Sale of For All Mankind!

Contract in hand, I can now announce that I’ve sold my most ambitious short work yet to Analog Science Fiction & Fact!

For All Mankind is the tale of two very different women, each hiding secrets from a hostile world.  When their respective nations must reach across the Iron Curtain to avert disaster, they find in space, something bigger than fear or prejudice.

Read More

You Love Me! You Really Love Me!

C Stuart Hardwick
Shawn Scarber
Marina Nelson Lostetter
Jamie Lackey
John EckelkampRobert Dawson
Stanley Love
Martin L. Shoemaker
Angus McIntyre
Karen Birkedahl Rylander

Since its early days, science fiction has played a unique role in human civilization. It removes the limits of what “is” and shows us a boundless vista of what “might be.” Its fearless heroes, spectacular technologies and wondrous futures have inspired many people to make science, technology and space flight a real part of their lives and in doing so, have often transformed these fictions into reality. The National Space Society and Baen Books applaud the role that science fiction plays in advancing real science and have teamed up to sponsor this short fiction contest in memory of Jim Baen.

Trevor’s Laws

Analog editor Trevor Quachri is a hoopy frood. He really knows where his towel’s at. I heap this praise on a man I’ve never met and on whom I’ve been waiting for five months to hear back on a story submission because in his editorial in the March edition, he proposes a zeroth law of editorship. Never mind what the laws are, I’m just chuffed he went all-in and used zero-based indexing.

Well okay, the laws are pretty good too. They are:

  • First: An editor must select the best material available.
  • Second: An editor must improve the selected material.
  • Third: An editor must, encourage authors who aren’t currently providing material usable to the market.
  • Zeroth: An editor must provide a public face for the market and communicate its tone

It’s interesting that he calls these laws instead of roles or responsibilities or duties. I think this choice tells us something about how he sees himself in relation to a magazine and tradition that stretches back for most of us were born. I think he might have called them commandments, but didn’t want the Cecil B Dem ille overtones.

Anyway, I’m sure when he got through the first three, a forth occurred that seemed more fundamental than the others, and he sorted it in in-situ to avoid redrafting the piece. Or maybe he thought “zeroth” conveyed and amplified the thought in a pleasingly useful way. Or maybe he’s a C++ guy from way back, and that’s just the way his noggin rolls.

Doesn’t matter. It worked, and it’s a wonderful example of how the details of writing and shape and hone the message.

 

P.S. Thanks, Brad for the comp copy. I can’t wait to dig into your story.

Meet fellow Writers of the Future Winner, Shauna O’Meara

This week, a hearty welcome to fellow Writers of the Future winner, Shauna O’Meara.Image

Stuart: Thanks for dropping by, Shauna, and congratulations! Introduce yourself. What can you tell us that might surprise your friends?

Shauna: I come from country Australia. I adore spiders, insects (especially native bees), molluscs and plants and, in another life, might have been an entomologist or botanist. I also have a longstanding fascination with parasitic diseases, though strictly-speaking, my friends do know about this since most of them have been subjected to my specimen jars of ‘worms’.

I’m worried about the deteriorating condition of the natural environment and am concerned about some of the futures that might emerge from climate change, human overpopulation, resource shortages, genetic patenting, economic crises, world bee decline and technologies like genetic engineering (especially of infectious diseases and crops), coal-seam gas mining, bionic implants, internet dominance and virtual reality. As such – if only to get my own head around the big questions – these are the territories I tend to explore in my writing.

Stuart: Wow. That’s a lot to think about. Is that what got you into writing?

Shauna: I have always been into ‘story’ and ‘politics’ and why characters act and interact in the complex ways they do, from my earliest memories of the ‘adult’ story lines present in “Astro Boy” (1980s), “The Animals of Farthing Wood” and the “Animated Adventures of Batman”, but the book that really captivated me and made me want to create worlds of my own was Richard Adam’s: “Watership Down.” The way he presented his rabbits as creatures that could be depicted as having personalities and a ‘culture’, whilst still being essentially rabbits and not just rabbit-shaped humans, made me want to emulate his skill with my own characters.

Stuart: Very astute. And how have you evolved since?

Shauna: I hang out, online and in-person, with a super-generous group of speculative fiction writers (several of whom are past Writers of the Future winners and several of whom have even managed to make a living out of this passion called writing) and have been getting my work critiqued by them for a while now. Their feedback has helped me improve in the show-don’t-tell department and to choose my descriptions more precisely and succinctly so as to avoid great swathes of descriptive waffle and exposition. They have also helped me better understand how to achieve suspension of disbelief and characters whose motives and decisions make sense.

I have also become broader in my reading and, consequently, more daring in my writing and the topics I tackle. I have discovered that, while I always thought I would write fantasy, having read mostly fantasy in my formative years, it’s been near-future science fiction and imagined-future politics and the societal and ethical dilemmas thrown up by technology, population and climate change that I am finding most interesting to both read and write about.

Stuart: I agree. Reading outside your genre is important. As is standing ideas on end. My first novel started from the thought “What if global warming was saving us from something worse–the next ice age?” And I fooled around with that idea for far too long to mold it into a story. How about you. Are you a pantser or plotter?

Shauna: I am a plotter when it comes to character and spend a lot of time working out exactly ‘who’ each character is from the outset so that I know in advance the kinds of things they will do and say in any given situation.

Stuart: That’s very interesting. I’m just the opposite. My characters mostly pop up fully formed. I just know them. But I have to plot out the world I’m going to send them through.

Shauna: I am also a plotter when it comes to world-building and the rules of the world – because I feel you need to know what the limits and challenges of your world are first and where a good story might occur in the midst of all that world-building before you can then plunge your characters head-first into it.

I try to plan the major plot-points my characters are heading for (a brief outline), but then I usually leave the stuff in the middle up to a bit of pantsing. I need some pantsing to make me excited about ‘what happens next’ and keep me writing.

Stuart: I understand. Where’s your writer’s cave?

Shauna: I currently rent a fully self-contained bedsit, not much bigger than a hotel room, with a circular wooden table covered in chipped blue paint for my laptop, an alcove for my TV and another alcove for my scanner, camera and graphic design stuff. It’s close-living, but homely, with great views over the Brindabellas (our local mountain range) and a flourishing herb garden by the front door that perfumes the house when it rains.

Stuart: Sounds nice. For readers in the US who might not know, a bedsit is a rented private room or suite with shared kitchen, bath, etc. It’s a sensible, economical way to sublet a pre-existing structure, but is less popular in the states where we’re all “rugged individualist” about everything. I like the idea. Writerly recluse I may be, but we American’s don’t have enough community these days. Do you have any unusual talents or hobbies, Shauna?

Shauna: I would have said drawing, but you said ‘unusual,’ so I’m going to say that I can warble like an Australian Magpie – to the point I’ve even had birds call back to me. I’ve won wine before with that trick.

Stuart: Sweet! I’ll nag you to do that when we’re walking down Hollywood Boulevard. You can be the magpire. Tina Gower can drop by with her monkey call. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Shauna: Farscape and Planetes.

Stuart: Good answer! Farscape I know. Planetes, I had to look up. I’ll have to find that for my daughters. They adore Manga and K-pop. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Shauna: Aww…just one?

Stuart: Yes. Sorry. I don’t make the rules. Well, yes, I guess I did actually ;-).

Shauna: Travelling long distances sometimes bugs me because it feels like I am wasting valuable time ‘getting there’ – so the ability to teleport would be high on the list. I would also like to be able to go completely without sleep so I could put that unproductive third of my life to good use creating.

Stuart: Life is too short for dawdling. I’d like to have that on a suction cup projectile I can fire at other cars while driving. Do you dream about writing?

Shauna: While I’m awake, all my dreams are about writing, but when I actually dream, I have crazy adventures I can seldom remember in the morning, interspersed with those horrible dreams you get about being back at uni and confronted by an exam paper you can’t quite make out, but that you know for sure you haven’t studied for.

Stuart: Yes well, in my case, I call that last category “memories.” Moving on… When you were a kid, what was your favorite toy?

Shauna: A collection of My Little Ponies, who I used to recast as the various rabbits from Watership Down (don’t ask … My-Little-Ponyrabbit fan-fiction is complicated).

Stuart: Yeah, toys used to be more open-ended (and they should be). But even growing up, we never used anything the way it was intended, and our lives were richer for it. I’d have strapped bottle rockets to the ponies and my then astro-ponies, but your thing’s good too.

Shauna: Being a pub-kid, I also, at one time, had full access to an original 1980s Donkey Kong game table, making it, by default, mine. My dad used to take bets that no-one could beat me on the machine. I’m still waiting for my cut…

Stuart: Neat. I remember those. When I was little, there used to be Mrs. Pack-man tables at the pizza places. It was terrific because anyone could learn the game in a second and groups could play together while waiting for the food. If you adopted a unique wardrobe tag, what would it be?

Shauna: Being Australian, probably an Akubra (the rabbit-felt hat in my photo) and a caped, oilskin Driza-Bone greatcoat with lots of brass buttons.

Stuart: Nothing beats the classics! And capes are definitely cool. Would you like to share a quote?

Shauna: I have always lived by the Confucian saying, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” It has long governed the way I think about work and ambition and what I want to do with my life. I love what I do now for work, but I think that, if I can achieve my next goal – to make enough from writing and art that they can become my full-time pursuits – I will finally have achieved the very essence of that quote.

Stuart: Very wise indeed. Well thanks Shauna . It’s been a pleasure, and I can’t wait to see your wardrobe in person at the workshop in LA.

Shauna: I am really looking forward to meeting you and all the other winners of Writers and Illustrators of the Future, as well as all the writing mentors and teachers and staff at WotF and Galaxy Press. I am hoping to learn a lot and have some fun and make some great new friends.

Cheers

=======================================================

You can check out Shauna on the web at theshaunacorner.wordpress.com and on Facebook and Flickr.

Meet the Winners: Paul Eckheart

This week, third quarter 2013 Writers of the Future winner, Paul Eckheart is in the hot seat.

Stuart: Welcome, Paul, and again, congratulations. Tell me something those who know you might find surprising.

Paul: As a teenager I spent two summers teaching swimming and lifesaving at an ice-cold mountain lake. The kids I taught could only stay in the water for 15-20 minutes at a time to make sure they didn’t catch hypothermia. I, on the other hand, “got to” spend as much time in the water as I wanted–or as long as was needed to let all the kids do the rescuing and whatnot.

I haven’t been swimming since.

Stuart: Ooooch! They should at least have given you a shorty suit! Cold water is B.A.D.! So, I guess writing was really just a way to stay warm? What got you started?

Paul: I’ve asked myself that question many times and the most satisfying answer I can come up with is: This is what I’m supposed to do.

Stuart: I hear you, Paul. Even after our win, it still seems a daunting path. And yet, it’s the path. So, where’s it carried you? How have you evolved?

Paul: I used to think The Big Surprise was the reason to tell stories. I grew up watching reruns of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits–so many of those episodes have that moment of revelation at the end that brings clarity to all that came before it. While I still enjoy it when those moments come in my own work, I no longer look at The Twist as the be-all-end-all of storytelling. I’m a lot more about the full emotional journey beneath the story these days.

Stuart: Good answer. Yeah, the twist is still good, but it’s only one of many good ways to bring it home. What’s your writer’s cave like?

Paul: I invested in a very nice office chair several years ago. Even though it was more money than I ever imagined paying for a chair, I have never regretted it. My desk has telescoping legs that I’ve expanded so that my monitor is perfectly at my eye-level. Then I use a lap-desk for my keyboard and a trackpad. I like writing in the dark where it’s just me and the monitor–and maybe some orchestral music for mood setting.

Stuart: Do you have any unusual talents or hobbies?

Paul: I make my own bread. I have part of a sourdough yeast culture that was started in the late 1700s. Once a week I pull it out and feed it fresh flour to make sure it’s still alive and kicking.

Stuart: Sweet! You know I have a really old…um…no, I got nothin. How about a short excerpt?

