Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. His anthologies as editor include Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek for Baen, Mission: Tomorrow and Galactic Games (both forthcoming), also for Baen, Choices and Gaslamp Terrors (forthcoming), Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter as @SFFWRTCHT.

5 Fantasy Series Military Fantasy Fans Don’t Want To Miss

by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

As the co-editor of Baen’s new anthology of high fantasy with a military feel, Shattered Shields, I have spent a lot of time reading and researching military fantasy. But unlike military science fiction, it’s not a clearly defined subgenre, so most of the books falling into the category must be discovered within other categories. Everyone’s heard of big series like Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Erickson’s Malazan, and Cook’s Black Company, but there are other high fantasy series with great military elements. So here are a few recommendations for military fantasy fans of series they might want to discover.
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With Thanksgiving a few weeks away, we thought it was the perfect time to ask our esteemed panel the following question…

Q: What are you thankful for in the speculative genres this year?

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Many of us got hooked on science fiction and fantasy in our teen years or later. But why should the newest generation of readers have to wait that long? With that in mind, here’s what we asked our panelists:

Q: What science fiction or fantasy books would you recommend for children under the age of ten?

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Here’s the book description and table of contents for the upcoming anthology Shattered Shields edited by Jennifer Brozek & Bryan Thomas Schmidt, releasing November 4, 2014 in trade paperback from Baen Books:

Swords and Shields. Faith and Magic.

Grab yours and get ready, for the enemy is on the move.

High fantasy and mighty conflicts go hand-in-hand. In great wars, armies rise to fight evil hordes and heroes struggle to push beyond their imperfections and save the day. These stories include more than just epic landscapes and characters…but also epic battles.

Imagine a doctor struggling to identify the spy who has infiltrated his company’s ranks and poisoned his colleagues or a boy suspected of murder by a king yet protected by a princess as he helps her father against his own people. Imagine a butcher discovering that he’s called to lead an uprising, or a First Born knowing that she must betray her own in order to save humanity.

The possibilities are endless, but at the heart they have this in common: soldiers—ordinary and otherwise–struggling against extraordinary odds to survive the day. They must withstand dark magic, dodge enemy blades, and defy the odds to survive SHATTERED SHIELDS.

Here’s the table of contents…
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Bryan Thomas Schmidt has sent along the table of contents for his upcoming anthology Raygun Chronicles, releasing December 2013:

Here’s the book description:

A school teacher who moonlights as an assassin, a corporate agent kidnapped and faced with a man she never wanted to see again, galactic knights and pilots defending the spaceways, a black bear who wants to be a priest, and a time traveler who discovers he was born a prince—these and more tales await you inside RAYGUN CHRONICLES: Space Opera For a New Age, a collection of new tales in the Golden Age style. With larger than life heroes, rayguns, space ships, robots, pirates, romance and more, here come 25 new tales of great fiction from top names like Seanan McGuire, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, A.C. Crispin, Allen M. Steele, Mike Resnick, David Farland and more. Strap in, set your weapons, and get ready for a fun ride!
“RAYGUN CHRONICLES breathes supercharged life into the space opera genre with exciting and inventive new tales by a superb line-up of writers. This is why science fiction will live forever!”—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Patient Zero.

“RAYGUN CHRONICLES is an impressive anthology with an impressive list of contributors, a real showcase of the color and scope of what science fiction can be.”—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Saga of Seven Suns

“Good old fashioned fun awaits within!” – Glen Cook, Author of Black Company, Dread Empire, and Garrett, P.I.

“These stories bring the reader back to the days when we dreamt of blasters and flying cars. Golden age space opera fun with a strong Western feel.” — Alex Shvartsman, Editor, Unidentified Funny Objects

Check out the impressive table of contents:
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In episode 204 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester sneaks into an unused programming room to chat with the editor, publisher, and several contributing authors of the Beyond the Sun anthology, out from Fairwood Press.
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MIND MELD: Up And Coming Authors of The Last 5 Years

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This week’s question was inspired by the upcoming anthology Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, which features stories from “up and coming” authors beginning in the year 2000. We modified the question slightly and asked our panelists this question:

Q: Who do you believe are the “up and coming” authors of the past 5 years readers may not be aware of? What stories by these authors should readers consume?

