is that what I am?

The blacksmith nodded. “You’re from the east, aren’t you?  People around here don’t have such light skin. From what’s left of your clothes and your accent, I’d guess one of the cities along the coast.”

The man shrugged. “I can’t remember.”

The blacksmith seemed puzzled. “You must have come here for a reason, although I’d dare say it appears you’ve had a rough time of it.”

The stranger sighed, nodding. “I awoke on the dunes under the brutal sun.”

The blacksmith nodded again. “The summer sun is harsh in the desert. You look exhausted. What’s your name, stranger?”

The stranger searched his mind, but still had no idea what his name was. “I can’t remember that either.”

The blacksmith raised his eyebrows. “How did you come to be here, then?”

The stranger shook his head. “I don’t know. I think I was attacked in a caravan. The town’s not friendly, is it?”

The smithy shrugged. “After what we’ve been through, some are a bit fearful around strangers, especially those from the east. I prefer to judge men on their actions rather than assume they mean ill. You don’t look like a wizard or a bandit to me.”

The stranger groaned, putting his face in his hands as if he could wipe the frustration away. “I don’t remember anything.”

“Well, if you try anything, you’ll wind up on the wrong end of a hammer, my friend,” the smithy’s eyes narrowed with warning, then he smiled. “Perhaps some rest might help you remember. I can’t offer you much, but you’re welcome to rest for a while in one of the empty stalls. This late in the afternoon, I have few customers. We can talk more later about who you are and how you got here.”

The stranger closed his eyes, sighing. “Thank you so much, Smithy, for your kindness.”

Smithy motioned toward the row of stalls down a corridor to the right. “There’s one or two empty down there. Help yourself.”

The stranger stood and moved down the corridor, forcing his aching feet and legs to take the steps one at a time. It felt like he’d forgotten how to walk. He found an open gate three stalls down on the left and braced himself on the gate post as he stumbed inside. The stall floor lay covered in clean hay. He found a large pile in the corner under the shadows and sank quickly down to his knees. His back cried out as if it were on fire. He lowered himself slowly onto his stomach, the smell of fresh hay filling his nostrils and soon fell asleep.


The Returning Cover front onlyEditor Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction including the novels The Worker Prince and The Returning, and the children’s books 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends. His debut novel, The Worker Prince (2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (Flying Pen Press, 2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, July 2013), Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age  (Every Day Publishing, November 2013) and Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014). He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and can be found via Twitter as @BryanThomasS, on his website at www.bryanthomasschmidt.net or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bryanthomass?ref=hl.

Giveaway: Abraham Lincoln Dinosaur Hunter-Land of Legends (early reader scifi)

AbeLincolnDino_CoverV2My publisher, Delabarre, is giving away 20 copies of the ebo0k (epub or mobi, your choice) for my debut early reader book: Abraham Lincoln Dinosaur Hunter – Land of Legends.

“ABRAHAM LINCOLN: DINOSAUR HUNTER — LAND OF LEGENDS succeeds on almost every level –readability, alternate history, adventure, and excitement.” — Mike Resnick

“Prehistoric action and Abe Lincoln in one rollicking swoop!” — Tamora Pierce

Abraham Lincoln may or may not have fought vampires, but not many people know that when Abraham Lincoln was 10 years old, he fought something much worse – a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

One day young Abe Lincoln is marveling over meeting his hero, Davy Crockett. The next, Davy saves Abe’s life. But when they kindly agree to teenage inventor Nehemiah’s urging to test his newfangled time machine, they wind up sent back in time…to the age of dinosaurs.

When the machine gets broken, adventures ensue as Lincoln and Crockett fight dinosaurs and race to find the materials needed to fix the machine that can take them home. Abraham Lincoln – Dinosaur Hunter: Land of Legends is the first volume in a new action-packed middle-grade series. Science Fiction/Fantasy Adventure with great humor and good lessons about friendship, teamwork and more.

This is the first book of an ongoing series for which I have 7 more planned already. It hit stores in ebook and trade paperback in February 2013.

All you have to do to win is leave a comment as to why you’d like to win a copy, your name, preferred ebook format, and email address. We’ll do the rest. I’m closing the entries March 30th. Winners will be chosen at random and contacted via email.

Easy, right?

Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetities!

 

PROLOGUE
On The Run…

 

Davy Crockett’s eyes widened. He motioned for us to hurry as he cocked the rifle and took aim at the treetops. “Run!” He fired three shots in a row as we took off then turned to race after us.

GRRRRRRRROOOWWWWLL!

I, Abe they call me, looked back as I ran up the hill. A giant cat with two huge, white fangs like swords, extending from its mouth bounded down from a large tree and picked up speed, chasing us.

We broke through the tree line atop the next hill and started down the slope.

GRRRRRRRROOOWWWWLL!

ROOOAAARRR!

The second sound was oddly familiar. I glanced around for the source and my breath caught in my throat.

The giant lizard was back and rushing toward us from the north, following the tree line.

“Scarface! Run!” Nehemiah Winkler, our teenage neighbor, called.

GRRRRRRRROOOWWWWLL!

ROOOAAARRR!

“I wanna go home!” Jacob Carter cried as I grabbed his hand and pulled him along. I had no doubt the rest of us shared that sentiment right then.

Davy stopped atop the hill and fired back at the cat again, then turned to fire at the lizard. None of his shots had any effect. The predators kept after us at top speed. “Get amongst the trees where at least the lizard can’t get to us!” Davy instructed as he started after us again.

I bounced down the slope toward the next tree line like a rabbit in a race and burst through the trees into the shadowy cluster. The cat would have no trouble following, but the closeness of the trees might impede the lizard. If it didn’t just smash them down, that is.

“We’re doomed!” Jacob said.

I nodded, reluctantly agreeing. “There’s nowhere to hide.”

Wait! I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning. We’ll get to old Scarface the T-Rex soon enough. This is the story of how I, Abraham Lincoln, became a dinosaur hunter with Davy Crockett.

 


Beyond Sun Cover.inddBryan Thomas Schmidt is the editor of Blue Shift Magazine and 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 Exoduswill appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends from Delabarre Publishing.  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 for Fairwood Press (July 2013), headlined by Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick and Nancy Kress, and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day Publishing (November 2013). He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

A Giant Community Cancer Card/Hug For Jay

Jay Lake photoMy friend Jay Lake is struggling with the devastation of cancer in his late 40s. And he’s been on my mind a lot even as I celebrate great successes. I just sent him a note of encouragement and it occurred to me maybe others would like to but need a push. So comments are open, let’s make a big giant cancer card for Jay to encourage him, hug him, embrace him, and let him know he’s not alone.

Here’s mine, I look forward to yours:

Jay:


You’ve been on my mind and in my heart a lot the past week.

I know you’re going through the roughest of times and discouragement. I can’t relate to the cancer thing as much but having my whole life taken, turned upside down and stripped from me I can, and maybe that’s a bit what it feels like. I just wanted you to  know you’re beloved. Every time I do an article or interview with you in the title, it’s so popular and continues generating traffic. And your body of work is stunning for someone your age and who didn’t make his first sale all that long ago.

You have touched people’s lives, changed them, and connected with them, many even strangers whom you’ve never met. You’ve touched me, your daughter, your parents, your friends…in a way that leaves a legacy which has forever transformed us.

No matter what happens, that will never be taken away and it will never lose its value for us.

I wish there was a way to help beyond prayer and good thoughts. This is one of those situations wherein my gift for words is overly challenged. But I just wanted you to know I was thinking of you, hurting with you, cheering for you, and constantly hoping for you.

Hang in there, my dear friend!

Bryan

Any words of encouragement and support are welcome below. I’ll do my best to moderate quickly.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the editor of Blue Shift Magazine and 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 Exoduswill appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends from Delabarre Publishing.  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 for Fairwood Press (July 2013), headlined by Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick and Nancy Kress, and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day Publishing (November 2013). He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.