Tag Archives: sci-fi

Two Weeks ’til Party Time

Dear everyone, this is not a drill!

NOUMENON’s US release is just two weeks away! The UK release is even closer!

Noumenon_comp3    noumenon -- UK cover

*cue the screaming*

There is still time to preorder, and I will love you forever if you do! The above images are linked to Amazon US and Amazon UK respectively, and here is your Barnes and Noble linkage.  Or, you can preorder it direct from your local book store, if you want to support your local businesses.

Also, if you live in the Northwest Arkansas area, I want you to come join me for the launch party! There will be cupcakes, door prizes, my face, story time…lots of cool stuff and even cooler people if you’re there!

The party is walk in, 5-7pm, at Nightbird Books on Dickson St. in Fayetteville.

You see this?

prime invite 1

It is your official invitation! There are hard copies of these flyers scattered around Fayetteville (in your favorite game stores, Nightbird Books, and at the Retro Arcade). If you happen to find one you will notice that there’s a door prize ticket attached. You’ll get another at the party, but don’t forget to bring your flier with the attached ticket to double your chances!

Everyone is welcome at the party, so bring friends, bring family, bring that coworker you’ve been trying to get to know better.

But most importantly, bring book lovers!

See you there!

Happy reading.

~Marina

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Spark VIII is out!

It’s been a long time coming, but my story, The Stem, is out in Spark VIII.  Look at that awesome cover, guys (not to mention all those great names)!

 

spark-viii

 

Here’s an excerpt from The Stem, which is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk:

The Hoarders were a generation of intellectual censors. Gran’s grandparents had been amongst them. They turned off the lights, and shut down the transports, and cut their colony off from the others. They hoarded all knowledge. Everything they knew about science, industry, history–they took it all to their graves.

Graves Jacqueline spit on every chance she got.

With Rose and Snow–the two largest moons–dipping below the horizon, Jacquie slipped out her bedroom window and into the chilly pre-dawn air. She tied her short, black hair under a work-scarf, double checked that the power module and bento box were safe in her oversized pockets, then headed down the road.

As she walked, the sun’s rays slowly crept over the mountains, then down the Stem’s shaft as though they were using it to reach the planet’s surface.

The Stem’s petals–up at its top–were invisible now. Only at night could they be seen, as a dark set of blots blocking out the stars. The single exception was when the sun slipped directly over head and they caught the city in a small eclipse–a possessive shadow that always gave Jacquie the willies.

 

If you like badass, female electrical engineers, generational mysteries, and creepy space monsters, I hope you’ll take a look!

Happy reading!

~Marina

 

 

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QuarterReads: Great Stories for Pocket Change

Forget about bang for your buck–how much bang can you get for a quarter? I’ve uploaded three of my sci-fi humor reprints to QuarterReads, a new website that lets you purchase individual stories for a quarter. Though the site design is simple, I think the idea behind it is wonderful. Here are the highlights:

*All stories are 2,000 words or under. They’re quick, satisfying reads.

*Of that quarter spent, twenty-two cents goes directly to the author.

*Browsing and buying are both simple. So far, finding things I’d like to read is easy. There’s a search by genre, popularity, and they suggest stories based on what you’ve already read. And you purchase a set amount of reads ahead of time, so it only takes one click to buy the story (you don’t have to worry about the hassle of going through paypal every time you want to read).

*The site is curated, meaning all stories have to be approved before they display, so you shouldn’t find stories with tons of typos or incredibly wonky formatting. And nothing will be incomplete.

*Tipping is encouraged, but not necessary. If you thought your read was worth more than a quarter, you can tip the author extra.

If you’d like to check it out, you can visit my author page here: https://quarterreads.com/writer.php?id=80

Happy reading!

~Marina

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LoneStarCon 3 and the Five Minute Rule

So, my plan was to do a LoneStarCon 3 overview today, but alas, I feel I am too late. There are already a ton of rehashes all across the web focusing on everything from the lack of a YA Hugo , to the overall older vibe (google it and take your pick), to how it stacks up against other cons.

There are even some nice blogs that cover who met whom and who did what. (What, you say I’m only linking to Lou Anders’ post because I’m in it? Not so, not so!)

What could I possibly bring to the table when we’ve already got an embarrassment of riches (ie. blog posts)?

I’m here to give you the one thing I learned at Worldcon that trumps everything else: the five minute rule.

What is that, you ask? Is it like the five second rule? Er, no.

The five minute rule relates to a paranormal phenomenon that can only be experienced when a large number of people you want to meet are all gathered in close proximity for long periods of time. Here’s the theory:

Whenever you are about to leave a social area of the con–say you’re sleepy and want to call it a night–wait five minutes. If you do, someone interesting will inevitably make an appearance and talk to you.

The first time it happened we (a group of us from the Writers of the Future forum hung out a good chunk of the time) were at the hotel bar just as it closed. The staff were ‘encouraging’ us to leave, and we thought it best to comply. However, we lagged, and the lady taking out the garbage bins kind of barreled through the crowd–inevitably pushing us (literally) into Lou Anders from Pyr. He was great to meet. I had attended several of his panels that day, and ended up going to several more. We ran into each other on other occasions during the con, and each time was a pleasure.

