Monthly Archives: June 2014

Vectors: What book would you hand someone to get them hooked on SF/F?

Our question this week: What book would you hand someone to get them hooked on SF/F?

Dale Ivan Smith

Our first guest poster this week is Dale Ivan Smith. Dale got into trouble in grade school for sneaking off to the library during class, and later earned a degree in history, so naturally he became a librarian, and has worked for Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon since 1987. He’s had stories published at Every Day Fiction and 10Flash Quarter, a story at, and collaboration with K.C. Ball forthcoming in Perihelion Science Fiction. He is currently revising his weird western, The Hardscrabble. You can find him at and on Twitter @daleivan.

Photos from the World Fantasy Convention 2011 in San Diego, CA What’s a good book to introduce an adult reader new to science fiction or fantasy? It can be a challenging question, since many beloved works, and many award winners, may not be the best starting place for someone unfamiliar with the conventions and tropes of either genre, especially science fiction, and require previous reading in the genre. So I suggest novels that are accessible to a newcomer, works with a strong, distinctive voice, vivid characters and characterization, and engaging dialogue to hook the reader.

DoomsdayBook(1stEd)For Science Fiction, Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book is a fine introduction to the genre. A young historian is sent from the late 21st century to the mid-14th century, during the Black Death, rather than twenty years or so after the plague, as originally intended, while her colleagues in the future struggle to save her. Willis creates engaging characters and puts them in compelling situations. She’s also a master of dialogue, and of all her novels, this one packs the biggest emotional punch. Octavia Butler’s Kindred, another time travel novel, is also a great place to start, with its quietly powerful writing and emotion. Robert Sawyer’s Calculating God is a big idea novel, dealing with humanity’s encounter with an alien star faring species that believes in God, and what that means for human belief and culture. Sawyer’s writing is very accessible, and the book is a brisk read.

For fantasy, start with Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind. An engaging 1st person account of how Kvothe become a wizard, his trials, travails and loves. Rothfuss created a compelling character with a powerful voice that grabs the reader as soon as he begins telling his story. For readers coming from the mystery genre Jim Butcher Storm Front, the first of the Dresden Files series, is an excellent choice, featuring a wizard who is a private investigator in modern day Chicago, told in the noir style. Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey set in a Regency era world with magic, wonderfully told in the mode of Jane Austen, is a book I recommend to new readers who come from an historical or romance reading background.



Marta Murvosh

Our second guest this week, Marta Murvosh is a teen librarian, writer and reader living in the Pacific Northwest. She likes her SF/F with a hefty dose of mystery and her apocalypses to read like space operas. She grew up on cheesy monster flicks. You can follow her at Facebook and she commits occasional blog at Pulp & Pixels.



As a librarian, the last thing I want is a reader to glance at a cover illustration and scream, “I said: No spaceships!” before sprinting away like a wide-eyed, wild-haired horror trope.

To match a reader to a book, I ask: Tell me about a book you’ve enjoyed recently? The responses help me determine a reader’s taste in characters, plot, setting and writing style. I also gauge a reader’s comfort level with tragic or unresolved endings because not everyone enjoys a Ned Stark.

I then suggest titles that a reader may connect with. Here’s some possibilities:

Thrilled for a thriller? William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, Joel Shepherd’s Crossover, Mira Grant’s Feed and N.K. Jemisin’s The Killing Moon will take you to the edge of your seat.

Thieftaker300Hysterical for historical fiction? Go back in time with D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker or Jeri Westerson’s Veil Of Lies.

Lover of literature? Read Alma Alexander’s The Secrets of Jin-shei, Haruki Murakami’s After Dark, Kij Johnson’s At the Mouth of the River of Bees or Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others.

Hankering for a hardboiled mystery? Find sleuths in Lilith Saintcrow’s Hunter’s Prayer, Ben Aaronovitch’s Midnight Riot and Warren Hammond’s KOP.

Like a little love? Crush on Ilona Andrews’ On The Edge, Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey or Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Scout’s Progress.

Only nonfiction? Just the facts with Julie Phillips’ James Tiptree, Jr., The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon or Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars.

E.C. Ambrose

Well, I have to start with the individual–finding out what kind of books they usually read. I often loan out copies of Connie Willis’s short stories (funny! and short, so usually an easy sell). I am also a long-time Ray Bradbury fan, and his work tends to be very accessible.

