Tag Archives: Worldbuilders

That pesky, uncontrollable muse

Note: The muse almost never shows up this way.

Note: The muse almost never shows up this way.

With MJ-12: Shadows in the hands of my capable editor, I thought I would start the new year by tinkering with a new project — one that wasn’t under deadline. I’m truly fortunate to have deadlines for books, and I still have the third MAJESTIC-12 book on the horizon. But at least for a while, I wanted to go back to some pressure-free creativity because, as I’ve mentioned before, MJ-12: Shadows kicked my ass.

I actually have several ideas in various stages of development — some straight-up science fiction, a clockwork fantasy, all kinds of stuff. But the one I chose to work on was new to the idea files, something overtly political in nature with a near-future setting and all kinds of social commentary. Gee, wonder how that popped up on my radar since November. Hmm.

I told my agent about it — I actually tell her most of the stuff I’m noodling on — and I got excited about it. I did my usual worldbuilding notes, my character snippets, my Excel plotting. I started in and focused on the voice, which would be very different from my previous work.

And then I hit a wall.

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Nine hours to go on the Worldbuilders critique auction

UPDATE: The auction is over and the critique went for $340, which is incredibly awesome. Thank you to Worldbuilders for all they do, and thank you to all the bidders who jacked that price up!

That’s right — as of this posting, you have nine hours to bid on an opportunity to have yours truly read and critique up to 25,000 words of your fiction. Here’s the auction page. And it’s to benefit Worldbuilders, the fantastic charity that aids Heifer International in promoting sustainable living conditions for the world’s poorest. It’s good stuff.

So what’s the critique, exactly? Well, first off, you give me the words and I read ’em. I’ll mark up the text as I go, using comments in Word, with questions, concerns, encouragement, etc. I’ll also write up a fairly long review of the piece, separate from the text, in which I’ll go into the strengths and weaknesses of the work.

Oh, and if you wanna ping back with follow-ups, feel free. I’m happy to go back and forth a few times if it helps you. Just don’t, you know, camp out in my email. Or on my doorstep. Point is, let’s make sure you get your money’s worth.

Speaking of, as of this writing, the bidding is up to $255, which does my heart good. I have no doubt that the winner of this one, in addition to getting my opinion on their work, will reap untold karma points from whomever in the multiverse doles such things out.

One more thing: Tomorrow, I’ll be hanging out on Reddit r/Fantasy as part of their Worldbuilders charity week. It’s kind of an Ask Me Anything — because I’ll certainly answer questions and stuff — but I’m also taking the opportunity to ask the great r/Fantasy community a few things as well. And of course, we’ll be spreading the good word about Worldbuilders.

In fact, there’s still a bit more to come from me — each of my four novels will be up for grabs from Worldbuilders late this coming week. Signed, of course, which makes them the perfect Christmas presents. So stay tuned for that!


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It’s Worldbuilders auction time! Bid on a critique, make the world better.

Here’s some unabashedly good news: The Worldbuilders auctions are live! There’s so much good stuff up for bid this year — and for the fourth year running, I’m offering a critique of your SF/F manuscript, up to 25,000 words to the winning bidder.

For those of you who don’t know, Worldbuilders is a fantastic charity created by the incomparable Patrick Rothfuss to support the good work of Heifer International. Worldbuilders does a bunch of stuff all year, but the end-of-year auction is the big one.

Since I started offering up stuff in 2013, and with your generous support, together we’ve raised about $1,500 through signed books, critiques and Tuckerizations just with Worldbuilders alone. (And another $500+ to Con or Bust, charity:water and Kids Need to Read, so yay!) And all because I had the damn fool notion in my head that I should write some novels, and because there are some lovely generous people out there. How cool is that?

The critique auction page is live, so if you’re in the market for some writing advice from a real, live novelist (i.e. me), check it out. You have until just after 8 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27, to get your bid in. And let me tell you — the bidding goes up quite a bit in those final hours, so if you want it, be prepared to hang out online Sunday.

The Worldbuilders crew also has signed copies of all my books — the three volumes of the Daedalus trilogy, and MJ-12: Inception in hardcover. They’re not up for bid yet, but stay tuned. I’ll be sure to let you know when they’re live.

And of course, there’s a veritable ton of other stuff up for bid too — jewelry, signed books, critiques from authors/editors/agents, gaming swag, and yes…even a freakin’ sword. (I totally want that sword.) The eBay page for Worldbuilders has all that and more, so check it out. There’s also a Worldbuilders lottery, where you pay $10 per entry for a shot at glorious prizes — here’s the page for that.

I’ve found the SF/F community of writers, publishers and fans to be incredibly giving and generous, and I know y’all will consider chipping in again to help Heifer in its important work around the world. Thank you in advance for your donations. And thanks to Pat, Maria and the whole Worldbuilders team for all the good work they do.

Go! Get bidding!


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The post-Phoenix Comicon post

Short version: That was incredibly super fun. Will repeat.

But hey, I think we can do better, right?

Phoenix Comicon has one of the best author/books tracks of any major convention I’ve been to. So what makes it the best, you ask? For one, there are a ton of great authors writing a dizzying array of diverse works. Two, the topics of the panels are usually pretty interesting and thought-provoking. Third, the con puts our books on sale right next door to the panels, and the marketer in me loves that impulse-buy opportunity.

