Arts and Words Show

August 25, 2014


Arts and Words Show is an interesting experiment in art being run by the Texas author Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam.  She asked for writers and artists to submit works, and selected twelve from each category. Then she asked writers to come up with flash stories inspired by the selected artwork, and asked artists to draw new paintings based on the selected stories. The resulting 52 works will be displayed in a Fort Worth art gallery this September.

I sent Bonnie a few of my stories and she selected “The Rumination on What Isn’t” for inclusion. Looking forward to what one of the artists will do with that.

Meanwhile, I selected to write a story based on the art in the poster above, by Bob Crow.  Its title was In Your Future I see a Fish and it inspired me to write “Future Fragments, Six Seconds Long,” a story of a true seer working as a mall fortune teller.

I’m excited to see the art and the quote from the story featured on one of the two promotional posters for the show. If you happen to be in that area, stop by and check it out.



Kickstarter Staff Pick Button

August 14, 2014
Small Kickstarter Staff Pick Button

Small Kickstarter Staff Pick Button

My short story collection “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories” is doing really well on Kickstarter. Not only is it well on its way to the second stretch goal (have you backed it yet? If not, why not?), but it was also selected as the Kickstarter Staff Pick early on in the process. I noticed that many of the campaigns that received this honor have pasted “Staff Pick” buttons onto their cover images, but when I searched through Google Images for a freebie copy of such a button that I could copy, there was none to be found.

Sure, anyone who has even a modicum of graphics design skills can make their own in about 5-10 minutes. But what about those of us who lack even the basic level of such skills? I reached out to my friends, and Iulian Ionescu of Fantasy Scroll Magazine was kind enough to do a quick design of such a button for me. With his kind permission, I’m making it available for everyone else — if you need it, feel free to grab it from here and use it in your campaign! Stop by his site and leave him a note of thanks, but otherwise, have fun. I’m posting both small and large files here, and tagging them so people can have an easier time finding them via search engines.

Kickstarter Staff Pick Button

Kickstarter Staff Pick Button


And, of course, I would be remiss not to plug my ongoing Kickstarter campaign one more time:

Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories by Alex Shvartsman#SFWAPro


Video of the Kickstarter SF/F Editor Panel is Live

August 11, 2014

Last week I participated on the editor panel hosted at the Kickstarter HQ. It was moderated by Margot Atwell and featured five editors. Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld Magazine), Brian White (Fireside Magazine), Rose Fox and Daniel Jose Older (Long Hidden anthology), and me. It was a really fun event, and lots of intelligent things were said (mostly by the other participants!). The entire panel is now up on YouTube.

It’s an hour long, and it felt very much like a panel at a science fiction convention. If you don’t know what that’s like (or if you do, and enjoy those panels), you should watch the video.




Tales of the Elopus

August 9, 2014


I wrote a total of 14 micro-stories for the GISHWHES contestants in the past week, and now I’m going to post them for people to read, one at a time, as updates in my Kickstarter campaign.  They are free for everyone to read, whether you back the campaign or not, so check out today’s story “The Most Dangerous Game” here, and check back daily for more tales!

I’m also very excited that the campaign has reached its first stretch goal. Now it’s on to the Big One — the audio book which will unlock if the campaign raises $4000+. I’m very excited about the possibility of working with Tina Connolly on the audio book and feel optimistic about being able to reach that goal — there is still 18 days remaining in the campaign.

Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories by Alex Shvartsman

Click on the cover to visit the Kickstarter campaign!



August 5, 2014


If you’re a popular science fiction writer, chances are you’ve been inundated with requests in the last few days. People–sometimes fans, sometimes total strangers–have been asking you to write micro-fiction. The more famous the writer, the more such requests.

So what’s going on? There’s an actor named Misha Collins (a star of Supernatural TV series) who runs a very popular Internet scavenger hunt called GISHWHES — or Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.” Teams of players race to complete fun and wacky tasks, such as snapping a photo of elderly people mud wrestling, staging a water balloon fight set to opera music, etc. They score points for each item completed, based on the difficulty of the challenge.

This year, Misha Collins also directed his minions to do this:

Get a previously published Sci-Fi author to write an original story (140 words max) about Misha, the Queen of England and an Elopus.

An Elopus is sort of like a Cthulhuphant — half elephant, half Octopus pictured in their logo above.

Cue the many Big Name writers befuddled by all the requests:

And those are the polite tweets. Some authors are quite mad at Misha for doing this.

Personally, I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, I feel that Misha has done nothing wrong. No one is forcing any writer to participate in this exercise. It’s completely voluntary, and many of my colleagues welcomed the chance to help out the contestants while picking up a few potential new readers/fans.

On the other hand, I feel strongly that writers shouldn’t be expected to produce commissioned stories for free. Even tiny little micro-stories of under 140 words.  It may not take very long to write one, but a good writer spent years polishing their skills and there’s value in that. Also, there are other important things they could be doing with that time.

This afternoon I stumbled upon a brilliant post by Michael A. Burstein whereupon he offered to write these stories in exchange for at least one team member picking up a copy of one of his books. This seemed like a very fair and rational way to approach the situation, so naturally I stole it.

The idea meshed perfectly with my ongoing Kickstarter campaign to fund my short story collection. So I posted an update on Kickstarter and share it on social media, basically offering the following:

* I will write a Misha story for free for anyone who is already a backer of my campaign.
* If anyone wants one who isn’t a backer, all they have to do is pledge $10+ to the campaign, and they will get a micro-story for their team out of it AND all the rewards that go with whatever level of pledge they select.
* I will post all the micro-stories I write in this fashion as backer updates on Kickstarter (set to private, so only backers can see them, thereby protecting First Rights in case I ever want to do anything else with those stories.)

This worked out really well. Over the course of the evening, I managed to adopt a total of four GISHWHES teams. I already wrote and sent stories for the first three teams (and I must say, I’m pleased with how those stories turned out!) Going to write the fourth tomorrow, and any more that come in (a couple of other folks expressed interest.) I also raised almost $100 extra for my campaign, and exposed it to a whole bunch of new readers because so many people were kind enough to retweet my offer.

My offer is still open to interested GISHWHES teams. And there are other options, too. Lots of other great writers are willing to work with you — including the above-mentioned Michael Burstein, and Nathaniel Lee, who is the master of micro-fiction! So please, take advantage of our skills and our imaginations. So long as there’s a fair quid pro quo involved.



New Trends In Sci-Fi and Fantasy panel at Kickstarter HQ

July 30, 2014


Are you in the NYC area? Would you like to visit Kickstarter headquarters in Brooklyn and hear me and several other SF/F editors speak live in a FREE event?

Join us for a panel followed by some socializing and drinks this coming Thursday. Here are the details of this event:


Kickstarter Presents: New Trends In Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Thursday August 7 | 7 to 9:30pm

Kickstarter HQ

58 Kent Street

Brooklyn NY 11222


The line-up is:

Neil Clarke, editor of Clarkesworld magazine

Rose Fox and Daniel José Older, editors of the Long Hidden anthology

Alex Shvartsman, editor of the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology series

Brian White, editor of Fireside magazine

Margot Atwell (moderator), publishing community manager at Kickstarter

This is a FREE event, however there is limited seating available, so RSVP now to reserve a spot!


New publication: “The Golem of Deneb Seven” in InterGalactic Medicine Show

July 29, 2014


The Golem of Deneb Seven” takes place lightyears away, but at its heart is a story of family, and of civilians caught in the middle of the war they want no part of. It is especially topical now, given what’s going on in the Ukraine (even though it was written before the conflict there began). The story is now out as part of IGMS’s issue 40, and is its lead story, which means it got the full color cover treatment. I love, love, love the illustration M. Wayne Miller created for it!

Also, there’s the Kickstarter campaign for “Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories.” It’s been almost exactly 24 hours since the campaign launched, and it’s nearly 75% funded! That’s amazing, and I’m very grateful to everyone who pledged and helped spread the word so far. I already have some lofty stretch goals in mind that will hopefully appeal to everyone, so please keep sharing and talking about this project!





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