For Immediate Release – SFFWRTCHT on Twitter Will End in 2014


Update: SFFWRTCHT has always been a celebration of community: what unites us, not divides us. Although I can’t keep up with the weekly grind any more, given other obligations, we will continue with twice monthly chats beginning in early 2015 after a brief hiatus. More details to come. 

160 shows, 165 guests, hundreds of thousands of hits–when I started SFFWRTCHT (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat), I did it for two reasons: 1) I wanted to network and learn from so many awesome writers and editors who were using twitter, and 2) I wanted to contribute to my new SFF community and family in a positive way. I never expected how successful it would become, not how time consuming it would be. But I don’t regret a minute.

However, after a lot of soul searching, I have decided the time has come to end the weekly live twitter chat that is SFFWRTCHT. Much of this is selfish, I admit. I spend 25 hours a week, including reading time, question and guest prep, booking guests and more per episode. And as I get busier professionally, that is coming to feel more like a chore than the delight it once was. It’s hard to find time to read for fun or to research for my own projects. I am locked to home or at least a place with good Wifi every Wednesday night. And trying to keep it fresh requires me to search for guests who are new, not just repeats, so that I am not asking the same stuff of the same people over and over.  In the beginning, with my being out of work with plenty of free time, this was easy. And the industry embraced it which made booking guests easy. But as I’ve burned through the most active Twitter users, and become an almost full time editing professional, it’s more and more work to find time for SFFWRTCHT, a volunteer effort, which, while rewarding in its own way, requires a serious time commitment to do right.

When our original host site for the cleaned up interviews shut down for similar reasons to my own expressed here, SFSignal welcomed us. But I also find myself competing with their interviews with the same people, and that makes my interviews less useful and relevant, and less helpful as promotional tools for our guests. I don’t think repeating what someone else is doing is a compelling use of my time or our guests.I’ve toyed with recruiting help. But even my regulars, who are delightful and whom I adore, have their own lives and no one has jumped up to volunteer. I toyed with cutting back some, but then how would people know when to look for us or where?

So, in the end, it seems best to back off the weekly grind of live interviews and instead convert to regular email interviews. Whether this will be weekly or monthly, I don’t know. Where they will appear, I don’t know. But I have several month’s worth of past transcripts I can start with cleaning up and posting, and as I plan to continue to December in present format, I’ll have even more by then to give me time to sort all of this out.

In the meantime, I express my thanks for the kind support and regards of the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror writing and publishing industry and fandom. It’s a pleasure being a part of the family and I appreciate the opportunity to contribute positively to community building. I hope to do so in the future in new ways. I know many books have been purchased and many writers encouraged and even taught through SFFWRTCHT. I’m humbled an honored by that.

In the meantime, you can still find transcripts, links, reviews, etc. on our website, which I will be maintaining here. I look very much forward to what the future brings.

Kind regards,


Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. His anthologies as editor include Shattered Shields with coeditor Jennifer Brozek for Baen, Mission Tomorrow: A New Century of Exploration, also for Baen, Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter as @SFFWRTCHT.

Twitter: @BryanThomasS

WriteTip: Diligence Pays Off-Success Equals Talent Plus Work

Okay, this isn’t the usual steps process for sure, but I still think it’s appropriate for a write tip. A few months back I posted about the power of diligence quoting from a Steve Martin interview with Charlie Rose where the comedian/actor talked about how importance diligence has been to his success. Pretty much everyone in the entertainment/media business I’ve met who’s had a career of more than a decade has mentioned the importance of diligence to me, and, in an age where e-publishing has become the rage and feeds our cultural fixation with instant gratification, I think a reminder about diligence is important. In fact, the key lesson is in bold later in this post, but first a little about how diligence has paid off for me.

