Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

F.I.R.I.!!!

Yes, this is a rant! A big, fat rant!

 Some editors are too polite to rant about this particular topic, but I’m not known to be a polite fellow, so I’ll go ahead and say what we all feel.

 There’s this problem, see: a big damn mistake that keeps getting made, and not just by aspiring noobs, but also by published writers who should know better. To be honest, this particular mistake makes me sometimes wonder how the hell they even got published in the first damn place!

 The problem? Improper formatting!

 No. Not just improper. PISS POOR formatting!

 Not only do they SUCK at following guidelines (y’know, 12 point font, New Courier or Times New Roman, as a .doc or .rtf only), the dummies can’t even do basic formatting right! It’s like none of them have ever read Vonda N. McIntyre’s Manuscript Preparation; before.  The only time that article shouldn’t be followed with religious zeal is when the editor specifically says something different in his guidelines, like “single spaced, no indents, space between paragraphs.” If he asks for that, then that’s what you give him. If he doesn’t specify, than standard format is what you do. Seriously, how damn hard is that to understand?

 But I decided I’d be a nice editor and not get all tricky with you. I kept it simple. Standard formatting, 12 point font, Courier or Roman. And I was perfectly fine with people getting “creative” with the formatting so long as they kept it readable. But some, it appears, can’t even do that!

 Okay, not all seem to fail at it, but a lot do. So much so, that I give up wasting time to ask folk to “Please follow correct formatting. After all, you wouldn’t go to a job interview without looking your best, so why would you do the equivalent to your manuscript?”

 Instead, from henceforth, I shall reply with the following term: F.I.R.I.! Which stands for: Format It Right, Idiot!

 So repeat after me: “Vonda N. McIntyre is God, and her ‘Manuscript Preparation’ article is Law.” Now repeat that over and over until you finally get that in your head.  

 Now repeat: “The Editor is God, and his/her guidelines are Law.”

 And for the love of all that is holy! If you submit a story to a faery-themed anthology, the least you can do is have a damn faery or two in the damn story! Sheesh!

 

Rant over.

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May 8, 2013 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy Cover Revealed

Cool cover, bro!

 

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Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy Cover Revealed

Seventh Star Press is proud to reveal the new cover created by award-winning artist Matthew Perry for the upcoming release of the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Developed by Bram Stoker Award-winning editor Michael Knost, the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy is a treasure trove for writers of all levels looking to develop their craft in the speculative fiction genres.  Featuring contributions from several of the best speculative fiction authors in the world such as Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Harry Turtledove, James Gunn, Alan Dean Foster, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joe Haldeman, Kevin J. Anderson, Tim Powers, Mike Resnick, and many, many more, the book features a wealth of essays and interviews focusing on the writing craft as it pertains to the genres of fantasy and science fiction.

Slated for a late February release in eBook and a trade paperback release following soon after, the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy will be an important contribution to the speculative fiction literary community.  Whether just beginning a writing journey or extensively published, writers of all degrees of experience are certain to find this book to be an invaluable reference source.

For further information on the Seventh Star Press and its titles such as the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy, please visit http://www.seventhstarpress.com

January 30, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse: Interview With Elizabeth Massie

I ran into Horror author Elizabeth Massie at Context back in August, and being the polite and genteel Virginian that she is, she agreed to an interview:

 

What made you decide to become a writer?

I don’t know if there was ever a time I didn’t want to be a writer. I always loved stories…telling them, hearing them, watching them. Even as a kid I often wondered what it was like to be another person, to live in his/her skin, in his/her house, and have experiences different from my own. 

 

You also teach writing classes. Has teaching it helped your own
writing in any way?

I think to teach anything you have to not only know what you’re teaching but be willing to keep learning. When people in a class or workshop ask very specific questions, it makes me think through aspects of the craft that I might not have thought about very deeply. Something I might have been doing but hadn’t analyzed, or something that made me think – hmmm, how could that be accomplished in a more creative, effective way?

 

In what direction do you see Dark Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and Horror going in the near future?

It’s hard to speculate on the direction of speculative fiction (!) I’ll just have to wait and find out. Honestly, anything I’ve ever predicted in the business has gone off in another direction.

 

Do you find fiction easier to write or nonfiction? And with fiction,
is short fiction easier than longer works, or do they each have their own unique challenges?

I find fiction easier in that it is a story and my imagination can run. Not saying writing fiction is easy; it requires you to use both sides of your brain – the right/creative side, which helps you come up with something fresh and intriguing and interesting and the left/analytical side which helps you put all that creativity into some sort of organized fashion so others can understand it. With nonfiction, while I enjoy the researching, analyzing, and presenting information or opinions, you can’t make much up! 😉

 

Like me, you’re not afraid to let people know your political opinions. How important do you feel it is for artists, musicians, and writers to speak out on issues they’re passionate about, and what would you like to tell those who advise us to keep those opinions to ourselves?

