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It's time to reveal the Table of Contents for one of Zombies Need Brains' upcoming anthologies called PORTALS, edited by Patricia Bray and S.C. Butler!  These are SF&F stories that center around portals that connect one world to another, whether it be Earth, a fantasy realm, or a science fiction future.  A few even skirt the edges of those three!  Check out the stories and authors below, and then preorder the anthology at the Zombies Need Brains online store if you missed our Kickstarter last year!  And don't miss any of the previous anthologies from ZNB, as well as the other two new releases this year--TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED and ALTERNATE PEACE.  And look at the stunning art we'll use for the cover from Justin Adams of Varia Studios!

PORTALS
Table of Contents

“What Time Is It?” by Nancy Holzner

“This Way Out” by Esther Friesner

“Deus Ex Machina” by Ian Tregillis

“A Land Fit for Heroes” by Jacey Bedford

“Iron and Anthracite” by John Linwood Grant

“The Namesake” by Kate Hall

“Portal Pirates” by Gini Koch (writing as Anita Ensal)

“Doorways in the Sand” by Violette Malan

“Somewhere Else, Nowhere Else” by Juliet Kemp

“A Stranger Comes to Town” by James Enge

“Brick and Mirror” by Steven Harper

“A Bend in the Air” by F. Brett Cox

“All the Lost Places” by Jaime Lee Moyer

“Onward to Glory!” by Jason Palmatier

“Hard Times in the Vancouver Continuum” by Andrija Popovic

“The Cracks in the Road” by Patrick Hurley

Preorder your copy here: squareup.com/market/zombies-need-brains-llc


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The nomination window for the HUGOs is closing on March 16th, right around the corner!  Here are the stories that were published by Zombies Need Brains in 2018 that are eligible for the award and which category each fits into.  These are in no particular order (just the order in which I ran across them while creating the list).  I also threw in our editors from last year.  Please nominate your favorite stories and/or editors!  We thank you for your consideration.  And remember, you can add and adjust your nomination ballots up to March 16th, so even if you've already nominated, you can change your ballot!

Even if you can't nominate for the HUGO, please take a moment to post a review of one of the three anthologies Zombies Need Brains released in 2018:  GUILDS & GLAIVES, THE RAZOR'S EDGE, or SECOND ROUND: A RETURN FROM THE UR-BAR.  Every review helps these anthologies reach a larger audience!  Use this as a reminder of the stories in each one and tell us which are your favorites in your review!

Best Novelette:
"The Charter" by Ashley McConnell  (Guilds & Glaives)
"Oathbreaker" by David Farland  (Guilds & Glaives)
"The Sword and the Djinn" by Howard Andrew Jones  (Guilds & Glaives)
"The Cage at the End of the World" by James Enge  (Guilds & Glaives)
"A Favor for Lord Bai" by Jean Marie Ward  (Second Round)
"Bound By Mortal Chains No More" by William Leisner  (Second Round)
"Eleven Days" by Walter H. Hunt  (The Razor's Edge)

Best Short Story:
"Guild of the Ancients" by D.B. Jackson  (Guilds & Glaives)
"Honors Among Thieves" by Esther Friesner  (Guilds & Glaives)
"The Three Assassins of Lord Slaughter" by Gini Koch  (Guilds & Glaives)
"Assassinsssss" by Jason Palmatier  (Guilds & Glaives)
"Rainbow Dark" by Jenna Rhodes  (Guilds & Glaives)
"In the Asp's Nest" by Lawrence Harding  (Guilds & Glaives)
"The Witch That Wasn't" by Leah Webber  (Guilds & Glaives)
"Blood and Onyx" by R.K. Nickel  (Guilds & Glaives)
"Footprints of the Hound" by Violette Malan  (Guilds & Glaives)
"Thievery Bar None" by Aaron M. Roth  (Second Round)
"Whispering Voice" by David Keener  (Second Round)
"But If You Try Sometime" by Diana Pharaoh Francis  (Second Round)
"Welcome to the Jungle Bar" by Garth Nix  (Second Round)
"A Lawman, an Outlaw, and a Gambler Walk Into a Bar …"  by Gini Koch  (Second Round)
"Forest Law, Wild and True" by Irene Radford  (Second Round)
"Make Me Immortal With a Kiss" by Jacey Bedford  (Second Round)
"Wanderlust" by Juliet E. McKenna  (Second Round)
"The Wizard King" by Kari Sperring  (Second Round)
"West Side Ghost Story" by Kristine Smith  (Second Round)
"Ale for Humanity" by Mike Marcus  (Second Round)
"Honorbound" by R.K. Nickel  (Second Round)
"The Weapon They Fear" by Alex Gideon  (The Razor's Edge)
"Halo of Storms" by Blake Jessop  (The Razor's Edge)
"An Acceptable Risk to the Portfolio" by Brian Hugenbruch  (The Razor's Edge)
"Freedom!" by Chris Kennedy  (The Razor's Edge)
"The Parallactic Soldier" by Christopher Allenby  (The Razor's Edge)
"The Woman in Green" by D.B. Jackson  (The Razor's Edge)
"Miller's Choice" by Gerald Brandt  (The Razor's Edge)
"The Gunslinger" by Kay Kenyon  (The Razor's Edge)
"The Liberator" by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.  (The Razor's Edge)
"Rise Up, Rise Up, You Children of the Moon" by Seanan McGuire  (The Razor's Edge)
"The Neural Net" by Sharon Goza  (The Razor's Edge)
"Revolutionists" by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller  (The Razor's Edge)
"Contender" by Steve Perry  (The Razor's Edge)
"The Battle for Rainbow's Edge" by William C. Dietz  (The Razor's Edge)
"Final Flight of the PhoenixWing" by Y.M. Pang  (The Razor's Edge)

Best Editor (Short Form):
Joshua Palmatier
Patricia Bray

(Unfortunately, neither SC Butler nor Troy Carrol Bucher are eligible … yet.)

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TD Cover Small

 


 

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED
Table of Contents Announced!

Editors David B. Coe and Joshua B. Palmatier are proud to announce the Table of Contents for the upcoming Zombies Need Brains anthology TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! Here are 14 stories dealing with various interpretations of the phrase "temporally deactivated," crossing the boundaries between fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, and contemporary fantasy. Watch for the release in both ebook and paperback later this year! Or preorder a Kickstarter edition at the Zombies Need Brains online store and get it early! In the meantime, congratulations to the authors! And check out the stunning art we'll use as a cover by Justin Adams of Varia Studios.

“Keeper of the Light” by Ken Altabef
“The Eyes of Odin” by Alex Gideon
“All the Time in the World” by Stephen Leigh
“The Other Walker” by D.B. Jackson
“My Dark Knight” by Faith Hunter
“Eye of the Needle” by C.S. Friedman
“Tempus Erratum” by Emily Randall
“Missy the Were-Pomeranian vs. the Lord of Time” by Gini Koch
“The Mirror Trap” by Misty Massey
“Love and the Improper Unicorn” by Rhondi Ann
“Schrödinger’s Fractal” by Edmund R. Schubert
“Clockwork Corsair” by R.K. Nickel
“Compassionate Retry” by Marie DesJardin
“Neurons Lost and Found” Christine Lucas

Preorder your copy here: https://squareup.com/market/zombies-need-brains-llc

 
 
 
 
 
 

 


 
 
 
 
 
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I want to welcome D.B. Jackson to the blog today!  He's here to talk about his newest novel Time's Children, the first book in a new series. I'll let him give you more specifics below, but you should definitely rush out and buy it.  Right now.  I'll wait. …  And now that that's done, here's D.B. Jackson (aka David B. Coe), who' really here to talk about how writing short fiction helps write novels:


My newest novel, Time’s Children, the first book in the Islevale Cycle, has just been released by Angry Robot Books. This is a time travel, epic fantasy series, and I’m incredibly excited to see the book in print. But while Time’s Children is the first book in the new trilogy, it is not the first Islevale story I’ve had published. “The Guild of the Ancients,” a short piece set in my world and featuring one of my key characters, appeared earlier this summer in Guilds and Glaives, an anthology put out by Joshua’s publishing company, Zombies Need Brains.

 

I love writing short fiction, just as I love writing novels. I believe that while the two forms obviously share elements, they also present the writer with different challenges and a host of opportunities. I often suggest that writers who are just starting out take time out from their novels to write some shorter pieces. Why?

 

I’m glad you asked.