I started writing fiction prose in summer 2008 with a love story about a divorced couple who fall in love again. My first novel started as a novella then grew. I finished it at around 65k words but it sucked. Or at least, it was’t ready for prime time. So, I went back to school, reading, studying craft, learning, practicing, and about a year later, I started writing my first science fiction book–a Moses-inspired space opera I’d dreamed up as a teen. The Worker Prince, as it’s called, was my debut novel, released in October 2011 and made Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011, quite an honor for a micropress book. Sales are steady but slow and I’ve earned back my advance or am close at around 650 copies. Book 2, The Returning, came out last month and now I’m writing Book 3.

But those novels are far from the only thing I”ve had going on. In 2008, when I started writing fiction, I knew no one writing books besides an old friend, a historian named Leon C. Metz. Now Leon is no slouch. He’s published over 20 books on history, his most famous being a biography of John Wesley Hardin, famous gunfighter. But I didn’t know anyone in science fiction, had never been to a convention, had not taken writing workshops and no one knew who I was.

Now, to be fair, I had been writing nonfiction, screenplays and plays for twenty years, since high school. I’d had some limited success with a script in development at Disney that never got made and a couple of co-written produced plays. I’d sold some nonfiction articles to magazines and such. And I’d had devotionals published. But still, I was unknown in most regards, particularly in the area of fiction books and especially in science fiction and fantasy.

But as I met writers, Ken Scholes being one of the first and I met him on Facebook after reading his wonderful Lamentation,  they always talked about how important it was to write every day. If you get stuck, write anyway. If you’re frustrated, try something else i.e. switch projects for a bit or give yourself permission to write crap just to get words down and exercise the writing muscles. As my friend and fellow novelists John A. Pitts says: “Concert pianists at the height of fame have to practice every day, why shouldn’t writers?” And that’s the truth of it.

So I wrote. I worked on a few novel ideas. I wrote a lot of short stories. And I rewrote The Worker Prince, also starting two fantasy novels, including Duneman, which is in beta reading right now and will hopefully land me an agent and traditional publisher later this year. The main thing was that I wrote, continued studying craft, read a lot, and started going to Cons to meet writers and others. Now, I have a huge network of contacts and friends, and looking at my Goodreads and Amazon author pages, there are 7 titles listed. By the end of the year, there will be 8 and maybe 9. Of those, only 2 are self-published: The North Star Serial, Part 1, which collects a series of flash fiction episodes I wrote for Digital Dragon Magazine and Rivalry On A Sky Course, which is an ebook only release of a prequel story to The Worker Prince which first sold to Residential Aliens before I released it as an ebook. Everything else has been paid for by a publisher and put out, including the anthology I edited and others in which I have stories appearing. (Wandering Weeds comes out any time now.)

What’s my point? Well, I’ve dedicated a lot of time to writing. I’ve treated it like a job, even though it doesn’t pay the bills yet. And I’ll tell you that my total income for writing expenses last year was close to $2000 when you add print cartridges, Cons, travel, paper, supplies, postage, etc. But this year, my expenses are going to be less, but my income should be close to $3000. It remains to be seen and that estimate encompasses four book advances (two pending) and some sales income (still coming in), as well as a few sales, but it’s definitely progress in the right direction. And last year I only attended 3 Cons and 1 Workshop. This year I have attended 4 Cons with 2 more planned, done 4 signings so far and have 4 more planned–all of which involved at least some travel (shortest 10 minute drive, longest airplane, including a couple 6+ hour drives). What’s my point?

I am acting like a full time writer even though I am not one. I am also spending several hours a week on blogging, social media marketing, networking, promotion and reading and running #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat, Wednesday at 9 pm EDT on Twitter). I typically spend 2-3 hours a day writing, 2-3 editing (mostly for other people) and 2-3 on blogging and social media, plus any other work I need to do. (I am seeking full time employment and do freelance gigs from time to time.) Once I get a full time job, my goal will still be to do the 6-9 hours a day devoted to my writing career.

