Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Mary Turzillo, Author of Mars Girls

Join me in welcoming Mary Turzillo to the blog! Apex Magazine has put together this lovely blog tour to celebrate Mary’s newest book, Mars Girls. Learn about science fiction poetry and Mary’s involvement in fencing! Make sure you check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post to see how to win an ebook copy of this science fiction novel.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

I’m going to be very unoriginal here. I wish Darth could change back into Anakin, through time travel, I suppose, to be reunited and reconciled with Padme, then rejoice in the birth of Luke and Leia. But the Star Wars universe so far has not included time-reversal, so I guess that’s out. Oh well.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

All the old pulps. All the Ace Doubles. Oh, wait! It ALREADY exists: The Judith Merril Collection, in Toronto! It’s a great institution, run by fabulous librarians. If you are ever in Toronto, don’t miss it. And there’s a great poutine restaurant nearby.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Oh, that’s an easy one. Star Wars. It was so fresh when it first came to the screen, so epic. And I’d like to see it without knowing what happened to all the actors later on, because some of that is so sad. I really felt there were more imaginative leaps in the first Star Wars movies than in any previous science fiction movie. The vehicles, the aliens, the bots — any single one of them you could find models for in previous movies, or at least some original thinking. But Star Wars just piled on the neat stuff, scene after scene. And the other thing was a beautiful, very young woman acting as a warrior and a hero. Then more of the same as the series developed.

I also would like to see Scanners and the original The Thing and maybe the original (?) Invasion of the Body Snatchers. A little dark, I know. I do love Donald Sutherland’s work.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I hated and loved teaching at Trumbull campus of Kent State. A few of my students were difficult; one class of nursing students tried unrelentingly to drive me from the classroom. They left a preserved pig’s ear on my lectern. They hazed the best student in the class. They shoved a cake in my face. I had a student who wrote themes that were thinly disguised death threats — meaning, my death.

But I was heavily involved with art and theatre students, and they were so inventive and so eager to learn and create, that I am still friends with many of them years later. Some of them have become published authors. Some are college profs, following in my footsteps. I created costumes for Shakespeare shows that they were in. I coached them on lines. I was even in shows with them, playing a witch in Macbeth and Richard III’s mother.

One of my favorite memories: In my office one afternoon, suddenly a human body with an elephant head appeared in the open door. It was one of my Shakespeare I students, just finished with his prosthetics project from his Theatrical makeup class. A few minutes later, the victim of a horrible accident appeared. Blood all over, broken nose, black eye, missing teeth. Another of my student’s prosthetic makeup projects. Later, a green alien, with huge bulging eyes and tentacles sprouting from his bald head. Same deal. A Cthulhu head. An ancient old lady. They each challenged me to identify them, and I could only match my students’ names to about half of them. That was before I had an iPhone, or I’d share pictures. If only!

Those were the kids I loved, the best students in the whole world. The best people.

I loved the non-theatre students, too. They were original, creative, full of spirit and hope. I still know many of them as friends.

You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

My husband, Geoff Landis, for obvious reasons. But then I’d choose an additional crewmate with an engineering background, like Arlan Andrews, Vernor Vinge, or Arthur C. Clarke. Of Course I’d want a physician, and so I’d choose F. Paul Wilson and Janet Asimov, with Robin Cook for second and third opinions, in case I had a space-related injury. Octavia Butler, because she could think her way out of anything. I wish she was still with us! Joan Slonczewski in case we needed a little genetic engineering done.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in Science Fiction & Fantasy poetry, what works would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Wow, if only! It would need to contain be an enormous number of poems, so let me just sketch out my brainstorming for this fantasy course.

First Unit: Roots: I’d want poems from Shakespeare (selected passages from The Tempest) and maybe some passages from Dante and Milton, for perspective. Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, of course. A smattering of Poe. These would be early in the course, as teasers, because they would be beautiful and draw students in.

Second Unit: Theory: I’d direct students to follow sfpoetry.com. Essay readings would be assigned, particularly Suzette Haden Elgin’s The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook. I think there exists an essay called “Why Speculative Poetry Matters,” but I can’t find it right now.

Third Unit: An Explosion of New Masters Mid Twentieth Century: The next part of the course would be devoted to landmark spec poetry: I’d assign several anthologies, especially Edward Lucie-Smith’s Holding Your Eight Hands: an Anthology of Science Fiction Verse (1969) and Robert Frazier’s Burning with a Vision: Poetry of Science and the Fantastic (1984).

Fourth Unit: Twentieth Century Master: Contemporary Masters: Here I’d pile on Ray Bradbury’s When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed, with special attention to “If We Had Only Taller Been.” Then there would be slim volumes by Roger Zelazny, parts of Creatures of Light and Darkness, plus To Spin is Miracle Cat and “When Pussywillows Last in the Catyard Bloomed.” Next, Ursula Le Guin, not sure which volume, maybe New and Selected Poems.

Fifth Unit: Masters of the Last Thirty Years: I’d create an anthology of all the Rhysling winners. This would be quite a task, because I’d a) have to locate the authors or their literary estates and b) wrangle permission to reprint. So I might just do a Samizdat printing, or have students read the poems from the SFPpoetry website. (I won a 2nd one time, but it’s not up there, because they started listing them after my winning.) I’d also include Bruce Boston’s retrospective, Dark Roads; at least one collection by Jane Yolen; David Kopaska-Merkel’s The Memory of Persistence, Geoff Landis’s Iron Angels, F.J. Bergmann’s Constellation of the Dragonfly, David Cowen’s The Madness of Empty Spaces, one of Mary Soon Lee’s extraordinary Crowned series, and Marge Simon’s Unearthly Delights.

Plus poems by Ann Schwader, Kendall Evans, Suzette Haden Elgin, Bryan Thao Worra, Mike Allen, Deborah P. Kolodji, Sandra Lindow, Gary William Crawford, Josh Gage, Mari Ness, Rachel Pollack, John Amen, Lucy Snyder, J.E. Stanley, G.O.Clark, Tim Esaias, Scott Green, Robert Borsky, Denise Dumars, Bryan D. Dietrich, Linda D. Addison, Sandra Kasturi, David Clink, Stephanie Wytovich, Herb Kauderer, and Alessandro Manzetti.

Out of pure egotism, I would offer free copies of my own books, Lovers & Killers (Dark Regions, 2012) and Your Cat & Other Space Aliens (Van Zeno, 2007) as prizes for the best essays about some other poet.

I’d have a few words about SciFaiku, plus poets outside the spec fic community who write speculative and may not even know it: Billy Collins, Lola Haskins.

I’d alas not be able to do much with non-English-speaking poets —

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I told Roger Zelazny I wanted to BE him. Roger was fundamentally very reserved, and just kind of froze in horror.

I also fed Algis Budrys an absolutely inedible meal at my house — burned to charcoal. And suggested he should watch his diet and stress level.

Another awkward moment was when I was at a Writer of the Future event and my boyfriend asked Larry Niven what he did for a living. This boyfriend soon became my ex-boyfriend. (Of course that was also because I took him to a Warren Zevon concert and he made fun of the drummer’s hairdo.)

Competitive fencing has been a part of your life. How did you get into it? How long have you been fencing?

I always wanted to fence. Swords, don’t all geeks love them? My departed son collected historical replica swords, so I feel a connection with him when I fence. My husband and I have been fencing for over five years and by pure luck I represented the US in Veteran’s (meaning over 40) Women’s Foil in Germany last year.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

The whole debate about “mainstream” (meaning literary realism) versus speculative fiction. I hope we’ve finally put that puppy in the grave.

Of course now the big debate is that some factions (white hetero males) think there’s too much emphasis on social justic themes in fiction by women and minorities. It makes my head ache.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

Margaret Wise Brown’s The Golden Egg Book. The illustrations are so very Miyasaki-like, so pretty, in my memory. The second book I read was Clare Turlay Newberry’s April’s Kittens, a story about a girl who loves her cats, but has to choose between the mother cat and her kitten.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I’ll be at Worldcon in Finland (if we ever make our plane rez). I’m trying to arrange some signings for Mars Girls. I’m in the process of arranging some bookstore signings. Check Facebook (I make all my posts public, so you don’t have to go through the whole “friend” chore.) and I have an Amazon Author Page.

Places to Follow Mary

Facebook

Amazon

GoodReads

LiveJournal

Book Blurb for Mars Girls:

Nanoannie is bored. She wants to go to clubs, wear the latest Earth fashions, and dance with nuke guys. But her life is not exciting. She lives on her family’s Pharm with her parents, little sister, and a holo-cat named Fuzzbutt. The closest she gets to clubs are on the Marsnet. And her parents are pressuring her to sign her contract over to Utopia Limited Corp before she’s even had a chance to live a litte. When Kapera—a friend from online school—shows up at her Pharm asking for help, Nanoannie is quick to jump in the roer and take off. Finally an adventure!

