Archives for posts with tag: About Writing

10.18.17.TGOA.BOOKS

You could pay $4K for some “legendary” how-to-write racket. Or you could pick up writing tips from an author who has been publishing stories and books since 1987 (that would be me). You could pay ME $4K, too, but you don’t have to. You could join my Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/lisamasonfantasyandsciencefictionwriter?alert=2.
It turns out that writing can be a tricky business. You wouldn’t think so, in these days of push-button churning out of words and push-button editing.
But perhaps it’s trickier than ever, now that we are wedded to a keyboard and not writing by hand in pen or pencil on recycled trees, otherwise known as paper.
Some writers—Jennifer Egan springs to mind—claim they write first drafts by hand, then transfer the words to a computer. I have been known to apply this technique myself, especially with stories. But also with key parts of novel.
Others swear by read-throughs, which is always a good idea since then you can hear the sound of the language. When you are speaking spontaneously—not a rehearsed speech—you seldom think about your word choices. The words just flow. But when you write for publication, suddenly word choices become significant. And oddly, sometimes difficult to control.
You want to have a Voice. You want to have a distinctive sound in your written work. See? That was a repetition—“You want to”. A deliberate repetition.
I’m talking about inadvertent, unconscious repetitions of words, usually distinctive words beyond the usual “but” and “and” that are only too easy to write. Those repetitions detract from the bold, precise language you want to use.
A writer in a workshop I once participated in called it “writer’s echolalia.”
I see inadvertent repetitions frequently in published fiction. These are words that have been through several pairs of professional eyes—the writer herself, an editor, a copy editor, and a proofreader.
But even a team of the pros often can’t catch it.
The longer the manuscript, the more difficult it is to catch this stuff. It’s only when you boil things down for print publication, are down to the wire, need to blow through 130,000 words in a few days, not a few years—when you see those clean, shiny proofs ready to go off to the printer—that you can spot writer’s echolalia.
Sometimes.
* * *
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Visit me at www.lisamason.com for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, blogs, roundtables, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!
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Here is my interview with The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction regarding the story, “Riddle,” that appears in the September-October 2017 68th Anniversary issue. You may also view this online on the F&SF blog at https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/blog/2017/10/10/interview-lisa-mason-on-riddle/

Tell us a bit about “Riddle.”
As a writer and a reader, I’m much more interested in inner space than outer space. In stories about people living on society’s fringe than in starship captains or kings. In tales exploring consciousness, gender, and identity than in tales of derring-do, fisticuffs, and gun battles. (Though there are some fisticuffs in “Riddle.”)
I prefer tight, bold prose and try to achieve that effect in “Riddle.”

What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?
I have no idea—for once. This is one of the darkest stories I’ve ever written. I will say I wanted to set a supernatural story in my fascinating old neighborhood of North Beach in San Francisco.
“Riddle” is what bubbled out of my subconscious mind.

Was “Riddle” personal to you in any way? If so, how?
Oh, yes! I lived for some years in North Beach with my husband, Tom Robinson. Tom has degrees from the San Francisco Art Institute, the Academy of Art University, and the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts. He’s a working artist, jeweler, and sculptor and at the time, he’d gotten the lease on a dream art studio.
The place was an entire flat above a belly dancing club in a Stick-Eastlake Victorian building on Broadway between Montgomery Street and Columbus Avenue. Twenty-foot ceilings, an entire wall of exposed brick, another of floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves.
Half a block west on Broadway is Enrico’s with its broad patio where, at three in the morning, we would see U2, Diana Ross, and Bill Cosby (yes, he was a foul-mouthed jerk even then). Two blocks down to Columbus and half a block up to the intersection of Grant Avenue and Vallejo Street is the Caffé Trieste, a coffeehouse situated at that location since 1956. The Beat poets congregated there—Philip Lamantia, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bob Kaufman, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs. Burroughs published science fiction in F&SF! Or at least his novel, Nova Express, was reviewed in F&SF in the 1960s.
I took Bruce Sterling to the Trieste when he was in town for the premier issue of Wired Magazine. Bruce was on the cover and a number of people were reading Wired when we walked in. Surreal!
[I neglected the add that Francis Ford Coppola wrote the screenplay for “The Godfather” on a portable typewriter at a back table in the Trieste. I myself never saw him there, so that may be an urban legend, but husband Tom swears it is true.]
Around the corner was the Roma Caffé. I took Robert Silverberg there for pizza and Ellen Datlow for omelets on the back patio.
When you head two blocks down on Columbus Avenue, you’ll find Vesuvio, another gathering place for nearly sixty years. My favorite spot is the John Wilkes Booth on the mezzanine.
So North Beach is a very cool neighborhood. Coolness isn’t enough to drive a story, though. I needed a high concept. A supernatural high concept. I found that in “Riddle.”

