Hold On To The Light: What Is Normal?

normalI was first diagnosed in 3rd grade at the world-renowned Meninger’s Clinic in Topeka, Kansas: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. For my physician and nurse parents, this was a huge relief. Finally an answer to their son’s odd and frustrating behavior. For me, it was the day I found out I would never be normal.

There’s nothing like slapping a label “disorder” on someone to make them feel like a freak. And for years it was “did you take your meds?” or “go chill out, you’re hyper” and other dismissive remarks whenever they found me annoying, odd, or difficult. It was never about celebrating and appreciating how these things made me unique–how the intense focus and energy bursts could result in huge bouts of productive creativity. How the racing mind could sort through so many more scenarios and options at a faster rate than anyone around me and keep juggling them all there even while discussing or writing–giving me a lot of info to utilize. It wasn’t about how I could get more done in a focused bout of 45 minutes than most people could do in 2 hours. It was always about the “disability.” No discussion of benefits. (My parents are not altogether bad or unsupportive people, by the way, I am talking about one particular circumstance only).

crazy-person-3As a result, it took me a while to identify these traits as having positive benefits. And to adjust my life to live in ways that utilized them and made the most of them, rather than just trying to medicate them away and hide my abnormality. That’s a terrible burden to live with, by the way. A terrible burden to put on a child.

Now don’t get me wrong. ADHD is a real thing and I always cringe at parents who both over diagnose with it or ignore it because they think it’s overdiagnosed. Let the experts really tell you. Get a second or third opinion if you must. For your child, knowing and helping them learn to cope is really important. I just wish my parents had handled that differently. It wasn’t until I got to be an adult that I discovered adjusting my working habits and lifestyle, diet, etc. would all be things I could use to make the most of my “unique gifts” and live more productively and get along better with others. Before that, I had “disorder” on the brain. It was a curse, some horrible burden God put on me for some unknown reason–why did he hate me?–not something I could overcome and use.

crazy-person-2It wasn’t until my early thirties that I really grasped the concept that no one is normal. Everyone has quirks and issues. The so-called “normal” people love to talk about and bandy about like a standard is really a matter of point of view, perspective. There is no catch-all, set absolutely, scientifically determined state that constitutes “normal.”

What really brought it home to me was events that started in 2009, when my beloved wife, a Brazilian (who doesn’t like me to use her name about this so I am not) began acting very strangely in ways that were dangerous. When her flight to St. Louis got layed over in Chicago for a long delay, she called me in the middle of the night from downtown Chicago where she was wandering around pulling her suitcase just to “sightsee” alone. Yep. We knew no one in Chicago. She’d never been before. And she just went downtown to see the city alone, at night. With a suitcase. To say I was panicked is an understatement. I woke up a lot of people that night seeking help. And I didn’t hear from her again for several hours, making it worse.

crazy-person-1A few months later, she started being up at odd hours, running around hectically, cleaning obsessively, etc. all night. And then one day, while I went to Mexico to teach free music classes, I sent her off to the bus to attend a seminar for her new hospitality job at a hotel. Once I crossed the border, the phone went off so I could avoid the expensive “international roaming” cellular phones on the U.S.-Mexico Border struggle with at great expense for their owners. That night, I arrived home to multiple messages on both my voicemail and answering machine of an increasingly aggitated, worried, and then angry wife berating me for not calling her back and coming to get her.

Despite searching, calling her cell and friends, etc., I did not see her again for over 6 hours, until the El Paso PD brought her to my door at 5 a.m. It turns out she’d never made it to the bus and had wandered the city on foot, eventually discarding her shoes–which fell apart–her jewelry, ID (including key immigration documents like green card), and more and was found wandering on Interstate 10, dodging semis (she was actually struck on the shoulder by a semi’s mirror and stayed standing with only a scratch), babbling about trying to get home. The Police thought she was suicidal. The gibberish she was speaking scared the hell out of me.

crazy-jack-nicholson-shiningBy 2011, we were divorced and she had gone back to Brazil, but this was after 5 forced hospitalizations, dozens more incidents, my losing my day job and so much more that really made our life chaotic and turned it upside down. I lost the love of my life. I lost my partner, lover, and best friend. I lost a really well-paying job I enjoyed, a house we wanted to buy, and many friends who were alienated along the way not understanding the drama or the situation. I wound up on dozens of meds for heart rate, blood pressure, depression, and so much more. The doctors thought I’d have a heart attack at 45. For two years, the meds seemed to be doing nothing to help. A month after we divorced and my ex went home to Brazil with family, my levels went back to normal and the meds were no longer needed.

THAT, my friends, is stress.

Why do I tell you this? I tell you this because my ex’s biggest struggle with her illness was her frustration, fear, and pain of being told she was not “normal” anymore. That really destroyed her self-esteem. She didn’t want meds, she wanted a miracle. She wanted to be the normal person she’d been before, not some mentally ill person. What I had realized with my Ritalin was that sometimes the medicine IS the miracle, but that was a concept she was not ready to accept. Her self-identity was too threatened, her sense of esteem too violated. So she didn’t medicate consistently, she blamed and lashed out at those around her, and various side effects occurred that made things worse, not better.

Now as I watch another family member going through that 6 years later, my heart breaks for them daily. I want to reach out, hug them, impart all this wisdom, and tell them: “It is okay to be you. Normal is relative. You are awesome as you are.” To take away the fear, pain, paranoia, and more so they can just face up to their new reality, take the meds, and live a relatively similar life to what they did before. But they are not ready yet, just as my ex was. Then, as I said, it took me years to accept that I had my own “normal,” and I was fortunately diagnosed as a kid. These two people (my ex and relative) are adults. How much harder must it be for them to adjust to that idea?

happy-person-1So here’s the thing. No one is mainstream. No one is straight normal. No one. We are all unique. If you believe in God, He made us that way. Or perhaps you’d prefer to think of the amazing science of genetics and DNA. Either way, there is a reason DNA can identify people. We are all unique. And for the love of God, there is nothing wrong with being unique. There is nothing wrong with not being “normal.” Be yourself. THAT was the lesson I needed to learn, and the lesson all “mentally ill,” “disabled,” and family members of those afflicted must learn to accept. “Normal” for you is different than anyone else. And that is okay. It is not a disaster. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is something to figure out and adjust for and live happily and well with. And anyone can do it. You just have to believe, accept, and put in the work.

cropped-for-webI’m not saying I don’t still struggle. I am not saying ADHD does not still affect my life and relationships. It does. I still can’t always read others’ reactions to me well in social situations. My overabundant, hyper energy can still be offputting. It has made it hard to keep steady day jobs. But that is my “normal,” and I have adjusted by becoming freelance, by becoming more blunt and open about who I am in relationships, and by continuing to take whatever meds and dietary things help and adjusting my working style, etc. accordingly.

What is normal? It is that label that is the “disorder” or “disability” if you allow it to be one. But it is one you can overcome if you have the patience and determination to try, to do it. It takes time, yes. It is hard, yes. But it is accomplishable. It is possible. And realizing and accepting your unique you is a better way to live than under a label of “abnormal” or “disorder” will ever be. Trust me. I’ve learned the hard way and it took me almost 37 years. Hopefully, this post might help a few people get there faster and avoid a lot of heartache. That’s what I hope for, at least.

For what it’s worth…


Bryan s Headshots-bryan-0002 websizeBryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo-nominated editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online and include entries in The X-Files, Predator, and Decipher’s WARS, amongst others. As book editor for Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta’s WordFire Press he edited books by such luminaries as Alan Dean Foster, Tracy Hickman, Frank Herbert, Mike Resnick, Jean Rabe and more. He was also the first editor on Andy Weir’s bestseller The Martian. His anthologies as editor include Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek, Mission: Tomorrow, Galactic Games and Little Green Men–Attack! (forthcoming) all for Baen, Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age. He also coedited forthcoming anthologies with Larry Correia and Jonathan Maberry set in their New York Times Bestselling Monster Hunter International and Joe Ledger universes.

Website/Blog: www.bryanthomasschmidt.net
Twitter: @BryanThomasS
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bryanthomass?ref=hl
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3874125.Bryan_Thomas_Schmidt

Announcing: Final Table of Contents-Joe Ledger: Unstoppable Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt & Jonathan Maberry

With pleasure, we announce the final table of contents for the first anthology of stories written by others set in the New York Times bestselling Joe Ledger universe created by Jonathan Maberry. This will be released from St. Martin’s Press in 2017 (cover and details pending).