The second time I encountered the phenomenon, the group of people I was with had just decided to head to bed, but as it was nearing two (or was it three?) in the morning, we were all moving rather slowly. Within five minutes, an editor form Orbit (who shall remain unnamed, as it seems this is one of her favorite con games) came and sat at our table (led there by a friend). She immediately asked us all to pitch our books, and was kind enough to critique our attempts. If we’d left when we’d decided to, we would have missed out.

It happened again and again throughout the con. We wanted to leave, but we lingered, and ran into Joshua Bilmes. We wanted to leave, but lingered, and ran into Kim Stanley Robinson. We wanted to leave, but decided we better wait five minutes because, geez, the correlation between us deciding to leave and interesting people showing up was just getting weird…

So, anyway, that’s my unique Worldcon observation: when you think it’s time to go, wait five minutes. You never know who might make an appearance.

All kidding aside, Worldcon is primarily about people–meeting new people, and reconnecting with colleagues you already know. That’s why it’s essential to hang around after hours, and if you’re an introvert like me, to step out of your comfort zone for a while.

Do you have a unique Worldcon observation? If so, let me know in the comments!

~Marina

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Short Story Sale!

I’ve just sold a sci-fi humor detective story to Galaxy’s Edge. My first story with this venue is set to appear in the September issue, so I’m very glad to have another one in the works.

Happy dance time.

~Marina

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Good News!

Part two of the WotF workshop overview will be up next week.

This week I wanted to crow a little, if you’ll indulge me.

First off, I sold a story to Mike Resnick over at Galaxy’s Edge after a minor (but really needed) rewrite.  I’m super excited about this, as it’s my fourth professional-rate sale.

Secondly, my story “Sojourn for Ephah” won second place in the InterGalactic Medicine Show readers’ poll!  To get positive feedback from editors is great, but this is the first time I’ve been able to see what kind of an impact my work has had on readers.  I’m extremely pleased that the story was so well received.

Well, that’s it, just a batch of good news.  All in all, April’s been a pretty good month.

~Marina

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Duotrope meets Submitomancy meets the Submissions Grinder

Alrighty, for all of you waiting for a system to essentially fill the void Duotrope left, I know of two.  One is still in the works, and one made its début in beta-mode this week.

First we have Submitomancy, and it’s an interesting option.  It will charge fees like Duotrope, but unlike Duotrope will have a lot of free features.  Its Indiegogo page (which is like Kickstarter, for those who don’t know), states that its submission tracker will be free, and that “Premium users will gain the advantage of full library features, power searches and social interactions.”  So it’s aiming to be a Duotrope replacement and social-networking site all in one.

The main differences between the free services and those behind the pay-wall are:

Free gets a manuscript database, CSV import, their basic search function, submissions tracking, average response times per market, and their newsletter.

If you pay their annual premium fee, you get access to the above, plus their ‘expanded databases,’ a ‘power search,’ detailed market response data, personalized notifications and reports, a profile page, status updates, skins, and anything else they might think to add between here and there.

If this sounds like a site you want available, visit their Indiegogo page and consider contributing to their startup costs: http://www.indiegogo.com/submitomancy

The Submissions Grinder is another option that launched this week.  Remember that backup file you downloaded from Duotrope, that has all of your data but in a rather unusable form?  No need to reformat the spreadsheet, just upload it now into the Submissions Grinder.  This system’s creators (It’s brought to your by Diabolical Plots) intend to keep it free, and it currently offers just about every feature Duotrope does, with a few minor exceptions (that I think will get filled in as they go along).

Right now, though you can import, you can’t export your data again, but they have stated they’re working on that.  And when viewing your submissions history you can’t narrow down your submissions by year.

The system is in its rough beta mode right now.  Errors pop up frequently, but let’s face it, they’ve only been up for three days.  The pending responses data is already beginning to rival Duotrope’s pre-paywall era on some markets (after only three days!), though their market database isn’t yet fully formed.

I’ve already made myself an account, uploaded my data, and made a few mistakes as a user–the proprietors are extremely helpful and ready to jump on any problems you might have, no matter if you or the site are at fault.

If you’d like to test out the Submissions Grinder, you can find it here (and if the page gives you an error, just try again later): http://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com/

The real key to any of these sites are the users.  The fewer people who use them, the less valuable they become to some people.  What’s really great about these new venues, compared to Duotrope, is that they have options that are free.  Sumbitomancy is going to charge service fees, but they know that to attract new users you have to let them try out the system.  I have no idea why all of Duotrope’s services are behind a pay-wall, as there’s no way for new customers to test the waters–so there’s no justification for them to pay for the service.  You’d think DT would at least offer a trial period for new accounts or something.

Anyway, what we have now are tiered options, in my opinion.

On the high end:  (price-wise, not necessarily service-wise.  I’ll wait to make that judgment once all three are up and running), we have tried and true Duotrope.  Nothing is free, in my opinion it’s overpriced, but it’s aesthetically pleasing, it works, it currently has the largest database as far as markets go, and it’s practically bug-less.

