SciFi From Around The World

There’s a cool article in the Guardian today for anyone looking for links so they can start reading scifi that isn’t default American/English.

Scifi from all corners of the globe has always been around, but recently some of those works have been hitting the mainstream, culminating in this year’s Hugo Awards, where the Chinese novel, The Three-Body Problem, walked away with Best Novel. There are so many stunning, unique, fascinating and entertaining stories out there now, coming from completely new and original points of view.

There are also writers, like myself, who take the old myths and legends, stir them up with beloved scifi troupes and try to find a story that’s fresh and unexpected in it.

The same thing is happening in Fantasy, and across spec fic. It’s been a long time coming, but we have spec fic in the Western world that’s beginning to show a little of the huge market that’s out there.

I think that’s cause for celebration, don’t you?

Dancing reaction gifs

Okay, maybe not quite like that…

Best part of this article for me is that a former OWW member, Aliette de Bodard, is mentioned. Hurrah for my writing workshop! For those of us who have been there forever, hurrah for the Zoo and the good old OWW! It’s amazing how many truly great writers have left the OWW and gone on to great things: CC Finlay, Elizabeth Bear, Aliette de Bodard, Jim Butcher, Rae Carson, Fran Wilde, N.K. Jemisin…the list goes on and on.

The great thing about these writers is they’re all doing their part to push against the boundaries and turn spec fic on it’s head in the best way possible. By giving a voice in the mainstream to those who had no place there before.

Congratulations to all you guys for being part of a revolution! This is only the beginning, because we have a lot more stories left to share and new writers all around the world popping up and joining the club every day. Welcome everyone, and congrats. Keep it coming!

Have a great weekend and stay thirsty, my friends.

Greg Byrne Got One Hell of a Publishers Weekly Review For His Debut Novel Nine Planets!

Greg’s a wonderful old friend from Australia and we met on the OWW years ago where we supported each other as we crept toward our goal of being decent writers some day and shared our love of all things cricket.

Greg wrote this amazing, emotional, dystopic yet almost urban fantasy book called ‘Nine Planets’ that really didn’t fit any labels and defied conventions to tell a universal story. It took my publisher, Dragonwell Publishing to see the story for what it was. Something special.

So today we are all very proud, excited and over the moon to see that Publishers Weekly agreed with us.

Congratulations, Greg!!

Nine Planets - Click Image to Close

Look, Ma! No Hands! I’m on Wattpad!

Yep. You read that right.

I’ve decided to try out Wattpad, as it’s far bigger than my normal writing community, the OWW, and I wanted a place to connect to more readers.

So I’ve joined up and I’ve posted the first chapter of LEX TALIONIS here. If I get enough readers and interest, as expressed in comments, votes, whatever, I will post more chapters.

I’m also thinking of posting a few excerpts from my works in progress, but I’ll run that by my publishers before I do anything. And of course, I have to have an actual audience first.

I would love to hear what you think about this. Have you heard of Wattpad? Are you using it? What has your experience been like, if you have? Are there any tips and tricks I should know about how to navigate the site and find people and good stuff to read?

And please let me know in the comments who you are and how to find you on Wattpad. I’d love to make new friends–or follow old ones–especially if you write speculative fiction.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

The Best Writing Advice Ellen Datlow Ever Gave Me

It was the only advice she ever gave me, and it was really freaking simple.

She said, join a critique group.

That’s it. Nothing else. Join a critique group.

It’s not like she knew me or anything. I was a random newbie who had been writing for years in private and sent her a story in the hopes of seeing it appear on the website she was editing for at the time. The story was rejected, but I decided to use the personal email provided on the website and send her a note asking why.

Totally the wrong protocol. That’s how new I was, by the way. Note to new writers–never, ever write to an editor that has rejected you asking him or her to explain why. It’s rude. And most people are not as nice as Ellen Datlow and will not remember you kindly for it.

So anyway, she told me the truth, which was that it hadn’t been good enough to make it to her desk to read, so she had no idea why it was rejected. But she told me that her foolproof advice for a new writer was to join a critique group and learn from others. She even recommended one. The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. It was the best one out there, as far as she was concerned.

