Kevin J. Anderson’s Blog

i write. i make up stuff. i adventure hard, so you don’t have to.
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  • February 2015
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    A Frog Kiss for a Belated Valentine

    Posted By on February 21, 2015

    When we were first dating, Rebecca diligently read most of my stories. After she’d finished quite a few, she gave me a near-impossible challenge: “I want you to write a story that has a happy ending.”  So I did.  This was her Valentine’s Day present—which we’ve just put up in a new e-story edition. 

    A humorous fantasy tale. An evil wizard has turned the entire royal family into frogs and set them loose in the marshes, and only a kiss can restore them to their natural forms . . . but there are so many frogs, and so much swamp, who is willing to kiss them all?

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    On the Road Again: 2015 Appearance Schedule

    Posted By on February 20, 2015

    Considering all of the trails that I have walked, sometimes it’s easy to forget how important to tell people where you are going.

    That holds true for all the conventions and workshops I’m going to this year—places where you can track me down, talk with me, get a book signed.  I will be on the road a lot all year, all over the country…even to Australia and Puerto Rico.

    In order to see the most fans possible, I will be appearing at a lot of large pop-culture shows, which have been very successful for us in the past year. Rebecca will be attending some of these with me, and others will feature some of my author friends. If you have not met up with us at an event, our “island of awesome authors” booth is quite an experience from all sides. This year, some of the authors joining me at the table will be Dan Wells, Jody Lynn Nye, Larry Correia, Peter Orullian, David Farland, Peter S. Beagle, Peter Wacks, Cat Rambo, and others still in the works. For me it is a wonderful chance to meet and interact with everyone from across the country.

    And Rebecca and I will be teaching some workshops, presenting awards at Writers of the Future, and even touring Australia with Nathan Fillion as part of the gang for Supanova.

    This is not a complete list, but it’s what we know now on the calendar. I’ll update it as more shows come on board.

    ****

    February 27–March 1
    Pensacon (Pensacola, FL)
    (also with Jody Lynn Nye, Dan Wells, Peter J Wacks, David Butler)

    March 4–7
    Lincoln City Oregon
    Instructors, WMG anthology workshop
    (with Rebecca Moesta)

    March 13-15
    Planet Comicon
    Kansas City, MO
    (with Dan Wells, David Butler, Peter J Wacks)

    March 27-29, 2014
    Emerald City Comicon
    Seattle WA
    (with Rebecca Moesta, Dan Wells, Cat Rambo, Peter Orullian, Ramon Terrell, Peter J Wacks)

    April 3–5
    WonderCon
    Anaheim, CA
    (with Rebecca Moesta)

    April 9-12
    Writers of the Future Awards and workshop
    (with Rebecca Moesta)

    and, looking farther ahead…

    June 18-30
    Supanova, Australia
    Sydney and Perth
    (with Rebecca Moesta)

    September 3-7
    DragonCon, Atlanta
    (with Rebecca Moesta)

     

     

     

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    Teaser Tuesday: CLOCKWORK LIVES

    Posted By on February 4, 2015

    A special announcement AND a sample to whet your literary appetite.  Even though this hasn’t exactly been a secret, with a few announcements coming out—and I talked about it extensively at this year’s RushCon in Toronto—we’ve finally posted the first official press release about CLOCKWORK LIVES.  Here is what ECW Press released today:

    Follow-up to the New York Times Bestseller CLOCKWORK ANGELS Set to Release in September from ECW

    CLOCKWORK LIVES
    Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart

    In the New York Times bestselling CLOCKWORK ANGELS, author Kevin J. Anderson and legendary Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart created a fabulous, adventurous world in a novel that accompanied the Rush concept album of the same name. Anderson and Peart have returned to their colorful creation in CLOCKWORK LIVES, a steampunk Canterbury Tales that explores the lives of secondary characters in CLOCKWORK ANGELS and introduces a new protagonist.

    Marinda Peake is a woman with a quiet, perfect life in a small village. Her alchemist father’s will leaves Marinda a mysterious inheritance: a blank book that she must fill with other people’s stories—and ultimately her own. Styled after Marinda’s book, the ECW volume itself  will be a beautiful homage to traditional bookmaking. A limited-run collector’s edition will also be available.

    Peart’s bestselling memoir FAR AND NEAR: ON DAYS LIKE THESE (October 2014) will also be released in paperback in August 2015. The Huffington Post calls FAR AND NEAR “a beautiful text, rife with interesting photos, anecdotes, and factoids.”

    Kevin J. Anderson is the bestselling and award-winning science fiction author of over 120 novels. He has written spinoff novels for Star Wars, DC Comics, and The X-Files and, with Brian Herbert is the coauthor of 14 bestselling novels in the Dune universe. His original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series; Terra Incognita; Resurrection, Inc.; Hopscotch; and the Dan Shamble, Zombie PI series. Neil Peart is the drummer and lyricist of the legendary rock band Rush and the author of Ghost Rider, The Masked Rider, Traveling Music, Roadshow, Far and Away, and Far and Near. Anderson and Peart have known each other for more than 25 years.

    AND HERE’S YOUR TEASER, PART OF THE FIRST CHAPTER
    I read a draft of this aloud at RushCon. Here it is in a more polished form…and I hope you’ll want to read the rest. I think it’s one of my very best works.—KJA

    **********

    Some lives can be summed up in a sentence or two.
    Other lives are epics.

    Chapter 1

    As a blue alchemical glow illuminated the rails, the steamliner came into Lugtown on its weekly run from parts unknown toward Crown City, the heart of the land of Albion. The chain of cargo cars and passenger gondolas were suspended by multicolored balloon sacks, each marked with the iconic honeybee symbol of the loving Watchmaker.

    The steamliner touched down, steel wheels striking the rails outside of town and decelerating with gouts of blue-tinted steam and showers of sparks. As the steam vents hissed, lowering pressure inside the coldfire boiler chambers, the pilot damped his engines and let the steamliner simmer in place. He would park at Lugtown for the better part of a day to refill water tanks and take on cargo.

    Restless passengers disembarked, men wearing frock coats and top hats or bowlers. The women wore voluminous dresses, gloves, button-up black boots; some even carried parasols as they accompanied their gentlemen. They chose such finery for the journey because they wanted to be presentable just in case the Watchmaker, or at least some of his Regulators, caught a glimpse of them when they disembarked at the Mainspring Hub.

    They also thought this brief stopover in Lugtown might be a formal occasion, but in that, they were sorely disappointed.

    Standing impatient with the other townspeople, Marinda Peake watched their expressions shift from optimism to disappointment, sometimes even withering scorn. She had seen it time and again, and she felt reciprocal scorn toward these frivolous visitors whose impact on Lugtown was as lasting as a few strands of morning fog.