 

1) Writing short fiction helps us hone our craft. Short stories demand an economy of prose and directness of narrative that are less essential in a novel. It’s not that novels can or should be wordy or meandering, but rather that with a short story we have 6,000 words or so to tell a satisfying tale, rather than 100,000. Every detail should have purpose. Plot points should follow one upon the other. Characters should be drawn with precision and care. Prose should be clean and concise. I love the challenge of writing a good short story, just as I enjoy constructing an effective novel. But while I’m not sure writing my novels makes me better at short fiction, I know that writing short fiction has helped me grow as a storyteller and writer of novels.

 

2) Short stories help with our character development and world building. I sold my first short story after I had published four novels. The story I sold was about an episode from the history of the world I created for my Winds of the Forelands series. I knew the outlines of the event – a key moment in that history – but until I wrote the story, I didn’t fully understand it. That understanding informed passages in the remaining Forelands books. Similarly, my story in Guilds and Glaives features a key character in the Islevale books: the time demon, Droë. Writing from her point of view, exploring an important moment from earlier in her life, taught me a good deal about her, and also helped me refine her voice. And in between that first published story and this most recent one, I’ve used short fiction again and again to inform my novels. Think of them as research, as a way to learn more about the ingredients to be used in your larger projects.

 

3) Selling a short story earns us money and advances our careers. Sure, the money we earn for novels will outpace the money for short stories. No question. Novels gain more attention as well. But start with the points I’ve made above. Writing the short story serves artistic purposes – honing our craft, sharpening our sense of character and world and voice. If we can then also earn a bit for the story, well that’s gravy. More, any sort of professional sale can help a beginning writer gain the notice and consideration of editors and agents. Put another way, the money we earn for a short story is secondary to the mere fact of the sale itself. For writers who are already established, the short fiction sale may carry less significance. But speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that I still value every sale, every new credit, and every opportunity to work with a new editor.

 

Not every short story has to be set in a pre-existing world. They don’t all have to be practice for our larger works. And not every short story needs to be sold. (Though I would urge you to submit those stories that you feel represent your best work. What do you have to lose?)  Even if writing a short piece does nothing more than polish your writing, it’s worth the effort. Because ultimately, while all the reasons I’ve given above ought to convince you to write short fiction, those are not the most compelling reasons I can offer.

 

The fact is, writing short pieces, crafting workable stories with so few words, is tremendously fun and deeply satisfying. I love the novels I’ve written, and I’m proud of all of them. But some of my most memorable experiences as a professional writer have come with my shorter work. So check out “Guild of the Ancients” and the other stories in Guilds and Glaives. And then check out Time’s Children. You might enjoy that, too.

 

*****

D.B. Jackson is the pen name of fantasy author David B. Coe. He is the award-winning author of twenty novels and as many short stories. His newest novel, Time’s Children, is the first volume in a time travel/epic fantasy series called The Islevale Cycle. The book has just been released by Angry Robot Books. The second volume, Time’s Demon, will be released in May 2019.

 

As D.B. Jackson, he also writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. As David B. Coe, he is the author of the Crawford Award-winning LonTobyn Chronicle, which he has recently reissued, as well as the critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands quintet and Blood of the Southlands trilogy. He wrote the novelization of Ridley Scott’s movie, Robin Hood, and, most recently, The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy.

 

He is also currently working on a tie-in project with the History Channel. David has a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Stanford University. His books have been translated into a dozen languages.

 

He and his family live on the Cumberland Plateau. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

 

www.dbjackson-author.com

www.DavidBCoe.com

www.dbjackson-author.com/blog/

twitter.com/DBJacksonAuthor

www.facebook.com/DBJacksonAuthor/

www.facebook.com/david.b.coe


 

 

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The PORTALS, TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED, and ALTERNATE PEACE anthology kickstarter has hit its goal!  If you have a story idea that fits one of the anthology themes, write it up, revise it, polish it, and send it in for consideration.  I've posted the guidelines below. 

 

The PORTALS, TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED, and ALTERNATE PEACE Submission Guidelines

 

Zombies Need Brains LLC is accepting submissions to its three science fiction and fantasy anthologies PORTALS, TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED, and ALTERNATE PEACE.  Stories must be submitted in electronic form as an attachment with the title of the story as the file name in .doc or .docx format.  The header of the email should include the name of the anthology the submission is for along with the title of the submission (for example:  WERE-:  WereJellyfish Gone Wild!).  The content of the email should also include which anthology the manuscript is intended for.  Please send multiple manuscripts in separate emails; you may submit to any or all of the anthologies as many times as you wish.  Manuscripts should be in manuscript format, meaning double-spaced, 12pt font, standard margins on top, bottom and sides, and pages numbered.  Please use Times New Roman font.  The first page should include the Title of the story, Author’s name, address, and email, and Pseudonym if different from the author’s real name.  Italics and bold should be in italics and bold.

 

Stories for this anthology must be original (no reprints or previously published material), no more than 7,500 words in length, and must satisfy the theme of the anthology. 

 

PORTALS is to feature science fiction or fantasy stories that contain a portal opening up between two different worlds and the consequences that come from that portal.  We are attempting to fill half of the anthology with science fiction stories and half with fantasy stories.  Stories featuring more interesting settings and twists on the typical portals will receive more attention than those that use standard tropes.  In other words, we don’t want to see 100 stories dealing with a door in the back of the wardrobe leading to a fantasy world of gnomes, dwarves, and elves.  If we do, it’s likely that only one, at most, would be selected for the anthology.  We do NOT want to see time portals, connecting one time to another; however, it can be a portal from our reality to an alternate reality.  We are interested in all kinds of portals:  doors at the back of wardrobes, stone archways in the middle of the forest, wormholes, cracks in reality, etc.  Be creative, choose something different, and use it in an unusual and unexpected way.  We are looking for a range of tones, from humorous all the way up to dark.

 

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED is to feature stories where the author explores what the phrase “temporally deactivated” could mean with regards to a person, place, or thing.  Stories featuring more interesting takes on the twisting of time and how it is integrated into the story will receive more attention than those with more typical twisted time stories.  We do NOT want to see stories where “temporal deactivation” means simply death.  So be creative and use time in an unusual and unexpected way.  We are looking for a range of tones, from humorous all the way up to dark.

 

ALTERNATE PEACE is to feature alternate history stories where the divergence from our timeline comes from some kind of peaceful change to our past.  It must explore the consequences of this divergence, not simply introduce the divergence.  Stories featuring more interesting historical settings and twists on the consequences of the peaceful divergence from our timeline will receive more attention than those with more standard changes to the course of history.  So be creative and come up with an unusual and unexpected break from the timeline.  Please note that while the divergence in the timeline must be from some peaceful change, that change CAN lead to violence; in other words, you are allowed to have violence in the story, it just can’t be what’s initiating the alternate history. We are looking for a range of tones, from humorous all the way up to dark.

Here are some example stories for ALTERNATE PEACE--stories where the divergence from the timeline comes from a peaceful change:
 

Stephen Baxter: The Twelfth Album (Interzone 13, Hartwell’s Best Science Fiction of the Year 4)
Michael F. Flynn: Quaetiones Super Caelo et Mundo (Analog, 7/07)
Janet Kagan: Love Our Lockwood (Alternate Presidents)
John Kessel: The Franchise (Pure Product, Fields of Fantasies)
Mary Robinette Kowal: The Lady Astronaut series (Tor Books)
Ian R. MacLeod: Snodgrass (Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction 10, Past Magic)
Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Recovering Apollo 8 (Asimov’s, 2/7, Recovering Apollo 8)
Howard Waldrop: Heart of Whitenesse (Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction 15, Heart of Whitenesse)

 

 

DEADLINE and TIMELINE:

 

The deadline for submissions is December 31st, 2018.  Decisions on stories should be completed by the end of February 2019.  Please send submissions to contact@zombiesneedbrains.com.  You will receive a receipt email within a few days of receiving the submission and having it filed for consideration.  Notices about decisions on the stories will be sent out no later than the end of March 2019.

 

If your story is selected for use in the anthology, you should expect a revision letter by the end of April 2019.  Revisions and the final draft of the story will be expected no later than the end of May 2019.  These dates may change due to the editors’ work schedules.  Zombies Need Brains LLC is seeking exclusive world anthology rights (including electronic rights) in all languages for the duration of one year after publication/release of the anthology, non-exclusive world anthology rights (including electronic rights) in all languages after that.  Your story cannot appear elsewhere during that first year.  Pay rate will be an advance of a minimum of 6 cents per word.  The anthology will be published as an ebook and an exclusive mass market paperback edition, distributed to the Kickstarter backers.  The book would be available after that to the general public in ebook and trade paperback formats.  Advances would be immediately earned out by the success of the Kickstarter.  Royalties on additional sales beyond the Kickstarter will be 25% of ebook cover price and 10% of trade paperback cover price, both split evenly (not by word count) between the authors in and editors of the anthology.

 

Questions regarding these submission guidelines should be sent to contact@zombiesneedbrains.com.  Thank you.


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This is the ten part series of blog posts that I wrote last year in order to show how I create the anthologies for Zombies Need Brains, the small press that I founded in order to produce SF&F themed anthologies.  It's basically a behind-the-scenes look at the process.  Obviously, this is only how I produce an anthology and there may be other roads to follow in order to produce one.  Keep that in mind. 
 
So that’s how ZNB produces their anthologies.  I didn’t cover absolutely everything.  There are a few things I could have talked about—such as advertising, marketing, etc.—but this gives everyone who might be interested in producing an anthology at least a rough framework for how it’s done.  Again, you may need to alter and personalize this so that it works best for you.  I hope you’ve learned something from this blog series!  Thanks for reading!
 
And now a word from our sponsor:
 
*****************
 
Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy.  Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.
 
ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.
 
If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at <a href="http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals">http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals</a>! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!


"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios

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BIG NEWS! The three new anthologies--GUILDS & GLAIVES, THE RAZOR'S EDGE, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE UR-BAR--are finished and ready to go! This means that I'll be shipping Kickstarter editions to backers starting June 11th (the delivery date for the printed copies) and that the general release for the trade editions and ebooks will be JUNE 15th! This is THREE MONTHS earlier than expected!

If you'd like to PREORDER the trade paperback edition, Kickstarter edition, Kindle, Nook, or an art print of the cover art for any of the anthologies, check out the links below.


Guilds & Glaives:

Back Cover Copy:
Stop right there!
 
If you like your fantasy filled with fellowships and noble quests, this anthology is not for you. And if you love lengthy tales of politics and power, then it won’t be to your taste either. But if you like a little intimacy with your evil, and your vengeance short and sweet, with perhaps a pinch of silliness in the witchcraft, then these fourteen delicious sweetmeats of sword and sorcery will prove right up your alley. And it will be a dank, twisting, fetid alley, too.
 
In this book you will find no high elves (only low), no politics (unless assassination is involved), and certainly no nobility. Join Lawrence Harding, Howard Andrew Jones, Esther Friesner, Jenna Rhodes, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Leah Webber, David Farland, R.K. Nickel, Ashley McConnell, D.B. Jackson, James Enge, Jason Palmatier, and Amelia Sirina as they explore the perilous streets and clashing blades found in GUILDS & GLAIVES.

Preorder GUILDS & GLAIVES here:

Trade Paperback: https://squareup.com/market/zombies-need-brains-llc/item/guilds-glaives
Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CT61B28/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=authjoshpalms-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B07CT61B28&linkId=cfbe8993e59a82366e1a5665c19123a5
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/guilds-glaives-david-farland/1128586498?ean=2940162065623
Kickstarter Edition (limited): https://squareup.com/market/zombies-need-brains-llc/item/guilds-glaives-kickstarter-paperback
Cover Art Print: https://squareup.com/market/zombies-need-brains-llc/item/guilds-glaives-art-print
 
Second Round: A Return to the Ur-Bar:

Back Cover Copy:
For thousands of years the immortal Gilgamesh has presided over the legendary Ur-Bar, witnessing history unfold from within its walls. Some days it is a rural tavern, others a fashionable wine shop. It may appear as a hidden speakeasy or take on the form of your neighborhood local. For most patrons it is simply a place to quench their thirst, but for a rare few the Ur-Bar is where they will meet their destiny.
Join R.K. Nickel, Rachel Atwood, Kari Sperring, Jean Marie Ward, Gini Koch, Jacey Bedford, William Leisner, Garth Nix, Diana Pharaoh Francis, David Keener, Mike Marcus, Kristine Smith, Aaron M. Roth, and Juliet E. McKenna as they recount all new tales from the Ur-Bar. From humor to horror, from the Roman Empire to Martian Colonies, there’s something to please everyone. Just remember to beware when the mysterious bartender offers you the house special …

 
The Razor's Edge:

Back Cover Copy:
One man’s insurgent is another man’s freedom fighter…
From The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to The Hunger Games, everyone enjoys a good rebellion. There is something compelling about a group (or individual) who throws caution to the wind and rises up in armed defiance against oppression, tyranny, religion, the government—you name it. No matter the cause, or how small the chance, it’s the courage to fight against overwhelming odds that grabs our hearts and has us pumping our fists in the air.
 
Win or lose, it’s the righteous struggle we cherish, and those who take up arms for a cause must walk The Razor’s Edge between liberator and extremist. With stories by Blake Jessop, William C. Dietz, D.B. Jackson, Gerald Brandt, Sharon P. Goza, Walter H. Hunt, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Kay Kenyon, Steve Perry, Seanan McGuire, Christopher Allenby, Chris Kennedy, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Alex Gideon, Brian Hugenbruch, and Y.M. Pang.

Preorder THE RAZOR'S EDGE here:

Trade Paperback: https://squareup.com/market/zombies-need-brains-llc/item/the-razor-s-edge-trade-paperback
Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CT9ZBWN/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=authjoshpalms-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B07CT9ZBWN&linkId=7925cfe48cce30525244237d2265224d
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-razors-edge-frederic-p-miller/1030147402?ean=2940162065722
Kickstarter Edition (limited): https://squareup.com/market/zombies-need-brains-llc/item/razor-s-edge-kickstarter-paperback
Cover Art Print: https://squareup.com/market/zombies-need-brains-llc/item/the-razor-s-edge-art-print
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Zombies Need Brains is putting together a newsletter!

Subscribers to the newsletter will get advance news about upcoming ZNB products, Kickstarters, announcements, and more. For example, we'll announce the new themes for the upcoming Kickstarter to newsletter subscribers first! So all of you writers can get a head start on writing those short stories for submission once the Kickstarter funds (because we all just assume the Kickstarter will fund). We'll also announce anchor authors, cover reveals, Table of Contents, news on special Kickstarter rewards, new products, and other news items from ZNB--all to newsletter subscribers first! We're just starting this up now, so SIGN UP NOW before we send the first newsletter in a few days! In this first newsletter, we'll reveal the covers of the three new anthologies, along with some exciting news for both Kickstarter backers and the general public! Don't be left out of the loop! Just click through the link below for the sign-up sheet:


eepurl.com/dv3TLv


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This is a novella featuring the characters from Bradley P. Beaulieu's "Shattered Sands" series.

Premise: Ceda is a pit fighter who catches the eye of an ehrekh, an evil creature created ages ago by the god of chaos. She attempts to escape, but this only makes her more interesting in the ehrekh's eyes. The more Ceda resists, the more the ehrekh wants her. How can Ceda escape the clutches of a creature that's part god?

This is really a story in three parts, each part a short story in an of itself, all connected. Overall, the story is good, the best part probably the last. Ceda is a great character and the world where people sail the sands like we sail the ocean is spectacular. The weakest part in this story is the middle part. Not because it isn't a complete short on its own, but it didn't have the depth that the other two parts had; it read a little more perfunctory than the other parts. I felt the characterizations were best in the first and last parts, especially of the ehrekh. But still, an enjoyable addition to the novels in the this series.
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I've read ELANTRIS and loved it, so I was interested in what Brandon Sanderson had done with the "Mistborn" series, since everyone was raving about it. It's a good read!

Premise: Vin is a thief with the ability to affect people's emotions, helpful with her gang, but when she uses her ability on the wrong person, she catches the interest of the Lord Ruler's minions ... and Kelsier. Kelsier has survived the Lord Ruler's hellish mining prison and intends to bring the Lord Ruler down. He's gathered a group of the city's greatest thieves and con artists and decides to add Vin to the mix. All they have to do now is bring the ruling Houses of the city to war, train an army of peasants that can take over the city, and somehow kill the Lord Ruler himself. Easy, right?

This is definitely a good read. The world is interesting--a dark city with ash falls covering the streets on a regular basis and the commoners ground under the heel of the Lord Ruler and his government. The characters are interesting and fun to follow. And the magic system is unique, magic performed by swallowing and burning metals. My only real complaint is that the pacing was a little slow in some parts.

Definitely something those who love fantasy should check out.
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I enjoy Stephen King, have loved many of his books, but this one isn't high up on my list.

Premise: Jamie Morton recalls his run-ins with Charles Jacobs, originally a minister is his small town. Charles has a profound affect on Jamie at that first meeting, but as he runs into Charles again and again at various times later in life, he discovers his life changed in many ways, not necessarily good. The minister's fascination with electricity brings the supernatural aspect of this novel into play, with an electrifying end.

