Enter the Grimdark Magazine Battle-off Competition

Monday, July 27th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Grimdark Magazine Battle-off Competition

Grimdark Magazine is getting some great notices among fans of heroic fantasy — including from our own Fletcher Vredenburgh, who said in his review of the first three issues, “From a swords & sorcery perspective, the biggest — and potentially most interesting — new publication out there is Grimdark Magazine.” Grimdark editor-in-chief Adrian Collins contacted us this morning to let us know of a new contest sponsored by the magazine, open to heroic fantasy writers of all kinds. Here’s the deets:

We’re running a competition over at Grimdark Magazine that may interest some of Black Gate‘s followers — both readers and writers. It’s a battle-off, where self and small published authors enter a 1K word excerpt featuring a battle scene, the readers then vote on a top 7 and a panel of judges then decide on the top 3 to win awards.

It will run for a couple of months between mid August and the end of October… There are some pretty awesome prizes up for grabs, including a Kindle HD, signed hardcovers, plenty of paperbacks and ebooks, editing services and cover art services.

This is one of the most unusual writing contests I’ve heard of, and I highly approve. So sharpen your pens, all you aspiring adventure fantasy writers. This is your chance to show that you have the chops to deserve wider attention — and maybe win something that could help your new novel really stand out. Get the complete details here.


Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Pro Tip From Lawrence Watt-Evans

Sunday, July 26th, 2015 | Posted by Tina Jens

Lawrence Watt-Evans-smallAffectionately known as LWE (pronounced Louie) by many of his friends and fans, Lawrence Watt-Evans is the second author in our series of Pro Tips — wit and wisdom from professionals across the Spec Fic field. (You can find our first one, from Laura Anne Gilman, here.)

LWE is the author of more than four dozen novels and short story collections and more than a hundred short stories, in addition to comic books, poems, and more than 150 non-fiction articles. He works mostly in the fantasy genre, but has numerous science fiction and horror publications, too. He sold his first novel at the age of twenty-four, and has been a full-time writer ever since.

What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started writing/ publishing?

I wish I had known that the publishing business is always changing. Always. Publishers come and go, genres rise and fall, formats change. When I broke in, mass-market paperbacks sold on newsstands were where the money was, fantasy was a poor stepchild of science fiction, and there were a dozen or so major fiction publishers and no one else mattered.

Then national chain bookstores blossomed, the old paperback distribution system collapsed, fantasy surpassed SF in sales, horror boomed and then busted… and that was before the internet, Amazon, ebooks, print-on-demand, self-publishing, etc. I learned more about publishing history and discovered that the system I had thought had dominated forever only came into its own in the 1950s.

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Chuck Wendig Writes an Open Letter: “Dear Guy Who is Mad Because I Wrote a Gay Character in a Book”

Friday, July 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Blackbirds Chuck Wendig-smallChuck Wendig, author of Star Wars: Aftermath, Blackbirds, and The Blue Blazes, has written an open letter to a fan who complained because one of his characters was gay:

Earlier today I got a bit of hate mail — though I guess hate mail is strong, as the writer of said email was not like, threatening to murder me with a brick or anything — from what appears to be a male, adult reader of my young adult series. In particular, he read the third book in the series, which came out last week: The Harvest.

I won’t reprint the email here, but he said, and I quote, “I didn’t like that you had a main gay character reviling [sic] in a homosexual sexual relationship.” (Reveling, I guess he means?) He feels I “corrupted” the book with the presence of “gay male relationships.” He then added that he feels I was jumping on some kind of “bandwagon,” which I assume (he did not clarify) means that I was doing this to fill some kind of diversity bingo card. Finally, he concluded that it “didn’t matter” or “effect [sic] the story” that the character was gay so why include it at all?

Here is my response that I won’t actually bother sending to him, but maybe he’ll read it here.

Read Chuck’s complete response here.

Kelly Swails reviewed Blackbirds for us (“Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds is Punch-You-in-the-Face Good“), and James McGlothlin looked at The Blues Blazes (“Goblins, Demons, Zombies and Fights Aplenty: A Review of The Blue Blazes.”)


Enough, Part I

Monday, July 20th, 2015 | Posted by David B. Coe

Dead Man's Reach-smallFor weeks now, I have debated back and forth about this post, and even as I write it and contemplate submitting it to Black Gate, I remain ambivalent about whether or not I should. I have kept silent throughout the spring and summer, watching as the genre I love tears itself apart, and I haven’t known what to do. I still don’t.