    Marinda found the steamliner’s weekly arrival bothersome because it disrupted the routine that served her just fine for the rest of the week. A well-established routine surved a valid purpose, and schedules were the perfect safety net. She had often considered shifting her regular supply trip into town to a different day of the week, when her business wouldn’t be so disrupted. But she had always come into town on Wednesday, and it would be too unsettling to change now.

    The steamliner pilot emerged from the front motivator car, which was connected to a passenger gondola and smoking compartment. Though she didn’t like to admit it, Marinda held a long-dampened resentment toward any steamliner pilot. When Marinda was just a girl, her mother Elitia had spent a lot of time—far too much time—being friendly with the regular steamliner pilot when he came to town, mesmerized by his stories of far-off places, the freedom, the flexibility to travel.

    Elitia Peake had run off with that man when Marinda was only seven years old, and she was never heard from again. Her father rarely spoke of his long-lost wife, except with a wistful smile and few details. That was more than twenty years ago. . . .

    Marinda had either forgotten or repressed most memories of her mother. The woman was never coming back, so there was no sense wasting time or mental energy thinking about her. She had been taken off the schedule, and Marinda had other things to do.

    Now, the barrel-chested pilot barked commands, and cargo workers swung down from their drab bunk car to unload designated merchandise in exchange for what Lugtown had to offer. Others hooked up pipes to the steam pumps and boiler chambers to refill them for the long journey into Albion.

    The villagers came forward, eager to see what interesting items had been brought for trade, but Marinda didn’t bother. Such exotic fripperies were a waste of time and imagination, and she and her father had what they needed.

    The people brought wagons and chugging carts loaded with their finest craftsmanship. Lugtown was best known for agates and burls. A perennial fungus twisted and distorted the local oaks with leprous burls. But, in keeping with the tenet of the Clockwork Angels that “even the ugly can be made useful, possibly even beautiful,” the burls were carved into fantastic sculptures, furniture, decorative pieces, particularly carvings of the angels. Every house in Lugtown had burl tables, burl chairs, burl countertops, even clocks framed with burlwood.

    The burl carvers sent their figures to market in Crown City, but none of the wood sculptors bothered to go to the big city to see their art displayed in galleries. When Marinda had asked about it once, a woodcarver responded with a baffled look. “The Watchmaker granted me the gift to be a sculptor, not a traveler. Why would I diminish something I am, for something I am not and do not want to be?” Marinda found that logic eminently reasonable.

    A nearby quarry produced many thunder eggs, agates, which the Watchmaker supposedly found beautiful, or at least intriguing. Outside the agate quarry, children sat around smashing the little thunder eggs, hoping to find a rock pearl made of concentrated quintessence. The polished colorful stones were sent to Crown City in crates neatly separated from the burlwood items.

    Showing no inclination to hurry, for the steamliner would be there for hours, the villagers loaded burl furniture, wooden angel carvings, and burl-framed clocks, as well as racks of polished agate slices into the cargo cars. Meanwhile, the rest of the town’s business ground to a halt, which Marinda found bothersome. She had a schedule to keep.

    She reached into the pocket of her gray wool skirt to withdraw her list, reviewing the items she needed to purchase at the general store. She knew full well what was on the list, since she had written it herself and since, with only minimal alterations, the list remained the same every week. Still, it was always good to double check.

    Since Camberon Greer, the grocer, knew she came in every Wednesday, Marinda never understood why he didn’t just have her order packaged up and ready, so as not to waste her time, but the grocer didn’t have the same respect for time as Marinda did. He never had. Marinda wondered what she had ever seen in that man. If circumstances had been different…

    With the crowds distracted by the steamliner arrival, she thought it might be a good time to do her business while the town was quieter than usual. She had to make a special trip to the apothecary for unguents, prescription powders, and ophthalmic salves, though they seemed to do less and less good as her father’s health continued to decline.

    Marinda nearly bumped into a dapper-looking man in a button-down vest, black waistcoat, and a bowler hat. His thin mustache had waxed tips curled upward in remarkable contrast to the disapproving downward turn of his lips. His fine clothes looked disheveled, as if he had slept in them for days aboard an uncomfortable steamliner passenger car.

    Beside him was a woman whose complexion was so pale and perfect that she looked like a porcelain doll—and just as hollow and just as easily broken. She started blankly while the man cleared his throat, sniffed the air, and said, “Excuse me, ma’am, can you tell me if this … habitation”—he said as if unable to come up with the correct word—“offers a suitable dining establishment? We’ve had miserable food in the steamliner restaurant car for three days now.”

    “It’s so bland,” the woman said. “No variety.”

    The man’s gaze skated past Marinda as if he didn’t actually want to look at her, just wanted an answer to his question. He was clearly uninterested in her life. Marinda realized that she didn’t care much about his life either.

    “No one comes to Lugtown for variety,” she said. “We find what works best and we stick with it. We have meat pies in town, mashed potatoes on Wednesdays, but I’m not the restaurant owner. You’ll have to take up your questions with him.” She walked off, more concerned with her own business.

    Lugtown was laid out on the same general map as all of the villages in Albion; the Watchmaker had standardized the whole land more than two centuries ago when he imposed his benevolent Stability. Thus, Marinda adhered to the philosophy that if she’d seen one town in Albion she had seen them all, and it was a lot easier just to continue seeing this one.

    With measured steps, she walked down the main street, past shops, clerk’s offices, the local newsgraph station. A cloud obscured the sun, and the shadow reduced the glare from the window of the solicitor’s office, enhancing her reflection as she passed by.

    With the unexpectedly candid view of herself, Marinda saw what others saw when they looked at her: plain features, smooth skin, blue eyes, brown hair done up in an efficient bun so the strands would not be blown astray by breezes. Marinda believed in stability in her hair arrangement as with all things. Though she hadn’t even turned thirty years old yet, she had already adopted the persona of a much older woman. In that, Marinda was ahead of schedule.

    The hours ticked away. She ticked away . . . and her father was ticking away even faster than the rest.

    She turned away from the window, not caring about her appearance. Everyone in town knew Marinda Peake full well, and they weren’t likely to change their opinion of her as easily as she could change her hairstyle . . . not that she found it easy to change her hairstyle. It is what it is, she thought. All is for the best.

    As she passed, the solicitor’s office door popped open, startling her with its jingling bell. Benjulian Frull was Lugtown’s only lawyer, a master of the fine art of legal language, obfuscation, and loopholes. The fact that he had no competition in Lugtown made it difficult for any legal disputes to become contentious, because Benjulian Frull, Esq., represented both sides, quoting chapter and verse to each party until the matter was resolved.