As I said, I love Stephen King, but I found I couldn't get into this one as much as some of his others. The main characters--both Jamie and Charles--just didn't grab me and pull me along as King's characters usually do. And the supernatural aspects with the lightning and electricity didn't feel as developed as they could have been, even though I ended up reading almost exclusively for those aspects as the book progressed. The best parts of the book are those that deal with Jamie and his girlfriend.

So while I enjoyed this overall, it doesn't rate high on my list of Stephen King books.
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Hey, if you plan on buying holiday gifts at Barnes & Noble in store or online, AND YOU CAN WAIT, help raise funds for Literacy Volunteers of Broome/Tioga Counties by buying everything DECEMBER 1st-6th! They're running a bookfair and 10% of everything you buy will be donated to the charity, if you give them the code (Bookfair ID 12077566) at the counter or at checkout online. It really builds up fast! Here are the details about the event the Vestal, NY, Barnes & Noble (where I'll be signing copies of my books, including the new omnibus edition of "The Throne of Amenkor," just released) is running, but remember that you can still use the code (Bookfair ID 12077566) online and at your own store to help out! It will work from December 1-6th! Thanks in advance for helping out this charity!

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Literacy Volunteers of Broome-Tioga Counties invites you to our BARNES & NOBLE BOOKFAIR – VESTAL

Shop at Barnes & Noble on December 1st and a percentage of your purchases will be donated to Literacy Volunteers of Broome-Tioga Counties! We will offer free gift wrapping for all of your Barnes & Noble gifts. Join us for children’s activities throughout the day and local author signings, schedule below:

11:00 am-2:00 pm, Join Author Jan Lewis Zelesnikar at 11:00 am for a very special Silly Nomads From Palmerston Close story reading and crafts. Book signings and crafts will continue until 2:00 pm. Silly Nomads is the story of two silly and crazy brothers and their action-packed adventures. There are three books in the series. All ages will love these stories! For more information visit our website at www.mohallandlewisllc.com.

3:00 pm-7:00 pm, Join Author Joshua Palmatier for the release of his first trilogy, The Throne of Amenkor, in omnibus format! Joshua Palmatier is an epic fantasy writer with a PhD in mathematics. He has written nine novels and is currently hard at work on the start of a new series. Find out more at www.joshuapalmatier.com or on Facebook or Twitter (@bentateauthor).

To make an online purchase, visit BN.COM/bookfairs December 1 – 6, 2017 and enter Bookfair ID 12077566 at checkout
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THE RAZOR’S EDGE, GUILDS & GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR anthology kickstarter has hit its goal! If you have a story idea that fits one of the anthology themes, write it up, revise it, polish it, and send it in for consideration. I've posted the guidelines below.

THE RAZOR’S EDGE, GUILDS & GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR Submission Guidelines

Zombies Need Brains LLC is accepting submissions to its three science fiction and fantasy anthologies THE RAZOR’S EDGE, GUILDS & GLAIVES, and SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR. Stories must be submitted in electronic form as an attachment with the title of the story as the file name in .doc or .docx format. The header of the email should include the name of the anthology the submission is for along with the title of the submission (for example: WERE-: WereJellyfish Gone Wild!). The content of the email should also include which anthology the manuscript is intended for. Please send multiple manuscripts in separate emails. Manuscripts should be in manuscript format, meaning double-spaced, 12pt font, standard margins on top, bottom and sides, and pages numbered. Please use New Times Roman font. The first page should include the Title of the story, Author’s name, address, and email, and Pseudonym if different from the author’s real name. Italics and bold should be in italics and bold.

Stories for this anthology must be original (no reprints or previously published material), no more than 7,500 words in length, and must satisfy the theme of the anthology.

THE RAZOR’S EDGE is to feature science fiction or fantasy stories that explore the fine line between a rebel and an insurgent. It is a military science fiction and fantasy anthology. We are attempting to fill half of the anthology with science fiction stories, and half with fantasy stories. Stories featuring more interesting settings and twists on the typical themes will receive more attention than those that use standard tropes. In other words, we don’t want to see 100 stories dealing with the general fighting insurgents who joins their cause at the end. If we do, it’s likely that only one, at most, would be selected for the anthology. So be creative, choose something different, and use it in an unusual and unexpected way. We are looking for a range of tones, from humorous all the way up to dark.

GUILDS & GLAIVES is to feature sword & sorcery stories where a guild is featured somewhere in the story. So thieves, assassins, and dark magic, but with a guild or guilds incorporated into the story somehow. Obviously most such stories will be fantasy, but we are interested in science fiction takes on this theme. Stories featuring more interesting takes on the guilds, and twists on how they are integrated into the story, will receive more attention than those with the standard thieves guild or assassins guild. So be creative and use your guild in an unusual and unexpected way. We are looking for a range of tones, from humorous all the way up to dark.

SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR is to feature stories where the time-traveling Urbar, first used in the anthology AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE URBAR, is a central part of the plot. The story may start in the bar, end in the bar, or be in the bar somewhere in the middle, but at some point a significant plot point must involve the Urbar. Stories featuring more interesting historical settings for the bar, and twists on how the bar is integrated into the story, will receive more attention than those with more standard uses of the bar, or where the bar is only incidental to the rest of the story. So be creative and use bar in an unusual and unexpected way, preferably in an unusual or unexpected era of history. In particular, you cannot use the same time period used in the anthology AFTER HOURS or that will be used by an anchor author of the current anthology (see the end of the post for time periods that are off limits). We are looking for a range of tones, from humorous all the way up to dark.

The deadline for submissions is December 31st, 2017. Decisions on stories should be completed by the end of February 2018. Please send submissions to contact@zombiesneedbrains.com. You will receive a receipt email within a few days of receiving the submission and having it filed for consideration. Notices about decisions on the stories will be sent out no later than the end of March 2018.

If your story is selected for use in the anthology, you should expect a revision letter by the end of April 2018. Revisions and the final draft of the story will be expected no later than the end of May 2018. These dates may change due to the editors’ work schedules. Zombies Need Brains LLC is seeking non-exclusive world anthology rights (including electronic rights) in all languages for the duration of one year after publication/release of the anthology. Your story cannot appear elsewhere during that year. Pay rate will be an advance of a minimum of 6 cents per word for the short stories. For each additional $10,000 raised above the Kickstarter minimum of $20,000, we will increase this advance pay rate by 1 cent per word. The anthology will be published as an ebook and an exclusive mass market paperback edition, distributed to the Kickstarter backers. The book would be available after that to the general public in ebook and trade paperback formats. Advances would be immediately earned out by the success of the Kickstarter. Royalties on additional sales beyond the Kickstarter will be 25% of ebook cover price and 10% of trade paperback cover price, both split evenly (not by word count) between the authors in the anthology and the editors of the anthology.

Questions regarding these submission guidelines should be sent to contact@zombiesneedbrains.com. Thank you.

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The following time periods were used in the AFTER HOURS anthology and are off limits for SECOND ROUND's open call:

“An Alewife In Kish” by Benjamin Tate - Ancient Sumeria, circa 2000 BC

“Why the Vikings Had No Bars” by SC Butler - Viking Daneland, circa 9th century AD (reign of King Harald Fairhair)

“The Emperor’s New God” by Jennifer Dunne - Bar is in Venice, Italy, 1001 AD, story covers 1001-1002 AD

“The Tale That Wagged the Dog” by Barbara Ashford - Scotland, 14th century

“Sake and Other Spirits” by Maria V. Snyder - Feudal Japan, a fishing village near Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. 15th-16th century.

“The Fortune-Teller Makes Her Will” by Kari Sperring - Paris, 1675-1680 (affaire des poisons time period)

“The Tavern Fire” by DB Jackson - Boston, Mass 1760

“Last Call” by Patricia Bray - Time period spans Georgian/Regency England and Europe, the Ur-Bar is in Switzerland, in 1816

“The Alchemy of Alcohol” by Seanan McGuire -- San Francisco, CA, 1899
“The Grand Tour” by Juliet E McKenna - Austria, 1910

“Paris 24” by Laura Anne Gilman - Paris, France 1924 (Olympics)

“Steady Hands and a Heart of Oak” by Ian Tregillis - London, England, 1940 (Blitz)

“Forbidden” by Avery Shade - New York City, late 1980s

“Where We Are Is Hell” by Jackie Kessler - Present day(ish), location not specified but somewhere U.S., possibly near NYC

“Izdu-Bar” by Anton Strout- Near future, post-zombie apocalypse, somewhere near Albany, NY

The following time periods have been claimed by the anchor authors of SECOND ROUND and are off limits for the open call:

Jacey Bedford (June 30th, 1916, France, Battle of Somme, WWI)
Gini Koch (Old West)
Juliet E. McKenna (Mars, near future)
C.E. Murphy (undetermined)
Kristine Smith (Present day-ish, New York City)
Kari Sperring (Wales, 1400-1415)
Jean Marie Ward (1420s Nanjing, China)
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In this blog, I thought I’d share some of the mistakes that I made when I ran my first Kickstarter for Zombies Need Brains and the anthology CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK VS ALIENS. If you’re thinking of running a Kickstarter, perhaps this will help you make fewer mistakes than I did. Some of these are about designing the Kickstarter, and some of them are mistakes made with producing that first anthology and fulfilling the backer rewards.

The first two of these mistakes—and also the biggest mistakes that I made—are with designing the Kickstarter and they both deal with postage. Yes, postage.

So, you’re planning the Kickstarter, right? And of course you factor in postage into the expenses you’ll have. This affects the amount of money that you need to raise in the Kickstarter into to create the product and send it out to the backers. Of course you do. EXCEPT, in the planning phase, I forgot to factor in one crucial postage expense: that of sending backer extra rewards to ebook backers. What I mean here are the little extras that you promise backers, such as bookmarks if you reach a stretch goal, or magnets, or postcards, or whatever. In my head, I’d said to myself that the ebook backers wouldn’t have any postage expenses, because of course you’d just email the ebooks to them (or send them a link to where they could download them). No expense there, right?

HA, HA! I forgot that if we hit certain goals, even the ebook backers would get these little extra physical incentives, and that these little incentives would require postage to mail them to the backers. So I never factored in this postage. Thankfully, I’d factored in a few hundred dollars for “unexpected expenses” and this covered most of that. The hardest part of this was mailing the incentives outside the US, because international postage is expensive. And of course, most of the ebook backers were international. So this was kind of a punch to the gut. I mitigated it a little bit by asking backers if they wanted the incentives or not, and many did not, so that helped. But still, it hurt in terms of expenses.

For the next Kickstarter, I made certain that I worded the Kickstarter in such a way that it was clear that these physical incentives would only be sent to those who backed at a certain amount or more (basically, reward levels that were receiving a physical mailing already).

My second mistake also had to do with postage, mainly international postage. Yes, I knew it would be more expensive, but I didn’t do enough research to find out exactly HOW MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE it would be. When I went to the post office to mail the international packages, I was physically sick as the postage rang up. It was almost double what I’d planned on. Granted, I was mailing these a year after I’d run the Kickstarter, and postage rates had changed during that time, but it was still MUCH, MUCH higher than I’d anticipated. This, along with the previous postage error, effectively ate up all of my emergency fund built into the Kickstarter, and then some. But of course I mailed everything out. The backers were expecting their rewards, after all.

For the next Kickstarter, I had a much better idea of what the international postage would be and so planned accordingly. I use an average for the international postage now, and that gets added to the pledge level if you’re international. It’s high, and I know it’s high, but there’s not much I can do about that.

The next mistake I made wasn’t really a mistake so much as just horrible luck. One of the reward levels in that Kickstarter was an art print of the cover art for the anthology signed by the artist. I’d negotiated for 25 of these. So I had them printed—not cheap—and mailed them off to Germany, where the artist lived, also not cheap. And then I waited, and waited, and waited. I hadn’t heard anything from the artist and the tracking on the prints just said it had reached Germany, so I contacted the artist and he said he hadn’t received them. I contacted the post office and they said that once it left the US it was out of their hands.

It turns out that the package had reached Germany and then was left in a warehouse or something where it got wet. Art prints don’t react well to water, even though they were wrapped in plastic. So the prints were all ruined. I had to reprint the art—again, not cheap—and mail it again (this time through UPS, still not cheap) and finally got my signed prints. So basically this reward level cost me double what it should have. And of course the post office didn’t take responsibility for what happened because “it was out of their hands”. The insurance I’d gotten for the package only applied to what happened to it in the US, not Germany. So lesson learned.

You’ll note that I don’t offer a reward level for signed art prints for the cover now. I offer prints, just not signed-by-the-artist copies. I still have some of those other art prints left and use them as a reward level in all of my Kickstarters, but now you know one of the reasons they’re so expensive. Still trying to recoup that doubled cost.

My mistakes now shift toward the actual production of the anthology, rather than things associated with running and fulfilling the Kickstarter. At this point, I’d like to point out that I’d been published by DAW and had edited for DAW, so I knew some of what happened behind the scenes in producing a book or anthology, BUT I didn’t know everything, especially some of the finer details. So this first project was a HUGE learning curve. My first mistake was …

TIME. I didn’t understand exactly how much time it took to do all of the little pieces of a project and the order in which those things should be done. So everything took longer than I expected. And a bunch of things had to be done over again, sometimes more than once. For example, I had my cover designer design the cover of the book. Great! That’s checked off my list. BUT THEN I found out that the size of the cover file depends on how many pages are in the book, and I didn’t have that yet, and so when I finally got the page number count, we had to go back and redesign the cover. (Because page count affects the width of the spine, which affects the dimensions of the cover.) Also, I had the ebooks and paperback designed at the same time. But then, if an error was found, we had to go back and redo both the ebooks and the paperbacks. There were many, many different little things that I forgot we needed—such as bar codes and headers and … well, you get the idea. So I made many mistakes here in terms of the order in which things should be done.

Since then, I’ve gotten a better handle on what should be done when, what needs to be done first, etc. I’m still learning though. Now, we design the interior of the Kickstarter paperback first. Then the ebook. Then the cover for the Kickstarter edition. Then we redo the interior design for the trade paperback version, followed by the redo of the cover for the trade paperback. And in all of that process, there are other minor things that have to be done in such and such an order. And all of that takes more time than you think it’s going to take. I still don’t have the timing down yet, because it depends on such things as your interior and ebook designers’ schedule and the printer’s schedule and other things you have no control over. But I’ve gotten much more efficient at this over time.

And the last mistake that I want to talk about is just something stupid that slipped through the system. The page numbers in the Table of Contents of the Kickstarter edition of CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE are all screwed up. Here’s how it happened: the interior of the kickstarter edition was designed and the ToC page numbers were good. But then we decreased the size of the font and the indentations, because the anthology was just way too many pages and its cost to produce would be exorbitant. BUT, we forgot to go back and adjust the page numbers in the ToC to account for the new design. No one checked them before it was sent to the printer. And so the Kickstarter edition has totally screwed up pages in the ToC. Not a huge thing, but extremely annoying for someone like me, who expects perfection from myself. Obviously, we’ve added a ToC page check to the list of things to do at the end, before sending the files to the printer.

At this point, I’ve got the basics of the process worked out and it’s more or less efficient. But I still make mistakes. I screwed up Gini Koch’s pseudonym on the SUBMERGED back cover of the Kickstarter edition. (I called her J.D. Koch on the back cover, instead of J.C. Koch. I got it right everywhere on the inside, just not on the back cover.) I’m sure there are other errors as well, ones that I’ve just not noticed or discovered yet. But overall, I think all of these were learning curve mistakes. I’m getting better at this. Hopefully, I get a chance to keep doing it for years to come. *grin*

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************

Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
There’s one particular question that I get asked a lot once people find out I created a small press called Zombies Need Brains. Mainly, where the name Zombies Need Brains comes from.

It began in 2007, when the World Fantasy Convention was held in Saratoga Springs, NY. That's basically a few hours drive from where I live. At the time, Patricia Bray was also living in Binghamton and I had just been published by DAW Books. (THE SKEWED THRONE came out in hardcover in January 2006 and THE CRACKED THRONE followed in November 2006.) I was, of course, looking for ways to promote the books and so with WFC so close, Patricia and I came up with a plan to throw a party on Thursday night at the con. We invited S.C. Butler, Barbara Campbell, C.E. Murphy, and Jennifer Dunne to join us (mostly so we could split the costs and make it affordable for all of the authors involved). We planned out the alcohol, the snacks, getting a room at the convention, getting invites printed up to hand out at the con, etc., etc., etc.

But we needed a name for the party.

We ended up calling the party Zombies Need Brains. I believe it was Jennifer Dunne's idea, actually. We handed out postcard invites to the party at the ice cream social Thursday night. We gave everyone tickets when they entered and handed out prizes all night. The room was jammed and at one point George R.R. Martin came in and settled down in the middle of the main room and pretty much stayed there all night. I believe we kicked the last people out around 3am and then did massive clean-up. We donated leftover alcohol and food to parties that were going on the next night. It was a blast and, I have to say, the best party of the weekend.

Anyway, flash forward five years. I'm contemplating creating a small press so that I can continue my addiction and produce themed anthologies at will. But what do I call the small press? I wanted something that was obviously SF&F oriented, but at the same time I wanted it to be fun. Not that we couldn't produce thought-provoking anthologies, but, really, I just wanted to have fun with the press and the themes and stories.

And then it hit me: Zombies Need Brains. It was perfect--obviously SF&F related, but still with the quirky sense of fun I wanted the press to be known for.

So that's where the ZNB name comes from. As you probably guessed, it involved a party and some alcohol. *grin*

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************

Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
This is the tenth of a series of blog posts that I wrote last year in order to show how I create the anthologies for Zombies Need Brains, the small press that I founded in order to produce anthologies. It's basically a behind-the-scenes look at the process, which will be covered in multiple parts. Obviously, this is only how I produce an anthology and there may be other roads to follow in order to produce one. Keep that in mind.

Here are the previous parts of the series:

Part 9: Design: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492092.html
Part 8: Cover: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491810.html
Part 7: Copy Edits: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491738.html
Part 6: Table of Contents: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491496.html
Part 5: Editing: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/491105.html
Part 4: Slush Pile: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490870.html
Part 3: Funding: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490583.html
Part 2: Authors: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490491.html
Part 1: Concept: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/490112.html

At this point, you should have everything you need to send your book out into the world—a cover flat file, an interior print file, an ebook file, and a cover file (either taken from the cover flat, or designed specifically by your cover designer for the ebooks). All that’s left is the distribution.

There are many different options and outlets for distribution. Some of them allow you to distribute to many places through one portal, such as IngramSpark. Some of them let you distribute to selected places through one portal, such as CreateSpace. Most who have multiple outlets let you pick and choose where you want the anthology to be available. And then, of course, you can choose to go directly through particular places with your own account at each one, such as Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc. Lastly, perhaps you just want to get a set number of copies of the book printed by an offset printer and then store them and sell them yourself, either by hand or through an online store.

There are advantages and disadvantages to every option, so you really need to sit down and do the research for each one, perhaps create a spreadsheet so you can compare them all, and then you can focus on what you want for your books. Each place will have a different royalty rate, perhaps even two options for royalties at one location. For example, CreateSpace has multiple royalty options, where you trade a lower royalty rate in order to get better advertising or a larger distribution network. If you’re going to do your own advertising, then you can pick a higher royalty rate. Each usually has other options that may get your book in their newsletter, or allow your book to have a fire-sale at a low rate for a specified period of time, or allow you to make the price of your book whatever you want. (Kindle requires that your book be within a certain price range, for example, unless you give up some royalties to make it lower). All of these options at the various places are changing constantly, so you need to look into it yourself.

As you can see, it’s already gotten complicated. But the real issue is how much of the marketing for your book you’re going to do yourself, and how much you want your distributor to market it for you. How much marketing you want someone else to do depends on how wide an audience you think you can reach with your book and name alone. Someone like Seanan McGuire has a large fan base already, so she probably doesn’t need the marketing machine to get her fans to notice a book she puts out herself. My own fan base isn’t quite that large, so I may want to invest in a smaller royalty rate from the distributor in order for the distributor to help me reach people I wouldn’t be able to reach myself. It’s all a balancing act—how much of the royalties are you willing to give up in order to sell more copies of the book? Keeping all the royalties means you may sell X books, making $Y amount of money. But maybe if you give up some of the royalties you’ll sell A books (A>X), and make $B amount of money. Is B higher than Y? In some situations it will be, which means accepting a lower royalty actually increases the money you make. The REAL problem is that there’s no way to tell whether B will be higher than Y ahead of time. Absolutely no way. Because no one can predict marketing. Advertising your brains out doesn’t guarantee that you’ll make more sales. This is the most frustrating part of the business: you will never know how effective your marketing is. Even if you sell really well, you can’t pinpoint what it was that you did that made the book sell well. It just did. For some reason. None of it quantifiable.

In any case, you need to choose: distribute yourself (offset printing, ebook sales online), distribute through one agency that distribute to multiple places (IngramSpark, CreateSpace, etc.), or distribute by setting up your own account at multiple places (Kindle, Nook, B&N, CreateSpace, etc.). Distributing the books yourself means all of the work is put on your—for marketing and sales—but you’re probably going to get a much larger cut of the profits. Distributing through someone like IngramSpark, CreateSpace, etc.) allows you a wider audience reach immediately, but they’re going to take a larger cut of the profits, especially if you select the option where they do more marketing for you. But you’re getting a single check each month from one source. The last option, where you set up accounts at multiple places, usually gives you a higher cut of the profits (not as high as distributing yourself, though), but now you’re dealing with multiple checks every month from multiple sources, so it’s a little more complicated to keep track of the finances for tax purposes and such.

Zombies Need Brains does a mix of two of the options. It has accounts set up at various places so that it gets a check directly from those distributors, such as Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc. The rest of the ebook options are handled by a single distributor, where I can select which places get to sell the ebook and which don’t. And the print versions are run through CreateSpace with a fairly wide distribution network, but not as wide as it could be. I was trying to balance the marketing a distribution options, while mitigating the amount of work I’d have to do in terms of bookkeeping.

And that’s how ZNB produces their anthologies. I didn’t cover absolutely everything. There are a few other things I could have talked about—such as advertising, marketing, etc.—but this gives everyone who might be interested in producing an anthology at least a rough framework for how it’s done. Again, you may need to alter and change and personalize this so that it works best for you. I hope you’ve learned something from this blog series! Thanks for reading!

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************

Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
A few year ago, I ran a couple of projects designed to help writers with some of the basic essentials of trying to get a novel published, things like query letters and plot synopses. Since then, my blog has changed and those links to those bits of writerly advice from various published authors have been lost. So I thought I'd run another set of projects to refresh those links AND to bring in new thoughts from today's authors. So for three days, I'll be running three projects, one on elevator pitches, one on query letters, and one on plot synopses. This is the central hub for all of the posts on:

Plot Synopses:

Here are some thoughts on how to write plot synopses from various authors. Not everyone does this the same way, so I'd suggest reading through the posts, think about the advice, and then decide which approach works best for you. Maybe try a few of them to find out. This is not the first time I've done a plot synopsis project, so some of these posts are new and some are from the previous run-through. Also, I'll add to this list if more authors want to participate in the future, so check back every now and then and see if there's a new post on the list. I hope some of you find these projects helpful!

Here are the links:

Chaz Brenchley: http://desperance.livejournal.com/254192.html (Originally posted 3/17/2008)
S.C. Butler: http://scbutler.livejournal.com/23177.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
David B. Coe: http://davidbcoe.livejournal.com/29443.html (Originally popsted 3/18/2008)
Harry Connolly: http://harryjconnolly.com/how-i-write-a-book-synopsis/ (Added 9/21/2017)
Jennifer Dunne: http://jennifer-dunne.livejournal.com/244403.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
S.L. Farrell/Stephen Leigh: http://sleigh.livejournal.com/187253.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Gregory Frost: http://frostokovich.livejournal.com/19384.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Jim C. Hines: http://jimhines.livejournal.com/355241.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Elaine Isaac/E.C. Ambrose: https://ecambrose.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/pitching-a-novel-nailing-your-synopsis/ (Added 9/21/2017)
Kay Kenyon: http://www.kaykenyon.com/2017/09/21/writing-a-novel-synopsis/ (Added 9/21/2017)
Jackie Kessler: http://www.jackiekessler.com/blog/2008/03/18/the-plot-synopsis-project/#more-178 (Originally posted 3/8/2008)
Mindy Klasky: http://mindyklasky.livejournal.com/135970.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Misty Massey: http://madkestrel.livejournal.com/64716.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Kelly McCullough: https://kellymccullough.com/synopses-a-lengthy-discourse-on-a-pithy-topic/ (Added 9/23/2017)
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.: http://www.lemodesittjr.com/2017/09/18/literary-pitches-and-timing/ (Added 9/21/2017)
C.E. Murphy: http://mizkit.livejournal.com/339428.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Naomi Novik: http://naominovik.livejournal.com/34610.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Joshua Palmatier: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493561.html (Added 9/21/2017)
Phyllis Irene Radford: http://www.radfordeditorial.com/?p=104 (Added 9/23/2017)
Jennifer Stevenson: http://smokingpigeon.livejournal.com/15208.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)
Michelle Sagara West: http://msagara.livejournal.com/37498.html (Originally posted 3/18/2008)


And check out the Elevator Pitch Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492684.html, and the Query Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493069.html.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Plot Synopses

First off, there are two types of plot synopses: the one written AFTER the novel is finished, and the one written BEFORE the novel is finished, both used to send to the agent or editor in the hopes they’ll buy the novel. I’ll start with the one written AFTER the novel is finished, since this is typically what happens for a writer who has yet to be published.