Here’s what they said…



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Due to a snafu on my part, I missed a response for yesterday’s Mind Meld. Apologies to Bryan Thomas Schmidt for dropping the ball with his response. As a refresher, here is the question again:
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MIND MELD: Food in Science Fiction versus Fantasy

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This week we asked about Food and Drink in SF.

Food and Drink in science fiction sometimes seems limited to replicator requests for Earl Grey tea and Soylent green discs. Why doesn’t do as much food as Fantasy? Does Fantasy lend itself more to food than Science fiction? Why?
This is what they had to say…
Laura Anne Gilman
Author and Freelance Editor Laura Anne Gilman is the author of the popular Cosa Nostradamus novels, the award-nominated The Vineart War trilogy, as well as the story collection Dragon Virus. She also has written the mystery Collared under the pen name L.A. Kornetsky.

This will, I will admit, be a purely foodie view: I enjoy cooking, I enjoy eating, I enjoy reading about cooking and eating. And for a long time, it seemed as though we foodies were, if not the minority in genre, then certainly underserved.

There were the banquets in fantasy, of course, and the trail rations, and sometimes even a discussion of where the food came from, but – like bathroom breaks and sleeping – it often seemed tossed into the pile of “boring, don’t write about it.”

And science fiction? Mainly, science fiction mentioned food in context of technology: food-pills, space-age packets, vat-grown meat, etcetera. I suspect that many writers of the time had been heavily influenced by the early space program, and extrapolated their SF on the actual science. Surely, science fiction was saying, we had more important things to do than cook – or eat!

Even when they were dealing with an important, food-related issue (overcrowding, famine, etc), MAKE ROOM, MAKE ROOM made it a (very serious) punchline. So did “To Serve Man.” But scenes of characters preparing their food, or even enjoying it, were notably, if not entirely, absent.

(even CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY made the “too busy to eat” point with the 3-course-meal-gum…)
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Bryan Thomas Schmidt: So Brian, you just launched your fourth Kickstarter, this one to fund Year Two of Fireside. In some ways, the most ambitious one yet. Tell us a bit about that.

Brian White: We funded three issues individually on Kickstarter last year. We figured we were eventually going to run into fatigue over the repeated Kickstarters, and we did with the third. We didn’t reach our funding goal until literally 12 seconds before the deadline. And so we knew we needed to figure out a way to provide more stability and certainty, both for our fans and for the magazine. What we came up with for Year Two was revamping into a monthly subscription website and ebook. Each issue in Year Two will have two flash fiction stories, one short story, and one episode of a serial-fiction experiment by Chuck Wendig. It is definitely the most ambitious we’ve been. We streamlined some things to make the magazine a little cheaper to produce, such as eliminating the comic we had been doing. But it’s still a much higher goal than we’ve set before: $25,000. Most of that — $20,000 — goes to paying our writers, artists, and web developers. If we can fund the full year, it gives us a lot of breathing room to plan for the future.

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This week we asked out panelists the following question:

Q: With the prevalence of ebooks and audiobooks, how has your sf/f reading and buying habits changed, if at all?

Here’s what they said…

Laura Lam

Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside of the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams. She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.

