DoDecaCon Schedule, September 16-18, Columbia, MO

dodecaconbtspicThis weekend, I will be a Special Guest at Columbia, Missouri’s ComicCon:  DoDecaCon. Fellow guests include New York Times bestselling author John Jackson Miller.

Here’s the layout of booths. I will be at Special Guests Table 2. (click to enlarge)


My panel schedule is Saturday only, with the following two panels:
2:00 PM Special Guest Q&A with Bryan Thomas Schmidt, John Jackson Miller and D.A. Roberts-Main Stage
3:00 PM Writing in an Established Universe with John Jackson Miller-Panel Room A

Barnes and Noble, Columbia, will be selling my books and I will sell others at my table. To help me out, please buy my Baen books from B&N then come have me sign or personalize. I will likely do signing times each day at B&N as well (TBD). The rest of my books will be on sale at my own table, Special Guest Table 2.

Look forward to seeing you!


My Schedule for Stan Lee’s Comikaze

Comikaze 2015 logoOkay, I am going to Los Angeles for Stan Lee’s Comikaze Comic Con, a place I lived for 7 years and have not visited in 19. Excited to see old friends and see how the city has changed. I will also be hanging out with some very cool people, both at the WordFire Booth #1342, on panels and at the Con generally, including stars from Star Wars, The Flash, Star Trek TOS, 2001: A Space Odyssey,  and more. Come join us. I will have early release copies of both my novel, The Worker Prince and my Baen hard SF anthology, Mission: Tomorrow. Here’s where to find me Friday through Sunday at the Los Angeles Convention Center:

Mission Tomorrow cover 2 larger
TWP WFP front cover



























Friday Panels 10/30/15:

4:00 – 4:50 pm          Writing Existing Worlds

A panel of authors and editors discuss writing media tie-ins, comics and more in popular franchise from Star Wars to X-Files and more

Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy

Panelists: Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland, Jody Lynn Nye, Peter J. Wacks, Neo Edmund

Panel Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Room: 505


Saturday Panels 10/31/15:

11:00am-11:50pm                Worlds of WordFire

Publisher Kevin J. Anderson and several authors discuss existing and forthcoming titles from WordFire Press, a small up and coming small press publisher whose authors include New York Times Bestsellers like Frank Herbert, David Farland, Jody Lynn Nye, Todd McCaffrey, Alan Dean Foster, and More

Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy

Panelists: Kevin J. Anderson, Peter J. Wacks, David Farland, Jody

Lynn Nye, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Neo Edmund, Rebecca Moesta,

Quincy Allen

Panel Moderator: Kevin J. Anderson

Room: 502A



4:00pm-4:50pm                    Publishing Unlimited: The Many Paths to Worldwide

Publication for Writers

E-Books. Digital Comics. Newsletters. Blogs. Print on demand. For those of us

with a passion for telling stories through the written word, there are now

limitless opportunities to publish, produce, and distribute our work. Of

course, with so many options, it can be a brain scrambler to know which path

is best suited for a particular project. Write it as a book? A Screenplay? A

comic? Is it better to go indie or seek out a traditional publisher? Join this

awesome panel of professional writers and story editors, and story editors as

they discuss the many paths they’ve taken to get their work published and


Genre: New Media

Panelists: Kevin J. Anderson, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Peter J. Wacks, Rebecca Moesta

Moderator: Neo Edmund

Room: 502A


Sunday Panels 11/01/15:

12:00pm-12:50pm                Iron Author:

Like Iron Chef except with writers. Each person Includes subject and a

“secret  ingredient”. The audience judges the winner

Genre: Literature

Panelists: Jody Lynn Nye, Rebecca Moesta, Qunicy Allen, Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Moderator: Alexi Vandenberg

Room: 502A


1:00pm-1:50pm                    How to become an Author:

An  award winning panel of bestselling authors discuss how to be an author

and more.

Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy

Panelists:   Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland, Jody Lynn Nye, Peter J. Wacks,

Rebecca Moesta

Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Room: 502A


2:00pm-2:50pm                    How Not to get published:

What is the surefire way not to get published? Managing editor and

bestselling author Peter J. Wacks and his panel discuss the pitfalls of new

authors trying to break into the field.

Genre: Literature

Panelists: Peter J. Wacks, Quincy Allen, Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Moderator: Alexi Vandenberg

Room: 502A


Venue Details:

Los Angeles Convention Center

1201 South Figueroa Street

Los Angeles, CA 90015



Exhibit Floor

Booth # 1342

Friday October 30th  – 1PM to 7PM

Saturday October 31st  – 9AM to 6PM

Sunday November 1st – 10AM to 4PM


On The Web:


Friendly reminder to adjust your clocks, Daylight Savings Time ends at 2AM Sunday November 1st

Schedule: 2015 Longview Literary Festival, Metropolitan Community College

This year, Claire Ashgrove, my Finish The Story editing partner and I are guest speakers at the Longview Literary Festival in Lee’s Summit.  Here’s our schedule for the day, which is Friday, October 23, 2015.


10:00 a.m.   Editing 101: A Workshop by Claire Ashgrove and Bryan Thomas Schmidt    
11:00 a.m.       Panel Discussion:  Working with Small Press:  D.L. Rogers, Sean Demory, Marshall Edwards, Bryan Thomas Schmidt
12:00 p.m.  Closed for Keynote Speaker  Closed for Keynote Speaker Closed for Keynote Speaker Keynote Speaker – Claire Ashgrove –Writing Contest Winners Announced
 1:00 p.m.   Closed for Featured Speaker Closed for Featured Speaker Featured Speaker – Bryan Thomas Schmidt
2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Bryan and Claire at Vendor Table  
4:00 p.m.       Panel Discussion:  Editors are NOT the Enemy:  Claire Ashgrove, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Sara Lundberg

5:00 p.m.

Bryan and Claire at Vendor Table      
6:00 p.m.  Closed Closed Closed Closing Remarks – Announcement of Winners of Contests Occurring at The Festival

Conquest 45 Noir Schedule and Details Updated

Conquest 45 logoWell, for the third year in a row I am a panelist and moderator at CONQUEST 45, the local Kansas City Con on Friday May 23rd through Sunday May 25th. Well attended, with, as usual, a great lineup of guests and panelists, CONQUEST is the largest local Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror convention. And it’s always a blast, but also always hectic for locals like me, especially those of us who are members of the local fan club KacSFFS.

This year’s Guests of Honor are Glen Cook (Author GOH), David Lee Pancake (Artist GOH), Bridget Landry (Science GOH), Ray and Barbara Van Tillburg (Fan GOH), and also Caroline Spector (Toastmistress).  Also attending (besides myself) are local professionals like Robin Wayne Bailey, Kij Johnson, Rich Horton , K.D. McEntire, Mark W. Tiedemann, Rob Chilson, Selina Rosen, Claire Ashgrove, Bradley Denton, H.G. Stratmann and Chris McKitterick. A full list can be found here.

Returning to downtown this year, CONQUEST 45 takes place at the Downtown Marriott, just off the famed Power and Light District, pretty much the center of Kansas City’s nightlife.

Room assignments are not final, but here’s the panels, panel descriptions and list of panelists in which I’ll be participating. As you’ll see, it’ll be a really hectic weekend for me. I also hope to have books on sale at Glen Cook’s dealer table, and we are working on a possible Raygun Chronicles party. When details on room assignments and the party are final, I’ll do another post, closer to the Con.

Here’s the schedule as it stands now:

Friday – May 23, 2014

Reading (Big Joe Turner A)
Friday 1400

Author/Editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt reads from his forthcoming epic fantasy series The Dawning Age.

SpecNoir (Count Basie Ballroom A)

Friday 1700

Speculative fiction and noir mix particularly well in many subgenres and forms. What is noir and what are some examples of who’s writing what and good reads out there?

Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Panelists: Glen Cook, Mark W. Tiedemann

Raygun Chronicles Launch Party
Friday 2130 (Room 619)

Authors Todd Hunter and Robin Wayne Bailey join me to celebrate our pulp-style space opera anthology, Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For A New Age. Party with snacks, drinks and giveaways.


Saturday – May 24th, 2014

Military Fantasy (Lester Young A)
Saturday 1000

What is it? Who’s writing it? How does it differ from high fantasy? What are some examples?

Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Panelists: Glen Cook, Kij Johnson, Robin Wayne Bailey

What makes a hero/heroine? (Jay McShann A)

Saturday 1200

A discussion of what defines heroism today and what qualities we want to see in our heroes and heroines that make them heroic. And how are definitions evolving in the modern age.

Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Panelists: Dennis Young, Gera Dean, Kij Johnson

Writing for younger audiences (Jay McShann B)

Saturday 1300

Writing for adults and writing for YA, MG and Children differ. Authors and Editors discuss the differences, the approaches, and fine examples.

Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Panelists: Chris McKitterick, Deanna Sjolander, K. D. McEntire


KID’S READING: Bryan Thomas Schmidt (Big Joe Turner A)
Saturday 1500

Children’s author Bryan Thomas Schmidt reads from his chapter book series ABRAHAM LINCOLN DINOSAUR HUNTER, a humorous, action adventure, alternate history for all ages.

Self-Editing 101 For Writers With Finish The Story (Mary Lou Williams A/B)
Saturday 1600

Editorial team Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Claire Ashgrove discuss tips for basic editing of manuscripts, how to get perspective, common issues, and more.

Moderators/Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Claire Ashgrove

Sunday – May 25th, 2014

GOH Interview: Glen Cook (Count Basie Ballroom A)
Sunday 1000

Come here me do a live SFFWRTCHT-style interview with the amazing Glen Cook. And you can ask questions, too!

Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Panelist: Glen Cook

Editors are not  the  Enemy (Mary Lou Williams A/B)

Sunday 1100

What editors do, why it matters to writers, and why writers should consider them an asset not an enemy. An exploration of author-editor relationships.

Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Panelists: Claire Ashgrove, Deanna Sjolander, Rich Horton, Selina Rosen

Self-Publishing — Taking the Leap! (Mary Lou Williams A/B)

Sunday 1300

Considering self-publishing your novel?  It isn’t as easy as publishing a book and reaping the royalties, nor is it for every author.  Discover pros and cons of the Indie market, tips to launching a successful book, and whether you’re prepared for the business demands.

Moderator: Claire Ashgrove
Panelists: Karin Gastreich, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Brett Williams


Hope to see some of you there. Be sure to come by and say hello!

Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut science fiction 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 The Returning and The Exodus (forthcoming). His children’s books include 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter–Land Of Legends. Schmidt has edited edited anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6Beyond The SunRaygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age and, with Jennifer Brozek, coedited military high fantasy original anthology, Shattered Shields. Several more anthologies are under contract and forthcoming. Schmidt hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter.

My Campbell Conference Agenda

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

Friday, June 14




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

Saturday, June 15

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

Sunday, June 16

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

My Top 12 Memorable Moments From ChiCon 7

I know, I’ve made two Recap posts already on ChiCon, but I couldn’t resist sharing a few special moments I’ll always remember from the experience. Both touching and humorous, they combined to enrich the experience and the memories I carry forward from it. I think you’ll see why. I present them chronologically.

1) Surviving A New Cabbie’s First Fare. Somehow, upon arriving 90 minutes late on Amtrak, 90 minutes before my reading I might add, I wound up in the taxi of a man whose driving was an adventure. Not only did make some odd lane changes but then entered the Hyatt the wrong way and had to turn around, driving across the sidewalk and scattering the bellboys in the process. “It’s my first time,” he said, “I’m new.” I didn’t argue, just handed him the money and hurried to escape the cab.

2) Black Gate Crew Attends My First World Con Reading. I am not a big fan of doing readings. It’s just something I’ve always felt nervous and awkward about. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending how you look at it) my crowds have always been small. But this time not only did my crowd size increase but it was packed with fellow writers, many of whom were Black Gate staff. Seeing fellow successful authors like Howard Andrew Jones, James Enge and Chris Kastensmidt and a successful editor like John O’Neill not only make time to attend but express encouragement at my performance really started the Con on a great note and leant the feeling that I was on the right track as a writer. I’m grateful,

3) Recognized By Robert J. Sawyer at Thursday Dinner. My first dinner, my first night at the Con, and I run into Robert J. Sawyer at the restaurant. He recognizes me, double checks my name badge to be sure, and then introduces me to his wife and companions, inviting me to stop by the bar later and chat more. I had never met Rob and only interviewed him via Twitter, but we have interacted on Facebook a bit. Still, it was a good feeling to be recognized by someone of that caliber and it was an event that repeated itself throughout the Con as several others recognized me as well and said “I know your name, sure” as they shook my hand. For a small fish, it was a big splash.

4) David Brin Thanking SFWA Volunteers. On Friday morning, I spent two hours with SFWA Secretary Ann Leckie and Edge Editor Victoria Strauss volunteering at the SFWA table. While several people dropped by, David Brin made a point to shake our hands and kindly thank us for volunteering. It was a classy move and greatly appreciated since I have always found Brin’s snarky outspoken comments on Facebook a bit offputting and since he is “David Brin” (intimidating in itself). That graciousness won me over. What a class act.

5) Meeting and Being Teased by Robert Silverberg. In many ways, Silverberg is my Tolkien. I’ve told him so. He insists that I call him ‘Bob,” to which I replied: “I don’t know if I can.” But our first face-to-face was at his signing after I’d waited around 40 minutes in line. My quota of 3 books were the original Majipoor trilogy, and a couple were used hardbacks I’d tracked down, since I prefer getting hardbacks signed for longevity. Glancing inside one, Silverberg notes the ‘Property Of Margene’ stamp. “So, what happened to Margene? And how did you get her book?” he teases. I fumbled a bit then said I’d bought it at a library sale. He smiles, shooting me a cockeyed look. “Please give Margene my best if she survived the exchange.” I couldn’t help but laugh, he smiled, we chatted a bit more, and I left hoping he really was just teasing. I swear, I don’t know Margene.

6) A fan arrives at my signing with my book. Okay, yes, my books have been out a while. But this is really the first time someone already had one when they came to a signing to get it signed. Before they’ve bought them from me, then had me sign. So it was memorable and special to know my babies are making their way out in the world and that booksellers are being supported in the process. I only wound up signing 5 books that day, while watching Seanan McGuire’s never-ending line next to me and George R.R. Martin’s before her, but it was a nice feeling to be known before hand.

7) Moderating My First World Con Panel Ever. Not only was it my first World Con panel, but the room was packed t0 standing room only, with people waiting outside wanting to get in. On top of that, my fellow panelists included Nancy Kress, Jay Lake and Charles Stross. The lofty topic: Moral Ambiguity In Science Fiction. Having Nancy Kress, whose writing books have taught me so much, look at me for permission to talk almost made me laugh with embarrassment. Of course, that was just her showing respect to the moderator and it wound up being a delightful panel and one I’ve heard good things about from many since. In fact, we recorded it for an upcoming podcast, so you’ll get the chance to hear it soon enough.

8 ) Mitch Bentley’s Art Show Award. Despite my friend and frequent cover artist Mitch Bentley being the first to greet me upon my arrival at the hotel, I didn’t make it to the art show until Sunday, my first free day of the Con. Imagine my delight when I found Mitch’s booth and discovered a cover I had commissioned for my ebook release of the Davi Rhii prequel story “Rivalry On A Sky Course” had won him a Judge’s Choice Award. Mitch’s art has always moved me. I knew I wanted him to do my book cover from the minute I first saw it at ConQuest 41 in Kansas City, May 2010. Since then we’ve collaborated on two novels and this ebook with more in the works. More over, the covers are inspired by the stories and scenes within them, so I am thrilled to see Mitch recognized for his work, especially stuff my own work inspired.

9) Resnick’s Recognition. I had seen Resnick in passing several times and even-handed him some Brazilian coffee grounds I’d brought for him, but apparently he was so exhausted he didn’t recognize me (many had this issue due to my new Sellect ‘stache I learned) until I handed him a signed copy of the novel he blurbed. Then he did an “of course, I hadn’t realized that was you” thing and we spent a delightful 45 minutes hanging out. Resnick has been a good friend and mentor to me and I had not expected to get much time with him at a Con where he was GOH, let alone “alone” time, so it was a delight. But the priceless look on his face when my identity connected was a highlight for sure.

10) Listening In As Silverberg and Dave Kyle Reminisce. Spotting Silverberg in the Dealer’s Room Sunday, I brought over a few more books I had not gotten him to sign and overheard a comparing notes of two long time SFF community members discussing Cons, books, life, genre and much more. It was the kind of moment that one loves being a fly on the wall. Then Silverberg saw the Ace Double I was carrying and commented: “Look Dave, this book is almost as old as you are.” Kyle quipped: “It’s in far better condition.” We all laughed and then Silverberg signed it. Their discussion though could have been a panel in and of itself.