I have two original, novel-length releases coming this summer. Dead Man’s Reach, due out on July 21, is the fourth book in my Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy series I write for Tor Books under the name D.B. Jackson. His Father’s Eyes, which drops on August 4, is the second book in The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy that I write for Baen Books under my own name, David B. Coe.

Put another way, I have two books coming out this summer from different publishers, in different series, under different names. And, I should add, I’m thrilled by this. As any author writing these days knows, busy is good; I’m happy to say that I’m as busy as I’ve ever been.

But I am writing for Tor and Baen, the two houses at the center of the Sad/Rabid Puppy controversy that has ravaged science fiction and fantasy over the past several months. I knew going in to my contract with Baen (the most recent book contract I’ve signed) that I might be putting myself in an awkward position. I’ve been writing for Tor for nearly twenty years, covering four series and a total of sixteen novels. I’m new to Baen, but have known the editors there for years, and was delighted when presented with the chance to work with them. I can speak to the strengths of both houses, and have done so recently.

Politically, I’m more in tune with the culture at Tor than the one at Baen. But in that regard I join a large group of wonderful, left-leaning writers who publish with Baen, including, among others, Eric Flint, Mercedes Lackey, and Steve Miller and Sharon Lee. The folks at Baen treat all of their writers well, and as long as we meet our deadlines, write good books, and promote the hell out of them, they don’t give a damn about our politics. Which is precisely as it should be. And Tor, which publishes John Wright as well as John Scalzi, does exactly the same.

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Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Tricks for Writing in Public

Sunday, July 19th, 2015 | Posted by Tina Jens

Tricks for writing in publicLast week, I talked about how to find the right space at home for writing. As a part of that, I touched on the fact that, sometimes, the primary purpose of a room can interfere subconsciously with your writing efforts.

In our condo, I made the second, tiny, bedroom my office space. But since I spend a lot of time in there grading student papers, modifying my class curriculum, prepping for the next class, doing administrative and publicity work for the Gumbo Fiction Salon reading series, writing non-fiction, handling business correspondence, doing travel planning, and other writing-related-but-not-fiction-writing work, sometimes, even with the playful decor of the room, my office is not the best place to write fiction. I’m too aware of the other tasks that need to be done.

In other rooms, I’m often distracted by the visual To-Do List that pops up everywhere I look. There’s always laundry that’s piling up, a few dishes in the sink, a closet or cabinet or shelf that needs organizing, administrative work to do. And while making sure the clutter or items that need attention are behind me, I’m aware of the chores, even if they aren’t in my peripheral vision.

Sometimes, the only way I can escape the visual To-Do List, is to get out of the house. I do some of my best fiction writing out in public. Part of that is the “out of sight, out of mind” concept, but there’s also an element of helpful coercion. I don’t have to prioritize and make judgments about whether my writing or housework or grading or administrative stuff should be done first. If the only work I have with me is my writing, then I might as well be productive and do it.

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Baen Announces the 2015 Fantasy Adventure Award Nominees

Sunday, July 19th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Baen_logoThe nominees for the second annual Baen Fantasy Adventure Award, to be awarded “to the best piece of original short fiction that captures the spirit and tradition” of the great adventure fantasy writers, have been announced. The 2015 Finalists are:

“Saurs,” Craig DeLancey
“Unfound,” Rhiannon Held
“Shell Game,” Joseph L. Kellogg
“Victor the Sword,” Robin Lupton
“Trappists,” Katherine Monasterio
“Burning Savannah,” Alexander Monteagudo
“Kiss from a Queen,” Jeff Provine
“An Old Dragon’s Treasure,” Robert Russell
“The Triton’s Son,” Keith Taylor
“Adroit,” Dave Williams

The grand prize winner wil see their story published on the Baen website, and will receive an engraved award and an assortment of Baen titles. The winner will be officially announced at the Writer’s Symposium at Gen Con, July 30 – August 2, 2015. The winner will be selected by the Baen editorial staff and Larry Correia.

The 2014 Grand Prize winner was “The Golden Knight“ by K. D. Julicher. For more details on the award, see the Baen Books website.


Is That Your Sword, Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Friday, July 17th, 2015 | Posted by Violette Malan

By the SwordI love sword-fights. By which I mean I love them in movies and on TV. Not so much in books. Mostly in books they take too long, and illustrate more how much research the writer has done and not so much the moving ahead of the story. And that’s how swords and sword fighting came to mind when I started thinking about what real life things do and don’t happen in fiction, or in movies or TV. If you’d like to see what I’ve already said about this, look here, and here.

