As a follow-up to my September 1 status: as the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. (And it did, in fact, rain earlier today.) My mother, who had been under hospice care for a couple months, passed away on October 14; after spending a week away, I returned home on October 21, knowing that I would have to pack again in a few days for my trip to the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego. Then, on Sunday, two days after returning home, my laptop finally gave up the ghost. In previous years I had replaced the hard drive and the battery, and though the laptop had certainly paid for itself, I just wasn't ready to invest in a new machine, especially one running Windows 7. (I've been a die-hard XP user for more than ten years.) And then there was the work that had to be done on my mother's car: repair a window that wouldn't go up or down (and wouldn't stay up), and replace a burnt out horn. Anyhow, it was all of this or the World Fantasy Con; and all of this took priority. And, all of this was going on just prior to the release of my Alien Contact anthology, too. I was a bit overwhelmed. So, if you were looking for me at WFC, my apologies, but I simply had to bail on the con. Besides, after the week away, at the mom's funeral and dealing with the aftermath (which I'm still dealing with), I needed some time.... The next con I plan to attend will be FOGcon at the end of March, 2012.
So, finally, this is my monthly wrap-up of October's Links & Things. You can receive these links in real time by following me on Twitter: @martyhalpern. Note, however, that not all of my tweeted links make it into these month-end posts. Previous month-end posts are accessible via the "Links and Things" tag in the right column.
- With the publication of Alien Contact, there are a number of special "events" going on: my interview with Matt Staggs on Suvudu.com, and SFSignal.com's fourteen days of guest blog posts and interviews with many of the contributing authors, as well as upcoming events on io9.com and Night Shade Books. Also, don't forget to sign up for the Goodreads giveaway: 5 free copies of Alien Contact; and please check out (and "Like") my Alien Contact Anthology Facebook page. There are widgets to the right of this post for both Goodreads and Facebook.
- I reported in September's Links & Things that Steve Davidson had been granted the "Amazing Stories" trademark. According to Digital Science Fiction, Davidson now "has announced the creation of an Editorial Advisory Board to assist in the re-launch of the world’s first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories.... Steve has also commissioned Frank Wu, multiple Hugo Award-winning artist, to create a re-imagining of Frank R. Paul’s inaugural cover illustration for the magazine. The cover art will be made available on a variety of different media and will be used as a fund raising and promotional vehicle."
- Speaking of magazines, Realms of Fantasy, with which I have been involved since the October 2009 issue, has called it quits-- this now the third time in as many years, and publishers -- effective with the just-published October 2011 issue. Publishers William and Kim Gilchrist of Damnation Books, editor Doug Cohen, and fiction editor Shawna McCarthy have all written farewells on the magazine's website.
- Larry Brooks (@StoryFix) on storyfix.com has a blog post from back in May -- which I recently just learned about -- entitled: Suffering Is Optional, Or, Ten Ways to Totally Screw Up Your Novel. He writes: "The best way to avoid a hole in the road is to see the hole in the road." -- 1) Never begin writing a story without knowing how it will end; 2) If you choose to ignore the previous tip, then you’d best accept this one....; 3) Don’t kid yourself about the critical nature – the necessity – of structure in your story; 4) Don’t take side trips; 5) Don’t write a "small" story without something Big in it; 6) If you can’t describe your story in one compelling sentence, you probably can’t write it in 20,000 compelling sentences, either; 7) Don’t save your hero; 8) Don’t for a moment believe that the things an established bestselling author can get away with are things you can get away with; 9) Don’t overwrite; and 10) Never settle. Each bullet point has the details. (via @BookBuzzr)
- Author Kay Kenyon (@KayKenyon) shares her Secrets of the First Page in a recent blog post, which came about after Kay and Larry Brooks (see entry above) worked a "first page critique session." In the "Cut to the Chase" section, Kay writes: "Start with a scene. Where something is happening on stage. Put us in the middle of something interesting. The goal of the first page is to get the agent/editor to the second page. So your goal is not really to introduce the novel, but to introduce the scene... Last week Larry persuaded me that openings could be successful if not a scene. If your voice is strong...if you can deliver information that is dramatic...or if you can give us something else wonderful!" The blog post has 14 specific bullet points. (via Deborah J. Ross's FB page)
- The Book Designer website has an article on Making the Author-Editor Connection: The Importance of Being Edited -- this piece is from April and is another important article that I've just come upon. The guest blogger, Anne Ross, is a pro editor; I'm sharing her written words here, not her service (which I have no knowledge of). The points she covers: 1) Find a Qualified Editor; 2) Prepare Your Work for Handoff; and 3) Plan Your Budget Early On. (via @BookBuzzr, via @jfbookman)
- Do you know When to Stop Working on Your Book? Via mediabistro.com's @galleycat: "Before publishing his new novel Mule, novelist Tony D’Souza made the toughest decision a writer ever has to make. He stopped working on a novel after years of work and started from scratch with a new book..." Some difficult decisions are discussed here.
- If you are a DIY author, you'll want to check out a new website: Publish Your Own Ebooks (@PYOEbooks), subtitled: How To Write, Publish & Sell Ebooks Online. And, if you subscribe to the site, you'll be able to download a free copy of Gary McLaren’s “The Ebook Publishing Quick Reference Card.”
- More for those DIYers: Again, from Galleycat: "...Flickr announced they have 200 million Creative Commons licensed photos on the popular photo-sharing site. Writers can explore this massive repository to find free photos to use in book covers, blog posts and book illustrations." Galleycat has more details, including links to Flickr. Just remember, the book's cover is the first thing any reader sees; you want to intrigue the reader enough for him/her to want to check out the book further, even purchase the book on sight. But there are some gawd awful covers out there that writers have obviously done themselves, in order to save some bucks. Unfortunately, you can't quantify how many sales were lost due to a poor-looking, even obnoxious, cover.
- From PublishersWeekly.com: "Amazon has added another genre to its publishing stable, with the launch of 47North, a science fiction/fantasy/horror imprint that will publish original and previously published works from new and established authors as well as out-of-print books....Questions do linger about Amazon's ability to get titles on its coming lists into bookstores, though...." The article lists some of the authors/titles to be published by 47North. (via @sfsignal)
- PW.com also interviews Art Spiegelman, "On the Future of the Book" -- the importance of physical media in an increasingly digital world. "This month Pantheon marks the release of MetaMaus, a Spiegelman-penned analysis of his Pulitzer Prize-winning, medium-defining 1992 classic, Maus, which finds the author once again reveling in the possibilities offered up by the format." (via Charles Tan's FB page)
- In July's Links & Things I mentioned that the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (@SFEncyclopedia), first published in 1979 and revised in 1993, will soon be available online in a newly revised third edition. According to io9, the SFE is now online and searchable; link provided. You can search the SFE by Authors, Themes, Media, and Culture, and there are subcategories under these; it's a great resource for science fiction research and should be among your fave links. In fact, if SFE had a widget, I'd add it to the right column of this blog, along with the existing Writer's Knowledge Base search engine widget.
- I always like to conclude these Links & Things posts with something just a bit different, but still related. Slate.com has an article on DARPA’s 100-Year Starship Symposium -- held in Orlando, Florida, the first weekend in October -- a gathering of "would-be space explorers, scientists, and a couple of crackpots" whose purpose is "to try to get interstellar travel unstuck." For those unfamiliar with DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, this is the agency that funded ARPANET, the world's first operational packet switching network, the core of which later became the Internet. Marc Millis, author of Frontiers of Propulsion Science and one of the symposium attendees, was paraphrased as follows: "Space is about to be opened up to private industry in a fundamentally new way. If industry lives up to the hopes of those assembled in Orlando, maybe the fastest human beings in history will soon be traveling toward something instead of back to Earth, like the Apollo 10 crew." (via @OpenAerospace)