 I think everyone – artists, writers, actors, musicians, waitresses, teachers, doctors, etc. – should speak out on issues on which they feel strongly. Too many people fuss and fume behind closed doors but either think their views aren’t important or think their voices can’t make a difference. Granted, sometimes actors and writers and artists have a larger platform for getting their views to the public, but really, everyone can find a way to share their opinions. Facebook is definitely one venue that has leveled the playing field when it comes to sharing opinions. You got a FB page? You can share your thoughts! However, I do want to go on the record here and say that just spouting angry criticism with little to back it up other than a “YOU SUCK!” or “YOU’RE HITLER!” is wasted time, wasted space, wasted breath. If you are passionate about politics or a particular social issue or injustice, care enough to learn enough about it to speak without the childish jibes or barbs. They get us nowhere. Discussions end when the insults begin.
 

 

And speaking of artists and musicians, has art and music ever provided inspiration to your writing?

I often listen to music while I write. Nothing with words or I end up singing along. However, instrumental music can set a mood, inspire a scene, or even give me an idea for a brand new novel or story altogether. I adore movie scores, in particular those by Goldsmith, Bernstein, Rosa, and Morricone. And I love music by Jim Brickman, Secret Garden, James Galway, and many others. Art has been an inspiration at times, too. There are some classical and more traditional paintings that have really moved me or disturbed me or poked at my brain, causing me to ask “What if…?” (That question is a very common writer’s tool!)
 

What do you have currently out and what’s coming down the proverbial pipeline?

 I have several new stories out now – “Something You Ought to Know” in Specters in Coal Dust and “Someone Came and Took Them Away” in Legends of the Mountain State 4, both published by Woodland Press. I have another new story, “Sink or Swim,” published by the on-line magazine, Horror Drive-In http://tinyurl.com/2b4hgrs My Bram Stoker Award-winning first novel, Sineater, is just now out in e-book and audio book from Crossroad Press. I also have a brand new, never-before-published mainstream novel, Homegrown, which will be released in the next month or so from Crossroad Press. Quite different from my historical and horror novels, but a story I love. I have two new Moon Man comics coming out from Moonstone within the next six months. My wacky and fun super hero short story “Silver Slut: And So It Begins” will be included in the Moonstone anthology Chicks in Capes this December.

And where can people learn more about you and your work?

 My website is www.elizabethmassie.com . I try to keep it updated regularly.

October 15, 2010 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SpecMusicMuse Review: Embers by Laura Bickle

Embers is a story about Anya Kalinczyk, an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, a rare psychic medium known as a lantern (e.g. she basically can “eat” ghosts), who helps out a paranormal investigating team, and has a salamander familiar named Sparky. She and her friends must track down and stop a supernatural arsonist who is setting fires all over Detroit as part of an ancient ritual (which will be completed by Devil’s Night) to summon Sirrush, an ancient and extremely powerful fire elemental, to leave all of Detroit in ashes.

This book has it all: action, mystery, romance, tragedy—all wrapped up in an urban fantasy package with a meaningful plot twist. Characterization is deep and powerful. But as hot as Anya is (in more ways than one), I have to admit that Sparky’s little antics stole the show. He’s one of the most independent, headstrong, and entertaining sidekicks I’ve ever read.

All-in-all, Embers is a well written tale.

Best to read while listening to: anything from Midnight Syndicate, or underground rap, punk, and metal. Not the popular stuff, the underground stuff.

October 2, 2010 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SMM Classic: Review of The Plot to Save Socrates + Interview w/Paul Levinson

(April 1, 2007)

The Plot to Save Socrates by Paul Levinson

An ancient manuscript is found that hints at a time traveler from the future going back in time to save the great philosopher, Socrates, from his death at the hands of the democratic Athenian government. When Thomas O’Leary shows his student, Sierra Waters, the manuscript, she finds herself in a time-traveling adventure in search of Socrates’s mysterious savior – who could be anyone from any time, even her. Of course, when historical figures like the warrior-philosopher, Alcibiades and the inventor, Heron of Alexandria, get involved, the threat of a time paradox becomes more and more dire.
Paul Levinson handles a complicated plot and a multitude of characters in a manner that can only be described as masterful. Certainly not something the average writer would even wish to attempt. And to top it off, he leaves you with a great tale both entertaining and meaningful. It also comes complete with discussion group questions for the philosopher in every reader.
I highly recommend this book, and I won’t be surprised if it wins several awards.

Best to read while listening to: anything from Classical to Gaelic to Electronica/Industrial.

Publisher: TOR
Price: $14.95
Trade Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0-765-31197-9
ISBN-10: 0-765-31197-6
Genre: Science Fiction

(April 8, 2007)

Interview With Paul Levinson

I had the honor of interviewing Paul Levinson, author of The Plot to Save Socrates, President of theScience Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)from 1998-2001, and who was a guest on my favorite show, The O’Reilly Factor. So yeah. Stoked? Psyched? Words can’t even describe it.


How did you come up with a time-travelling tale about Socrates?

