Published by New American Press, MAYDAY Magazine presents new poetry, fiction, nonfiction, translations, commentary, and visual art to an international community of readers. And this issue has one of my stories in it! Hurrah! Not SFF though. But hey, I’m allowed to write other stuff. Hope you enjoy reading.
Interesting piece on the challenges faced writing fantasy in a historical setting. Have read Winterwood, and can’t wait for Silverwolf to come out!
When writing historical fiction it’s sometimes difficult to pin down names. Things change and sometimes the change is gradual. For instance I live in a tiny Yorkshire village called Birdsedge, or maybe it’s Birds Edge. No one really seems to know for sure. It’s currently in a state of flux and both names work. (My preference is for Birdsedge to be all one word.) When I first moved here in 1980 the village sign when approaching from one direction said Birds Edge, but the sign when approaching from the other said Birdsedge.
Confused? You will be.
An old diary (Adam Eyre’s Diary) from the 1770s called it Bursage and if you listen to some of the long-time residents they pronounce it something closely akin to B’zzidge, the vowel after the B being an uh sound that’s not quite E and not quite U. (A schwa?)
The village doesn’t seem…
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Guess where I’m going to be in just a couple of short weeks? The GollaczFest, of course! I attended last year and it was a real treat. The panel discussions were particularly interesting, with authors giving candid views on topical issues. I especially loved the way Gollancz used the event to promote its debut authors.
This year I plan to split my time between the author panels and the events aimed specifically at upcoming writers. Have a look at the list of authors taking part. It’s going to be so much fun!
There are times as a writer when I just need to step back and chill out. Give the creative side something else to do, a sort of re-charge of the writing batteries. I love the quiet discipline of adding colour to someone else’s kick-ass drawings. I have several fantasy-type colouring books, but my favourite by far is the ‘Terry Pratchett’s DiscWorld’. It is packed with Paul Kidby’s amazing illustrations.
“The little dragon turned on Vimes a gaze that would be guaranteed to win it the award for Dragon the Judges would Most Like to Take Home and Use as a Portable Gas Lighter.”
Thank you Paul Kidby, and thank you Gollancz. I just need to decide what to colour next!
All very useful advice!
I thought I’d toss out some thoughts on the editing process – or rather my editing process because every writer has their own way of dealing with edits, and if it works, then it’s the right way. No two writers are like or follow the exact same process.
There are two phases of content/structural editing. The first is my own, done before sending the first draft of my manuscript to my editor at DAW. The second is the edit based on what my editor wants me to alter or add (more on that later).
At this stage I want to stop and tell you that a few days ago my lovely editor at DAW, Sheila E Gilbert, was awarded the Hugo award for Best Editor, Long Form. I am absolutely thrilled for her because she’s been in this business a long time and is vastly experienced and a terrific editor…
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This is the second part in a two-part blog post by Deborah Walker. You’ll find the first part here: How to sell a lot of SF/F Short Story Reprints – Part 1. See the original on Deborah’s Blog here.
This is the second post on reprints. The first post can be found here. The take home message was more submissions will probably lead to more sales.
This post comes with the same proviso. Every writer is different. Your mileage will vary. And if you disagree with me, do feel free to comment, because I’m interested in different opinions.
So after having made 67 reprint sales this year. (Yes, it’s gone up from the last post). I thought I’d share my process with you. This is how I make my reprint sales, I hope you’ll find it interesting.
Selecting a Reprint Venue
Once you’ve found your reprint venue…
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Please welcome Deborah Walker to the guest spot on the Milford blog for the first of a two-parter on selling reprint stories. Subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss Part 2 which will be up in a couple of weeks.
What’s a reprint?
When you sell a short story to a venue you’ll usually sell first rights with or without an exclusivity period. This means that once any exclusivity period is over, you’re free to sell the story to another venue as a reprint. Between zero and 12 months are common exclusivity periods.
Occasionally a venue will ask for all rights. That means you won’t be able to resell your story as a reprint. That’s your call. But remember that you can negotiate. I know of one short story publisher who requests to buy all rights as standard, but who will immediately offer a first rights contract if…
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What a great introduction and insight into the Milford SF Writers’ group. Alistair Reynolds is a real inspiration.
Milford came at a critical time for me – real make or break stuff. It was the year when I knew I’d have to decide whether I was cut out for this science fiction lark.
The year was 1998. I’d made my first sale nine years earlier. After a long apprenticeship collecting rejection slips it had felt like a significant breakthrough and I was excited when my first pair of stories appeared the year after. I sold two more in relatively quick succession and the reaction to that first clutch of stories was positive enough to provide some encouragement. I felt myself to be cautiously on the up: I had a novel in progress, and ideas for more. Some of my immediate peers were starting to get book deals and attention from international markets. I felt that if only I stuck at it, the same rewards might start coming my…
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The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (Orbit, 2016)
“Sweat was a body’s history, compressed into jewels, beaded on the brow, staining shirts with salt. It told you everything about how a person had ended up in the right place at the wrong time, and whether they would survive another day.’
This quote from page one of The Water Knife gives the reader a taste of the desperation of people struggling to survive in a world where water is a precious commodity. Those cities with ‘senior water rights’ are building archologies (self-sustaining environments, with clean air, plenty of water and all the amenities the modern world takes for granted), while the majority of the population buy water from Red Cross pumps and wear masks against the constant dust-storms (well, those that can afford to—a dry, hacking cough is the norm outside of the archologies).
