NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Geoff Matthews! – Sarah Chorn

Geoff Matthews began reading in the cot. His mother, at her wit’s end with the constant noise and unceasing activity, would plop him down on the soft mattress with an encyclopaedia full of pictures then quietly slip from the room. His father, ever the pragmatist, declared, that they should, “throw the noisy bugger out of the window.” Happily this event never came to pass (or if it did Geoff bounced well). Growing up, he spent Sunday afternoons on the sofa watching westerns and Bond movies with the self-same parent who had once wished to defenestrate him. When not watching the six-gun heroes or spies being out-acted by their own eyebrows he devoured books like a hungry wolf in the dead of winter. Beginning with Patrick Moore and Arthur C. Clarke he soon moved on to Isaac Asimov. However, one wet afternoon in a book shop in his home town, not far from the standing stones of Avebury, he came across a book by David Eddings – and soon Sci-Fi gave way to Fantasy. Many years later, Geoff finally realised a dream and published his own fantasy novel, The Stone Road, in the hopes that other hungry wolves out there would find a hearty meal. You can follow him on twitter or visit his website.

Special Educational Needs and Reading

by Geoff Matthews

One of our greatest gifts, our greatest pleasures, our most powerful agent for change, and most dangerous of weapons is language. In particular, the structure, use and understanding of language. Words change the world more than guns, bombs and the machinations of war.
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Margaret Weis is the internationally bestselling author of The Dragonlance Chronicles, Darksword Trilogy, and The Deathgate Cycle. She lives in Williams Bay, Wisconsin.

Robert Krammes is a game designer and the general manager at Aztec Video Productions. He is the author of the Dragon Brigade Series along with Margaret Weis. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Writing As A Team

by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes

ROBERT: I’m often asked, “How do you and Margaret write together?” The simple answer is, “Margaret is the primary writer and I am the primary world builder”. In truth, there’s is a lot more to it than that!
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At a young age, Sallie Haws‘ passion for writing was fed by taking creative writing classes in high school and college. It was nursed along throughout her adult years by a voracious reading habit of paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy novels. Quantum Spirit – Apocalypse (August 2013, Fedd Books) is the culmination of years of personal and professional life experience combined with the desire to empower, entertain and inspire adults and teenagers. Sallie lives in Reno, Nevada with her family.


by Sallie Haws

I Believe in Magic. Magic is defined by Webster’s as “A power that allows people to do impossible things by saying special words or performing special actions.” I believe it’s all about the intention, focus and emotions used during the saying of the special words that can create the seemingly impossible. Then there is patience. Unfortunately, the period between the thought and the creation in our Third Dimensional world can sometimes be a very long time, and therefore, difficult to trace its creation back to the original intention. What if we knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, every intentional thought we had, whether it was positive or negative, would instantly manifest? How would our world be different?
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Steven Gould is the author of Jumper, Wildside, Helm, Blind Waves, Reflex, Jumper: Griffin’s Story, 7th Sigma, Impulse, and Exo as well as several short stories published in Analog, Asimov’s, and Amazing, and other magazines and anthologies. He is the recipient of the Hal Clement Young Adult Award for Science Fiction and has been a Hugo, Nebula, Prometheus, and Compton Crook finalist, but his favorite distinction was being on the American Library Association’s list of Top 100 Banned Books 1990-1999 for Jumper before the Harry Potter books came along and bumped it off the bottom of the list. Jumper was made into the 2008 feature film of the same name with Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Bell, Rachel Bilson, and Hayden Christensen. In 2013 he was hired to help develop the three movie sequels to James Cameron’s Avatar, as well as write four novels based on the films. Steve lives in New Mexico with his wife, writer Laura J. Mixon (M.J. Locke) and their two daughters, two dogs, and three chickens. He has practiced aikido and Japanese sword for the last two decades, and is the currently serving president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He can be found on twitter as @StevenGould and on Facebook as Steven Gould.

