Tag Archives: Eric Flint

Connecting

1636-The-Devils-Opera-smallMost of us are not so egocentric that we write strictly for our own pleasure. We want our work to connect to readers. We want to know that we are touching someone; that our work creates a resonance in at least one reader who feels what we are trying to create in the stories that only we can tell because of who we are.

So first, writers write. That’s the core truth of our craft and art. All of the writing rules boil down to: tell a good story; finish what you start; and edit/revise/polish enough to make it right. If that doesn’t happen, nothing else matters.

Second, we have to connect with readers. You’ve been reading a number of articles this month on ways to accomplish that. I was asked to write about my own experience, because it’s a bit different.

I broke into publishing through Eric Flint’s unique alternate history shared writing universe that is based on his bestselling novel entitled 1632. (Details and background here.)

I believe this is the most successful shared universe ever. It’s approaching seven million words in print, with fifteen novels in print as of next month, eleven anthologies of shorter fiction, and approaching sixty issues of the Grantville Gazette e-magazine (called GG by the regulars). The novels and anthologies, both paper and e-book, are published by Baen Books; GG is published by Eric Flint, but is strongly associated with Baen Books. So this experience is, for all intents and purposes, one in the traditional publishing channels.

I wasn’t part of the core group of fans who started writing what amounted to fanfic and posting it to Baen’s website after 1632 was published. (See details and background link above.) I didn’t enter the picture until after the second issue of GG was published in 2003.

I’d been trying to write a novel for years; had absolutely no experience at short fiction. But I got hit with a story idea after reading the first two issues of GG. And the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s been eleven years since I submitted my first story. As of now, I’ve published close to 300,000 words of short fiction with GG, most of which have been included in subsequent anthologies or my e-book 1635: Music and Murder, published by Baen in 2013.

The thing is, in this venue, I have no control over production, scheduling, or marketing. That’s all in the hands of Baen Books personnel for the books or Eric Flint and the editor (Paula Goodlett) for GG. Nonetheless, I do contribute.

1632 is a group brand, and my contribution is to be professional in the ways I plug into the brand’s operations. First, part of the uniqueness of the GG submission process is that prospective stories are submitted to a forum on Baen’s Bar where they are peer-reviewed for mechanics and story universe continuity and quality of story. Even at this stage of my career I have to do this. Likewise, I am expected to participate in this exercise from the other side of the table; to read submissions and provide critiques. Both the submitting and the critiquing calls for utmost professionalism as I grow both as a writer and as a member of the community.

Second, when the editor(s) call for changes or modifications to the story, accommodate them without complaint or argument—within reason.

Third, contribute to the community:

One way is to share links and information about the 17th century with the rest of the 1632 community. You never can tell what will be helpful to another writer. I had a story jump-started by a list of lute-players at the court of Gustavus Adolphus that another writer had found and linked to the forum.

Another way: Eric schedules annual 1632 “mini-cons” partnered with other conventions around the country. They move around every year. This year’s mini-con will be held at LibertyCon in Chattanooga. Several of us make an effort to be there every year to support the group brand, to interact with fans, and to be a part of central planning and discussion with Eric about where the series is headed.

Yet another way is to attend other cons, spreading flyers, bookmarks, and other swag, and keeping the 1632 brand in view at other venues. (I have a 1632 Ring of Fire t-shirt I frequently wear.)

Most of the overt marketing is done by Baen Books or by Eric Flint. But I and the other GG authors contribute to supporting the group brand. And in so doing, I help to support my individual brand as well.

The GG enterprise has to date published over 130 authors, most of them first-timers. A significant number of those authors qualified for SFWA membership based on their GG resumes alone. Over the years, Eric has been watching the list of GG authors, and every once in a while he will reach out and tap someone and say “Let’s write something together.” I was the third one he tapped, and the result was my first published novel, 1636: The Devil’s Opera. I was the first GG author he tapped, though, to work on a project outside of 1632. The result was the third novel in his Jao Empire series, entitled The Span of Empire, tentatively slated to be published by Baen in September 2016.

Writing a good story, and being diligent and professional in everything else, those are the keys. Everything else is details.

Shameless plug: Grantville Gazette is always looking for new writers. If you think you might be interested in writing in one of the most interesting alternate history universes around, check out the links mentioned above. If you can tell good character based stories, give it a try. They pay professional rates; currently six cents a word, if I remember correctly.

David CarricoDavid Carrico Bio:
David Carrico has been an avid science-fiction and fantasy reader since January 1963, when he encountered a copy of Andre Norton’s novel Catseye. He started writing (mumbledy) years ago, but has been selling professionally since 2004. Most of his work is alternate history. His first book, an e-book entitled 1635: Music and Murder, was published by Baen Books in September, 2013. It’s a collection of two different groups of stories which collectively provide the backstory for his second book, 1636: The Devil’s Opera, a novel published by Baen Books in October, 2013, in both paper and e-book formats. Both books are laid in Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire alternate history universe, and the novel was co-written with Eric.
David is married, has three kids, five grandkids, two great-grandkids, and usually has at least a couple of Basset hounds lazing around the house somewhere.

SSWS Writing Scholarship: Should YOU Apply?

We’re taught in school to always ask the questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. Today, let’s start with why.

job_huntHave you ever wanted to have one-on-one conversations with experienced, best-selling authors and be able to ask them anything? Have you ever wanted to meet a New York editor, an acquiring editor for one of the most successful small presses in the nation, or find qualified indie editors? Have you ever felt like having a larger community of dedicated writers around you might help improve your writing skills and your writing career? Does the business side of writing–working with agents, contracts, hiring artists and editors, marketing, etc–seem a bit overwhelming at times? Could you use information from people who know what they’re doing to help in your writing career?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you NEED to apply to the Superstars Writing Seminar (SSWS) scholarship. Here’s the link: http://superstarswriting.com/scholarships/ Seriously, go look at it right now.

2010 SuperstarsOkay, as for the other questions. What is SSWS? The most amazing writing seminar you will ever attend. I’m not just saying that, and no, I’m not being paid to say that. I attended the first SSWS in 2010. If it was mediocre or repetitive, I’d have only gone once. I’ve been three times. I plan on attending again. It is worth every penny, but if you earn the scholarship, your tuition will be free. Here’s what it says on the website: “The only focus at Superstars is to teach you how to have a successful writing career by sharing how those at the top of the industry manage their careers.” Take a look at the past classes, and I can only tell you that each year somehow manages to get even better.

Superstars Presenters April 2010Who? Anyone who hasn’t attended SSWS in past years is eligible to apply for the scholarship. The instructors are Kevin J. Anderson, James A. Owen, Rebecca Moesta, David Farland, and Eric Flint. To list their credentials would take the rest of this post. Guests include Toni Weisskopf (Baen books), Christine Monroe (the US Manager for Self-Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo), Todd McCaffrey, and Jody Lynn Nye. Again, I can’t list all their credentials. It’s just too much. Nope, I’m not done throwing out names. Past and recurring attendees include our very own David Carrico (author of 1636: The Devil’s Opera) and Brad R. Torgersen (multiple award nominee and winner) This is what Brad had to say, “This is not a craft class nor is it a critique workshop. It’s a no-holds-barred crash-course in how to perform and conduct yourself as a professional fiction author.” There are more quotes where those came from and you can find them on youtube, too.

When? The scholarship application is due by November 22nd. That’s this Saturday! The seminar will happen in February. colorado springsThat’s the perfect time so you’re somewhat recovered from Christmas, have your tax refund on its way, and are in need of a short vacation. The exact date for 2015 is February 5-7th.

Where? Apply to the scholarship from the website, but give yourself time to write a short essay and get a couple of referrals. The people involved in making this opportunity take it seriously. They want to give it to you, but you have to show that you really want it and are willing to do the work. The seminar takes place in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s a great place to visit, and airfare is reasonable.

unikarkadan2How? For the full story on how this scholarship came to exist, I encourage you to read the introduction to One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology. It still gives me a warm feeling every time I scan over the story again. Once the idea took root to fund a scholarship so aspiring writers could attend SSWS, people pitched in. The cover artist, the publisher, the editor, and the famous and not-so-famous writers all volunteered time and work for the sake of helping other writers find their dream. And even though SSWS attendees were competing with one another for slots in the book, we cheered each other on, critiqued stories to help one another, and as often happens with this group, we did all we could to help our writing friends succeed. opportunity knocksThat is a rare camaraderie to have with a group this size, but it’s there and it’s precious.

In conclusion: If you’re serious about writing, take the time, do the work, and apply for this scholarship. Hurry! You’ve only got a few days to change the rest of your life. Opportunity is banging at the door.

Forming the Fictorians

The first Superstars of Writing Seminar

The first Superstars of Writing Seminar

When I went to the first Superstars Writing Seminar in Pasadena back in March of 2010, I thought I was going to get some sound business advice from successful writers – and I did. In spades. I had many expectations which were all exceeded by lengths of football fields. I also thought I’d meet people and make some nice acquaintances – wrong. So very wrong. I made friends. Lifelong friends and writing peers and a writing family we now call The Fictorians.

I remember clearly one night in Pasadena, we were walking back to the hotel after a night of food and beer at a local pub. I was talking with Kevin J. Anderson and I was saying that the group of him, Rebecca Moesta, Dave Farland/Wolverton, Brandon Sanderson and Eric Flint reminded me of the Oxford group that met regularly to talk writing which included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I asked how a group like that formed because it seemed to enhance everyone’s writing and careers.

Kevin said, “Look around.”

I did and what I saw were all the people who I’d been hanging with at every break and meal. The ones who’d gravitated together and felt a connection. I saw people I liked, respected and thought had awesome ideas they were working on in their writing. I saw people like me. People who wanted to be writers, took their writing seriously and were taking steps to succeed in this cool and difficult profession.

When I looked back at him, he said (and I paraphrase), “You’re doing it. Right now. With these people. This is how groups like that are formed.”

We left that seminar, with emails in hand and a goal to stay connected. We live all over the world. We write in different genres. Some of us have met in person again in Las Vegas for one of ours to renew her vows to her lovely husband. We’ve seen each other at other Superstar Seminars since the first one. We have conference calls and stay connected via email and social media. We have areas of expertise that the others can tap into with a simple request. We’re friends and peers.

I have one other writing group that I feel this way about, and I value those friends as well.

So, when someone asks me what is a moment that makes me love being a writer, I think of my friends and fellow writers. The people who support me and keep me motivated. Who inspire me. Who share a dream with me. These are people who keep me going when times are hard.

Because I’m a romance writer, I use the ‘L’ word a lot and I’m going to use it now. These are people I love for all they give me and pull out of me and share with me.

It’s four years later, and Kevin was right. We’ve become one of those groups. We’ve been through bumps and growing pains. People leave the core but remain on the peripheral, some return, some never left, but we’re still together, doing what we love and supporting each other. We are the Fictorians. And I think we’re Fictorious!

Superstars Writing Seminar – worth attending again

SuperstarsSuperstars Writing Seminar will be held February 6–8 in Colorado Springs, CO. It is the premier seminar on the business of writing, period. I attended the first seminar, held in 2010 in Pasadena, CA, and I’m eagerly anticipating attending again this year.

I’m not the only alumni of the seminar to sign up for another year, and honestly I would have loved to have gone last year. This Fictorians group was formed from alumni of the Superstars seminar, and members have begun publishing and making their mark as writers. In the near future, we’ll only see that trend increasing, thanks in part to knowledge gained through Superstars.

You may ask yourself why we’re so eager to spend the hundreds of dollars required to invest in another seminar when we learned so much the last time we went.

It’s precisely because we learned so much last time.

This seminar is different than any other writer’s seminar I know of. It’s taught by bestselling authors, top editors, and publishers, but more than that what makes this seminar stand apart is the content. This is a crash course in the business of writing, where successful writing professionals share what they do and how they manage their career. For writers who are serious about their writing career, be they newbie authors who have yet to complete their first novel, or published writers looking to reach the next level, this seminar imparts a wealth of information that I have not found anywhere else.

You can view a high level description of the curriculum here which includes contracts, agents, indie publishing, traditional publishing, intellectual properties, and much more.

The seminar in 2010 was a career-changing experience for me. I arrived as an eager, wannabe writer with lots of enthusiasm and one manuscript completed. I left even more energized and armed with the knowledge I needed to move into the next stage of my career as a writer. Given the constantly moving target which is publishing these days, the specifics of what is taught each year is adjusted accordingly, so I expect this year’s content to be different from what I saw just four years ago.

What I learned four years ago is still fresh in my mind. Some favorite memories include Brandon Sanderson relating how he landed his first agent; Kevin J. Anderson’s popcorn theory; Eric Flint’s detailed discussion of contracts; and the discussion of how prolific an author really needs to be to succeed.

On top of the top-rate content, this seminar provides other fantastic benefits. Not only did we form the Fictorians from alumni of the seminars, but the instructors have remained available and engaged with the group. We have a private Facebook group where we can all post questions and comments and get advice or feedback from each other and from the instructors. The networking benefits of the seminar are proving an invaluable long-term benefit.

This year I approach the seminar from a slightly different point. I have four novels completed, with four more in various stages of outlining, one novel e-published and an agent working on deals with others. This time I have different needs, and I fully expect to gain the knowledge I need to make even greater strides forward in my career.

So is Superstars worth attending again?

Absolutely.

If you’ve never heard of Superstars, check it out. I guarantee it’s worth the investment.