Thursday, January 31, 2008

Eureka 2

I’m grateful for the TV writers’ strike. Truly I am. With no more LOST or Prison Break to catch up on, I finally have time for other activities, such as judging book contest entries and putting final touches on “Murder @ Play”.

Alas, every few months, I begin to miss TV, and Wonder Years reruns only stretch so far. That’s why I was ecstatic to discover that Eureka 2 had been canned - so to speak - before the strike.

Having watched the first episode of the second season, I can only say: so far, so very good. I don’t know why the formula works for me: I’m sure it’s not the SF per se, but also the Northern-Exposure-like characters and the Picket-Fences-like setting. A real cosy down-to-earth pleasure to watch.

And if it means that I don’t write that short story for the 6-pack competition... nor the exotic island one for Ellora’s Cave... nor that editing article for the Freelancer... well hey, Christmas is far away and there’s plenty of time to start being a good girl - later.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A word about Escape Velocity


Escape Velocity is a brilliant new publication of Science Fact and Fiction. Today we're talking to one of the editors, Geoff Nelder.


1. Give us your editorial take on Escape Velocity. What made you start on the project? What was the most challenging thing about it? The funniest?

Several notions urged me to suggest to Robert Blevins at Adventure Books of Seattle that we should entertain the idea of publishing a science fiction magazine.

a) I've a bunch of short stories too good for the usual sci fi mags like Analog and Asimov (OK they rejected them, but that's their fault). So has Robert. However, the funny thing is that once we started putting it together we realized we couldn't crowd it with our own stories or it would look too much like vanity publishing. Consequently, we limit ourselves to maybe one story and one article each, plus the editorial.

b) There seems to be so few sci fi magazines and so many talented writers who need an outlet for their brilliance.

c) We insisted that we were not going to accept rubbish stories from famous authors, no matter how much they paid us!

(LOL from the interviewer)

d) We decided there was a niche for a magazine that focused on science fiction rather than a mix of speculative genres, and one that had a sufficiently readable font style and size that didn't need a magnifying glass.

I thought the title and cover art would be challenging but Robert thought of the excellent title and has a nose for the perfect cover art. He also does all the hard work of configuring and formatting the magazine for the printers (Lulu for issues 1 to 3 and then probably Lightning Source afterwards). In fact the most challenging or difficult part of editing is not the hours of reading and copyediting but in turning down submissions, especially from friends and relatives. It is a great honour and pleasure to read all the submissions even those we reject. Some stories are rejected not because they are not well-written or don't have thunderingly great plots, but becuase we've already accepted similar, or they exceed the word limit. It is amazing how many folk are so keen to have us read their fantastic (in the literal sense) stories they forget to read the guidelines.

Funniest moment in producing Escape Velocity? Tricky question. There was that moment when we had a deadline for Robert to jigsaw all the pieces in the mag together but Maria hadn't sent me her fascinating insights into working at the Hubble Telescope research institute. She couldn't just write it and whizz it to me because it had to pass the official litmus test at her works. So there I was one Saturday morning sat at my computer finding Maria's e-mail in my inbox. Unfortunately, I was leaving the UK for a holiday in Spain that morning. Nevertheless, I opened Maria's article and prepared to send it on to Robert in Seattle when I noticed a few editing elements I felt compelled to do. So I opened Word, threw in Maria's piece, and then my wife yanked my left elbow. She said: "I've put the cases in the car, and the engine's running. Am I going on my own?"

(Yvonne: I empathise...)

I 'just a minuted' and burned through the fastest copyedit I'd ever done. Then I had to send it back to Maria for her approval with a plea that I'd added nothing new so it didn't need the official censor. I then made my excuses to my wife so I popped to the bathroom. While there I realized I hadn't sent a copy to Robert. So while my wife tapped her feet and tut tutted in the open front doorway, I found a speedy return OK e-mail from Maria, and rocketed off the piece to Robert. I slowed to the speed limit where the speed cameras live and just made it to the airport in time. Phew!


2. Who is your favourite SF/F mainstream author, and why?

This is a tricky one. Jon Courtenay Grimwood has become a good corresponding friend and I admire the cunning plot in his alt history / future SF books. His characterization is a literary masterclass. I've also met Terry Pratchett and his black hat, large enough to eclipse a whole book group. I am a huge admirer of the Discworld novels of TP, but also his Truckers and the other two in that series.


3. Do you think the face of SF has changed over the last 2-3 decades? How do you think EV's contribution will affect it in the next few years?

SF has changed. Simplified, it has transformed from rockets and exploring the moon and the solar system, with the odd time travel story (plot more important than characters and their relationships), to character-led fictional applications of quantum mechanics - including time aspects - and much fancier rockets at different scales, in multiple dimensions and universes. Apologies for the oversimplification. EV's only desire is to exploit the wide range of SF possibilities. I believe I speak for Robert too in that we don't seek to change the way readers view SF, but we can open some minds to new directions via good stories then we'd be deliriously happy.


4. Share something personal: your biggest fear, your ambitions, the colour of your underwear ;-) ...

I have no phobias, but I have passions: all three are female. My wife, my bicycle and the Snowdonia mountain range.

An ambition is to have my Left Luggage sci fi trilogy enjoyed by thousands of readers. It's going through a critique group and volume has already been rejected by a handful of agents and mainstream publishers. It has an original premise and marvelous characters with a bewitching plot so I am hopeful.

The colour of my underwear remains a mystery since they are squeezed into and removed in the dark.



