Category Archives: writing career

How To Guarantee I Won’t Read Your Book

People, please don’t do this. I’ve been seeing more and more of it lately:

Book Plug

This is pretty much a guarantee that I won’t read your book. Especially when I see you spamming my friends with the exact same message. I have a documented policy on book reviews. But really, it’s just not polite to carpet bomb like this. If you are tempted to do something like this, if you are considering it, keep a few things in mind:

1. My time is really limited and I’ve had to hack more time out of my days with creative multitasking. Spam like this doesn’t make me want to slice out a piece of that ever-dwindling resource called time to look at your book.

2. I managed to read 54 books last year, a record for me. 12 of those books I read for my book review column at IGMS. The other 42 were books that had been on my to-read list for a long time, were books by friends, were books by acquaintances, and were books that I thought might challenge me. Spamming dozens of people with your title does not make me want to add your book to my growing list of stuff I want to read.

3. While I do review books for a magazine, I try to keep up with what is coming out so that I can coordinate my reviews with the release, or upcoming release of the book. Because I don’t like loose ends, and because I review 2 books per column, the slots fill up fast. (I already have book selected that take my through my July column.) I have a process for book reviews. Spamming me does not make me want to open up a slot for your book.

4. All the time I have to read and critique stories (which isn’t much, I assure you) is dedicated to a very small group of writer friends who read my stories in return and whose professional opinions on craft and the business I trust. I simply have no time to read and comment on stories by people I don’t know, especially those who spam me.

5. I was once an unpublished writer with no connections in the field whatsoever, and I know that it can be difficult to get your work noticed. What I’ve learned, is that hard work (write everyday, read a lot) and persistence (keep writing, keep submitting) pays off in the end, if you have a shred of talent as a writer. If not, well, it’s important to know what you are not good at. In the 14 years of writing and submitting before I was ever published, I think I asked one professional writer1 if they would look at a story of mine (something which fills me with horror, when I look back on it). It was very early in my efforts, within the first 6 months of getting started. And I never, ever spammed anyone. (Of course, the whole concept of “spamming” really didn’t exist when I was starting out.)

I realize that a post like this will not stem the tide of these types of requests, but putting up one of these reminders every now and then makes me feel better.

  1. Piers Anthony.

A New Reprint Anthology from InterGalactic Medicine Show (with a story by me!)

SF Novelettes

InterGalactic Medicine Show has just put out a new anthology entitled IGMS: Big Book of SF Novelettes containing reprints of stories that have appeared in the magazine. The anthology includes my very first published story, “When I Kissed the Learned Astronomer,” among other great stories. Here is the official book description:

Welcome to the surprisingly potent world of the novelette. Too long to be a short story, too short to be a novel: the award-winning magazine Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show (IGMS) has been an online haven for this powerful form of storytelling since 2005. Now the magazine’s editors have selected their all-time favorite science fiction novelettes and gathered them together in one Big Book of reading pleasure: IGMS: Big Book of SF Novelettes.

Anything that is remotely possible: Futures near and far, artificial intelligence and alien encounters, alternate time-lines and alternate theories about creating universes, planet-eating black holes and lunar race-tracks. It’s all here, under the big tent of Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show…

Featuring stories by award-winning authors including Orson Scott Card, Wayne Wightman, Aliette de Bodard, Eric James Stone, Mary Robinette Kowal, Stephen Kotowych, Jackie Gamber, Greg Siewert, Jamie Todd Rubin, Brad Torgersen, and Marina J. Lostetter.

It is very cool to see my story reprinted, but even better is the company with whom the story appears. The book’s cover is based on a fantastic piece of cover art by Howard Lyon for Mary Robinette Kowal’s story.

The e-book version of the book is available on Amazon today. A print edition of the book will be available through Amazon and other outlets beginning in January. If you are looking for some terrific science fiction novelettes, consider checking out this book.

I Will Be Reading at the WSFA Meeting on Friday at 9:45 pm

This is mostly for local folks in the Arlington/Northern Virginia area who happen to be science fiction fans and/or interested in hearing a reading. I will be reading at the Washington Science Fiction Association meeting this Friday, December 6 at 9:45 pm.


The meeting is held in Arlington, Virginia. Full details are available on the WSFA website. I’ll most likely be reading my story, “Big Al Shepard Plays Baseball on the Moon” which I recently sold and will be appearing sometime in 2014.

My Article on the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop is Now Online in the November Clarkesworld

For those who might be interested, my article on my experience at the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop this summer, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation,” is now online in the November issue of Clarkesworld Magazine.

You can read the article for free at their website, along with some great science fiction and fantasy, including stories by Robert Reed, Joe Haldeman, and Maureen F. McHugh. And if you enjoy what you read, you should consider subscribing to this fantastic magazine.

Look What Arrived in the Mail Today!

Me and the Sun

I got back from a writing session at the Arlington Central Library (where I added 3,200 words to my WIP) to find this waiting at home for me. My copy of the Beyond the Sun anthology, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt,  in which my story, “Flipping the Switch” appears.  For those who might be curious, here is the table of contents:

BTS Table of Contents

I am nested right there toward the top between Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and my friend Brad Torgersen. I’m still amazed looking through the table of contents and seeing just who I am in the company of. My friend Nancy Fulda is there. So are writers who I have been reading for a long, long time like Nancy Kress, and Robert Silverberg.

This is the first time a story of mine has appeared in an original anthology and it is very exciting to finally have a copy in my hands.


Beyond the Sun Available as an E-book Through Baen

For my friends who prefer e-books over paper, the new anthology, Beyond the Sun, in which my story “Flipping the Switch” appears, is now available in e-book format over at Baen Books. If you were holding out for an e-book edition, the wait is over.

Beyond the Sun

Of course, the book is also available in tradition paper from the publisher, Fairwood Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The Premier Issue of Blue Shift Magazine Is Now Available

The premier issue of a new science fiction magazine, Blue Shift, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, is now available. I have a nonfiction column in the magazine, as do my friends Juliette Wade and John H. Stevens. The magazine is also packed with fiction. You can order print or electronic copies here.

I’m Attending the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop in July!

Now that Mike Brotherton has made the official public announcement, I am so excited to announce that I’ve been selected as one of the attendees for the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. The workshop runs from July 14-21, which makes July a busy month for me. But I’m excited about it nevertheless. I’ve been interested in astronomy ever since I found The Nine Planets in my school library back when I was in kindergarten in Somerset, New Jersey. It is an interest that has never wavered.

It looks like an amazingly talented and diverse class this year. You can see the full list of attendees on Mike’s announcement post.

My Contributor Copies of the July/August Analog Have Arrived

I‘ve had a long, wearying couple of days these last few days. I spent a lot of my weekend doing work related to my day-job. That work continued throughout today almost without a break, and will continue some more this evening. So I was delighted and pleased when I opened the mailbox today to find that my contributor copies of the July/August double-issue of Analog had arrived. This issue contained my story, “The Negative Impact of Climate Change on the Unusual Beasts of the World” as a Probability Zero piece.

July/August 2013 Analog. Cover art by Tomislav Tikulin.

The issue also contains stories by many Analog regulars, including my friends Brad Torgersen, and Bud Sparhawk. Bud is deceptive. If you read his blog, he writes glum posts on the difficult life of a short fiction writer, and yet always manages to overcome said difficulty to produce good yarns.

“The Negative Impact of Climate Change on the Unusual Beasts of the World” marks my third appearance in Analog, which is hard to believe even while looking at my name on the table of contents. Hopefully it is not my last.

And speaking of the contents page, here I am:



BEYOND THE SUN Pre-Orders Available

While I was away on my Internet vacation, I learned that pre-orders for the Beyond the Sun anthology, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, were available. My story, “Flipping the Switch” appears in this anthology, along with stories by friends like Nancy Fulda and Brad Torgersen. The anthology also contains stories by folks like Nancy Kress, Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and many others. Pre-orders are available from Fairwood press. I think the book is scheduled to be released in July.

Beyond the Sun

My Editorial in the June 2013 Analog

Analog June 2013

It would seem that the June issue of Analog is out in the wild. This is a milestone issue for me. The last time I had an item in Analog was two years ago, in the June 2011 issue. My story, “Take One for the Road” appeared in the issue. This time, I have the editorial in the issue. In my wildest imaginings when I started out writing (and I had some wild ones, believe me) did I think I’d have an editorial in Analog. I’ve read a good deal of the editorials that Stanley Schmidt wrote for the magazine. (I’ve read Trevor’s as well, but so far, he has one.) I’ve read some of Ben Bova’s editorials and I’ve read every editorial that John Campbell wrote between May 1939 and November 1942. It boggles my mind that I should have an editorial in the magazine. But I do.

At WorldCon, I met Trevor Quachri, who now edits Analog, in person for the first time. We chatted for quite a bit at one of the parties, possibly Stan’s retirement party. Not long after Worldcon was over, Trevor got in touch with me and asked if I’d consider writing an editorial for Analog. We discussed some possibilities and then I had to write it. Writing nonfiction is easier for me than writing fiction, but it was a daunting task nevertheless, mostly because I made it so. In my mind, I kept thinking that John W. Campbell wrote editorials for Analog. Stan Schmidt wrote editorials for Analog. But me?

I think it worked out, however. My editorial, “Gem Hunting,” discusses some of the rare gems I’ve found in the early Golden Age issues of the magazine (back when it was called Astounding) and the effect that some of these gems had on me. I see it as a celebration of science fiction and what it can do.

What’s more, I find that my editorial falls in the same issue as one of my science fiction heroes and idols, Jack McDevitt. Words can’t describe how pleased I am by that.

Oh, and by the way, if you just couldn’t get enough of me in the June Analog, well, I’ve got you covered. My story, “The Negative Impact of Climate Change on the Unusual Beasts of the World” will appear in the next issue, the July/August double-issue. How that young 20-year-old version of me would go utterly out of his mind if he knew this!

“Hat Tip to the Masters” in the February Issue of Lightspeed Magazine

I just received the February issue of Lightspeed Magazine,which contains my article, “Hat Tip to the Masters: Homage in Science Fiction” as an e-book exclusive. This was a fun article to write and I’m grateful it was included in Lightspeed. And as I said in the article, Barry Malzberg, Paul Weimer, and Mark Stackpole all provided valued input to the piece.

I tried to provide plenty of examples of homage in science fiction and fantasy from across its history. The truth is, in the space I was given, I could have done nothing but list examples. There are so many of them. I had to pick and choose and I think I picked some good ones.

If you are interested, you can find the article in this months e-book edition of Lightspeed.