Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Kickstarter - Zombies Need Brains SFF Anthologies

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While at Shore Leave 39 this year, I talked with author/editor/publisher Joshua Palmatier for a while. Eventually the discussion got around to future projects. He mentioned he was going to do a Kickstarter for three new anthologies, but he hadn't come up with any solid ideas yet. He said to watch his website for a notice in August.

So I did.

He now has the Kickstarter up and running. Here are the subjects for the books!

This project will fund THREE science fiction and fantasy anthologies, titled THE RAZOR'S EDGE, GUILDS AND GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR, containing approximately 14 all-original (no reprint) short stories each from established SF&F authors in the field. The books will be edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier (SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR), S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier (GUILDS AND GLAIVES), and Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier (THE RAZOR'S EDGE).

Joshua has a number of quality books out already, and if you'd like to help out with the next round of anthologies you can donate here (there are a lot of different levels and rewards!):

You can do more than just give money to the effort. If all goes as planned, you can submit your stories, too!

As we did in our previous anthologies, we plan to include the very best stories we can find, spanning the gamut from bestselling authors to new, previously unpublished voices, including an open submission window if the Kickstarter is successful, where anyone can submit their stories featuring the current themes for a chance to be part of the anthologies. And new this year, Zombies Need Brains is officially a "qualifying market" for the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA)!

So, check it out! Maybe you'll want to donate and get some new reading material—or perhaps you'll get published in a quality anthology!

"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams, Varia Studios
"The Razor's Edge" by Justin Adams, Varia Studios

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Monday, August 28, 2017

Beyond The Shroud

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Beyond the Shroud, a mummy-inspired horror anthology containing thirteen (my lucky number) stories by Horrified Press, is now available on Lulu! At the present, it's only in paperback format—I'm hoping other formats will follow.

Screen-shot of Beyond the Shroud on Lulu.com
Screen-shot of Beyond the Shroud on Lulu.com

My story, A Matter of Personal Taste, is a reprint, although I did modify it a good bit before sending submitting to this anthology. I was just a child (writing-wise) when I sent it in to the Were-Traveler; they were kind enough to publish it and give my writing "career" a boost. My lack of experience at the time explains why I felt a rewrite was necessary. I did inform the anthologist for Beyond the Shroud (Cynthia Morrison) it was a reprint.

Here's a list of the stories and authors:
  • A Matter of Personal Taste  by  K. R. Smith
  • A Plague of Persuation  by  Shane Porteous
  • Bandaged Evil  by  Norbert Gora
  • Curse of Apnu  by  E. W. Farnesworth
  • Icy Ground, The Only Hope  by Sergio Palumbo, editied by Michele Dutcher
  • I Saw What Happened  by  John Kujawski
  • Palm Wine  by  Cynthia Morrison (also the anthologist)
  • The Book of Thieves  by  Cameron Smith
  • The City of Ten Thousand Gods  by  Matthew Frederick
  • The Patient  by  Mathias Janssson
  • The Unwrapping  by  D J Tyler
  • The Witching Hour  by  Matthew Wilson
  • Wind Joiner  by  E. W. Farnesworth 

 And, yes, my story got the first spot!

Partial Table of Contents - my story in first spot!
Partial Table of Contents - my story in first spot!

It was originally listed as being through the Horrified Press imprint Pilgrim Off-Fifth Press, but the cover only lists Horrified Press, not that it matters to me.

My story is about an archaeologist who makes a unique discovery with the help of a local. He shares the news with a colleague, but before they can begin their scientific analysis, events take a bizarre turn!

Anyway, it's out and available! I'll let you know if any other formats show up.

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Shore Leave 39 - The Sunday Panels

Just a reminder: It's okay to leave comments!

Woohoo! All the free books I put out evaporated. And I have a request for another copy of Human 76. I hope everyone enjoys them! 

The free books I put out at Shore Leave 39
The free books I put out at Shore Leave 39 - gone in a flash!

Group meeting image designed by Freepik
Designed by Freepik

Okay, here are the panels I attended on Sunday and a few notes on each!

Sunday Panels
Scheduled times:

12:00 pm The Devil's in the Details
 1:00 pm Mixing and Matching Genres
The Devil’s in the Details
Writers build convincing worlds by including small details that pack a big punch. (“The door irised open.”) How does that work, who does it well, and what details are you hoarding for the perfect story?
Melissa Scott (M), Roberta Rogow, Stephen Kozeniewski, Glenn Hauman

Sneak in the small details; don't hammer them. Only hammer the points where, if they are left out, their absence will cause the reader to miss the point of the story.

An example of a small detail is how a character addresses others.

Skip details that will distract. A good beta reader can help here.

There are three areas you don't want to mess up if they are included in your story:
  1. The Civil War
  2. Horses
  3. Guns
If you get the details wrong on these, there are readers with specialized knowledge that will tear your story to pieces (some of the panelists mentioned personal experience here).

Details such as having differences within the same country in the same year can make a story seem more real to the reader.

On accents, a little goes a long way. Not every word a character speaks has to have the accent of the locale. Concentrate on the rhythm of speech.

You can write all the details in, then decide what need to come out (ones that don't help the story).

"Info dumps" are usually a bore to the reader, but may be useful in describing technology that doesn't exist.

Mixing and Matching Genres
Zombie cowboys. Superheros vs. vampires. Hard-boiled wizards. What are the rewards and perils of blurring genre lines? Does chocolate go better with peanut butter?
Greg Cox (M), Keith R.A. DeCandido, Melissa Scott, Roberta Rogow

Science fiction and fantasy work well in mixed genre stories partly because sci-fi fans will read almost anything (of any genre) if it has a sci-fi base. This is different from mystery and western fans who often want to read only "pure" forms of their chosen genre. This may be changing some for mystery readers.

