Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach roundup

In March, my first book Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach hit bookstores.

Cover for Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, out March 16. Cover by Jon Foster http://www.jonfoster.com/
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach. Cover by Jon Foster http://www.jonfoster.com/

How do you encompass something as huge as having your first book published? Impossible — it’s too big. Which is why this post is so late. I just couldn’t face the challenge of summing up something that enormous. So I won’t try. Here are some of the best bits:

I cried.
Of course I did. Several times. In one instance, I was sitting on the couch with all my author copies piled in my lap, drinking a huge glass of rye and bawling my eyes out. Seriously.

I was overwhelmed by seeing my book in an actual bookstore. ALSO A LITTLE GOOFY.

I lost some copies.
Here’s what will happen to your first book: You’ll be so excited, you’ll show it to people — and they’ll think you’re giving it to them. One of the first people I showed my book to was my favorite barista. She thought I was giving it to her and grabbed it. I couldn’t ask for it back, because she was so happy and excited. Bye bye book!

My book launch was transcendent.
We held it at Toronto’s famous Bakka Phoenix Books. I made not one but two different carrot cakes. Tons of people came. We sold 70 copies. It was the best day of my life.

Me emoting at the Lucky Peach launch.

I read in Orlando and New York.
The week the book came out, I went to the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (which is a wonderful event), and then to New York to read at KGB Fantastic Fiction.

NY had a huge snowstorm the day of my NY reading! This is Central Park.
In NY, I read with the delightful Chandler Klang Smith, author of THE SKY IS YOURS — which is a very cool and awesome book, by the way.

People like Lucky Peach a lot.
Review have been fantastic! Here’s a few examples:

  • “Thrums with a delicious tension carefully developed among the wonderful characters.” Amal El-Mohtar, NEW YORK TIMES (link)
  • “Packs an enormous wallop of imagination and worldbuilding.” BARNES & NOBLE” (link)
  • “It’s likely to be one of the most impressive debut novels of the year.” – Gary K. Wolfe, CHICAGO TRIBUNE (link)
  • “There’s enough wicked cool tech to satisfy hard SF geeks, character development to please SF dilettantes, and fantastic storytelling to enamor everyone else.” – Alex Brown, TOR.COM (link)

People are buying it.
Lucky Peach hit the Locus Bestseller list! Check it out:

You might like it too.
Get it from your favorite indie bookstore, or:
Amazon US | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Chapters Indigo
IndieBound | Powells | iTunes

People want more.
I’m working on the sequel right now, called Time, Trouble, and the Lucky Peach, and it’s going to be great!

 

How to use Bookmarks in Twitter

A few months ago, Twitter rolled out a new Bookmarks feature. It’s fantastic. I don’t know about you, but Twitter is where I’m getting most of my best research leads these days. Not just links, but nested threads by experts. It’s delightful, but hard to keep track of the gems. Bookmarks fixes this. The feature isn’t readily accessible on desktop yet, but there’s a work-around.

Setting a bookmark on mobile
1. Tap on the tweet to expand it.
2. At the bottom of the tweet, tap  , and choose Add Tweet to bookmarks.

Accessing bookmarks on mobile
1. Go to the Home screen.
2. Tap your user picture (upper left), and choose Bookmarks.

Desktop work-around
To set or access bookmarks on a desktop browser, you have to use the mobile version of the site. 

1. In the URL, insert an “m.” after the forward slashes (for example: https://m.twitter.com), then press Enter.
2. Now you’re looking at the mobile version of the site, and the instructions above will work, except that your user picture will be on the top left.

Snazzy, right? This function is my new favorite thing.

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach out in a week!

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach will be out in a week! I’m so excited for people to read it. It’s already getting some very enthusiastic reviews, so I have high hopes it’ll get good reader love.

Cover for Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, out March 16. Cover by Jon Foster http://www.jonfoster.com/
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, out March 16. Cover by Jon Foster http://www.jonfoster.com/

Jonathan Strahan says:

“Rich, nuanced characters, deeply compelling story, and a powerfully conceived world make Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach one of the best novellas of recent times, one of the highlight books of 2018, and something to look for on awards ballots come 2019.”

RT Book Reviews says:

★★★★
“Robson creates a nuanced take on how time travel can be used in science fiction beyond the typical ‘prevent event from happening’ trope. Time travel is treated thoughtfully here, with rules and consequences that enrich the novel to the last page.”

Scifi and Scary says:

You’ll be missing out if you don’t read this.

Pre-order at your favorite indie bookstore, or:
Amazon US | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Chapters Indigo
IndieBound | Powells | iTunes

 

March excitement for Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach!

Cover for Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, out March 16. Cover by Jon Foster http://www.jonfoster.com/
Cover by Jon Foster http://www.jonfoster.com/

Publishing is a waiting game. I’ve only been waiting for about a year since signing the contract for Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, so I really shouldn’t complain. Most writers wait two years or more for their books to come out with a major publisher. Still, it feels like forever.

But now it’s nearly here! Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach hits on March 13. Reviews have been very positive and the book has a lot of buzz. Here’s two recent review quotes:

Gary K. Wolfe – Chicago Tribune says:

Robson, who has garnered major award nominations in a career of only a few years, builds both her future and ancient worlds with convincing detail for such a short novel, populating them with characters who are believable and engrossing, even when they have tentacles. It’s likely to be one of the most impressive debut novels of the year.

Scifi and Scary says:

You’ll be missing out if you don’t read this.

Second-time Nebula Finalist!

My Lesbian Gothic Horror novelette “A Human Stain” is up for a Nebula Award! How cool is that? I was a Nebula finalist in 2015, and it was a heck of a heady experience. Now I get to do it again! Whoop!

March is filled with STUFF. Here’s what I have on the go:

Intersection Comedy Show

I’m participating in the Intersection Improv Comedy Show on Wednesday, March 7. I’m going to be telling three of my most embarrassing moments, and then the troupe will make hay with my story.

Wednesday, March 7 at 8:00 PM to 9:30 PM
The Social Capital Theatre
154 Danforth Ave – Second Floor

International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

I’ll be in Orlando at ICFA March 16-17, reading on Saturday at 4PM. ICFA is an academic conference that a lot of writers feel very romantic about because it’s so low pressure. Basically you just hang out with your friends. Alyx and I went last year and absolutely loved it.

KGB Fantastic Fiction Reading, March 21

I’m reading with Chandler Klang Smith at KGB Fantastic Fiction in New York. Can’t wait!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018, 7pm
KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs)

Book Launch at Toronto’s Bakka-Phoenix

The launch party for Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach will be on Saturday, March 24.

Saturday, March 24 at 3:00 to 5:00 PM
Bakka-Phoenix Books – 84 Harbord St, Toronto

Cake – Live Reading – Music – Book Signing  – More Cake

I’ll be making BOTH of my famous carrot cakes. Come for the cake!

Speculative fiction writing workshops – a list

A list of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror writing workshops (updated October 31, 2018). Thanks @outseideNavah WolfePatrick Neilsen Hayden, Rebecca StefoffJennifer Marie Brissett, Sarah Berner, Cat Rambo, John Appel, Patrice Sarath, Nino Cipri, and Grayson Morris for corrections and additions!

News about workshops can be found on this page at Locus.

Workshops for new, emerging, and established writers

Cascade Writing Workshops, Seattle, WA
Three days in July, plus one day workshops through the year

Clarion, San Diego, CA
Six weeks in June-August

Clarion West, Seattle, WA
Six weeks June-August
Also holds one-day workshops throughout the year

FutureScapes Workshop, Sundance, CO
Three days in April

Gotham Writers’ Workshop, New York, NY
Ten week classes, online and in-person

Gunn Centre SF & Fantasy Novel Writers Workshop, Lawrence, KS
Two weeks in June

Locus Writer’s Workshop, Seattle, WA
Two days in June at the Locus Awards weekend
Usually taught by Connie Willis – don’t miss it

Locus Master Classes, