Beyond The Sun: A SF Dream Come True With A Little Help From My Friends

This is the cover mock up. Fine tuning and details will change once we get funded based on publisher, artist and editor needs

I grew up a novel fan. I read tie-ins to my favorite TV shows and then tore into Silverberg, Asimov, Card and others. I read short fiction at school and on occasion in magazines but long form is where I spent most of my time and, as a result, where I tend to be most comfortable writing. But then two years ago, Flying Pen Press’ David Rozansky invited me to edit an anthology. I had been pitching a concept for an anthology of first encounter stories from non-Western cultural perspectives (one I still want to do), but being unknown as both writer and editor, no one showed much interest except writers. Mike Resnick and several others immediately got excited with the concept. But with Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales 6, Flying Pen Press offered me the chance to prove myself. I had so much fun working on that and with great writers like Mike Resnick that I began envisioning other ideas.

I pitched ideas to people, signed to do a couple with John Helfers, including World Encounters and Space & Shadows: Spec Noir. But then I saw my friend Matt Forbeck’s success on Kickstarter and realized an opportunity might exist. My dad was, by all definitions, a workaholic, and, as much as we mocked him as kids, I inherited that. I don’t sit still. And I also believe if you work hard, you can create opportunities for success. Recalling a favorite story I’d read by Autumn Rachel Dryden in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show anthology about space colonists and deadly alien animals, Beyond The Sun was born.

Since I don’t like to do anything halfway, I decided I was not going to pay shares, I was going to pay people decent wages. The headliners would get pro rates and I’d do my best to fund enough to pay the rest 3 cents a word bottom. I might be creating an opportunity for myself, but why not create opportunities for everyone else, too? The next thing I did was make a list of favorite SF writers on various levels: names, pros, semi-pros, new. Wrote up a brief description and the submissions requirements and started asking. I chose four of my writing heroes, expecting to be turned down by at least a couple. All four said yes–Mike Resnick, Robert Silverberg, Nancy Kress and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I mean, I own more books by Resnick, Silverberg and Rusch than almost any other writer except Card and Zahn and my Kress library is growing fast. Wow! After that, bringing aboard writers was easy. Only a few said “no” and that was due to other obligations. And so I wound up with an incredible list of names like Jennifer Brozek, Cat Rambo, Jamie Todd Rubin, Jean Johnson, Brad R. Torgersen, Jamie Todd Rubin and so on, many of them friends.

I assembled the list just before World Con then sought Kickstarter advice from Matt Forbeck and Alex Schvartsman, who have prior experience. I found a video editor on Fiverr, recorded the audio narration and sent it to her. $15 later, my two minute video came back looking fabulous. Only a couple of edits requested. Artist Mitch Bentley whom I have worked with since my first novel jumped at the chance to work with these headliners and did artwork demos for me. Another friend. And here we are.

I quickly discovered, while watching the project flounder, that having a PR plan with Kickstarter is vital. I came to the game unprepared. Quick emails to several bloggers I know brought me a string of guest posts at SF Signal, Grasping For The Wind, Jennifer Brozek’s blog and more. Even writers in the pool with no firm guarantee passionately pitched the project and backed the Kickstarter. Once again, my friends came to the rescue.  Are you seeing a pattern?

Then Monday we were less than half funded, but I made a push and asked others to. We wound up with John Picacio, Lynne Thomas, Kris Rusch, Fireside Magazine, Joe Hill, Jason Sanford and more helping spread the word and in the final three hours yesterday we not only doubled funding, we added 70% to surpass our goal. Jamie Rubin, Johne Cook and I watched it and chatted on FB. “It’s hard to get any work done with this Kickstarter today,” Jamie commented. It was like watching a sporting event. The numbers went up every few seconds. I had my parents standing by to push us over if we fell short. They didn’t need to bother.

Writers will get 4 cents a word. The artist gets paid. Backers get a great anthology and so will you next Summer. And I get another step up the career ladder working with writing heroes and a lot of cool friends. Who could ask for a better miracle than that for a week? It all goes to show that if you work hard, believe and pursue your passions, and, I’d add, treat others the way you want to be treated, good things can happen for you. Nice guys don’t have to finish last, you might say.