11) An Accidental Anthology Pitch. One friend I managed to run into a lot was Jamie Todd Rubin, who gathered a bunch of us Sunday afternoon in the bar to hang out. Patrick Swenson was there, along with Kay Kenyon, Louise Marley, Jennifer Brozek, Jay Werkheiser, and later Tod McCoy. It was a fun group and we found all kinds of stuff to talk about. But somewhere along the way we happened to discuss sports, and I–off the cuff–mentioned I hoped to do a Space Sports themed anthology one day. Next thing I knew I had three very excited writers pitching their stories. Two of them would be reprints. And they were talking it up. I hadn’t intended to make it a project immediately, as I already have three in the development hopper, but Champions: Spec Sports is now in the works and I found myself gathering ideas and writers the rest of the evening. A memorable way to start an anthology project for sure.

12) Watching Friends Accept Hugos. John DeNardo won for SFSignal to which I contribute, and Kij Johnson and Ursula Vernon won for Novella and Graphic Novel. Cat Valente and Seanan McGuire were amongst Podcast winners for SF Squeecast. Of the five, I know John the best but it was still a delight to see people I have chatted with multiple times and respect get such recognition. The fact that I helped contribute with my votes was a bonus.

As I stated in my Recaps, it felt a lot like I’d come of age and transitioned from fan/wannabe on the sidelines to full fledged community member and that an encouraging feeling only aided by moments like these ten. If you went to World Con, what were your most memorable moments? I’d love to hear about them.

For what it’s worth…

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


World Con Schedule – ChiCon 7

Well, my first WorldCon is looking good. I’d hoped to make Reno last year but then life fell apart and I had to sell my memberships to Patrick Hester and Jeremy Tolbert. I’m glad they could use them,  but this year, I’m going, and here’s my agenda. The boxed items are ones I will be a panelist for. The rest, events I am planning to attend, for those wanting to find me. I look forward to it very much. It’s an honor be included in Programming.

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

3:00 -6:00 p.m. Arrival/Checkin

Thu Aug 30 7:00:pm Thu Aug 30 7:30:pm Reading: Bryan Thomas Schmidt reading from The Worker Prince and The Returning
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

8-10:30 p.m. First Night at Adler Planetarium


Friday, August 31st, 2012

9-10:00 a.m. Dealer’s Room (Book Universe will be carrying my books throughout the Con & I’ll be at the SFWA table 10-12)

12:30 p.m. Howard Andrew Jones Reading (Dusable)

1 p.m. Lunch with Maurice Broaddus

2:00ish-3:00 p.m. Autograph Sessions (Crystal B/Autograph Table) featuring Mike Resnick, Brad Torgersen, Catherine Asaro, Connie Willis, David Brin, Eric Flint, Gardner Dozois, Harry Turtledove, Jack McDevitt, James Patrick Kelly, Kay Kenyon, Kij Johnson, Laura Resnick, Nancy Kress, Nick DiChario, Robert J. Sawyer, Robert Silverberg, Sheila Williams, Steven H. Silver (I’ll be bringing books for several of these people to sign)

Fri Aug 31 3:00:pm Fri Aug 31 4:30:pm Autograph Session 5
Autograph Tables
Bryan Thomas Schmidt Geoff Ryman Hugh Howey Jacqueline Carey Jacqueline Lichtenberg Mike Flynn Nnedi Okorafor Seanan McGuire Vylar Kaftan

4:30-6:00 PM – I may attend Mike Resnick’s Interview. I’d like to but it depends how tired I am from everything else and if I need to just sit at the bar. I will be doing one or the other here and stop by Dealer’s Room (Book Universe) to sign if needed

5:30 p.m. – Saladin Ahmed Reading (Dusable)

6:00 p.m. – Dinner with Howard Andrew Jones and James Enge

7:00 p.m.-ish -NightShade Night Bazaar Party

9:00-10:30 p.m. – Guest of Honor speech: Mike Resnick (Columbus KL)


Saturday, September 1st, 2012

9 a.m. – SFWA Business Meeting/light breakfast (Comiskey)

10-11:00 a.m. Dealer’s Room (Book Universe) or hanging to  network

11-1:00 p.m. Lunch With Jay Lake (i.e. Hanging Out)

Sat Sep 1 1:30:pm Sat Sep 1 3:00:pm Moral Ambiguity in SF (I am Moderator)
Buckingham Is there still room for moral structure in SF societies and worldbuilding? How does moral ambiguity represent or fail to capture the real world? What are its pitfalls
Bryan Thomas Schmidt Charles Stross Jay Lake Lissa Price Nancy Kress
Sat Sep 1 3:00:pm Sat Sep 1 4:30:pm Vivid Character Building (I am Moderator)
Columbus CD How do you create vivid characters who pop off the page? How do you avoid archetypes/stereotypes and predictability? Join a panel of writers discussing their techniques and tricks and ask questions of your own.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt Carol Berg Kay Kenyon Randy Henderson Teresa Frohock

4:30-6:00 p.m. Dealer’s Room (Book Universe)

7-? p.m. Bar Con/Parties/Dinner

8 p.m. Cat Rambo/Stina Leicht Party

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Free Day

I will hang out in public areas a lot, may go to a panel but mostly just network

7:00 p.m. Find seat at Hugos

8:00 p.m. Hugo Awards Ceremony

After Parties


Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Mon Sep 3 9:00:am Mon Sep 3 10:30:am Faith in Science Fiction & Fantasy
Field Faith can take many forms besides organized worship of a Higher Being, and yet, not a single Earth culture known to us exists absent a faith system in some form. What is the importance of faith in motivating human beings and in creating realistic worlds? What are the things people put their faith in? Magic? Science? Laws? Government? Wealth? Fame? Not a debate of the validity of ideas but a discussion of their value and use as motivators for all of us.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt Dennis Y. Ginoza Isabel Schechter Randy Smith

10:30-12:00 p.m. Dealer’s Room (Book Universe) and hanging out

12-1:00 p.m. Pack/Checkout

1:30 p.m. to Amtrak for home (3:00 train)

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011  Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. A freelance editor, he’s edited novels and nonfiction and also hosts Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

Write Tip: Top 10 Writer Lessons Learned From Cons & Appearances

Love it or hate it, for the modern author Conventions and Appearances come with the job. These can be a great deal of fun or  a great deal of stress or both. I’ve done 9 Cons since 2010, 5 since March 2012.  (You can check out my appearances here.) I’ve enjoyed them all for different reasons and yet some were better than others. Still, overall, the contact with fellow creatives and the public is a stimulant to creativity even if it drains time away from writing while I’m there. The biggest strain, of course, is budget. Cons are not cheap. But still, if you take the time to learn how to maximize them, there can be great benefits. Here are Ten Lessons I’ve learned from Cons and Appearances so far:

1) Selling Books Is Hard. A good signing/appearance tends to be around 12-13 books for me so far. As a new, relatively unknown author, it’s really hard to get people to try out your stuff. You do readings at which 4 attendees is a good turnout. You do bookstore appearances/signings and are happy if three people an hour actually stop to talk. At Cons, you do tons of panels and hand out info cards and are happy if people take them with any enthusiasm. In dealer’s rooms, if 5% of those who stop to look buy your book, you’ve done well. If you are a writer thinking selling the book is the easy part, think again. It’s hard. I don’t know how this compares with those whose publishers have thousands to spend promoting their books, but for micropress writers like me with promotion coming from my own time and money, selling books is hard.

2) Face-To-Face Matters. I realize many authors are socially awkward. We spend so much time alone by ourselves writing that social skills are not being developed. And many of us started out socially awkward in the first place. Thus, public appearances can be nerve-wracking and stressful. Still, nothing gets people’s interest like a face-to-face encounter. If you’re nice, funny, interesting, etc., people take notice. They realize you might be someone whose voice they’d like to spend time with listening. And this leads to sales and word of mouth. It’s a slow process, in my experience, but I’ve definitely seen it enough to know it’s true.

3) Most of Your Sales Come After Cons Online Or In Stores.  No matter how few or many books sell at a Con or appearance, I always know more a week or two later by looking at online sales and Author Central. Almost always we see numbers increase from people who met me or saw me at a distance and went to buy my books. I don’t know if this is because they don’t trust buying from you, worry about pressure sales if they approach or what. PayPal is secure, people. Whatever the reasons, I do see most sales coming from online or stores, even when I offer discounts through my website store, which I still can’t figure out.