4e0a810ae7a043f7c00c9110.LFor the literati? Gene Wolfe short stories. They tend to be edgy, odd, off-balance in a way the literary folks respond to–he’s practically one of them–and yet. . .not. I also recommend Mary Doria Russell to a lot of book groups. Either The Sparrow (possibly still my favorite novel) or Doc, which is technically historical fiction, not SF/F, but I hope it will lead them to other of her works.

For the younger crowd, the librarians, and the reluctant readers, Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. This book is funny, easy to read, blasts a lot of genre tropes, and the whole idea of “evil librarians” tends to appeal to kids and folks who don’t read much.

My real problem comes from people who hear what I write and say, “Oh, I can’t *read* fantasy.” Fantasy has a reputation for long, complicated, unpronounceable names, often used in combination: Sir Gobbledygook of Whudideesay. Stuff like that can put off the average reader of mimetic fiction, so I reach for something with a more familiar basis, like The Child Queen by Nancy McKenzie, which is based on the Arthurian cycle. Half the job is often accomplished by simply describing some of the range of fantasy–that it’s not all elves and dragons, or obscure political struggles you have to keep track of for thousands of pages.

In such conversations, I often find myself quoting C. S. Lewis’s observation that the child who reads about enchanted forests does not despise real forests–rather, to that child, all forests become enchanted.

Ken Liu

It’s interesting to me that I find this question so hard to answer. To me, SF/F is not one thing, but many things that somehow got squeezed into one label that isn’t very descriptive or useful. (I’ve always had trouble with genre labels.)

Hartwell- Year's Best SFI got interested in SF/F from reading short fiction, not novels. I bought Hartwell’s Year’s Best anthology every year because of the variety of stories within. I didn’t like every story I read, but I liked enough of them that I knew there would be plenty of things under this “SF/F” label that I’d enjoy.

So I still think short fiction anthologies may be the best way to introduce someone to the field. With short stories, the time commitment for each world isn’t as large, and you get exposed to many more styles and ideas and approaches within the time it takes to read a novel. The various Year’s Best collections are a good bet.

Lawrence M. Schoen

Another brutal vector topic! This is worse than the “pick five books for your deserted island” notion because the one book I hand over has to contain something to appeal to a wide range of readers. It has to start with great writing, possess writing with an unquestionable command of both plot and character, and have enough variety to satisfy.

RogerZelazny-TDoHFtLoHMThe obvious answer is of course to look backward and offer up The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth, the short story collection by one of my favorite authors, Roger Zelazny.

Originally published more than forty years ago, it contains the Hugo-winning title novelette, as well as such staggeringly compelling and heart-wrenching stories as “A Rose for Ecclesiastes,” “The Keys to December,” and “The Man Who Loved the Faioli,” as well as lighter fare such as “The Great Slow Kings,” and “Museum Piece,” and much more as well.

This is vintage stuff to be sure, but it flows with a lyrical ease that contemporary authors would do well to equal. There’s a humanity to Zelazny’s short fiction that speaks to readers, and I think it’s a great way to hook someone on our genre. And speaking of hooks, that opening story is the best fish tale since Melville.

Beth Cato

What I would recommend would depend greatly on the person. I think of someone like my mom, who likes some genre works, but doesn’t want anything dark, gruesome or profane. She wouldn’t make it through a page of Chuck Wendig. I’ve let her borrow my copies of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series and she found them enjoyable; she does love that British-style of dry wit.

HungerGamesI bought my niece Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy and they introduced her to YA books in a major way. (Fun fact: these books hooked my niece, who was 11 at the time, but I know my mom won’t read them because they are way too intense.)

My husband isn’t much of a reader. As he says, “Book are dangerous.” When he does get into a book, he binge reads the series, if it’s available. He’s read my book, but otherwise the two series I hooked him on were Harry Potter and Hunger Games. There’s something universal about books intended for that age group–that time when many of us still hoped for magic.

Tina Connolly

For someone who loves to read but tends more to the literary side of things, I would hand them Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin or Jo Walton’s Among Others. I’ve handed Tam Lin to a couple friends of mine with English Lit degrees and said here: this is really about how awesome it is to go to a small Liberal Arts college and study English Lit. (Among Others is really about how awesome it is to read SF, so a little more specialized.) Love both books to pieces.

For someone who enjoys pop culture SF but is less of a reader, I’ve handed out Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One and John Scalzi’s Redshirts (the first for the 80’s gaming/pop culture fan, and the second for the Star Trek fan, obviously.)