I’ve been bothered about why Socrates didn’t take Crito up on his escape offer since I first read the Crito in a freshman philosophy class at the City College of New York in 1963. As soon as I began writing and publishing science fiction in the early 1990s, I knew I wanted to write a time travel story in which someone went back in time to try and save Socrates. (Incidentally, I had this idea well before Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – in fact, I’ve yet to see the movie. I really should.) Since time travel provokes profound philosophic paradoxes (more on this below), it seemed natural to me write a time travel story about a philosopher.

What struck me most about the novel was the whole Free Will vs. Fate conflict that seemed to be going on in it. Was that idea intentional?

Yes. One of the prime paradoxes about travel to the future is that, if you see someone wearing a red shirt tomorrow, for example, does that mean the person has no choice but to wear that shirt? The truth is, if time travel existed, none of us would have any real control over our lives, because we’d be locked into everything the time traveler sees.

So in The Plot to Save Socrates, the problem the characters have to solve is: how can they know if what they are doing is the result of their free will, or of a pre-ordained fate. And, of course, it’s very hard to know this, certainly hard to prove what’s really going on … and that, to me, was a big part of the fun of writing this novel.

Sierra Waters is a very interesting character. She seems to be in conflict against her own interests at times.

Yes, because Sierra is torn in many ways (like the piece of paper she tears up in the very first paragraph of the novel). First, affection for and then guilt over Max. Love of some kind for Thomas. Passionate, romantic love for Alcibiades. Love of history, and getting things right. So she is in deep conflict, because she knows she can’t have all of these things. About the most clear-cut thrill for her, historically, is Plato’s life. And, of course, we find out at the end that her guilt about Thomas when she was with Alcibiades was … ironic, to say the least.

What type of music do you think is best to listen to while reading and/or writing time-travel stories?

I don’t listen to music while reading or writing – I love music too much, so it’s way too distracting for me. But to see what music I love, and listen to all the time, whenever I can (except when I’m reading or writing), just look at the Music part of my Profile page here on MySpace.

How much of an advantage can podcasts give writers?

Podcasts are wonderful if you have the voice and technical savvy to do them. I love them. They’ve really helped my book sales. You’re talking to your readers – what more can you ask for? So I really recommend doing them to any writer who can.

What other things is your billiant madness cooking up in the near future?

Well, thanks – I’m definitely mad, that’s for sure…I’m writing the sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates right now. When that’s done, I’ll be writing another Phil D’Amato novel (he appeared in my previous novels, The Silk Code, The Consciousness Plague, and The Pixel Eye). And then maybe a sequel to Borrowed Tides.

I now have four podcasts – I may add one or two more. I’ve also greatly expanded my blogging from just MySpace to now paullevinson.blogspot.com and paullevinson.net – and I’ll be doing more of that.

I’ve been writing 2-3 television reviews per week – of 24, Rome, andLost – and I’ll be reviewing The Sopranos when it resumes (and concludes) next month.

August 16, 2010 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writerly Update 3/2/10

The first draft of the novel is finally finished!

I thought that blasted thing was never going to get done.

Also, if you’re attending MARcon this May 28-30 at Columbus, Ohio, then don’t forget to sign up for some workshops–specifically a workshop on dialogue that is being taught by Yours Truly. 😉

March 2, 2010 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Writerly Update 2/5/10

A 1-month-28-day rejection and over 11,000 more words down on the novel. Also, my article, “He Said, She Said….” can be read at Flash Fiction Chronicle, so enjoy! 🙂

The Unemployment Office also found my claim to be in my favor, so I’ll be collecting unemployment benefits until I can find a new dayjob or until January of next year, whichever comes first. Considering how messed up the economy is, I’m not very optimistic.

Also, I decided to take the advice of my last half-dozen employers and apply for SSI. Yes, Mr. “Self-Reliant” finally caved in. Years of chronic pain from osteoarthiritis and a pinched nerve near the spine accompanied by never having enough money for health care can do that to a person.

February 5, 2010 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , | Leave a comment

Writerly Update 1/28/10

13, 690 words down on the novel which is now at roughly 68,000 words and only 4 1/2 chapters left to write. Which means I may have to fatten it up a little once the first draft is finished, possibly requiring a rearrangement of the chapters.

One submission sent and two rejections received. And we’re mostly caught up on the F&T slush pile.

Overall, not a bad couple weeks except I got fired from my dayjob on the 18th.

Figures. 😦

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , | Leave a comment

Writerly Update 1/12/10

One submission, a 14-day rejection, 20-day rejection, and 1-day rejection. Also, 5400 words down on the novel now that I finally pulled myself out of the quagmire I was in.

Heh. And all it took was to kill off a character two scenes before I had planned to.

the P&E Readers Poll closes on the 14th, so you only have two days left to vote for Chimeraworld #6 (New World Disorder), so go vote already! 😉

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writerly Update 1/2/10

Two submissions sent, one 39-day rejection recieved plus two acceptences (WooHoo!). “The God-King” will appear in the anthology, The Four Horsemen: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine, and Death by Pill Hill Pres (release date TBA), and “Shan’tir’ri” is now available at Anthology Builder.

Also 3100 words down on the novel…and yes, I’ve written myself into a quagmire. Figures. 😦

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment