Tag Archives: Kevin J. Anderson

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.

When Purple Unicorns Become More – One Horn To Rule Them All

Over the years the Fictorians site has existed we’ve talked a lot about Superstars Writing Seminar. This group wouldn’t exist without Superstars. It’s hard to explain how special this conference and the people who attend it are. But maybe, Lisa Mangum’s post below might give you some idea.

Lisa has loved and worked with books ever since elementary school, when she volunteered at the school library during recess. Her first paying job was shelving books at the Sandy Library. She worked for five years at Waldenbooks while she attended the University of Utah, graduating with honors with a degree in English.

An avid reader of all genres, Lisa crossed over to the publishing side of the industry in 1997. She’s currently the Managing Editor at Shadow Mountain. Lisa loves movies, sunsets, spending time with her family, trips to Disneyland, and vanilla ice cream topped with fresh raspberries. She lives in Utah, with her husband, Tracy. She is the author of the Hourglass Door trilogy and After Hello.

So, Lisa – When is a Purple Unicorn more than just a silly mythical creature?

***

one horn

 

I’ve been working in the publishing industry since 1997, and I’ve seen a lot of books cross my desk. I’ve even written a few books of my own. But I haven’t ever really edited an anthology quite like ONE HORN TO RULE THEM ALL. I mean—purple unicorns? Really?

Yes, really.

The genesis of the collection came about from the Superstars Writing Seminar. I was attending for the first time, and I was both impressed and amused by the fact that a purple unicorn was the example used to illustrate how to be a professional author. The idea was that if an editor asks you for a story about a purple unicorn, you better deliver a story about a purple unicorn.

As the conversation continued, I made a comment on the Superstars Facebook page about how now I kinda wanted to write a purple unicorn story. Enough people agreed with me and responded with title suggestions and more pictures of unicorns than I imagined existed. (Though, hello, Internet, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised.)

The idea stuck with me, though, long after the seminar ended, and one day I emailed Kevin J. Anderson (cofounder of Superstars) and said, “This might be the stupidest idea ever—or the most brilliant.”

Together we hammered out a plan that would result in a collection of twenty stories about purple unicorns. I said I would donate my time to edit the anthology (including reviewing all the stories and editing them) if WordFire Press would publish it, and all sales of the book would benefit a scholarship fund for someone to attend next year’s Superstars.

I’ll be honest. It’s not like I had a lot of time to edit a 100K-word anthology in July. I had a novella of my own to finish writing, plus a Con to attend, plus helping my husband shoot his short film, not to mention all the work that comes with my full-time job as Managing Editor of Shadow Mountain Publishing. And yet…

I wanted to work on the project. I had such an amazing time at the Superstars seminar, and it was such a rich and fulfilling weekend that I wanted other people to enjoy the same thing. Plus, I had made dear friends with the other Superstars attendees, and I wanted to read the stories they would write.

So, as an editor, I asked for unicorn stories. And, as professionals, the Superstar authors delivered.

And oh, the stories they wrote! Some were funny, some were sad. I read stories about detectives and mobsters and fairies and moms and zookeepers and veterans. I traveled to distant planets, to Fairyland, to a Comic-Con.

It has been a joy and a privilege to work on this anthology. The stories are amazing, and best of all, with each book sold, we get that much closer to bringing even more aspiring authors into the Superstars Tribe as we help each other make the leap from amateur to professional.

Being a writer can be a crazy career choice. Publishing can be heartless. It’s a crazy world out there, kids. Best find yourself a Tribe—and bring a unicorn with you if at all possible.

***

 Thank you, Lisa. Purple Unicorns are everywhere. Pets and RenFest 8.14 004

She picked some amazing stories for the anthology. Kevin J. Anderson and the entire WordFire gang will be at Salt Lake ComicCon starting on September 4. Stop by the WordFire Booth to say “hi” and maybe help us fund the Superstars scholarship. If you buy a copy of One Horn To Rule Them All at the Wordfire booth I bet you can get several of the authors to autograph it. The book sells for $14.95 in paperback and $4.99 in E-reader formats:

If you (like me) aren’t able to attend the Salt Lake ComicCon this time, you can find Purple Unicorns here:

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/one-horn-to-rule-them-all

(Kobo like Shadow Mountain is a Superstars Sponsor so if we can send love/ sales its way, that would be wonderful).