9780763636791And for someone who’s more into politics and social issues, I’ve handed out M. T. Anderson’s The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (which really is an astonishingly good book – as soon as I read it I promptly bought 3 more copies to give away), and Cory Doctorow. I’ve previously recommended Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (Disneyland! Whuffie!), but For the Win and Little Brother (both of which are still in my TBR pile) look like excellent choices as well.

Steve Bein

I’m with Beth and E.C.: I think the answer to this question depends on who I’m shopping for. (This is one of the few questions in life to which shopping is the answer, and I’m a big believer in giving books as gifts.) I’m also with Ken; for lots of readers, short story anthologies are perfect entry points. They allow you to skip around without guilt. I’d tell a newcomer to the genre not to try to like everything in the anthology; try every story, and give up on any of them that cannot hold your interest. (That’s how I read SF/F magazines myself. I skip many more stories than I read, but I only read good fiction.)

But these are cop-out answers so far, since I’m just stealing them, so let me try to sink my teeth into this question.

I think the first thing I want to know is, why does this person not read SF/F already? Is it that they won’t read it or they just haven’t read it?

imageIf they poopoo genre fiction on principle, I’ll give them Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell or Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. If they prefer nonfiction to fiction, I’ll start them off with Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy.

If they just haven’t gotten around to SF/F, then I lead with the one-two punch of Dune and The Lord of the Rings. If they’re young, it’s Tolkien again (The Hobbit this time), and also a conversation about superheroes so I know which comics to get them started on. This year I’d default to Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years, which includes a lot of the stories I grew up on.

Since I opened with a cop-out answer, I’ll close with one too: NPR and SF Signal have thoughtfully provided 100 answers for this question. I don’t agree with all their answers, and there are some books on this list I wouldn’t recommend to anyone (except perhaps as kindling), but that said, I think this flowchart is a bit of genre reading I’d recommend for any SF/F reader, not just first-timers.

Vectors: What has been your favorite book of the year so far? (Part 2)

Our question of the week is: What has been your favorite book of the year so far?

Our second guest this week:

Sofia Samatar

samatarphotoSofia Samatar is the author of the novel A Stranger in Olondria, winner of the 2014 Crawford Award, as well as several short stories, poems, and reviews. Her work has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, Locus, and British Science Fiction Association Awards. She is a co-editor for Interfictions: A Journal of Interstitial Arts, and teaches literature and writing at California State University Channel Islands.

SamuelRDelany-ToNMy favorite book of 2014 was published in 1979: Tales of Nevèrÿon by Samuel R. Delany. Somehow, although I’d read several SF novels by Delany, I’d never read this intricate and intoxicating fantasy. If you’re one of the people who never told me about it—I’m mad at you.

If you haven’t read it, let me tell you about it, so you don’t get mad at me! Tales of Nevèrÿon, the first book in the Return to Nevèrÿon series (followed by Neveryóna, Flight from Nevèrÿon, and Return to Nevèrÿon), consists of five linked stories and an appendix (and, in the recent edition, an introduction). Set in the distant past, in a world that echoes Africa and Asia, these tales explore the power of politics, sex, and narrative, and they do it through court intrigue, slave revolts, and the schemes of masked assassins. It’s like if someone showed up at a conference on Freud carrying an actual sword.

I love everything about this book. I love Gorgik, the huge, scarred former slave who understands his society from the ground up. I love his relationship with his lover Sarg, and the way their erotic life involves both intense tenderness and the collar of the slave. I love masked Raven, and the creation myth she tells: it’s like reading the Book of Genesis in a magic mirror. I love the humor, the sheer intellectual joy, of the metafictional introduction and appendix. I love that I have to remember the accents every time I type “Nevèrÿon.”

Obviously, the next book in the series is now on my list. My list is long. If it takes me a while to get around to it, Neveryóna may be my favorite book of 2015.

Tex Thompson

semvThis is definitely outside my usual wheelhouse, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy. Maybe it’s because I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA and therefore don’t notice its tropes, but I suspect it’s just because she’s a hellaciously good writer. (Certainly I envy her skill in juggling dual-PoV from both “past” and “present” points in the story.)

Regardless, while I know this isn’t the only “kids with cancer” YA out there, Alice is easily the frankest, angriest, least-apologetic heroine I’ve read in a long time – and I suspect I’ll be able to relish that long after we’ve all been inundated by angelic Gap models with nose tubes. I am eagerly awaiting Chub, regardless!