JOE LEDGER: UNSTOPPABLE
Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt & Jonathan Maberry

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword by Tony Eldridge

Introduction by Jonathan Maberry

The Honey Pot by Steve Alten

Confusion by Nicholas Steven

Target Acquired by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

Vacation by Scott Sigler

Banshee by James A. Moore

Red Dirt by Mira Grant

Black Water by Weston Ochse

Instinct by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and G.P. Charles

No Guns at the Bar by Aaron Rosenberg

Strange Harvest by Jon McGoran

No Business at All by Javier Grillo-Marxuach

Ganbatte by Keith R.A. DeCandido

White Flame on Sunday by James Ray Tuck

Wet Tuesday by David Farland

Prince of Peace by Jeremy Robinson

Rookie by Joe McKinney

Three Times by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks

Psych Eval by Larry Correia

Crash Course by Dana Fredsti

Atoll by Jonathan Maberry

In addition to the numerous New York Times bestsellers writing stories here, we have crossovers with Sigler’s Nocturnal, Tuck’s Deacon Chalk, McGoran’s Doyle Carrick, Robinson’s Chess Team and Fredsti’s Plague World novels. The anthology has a foreword by Ton Eldridge, the Hollywood producer developing Ledger for film and by Grillo-Marxuach (Lost, Charmed, Middleman) who wrote a previ0us Ledger pilot film.

Announcing: Final Table of Contents- THE MONSTER HUNTER FILES Edited by Larry Correia & Bryan Thomas Schmidt

With pleasure, I announce the final table of contents for the first anthology of works by other authors set in Larry Correia’s New York Times bestselling Monster Hunter International universe. This will release from Baen Books sometime next year (cover and details pending).

THE MONSTER HUNTER FILES
Edited by Larry Correia & Bryan Thomas Schmidt

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION by Albert Lee, MHI Archivist

“Thistle” by Larry Correia

“Small Problems” by Jim Butcher

“Darkness Under The Mountain” by Mike Kupari

“A Knight Of The Enchanted Forest” by Jessica Day George

“The Manticore Sanction” by John C. Wright

“The Dead Yard” by Maurice Broaddus

“The Bride” by Brad R. Torgersen

“She Bitch, Killer of Kits” (a Skinwalker Crossover Tale) by Faith Hunter

“Mr. Natural” by Jody Lynn Nye

“Sons Of The Father” by Quincy J. Allen

“The Troll Factory” by Alex Shvartsman

“Keep Kaiju Weird” by Kim May

“The Gift” by Steve Diamond

“The Case of the Ghastly Specter” by John Ringo

“Huffman Strikes Back” by Bryan Thomas Schmidt & Julie Frost

“Hunter Born” by Sarah A. Hoyt

“Hitler’s Dog” by Jonathan Maberry

BIOGRAPHIES

The stories involved not just Owen Z Pitt and his usual team, but Agent Franks and lesser known monster hunters from history, including stories set in the Revolutionary War and World War I periods as well as a crossover with Faith Hunter’s New York Times bestselling Skinwalker series.

Announcing “Border Time” by Myself & Kate Corcino in The X-Files: Secret Agendas Anthology

 

x-files_secret_agendas_fullcoverEditor Jonathan Maberry has announced the Table of Contents order for his third anthology of new officially sanctioned, canon stories from The X-Files, for which Kate Corcino and I wrote a fun story set in El Paso. Here it is:

  1. Seek and You Will Find by John Gilstrap
  2. Perithecia by Andy Mangels
  3. Give Up the Ghost by Jade Shames
  4. Transmissions by Marsheila Rockwell and Jeffrey Mariotte
  5. Desperately Seeking Mothman by Jim Beard
  6. Love Lost by Yvonne Navarro
  7. Thanks and Praise by Joe Harris
  8. Border Time by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Kate Corcino
  9. A Scandal in Moreauvia, or: The Adventure of the Empty Heart by Nancy Holder
  10. Stryzga by Lauren A. Forry
  11. An Eye for an Eye by George Ivanoff
  12. Kanashibari by Ryan Cady
  13. All Choked Up by Lois H. Gresh
  14. Along the Scenic Route by Lucy A. Snyder
  15. Grandmother Black Hands Weston Ochse

My MidAmeriCon II Schedule (WorldCon)

August 18-21, 2o16 — Kansas City Convention Center/Bartle Hall

Here’s when and where to find me officially. I will be at the WordFire table signing at other times throughout the convention, so you will also find me there in the Dealer Room–booths 4, 5, and 6.

Dealer Room Hours:

 

Wednesday Aug 17th 12:00pm – 6:00pm

Thursday Aug 18th 10:00am – 6:00pm

Friday Aug 19th 10:00am-6:00pm

Saturday Aug 20th 10:00am-6:00pm

Sunday Aug 21st 10:00am-3:00pm

Thursday Aug 18, 2016

3:00PM

Bryan Thomas Schmidt (Moderator), Robin Wayne Bailey, Christine Taylor-Butler, Jennifer Boles

Friday Aug 19, 2016

1:00PM

George Lucas set Star Wars in a Galaxy far, far away, but also a long time ago.  What is the importance of setting his saga in the distant past?  How would our perceptions of it have been different if it were set in our time in a galaxy far, far away or if it had been set in the future?

Bryan Thomas Schmidt (Moderator), Kevin J. Anderson, Matthew S. Rotundo, Anna Raftery

 3:00PM

Come join Baen Executive Editor Jim Minz and an assortment of Baen authors for the Baen Traveling Road Show. Learn about their new and upcoming releases. See the pretty covers. Win fabulous prizes. There will be free books for a lucky few…

Jim Minz (Moderator), Dr. Charles Gannon, Joelle Presby, others–I will be attending in case my books are discussed and to sign free copies given away

 

Saturday Aug 20, 2016

2:00PM

  • Kaffeeklatsch: Bryan Thomas Schmidt
  • Downtown Marriott, Lobby-2nd level

I am offering my own unofficial kaffeeklatsch and will be giving away signed books and cover flats, maybe even a couple manuscripts. Sign up here.

 

Sunday Aug 21, 2016

2:00PM

Professionals talk shop about editing and publishing anthologies. What does it take to craft an anthology that people actually want to read? What are the dos and don’ts when pulling together stories into a single book? We’ll identify some examples of well-done anthologies and how the editing process differs between anthologies. Join us for an indepth discussion and find out what our panelists enjoy most when working with anthologies.

Ellen Datlow (Moderator), Erin Underwood, Jonathan Strahan, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Kathryn Cramer

Signed Books For Christmas

Still time to order copies of my books for that special someone.  I have copies of all of my titles. Tell me which one you want and if you want it personalized too or just signed.

Email me at bryan at bryanthomasschmidt.net.  I will tell you how much to paypal and then priority mail the bubblewrapped, signed books wherever you want.

Typically I charge $15 per trade paperback plus $5 priority mail but international I’d have to calculate. This helps me. It helps your loved ones and friends by giving them good materials. And it helps you save time shopping. A 3-way win.

I have some great stuff as you can see from the reviews, or you can order from my Amazon page here: http://www.amazon.com/Bryan-Thomas-Schmidt/e/B004FRQ7XS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1449351366&sr=1-1.

Here are some of the books I’ve edited or written:

Mission Tomorrow cover 2 larger TWP WFP front cover 102 More Dino Jokes cover Abe Dino Hunter LOL cover Beyond Sun Cover.indd RaygunChronicles TPB front display Shattered Shields cover small

GUEST POST: Why Authors Love Research – Days Of The Dead Blog Tour

Today, my friend Gail Martin stops by on her Days Of The Dead blog tour for a talk about writers and research. – BTS

By Gail Z. Martin

Print

I love research. In fact, sometimes I almost think the book is an excuse to do the research. Almost.

Okay, I was a history major, so I came into this predisposed to be nosy about other people’s business. History is the best reality show. Forget the structure artificially imposed on history by textbook authors. History—the rise and fall of kingdoms, the great explorers, the conquest and colonization—was done by people who, on closer inspection, make the Kardashians look well-adjusted and the Mafia seem morally upright.

