Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Courtney Schafer Wins the r/Fantasy Stabby Award

So, how cool is that engraved dagger?

Recently, author Courtney Schafer received the Reddit r/Fantasy "Best Self-Published/Independent Novel of 2015" Stabby Award for her novel The Labyrinth of Flame, book III in the Shattered Sigil trilogy.

I worked on The Labyrinth of Flame, which I wrote about in my November 10, 2015, blog post. And I also wrote a blog post this past January 5 when I received my print copy of the novel.

The Labyrinth of Flame was the product of a very successful Kickstarter campaign (284% funded!). If you missed out on the Kickstarter, you can now purchase both print and ebook editions of the novel from Amazon. And if you are unfamiliar with this trilogy, then you can also purchase print and/or ebook editions of both The Whitefire Crossing (book I) and The Tainted City (book II) as well.

Of course, you can always click on over to, where the author has sample chapters available for all three volumes for your reading pleasure. But you don't have to take my word for it on the quality of volume three, or the entire trilogy: just check out this award:

Thursday, March 24, 2016

At the beginning...

I get asked, quite often, how I got started as an editor -- but to tell that story (for another time), I have to start at the beginning....

I would have to blame two teachers as initially responsible for getting me into this mess: my seventh-grade English teacher, whose name, sadly, I have unfortunately forgotten (give me a break, it was 3,000 years miles away, in Pennsylvania, and many (many) years ago....), and my twelfth-grade Journalism teacher, Mrs. Doris L. (I'm using only the initial of her last name, to protect the guilty, of course....).

In seventh grade English we learned -- studied -- had hammered into our very being -- sentence diagramming: complex sentences, over and over and over again, such that I could diagram entire paragraphs in my sleep. This taught me to spot misplaced modifiers, incorrectly referenced pronouns, etc., etc. with the eye of a sniper siting through a scope. Unbeknownst to me at the time -- one doesn't think beyond the present moment when one is being hammered! -- she taught me the beauty, the rhythm, of an elegantly written complex sentence.

Mrs. L, on the other hand, was more of a facilitator, a mentor, but more on that shortly. One of my fellow staff members on the school newspaper was Mike W. He had the responsibility each issue to share with readers the goings-on at other high schools. So Mike traded copies of our school newspaper with dozens of other schools throughout the U.S. He came up with a name for his column: "The Lid's Off." You and I know, of course, the double meaning of that title, but not so the faculty of our high school at that time. When each issue of the school newspaper was published, we all got a bit of a high-school chuckle seeing that column title. Yes, I know, it's very sophomoric, but then again, we were all sophomores.... (Actually, we were seniors, but you get my point.)

For whatever reason, Mike W. quit high school about the halfway point and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. We weren't best friends, so I never learned his rationale for such a decision, just one day he was at school, and the next day he was gone, and Mrs. L. informed us of his actions.[1]

Once Mike was no longer on the newspaper staff, Mrs. L picked me to take over his column. I liked the name of the column, but the content was BORING. Imagine reading dozens of high school newspapers each week, and selecting the most exciting news to share with your fellow students. It was probably what drove Mike to enlist in the Navy! This school in Utah is hosting their annual spelling bee. And this school in North Dakota had to cancel their father-daughter event because white-out snow conditions resulted in road closures. Like I said, BORING.

So, I approached Mrs. L with a suggestion for a change in subject matter (but keeping the column title, of course!) -- content that would be of more interest to students given the current climate: a music review column. Thankfully she agreed, and I was issued official school press credentials.

And let me tell you, those credentials got me in free to so many concerts, and the occasional backstage pass, too -- and one-on-one interviews with many of the performers... I truly never minded having newspaper "homework" on evenings and weekends.

But I digress.... Mrs. L taught us that, because a newspaper has limited space, each word must count, each word must be critical to the content: there is no room for luxury. We edited our own writing, and then we edited each other's writing. After which, Mrs. L would review our work and show us what poor editors (and often writers) we really were.

The newspaper class, at least for me, was an escape from the reality of the rest of high school. Because I went to a lot of concerts in the evenings and during weekends, I often used my time in newspaper class to study and catch up on homework for other classes. I guess as long as I was working, regardless of what I was working on, Mrs. L never hassled me. I found her class a sanctuary.

At the end of my senior year, she signed my yearbook:
Martin -

You may have felt imprisoned in school this past year, but in reality you've been "growing" in a very visible, if gradual, manner. You are one of my most "memorable" students.

~ Mrs. L


1. All of which made no sense in the overall scheme of things because a few months later, I read a brief article in the newspaper (the Orange County Register), with the headline "Sailor Jumps Ship in Japan" -- about two column inches worth of text -- stating that one Mike W. from Anaheim, California, along with a fellow seaman, jumped ship in Japan and was currently AWOL. After that, I never heard, or read, anything further about Mike W. -- so Mike, if you're out there reading this, post a comment, will you?


I'm choosing to keep the name of my high school confidential as well. But if you do your homework, you can figure it out: Singer/songwriter Tim Buckley (who passed away in 1975) graduated from my high school, as did the co-writer on most of his songs, Larry Beckett; they were, in fact, classmates. Singer Gwen Stefani (with the band No Doubt, and currently a judge on The Voice) graduated from my high school as well. And lastly, bassist Jim Fielder also graduated from my high school. Jim played with the original Blood, Sweat & Tears; he also did stints with the Buffalo Springfield and the Mothers of Invention.

Speaking of which, the background music while I'm writing this post is Frank Zappa's You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore 12-CD box set (literally, a wooden box!).  Never could get enough of the song "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama."

Friday, March 11, 2016

Forthcoming from Tachyon Publications in 2016: Pirate Utopia by Bruce Sterling

Now available for preorder at Amazon and other booksellers.

Pirate Utopia

(More on this novella once I begin my editing work.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors

Each year, as part of the Hugo Award voting process, readers and fans also vote for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

To be eligible for the Campbell Award, an author must have made his or her first professional sale within the previous two years.

If you want to read new, cutting edge, and possibly the next wave-of-the-future fiction, these are the people -- and stories -- to read.

And you can do that, now, and for free! Up and Coming is an anthology of stories from the 120 Campbell-eligible authors for this year's award. These authors have contributed 230 works of fiction totaling approximatly 1.1 million words. The anthology is available as a free download in both epub and mobi formats for your reading -- and voting (if you are a member of this year's WorldCon) -- pleasure.

On BoingBoing, author Cory Doctorow writes:
It's a very broad and deep survey of the next generation of SF/F writers. I won the Campbell in 2000; other winners since then include Seanan McGuire, Jay Lake, Naomi Novik, John Scalzi, Jo Walton, Elizabeth Bear, Mary Robinette Kowal, Lev Grossman, Mur Lafferty and many, many other exciting writers.

And from the Up and Coming website:
...These pieces all originally appeared in 2014, 2015, or 2016 from writers who are new professionals to the SFF field, and they represent a breathtaking range of work from the next generation of speculative storytelling.

All of these authors are eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2016. We hope you'll use this anthology as a guide in nominating for that award as well as a way of exploring many vibrant new voices in the genre.

But let me remind you once again that these free downloads will only be available through March 31, 2016.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

IF Science Fiction Magazine: The Entire Run Now Available Online

Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress:
serialized Dec. '65 through Mar. '66
Courtesy of the Internet Archive, the entire run of IF magazine -- 176 issues from March 1952 through December 1974 -- is now avilable online.

Here's an excerpt from the magazine's Wikipedia entry:
[If] achieved its greatest success under editor Frederik Pohl, winning the Hugo Award for best professional magazine three years running from 1966 to 1968. If published many award-winning stories over its 22 years, including Robert A. Heinlein's novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Harlan Ellison's short story "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream." Several well-known writers sold their first story to If; the most successful was Larry Niven, whose story "The Coldest Place" appeared in the December 1964 issue.

If (no pun intended) you have a desire to read some Golden Age science fiction -- online and for free -- then the If archive is awaiting your reading pleasure.

[Thanks to io9 and boingboing for the link.]