Saturday, July 31, 2010


The decreasing prices of e-readers are sorely tempting me. Note that the Kindle from Amazon has just gone down to US$139 for the Wifi version. But...could it go down even lower by November? Maybe. An excerpt from the engadget review:

Let's be honest -- you saw this one coming, didn't you? Today Amazon is introducing a new reading device for e-book aficionados dubbed simply... the Kindle. The new handheld -- slated to be released on August 27th -- is 21 percent smaller and 15 percent lighter than the previous model, has a 20 percent faster refresh rate on its E Ink (yep, still E Ink) screen, and will now come in two colors (graphite, like its big brother the DX, and the original white). In addition to the color changes, there will be two radio configurations available: a $139 WiFi only version, and a $189 3G version (utilizing AT&T's network, just like the last model). The screen will remain the same 6-inch size as the last two Kindles, though the company claims page turns are faster and contrast is improved. The internal storage on the device has been cranked to 4GB, and the battery life is now rated at a month with no wireless, and 10 days with wireless switched on. The company also announced plans for a UK-localized version at £109 and £149, respectively, as well as a UK e-book store.

Words Of Advice From A Writer Turned Editor

Here are some Words Of Advice From A Writer Turned Editor, an interesting post on the blog The Other Side Of The Story. An excerpt:

Windy words of advice from a writer turned editor

Everything you've read about slushpile readers and editors is true. Not only must you keep from drowning, but you have to make good decisions too. How does an editor do it?

When I put out the anthology call for Panverse One in May of 2009, I was flooded with twenty stories in the first week, fifty by the end of the month. And not just stories, but novellas of between 15k and 40k words; worse, since I’ve always railed against slow response times, I’d stated right up front on our guidelines page that I’d always respond to subs within 30 days.

Fortunately I’m a fast learner—and a fast reader-- and figured out how to live up to my promise and get through my slushpile quickly. Everything below is my approach, but I suspect that most editors operate in a very similar manner. Here's what you need to know to give you the best chance of selling that story.

Ten Of The Best Dragons In Literature

A list on The Guardian of Ten Of The Best Dragons In Literature.

Do you agree with the list? Are any famous dragons missing?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Books At Home Push Kids Toward More Schooling

Have books, will study. :)

From The Washington Post, Books At Home Push Kids Toward More Schooling. An excerpt:

The study, "Scholarly Culture and Educational Success in 27 Nations," by four researchers in the United States and Australia, is worth reading by those in the Washington area, where the number of books varies so much from family to family, and not necessarily because some parents are well-educated and others aren't. The study, based on 20 years of research, suggests that children who have 500 or more books in the home get, on average, 3.2 years more schooling than children in bookless homes. Even just 20 books makes a difference. The availability of reading material has a strong impact on a child's education, even when controlling for the effects of parental education, father's occupation, gender, nationality, political system and gross national product.

Linda's parents purchased the Encyclopedia Americana when she was in intermediate school. They added copies of Reader's Digest condensed books, a favorite of her mother's. Linda devoured those volumes, along with untold numbers of books from her weekly trips to the library.

In other words, like many successful people in this area, she grew up in a book culture established by a family that could not afford many extras but made reading a priority.

The new study led by Mariah Evans of the University of Nevada, Reno, in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, shows the influence of home libraries on schooling is found nearly everywhere, and it has more power than I expected.

Anyone who has studied the effects of home on learning knows that books are important. The summer learning loss suffered by inner-city children is at least in part the result of them not being encouraged to read, studies suggest. I had associated book reading with affluent parents, because high family income also correlates with school success. But the international study found there was more to it than that.

Even the children of poor, illiterate parents in China, the study shows, on average attained the same academic level as the children of college graduates, if they had opportunities to read. Chinese children who had 500 or more books at home got 6.6 years more schooling than Chinese children without books, the study shows. "Having books in the home has a greater impact on children from the least educated families," it says.

Cat Rambo on Electronic Publishing Vs. "Traditional" Print Publishing

Writer Cat Rambo weighs in over at the Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers Of America site on Electronic Publishing Vs. "Traditional" Print Publishing. An excerpt:

1. Any debate about the current struggle between electronic and traditional print publishing begins with this fact: no one thinks that online publishing will not eventually overtake the traditional, hold-in-your-hand, made-of-dead-trees model. While you may well continue to be able to slip something paperback-sized into your back pocket two decades down the line, we all know that the odds are that it won’t be made of paper.