    “Ah-hem, Miss Peake! I saw you staring in my window, which is quite fortuitous. I need to discuss a matter with you.” Frull stepped out to join her on the street.

    “I wasn’t staring in the window. I was staring at the window. At my reflection, and I wasn’t doing that for long.”

    “It’s convenient nevertheless.” He was a man with a round face and a round belly; in contrast, his arms and legs were quite spindly, so that, in summation, he was an average-sized man. “And how is your father doing?”

    “The same as always,” she said. “Poorly. His eyesight is mostly gone, and he is in constant pain, but he putters around the house and gardenb, and keeps his clockwork Regulators functioning, although they don’t work as well as he thinks. I believe he’s much more ill than he lets on.” She put her hands on her hips. “My eyesight is perfectly good, and I can see his condition.”

    The solicitor frowned, “But how is Arlen’s mind? Ah-hem . . . can he still think? Still invent things?”

    “We converse as always. He can still daydream, and he likes those silly stories of his more than ever. He wants me to read aloud for him every night.”

    “Good,” Frull said. “I just wanted to verify that in your opinion he is of sound mind?”

    “Of course. His body may be failing him, but his mind is not.”

    “Agreed. I also thought he seemed quite clearheaded when he engaged my services a few days ago, but I wanted to make sure.”

    Marinda raised her eyebrows. “When did he talk to you? He never leaves the cottage.”

    “Arlen summoned me, sent one of those clockwork contraptions marching into town while you were away on your weekly errands. I went out ot the cottage and spoke with him for hours.”

    Marinda was surprised. “He didn’t mention that to me.” She had always known her father had plenty of secrets, but she didn’t know how much he kept truly private from her.

    “It was legal business, a redrafting of his entire last will and testament. He wants to make certain that you’re taking care of, dear lady. He wants what’s the best for you.”

    “I can take care of myself,” Marinda said, “always have.”

    “True.” The solicitor tapped his upper lip. “I believe you know that he amassed a significant nest egg from his time in Crown City.”

    “I’ve heard the rumors like everyone else, but he refuses to speak of whatever he did there.” Occasionally, her father made comments that seemed to fit the wild stories, but those hints only increased his mystique. Some said that Arlen Peake had once worked for the Watchmaker himself, such an ingenious inventor he was qualified to fix even the Clockwork Angels. . . .

    She hardened her expression. “It’s all just so much nonsense. People say he has a secret stash of the Watchmaker’s gold. If that’s the case, he certainly hasn’t used it to make our lives easier.”

    Marinda wasn’t actually interested in a lavish or easy life; she was content with her quiet, perfect life, setting her ambitions low enough so that she met every single one of them. Even if her father did have unimaginable riches from his secretive past, she wouldn’t know what to do with wealth, and she definitely wouldn’t want to be like those steamliner passengers who frowned at the “squalid, uncivilized conditions” of a place like Lugtown.

    Benjulian Frull clucked his tongue. “Arlen had me draw up the documents, which are signed and notarized. Although his wishes seem strange, I believe he is in full possession of his mental capacity. I’m glad you agree. He is preparing for the day when he is no longer with us.”

    Marinda felt uncomfortable with the subject. “I’ve tended my father for years. Sometimes, he’s prone to overreacting.”

    The solicitor frowned. “Ah-hem. You would be foolish not to think about what is to happen when he dies, Marinda.”

    She didn’t have time for this. She pulled out her list of items for the general store and the apothecary. “I need to pick up these supplies and get back to my father in time to prepare him dinner. Good day.”

    Nodding, the solicitor stepped back inside his office.

    CLOCKWORK LIVES IS AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER NOW

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    The Miracle of the Purple Unicorn

    Posted By on February 3, 2015

    Unicorns are magic, so how can a book about them not be magic in its own way? And if the unicorns are purple, it has to be even more special. This will show the wonderful possibilities that are now available to writers and publishers.

    This is a story about a joke comment, then a crazy idea, then a group of people who wanted to make that idea happen—and teamwork, the full support of a group of dedicated writers, an editor, an artist, and a publisher.

    And a little magic.

    And a scholarship.

    For more than a decade, Rebecca Moesta and I have given lectures and workshops on professionalism for the writer. One of the things we teach is that a writer must always deliver his or her best work. You are not allowed to “phone it in,” no matter what the assignment.  Even if you get asked to do a story for, say, a silly anthology about purple unicorns—if you accept the assignment, you cannot blow it off. You have to do the best damned purple unicorn story you possibly can.

    We’ve given that talk more than a hundred times. Every once in a while, a writing student will come up to us jokingly and offer to write a purple unicorn story, just to prove it can be done. But, no, we weren’t really intending to put together an anthology about purple unicorns. Not then.

    Rebecca and I have also run the Superstars Writing Seminars for the past six years, and last February in Colorado Springs, Rebecca and I gave our usual lecture, with the same purple unicorn anecdote. Again, some of our students jokingly suggested that they were going to write a purple unicorn story someday. But this time Lisa Mangum was in the audience, an editor for Shadow Mountain Books. She loved the idea and approached me afterward. “Why don’t we really do this? A purple unicorn anthology?” She volunteered her services as editor, to read and select all the submissions.

    This time, we couldn’t say No.

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    What changed? One thing—Rebecca and I now have our own publishing company, WordFire Press. And if we’re the publishers, we can do whatever books we want, dammit.

    After brainstorming with Lisa Mangum, we decided to do the purple unicorn anthology. (Yes, we know, “anthologies don’t sell,” blah, blah, blah.) Lisa would donate her services as editor, with submissions to be drawn from among the nearly 200 past and present alumni of the Superstars Writing Seminars. WordFire Press would publish the book, and all profits would go into a scholarship fund to bring a disadvantaged student to the next Superstars.

    And that just got the ball started. Time was short. All the members of the Superstars “tribe” got behind the project and dove into writing their stories, which they agreed to donate to the anthology and the scholarship fund. Then word got out. When New York Times bestselling authors Todd J. McCaffrey and Jody Lynn Nye heard about the project, they each donated a new story to add star power to the table of contents. Todd McCaffrey, in fact, had so much fun that he wrote two stories, one to open the book and one to close it.

    But wait … did someone say Unicorn? You can’t say unicorn without saying Peter S. Beagle, author of the phenomenal classic The Last Unicorn.  And, yes, Peter S. Beagle agreed to give us a story for the Purple Unicorn book!

    But there’s more. One of our main instructors at Superstars is New York Times bestselling author and award-winning artist James A. Owen. So I asked James if he would do the cover art for the anthology. (Ridiculously crazy, of course, but you never know unless you ask.) He said yes.  Even better than that—James wanted to wait to do the cover art until he could read all of the stories, because he intended to include an image from every story in the wrap-around cover art.

