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


Triumph Over Tragedy

December 8, 2012

I rarely talk about my personal life or things not directly related to writing fiction on this blog, but this is a special case. Like so many others in New York/New Jersey area, my family and I were affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Our house is roughly fifteen minutes away (by foot) from the water (Sheepshead Bay) and twenty minutes away from the Atlantic Ocean. We are in “Zone B” (which means just far enough away where we didn’t have to evacuate). Compared to many of our friends we were very fortunate. Our car did not flood and a huge tree branch which came down within inches of my father-in-law’s car didn’t damage our property. We didn’t even lose power or Internet service. However, sometime after nine o’clock at night, water began to pump upward from the shower drain in the basement. It was coming up fast until the entire basement was flooded with nearly a foot of water. This was sea water which overwhelmed the city’s sewer system and was finding its way into many of the homes in our area.

A beach block in Rockaway. Sandy dragged so much mud and sand onto the street that it had to be cleared by plows.

A beach block in Rockaway. Sandy dragged so much mud and sand onto the street that it had to be cleared by plows.

I remember chatting with friends online about what was happening, helpless to do much of anything to prevent it. Water ceased rising around eleven and we went to sleep expecting to deal with a lot of misery in the morning. Fortunately, we woke up to find that the water receded almost completely on its own, leaving behind wet floors and destroying a refrigerator.  We had to do some minor cleanup, but all in all we got off easy.

My stepfather was no so fortunate. His house is in Rockaway, Queens, half a block away from the beach. Water devastated his entire block, devastating the lower level of his home and destroying all the possessions there. He later found out that, although he was one of very few New Yorkers with flood insurance, that covers only the structural damage and the boiler, not any of the possessions. Everything he had in the basement had to be thrown out, carpets stripped, and Sheetrock walls demolished, then treated for mold. The entire area had no power for weeks. My mother-in-laws house was also damaged, forcing her to spend a lot of time and money renovating its first floor.

Water surge flooded most basements or even ground floors in Rockaway. The high-water line in this photo is at nearly six feet.

Water surge flooded most basements or even ground floors in Rockaway. The high-water line in this photo is at nearly six feet.

And despite all that, my family is still among the fortunate ones. We had the support structure, the money, and other resources to overcome this calamity. We did not go hungry or cold. Our own businesses and companies that employ us weren’t forced to close down permanently because of storm damage. But there are tens of thousands of people in New York and New Jersey who weren’t so fortunate. They need all the help they can get. And if you think that the devastation of Sandy is well behind us at this point, you’re wrong.

Chase Bank branch in Sheepshead Bay, still closed six weeks after Sandy.

Chase Bank branch in Sheepshead Bay, still closed six weeks after Sandy.

I was in the area of the Sheepshead Bay train station earlier today. Many of the businesses (both small local ones and chain outlets like 7/11, Chase and Citibank) are still closed. There are traffic lights in my area that are still down — and we aren’t even in one of the neighborhoods worst-affected by this storm.

There are lots of worthy charities and ways to help. I recently discovered a charity anthology that is raising funds via IndieGoGo, with 100% of the proceeds going to the American Red Cross. For only $7, you can help the victims of Hurricane Sandy and receive a short story collection with works by such notables as Robert Silverberg, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Timothy Zahn, Elizabeth Bear, and many others.

I donated to the cause as well as contributed a reprint short story, “The Last Incantation,” which can be currently read at Kazka Press web site. Although Kazka’s period of exclusivity on this story hasn’t expired yet, they generously allowed me to submit the story to the anthology once they learned about the cause.

“Triumph Over Tragedy” is a brainchild of speculative writer R.T. Kaelin who is investing a ton of his own time in order to put together, edit, and promote this project.  You could thank him by heading over to his web site and ordering one or more of his books.

If you can spare $7 (or more) this holiday season, please order a copy of “Triumph Over Tragedy” here, and be sure to spread the word about this project.

TriumphOverTragedy


Publication: The Last Incantation at Kazka Press

September 2, 2012

 

Another flash fiction piece out September 1 from Kazka Press. This flash has what I think is the coolest magic system I came up with. What’s also cool is that folks at Kazka created an original illustration piece for the story which looks pretty awesome!

Read it here.

Remember “Nuclear Family” which I bemoaned for not getting enough attention when it was originally published? Not only has it gotten a lot more reads and some wonderful comments, but Kazka Press picked up it as a reprint for their upcoming holiday-themed anthology of SF/F. Yay for traction!

 


I’m Still a Writer

August 10, 2012

 

It has been a busy couple of months. In addition to my already hectic schedule balancing work and family obligations I foolishly decided to go and create an anthology. If you read my blog, you’ll notice that that all the recent posts have been about that. Which is no surprise because I spend, on average, 6 hours a day working on UFO.

However,  I’m still a writer first and an editor/publisher second (even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.) I’ve been producing some new stories — not nearly as many as I would have with more free time, but my output hadn’t dropped off completely. I’ve also been making sales. Sales that, in the past, I would have rushed to breathlessly announce on the blog. But lately I’ve been so slammed that I couldn’t even take the time out for a proper victory lap. So let me catch up by turning this post into a marathon of braggage.

The following stories have been accepted for publication in the last month:
The Tell-Tale EarNature Magazine’s Futures Feature

This is a humorous take on Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous tale, adjusted for the twenty first century. The story is told entirely through e-mails. It will be my second story to appear on the pages of Nature this year.

SpidersongThe Drabblecast

This story originally appeared in Daily Science Fiction and can be read here. The Drabblecast will produce a podcast of it.

Hell is Other PeopleFantastic Frontiers, issue 2

This is a tongue-in-cheek story about “Mood Ring” houses that shapeshift according to the inhabitants’ mood. Nothing could possibly go wrong, eh?

The Last IncantationKazka Press

This story features a really cool system of magic which, more than one beta reader suggested, should probably be used in a longer story or even a novel at some point. But this story works really well for me at flash length, and you’ll be able to decide for yourself as it will be published on September 1, as part of Kazka’s “The Last Hurrah” prompt.

 

I should also mention that three of these four tales were originally written for the Shock Totem flash fiction bi-monthly contest. I love participating in this contest alongside the likes of Ken Liu, Damien Grintalis and many other excellent writers.  I never do particularly well in the contest (they like horror over there, and I don’t tend to write dark) but I don’t care — I’m happy to let the contest help me come up with many of my better flash stories.

So there. Victory lap accomplished. And now back to working on the anthology.

 

 


The Meta Rejection

July 2, 2012

 

Public submissions for UFO opened 48 hours ago and they’re pouring in. I’ve read and responded to nearly 200 submissions so far (which means another statistics post is just around the corner). I’ve been keeping (marginally) sane by talking about the slush process on Twitter.

Many of my fellow writers hang out there, and one of my Twitter buddies is L. Lambert Lawson of Kazka Press. He does this thing where he posts the rejections on his blog. So when he sent me a story which I had to reject, I knew the rejection letter was going to find its way onto the greater Internet, fast. And since I knew this in advance, I had to make it the most epic rejection letter to ever grace his blog.

Did I succeed? You decide. Read a rejection letter in three codas and a poem. The poem is courtesy of Anatoly Belilovsky. It appeared previously on my blog.