Writing a Synopsis AFTER the Book is Finished )

In any case, here’s my sample plot synopsis, for the first book in my Throne of Amenkor series, published by DAW Books, called The Skewed Throne [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy]. Keep in mind that if you haven’t read the book, this synopsis will reveal all of the major plot twists and turning points in the novel, so spoilerage is possible. Well, not possible. Spoilerage is DEFINITE. I think you’d still find the book enjoyable even after reading this though. In fact, it might be an interesting exercise to read both the synopsis and the book itself so you can compare them and see what I put in the synopsis and, more importantly, what I left out. You certainly can't put everything in the book in the synopsis.

After the sample, I discuss writing a plot synopsis BEFORE the book has been written.

************************

Skewed Throne Plot Synopsis (spoilery if you haven’t read the book) )

***********************************

Ok, that’s what the beast looks like if the book has already been written. However, once you’ve been published, the agent or editor is more willing to work with a book that hasn’t been written yet. At this stage, they’ll likely demand a plot synopsis, and sometimes they’ll want a plot synopsis and the first few chapters (even if the rest hasn’t been written). I find this a much MUCH harder beast to tame, because of the way that I write.

Writing a Synopsis BEFORE the Book is Written )

So here’s my sample of a synopsis written BEFORE the novel was written. It's from the second book in the Throne of Amenkor series, called The Cracked Throne [Amazon; Mysterious Galaxy]. Again, if you read this, it WILL spoiler the book. (But also again, it might be good to read the synopsis AND the book so you can see what was included and not included . . . and also what I thought would happen and what actually happened.) You’ll notice some differences. I didn’t capitalize the characters names when they first appeared in this one, for example. Some editors/agents like them to be capped, some not. You should always read and follow the guidelines for the publishing house or agency where you’re submitting in order to see what kinds of rules they like you to follow. You’ll also notice that the synopsis doesn’t read as smoothly as the previous one; that’s because the novel wasn’t written and I was flailing around in the dark while writing it. And for those that have read the book already, you’ll notice that the final version of the book had some serious changes (the part about Erick and Baill leaps to mind). The end product didn’t follow this synopsis exactly. Editors and agents know this might happen, and they generally accept it.

**********************

Cracked Throne Plot Synopsis (spoilerage ahoy!) )

******************

So that’s my take on writing plot synopses and a few examples to give you guys something to work from. Hopefully you found some helpful advice in there. But my way isn’t always the best, and doesn’t always work for everyone, so take the time to read some of the other authors’ posts about their process and see some of their examples. I think what you’ll find is that there isn’t one set way to do these things, and there’s not one set road to publication. Some include synopses and some don’t. Some synopses are 1 page long (if that) and some are 10 or more. It depends on the editor’s and/or agent’s preferences.

And keep in mind that you can have the perfect synopsis but if the STORY ITSELF SUCKS, it won’t help. You have to have a good story to tell. And if the story is good, most editors and agents will cut you some slack if your plot synopsis isn’t perfect.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
A few years ago, I ran a couple of projects designed to help writers with some of the basic essentials of trying to get a novel published, things like query letters and plot synopses. Since then, my blog has changed and those links to those bits of writerly advice from various published authors have been lost. So I thought I'd run another set of projects to refresh those links AND to bring in new thoughts from today's authors. So for three days, I'll be running three projects, one on elevator pitches, one on query letters, and one on plot synopses. This is the central hub for all of the posts on:

Queries:

Here are some thoughts on how to write queries from various authors. Not everyone does this the same way, so I'd suggest reading through the posts, think about the advice, and then decide which approach works best for you. Maybe try a few of them to find out. This is not the first time I've done a query project, so some of these posts are new and some are from the previous run-through. Also, I'll add to this list if more authors want to participate in the future, so check back every now and then and see if there's a new post on the list. I hope some of you find these projects helpful!

Here are the links:

Harry Connolly: http://harryjconnolly.com/i-should-have-done-this-a-while-ago/ (Added 9/20/2017)
Chris Dolley: http://chrisdolley.livejournal.com/97929.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Simon Haynes: http://halspacejock.blogspot.com/2008/09/query-project.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Elaine Isaac/E.C. Ambrose: https://ecambrose.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/the-query-quandary-pitching-your-novel/ (Added 9/20/2017)
Jackie Kessler: http://www.jackiekessler.com/blog/2008/09/12/the-query-project/ (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Glenda Larke: http://glendalarke.blogspot.com/2008/09/on-writing-query-letter.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
John Levitt: http://johnlevitt.livejournal.com/9407.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Kelly McCullough: https://kellymccullough.com/queriesor-i-may-be-talking-through-my-hat/ (Added 9/23/2017)
L.E. Modesitt, Jr.: http://www.lemodesittjr.com/2017/09/18/literary-pitches-and-timing/ (Added 9/20/2017)
Joshua Palmatier: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492803.html (Added 9/20/2017)
Phyllis Irene Radford: http://www.radfordeditorial.com/?p=99 (Added 9/21/2017)
Janni Lee Simner: http://janni.livejournal.com/499198.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
Jennifer Stevenson: http://smokingpigeon.livejournal.com/30055.html (Originally posted 9/12/2008)
David J. Williams: http://autumnrain2110.com/blog/2008/09/12/query-letter-time/ (Originally posted 9/12/2008)

And check out the Elevator Pitch Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/492684.html, and the Plot Synopsis Project here: http://jpskewedthrone.dreamwidth.org/493782.html.

And now a word from our sponsor:

*****************


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios
jpskewedthrone: (Default)
Queries

The query is horribly important for writing purposes, especially for new writers, because it's the door to the editor's and/or agent's office. Basically, the query is a cover letter for your manuscript. In the query, you want to include information about yourself, your book, and what you have to offer. It's an attempt to get the editor and/or agent interested enough in you and your work so that they either request to see a partial of the manuscript if they requested a query only, or to get them to turn the page and start reading the partial that was included in the mailing. It's the first impression that the editor and/or agent will get of you, and because of that, it has to look sharp, speak clearly, and be perfect. Which is alot of pressure on you as the writer.

But before I go any further into discussing them, let me say that I'm not purporting to be an expert on queries. I'm only going to report what I did and/or learned in my process to getting published and what I think the query should be and do. I also want to say that, in general, I DO NOT think that agents and editors read the query and skip reading some of the partial (if it's included) "almost all of the time". I think they only skip reading a portion of the partial if it's obvious from the query that the book just does not fit what they represent or sell. If the editor publishes mysteries, and you sent them a romance, then yes, they'll read the query, determine it's a romance, and not even look at the partial. There's no point (unless there's a significantly good dose of mystery in the story, and if that wasn't mentioned in the query, then you screwed up the query). However, from what I've seen and heard by dealing with agents and editors as a writer, they almost always read a little bit of the partial. It may not be much, but it's enough for them to determine if they'll be interested in your story and whether you can write, regardless of what's in the query.

OK, I'm sure I'll get some flak from people over that last paragraph, but let's move on.

Queries. The main point is the query should be one page, short, and to the point. Don't waste time here, because you want them to move from the query to the partial (or the request for the partial) as soon as possible. There are three paragraphs to a query, maybe four. And in all three paragraphs you have to be completely and totally honest about yourself and your book, and you have to be completely and totally upfront about what you want and where the book currently is. Always. And lastly, you must be completely and totally professional at all times. Remember, this is your first impression and you only get one first impression. It's like a date. You DON'T want to screw it up or you'll never get laid.

I'm going to write this as if you were sending it to an editor, but the same advice applies to agents as well.

Incidentals: Before we hit the three paragraphs, you must make certain you have all of the incidental letter material absolutely correct. This means the address for yourself, the address for where you're sending it, and above all the name of the person you're sending it to! This person should be the actual editor at the publisher where you want to be published, it should be spelled correctly, and it must be current. Double check to see that the editor or agent is still working there. Editors and agents shift positions all the time. If the move was fairly recent and hasn't been circulated much yet, and you put the wrong editor on the query, it's not a problem. Don't stress about it, the query will find the right person. But if the editor you sent it to left their position six months ago and you send it to them instead of their replacement . . . that doesn't look good. It's not professional. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but take the time to do the research and find the appropriate editor. And for heaven's sake, if you don't know if it should be Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Dr., then leave the honorific off. Just say Jane Doe. You certainly don't want to say Mrs. Jane Doe and then find out later that it was really Mr.