Why? Because I am getting somewhere, not just with the earning income progress but with the amount of material published. My third Davi Rhii book will come out sometime next year and I hope to sell a couple more novels, including Duneman. My first kid’s chapter book is going to come out this Winter (late 2012 or early 2013). I just got asked to do more joke books after my first released today which means nice advances, and I have a celebrity bio contracted, two half novels done, and several short stories, including 10 more North Stars to finish the cycle left to write.


Diligence matters.


   [dil-i-juhns]  Show IPA



constant and earnest effort to accomplish what isundertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.
So if your passion is writing, storytelling, etc., be diligent. Make the effort to do what you love and follow your passion. Treat it like work, without discipline it won’t happen. But know that if you have the talent and you apply the work to it, things will happen. After all, talent is like 2×4 boards, it takes some tools, nails, effort, etc. to build something with it. But it can be done and will be done if you’re diligent. You may not get rich. You may not become that famous. But you will become very satisfied and you will have a body of work that shows you’re more than just a person who dreams of being a writer. You’ll be a real, published writer, and whether that ever pays my bills fully or not, to me that’s saying something.
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, andThe 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 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: Be Professional

One of the highest compliments anyone has paid me is to tell me “You’re a professional.” I’ve actually heard this several times the past few months. My first reaction is: “I wish I was. I don’t make any money.” But what they really mean is that I act like a professional in my timeliness and practices toward others. I am guilty of professionalism. When I say I’ll do it, I do it and I meet the deadline. If I have a contractual obligation, I try and meet it. The exception has been when I edited Space Battles and I pushed back the deadline due to lack of submissions, but I checked with the publisher first and he was fine. I also did that editing job for a profit share, not pay, which makes a difference. Even for SFFWRTCHT, I handle things like a professional–from my preparations, reading time for each book to how I deal with publicists and authors and how I moderate the hour show.


Because if you want to be a professional, you have to act like one. Period. If you don’t act like one, you won’t get treated like one. It doesn’t matter that unprofessional people will still be around acting unprofessionally toward you. Your professionalism has nothing to do with them. It’s on you. You want to be considered a professional? BE ONE.

Why does it matter?

For me, it’s about self-respect and the understanding that when you show professionalism, people who are professionals will respect you and want to work with you. If you like to be seen as serious and someone who’s worthy of people’s time, you must be someone they trust, admire and respect. And since I like to work with people who are reliable, trustworthy and admirable, I will show them I am  myself.

What does the dictionary say it means to be professional? “to show  respect, professionalism, adherence to policies and prompt payments.

Who likes to be paid late? Who likes to be disrespected? Who likes people who refuse to play by the same rules as everyone else?


Yeah, I get it. Some people hate rules. They hate to follow orders. That’s why they’re not in the military. I’m not in the military myself, I get that. But we’re not referring to a set of laws or strict regulations as much as “rules of the game,” i.e. expected behaviors of professionals. If you hire someone, pay them promptly and on time (by contract date or before); if you sign a contract for a novel/story, deliver it on time, in the format requested, polished and professionally ready for publication; if an editor requests rewrites, ask your questions respectfully, then decide if the changes make sense, make them, and turn it back in on time, etc. These are just the thing it takes to get paid for your writing. (No, it doesn’t matter that even publishers are bad about paying on time, etc. Again, their unprofessionalism has nothing to do with yours.) Be reliable. Do what you say you will, when you say you will, with respect for others and a good attitude. That’s what it means to be professional.

Some of the most successful authors I know are very professional: Kevin J. Anderson, Mike Resnick, Mary Robinette Kowal. Kevin keeps good lists and fills his orders promptly and well, with quick thank you notes hand written and includes some swag to remind you to visit again. I’ve seen Mike do a similar thing. Having dealt with all three of these fine people for SFFWRTCHT, they handled prep and questions professionally. They showed up when they said they would (except a brief car trouble for Resnick who stayed longer when required to finish the job right.) Editing Space Battles, which Resnick headlines, his story came in polished, with the right word count, right on time. All three are impeccably polite and kind. Anderson even has hecklers who are anything but kind and polite. I’m sure he gets frustrated. But I’ve never heard him say an unkind word or be nasty back. He’s a professional. Why do these people sell so many stories? They’re a pleasure to work with.

It doesn’t matter that our politics don’t agree or our religions. (Honestly, I’m not sure as they keep that to themselves mostly.) It doesn’t matter that I’m a newbie who hardly anyone had heard of three years ago and hardly anyone has heard of today. They treated me like they would any other fellow professional. And when I asked for edits, Mike Resnick sent them back without complaint. (It was intimidating to edit Mike Resnick. But man, he made it easy and I appreciate it. I don’t ask for story changes lightly and I didn’t ask for much.)

I’ve learned so much just by watching them. If you still don’t believe professionalism matters, I asked SFWA writer friends on my Facebook if they’d rather work with professionals and why, and here’s what Barb Galler-Smith, Fiction Editor for Canada’s On Spec magazine said:

“Working with people who don’t act professionally is easy. I can ignore everything they say and do with impunity and never have to deal with them again. I am grateful that of all the people I have met in the writing biz over the years, only one acted childishly, and that was a source of great amusement behind closed doors. No matter what your endeavour, behaving professionally is essential. It’s about respect for the art, craft, job, message, person, and yourself.”

So be professional. Even if you’re still broke and struggling to make it. Act professional even when you think the rejections will never end. Act professional even when you don’t feel like it. People will remember you as a professional and, take a chance on you one day, perhaps. They’ll forgive you when life happens and you do miss deadlines. They’ll want to work with you. And maybe then you’ll live that dream of making a living as a full time writing professional.

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

Hello 2012! Good Riddance 2011! (Predictions & Reflections)

Well, 2011 is gone and I am as glad as anyone it will never return. I thought 2010 was a bad year but 2011 was so much worse. In may 2010, I lost my full time job. By the end of the year, my part time one also went away due to my out of state job search and their wanting continuity. Unemployment problems began. We made it through 2010 without a relapse of Bianca’s health issues, but in February, 2011, they came back with a vengeance, resulting in her spending most of February through May in various hospitals against her will and causing a great deal of financial and emotional stress for me. While I did sign my book contract at the end of 2010 and see my debut novel published to good reviews and even a B&N Book Clubs Honorable Mention on Years Best SF releases, overall, 2011 was pretty unhappy. I did complete a sequel to The Worker Prince and start a new heroic fantasy novel. I outlined some other ideas and I did see stories published. I made my first paid sale to Tales Of The Talisman early on but it won’t appear until Summer 2012. Residential Aliens finally bought my long standing Worker Prince prequel story, “Rivalry On A Sky Course” and published it a few days before the novel’s release. I also sold stories to the anthologies Of Fur and Fire and Wandering Weeds and got the editing assignment and completed Space Battles, which will feature yet another Worker Prince universe story. Both Wandering Weeds and Space Battles should appear in 2012 along with The Returning, book 2 in the Saga Of Davi Rhii and hopefully other things which have yet to materialize.

SFFWRTCHT became a major thing in 2011. I started it in Fall 2010 and it grew into a majorly respected interview series with a column, guest posts and much more. I got bigger name guests and publishers partnered with me to get me arcs of their books. I also started columns on the  blog as well and am looking into a podcast.

My first book tour was a success and a lot of fun in 2011 and I plan another one for mid-2012 to promote both The Returning and Space Battles. I did my first podcast interviews, author interviews and guest posts all as part of this tour. Additionally, I attended my first Cons as a panelist and author guest. And moderated my first panels. I now do them a lot more often and am enjoying the opportunity to share my knowledge, vision and ideas with a larger audience and interact with them. I really feel like I got legitimized as a member of the professional SFF community this year and that’s a really good feeling.  I also got my first reviews. Most were positive, thankfully. And I’ve learned as much as I can, applying it as we edit The Returning for its 2012 release.