On Reality, Verisimilitude, Imagination, and Exclusion

by Steven Gould

The year is 1974 and I’m sitting in a room with Bruce Sterling, Lisa Tuttle, Joseph Pumilia, Steven Utley, Howard Waldrop, Harlan Ellison, and Keith Laumer.
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Shira Lipkin is a writer, poet, and editor in Boston; in her spare time, she volunteers with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. She attends a lot of burlesque shows, but that’s not where the glitter comes from. Her cat is bigger than her dog. Mat Joiner lives in Birmingham, England. He loves flippancy, Pierrots, ghosts and green men. He thinks “canalpunk” should be a thing but hasn’t written the manifesto yet. Their poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Stone Telling, Through the Gate, and other wonderful places. Together, they fight crime! Shira and Mat are also co-editors of Liminality, a new magazine of speculative poetry.

Liminality: There Is No Box

by Shira Lipkin

The thing about poetry is that poetry is a revolutionary act.

This is not what we’re taught in schools! In the US, at least, we have our Norton guides of poetry that have the same set of poems kids have been made to study for decades, for centuries. Which quite reminds us of “Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins:
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Kody Boye! – Sarah Chorn

Born and raised in Southeastern Idaho, Kody Boye began his writing career with the publication of his story “[A] Prom Queen’s Revenge” at the age of fourteen. Published nearly three-dozen times before going independent at eighteen, Boye has authored numerous works—including the short story collection Amorous Things, the novella “The Diary of Dakota Hammell,” the zombie novel Sunrise and the epic fantasy series The Brotherhood Saga. He is represented by Hannah Brown Gordon of the Foundry Literary + Media Agency.

The Power of Speech

by Kody Boye

It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase “all writers are crazy.” From the voices in our heads, to the long hours of isolation, the inner turmoil of perfection and the pressure of the industry, it’s some small wonder we’re not all locked up. We’re crazy, we may say, to expose ourselves to constant rejection. Nervous ticks are often seen as eccentricities and social anxieties coined as the result of long hours chained to a desk.

What many don’t know is that many of us suffer. Most just aren’t vocal about it.
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James L. Sutter is the Managing Editor for Paizo Publishing and a co-creator of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. He is the author of the novels Death’s Heretic and The Redemption Engine, the former of which was #3 on Barnes & Noble’s list of the Best Fantasy Releases of 2011, as well as a finalist for the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel and a 2013 Origins Award. He’s written numerous short stories for such publications as PodCastle, Apex Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and the #1 Amazon best seller Machine of Death. His anthology Before They Were Giants pairs the first published short stories of science fiction and fantasy luminaries with new interviews and writing advice from the authors themselves. In addition, he’s published a wealth of award-winning gaming material for both Dungeons & Dragons and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Find more essays and free stories at, or let him know all the ways he’s wrong on Twitter at @jameslsutter.

What Authors Owe Fans

by James L. Sutter

In 2009, Neil Gaiman posted the now-famous blog entry “Entitlement Issues…,” in which he declared that “George R. R. Martin is not your bitch.” This was in the context of a larger statement about fan entitlement and what authors of series owe their fans, of which I think the most pertinent part reads:

“You’re complaining about George doing other things than writing the books you want to read as if your buying the first book in the series was a contract with him: that you would pay over your ten dollars, and George for his part would spend every waking hour until the series was done, writing the rest of the books for you. No such contract existed. You were paying your ten dollars for the book you were reading… When you see other people complaining that George R.R. Martin has been spotted doing something other than writing the book they are waiting for, explain to them, more politely than I did the first time, the simple and unanswerable truth: George R. R. Martin is not working for you.

In the rest of the post, Neil argues both that authors need downtime to let their brains recharge and-more interestingly-that the author-audience transaction is in fact complete as soon as a reader pays money for a book, regardless of whether it’s part of a series. I don’t want to put words in Mr. Gaiman’s mouth, yet presumably if George Martin lost interest and simply never produced the last book of A Song of Ice and Fire (or pulled a Dark Tower and took 22 years to finish the series), Neil would say that’s the artist’s prerogative.
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You can follow Rachel S. Cordasco on her bookish adventures at and

Haunting, mesmerizing, moving: these are just some of the words that come to mind when I think about Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance. Each novel is under 400 pages, and each packs into it so much psychological, emotional, philosophical, and ecological inquiry that you start to think that they must be huge, hulking volumes that should make your bookshelves cave in.

Now, you’ve probably seen a million reviews of this trilogy, and rightly so, for it deserves recognition and invites fascinating discussions. Therefore, instead of recapping the story or outlining the plot, I’m going to focus on three major mysteries/questions/problems in these novels and why they’re so compelling.

