Guest Post: Writing Tip: Generating Ideas for a Themed Anthology by Joshua Palmatier

bio

Joshua Palmatier was born in Coudersport, PA, but since his father was in the military he moved around. Alot. He’s lived in the states of Pennsylvania (three times), Florida (twice), Washington, California (briefly), Virginia, Texas (twice), and now resides in upstate New York. He has spent the majority of his life so far going to school, earning a Bachelors of Science and a Master of Arts degree in mathematics from the Pennsylvania State University, followed by a PhD in mathematics from Binghamton University. He is currently teaching mathematics (what else) at the State University of New York–Oneonta, taught for two years at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, and taught for three years at Bloomsburg University while taking a break between his masters degree and the PhD.

Joshua started writing science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories in the eighth grade, when the teacher assigned a one page Twilight Zone-ish short story. He wrote a story about Atlantis. It was from the perspective of one of the inhabitants as he escaped in a spaceship, watching his world being destroyed by water from one of the viewports of the ship. He got an A. Joshua has never stopped writing since, mainly focusing on novels.


Writing Tip: Generating Ideas for a Themed Anthology

By Joshua Palmatier

Zombies Need Brains is running a Kickstarter for three new SF&F themed anthologies right now at tinyurl.com/ZNBApocalypse (swing on by, back the project, we could use the help!) and one of the unique things about ZNB is that we do an open call for submissions in order to fill out half of each anthologies.  The other half is filled with known, published authors, some of them New York Times bestsellers. So I figured I’d offer up a suggestion here for how to generate an idea that fits a theme AND make certain that it’s an idea that will stick out in that slush pile.  After all, you don’t want to submit a story with a fairly standard concept, since we’ll receive a ton of those.  And while we take a few “standard concept” stories for each theme, we usually only take one or two and you don’t want to be in competition with two hundred other people who used that same idea in some form.  Much better to submit a story that’s NOT standard and that catches our attention, one that is unlikely to have been used by anyone else. Continue reading

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From DJ to MD: One STEP to Rule them All

ST. GEORGE'S UNIVERSITY LOGO

Confession: I have been waiting to say “one STEP to rule them all” for the longest time XD And I feel so clever saying it XD XD

The time has finally come! Have to take this big ‘ol STEP exam, which means I will have to “step” (da dum tss!) away from blogging for it bit! (But just until October!)

Continue reading

Author Interview: D.B. Jackson

Today I am interviewing D.B. Jackson, author of the new fantasy novel, Time’s Demon, second book in The Islevale Cycle.

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DJ: Hi David! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

D.B. Jackson: Of course. Thanks so much for hosting me today! So my name is actually David B. Coe. D.B. Jackson is a pen name, and I write under both bylines. All told I’ve published more than twenty novels and as many short stories since starting my career back in the 1990s. So that’s one thing I can tell you about me – I’m old! I’ve published epic fantasy, historical fantasy, contemporary urban fantasy, and media tie-ins. And I also have a Ph.D. in U.S. history. I’m a husband and a dad (which shows up in my humor), and when I’m not writing, I’m also a photographer and a musician and a birdwatcher.

DJ: What is Time’s Demon and then The Islevale Cycle about?

D.B.: So, I’ll answer that in reverse order. The Islevale Cycle is a time travel/epic fantasy series. It tells the story of Tobias, a young time traveler – a Walker, as his kind are known in Islevale – who goes back in time to prevent a war. But he’s followed back, and in this earlier time, his Sovereign is assassinated, the Sovereign’s court is wiped out, and his family is killed except for his infant daughter, Sofya. Tobias is forced to take on guardianship of the infant princess, and the two of them are pursued through this new misfuture by assassins. Eventually, Tobias’s love from his own time, Mara, follows him back into the past, and the two of them attempt to reestablish Sofya’s claim to the throne. There is A LOT more to the plot than this, but I don’t want to give too much away, and I also don’t want to bore people with too long a synopsis.

Time’s Demon is the middle book in the series, so Tobias and Mara are on the run, and they are seeking allies for their cause. And one of those allies is Droë, a Tirribin, or Time Demon. Droë, like all Tirribin, feeds on human years and remains forever in child form. She is dangerous to most humans, but not Walkers, with whom her kind have a certain affinity. The complication is this: Droë is fascinated by human love – the emotion and the act – and she wishes to take adult form, which would change the very nature of who she is. And she is infatuated with Tobias, which makes her a threat to Mara. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Jack Campbell

Today I am interviewing Jack Campbell, author of the new science-fiction novel, Triumphant, third book in The Genesis Fleet series.