Those thinking that they can successfully continue with a traditional model of publishing for an unlimited time are as delusive as a historical Luddite thinking a solid sledgehammer blow capable of holding back the forces of industrialization. It is human nature to yearn for next year’s model. We are clever monkeys – we tweak, we twiddle, and of such moments Progress is made. Accordingly, while the metaphor of the page will continue, I suspect, for centuries, the everyday object is doomed to be replaced — made obsolete within the next century.

Books may survive, but in the form of curiosities rather than staples. One by one, we’ll see the various manifestations of books challenged by electronic publishing in the coming years.

Most will fall, while those that remain will most probably find themselves dramatically and irrevocably changed. Paper textbooks will be among the first to go — are in the process of doing so right now, in fact, and who, remembering the days of ten pound science texts, can not count that as progress? Children’s books, with their emphasis on texture and art, will last much longer. As for the common paperback, well — once the Sony BeachReader, which I’m sure is due out any day now in six waterproof colors, appears, vacation reading will shift dramatically.

Those who claim that online publishing and its adherents are killing traditional publishing are being disingenuous, blaming the small mammals supplanting the dinosaurs for bringing them down. If anything, at the moment online publishing is helping traditional publishing by encouraging the love of reading that pulls one into a bricks and mortar bookstore.

The Word According To Greg Brillantes

Here's an article by Tanya Lara about Greg Brillantes, The Word According To Greg Brillantes. An excerpt:

Of the many things that literary great Greg Brillantes taught me, it is this one that I remember most: Literature will always endure. Of all the art forms, the written word is the most important.

He said that in one of our many jaunts to Book Sale in Makati Cinema Square, where we would buy books as if we had all of eternity to read. Or maybe he said that at the beerhouse in front of our office in the mid-‘90s. The joint was called “Obeertime” and we would have a couple of bottles there, sitting in plastic chairs, surrounded by hapless Makati office people in their barongs.

Here’s another thing Greg taught me: Never use a red pen to edit. Especially if the copy is crap. Oh, Lord, we had so many of those! Red ink irritates the eyes — be kind to poor typesetters who had to put in the corrections.

One more: Observe, capture little details and tuck them in the corners of your head — for no other reason than they will come in handy when writing the story or some other story.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Live Crime Story! And It's Not Fiction!

There's an alleged killer on the loose, reportedly in Tarlac. They say he's murdered at least four people already. An excerpt from the news article:

A reward of P100,000 has been offered for the arrest of Mark Dizon, a computer technician tagged in the killing of a retired US air force and three other foreigners.

Senior Superintendent Danilo Bautista, Angeles City police director, yesterday said that the reward money was offered by the Angeles City business community.

Bautista said that businessmen were alarmed over the series of robberies and killings in Angeles City, which was why they offered a cash reward for the arrest of Mark Dizon, 28.

He said all the victims of Dizon were robbed of gadgets particularly laptops, cameras and cellular phones.

On July 12, the bodies of Geoffrey Allan Bennun and his live-in partner, Abegail Helina, were found in a state of decomposition in their house at Oasis Hotel and Villas in Clarkville Compound in Barangay Anunas.

They were robbed of a laptop, camera and cellular phone.

On July 16, James Bolton Porter, 51, a Briton and his live-in partner, Melissa Madarang, 22, were also found dead with gunshot wounds in their body at their residence at Sta. Maria Subdivision in Barangay Balibago, Angeles City.

And on July 22, US Air Force M/Sgt. Albert Mitchell, his wife Janet Andrenada, 53, and their house helpers Isabel Fajardo, Marissa Prado and Boy Vergara were found dead at Hensonville Court Subdivision in Barangay Malabanias, Angeles City.

Shells found in all the crime scenes indicated that they were killed using the same 9 mm pistol, said Bautista.

He said that the pistol was not registered under the name of Dizon.

A warrant of arrest against Dizon and Edgar Bognot dated Jan. 13, 2005 for robbery and carnapping was served by Angeles City police. Bognot was arrested on June 9, 2005, however, the case was dismissed due to non-appearance of complainant while the case against Dizon was achieved.