What Nanoannie and Kapera find at the Smythe’s Pharm is more than the girls bargained for. The hab has been trashed and there are dead bodies buried in the backyard! If that wasn’t bad enough, the girls crash the rover and Kapera gets kidnapped by Facers who claim her parents are murderers! Between Renegade Nuns, Facers, and corp geeks, Nanoannie and Kapera don’t know who to trust or where to go. Kapera only wants to find her parents so they can get to Earth Orbitals and she can be treated for her leukemia. Nanoannie wants to help her friend and experience a little bit of Mars before selling her contract to the first corp that offers to buy it.

Life isn’t easy when you’re just a couple of Mars Girls.

Author Bio

Mary Turzillo’s 1999 Nebula-winner,”Mars Is no Place for Children” and her Analog novel, AN OLD-FASHIONED MARTIAN GIRL, are read on the International Space Station. Her poetry collection, LOVERS & KILLERS, won the 2013 Elgin Award.  She has been a finalist on the British Science Fiction Association, Pushcart, Stoker, Dwarf Stars and Rhysling ballots.   SWEET POISON, her Dark Renaissance collaboration with Marge Simon, was a Stoker finalist and won the 2015 Elgin Award.   She’s working on a novel, A MARS CAT & HIS BOY, and another collaboration with Marge Simon, SATAN’S SWEETHEARTS. Her novel MARS GIRLS is forthcoming from Apex.   She lives in Ohio, with her scientist-writer husband, Geoffrey Landis, both of whom fence internationally.

Geoff and Mary ponder the question: what would it be like to fence in zero-G? and: What about if we were cats fencing in zero-G?

Places to Follow Apex Book & Magazine Publisher

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Blog Tour Schedule

GIVEAWAY!!!

Apex is giving away 1 ebook copy of Mars Girls, open world wide. Just do the Rafflecopter thing below. Ends June 17, 2017, midnight.

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Apex Magazine Short Fiction Podcasts #11-15

Smudge kitty

Apex Magazine regularly puts out a podcast that features short science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories. Below are my reviews more of the podcasts. You can find all their podcasts HERE. Podcast #11 was narrated by Windy Bowlsby, Lolly Foy, Tim Wick. Windy also narrated #12,13, and 15. Chikodili Emelumadu narrated #14. Apex Magazine is currently doing a Subscription Drive through April 17, 2017 and they have plenty of interesting bookish things up for grabs – autographed books, postcards, the entire Apex Magazine ever, even knitted hats. Yes. I bought a signed copy of The Buried Life by Carrie Patel and it’s already here! Knitted. Podcasts 1-5 are reviewed over HERE. Podcasts 6-10 are reviewed over HERE.

Podcast #11: Not Smart, Not Clever by E. Saxey

This was a clever little piece, being about 30 minutes long. Four university students spend a lot of time and effort on faking their essays instead of writing them. There’s some neat cyberpunkish tech too. The main character, Lynn, tells most of the story. Barb freaks out often, scared she’ll get caught. Zack, Lynn’s nerdy boyfriend, is a nice addition to the mix. A few sound effects were mixed in though I wasn’t sure about this particular one – was it to indicate chatting over a phone or was there suppose to be rain in the background? The mixed narration (3 narrators) was smoothly done. I felt they were all in the same room during the recording.

Podcast # 12: Soul of Soup Bones by Crystal Lynn Hilbert

Wow! Just simply wow! This was a fascinating and elegantly written short story about necromancers. It made me hungry. Yep. That’s right. I wanted to be cooking right alongside the two main characters. I love how the story wound me up just as Adrienne was winding herself up. She’s so frustrated that she cant find the key to the spell. She put a lot of effort into finding the bones of that necromancer and still no answers were forthcoming. At least until later in the story. But I will leave that for you to discover. The narration was very good on this production. I think the narrator also enjoyed the tale. ~20 minutes long.

Podcast #13: The Food in the Basement by Laura Davy

This is a deliciously creepy story about a vampire and the human he feeds on. I love the way the vampire is described in this story. Kaden is something otherworldly when he’s feeding. It was a good ending too. I’m all for the chinchilla having a good home. The narration was excellent. ~16 minutes long.