Can you tell us about any of the research you may have done for this story?
Once I had my supernatural hook, I researched (plot spoiler alert!) sphinxes.
The classic legend tells of the sphinx in the desert who waylays travelers and poses a riddle. If a traveler can’t produce the answer, she kills and devours them.
Then Ulysses on his travels encountered the sphinx. She asked, “What walks on four legs at sunrise, two legs at noon, and three legs at sunset? When he correctly answered, “Man. As a baby he crawls on hands and knees. As an adult he walks on his own two legs. And as elderly, he walks with a cane.” Infuriated, the sphinx turned to stone and that’s what we see before the Great Pyramid in Egypt.
Greek and ancient Egyptian iconography portray the sphinx as a male animal—a man’s head and chest atop a lion’s body like the Great Sphinx at Giza. French sphinxes from the Louis the Fourteenth era, however, depict sphinxes as voluptuously female. (Leave it to the French!)
I knew I wanted my sphinx to be voluptuously, wickedly female.

What would you want a reader to take away from “Riddle?”
That love is complicated. Human consciousness is complicated. And life…you can’t be too sure about life. Fiction is meant to provide structure for our chaotic reality. I strove to make that point in “Anything For You,” published in the September-October 2016 F&SF. But sometimes fiction needs to point out the chaos.
I deliberately left an ambiguity at the story’s end, which I hope readers will ponder. If any reader wants to discuss this with me, I’ve got a Facebook Author Page and I’m on Goodreads. Come visit and we’ll talk!
What are you working on now?

I’ve just published a short novel, One Day in the Life of Alexa, with my ebook publisher, Bast Books, for the purpose of placing it in an international fiction competition with a 20,000 pound prize. So now the title is available as a brand-new beautiful trade paperback and as an ebook worldwide on Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. The first review, on Goodreads, says, “Incorporates lively prose, past/present time jumps, and the consequences of longevity technology…An absorbing read with an appealing narrator and subtly powerful emotional rhythms.” Another five star review on Amazon just got posted
Also, I’ve just re-released in print Summer of Love, a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist, and The Gilded Age (originally titled The Golden Nineties), a New York Times Notable Book. This is an Author’s Preferred Edition set, with Tom Robinson’s beautiful covers. Both are feminist historical novels as well as extrapolations into the far future when women’s issues—and humanity’s issues—have taken a different turn. Those two books are as timely as ever and I’m very glad to republish them in print and as ebooks worldwide on all the retailers.

[IN PRINT UPDATE: My urban fantasy, The Garden of Abracadabra, has just been released in Print. That book is also an ebook on all the retailers worldwide.]
More of my backlist books will be forthcoming in print in the next several months. And another dark modern fantasy, “Aurelia,” is forthcoming in F&SF in 2018.
I’ve got an SF novel in the works and, always, more stories!
For more news about upcoming projects, print books, ebooks, stories, interviews, blogs, cute cat pictures, Tom’s bespoke art and jewelry, and more, please visit me at www.lisamason.com.

So there you have it, my friends.

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book). On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. BACK IN PRINT at https://www.createspace.com/7257603 or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Love-Travel-Lisa-Mason/dp/1548106119/

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book). On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. BACK IN PRINT at https://www.createspace.com/7511748 or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Gilded-Age-Time-Travel/dp/1975853172/

One Day in the Life of Alexa. On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. Order on Amazon in Print at https://www.amazon.com/One-Life-Alexa-Lisa-Mason/dp/1546783091 or direct from the Printer: https://www.createspace.com/7181096

The Garden of Abracadabra (“Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy . . . I want to read more!) On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. NOW IN PRINT! ORDER at https://www.createspace.com/title/7675783 and on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1978148291/

Arachne (a Locus Bestseller). On US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in France Kindle, Germany Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Spain Kindle, Mexico Kindle, Brazil Kindle, India Kindle, and Japan Kindle. SOON BACK IN PRINT.

Cyberweb (sequel to Arachne). is on US Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Brazil Kindle, France Kindle, Germany Kindle, India Kindle, Italy Kindle, Japan Kindle, Mexico Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, and Spain Kindle. SOON BACK IN PRINT.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories (“A must-read collection—The San Francisco Review of Books). On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. SOON IN PRINT!

Celestial Girl, A Lily Modjeska Mystery (Five stars) On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Shaken On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Hummers On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Daughter of the Tao On US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in AustraliaFrance, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Every Mystery Unexplained On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Tomorrow’s Child On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

U F uh-O On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Tesla, A Screenplay On US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story On Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Netherlands, and Mexico.

“Illyria, My Love” is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, Mexico Kindle, and India Kindle.

Please visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.
Thank you for your readership!

A Friend on Facebook posted a question: “How do you write a science fiction story?”

Dozens of people responded with things like, “After a shot of whiskey,” “After crying a lot,” “Slowly and painfully.”

I added my proverbial two cents, “They write themselves, of course.” But then I went on to describe how certain stories did come to be–and get published in magazines.

While the subject is on my mind, I’ll draft some blogs about the topic in the next week or so. I’m actually always curious how writers got inspired. And what research they did…..

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book). On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. BACK IN PRINT at https://www.createspace.com/7257603 or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Love-Travel-Lisa-Mason/dp/1548106119/

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book). On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. BACK IN PRINT at https://www.createspace.com/7511748  or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Gilded-Age-Time-Travel/dp/1975853172/

One Day in the Life of Alexa. On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. Order on Amazon in Print at https://www.amazon.com/One-Life-Alexa-Lisa-Mason/dp/1546783091 or direct from the Printer: https://www.createspace.com/7181096

Arachne (a Locus Bestseller). On US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in France Kindle, Germany Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Spain Kindle, Mexico Kindle, Brazil Kindle, India Kindle, and Japan Kindle. SOON BACK IN PRINT!

Cyberweb (sequel to Arachne). is on US Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Brazil Kindle, France Kindle, Germany Kindle, India Kindle, Italy Kindle, Japan Kindle, Mexico Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, and Spain Kindle. SOON BACK IN PRINT!

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories (“A must-read collection—The San Francisco Review of Books). On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. SOON IN PRINT!

The Garden of Abracadabra (“Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy . . . I want to read more!) On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. SOON IN PRINT!

Celestial Girl, A Lily Modjeska Mystery (Five stars) On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Shaken On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Hummers On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Daughter of the Tao On US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in AustraliaFrance, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Every Mystery Unexplained On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Tomorrow’s Child On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

U F uh-O On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Tesla, A Screenplay On US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India. SOON IN PRINT!

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story On Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Netherlands, and Mexico.

“Illyria, My Love” is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, Mexico Kindle, and India Kindle.

Please visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.
Thank you for your readership!

I’m always fascinated by author interviews, biographies, and the story behind the story—discussions of an author’s inspiration and genesis from concept to finished work. This just in from Bill Barton, the author of Acts of Conscience:

The Road to Green Heaven
by William Barton © 2015

Almost all writers begin by imitating other books, and in modern times, other media. All writers living today were exposed not only to books, but to movies and television, to comic books, graphic novels, cartoons, anime, you name it. I am as subject to those influences as anyone else, and most especially to the cheap paperback novels and comic books published during my own annus mirabilis of 1964, when I was thirteen and then fourteen years old.

Green Heaven, and this Acts of Conscience, is technically part of my Starover Universe, which began with the publication of Hunting On Kunderer, in 1973, but it’s a late addition, and contains some crossover with the Silvergirl Universe (When We Were Real and several other stories). The crossover is mainly technological, representing some of what I learned between the 1970s and 1990s, but the worlds of the book are pure Starover.

I have sometimes described the Starover Universe as Larry Niven’s Known Space meets A. Bertram Chandler’s Galactic Rim. And though it was far beyond that, it remains true, because it and its ancestors are what I call “featural universes.” They are all about the naming of names and the relationships between them. The thing is, you can map a featural universe, and that’s how the Titanium Brick Road to Green Heaven began.

I am a very visual person, and always have been. When I was a boy, I drew scenes from things I was reading, borrowed and expanded on illustrations from books like the Grosset & Dunlap Tom Corbett editions. And I tried to draw maps, against which to visualize the story. One day, I was laying on the floor, sketching out a map with 3D renderings of places named Tentholm and Aerhurst, when my father wanderer by, looked at it, and exclaimed, “Why, this is a map of Swiss Family Robinson!” I was proud he recognized it, and happy to have amazed him. It was certainly a validation of my sense of self-worth, and like most of us, I was a decidedly underappreciated ten year old.

I continued drawing maps of things I read, including some exquisite renderings of Barsoom, once I realized you could locate Exum positively on a map, and then work outwards, jumping from place to place, relating them to one another. Finally, maybe in the sixth grade, I began creating and mapping my own worlds. You can see how some of them turned out in the frontispiece maps to Crimson Darkness.

What I didn’t have was a sound mechanism for mapping some of the science fiction stories I liked. Oh, I knew where the planets and major asteroids of the Solar System were, and even had some sense of where the nearest stars were, once I learned a little spherical geometry. But some of those stories were scattered around the galaxy, for which no real map then existed. I could look at photos of Andromeda, and kind of guess, but… how to draw a map? One that would look  the way I thought maps should look?

At first, I tried drawing the “lens” as described in some novels, with dots for stars/worlds/civilizations. Not so satisfactory. One day I tried to map the Galactic Rim universe, as Chandler described it. I drew a circle, then put the dots of the major elements of the Rimworlds Confederacy around the edge. Hmm. That was the first time I realized the old sea-captain had created an impossible entity, as if the Isle of Man, Tahiti, the Falklands, and the Seychelles had declared independence and banded together. The other thing I realized was, the rest Chandler’s galaxy was full of space-going countries. The Terran Federation, the Shaara Empire, etc.

Now, I had already created a non-featural universe, the Ohanaic Universe that would give birth to its own stories, such as Yellow Matter, based loosely on James Blish’s space-going Okie stories. I never really tried to map it, because it was internalized, more about Spenglerian history than about settings.

So I drew another circle, drew an inner circle I labeled “Galactic Core (uninhabitable),” scattered a few dots around where I knew I wanted “capitol planets,” then drew borders, colored everything in, and invented names, just like I’d done with my planetary romance settings. To the big blue splotch centered on Earth, I attached the label Terran Colony System, and the Starover Universe was born.

The rest of its genesis came from my other habit, of drawing pictures of my characters, and setting them in scenes from the stories I was imagining, and sometimes trying to write. This second element of the Starover Universe came from a coloring book I was using as a template. I could draw pretty well as a kid, but things like human figures are pretty hard, so I traced people from other sources (primarily comic books) and placed them in backgrounds of my own devising, sometimes even scaling them with a toy pantograph I had.

The first story of the Starover Universe came out of a Superman coloring book I’d spotted. Oddly, though it was without captions, there was an implied story in the sequence of images, and so I wrote a story of my own to connect them together, spawning characters from the unknown ones in the coloring book. Superman became Zoltan Tharkie, the uniformed airline pilot became Dexteran Kaelenn, the thuggish villain became Shane Lawrency, and so on. I even tried to write the story down, petering out after a few pages, as I usually did, but a decade later, that early effort became the first chapter of my second published novel, A Plague of All Cowards.

The next phase came as I began reading Larry Niven’s Known Space stories. I was fascinated by his “habitable point” gimmick, but much more interested in the fact that his planets seemed like entire real worlds, rather than “spots for plots,” like in so much science fiction of the era. I had made up a few Starover planets, but didn’t know much beyond what was in the story ideas.