He said that the Angeles City police yesterday filed charges in court, robbery with homicide against Dizon who is now reportedly hiding somewhere in Tarlac.

Philippine Speculative Fiction V Review

There's a review of PSF V over at Philippine Online Chronicles. An excerpt:

For the past four volumes, Philippine Speculative Fiction has been the measure of all things fantastic in the Philippine fiction scene. Although it doesn’t claim to collect the best stories of the year, it does provide us with a glimpse of the shape of things to come. That doesn’t mean it gets better every year though. While it’s good to see the old guard make way for new and younger writers, the pool seems to get muddled up as the definition of "speculative fiction," moreover of "Philippine Speculative Fiction," gets trampled upon now and then. It’s this whole "what if?" business that started it all, which leaves the definition vulnerable to comments that fiction in general addresses that question. In the fifth PSF volume, Nikki Alfar and co-editor Vincent Michael Simbulan try to establish a stronger ground, as evident as early as the introduction, where Alfar sets out to give her own definition of what speculative fiction truly is.

In the introduction, Alfar gives a rather strong prelude (or a warning) with regard to how the term "speculative fiction" is interpreted in this volume. While it thankfully dispels a lot of homegrown notions of speculative fiction, it also warrants a closer review. Alfar elaborates on their definition of speculative fiction as “fiction that explores the human condition as illuminated by the otherworldly” in its three segments, each focusing on a part of that sentence. Building on writer/editor Marion Zimmer Bradley’s words “stories are about people, not ideas,” Alfar explains, “I believe this should be as true of speculative fiction as it is of any other literary genre. Yes, spec fic not only embraces technology, magic, the supernatural and so on - yet the kind of spec fic I look for focuses not on these elements, but the effect such elements have on characters.” This creates a hole that gives way to inclusion of stories that are neither here nor there; stories that don’t really seem to have outright speculative fiction elements.

What I see here is a collision of genre and realist sensibilities, the whole "human condition" argument. Is this an attempt to be relevant, as with social realist stories? While the stories in PSF5 may contain speculative fiction elements, they are entirely stories bent on exploring human emotion while immersed in varying situations.

Monday, July 26, 2010

An Interview With PGS Layout Editor Elbert Or

PGS layout editor Elbert Or is interviewed over at Jonas Diego's The Blurb. An excerpt:

How long have you been making comic books?
I’ve been making comics professionally since 2003, while I was still in college.

Are you a full-time comic book creator or do you have a day job?
As with most comic book creators, comics is just one of the things I do. I oversee a creative communications training and development firm, Brain Food Inc., and head teacher at Global Art Katipunan, which I also own. I also teach Fine Arts classes in Ateneo de Manila University. But I don’t think of any of these as the day job; it’s really more because I need to be juggling multiple tasks to keep myself from getting bored and unproductive.

What comic book project are most known for?
I suppose I’m most known for writing and drawing Bakemono High for K-Zone Magazine, although I also edited and contributed to Cast (Nautilus Comics), Siglo: Freedom, Siglo: Passion, and other locally-published books. Internationally, there’s the graphic novel Lola: A Ghost Story, which was recently nominated for a YALSA for Best Graphic Novel.

An Interview With PGS Contributor Paolo Chikiamco

PGS contributor Paolo Chikiamco is interviewed on The World SF Blog by writer Rochita Loenen-Ruiz. An excerpt:

In 2009, Paolo Chikiamco launched Eight Ray Sun publishing with the goal of providing an electronic platform for Filipino Speculative Fiction. This move, opens the way for more exposure on behalf of Filipino writers, and while Eight Ray Sun publishing doesn’t yet pay as much as its International counterparts, it does strive to provide Filipino writers with compensation for the works accepted for publication.

In the meantime, Paolo has launched the first issue of Usok (an online publication of Filipino Speculative Fiction), the Rocket Kapre blog, and the Ruin and Resolve Anthology (a benefit anthology for victims of calamities in the Philippines). Alternative Alamat is Paolo’s latest project. Here he challenges Filipino writers to create stories that draw inspiration from Filipino myth and legend. In line with this project, Paolo has put together The Myth List which can be found at the Rocket Kapre Blog (

In this interview, Paolo talks about what inspired him to undertake e-publishing, the future of Filipino Genre Fiction and the vision behind the Eight Ray Sun Publishing and the Alternative Alamat Project.