It’s really the story of grifters, grabbers, con men, connivers, liars, manipulators, opportunists and truly dysfunctional people who clawed their way to notoriety less from noble purpose than from unresolved psychological issues. And those are often the good guys.

Seriously, when you delve into real history—the letters and diaries by historic figures and the people who knew them and the contemporary records—you get a juicy, scandal-laden, slugfest that rivals any Jerry Springer episode. We like to make our historical figures into cleanly-delineated heroes and villains, but they weren’t—they were real people, no different from us today, no more noble or evil. A few people were in pursuit of a higher cause, but don’t cha know it, that cause usually included some benefit to them and theirs. People lied, cheated, stole, played politics, rigged the game, and had hissy fits. They also loved, grieved, wanted revenge, sought forgiveness, pondered the meaning of life, wondered if it was all worth the cost, tried to do the right thing, and occasionally rose above human nature to do something really heroic and awesome.

I write epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk, so there’s a lot of research involved. Some of it is tactical, like double-checking just how far a trebuchet can throw something, or when an invention was patented, or when a word came into usage. But along the way, you stumble down more rabbit holes than Alice, finding unexpected and wondrous tidbits you can use in your story, historical oddities that add realism and interest, quirky or intriguing facts about people and situations that you can borrow and twist for your fictional universe. That’s when research is the coolest, most fun thing in the world.

DEADLY CURIOSITIES-VENDETTAWhenever I get stuck on what needs to happen in a story to get from where I am to where it needs to go, I research. Every time, I’ll find something either by design or serendipity that provides exactly the imagination fodder to get me around where I’m blocked. Often, this means poking around on the internet, following links from one site to another until the right bit of information appears. Sometimes, I go to my library and see what I can find in my books, where my memory can be jogged about a cool detail I’ve forgotten about that is perfect for the situation. Or I’ll go watch something on the History Channel, usually on military tactics or equipment. Maybe I’ll watch a movie with good fight scenes and pay attention to what happens for ideas. Research is better than WD-40 for getting you unstuck.

Research is also how you ground a story in its time and place. My urban fantasy series, Deadly Curiosities, is set in modern-day Charleston, SC. The steampunk series I co-author with my husband, Larry N. Martin, is set in an alternative history Pittsburgh, PA. A lot of the research we do—both online and by visiting the cities—helps to impart a sense of place and make the setting one of the characters. When you set a story in a specific place, ideally it becomes so much an outgrowth of its location that you (and readers) couldn’t imagine it being anywhere else. Even if you’ve lived in a city or region, you don’t know everything about it. In fact, sometimes we know less about places we’ve lived because we never even take a tourist’s view and do the landmarks, let alone a scholar’s view. Once you start digging, you’ll find tidbits of history, important historical figures, old controversies and buried incidents that provide great mental fodder.

One of the most valuable things research does for me is to take historic figures out of their wax-museum frozenness and the myths that have been built up around them and reveal their humanness, good and bad. (Read the bitter campaign feuding between Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson if you don’t believe me.) While many of these figures were well-known in their own time, they had achieved nothing near the mythic stature we’ve given them since then. Some were actually dismissed or overlooked in their own time because the ramifications and importance of what they did was not yet clear.

I&B final coverBy returning historic figures to human scale, I gain perspective as an author on how to create fictional characters who change the world. One thing I learned is that aside from a few megalomaniacs like Napoleon, most of these larger-than-life historical figures were pursuing their own personal agendas, not obsessing over their historic legacy. They were trying to solve a problem or gain an objective, beat a rival or win a prize. That their actions would leave ripple effects throughout the rest of history wasn’t on their minds. They were—as we frequently are now—oblivious to the fallout from their actions, at least in the grand scheme of things. So a general might want to win a battle, and have no clue that by doing so, the stage is set for a disastrous insurrection fifty years later that will topple the very empire he represents. A person in a position of power won’t countenance a new idea because it threatens his ego, and the ultimate advantage goes to his rival, changing the course of history.

Research makes the writing world go ‘round. It’s not only the font of ideas, it’s also entertaining in a guilty pleasures sort of way, like reading tabloid headlines in the grocery line. Just remember to bring popcorn!

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here: www.AscendantKingdoms.com

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors http://on.fb.me/1h4rIIe before 11/1!

Trick or Treat! Excerpt from my new urban fantasy novel Vendetta set in my Deadly Curiosities world here http://bit.ly/1ZXCPVS Launches Dec. 29

More Treats! Enter to win a copy of Deadly Curiosities! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/160181-deadly-curiosities

Treats! Enter to win a copy of Iron & Blood! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/160182-iron-blood

Treats not Tricks! An excerpt from Girl In The Hourglass https://especbooks.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/espec-excerpts-the-girl-in-the-hourglass-by-drew-bittner/

Halloween goodies! Here’s an excerpt from What Really Happened At Little Big Horn https://especbooks.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/winner-what-really-happened-at-the-battle-of-little-big-horn/

More Halloween loot! Read an excerpt from “Coffin Box,” one of my Deadly Curiosities short stories http://bit.ly/SDCIjx

 


About the Author

Gail Martin, Dreamspinner Communications
Gail Martin, Dreamspinner Communications

Gail Z. Martin is the author of the upcoming novel Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Dec. 2015, Solaris Books) as well as the epic fantasy novel Shadow and Flame (March, 2016 Orbit Books) which is the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. Shadowed Path, an anthology of Jonmarc Vahanian short stories set in the world of The Summoner, debuts from Solaris books in June, 2016.

Other books include The Jake Desmet Adventures a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) from Orbit Books and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities from Solaris Books.

Gail writes four series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures, The King’s Convicts series, and together with Larry N. Martin, The Storm and Fury Adventures. Her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Realms of Imagination, Heroes, With Great Power, and (co-authored with Larry N. Martin) Space, Contact Light, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens.

 

 

GUEST POST: Howard Andrew Jones on How I Write

 

Today, my friend, Howard Andrew Jones, one of my favorite writers, shares with us about his writing process.  His latest Pathfinder Tales novel, Beyong The Pool of Stars, is out now from TOR and Paizo. But I’ve enjoyed his previous Pathfinder and original novels very much as well. Check them out and enjoy his wise words.

9780765374530_FCA writing career is a work in progress. I’m always striving to better my writing process.

I suppose I still live in hope that I’ll produce 5k or more of workable prose every day like some of my friends do. And it happens for me, sometimes. More often, though, I’m a 2k to 3k guy. And I’ve decided that might just be the way it works for me, so more and more I’m trying to make sure that the 2 or 3 thousand words I produce are useful ones.

Bit by bit, tweak by tweak, I’ve come to my current method, and it’s served me well for Beyond the Pool of Stars as well as for the book that immediately preceded it and the two books currently on my hard drive. I’ll detail it for you in the hopes you’ll find it useful.

First, three steps I have to take once I have the germ of the novel’s idea:

  1. It probably goes without saying that you have to know your characters. Develop principal characters – and keep that number small – that fascinate you. If you don’t find them interesting no one else will.
  2. Find out what their goals are, then find a way to keep them away in an entertaining way.
  3. Know your villain and what she wants. And make her interesting as well, or you’ll be just as bored as your readers whenever your characters interact with her.

Once I have those pieces I set to work on the outline. I block it out loosely, imagining important scenes. I try to take my characters to fascinating places. Why not create backdrops of wonder with a few lines of description it would take a film company millions to create?

Once I have a basic feel for beginning, middle, and end, I get to plotting chapter by chapter and scene by scene, and my current favorite trick is to block it out like a play.

I write entire scenes with just dialogue and occasional stage direction. It might be that I can perfectly picture the tone of voice or even a moment of description, and if I do, I go ahead and drop it in even during this rough “stage draft.” There aren’t any hard and fast rules for what I can or can’t do at any stage, after all, and if I picture something I really like I try to get it down, even if it’s just a few quick notes.

Once I get the scene working I can either move on to the next section, or punch away at it, getting the dialogue just right. If the scene’s working properly then the more I work on dialogue, the better I can picture it… and the more solid the scene or chapter becomes as I polish. I add detail as I work until that dialogue is surrounded by useful prose and the stage descriptions of what characters are doing transforms into fluid actions.

A stage draft enables me to experiment with the dialogue and flow without investing a whole lot of energy into finessing metaphor and getting into a character’s internal thoughts. If something doesn’t work and the scene goes off the rails, I haven’t wasted hours polishing fool’s gold. And believe me, I’ve done that before.

Neither this method nor any other can work for every writer. If a method worked perfectly for everyone, there wouldn’t be so many writer self-help books out there.

I think it’s been successful for me because I’ve always found that dialogue comes easily. You should always be aware of your weaknesses and work to overcome them. But during the initial composition stages, whatever methods you, try to play to your strengths.

 


Howard Andrew Jones is the critically acclaimed author of The Desert of Souls, The Bones of the Old Ones, and Pathfinder novels Plague of Shadows, Stalking the Beast and the hot off the presses Beyond the Pool of Stars. A former Black Gate Editor, he also assembled and edited 8 collections 31020477of historical fiction writer Harold Lamb’s work for the University of Nebraska Press. He can be found lurking at www.howardandrewjones.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardandrewjon

First Annual Open Reading Period- September 7 through 21, 2015

Well, I said I was going to do it, and so here I am. At present, I don’t do general open calls because I just can’t read through all that would come in for the 3-4 anthologies I do a year. But one reason I got into anthology editing was to create opportunities not just for me, but for other writers, so instead I have decided to offer two week annual submissions periods for basically earning your way onto my invite list.  So that first period will begin Monday and run two weeks, through September 21st.  Here are the parameters:

1) Send your best story in RTF, DOC or PDF format. Make it easy on me to read your work. If I can’t open the file, I won’t read it.

2) Send me the best thing you have, published, unpublished, etc. I am NOT BUYING. All my current projects are full, BUT I am starting to pitch for anthologies in 2017 and 2018, so I will need writers when they sell, which means, I want to see what you can do. If I like your voice, craft, and style, then I will put you on my list.

3) Expect to wait a while. I am going to read through what I get, but it will take a while to read it because other ediitng and reading priorities must come first. The good news is, you can go about submitting elsewhere and living your life, because I am not buying right now so I don’t need exclusivity.

4) Please use standard manuscript formatting. I.E. double spaced, serif font, 12 point type, italics instead of underlining, wordcount and contact info above title on front page, etc.  Also, NUMBER PAGES so if I read offline and drop one, I can easily find where the pages go and in what order.

5) If you story is over 7500 words, please contact me first.

6) If I have already bought stories from you or you know I own your books or stories, you just need to ask to be included. Please feel no need to submit pieces to this call. I will have enough to read already.

That’s it. That simple. Send these files to bryan at bryanthomasschmidt.net starting Monday with the subject: OPEN CALL (story name).

I will read and let you know if you’re invited to my list.

Oh, a couple notes on taste:

I like adventure stories more than lesson stories, but if you can do both, I will be awesomely impressed and pleased. I like character driven stories. I like heroes I can admire, but if the story is strong enough, of course, any of this won’t matter. I also do not like overuse of foul language or gratituitous sex and violence, so keep in mind that since I do PG themed anthologies mostly, your story samples should fit those parameters as much as possible.  Beyond that, I like all kinds of genres, but I am not a huge vampire or zombie fan, just a warning.

I do reserve the right to just say no. I don’t owe you a slot, nor do I owe you an explanation. Unfortunately, this has to be said given the nature of the www world today, sot here it is. It is not that I plan to just arbitrarily say no without some kind of explanation, but I probably don’t have time to give long notes on every story. I don’t promise to read the whole thing either. If I don’t like it, I will treat it like any other slush. Time management is key. It is not personal. It is subjective and ruled by my personal taste, yes.  I am open to people of all beliefs, lifestyles, ethinic backgrounds, cultures, etc. In fact, I strongly seek it out and don’t get enough from POC and non-western writers, so by all means, let me see what you’ve got.

I appreciate the opportunity to look at your work and your patience through this process, and I look forward to working with many of you in the future.

Bryan


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo-nominated editor of adult and children’s science fiction and fantasy novels and anthologies. His debut novel, The Worker Prince, received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases of 2011, and was followed by two sequels. As editor, his anthologies include Shattered Shields (Baen, 2014), Beyond The Sun (Fairwood, 2013), Raygun Chronicles (Every Day Publishing, 2013) and Space Battles (Flying Pen Press, 2012) with two more forthcoming from Baen Books and St. Martin’s Griffin in 2015 and 2016. He is also developmental editor for WordFire Press, owned by New York Times Bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. Books he’s edited include The Martian by Andy Weir, My Big Fat Demonslayer Wedding by Angie Fox, The Outpost by Mike Resnick, A Game Of Authors by Frank Herbert and more. From December 2010 to earlier this year, he hosted Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat the first Wednesday of every month at 9 P.M. ET on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht and is a frequent guest and panelist at World Cons and other conventions. His website is www.bryanthomasschmidt. Twitter: @BryanThomasS

Announcing Bi-Annual Open Reading Periods Coming Soon

Shattered Shields cover smallAs most of you know, I am a very busy anthologist, with 8 projects in various stages of contract and development through 2017. Most of these have their allotment of writers already, but as I develop new projects, I hope to expand my stable. Because of budget and busyness, my reading time is limited and so slush is just not something I can manage at the moment, however, I have come up with an option that will appeal to some of you.

I am ending Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat in August. This is because of sheer exhaustion from four years, fading enthusiasm from me and regulars, and also needing time to read for both fun and work that I can’t find anywhere else. Interviewing people, even twice a week, and reading one of their books to do so, is a tremendous time commitment. I have had to put in 20 hours a week to it since starting in 2010. I just can’t keep up with that and slush, and I can’t read novels by friends or colleagues for fun, blurbs or more. Add to that my work in Acquisitions and Development for Wordfire as a Junior Editor, and I just am falling further and further behind. I hate that, so something had to give.

Mission Tomorrow cover 2So the solution is that I will be doing an open submission period of two weeks, starting this Fall (September 1 through 15) where writers can send me their best work. The idea is to give me a chance to get to know your work–voice, style, etc. for consideration toward future projects with openings. I am not going to buy these stories. So send your best, whichever speculative genre you want. The sole exception is erotica. I don’t publish or buy it so it won’t be the best sample for me. I don’t promise quick turn around. It may, in fact, take me months to get through the submissions. But if you are professional quality in your writing, you will be considered for invites to future anthologies. You will be in the door. I will limit the word count, probably 6k words and under,  but those details shall be announced when the Fall comes. And I will limit to one piece per writer as well. I need to be able to see an end game here if I ever hope to do it again. Published work is fine. I will be flexible on format as well. I will make it easy for you, so please do the same for me.

Beyond Sun Cover.inddFurther details will be announced when the submission time gets closer. But since many busy anthologists just don’t have time and resources to do many open calls, consider this a great chance to get into projects that may interest you in the future. If you are put in my pool, I will notify you and invite you to appropriate future projects. You also have the right to ask about openings when I announce projects you want to be invited to. Yes, people do that anyway, but if I don’t know your work, I almost always say no. Just a practicality. In any case, get those submissions ready. Reading stuff I’ve edited for taste might be a great way to see what I like in the meantime. I look forward to discovering new colleagues to work with.

Thanks.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo nominated editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince 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. His anthologies as editor include Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek for Baen, Mission: Tomorrow, Galactic Games, Little Green Men–Attack! and Monster Hunter Tales (with Larry Correia) all forthcoming also for Baen, Joe Ledger: Unstoppable with Jonathan Maberry for St. Martin’s Griffin (forthcoming 2017), Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter as @SFFWRTCHT.

Guest Post: Music As Magic by Peter Orullian

By Peter Orullian

 

It’s not new. This music as magic thing. Many fantasy writers have done it. So, the thing is how. And that’s where I’m hoping folks will dig my approach.

Peter OrullionSee, I’m a musician. I’ve no idea if my fellow fantasy writers who’ve attempted music magic systems are also musicians, but there’s no doubt it’s influenced how I write about music. I’m not casual about it. Whether I’m writing a scene that deals with the intricacies of how I built my music magic system, or just describing the experience a character has of listening to music, I’m all in. I’m just built that way.

Now, as for the music magic, itself, I need to tell you about Resonance. I spent time in my worldbuilding to develop the notion of what I call a “governing dynamic”—Resonance. It underlies multiple magic systems in my world. In some, it’s quite obvious. In others, much less so. But it started first with music, and the notion that all things have a resonant signature that may be resonated with.