As for 2012, after what I’ve been through, I’m hesitant to make too many prediction, and, frankly, not very optimistic. But based on the few positives from 2011, I can make a few guesses. I imagine SFFWRTCHT will continue to grow. If it’s approved, my membership in SFWA will commence as an affiliate member. I will have three more books published, two anthologies and one novel with my material. North Star Serial will finally come to ebook and I’ll be writing more episodes at some point. I also hope to make my first traditional publishing deal and get an agent. I really feel like those are the next steps in my career but we’ll see.

I have quite a few Con appearances and signings scheduled for 2012. My first signing was a success despite low attendance. I didn’t promote it well due to a date change and just not being on the ball. But we sold well above the statistical average number of books for a signing which I consider a huge success. I will be an Author Guest at Convergence and ConQuest. With Convergence having an average attendance of 5k, that’s a big deal and it will coincide with my having Space Battles and The Returning released, giving me five books with my work to sell. I also plan to attend ChiCon WorldCon and several more area cons and will aim for World Fantasy and GenCon as well.

I have to write book 3 in the Saga Of Davi Rhii, finish The Relic Of Aken, my heroic fantasy, and do draft two of Sandman, as well as write those North Star stories.  I have two steampunk novel ideas and an urban fantasy I would like to get to. And I’d like to get back to short stories outside North Star despite my failure this year to do much with them. I really feel I am terrible with that area of craft but since novels are doing so well for me am focusing my attention there for now. The sole exception being North Star because the present run is almost exhausted and the zine wants more episodes to complete the cycle.

In any case,  I also hope 2012 brings financial stability again, either through a book contract or a steady job or both. This living on the edge has been very devastating, causing me to have serious depression for the first time, gain a lot of weight, and have a lot of health issues. And getting back on a even keel would really change how I produce and enjoy life in 2012. With Congress playing games on unemployment extensions, my current account runs out in February and it’s uncertain how I’ll get by. My parents have strained their resources helping me and I don’t know how to burden them any further. Let’s hope 2012 is not my return to flipping burgers. That doesn’t seem like a good use of my Masters.

Anyway, there’s my reflections and predictions. I tried not to be too negative. Most of you have already seen my hard life posts so why rehash it. After all, isn’t the goal to predict a happier future?

In any case, I hope 2012 brings better times for all of us.

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. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎

4 5-star & 11 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindle or Nook $14.99 tpb


AISFP 136 – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

September 10, 2011 By Shaun Farrell

This episode is brought to you by MAYAN DECEMBER, the exciting new science fiction novel from Brenda Cooper.

Dr. Alic Cameron is a famous scientist devoted to studying ancient Mayan culture. In December 2012 she finds herself on the Yucatan Peninsula with her daughter, Nixie, fellow scholars, end of the world crazies, and even the President of the United States. It all sounds wonderful until Nixie disappears into the past. Featuring a handsome dreadlocked time-traveler, an ancient shamam, a high ranking Mayan couple, a computer nerd, and an eleven year old child, Alice must traverse the past in a search for the meaning of life and a way to save two worlds.
You can follow Brenda on Twitter, and please tell her Adventures in Scifi Publishing sent you!

Show Notes:
Bryan Thomas Schmidt, author of THE WORKER PRINCE and creator of the Twitter #SFFWRTCHT weekly interview series, which has featured an impressive list of guests, joins us to discuss religion in science fiction, working with a new publisher, writing good characters, his love of Star Wars, starting books off with an emotional punch, and much more. Read the untwittered transcripts at Grasping for the Wind. Once THE WORKER PRINCE is available for order, which should be any day now, we’ll post it here.