Lawrence M. Schoen

threepartsdeadIn other years, this question would have been tough, but based on the preceding six months it’s a no-brainer. Allow me to sell you on Three Parts Dead, the first volume in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence. It has everything: a city’s dead god, necromantic practitioners who have been hired to revive him, a chain-smoking priest who’s having a crisis of faith, living gargoyles with a grudge, a sea-going vampire picky about who he feeds on, and seemingly random citizens who can be called upon to become the faceless collective of the city’s justice. If you like plots and subplots and subsubplots, this book is for you. If you like brilliant characters who experience their world and grow and change, this book is for you. And if you like worldbuilding with style and detail that yields up something fresh and compelling and breathtaking, well, see my earlier statement.

Best of all, this is just the first book in the series. Book two was published last year, book three is coming out soon, and Max has already publicly implied that there’s more after that. Forget your trilogies, this is a sequence, and it’s awesome.

Fran Wilde

21stC-SF-thumb-250x382-431My favorite books so far this year have been the 21st Century Science Fiction Anthology edited by David Hartwell and Patrick Neilsen Hayden. I love short fiction, and this collection has such a great range. I’m looking forward to re-reading. The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison (which Mike discussed), Elizabeth Bear’s Steles of the Sky – the wrap-up of her Eternal Sky trilogy, and Jo Walton’s All My Real Children are also among the favorites.

Steve Bein

untitledI’ve been enjoying The Time Traveller’s Almanac, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. It is billed as “the ultimate treasury of time travel fiction,” and I have to say it really does earn that title.

(Full disclosure: I have a short story in there. That’s not why I’m recommending the book. Skip my story if you want; this anthology is still required reading for any sci-fi fan.)

You might be tempted to think that since it’s 1,000 pages on one topic, it would get monotonous. Not so. It’s not just the range of stories that’s diverse; the range of approaches to time travel itself is far broader than I imagined it could be. There are the obvious poles: “it just works, don’t think about it” (represented best in this volume by Douglas Adams) and “here’s a model that is not physically impossible” (represented scientifically by Stan Love and fictionally by Geoffrey Landis). But those are only poles; there are many other possible approaches, and this book explores all of them.

For me personally, time travel stories are some of the most philosophically profound in all of speculative fiction. There are the metaphysical problems (all your standard cause and effect stuff), but what interests me most are the ethical problems (ought implies can, so if time travel changes what you can do, it changes what you ought to do too). Maybe most interesting to you will be the love stories, which are surprisingly common: people trying to find each other in time, people going back in time to fix failed relationships, etc. (Many of these are ethically provocative to me; the question I keep coming back to is, is fixing a failed relationship coercive?)

The only thing better than a copy of this book would be a copy autographed by each of the authors — which, since many of them are dead, would require a time machine.

What has been your favorite book so far this year?

Vectors: What has been your favorite book of the year so far? (Part 1)

Our question of the week is: What has been your favorite book of the year so far?

Our first quest this week:

Helene Wecker

wecker-mono-low-res-240x300Helene Wecker grew up in suburban Chicago, and received her Bachelor’s in English from Carleton College in Minnesota. In 2007 she received her Master’s in Fiction from Columbia University. Her first novel, The Golem and the Jinni, was published by HarperCollins in 2013. Her fiction also has appeared in Catamaran and the online magazine Joyland. After a dozen years spent bouncing around between both coasts and the Midwest, she’s finally putting down roots in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and daughter.

NicolaGriffith-HMy favorite read so far this year has to be Nicola Griffith’s Hild, the story of the seventh-century British woman who would become St. Hilda of Whitby. I’m still trying to figure out how Griffith wrote this book. Time machine? Past life regression? Necromancy? And that’s just the historical aspects. They’d be nothing but a set of interesting facts without Griffith’s mastery of language, without sentences like “She lay at the edge of the hazel coppice, one cheek pressed to the moss that smelt of worm cast and the last of the sun, listening: to the wind in the elms, rushing away from the day, to the jackdaws changing their calls from ‘Outward! Outward!’ to ‘Home now! Home!’” Plus enough politicking and plot threads to satisfy any George R.R. Martin devotee — and, oh yeah, a seriously strong female protagonist. This one’s getting a re-read for sure.

M.K. Hutchins

12974372I was enchanted by A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan. It’s written as the memoir of Lady Trent, a dragon naturalist in an alternate, Victorian-esque world. Dragon science is, admittedly, fun (I mean, just look at the cover — cool!). What I loved best about this book was the voice, though. Lady Trent, an older woman, is writing about her younger adventures. There’s this nice difference between the young woman and the older woman — an older woman who is wiser, but also more confident with herself. With confidence comes delightful sarcasm and a general disregard for being perfectly proper. It was lovely.

Beth Cato

Promise of BloodThis is a hard choice, but I have to say Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan. I’m pretty burnt out on epic fantasies at this point, plus they are a major investment in time when my to-read piles are about the size of the trash heap from Fraggle Rock (though they aren’t sentient yet). Despite all my reservations, the premise of this book piqued my interest. It’s called a “flintlock fantasy”: an epic fantasy, set in a secondary world, with gunpowder technology. The magic even involves gunpowder–and wow does it grant some amazing abilities, though with an incredibly high cost. I could sing the praises of everything in this book: the nuanced characters, the depth of the history, the grand surprises. It’s a long book but a fabulous ride. I had the sequel preordered and I hope to get a chance to read it ASAP

Tina Connolly

twistedfairytales500I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I really loved Alyx Dellamonica’s new fantasy Child of a Hidden Sea, where a young woman named Sophie Hansa is suddenly dropped into the island world of Stormwrack. It comes out from Tor this month. Another one I thoroughly enjoyed was Twisted Fairy Tales, an illustrated collection of retold dark fairy tales by my friend Maura McHugh, that came out last year through Barron’s. I also caught up on some recent Dave Duncan novels that I’d missed and I most enjoyed Wildcatter out of those — a short hard SF novel
about propsectors trying to strike it rich on new planets. Available from Edge.

Michael R. Underwood

Here’s mine: The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

The Goblin EmperorThis book was a welcome change from the recent string of grimdark epic fantasies. With the ascendance of Game of Thrones and other darker fantasies, The Goblin Emperor is a breath of fresh air, with elegant writing and a compelling lead. Maia, the titular emperor, is totally unprepared for ruling, and his struggles with the political situation he’s inherited are well-drawn. Most delightful, for me, is how much of a hero Maia is and tries to be, ruling with compassion and consensus.

See Part 2 on Thursday

Vectors: What’s Your Dream Convention?

Most authors go to conventions. We love some, others, not so much. So what’s our dream convention?

Ken Liu

KenLiuHiResI’m going to go a bit geeky here and say that my dream convention would be one that never ends — it might have in-person sessions, but the rest of it would go on permanently in the ether. I’m particularly enamored of Vannevar Bush’s vision in _As We May Think_ in which he imagines “a mesh of associative trails” created by readers and writers running through texts, the entire literary community engaged in a permanent conversation that involves crawling through each other’s brains. (People sometimes claim that Vannevar Bush “envisioned” the web — sorry, Bush’s vision is much, much cooler than wikis and hyperlinks.) I don’t think we’ll fully get there until we achieve the Singularity.

Beth Cato

BethCato-steampunk-headshotWhen I was a teenager, I subscribed to Writer’s Digest. I used to get their mailings for the Maui Writers’ Conference and daydream about how that amazing would be. I still haven’t made it to Hawaii, but I have a very different idea of what I want from a con.

I say that, because I had the time of my life at World Con in San Antonio last year. Friends galore! The Riverwalk! Meeting my favorite authors! The night parties–the glorious cheese! I’m envious of everyone going to London this year–not simply the con, but LONDON. A place I’ve always wanted to go. A place with even more amazing cheese. Sigh.

I am attending World Fantasy Con in D.C. this November. I have high hopes that it will be an amazing experience–I’m even bringing along my husband and son. Maybe I’ll become hooked on both World Con and World Fantasy. Maybe I should win the lottery…

Lawrence M. Schoen

Lawrence SchoenYou have to understand that I started going to conventions more than forty years ago. And honestly, I didn’t realize I’d been attending cons that long until I sat down to respond to this question. Damn.

My tastes have changed over the years, as has my status, and likewise my needs. Which actually makes this an easy question to answer.

My dream convention is the Worldcon, for so many reasons. Typically I get to travel to a venue I’ve never (or seldom) visited before: Denver, Montreal, Toronto, Yokohama, London, just to name a few. Nowhere else can I meet up with so many friends that I have come to know from reading their books or from online correspondence.

I spend my days, sitting on panel after panel with some of the authors who shaped my own career. I can’t properly describe how much I enjoy engaging in discussion and debate with colleagues, both old and new, as we vie to entertain and inform an audience, even as we amuse ourselves. It’s also a chance to learn from those who have gone much further than me, and to mentor those who are coming up fast.

And if my wife has any say in the matter, each night is an adventure as we schedule small dinner parties with people I may not see again for years. She does her research, makes the reservations, and puts together groups of six or eight and then we venture out to explore each city’s fine dining in marvelous company.

