Monthly Archives: December 2016

Writers and Weltschmerz

On one of the on-line writers groups I frequent, someone opened a forum topic that ran something like this…Is Anyone Getting Any Writing Done? The question was an interesting one for me, because all writers have to, at times, write on…despite personal setbacks.

Now let me be clear…there are situations in which the writing CANNOT go on. There are times too bleak: sicknesses and household emergencies and financial struggles. There are times when we sit down and simply stare at the screen, unable to do anything. That’s inevitable. Real life tends to trump our writing at times. But this isn’t that. It’s not an inability to write brought on by health issues or finances or priorities.

This is Weltschmerz–the feeling of anxiety caused by the ills of the world. (Definition via Wikipedia)

Many of the writers I know have been suffering weltschmerz since the second week of November. It’s a frightening time for a lot of people, and with holidays on top of that, there’s simply so many stressors that it’s taking a toll on our creativity, grinding it down into the dust. We’re staring at our screens, wondering how we can go on writing our small bits of fiction when there’s so much out there in the world that’s slipping awry. How can we be creative when others are suffering? When they’re afraid? When we’re afraid?

For me, it was a matter of having commitments to fulfill. I’m posting a novel serially, which forces me to edit a bit each week. I have a monthly commitment to my Patreon Patrons on another serial. And I promised that I would have the first book of The Horn out in December.

(Gratuitous bit of book promotion…Oathbreaker is now available in ebook format!)

Those commitments kept me in my chair on days when I would rather have been endlessly refreshing Twitter. I had to get the work done. And when we’re dealing with contracts with publishers, that gives an outside push.

Even without that impetus, I know all my writer friends will eventually sit back down and start writing again.

Why? This is what we do. We write.

Writing is how we deal with the injustices in the world. It’s how we let others know about them. We have voices and we apply our words to let others know what’s happening.

We may be writing blog posts, tweets, letters to the editors, to our congressmen, to those men and women who control various aspects of those things that terrify us. We may drop a line to a serviceman or woman. We might write stories for a benefit anthology for survivors from Aleppo. We might write a wild story to brighten the evening of someone else who has weltschmerz and is seeking pure escape. It might be small. It might be big.

In time we’ll step back into the fray with the weapons we use best…our words. Because this is what we are. We’re writers.


The New Year is coming up fast, and after you’ve recovered from the holidays and made all those resolutions that you’ll surely keep this year, your thoughts will doubtlessly drift to wondering where to find some of your favorite authors in the weeks ahead. Here at Novelocity, we want to make it easy for you, so here’s a list


* January 13-17 – appearing on programming at Arisia in Boston, MA.

* January 6th, noon – will be speaking as part of the WHAT IF lecture series at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
* January 6th, 9pm – will be the featured speaker at WSFA in Washington, DC.


* February 7 – Elisha Mancer Book release!! Look for appearances in New Hampshire and Massachusetts
* February 17-19 – appearing on programming at Boskone in Boston, MA.

MARCH 2017

* March 12 – appearing on programming at the Tucson Festival of Books in Tucson, Arizona.

* March 18th – speaking on Historical Research for Fiction Writers at North Texas RWA in DFW, TX.

* March 9-12 – will be the Guest of Honor at VancouFur in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Your Name in Print

I’ve been thinking lately about Tuckerization, that thing where authors will put a friend (or possibly the winner of a charity auction) into a book they’re writing. It’s kind of cool to come across, particularly if you don’t know it in advance. Our own Fran Wilde has been Tuckerized at least three times that I know of — by Steven Gould, Elizabeth Bear, and me. I routinely put the names of real people into my fiction. It just seems a fun thing to do.

All of which got me to thinking, what works other authors might wish to have been Tuckerized in. And, on the off chance that some Novelocity readers might be interested, I reached out to a few and asked them. Here are some of the replies I got back:

Alyx (A. M.) Dellamonica has already been Tuckerized, along with her wife, Kelly Robson, and their cat, Rumble. All three appear in Behemoth, by Peter Watts. Because they’re in a Watts books, they of course come to a bad end. She also points out that she’s named for Alyx of the Joanna Russ books. As for future Tuckerizations, she’s hoping one of her students will be wildly successful and stick her in a work of theirs.

Former New Orleanian James Cambias assures me he has never (consciously) Tuckerized anyone. He would have liked to have been in Neal Stephenson‘s Baroque cycle. He thinks he’d have made a good Scientific Revolution-era savant or perhaps a Jesuit.

Emmie Mears, whose latest novel, Look to the Sun, was published just a few weeks ago, says she has to go with David Eddings‘s The Belgariad/Malloreon because she would have loved to join Silk and Polgara and Mandorallen and Velvet in all their adventures.

When I asked Kij Johnson, she immediately responded that she would love to have been a crew member on the Bree in Hal Clement‘s Mission of Gravity. She feels she would have made a fantastic first mate to Barlennan.