Oh, and by the way, there may be spoilers here. I’m not guaranteeing anything.
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Beth Cato resides in the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ. Her husband Jason, son Nicholas, and crazy cat keep her busy, but she still manages to squeeze in time for writing and other activities that help preserve her sanity. She is originally from Hanford, CA, a lovely city often pungent with cow manure. Her debut novel is The Clockwork Dagger.

Beyond Historical Fiction: Fear, Fantasy, and How I Came to Steampunk

by Beth Cato

I was eight years old when I fell for historical fiction. Laura Ingalls Wilder was my gateway drug to endless hours of medieval romps and pioneer adventures. I hungrily sought out all the Rosemary Sutcliff and Patricia Beatty books to be found.

Beatty’s books–in particular, her Hannalee books–pulled me into a stint of fascination with the American Civil War. In 5th grade, I won the school district’s annual library essay contest, writing that I wanted to grow up and write books about the Civil War, maybe even from a horse’s viewpoint.

In my teens, my interest turned towards fantasy, but my desire to write historical never went away. For years, I entertained the idea of writing an epic fantasy based heavily on the Inquisition. I would write a page or two and browse books on the subject matter, but I never made a serious effort.

The reason: fear.
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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Sarah Hendrix! – Sarah Chorn

Sarah Hendrix spends a lot of time reveling in chaos. Not only does she crush a heaping slush pile but she manages several minion duties. She is a PR for Apocalypse Ink Productions. She loves the developmental stages of a project and likes weaving seemingly unrelated things into a beauteous whole. To complete her love of all things unorganized, she has 2 cats, 2 teenage boys and a fiancé and she makes wearable art with small beads. Her stories can be found in the Space Battles #6 from Flying Pen Press, the In Situ, and the FISH anthologies both from Dagan Books, “Ordinary Hero” from Lakeside Circus and “The Coin Whisperer” in Abyss and Apex. You can follow her on her blog, Twitter or Facebook.

Portraying Disability in Short Stories

by Sarah Hendrix

When I wrote the first few words of “The Coin Whisperer” I didn’t know much about the main character, Paul. All I knew is he was relating a story to me about a friend who could tap into the stories that resided in the change in her pocket. Overall, what I wrote was pretty bland so, like a lot of short stories that I start, I set it aside. It wasn’t until a year later that the story and Paul matured into something I felt had a chance at being published.

Although I love the story, I was very apprehensive while writing it. Paul first revealed he was transgender, which wasn’t an issue at all, but then he revealed something that made me pause-Paul was mute. While writing I wanted his disability to be an element of the story but knew that wasn’t the focus. I wanted to portray Paul as an individual who happens to be mute, and has to find a creative way to tell someone something very important.
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Timothy C. Ward is the former Executive Producer of Adventures in SciFi Publishing. His newest story, Scavenger: Red Sands (Scavenger #1), is available on Kindle for $.99, and is the first in a serialized, five-part epic. Scavenger: Blue Dawn (Scavenger #2), will be released October 1. His novel in progress, Order After Dark, is a Post-apocalyptic Fantasy set in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss. Sign up to his author newsletter for updates on new releases and to become a first 100 reviewer to get future stories for free.

The Problems with Writing Fan Fiction and How To Solve Them

by Timothy C. Ward

A few weeks ago I released Scavenger: Red Sands (Scavenger #1), an authorized fan fiction novelette set in the world of Hugh Howey’s novel, Sand. Hugh has opened up his world of Wool to fan fiction through Kindle Worlds, but Sand is not yet open and thus has only one other writer, Michael Bunker’s Dunes Over Danvar, writing in Sand‘s world. I’ve read all of the Silo Saga (WOOL, Shift, and Dust), but one scene in particular in Sand inspired me to create my own character in his story. Without that inspiration, I don’t know that I would have bothered. There are a lot of Wool fan fiction stories out there, and while the world is full of opportunity, I just never moved any into the top of my queue. Call that a case of running Adventures in SciFi Publishing and having a crazy reading schedule or maybe it’s a preconceived notion that I’ve already read the story of the Silo. The Last Prayer by Lyn Perry put a different spin on Silo life, focusing more on religious persecution, and while it was a good story, it felt very similar to Wool 1.
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Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he writes when he’s not sleeping. He’s written over 100 stories that are currently available, including a few different series: Dying Days (extreme zombie series), Keyport Cthulhu (horror series), Flagler Beach (contemporary fiction), Metal Queens (non-fiction music series)…He also loves to talk in third person because he’s really that cool. He’s a proud Active member of HWA as well. His latest novel is Chelsea Avenue.