I grow past this, of course. Past the simple notion of acoustical resonance. I built out an idea I call Absolute Sound, which I actually wrote about in my novella for the Unfettered anthology that released a bit ago. That story, entitled “The Sound of Broken Absolutes,” goes into this idea I have about resonance taking place at a distance, out of earshot. It’s an advance technique for practitioners of the music magic in my Vault of Heaven series.

For those who haven’t read my first book, or anything else by me, never fear. I’ve written book two, Trial of Intentions, as an entry point to the series. I mention it, because Trial of Intentions is where I go much deeper into the music magic. You get a close look at how it works, and how it affects people. Those scenes are some of my favorites of the entire series so far.

And different from the idea of sweet, soaring sopranos and the like. Or even soft, intimate truth-sounding songs. Some of the music magic you’ll experience—dare I say, “Hear”—in my world is assertive, rough, combative. It’s often loud, bold, and meant to disquiet. It’s rhythmic. It’s filled with great passion. Great sorrow, sometimes. And when done right, it’s filled with “intention.” I put that last word in quotes because intention is very much at the heart of my music magic system. It’s a close cousin to Resonance. It matters what you mean when you sing. And that might have nothing to do with lyrics. In fact, often, they’re unrelated. Lyrics can even be dispensed with.

 

Trial of Intentions cover OrullianFind the bottom of pain. Therefrom will come powerful music. And when given voice from someone who understands the right technique, the power of the music is undeniable, unrelenting.

 

And all of this is brought to bear in a great song, in my world, knows as “Suffering.” It’s sung in nine movements, taking nearly seven hours to complete. It’s a song of power. It keeps a barrier strong that separates the races of the east from creatures who’ve lost empathy. Not beasties. These are reasoning creatures. With intentions of their own.

 

And music is the thing the gods left the world to protect itself. Music premised on a governing dynamic I call Resonance.

 

The UnrememberedOf course, beyond all this, I care, as a writer, about the beauty and flow of words themselves. Writing can be lyrical, musical. And my favorite writers possess this quality. The fiction experience is very nearly song-like. That’s a huge bonus, for a guy like me.

 

Anyway, in the effort not to do spoilers, you have here a bit of the feeling and high-level mechanics of my world and music magic system. And even if you never read my work, if you’re a music lover, we’re kin. Maudlin that, but I’m leaving it in.

 

Cheers,

Peter

On My First Best Editor, Short Form Hugo Nomination

Space Battles front web sizeSo I got nominated for a Hugo for Short Form Editing. Wow. Found out two weeks ago and it surprised but thrilled me. I didn’t campaign. A group of people deemed me worthy and nominated me. Since nominating people you think are worthy is how the system works, I didn’t say a thing, except thank them for their confidence and wait to see what happened. I know I was nominated by people who are not Sad Puppies because they told me. Several, in fact. Some were Sad Puppies, but most who told me were not. The only thing I know is I have worked very hard and this is a major achievement and career moment, and it is unfortunate some people are choosing to attempt to spoil that. I just discovered April 8 that I am was on a slate called Rabid Puppies. I would have demanded removal had I known but I didn’t know it existed until nominations and had no clue who was on it. I don’t associate with the person running that campaign and am deeply disappointed by how he conducts himself and his presence on the slate. I deeply regret this but there is nothing I can do.

Thing is: forever on I am a Hugo nominated editor. The only change. I will do what I’ve always done: strive to make the best books possible. From the beginning I have worked hard to do so, by picking the best new and old pros I can find to write stories, seeking diversity in the pool from right to left, white to POC, LGBT to straight, etc. With a diverse pool in place, I then pick the best stories and hope what I get reflects that well. So far, I think it has. It has varied, of course, but that is the way it goes for every editor. Still, when you want to make books with broad appeal to a broad and diverse readership, that is the only way to do it right. I have always believed that, no matter what some detractors may say. Taking someone’s ambiguous statements and twisting their interpretation does not make them fact.

Beyond The Sun revised coverA few figures of my anthologies so far:

SPACE BATTLES
11 male writers
7 female writers
2 LGBT (that I know of)
11 Progressive (that I know of)
6 Conservative or independent (that I know of)

BEYOND THE SUN
9 male writers
9 female writers
2 LGBT (that I know of)
11 Progressive (that I know of)
7 Conservative or independent (that I know of)

RaygunChronicles front displayRAYGUN CHRONICLES
14 male writers
11 female writers
3 LGBT (that I know of)
Not sure of the political alignments but some each stripe

SHATTERED SHIELDS
1 female co-editor
10 male writers
7 female writers
3 LGBT (that I know of)
10 Progressive (that I know of)
7 Conservative or independent (that I know of)

And none of this reflects the content itself which includes diverse subject matter and stories.

Don’t believe me? Go check the Tables of Contents posted online. Research it yourself. 3 of these were edited solely by me. I made all decisions. The last was co-edited by my fellow nominee Jennifer Brozek. We made decisions jointly in full. She has written about it on Locus.

Shattered Shields coverThe stats on my 9 forthcoming anthologies are not finalized so I can’t post them but these are the works that got me to where I am. The last is the one that qualifies me for a nomination.

I have spent a good portion of my life working with the disadvantaged from poor to non-westerners to LGBT. I have friends I love of all stripes. Anyone who actually knows me will tell you I do not discriminate. I also avoid kerfluffles unless I am dragged in. And even then I try to be gracious. My philosophy is treat others how you want to be treated. Help people when you can. And live and let live.

I take pride in having accomplished all these things. A number of writers have made first sales to me, including Anthony Cardno, who is gay, for example. Many have gotten to find new audiences and appear alongside their writing heroes. I love that I can make that happen. Getting to work with my heroes is part of the thrill of doing this as well.

I love diversity. Don’t believe the critics. I always have and I seek it out. It is the single best gut check I know for keeping me honest and widening my point of view to see outside the box in which I live. That’s so important that I seek it out. I don’t have to agree with everyone to listen to them. But hearing how they see the world makes me see it bigger. Makes me better.

From day one, it has been a privilege to make books and I only seek to serve the SFF community as best I can. It’s such an honor to be a part of it (most days). And I really am humbled that I get to do what I love. If I get rewarded for that with awards, that will be mindblowing. But make no mistake. I did not campaign for awards. I just try and do good work. And I will continue to do so, hoping people will give it a fair chance.

To the nomination voters, thank you for your confidence in me. Sorry for the uproar. Don’t let it spoil the moment if you can. You made me part of science fiction history. It’s so amazing, and I am truly grateful. Now, may the best person win, whomever they are. I leave it to the works.

Bryan


Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo nominated editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press, Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day, and Shattered Shields with coeditor Jennifer Brozek for Baen Books with nine more forthcoming, including Gaslamp TerrorsMission Tomorrow: A New Century Of Exploration (BAEN), Galactic Games (BAEN), Speculations KC, and several others.  A Junior Editor for Wordfire Press, he acquires and develops books of all kinds. He also hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter.

 

Why Everyone Should Be A Blindsider

I don’t talk about my past very much on this blog for lots of reasons, mostly because it’s not all that tied to what I do now, and there tends to be a group who look down on me for my religious work, etc.  and also because I don’t really like being seen as prideful or self-aggrandizing. Promoting my work is a business responsibility that’s necessary, but promoting my personal life and such is not.

Then I rewatched the wonderful movie Blindside starring Sandra Bullock when it ran on cable, and I was reminded by that movie of values that have infused my life and that of my family and very much shape how I live and everything I do. I’m not talking about the fact that main characters in the movie are Christians like myself and my family. Nor am I talking about their rural background, although we do have both those things in common. Instead, I am referring to a concept I define as “learning to live WITH people, not just around them.”

For those unfamiliar with it, The Blind Side is the true story of a wealthy Tennessee couple who discovered a black kid from the inner city was attending their children’s private school but was homeless. As they discover him and bits and pieces about his situation, they take it upon themselves to offer help. At first, taking him in to their home for a night or two, and then eventually permanently, raising him like one of their own. They even become his legal guardians. The experience changes not just the inner city kid, Michael Oher, but also their own two children and themselves. Michael goes on to become a huge football star in high school, then college and finally is drafted into the NFL. It’s a well-acted, well written, heart-warming tale of people reaching out beyond the box in which they live and choosing to help someone else because they can, and, in the end, making a better life for all of them and their community.

