January 22, 2015


The first of the Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories physical copies have began reaching readers this week, and it’s a surreal feeling. I’m beyond excited for the February 1 official release. I’m lining up lots of different promotional things for the book: blog posts, interviews, giveaways, convention appearances and such. But ultimately, I’m just one guy. That’s why my friends’ help on social media has been so huge!

The official release date for the book is February 1st, and I’m trying to organize a Thunderclap to set off on that Sunday morning. What is Thunderclap and how it works, you ask?

Thunderclap is a web app that will synchronize and simultaneously post a message on the willing users’ Twitter, Facebook, and/or Tumblr feeds. It’s free to use and takes less than 10 seconds to join, but there is a catch: like Kickstarter, it won’t fire off unless a minimum amount of people join in. That minimum is 100. So if you don’t mind posting a message about my book’s release on any of those three social media feeds, would you please click below and join in?

Also, the early reviews for the collection are in, and they’re very positive! So far it has been reviewed by:

Tangent Online

Albedo 1

Fantastica Ficcion (Note: this last one is in Spanish.)

I’m looking forward to more reviews soon, hopefully.




Win a signed paperback of Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma & Other Stories!

January 5, 2015

Enter to win FREE. No gimmicks.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories by Alex Shvartsman

Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories

by Alex Shvartsman

Giveaway ends January 15, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

2014 Year In Review

December 31, 2014

This has been an excellent year for me writing-wise. I got nominated (and subsequently won) my first writing award, I wrote some good fiction I was proud of (though not nearly enough of it), and I made a somewhat-decent amount of money from my writing (for a hobby. Definitely not enough money to live on.)

Here are lots and lots of stats, and some conclusions thrown in:

1) I got to the point where I can consistently sell what i write.

I wrote a total of 13 new short stories this year. Of those 13 I already sold 9. (Of the remaining four, two were solicited: one is very likely to be accepted at the anthology I wrote it for, and the other I haven’t sent in yet, as I want to polish it some more.) In fact, of the 13 stories, seven were solicited and I was spared having to shop them around and collect a bunch of rejections in the process.

2) I’m running out of backlog.

There’s only a handful of stories I still have on submission at this point. That’s because while I wrote 13 new stories in 2014, I sold 19 original stories (I also made fourteen reprint sales, and one original sale for a story I translated from Russian.) All of my original sales were to venues paying $0.05+ per word. About a year-and-a-half ago I decided to no longer submit original work to semi-pro venues (with only one or two notable exceptions). I’m happy to say this has not slowed me down. As I hope to spend a lot of writing time on novels in 2015 and do more solicited projects, I expect my submission volume will decrease further.

Which is not to say I’m not submitting. I was no slouch in 2014. In addition to the 34 abovementioned sales, I gathered around 120 rejections! Most of the submissions were for reprints (and in that I include podcast submissions, foreign language magazine submissions, etc.)

3) The money’s getting better.

I earned a total of $1850 from my fiction writing in 2013. I doubled that number for the total of $3755 in 2014. This is nowhere near the quit-your-job money, but that’s not really my goal. Considering this all comes from short fiction sales (this total also includes $600 I got paid for consulting in my capacity as a SF writer) it’s enough to cover the cost of my books, my convention travel, and anything else I spent money on that’s SF-related. I’ll take that.

This total doesn’t include self-publishing income (i.e. money I earned on Amazon etc from my short story sales) nor any money earned by UFO Publishing from the sale of anthologies: this is purely income generated by my creative writing.

4) Editing and publishing continues to be really fun.

I edited two anthologies this year: UFO3 and Dark Expanse. Both have received solid reviews and enjoy reasonably good sales. I also wrote intros and otherwise prepared for publication my very first short story collection, which is only a month away from it’s release date and I’m extremely excited about its release. I have also done some preliminary work on UFO4. You’ll be hearing lots more about it in the spring.

5) What’s ahead.

In addition to UFO4 there’s another anthology project I’m working on. My agent is negotiating with a major publisher for that one. There’s no deal reached yet, and if one is reached the book will likely not hit shelves until 2016, but you will hopefully be hearing more about it in the coming months.

In terms of writing, I am ready to get back to my novel-in-progress and hope to concentrate on it over the coming months. I’ll still produce an occasional short story, because they’re really fun, and I’ll still translate some stuff, but the novel has to take priority or I’ll never get it done.

I will also attend more conventions this year. I already booked my WorldCon and World Fantasy memberships. You will likely find me at Vericon, Fogcon, Balticon, and Capclave this year, and possibly others, too!

So that’s my 2014 writing recap. And as I post it to the blog at 10:30 on New Year’s Eve, my plan is to go back to writing and only stop around midnight. Because they say how you ring in the new year is how that year is going to go for you. Or something like that.