Set primarily in the state of Arizona, more specifically Phoenix, the three main protagonists are drawn into the battle over water rights—rights that will give the owner power of life and death over thousands as the water supply to whole cities can be cut by the stroke of a ‘legal’ pen.
Angel—the ‘water knife’ of the title—works for Catherine Case, the leader and ruthless driving force behind the relative prosperity of Las Vegas. Recruited by Case from prison as a young man, he is now a highly trained ‘water knife’ and does whatever it takes to secure the water rights of Las Vegas and the state of Nevada.
In the opening chapter Angel ‘serves papers’ on a water refinery and then escapes as it is blown up. The city it supplies has no other source of water. “It’s the end of times,” he muses as he watches the flames. “Guess that makes me the Devil.” Despite this, Angel (note the name) understands and empathises with the desperation of others. He sees the world for what it is, and harbours no illusions about the future. He does what needs doing. Driving through the desert, he reflects that it is the truest place he’s ever known—“it’s always been a gaunt and feral thing”. Unlike Texas, which had pumped up ice-age water and “thrown on the garments of fertility, pretending to greenery and growth… realising too late that their prosperity was borrowed.”
Lucy is a prize winning reporter, who left the relatively water-rich north (it still rains there) to write about the deprivations suffered by the people of Phoenix—a city struggling to survive the permanent drought—and the Texan refugees who everyone reviles. Texas was the first state to collapse, its population flooding neighbouring states until borders were closed. Lucy is looking for a big story, which she finds when she becomes embroiled in the fight over water rights. After years of bowing to pressure: “All the things you don’t say… All the stories you teach yourself not to tell.” Lucy posts a story that pulls-no-punches, a story that makes her a target for both political and criminal powerbrokers.
Angel feels a powerful connection to Lucy. They had both “seen too much and had given up on pretending the world was anything but a wreck.” Lucy is attracted to Angel, both in his role as a dangerous killer, and in his unguarded moments as “the boy before the water knife.” Betrayal is a key theme, though it’s generally depicted and understood by the parties involved as: nothing personal, just business. Angel is the one person who is steadfastly loyal.
Maria is a teenager struggling to survive alone after the death of her father. She collects water from the Red Cross pumps and sells it on for a small profit to construction workers. Her best friend ‘sells ass’. They are both Texans, the lowest of the low, who are forced to ‘kick up’ part of their earnings to a local crime lord. Despite her best efforts, Maria ends up in the ‘right place at the wrong time’ and her life is forfeit.
Angel is an unlikely saviour. Twice he uses Maria as a foil to save himself, but in both cases she is also ‘saved’. There is one question that she asks several times in the book: “Why do you care?” It points to the harsh reality of her life, and the lessons she learns as the story progresses. She has an impact on Angel: “He had a sudden overwhelming need to balance all the things in the world that couldn’t be balanced.”
This book depicts a world after the devastating impact of climate change. The characters take this fact as a given, and so the only reference is an advert on bottled water: “Your purchase helps us mitigate the impacts of climate change on vulnerable peoples around the world.”
In the struggle between California, Arizona and Nevada for valuable water rights, it seems that there is no ‘right’ thing to do (despite Lucy’s protestations). No matter who wins, there has to be losers. As Angel says: “Someone’s got to bleed, if anybody’s going to drink.”
This is a masterful depiction of a society fighting to survive in a world damaged by greed and wilful blindness—another strong theme in the book. Bacigalupi takes us on a journey where we are confronted by the filters through which we view the world, and brings us face-to-face with difficult truths.
My favourite quote:
“If I could put my finger on the moment we genuinely fucked ourselves, it was the moment we decided that data was something you could use words like believe or disbelieve around.”
Saint’s Blood, Sebastien De Castell, Jo Fletcher Books
The third in the series detailing the life of Falcio val Mond and his constant struggle to save Tristia, his cess-pit of a homeland. Together with his fellow ex-Greatcoats, Kest and Brasti, Falcio fights to restore the ‘King’s Law’, even though said king is dead—betrayed by the Dukes whose greed and corruption is driving Tristia to its knees.
The Greatcoats are magistrates with a difference. Re-envisioned by the late King Paelis, they are duellists trained in all manner of combat. They ride the roads of Tristia, hearing cases in towns and villages and delivering their judgements. Cases are often decided via trial by combat—the Greatcoats overriding mantra is ‘fight hard, ride fast’.
Traitor’s Blade and Knight’s Shadow are set after the death of the King, with the Greatcoats reviled as traitors, scattered around Tristia trying to both survive and follow their last, secret, orders from their King. Falcio rescues a teenage girl, Aline, who turns out to be the King’s daughter. The trio of Greatcoats fight Ducal intrigues, assassins, and a pretender to the throne in their attempts to have Aline recognised as the rightful queen.
Saint’s Blood continues the story, with their greatest adversary ever: an actual God. All three books are packed with fast moving action, as you might expect, with expertly drawn and compelling one-to-one fights and larger group battles. The action is underpinned by believable and engaging characters, which you can’t help but empathise with and root for.
The books are written exclusively from Falcio’s point-of-view, giving the reader an insight into a man who was driven into the role of ‘protector’ by the rape and murder of his wife—a man who inspires others to his cause, despite his many flaws. The relationship between Falcio and his two best friends, Kest and Brasi, is masterly portrayed. The female characters that take a lead role in the story are portrayed as intelligent, determined and a source of impressive strength.
Saint’s Blood opens our heart to fear and then demonstrates by acts of uncommon valour by men and women alike how to overcome those fears.
I’m looking forward to the next book: Traitor’s Throne.