Discovering New Authors

On March 10, I’ll be moderating a panel at the Tucson Festival of Books called “Magical History.” The festival encourages moderators to be familiar with the works of the panelists and I think that’s an excellent idea, so I’ve been reading a selection of their books. As it turns out, I’m already a fan of Gail Carriger’s work, but this gave me a chance to read more of her books. I also am familiar with Beth Cato’s writing, because I published her poetry a number of times in Tales of the Talisman, however this gave me the long-overdue excuse to read one of her novels for the first time. Mindy Tarquini and Melodie Winawer are both new writers to me and it’s been a pleasure to see their take on the idea of “Magical History.”

Reading a book by an author you’ve never read before can be a daunting prospect. Will they satisfy your taste? Will their prose style transport you to a place you want to go? Will they move at a pace you’re comfortable with? Recommendations by friends who share your taste is a great option. In this case, moderating a panel with a topic that interests me and with a couple of authors I’m already acquainted with provided me with recommendations for a couple of additional new authors.

Another great way to discover new authors is by reading anthologies with themes you care about and that maybe include an author or two you already like. An anthology is a way for an editor to present several stories they like which address the theme. In a sense, the editor is recommending a bunch of authors to you. What’s more, you get a bunch of short stories so you may sample those stories without committing to a whole novel.

That said, I’ll bet if you look at reader reviews of almost any random anthology you will find at least one and perhaps several reviews that say, in essence: “There were some terrific stories and there were some terrible stories.” To be honest, I don’t find these very helpful reviews. Speaking as an anthologist, it’s my job to find a variety of stories that address the anthology’s theme. I like to find stories from a diverse group of writers with different backgrounds. It’s not always possible to know cultural background or even gender from a name on a submission, but a person’s background and experiences are often reflected in the stories they tell. I like to mix it up and give readers stories I think are a sure bet most readers will love and a few that I think challenge the reader. Because of that variety, I know there’s a risk not every reader will love every story. For that matter, I don’t love every story from most anthologies I read, but I often love some enough that I want to seek out more stories or even a novel by some of the authors.

There are lots of great anthologies out there to sink your teeth into. You can discover a lot of great ones just by looking at older posts here at the Web Journal (and if you keep reading, I’m sure I’ll be telling you about more in the future!) If you care to explore the anthologies I’ve had a hand in curating, visit: http://www.davidleesummers.com/books.html#anthologies

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Worlds of Words

Last weekend, I was at the Tucson Festival of Books, which brings together authors of every genre imaginable from around the world to talk with readers about their work. The entire University of Arizona mall is taken up with tents occupied by vendors selling books and exhibiting products, services, and information. There was also an area called Science City which focuses on STEM literacy.

I love walking through the festival and seeing the books for sale and meeting the authors exhibiting their wares. Bookmans Entertainment Exchange is a chain of used bookstores in Arizona and one of the sponsors of the festival. They had a large tent and it was especially fun to go in and discover they had a copy of my novel Owl Dance for sale. What’s more, it was sitting on top of a copy of Bridges of Longing by my friend Marsheila Rockwell. As it turns out, I’d just spent time visiting with Marcy and her husband Jeff Mariotte a few minutes before at a tent where they were selling their books.

Fun as it is to visit the vendors, my favorite part of the festival are the tremendous panel presentations. On Saturday morning of the festival I joined J.L. Doty for a panel on Scientists Writing Science Fiction. I discussed how science influences my writing and editing. For example, science brought me together with Steve Howell of NASA Ames Research Center to assemble Kepler’s Cowboys, a collection of stories about planets discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope. I also noted that working in science doesn’t always influence my science fiction. The 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak is a big, spooky building, especially at night and it inspired me to write my horror novel The Astronomer’s Crypt. We also discussed bringing the discipline we learned in science to our writing. In that context, Jim mentioned how he writes without an outline. On the other hand, I do use outlines. In both cases, we think carefully about what we’ve written and plan our next writing sessions so we do any required research ahead of time.

I also moderated a terrific panel on building fantasy worlds. The panel included my friend Gini Koch. I was also delighted to meet Samantha Shannon, Erika Lewis, and Brian McClellan. We discussed the process they go through when creating their alternate worlds and how they keep track of the places within those worlds so they’re believable to the readers. I thought it was especially interesting to hear that Samantha was a fan of A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, because I saw some influences in The Mime Order. That said, she noted that she’d actually removed some of the more overt influences because she didn’t feel they were working in the context of her work. The photo above was taken after the panel was finished and we gathered to sign books.