Links to things I mentioned in this interview: — SF writer Jamie Todd Rubin who blogs about Golden Age SF and more. — Timothy Zahn has yet to set up a website but he does have this Facebook page where he’s very active at communicating with fans — Website of Author/Editor Kevin J. Anderson — Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat which I host and which also has a Facebook page here: — the closest Robert Silverberg comes to an official website. — Moses Siregar III’s site. He’s cohost of the podcast and author of “Black God’s War” which I highly recommend. — Author of “Mayan December” who blurbed my novel and is mentioned also above as sponsor of this episode — my publisher’s page

September: Adventures In SciFi Publishing & SFFWRTCHT Partnership

September is cross promotion month and we are teaming up with Adventures In Science Fiction Publishing Podcast for a month of special guests and cross promotion. For those unaware, AISFP is a great podcast which interviews industry people regularly on important topics. Led by Shaun Farrell, it also features contributions from Author Moses Siregar III, Brent Bowen, Brenda Cothern, Matt Hughes, D.T. Conklin and Steven Klotz. So we’ll be talking with some of them as well as a couple of authors who will be guests on their show.

Here’s the September line up:

9/07/11— Greg Van Eekhout
9/14/11— Daniel Polansky
9/21/11 — Moses Siregar
9/28/11 —ASFP Podcast/Shaun Farrell

Los Angeles native Greg Van Eekhout writes books for kids and adults. He has worked as an ice cream scooper, a political fundraiser, a comic book store clerk, a bookseller, a bookstore assistant manager, an educational multimedia developer, and a college teacher (of English and of multimedia development), among other things. His books are titled: The Boy At The End Of The WorldKid Vs. Squid and Norse Code. He can be found online via his website at or via Twitter and Facebook.

Baltimore native Daniel Polansky is a new author whose book Low Town releases from Doubleday in August. He can be found online via his website or on Twitter as @DanielPolansky and on Facebook.

Moses Siregar III, Co-Host and New Correspondent for Adventures in Scifi Publishing is the author of THE BLACK GOD’S WAR, a dramatic epic fantasy novel inspired by Homer; you can sample it for 99 cents at Amazon or Smashwords. He lives with his family at high elevation in Prescott, AZ, and blogs about passion for the writing life at Moses and Dionysus Walk Into a Bar …

Shaun Farrell, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Host,  started Adventures in Scifi Publishing because he loves speculative fiction. Plain and simple. He has written articles for Strange Horizons, Clarksworld Magazine, and Far Sector SFFH. Some of his favorite writers are Ray Bradbury, Dan Simmons, Kay Kenyon, Frank Herbert, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Tobias Buckell, to name a few. In addition to loving great literature, Shaun is an aspiring novelist and actor. He recently completed principle photography in his first major role in a feature film, Death Dress, to be released in 2011. Shaun lives in Northern California with his beautiful and supporting wife, Brenna, and two children. You can follow Shaun on Twitter. He is on facebook as well.

To learn more about Adventures in Scifi Publishing Podcast, please check out this promo. And Join us in September for an exciting month of conversations.


Review: Star Wars-The Old Republic: Deceived by Paul S. Kemp

For me, Star Wars books are often like comfort food — familiar, not overly surprising, but good, an enjoyable way to pass the time. So when I scheduled Paul Kemp for my interview chat, I was surprised to learn his Star Wars books didn’t include those familiar characters I’d grown to love–the characters who made me fall in love with science fiction, made me want to tell stories. But Paul Kemp wrote a Star Wars book (three now in fact), and we’re close in age, so I wanted to commiserate. He must have viewed the saga at the same age I did with similar awe. What was it like to now be a part of that universe as a storyteller? So I ordered up some reading copies and read.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself engaged, even captivated by the characters. Kemp’s ability to create immediate connections between characters and readers is admirable. He had me at “hello,” you might say. And like a stalker, he never let me go, but in a good way. Even the antagonist, Darth Malgus is someone you can’t help but feel sympathy for. He’s relatable. He may be evil and dark and hateful, but he’s human, just like the reader. And Kemp brings that out so well you almost root for him at times against the protagonists. That’s great writing.