Q: Could you share some of your background? How did you come to writing and what made you choose speculative fiction?

I was always making up stories, even before I learned how to put them down on paper. I’m an only child, and that’s how I’d keep myself entertained once I ran out of books to read–or if I didn’t want to leave my favorite characters behind, even after their stories had ended. The first think I remember writing was a piece of Chrono Trigger fanfiction, which I’d jot down in a notepad every night, then store beneath my pillow. Once I hit college, my house got an Internet connection, and I discovered the online fanfiction communities. It was the first time I ever tried showing my work to other people, and the feedback encouraged me to write more fiction, and eventually try my hand at original work.

Speculative fiction was always my first love–I grew up on a steady diet of David Eddings, Orson Scott Card, and choose-your-own-adventure books… not to mention superhero comics–and I’ve never wanted to write anything else. Mainstream fiction can paint fascinating pictures of people and of a world that, although based on reality, I could never quite feel a part of. Speculative fiction, on the other hand, creates an entirely new world which draws me in by the sheer imaginative force of its imagery and underlying concepts. There’s an, let’s call it an “intensity”, to the experience of reading (or watching, or listening to) speculative fiction that I simply don’t find anywhere else.

Q: Are you still working as a lawyer? I read that you made a choice to leave your lawfirm for the sake of the writing life. What prompted this decision?

Well, now and then I call upon my fading memories of the ins-and-outs of the legal system to advise a friend or a family member in need, but for the most part that’s a world I’ve sort of bracketed and put aside for now. The nice thing about having passed the Bar though, is that my “lawyer hat” will always be there if I need to return to it. (Or if I get in a lot of trouble…)

As for what prompted the decision, that would be my wife, Shaps. I’d never really seen myself as lasting for long in a law firm, but I’d wanted to try it out for a few years, since we were newly married. After roughly two and a half years though, she saw that it was draining me dry. I worked in litigation, so that meant I was in the field of practice that directly dealt with the courts and quasi-judicial bodies, and it was just making me miserable. I’d dread the entire part of the day between leaving the house and getting back home, and, creatively, I was empty. I had become… disillusioned with words, is how I’d put it, and I can’t think of anything that could be more deadly to a writer. Shaps saw that, and told me that I needed to get out of the firm and try for my dream.

Q: After resigning from your lawfirm, you put up Eight Ray Sun Publishing. Would you elaborate more on the vision behind your publishing company.

Sure. About two or three years before I left the law firm, I’d awakened to the existence of a speculative fiction scene here in the Philippines. Kenneth Yu had just launched his Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, and that led me to the works of Dean Alfar and the Philippine Speculative Fiction Anthology. The more I saw of local speculative fiction, the more I hungered for it, and for the kind of stories that we weren’t yet producing: the novels, the series, the young adult titles… I wanted to fill local shelves with our own worlds of fantasy and science fiction, but I also realized that to produce that kind of content, writing would have to be a whole lot more profitable for local authors than it was. I mean, countries like the United States and Japan have dozens of speculative fiction titles coming out every month, but that’s because in those countries, it’s actually possible to make a living as an author. They also have publishers which specialize in speculative fiction, and while in early 2009 there was exactly one major local publisher with a fantasy imprint (not including Kestrel DDM which publishes the Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology series), that was clearly not going to be enough.

So, the vision of the company is this: to publish great works of Philippine speculative fiction, and to do so in a way that would be profitable for the authors, and allow the greatest possible distribution of the stories.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fantasy Painting Sells For US$1.5M

An iconic painting (above) of the well-known sword-and-sorcery character Conan the Barbarian by the respected fantasy artist Frank Frazetta (click here to see his other drawings, cool stuff) has just sold to a private collector for US$1.5M. I remember first seeing that image during my teen years care of a classmate's magazine, and it left enough of an impression on me to make me look for and read his stories (penned by writer Robert E. Howard, considered the father of the sword-and-sorcery fantasy subgenre; you should see his picture, he looks like he could have been a character in The Untouchables). An excerpt from the article:

A 1971 painting by fantasy artist Frank Frazetta has sold for $1.5 million, two months after the Pennsylvania artist's death.