Podcast #14: Juniper and Gentian by Erik Amundsen

This was a complex bit of science fiction. I liked it but I think I would have appreciated it more if I had eyeball read it, or perhaps I should listen to it twice to catch all the nuances. Gentian (Gen) is a spaceship, I think, and is sentient to a point; or, rather, she is sentient in a way that we can barely comprehend. Anyways, there’s lots of beautiful prose and imagery in this little tale. The narration was also good even though I don’t think English was the first language of the narrator. Her voice lent an foreignness to Gentian which definitely added to the story. ~18 minutes long.

Podcast #15: Economies of Force by Seth Dickinson

~37 minutes long. It’s an interesting piece. In a world where everyone’s tendencies, words, and mannerisms are monitored by a much removed automated system, there are those that strive to break out of the normal mode and be individuals. However, this often results in catastrophe for those individuals and small groups. Even so, there are a few brave souls that document the drone raids and the random executions. This is a food for thought story. The narration was also quite good for this tale.

Apex Magazine Short Fiction Podcasts #6-10

Apex Magazine regularly puts out a podcast that features short science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories. Below are my reviews more of the podcasts. Podcasts 1-5 are reviewed over HERE. You can find all their podcasts HERELynne M. Thomas narrates Podcast #6. Podcasts #7, #8, #9, and #10 are narrated by Windy Bowlsby. Apex Magazine is currently doing a Subscription Drive and they have plenty of interesting bookish things up for grabs – autographed books, postcards, the entire Apex Magazine ever, even knitted hats. Yes. Knitted.

Podcast #6: What You’ve Been Missing by Maria Dahvana Headley

Betty’s husband is losing it. Somewhere, there’s hooves beating upon waves and it seems he’s the only one who can hear them. Wow! This was an intense story. It’s sadly sweet with a touch of magic to it as well. ~19 minutes long. The narrator did a good job with this one, especially portraying the emotions of the frustrated man.

Podcast # 7: Jackalope Wives by Ursula Vernon

In 30 minutes, Vernon has painted a desert full of magical beings. The story focuses on the jackalope wives. They dance to firelight and their grace and alien beauty attract Granma’s reckless grandson. Pretty soon, damage is done and it’s up to Granma to fix it. This was an elegant piece that says so much in a short amount of time. Being a desert dweller myself, I really liked the jackalopes with their little horns. Granma is the unsung hero of this tale. The narration was very good complete with various character voices.

Podcast #8: Maria and the Pilgrim by Rich Larson

This is another excellent podcast. Set in a small village, the pilgrim is coming and all the villagers give thanks to Jesus. There’s little hints along the way that the ‘pilgrim’ isn’t what the villagers think he is. The villagers themselves, including young Maria, all have an odd but important mutation. It’s simply an excellent story. The narration was very good on this one. There’s a variety of character voices and Bosby performs both male and female voices very well. ~30 minutes.

Podcast #9: Waking by Cat Hellisen

This is an eerie story about angels. In fact, I’m not convinced they are angels but the people in the story have no better name for them. From the sky, silent and unmoving, they would expire shortly upon touching the earth. Three siblings may be the key to understanding them. It’s an interesting little piece. I feel it ends a bit too early as I really wanted to see where things go from there. I will have to look up the author and see if she ever built upon this tale. The narration was really good. I liked the kid and teen voices used for the characters. ~30 minutes.

Podcast #10: Repairing the World by John Chu

This story took a little bit for me to understand what was going on. Set in a world where men and women, for the most part, have distinct roles in society, Lila and Bridger break some of those societal rules. Lila repairs rifts between worlds and actually attends university – very unladylike! I really enjoyed her character and could feel her frustration at being hampered by society believing that women were unfit for certain duties. Meanwhile, Bridger is a linguist, which is a pretty mighty job as there are plenty of people popping in and out of their rift-torn world that need to communicate. Bridger also prefers the company of men but he lives in a world where homosexuality is an arrestable offence. Once I got into the story, I was caught up in these two main characters. It’s them that pulled me and wouldn’t let me leave their tale until it was over. The narration was great on this one. Bridger sounded like the big moody, gruff guy he was. Lila sounded a little precocious as she worked hard to keep her job. ~30 minutes long.