But mostly, it’s the fans. The folks in the audience at all of my panels were super-smart and incredibly engaged. Their questions were thoughtful and really kept us all on our toes. The resulting conversations were informative to me, and I hope they were to everyone who came.

The fans are the biggest reason I go, and y’all are really generous with your time and encouragement of my work, and I try to do the same with whatever you got going on, too. For the first time, I had someone in the audience at a panel actually reference parts of my books as an example that I didn’t even think of — and I didn’t even know who he was, let alone did I bribe him. So that was lovely.

And now some more highlights in now particular order!

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One week left in WriMos for Worldbuilders lottery

Donate and enter to win these!

Worldbuilders continues apace, breaking last year’s record haul for Heifer International and knocking on the door of $1 million in donations. That is breathtakingly incredible. Let’s help ’em get there, shall we?

There’s one week left in the WriMos for Worldbuilders lottery. The goal was to break $10,000 — and the drive is already well over $18,000. The generosity of writer-folk will never cease to amaze me.

Of course, Worldbuilders is making it worth your while. Each $10 donated gives you one shot at a drawing for fabulous prizes (i.e., donate $50, get five entries). There are dozens and dozens of books and assorted swag, detailed here on Pat Rothfuss’ blog, including the three books of the Daedalus trilogy, all signed and marked with “Worldbuilders 2015” to remind you of the good you did and the reward you got. Cool, eh?

Here’s a post where you can figure out your chances of winning something cool, by the way, in case you want to ensure the odds are ever in your favor.

Of course, the big prizes in the lottery are the critiques. There are four up for grabs from agent Seth Fishman, agent Jennifer Azantian, author/anthologist Joshua Palmatier and, well…me. (Don’t worry, I’m told I give good critique.) So if you finished up your NaNoWriMo project and need a trained pair of eyes to look at it, here’s your chance.

You have one week. DO WHAT MUST BE DONE.


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Pick up a neat Humble Bundle to support great causes

So here’s something cool. The latest Humble Bundle is available, and it includes a lot of great science fiction and fantasy. Pay what you want, get a heap of awesome reading — with the proceeds going to charity.

Here’s the link to the bundle. You could theoretically pay a penny — you godawful cheapskate — but those who pay $15 or more pretty much get the entire package. That’s 15 books! We’re talking novels and anthologies and even Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook. (Yes, I have an article about beer in that one. Because beer.)

The bundle benefits Worldbuilders, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America‘s Givers Fund, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. These are all fine charities and non-profits to support, and I hope you’ll think about doing so.

And speaking of Worldbuilders, let this be your semi-regular reminder to donate $10 or more to WriMos for Worldbuilders so you can enter to win fabulous prizes — one of which is a critique of your work by me. I’ll be kind, I promise.


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Congrats, NaNoWriMo winners! Now what? (And a plug for Worldbuilders)

I really hope that if you churned out 50,000 words in November that you’re not in front of the computer today. (Reading this on a phone or tablet is acceptable, however.) You deserve a break! Congratulations for all your hard work in creating…what exactly?

Let’s call it a proto-novel, because while it’s going to be a novel some day, it’s not a novel at the moment. It’s a first draft, a heap of words with just enough connective tissue to create the bones of a story. Zombie-like, it has emerged from your brain-things and is now shuffling about your hard drive. It is not yet alive. It’s most certainly not ready for real readers. (Beta readers are, of course, perfectly fine.)

So whatever you do, don’t start querying literary agents! I have it on good authority (i.e. drunken, frustrated agents) that many agents dread December due to all of the NaNoWriMo stuff that’s slopped into their inboxes. It’s not that NaNoWriMo is bad — Far from it! You wrote stuff! — it’s just that the books hastily submitted to agents just aren’t ready for prime-time. And they won’t be for a while.

So what do you do? First off, remember that it’s no longer a race. You did the thing, produced the words. Now the hard part starts. And that takes time. I suggest taking a week off, reconnect with your family and friends, and generally remember to eat, sleep and be social once more. Let the zombie shuffle around a bit. It’s not going anywhere.

Then you start revising. And revising again. Probably a third time. This is the part where you connect the words together, make sure each passage is carrying its weight in the story, each sentence is complete and has the appropriate amount of nouns, verbs and adjectives, with a sprinkling of adverbs. (Don’t overdo it on the adverbs. Think of them as seasoning. A little goes a long way.)

This is now the time where you sit back, ease off the throttle, and make sure what you wrote becomes good. This is when you revive the zombie. Only after revision and attention to detail and thorough review can you sit back and scream, “It’s alive. ALIVE!

And only after that should you begin to query. Many literary agents will thank you for your patience.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that you can still chip in on the WriMos for Worldbuilders fundraiser. Each $10 gets you an entry into a lottery for fabulous prizes — four of which are critiques of your writing. (Why, yes, I’m one of the four people offering critiques.) It can be a critique of the thing you just wrote. Or something else. Whatever. If you win, it’s your call. You have until Dec. 14 to chip in.

It would be super swell of you to donate, and I hope karma wins out and I get to critique your proto-zombie-novel.


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