    Oh, and he also agreed to design the book cover as well.

    Lisa suggested the title One Horn to Rule Them All. We all loved it.

    Yes, that’s all cool and exciting, but it’s only the first part of the miracle. WordFire had two major shows coming up, DragonCon in Atlanta (75,000 people) at the end of August and Salt Lake City Comic Con (100,000 people) the following weekend. We had a lot of fans attending both, and a lot of Superstars tribe members at both shows, and Peter S. Beagle would be at the Salt Lake show in person to sign copies! Both shows were tremendous opportunities to sell copies of the book and raise money for the Superstars scholarship. We didn’t want to miss those deadlines—so it was all hands on deck!

    But Lisa wasn’t even receiving the story submissions for her consideration until July 15. That meant we had one month for the editor to read through the slushpile, make her choices, do her editing, and then WordFire had to put the files through our proofing team, our formatting and production process. James Owen had to read every story and then do his amazing wraparound cover from scratch, incorporating elements from every single story.

    Now that’s a miracle.  Lisa read through the stack of manuscripts, made her choices, worked directly with the story authors for any rewrites or revisions (which they had to do within a day or two). Because WordFire is a new-model publisher using cutting-edge technologies that simply weren’t available to traditional publishers a few years ago, we had ways to accomplish book production that common wisdom says is simply not possible.

    We did it.

    558Cover

    Many members of our WordFire Press team are also past attendees of Superstars, so they had a double incentive, not only to prove that WordFire could meet the impossible deadline, but also to help out the scholarship fund.  Keith Olexa and the proofing teams took the manuscript and immediately started combing through it for typos. I wrote an introduction for the book, explaining the whole crazy idea. Quincy J. Allen did the text formatting and a very snazzy design for print and eBooks. Vivian Trask, our Production Team leader, was the air-traffic controller to make sure every step happened on schedule. James Owen did indeed read all the stories and managed to include an image from every single one in his cover art.

    Once Quincy finished the page layout, we had the page count and the spine width, and James Own adjusted the cover layout accordingly. Then the very moment all the pieces came together, James Sams uploaded the eBooks on all platforms and submitted the print version to the printer, reviewed the electronic proof as soon as it was available, did a few necessary fixes, and then pushed the green button. David Boop did the specialized task of getting One Horn to Rule Them All up in the iBooks store.

    We ordered cases of the books to be delivered in time for DragonCon, and more cases of the books for Salt Lake City Comic Con the following week. And we did it.

    Let me go over those dates again:  The editor received the slushpile submissions on July 15.  We had finished, printed copies on sale at our table at DragonCon on August 29.

    And if that’s not enough of a miracle—with all of our tribe members talking about One Horn to Rule Them All at the conventions and helping us sell, posting on their blogs and social media, we made enough profit in only two weekends to fund TWO Superstars Scholarships.  Both winners—Chris Baxter and Joy Dawn Johnson—will be attending Superstars this week, with their attendance paid for by sales of the Purple Unicorn Anthology.

    There’s magic in those purple unicorns—I knew it!

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    More New Frank Herbert Work

    Posted By on February 1, 2015

    WordFire Press is pleased to released the fourth, and last, of Frank Herbert’s previously unpublished novels.  A THORN IN THE BUSH is an atmospheric and tense short novel set in an isolated Mexican town, just released in trade paperback and all eBook formats.

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    Everything of beauty must have at least one flaw in it. Otherwise people do not realize how beautiful it truly is.

    Mrs. Ross is an expatriate American who has found a quiet life in the small Mexican village of San Juan, a place where she can be content, a place where no one knows the secrets of her shadowy past life. Until an ambitious American painter takes up residence in San Juan, attempting to depict—and expose—everything about the sleepy Mexican town. But he may have underestimated the lengths a seemingly harmless old woman will go to protect her secrets.

     A Thorn in the Bush is one of four previously unpublished short novels written by famed Dune author Frank Herbert. Early in his career Herbert moved his family to Mexico where he struggled to survive as a writer. This novel came from those life-changing experiences.

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    And I just edited a new anthology for the Fiction River line, PULSE POUNDERS, which includes a new and never-before-published Frank Herbert thriller story, “The Yellow Coat,” as well as a new SF thriller by myself and Peter J. Wacks, new fiction from David Farland, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and many others. You can get the book in print and all eBook formats. The special Kobo edition, however, has two free bonus stories.

    FR Kobo Special Edition Pulse Pounders ebook cover web

    Starts with a bang. Ends with a bang. And a lot of bang in between.

    Pulse Pounders. Ranging from straight thriller to science fiction, fantasy to pulp adventure, these stories make your heart race. Share the excitement as a woman held hostage in a chair has only a few minutes to escape; a man trapped in a time loop revisits a crisis point in the past; and a mother hunts after a psychotic lover who has stolen her child. Including an original never-before-published Frank Herbert story, these page-turners show why Adventures Fantastic says Fiction River “is one of the best and most exciting publications in the field today.”

     

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    Great Review for FIVE BY FIVE 3: TARGET ZONE

    Posted By on January 30, 2015

    Liberty Island magazine just ran a very thorough review on the newly released FIVE BY FIVE 3: TARGET ZONE, published in trade paperback and all eBook formats from WordFire Press.  Each volume of the FIVE BY FIVE series contains five military SF novellas by five military SF writers.  Volume 3 has all-new pieces by Michael A. Stackpole, Sarah A. Hoyt, Doug Dandridge, Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin, and Kevin J. Anderson

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    The Liberty Island reviewer had this to say:

    This anthology of five military sci-fi novellas gives a reader an excellent sense of the variety of authors and styles currently available to both fans of the genre and those still waiting to discover it for themselves. The authors are so different, however, that it is nearly impossible to review this publication as a whole; therefore, I will provide a short review of each entry and assign star ratings accordingly.

