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


UFO3 Kickstarter Ending Soon

February 16, 2014

image description

UFO3 Kickstarter campaign will be ending on Tuesday evening.

As of the time I’m writing this, we raised just about $5500 but there’s still a long way to go. If you like the series and would like to see it continue and prosper, please consider pre-ordering your copy of UFO3 through the campaign instead of waiting until the book is released. Getting access to the funds early will allow me to invest into buying more stories, promoting the book and the series better, and commissioning more pieces of interior art.

In addition to all the UFO books there are unique cool rewards available, such as becoming a character in stories written by Gini Koch and by me,  getting a critique for one of your own stories, or even having your name mentioned in the foreword.

There are also prints of the gorgeous cover art above, which can be added to any pledge level for an additional $10.

I really enjoy editing the UFO series. Although I hope it will turn a profit someday, I have not taken any pay to date, and have invested a lot of my own money on top of what’s been raised via Kickstarter to publish and market previous volumes. UFO is growing, but at this rate it will be a few years yet before it becomes self-sustained (especially since I want to keep raising the pay rate for authors as aggressively as possible).  So if you’re able to help out — whether by pledging any amount, or letting other readers know about the campaign — please do. Thank you!


Things I’m Geeking Out About Today

July 18, 2013

This is not, strictly speaking, a writing-related post, but there are lots of cool pop-culture news I found out about today that make me smile, and I figured many of my readers would enjoy them, too:

Simpsons / Family Guy Crossover

FOX announced that they will air a Family Guy episode in Fall 2014 where the Simpsons are going to meet the Griffins.  The only thing that’s not awesome about that? Waiting over a year to see it!

Ain’t it Cool News is one of the many sites that has details as well as some videos for you to peruse.

Name of the Wind TV Series

The popularity of HBO’s Game of Thrones is already paying off dividends for the rest of us. 20th Century Fox will produce a TV series based on Patrick Rothfuss’ epic novel series.  I’m still waiting on HBO’s adaptation of “American Gods” as well, but this is definitely another one of those must-try shows for me, and yay for more epic fantasy coming to prime time. has the news.

Firefly MMO

Firefly MMO social role playing game has been announced, and they’re already taking sign-ups.


As a certified, card-carrying fanboy, I’m very pleased with all of these developments. More days like this one, please!



On a completely unrelated note, Daily Science Fiction launched a Kickstarter campaign yesterday. They publish a ton of excellent material and all of it is available online for free. They also pay their authirs very competitive rates, respond to submissions promptly, and treat writers the way every market should. Please consider supporting them, and you can even get physical books of their stories as a reward. I own the Year 1 book and it’s enormous!

Click here to view their Kickstarter campaign.



Good News Galore

July 15, 2013

So many good news to report lately, so little time to blog. I’m going to use this post to catch up:


* “A Gnomish Gift” was published in issue 361 of Weird Tales, out this week.  Weird Tales has been around for approximately ever, and has published the likes of Howard and Bradbury, so appearing on their pages is a special treat for me. Having cool original artwork drawn for my story (love the angry little gnome!) and sharing the TOC with the likes of Peter S. Beagle and Tanith Lee? That’s just a bonus:


* Sold “Worldbuilding” to Daily Science Fiction.

dsf“Worldbuilding” is a tongue-in-cheek flash story that makes fun of the common SF tropes. Daily SF is a great home for it, and it will be my sixth story appearing under the DSF rocket.

* “A Shard Glows in Brooklyn” will be reprinted two more times. In September it will appear in an e-book anthology Urban Harvest: Tales of the Paranormal in NYC edited by Donna Ansari. This is a charity project and all proceeds will be donated to City Harvest.  This same story is also going to appear in the Write1Sub1 anthology, whenever that ends up getting put together.

* The Coffee anthology reached its initial funding goal on Kickstarter! There is approximately a week left in the campaign, and any additional contributions will help me buy more original fictions at professional rates. If we reach $2000, a cool final stretch goal will be unlocked!

* In related news, The Coffee anthology is open to both reprint and original submissions. I am getting a steady stream of stories and responding promptly, so send something while there isn’t a long queue 🙂

* UFO2 is off to the designer. I hope to have ARCs ready by the end of the month.

* Beyond the Sun anthology is off to the printer and should be shipping in August.

* I return to the DJ Grandpa podcast this week and we talk about Coffee, anthologies, and the challenges of crowdfunding. DJ Grandpa is one of the best–if not the best–crowdfunding podcast around. Be sure to check it out!


* There’s a new book store opening up in NYC (in Astoria, Queens to be precise), specializing in science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries. The owners want to build it up it as a cool local hangout, where people can not only buy books, but also socialize and participate in fun special events.  The soft launch is this coming weekend, and while they’re still working on a web site, you can visit their Facebook page for updates. Local book stores are a rare breed these days, and local stores specializing in genre even more so.  So stop by the Enigma Bookstore and help support these brave entrepreneurs!

Well, there you go. It’s been a busy week. I hope to report more good news soon, but for now — back to writing!

Really? A Novel With a Message?

June 6, 2013

The following is a guest post by Luc Reid who recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the research for his upcoming novel “The Town at World’s End” — a story about a struggling town, based on real strategies for fighting climate change.

Balancing an engaging and entertaining story with Luc’s stated goal of laying out a clear and practical path for actual communities to follow is no easy task. I asked him to talk about the challenges of undertaking such a project and he was kind enough to write the insightful post below.



Really? A Novel With a Message?

By Luc Reid

Telling stories with an ulterior motive is not a well-respected activity. Samuel Goldwyn, then head of MGM Studios, famously told his producers “If you want to send a message, use Western Union,” and the sentiment carries over into fiction–with good reason. Human beings love stories by nature, but we aren’t naturally enthusiastic about being lectured to.

Yet every once in a while, a novel with a message works, or even becomes a classic of literature, for instance George Orwell’s 1984 or Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Both of these books championed ideas and created debate and interest in their topics.

Other non-fiction-in-novel-form books, by contrast, have succeeded despite having very questionable literary value. Psychologist B. F. Skinner created a fictional vision of an intentional community in his novel Walden Two, which was powerfully influential and even inspired groups to go out and do their best to make his vision come true. That book remains a top seller, and yet as a story it falls somewhere between “Where’s the conflict?” and “Don’t quit your day job.”

Other writers have had similar story-challenged successes, like Ernst Callenbach’s Ecotopia and Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt’s novel of manufacturing efficiency measures, The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement–which as of this writing ranks at #1,269 on Amazon out of all books, despite having been written in 1984 and having no real characters to speak of.

These successes may seem surprising or contradictory of basic common sense about writing, but I think they teach us the same lesson as The DaVinci Code, Twilight, Slaughterhouse Five, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Lord of the Rings, 50 Shades of Gray, or Ulysses: that success for a novel isn’t a measure of a single, universal characteristic, or even a measure of how certain universal characteristics work together. Instead, the question is to what extent the novel hits a nerve or fills a need. That need can be romance, escape, enlightenment, intellectual engagement, wish fulfillment, or a way to increase plant productivity by 18%–it just has to be some meaningful and widespread desire.

I worry about my current project, a novel called The Town at World’s End, for which I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign you can get to through . It’s a novel about solving climate change on the community level, about how one struggling town transforms to stop contributing to the problem and build resilience. The thing is, climate change is an issue people tend to avoid if they possibly can. The novel paints a picture of a way of living that’s rewarding and sustainable, and I think the specifics of that lifestyle are very attractive and would enrich people’s lives–but will readers feel the same? Will people seek the book out because they want to find something positive and motivating about climate change, or avoid it because the topic is usually so depressing?

So far, having just launched the campaign the other day, the signs are very tentatively positive. I have a small number of backers, one of whom has even claimed one of the biggest rewards, the chance to name a city and a climate-related disaster that destroys that city.

Even apart from its climate change-related advantages, I intend for this to be a hell of a novel, and I have enough successful fiction writing experience that the prospects look good for that. Still, we’ll have to see. Regardless of whether you’re writing a standard epic fantasy novel or something unusual and possibly ill-advised, like my project, there are variables both of how strong the need is for what you’re providing and how well you speak to those who have that need. Good luck with your next story or book–and wish me luck with mine!

UFO2 Kickstarter Campaign Ending Soon

May 2, 2013

Just over four hours remaining in the UFO2 Kickstarter campaign. We raised nearly $6500 so far, with $1500 to go! Over 200 people backed this project already, and if you haven’t yet, please do, and help us reach our goal.