The reason I call this “learning to live WITH people, not just around them,” is because most of us find it very easy to live in our own little box, worry about our own concerns and people, and not pay much attention to what’s going on beyond us. Every once in a while a tragedy or some drama occurs that calls our attention to it, but for most of us, we can go around blissfully unaware of the needs of people around us most of the time. I have had this tendency at times in my life, but then I remember how I was raised. I was raised by people who paid attention and took action, and so I jump back in when I can without hesitation. It’s a lifestyle that becomes more and more second nature to me.

I get this because of several key people. My Grandma Schmidt has been described often as the type of woman who never knew a stranger, the kind who when someone in need showed up, would drop whatever she was doing, wherever she was to help. If food got cold or her family of 7 had to wait longer to eat, it didn’t matter. If she was late to an appointment, people would have to understand. To her, this was God’s business and what she was put on Earth for and there wasn’t even a question or hesitation: she had to try and help.

My other grandmothers were also very much like this. From teaching to taking in exchange students, to feeding neighbors, helping children and more. My father is a doctor who always cared more about healing people than getting bills paid, so much so that he once fired an office manager for being too harsh about collections, and he freely donates his time, money and effort to helping others despite his busy schedule and career demands.

I could name dozens of other examples in my family but suffice it to say I grew up with people who taught me: we are put here on this Earth to help and love one another, to do whatever we can for them no matter what race, religion, politics, etc. they might have. You might be poor, but you can always give time or talents. And it was an expectation that if you were in my family, this was how you’d live.

To me, the couple in The Blind Side, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy embody these values, and they demonstrated in gloriously when they took in Michael Oher. Were they perfect? No. And they were more blessed with wealth than most, but more importantly, they didn’t just say they cared with money, they lived it with their actions and daily lives. That’s the kind of people who raised me, and it’s always the kind of person I’ve wanted and tried to be. I don’t always succeed, of course. None of us are perfect. And sometimes it has cost me trying — such as shunning a career path so I could stay freelance in order to get time off to travel to various places and help people as much as I could. By the time I settled down and got married, I’ve had a lot of financial struggles to overcome time and again, I have no kids as I’ve always dreamed I would, etc. In many ways, I seem far behind my peers, and yet, by going to Africa, Brazil, Mexico and other places and teaching, I’ve gotten a kind of wealth money can never provide and enjoyed a kind of satisfaction no other success can create.

When I got into science fiction, I tried to write stories that reflect these values, and as an editor, I try to employ them in not only who I invite but the stories I buy and the subject matters I pursue. I don’t do it perfectly, but I make a concerted effort, and I’ve been rewarded by developing friendships, creative partnerships and working relationships with some of my writing and editing heroes, and making some books that got great reviews and touched people. I’m pretty much a live and let live guy, in that I don’t care about your religion, philosophy, politics, sexual orientation, race, etc. If you’re a decent person, we’ll get along. I publish stories that often differ from my personal beliefs and practices, but as long as they are good stories, I choose them because I want my books to reflect the larger community they are intended to serve, and that means reaching beyond what I know and am comfortable with.

Why am I writing all this? I guess it’s to encourage others to cover the blind side of other people, too. There’s no one way to do it, but there are many needs. You don’t have to be rich or powerful, famous or even creative, all you need is time and a willing heart, and also a willingness to be uncomfortable for the sake of helping others be more comfortable and lead better lives. You might take weekends to go help a single mom on her farm, as I did this summer, or to tutor inner city kids, help build or rebuild a house, or do any number of other things. Some you’ll be good at, some you won’t (like me and farming). But it’s not about skill as much as it is effort anyway. And the effort is never wasted, no matter the results.

The best experiences in my life and career have come from these experiences, and the most precious relationships as well. People from all walks of life and cultures who are friends because we spent time together, not because of what we were doing or what we accomplished. Oh, good things were accomplished, don’t get me wrong, but success is not the primary goal, being there is. And in the process, you’ll learn new skills and new points of view, and have new experiences that infuse your life with so much richness you can’t even imagine. Try it, if you don’t believe me.

So my point in writing this is to say, be a blindsider, not a sideliner. Take time to live WITH people around you, not just walk among them doing your own thing. It won’t just make their lives better, it’ll make you a better and happier person. And it’ll give you opportunities to live in ways words can’t describe or even equal. More than waving a flag for a cause or putting money in a donation box, you’ll be actually changing the world for the better. And I promise you, that can be far more impactful than money or slogans or any amount of campaigning ever will.

For what it’s worth…

 

 

 

 

Announcing: The Tentative Table Of Contents for MISSION: TOMORROW (BAEN 2015)

Hot off the press!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the (tentative) Table of Contents for Mission: Tomorrow, coming from Baen Books in 2015.

18 stories, 100,938 words of great Science Fiction. All original except Silverberg and Gunn.

Concept: Science Fiction writers imagine the future of space exploration in a world no longer dominated by NASA. What might it look like? Private or public? Stories of space exploration, travel and adventure.

“Tombaugh Station” by Robin Wayne Bailey
“Excalibur” by Jack McDevitt
“The Race For Arcadia” by Alex Shvartsman
“A Walkabout Among The Stars” by Lezli Robyn
“Sunrise On Mercury” by Robert Silverberg
“Tribute” by Jack Skillingstead
“The Ultimate Space Race” by Jaleta Clegg
“Orpheus’ Engines” by Christopher McKitterick
“Around The NEO in 80 Days” by Jay Werkheiser
“On Edge” by Sarah A. Hoyt
“Airtight” by Michael Capobianco
“Ten Days Up” by Curtis C. Chen
“Windshear” by Angus McIntyre – a story finalist in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Contest
“Malf” by David D. Levine
“Panic Town” by Michael F. Flynn
“The Rabbit Hole” by James Gunn
“Rare (Off Earth) Elements” by Ben Bova
“Tartaros” by Mike Resnick


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s science fiction and fantasy novels and anthologies. His debut novel, THE WORKER PRINCE, received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases of 2011, and was followed by two sequels. As editor, his anthologies include SHATTERED SHIELDS (Baen, 2014), BEYOND THE SUN (Fairwood, 2013), RAYGUN CHRONICLES (Every Day, 2013) and SPACE BATTLES (Flying Pen, 2012) with four more forthcoming from BAEN and EDGE in 2015 and 2016. He hosts Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every first Wednesday at 9 pm ET on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht and is a frequent guest and panelist at World Cons and other conventions. His website is www.bryanthomasschmidt.net and his twitter handle @BryanThomasS.

GlitchCon Schedule August 1st-3rd, 2014

GlitchCon

 

Well, another Con has arrived. From Friday through Sunday, I’ll be in Springdale, Arkansas at the Holiday Inn Conference Center for GlitchCon with the lovely Claire Ashgrove, my best bud and editing partner in Finish The Story, Jonathan Maberry and David Farland and several others. Here’s a full schedule of programming. See participants at the website at http://www.glitchcon.com/

FRIDAY, August 1

3:00 – 3:50 pm Creating Comics and Graphic Novels (Jonathan M. /

David F. / Kyle / *Tommy) (Steam Room)

5:00 OPENING CEREMONIES  (John Q. Hammons Hall)

6:00 – 6:50 pm Pulp Fiction (Jonathan M. / David F. / Tommy / Bryan

100_0440
Bryan and David Farland

S. / Phillip D.)(Steam Room)

6:00 – 8:00pm Story In A Bag, lead by Dyann Love Barr & Claire A. (Anime & Cosplay)

7:30 p.m.   — David F. / Jonathan M. / Claire / Bryan to dinner

 

SATURDAY, August 2

10:00 – 10:50 — Collaboration (Sue S. / Bill A. / Brad S. / Dyann)   (Steam Room)

12:00 – 12:50 — Series Writing (Saranna D. / David F. / Jonathan

M. / Bill A. / Claire A. / Dyann LB) (Anime & Cosplay)

1:00 – 1:50 — Writing 101 (David F. / Phillip D. / Sue S. / Dyan LB

/ Claire A. /  Saranna D. / Bryan S. (MOD)) (Steam Room)
2:00-2:50 – Old School Monsters (Jonathan M.)(Steam Room)
3:00 – 3:50  pm  Horror – Then and Now (Jonathan M. / David F.

/ Brad S./ Saranna D.)

4:00 – 4:50 — The Fantasy Allure (Jonathan M / David F. / Bryan S.

/ Brad S. / Claire A. / Saranna (MOD))(Steam Room)

7:00 – 7:50 — World Building (Sue S. / Bill A. / Dyann LB / Bryan

S. / Claire / Saranna, John W.) (Steam Room)

Bryan & Claire
Bryan & Claire

 

 

SUNDAY, August 3

10:00 – 10:50 – Story In A Bag Winners Announced

3:00-4:20 – CLOSING CEREMONIES (John Q. Hammons Hall)

Why I Am An Editor

Shattered Shields coverI became an editor for three primary reasons: 1) I love reading stories; 2) I love working with and discovering new writers; 3) I like helping others. For me, editing combined all these loves, so it seemed a natural fit. After all, I could get a chance to work with my heroes and legends as well as up and coming and new writers who are legends yet to be, and in the process, have fun and make some really interesting books, giving great, diverse stories life.

I’ve interviewed a lot of editors, and I think most of them said some combination of the above as well.

But for me, it also stems from years spent working with nonprofits to help artists from different backgrounds and cultures come together and create art and be heard. There’s no greater gift you can give an artist than a chance to share their voice, I think. And it’s such a joy helping them polish and refine their work, giving them a venue and audience, and watching them shine. I found it very addictive. So addictive that when one camp I was working with moved cross country, I created my own nonprofit and started doing the work in other ways, taking it across the world to Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, and other places, usually places where such training is too expensive or too elite for the poor, and focusing our work on artists denied those opportunities. Doing that work was life changing and has forever shaped by beliefs, my life, my goals, and my art, and I continue to long to find ways to do more of that work in the future. So anthologies and editing had natural appeal.

Beyond The Sun revised coverAnd the first anthology opportunity proved to be a challenge for sure, but also a whole lot of fun. It’s as much of a challenge sometimes attracting writers to trust a new editor as it can be for writers to get a shot, and I wound up short on submissions and thus late on deadline, but this did give me a chance to work with some writers to improve their stories. There were at least three that made into into the final book after such collaboration. Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, the end result is a book I’m proud of. It’s not as good as the books that followed in some ways, but the reviews have been solid and it’s a fun read, and above all, when creating anthologies, I want to create fun reads. For me, reading should be fun. Science Fiction and Fantasy should be fun. Above all other concerns.

So creating opportunities for authors has been a huge part of what I got into this to do, thus, when I didn’t have the editorial credibility quite yet, I looked toward Kickstarter and put together Beyond The Sun, somehow being lucky enough to get four of my writing heroes as headliners. That experience proved yet another great one and shortly after that Kickstarter, friends from a Canadian small press approached me with the idea for Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For A New Age, and so a few months later, we Kickstarted that with even more big names. That was my biggest anthology yet.

Again, the highlight of both of these was working with writers. Even as the fanboy in me thrilled at getting to work with Silverberg, Rusch, Kress, and more, I enjoyed seeing the up and coming writers’ eyes light up and the chance to be in a book with such luminaries as well. I enjoyed working with them to develop stories, polish them, and assembling the books, etc.

Then Baen bought an idea I had come up with and recruited Jennifer Brozek to co-edit, the military high fantasy anthology Shattered Shields. Like Raygun,  we had a full on professional budget and this time we were buying all originals. So I had the chance to work for a major publisher for the first time, again, an incredible experience. And despite our different tastes, Jennifer and I wound up agreeing on almost all the stories, the exception being a couple, and, of course, she liked some more than I did and vice versa. Still, a great creative partnership. What a talented lady!

RaygunChronicles front displayAnd having such opportunities to partner with great people is the highlight of being an editor. I just really appreciate that. It’s why I don’t want to work with people that don’t share a mutual respect. Time’s too short. I want to be able to enjoy working together. After all, collaboration should be fun, I think. And it’s why I keep pitching and developing anthologies of various types. It’s also why I wanted to use my credibility to reach out to new voices in projects that might be tougher to find publisher homes for like World Encounters and Enabled, but which still have important subject matters which deserve to be explored.

I love reading. Reading has changed my life. It’s made my world bigger. It’s made me a better person. And it’s opened up possibilities I could have never imagined. As reading amongst new generations decreases in popularity, I also want to create books parents and kids can read and enjoy together, that will provoke discussion and nurture a love of reading and genre. That’s why I always push for an educational accessibility aspect in all my guidelines and books, and why I try and keep content PG13 at worst, so it can reach the largest audience. And my background with diversity and cross cultural encounters makes me desire to include writers of diverse backgrounds and beliefs in every project. Sometimes you are limited by who’s available and who connects with the concept, but I try nonetheless. And I have had some great successes.

In any case, just a few thoughts on why I love being an editor and why I wanted to be one. I admit, I’m hooked now, and I hope I get to continue doing this for a long time to come.

For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press, Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day, and Shattered Shields with coeditor Jennifer Brozek for Baen Books (forthcoming).  He is currently working on Gaslamp TerrorsMission Tomorrow: A New Century Of Exploration (BAEN), Galactic Games (BAEN), Enabled, and several others.  He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter.

For Immediate Release: Broaddus and Schmidt Team With Alliteration Ink For Urban Fantasy Noir Anthology

UPDATE: Sad to say I quit this project due to the unprofessionalism and lack of integrity shown by the publisher. I’ve never looked back. BTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Alliteration Ink black_logo2Bram Stoker and Black Quill award nominated editor Maurice Broaddus and editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt are teaming with Steven Saus and Alliteration Ink for Streets Of Shadows,  an urban fantasy crime noir anthology headliner by New York Times Bestselling authors Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kevin J. Anderson, Glen Cook, Tim Lebbon and Seanan McGuire. Other contributors committed include Alex Bledsoe, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Diana Pharoah, Adrian Phoenix, and Chuck Wendig.

One of the most popular genres of speculative fiction today, urban fantasy involves stories in urban settings, usually with a dark feel much like crime noir settings, which include fantastical elements. It’s similarities make it a natural fit to combine with the long popular crime noir detective story. Streets of Shadow’s stories will include stories set in popular universes like Glen Cook’s Garrett PI, Alex Bledsoe’s Eddie LaCrosse, and Kevin J. Anderson’s Dan Shamble, P.I. along with new settings by other authors.

Maurice Broaddus
Maurice Broaddus

The project will be crowdfunded on Kickstarter in January and release in late Summer 2014 in trade paperback and ebook editions. Open submissions will be accepted for one month after the Kickstarter in March 2014, with stories also due in March from an invited list of top names and up and coming writers.

Maurice Broaddus has written hundreds of short stories, essays, novellas and articles and had fiction published in numerous magazines and anthologies including Asimov’s, Cemetery Dance, Apex Magazine, Black Static and Weird Tales. He coedited the Bram Stoker and Black Quill award nominated Dark Faith anthologies for Apex Books, several stories from which were honored with mentions in annual Year’s Best anthologies. He also authored the urban fantasy series Knights of Breton Court from Angry Robot Books.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s first novel, The Worker Prince, received Honorable Mention on Barnes and Noble’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases of 2011. His short fiction has appeared in Tales of The Talisman magazine and anthologies like Triumph Over TragedyWandering Weeds and Of Fur and Fire. His anthologies as editor include Beyond The Sun (Fairwood Press), Raygun  Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age (Every Day Publishing), and the forthcoming Shattered Shields, coedited with Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014) and Gaslamp Terrors coedited by Tim Marquitz (Evil Jester Press, 2014). Three of these have been funded using Kickstarter and picked up by small presses.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Alliteration Ink is a small press specializing in speculative fiction which has published anthologies  like The Crimson Pact 1-3, Sidekicks, Dangers Untold, from editors like Paul Genesee, Jennifer Brozek and more.

For more information on Maurice Broaddus and Bryan Thomas Schmidt, see their websites at www.mauricebroaddus.com and www. bryanthomasschmidt.net respectively. They can be contacted at mauricebroaddus@gmail.com and bryan@bryanthomasschmidt.net. Alliteration Ink can  be found via their website at http://alliterationink.com/ and contacted via steven.saus@gmail.com.

