Blog Tour: #My Writing Process

July 21, 2014

Typically, I avoid blog tours. However, last week I was tagged by James Beamon, who is among the few writers I readily concede are way funnier than I am. Plus, I don’t much care for the tumbleweeds that have been rolling around this blog lately (busy Alex is busy!). So here’s the deal: I answer four questions about my writing process, then tag two more suckers… writers, I mean writers!, to do the same.

What am I working on?

My main focus this year has been my first novel. It’s called Eridani’s Crown and I like to describe it as the politics of Game of Thrones meets the character arc of Breaking Bad. While my writing strengths tend toward the humorous and the lighthearted, the novel I’m working on is grimdark fantasy. No one is more surprised about that than me. This is slow-going. I have approximately 25,000 words written. But I haven’t given up hope of finishing the book this year. We shall see.

To counter-balance all the dark, I’m always working on some short story or another, either on spec or for invitation anthologies. Right now I’m mulling over a humorous SF piece titled “Golf to the Death.” It doesn’t help that I know absolutely nothing about golf.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Once again, I tend to write the funny. At first, I didn’t picture myself as a humor writer. My early stories were all serious (or, as serious as pulp-ridden urban fantasy and space opera gets). But then I tried writing a sillier story, and discovered that such fare comes more easily to me. There aren’t as many people writing humorous genre stories than serious ones, so that immediately sets my work apart. Also, I tend to pepper my stories with pop culture references. How Earth Narrowly Escaped an Invasion from Space is a perfect example of such.

Why do I write what I do?

Because it’s fun. I have no desire to make writing my full-time job. I’m not in it for the money (because I could make way more if my hobby involved flipping burgers instead of slouching over a keyboard), and I have no cause or agenda in need of tireless pushing. Therefore, I write stories that are exciting and fun for me to tell.  A lot of the time I think back to myself as a teenage reader back in the former USSR, devouring any science fiction book I could get my hands on. Would the past-me dig the yarn I’m writing? If so, I’m satisfied with my output.

How does my writing process work?

An idea comes first. Usually it’s a what-if scenario, but it could be an interesting character or a cool visual, or even just an interesting opening line. Then I try to figure out what the story is about and where it’s going. The most important factor for me is the resolution. I never sit down to write a story unless I know exactly how it ends.

Once I have the ending, it’s like a lighthouse. I may not have the precise directions on how to get there, but I can see its light in the distance and know the general direction in which I must travel. Every scene of the story must drive it toward that lighthouse in some way. I tend to make up the middle part as I go along, discovering some cool things I may never have intended when I envisioned the story, and doing some worldbuilding. But, sooner or later, I get to the end. Then I tighten up the story and often adjust some of the earlier parts to better jive with the resolution.

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The two writers I’m tagging next are:

Deborah Walker — an extremely prolific short story writer from the UK who is also in the process of working on her fist novel at the moment.

James A. Miller — Jim’s first short story sale was to me, for UFO3.  This is the first time since the inception of the UFO series that I bought a story from a previously-unpublished author, and I’m very happy about this.  Because, when he makes it big, I get to brag about how I’d ‘discovered’ him.  So visit his blog, and give him a virtual high-five.

 #SFWAPro

 


Dark Expanse: Surviving the Collapse is out today

March 20, 2014

Dark Expanse cover

The anthology of space opera stories set in the universe of the Dark Expanse video game is out on Amazon today.

Here’s the table of contents:

DARK EXPANSE: Surviving the Collapse

Edited by Alex Shvartsman and William Snee

Castles in the Sky by Nancy Fulda
Dominoes Falling by Alex Shvartsman
The Ten Suns by Ken Liu
Betrayal, Clear as Kanzai Glass by Deborah Walker
The Price of Escape by David Walton
Hellfire Unleashed by Simon Kewin
Breaking Down by Michael Haynes
They Cannot Scare Me With Their Empty Spaces by Deborah Walker
A Small and Secret Freedom by Matt Mikalatos
Lightspeed Back to You by David Wayne
Escape from Planet Error by Michael Greenhut
Jump by Deborah Walker
Loud for All the Stars to Hear by Alex Kane
To Soar on Winds of War by David Wayne
Fires of Night by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
Gorlack the Destroyer’s All You Can Eat Adventure by Robert L. Russell
Ghost Ship by Nancy Fulda
The Shadow Conspiracy by Nancy Fulda

Pick up a copy. It costs less than a Subway foot-long!

#SFWAPro


Announcing Dark Expanse anthology TOC

February 25, 2014

Dark Expanse cover

Announcing the table of contents and cover for Dark Expanse: Surviving the Collapse, edited by yours truly and William Snee.

This is a collection of 18 short stories set in the universe of the Dark Expanse video game.

  1. “Castles in the Sky”” by Nancy Fulda
  2. “Dominoes Falling” by Alex Shvartsman
  3. “The Ten Suns” by Ken Liu
  4. “Betrayal, Clear as Kanzai Glass” by Deborah Walker
  5. “The Price of Escape” by David Walton
  6. “Hellfire Unleashed” by Simon Kewin
  7. “Breaking Down” by Michael Haynes
  8. “They Cannot Scare Me With Their Empty Spaces” by Deborah Walker
  9. “A Small and Secret Freedom” by Matt Mikalatos
  10. “Lightspeed Back to You” by David Wayne
  11. “Escape from Planet Error” by Michael Greenhut
  12. “Jump” by Deborah Walker
  13. “Loud for All the Stars to Hear” by Alex Kane
  14. “To Soar on Winds of War” by David Wayne
  15. “Fires of Night” by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
  16. “Gorlack the Destroyer’s All You Can Eat Adventure” by Robert L. Russell
  17. “Ghost Ship” by Nancy Fulda
  18. “The Shadow Conspiracy” by Nancy Fulda

This book will premier on Amazon in March 2014.


Shameless Self-Promotion Post – Amazon Edition

December 17, 2012

This week I’ve been tinkering with Amazon (and other sites) in order to make the UFO ebooks available for purchase. And as of this afternoon, we have liftoff:

UFO ebook on Amazon

UFO paperback on Amazon

And while I was learning how to make books available via Amazon, I also finally took a few minutes to set up my author profile:

http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Shvartsman/e/B00APRCWU4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1

Want to get your hands on a FREE paperback copy of UFO? Visit Deborah Walker’s blog and tell her a joke in the comments thread. One lucky reader will receive their own copy of the book!

And finally, Kazka Press just released At Year’s End — an anthology of holday-themed flash fiction edited by L. Lambert Lawson. It includes a reprint of my story “Nuclear Family” which originally appeared in Kasma SF (not to be confused with Kazka. Both are fine semi-pro publications and I’m honored to be published by them).

yearsend

Having recently learned how important reviews are to selling books on Amazon, I took a few minutes to review “At Year’s End.”  You can read my review on the anthology’s Amazon page.  This is also sort of a roundabout way of mentioning how important reviews are to selling books on Amazon. So, if you read and enjoyed Unidentified Funny Objects, would you please take a moment to rate it and write a sentence or two?

 

 

 

 

But it also prompted me to