Tag Archives: sci-fi

Tangent Online’s Recommended Reading List

“Sojourn for Ephah” has been included on Tangent Online’s recommended reading list for 2012.

I see lots of other familiar names and stories on the list.  Congrats, all!


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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!


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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.



1st Place – Andrea Stewart of California

2nd Place – Marilyn Guttridge of Oregon

3rd Place – Alex Wilson of North Carolina



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/


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Story Sold!

Good news, everyone! No, I haven’t transformed into a frail cartoon-scientist, but I have made a sale!

I received my first acceptance to a pro-rate, SFWA qualifying market today.  I’m very excited and will give out more information when the formalities are taken care of.

The story I sold was also my Q4 WotF finalist, entitled: Sojourn For Ephah.


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Dragons, Anyone?: Lectures from Brandon Sanderson

Ok, this post has little to do with dragons.  But, I am here to introduce you to “Write About Dragons”–a blog dedicated to posting videos of Brandon Sanderson’s Introduction to Writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy class at BYU (its main focus is novel writing, but shorts do come up.  Eric James Stone is a guest in lecture 5 and speaks pretty exclusively about short stories).

As the title implies, this is a beginner’s course, so for those of us who’ve been at this a while it just makes a nice refresher.  I find that re-learning old information in new ways helps to solidify it in my mind.

He does utilize a good portion of the classes to talk about the business side of writing.  For those of you who don’t know, that’s practically unheard of in university creative writing courses.

Without further ado: http://www.writeaboutdragons.com/home/

ALSO, I’d like to take this opportunity to announce a minor hiatus.  I won’t be updating the blog for about two to three weeks (unless something spectacular happens and I just can’t keep from posting).  Just have some life things to take care of.  Nothing bad–just hectic!

Let me know if you find the lectures useful,


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Absolute Visions Anthology

Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

Just a little release-oriented news today.

Absolute Visions, the anthology in which my first published illustration appears, is now available for purchase!

If you’d like to see my full illustration (I haven’t seen it yet, but what appears in the anthology is probably a cropped version) you can head on over to my DA page for a peek. 


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