After each dinner, if I’m not already worn out (and as the Worldcon runs five days, it’s a certainty that I’ll be dead before the last night) there are parties to flitter from, people to mingle with, witty bon mots to dispense and receive, deals and opportunities you didn’t even know existed to capture and run away with (my last GoH gig started as a casual invitation at a party at the Reno Worldcon). By the end of the night, the day feels very much like a dream, and a few hours of sleep later it starts all over again.

Other conventions have their charms, but the combination and sheer exhausting magnitude of the Worldcon makes it my ideal convention. Each is different, each is wonderful, each leaves me with a tired smile on my face.

Michael R. Underwood

Michael R. UnderwoodTo be honest, WisCon is pretty close to my dream convention, as is. The concom does an incredible job the three years I went. They bring in great speakers, foster a strong moderating culture, and cultivate interdisciplinary programming that ranges from scholarly papers to writing technique through many strands of diverse fandom, all in a lovely hotel at the heart of a beautiful city (Madison, WI).

If I was designing a convention with an infinite budget, I’d take lessons from WisCon, WorldCon, BaltiCon, ConFusion, and most every con I’ve been to and try to take it even further.

Mike’s priorities for a perfect convention:

1) Strong moderating culture – Moderators would be cultivated and valued, making sure that every panel was as high-quality as possible.

2) Good local food options – I’d choose a site with accessible and delicious food options within a short walk of the convention.

3) A fabulous BarCon bar – So much of the action of many conventions happens at the bar, that finding a site with a good one is all but essential.

Fran Wilde

Fran2014I’ve been very lucky to enjoy some amazing conventions so far, and I’m looking forward to LonCon this year and my first World Fantasy Con in the fall.

As I experience more conventions, I love seeing how they differ based on region and focus – and how I can learn so much from all of them.

FarthingParty was one of the most amazing single-track conventions I’ve attended, and I’d like to see more of those too — including 4th Street.

That said, I would also love to someday go to Dragoncon, because I’ve heard so much about it, and to a ComicCon.

And I agree with Mike about those priorities. Places where people can talk and eat comfortably are hugely important, as are panels that allow for a great exchange of ideas.

What’s your ideal Con?

Vectors: How Do You Handle Rejection?

Our question of the week concerns something that all writers go through…rejection. How do we handle it?

Beth Cato

BethCato-steampunk-headshotHow I handle rejection: three days of debilitating depression, sporadic crying, and self-loathing.

Er. No. But that’s how I did respond to rejections back in 2008 when I first started sending out story submissions. I was crippled by self-doubt and rejections only confirmed every awful thing I thought about myself and my writing. A lot of those initial stories, I only sent out once because I thought one rejection meant the story was obviously awful and would never sell anywhere.

My skin’s a lot thicker now. Most rejections do not bother me. I read them and say, ‘Well, that stinks,’ and send the story or poem out again. There are exceptions to this. There are always some stories that feel especially personal for me, and having those rejected is hard, especially when it’s a higher tier letter (“We really liked this but just bought something similar, so with regret…”). Novel rejections are the worst of all.

E. C. Ambrose

E. C. AmbroseAt this point, it strongly depends on who’s doing the rejecting. . .there’s a big difference between being rejected by a magazine choosing among a zillion stories, by writers large and small, many probably better than mine (bummer, but hey, those are the odds!) and being rejected with a project you hope to write by your own agent or editor who is not interested in the work.

The first kind no longer phase me. I’m happily surprised to be accepted by magazines or anthologies, but I have pretty low expectations (novel seems to be my ideal length). The second kind, on the other hand, can make me second-guess everything. My agent recently took a pass on representing a YA fantasy I still like, leaving me anxious and wondering if The Dark Apostle books were a fluke and nothing else I write will Ever Sell AGAIN!

The first kind really aren’t personal (though we sometimes take it as if they are) but the second. . .well, it’s probably *still* not personal, she just doesn’t think this book is marketable. It just *feels* more personal. Can’t pretend she doesn’t know who I am. Can’t think she just doesn’t understand me and won’t get my work. Can still stomp around the office and eat too many chips, tho!

M. K. Hutchins

MK HutchinsRejections tend to hit me in a variety of ways.

Sometimes (often with short fiction), rejections feel rote. Is there anything I want to revise? Nope? Off to the next market on the list. Not a big deal.

Some rejections make me want to go write an even better, shinier story and sell that. I wish I knew how to encourage this reaction. It’s easy to dive into a new project when I’m full of a yes-I’m-just-that-stubborn attitude.

And sometimes rejections just stink and it’s impossible to focus on what I’m currently writing. What if it’s all crap? No one will ever buy this! I generally find taking a break to stress-clean my apartment generally cures me. And, as a bonus, I end up with a nicer space to write in.

Tex Thompson

Tex ThompsonI’m not the world’s most experienced rejectionist by any means, but of course there’s times in everybody’s everything when the game’s not going your way, and disappointment reigns supreme.

One of the things I’m only just now beginning to appreciate is how my social circle has grown over the past few months – and how much that’s deepened my perspective. Sure, we all intellectually know that a story or manuscript rejection is the quintessential First World Problem – but it’s been such an eye-opener to have friends whose Big Awesome News is that they are officially six months cancer-free, or that the ex-partner has agreed to modify the custody arrangements, or that the kid’s rehab looks like it’s going to stick this time. I’m finding it much easier not to sweat the small stuff when there’s capital-B Big Stuff also situated somewhere in the frame.

I’m also working really hard to make sure I always have other irons in the fire, as it were. Putting my emotional eggs in multiple baskets – writing stuff, teaching stuff, family stuff, whatever – definitely helps minimize the damage whenever any single one of them falls and splatters on the floor. I don’t think it’s possible to sink thousands of hours into ANYTHING and not be deeply invested in the results, but I’ve learned the hard way how important it is to diversify your mental portfolio.

J. Kathleen Cheney

J. Kathleen CheneyFirst of all, I’d like to state that I handle rejection with the utmost maturity. I do not eat ice cream. Or tamales. (I’m actually more likely to resort to tamales. I’m not an ice cream girl.)

Truthfully, though, my reaction to rejection often surprises me. There are times when my work is rejected, and it hits me like a pile-driver to the stomach. Other times I simply shrug it off and move on. Often I don’t know which one of those it will be. It’s only afterward that I realize I wanted a particular sale more than I’d previously believed. And I’m surprised that my mind can trick me that way.

If it’s one of those instances when I can’t just shrug it off, then I resort to the old standby…a RomCom. I don’t cry for myself. But when I see Sandra Bullock getting beat down over and over again in Hope Floats or Katherine Heigl ruining her own life (temporarily) in 27 Dresses, I cry for them, and that lets out all my angst over my own situation. It never fails me.

Fran Wilde

Fran2014I love a passage from Connie Willis’ 2013 collection (The Best of Connie Willis, Del Rey 2013) – which has commentary on each story. After the post-apocalyptic “A Letter from the Clearys,” she wrote:

“What saved me from [quitting] was those already made-out and stamped envelopes and SASEs. I mean, stamps were expensive, and what would it hurt to send everything out one last time?”

She’s chronicling the moment she got eight rejections all on the same day. I’m so glad she didn’t quit then. I try to remember that when I get a rejection (usually I’m remembering that while munching chocolate and considering a career making tin cans). And then I make another go at it.

How do you handle rejection???

The Golden City: Book Release with Giveaway

The Golden City debuts in Mass Market Paperback today (that’s the smaller and less-expensive size of paperback).

To celebrate, we’re giving away a copy of the novel. If you’d like to enter a drawing for that copy, just leave a comment before Friday 6/6. We’ll announce the winner in comments then.

The Golden City

For two years, Oriana Paredes has been a spy among the social elite of the Golden City, reporting back to her people, the sereia, sea folk banned from the city’s shores….

When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris. But before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown. Trapped beneath the waves, Oriana’s heritage allows her to survive while she is forced to watch her only friend die.

Vowing vengeance, Oriana crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.

Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone….


June Coversplash

The Novelociraptors always keep an eye out for new publications, and here we offer a sampling of books launching this June.