4) Partnering With Dealers Has Advantages And Disadvantages. If you’re going to a Con, it’s always good to check out the dealers and see if you can find someone to either order copies of your book to sell or accept them from you on consignment. You will be expected to offer 25-40% of the price to the vendor, but I have still been able to sell books at a slight discount off retail when doing this. The bigger issues come from expectations. One, you should expect the vendor to display your books in a way that customers will see them, but not necessarily center stage and upstaging the vendor’s own wares. Two, pairing with a bookseller for books is better than pairing with another type of vendor. Vendors selling gadgets and toys will get customers who are easily distracted from books by their other wares. Clothing vendors have customers who aren’t looking for books. And so on. Booksellers are the best bet, but regardless of the vendor’s product, all of them expect you to get people to the table and come by to help sell your book. Working with booksellers makes this easier because they know how books sell, even those by unknown authors. Their expectations will therefore be appropriate. A toy vendor I worked with complained that I didn’t jump up and run out to pitch every customer who touched my book. My experience is that having a table between you is less intimidating than standing next to them on the sales side of the table and that being pushy is less effective than being casual and nice. Offer to answer questions, tell them a little about it, and even offer to sign it, yes, but being pushy is something to do at your own risk. Vendors don’t always understand because you are taking table space from their wares and sometimes the stuff they sell is sold well with a bit of push.

5) Plan Time To Be In The Dealer Room. If you have product for sale, it’s a really good idea to plan time to be at the dealer table greeting customers, signing, etc. Not just because of what I said in item 4 but because not everyone will see you at panels, readings, etc., and sometimes knowing the author is there makes buying a book more enticing. So check out the dealer room hours, compare it to your schedule for panels, etc., and plan some time. Remember: dealer rooms keep daytime hours. They will close at night, even when panels are still ongoing, so if you can, use the gaps during dealer room hours to be present and save your alone time, etc. at night for the much needed breaks. One good way to do this is to plan to bring carryout food to eat in the Dealer’s Room and eat behind the table so you can jump up and greet, etc. when customers stop by. Also, be sure and help sell the vendor’s other items, too. It shows a commitment to team and partnership that vendors will really appreciate.

6) Learn To Set Limits. Cons and appearances are tiring. You can only do so much. Overcommit at your own peril.I’d say 2-3 panels a day is a pretty good chunk, especially if you have readings and signings on top of that. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you wind up doing two morning panels and then two late a night, you will realize your day has gotten really long quick. Also, being on panels requires a lot of focus. You have to be cheerful and nice and smiling, and you also have to try and give intelligent output, which also requires energy. Plus, banter with fellow panelists is also important. I did 4 programming items a day at the last Con and after the first day felt like I’d done the whole Con already. I was so tired. And I still had another day and a half to go. Some have more energy than others. But this applies especially if you are staying at a cheaper off-site hotel and you don’t have a room to run back to for a nap or recharge. Big Cons, especially, have no quiet corners for that much needed Introvert recharge either. So you can find yourself stuck in crowded, noisy areas for whole days with no real breaks and it wears you out. Also, if you actually plan to attend panels, parties, etc., the more tired and overcommitted you are, the less able you will be to not only participate in those activities but enjoy them.

7) Preparation Saves Stress. Think up questions which you might ask on a panel or might be asked and practice answers. They won’t come out exactly the same way at the time, but at least you’ll have some coordinated, coherent thoughts already floating in your head to pull out and use. If you do get asked to moderate, you’ll have some idea how to approach it. With readings, you need to practice reading slow, at a good pace. If you can read with some character voice changes, it makes it far more interesting than reading with the Ben Stein-drone. At least know which passages you plan to read and how long it takes to read them. And have an idea what you’ll say to introduce the scenes and your book as well as yourself for panels and readings. Keep it short but don’t be afraid to highlight your credentials. And if you’re new, holding up a copy of a book or two is perfectly fine. It creates a visual memory for panel attendees who might later see it in the dealer room and consider buying it.

8 ) Spread Them Out. Doing a Con every weekend may sound fun in theory if you like Cons, but in practical fact, besides being expensive, it’s quite tiring and stressful. Sometimes it will be unavoidable. But most of the time, you can alternate Cons with local signings, readings, etc. in such a way to give yourself time to rest and recover in between. I also think you benefit from geographically spreading out appearances. I blocked out a number of driving distance cons this year and prioritized based on location, cost, guest list, expected attendance, etc. to determine which I should aim for and which I could skip or leave for “if I have time.” If you have books to promote, you can’t really show up last minute and expect to do signings, readings or panels. But if you’re well known or just going to network and participate as a fan, you can definitely just make last minute choices. I like to vary Cons in size a bit but generally Cons of large attendance numbers are easier to get lost and forgotten in than smaller Cons. You also have better chances to do panels at smaller cons, although there are exceptions.

9) Take Pictures.If you have publicists you work with, they will constantly nag you about this. My publicist friend does. If you don’t have that, you should remember and find people to take pictures for you. In every panel, if you get there before hand, you can find a fan who’d be willing to take a few pics. Remember, you get what you get. If you’re anal about pictures and how they’re framed, etc., it’s better to bring your personal photographer along. Otherwise, ask them to shoot several and hope you get something you can use. But pictures are helpful for blogs, PR, websites, and more, so having them is really helpful and if you’re by yourself, you want to be in them, so you’ll need help.

Here Dana, Michael and Doug demonstrate how tired we all feel, while Kelly and I fake alertness as we answer a question. Beware overcommitment–10 p.m. Panel Friday night, 12 hours after Dana, Michael & I started our day at a signing

10) Take Handouts. Have business cards, info postcards, book sell sheets, etc. and make use of the free literature tables scattered throughout Cons. Some have one, most have several. Put your stuff out and stop by from time to time to see if anyone’s taking them or to replenish the stack. Be sure and pick up extras before you leave, although I always leave a few behind for last minute people to take in case. Business cards will be helpful for fellow authors, editors, artists, etc. Postcards with book cover info, your website, a few blurbs, a small bio, etc. are good to hand to fans at panels, signings, etc. I use sell sheets at my book tables for people to take even if they don’t buy the book on the spot. Many people come back Sunday to make their purchases, browsing first to decide where they want their limited funds to go. So don’t miss the chance to give them something which might bump your book up on the list.

I’m sure I’ll do plenty more Cons and appearances this year and beyond, as my career is only just beginning (I hope). So there’ll be more lessons learned by this time next year, but for now, I hope these are helpful. Love to hear your thoughts and lessons learned in comments, too. For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.


Write Tip: On Paid Interviews & Why Authors Shouldn’t Pay For Them

I respect interviewers. In case you don’t realize, I am one. I have a lot of experience with it. Weekly. Sometimes daily, as an interviewer, not just interviewee. But there’s a practice that’s becoming more and more prevalent these days and which I really abhor of people preying on hopeful authors’ dreams and offering big exposure if they’ll just pay a fee for the privilege. And often this takes the form of interviews. And I find that pretty insulting. Exceptions might be a few cases where you’re guaranteed exposure like national television or radio, but even then, you shouldn’t have to pay and here’s why: They need content.

That’s right. You’re providing them content they need. Why else would they be out following random people on Twitter, commenting on your blog or advertising for authors to use their “great interview services?” One guy is so foolish about it, he follows you, then when you follow back, he unfollows. Uh, yeah, right. He’s preparing to interview me and he’s not doing research? There’s a clue right there.

Blogs and media need content. And the reason authors get interviewed is that people are interested. They want to find new books. They want to learn about celebrities and people doing something significant they admire. That’s why authors are getting invited to interviews and it’s why you don’t need to pay to do them.

I have another secret for you to. Listen carefully. There is no short cut to a large audience. Nope. Sorry. Even seeming overnight bestsellers are not overnight. It took them years to get there. And with the marketing muscle of a major New York corporation behind you, it’s easier to get boosts in exposure more quickly, but that takes thousands of dollars, even millions sometimes, and multiple outlets in a constant stream several times a day for weeks or months. If you can’t afford that, you’re paid interviews may give you a slight momentary splash, but I promise it’ll fade within a few hours or minutes and you’ll be back where you started. Even worse, the sales generated won’t make up for it. If I sell it myself, I make $3 per book sold roughly. At least until publisher’s advance and costs are recouped. If I paid $50 for an interview, that would mean I had to sell  17 books to just break even. I’d be losing my $3 on each book because I already spent it. So that’s like giving 17 books out for free. If you pay more for an interview, well, you do the math.