By itself, a terrific weekend at the Tucson Festival of Books would have done a great job of recharging my batteries so I could continue work on my fourth Clockwork Legion novel Owl Riders. However, just a couple of days after the festival, I was delighted to find a new review of book two of the series, Lightning Wolves posted at Geek-o-Rama. Reviewer Katrina Roets wrote, “Do you want to know how you know that you’re really enjoying a book? It’s when the power goes out and you curl up on the couch with a flashlight so that you can keep reading. Seriously. This happened to me last night.” Knowing that I wrote fiction that kept a reviewer reading through a power outage gives me a great, warm fuzzy feeling and makes me ready to write even more.

2017 Tucson Festival of Books

This weekend, I’m at Wild Wild West Con at Old Tucson Studios in Tucson, Arizona. If you’re in the neighborhood, I hope you’ll drop by. This is a great steampunk event in an amazing venue and I’m doing readings, presenting panels, and talking to people all weekend long. Next weekend, on Saturday, March 11, I’ll be at the Tucson Festival of Books at the University of Arizona Campus.

TFB-Logo

The event is free, the university mall will be packed with vendors and there will be panels and workshops with authors of all genres. If you’re in Tucson and love books, this event is well worth your time.

Here’s my schedule:

Saturday, March 11

    10-11am – Writing Science Fiction with Real Life Scientists – Integrated Learning Center Room 141. On this panel with me is J.L. Doty. We have expertise in science (telescope engineer and fiber optical engineer) and are making our way in the world of science fiction marketing our books. We discuss how we blend real science with fiction—and also get sales.

    4-5pm – Building Alternate Worlds – Integrated Learning Center Room 150. I’m moderating this panel that discusses how to create worlds where magic is real and gods, ghosts, and ghouls walk among us. The panelists are Gini Koch, Erika Lewis, Brian McClellan, and Samantha Shannon.

There will be an opportunity after each panel for you to buy books and have them signed. I’ve been reading the books by my fellow panelists and I know I’ll be getting books signed! The festival continues on Sunday, March 12. I’m sorry to say, my work schedule won’t permit me to attend the second day, especially since I know there are a lot more great panels and events. If you’re in Tucson next weekend, hope to see you there!

2016 Tucson Festival of Books

This weekend, I’m at Wild Wild West Con, which is a steampunk convention being held at Old Tucson Studios just outside of Tucson, Arizona. If you’re in the area I hope you’ll drop by. The link above will take you to the convention’s home page where you can get more information. I hope to post some photos in the next couple of weeks.

TFB-Logo

Next weekend, I’ll be back in Tucson for the Tucson Festival of Books at the University of Arizona. Clicking the name or the logo to the left will take you to the festival’s home page for more information. I see lots of great authors scheduled including Greg Bear, Jeffery J. Mariotte, Marsheila Rockwell, Beth Cato, Diana Gabaldon, Jonathan Maberry, and many more. I’m scheduled for the following event:

Scientists Writing Science Fiction:
Two real life scientists discuss writing science fiction.

Location: Integrated Learning Center Room 151
Time: Sun, Mar 13, 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Signing area: Sales & Signing Area – Integrated Learning Center (following presentation)
I’ll be on this panel with Chris Impey.

I will also be signing books at the Massoglia Books Booth during the weekend. Be sure to stop by the book and check for times. They’re booth number 446 and in addition to my books, they have an outstanding selection of used and collectible books. I can easily spend hours just browsing their selection.

Hope to see you there!

Wild Wild West Con and Tucson Festival of Books

I spent the weekend of March 9 and 10 at two wonderful events in Tucson, Arizona. The first was Wild Wild West Con, a steampunk convention held at Old Tucson Studios. The other was the Tucson Festival of Books held at the University of Arizona.

My weekend really got started on Friday, March 8, as I drove down to Tucson from work at Kitt Peak National Observatory. A storm was blowing over Southern Arizona and I left just as snow was starting to fall at higher elevation. I dropped by Old Tucson and picked up some postcards from my friend Katherine Morse, one of the authors of The Adventures of Drake and McTrowell, to distribute at the Tucson Festival of Books. (Go visit their website for exciting steampunk adventures!)

