A lot of people are eager to see 2018 out the door. I get it. Nevertheless, as this year draws to a close I thought I’d highlight some good things that took place. Not just to me, but to some of my friends in the writing world. Here they are, five amazing things that happened in 2018.
5. The Trilogy Came To An End
In April 2018, my third book, The World Awakening, was published by Harper Voyager. This was the final book in my series, and I had a hell of a time bringing the story to the conclusion that I’d planned years ago. I’m thrilled with how the story turned out and with the gorgeous cover.
Equally (if not more) enjoyable was the excuse to write guest posts for people who’d normally intimidate me. I shared lessons from my nine years as a penmonkey with Chuck Wendig, my favorite bit with Mary Robinette Kowal, and even my favorite cookie recipe with Beth Cato.
Are there more stories I could tell in the world of Alissia? Absolutely. I even planted some seeds with that possibility in mind. However, I feel good about how the story ended, and the sales numbers for books 2 and 3 don’t justify new installments. The publication of World also concludes my contract with HarperCollins.
4. I Became A Serial… Writer
A bright spot in 2018 that I’m finally allowed to talk about is THE TRIANGLE, my new sci-fi adventure series coming in April 2019. The publisher is Serial Box, a relatively new company that publishes serialized fiction in e-book and audiobook. They’re aiming to become the “HBO of books” with series that are co-written by a teams of writers and released in seasons.
To date, Serial Box has produced more than 20 serials across various genres, some of which are in their third or fourth season. They’re also working with a pool of incredibly talented writers like Max Gladstone, Ellen Kushner, Gwenda Bond, and Malka Older. It’s high company indeed.
The Triangle, which I’m co-writing with Mindy McGinnis and Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, follows a team of investigators who are trying to solve the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle after it “reawakens” in the wake of two major hurricanes. Sort of an X-files meets Indiana Jones vibe. The first season is ten episodes and will be released starting in April 2019. If you preorder it using this link, you can get the whole season for 15% off.
3. My Friends Stormed the Gates
One of the best things about becoming an author is that I’ve made so many wonderful friends in the writer trenches. We’ve gone through a lot together, some of it good, some of it bad. That’s part of the struggle. But this year, 2018, was notable in that my friends are starting to kick ass and take names.
In July, Harper Voyager published PLANETSIDE, a military sci-fi novel by debut author Michael Mammay. Mike is not only my friend and critique partner, but was my 2015 Pitch Wars mentee with this book. Planetside made the Locus Bestseller list in November and the audiobook (narrated by R.C. Bray) has 1,300+ ratings on Audible. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw it on some award lists for next year, either. It’s eligible for the Nebula (best novel), the Hugo (best novel), and the Philip K. Dick Award, to name a few.
Other good friends of mine are also kicking down the door to the publishing industry. Sonia Hartl’s YA contemporary Have A Little Faith In Me will be published by Page Street in fall 2019. Diana Urban’s YA thriller All Your Twisted Secrets is set to be published by HarperTeen in 2020. Two amazing debuts, two well-deserving authors.
2. Pitching Contests Were Reinvented
As longtime followers know, I volunteer for some writing/pitching contests that aim to help new authors break into the traditional publishing industry. One of those is Pitch Wars, in which established authors pair up with authors seeking representation to help revise and improve their manuscripts. The contest changed significantly this year, with new leadership and a special focus on diversity that aims to better provide what the community needs.
Somehow, Mike Mammay and I managed to slip in as co-mentors once again. We received 200+ submissions and had a very hard time choosing one of them. We eventually picked Chris Kerns and have been working with him on MIXED REALITY, his near-future cyberthriller about a virtual reality social network (it’s incredibly good).
As you may have already learned from Mike’s year-end blog post, he will not be able volunteer for Pitch Wars next year due to his other commitments as a Fancy Successful Author. This makes it unlikely, but not impossible, that I’ll be a PW mentor in 2019. Like any great team, he and I are better together than we are apart.
My other main contribution to the writing community is #SFFpit, a twice-annual Twitter pitching event for SF/F authors, agents, and editors. The last event, which was in June, drew a great crop of authors but disappointingly few literary agents showed up to make requests. This continued a trend from the previous December, and ensuing discussions led me to think that the timing of the event (June and December) was not optimal.
Thus, the next #SFFpit will be held in January and we’ll see how that goes. If we can’t draw sufficient literary agents to make the contest worthwhile, it may no longer be valuable enough to continue.
1. We Put the Science in Fiction
Undoubtedly the biggest achievement of this year was working with Writers Digest Books and forty contributors to publish Putting the Science in Fiction. This book collects 59 articles — including several never-before-published essays and a foreword by Chuck Wendig — into a resource to help writers craft stories and fictional worlds with more technical accuracy.
It’s the culmination of almost two years of work, and draws on the expertise of contributors who’ve collectively endured more than 200 years of graduate study in their chosen fields. More than two thirds of those expert contributors identify as female, by the way, so we’ve kept the mansplaining to a minimum.
Many people are starting to think about awards season, so I’d be remiss not to mention that Putting the Science in Fiction is eligible in the Best Related Work category of the Hugo Awards. This is an often-overlooked category, so please keep us in mind if you happen to be nominating this year.
I should also mention that I hosted 30 new articles in the Science in Sci-fi, Fact in Fantasy blog series this year, including a number from new contributing experts. Here they all are for your reading pleasure:
- Nuclear Radiation for Writers by nuclear chemist Rebecca Enzor
- How to Write About Biomedical Researchers by Dan Koboldt
- Nursing Misconceptions in Fiction with nurse Stephanie Sauvinet
- A Primer on Primates for SFF Writers by Lee Everett
- Writing Microbes in Outer Space with microbiologist Mike Hays
- The Reality of Bees by science reporter and beekeeper Bianca Nogrady
- Animal Talk: The Emerging Science of Ethology with William Huggins
- Debunking Myths About Hunting with wildlife biologist Rebecca Mowry
- Writing Realistic Spiders with entomologist Robinne Weiss
- Realistic Forests: Tell the Wood from the Trees with Terence Newman
- Realistic Knife Fighting with martial arts expert Eric Primm
- Political Philosophies for Fictional Worlds by Kate Heartfield
- Writing Realistic Research Labs by molecular biologist Jenny Ballif
- Writing Venomous Creatures by entomologist Robinne Weiss
- Writing Distinct Characters by Considering Development with Maria Grace
- Scientists Are Not Evil: Research Ethics for Writers by scientist Dan Koboldt
- Space Law and Lowering the Cost of Space Travel with lawyer Matthew Reardon
- Autism Misconceptions in Fiction by developmental-behavioral pediatrician Josh Michaels
- Drug Development for Writers by biochemist Bradley Johnson
- Space Battles in Sci-fi with veteran officer Michael Mammay
- Binary Poisons in Fiction with toxicologist Jane Prosser
- Quantum Computing and Cryptography: Part 1 and Part 2 by physicist Dan Allen
- Analog versus Digital Imaging by astronomical engineer Judy L. Mohr
- The Science of Aging and Its Fictional Cures by Philip A. Kramer
- Sights, Sounds, and Smells in the Lab by scientist Rachel Brick
- Erroneous Code in Fiction, with programmer KJ Harrowick
- Advanced Life Support for Writers with pediatric oncologist Stacey Berg
- The Current State of Artificial Intelligence with expert Dan Rowinski
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