Paul: This is from the first draft of my current work in progress:

Bad things came in threes. That’s what Gareth’s mother had always said, but he didn’t believe it. Not entirely. If life had taught him anything, it’s that bad things did cluster together. But “three” was arbitrary. Fours. Fives. Sixes. Didn’t matter. When the fates decided to smite you, you were screwed.
He perched on the edge of his old man’s wooden Adirondack chair letting the hard edge of the angled seat press his Levi’s into the back of his leg and pulled on his lower lip. The air was thick with the smells of harvest–crop dust kicked up by the threshers, a touch of diesel smoke from the trucks and machinery. He could hear them in the distance.
At the side of his folk’s old two-story farm house Gareth’s rusty 1978 Ford F-100 waited. The air rippled above its open hood in the smothering heat of the Indian summer.
No way in the world he could afford a new transmission. Not with the collection agencies already after him for his outstanding student loans. Nobody wanted to hire sociology majors. Someone should have told him that five years ago.
The piercing rays of the sun found a gap in the foliage of the cherry tree Gareth’d taken refuge beneath, and as he stood to move the chair he noticed, out over the corn fields beyond the edge of the unkempt lawn, birds circling overhead. Hawks? No. Not black enough. Wrong size, too.
He squinted and shaded his eyes. Crows. Scavengers. Carrion feeders. Something out there was dead. Or dying.
And then, in the rows of corn directly in front of him, something moved.

Stuart: Very nice! Next,  Star Trek or Star Wars? Windows or Linux?

Paul: Wow Stuart, are you out to start a Holy War between the workshop attendees?  🙂  Next you’ll be asking if–

Stuart: Pantser or plotter?

Paul: See?! SEE??!!

Stuart: Ha ha. You ever dream about writing, Paul?

Paul: Writing? No. Stories? Yes. I’ve worked out plot problems in my sleep before–but that’s always been with works in progress. With very few exceptions, the things that *start* as dreams don’t translate to the page very well. Or, at least, the people I’ve shown them to don’t find my paper-captured dreams nearly as amusing as I do.

Stuart: You know, I once had a dream with commercials and credits. I feel that should’ve have told me something… When you were a kid, what was your favorite toy?

Paul: I collected Folkmanis hand puppets. One in particular, a black and white cat, seemed to follow me around. Think Calvin and Hobbes, but without the orange tiger stripes.

Stuart: Ha! I’ll bet that kitty told some stories! Okay, if you had a wardrobe tag like Doctor Who what would it be?

Paul: I occasionally pull out a paperboy cap for workshops and conventions. It used to be a Pendleton Mills wool hat, but after that wore out I started wearing a Kangol 504.

Stuart: Wow! A man who knows his hats! And, do you have a quotation for us?

Paul: “if you can see that your story is getting boring, have a clown on stilts rush through the scene with his hair on fire.” — Tim Powers

Stuart: Ha ha! Or an undead pirate king, no doubt! Thank’s Paul, and I can’t wait to meet you in person!

Paul: Thanks, Stuart. You’re welcome. Pleased to be part of it and I look forward to meeting you in April.

=======================================================

Paul actually does have an answer to the Pantser vs. Plotter question, and plans to blog about it in coming days at www.pauleckheart.com.

Check it out!

My story, “Rainbows For Other Days,” is about a cyborg ranger torn between his humanity and his programming–and the hauntingly simple way in which he copes. It will appear in volume 30 of the L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future anthology.

Release is in April. You can pre-order here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1619862654/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1619862654&linkCode=as2&tag=nothingun-20

If you haven’t read the Writers of the Future anthology before, check it out. The stories are the winners in the most prestigious short story competition in speculative fiction, and there’s always something for everyone.

Meet Writers of the Future winner: Randy Henderson

Meet fellow Writers of the Future winner, 2013’s second quarter 1st place: Randy Henderson.

Stuart: Hi Randy. Congratulations and thanks for dropping by. Why don’t you start by telling me what made you want to be a writer?

Randy: It’s what all the cool kids were doing.

Stuart: Ha ha. Must have been an interesting school! So, in what ways have you evolved creatively?

Randy: I used to have adverbial gills and a passive vestigial tail. Now, I can cast power sentences. If I gain three more publishing victories, I will evolve into an Authorion Prime, and then I’ll really kick writing butt.