Paying Back, 2014 Edition

December 23, 2014

This is my annual post about supporting the free Internet resources that you find especially useful. Despite them being–well–free, websites cost a lot to run, both in terms of paying for hardware, hosting and bandwidth, and especially in terms of the endless hours of time the webmasters are volunteering.

Because of this, I donate a bit of money each December to the sites I’ve used the most over the course of the previous year. The list of writing-related sites isn’t really different from the last time around:

* Codex Writers

This is a community of neo-pro writers. It’s not open to the public, but anyone who has made a professional sale or has attended a pro-level writing workshop (such as Viable Paradise, Clarion, etc.) qualifies for membership and should apply. I find the forum incredibly useful and visit it on the daily basis.

* The Submission Grinder

This free alternative to Duotrope launched when DT ceased to offer a free membership option and asked its members for $50-60 a year for the service. Submissions Grinder works just as well, at least for the speculative fiction markets that interest me, and while I feel $50 is too much for the way I use a site like this, I’m happy to donate the same $20 a year I used to give to Duotrope. For those of you who might not already be familiar with DT and Grinder, they’re wiki-type services that help writers track their submissions as well as provide a database of fiction markets.

* Absolute Write

I haven’t spent as much time on the Absolute Write forums this year, but they deserve support for both providing excellent forums for write0r-folk, and for being vocal advocates against disreputable publishers, agents, and anyone else who might choose to prey upon ill-informed or new authors.

Of course, it’s also important to support authors and editors and everyone else involved in creating the fiction you like to read. To that end, please consider doing some of the following:

* Subscribe to magazines you enjoy reading, even ones you can read online for free.
* Support Kickstarter and other crowdfunding projects by your favorite creators.
* Buy their books, music, comics, or whatever else you enjoy.
* Take a moment to write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other site where you might buy books. It will cost you nothing, but is actually very helpful to authors and publishers.



New Publication: “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Monsters” in Daily Science Fiction

December 22, 2014


My humor flash story “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Monsters” is live on the Daily Science Fiction website. Check it out! And if you prefer to hear it in audio, it will appear on the Far-Fetched Fables podcast sometime next year.

If you enjoy this story and the way it makes fun of movie tropes, you will probably also like “Worldbuilding” and the way that story satirizes science fiction tropes.





UFO Publishing 2014 Holiday Bundle Sale

November 30, 2014


Our biggest holiday sale yet, only for a limited time: December 1 – December 15

Get all of these books:

* Unidentified Funny Objects
* Unidentified Funny Objects
* Unidentified Funny Objects
* Coffee: 14 Caffeinated Tales of the Fantastic

Paperback bundle:

Get four books for $34.99 (that’s a $58 value), FREE shipping within the United States, and free e-book versions of each book as well!


E-book bundle

Get for books for $14.99 (that’s $23 value). E-book download links will be e-mailed to you within 1 business day.


Pick up the UFO Publishing titles at the lowest price ever offered and help us produce more wonderful books by buying direct from the publisher!


My PhilCon 2014 Schedule

November 20, 2014

I’m PhilCon-bound this weekend and here’s my event schedule:

Fri 7:00 PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail (mod), Rob Balder, Neil Clarke, Gil Cnaan, Alex Shvartsman, Alyce Wilson]

Panelists discuss what worked, what didn’t and why. How can you  promote one to make sure it is a success

Fri 8:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two (1 hour)

[Panelists: Alex Shvartsman (mod), Bob Eggleton, Lawrence Kramer, James Prego]

Consider really huge monsters. Sure we like ‘em big and capable of stomping cities, but is there any way to make a Godzilla or Chthulhu plausible

Sat 10:00 AM in Autograph Table (1 hour)

[Panelists: Alex Shvartsman (mod), Neil Clarke]

Sat 3:00 PM in Plaza V (Five) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Alex Shvartsman (mod), Brian Thomas, Berakha Lana Guggenheim, Steve Miller, Robert C Roman, Lee Gilliland]

Has the genre become too serious and pretentious in recent years? Do too many writers feel they are philosophers and teachers?

Sat 6:00 PM in Executive Suite 623 (1 hour)

[Panelists: April Grey (mod), Alex Shvartsman]

Sat 9:00 PM in Plaza II (Two) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Rock Robertson (mod), Gil Cnaan, Muriel Hykes, Suzanne Rosin, Alex Shvartsman]

Well, here we go again. Another social network rears its ugly head and everyone contemplates jumping ship. Discuss as former GEnie members nod wisely.

Sat 10:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two (1 hour)

[Panelists: Brian Koscienski (mod), Darrell Schweitzer, Alex Shvartsman, Robert Corry, Brian Thomas, April Grey]

There is a fine line between horror and humor.  How do the successful examples of this work



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