That was 14 years ago. Joining the OWW was the best decision I ever made. Everything I learned about how to write, every contact I made, every thing I learned about agents and the publishing industry and how to navigate both, I learned there.

It wasn’t easy. It was a lot of work. I took some hard hits. And joining a workshop doesn’t work for everyone, as Stephen King will tell you. As good as the experience was for me, there were people who left all the time because they felt like they weren’t getting much out of it. Back in those days, Del Ray was the sponsor, so it was free. Now you pay a nominal fee, but if you are willing to review for others–which is frankly the BEST way to learn–you will get way more out of it than it will ever cost you.

There are other groups, of course. Critters is another good one. And everyone knows about Wattpad and Book Country. You can even start your own face-to-face group. I can’t guarantee you it will be a successful venture. Hell, you may end up hating everyone you meet and leave in  a huff.

But I can tell you it’s worth the risk to be a better writer. To get feedback from someone who knows what you’re going through. Someone who feels the same way you do about telling stories. Someone who won’t pull any punches, and someone who will encourage you all the way. Every writing friend I have, I found in my critique group.

And if nothing else, you will know if you’ve got the stomach for this.

Because I’m telling you now, if you’re in this as a hobby, that’s fine. But if you want to tell your stories to others; if you burn inside with the desire to show the world the dreams that come to you in the dead of night; if envy eats you up inside every time you see a new publishing deal announced; if you’re willing to risk sanity, pride and bad habits right down to the bitter end, then it’s a writer’s life for you.

And a group of friends who will tell you the truth and love you and your story babies the entire time is a great place to start.

Stay thirsty, my friends.

Copyrights and Other Thoughts

I’m not an expert on this stuff. But I’m a writer, so when people are talking about stuff, I have to take notice. Scott Turow, president of the Author’s Guild, had an interesting article in the New York Times today that every author should read, so I’m posting the link here.


I’m sure those in the know will discuss it fully as it makes the rounds. I will say that as an author who lives and works outside the US, starving for my art has always been the likely reality. Very few people ever encouraged me to write, even friends that read and liked my work. There is simply no outlet here. Publishers are few and mostly do textbooks or assist in self-publishing those with the money to take such a route. Publishers that might publish a Caribbean author’s work are based in the UK and have the entire Commonwealth as their slush pile. With such odds–and writing genre fiction as I do, instead of contemporary literature or the usual post-colonial stuff–I never got anywhere querying agents and publishers in the UK. Most didn’t bother to reply. I have no idea if the expensive mail packages I sent ever went anywhere, and in the past, no way to follow up. Thank God for the advent of email!

The internet opened up worlds to me. I joined the best writers’ site ever in 2001, The Online Writing Workshop for SF, Fantasy and Horror, learned all there was to learn about the industry, all while genre itself was opening up to email and the internet far faster than publishers and agents in contemporary literature. I would have no book deal and no way out of the Caribbean without the OWW.

But I also knew I would never make a cent just by being a good writer. I had to sell overseas.Now it seems even as we have the self-publishing market opening up writers to make more money on their own, the internet has begun to shrink our usual revenue streams, and in ways that may affect the new ones over time as well.

I feel as though we are living in a time of great flux. I do not think it will be for long–it will probably take five, at most ten years, for the industry to settle down and find its new legs. But there are many, many changes to go before that happens. It’s premature to call Amazon the great devil, but it’s also premature to thank them for the dubious pleasure of Kindle Select. In the end, for the moment, I think this industry is less about good guys, bad guys and who’s right or wrong, and more about everyone making a mad dash toward one new thing or another, trying to get on top of everything they think might eventually replace the old order.

In other words, we’re all just trying to survive and not get left behind. In a despearate scenario like that, I think we should be careful to not get caught backing one side or another. I think it’s better to watch, listen, learn and take the best decision you can for yourself at the time, given your circumstances. We can’t protect ourselves from every bad thing that might be out there. But we can make sure we go into this industry with our eyes open, understanding that in this new world, we are now the masters of our own fate.

And perhaps that in itself is such a wonderful thing that despite whatever else the future might bring, it is enough to hope that it will all work out for the best.