    Remains of the Dead (A Star Tigers Story) by Michael A. Stackpole
    The story grabbed me from the start with it unusual and richly imagined world populated by fully developed characters. The idea of humans, living as second class citizens in a world not of their own, but still retaining the best of the human qualities and wishing to prove their worth, both as individuals and as a race, is incredibly appealing and gets fair and thoughtful treatment. The action, once it gets going, is exciting and full of surprises, and in the end we are left wanting to spend more time in the world and read more about what follows the events of the story. 4 Stars

    And Not to Yield by Sarah A. Hoyt
    This novella takes place in Hoyt’s Darkship/Earth Revolution universe and is a ten-years-later sequel to A Few Good Men. As a fan of the original, I approached the sequel with a mix of excitement and trepidation, both eager to catch up with the characters I love and fearful that the short-form story would not live up to the original. I did find myself not only completely satisfied, but with a newfound respect for the author for her ability to both stay true to the characters and acknowledge the passage of time. Other than that, the story is very typical Hoyt: emotionally charged, with tightly written action scenes, occasional philosophical side trips and a dry sense of humor. 5 Stars

    Goliath by Doug Dandridge
    The most traditional military sci-fi story in the anthology, Goliath starts boldly with several pages of infodump before moving on to action, an equivalent of having Star Wars-like opening credits roll on and on for minutes on end. In the final analysis, though, it might have paid off because the story proper jumps right into an alien encounter and the tension does not let up until the final scene. This particular story has the highest action-to-character-development ratio in the anthology and so would probably appeal to a different kind of reader than the rest. 4 Stars

    Teach Your Children Well (An Unincorporated War story) by Eytan and Dani Kollin
    This was, in all honesty, the story I enjoyed the least, not because it was necessarily badly written but because in my opinion it did not lend itself well to short form storytelling. There is at once too much and not enough information for the reader about the world, and switches between backstory and present time make it harder to get attached to the characters and follow the many plot twists. The idea of the society with no/minimal self-ownership is intriguing, but it gets pushed aside to explore more traditional themes with only limited success. The action scenes are well done and the story did hold my attention throughout, but it could have been much better. 3 Stars

    Escape Hatch by Kevin J. Anderson
    This one is a piece of pure, unadulterated delight, from the first attention-grabbing scene to the exceptionally satisfying resolution. The reader can see the “what” of big twist miles (or rather sea leagues) away, but it’s the “how” that matters. This is a perfect demonstration of my point that many writers should stop focusing so much on being original/clever and just write solid stories with memorable characters. And that, kids, is how it’s done. Even though the story is self-contained, it will likely send you scurrying to the bookstore/website of your choice for more of this author’s works. Just make sure you have enough money on your card because, oh man, is he prolific. 5 Stars

    And so we got two 5 Stars, two 4 Stars and one 3 Stars, which my trusty calculator is averaging to 4.1. Thus, 4 Stars for the anthology as a whole. Strongly recommended.

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    And don’t miss the first two FIVE BY FIVE anthologies

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    Teaser Tuesday: THE SYNOPSIS TREASURY

    Posted By on January 28, 2015

    As we move toward the 2015 Superstars Writing Seminar, it’s time to show off another excellent writing book we’ve just released at WordFire Press.  THE SYNOPSIS TREASURY contains the actual proposals and synopses submitted by well-known authors for books that many of you have known and read.  An excellent snapshot behind the scenes of the business. Look at original proposals by H.G. Wells, Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert, Joe Haldeman, Connie Willis, Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, Jack Williamson, James Gunn, Ben Bova, Piers Anthony, Michael Bishop, Terry Brooks, Robert E. Vardeman, Orson Scott Card, David Brin, Janny Wurts, James P Blaylock, Bruce Coville, Margaret Weiss, Nancy Varian Berberick, Robert J. Sawyer, Sara Douglass, Louise Marley, Roberta Gellis, Ian R. McLeod, Julie E. Czerneda, Jacqueline Carey, Chris Roberson, Eldon Thompson. An invaluable treasury!

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    Here’s the Foreword, by our hard-working editor, Christopher Sirmons Haviland

    FOREWORD

    The Synopsis Treasury began in 2003, at what was then called the Maui Writer’s Conference, in a conversation with science fiction author Ben Bova. It went some-thing like this:

    “There are lots of books telling aspiring writers how to write synopses,” I said to him. “What they really need is an anthology that shows them what authors did in fact submit to their agent or publisher.”

    “You should put that together,” Ben said right away. “That’ll sell.”

    It took me longer than it should have to intuit what this meant. “You mean I should just approach authors out of the blue and say, ‘I am compiling a book of actual synopses that authors sent to their publishers. Do you have one I can publish in my collection?’”

    “Yes,” he said simply.

    I paused, considering this advice. “Okay, do you have one I can publish in my collection?”

    “Sure, how about Mars?”

    Next thing I knew, he pitched the idea to his wife, literary agent Barbara Bova*, who asked me to put together a book proposal so she could shop it.

    I spoke to a few authors at the conference, including Terry Brooks and Bruce Coville, and they made verbal commitments to help me as well. When I got home I reached out to a few more authors I had been in contact with over the years, starting with Andre Norton. Andre responded so quickly that hers was the

    very first I actually received. In a fairly short amount of time I had a handful of synopses from major authors.

    So life had assigned a project for me to do, and I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. But I had no idea what I was in for.

    Very early into the project I had to make decisions as to the goal of my book, although some would be tweaked over time. My first decision, which never changed, was that it would be about content, not about format. There are plenty of books that teach format, and every publisher has formatting guidelines. This relieved me from having to reproduce each author’s contribution in its original format. Instead, I chose a single, basic format for each synopsis to give the book continuity, and only diverted from that when necessary. I also decided I would not line-edit the synopses, except to make sure that my transcription was ac-curate. For the most part, I wanted my audience to read what the publishers read. (Except that, with the older typewritten transcripts, a few typos might have been inadvertently corrected.)

    From 2004 to 2005, when I lived in White Plains, New York, Barbara shopped the book proposal with every big publisher she could think of. But none of them would pick it up. Stymied, she told me I’d better try shopping it myself with the smaller presses. So in 2005–2006, when I moved to Hadley, Massachusetts, I tried to gain interest from independent markets. None of them would pick it up either. I visited the Book Expo one year and pitched it to whomever would listen, and many thought it was a good idea, but would not pick it up.

    In the meantime, I kept collecting synopses. I attempted to go after mainstream authors, but a vast majority of them were either impossible to contact, or did not have anything to submit. Science Fiction and Fantasy authors, however, were not only more accessible but often had synopses they were willing to contribute. I still don’t know what to conclude from that. Do publishers of science fiction and fantasy need synopses more often, even from established authors? Or do many genre authors find a greater use for them? Or is it just easier to make contact with more genre authors than mainstream, and so I don’t have a proper basis of comparison?

    Whatever the reason, the collection ended up with mostly science fiction or fantasy submissions, or mainstream submis-sions by authors who write in the genre.

    Most of the authors I established contact with were very excited and supportive of the project. But publishers were holding back. A large factor in the industry’s hesitation was economic. Book sales were declining, small presses were shutting down, and “niche” books were squeezed out of inventory.

    So I decided I’d try publishing the book with my own company at the time, LegendMaker Scriptoria. In the years between 2006 and 2009 I had built a new house for my growing family in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts and at the same time established publishing agreements with most of the contributors, paid them, and continued to find new synopses and outlines to include. It became a strain on me financially when I got carried away with what I could find.

    At various university archives I discovered synopses and outlines written by authors long deceased. Some of the most famous and prolific genre authors of all time. And I found story ideas pitched by authors to their editors in letters, who would respond with tweaks to those ideas, and so on, until a book emerged. The book was turning into a “Who’s Who” in science fiction and fantasy spanning over a hundred years, with a behind-the-scenes glimpse on how the stories were born. I amassed over seventy actual synopses, most of them written by genre heavyweights!

    So I struggled to find the copyright holders of the material, then a way of contacting them. That was a daunting process. In some cases I couldn’t figure out who owned the rights, or how to reach out to them, and some agents representing literary estates were unresponsive to my inquiries.

    Then in 2009 I was laid off from my day job. By that time I had two young boys and a third on the way, was just recovering from being hospitalized with pneumonia, and was barely making ends meet with the newly constructed house. Not to mention, the housing market had flipped upside-down, making it impossible for me to sell the house without killing my credit rating. After six years of work and lots of money spent, I had no choice but to fold LegendMaker Scriptoria and put The Synopsis Treasury on hiatus indefinitely until I could sort my life out.

    From 2009 to 2012 I was forced to take a lot of different jobs, some of them so stressful that they affected my health. One long gig took place in New York City, forcing me to live away from my family for weeks at a time. Imagine how hard it was on my wife, too!

    Finally I was offered a management job in greater Phila-delphia in 2012 that appeared solid. So I moved into a temporary apartment there, leaving the family behind in Massachusetts until I could find a suitable new home. In the summer of 2012, I finally found and bought one in Royersford, Pennsylvania, and I moved my family down. Reunited after about five months!

    I couldn’t afford to sell the Massachusetts house, so I rented it out.

    All I had to do was lick my wounds for a year or so and resurrect The Synopsis Treasury. But alas, the rug was yanked out from under me once again. I was laid off from my Pennsylvania job only a few months after our big relocation. And I lost my tenant in Massachusetts. By early 2013, I had no income except unemployment insurance with two mortgages on my back. It seemed like The Synopsis Treasury would have to stay in its coma for a long, long time.

    In the summer of 2013 things looked more promising again. I found a new tenant for my Massachusetts house, and I was offered two jobs in the same week. However, both jobs were out of state. I picked the stronger of the two, and once again left my family behind as I moved into a tiny, cheap apartment in Dallas, Texas to start work as soon as possible.

    It was history repeating itself, living away from my family. Much further away.

    Fortunately, my good luck continued. In early 2014 I managed to sell my Pennsylvania house in less than six days—for my asking price! With closing in mid-May, I elected to let my family stay at friends’ and hotels to finish out the school year. That kept them busy while I focused on a double-relocation. I moved all the Pennsylvania furniture down to a bigger apartment in Frisco, Texas, within commute of my new job, and I also moved out of my little apartment in Dallas and into Frisco. (These moves included my library of 3,500 books and various collections that can be the plague of science fiction and fantasy writers and enthusiasts.)

    With towers of unpacked boxes in my new apartment, and utterly exhausted, I fell under the delusion I could get some R&R at the Dallas ComicCon in May 2014.

    I was on my feet all day at the con, standing in lines for autographs like a geek, without food in my stomach. It was brutal, especially given that I have bad feet to begin with. Late in the day, my feet screaming in pain, and feeling dizzy, I wove my way through the retailer floor toward the overpriced hot dog stand. And I happened right up on Kevin J. Anderson’s pavilion. He was a contributor to The Synopsis Treasury back in 2006, and in fact it was via his newsletter that I learned of the timing of the Dallas ComicCon in the first place. So I stopped by to see him.

    I reminded him of The Synopsis Treasury, and told him of its fate.

    He said, “Did you know I am now also a publisher?” (A hint of epic proportions.)

    “Uhhh …” was all I said. To be honest I hadn’t had enough mental bandwidth to connect those dots over the last few years, and on the spur of the moment I couldn’t think of a clever response. I really needed to get that hot dog in me.

    “We’re looking for good writing books and I’d like this one,” he continued. He asked me to submit The Synopsis Treasury to him for publication in the Fall of 2014.

    I only remember staring blankly at him, like a deer mes-merized by the headlights of a fast moving truck. I had so much unpacking to do before my family moved in, and very little PTO left at work.

    I then bought a truckload of books from Kevin’s table and staggered off to eat junk food.

    Kevin’s first concern was that The Synopsis Treasury tried to accomplish too much. I had collected too many chapters, and the page count was exceptional. It had suffered from scope creep. The solution was obvious, I just needed to be forced to cut chapters. While stuffing myself with empty calories at a dirty indoor picnic table and trying to rest my burning feet, I yanked out my iPad, found my chapter list (God Bless Dropbox) and emailed it to Kevin, explaining my situation in more detail. Kevin advised, “Give me what’s finished. Shelve the rest for later.”

    He made it sound so easy. Maybe I was overcomplicating it.

    But first I had to find the project. It was still packed from my relocation. Somewhere.

    Then I had to re-read all the material, scan in all the agreements, reconnect with the authors I wanted to keep, and chart my progress.

    I had until July to unpack and set up the apartment for my family to move in, and until September to prepare and submit The Synopsis Treasury. Just the volume of cardboard after un-packing was an absolute nightmare! My wife, Sara, had accepted a four week job teaching Chinese at a Massachusetts summer school to make back a little of our expenses. Two of my kids attended the classes and the other one stayed with my mother in Connecticut. That bought me some time, but I didn’t want Sara to have to drive all the way down to Texas with three little boys by herself, after everything she’d already been through. I needed to take a week off work, fly up, and drive them down. If the apartment wasn’t ready before I left, there would be nowhere for them to park, to cook, to eat, to sleep, to sit …

    So when I wasn’t passed out in my recliner from sheer exhaustion, I juggled my “free time” priorities on an hourly basis. My day job also took turns compressing me, as day jobs usually do, and once in a while needed off-hours attention as well.

    I found my book project, which was very well filed and organized in hanging folders for each author, and read through everything as fast as I could. How was I to decide what chapters were finished? The criteria wasn’t as clear as I’d hoped. Most of my chapters had all their assets but the bios and photos were outdated by six to eight years, and so was all the contact infor-mation. Some of my agreements needed to be renewed. Some chapters were missing a minor piece—a photo here, a bio there. If the synopsis and introduction were great, and the author was paid and I had a signed agreement, why cut the chapter just because it’s missing a bio? I had to get it all together.

    From May through September 2014 I cut lots of chapters that I had no hope of finishing on time. Some of these cuts broke my heart, because they would have been a wonderful addition, but I could not establish rights to publish them on my new timetable. With what was left, I began reaching out to all my contributors again, reminding them of the project, getting them up to speed, and asking them to please send in a photo, or a bio, or even finish their introduction.

    I thought perhaps they’d say they were too busy, and couldn’t help me on such short notice. But instead they were very understanding, agreeable, and quick to respond. Professional writers are used to deadlines.

    I also decided I would really like to have an editor’s point of view. I wanted an editor with experience at reading synopses and outlines for a publisher to write the introduction to The Synopsis Treasury. But there was so little time! Could I find one? Who?

    On a whim, I reached out to one of the most well-known and respected candidates in the genre: Betsy Mitchell, former vice pre-sident and editor-in-chief of Del Rey, whom I had met all those years ago on Maui, before the book even began. Terry Brooks himself had introduced me to her, as she was his fiction editor.

    I thought it was a shot in the dark, but Betsy responded with a “yes,” and wrote a great introduction for the book on a very tight deadline.

    By some miracle I accomplished all my goals. I got the apartment unpacked and organized (mostly), moved my wife and boys in, and finished The Synopsis Treasury.

    Finally I reached the end of a ten year journey.

    What you will read here is only a fraction of what I originally compiled. But maybe there is life in it yet. Maybe all those chapters I had to cut will make it into a Volume 2 someday? Tell all your friends to buy this book, and we’ll see!

    In the meantime, here are my suggestions on how to use The Synopsis Treasury:

    Read the summaries herein.

    Buy and read the novels that were finally published, and compare. What changed? Did the changes improve the idea?

    As a bonus, compare these synopses to the cover copy if available—the summary of the story usually found on the back of the novel or in the cover sleeve. Cover copy is designed to entice a reader, whereas the selections in The Synopsis Treasury are designed to entice a publisher.

    I hope you are as fascinated reading all this as I have been!

    —Christopher Sirmons Haviland
    Editor, The Synopsis Treasury
    September, 2014

    You can pick up your copy in print and in all eBook formats.

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    Teaser Tuesday: PULSE POUNDERS

    Posted By on January 20, 2015

    Take a seat in your favorite reading chair and buckle up.  The new volume of Fiction River just came out today, guest edited by me, an anthology is fast-paced non-stop adventure stories, PULSE POUNDERS. Available in trade paperback format and all eBook formats.  For those of you who can read an ePub version, the Kobo Special Edition of the anthology has three extra stories…to keep your pulse pounding even longer after the regular-edition readers have finished their last story.

    PULSE POUNDERS is a mix of straight suspense, science fiction, espionage, pulp adventure, fantasy, mystery—the only criterion was that they all be exciting. Contains all new fiction by JC Andrijeski, Patrick O’Sullivan, Thomas K. Carpenter, David Farland, Jamie McNabb, Ron Collins, Brigid Collins, Dayle A. Dermatis, Phaedra Weldon, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Chuck Heinzelman, and (exclusive to the Kobo bonus edition from http://www.kobo.com) Diana Deverell, Leah Cutter, and Kim May.  AND, there’s a new, never-before-published thriller by Frank Herbert, “The Yellow Coat,” as well as a science fiction suspense novelette “Change of Mind” by me and Pete J Wacks.

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    Here’s my Introduction to the volume:

    Strap Yourself In and Hold On

    We’re not wasting any time here.

    Typically, a reader will sit back in a comfortable chair with a good book to enjoy the writing, experience the adventure, get to know the characters. This book delivers all that—but you’d better fasten your seatbelt, too.

    A “pulse pounder” is a story that plunges you eyeballs-first into the action; a bungee jump to the heart of the plot, rather than a slow relaxing stroll.

    Brace yourself. This isn’t chic lit with long leisurely chapters of subtle character development, everyday life, social interaction, mundane telephone conversations, with eventually maybe, maybe, something happening (or is it just a dream?).

    These aren’t creative writing class stories, where characters express their angst at great length, usually about a flawed or strained relationship breaking up, with a climactic conversation over the breakfast dishes. The end.

    No, pulse pounders are stories that (often literally) start with a bang. If you’re not engulfed in the tale by the bottom of page one, then the pulse pounder has failed. This poses an added challenge to the writer, like a mixed martial arts match: He or she has to get you completely involved in the characters and make you care for them, while building the world and explaining the situation—usually a crisis—in a paragraph or two. No time to waste. You have to understand the people, the set-up and the problem, all while you’re in the midst of the action. That takes a very special skill.

    And these guys have that special skill.

    Pulse Pounders contains a variety of genres, from straightforward mainstream thrillers, such as J.C. Andrijeski’s “The Chair,” Dayle A. Dermatis’s “The Scent of Amber and Vanilla,” and David Farland’s “Big and Shady,” a tale of an American screenwriter caught up in a Chinese Mafia effort at filmmaking—a story that is, sadly, far too true to Dave’s personal experiences.

    We have time-travel thrillers, such as Chuck Heintzelman’s “Three Strikes” and Thomas K. Carpenter’s “Tower One,” and near-future high-tech SF in Ron Collins’s “Fraternization,” as well as far-future hard science fiction in Jamie McNabb’s “Daisy Wong: The Hell of the Unprepared Sinners,” Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “Sole Survivor,” and my own, “Change of Mind,” written with Peter J. Wacks. We have Phaedra Weldon’s urban fantasy “The Mer,” and the delightful fantasy, “Frostburnt,” by Brigid Collins, a story I enjoyed so much that even though it wasn’t written for my anthology, I stole it from a different one. And there’s flat-out pulp adventure, in Patrick O’Sullivan’s “A Man of His Times.”

    And a special treat, a previously unpublished thriller written by grandmaster Frank Herbert, author of Dune. While I was editing a collection of Herbert’s unpublished short stories, which I’ll publish through WordFire Press, I came upon “The Yellow Coat,” a tense story about a bank robbery gone wrong and the robbers’ desperate flight through the wilderness—it seemed like a perfect pulse pounder. When I mentioned the story to Fiction River series editors Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, they insisted that I include it here.

    Even with this great selection, I couldn’t fit in all the stories I wanted to include, due to silly reasons like budgets and page counts and word limitations. Then, as an unexpected opportunity, Kobo sponsored a special edition of Pulse Pounders. This extra boost allowed me to include three more stories that were dear to me, as exclusive additional content to the Kobo electronic edition.

    “Thanks to Kobo, I am very pleased to include a Jason Bourne-style spy thriller, “Blown,” by Diana Deverell, Leah Cutter’s vivid historical story about Chinese tongs and the opium wars in Vancouver, “The Messenger,” and a great action-packed battle aboard a space station in Kim May’s, “The Void Around the Sword’s Edge.”