Frazetta's managers said this week that a private collector bought "Conan the Destroyer" from a family trust. Managers Robert Pistella and Stephen Ferzoco call it the price the highest ever for a work by Frazetta.

The illustrator died in Florida in May at age 82. His iconic illustrations of Conan the Barbarian, Tarzan and other characters often graced comic books, album covers and movie posters.

Doomsday Scenarios: Is Humanity Prepared For The Worst?

Once more, it's time for the end of the world!

Here's an article, Doomsday Scenarios: Is Humanity Prepared For The Worst?, from The Guardian. An excerpt:

Existential threats are nothing new. Schoolchildren learn that an asteroid strike wiped out three quarters of Earth's species 65m years ago and promptly ended the reign of the dinosaurs. There have been at least four other mass extinctions, each one the result of an epic natural disaster. The point that intrigues researchers such as Bostrom is that society is bad at identifying dangers such as these, and even worse at preparing for them. In an essay published in the Journal of Evolution and Technology in 2002, Bostrom expressed dismay at how little research has been done on serious threats to humanity, writing: "There is more scholarly work on the life-habits of the dung fly than on existential risks." Little has changed since, he says.

A major sticking point, says Bostrom, is that humans are doomed only to learn from direct experience. Nuclear reactors were made safer after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The UN drew up plans for a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean a year after 230,000 people died from a devastating wave in 2004. Plans to bolster flood defences around New Orleans are still being thrashed out, five years after hurricane Katrina killed nearly 2,000 and left thousands more homeless. In each case, the risks were known, but they were only acted on after the event.

"Our attitude throughout human history has been to experience events like these and then put safeguards in place," says Bostrom. "That strategy is completely futile with existential risks. By definition, you don't get to learn from experience. You only have one chance to get it right."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Philippine Pantheons From Rocket Kapre

Rocket Kapre has announced a page of Philippine Pantheons, which could be a great aid for writers wanting to include elements of Filipino mythology into their work. An excerpt:

It’s a little more than a month before the deadline for submissions to Alternative Alamat, and I thought it would be an opportune time to launch my second companion project. A few months back, I released the Myth List, an index of Philippine myths and legends with fantastic elements. Today, I’m happy to announce the launch of Rocket Kapre’s Philippine Pantheons page, what I believe to be–as of this writing–the most comprehensive list of Philippine Gods and Goddesses on the Internet. Yes, Wikipedia included.

It does not claim to be a comprehensive list–that being said, as far as my research can determine, this is the most comprehensive list of Philippine gods and goddesses on the Internet, with 344 individual entries. Of course, given that the Ifugao alone seem to have had deities in the hundreds, that means there is still a lot of room for expansion.

Still, it’s a good place to start, and I hope that it opens the eyes of writers to the vast potential for stories represented by our myths and legends. Many of the entries are merely names and a domain, but as Michael Chabon found himself inspired by maps “and the romantic blank of unexplored territory”, and names that were like magic spells, calling into being that which had previously not existed, so too do I hope you glean inspiration even from the sparest of entries. The West has its Thors, its Aphrodites… maybe it’s time for our own deities to shine.

How to Help:

  • Spread the Word: … because this list won’t do anyone any good if no one knows it’s here. If you use the list, and it helps you with your story or komik or research, point people back to us with a link.
  • Information: If you think I’ve missed a god or goddess, please leave word in the comments section here, or send me an email at rocketkapre[at], and tell me your source. I’ll verify it as best I can, then add it to the list if warranted.
  • Art: If you’ve drawn or seen artwork of a deity online, post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the proper entry.
  • Stories: If you find a story which uses one or more of these deities as characters, let me know link in the comments and I’ll add them to the proper entry.

Should Artists' Lives Or Opinions Affect How People Perceive Their Art?

A link sent in by The Grin Without A Cat, "Should Artists' Lives Or Opinions Affect How People Perceive Their Art?" It's an interesting piece on the intentions of the work of the artist; who the artist is and what he believes in, how he lives his life, and what opinions he carries; and what those who experience the work of art bring of themselves as they take it in. An excerpt:

The problem is that artist commentary is so often tempting—even when we get something different out of a work than what directors or writers or actors say they put into it, it’s generally compelling to hear them out as they explain their vision. (If it wasn’t, half this website wouldn’t exist.) Inception wouldn’t be sparking nearly so much avid online debate if Christopher Nolan released a dry statement explaining what he believes it all means and exactly how we should interpret the final act—but even so, I’m betting if he did issue such a statement, everyone who saw the movie would want to read it anyway.