We look forward to bringing you some great new space colonists stories and revisiting three great reprints as well. We have excerpts up at SFSignal, Grasping For The Wind and the Kickstarter page. And we look forward to enjoying the ride as we begin production.  Thanks so much to good friends! I’m so honored and thrilled to have many of them along for the ride.

I encourage you to pursue the impossible and make it possible when you can. It’s quite rewarding. For what it’s worth…


Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Summer 2000 with Eyram Gbewonyo

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s science fiction, fantasy and humor books, short stories and articles. 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- Land Of Legends (forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012.  His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on Beyond The Sun, forthcoming. A frequent contributor to blogs like SFSignal, Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind, he also hosts Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat under the hashtag #sffwrtcht on Twitter and blogs about writing and creativity on his own blog at www.bryanthomasschmidt.net/blog. Connect With Bryan On Google+

ChiCon 7 Recap, Part 1–What Happened During The Con

It’s hard to wrap my mind around all that happened for the past four days in Chicago. For me, this turned out to be the best Con experience ever on all levels. I’m so happy I decided to go in spite of my financial struggles and very grateful to the support and encouragement shown me from so many corners.

The highlight of any Con is usually relationship and networking but I think it was doubly true of Chicon 7 because I had the chance to meet so many people I’ve gotten to know strictly online the past few years, all for the first time. Jamie Todd Rubin, Jean Johnson, Jason Sizemore, Maurice Broaddus, Janet Harriett, Jay Lake, Brad Beaulieu, Cat Rambo, Madison Woods, Stina Leicht, David Boop, James Enge, Howard Andrew Jones, Chuck Gannon, Brad Torgersen, Robert J. Sawyer, Robert Silverberg, Myke Cole, John Helfers, Lissa Price, Nancy Kress, Tim Akers, Adam Christopher, Charles Stross, Jason Waltz, Courtney Schafer, Barb Galler-Smith, Cat Valente, Nancy Fulda, Randy Henderson, Michael Flynn, Nnedi Okorafor, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, John Picacio, Annie Bellet, Alastair Mayer, Matt Forbeck, Tim Ward, Brad Wheeler and Jack McDevitt were all new face to face encounters. (I likely forgot some too). Plus I renewed and built acquaintance with many I’d met before. With some I talked business, with others just chit chat on all kinds of topics. With some, I panelled. With others, I moderated. With others, I drank and ate. And with almost all, I laughed.

My first ever WorldCon panel was a reading that took place 90 minutes after I arrived on severely delayed Amtrak train and after a scary taxi ride which involved sidewalk and wrong way driving and which the driver explained with the comment “I am new.” The reading, however, went very well. I had listened to Nancy Fulda and another reading prior to that. And I read two passages I have read before. Authors and editors made up the audience and complimented my reading for days after, which made me feel good. I really don’t like readings and they make me nervous. It was good to know that I might actually be better than some at it.

Volunteering at the SFWA table brought new encounters with David Brin, who impressed me with his kind consideration, Edward Lerner, Alan Dean Foster and many others. The SFWA Suite with its relaxed atmosphere and free provisions was a godsend and privilege. The Green Room and Con Suite also came in very handy in this regard. 15 meals over 5 days, I paid for 7 and four of those were during train trips. Pretty amazing blessing. My roommates, Don Mead and David Steffen, also turned out to be easy to get along with and fun. Don and I had met before but David was new. They took me to the Codex breakfast Saturday which was a nice opportunity as well, since I have been interested in Codex for a while.  My signing Friday with Nnedi, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Mike Flynn, Seanan McGuire and others was quiet but did sell three books and an ebook and have one person who already owned the book come to get it signed. Book Universe sold at least one more copy and Larry Smith also had copies which I got Jean Johnson, Mike Resnick and Patrick Hester to sign.

Friday lunch was with Maurice Broaddus, then later I did the signing and attended Saladin Ahmed’s packed reading before Friday night dinner with the Black Gate folks, including editor John O’Neill, Howard Andrew Jones, James Enge, and also Rich Horton and Jason Waltz of Rogue Blades. Great people, great conversation, and a lot of fun. Then had Bar Con time with Cat Rambo, Brenda Cooper, Tom King, Matt Forbeck, John Helfers, Madison Woods and several others and also attended the Night Shade Party and met some former and future sffwrtcht guests, caught up with Jeremy Lassen, etc.