There’s a reason some sites charge for interviews and others don’t. Greed. Yep. They know people are desperate and hungry and they’re taking advantage. They have so many people wanting in, they have people pounding down their doors. And as long as authors continue this foolish rush, they will continue to get used by these people. The authors are not getting rich. The interviewers might be.

I maintain three websites. I spend $300 a year in hosting. That’s $25 per month. I spend 10-12 hours a week in responding to comments and writing posts. If I were paid for that, I’d charge at least $20 an hour. But to keep traffic growing and steady, I need regular posts, and I post not just on my blog but other places where I can link and keep visibility, so I write 4-6 posts a week. At an hour a post, that’s about $120 a week. Forget the comments, let’s call that part free. Most interviewers don’t bother responding to those. So that’s $505 a month right now for my three blogs and time and effort. But these sites post daily. And they post interviews two or three times a week. At three a week, $50 each, they are making $150 or $600 a month. If they have only one blog, they are probably paying $100 or so for hosting. Prep time on interviews is maybe an hour per post. $20 per hour. Plus social media marketing. I spend 3 hours a week probably on that. So $60. So add social media to mine at I am at $565. If you add the time it takes to do interview questions, let’s be generous and say an hour each, that’s $60. So their expenses are $120+$8.40 for hosting each month. $130. They have made $20 off those three interviews. And if you consider they probably don’t account for blogging time, they’ve actually made $70. You’ve lost $50. Who’s getting the better deal?

Interviews are invaluable for lots of reasons. The more the better. The more sites the better. Why do you see celebrities all over the place saying the same things over and over? Because they reach a different audience at each place. It has value for them. And that’s great. But they don’t pay for it. They get it free, because the interviewer uses their name in promotion and gets a lot of audience which is ad revenue. You may be an emerging or unknown author, like myself, but you are still bringing value. Someone interesting people can discover offering possible book of interest. In fact, the fact that you’re not on every channel is to your advantage. They’re less likely to flip through because you’re something new.

And I’ll tell you another thing. Since you don’t have access to their blog stats, you can’t verify the audience they guarantee exposure, too–not for your post, not for other posts. Those visitor counters can be faked. You can get ones that ask you which number you want to start the count on. (Oh wow, day one and I already have 150k hits, I’m awesome!) It varies day to day for them as much as it does for anyone else. AND there are tons of other sites you don’t have to pay for–bloggers, fellow authors, etc. who’d gladly welcome you. You just have to network and ask around. When I tweet that I’m looking for host sites, I always get one or two responses from places I didn’t think of or know about. Free.

If you get a big publishing contract and your publisher wants to spend money that way, let them. Who cares as long as it’s not coming out of your pocket. But when it does come out of your pocket, you should be careful to make sure it really delivers the return you want and need. Don’t buy these interviewers’ story about how they’re just trying to help you succeed. They just care about authors and want to help them live their dreams. My initials. (Drop the middle one.) I’m pretty confident that’s NOT their main motive. Instead, they are like all the other Writing Scams, and they are numerous, read sometime if you don’t believe me. You are not alone in your dream of writing success. But don’t let greedy people take advantage. This is just one more way to victimize writers, and you deserve better because writing a book is a big accomplishment. It’s worth celebrating. And you shouldn’t have to pay for that.

For what it’s worth…

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

Agenda For ConStellation NE This Weekend – Lincoln, NE

Well, my first Con of the year has finally arrived. I’m attending the third annual ConStellation Con in Lincoln, Nebraska, April 13-15 at Guest House Inn on Cornhusker Highway in North Lincoln. So if you’re in the area, come on out!

Guest of Honor is Elizabeth Bear, a Hugo nominee for the podcast she does with fellow writers called SFSqueecast. She’s also the author of a number of novels and her stories have appeared in Asimov’s, amongst other places. Her latest novel, Range Of Ghosts, just released last month from TOR.

Artist Guest of Honor is W.J. Hodgson and Jim C. Hines and Brandon Sanderson are past GOH authors.

A full programming schedule can be found here. And my agenda is below.

When not involved in panels or readings, I will be hanging in the dealer room with Sam’s Dot Publishing’s Tyree Campbell, who has graciously agreed to stock my books on his table.  The specific events I’ll be doing are 3 panels and a reading as follows:

Character Building – Saturday, 11 a.m., Deneb Room

What makes a good character? How do you name characters? What are the aspects of character one must consider when creating characters for a story? How deep do you go? An examination of character creation and more.

Author Reading- Saturday, 2 p.m., ConSuite

I’ll be reading from Space Battles and The Worker Prince and perhaps even a passage from The Returning which comes out in June.

Faith in Science Fiction and Fantasy-
Sunday at 1 p.m., Vega Room

A discussion of the importance of faith as a motivator for humankind. Not a debate about the validity or value or religions, but rather a discussion of how faith drives all of us in some way. What do you put your faith in? What drives you toward your elusive life long goals? Why is faith an indelible, essential element for world building in speculative fiction? We’ll discuss these questions and much more.

Great Reads – Sunday at 2 p.m., Vega Room
What are the best books you’ve read in the past year? How do they compare to ones you’ve read in years past? Which forthcoming books are you most excited about and why? A discussion of books we love and why we love them and our quest for more.

I will have copies of Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, my ebook Rivalry On A Sky Course, as well as print and ebooks of The Worker Prince. I also plan to have a few copies of The North Star Serial, Part 1 and Of Fur And Fire, edited by Dana Bell, which features my first published fantasy story, “Amelie’s Guardian.”

Hope to see you there. I look forward to a fun weekend!

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, The Returning (forthcoming), the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and the kids book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing. he edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which he edited for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick and has stories in several anthologies and magazines (some forthcoming). As  a freelance editor, he’s edited a novel for author Ellen C. Maze (Rabbit: Legacy), a historical book for Leon C. Metz (The Shooters, John Wesley Hardin, The Border), and is now editing Decipher Inc’s WARS tie-in books for Grail Quest Books.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SF Signal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

19 5-star & 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $4.99 Kindle or Nook $14.99 tpb

Write Tip: How Not To Use The 9 Free Ways To Market Your Book

Our recent Write Tip on 9 Free Ways To Market Your Book has been popular but people have asked me how NOT to use those techniques, so I thought it appropriate to do a follow up post. First, here’s a refresher on the 9 Free Ways which are:

1 ) Author Site/Blogs 
2 ) Author Profiles/Blog Interviews 
3 ) Goodreads/Library Thing 
4 ) Press Releases
5 ) PSAs 
6 ) Signings 
7 ) Appearances 
8 ) Book Clubs 
9 ) Reading Group Guides 

The previous post goes over how to use those, so I won’t cover that here. Here’s how not to use them:

1 ) Author Site/Blogs — The goal is to create a relationship with readers and other interested parties, but primarily readers. Don’t use your blog and author site to self-aggrandize and totally for sales. Use it instead to reveal yourself. You don’t have to just lay it all out there transparently. In fact, that, in and of itself, may be a big mistake. You have a right and need for privacy. Determine up front where the lines must be drawn and stick to them. A couple areas you might avoid are religion and politics. I rarely blog on these. They only lead people to be offended and possibly lose interest who might otherwise enjoy your books. Unless your books promote your political and religious views, you don’t really need to go there and you’re better off if you don’t. You also don’t want to lambast people. Flame wars may draw traffic but they don’t do it because you’re winning fans. People stare at car wrecks not because they envy those involved but because it’s just hard not to stare. The same is true of flame wars. Don’t get in nasty arguments and back and forth with people. Avoiding controversial topics can help avoid drawing those kinds of comments in the first place.

2 ) Author Profiles/Blog Interviews–Don’t reveal spoilers in your interviews or profiles, unless the book has been out a very long time and you are discussing aspects of craft where it’s relevant. And try and stick to authors and topics where an audience who’d be interested in your book and its genre/topic might find you. It’s okay to reach out to new readers but, seriously, you shouldn’t be on a Christian romance authors blog promoting your paranormal erotic romance, okay? It’s just a waste of time. And don’t lie either. Be honest. At the same time, try and hold back some in interviews. Don’t tell everything to everyone. And find a new way to answer the same old questions. Keep it fresh if you can. You’ll be answering a lot of the same questions again and again at various places. It’s boring for you but it’s all the more so for fans, so try and find new ways to say the same thing and reveal new tidbits with each interview if you can. It’s hard, so hold some things back and give a little each time.