I don’t listen to many audiobooks, but ebooks have definitely changed my reading habits. As a combination of being a poor university student and living in tiny quarters, I avoided buying most books I read because there would be nowhere to store 100 books a year. I limited myself to the occasional splurge but mainly relied on libraries, friends, etc. Now, I still live in tiny quarters but I’m not as poor as I was as a student. I buy a lot more of my books as ebooks, and I’m a lot more diverse in my reading. I also read more books and read them quicker because I don’t have to lug myself to the library or bookstore or wait for the book to arrive. If I read a great review of an SFF book, 5 minutes later I can be curled up on my sofa reading it with a nice cup of tea. I’m able to support authors I admire without running out of room to turn around in my tiny flat. At first, I found reading on the Kindle distracting, but now I’m used to it, and I could never go back to not having an e-reader.
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SFFWRTCHT: A Chat With TOR Paranormal Romance Author Claire Ashgrove

Claire Ashgrove has been writing since her early teens and maintained the hobby for twenty years before seeking a publisher. Her first contemporary novel, Seduction’s Stakes, sold to The Wild Rose Press in 2008, where she continues to write steamy, sexy stories.  Claire’s paranormal romance series, The Curse of the Templars debuted with Tor in January 2012. The second book, Immortal Surrender, was just released in September, and the third follows in March 2013. For those who prefer the more erotic side, she also writes for Berkley Heat as the National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire. She is an active member of Romance Writers of America, and her local RWA chapters. She lives in Missouri on a farm with her two toddler sons, and too-many horses, cats, and dogs.  She can be found online as @ClaireAshgrove on twitter, on Facebook and via her website and blog.


SFFWRTCHT: What got you started with speculative fiction? Which authors, books or movies inspired you?

Claire Ashgrove: What got me hooked was an infusion of R.A. Salvatore, The Hobbit, and Steve Berry. More than anything, I got hooked in fiction. Escaping to different worlds. Making my own. I love world building.  Steve Berry is a huge influence on my speculative fiction… I’m also a huge fan of R.A. Salvatore and his Drizzt books. Of course, I read romance, and Meredith Duran I can’t put down, along with Karin Tabke/Harlow, Maggie Shayne and Shayla Black. I adore Faulkner as well. If I can ever make an impact like “My mother is a fish”… I’ll have reached my personal goal.

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SFFWRTCHT: An Interview With James Van Pelt

James Van Pelt is a Colorado based English teacher and speculative fiction writer who has written over 100 short stories, novels and has four collections of his short work. His fiction has appeared in publications including Analog, Asimov’s, Realms Of Fantasy, Weird Tales, numerous anthologies and several Year’s Best anthologies. He’s written nonfiction for Tangent and was a 1999 finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.  He’s received several Nebula and Stoker nominations for his stories. A father and husband, he can be found online via his website or his blog.


SFFWRTCHT: First things first, where’d your interest in science fiction and fantasy come from?

James Van Pelt: For science fiction, my dad had a big influence.  He was an aeronautical engineer who love astronomy, space, rockets and science fiction.  When I was little, we’d go to the drive-in to watch science fiction films that my mom didn’t want to see.  We’d see all of them: junk, good stuff, it didn’t matter.  He’d point out where the science was bad during the film.  It was like being entertained and being in class at the same time.  My interest in fantasy didn’t come until later, when I found a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring in the student center of Metro State College.  I fell into that book and didn’t emerge for a week.  Tolkien is responsible for my poor grades that quarter.

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Best Fan Writer Hugo-winner Jim C. Hines nominated me to moderate the first panel I was ever on. He loves breaking in new writers. His Jig The Dragonslayer trilogy, now out in a Daw omnibus, is a humorous sword and sorcery tale about a goblin. He followed that with the four book Princess cycle which are fairy tales gone awry crossing Disney princesses with Charlie’s Angels. Published by Daw Books, his latest book Libriomancer starts a new trilogy, Magic Ex-Libris, about a librarian hunting a killer. Because he likes to stretch himself, being as he lives in Lansing, he set this series in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It’s an urban fantasy with a lot of humor, involving dryads, wizards, vampires, automatons and more. Jim’s short fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Fantasy, Andromeda Spaceways, Writers of the Future and several anthologies. He can be found online at Facebook, Twitter via his website at and his blog.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt talks to Jim C. Hines about his career and his exciting future projects.


SFFWRTCHT: Starting at the beginning, Where’d your interest in SFF come from?

Jim C. Hines: Ahem. Is this thing on? My interest in SF/F comes from the fact that swords and magic and spaceships and lightsabers are awesome.