Past SFWA President Russell Davis felt this was a really difficult question, if for no other reason than you can’t predict what kind of Tuckerization you’d get (throwaway character? villain? sidekick?) and that there are some worlds where that might really matter. Having made that point, he nonetheless picked being a character in The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Lots of opportunity to meet a bad fate in that book!

Juliette Wade, who shares my interests in matters of a linguistic nature, would love to have been tuckerized by Ann Leckie in Ancillary Mercy, and assures me it would have have been a total thrill, even if she were just a minor security character or something.

Kevin Hearne tells me he’s already had the best tuckerization: his Star Wars name was revealed by Chuck Wendig in Life Debt, where he appears as Hern Kaveen, a bearded Pantoran who is the personal bodyguard of Mon Mothma.

And the last word this month goes to Walter Jon Williams who once sought out a Tuckerization from Jack McDevitt who was auctioning off the chance to name a starship in an upcoming novel. Alas, it was a cash auction and Walter only had $65 on him and was quickly outbid. Thus the world was (for now at least) deprived of reading of the USS Walter Jon Williams.

And that’s all I’ve got for you this month, other than to point out that Max Gladstone stopped short of Tuckerizing me in his latest Craft Sequence novel, Four Roads Cross. There’s a throwaway line in there that perpetuates a Twitter gag he and I have tossed back and forth for months, to the consternation of our mutual editor at Tor Books.

Lots of different holidays are coming up in a few weeks. Take my advice, celebrate all of them. Be kind to your loved ones and to some total strangers too. Dress warmly and get plenty of sleep.

Lawrence M. SchoenLawrence M. Schoen holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology; has been nominated for the Campbell, Hugo, Nebula, WSFS awards; won the Cóyotl award for Best Novel of 2015; is a world authority on the Klingon language; operates the small press Paper Golem; and is a practicing hypnotherapist specializing in authors’ issues.

His previous science fiction includes many light and humorous adventures of a space-faring stage hypnotist and his alien animal companion. His most recent book, Barsk, takes a very different tone, exploring issues of intolerance, friendship, conspiracy, and loyalty, and redefines the continua between life and death. By the time you read this, he should have finished the first draft of a sequel which will be landing on his editor’s desk any day now. He lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his wife and their dog.

You can follow him at his website at and on Twitter at @klingonguy. You can even subscribe to his quarterly Newsletter and become eligible for cool bonus “stuff.”

Bookish Holiday Gifts for the Middle Grade Boy

I’ve heard many teachers and parents mention how hard it is to get middle grade boys to read. These boys, from age eight to twelve, are enticed by other media like video games, TV, and sports, and reading is (alas) not regarded as cool.

What books can snare reluctant readers? My son’s 6th grade social studies teacher told me that almost everyone has read the Wimpy Kid books. My son has read many of those books, too. I cannot classify him as a reluctant reader–he takes after me in a lot of ways, the poor kid–but he is a picky reader. He loves funny books–illustrations are a perk. He’s autistic and is strongly drawn to nonfiction, too, such as atlases and math books.

Therefore, I’m scanning his shelves for some of his new favorites, as well as revealing some Christmas gifts that will come his way. (Shh! Don’t tell him.)

If you read and love the comic strip Pearls Before Swine, check out Stephan Pastis’s middle grade series about Timmy Failure. These books are fully illustrated and include the same dry wit as his Pearls comics, though tailored for a younger audience. Kids and parents will enjoy this one!

Hilo starts off a graphic novels series about a mysterious boy with superpowers who crash lands on Earth and makes friends with human kids. It contains lots of action, and a fair share of whimsy, too, as Hilo learns about how kids act. Since my son is autistic and struggles with social skills, books like this offer him a great way to be entertained and learn something, too.

(Small disclaimer: I received a free Advanced Reader Copy of the second Hilo book at Book Expo America in Chicago. My son loved it and asked for the first book.)

The Vordak series is among my son’s favorites! Vordak is a villain plotting world domination from his parents’ basement, but as you might imagine, things do not go as he deviously plans.

If your kid-in-need-of-gift loves video games, look for manga series from Japan that have been translated and released in English. This Mega Man Megamix series is a favorite in my household, along with graphic novels for Pokemon and Kingdom Hearts.

Shh. We’re in gift territory now. I was really excited to find out the Super Mario comics series from Nintendo Power Magazine from 1992-1993 had just been released in book form. I LOVED these comics when I was his age, and I bet he’ll get a kick out of them, too.

I saw a lot of buzz about this Everything You Need to Ace series when they debuted earlier this year, and I have my eye on a couple of them. Take a look at the preview mode on Amazon–these books break down information with lots of illustrations and notes. There’s a friendly feel to it. This might not be a book for a child to sit down and casually read through (though my son will likely do that), but it may prove to be a good reference during the school year.

Happy holidays!

Breath of EarthBeth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

She’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER (a 2015 Locus Award finalist for First Novel) and THE CLOCKWORK CROWN (an RT Reviewers’ Choice Finalist) from Harper Voyager. Her novella WINGS OF SORROW AND BONE was a 2016 Nebula nominee. BREATH OF EARTH begins a new steampunk series set in an alternate history 1906 San Francisco.

Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.



Choice 2016 Novels & Collections for Holiday Gifts

Fran Wilde posted a detailed list of some 2016 works she deemed worthy of award consideration in the coming year. You can read the full list here.

Below is an excerpt featuring her recommendations for indie book stores, novels, and collections. Perhaps you’ll find an ideal gift for someone–or for yourself!

Amazing Indies, aka great places to support during the season…:


books(note: this list doesn’t include YA or Middle Grade because I’m on a jury, but please be aware there’s so much exceptional, diverse, reading to do in those categories, this year and always.)

  • Certain Dark Things – Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Thomas Dunne)
    Welcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…
    Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life.
  • Infomocracy – Malka Older (
    It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global micro-democracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line.
  • Ghost Talkers – Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
    Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.
  • Breath of Earth – Beth Cato (Harper Voyager)
    In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer Wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills.
  • Too Like the Lightning – Ada Palmer (Tor)
    Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer–a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.
  • Ninefox Gambit – Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
    To win an impossible war Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general.
  • Everfair – Nisi Shawl (Tor)
    An alternate history / historical fantasy / steampunk novel set in the Belgian Congo, from noted short story writer Nisi Shawl.
    Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier.
  • The Family Plot – Cherie Priest (Tor)
    Chuck Dutton built Music City Salvage with patience and expertise, stripping historic properties and reselling their bones. Inventory is running low, so he’s thrilled when Augusta Withrow appears in his office offering salvage rights to her entire property. This could be a gold mine, so he assigns his daughter Dahlia to personally oversee the project.
  • Roses and Rot – Kat Howard (Saga)
    Imogen and her sister Marin have escaped their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, be it art or love.
    What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?
  • Wall of Storms – Ken Liu (Saga)
    Kuni Garu, now known as Emperor Ragin, runs the archipelago kingdom of Dara, but struggles to maintain progress while serving the demands of the people and his vision. Then an unexpected invading force from the Lyucu empire in the far distant west comes to the shores of Dara—and chaos results.
  • All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders (Tor)
    Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.
  • Borderline – Mishell Baker (Saga)
    A year ago, Millie lost her legs and her filmmaking career in a failed suicide attempt. Just when she’s sure the credits have rolled on her life story, she gets a second chance with the Arcadia Project: a secret organization that polices the traffic to and from a parallel reality filled with creatures straight out of myth and fairy tales.
  • Jane Steele – Lindsay Faye (Putnam)
    Reader, I murdered him.”

Collections, Anthologies, Serials:


Award-winning author (and technology consultant) Fran Wilde’s next novel, CLOUDBOUND, is available NOW! Her first novel, UPDRAFT debuted from Tor in 2015. Her short stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Nature,, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

7 Gifts From the Writer’s Heart

gift‘Tis the season during which many lists of gift ideas appear, including, quite frequently, lists of gifts for writers.  But the trouble is often not what we wish to receive, but things we might be able to give–unique items we can offer because we are writers.  Best of all, especially for those of us ‘starving writers’ out there, most of these are absolutely free.  Here are a few ideas:

  1.  Dedicate a book to them.  This is a one-of-a-kind, and you can personalize it to show how much they mean to you.  Each book may have many acknowledgments (another option), but only a single dedication.  Even if it takes a while for the book to appear in print, the recipient will be honored.
  2. Tuckerization.  Named for Wilson Tucker, a science fiction author and editor who often used the names of his friends for minor characters, Tuckerization is a popular charity auction item, and it could make a cool gift. Maybe you can offer the recipient just a walk-on part, or give them two or three choices for a character named for them.  Strangely, for you mystery writers out there, people often love to see themselves as the body.  Go figure!
  3. Pre-release copy of a book or story–they will be the first person to read the work.  You could have it bound at a local copy shop, print the story as a chapbook, or offer a group of poems.
  4.  Write their own story or poem.  This one is especially fun for parents or children.  The work can suit their personality and interests, and can be truly exclusive.  However, it does take more time.
  5.  So instead, you could get a nice piece of hand-made paper or high-end stationery, and hand-write a passage from your work. This could be a favorite work of yours or a piece your recipient loves, or it might be a passage inspired by them or by something you share–a favorite place, a powerful memory.  Frame it. If your handwriting isn’t the best (as is often the case with those of us who write too much or too quickly) you could include a typed translation. Sign and date the piece.
  6. For the high school or college graduate, or anyone in transition, offer to brainstorm entrance essay ideas, edit a piece of theirs, or proof-read resumes and cover letters.  An extra set of experienced eyeballs could help them get just where they want to go.
  7.  And finally, for your writing buddy–or your buddy who wished they could be–offer the gift of your time as an accountability partner.  Commit to a daily or weekly word count, or to a brainstorming session, or a weekly Skype call where you write together for an hour.  What better way to show you care than to support another’s dream?