While romance fans have a hard core of pure romance readers, it is another form where mixing of genres often work well. Romance lends itself to be included into many other genres (horror, paranormal, mystery, sci-fi, etc.) without feeling out of place. The only issue is which genre is dominant (which may affect how it is marketed).

Marketing was brought up more than once in this discussion. In a physical bookstore, if a book has any romance, for example, it is usually placed in the romance section. This may not be what the author wanted, but a bookstore doesn't have the space to put a book in multiple sections. This problem is somewhat eliminated with ebooks, but it still exists.

It was noted that the cover really does make a difference not only in getting a book noticed, but which readers it draws.

For mysteries, be mindful of what crimes would be committed in the period/location where the story takes place.

For all genre mash-ups, be respectful of all the genres involved.

I have to make mention of this:
While the panel was good, there was far too much giggling and joking between the panelists. There is a limited amount of time for these discussions and I really didn't want to spend it listening to the panelists laughing at jokes they were trading amongst themselves. They also started talking with, "I did a story..." too many times. It comes across as a sales pitch unless there is a strong need for the mention of their particular story. That wasn't always evident.

Final Thoughts

That's about all I have for Shore Leave 39. If there is anything you'd like to mention or for me to ask about during Shore Leave 40, please leave a comment!

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Shore Leave 39 - The Saturday Panels

Just a reminder: It's okay to leave comments!

Woohoo! All the free books I put out evaporated. And I have a request for another copy of Human 76. I hope everyone enjoys them! 

The free books I put out at Shore Leave 39
The free books I put out at Shore Leave 39 - gone in a flash!

Group meeting image designed by Freepik
Designed by Freepik

I've been a bit busy lately, so I'm behind in posting info on the panels I attended at Shore Leave. This is all very appropriate with the panel "Your Writing or Your Life" being discussed here. So, finally, here are the panels I attended on Saturday and a few notes on each!

Saturday Panels
Scheduled times:

11:00 am Your Writing or Your Life
 1:00 pm Defending the Lighter Side
 2:00 pm The Art of Secondary Characters

Your Writing or Your Life
Writers often experience conflicts between their writing and their family and job obligations. Can one use such conflicts productively? How does one build a firewall between work and the rest of life?
Stephen Kozeniewski (M), Heather E. Hutsell, Lorraine Anderson, Laura Ware, Kathleen David

This one was more of a confirmation that other writers have the same problems I have trying to find the time to write. It was worthwhile to attend if only for that reason. They all said that people making a full-time living writing are rare; they are called unicorns. The panelists did have a few suggestions, but admitted they won't work for everyone:
  1. Having a word goal for the day is sometimes useful
  2. See your writing as something of value 
  3. Outlining works for some writers
One of the biggest factors is having family support for your writing. They should see it as a job, and that you are working. It isn't just a hobby.

When your work is interrupted it can be hard to pick up later on. Try retyping the last few sentences to get restarted.

One of the panelists said, "Remember that any amount of time can be used for writing. It takes about 15 minutes to write a page. Do it every day and in one year, you'll have a novel."

There were lots of personal stories about the difficulties each one faced when working on a story or editing. The main point is that every writer has to work around the situations that come up in life, and you have to keep writing, even if it is only a little at a time.

Defending the Light Side
In fiction, as in real life, upbeat and happy are often equated with silly fluff lacking substantial themes and intelligence. Or dismissed as childish. Those claims are often inaccurate, however.
Rigel Ailur (M), Christopher L. Bennett, Michael Critzer, Roberta Rogow, Andrew Hiller

The point of is panel is to say, "There is a place for fluff."

Whether it is a cozy mystery, a sweet romance, or just plain, silly humor, it shouldn't be dismissed, especially if it brings pleasure to the reader. There must be a balance to the amount of humor, however. If it is overdone, only the bad effects come through and the humor is lost.

Some publishers specialize in lighter writing, such as cozy mysteries. (Note: mystery writing seemed to be the focus of some of the panelists, and the genre was brought up often.) Characters like Jessica Fletcher and Miss Marple may not be realistic, but few can argue that they have not been successful—and have brought much enjoyment to their viewers and readers.

Readers often need a break from drama in either their reading or in real life. Lighter stories can bring that relief. Certain types of these stories, such as a sweet romance, can have a wider appeal and be more appropriate for a greater age range, for instance, than a steamy "adult" romance.

There was a long discussion about dark humor. One must be careful with this. There are times and places where this is appropriate, but the writer (or speaker) must know their audience. Not everything is funny for everyone, but that doesn't mean it is bad or wrong.

The Art of Secondary Characters
Supporting characters can fade into the background or steal a story. Our authors discuss how to know which is appropriate, and the craft to making such players come alive when the story needs them.
David Mack (M), Heather E. Hutsell, Richard C. White, Dave Galanter

This panel brought up the question, "How do authors decide if their secondary characters fade into the background or steal the show?"

Here are some thoughts on secondary characters:

First of all, don't hold back when creating your secondary characters. If they are strong enough, they can be put into another story or a book of their own.

There is a difference between secondary and supporting characters:
Supporting character
  1. these are more important characters in the story
  2. may appear throughout
  3. often a sidekick
  4. may be used as a POV character
  5. has agency in moving the story along
Secondary characters
  1. may only appear briefly, but more than a cameo
  2. are often used for backstory
  3. almost never used as a POV character (not in the story long enough)
  4. does not have agency in moving the story along
In a shared world, others may use your secondary characters in different ways.

Again, don't hold back with your secondary characters—they can make a good story a great story!

Up next - the Sunday panels!

© 2017 K. R. Smith All rights reserved