Amazon: One Horn

Barnes & Noble: One Horn To Rule Them All. 

Outside, in the Office

A guest post by Kevin J Anderson.

IMG_2956I write and publish four or more novels a year, and my creative office doesn’t have either a computer or a desk. It also doesn’t have the distraction of a constantly ringing phone, an endless succession of emails that need to be responded to (or marked as spam), doorbells to be answered with the latest UPS package of cat food from amazon prime (and the related distraction of cats who want me to feed them that food), or employees or family members who lie by assuring me “this will only take a minute.”

No, my real creative office is outside on the trail.

After outlining a novel, I take my notes, my digital recorder, my hiking boots, and my imagination and I hit the trail. After a few minutes, surrounded by trees, rocks, or streams, I can sink into the zone, immerse myself into my world, my story, my characters. As I walk, I think up the sentences that I would normally type out… but instead of moving my fingers around on a keyboard, I just speak the words out loud.

IMG_2915I have so programmed myself to write this way that now I find it very frustrating to sit my butt in a chair and stare at a screen for hours on end. When I’m walking, I am inspired by the landscapes in my beautiful Colorado. It may not be a genuine alien world, but I can imagine that—and all without the constant real-world distractions that harass a writer cooped up in a home office.

The only distractions I encounter are the occasional rattlesnake or hailstorm, but I can deal with that better than tedious phone conversations.

When I’m out walking, especially on long hikes, I can sink into a fugue state, entirely into what I’m writing, and when I dictate, the words go straight from my mind and out of my mouth, recorded directly without any intermediary step. I can just reel out what’s in my imagination.

IMG_2950The scenery itself is often inspirational, and when possible I try to be in a place that reminds me of what I’m writing. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado or Death Valley in California as I write my Dune novels with Brian Herbert; I’ve been in a snowstorm in the Sierra Nevada mountains while writing about Han Solo and Princess Leia on the polar icecap of a planet, and I spent time hiking around the Anasazi cliff ruins of Mesa Verde while writing about derelict alien cliff ruins in my Saga of Seven Suns.

Obviously, my hiking trips are work-related.

I have a typist (several, actually, because I tend to overload them!) who transcribes my digital file and sends me a Word document back, so that I can polish it…and there’s the tedious butt-in-chair keyboard time I am forced to endure.

IMG_2888But sometimes I extend the getaway into a camping trip, so that I can really move my working office onto a picnic table out in a beautiful National Forest site. That’s where I’m writing this, sitting at a table under a lodgepole pine tree at a perfect campsite next to a river 85 miles up the Cache la Poudre canyon in northern Colorado. An extra battery for the laptop, and no internet connection, a growler of my favorite microbrew beer: It’s the perfect office, alone in the forest (except for a moose visitor who just walked through the campground), away from it all where I can concentrate on being in the worlds inside my head. It’s like taking a vacation in an exotic place with my imaginary friends.

It’s the best office in the world.

Guest Writer Bio: Kevin J. Anderson was born March 27, 1962, and raised in small town Oregon, Wisconsin, south of Madison—an environment that was a cross between a Ray Bradbury short story and a Norman Rockwell painting. He first knew he wanted to create fiction when he was five years old, before he even knew how to write: he was so moved by the film of War of the Worlds on TV that he took a notepad the next day and drew pictures of scenes from the film, spread them out on the floor, and told the story out loud (maybe this is what led him into writing comics nearly three decades later!). At eight years old, Kevin wrote his first “novel” (three pages long on pink scrappaper) on the typewriter in his father’s den: “The Injection,” a story about a mad scientist who invents a formula that can bring anything to life . . . and when his colleagues scoff, he proceeds to bring a bunch of wax museum monsters and dinosaur skeletons to life so they can go on the rampage. At the age of ten, he had saved up enough money from mowing lawns and doing odd jobs that he could either buy his own bicycle or his own typewriter. Kevin chose the typewriter . . . and has been writing ever since.

Find Kevin and his new releases on his Facebook page, the Word Fire Press page, or his blog.

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!