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Beyond The Sun is an anthology of space colonists stories currently being funded on Kickstarter. Editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt really needs your help to make it happen. Writers include Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Cat Rambo, Jennifer Brozek, Jamie Todd Rubin, Brad R. Torgersen, Jean Johnson, Erin Hoffman, Jason Sanford and more. If the project is funded, it will be released either print on demand by the editor or with a small press. The goal is to pay the authors and artists to illustrate the stories at professional rates. In this economy, many small presses are struggling, so the editor felt the concept and talent deserved better than token rates and decided to bring it before fandom and ask for support. There are some great prizes, including special artwork, signed copies, and more available to backers. Kickstarter has information on the anthology, including a full list of writers and artists, bios, guidelines and rewards. The project has less than 1 week remaining to fund. Please consider contributing to this exciting collection.

Visit the Kickstarter page for glimpses at Silverberg’s story, including the accompanying illustration and for links to stories by other invited writers. Grasping For The Wind has a free excerpt by Autumn Rachel Dryden.

And, as extra incentive to check out this fine anthology, here’s an exclusive excerpt of one of the stories, written by Jason Sanford.


Rumspringa

by Jason Sanford

The English arrived at the farm shortly before supper, their ship buzzing my draft horses and baling combine and kicking a cloud of hay dust into the dry air. Even though I wasn’t impressed with the ship’s acrobatics, my younger brother Sol, who’d been wrapping the hay bundles with twine, stared at the English with excitement. Knowing I wouldn’t get any more work out of him, I stopped the horses. The socket in the back of my head itched in resonance to our new visitors, which I took to be a particularly bad sign.

The ship landed by the barn and three English stepped off. One, an older woman named Ms. Watkins, had served as New Lancaster’s mediator between the Amish and English for the last three centuries and always respected our customs, as demonstrated by the plain gray dress she wore. The other English, though, didn’t share her regard. The man behind Ms. Watkins wore a blue militia uniform, a definite slap at our nonviolent beliefs, while the teenage girl beside him was naked except for a swirl of colors obscuring her private parts. She gazed around the farm and smiled when she spotted me.
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If you could get a new Wheel Of Time short by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, new stories from Shannara, Word/Void, Riyria, Demon Cycle, Vault of Heaven, Temeraire, Broken Empire, and more all in one collection, what would you say?

Well, if you haven’t heard of Shawn Speakman, perhaps you’ve heard of his website: The Signed Page where he makes available signed copies of new releases for fans who can’t make it to events where their favorite author appears in person. Or maybe you know him from Suvudu.com, the Random House speculative fiction blog where he’s a regular contributor or from the websites he runs for authors like Terry Brooks and Naomi Novik.

What you may not know is that Shawn suffers from Hodgkins lymphoma. Diagnosed in 2011 and without health insurance, his treatment has left him with thousands in medical bills. Faced with filing bankruptcy, Shawn sought another way out. A way he could make it through without dealing with the 10 year nightmare a filing would bring. Then his friend Terry Brooks offered him a short story Shawn could sell to help alleviate those bills and an idea came to his head. What if he did an anthology from some of the many author friends he’d made over the past few years from both Suvudu, The Signed Page and his other activities?

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Bryan Thomas Schmidt: Okay, Matt, so I launched my first Kickstarter the other day for this anthology called Beyond The Sun, space colonists stories, and in part, it’s your fault. I saw how much success you’ve been having with Kickstarter and thought it might be the best way to get my passion projects off the ground. How many Kickstarters have you run so far now?

Matt Forbeck: I’ve completed four Kickstarters, each of which is part of this 12 for ’12 challenge I set out for myself to write a dozen novels this year. I wanted to try something like this for a while, but I couldn’t figure out how I could afford to take the time to write the books until Kickstarter came along. It provided me a clean and easy way to reach out to readers and see if they liked my pitches for my books enough to support them.