Next we have Submitomancy, which has free subscriptions and pay-to-play subscriptions, leaving things like its sub-tracker free to the public, and with extra features Duotrope does not offer in its pay brackets, but it’s not up yet, so we don’t know if its virtues are all that its proprietors hope them to be.

Lastly we have the fully-free Submissions Grinder, which gives you nearly all the same features as Duotrope at this point, plus the ability to import the data you saved from Duotrope, but is probably going to be buggy for a while and it’s a bit hard on the eyes.

So there you have it: options.  Choices!

If you do use one of these new systems, let me know in the comments how you think it stacks up!

~Marina

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Congrats and Commiserations

I hear results for the fourth quarter of the Writers of the Future contest are going out.  Though I’m no longer in the running, these results are still exciting to me, because they define who I’ll be attending the workshop with.  I want to know who else is in my graduating class, so to speak.

So, congrats to the finalists!  And for those of you who’ve received rejections, HMs, semis or silvers, keep plugging away.  The only way to guarantee you don’t win is if you don’t enter!

Speaking of finalists, as of this posting we still don’t know who the winners of Q3 are.  Inquiring minds want to know.  Hopefully I’ll be able to post an addendum in the next few days with a list.

ETA:

THIRD QUARTER WINNERS

1st Place – Andrea Stewart of California

2nd Place – Marilyn Guttridge of Oregon

3rd Place – Alex Wilson of North Carolina

 

~Marina

ETA: If you’d like to enter either the Writers of the Future contest, or the Illustrators of the future contest, please visit: http://www.writersofthefuture.com/

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What Kind of Stories does Writers of the Future buy?

Recently, over on the WotF Forum, there’s been a lot of submit-o-mancy.  What does the new coordinating judge want?

I think the greater question is, what does the contest want?  Yes, David Farland is master of the gate, he opens and closes the door, but then there are four more judges to please before you get to see this through to a win.

Having read the most recent volume of WotF, plus two of Q1’s winners (not to mention many past volumes), I think it’s safe to say the same kinds of stories are going to win under DF as they did under KD.  For David Farland’s specific likes/dislikes, nits and more, see his Daily Kicks (He’s had several recently that focus on the contest specifically).

Several past winners have made lists of what they think a winning story must have, and I largely agree with them.  Of special note is Brad R. Torgerson’s list.  You can find it here.

Below are my points.  Most are basically the same as what others have said, I just phrased them a bit differently. As I’ve said before, I think learning the same information over and over again in different ways helps solidify it in the mind.  Plus, perhaps the way I lay it out might resonate better with some, while Brad’s, etc., might resonate well with others.

Here are the basic requirements I’ve identified.  There are occasional exceptions, but around 95% of the published WotF stories I’ve read have contained these:

1. Original idea or original handling of previously used (but not overdone) idea.  Also, the Bigger the Idea the better.

2. Layered conflict.  Big picture conflict plus either personal conflict or inner conflict (if you can get in all three, that’s even better).

Big Picture conflict equals something like: human understanding of the universe will change because I discovered X, and people are trying to kill me before I reveal it.

Personal conflict equals something like: I must rescue my mother who sold herself into slavery so that I wouldn’t go hungry.

Inner conflict equals something like: I accidentally shot my best friend when I was a child, and now I must learn to forgive myself.

I always try to identify these layers in every story I write.

3. Wow factor meets human factor.  The closer the tech or magic relates directly to a very human desire/behaviour the better.

4. Characters who Believe.  Not necessarily in a deity or anything (though this definitely isn’t a venue where that’s taboo. My Q4 finalist had a very religious main character) but characters who have a very strong point of view and strong values that are confronted within the conflict.

5. Stuff has to happen. I’ve read great stories that were very moving, but essentially nothing happened.  The character wanders around, observes some stuff, then makes up his/her/its mind about something.  A story like that wouldn’t be a good fit for the contest.  When a reader gets done with a WotF story, they feel like they’ve gone somewhere, be it physically, emotionally, or psychologically.  And they’ve all gotten there through some form of action.

6. Discovery.  In almost every WotF story a character makes a discovery about their immediate environment, or the universe, or a community, or an organization, or their personal origins, etc.  The character didn’t know or understand something in the beginning and it is uncovered by the end.

I find that these are just good things to include in any story, but I’ve read venues where Big Idea stories were few and far between, and there are venues where characters don’t have to have strong feelings about any one thing in order to move through the plot, etc.

But, it’s also good to keep in mind that while there are venues that don’t require all of these elements, there’s also proven crossover between WotF tastes and other pro-venue tastes.  Finalist and semi-finalist stories have appeared in Analog, IGMS, and Clarkesworld, just to name a few.

So, I highly suggest that anyone who hasn’t read Vol. 28 pick up a copy. Not only is it a great read, it’ll absolutely help you get a feel for what kind of stories WotF buys.

Or you could wait until Vol. 29 comes out…  Not like I’ve got a vested interest in anyone reading that volume, or anything.  😉

If you find these points helpful, please let me know!

 

ETA: If you’d like to enter either the Writers of the Future contest, or the Illustrators of the future contest, please visit: http://www.writersofthefuture.com/

~Marina

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