3 ) Goodreads/Library Thing–Great for giveaways and networking with book lovers and fellow authors but these communities tend to give back what you put into them, much like Twitter. They are the most successful giveaway sites, in my experience, for spreading interest and generating reviews. Not so successful, in my experience, for their ads or for generating huge sales numbers. They are a tool to be used with lots of others for spreading the word. It’s important to remember they are about “community.” Door to door salesman are as welcome on Goodreads and Library Thing as anywhere else. Goodreads has the easier interface but both are popular. Approach them as opportunities to share yourself, your love of books, and review and discuss books, genres, trends. Author interviews so far don’t generate a lot of interest in my experience. It’s more about communicating through observing what people do and their observing what you do and say about what you read. Approach them accordingly in both time dedicated to them and how you use them.

4 ) Press Releases–Don’t just copy someone else’s and don’t write blind. There’s an art to this and the goal is give them a ready to print article about you, your book, etc. You want to minimize the work for them so they’ll jump on the opportunity for an easy to prep story. And that takes practice and careful thought and editing. If you can afford it, write the first few drafts, then pay a publicist to fine tune it. There are plenty of independent publicists, like Matt Staggs or Adonna Pruette, who would be happy to assist and charge reasonable fees.  Once you’ve done several and get the format and style down, you may be able to work on your own but I know from experience, your first several press releases will not get the results you need without a professional touch. The difference is startling.

5 ) PSAs–Public Service Announcements are a funny thing. They aren’t as common as they once were but they are indeed true to their name: Public Service. It’s not about sales. It’s about making the public aware of an event which might be of interest/benefit.  Stations can be very selective about the kinds of events which qualify. They make income from selling ads, after all. Library and school events, for example, are far more likely than bookstore events to be accepted. After all, both imply educational content. And both libraries and schools are publicly funded to serve the public. Still, it’s worth checking these out but you will have to write and time the text yourself and be very careful with wording. Again, don’t self-aggrandize and don’t sell. Just inform. If the radio or tv station does you a favor, you need to make it easy and worth their time. If you make them mad or offend, you’ll alienate them from not only PSAs but also other potential opportunities for you.

6 ) Signings–Don’t expect to sell hundreds of books. The average signing is 4-6 from everyone I talk to, unless you’re a bestseller with multiple books. Signings are as much about letting people know you exist and cultivating valuable relationships with bookstores as they are about actually signing and selling books. I’m sure it varies from author to author but especially new and unknown authors need to approach Signings as opportunities to put their best foot forward and network more than selling books. The signings I have done so far have all sold at least 4 books. The most I sold was 11. All of them brought stores who carry and promote my book for me. And all of them brought publicity opportunities in the community I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. I also sell other people’s books. My goal at signings is for people to buy something from that store and to make customers feel welcome. Hopefully they buy my book or at least talk to me. But if not, at least I helped the store and the store will want to help me in return.

7 ) Appearances–Appearances are hand-in-hand with signings as networking opportunities. Especially when you get the chance to read or be on a panel, you get the opportunity for people who didn’t know your name or the titles of your book to remember you and learn of your expertise (or at least ability to b.s. really well in public).  The goal is to make a good impression on as many people as you can. You don’t do that by aggressively selling. You do it by being personable, knowledgeable and respectful. You do it by smiling a lot and being warm and friendly. If you can do that while waving a copy of your book subtly in front of yourself, all the better. But high pressure pushy tactics will not bode well for you.

8 ) Book Clubs–These are groups of book lovers who offer two advantages: 1. They go through a lot of books. 2. If they love it, they’ll buy more, recommend it to people and otherwise spread the word. The disadvantage is that some are quite picky and blunt in their response. Do offer to visit or otherwise interact with the group. Do offer group discounts if you can. Free books to group leaders are a good idea if you can afford it, but these are book buyers, so free books aren’t essential to win both interest and loyalty. The most important thing here is to write a good book. If they enjoy it, they’ll take it from there with very little effort on your part. Again, selling is less important than personal connection. Cultivate this as networking for word of mouth, more than an opportunity to sell multiple copies. If it works out, you’ll get both.

9 ) Reading Group Guides–Do not SPOIL. Do not SPOIL. Repeat after me. Reading Group Guides are for Book Clubs and others to stimulate thought and conversation, PERIOD. You do not repeat your story in intimate detail. Do not preach on your themes or message. Your goal is to get them to read thoughtfully and interact on what they’ve read. Help them enjoy the reading experience in a way which will likely result in their wanting to read more and spreading the word.

Well, those are some tips on how NOT to use the 9 Free Ways To Market Your Book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on other cautions, etc. as well as your successes. For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SF Signal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎ Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

19 5-star & 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $4.99 Kindle or Nook $14.99 tpb

ChamBana Con Schedule Nov 25-27, 2011

Well, I had to wait until I arrived but here’s my schedule for this weekend at ChamBana Con in Urbana. Have already run into old friends here which is a surprise but a cool one. Looking forward to making new ones. Guest of Honor: Geoffrey A. Landis and his wife Mary Turzillo. Also here Glen Cook, Don Mead, Tom Smith, Juanita Coulson, Sam’s Dot Publishing and artist Ray Van Tilburg.

Friday, November 25, 2011

5-7:30 pm – Dealer’s Room hanging with Glen Cook and Sam’s Dot Publishing who are selling my book.
8:00 p.m. – Salon E, Reading from The Worker Prince
9 p.m. – Hanging in Kilarney Room/Con Suite


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Free day. Signing in Dealer Room.

10:30 a.m. – Stroll With The Pros


Sunday, November 27,  2011

9-11:45 a.m. – Signing in Dealer Room
12:00 p.m. – Salon E, Panel: So You Want To Be An Author with Geoffrey A. Landis, Glen Cook, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Mary Turzillo,  and Don Mead

1-2 p.m. – Signing until Dealer Room closes.

2 p.m. – Hit the road

Hope some of you in the area will stop by!

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

‎3 5-star & 8 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindle or Nook $14.99 tpb


My Conclave Schedule

Well this coming weekend, October 7-9, I go to Detroit, Michigan for my first Con as an Author Guest. The Con people have been very welcoming and helpful, even though it took a while to get in touch, including hooking me up with a dealer to sell my books for me (so a) I don’t have buy a dealer table and b) I don’t look silly with my one book, 2 anthologies). They offered me a reading, a membership discount, and a good price on a program book ad, which is prominently displayed. And they also put me on four interesting panels. So, for those who can make it or are otherwise curious, here’s my schedule:

ConClave XXXVI

Science Fiction Convention

October 7-9, 2011–Romulus, Michigan

Literary Guest of Honor

Seanan McGuire

Filk Guest(s) of Honor Wild Mercy
Fan Guest(s) of Honor Ray and Barb VanTilburg

Other expected attendees include: Jim C. Hines, Juanita Coulson, and more.

Friday, Oct. 7, 2011

5:00 pm – Dealer’s Room Setup/Supper

6:30-8:00 pm – Ballroom 5: The Death Of The American Author? (Panel)

Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jim C. Hines, Doug Lugthart, Gary W. Olsen

Ebooks. Anyone with a computer can format a novel and sell it on Amazon for download. What does this mean for the future of books, for the future of publishing? Why should it matter? Do we need to redefine what constitutes of literature? And will the democratizing of publishing redefine what is what it means to be a writer and a reader?

8:00-9:30 p.m. – Ballroom 5: Self-Promoting And Networking (Panel)

Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jim C. Hines, Gary W. Olsen

It’s not just about the promoting writing, it’s about promoting yourself, whether it’s in search of a new job, or keeping the one you have. What is your digital footprint? How can you clean it up? How can you get people to “like” you online? What are some do’s and don’ts for Twitter and Facebook? How can you build a circle of professional and personal contacts?

9:30-11:00 pm – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)


Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011

10:00 a.m. – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – Ballroom 5: Keeping In Character (Panel)

Panelists: Seanan McGuire, Doug Lugthart, Bryan Thomas Schmidt,
Emmy Jackson, Charles P. Zaglanis, Christian Klaver, Joe Ponepinto

All good stories center around character. If this is a truism of writing, then why is it so many authors seem to struggle with building believable characters and having them do believable things? What are some short-cuts for character building, and what are some of the absolute must-haves? What elevates a character from a stereotype to a memorable literary figure? How do you develop internal and external conflict? What about Point of View?

1:00-2:30 p.m. – Lunch Break

2:30-3:25 pm. – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

3:30-5:00 p.m. – Ballroom 5: Writing Groups (Panel)

Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Emmy Jackson, Jim C. Hines, Joe Ponepinto

The good, the bad, the unattractive. The first part of this panel is a discussion on the group process as it applies to critiquing; panelists will discuss some of the basics, and then role-model the critique process by critiquing LIVE the work of someone present. Be ready for much crying and whining.

5:00-6:00 p.m. – Dinner Break

6:00-7:30 p.m. – Ballroom 6: Reading

7:30-9:00 p.m. – Ballroom 6: Saladin Ahmed Reading (attending)

9:00-11:00 p.m. – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

11:00 pm. -? – Party, Party, Party


Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011

10:00 – 11:45 a.m. – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

11:45-12:45 a.m. – Check out/Lunch

12:45-1:15 p.m. – Dealer’s Room (Signing briefly then pack up and head to airport)


They have gaming, filk concerts, and much more as well. Really looking forward to my first Con this year, especially go launch a book. It’s a privilege to get to go. So if you’re in the area, please come out!


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

World Fantasy Report

I keep putting this off but I have to blog something this week and I really don’t know why I haven’t just gotten down to it.  Maybe it’s because I don’t want to acknowledge that World Fantasy Con is over.  So fantastic an experience was it that I wish it could have gone on much longer than it did.  As much as I did in those four days, it passed like a flash, and looking back it wasn’t long enough.

Unlike many cons, World Fantasy is a literary convention focused on writers, editors, publishers and artists.  It leans heavily toward pros, semi-pros and aspiring pros, and it is all about one thing:  networking.  Sure, they have the World Fantasy awards.  Sure, they have panels.  But the heart of this convention is community.  And I felt a part of the community of Science Fiction and Fantasy in a special way.  I met some people I have long admired and wanted to meet, and I met others who are just getting started just like me.  Some of those were friends I’d already met on Twitter and Facebook.  Some were new faces.  Either way, it was a delight to be able to finally say “yes, I know these people.”

I spent a lot of time just meeting as many people as I could.  In some cases, I used the excuse of books to get signed.  In others, I used my position with Tangent.  At no time did I try to sell anyone my work.  Instead, I focused on just making a good impression and getting to know them.  In the end, I found people often asked me about myself in turn.  One person at the TOR party, upon hearing my dream of one day being a TOR author, introduced me to Tom Doherty himself as a great new writer.  Mind you, this was someone who had never read my work.  Doherty asked me what I was working on and who I was going to send it to, then suggested I send it directly to one of his editors.  I could have pinched myself.

Another time, I got to chat with editor John Joseph Adams, who happens to date a friend of mine.  JJ is a really nice guy and I enjoyed picking his brain about editing and his approach as well as anthologies.  I pitched him an idea of my own to get his opinion and he thought it was a good idea, then suggested some potential markets.  I already have one publisher interested and want to approach another just in case.

I also spent several hours with Mike Resnick, one of my writing heroes.  I’ve befriended him on FB and Twitter, and though I didn’t remind him of his promise to buy me a drink, instead we talked about my novel and how to market and he introduced me to several people who came by — Kay Kenyon, Gordon Van Geller, and others since Mike knows everyone.

Lastly, I spent several hours chatting with Jeremy Lassen and the publisher of Brilliance Audio about publishing and other topics.  They were very kind to this ignorant neophyte and explained things, offering the wisdom of their experience.

I also got the chance to give out some copies of my book “The North Star Serial, Part 1.”  Mostly to friends, including Mike Resnick, as a thank you for their support.   I attended readings of friends like John Remy, Sandra Wickham, JJ Adams, and Saladin Ahmed.  And I got autographs and brief chats with luminaries like Paolo Bacigalupi, John Scalzi, Peter Straub, David Drake, Gene Wolfe, David Hartwell, Gordon Van Gelder, and others.

With all the free food in the Con Suite and the free books, I was in unemployed person’s heaven.  I still spent a bit of money on a few books and meals and luggage costs, but overall, I just got the chance to hang out and relax.  The two or three panels a day I managed to attend were informative and enjoyable.  And downtown Columbus turned out to be a great experience as well.

For me, as I prepare to release my first book, I got a better sense of what a con might run like, which can help me prepare to participate more fully as a writer next year.  And I got a lot of brochures on various cons to help me learn about what’s out there.  Truly a memorable experience.  I’m so glad I went.

To Simon, Livia, Blake, Sam, Sandra, Erika, John, Christie, JJ, Saladin, Brenda, John, and the other new friends who let me hang out with them, such a pleasure.  I look forward to doing it again.

For what it’s worth…

World Fantasy Con, Columbus, Ohio

World Fantasy is still a whirlwind for me, and I am in definite withdrawal.  I will post more reflections on this as I have time to process, but I will say that 30 minutes chatting with Tom Doherty in which he asked “when are you going to send us something,” 2 hours chatting with Mike Resnick and being introduced to all of his contacts as well as getting his advice on marketing, publishing, etc., and an hour picking John Joseph Adams’ brain on editing definitely justified the cost of the event.  Add to that meeting so many wonderful people from my Twitter and Facebook feeds and many new ones as well, just made me feel like a part of a big family and that’s really encouraging.

More on the panels later, but they were wonderful, even though there were many I wished I could attend but didn’t make it because of balancing sleep, panels, and networking.  The parties were fun, the free food unexpected, and the travel smooth.  I am so glad I got to go, and I so look forward to the next one.

Thanks to all who helped make the time so enjoyable and productive. Here’s some pics of the relative people:;=1085393457&l;=10d94d796c

For what it’s worth…

World Fantasy Con, Columbus, Ohio

In another day, I will be departing for World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio to meet up with 950 or so other authors, editors, publishers, artists and fans in the professional speculative fiction business.  This is only my second con and my first major con, so, naturally, I am very excited, but most exciting of all is the chance to meet people who have become dear friends via Twitter and Faccebook.  Some are well known like @ResnickMike and @PauloBacigalupi or @blakecharlton and @SamSykesSwears.  But others are up and coming like me:  @inkhaven @sandrawickham @johnremy @erikaholt @saladinahmed @inkgorilla @mosessiregar @johnklima and more.  I’ll see my friend Eric Reynolds of Hadley Rille Books, and meet some new people, too, including, hopefully some editors who have worked on favorite books of mine and perhaps a few agents.

This convention is much more industry focused, so the panels and attendees tend to have stronger ties to the publishing side itself and be less general fans.  So it’s a real opportunity for me to network.  I have postcards about my books to hand out, including URLs for this blog and my website.  I also have a few copies of “The North Star Serial, Part 1” to give away, and I hope to replace them with tons of books we are to be given free when we register at the convention.  Hopefully it’s stuff I don’t already have.

Dave Truesdale has asked me to extend his greetings to many people and Mike Resnick swore he’d introduce me to the rest.  It should be a great time.  And I hope to come away refocused and inspired to start a new project in November for National Novel Writing Month.  I really need to get back on the horse of my daily writing routine.  It’s been pretty much since May that I did that, which is a lot of wasted time.  I did write in the interim, continuing to work on the first draft of “Sandman,” and writing short stories as well as outlining some other projects and revising “The Worker Prince” in bits and pieces.  But what I need is to get back to the dedication I had before and churn out the pages.  I need to shake off this depression and anxiety and focus on my dream.  Being in the process of applying for MFA programs is helpful, and I think feeling a part of a larger community and making stronger connections with people who already support and encourage me will also be good.

Whatever the case, you know I’ll report on it here with pictures and notes.  Maybe I’ll even find time to blog a bit while I’m there.  Meantime, if you’re going to be there, be sure and look me up.  I look forward to meeting you.

For what it’s worth…

FIrst Book Signing

Attended my first book sale/signing this weekend at the La Viña Winery Harvest Festival.  We were situated right next to the very loud music stage in the El Paso Writers’ League booth.  The booth was nice and it was loaded with books by our members.  I sold 3 Saturday and 2 Sunday, but that was just my own.  I sold several books by other authors as well.  I am not and never will be real pushy.  My theory is: I want people to get the right book for them.  No sense having them mad at me for talking them into the wrong book plus badmouthing the book to their friends.  Better for everyone if they say: “I got it from El Paso Writer’s League.  The guy was really nice and the book was good.”  Good for me, good for EPWL, and good for the author.

Being the only SF book was a bit tough, but those to whom it sold seemed really enthusiastic about it.  I had hoped that my bargain price would make the book sell a little better, but it didn’t sell much when I wasn’t there.  So I am assuming it’s either my charisma or the lack of others’ knowledge of the book which made the difference.

It was a fun experience.  Fun to chat with the customers, other authors, browsers, and just to hang out in the clean air.  We had the world’s longest corndog, samples some wines, and even had a funnel cake.  Two weekends in a row.  You can’t beat that!

In any case, I hope to do more of these and start selling my book.  I really need to get the income and make back my investment, plus, I’m proud of the stories.  I think they’re enjoyable and a good tease of my writing, even if they’re shorter and simpler than most of what I do.

One weird thing about book signings is that sometimes people ask you to write things like “to my best friend” or “with all my love.”  I wasn’t asked to do that this time, thankfully, because I won’t do it.  To write anything untruthful just isn’t me.  But I did have a guy who wanted me to include “outlandish” in whatever I wrote.  So to him I wrote:  “May this book inspire you to dream outlandish dreams and reach for the stars.”  Pretty good improv, if you ask me, but then, I am a writer, so I’m supposed to have a way with words.

I’m going to offer a special deal.  The first 15 people to comment on this blog this week will get the discounted price from LaViña of $5 per book.  That’s $7.49 retail, so you ave $2.49.  You’ll either have to pay shipping or arrange to pick up your copy, but hey, everyone who’s read it has liked it, and you will too.

Okay, let’s start those comments…

ConQuest 41

I got back yesterday from my first ever Science Fiction/Fantasy Convention, ConQuest 41, in Kansas City, Missouri. There are many reasons I’ve never attended a convention before. Most related to either money or the fact that I was uncomfortable with someone dressing up as an alien and expecting me to call them “Zorg” all weekend. Happy to report this convention was not only economical, but “Zorg” free. There were people in costumes (mostly steampunk per the theme), but most were dressed in ordinary clothes just like me.

The convention gave me a taste of how beneficial such experiences can be. The first panel, helpfully, was an introduction to conventions in general with suggestions for how to make the most of them and a breakdown of the various types and what kind of attendees they cater to.

There were typically panels from 10 am to 5 pm in three rooms simultaneously while readings occurred in another room. There was Live Action Role Play gaming and video gaming as well as writer’s workshop activities.

I focused mostly on panels catering to writers which covered such topics as how to schmooze, the science in science fiction, what is steampunk, the changing face of publishing, and other related topics. Unfortunately, I only saw one reading featuring the authors of Hadley Rille Books. I enjoyed it and would have liked to see more, but my goal of building relationships got in the way as the people I needed to connect with always seemed to be available during the readings I wanted to attend.

I did get critiques of 50 pages each of my two novels which were helpful in thinking about how to make them better, and I also entered the “Story In A Box” writing contest which required you to draw from a bag your first line, setting, a character, a prop, and timeframe. My story required a steam powered vehicle, swimming in dangerous waters, and a bad angel in the future. It’s included below this post.

I did meet some publishers, writers and others. I gave out 25 teaser copies of my new book, and picked up some other books I have been looking for at the various dealers. I also got a number of autographs as well as photos with George RR Martin, Toni Weiskopf and Michael Swanwick.

I definitely enjoyed the experience and would recommend it to others. I can’t wait to do it again.

Here’s my story from “Story In A Bag.”


The stars went out one by one leaving Bia alone in the dark. Damn him! She knew she shouldn’t have listened. She knew and yet the same as always, his smile had been all it took to convince her to ignore her reservations and climb aboard his steam ship.

Another relic from the past to feed Jax’s endless fascination with history. He’d spent two years researching the parts needed to fix it and making them in his shop. “A spacecraft mechanic can fix anything,” he’d bragged.

She remembered the glow in his eyes when he told her he’d finished. A working steam ship, and he wanted her to go with him on its’ maiden voyage. The thing didn’t even look seaworthy to her. Besides, no one sailed on actual water anymore. It was unnecessary with all the abundant shuttle craft and air taxis. They could get you across any body of water in minutes, so why bother? It was the twenty-third century, for heaven’s sake. She cursed Jax again for his stupid obsession with the past.

To make matters worse, when it went down, he hadn’t even stayed with her.

“A captain goes down with his ship,” he’d said. Some stupid quote he’d read in an old story or fable. She hadn’t really thought he meant it. Her last memory of him was Jax kneeling on the deck, hands deep inside a compartment, struggling to figure out what went wrong and repair it. All he cared about was saving his ship.

“What about me?!” she screamed to the stars. “If you loved me so much, why wasn’t I more important than that stupid ship?!” She sighed.

No one could hear her anyway. At least, no one who could answer. Besides, she was in dangerous waters full of all sorts of creatures she didn’t even want to think about. What if one of them heard her? No more yelling, Bia. You’ve got to not panic and stay in control if you want to live. And she desperately wanted to live. Never had she been so grateful for her mom’s insistence that she learn how to swim.

“No one swims, Mom!” she’d protested. “I don’t even like water!”

“Swimming used to be very popular,” her Mom insisted. “Remember Grandma’s stories? You never know when a skill like that might come in handy.”

Her mother was right again, damn it. She hated when that happened. She’d tried swimming for a while after the ship had disappeared, but she couldn’t continue for long. Her arms weren’t used to it. I have wimpy arms, crying out at me with every stroke! She blamed her Mom for that, too.

“Men are the ones who do the heavy labor, Bia,” her Mom’s voice echoed through her mind with such clarity that she almost expected to see her mother floating nearby. “Women take care of the softer, finer things.”

So she’d grown up shirking physical exercise as something for men. With four bothers and a father, she hadn’t needed to do it, and after she’d grown, she’d had boyfriends and friends to take care of those things requiring physical endurance.

I fell into a stereotype! My God! I hate stereotypes! Too lazy to live by my own principles! Maybe I deserve to drown out here.

A white glow floated across the water to the east, drawing her eyes to it. It seemed to float along across the water. She watched it approaching until a face appeared, and then a long white gown. Were those actually wings she was seeing? She hated clichés even more than stereotypes. The angel-like creature stopped above her and looked down, smiling.

“Hello, Bia,” he said in a soft, tenor voice.

“What are you, some kind of angel?”

He laughed. “Something like that, I suppose. I’m whatever you want me to be. I appear differently to each person who meets me.”

“What are you doing here? I don’t exactly have time for light conversation.”

He laughed again. “Keeping your sense of humor, even at a time like this. That’s a good sign.”

She frowned. “Look, either help me or go away.”

“What if I told you your swimming is a waste of time?” he said. “The shore’s too far away. You’ll never make it. Not in the shape you’re in.”

She cursed to herself and sneered. “Is that why you came here? To tell me something I’d already guessed?” She started swimming again, hoping to get away from him, but he floated along above her, never losing the position he’d held when he first arrived.

“That’s it. Wear yourself out. It will make it easier when you go down,” he said.

“Look, I thought angels were supposed to help humans, but you’re not helping at all,” she said between breaths as she swam. “So shut up.”

The angel chuckled and shrugged. “I’m not that kind of angel.”

“What are you then? A bad angel?”

“Perhaps to some.”

She ignored him and kept swimming. “Fine. Enjoy your last moments, Bia.” He watched her a moment, then disappeared into the blackness as if he’d never been there.

Her arms were already tired. Maybe he was right, she couldn’t even see the shore from here. “Jax, you idiot! Why do I always choose the losers?”

She realized she might die out here, but if she was going to go, it was going to be her way. I will not just lie her and drown, damn it! The thought made her swim harder, stroke after stroke, doing her best to ignore the emptiness of the horizon in front of her.

After she’d struggled on for what seemed like an hour, another white glow appeared on the horizon, moving toward her. Not another angel. God’s mocking me, just like those religious fanatics at university did. Okay, so I have no faith in fairy tales. It’s my right. Freedom of choice and all that.

The white glow moved faster than the bad angel had. Within moments, it was upon her. A shuttle craft? She blinked. Her eyes weren’t lying. She stopped swimming and began waving frantically. “Over here! Please God, let them see me!”

God? Why am I calling him? Stupid expression! Another thing she’d gotten from her mother.

She spun in the water as she continued to wave. I don’t think they saw me. But then the shuttle turned, moving back toward her. She saw the pilot’s eyes as he leaned toward the window and peered down at her with surprise. Yes! He saw me!

The shuttle turned again and hovered over her. She saw the door slide open and the ladder drop. Even angels can be wrong? She laughed. I can’t wait to tell my mother.