Stuart: I think I have prepositional gills.

Randy: I actually have a presentation I give on the evolutionary stages of writers that reflects the stages I’ve gone through and continue to work through, which includes:

  • Not mistaking events, preaching, or a series of transgressive acts as being a story (i.e. writing dramatic stories with plots).
  • Learning the fundamentals of written gooder, he exploded explodingly.
  • Realizing that writing, editing, and submitting are work, and doing that work consistently and effectively.
  • Learning and using deeper plot and character techniques like integrating plot and character arcs, backwards plotting, etc.
  • Finding one’s voice and style.
  • And of course, getting published professionally, and everything that comes with and after that.

Stuart: Of course. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Randy: Having been shunned as a child, I do not condone pantsing anyone else, only yourself, let’s make that clear up front. However, I do think honestly most writers are a blend of both, particularly on longer projects. It is not so much one or the other but, from writer to writer and project to project it is a graduated scale, like the spiciness of salsa, or one’s sexual identity, or the quality of Start Trek movies.

Stuart: Describe your writer’s lair.

Randy: Well, for the best view, why don’t you stand there above the shark tank and–

Stuart: Umm…Randy, that’s Stromberg’s Shark Tank. You remember what happened to Stromberg, right?

Randy: Oh, fine. Well, one thing of note is, I started using a standing desk and it is awesome.

Stuart: Hey me too! I liked it so much, I built myself a treadmill desk…

Randy: Reduces back and neck strain, allows you to dance as you write, is better for your circulation, helps burn calories, and even cuts through cans.

Stuart: “It can even cut a cow in half!”

Randy: And alas, no, I don’t get 10% commission if you mention I sent you.

Stuart: Star Trek or Star Wars, sir?

Randy: Each has a special place in my heart for different reasons. I feel, generationally, a more relevant question today might be Halo or Mass Effect? Video games have reached a point where they can offer the kind of rich storyline, characters, awesome experiences, and most importantly, action figures, that we once took from movies and television.

Stuart: Action figures, yes. My favorite is The Great and Powerful Yogurt, from Space Balls. Windows or Linux?

Randy: Commodore 64.

Stuart: Good answer. I actually used to know a guy who wrote and sold software for the those. He was, umm, a nice guy? You ever dream about writing?

Randy: Indeed. I hope to some day. But until then, I’ll probably just write about dreaming.

Stuart: Very wise. When you were a kid, what was your favorite toy?

Randy: Anyone who knows me knows this question makes the terrible assumption that A) I grew up and B ) I would have only one fave. But I do remember fondly from my childhood (to date myself) my Six Million Dollar Man toys, my Evel Knievel toys, models of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica ships, and of course video games.

Stuart: I remember Lee Majors. You know, for an astronaut and all, he spent an awful lot of his time solving crime. If, like Doctor Who, you adopted a unique wardrobe tag (scarves, fezzes, bow-ties), what would it be?

Randy: I don’t believe in popping tags. You will however frequently see me in a tie shirt (a shirt with a tie imprinted on it). But if I had my way, I suppose it would be Doc Ocs arms. I mean, come on, I could write 4 novels at a time! Suh-weet!

Stuart: Or maybe a T-shirt reading “You’d have to be crazy to become a writer.” Any last thoughts?

Randy: Why, did you poison me with iocane powder?

Stuart: You ate Stromberg’s fries??? You KNOW what happened to Stromberg, right? And it wasn’t iocane power, it was powdered nightlock berries. But it’s cool, since we are inventing this universe, we can just invent a logically consistent anti-toxin. Meanwhile, remain calm and rest here while I tell the nice folks how to find out more about you, you know, in case you make it.

==========================================================
Randy Henderson’s fiction can be spotted frolicking in places like Penumbra, Escape Pod, Realms of Fantasy, Every Day Fiction, and anthologies. He is a 1st Place winner of Writers of the Future, a Clarion West graduate, a relapsed sarcasm addict, and a milkshake connoisseur who transmits suspiciously delicious words into the ether from his secret lair in Kingston, Washington.

The first novel of Randy’s humorous urban fantasy series, titled FINN FANCY NECROMANCY, is forthcoming from TOR in early 2015. Learn more at www.randy-henderson.com. Stay connected on Facebook (/randyhenderson) and Twitter (/quantumage).

Setting Pitons

My certificate from UC Berkeley arrived today. With this and two bucks, I can get a nice cup of joe. It was worth it, though. I enrolled in the program when I knew I wanted to write better than I knew how. I read a lot of novels I’d forgotten existed or would never have given the time of day. I picked. I pondered. I asked. I studied. I wrote.

David Rompf’s class was awesome. And Mary Anne Koory’s and Margaret Steen’s. And the venerable Gary Tombleson who found my approach to essay (by god if nothing else, don’t bore yourself!) so refreshing. And the others…except for the execrable “novel writer’s workshop” which shall never be mentioned again. And now I write real good 😉 .

Well, I write better. I’m published and I’m an L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future winner! Wow. That still feels like I should look behind me to see who we’re talking about. It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come, and yet…

I feel like the little boy who dreams of the distant mountain. Everyone says, be sensible, mountain climbing is for heroes or saints or the strapping lads from better towns where it’s taught as intramural sport and men wear climbing gear to clean out their gutters. Or else they say, “it’s no great thing. I’ve been there myself, see?” And as proof they tell improbable tales or flash hand-drawn sketches pinched in lily-skinned hands that have never known a callous.

So he packs up one day and sets off to see for himself. Along the way, he learns all he can. He practices and soaks up whatever advice seems reasonable. He builds his body and his toolkit and keeps climbing, ever deeper into hills that had been invisible at the start. One day, he heaves himself up onto a good-sized boulder and pauses to see where he’s standing. He realizes he’s been climbing for months–really climbing–up steeper and steeper slopes, and he’s left the naysayers behind. As he stands in the warming light, he hears encouraging voices echoing in on the wind. He smiles at the memory of the many gifts he’s collected, and a few of the strains and the bruises. He strokes his beard with sun-hardened fingers, and turns to take stock of the mountain.

Here it is at last, the gleaming tower of black stone and white snow and icy gold in the sunlight. He could never have reached this spot as a boy, could never have known this grandeur. But he stands here now a man. He looks out over the crevasses, the inclines pregnant with snow, the shear walls of shadow and dangers he cannot imagine. He’s come so far, seen so much, and the summit–that gleaming paragon in the clouds–is more remote, more inviting, than ever. All this, this life, has been but the first halting step.

And what can he do, our hero? He rosins up his fingers, pulls away a crumbling bit of chaff, and swings himself up to the next ledge.

So goodbye Berkeley. The is much yet to learn, and I’m looking forward to the workshop in April. I trust they’ll be handing out ice axes. I’ll file mine as sharp as I can.

And now off to the next chapter.

 

Star Trek Continues

I’ve always been a bit befuddled by fan-produced TV shows–particularly Star Trek. I grew up loving the show, but i’ve never considered myself a “trekker” per se. I just love good sci fi, and for many years, Trek was as good as it got on the small screen.Happy Birthday, Scotty

But fan produced shows? Guys, the show is over. Usually, these fan things amounted to amateurish CGI and corpulent “officers” who spent an inordinate amount of screen time dialoging about, well, nothing.

Then I hear that Grant Imahara of Mythbusters fame is playing Sulu in a fan remake called “Star Trek Continues.” I respect Grant enough to check it out, and it turns out that as fan fiction goes, this show is through the roof. Scotty is played by James Doohan’s son. Kirk is an actual professional actor. The set is both authentic and complete, the effects and cinematography are too.

But it ain’t Star Trek…except…it sorta is. I keep waiting for the story to bog down into dialoging–it doesn’t. The first episode is a sequel to a TOS episode, and a rather good one, I must admit. The attention to detail is impressive. Oh, I’ve seen nice looking set pieces before, but these guys have the cadence,  the mannerisms, the timing and the pacing–all down right to the level of tension at each “commercial break”.