And by the same token, even people who would like for work to stand entirely on its own have trouble turning their heads during major media blowouts like the current business over Mel Gibson’s profanity-laden meltdown tapes, or Roman Polanski’s arrest and release. Often after being exposed to artists’ work, we feel like we know them on some level—especially if that work speaks to us in personal ways. It can be a shock when terrible behavior (or even just normal human behavior that happens to be at odds with a carefully crafted media image, or with the art itself) reminds us that we really don’t. And our own personal judgments about a creator’s actions can be even harder to separate from the work than the direct, overt statements they make about that work.

Even so, art can’t exist in a vacuum. Interpretation is a personal act, but so is creation, and some part of the artist goes into the work, whether it’s a specific intended message, or just the inevitable imprint of a creator’s personality and experiences. Work still has to stand on its own, but it’s increasingly hard to let it, given our media-driven, privacy-lite era, where we tend to know a lot more about high-profile writers, actors, and directors than they’d like us to know. Yet at least from an idealistic perspective, the ultimate determinant of whether a work speaks to someone should be whether the work actually does speak to someone, and not whether the creator said it should, or the creator is funny or interesting or smart or plays well on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. Or for that matter, whether he’s a drunken, abusive, ranting psychopath.

The Form Was Also The Message

I've been sharing a printer with three others at work. One of them resigned recently, and when he left, he had to turn over all his equipment. As luck would have it, the printer, and his computer which was directly connected to it, were listed in his name. He had to surrender all of these before he could get his clearance to leave. I, and my other companion, were suddenly left without any means to make hard copies of any of our files. So I called the office administration rep and described our predicament.

Me: Can we get the printer back, have it reconnected to our computers?

Rep: Sure, no problem. All you need to do is give us a formal request.

Me: Is that all?

Rep: Yup. Sure.

Me: Okay, thanks!

I hung up the phone, happy that there was a simple solution to this. Or so I thought.

I'm sure you guys saw the problem before I did. It took me a good fifteen minutes after this conversation to realize: How the heck am I going to print out a formal request if I didn't have a printer?

I could've saved the file into a flash drive and borrowed another computer connected to a printer, but the thing was, all this happened on a Friday evening, and a lot of people were shutting down their computers, preparing to leave. What's more, my printer at home was on the blink.

What to do? What to do?

Of course, my good old typewriter came to the rescue again!

I typed out my request over the weekend, and gave it in first thing Monday morning. Let me tell you, everyone in Admin who saw the memo were laughing after reading it.

"Okay, I guess we have to get you a printer soon so you won't have to 'type' your files anymore," the Admin head said, smiling as she spoke. "When I saw your memo, I actually panicked, thinking that there was something I hadn't got to from twenty years ago!"

The ending is even better than I expected. Not only was the old printer reconnected, a new one will be procured and delivered soon. The form was also the message. :)

Open Australian Short Speculative Fiction Markets

Here are seven Australian short speculative fiction markets open to submission, care of dragonkat@LJ:

It's a good time to be writing spec fic short stories in Australia right now. And maybe even for our overseas friends, as many of our local markets are open to international submissions! Thought it might be a good time to do a little round up:

1. Twelfth Planet Press is seeking original, unpublished fantasy stories of between 2,500 wds and 7,500 wds, set in the 1920s and fun for Speakeasy. Details here. Closes September 30, 2010. Twelfth Planet Press also has open reading for the novella and novelette doubles series'.

2. FableCroft Publishing is calling for (Australian only) submissions to After the Rain, a speculative fiction anthology for stories between 2,000-10,000 words. Details here. Closes October 31, 2010.

3. Liz Gryzb is editing More Scary Kisses for Ticonderoga Publications. Paranormal romance stories of between 1,000 and 8,500 words are wanted. Details here. Closes November 1, 2010.

4. Submissions of 1,000 to 7,500 words from Australian and overseas contributors are encouraged to the Aussie vampire anthology Dead Red Heart from Ticonderoga Publications. Closes December 1, 2010. Details here.