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DJ: Hi Jack! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Jack Campbell: Jack Campbell is my pen name (I’m really John Hemry).  I’m a retired US Navy officer who writes the best-selling Lost Fleet series (and its tie-ins Beyond the Frontier, The Lost Stars, and The Genesis Fleet) as well as science fantasy set on the world of Dematr (The Pillars of Reality, Destiny of Dragons, and Empress of the Endless Sea).  My YA novel The Sister Paradox won the 2018 EPIC YA ebook award. After retiring from the Navy I became full-time caregiver for my wife’s and my children, all three kids being on various parts of the autism spectrum, as well as trying my hand at writing.

DJ: What is Triumphant and then the The Genesis Fleet series about?

Jack: The Genesis Fleet series shows how humanity first exploded into nearby regions of space when the jump drives that allowed fairly quick interstellar travel were discovered.  As everyone on Earth and nearby colonies in space who wanted to escape the rules and laws and pressures of those old worlds raced to find homes of their own, they wanted nothing more than to be left alone and not get involved with other people’s problems.  But soon enough some worlds decided to lean on other worlds, demanding tribute in exchange for peace, or outright trying to take over weaker neighbors, because even though we’d left Earth behind humans hadn’t left their problems behind. The series shows how the first victims of aggression fight back, managing to barely defend themselves, while also trying to convince other worlds that haven’t yet been attacked to help.  Triumphant is the culmination of this, as defenders on the worlds of Kosatka and Glenlyon try to keep their worlds free without letting the fighting warp their ideals, and other worlds weigh whether to offer help and form an alliance to protect them all. Continue reading

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Author Interview: TJ Berry

Today I am interviewing TJ Berry, author of the new sci-fi novel, Five Unicorn Flush, second book in the Space Unicorn series.

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DJ: Hi TJ! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

TJ Berry: Thank you for having me! I write science fiction and horror, along with a smattering of fantasy. As a kid, you would have found me in either the US state of New Jersey or on the island of Hong Kong. Living between a bustling international metropolis and a sleepy little sheltered town taught me how to be adaptable and open to listening and learning.

DJ: What is Five Unicorn Flush and then the Space Unicorn series about?

TJ: The heart of this series is how good people cope with—and resist—the horrors of an authoritarian regime. Every day can’t be the fight of your life. There are down moments when people have to get to work and earn a living, even while society crumbles around them. These books are about making hard choices and eking out a life in the margins while having a little bit of fun.

DJ: What were some of your influences for the Space Unicorn series?

TJ: A lot of the irreverent tone of both Space Unicorn Blues and Five Unicorn Flush was heavily influenced by the tv show Firefly. I grew up watching the original Star Trek and Next Generation, which were incredible, but also… people don’t speak like that. Firefly managed to combine the wonder of space opera with the jaunty sarcasm of real life. I tried to capture that feeling in the Space Unicorn books. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Anna Kashina

Today I am interviewing Anna Kashina, author of the new fantasy novel, Shadowblade.

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DJ: Hi Anna! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Anna Kashina: I am a fantasy author and a scientist, and I have far too many hobbies and interests, including ballroom dancing, sword fighting, world mythologies, reading, and cooking, just to name a few.  I grew up in Russia, and did a lot of traveling. In my novels, I feed on all these backgrounds and experiences.

DJ: What is Shadowblade about?

Anna: It’s about a young girl who overcomes enormous odds to become an elite blademaster, only to be volunteered for a suicide mission to challenge the imperial succession. In short, the book is exactly what is promised by the cover, a fantasy with elements of romance, and hopefully a fun read.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Shadowblade?

Anna: I love multicultural elements in my books. Shadowblade is a mix of Middle Eastern and oriental. The setting has parallels with the Mogul Empire and ancient Middle East. The weapons and blade fights are influenced by both European and Eastern styles. The politics were influenced a lot by ancient China, where games of power and imperial succession have really been elevated into state of the art. It was a really fun mix to work with. Continue reading

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Author Interview: G.S. Denning

Today I am interviewing G.S. Denning, author of the new fantasy novel, The Sign of the Nine, fourth book in the Warlock Holmes series.

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DJ: Hi G.S.! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

G.S. Denning: Hmmm… well… I’m American. Male. My real name’s Gabe, but that’s not snooty enough so I went with my initials. I’m first-wave geek culture, meaning Star Wars came out when I was 2 and one of my earliest memories in life is the Death Star exploding. I learned to play D&D on the red-box basic set and saved my paper route money to get an original NES.