That Strange Beauty of Apex Magazine

Heya Folks! I’m giving a shout out about Apex Magazine, a wonderful science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine, featuring not only short fiction but also SFF/Horror/Mashup poetry. Every month Apex gives us a mix of originals and reprints, interspersed with interviews and nonfiction. Some of the featured authors have included: Mary Robinette Kowal, Saladin Ahmed, Genevieve Valentine, Amal El-Mohtar, Forrest Aguirre, Nick Mamatas, Theodora Goss, Nalo Hopkinson, Lucy A. Snyder, Cat Rambo, Jeff VanderMeer, Seanan McGuire, and Jennifer Pelland. Amazing new writers such as Indrapramit Das, T.J. Weyler, Alex Livingston, Ursula Vernon, Kathryn Weaver, Kelly Barnhill, Douglas F. Warrick, and Jeremy R. Butler have also been a part of Apex. And don’t forget that podcast!

Each new issue is posted piecemeal throughout the month and placed on sale the first Tuesday of every month. Content can be read for free via the website. Alternatively, annual subscriptions are available and all our issues can be purchased in single issue formats (ePub/mobi/PDF or from the Kindle and Nook stores–these versions contain exclusive content such as classic reprints and novel excerpts). [I borrowed this bit directly from their website.]

Now Apex is hosting a subscription drive to raise funds. Folks like Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner put in a lot of effort to make Apex awesome. Revive the Drive has more than just Apex subscriptions to offer. There’s collectible art, signed editions, precision roasted coffee (yes, indeed, fancy coffee!), hand-knitted items, and more!

Find Apex on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Interview: Sarah Dalton, Author of Blemished

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DaltonBlemishedWelcome everyone to The Book of Apex Blog Tour! Today, I have Sarah Dalton here, author of the Blemished series, giving us an interview. She was kind enough to swing by again, having been here last week with her guest post: Cruelty Is Needed.

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

Well, I like to think that humans are a lot less superstitious than they used to be when we hunted dragons and unicorns! I’m not sure we’ll ever be that suspicious again, what with the internet and Wikipedia and everything. Maybe after the apocalypse.

But that doesn’t mean fantasy literature doesn’t have an effect on human cultures. Reading rich fantasy worlds can enrich our imaginations and influence a generation as they grow into adults. Fantasy worlds inspire art, and costume, and language. We only need to look at the success of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, and the wonderful TV adaptation, ‘Game of Thrones’ to see how it is inspiring artists, writers and enthusiasts. DeviantArt is full of wonderful fan art just for starters.

Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

I like a good old-fashioned vampire. There’s definitely an allure about the prospect of an eternal life living in the shadows. Plus it would be fascinating to sit and talk to someone who had lived for a thousand years, to discover their opinions on war, or what life was really like.

Dragons I would avoid at all costs. I’ve played enough Skyrim to know you don’t mess with a dragon.

DaltonMyDaylightMonstersWith the modern popularity to ebooks, a book is no longer limited to a specific genre shelf. It is now quite easy to label place an ebook in multiple genres (i.e. YA, Fantasy, Horror). How do you see this affecting readers? Have you been inadvertently lured outside your reading comfort zone?

Yes! I have been lured outside my comfort zone. I’m a genre-hopping reader anyway, but I’ve recently ventured into reading New Adult. I’ve not read any romance for a long time, but there are some real gems in New Adult, and it’s a genre that may have not emerged if it wasn’t for ebooks.

I think we’ll see more niche markets and unusual books, especially in length. Publishers tend to have a preferred word count, but self-published books can be any length at all. I’ve published three novellas so far, books that probably wouldn’t have found an audience without epublishing. We will also see more book bundles and anthologies hitting the scene. I’ve worked with other self-published authors to put together anthologies and multi-author bundles. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to find new readers.

From your own writings, are there any characters you would like to cosplay?

Oh wow, that’s a tough question! Most of my characters are teens, so it would be a pretty unrealistic cosplay. The MC for my upcoming YA fantasy has a white stag to ride. That would be particularly awesome.

DaltonWhiteHartIs there a book to move/TV adaptation that you found excellent? Is there a PC game to book adaptation that worked for you?

I love Game of Thrones. Who doesn’t? For some reason I couldn’t get into the books, despite them being well-written and engaging, but the TV show is probably my favorite show airing right now. The costumes, the acting… it’s all fantastic, and I think the characters are brought to life beautifully.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

Creative mess! The messier it is, the more I’m struggling with a plot bunny. I get steadily more and more untidy as I delve into the writing process. Every now and then I have to have a complete tidy to clear my head and focus.