I broke the dozen books up into four trilogies and ran a Kickstarter drive for each one of them. I’m happy to report that every one of them smashed past its funding goal, and I’m now busy writing all those books.

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SFFWRTCHT: An Interview with Author/Shakespeare Expert A.J. Hartley

New York Times Bestselling Author A.J. Hartley has written mystery-thrillers, middle grade and adult fantasy, historical fiction and Shakespeare novelizations. Born in Northern England, he is currently Distinguished Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, where he specializes in the performance history, theory and criticism of Renaissance English drama and works as a director and dramaturg. His middle grade fantasy novel, Darwen Arkwright and Peregrine Pact was just awarded SIBA’s Young Adult Book of The Year this month. His novels include two Darwen books, The Mask Of Atreus, On The Fifth Day, What Time Devours and Tears Of The Jaguar, the Hawthorne Saga fantasy novels, including Act Of Will, MacBeth: A Novel with David Hewson, and several academic and nonfiction books. An active member and contributor to the popular www.magicalwords.net blog along with authors like David B. Coe and Faith Hunter, he can be found online at Facebook, at his website at http://ajhartley.net/ or at www.magicalwords.net.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt talks to A.J. Hartley about his career and his exciting future projects.


SFFWRTCHT: When did you become interested in storytelling and writing and how did you get started? Studying in school? Experimenting? Workshops? Trial and error?

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SFFWRTCHT Interview With DB Jackson

DB Jackson, aka David B. Coe, was born on March 12, 1963, the youngest of four children who all grew up to be writers. David received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and then attended Stanford University as a graduate student in United States history. His novels include Children of Amarid, volume one of The LonTobyn ChronicleDB Jackson/David B. CoeIn 1999, The LonTobyn Chronicle was awarded the William L. Crawford Memorial Fantasy Award by theInternational Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA). The Crawford award is given annually to the best book or series by a new fantasy author. Thereafter followed the critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands, five volumes, and Blood of the Southlands set in the same world as Winds of the Forelands. He’s also written Robin Hood, a tie-in novelization for the Russell Crowe film and is a founding member and proud contributor to the Magical Words blogsite, dedicated to the craft and business of writing. The Magical Words crew collaborated on How To Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion from BellaRosa Books. His first urban historical fantasy, Thieftaker, released from TOR this year under the nom de plume, DB Jackson.

David and his wife have two daughters and live on the Cumberland Plateau. He can be found online via Facebook, Twitter as @DavidBCoe and @DBJacksonAuthor or via his websites at http://dbjackson-author.com/ and http://www.sff.net/people/DavidBCoe/.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt talks to DB about his career and his exciting future projects.


SFFWRTCHT: Let’s get the big reveal out of the way first. You are the artist also formerly known as David B. Coe, no symbol, correct?

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MIND MELD: Reading, Writing and Revisions

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This week we asked about Revisions. I’ve come across a couple of examples lately of authors reissuing books with significant changes from the initial publication, or changing it relatively late in the initial publication process. With the rise of ebooks, the potential for rolling revisions to books is a very real possibility.

We asked this week’s panelists the following:

Q: As a reader and as a writer, how do you feel about the practice of revising books after they have been published (or at least have reached the ARC stage)? How much revision goes into your writing process? (How clean are your drafts)?

This is what they had to say…

Lucy Snyder
Lucy Snyder is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, Switchblade Goddess, and the collections Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. Her writing has appeared in Strange Horizons, Weird Tales, Hellbound Hearts, Dark Faith, Chiaroscuro, GUD, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. You can learn more about her at www.lucysnyder.com.

I’m a measure-twice, cut-once kind of writer; I do a lot of note-taking and thinking before I start a project. I try to have a plot destination in mind, although sometimes that will change — if the story wants to go someplace other than what I planned I’m happy to take that detour. But the upshot is I seldom start a story with no clue where I’m going, and consequently I only rarely have to make major changes to a story or novel. I do my very best to turn in clean, ready-to-publish drafts to my editors. But typos and continuity errors happen, so fixing them is part of the editorial process.
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