5. Do a quick plug for Geoff the writer.

Oh dear. Here goes then.

By coincidence the notion of escape is in my published humorous thriller, Escaping Reality. 'Learn how to escape and survive before they get you. A hot, adventure with romance and exotic locations seen here:
http://geoffnelder.com/ERinfo.htm

Sci fi adventure too in Dimensions at Adventure Books, and later in 2008 at Double Dragon Publishing.

Does your novel need copyediting - not just a proofread but make your characters 3D, plug those plot discontinuities and fix those pleonasms and POV errors? Then check out my editing services page at http://geoffnelder.com/


Geoff, you've given us a lot to think about. Thank you for your time. And that link to Escape velocity again: http://www.escapevelocitymagazine.com/.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Amazon.com contest

I have some good news: I am one of the 1000 semi finalists in the Amazon Novel contest: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001200CFK with my general fiction novel, "Substitute wives". If you find the time to read the 5000 words and post a review, I would be very grateful...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Talking to Joyce A. Anthony


Joyce A. Anthony the person:

1. What three words do you think describe you as a human being?
Stubborn, giver, advocate

2. How do you think others would describe you?
Fun, wordy, kind-hearted


3. Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.
Stopping the abuse of children and animals!!!

4. Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.
No pets, but lots of fur/feather kids J Sam is nearly 3 years old—he’s a small horse disguised as a Labrador Retriever. I lost four cats last July, but still have Caramel (the queen who would rather be a princess), Spirit (aka. Mouth—he tells us when anyone wants anything) and Othello (our little brat dressed in a tuxedo). Then there are Telio and Tia, the cockatiels and Mars, Venus and Eros, the turtle doves. Then there is Elvis, the chinchilla J

5. What is your most precious memory?
The day my son tried to fire me—well, actually what came from it. This tiny figure stood up in the bathtub (he was about 4), put his hands on his hips and said “You’re fired!”. I told him I wished it were that easy, but God gave me the position of his mother and only God could fire me. A couple days later, I was washing dishes and he was playing with a friend. I heard his friend say “God gave you to that lady?” Shane replied “Yep—I guess we’re stuck with each other.”

6. What is your most embarrassing memory?
I had just started a job at a prestigious insurance company and was all dressed up. I took the bus from my house, got off and walked three blocks, thanked the gentleman who held the door for me and was half way across the lobby when a woman tapped me on the should and whispered “Hon, your skirt is tucked inside your pantyhose in back!!” I nearly died on the spot.

7. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing with your life?
I’d most likely be running an animal shelter somewhere.

8. In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.
Joyce A. Anthony was a mother, friend and writer. She had a tendency to take in what society considered strays (both two and four-legged) and found her life richer for it. She loved life but did not fear death. Her final words were “I hope I made a difference.”

Joyce A. Anthony the writer:

9. Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?
Honestly, I’m still not convinced. I write, I hope people like what I write. Some days I wonder if I’ll wake up and it will all be a dream.

10. What is going on with your writing these days?
Besides my freelance assignments, I have just completed the rough draft of Spirit of the Stallion, and hope to have it edited and published within the next few months.

11. What are your future goals for your writing?
Finishing and publishing Spirit of the Stallion, writing and publishing The Trees Remember and then moving on to The Gospel According to Rex. From there, we shall see what pops into my mind J


12. Can you describe a typical writing day for you?
There is nothing in my life that is typical. I have no set schedule for writing, it falls in between homeschooling, animal care, Pokemon games with my son and all those other things called life.

13. Why do you write?
Because that is what I believe God wants from me. He gave me a gift and using it for good is my way of thanking Him.

14. What writer most inspires you? Why?
I have two favorite authors, Richard Bach and Rod Serling. Both these men fall into the category of literary genius in my book. Richard Bach challenges a reader to look inside and examine what has been accepted as truth. Rod Serling takes the challenge outwards, asking us to question the rality of what we believe and see in the world around us.

15. How do you define your writing?
It makes a reader examine and think.

16. In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?
Her books made a positive difference in my life.

Joyce A. Anthony the details:

17. Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?
Website: Http://joyceanthony.tripod.com
Blog: Http://joyceanthony.tripod.com/blog

18. Is there a place where readers can reach you?
I’d love to hear from readers J My email address is rainbow@velocity.net

19. Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?
Storm is the only book I currently have out

20. For new readers—what can they expect when they read your book(s)?
They can expect emotion—happiness, sadness, anger and more—whatever a reader thinks of my writing, it will evoke some strong emotion and make the reader think.

In conclusion:

21. Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers—what would you like them to know about you and your writing?

I want to thank your readers for stopping by to see what I have to say. I love hearing from readers, whether positive or negative. The positive keeps me going and the negative helps me improve. Stop by my website, sign my guestbook, let me know what you think of my book and other work.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Escape Velocity - Science Fact and Fiction

2008 is a happy new year so far: my contributor’s copy of “Escape Velocity - The Magazine of Science Fact and Fiction”, Issue 1 Volume 1, arrived this morning. I’m blown away. When people say “magazine”, I picture something flimsy and probably stapled, so even all the positive reviews could not prepare me for what I received: something that looks just like a quality novel, except that its size is A4.

Inside you can find SF stories, SF articles, SF poetry, photos and movie reviews. To quote one of the editors, the magazine’s vision is “to celebrate variety in the 360 degree field we love as science fiction. We give space to those writers who stretch the imagination into the apparently impossible, as well as explore the known world, but with an unusual flavour.”

Trust me, they do. Just take a look at their website - or better yet, order a sample copy.