Like most Star Wars tie-ins the prose is kept simple, a few challenging words here and there, but not many. After all, these books are intended to be accessible for fans of all ages. And that requires talent, too. When the competition are sometimes books with extra effort at complex prose, to have written a book written simply but well which engages adults as well as children is a real accomplishment. One to be proud of.

I can’t wait to chat with Paul and find out more about his writing journey, to soak up the lessons he has to teach us about writing, and to call him my friend. He tells me his assignment was to do a story with Darth Malgus, a character from the forthcoming online multi-player game “The Old Republic.” He wrote a Malgus story with spades.

The book revolves around three central characters, the dark Sith Malgus, a rogue Jedi Aryn, and a pilot Zeerid. Malgus wants to conquer the universe for the Sith and rid them forever of the Jedi menace. Aryn wants revenge for the death of her mentor/father-figure at Malgus’ hands. Zeerid, an old friend of Aryn’s, is just trying to pay off a debt and provide artificial legs for his young daughter. Each of them gets sucked in by circumstance to a web of deception–both internal and external to themselves–and struggles to accomplish their goal. All of them wind up taking paths far different than they’d imagined in doing so. And all of them learn lessons that forever change them in the process.

Filled with action and moving at a steady clip, “Deceived” even includes a cute astromech droid character, who may remind us of ancestors to come. It has romance, betrayal, political intrigue, and rivalry. It’s a well told tale that could be set in any universe but works exceedingly well in the confines of the familiar Star Wars one. Truly these are characters worth discovering and enjoying. I’d like to see more of each of them.

I can’t wait to read more from Kemp. Highly recommended.

SFFWRTCHT for March 9, 2011 with Kevin J. Anderson (Heckler Warning)

Very excited to have best selling author Kevin J. Anderson on the SFFWRTCHT next Wed but Kevin’s got some haters. In particular, a group of hecklers who follow him around and try and make things very unpleasant for him and anyone who dares talk to him kindly. To avoid problems, I have blocked them, as has Kevin. Please do not attempt to converse with them under the #sffwrtcht hashtag no matter what they say at any time. If they show up in the transcript, I will edit them out. They are not worth the effort.

To see how nasty they are, here’s my post about their 4 day harrassment campaign against me just for asking Kevin about his craft:

Here are the names of those you should block:
@Serkanner @RealDune @DuneSandChigger @SKKahl @DunesDreamer @Loteqs@IdunnAsynja

Folks, blocking people is serious. As moderator, I would normally deal with inappropriate behavior but this group is relentless and they might ruin chat if we don’t ignore them or just block them. I don’t want Kevin or any of you to have a bad time because Kevin’s got a lot of good advice to share I want to hear and I’m sure you do, too.

Anyway, your call on how to handle it but consider yourselves warned and please mention this post to anyone you know who plans to attend chat.  Thanks!

I appreciate the support. You guys are why I started SFFWRTCHT and why it’s a success with guests and everyone else!


Review: Shades Of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

First, a couple of disclaimers might be appropriate: I like Mary Robinette Kowal. She’s a nice person, the kind who is easy to converse with and who doesn’t take herself too seriously. Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, she penned one of my favorite short stories of the past few years, “Clockwork Chickadee,” a story which delights me each time I read it and is even more delightful hearing her read it out loud. She’s very giving of her time to help up and coming writers from teaching them how to do readings to answering basic questions. And she spends a lot of time with puppets. Who can help but like someone who spends her time entertaining and delighting children?

