YA! 2015 Competition

November 25, 2015

Are you a YA author shopping around a novel? Authors.me is hosting a YA competition where you can win up to $750 in cash prizes and line edits for your manuscript. Furthermore, it’s an extra opportunity to get your book in front of potential agents and publishers.

Authors.me is a new service for both writers and publishers, something like Submittable with social media elements thrown in. They describe it as a “platform that connects writers, agents, and publishers to discover great manuscripts.”

Click here to learn more about the competition:


Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with authors.me but I did meet with their representative this week to check out their platform, and they seem like good folks. This is how I learned about the contest.



Philcon 2015 Schedule

November 19, 2015

Today, I reached level 40.

That sounds way cooler than just saying “I turned forty years old,” you know. I celebrated with family and good friends. The best line of the evening, and I am not making this up, was “This is not a rabbi. It’s R2D2.” No context for you.

What better way to continue the celebration into the weekend than to attend a science fiction convention? I’ll be at Philcon starting tomorrow, and here’s where you can find me:

Fri 7:00 PM in Autograph Table (1 hour)

[Panelists: Joseph Berenato (mod), Alex Shvartsman]

Sat 1:00 PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Alex Shvartsman (mod), Dr. H. Paul Shuch, David Walton,
Alexis Gilliland, Jon McGoran]

We now know modern humans have Neanderthal DNA. New planets are
being discovered almost on a daily basis. Technology is allowing us
to print organs. What recent discoveries are you putting into your
stories? And where will SF go now that the future is here

Sat 5:00 PM in Plaza II (Two) (1 hour)

[Panelists: Fran Wilde (mod), Dena Heilik, Joseph Berenato, Alex

Not every amazing book is a best-seller. Whether it’s an unsung
classic or a recent author, come talk about the fiction you’ve found
that, strangely, nobody else seems to be talking about

Sun 11:00 AM in Crystal Ballroom Three (1 hour)

[Panelists: Sally Wiener Grotta (mod), Russ Colchamiro, Joseph
Berenato, Ian Randal Strock, Alex Shvartsman]

How is it moving away from the conventional New York publishing
scene? There are so many alternatives today (Crowd-sourcing, small
presses, independent publishers and non-print electronics) Will the
big publishers be left in the lurch

Sun 1:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Three (1 hour)

[Panelists: Neil Clarke (mod), Alex Shvartsman, Barbara A. Barnett,
Hildy Silverman, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Robert E. Waters]

So you have a finally finished a story. What are the main markets?
Who do you want to avoid.



2015 Award Season Begins

November 15, 2015

Nebula award nominations opened today signaling the beginning of the 2015 award season. I’m going to be reading books and short stories for nomination this winter, but I also wanted to post the list of my publications this year, eligible in several categories, in case you might wish to consider any of them for nomination. Perhaps my strongest bit of writing to be published this year was “The Race for Arcadia” published in Mission: Tomorrow. This short story was already a finalist for the Canopus Award this year and I would love for everyone to read it. Fortunately it’s available as part of the preview for the anthology at Baen books so I’m linking it below.

If you’re reading for award consideration and would like a copy of any of the stories below, please let me know and I will do my best to provide them.

Short Stories

The Race for Arcadia — Mission: Tomorrow, Baen Books
Burying Treasure — Chicks and Balances, Baen Books
Die, Miles Cornbloom — Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine

Flash Fiction

Dreidel of Dread: The Very Cthulhu Chanukah — Galaxy’s Edge
Staff Meeting As Seen By the Spam Filter — Nature
He Who Watches — Fireside
Grains of Wheat — Nature
Invasive Species — Daily Science Fiction


Islands in the Sargasso — Galaxy’s Edge


H. G. Wells, Secret Agent — UFO Publishing





The Hook: Domnall and the Borrowed Child by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

November 11, 2015

Domnall Cover

The Hook:

For centuries–more than that, millennia!–since the beginning of time itself, the fae had celebrated the Spring by finding the bluebells and creating a faerie ring. And now, apparently, that was all over. Too dangerous, squeaked the Council. Times have changed. Tradition simply tossed to the wind like dandelion seeds.

Domnall stabbed his walking stick into the muddy earth to navigate the bog as carefully as possible. Dirty snow still crusted the north side of the hills. He spat and trudged through the mud as the afternoon sun sunk low. Maybe he should head out, leave this place and plead for safe passage from the sluagh–they still ruled their lands, at least. A chortle escaped him at the thought of his short round self jogging behind a pack of high-flying sluagh, terrorising the local villages. Maybe not.

A scrabbling sound ahead broke into his thoughts and he froze, scanning the scrubby land for movement. When nothing else stirred, he crept carefully towards the protection of the woods.

Sylvia Spruck Wrigley writes:

Domnall and the Borrowed Child is a traditional fantasy story set in Scotland and follows the tribulations of an old and cranky scout named Domnall. When a Seelie child falls deathly ill, Domnall has to trick a human family into giving it Mother’s milk, an old ploy of the good folk but one that they haven’t had to resort to in a century or more. Domnall faces cunning humans, hungry wolves, and uncooperative sheep in his attempt to save the child.

I had two challenges to tackle in the first few paragraphs of the book. The first was to quickly make it clear that it was not a fairy tale and definitely not a children’s story. Domnall is lovable (well, I like to think so) but very much for adults. The second challenge was to make it clear that these were not Disney fairies who loved humans but instead a separate culture with their own politics and viewpoint.

Originally the story started in front of the Sithein, with Domnall speaking to his friend when Maeve comes out to tell him that they need his services. The opening scene was completely serviceable but it was a bad place to try to feed in the backstory.

Usually, I try to drip-feed information later in the story but in this case, I backed up instead. In that initial scene, Maeve is interrupting Domnall’s evening because she has an emergency, so I had to think about what she was interrupting. His peace and quiet, of course, but why did he feel he deserved it? The answer could only be because he’d spent all day on a thankless task. This gave me a great new scene and an opportunity to introduce Domnall properly, not just as the Sithein’s scout and all-around friendly guy. His internal frustration at the politics of the Sithein and the changing world was allowed full reign. Of course, his thoughts needed to be interspersed with action, so I took the chance to show his interactions to his environment and, a few paragraphs in, his reaction to a human child wandering through the forest.

This is interesting because usually I would attempt to drop the reader into the action in the first few paragraphs. This time, instead of setting up the plotline with Maeve, I slowed things down and offered an introduction to the narrator, the world and (most importantly) the type of book to expect. Domnall’s story is more of a fun romp than high action and adventure, so this hook sets the mood.

It’s not general advice that I would give for working out where the story starts but in this case, it was right for the story.

Buy Domnall and the Borrowed Child on Amazon.

About the author:

Sylvia Spruck Wrigley was born in Germany and spent her childhood in Los Angeles. She emigrated to Scotland in 1990, guiding German tourists around the Trossachs while she searched for the supernatural. She now splits her time between South Wales and Andalucia where she writes about plane crashes and faeries, which have more in common than most people might imagine. Her short stories have been translated into over a dozen languages. Domnall and the Borrowed Child was released this week by  Tor.com as a part of their new novella imprint. You can find out more about it at http://domnall.intrigue.co.uk


If you’re an author with a book coming out soon and you wish to participate on The Hook, please read this.

Various Updates and a chance to win a copy of Mission: Tomorrow!

November 11, 2015

Wow it has been a while since I updated the blog. Sorry about that! I’ve been incredibly busy traveling and working, but I’m catching up now. So, what happened in recent weeks? Let’s see:

  • I did not win the Canopus award. It went to Ken Liu’s “The Waves” as I predicted it would. He 100% deserves it. “The Waves” is my second-favorite Ken Liu story (after “The Paper Menagerie”) and I was kind of surprised not to see it on the major award ballots last year. Before the Canopus was even announced I asked Ken to include this story in Humanity 2.0, an anthology I’m editing for Arc Manor which will be published next year, and he agreed. I can’t wait to share it with readers who may not be familiar with it yet!
  • I loved the 100 Year Starship Symposium. It was an opportunity to meet with some incredibly smart people from NASA, SETI, and private space companies and listen to presentations on a wide array of subjects which I will be sure to use in future stories. The hotel which hosted the symposium also hosted the New York Jets that weekend, as they prepared to play the Raiders. The huge hotel lobby with clusters of rocket scientists and clusters of huge athletes was an amusing dissonance to observe, to say the least.

    And the scientists know how to have fun too — the Halloween party was a hoot!

    With Dr. Mae Jamison at the 100 Year Starship Symposium Halloween party.

    With Dr. Mae Jamison at the 100 Year Starship Symposium Halloween party.


  • A few short days after returning from Santa Clara, CA I drove to Saratoga Springs, NY to attend the World Fantasy Convention. It was great fun catching up with so many friends. Here’s a photo of an impromptu lunch which grew from 3 people to this in a matter of hours after we first planned it (this happens all the time at cons!)

    WFC 2015 Saratoga Springs

    WFC 2015 Saratoga Springs

  • My next trip will be to Philcon in a little over a week. I will post my schedule prior to the event.
  • Nature selected my story they published last month, “Staff Meeting As Seen By the Spam Filter” to be featured on their podcast. You can listen to it here.
  • Mission: Tomorrow, which includes my Canopus Award finalist story “The Race for Arcadia” was officially released earlier this month. You can read the first four stories (including mine!) in the sampler here. This anthology is excellent and has been highly praised at Locus.
    Read the first four stories from Mission: Tomorrow here. (Click the Next link at top right of each page to navigate).
  • You can also win an e-book copy of Mission: Tomorrow right here on my blog! Simply comment on this post between now and Wednesday, November 18. On November 19 (which also happens to be my birthday) I will randomly select one person to receive an e-book. If 10+ people comment, I will give away two copies instead.




100 Year Starship

October 30, 2015

I just arrived in Santa Clara, CA. Tomorrow night is the Canopus award ceremony at the 100 Year Starship symposium, for which my short story “The Race for Arcadia” is a finalist. There are a ton of great stories nominated in my category (including works by Ken Liu and Cat Valente) so I’m not expecting to win, but I sure plan on having fun at the ceremony!

And while we await the results, you can enjoy my story published in this week’s Nature magazine, “Staff Meeting, As Seen By the Spam Filter.” You should also check out the blog post which goes with it: I think it came out at least as well as the story itself.

In other news, I sold “Golf to the Death” to Galaxy’s Edge magazine. Mike Resnick is very kind to my work and has published a lot of it; with this story he sent me a rewrite request and his suggestions were SO spot on that I’m confident it improved the story by a ton. Not sure when it will be published, but likely in the next 6 months or sooner.

Two opportunities to win copies of UFO4

October 21, 2015

There are two giveaways ongoing for UFO4 right now; you can win copies at SF Signal and also at GoodReads. Go ahead and enter both! And if all else fails you can always, ya know, buy one :)




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