Saturday was lunch with Jay Lake, a friend I’d never met face to face, then my first group panel ever for WorldCon–Moral Ambiguity in Science Fiction–was also my first time moderating at WorldCon and was a fabulous experience. With names like Nancy Kress, Charles Stross and Jay Lake on the panel, I was prepared to just keep to myself and ask questions but all deferred to me to lead them and our interactions were a lot of fun. The standing-room-only audience seemed to enjoy it and we got many compliments after. Recorded it for a possible future podcast. Then I went to moderate Vivid Character Building which had Kay Kenyon, Carol Berg, Teresa Frohock, and Randy Henderson and I waxing about how we create characters. Fun but challenging to cover in such a format with broad strokes. Also recorded.

That pretty much wore me out for Saturday so I went back for a brief nap then hung in the bar with Jamie Todd Rubin, Kay Kenyon, Louise Marley, Jay Werkheiser, Lisa Montoya, Patrick Swenson, Tod McCoy, Jennifer Brozek and some others, a great time. Somehow in the midst of it my Space Sports anthology idea became more than just an idea and I now have a fourth antho in the works. Then on to Pink and Blue Party to celebrate and the TOR party as well. Sunday, my free day, I slept in then hung with Jean Johnson and her mum, Madison Woods, Patrick Hester, John DeNardo, Robert Silverberg, David Kyle, David Boop, Brenda Cooper, Nancy Kress, Cat Rambo, Patrick Swenson, Jennifer Brozek, Glen Cook and others. I also attended the only panel I got to in which I didn’t participate and which was a GOH panel and wound up hanging out after with Mike Resnick who had failed to recognize me like so many others due to my mustache despite speaking with me several times, one of which I’d given him gifts. It was a funny moment of recognition and we had some good laughs after. He introduced me to Jack McDevitt at long last and a few others as we walked the dealer’s room together and chatted.

Sunday night was the Hugos and it was an emotional night despite my seat in the back row boonies and a packed crowd. Having peers who are friends and coming up alongside nominated and win was touching and exciting. It added to the feeling I got from other encounters there that I had come of age and graduated from fan/wannabe into a pro member of the group. When writers whose names you know also know your name, even those you have not spoken with, its humbling and encouraging. All the more so when you become friends. Was happy with several friends’ wins including Ursula Vernon, John DeNardo, Ken Liu, Jim Hines, Charlie Jane Anders, and Cat Valente, amongst others. It was a typical award ceremony but fun to be in the room for the first time.

The after parties were a disappointment. They made it private for a while first and had rude security and for those of us with travel and early panels, it became a bust. I did finally run into a few winners and congratulate them, including E. Lily Yu, Betsy Wollheim, Liza Trombi and the Locus gals, John DeNardo and JP Frantz. Then hung with DeNardo, his wife, daughter and Patrick Hester for a bit after before bed.

Monday’s early Faith In SFF panel, which, ironically, I proposed, turned out a disappointment. Someone else moderated despite knowing I’d proposed the panel and allowed it to turn negative in ways that I don’t think were helpful. It also became more of a survey than fruitful discussion in many ways. Michael Flynn was a surprise addition and I felt he contributed some of the most helpful comments if there were any. Altogether, if I had it to do over, I would not have proposed doing that panel with others and just led it on my own with a few invited participants or at least would have skipped out on this version. Oh well. Between Sunday night’s party fiasco and that panel then low book sales and a rush to leave, Monday was mostly a bust but did get to sit down and chat a while with Jack McDevitt, who’s fantastic.

Also, Mitch Bentley’s cover from my Davi Rhii prequel ebook Rivalry On A Sky Course won Judge’s Choice Award in the ChiCon 7 Art Show so that was pretty thrilling for all involved.

That’s pretty much what went on from my perspective. Another post will go up tomorrow on some thoughts and feelings about the World Con experience.  You can find that post now here: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2012/09/06/worldcon-recap-part-2-a-family-reunion-coming-of-age/


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.