And, of course, I’d drawn fairly detailed maps of my planetary romance settings, which is the whole idea. Venusworld had more than a hundred countries, each with its own language, culture, and history. Obviously, every planet in a science fiction universe should too. The next thing I realized was, the Starover Universe was in the fairly remote future, mainly years after 4000 AD. I knew something of its history, of how there’d been a terrible dictatorship called the Combine that’d been overthrown a thousand years before the events of A Plague of All Cowards.

How had human civilization gotten to that point? So I started writing down a future history that connected the 1960s, where Project Gemini was the latest thing in space travel, to the universe of Zoltan Tharkie, two thousand years later, where humans and their allies had just fought a devastating interstellar against the Tertris and their allies. Let me tell you, I thought I was mighty clever making Zoltan Tharkie the hero who’d ended the war by vaporizing the Tertris homeworld. And I did understand that made him a genocidal war criminal.

Looking at Known Space, I realized what I needed to do to flesh out the very near future Starover Universe, providing a linking civilization that would connect the twentieth century USA to the Combine of the twenty-eighth. In addition to the historical narrative, I picked out a couple of dozen stars that I figured could support habitable planets, made up star systems for them, including a “scientific” nomenclature for them (in it, Earth’s Moon would be called Sol IIIi. For Kent, it would be Alpha Centauri A-IV, etc.). Then I made up microhistories that would implement logical names for the planets in the star systems. And then I began drawing maps of each and every inhabited planet, and some of the important uninhabited ones as well. I even drew pictures of some of the gas giants I figured my characters might want to visit.

The frontispiece map of Green Heaven from the StoryBundle edition of Acts of Conscience is scanned from one of a later series of color maps I did of the major worlds. I even did a spiral arm map of the entire Starover galaxy, used as the frontispiece of This Dog/Rat World. As the Universe evolved, I decided there would be far-flung clusters of such worlds, highly habitable planets colonized first, then others nearby in secondary colonizations. In A Last War for the Oriflamme, readers get to visit Vincenzo Prime, capitol planet of the Vinzeth Empire, along with a few other planets later incorporated in the Terran Colony System. They all have maps of their own.

I wrote the outline for Acts of Conscience some time in the middle 1970s, but didn’t have either the skillset or free time to write it properly. Not long after finishing This Dog/Rat World, I threw in the towel on writing science fiction, and wasn’t to resume for fourteen years. When I did, there were all those beautiful maps, and the outline for an extraordinary novel. When I got that Special Citation from the Philip K. Dick Award, it was a personal validation not unlike the one I’d gotten from my Dad, thirty-five years earlier.

Thank you, Bill, for your insightful and moving monograph on the writing of Acts of Conscience. For more information about William Barton and his books, please see http://williambarton.com/.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15 so you must act now! Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

Walter Jon Williams, the author of Knight Moves in The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle, has been writing a blog for years and has a lot of observations about the craft of writing and the perils of a writing career.

For Walter’s blog about his struggles with the writing of Knight Moves, go to http://www.walterjonwilliams.net/2012/01/revisiting-knight-moves/. He also describes here how he attended the convention at which the Philip K Dick Award was to be presented. You won’t believe what happened.

You’ll hear much more about Walter and Knight Moves in the days ahead.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://www.storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

Walter discusses, with his usual humor, the role of family in fiction and particularly in genre fiction.
http://www.walterjonwilliams.net/2015/06/family/

Walter Jon Williams, the author of Knight Moves in The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle, has been writing a blog for years and has a lot of observations about the craft of writing and the perils of a writing career.

Here Walter discusses, with his usual humor, the role of family in fiction and particularly in science fiction. http://www.walterjonwilliams.net/2015/06/family/

You’ll hear much more about Walter and Knight Moves in the days ahead.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://www.storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

You must read Pat Murphy’s reminiscences about reading fantastic fiction as a child, and how that experience affected her life. She describes how, as she grew older, some of her focus changed, but then she returned to her childhood roots, her childhood sense of wonder to produce Points of Departure, a collection of stories that won the Philip K. Dick Award.

She still looks for that magical penny in the crack in the sidewalk!

But I don’t want to paraphrase Pat. Read her monograph here: http://www.brazenhussies.net/murphy/index.php/Why-I-Write/

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

Walter Jon Williams is the author of Knight Moves, which you’ll find in The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle.

Knight Moves Cover Final

Walter has been writing a blog for years and has a lot of observations about the craft of writing and the perils of a writing career.

Thought-provoking and insightful, with his trademarked humor, here Walter discusses what the superstar success of the Beatles can teach writers about crafting a writing career. http://www.walterjonwilliams.net/2014/02/lessons-for-writers-the-fab-four/. If you’re a writer or simply curious about writing, you must check this out!

You’ll hear much more about Walter and Knight Moves next week.

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://www.storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

As I was preparing the Philip K. Dick Award Bundle for Storybundle.com, I noticed that two of our authors had some startling things in common (other than being multiple award-winning, brilliant stylists and Philip K. Dick Award Finalists, of course).

Kathe Koja, who wrote The Cipher, and Elizabeth Hand, who wrote Aestival Tide, both grew up Catholic, are interested in the theater, and write science fiction and weird fiction.

I was intrigued and invited them to a Question-and-Answer. I grew up a Unitarian-Universalist but my great-grandparents in Europe were Catholic. Whatever your background, you’re sure to find this Q&A with Kathe and Liz as fascinating as I did.

Lisa Mason (LM): How did growing up Catholic affect your imagination as a child?

Kathe Koja (KK): It’s an extremely visual religion—not just the ceremonies, but the iconography, the saints and their various identifying symbols (St. Lucy with her plateful of eyes, who could forget that?), and the whole streaming pageant of heaven and hell art; think of Bosch. And the crucifix itself is a tremendous icon.

Elizabeth Hand (EH): For me, it was the storytelling element—the fact that there are all these great stories in both the Old and New Testament. From an early age I didn’t take (most of) them literally, but I loved the stories themselves. I went to Catholic elementary and high school, and then Catholic University (the latter not for religious reasons), so I had a long time to absorb and observe this stuff. And having to sit still during Mass gave me a chance to daydream and observe closely everyone around me, two habits which are crucial to writers.

LM: How has that affected your writing?

KK: Those visuals fostered an ability to think in symbols, which is very helpful. And growing up Catholic provides a kind of cheek-by-jowl daily acceptance of mysteries, or it did for me anyway: the impossible is real, they insist, nothing is too strange to be true. So for a fiction writer, that’s pretty fertile ground, pretty useful affirmation. And all the repression and absolute authority gives you something to push against, so that’s useful, too. It teaches you in the end that you must think for yourself.

EH: I was fascinated by the sense of ritual, though in my own work I’ve drawn on ancient pagan and mystery religions (which the Church did as well) rather than Catholic liturgy. I also was terrified by the notion of the apocalypse, and that definitely has played into a lot of my novels and stories.

LM: You’re both interested in the theater. Did the ceremonies, the religious costumes, the pomp and circumstance awaken your interest?

KK: No, but they make a jolly example.

EH: I’m not sure it did—I was more drawn to theater in and of itself. When I was in sixth grade, the eighth graders did “Macbeth,” and I was completely captivated. A few years later, my mother began taking my sisters and I to the American Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, CT, where we’d see whatever was playing in repertory for the entire summer. It was wonderful.

LM: Does theater play a part in your writing?

KK: A huge part. My most recent novels—UNDER THE POPPY, THE MERCURY WALTZ, and coming in November, THE BASTARDS’ PARADISE—are all about theatre, the story of two men who share their lives onstage and offstage. Love is a kind of performance, as life is a kind of show.

And I write and direct for my performance ensemble, nerve. Our next production is in January, an adaptation of DRACULA with no fangs and no blood. http://gonerve.com

EH: Oh, yes. My first novel, Winterlong, featured a Shakespearean troupe whose diva was a talking chimpanzee, and also riffed on “Twelfth Night,” a play I’ve been obsessed with since I was seventeen. I spent decades trying to capture that play’s magic in my fiction, and finally succeeded with Illyria.

LM: Kathe, are there Catholic influences or imagery in The Cipher?

KK: None there consciously, but you could call the Funhole hell, if you had a mind to, or one of its portals, in the absence of any presence but the self, as Nicholas suggests somewhere along the way down. I think it’s Dante who wrote “There is no sky in hell.”

LM: Liz, now that I’ve started reading the bundle, this may seem like a silly question, but there it is. Catholic influences or imagery in Aestival Tide?

EH: So much that’s under the dome in Araboth is a corruption of some sort of formal religious belief, especially fundamentalist beliefs. The Compassionate Redeemer is actually a monster loosed in a perverse ritual, and the Orsinate is a corrupt theocracy. Then there’s the Church of Christ Cadillac, whose adherents wear hubcaps on their heads. But there are also elements borrowed from ancient Greek and Roman ritual, so it’s all a pretty catholic (lowercase c) mix.

LM: Yes, catholic, lowercase, is a word in and of itself. Webster’s Tenth defines it as “comprehensive, universal, esp. broad in sympathies, tastes, or interests.”

So there you have it, my friends. The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle includes Aestival Tide by Elizabeth Hand (PKD Finalist), Life by Gwyneth Jones (PKD Winner), The Cipher by Kathe Koja (PKD Finalist), Points of Departure by Pat Murphy (PKD Winner), Dark Seeker by K. W. Jeter (PKD Finalist), Summer of Love by Lisa Mason (PKD Finalist), Frontera by Lewis Shiner (PKD Finalist), Acts of Conscience by William Barton (PKD Special Citation), Maximum Ice by Kay Kenyon (PKD Finalist), Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams (PKD Finalist), and Reclamation by Sarah Zettel (PKD Finalist).

The Philip K Dick Award Storybundle runs only until October 15. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Download yours today at http://storybundle.com/pkdaward and enjoy world-class, award-winning reading right now and into the holidays.

This is from a review in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS)  discussing two books about creative writing, The Future of Creative Writing by Graeme Harper and Writing Short Stories by Courttia Newland and Tania Hershman.

Disclaimer: I don’t subscribe to this newspaper. One of my neighbors, who does subscribe, gives it to me when he’s done reading. I suppose it serves me right for leafing through it.

I quote:

“The lone writer does not exist anymore. Harper’s thoughtful book explores the experience of producing, publishing and teaching creative writing. Harper believes that the advent of digital communication and social media, which has already changed how we view and disseminate writing so much, will by the end of the century revolutionize creative writing in all its uses and forms. The finished product, the book as artefact, will continue to be important, but the reception of the writing, the dialogue between writers and readers will be of equal significance.

“For some writers this may be an unwelcome intrusion into what was once a private process while others may accept it as a necessary part of promotion. And yet the model of the writer working entirely alone to produce a manuscript harvested by a publisher like dropped fruit has never been entirely real. Most writers rely at some point on the shaping of their work through the feedback of fellow writers, and the acceptance by an agent or publisher usually means further revisions. Harper takes the idea of this process further by offering a future in which ‘we will not only seek out the reflection of cultural influence in work but in the working of creative writers.”

End quote.

Well, yes. Most writers have first readers, writers’ groups, literary agents, and editors who contribute, to greater or lesser degrees, to a literary work.

But in the end, the writer always accepts responsibility for mistakes of fact, expressions of philosophy, ethical choices, stylistic rendition, and the vision. His or her name goes on the cover, after all.

So there you have it, my friends. Do you believe the “lone writer” will disappear? No thanks to something as facile as the social media?

I don’t know why anyone would take the time and trouble to write anymore, if that’s true. And the internal universe of the “lone writer” is so essential to the creation of new universes that I don’t see social media obliterating that anytime soon.

From the author of Summer Of Love (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Summer of Love is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico.

The Gilded Age is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Sony, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is on US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo, Sony.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India, and Mexico.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry by Tom Robinson, worldwide Amazon.com links for Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and more!

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