Category writing

NaNoWriMo progress

I haven’t put any new reviews up in the last couple of weeks, because I’ve been working nights and weekends, counting inventory battling the forces of bad science fiction, and I can’t seem to shake the cold I caught on the plane home from South America the PDC was hit by a biological weapons attack.  I […]

NaNoWriMo

If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), it takes place each November, when aspiring authors attempt to write entire novels in 30 days. For most people, writing a novel in 30 days would be an ambitious goal, but for someone with my awesome writing skills, it’s not much of a challenge.  So, for this […]

21st-Century SFF Publishers

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I’ve been struggling to find good science-fiction stories in magazines.  Although I haven’t blogged about longer fiction lately, I also have trouble finding good sci-fi and fantasy novels. I normally don’t pay any attention to a book’s publisher.  I usually decide what to read based on […]

I’m a sixth-rate writer, at best

I recently received another rejection for my AI vs. Aliens story. This one was from L Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest.  Before I entered, I knew the contest was kind of a big deal, but I didn’t realize it was a REALLY BIG DEAL.  A number of sites I’ve read since submitting have […]

Something Fishy at Strange Horizons?

Long-term readers of this blog will know that I’ve been searching for the best SFF magazine to subscribe to.  That search (still in progress) led me to submit a couple of my own SFF stories to magazines. I received a form rejection last weekend, from Strange Horizons.  Rejection isn’t surprising, as I’m not claiming that […]

Mini-Review: The Thorne Legacy

The Thorne Legacy I’m still being crushed (under a mountain of paperwork) at my job, so I don’t have time tonight to write up another magazine review and continue my last Four Apes story.   Instead, I thought I’d put down a few words about a story by fellow blogger JD Brink. While thinking about […]

Guest post by CS Boyack

I’ve been crushed at work for the past few weeks, so I haven’t had much time to write original content here, or even to visit other blogs.  My company hired three new people to take over some of my duties, but showing them the ropes increased my workload in the short term. Fortunately, this guy […]

Mini-Review: Snapshot

Snapshot Snapshot is a novella-length story, roughly two and a half hours of audiobook, which I’m estimating would make it about 80 pages long if it were offered as a paperback (ebook and audio are the only current options).  Although Brandon Sanderson has published many books through the big houses, he chose to self-publish this […]

Planetary Award Winners – 2016

The winners of the 2016 Planetary Awards have been announced. The winning short story was “Athan and the Priestess” from the collection Thune’s Vision by Schuyler Hernstrom.  I’ve purchased a copy, and I’ll review it once I’ve read the entire book.  I’ve only read the winning story so far, but I enjoyed it.  I found it very Conan-esque, […]

Rejection #3

OK, I know posts about my rejection letters scored next-to-last in the poll of what my readers are interested in, but I needed something quick and easy to write up this week.  My immediate superior at work will be getting medical treatment for the next week or two, so I’ll be doing his job.  That means […]

Coming soon to a PDC near you

In early January, many bloggers posted their plans for the coming year.  I’m just getting around to it now – that should tell you what kind of a year I’ve been having. Here’s a list of things I hope to do in 2017.  I’ll place a poll below, so you can tell me which ones actually […]

Setting: Galactic Empire, part 4

In part 1, I described the enormous scale of a galactic empire.  In part 2, I discussed the impact of FTL technology on the empire’s economy.  In part 3, I wrote about the purpose of the empire, and ways it could be managed. Now, I ask:  how does our empire maintain military and political control?  […]

Setting: Galactic Empire, part 3

In part 1, I described the enormous scale of a galactic empire.  In part 2, I discussed the economic impact of FTL technology on its economy.  Now I ask:  what is the point of our galactic empire? Why do some of the characters in the story support it and defend it? The empire’s purpose may […]

Setting: Galactic Empire, part 2

In part 1, I wrote about the enormous scale of a galactic empire.  If we’re going to turn that empire into a decent setting for a story, we’ll need to understand its economics. The first thing we need to know is what type of FTL (Faster Than Light) technology it has. Without FTL, the planets […]

Setting: Galactic Empire, part 1

A while ago, I decided I wanted to read some science fiction about a galaxy-spanning empire. I briefly browsed Amazon’s kindle offerings under “galactic empire”, but all I found was military sci-fi where the galaxy-spanning nature of the empire wasn’t a major element in the story. Thinking back to classic sci-fi, I’m only coming up […]