DJ: What is The Sign of the Nine and then the Warlock Holmes series about?

G.S.: The Sign of Nine is the dark middle chapter of the Warlock Holmes saga. For readers who have been following along, this is where we finally learn about Moriarty and Irene Adler. It’s where we learn the shape of the growing threat that’s going to bring humanity down and usher in the age of demons. It’s where a magical addiction drives a wedge between Watson and Holmes. And it’s funny!

The series as a whole is a direct parody of the original 60 Holmes stories. Basically, it’s Watson writing his memoirs right before the final onslaught of earth begins. He’s trying to explain to anyone who survives how he and his roommate accidentally got tricked into ending the world. Each short story is complete, but they fit together to form a much longer narrative.

DJ: What were some of your influences for the Warlock Holmes series?

G.S.: Er… Well… There’s those Sherlock stories, of course. And I’m used to genre-bending stories. I spent 15 years doing improv comedy (take your first date and do it as a Mexican Soap-Opera, or your last birthday as Shakespear would have written it). Add in a lifelong love of British comedy and there you go: Warlock Holmes. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Tim Major

Today I am interviewing Tim Major, author of the new sci-fi thriller novel, Snakeskins.

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DJ: Hi Tim! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Tim: I’m a writer of SF and weird fiction, and I live in York in the UK with my wife and two young sons. My previous books include Machineries of Mercy, You Don’t Belong Here, and a non-fiction book about Les Vampires, an amazing silent film from 1915. My short stories have appeared in lots of places, and have been selected for Best of British Science Fiction and The Best Horror of the Year. By day I’m a freelance editor, and I’m also co-editor of the British Fantasy Society fiction journal, BFS Horizons.

DJ: What is Snakeskins about?

Tim: It’s about a group of British people whose bodies rejuvenate every seven years, and in the process they produce a sentient clone known as a Snakeskin. The trouble is, the Snakeskin lives on for a while – maybe a few minutes, maybe a few days… The novel’s about what it might feel like, coming face to face with an exact copy of yourself – and it’s also about what the effect of society might be if only some people had this peculiar power.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Snakeskins?

Tim: The central idea is based on a real fact – after seven years, every cell in the human body will have been replaced. I liked the idea of that process happening not gradually, but all in a single moment. And then that idea got all mixed up with the concept of snakes shedding their skins, obviously. In terms of fiction, Snakeskins was influenced in its structure and scope by the TV series I was binging at the time. Humans was in the mix, certainly, but an even bigger influence was Deutschland 83, a terrific political thriller about an East German spy undercover in West Berlin. There’s no SF element to it, but the pacing and set-pieces influenced the novel a lot.

John Wyndham’s novels are perennial influences on my books, and the concept of the Fall is a direct homage to the meteor shower in The Day of the Triffids, the novel that introduced me to adult SF when I was around ten years old. Continue reading

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Author Interview: Caitlin Starling

credited © Beth Olson Creative 2017

Today I am interviewing Caitlin Starling, author of the new sci-fi, horror novel, The Luminous Dead.

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DJ: Hi Caitlin! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Caitlin Starling: Hi DJ! I’m a writer, knitter, and cocktail drinker based near Portland, Oregon. I grew up doing costuming, NaNoWriMo, and all sorts of collaborative storytelling. The Luminous Dead is a science fiction/horror/thriller mashup, and while not all my projects are science fiction, they all share a twisty dark character and relationship based heart.

DJ: What is The Luminous Dead about?

Caitlin: It’s about a woman who lies her way onto a dangerous solo caving expedition in pursuit of a fat paycheck, only to find that she doesn’t have the surface support she expected, and that her only contact with the outside world is a cold, manipulative, lying stranger. Or, more quicky, “Angry, traumatized lesbians in caves.”

DJ: What were some of your influences for The Luminous Dead?

Caitlin: Video games like Firewatch, Portal, and Zombies, Run!, which all feature a voice in the player’s ear helping– maybe– them through the game, were a huge influence. That sort of forced intimacy, and withheld information, is like catnip to me.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them? 

Caitlin: “Sympathize” might be a stretch (at least at first)! Both Gyre (in the cave) and Em (on the comm line) are extremely driven, broken women who make some extremely questionable decisions. My hope is that both are interesting in the ways they’re wounded and yet continue working towards their goals. Continue reading

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