So, in the spirit of what does and doesn’t happen in real life vs TV or movies – or even books – just what happens with people’s swords when they aren’t using them to kill someone? And what about other weapons? As I’ve suggested before, this type of thing is fairly easily handled in books. More easily than, say, why characters never (ie. hardly ever) go to the bathroom. In books, when they’re not using them, characters simply sheath their swords, or hang them from their harnesses, or hang them up by the belt on a hook. Or put them down on a table. As the reader, your eyes are directed elsewhere, and you rarely give it another thought.

Sure, sometimes a writer will have a character clean their sword, or other weapons. But there are reasons for this. One, it gives the characters something to do with their hands while dialogue is taking place. Two, how the cleaning gets done tells the reader something about the character’s personality.

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Things Your Writing Teacher Never Told You: Location, Location, Location! or How to Find and Maintain Your Writing Space

Sunday, July 12th, 2015 | Posted by Tina Jens

Write in the tub-smallIn a perfect world, we could all write anywhere, anytime. But even seasoned writers sometimes have problems sitting down and starting a writing session or staying in a writing session once it’s started. While we all have these problems  – the pros find ways to get past it. Here are some suggestions on how to fight the urge to do absolutely anything but write. The causes are too numerous to deal with in a single blog post, but lets start with some basics.

Location of Your Workspace

Don’t try to work in the line of fire. Don’t place your workspace near the TV or PlayStation. Even if you’re not tempted to watch or play (And aren’t we all?), almost no one can write when there’s that much background noise. Don’t fight the battle of “I ought to be able to work anywhere.” Save that mental sword arm for your plot and prose.

Wherever your family most often gathers, whether it’s the den or the kitchen, is the worst possible place for you to try to write. For most, writing requires a measure of silence and solitude, and time away from distractions.

The amount of silence, and the type, vary from writer to writer. You’ll have to experiment to see what works best for you. I often write to music. Others find the white noise and anonymity of cafes creates a protective bubble they can concentrate in – so long as you’re not sitting with a companion who keeps asking if they can interrupt for just a moment.

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How to Properly Retreat

Friday, July 10th, 2015 | Posted by mariebilodeau

You too could be this productive.

You too could be this productive.

I don’t mean retreat from battle – I WOULD NEVER ADVOCATE FOR THAT! Fight until the end, my warrior friends!

I’m talking about a personal retreat to achieve certain goals, such as mastering a new weapon, learning a new fighting style or, for the cerebral among you, writing a book. Or a good chunk of one, anyway.

As I’m about to undertake a writing retreat myself, and have done quite a few successful ones in the past, I’ll focus on wordsmithing. But you may decide to apply some tricks to other types of retreats, as well.

1. Choose your Location


Can you achieve this at home? Or will there be a thousand interruptions? I’m an awesome procrasti-cleaner and procrasti-cooker, so I find home dangerous. I’m trying it this weekend, but usually I head to a place made for retreats: a convent. (A silent retreat where I don’t have to attend religious activities, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve not spontaneously combusted.) Wherever you go, make sure you have headspace and time. Make sure you’ll have a writing space all your own, and make sure that distractions are at a minimum (convents rarely have TVs or wi-fi. I’m weak-willed and know it.) Find your perfect spot.

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Books for Writers: A Guide to Improvised Weaponry

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015 | Posted by Sean McLachlan

A Guide to Improvised Weaponry-smallThere are a lot of how-to manuals for writers out there–books about world building, books about grammar, books about finding markets, books about almost every aspect of the writing life. Sadly, there’s no book telling writers how to defend themselves if an axe murderer invades their home office.

Until now.

A Guide to Improvised Weaponry is the perfect self-defense manual for any writer. It tells you just how to defend yourself when ISIS terrorists decided your work in progress makes you a candidate for their next YouTube video. It’s written by Terry Schappert, a Green Beret and Master sergeant in the U.S. Army Special Forces. This guy knows how to kill you with a pencil. It’s co-written by Adam Slutsky, a professional writer who probably had to explain to Terry that a disappointing advance, low royalties, and non-compete clauses are not valid reasons for killing an acquisitions editor with a pencil.

Each chapter focuses on a common object that you probably have in your home. I was especially interested in objects that are in my home office, ready to be picked up the moment one of my many anonymous online haters kicks in my door.

First, my coffee cup, strategically located to the left of my computer, ready to protect me and mine. Schappert makes the obvious suggestions, like flinging my hot Ethiopian brew into my attacker’s face or using it as a knuckle duster, with the caveat that there’s a good chance of hurting your hand with that second method. He also explains how you can use it to catch the tip of your attacker’s knife and deflect the blow.

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