I am the 40%

My short story received its second rejection this week. This rejection was from Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine. My previous rejection was from a magazine with a 96% rejection rate, and I turned around and submitted to a magazine with a rejection rate of over 99%. You might be thinking “doesn’t this guy learn from […]

Something for writers, something for readers

First, some news: I received a rejection letter for my first short story submission. I was originally going to give this post the pessimistic title of “Rejection #1”, because I’m a ‘glass is 96% empty’ kind of guy, not ‘glass is 4% full’. (According to The Grinder, 96% of stories are rejected at Analog magazine, […]

Interview: S. C. Flynn

I’m crossing the campus of Kakadu University to deliver my latest thesis draft to my advisor. He insisted on the topic of my doctoral research: I allow myself to be bitten or stung by Australia’s venomous creatures, and rate the pain from one to ten. Ants and wasps, centipedes and scorpions, snakes and spiders, jellyfish […]

The Other Magazine Quest

If you’ve been following this blog lately, you know about my original magazine quest. I’m reading at least one issue from 24 (up from the original 12) different science-fiction magazines, and picking which one(s) I’ll subscribe to. I’ve only posted 14 magazine reviews so far, but I promise I’ll write up the others over the […]

Questions from MarzAat

MarzAat recently nominated me for a Liebster award. If you’re not familiar with Liebster: basically you answer ten questions, then forward ten questions to ten bloggers who impress you. I’m not going to forward the questions on, as some bloggers have grown tired of awards. Reference this graphic from Entertaining Stories: However, if you would […]

Review: Heirs of Empire

Heirs of Empire I found Heirs of Empire when I was searching for a novel to nominate for The Planetary Awards. The book has a reasonably interesting plot: a military coup knocks out most of a ruling dynasty, the youngest members of the dynasty escape, and the dynasty’s allies lay a foundation for its return […]

Meet Clovis

Clovis is a character from C. S. Boyack‘s new novel, The Playground. (If I’m not mistaken, Clovis is on the short-list to receive a Nobel Peace Prize this year.) Here is an excerpt from The Playground which introduces him: The tweaker rushed around the corner behind the bushes, tried to slam the gate shut, and […]

Announcement, Announcement, Announcement!

Originally posted on Entertaining Stories:
I’m bringing a new feature to this blog. I don’t often pander for social media shares and re-blogs, but tomorrow is the day. Not this post, tomorrow’s post. Do what you will with this one, it’s just the announcement. The best way to explain it is by telling you how…

Interview: P. Alexander

I’m in the back of a speeding van, loading a light machine gun. “How’d they find us so fast?” Cara looks over her shoulder from the driver’s seat. “Yeah, how did they spot four heavily-armed, ethnically-diverse strangers in a small town, driving a van with your logo on the side?” “Shut up, fool!” I kick […]

Cirsova Issue 1 Kickstarter is Live! (please share!)

Originally posted on Cirsova:
The Kickstarter for Cirsova Issue 1 is a go!  Issue # 1 is done and paid for.  We’re just taking orders and raising money for the future so I can start work on Issue #2 right away! Basic pledge rates are as follows: Individual Copies $2 – PDF $10 + Shipping…

Writing Contest

I’ve agreed to be one of three judges in a writing contest. The contest is for those who have already self-published something, as first prize is a promotion package from a book tweeting service. Stories must be 1,500 words or less, and based on one of four “writing prompt” images, but can fall under any […]

Blurb Doctor: A Ransom of Flames

Anela has asked me to look at the first draft of a blurb for her upcoming work, “A Ransom of Flames”. A deadly blight. A crownless queen. A journey to the edge of the world. A mysterious blight is destroying the world of Aeden. At the return of each full moon the Vehlek, immortal men […]

Writing a better blog post

Last week, I was bouncing around the internet, and ran across some articles about writing better blog posts. The first thing I saw was an idea generator for blog posts. This made me think “if you don’t have an opinion or experience to share, why are you blogging in the first place?” Next, I found […]

How fast can you write?

Last week, I read a message board post by a moderately-popular science fiction / fantasy author, in which he claimed that he typically writes a 120,000 word novel in 100 hours. That’s 1,200 words per hour, or 20 words per minute. That doesn’t seem possible to me, so I’m hoping those of you who are […]

Interview: C. S. Boyack

It’s midnight, and I’m standing in a snow-covered field, waiting for C. S. Boyack. Something howls in the distance. The light of the full moon reflecting off the snow is almost as bright as daylight. Almost. A man approaches, and I spot fur sticking out from the top of his jacket. This guy has definitely […]

Microfiction: Home

Happy 4th of July to my US readers (and condolences to my British readers). I recently shared a microfiction story I wrote that was rejected by 101fiction.com, and now I’d like to share one that was accepted (with revisions). In case you’re not familiar with 101 fiction: a 100 word story with a one word title is […]

Interview: Misha Burnett

Misha Burnett asked me to meet him at this riverboat casino. I’m taking shallow breaths to protect my lungs from cigarette smoke, but my sense of smell is shot. I can’t pick out sounds over the musical ringing and dinging of slot machines. I’m down two senses – is this a trap? I spot Misha, […]

Say no to prequels

A while ago, I noticed that every time I read a novel (or see a film) that is a prequel, I like it far less than the original material. So, I’m going to make a conscious effort to avoid prequels in the future. I think I’ve boiled down my aversion to two factors: 1) Lack […]

Flash Fiction: Attica 2071

I was browsing the site of one of my recent followers, ZombieSymmetry of Trustus Pharmaceuticals, and I ran across an interesting story. It’s 1,500 words, which places it kind of on the border between flash fiction and a short story. Before reading my comments about the story, you may want to read it yourself. However, […]

Blurb Doctor: Dimension Lapse

Nicholas Davis asked me to look at his story, Dimension Lapse, so it’s getting a full workup from the Blurb Doctor. Jeff Walker, a Martian colonist is trapped in another universe, and lands on an island on a far away planet. He is befriended by its inhabitants,the Lingworts and learns to live in peace. When […]

Setting: the middle of nowhere

I took the above photo during my honeymoon, part of which included a drive from Springbok to Augrabies Falls in South Africa’s Northern Cape. I drove through this terrain for hours, and tried to imagine what it would have been like centuries ago, traveling in an ox-drawn wagon, with no road or power lines to […]

Blurb Doctor: Gem-Oh Line

This is the second house call by the Blurb Doctor for one of Natalie McKay‘s stories. This time it’s Gem-Oh Line, here’s the current blurb: Nyria’s life couldn’t get much worse. Not only was she now the laughing stock of the Afgadu Military, she now was sent as a form of punishment to the other […]

Blurb Doctor: Red Haven

Natalie McKay has volunteered her short stories for the first posts in my new series, the Blurb Doctor. In these posts, I’ll take apart a book or short story’s marketing blurb, and rebuild it … better … stronger … faster. [For the younger crowd, that’s a Six Million Dollar Man reference. Hmmm, inflation is making […]

Setting: Underwater Dome City – part 2

In part 1 of this topic, I introduced the underwater dome as a setting for science fiction stories. Here, I’ll discuss some of the difficulties of life in an underwater dome, because they can be used to give more detail and flavor to your story. First, you’ll need to build your dome out of something […]

Setting: Underwater Dome City – part 1

I wanted to live underwater as a child. I saw underwater domes on Saturday morning cartoons, but also in serious reference books predicting that by the far-off future of 2015, there would be cities inside underwater domes as well as domes on the lunar surface. I would imagine myself driving a kelp-harvesting tractor, piloting a […]

Calling all Authors

In August, I’ll be making several long international flights, so it’s time to load my kindle and ipod with reading material. If you’re an author and would like me to review one of your stories, leave me a message in the comments section below. If you’d rather speak privately, send me a direct message via […]

Setting: Berlin 1945

The forces of evil face off against … the other forces of evil. The city’s defenders are hopelessly outnumbered and surrounded with no chance of escape. Many of those defenders are SS war criminals with nothing to lose. If they surrender they’ll face execution or a slow death by hypothermia and starvation in a Siberian […]

Blog Hop follow-up

This is a follow up to my writing process blog hop post. I’m posting links to other bloggers’ entries, and jotting down a few notes about interesting things they’ve written. James Pailly invited me to the blog hop. I found it interesting that both he and I started writing to focus on something other than […]

Writing Process Blog Hop

James Pailly of the Tomorrow News Network has asked me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Hop / Writer’s Blog Tour. [See James’ post for the hop.] To participate, an author answers the tour’s four questions about their writing, and then invites several others (three seems to be the most common number) to do […]