THE CRAFT: Alex Shvartsman on Getting Published

The Craft explores a different aspect of the writing process each month. For December, I asked Alex Shvartsmanwho’s sold nearly 60 short stories and is the editor of the Unidentified Funny Objects series of anthologies and the brand-new Coffee: 14 Caffeinated Tales of the Fantasticabout getting published. Here’s what she had to say…

Photo by JeanMarie Ward   

James Aquilone: You’ve had pretty good success getting published in the short fiction markets over the last three years. What’s your secret? Does it involve bribes?

Alex Shvartsman: Absolutely — I do accept bribes from editors in exchange for submitting my stories to them. I mostly prefer these bribes in the form of chocolate, coffee, and flattery, but ultimately I’m flexible.

I attribute my relative success in short fiction publishing to my total lack of discipline and attention needed to write an actual novel. I’m like that dog in Up. While talented writers are spending months and years on writing the next Great American Novel, every time I start thinking about my own novel-in-progress, SQUIRREL! — a short story idea hijacks my brain and won’t let go until I’ve written it down. My total word output for the year isn’t all that great — but it’s all short stories, so it seems like a lot.
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THE CRAFT: Cat Rambo on Plot

The Craft is a column that explores the writing process, each month focusing on a different aspect of the craft. This month I asked Cat Rambo, the author of Near + Far, Eyes Like Sky And Coal And Moonlight, and Creating an Online Presence (Careerbuilding for Writers), about plot. Here’s what she had to say…


James Aquilone: What is a plot?

Cat Rambo: To me, it’s the way the story is structured. Not just the events that make up the story, but their arrangement as well: the pace and way in which information is parceled out to the reader.
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THE CRAFT: Mercedes M. Yardley on Writing Horror

The Craft is a column that explores the writing process, each month focusing on a different aspect of the craft. This month I asked Mercedes M. Yardley, the author of Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love and Beautiful Sorrows, about writing horror. Here’s what she had to say…


James Aquilone: What is the surest way of scaring the bejesus out of a reader?

Mercedes M. Yardley: I think the surest way to scare the reader is to write something that scares yourself. If you’re writing with that sense of terror, the reader will pick up on it. I’m scared of losing my children. I’m scared of being cut with knives. These are themes that show up in my work, and even if you aren’t afraid of being sliced and diced like I am, hopefully you’ll feel that sense of foreboding because I do.

We’re all afraid. We’re all human animals, and fear is hardwired into our genes. As an author, exploit that.
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Robert J. Sawyer has won 46 national and international fiction awards including a Hugo, a Nebula and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He’s been called the Dean of Canadian science fiction and Canada’s premier science fiction author and lives in Ontario with his wife, a poet. His novel, Flashforward, was the basis of the ABC  TV series in the U.S. His other novels include Terminal Experiment, Illegal Alien,The WWW Series, The Neanderthal Parallax and The Quintaglio Ascension trilogies, Calculating God, Mindscan and his latest Triggers from Tor Books.

His short fiction has appeared in anthologies like Dinosaur Fantastic, Sherlock Holmes in Orbit, and Far Frontiers, and three short story collections. He can be found on Twitter as @robertjsawyer and Facebook and via his website.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt had an extensive conversation with Rob about his craft and work for us.


SFFWRTCHT: Let’s start with the basics: Whered your interest in science fiction and fantasy come from? And who/what were some of your favorite authors and books?

Robert J. Sawyer: Growing up in the 1960s with Star Trek and Apollo, plus seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey in first run. Clarke Childhood’s End, Pohl Gateway,  Niven Ringworld , Asimov Caves of Steel.

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