 

Top 10 Silliest Things People Get Annoyed About On The Web

We’ve all seen it. People flaming mad over silly things someone did on the web. And I’m not talking political or religious posts or family infighting, either. I’m talking fairly common little things which really shouldn’t be that big of deal to anyone. They are always things that really deserve people getting riled up about them, so why people waste their energy getting so mad over so little is beyond me, but here’s my Top 10 Silliest Things People Get Annoyed About On The Web:

1) Facebook invites–Whether to games, pages or groups, the posts on your wall are often more Facebook’s fault than your FB friend’s fault. FB has a silly set up for these things. Sometimes they happen and people are even unaware. The first time one appears for a particular application, page or group, click the x to block all posts and you’ll never see one again. It’s eas. So if you’re going to get all bent out of shape about something this small, you probably shouldn’t be on the Web.

2) People Who Don’t Do Social Media/Webbing Exactly Like You–What? You have time to read and comment on tons of blogs? You spend hours a day keeping up? You do everything just right, dotting i’s and crossing t’s. Hey! Good for you. But not everyone has time or interest and there’s nothing wrong with that. The freedom that makes the web great is the fact users can employ its capabilities on their own terms. Just because someone doesn’t do it the way you think it should be done, doesn’t make them an idiot. Your furor over it is far more idiotic.

3) Celebrities Who Don’t Follow Back Or Reply– REALLY?!!! Seriously people? You honestly think they have time? They don’t have a million followers for nothing. In fact, many of them have assistants who do all their web posts and tweeting. How are you to know if it was genuinely them responding anyway? Does it make you better than everyone else if they do? I don’t think so. Get over it!

4) Hashtags–“They use too many!” “They’re confusing!” “They’re annoying!” “They’re stupid!” #gotnewsforyou #hashtags are #heretostay. They’re not going away. #deal withit! They can actually be a lot of fun and, more importantly, big time savers.

5) Lists Omitting Their Personal Favorites–Uh, hey, these lists here, like this one? They are a person’s OPINION, okay? They are subjective. Great freedom of the web: you can make your own list. So why are you getting all upset over mine? I may not like or rank your favorite things the same as you but you can counter with your own list. No need to insult my intelligence or question my parentage or integrity. It’s OPINION. Repeat after me.

6) Other People Daring To Talk About Things They Themselves Don’t Care About–“So-and-So is so annoying. Why can’t he post about something interesting that I like?” I don’t even know what to say about this. Unfriend, unfollow or shut up and respect free speech.

7) People Having More Friends/Followers–It’s not high school. The Web is a great equalizer but you do have to be interesting and you do have to make an effort. If someone has more followers and they’re not a celebrity, they’re probably just following back more and interacting better. Maybe they’re providing more useful content. You can always up your game but it’s not a competition and it’s nothing worth getting all steamed about.

8 ) Chain Posts–Okay, they are silly. And they don’t make sense. No, you are not denouncing Jesus if you don’t repost. No, you won’t go to hell either. No, you are not unsupportive of veterans, etc. either. Some people enjoy being sheep and others march to their own drum. You’re fine either way. Just hide the posts if they annoy you but don’t even give it a second thought.

9) People Using Foreign Languages On The Web–This one’s so obvious, I almost forgot it. Really? English is the dominate language for website language because of the html developers using it, not because English rules the world, people. You have users from all over the world. If you get to a site where they are using a different language, learn it or leave. Now, posting comments in a language no one can understand is rude and silly, too, of course, but it harms the poster more than the recipient. I mean, if they really wanted to communicate, they’d get with the program on that. So stop bitching, really.

10) People Who Get Annoyed At People Who Point Out Their Silliness In Posts Like This–You know you’re out there. If we can’t learn to laugh at ourselves, how can can we survive? Seriously. In a nihilistic world, it’s important to separate what’s worthy of raging and angry energy and what needs to roll off our backs. Did I poke at your precious annoyances? Maybe they shouldn’t be so precious. Save your wrath for things which really matter. The internet and your lives will be happier places, trust me. There really are plenty of legitimate things to get mad about, but these ten just aren’t them. After all, web piracy is alive and well and so are things like child porn, abuse, bullying, etc. So let’s try and keep things in perspective.

Well, there’s my Top 10. What would you put on this list? Feel free to comment below. I’ll be interested in hearing. For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s 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 along with his book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing and the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which he edited for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. 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 http://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.