Second disclaimer: other than perhaps a passage or two in English literature classes, I have never read a Jane Austen book, and I think I have only seen one movie based on her work. Despite my weakness for romantic comedies and enjoyment of Nicholas Sparks, I just never felt drawn to Victorian romances. But when Kowal agreed to be with us on Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat on Twitter, I had to read “Shades of Milk and Honey,” out of curiosity and an obligation to make the discussion as fruitful for everyone as possible.
Am I glad I did.
The prose captures the feel of Victorian writing beautifully, yet remains simple and accessible for readers who might not be familiar with it. Her characters are well drawn and interesting, and although before I read it I’d have thought I wouldn’t be drawn in by the personal politics of a female spinster and her family and neighbors, I literally couldn’t put this one down.
A delight from start to finish, “Shades of Milk & Honey” has been aptly described as Jane Austen with magic, but the magic, the manipulation of light through a technique called glamouring, fits in naturally with the story. Although it flows through and undergirds much of the narrative, Kowal maintains a sense of mystery about it by not telling us too much about how it works and instead focusing more attention on how it is used and how it affects the characters themselves.
The story of Jane Ellsworth, twenty-eight, a gifted glamourist in her own right, who dreams of love and happiness as she watches her much younger sister, Melody, and neighbors Beth Dunkirk and Livie FitzCameron wooed by men. When a few men take notice of her for various reasons, hope rises in her, but she always finds the possibilities threatened by others. Jane is too kind and mannered to wallop in her own jealousy and disappointment, however, and continues fighting her baser urges by befriending and caring for her sister Melody and neighbor Beth Dunkirk, whose brother Edmund seems Jane’s most likely suitor.
Then the mysterious galmourist, Mr. Vincent, hired by Lady FitzCameron, the Viscountess, to create a glamour for her dining hall, becomes an intriguing challenge. Jane compares her own skills at glamour to his, while examining his artistry and striving to improve her own. When his response seems to be resentment at her questions and attention, she begins to feel resentment of her own. Especially after he implies her art shows talent without any heart behind it.
There were times I felt Kowal’s foreshadowing made later developments predictable, but in the end, I discovered her plotting to be far more clever than I’d imagined. The ending certainly was different than I had expected in several respects, and the book maintains a sense of suspense and motion which kept me riveted and wanting to know what would happen next. In spite of my lack of commonality with these characters, they captured my heart—I cared about them and what happened to them far more than I’d imagined I would.
For a book which I’d not have chosen on its own based on what I knew of it and my own literary preferences to have so held my interest and charmed me, I feel confident in saying it will likely surprise and charm others as well. Kowal is a smart writer, whose gift for words and understanding of people are readily evident on every page. While one can find small deficiencies with which to quibble in her first novel (as in any other), the book shows great promise and is a great diversion. If anything it’s greatest weakness is its lightness. There is no heavy moral here. And the story does not create a great set of questions one is left to ponder for months after. Instead, the questions and story are light yet still manage to rise beyond mere entertainment.
Truly a worthwhile read from a worthwhile talent. I look greatly forward to what the future will bring from her.

Guest Schedule: Science Fiction And Fantasy Writer’s Chat


12/1/10 – Sam Sykes
12/8/10 –
Mike Resnick (technical issues/postponed)
12/15/10 – Blake Charlton
12/22/10 – John Joseph Adams
12/29/10 – Functional Nerds: John Anealio/Patrick Hester
1/05/11 – Jaleta Clegg
1/12/11 – Marian Schembari – publicist/social media expert
1/19/11 – Mike Resnick (rescheduled from Dec.)

1/26/11 – Ray Gun Revival: Johne Cook, etc.
2/02/11 – Michael Ray, editor, RedstoneSF
2/09/11 – Jeremy C. Shipp
2/16/11 – Mary Robinette Kowal
2/23/11 – Jay Lake
3/02/11 – Kaolin Fire, editor, GUD
3/09/11 – Lou Anders, PYR
3/16/11 – Brenda Cooper
3/23/11 – Kristine Rusch Smith
3/30/11 – SF Signal
4/6/11 – John Klima, editor, Electricvelocipede
4/13/11 – Carrie Cuinn, Publisher, Dagan Books