Write What You Know: Locale

by Armand Rosamilia

“I don’t come across books like Rosamilia’s CHELSEA AVENUE often. Infused with the dreamlike quality of memory, Rosamilia here fulfills the full measure of the promise I first saw in his DYING DAYS series. Beautifully dark, this book held me entranced. I couldn’t get enough!” – Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of DOG DAYS and PLAGUE OF THE UNDEAD

I bring up this wonderful blurb from author Joe McKinney for two reasons… first, because I want to brag about it. But second, because of one of the lines he used…

“Infused with the dreamlike quality of memory”…

After Joe was kind enough to give me the blurb, we chatted about the book in detail and he could tell this was a real place from my past, and I was writing from memory about many good times in Long Branch, New Jersey. And he was right.
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Chris Vander Kaay and Kathleen Fernandez-Vander Kaay are a husband and wife writing team who agree on almost everything except whether or not 28 Days Later should be considered a zombie movie. Though their career has been focused primarily on nonfiction work with the Deseret News and the website Bloody Good Horror, they have also been recognized for their fiction and poetry. After years devoted to books (like The Anatomy of Fear) and articles in which they championed the idea that the horror film genre should be taken seriously, they hope the idea is finally catching on. You can follow them at their blog,

We Need a Halloween for Science Fiction!

by Chris Vander Kaay and Kathleen Fernandez-Vander Kaay

In writing and marketing our book The Anatomy of Fear: Conversations with Cult Horror and Science-Fiction Filmmakers, we discovered that there’s little to be done about the niche popularity of the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres. Occasionally, something like Lord of the Rings or The Walking Dead connects with the zeitgeist, but more often than not it is the individual project that benefits rather than the subgenre overall. Luckily for the horror genre, however, there is a time of year when people embrace it. From the second week of October until Halloween night, people are a little more friendly towards the creepy and macabre, and even normally uptight friends and family are willing to watch and read and go to Halloween Horror Nights and haunted houses.

But what about science fiction? There is no time of the year when people’s thoughts turn naturally to malevolent robots or genetic manipulation; there is no color that the leaves can turn that reminds us of time travel or spaceships. Halloween gets a full three weeks of scariness, so what about sci-fi?
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Christa Faust is a successful horror and crime writer. Her novel Money Shot for Hard Case Crime won the Crimespree Award and was nominated for several others. She has written tie-ins to Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Twilight Zone amongst others. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and loves vintage shoes and noir cinema. Christa is the author of three Fringe tie-in novels for Titan Books: The Zodiac Paradox, The Burning Man and the newly released Sins of the Father.

Alvaro Zinos-Amaro: The Zodiac Paradox, the first of your three Fringe novels, is an exciting, suspenseful thriller that does a great job of establishing the early relationships between Walter Bishop, William Bell, and Nina Sharp. How much of a Fringe fan were you before WB and Titan books approached you to write these tie-ins?

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Benjanun Sriduangkaew writes fantasy, science fiction, and has a strong appreciation for beautiful bugs. Her short fiction can be found in, Clarkesworld,various Mammoth Books and best of the year collections. She is a 2014 finalist for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her debut novella Scale-Bright is out now from Immersion Press.

[Note: I loved Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s Scale-Bright, and talked to her about the myths and legends that inspired it. Indeed, in contrast to references to King Arthur, Roland, Robin Hood or William Tell, Scale-Bright’s mythological matter comes from a completely different tradition. Here, she reveals the secret references and allusions in the novella. You may want to read Scale-Bright before reading this. You should read Scale-Bright in any event. - Paul Weimer]

Beyond The Great Wall Of Europe: The Myths And Legends of SCALE-BRIGHT

by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

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NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Jaym Gates! – Sarah Chorn

Jaym Gates is an editor, author, and communications specialist. She’s edited the anthologies War Stories, Broken Time Blues, and is working on Genius Loci. She is also the Communications Director for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She is active in ensuring a safer, more respectful environment in SF. Follow her on Twitter as @JaymGates, or online at

My Own Damn Game

by Jaym Gates

My first Dungeons and Dragons game was with four industry veterans. Not just guys who had played for years, but guys who had actually developed the game. Nothing like being thrown in at the deep end.

Fortunately, the two running the game were merciful and gave me a chaos-oriented paladin. Our host had mead and scotch for us to bolster the usual snacks. It turned out to be handier than he’d perhaps planned. The Game Master (GM) began drinking heavily about two minutes into the game because one player wouldn’t stop punning, one had somehow ended up with a cross-dressing rogue, and I was being myself, which is just never good for anyone trying to run a serious game. We romped through the first half of the adventure, puns and lipstick flying, trying with all our might to break the GM.
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Why You Want to Enter a Writing Contest

MB Partlow is a writer, a cranky optimist, a domestic goddess wannabe, a voracious reader across any genre, and the Director for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference.

Why on Earth (or Any Other Planet) Would You Want to Enter a Writing Contest?

by MB Partlow

If you have a manuscript you’re working on or a finished novel hiding on your hard drive, you might want to expose your brainchild to the world through a writing contest. You could want feedback, fame and/or glory*. Or you could be a masochist.

Step one is to always read the directions carefully. You wouldn’t want to spread your foot-fungus medication on the wrong body part, and you wouldn’t want to submit your manuscript to the wrong contest or in the wrong category. Maximize your results by taking the time to carefully read through what and how to submit. Many contests are open to published or unpublished authors, while others, like the Zebulon, are open to both.

So why enter a writing contest?

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Nancy Kress is the author of thirty-three books, including twenty-ix novels, four collections of short stories, and three books on writing. Her work has won five Nebulas, two Hugos, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Most recent works are After The Fall, Before The Fall, During The Fall (Tachyon, 2012), a novel of apocalypse, and Yesterday’s Kin, about genetic inheritance (Tachyon, 2014). In addition to writing, Kress often teaches at various venues around the country and abroad; in 2008 she was the Picador visiting lecturer at the University of Leipzig. Kress lives in Seattle with her husband, writer Jack Skillingstead, and Cosette, the world’s most spoiled toy poodle.

“DNA Yet Again, Kress?”
or, Why I Write So Much About Genetic Engineering

by Nancy Kress

Every once in a while some critic says, “Science fiction is over. The future is here now. Science has caught up with science fiction and there is nothing left to write about.” To these people I say, “Huh? What are you talking about?”

Science is advancing at a dizzying rate, but that produces more to write about, not less. Bi-weekly, Science News dazzles me with fresh discoveries in all fields. So why do I mostly (not exclusively, but very definitely mostly) choose to write about genetic engineering in my fiction? Three reasons.
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A.C. Wise is the author of numerous short stories appearing in print and online in publications such as Clarkesworld, Apex, Lightspeed, and the Best Horror of the Year Vol. 4. In addition to her fiction, she co-edits Unlikely Story, an online magazine publishing three issues of fiction per year with various unlikely themes. Follow her on twitter as @ac_wise.

SF Signal welcomes back A.C. Wise and her continuing series of essays on Women To Read!
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Richard Lee Byers is the author of over thirty fantasy and horror novels, including a number set in the Forgotten Realms universe. A resident of the Tampa Bay area, the setting for many of his horror stories, he spends much of his free time fencing and playing poker. His newest work is a story written for Blackguards, a kickstarter anthology of assassins, mercenaries, and rogues. Friend him on Facebook, Follow him on Twitter as @RLeeByers, and read his blog on Livejournal.

Fantasy’s Scoundrels

by Richard Lee Byers

I started reading fantasy as a teenager, and from the start, I was drawn to its rogues and antiheroes. Which is not to say that I didn’t appreciate Tolkien’s Frodo and Burroughs’s John Carter. I did. But not as much as I dug Leiber’s Gray Mouser and Fafhrd, Brackett’s Eric John Stark, Howard’s Conan, or Wagner’s Kane. I think there are several reasons why, some relating to the characters themselves and some to their creators’ styles of storytelling and world building.
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