So, okay. “Continues” isn’t going to put J.J. Abrams or Chris Pine out of work, but I have to say, If you liked Star Trek the original series, you should check these guys out. It won’t be entirely just for nostalgia’s sake. http://www.startrekcontinues.com

Meet the Winners: Liz Colter

I’m just getting to know my fellow winners in this year’s L Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, and it seemed natural to facilitate the process with a series of blog interviews. Last week, the 2012 Gold Pen Award winner, Tina Gower, was kind enough to drop by. This week we get to meet 2013’s second quarter winner, Liz Colter.

Stuart:  Welcome, Liz, and thanks for joining us. To start us off, why don’t you tell me what got you into writing?

Liz: Genetics, I suspect. I already knew that my maternal grandfather (a doctor and Church of England minister) wrote and had a novel published, and that my brother wrote non-fiction. It wasn’t until I was partway through my first novel, though, that I found out my aunt had published, my brother secretly wrote fiction as well as non-fiction, and my mother had written stories just for herself off and on much of her life (she’s since been published as well). I am, however, the lone speculative fiction writer of the family.

Stuart: Deep roots! Now I’m curious to look up this Grandfather.. So you got started, and now you have the considerable validation of the Writer’s of the Future win. Along the way, how have you evolved creatively?

Liz: I set out to learn writing as a craft part way through my first novel due to some feedback from a local author. I joined a 10-week online workshop and have continued to learn ever since, brazenly utilizing better writers than myself as mentors and beta readers.

Stuart: Good writers borrow, great writers steal, eh? And the best learn from everyone and everything. So are you more pantser or plotter?

Liz: Definitely pantser! Can’t write an outline to save my life, especially on longer material. I start with an image more often than not, then get a rough idea of a setting, character, beginning and ending. At that point I have to start writing. Unless I set the characters in motion, the creative process just puts on the brakes. The characters more or less write their own story from there, I just transcribe for them. I’m glad I’m a pantser. I love being surprised by the story elements that evolve as I write.

Stuart: I hear you. I was very much the same way at first. So when you are out their discovering, where do you do work? What’s your writer’s cave like?

Liz: A small spare bedroom where my desk and my husband’s desk are so closely adjacent, they almost touch. I daydream of a property with a writing studio separate from the house. A little one-room, cabin-style cottage with a kitchenette, a gas fireplace, and large desk. And, yes, I’ve wasted a lot of valuable writing time thinking about this.

Stuart: Ha! I deny that a writer’s thinking time can ever be wasted – by Grapthar’s hammer I say! I know the draw though. Once I saw a London attorney who works in a tiny “sphere” in his backyard. So aside from writing, what’s your background?

Liz: I have a pretty varied work history, including being a paramedic, attending the San Diego fire academy and farming with a team of draft horses. I’ve also worked as an athletic trainer, Outward Bound instructor, dispatcher for a concrete company…hmm, what else?

Stuart: What? No warp drive mechanics? That’s a pretty robust resume, and you know, I just read one of L Ron Hubbard’s writing essays in which he proposed going out and getting a job just to gain material for writing. You may be further ahead than you imagine.

Star Trek or Star Wars?

Liz: OMG, both. I’m such a geek. Watching the original Star Trek series with childhood friends along with reading The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy at 10 were what got me started down this life-long path of loving speculative fiction in all its forms – movies, TV, and prose. Have to say, though, that some of the later incarnations of both disappointed.

Stuart: Well, now we have the chance to infuse the genre with out own ideas, don’t we?

Speaking of which, do you ever dream about writing?

Liz: Not often, but I do get daydream-like flashes of odd images, which frequently become the genesis for a story. I also occasionally dream really great speculative plots that I think “wow, that would be a great story” when I half-wake, and then can never remember them later.

Stuart: Oh I HATE when that happens! When you were a kid, what was your favorite toy?

Liz: Stuffed animals. Never was into dolls.

Stuart: Interesting. I’ll bet those animals went on some wild adventures! Well thanks, Liz. I can’t wait to meet you in person in April, and I know we’ll all be watching your career.

=======================================================

In addition to her short stories, Liz has two completed novels out making the rounds and a third still in progress. She blogs at http://ecolwrites.blogspot.com/

mautic is open source marketing automation