    Take a breath, turn the page, and let your pulse start pounding.

    —Kevin J. Anderson
    Monument, Colorado
    May 15, 2014

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    Writing Books (and Books on Writing)

    Posted By on January 20, 2015

    With the numerous writing workshops and panels I give at conventions, as well as the big Superstars Writing Seminar coming up the first week in February, many people have asked me if I’ve written down any of my lectures. Yes, in fact, I released two books on my most popular talks this year, Million Dollar Productivity and Million Dollar Professionalism (based on the “Things I Wish Some Pro Had Told Me When I Was Just Starting out” talk we’ve given countless times).  Both are available in print and all eBook formats.

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    Life is crazy and hectic for most of us. With all those distractions, how does an aspiring author find time to write? 

Award-winning and #1 international bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson is one of the most prolific authors in the business. He shares his tips on how to find the time to write, and how to make the most of that time.

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    Since the 1990s, bestsellers Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta have helped thousands and thousands of writers to develop the mindset of career professionals. Million Dollar Professionalism for the Writer presents lessons learned from the authors’ decades of experience in publishing. They offer advice on working with publishers, editors, booksellers, and fellow authors, and using persistence and reliability to find continued work in the industry.

    Their tips cover professional courtesy, building a network of colleagues, reading contracts, meeting deadlines (and the domino-effect consequences of missing them), dealing with critics, and how to earn and maintain a reputation as a true professional.

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    In addition, at WordFire Press, we’ve published several other useful nuts & bolts books on other aspects of writing. TV producer and screenwriter Steven L. Sears wrote The Non-User Friendly Guide for Aspiring TV Writers:

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    Steven L. Sears has had a successful career in film and television encompassing over three decades. From his beginnings as a staff writer on NBC’s The A-Team, to Co-Executive Producer on the hit TV series Xena:Warrior Princess for MCA/Universal, creator and Executive Producer of Sheena: Queen of the Jungle for Sony/TriStar Television, and many pilot and development deals with major studios and production companies, he has amassed a huge amount of experience and knowledge about the inner workings of the entertainment industry.

    In The Non-User-Friendly Guide for Aspiring TV Writers, Sears shares that experience and gives advice for those considering a career in television writing. Instead of the traditional academic and sterile approach, Sears answers questions from a personal, first-person perspective. These questions have been culled from the real world, people seeking out his advice and looking for the experience that most books don’t have. Some of what he writes about are hard and difficult facts to accept about the business, while other times he gives his opinion based on extensive experience. All of it is unsweetened and direct. Even if you don’t like his answers, Sears will certainly make you think hard about your approach and choices when pursuing a career in an extremely difficult Industry.

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    We also publish three how-to books by New York Times bestselling author David Farland:

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    Bestselling author David Farland has taught dozens of writers who have gone on to staggering literary success, including such #1 New York Times Bestsellers as Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight).

    In this book, Dave teaches how to analyze an audience and outline a novel so that it can appeal to a wide readership, giving it the potential to become a bestseller. The secrets found in his unconventional approach will help you understand why so many of his authors go on to prominence.

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    All successful writers use resonance to enhance their stories by drawing power from stories that came before, by resonating with their readers’ experiences, and by resonating within their own works. In this book, you’ll learn exactly what resonance is and how to use it to make your stories more powerful. You’ll see how it is used in literature and other art forms, and how one writer, J. R. R. Tolkien, mastered it in his work.

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    Million Dollar Book Signings will tell you everything you need to know to make your signings a success. This insightful book includes:

    - Ideas for Alternative Venues
    - Effective Publicity Strategies
    - Optimal Dates and Seasons for Signings
    - A Check List of Items to Bring and Tasks to Complete
    . . .and more.

    Whether you’re a new author or a seasoned one, throw a book signing that makes readers leave wanting more–more books, more of you, and, more signings.

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    All in a week’s work: Clockwork Lives, 2113, short stories, Navigators of Dune

    Posted By on January 18, 2015

    I’m always thinking one project ahead (or more), the next book, next story, next universe.  Last week, while I was finishing my second edit of CLOCKWORK LIVES (a new steampunk fantasy adventure written with Neil Peart, in the universe of CLOCKWORK ANGELS), I decided to keep my head in the Rush universe and plotted my novella “2113,” which will be the cornerstone of an anthology of Rush-inspired stories to be published by ECW Press (see my January 12 blog).  After I delivered the CLOCKWORK LIVES manuscript to Neil for his next edit, I wrote the first draft of “2113″ in three ten-hour days…while looking forward to my next major project, NAVIGATORS OF DUNE with Brian Herbert.  Brian had a head start and had nearly finished his chapters already, so I had a lot of catching up to do.

    But before diving into a giant DUNE novel manuscript, I had a couple of loose ends to take care of first, two original short stories for anthologies I had committed to.  The first, a very fun giant robot story for the forthcoming MECH: Age of Steel anthology, written with David Boop. David and I met at the local Starbucks to spend a couple hours brainstorming the story. Dave went home and wrote 3000 words of the first draft that night. I spent two days revising and fleshing it out to 4300 words, then we delivered the final.

    Next up, I had agreed to do a story for BEARDLESS WARRIORS, a tribute anthology for the great Richard Matheson, to be published by Gauntlet Press, a collection of how war affects people.  I’d had a one-sentence story idea tacked to my office board for two years, and it was perfect for this. I turned up the heat on the back burner, mulled over the idea, fleshed it out into an actual plot.  Then I reread the full outline for NAVIGATORS OF DUNE to get *that* percolating on my mental burner while I turned my efforts to writing “Combat Experience” for the Matheson anthology.  I wrote 7000 words in a day, wrapping up the story.

    Then it was time to hit the sands. I was ready for NAVIGATORS OF DUNE. While I’m waiting for the typist to return “2113″ and “Combat Experience” to me for my edits, and waiting for Neil to finish his edit and send me comments on CLOCKWORK LIVES, I’ve started writing NAVIGATORS, finishing five chapters (of my 42) in the past three days. Tomorrow, I’ll go on a nice snowshoe hike to do even more chapters while being invigorated with gorgeous Colorado mountain scenery.

    Still looking forward and backward to other universes. I will keep writing NAVIGATORS, but also spend part of the day editing the new stories whenever they come back to me…while pondering the next big book on the horizon, which will be ETERNITY’S MIND, the third book in my Saga of Shadows trilogy, following THE DARK BETWEEN THE STARS and BLOOD OF THE COSMOS. When you live with countless fictional lives, there’s never a dull moment.

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