Forsaking Home  by A. American

The Dark Between the Stars  by Kevin J Anderson

Lux by Jennifer Armentrout

Ruin and Rising  by Leah Bardugo

Bliss House: A Novel by Laura Benedict

Grim Shadows  by Jenn Bennett

Relic of Death by David Bernstein

The Adventure of the Ring of Stones by James P. Blaylock

Born of Deception  by Teri Brown

Earth Awakens by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

The Shadows  by Megan Chance

Graduation Day  by Joelle Charbonneau

Dark Father by James Cooper

Cibola Burn  by James S.A. Corey

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

Child of a Hidden Sea by A.M. Dellamonica

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore

The Girl Who Never Was: Otherworld Book One by Skylar Dorset

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

Fire Rising by Donna Grant

The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton

Property of a Lady Faire by Simon R. Green

The Herald by Ed Greenwood

The Ward by S.L. Grey

Death’s Redemption  by Marie Hall

The Merchant Emperor by Elizabeth Haydon

A Shiver of Light  by Laurell K Hamilton

Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper

Shattered by Kevin Hearne

Alien Shores  by Vaughn Heppner

Haxan by Kenneth Mark Hoover

The Source  by J.D. Horn

Rebels: City of Indra by Kendall and Kylie Jenner

The Leopard by K.V. Johansen

Paranoia by J.R. Johansson

Irregular Verbs by Matthew Johnson

Flight of the Golden Harpy by Susan Klaus

Blood Red  by Mercedes Lackey

Prince of Fools  by Mark Lawrence

No Dawn without Darkness by Dayna Lorentz

Sherlock Holmes – Gods of War by James Lovegrove

Deadly Curiosities by Gail Z. Martin

Stone Song  by D.L. McDermott

The Blasted Lands: Seven Forges, Book II by James A. Moore

The Madonna and the Starship by James Morrow

A Barricade in Hell by Jaime Lee Moyer

Shaman Rises  by C.E. Murphy

Essence by Lisa Ann O’Kane

Dark Days by Kate Ormond

Deceiver by Kelli Owen

Chasers of the Wind by Alexey Pehov

Summoned by Anne M Pillsworth

The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Wings  by Elizabeth Richards

Inland by Kat Rosenfield

The Heir of Khored by Deborah J. Ross

Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon

The Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Shea

Vicky Peterwald: Target by Mike Shepherd

I Become Shadow by Joe Shine

Shield of Winter  by Nalini Singh

Cinderella’s Dress  by Shonna Slayton

The Truth Against the World by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Hungry by H.A. Swain

Shield and Crocus by Michael R. Underwood

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Barricade by Jon Wallace

Ecko Burning by Danie Ware

Robogenesis by Daniel H. Wilson

I Am the Mission  by Allen Zadoff



*This is not, of course, a complete list. We simply can’t catch every launch!








News for May and June

Beth Cato

– will be attending Phoenix Comicon June 5-7. Her schedule can be viewed here. There might possibly be shenanigans and the worship of tacos.

– finished a round of edits on the first book in a new steampunk series.

Michael R. Underwood

Appearances: Mike will be attending Phoenix Comicon June 5-8 with Angry Robot Books. His schedule is here.

Publications: Mike’s superhero fantasy novel Shield and Crocus is coming June 10th.

Writing: Revising The Younger Gods, an urban fantasy coming Q4 of 2014.

M.K. Hutchins

Drift is coming out in June!
My novelette, “The Temple’s Posthole,” tied for third in the annual IGMS Reader’s Choice Award.

E.C. Ambrose

Elisha Barber by E. C. Ambrose will be released in paperback June 3rd

Fran Wilde

– Finished a new novelette.
– Finalizing edits on novel #1.
– Working on novel #2 in the Tor series.
– Sold a new short story to Drabblecast called “Local Delicacies.” (pub date TBA)
– Joined an SF Signal Mind Meld for “Books we’ve worn out reading.”
– Am co-editing the SFWA 50th Anniversary cookbook with author Cat Rambo.
– Interviewed agent Rachel Kory from SGG Literary for Cooking the Books.

J. Kathleen Cheney

-Inked a new deal with Ace/Roc for Book 3 in the Golden City series, The Shores of Spain, and the first book in a new series, Dreaming Death.
The Golden City will be coming out in mass market paperback on June 3.
-J. will be appearing at SoonerCon in OKC, June 27-29.

Lawrence M. Schoen

– The second half of May had me bouncing around from the Nebula Awards conference in San Jose, CA, to the Memorial Day weekend joy that was my return to Balticon after several years absence, to a Writers’ Retreat with some of my Taos Toolbox cohort (and others) in my own backyard of Philadelphia.
– I just completed negotiations for the publication of a new novella featuring the Amazing Conroy (both of the previous novellas enjoyed Nebula Award nominations) to come out in 2014 from NobleFusion Press as both an ebook and a stand alone trade paperback. It will feature a cover by Rachael Mayo, the astonishing artist who has done the covers for all of my books to date.
– In theory, my editorial letter for Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard will be dropping any day now. My anxiety demands cake!
– And though the actual event is still quite a ways away, I can now announce that I’ll be a Special Guest at next year’s RavenCon, alongside GoH Allen M. Steele.