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

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.

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!

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: 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.

 

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.

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.

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.

Write Tips: Shortcuts For Formatting Your Manuscript To Meet Guidelines

WriteTips-flatAs an editor, I am surprised how many writers seem to struggle with manuscript formatting–either not doing it per guidelines, not making effort, etc. There are many reasons editors ask  for specific formatting. For example, when I turn manuscripts into publishers who use Adobe InDesign (a manuscript formatting software), there are sometimes issues with importing so they need things simple and formatted to make that easier and save time. Some editors find manuscripts easier to read double spaced, etc. and since they read a lot, they need you to make it easy so you can get a fair shot. These reasons may not sound compelling to some writers but the burden is on you to make the reading experience fun not just from writing a good story but also in presentation, so you should care.

To make things easier, though, particularly in Microsoft Word or Open Office, there are things you can do to shortcut formatting. Maybe you don’t want to worry about it as you write. That’s why I use Scrivener and let it do the work for me. But if you’re doing it all in a Word Processor, here’s three handy tips.

1) Converting Italics To Underlining or vice versa — Did you know that you can use the REPLACE function to change formatting? Well, you can. If you wanted to convert all italicized words to underlining, for example, a not uncommon editorial guidelines request, you simply have to pull up replace as follows:

Replace Italics Figure 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Pull up the replace dialogue from your menu.

2. Put the cursor in the first blank and type Control-I (Italics)

3. In the second blank, type Control-U (underlining) then Control-I and Control-I again. This will tell it to remove Italics.

4. Then hit Replace All.

Yep, it’s that simple. And you can do it with converting underlining to italics, bold, etc.

Here’s another tip.

2) Select All + Set Tabs — Suppose you need to fix the tabs on your manuscript. One way ti globally fix them is to use Select All.

Select All Figure 2

 

 

 

 

1. Find Select All On Your Menu or use Control-A to select all, highlighting all the text in your document.

Tabs Figure 3

 

 

 

 

 

2) Then on the ruler, click where you want the tabs.

Most of your text will slide into position. Places where spacing or margin markers were moved instead of tabs will have to be corrected by hand but this is a big timesaver in regards to an entire document as it will keep you from having to fix each tab one at a time.

3) DocX Line Space Removal — One of the more annoying features in Word is the additional space added between paragraphs automatically. To eliminate this, you need to do the following:

Select All Figure 2

 

 

 

 

1. Find Select All On Your Menu or use Control-A to select all, highlighting all the text in your document.

Paragraph Dialogue Box Figure 5

 

 

 

 

 

2. Pull Up the Character Dialogue Box by clicking the arrow in that section of your menus.

Doc X space removal Figure 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Click the box next to “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style” and then hit OK.

This will remove those pesky spaces throughout your document.

4) Quick Styles & Templates–If there is a particular manuscript format you use a lot, you can set up a template by formatting a document with the necessary formatting, including tabs, no spaces between paragraphs, double spacing, headers, etc. To do this, use a document and go through as follows:

Applying Styles Figure 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Highlight The Text you want to apply the style to.  

Note: You have to do this for every relevant style when setting up a template. It’s time consuming but that’s the only way to define the styles.

2. Click the appropriate style button.

If the default style is not what you want, then make adjustments to the text to add italics, underlining, etc. Do this without clicking a style button again for that text. We are going to reprogramming the definition of that button.

3. You can even include graphics.

This is handy if you are making a template for stationary, say, or something similar.

Saving Templates In Word Figure 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Click Save as, select “Word Template” in the document type and then name your template and Save.

The next time you want to apply this format to your document, you can then take the following steps:

1. Open the document you want to apply a template to. On the File Tab, press the Options button.

2. Select Add-Ins option from the menu on the left side of the Options dialog.

3. Click on Manage and choose Templates from the dropdown list. Press Go to open the Templates and Add-Ins Window.

4. Press Attach to open the Template Attachment Dialog. Select the template you want to attach to your document and then press Open.

5. When prompted, select Automatically Update Styles to change the styles of your document to match the styles of your template. Then click OK.

Yes, I know. It sounds time consuming. But only for set up. Once you have the template created, it’s a huge time saver. You can apply any template to any document so set up templates for the markets you submit to most and you won’t have to worry about spending long amounts of time reformatting submissions before you send them out.

Those are just 4 big time saving shortcuts for manuscript formatting. I’d love to hear others in comments, if you have them. Meanwhile, I hope this is helpful in freeing you up to write! For what it’s worth…


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.

7 YA Series Adults Will Enjoy With Their Kids

As host of SFFWRTCHT, I am exposed to authors from all different publishers, genres and styles, and recently have been getting a chance to see more and more Young Adult books. As a non-regular reader of YA, I was hesitant. Will I relate to this? Is this for me? Is it going to be a bunch of teen angst and drama? Instead, so far, I have found very interesting, well developed real people as characters with interesting plots and stories to go with. Since I often get exposed to books before they take off, here are 7 YA reads I recommend to readers of all ages. In fact, adults, enjoy them with your kids if you dare!

Darwen Arkwright 1 - Hartley1) Darwen Arkwright by A.J. Hartley — Admittedly marketed as Middle Grade, this series has enough to it to appeal far beyond. It has a set up and characters which remind me of Harry Potter, but it’s very unique. The British protagonist enrolls in a new school in the U.S. and finds a door to a fantasy dimension that winds up involving him in plots and schemes by monsters and magic to take over the world.  Entertaining, with great worldbuilding, this would be a worthy follow up for Potter fans.

 

Flash Point _ Kress2) Flash Point by Nancy Kress — A standalone by a top writer, this compelling story has a teen cast in a near future reality TV show where producers create events to get a reaction by surprising their cast, but things get far more dangerous and complicated than anyone expected, and you’ll find the journey as compelling and fascinating as I did.

 

 

Jumpers by Gould3) Jumper by Steven Gould — Admittedly, these are hits, but I just recently read Impulse, the third, after missing the middle book, and it was amazing. You can read them as standalones or as a series, but they tell the story of David Rice and his wife and daughter, hunted for their gift of Jumping through time and space to locations they can remember in various ways, this series is compelling and interesting with real situations and characters interwoven with fantastic elements. Forget the movie, Jumper. Whether you liked it or not, this is the original canon and well worth the read.

Fair Coin - Myers4) Coin Series by EC Myers — PYR sent me Fair Coin to interview the author and it was a real page turner. The story of a boy who finds he has a coin with the power to time travel, it unfolds like a mystery-thriller and keeps you guessing to the end. The three central characters are well drawn and appear in varied versions as the protagonist travels. The story of the coin and their lives turns out far more complicated and surprising than expected.

 

Lightbringer5) Lightbringer Series by K.D. McEntire — I’ve read all three of these, and, full disclosure, the author is a friend. But this is just interesting urban fantasy about a young girl who discovers, after her mother’s death, that she can send spirits to eternal rest or destroy them, depending on circumstances, and finds herself hunted and chased by them as a result, turning her world upside down. Interesting world building, great characters. Darker, but still hopeful and well worth the read.

Starters - Price6) Starters and Enders by Lissa Price — Lissa sent me a copy when she was booked on a World Con panel I was moderating and this one knocked my socks off. I had no idea what to expect but it was one of my favorite reads of 2012. The sequel, Enders, is in the works and I guarantee it’ll be among your favorite reads too! The story of a time when youth is undervalued, with society run by older, Enders, who survived an epidemic, a young girl finds herself renting her body as a vacation body for older people, only to discover the company she works for is part of a larger, evil plot and her life is on the line. Lightning pacing, great characters, a real page turner.

Lady Of Devices - Adina7) Magnificent Devices by Shelley Adina — This is a fun, yet short, series of YA Steampunk adventures set in Victorian England about a girl coming of age and striving to defy mores and make her own way in life after her father’s suicide and family bankruptcy. The setup may sound depressing, but the character is so delightful you’ll quickly move on and enjoy the action, adventure, well drawn characters and great use of London settings.

Those are some great reads you might want to discover with kids, for what it’s worth… Meanwhile, I’d love to hear about your favorites in comments.

My latest project
My latest project

AbeLincolnDino_CoverV2

 

 

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 Exodus will 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.