Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Join My New Novel Update Email List

It’s obvious to anyone looking at my posts on this blog--I stink at social media. Months or years go by without an update. I guess I’m just not that into being social. But I still want to keep my readers informed about my current novel in progress and other writing projects. So, I’m reviving a mailing list from the days of my first novel. If you’re a reader of mine, I encourage you to sign up. I’ll be sending out only a few Novel Updates a year. No spam, no fuss. Maybe a few free giveaways.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Room for one more

The Science Fiction Apprenticeship I'm teaching in February through 49 Writers has room for one more writer. If you'd like me to work one-on-one with you on a short story of yours, this is your chance. No need to be an Alaskan resident.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Ebook Production Workshop

My six-hour UAF WINTERmester workshop in Ebook Production, which begins next week, still needs a couple of more students to sign up or it will probably be canceled. If you've been thinking about self-publishing your book on Amazon's Kindle or B&N's Nook but aren't sure how to go about it, this is the course for you. On the evenings of January 7, 9, and 11 we will cover the basics of ebook production: file conversion, cover design, proofing, and uploading to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Even if you think you’d prefer to hire a conversion service to do the conversion work for you, this course will be helpful. Your book can be fiction or non-fiction. Come with a manuscript and leave with a published ebook. Here's the course syllabus.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Two opportunities for writers

In the next couple of months I’ll be offering two diverse learning activities for writers, one for Fairbanks residents and one for anyone with Internet service.

The first is a six-hour workshop in ebook production, part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks WINTERmester curriculum. Do you have a book you’ve been wanting to sell on the Kindle or Nook? On the evenings of January 7, 9, and 11 we will cover the basics of ebook production: file conversion, cover design, proofing, and uploading to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Even if you think you’d prefer to hire a conversion service to do the conversion work for you, this course will be helpful. Your book can be fiction or non-fiction. Come with a manuscript and leave with a published ebook.

Because the course takes place between UAF’s regular semesters, there will be no computer lab open in the evenings for our use. For this reason you’ll need to bring an Internet-ready laptop to class to make the best use of the instruction. (It’s actually better this way because you’ll have all the necessary software on your own computer.) Self-support course fee is $100. (And be sure to download the course syllabus.)

The second activity is part of the 49 Alaska Writing Center Spring course lineup. In February, I will be offering a one-on-one apprenticeship program for science fiction writers. Here’s the course description:

Science fiction, outside of poetry, is the only literary field which has no limits, no parameters whatsoever.”—Theodore Sturgeon. While this characterization is certainly true, science fiction, like any genre, comes with certain built-in reader expectations that the writer must meet. These include muscular plotting, transformative vision, and freewheeling speculation. The Science Fiction Apprenticeship offers one-on-one guidance to writers working on a science fiction short story project, be it cyberpunk, space opera, hard sf, alternate history, or one of the many other flavors of the genre. You'll submit a manuscript of up to 7500 words for a critique by an award-winning science fiction author/mentor. The mentor will provide you feedback in the form of comments and a letter. After mulling these over, you will be encouraged to submit up to two revisions, each receiving additional feedback, as part of a conversation intended to guide both the work and the writer. We'll set goals for your writing and frame our conversation based on finding a path toward those goals, to include up to 60 minutes on the phone or in-person. The program is open to three participants. To apply, email up to five pages (typed, double-spaced) of your story, along with a short statement of goals for your work, to by January 25.

The Spring 2013 schedule will be up at 49 Writers in the next few days. Only three writers will be accepted for my apprenticeship program, and the cost is $350 (members)/$375 (non-members).

In other news, work on my upcoming novel, Camp Tribulation, goes well. Every day I wake up eager to push it forward another thousand words. It seems to be growing in depth and resonance (at least for my own quirky taste), and I’m constantly surprised at new developments and twists I had not foreseen.

However, despite my respectable progress, the fact of the matter is that there’s another couple of unpaid years ahead before I can bring it to market. Thus the writing gigs on offer above. In addition to them, I seem to be sliding back into my old day job of graphic design, this time with a different angle: I am specializing in book and cover design. I’ll write more about this later, but in the meantime, if you’re in need of a custom-made ebook cover design, drop me a line.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Taking my own advice

In my final guest post to the 49 Writers blog, I reported on the theory that the best self-promotion an author can engage in is writing the next book. More titles on sale translates into more sales from readers who follow one’s work. In that regard, I continue to work daily on my next book, Camp Tribulation, at the expense of putting time into this blog. But CT won’t be completed for another year or longer. So in the meantime I’m putting more of my previously published short stories up as 99¢ ebooks. I am pleased to announce the release of the fourth and latest of these, “Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz.”

In my third guest post, which was about ebook covers, I suggested that one style of cover to consider designing is the typographic cover. That is, a cover in which the title itself makes up the graphical element. “Yurek Rutz” seemed like the perfect candidate for a typographic cover, and I followed my own advice in that regard as well.

“Yurek Rutz” took a long time to write, over ten years, in fact. I had a notion in my head of what I was going for, but I hit roadblock after roadblock imagining the story. Every couple of years another piece of the puzzle would come to me, and I would jot it down.  Finally around 1997, I managed to draft the whole story. But it was missing something. I had no idea what was missing, so I put it away again and worked on other projects.

 That summer I attended LoneStarCon 2 in San Antonio and happened to attend a panel presentation called “Should I Sleep with the Editor?” The panelists were leading SF editors, including Gardner Dozois of Asimov’s Science Fiction. To the braying amusement of the audience, they read actual cover letters they had received from unpublished authors who were desperate to break into print. These aspiring authors wheedled, cajoled, and argued in an attempt to reach through the page and twist the editor’s arm. See me, read me, buy me.

Suddenly I saw it, how to finish my own story. When I returned home I rewrote “Yurek Rutz,” recasting it as a cover letter to Gardner Dozois. I learned later that he detests epistolary stories, but he bought it anyway and published it in the January 1999, issue of Asimov’s.

I love reading “Yurek Rutz” to live audiences. Of all my work, it’s the one most like my own speaking voice. I can hear not only myself in it but my father as well. Sometimes I choke up when I read it. It’s also my longest piece set in Alaska to date. So, if you like my stuff and haven’t read this little gem, download it today and see why old Yurek has made a cameo appearance in almost all of my subsequent stories and novels, including Counting Heads and "The Wedding Album."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ebook conversion

My second guest post is up at 49 Writers. I guess I should have mentioned last week that I'm doing a series on ebooks over there. Last week's post told why I took the step of self-epubbing my previously published short fiction. Hint: it involves money. This week I outline the steps writers can take to convert their manuscripts for sale on Kindle and Nook. Next week: the oh-so-important ebook cover. And finally: marketing in the digital age. I'm also thinking of doing a bonus post about possible future models for self-publishers and some things I've learned doing my own blog. I've spent a lot of time researching and writing these guest posts (too much time!), and I apologize for the dearth of new material here. That'll change in a couple of weeks when my guest gig is done. One thing I want to do is give you an update about the state of Camp Tribulation, which is chugging along nicely. In the meantime, check out my guest posts.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Guest Blogger at 49 Writers

During the month of April, I am the guest blogger at the excellent Alaskan writing blog, 49 Writers. (Alaska is the 49th state. Get it?) Click here to read my first posting.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Foreign News

I am thrilled to announce that my German story collection, Wir waren außer uns vor Glück, has been nominated in two categories of the Kurd Lasswitz Preis. The collection includes “The Wedding Album,” “We Were Out of Our Minds with Joy,” and three other stories. The Kurd Lasswitz Preis is compared to our Nebulas, and my book is competing in the Best Foreign Fiction and Best Translation categories. My translators are Jasper Nicolaisen and Jakob Schmidt. The book is available in paperback and Kindle from the publisher Golkonda or from

Very cool.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Giveaway Part 2--Free Kindle Ebooks

Last week I gave away two ebooks for the Nook. This week it's the Kindle's turn. Now through Monday, February 27, you can download previously published short fiction of mine. She Was Good–She Was Funny and My Morning Glory and other flashes of absurd science fiction. Read more about them here. Download with abandon!