I prefer to write in my office, but I can work in other places. It’s better in silence, so working in cafes, as lovely as it looks in films, isn’t usually very practical. Also I stare into space when I’m writing, which freaks people out in public.

DaltonFracturedFinally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I’m working with an amazing bunch of authors to put out a YA dystopian bundle of six books. I’m really excited about that.

I’m also working on two new series, one a YA high fantasy called White Hart about a young girl born with the craft, a magical power which binds her with nature, the other called Mary Hades, which is a YA paranormal horror. I’m in the early stages of this one. It’s a follow up to my gothic novella My Daylight Monsters, about a girl who can see ghostly beings that help her solve mysteries.

Places to Stalk Sarah

Facebook

Goodreads

Website

Blemished Website

Twitter

Want to see more of blog tour? There’s reviews, interviews, guest posts, even more giveaways. Well, don’t hesitate to jump over to Little Red Reviewer (the maniac who organized this delightful blog tour) to see what all is going down this month.

Of course, you can always check out Apex Magazine for more SFF goodness.

Guest Post: Cruelty Is Needed by Sarah Dalton

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DaltonBlemishedWelcome everyone to The Book of Apex Blog Tour! Today, I have Sarah Dalton here, author of the Blemished series, giving us a guest post. She’s here to talk about a time for cruelty – how an author handles criticism.

Cruelty Is Needed

Every time I receive a bit of criticism for my work, a natural defensive ripple passes through my body. It has to be the worst part of creating something, knowing that other people will judge it. So why do I put myself through it every time I write a book?

Because I need to.

DaltonFracturedThe moment writing became more of a career then a hobby, was the moment I began to receive criticism from other writers. I still remember my first time, it was on a critiquing forum, and a member politely pointed out that my short piece of prose was little more than a great big info dump. At this point I’d never heard of info dumping. I had no idea that in the first five paragraphs of my book, I’d been world building in my head, and dumping those thoughts on the page. Heck, I didn’t even know what world building was. I was an instinctive writer, making it up as I went along. I needed a prod in the right direction, otherwise I might still be writing two thousand word descriptive introductions for each character.

Every word I write is in some way influenced by the books I have read. When it comes to my work, I owe a lot of it to other writers. It has been said before, but it bears saying again, writing is a collaborative process, and the only way you can get better, is by opening yourself to the views of other people.

Part of that process is listening. There’s a lot of advice out there. Part of your job as writer, and CEO of your book, is choosing which advice to heed, and which to ignore. And believe me, receiving criticism isn’t always about changing everything your critique partner tells you to change, because you cannot tailor a book to every single reader’s wants and needs. It’s impossible, you’re never going to please everyone.

So, for what it’s worth, here are my top tips for surviving criticism, and utilizing it to your full advantage.

DaltonMyDaylightMonsters1.    Find authors you trust – most writers establish a number of trusted critique partners either at a local meeting, or via email, or via forums. But you don’t want an echo chamber—it’s good to have differing opinions. I like to find beta readers who have never read any of my work, even if my WIP happens to be the second or third book in a series. I want to know how the reader will experience my book completely blind. The results can be interesting.
2.    Keep an open mind – working in collaboration with your critique partners is a two way street. There’s no point asking for feedback if you are going to completely ignore it. No matter how crazy or different the comments may be, no matter how much work it requires you to do, you’ve asked for honest feedback and you must at least consider it.
3.    …but having said that, after giving your criticism due consideration, you might still think that it doesn’t work for your novel. Trust your instincts. This is where you have to decide what’s best for your novel. Easier said than done. I like Neil Gaiman’s quote on this: “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”
4.    Read your reviews – sitting and reading every single review you’ve ever received is pretty crazy, and unhealthy. But, I still think that it’s worthwhile to read some of them. There are a lot of reviews that cancel each other out. Sometimes readers love the characters, sometimes they hate them, sometimes they think the book is too fast, others believe it to be too slow… it’s a real reminder that you can’t please everyone. But then you get the very thoughtful and insightful reviews that create light bulb moments. Readers are perceptive. I’ve learned a lot about my writing by reading reviews.
DaltonWhiteHart5.    Put on your public face – last but not least, the hardest part of criticism – taking it. Like I said at the beginning of this, most of us will get a knee-jerk reaction to being criticized. Sometimes I think people forget how difficult it is to see a bad review or be ripped to shreds on a critique forum. People also forget that authors ‘behaving badly’ is not new or confined to the internet, there is a wealth of history where authors have attacked their critics in the most embarrassing, or even violent ways. No, we’re not ‘speshul snowflakes’ or ‘butt-hurt authors’, we’re human. So my advice is not to toughen up, it’s to put on your public face. Follow this advice and you’re well on your way to becoming a professional author. The internet is public. Editors and beta readers are there to help, not be shouted at. Do your crying, bemoaning, angry rants in private, and then when it comes to emailing your betas or editors, keep that public persona on. Keep it professional at all times. If you think your editor has not provided a professional service, that doesn’t mean you can be unprofessional. Most of all never reply to a bad review. Reviewers don’t want to know you’re there, just keep out of it. You are both writer and author, person and business, private and public. Never the twain shall meet.

Places to Stalk Sarah

Facebook

Goodreads

Website

Blemished Website

Twitter

Also, catch the giveaway of The Book of Apex over HERE.

Want to see more of blog tour? There’s reviews, interviews, guest posts, even more giveaways. Well, don’t hesitate to jump over to Little Red Reviewer (the maniac who organized this delightful blog tour) to see what all is going down this month.

Of course, you can always check out Apex Magazine for more SFF goodness.

Giveaway: The Book of Apex, Volume Four

ApexBlogTourBannerWelcome folks to another round of The Book Of Apex Blog Tour! This time, we are doing a giveaway of an ebook copy of The Book of Apex, Volume Four. And this giveaway is open International!

What do you have to do to enter the giveaway? Leave a comment with a way to contact you (email or twitter) and answer this question: If you could have any body modification from fiction, what would it be?

This giveaway will run for 2 weeks, ending on midnight, February 22nd. I will then pick the winner and put that person in contact with those who have the real power – to distribute the book.

So many great authors contributed to this volume. Here, let Goodreads tell you a little bit about the book:

ApexVolume4Thirty-three science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories grab readers by their emotional cores to star deep into the source of our humanity and inhumanity. Well-known authors like Ken Liu, Genevieve Valentine, Catherynne M. Valente, Lavie Tidhar, and Alethea Kontis, along with newer voices, sketch surreal pasts, presents, and futures full of characters with familiar and outsized desires and fears.
“The Book of Apex Volume 4” collects the original fiction from Hugo-winning editor Lynne M. Thomas’s first fifteen issues at the helm of “Apex Magazine,” which included two Hugo Award nominations for the magazine.
Table of Contents:
“The Bread We Eat in Dreams” by Catherynne M. Valente
“The Leavings of the Wolf” by Elizabeth Bear
“The 24 Hour Brother” by Christopher Barzak
“Faithful City” by Michael Pevzner
“So Glad We Had This Time Together” by Cat Rambo
“Sweetheart Showdown” by Sarah Dalton
“Bear in Contradicting Landscape” by David J. Schwartz
“My Body Her Canvas” by A.C. Wise
“A Member of the Wedding of Heaven and Hell” by Richard Bowes
“Copper, Iron, Blood and Love” by Mari Ness
“The Second Card of the Major Arcana” by Thoraiya Dyer
“Love is a Parasite Meme” by Lavie Tidhar
“Decomposition” by Rachel Swirsky
“Tomorrow’s Dictator” by Rahul Kanakia
“Winter Scheming” by Brit Mandelo
“In the Dark” by Ian Nichols
“The Silk Merchant” by Ken Liu
“Ironheart” by Alec Austin
“Coyote Gets His Own Back” by Sarah Monette
“Waiting for Beauty” by Marie Brennan
“Murdered Sleep” by Kat Howard
“Armless Maidens of the American West” by Genevieve Valentine
“Sexagesimal” by Katharine E.K. Duckett
“During the Pause” by Adam-Troy Castro
“Weaving Dreams” by Mary Robinette Kowal
“Always the Same. Till it is Not” by Cecil Castellucci
“Sprig” by Alex Bledsoe
“Splinter” by Shira Lipkin
“Erzulie Dantor” by Tim Susman
“Labyrinth” by Mari Ness
“Blood from Stone” by Alethea Kontis
“Trixie and the Pandas of Dread” by Eugie Foster
“The Performance Artist” by Lettie Prell
Cover art provided by Julie Dillon.

Freaking brilliant, right?

Want to see more of blog tour? There’s reviews, interviews, guest posts, even more giveaways. Well, don’t hesitate to jump over to Little Red Reviewer (the maniac who organized this delightful blog tour) to see what all is going down this month.

Of course, you can always check out Apex Magazine for more SFF goodness.

The Book Of Apex: Volume 4 of Apex Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas

ApexVolume4Why I Read It: Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer said it’s a damn good book.

Where I Got It: A review copy from the publisher (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: SFF short story fans.

Publisher: Apex Book Company (2013)

Length: 368 pages

Contributing Authors: Catherynne M. Valente, Lavie Tidhar, Alethea Kontis, A. C. Wise, Richard Bowes, Mari Ness, Thoraiya Dyer, Rachel Swirsky, Rahul Kanakia, Brit Mandelo, Ian Nichols, Ken Liu, Alec Austin, Sarah Monette, Marie Brennan, Kat Howard, Genevieve Valentine, Katharine E. K. Duckett, Adam-Troy Castro, Mary Robinette Kowal, Cecil Castellucci, Alex Bledsoe, Shira Lipkin, Tim Susman, Eugie Foster, Lettie Prell, Elizabeth Bear, Christopher Barzak, Michael Pevzner, Cat Rambo, Sarah Dalton, David J. Schwartz

This little book blog tour that Andrea organized is very cool in that reviews can be on the whole book, or just a few of the stories contained therein. Due to some time constraints and life happening (oh, yes, I do have a life, as tiny as it may be – and lately best described as chasing a screaming rooster around the neighbors field with a big gay towel), I have only had the pleasure of reading two stories of this collection so far. Below, are my thoughts on those two stories. I will plan to add to this review as I enjoy further stories in this collection – because look at that list! Such a gorgeous collection of authors all in one place!

Sweetheart Showdown by Sarah Dalton
Shay-Shay is in the hospital for a skin graft for her upcoming Sweetheart beauty contest. Her mother Ma-lee fully encourages her constant quest to be up-to-minute beautiful. This tale gets twisted pretty quick. Part cyborgs? Sabotaging mind messages? Wait, there’s blades? Yeah, a tidy little bit of twisted competition for the ladies. At first, Sarah Dalton lulled me into believing this story was simply about a futuristic beauty contest. But then she brought out not only the swimsuit competition but also the brass knuckles……and hair blades…..and semi-automatics. Yeah. Not your average beauty contest at all!

Murdered Sleep by Kat Howard
Kora receives an invitation, just the address. But she knows the time to meet is midnight. ‘Sleep’s abandoned children, all gathered home and called to their revels.’ That line from the story caught my imagination and summed up much of the tale. A phoenix that drops rubies, and bejeweled snails that rain from the ceiling. This masque is full of dreams, and Kora has been invited to it. This was a beautiful, lyrical story. When it was done, I wanted to read it all over again.

The Bread We Eat in Dreams by Catherynne Valente
This was a rich story about a demon through the ages. She got kicked out of her hot home, for what, we don’t know. But now has to reside on Earth as a woman in a little cottage. And things could be tough for a disowned lonely demon in the 1600s New England coast. Of course, witch burning comes up, but it has this twist.  Beautiful story.

The Leavings of the Wolf by Elizabeth Bear
A divorced woman, her crows, and a wedding ring stuck on a fat finger. Dagmar is a runner, but is out of practice, having put on pounds during the end of her marriage. But she soldiers on through aching joints and painful shoes. And she has her crows, the ones who have learned to recognize her face through her college studies on crow behaviors. They follow her wherever she runs. They pretend to listen. I liked this story because the magic was two-fold: A woman interacting with her surroundings and finding connection with crows; and then later in the story another little tidbit that I won’t ruin for folks but is worthy. The night I finished this story, I kept pondering this: It is not a waste if it is a sacrifice. Like a sacrifice to moving on with your life. Two thumbs up for making me think.

The 24 Hour Brother by Christopher Barzak
This tale was shorter and at first I wanted more. But then, upon reflection, I felt it was right since it is about a boy, Joe,who is born, grows, and dies within 24 hours. It is told from the big brother’s perspective. We often see Lewis quietly watching all that goes on around him, either blending into a corner or hovering over his ‘baby’ brother protectively. A poignant little story.

I read this book as part of The Book of Apex Blog Tour organized by Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer. If you’d like to read more reviews, check out interviews, guest posts, even giveaways, head over to Little Red Reviewer ( click HERE) to see the full tour schedule.

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