5. Editor Keith Stevenson is reading for the forthcoming Couer de Lion anthology, Anywhere But Earth. Original and unpublished science fiction stories of between 3,000 and 15,000 words on the theme are welcomed. Extensive details here. Closes February 28, 2011.

6. Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is almost always open to global submissions of up to 10,000 words (20,000 for Aust & NZ writers). Comprehensive guidelines here.

7. Aurealis is also an open market for Australian speculative fiction between 2,000 and 8,000 words - submissions from overseas by query. Guidelines here.

Gumshoe Review Now Open To Submissions

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ted Chiang On Writing

Here's an interview with science fiction writer Ted Chiang on writing. An excerpt:

Were there any formative experiences that led you to become a science fiction writer?

Probably the most formative experience was reading the Foundation Trilogy when I was about twelve years old. That wasn't the first science fiction I had ever read but it's something that stands out in my memory as having had a big impact on me. Reading Asimov and then Arthur C. Clarke when I was twelve definitely put me on the road to being a science fiction writer.

When did you actually decide to go pro?

It depends on what you mean by going pro. I started submitting stories for publication when I was about 15, but it was many years before I sold anything. I don't make my living writing science fiction so in that sense I'm still not a pro. Writing for publication was always my goal, but making a living writing science fiction wasn't. When I was a kid I figured I would be a physicist when I grew up and then I would write science fiction on the side. The physicist thing didn't pan out, but writing science fiction on the side did.

How has being a technical writer affected your fiction writing?

I can't recommend technical writing as a day job for fiction writers, because it's going to be hard to write all day and then come home and write fiction. Nowadays I work as a freelance writer, so I usually do contract technical writing part of the year and then I take time off and do fiction writing the rest of the year. It's too difficult for me to do technical writing at the same time as fiction writing - they draw on the same parts of my brain. So I can't say it's a good day job in that sense, but it's a way to make money.

Could you give a walk-through of your writing process?

In general, if there's an idea I'm interested in, I usually think about that for a long time and write down my speculations or just ideas about how it could become a story, but I don't actually start writing the story itself until I know how the story ends. Typically the first part of the story that I write is the very ending, either the last paragraph of the story or a paragraph near the end. Once I have the destination in mind then I can build the rest of the story around that or build the rest of the story in such a way as to lead up to that. Usually the second thing I write is the opening of the story and then I write the rest of the story in almost random order. I just keep writing scenes until I've connected the beginning and the end. I write the key scenes or what I think of as the landmark scenes first, and then I just fill in backwards and forwards.

How do you classify your writing? I feel like it's a kind of philosophical fiction, because it's actually making people think, waking them up and making them wonder about things.

That's one of the things that science fiction is particularly good at, that's one of the reasons I like science fiction. Science fiction is very well suited to asking philosophical questions; questions about the nature of reality, what it means to be human, how do we know the things that we think we know. When philosophers propose thought experiments as a way of analyzing certain questions, their thought experiments often sound a lot like science fiction. I think that there's a very good fit between the two.

Win A Signed Copy of "Tall Story" By Candy Gourlay

Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind is giving away two signed copies of Candy Gourlay's "Tall Story". Click here for how to join!

"Oplan: Bleach" In Philippines Graphic

Please do check out my story, "Oplan: Bleach", in the July 26, 2010 issue of Philippines Graphic. This is a story about, of all things, marketing, business strategies, and skin-whitening products! My thanks to Graphic editor Joel Salud for publishing it!

RJ Ellory Wins Crime Novel Of The Year Award

British writer RJ Ellory wins a top UK crime writing prize for his novel "A Simple Act Of Violence". An excerpt:

A Simple Act of Violence is his sixth book, and although he sells well in the UK – A Quiet Belief in Angels was picked for the Richard & Judy book club in 2008 – he says his sales are "silly huge" in France.

"You do not run into this division in France between crime and literary fiction," he said. "There is no clique, no strict divide between the genres. The bottom line is the more books I sell and the more readers I speak to, the more I realise that what readers are interested in is a good story. Crime can be about romance, war, spies, child abduction – there are so many things you can thread through a crime novel that you can't do with other genres. As a topic it's very plasticine to deal with." He uses crime, he said, to "create a canvas within which I can put my characters through the spectrum of human emotions. That's what fascinates me."