First paragraph: Ok, so you've double checked the editor's name, triple checked their address, and made certain you put your own address on the envelope correctly. The incidentals are done. In the first paragraph you should tell them exactly what it is you have to offer and what you're looking for. Something along the lines of:

"I am seeking a publisher for my 100,000 word contemporary fantasy novel entitled Fever."

You should take one sentence, maybe two, to tell them why you are sending this novel to THEM. Make it personal if you can. If you met them at a conference or convention and chatted with them briefly at the bar, mention that here. If they gave you their card and said send them something, mention that here. In fact, if you've had personal contact with them, mention that first, saying something like, "I had a great time chatting with you at the bar at Confluence last month. I hope your dog Sparky is doing better after his surgery." You can get a little personal depending on what you spoke about at the bar, but keep it short and move on to the main point as soon as possible, which is of course that you have a 100,000 word contemporary fantasy novel to sell. Include what is enclosed with the query, if anything, such as a partial, or the plot sysnopsis, etc. This is important however: Only include what they request in their guidelines, or what they have requested from you in person. In the end, this paragraph shouldn't be more than 5 sentences long.

Second Paragraph: This is where you describe your entire novel in no more than 5 sentences. Which is hard. It's got to be punchy, pithy, and get across your main character, your basic plot, and whatever it is about your book that makes it unique and/or different from all of the other books out there. I suck at these kinds of paragraphs. Most writers do, because it took 100,000 words to get the story down on paper, not 5 sentences. If we could have done it in 5 sentences, we wouldn't have wasted the 100,000 words. What it takes is a huge butcher's knife and a little fortitude. You have to be willing to cut out almost everything about the novel except the character's transformation, how the plot forces that transformation, and what makes the book unique. Remember, you aren't trying to explain the entire plot or book here, that's what the plot synopsis is for. What you're trying to do here is pique the editor's interest so that they think, "This sounds cool," and they either request the partial, or turn to the partial immediately. Here’s the one I used for my novel Fever:

"Set mainly in north central Pennsylvania in 1965, Fever is the story of Dr. Avery Mills, a young doctor whose life takes a sudden wrong turn when he nearly kills a patient. Dumped by his girlfriend, he seeks to escape his life and takes a job in the small town of Coudersport. But Coudersport holds a secret: a fever that gives those infected the ability to channel fire with their minds. Mills must uncover the darkness beneath the town’s idyllic surface, and in the process face his own past and discover his own strengths."

That gives you the idea anyway. Short, but with as much information as you can pack into it. Keep it focused on the main character and his or her change or "problem". Don't stray from the main plot with subplots or anything like that, keep those for the plot synopsis. And bring into it what makes the story unique (the pyrokinesis here, I think).

Third Paragraph: The last paragraph is where you should include any information the editor needs to know about you, such as credentials, and where your novel currently stands. If your book is about biological fantasy creatures, you should include the fact that you're a biologist. If you've sold 3 books already, include that. Won a prize for writing, had short stories published, anything that would be a cred and give you more standing should be mentioned here. Also, and this applies more for a query to an agent, if your book is being looked at by a publisher already, you should mention that, something like, "Fever is currently being considered by an editor at DAW," or whatever. In essence, let them know where the book stands at the moment, if there's a solid lead or nibble in a certain direction. If you don't have any publishing creds yet, that's fine. Just mention something personal about yourself. For my first fantasy novel, I had no creds, so I just said I was a graduate student at Binghamton University, working on a PhD in mathematics. Nothing whatsoever to do with the book or publishing or even fantasy, but it was a little personal touch, so I seemed more real to the editor, not just a piece of paper in the mail.

Ending: After this, you should have a short, short paragraph thanking them for their time, that you look forward to hearing from them soon, that an SASE is included (if so), etc. Sign it off in some way, such as "sincerely" or whatever. I wouldn't use "love" unless you really know them that well, in which case you probably don't need a query at all.

And that's that. Sounds complicated, but the worst part is the novel summary paragraph, and you can get lots of help from friends and others in workshops and on LJ and whatnot in getting that written. So here's the sample of a cover letter I may have sent out based on what I've said here, if I were looking for a new publisher at this moment. Keep in mind that this still needs some spit and polish, and that pieces of it will vary depending on your situation and how well you know the editor/agent. I've faked the addresses and names and whatnot, but the description of the book is real, from a book I actually wrote, called Fever, that has not yet been published. Check the comments out as well, since others may chime in and bring up some good points that I forgot to mention or just didn't think about regarding queries. And of course you can ask any questions you might have as well.

******************

Sample:

Joshua Palmatier
213 Gigawatt St
Coudersport, PA 00000

August 17, 2007



Bigwig Publishing
317 Whatsit Ave
New York, NY 00000

Ira Greenwaltsonphindermacher:

It was great meeting you at BlipCon last month and I enjoyed the panel on nanotechnology in fantasy. As per your request after our discussion after the panel, I'm sending you the partial and a plot synopsis of my 100,000 word contemporary fantasy novel entitled Fever.

Set mainly in north central Pennsylvania in 1965, Fever is the story of Dr. Avery Mills, a young doctor whose life takes a sudden wrong turn when he nearly kills a patient. Dumped by his girlfriend, he seeks to escape his life and takes a job in the small town of Coudersport. But Coudersport holds a secret: a fever that gives those infected the ability to channel fire with their minds. Mills must uncover the darkness beneath the town’s idyllic surface, and in the process face his own past and discover his own strengths.

I have three fantasy novels currently being published by DAW Books, and was a finalist for the Compton Crook award for best first novel in 2006. I'm currently working as an assistant professor at SUNY College at Oneonta.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,



Joshua Palmatier

*****************


And now a word from our sponsor:


Zombies Need Brains is currently running a Kickstarter (tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals) to fund THREE new SF&F anthologies and we need your help! We can't produce anthologies unless we can get the funding to pay the authors, the cover artists, the print and ebook designers, and the printers. That's where the Kickstarter comes in, and you, THE FANS! We've got a ton of stunning anchor authors on board, including NY Times bestselling authors and award winners. And we've got a ton of great reward levels, such as tuckerizations, signed copies of books by your favorite authors, and more! Our themes for this current Kickstarter are:

PORTALS: In the blink of an eye, the familiar disappears as you step into the unknown. What new creatures will you meet? What strange planets will you explore? Will you find happiness, or doom? Open the pages of PORTALS, the newest anthology from the small press Zombies Need Brains, and you just might find out. From wardrobes to monoliths, wormholes to fairy rings, there is a rich tradition of stories in both science fiction and fantasy that explore what happens when--by accident or design--characters are transported from one world to another. Join fourteen of today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors as they offer fresh takes on this classic theme. Whether a routine trip or unexpected journey, each tale will explore new worlds of adventure, mystery, humor, and horror, with stories for every taste and fancy. Edited by S.C. Butler and Patricia Bray, PORTALS will contain approximately fourteen stories with an average length of up to 6,000 words each. It will include short stories by: Jacey Bedford, F. Brett Cox, James Enge, Esther Friesner, Nancy Holzner, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Ian Tregillis.

TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED: In our spam boxes today, we both received notices that our bank accounts required resolution, and the content of the spam contained the following sentence: "We have noticed that you need to resolve important security issues on your account to prevent temporal deactivation." Of course, our immediate thought was of a new anthology called TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED! For this follow-up to 2015’s TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, we are looking for stories that take a person, object, event, or phenomenon and somehow, during the course of the plot, “temporally deactivate” it, whatever that may mean in the context of the story. “Temporal deactivation” should refer to something more than a simple death, malfunction, or termination, and instead should touch in some way on issues of time — its flow, distortion, dislocation, etc. Edited by David B. Coe & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: C.S. Friedman, Faith Hunter, D.B. Jackson, Gini Koch, Stephen Leigh, Misty Massey, Jenna Rhodes, and Edmund R. Schubert.

ALTERNATE PEACE: All too often, alternate histories are based on a battle or assassination. We’re looking for stories where change grew out of more peaceful activities…science, business, and culture. Imagine a world in which the branch point from our own was caused by scientific endeavor, social change, natural forces, or other points of divergence which don’t rely on military activity or violence. Edited by Steven H Silver & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of up to 6000 words each. It will include short stories by: D.B. Jackson, Stephen Leigh, Ian R. MacLeod, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kari Sperring, Harry Turtledove, Rick Wilber.

If you'd like to help fund these anthologies, swing on by the Kickstarter at http://tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals! And share the Kickstarter with your friends, family, and total strangers! We need more SF&F anthologies!




"Portals" by Justin Adams of Varia Studios

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Joshua Palmatier

March 2019

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