The morning of Saturday, March 9 started early. Marina Martindale and I shared a booth at the Tucson Festival of Books and my wife and kids were along to help. We set up the booth, then my daughter Myranda and I drove over to Wild Wild West Con. We spent some time looking through the array of dealers and got our photo taken with Archimedes the Owl by Greg Ewald.

David and Myranda

We then moved into a busy afternoon of panels and workshops. I sat on a steampunk authors panel with the other two writer guests, Thomas Willeford and Muffy Morrigan. We talked about steampunk fiction and nonfiction. Steampunk is such a great area for people who like to make things that “how-to” books are very big in the genre. Of course, steampunk fiction is also growing as people push the boundaries of the genre. For example, do you include magic in your steampunk world, or is it purely based on known science and technology. We agreed that whatever course you steer, you should make sure you know the rules of your world and abide by them!

Writer's Panel

After the panel, I was interviewed by Arizona Public Media. We spoke mostly about how my background with early twentieth century astronomical instrumentation has contributed to my love of Steampunk.

Myranda and I then grabbed a quick lunch and I went over to the Sheriff’s Office to present a Steampunk Poetry Workshop. I have been finding that these Steampunk Poetry Workshops have been well attended. I suspect some of that comes from the fact that music is such an important part of the Steampunk subculture and, of course, poetry is really the basis of song and music. People who attended the workshop left with poems or poems in progress and some thoughts about new things they could do with their writing.

My final presentation of the day was Astronomy in the Victorian Age. I’ve given this presentation before, but this time I was in a place where I had no multimedia, so I had to do everything with demonstrations and hard copy pictures. One thing that was nice was that I found a demonstration that allows one to see how absorption spectra work using diffraction grating glasses and Christmas lights. Again, I had a good, engaged crowd who brought lots of good questions.

The night finished up with a concert by Professor Elemental, Steam Powered Giraffe and Abney Park. Wow! Talk about a dream team of the Steampunk music scene. They were all wonderful and I returned to my friend’s house that night absolutely exhausted.

TFB Booth

I spent the next day at the Tucson Festival of Books. As I mentioned above, Marina Martindale and I both decided to share a booth to show off our books. We spent the day visiting with people who came by. I was able to make the rounds and see several friends at other booths. Notably, I had a very nice visit with Scott Glener and Sue Thing at the TusCon Booth where we made plans for a very special workshop at the upcoming science fiction convention. I was also pleased to see writer friends such as Marsheila Rockwell, Gini Koch, Jeff Mariotte, Frankie Robertson and Roxy Rogers.

Fortunately, the rain never got very bad and Sunday was actually rather pleasant. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend and I was pleased that I could take part in two such wonderful events!

Big Weekend in Tucson!

Gary with Wings

Two wonderful events are coming to Tucson, Arizona on the weekend of March 8, 9 and 10. The first is Wild Wild West Con, which will be held at Old Tucson Studios on all three days. The other is the Tucson Festival of Books which will be held at the University of Arizona on March 9 and 10. I’m fortunate enough to be able to attend both events. If you’ll be in the area, I hope you’ll join me. Learn more about the events, venues, and people mentioned by clicking the links throughout the post.

Tucson Festival of Books

My company, Hadrosaur Productions, will be sharing booth 106 with Marina Martindale’s Good Oak Press. We’ll be under the banner “Martindale and Summers.” We’ll have our complete line of books available along with my novels that have been published by other houses. My wife, Kumie Wise, will be manning the area with Marina on Saturday, March 9. I will be at the booth all day on Sunday, March 10. We’d love to see you whichever day you arrive!

Wild Wild West Con

Wild Wild West Con is a Steampunk convention held at Old Tucson Studios, just outside Tucson, Arizona. It features make-and-take workshops, panel discussions, and concerts by such luminaries as Steam Powered Giraffe and Abney Park. I will be there all day on Saturday, March 9. Here’s my tentative schedule of panels and presentations:

  • Steampunk Authors with Thomas Willeford, Muffy Morrigan in the Chapel at Noon.
  • Steampunk Poetry – Make and Take Your Own Poem in the Sheriff’s Office at 2:00pm
  • Astronomy in the Victorian Age in the Sheriff’s Office at 4:00pm.

I was also a participant at the very first Wild Wild West Con in 2011 and it was a blast. If you’re in Tucson next weekend, I hope you get a chance to sample one or preferably both of these wonderful events!