Archive for November, 2010

The Skill List Project: Learning to Love Grammar

This is another blog post in The Skill List Project: an attempt to list the skills involved in writing and selling fiction, particularly science fiction and fantasy. This time around, we’re looking at another fundamental building-block of writing: grammar. Making Sense Grammar prevents you from tripping over your own feet. The point of grammar is […]

Overnight Success

Most writers recognize that overnight success usually isn’t.  I did a survey earlier this year, talking about how many years it takes writers to sell their first professional novel.  In that respect, “overnight” success took an average of more than ten years. But what happens after you’ve sold that first book?  How long does it […]

What I Learned While Working On My Newest Book

I have recently completed work on a new book called How To Write Magical Words:  A Writer’s Companion.  The book grew out of the Magical Words writing blog that I maintain with several fellow fantasy authors, including Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, A.J. Hartley, and Stuart Jaffe.  Fellow SFNovelists writer C.E. Murphy was, along with Faith, […]

Fight! Fight! Fight!

NOTE: You can now buy the revised and expanded version of this blog series as an ebook, in both epub and mobi formats. When I got to college, I made instant friends with the entire drama club by uttering five simple words: “I know some stage combat.” It isn’t a skill commonly found among college […]

First Drafts

  I confess.  I write truly terrible first drafts.  Especially for projects that aren’t part of a series.  A six thousand word short story takes me a month, minimum, because the first draft is so lousy.  An entire novel is even worse. I bring this up because I am approaching the end of the first […]

People like stuff that you don’t. That’s OK.*

I have a question for the commentariat: Why is it that some substantial sub-set of the proponents of (genre, sub-genre, literary kink) X always feel the need to attack (genre, sub-genre, literary kink) Y? With Y usually being either the hot new thing, or an old long term best-selling thing? I think that the attacks […]

“Impostor Syndrome”

I’ve had a bunch of writer friends – at all levels of the game – admit to falling prey to this thing called the Impostor Syndrome at least once in the course of their writing lives and careers. The basic instinct of responding, in particular, to some glorious moment (like holding your own book in […]

When is Speculative Fiction not Speculative Fiction?

Most of us are on this website because we enjoy speculative fiction – fantasy, science fiction, horror, slipstream, all those other sub-genres that we can slice and dice with the best of them.  A surprising number of readers, though, say “No thanks, not for me” when presented with speculative fiction.  Except those same readers often […]

Author Information

James Alan Gardner

James Alan Gardner got his M.Math from the University of Waterloo with a thesis on black holes...and then he immediately started writing science fiction instead. He's been a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula awards, and has won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award as well as the Aurora award (twice). He's published seven novels (beginning with "Expendable"), plus a short story collection and (for street cred) a Lara Croft book. He cares deeply about words and sentences, and is working his way up to paragraphs. Visit site.

Jim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines' latest book is THE SNOW QUEEN'S SHADOW, the fourth of his fantasy adventures that retell the old fairy tales with a Charlie's Angels twist. He's also the author of the humorous GOBLIN QUEST trilogy. Jim's short fiction has appeared in more than 40 magazines and anthologies, including Realms of Fantasy, Turn the Other Chick, and Sword & Sorceress XXI. Jim lives in Michigan with his wife and two children. He's currently hard at work on LIBRIOMANCER, the first book in a new fantasy series. Visit site.

David B. Coe

David B. Coe ( is the Crawford award-winning author of the LonTobyn Chronicle, the Winds of the Forelands quintet, the Blood of the Southlands trilogy, and a number of short stories. Writing as D.B. Jackson (, he is the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a blend of urban fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction. David is also part of the Magical Words group blog (, and co-author of How To Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion. In 2010 he wrote the novelization of director Ridley Scott’s movie, Robin Hood. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Visit site.

Marie Brennan

Marie Brennan is the author of more than forty short stories and seven novels, the most recent of which is the urban fantasy Lies and Prophecy. Visit site.

S.C. Butler

Butler is the author of The Stoneways Trilogy from Tor Books: Reiffen's Choice, Queen Ferris, and The Magician's Daughter. Find out what Reiffen does with magic, and what magic does with him... Visit site.

Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough is a fantasy and science fiction author. He lives in Wisconsin with his physics professor wife and a small herd of cats. His novels include the WebMage and Fallen Blade series—Penguin/ACE. His short fiction has appeared in numerous venues including Writers of the Future and Weird Tales. He also dabbles in science fiction as science education with The Chronicles of the Wandering Star—part of an NSF-funded science curriculum—and the science comic Hanny & the Mystery of the Voorwerp, which he co-authored and co-edited—funding provided by NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope. Visit site.

Alma Alexander

Alma Alexander is a novelist, short story writer and anthologist whose books include High Fantasy ("Hidden Quen""Changer of Days"), historical fantasy ("Secrets of Jin Shei", "Embers of Heaven"), contemporary fantasy ("Midnight at Spanish gardens") and YA (the Worldweavers series, the Were Chronicles). She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats. Visit site.

Mindy Klasky

Mindy Klasky is the author of eleven novels, including WHEN GOOD WISHES GO BAD and HOW NOT TO MAKE A WISH in the As You Wish Series. She also wrote GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT, SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL, and MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL, about a librarian who finds out she's a witch. Mindy also wrote the award-winning, best-selling Glasswrights series and the stand-alone fantasy novel, SEASON OF SACRIFICE. Visit site.



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