I added my short story ebooks as an extra reward for everyone who pledges $25 or more. So, on top of the signed copy of UFO2 (or whatever else you select), you will get $5+ worth of eBooks (everything I release in 2013). This is the preview of the cover for the ebook version of “A Shard Glows in Brooklyn,” which I will release as an e-book along with “Requiem for a Druid” in early June:


I should also add that we received around 100 submissions in the last 36 hours! Associate editors and I are reading furiously and will begin sending out responses in another day or two.

So please pledge to the UFO2 campaign and spread the word of it to others!


Market Report: Neverland’s Library

April 25, 2013

This is the first installment of a new irregular column on my blog where I will highlight promising new short fiction markets that are open or soon opening to submissions

Neverland’s Library – A Crowdfunded Fantasy Anthology

Click here for detailed Guidelines

Submission period: March 5 through June 30, 2013

Genres: Fantasy

Length: 2000-8000 words (somewhat flexible)

Pay rate: $0.03/word  + copy

Rights: First rights, 6 month exclusivity after release

Estimated response time: 2 weeks

Editors: Roger Bellini and Rebecca Lovatt

Rebecca and Roger are both fantasy book reviews who blog at the Arched Doorway and A Daily Dose of R&R respectively. Their goal in creating this anthology is twofold – to introduce new readers to the genre of fantasy, and to support a worthy cause. The theme for this book, as defined by the editors, is “the rediscovery of the fantastic.”

In addition to the open submission call, some of the authors invited to contribute to this book include Mark Lawrence, William Meikle, and Marie Brennan. The introduction will be written by Tad Williams.


Why rediscovery of the fantastic? What made you select this theme to build the anthology around?

Originally we chose the theme of rediscovery because we wanted people who might have thought they were too old for fantasy. It’s a chance for them to rediscover that passion they once had for imaginative works. We then stuck with it because it worked perfectly with the non-profit organization we wanted to partner with for the project.

What sort of stories are you looking to collect for this project? Are there any genre restrictions? Would you consider urban fantasy, horror, or slipstream, if the story fits the theme of rediscovery?
We’re looking for stories in the fantasy genre, and sub-genres that fit within the perimeters of our theme, which we’ve left very open to individual interpretation. While we’ve opened this to all sub-genres, we’re both more of traditional fantasy fans and that can tend to show up sometimes in our selections. However, occasionally there’s a story that stretches the bounds of what we thought the anthology would entail and we’re compelled to accept it because it’s just “that good!” A great example of this is a Lovecraftian story we recently accepted from a name that you’ll soon be familiar with, Peter Rawlik.

That’s just one example. So in conclusion, we’ll consider horror, urban fantasy, steampunk. We’re very open. If your story is good enough to make us stop and take notice, then we’ll be glad to consider it for inclusion.

What are you seeing too much of in the slush? Have any trends surprised you (in a good way or bad)?

Stories regarding or containing dragons seem to be the most common. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it is nice to see a change every now and then. Many of these stories contain a lot of similar elements and can be repetitive at times.

As for things that have surprised us…  I’d have to say it’s the lack of stories submitted with female leads. I’m not an advocate for the necessity of the genders being balanced perfectly, but I would definitely love to read a few more well written stories featuring characters that female readers can relate with.
Will you be looking to include humorous stories into NL? What sort of humor works/doesn’t work for your editorial tastes?
In this particular anthology, we are not including humorous stories. However, we’ve not ruled out potentially doing a future volume featuring that type of story.

Roger: I personally enjoy a very dry sarcastic humor. I’d liken my tastes to that which you might see in Indie comedy films such as “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Rebecca: Is this some kind of joke? I find nothing funny. Literally, ever. I am not amused.

What is the First Book charity and how are you hoping to support it via this project?
First Book is a non-profit organization that aims to reduce illiteracy by providing educational texts and books for children of low-income families who may not have access to them otherwise.

We’re hoping to support them through Neverland’s Library in a couple of ways. First, through raising awareness about who they are and what their organization’s goal is. Second, we’ll be splitting all profits from this anthology 50/50 between First Book and the funding of future installments. After having raised enough for the next installments, we’ll then begin donating the entirety of the profits to First Book.
Our goal in this project was never to make a personal profit. We’ll not be personally receiving a dime from this, and that’s the way we want it to be.  Our newest update goes into a bit more detail about First Book.


Like so many quality projects this day, Neverland’s Library relies on the generosity of its readers to help get this project off the ground. They recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo. Please back their project by following the link below. You’ll be supporting both a creative writing endeavor and a worthy charity.

If you’re launching a new speculative fiction magazine or anthology that is open to submissions and is paying at least semi-pro rates, and wish to be interviewed on this blog, please feel free to contact me.

How to Get a Free Copy of UFO

April 23, 2013

Heads up! There is less than 48 hours remaining in the Goodreads giveaway for a signed trade paperback copy of Unidentified Funny Objects. All you have to do is follow this link and click on the giveaway. It’s 100% free. They won’t try to sell you a condo or sign your dog up for a credit card. Honest.

The only downside to the Goodreads giveaway is that you are competing with hundreds of readers who want the book as much as you do. Last time I ran a giveaway, over 1500 people signed up. Right now there are already over 800 people signed up. Still, it’s free.

Want better odds than that? UFO Associate Editor and contributor Nathaniel Lee is running his own UFO giveaway on his blog. Just post  a joke in the comments to enter, and if you’re one of the super-nice people who backed UFO2 on Kickstarter, you get an extra entree! And, I bet, if you are really nice to Nat, he might even sign the book for you.

As for UFO2 — it is possible to get a free copy of that as well. It’s called a contributor copy. All you have to do is sell us a story! Remember — submissions will open on May 1, and there are convenient guidelines posted here.

UFO Can Haz Funny Cartoon

April 19, 2013

I’ve been cheating on this blog with all the other blogs.

While I’ve been egregiously ignoring my blogging duties here, my interviews have popped up at the W1S1 site and Emma Larkin’s blog this week.  I even cavorted with several podcasts, appearing on The Gamer’s Dome (which, incidentally, is what actually lies beyond Thunderdome) and having an awesome disagreement about the merits of Babylon 5 on an episode of the DJ Grandpa podcast which is scheduled to air this coming Monday.

All of this, of course, is in the effort to raise awareness of the ongoing UFO2 Kickstarter campaign. I’m willing to dispense my cheap jokes elsewhere, dance in front of SF conventions wearing a zombear suit, and even allow my my voice to be heard on podcasts, in order to raise awareness of this book. Because it is scientifically proven (aka I read the list of referring links on the Kickstarter page) that doing such things helps bring new backers to the project.

You and I know that the readers of this blog are the smartest, wittiest, and most interesting SF fans anywhere. FDA won’t let me claim this outright as a fact, so I’m insinuating it instead. And now, you have an opportunity to prove it. Click on this link and pledge to the UFO2 Kickstarter campaign.  Not only will you get an awesome collection of humorous short stories, but you will also help prove beyond doubt how awesome you all are. Because I will be able to click on the Dashboard of the Kickstarter account and see how much support is coming from *this site*. And then I will be inclined — nay, morally obligated — to blog a lot more often.

Think about that.

And while you think, I shall leave you with this awesome cartoon, courtesy of writer and illustrator Douglas Sterling:


UFO2 Submission Guidelines Are Posted

April 5, 2013

We are going to have an open submission period in May.  SFWA and Codex members have an “early pass” and can submit now. The guidelines are posted here:

There are some changes from the last year’s guidelines, so please read carefully. So far, more than 50% of the handful of submissions we already received either failed to remove the identifying information from their document (annoying, since I have to then do it before forwarding the story to associate editors) or failed to include the info I asked for in the subject line (much less annoying, but still indicates inattention to guidelines), or both!

A minor guideline infraction like that won’t hurt anyone’s chances — after all, the editors who are reading the submission won’t even be aware of it — but it doesn’t mean I can’t complain about it here 🙂

Meanwhile, the Kickstarter campaign is in full swing. We raised $1500 in the first 48 hours and are up to 60 backers as of the writing of this post. Now that we got past the initial rush, the tough slog begins. We must raise an average of $250 per day in order to meet our funding goals. So please consider pre-ordering your copy of UFO2 via Kickstarter sooner, rather than later, and help us spread the word of this project to others: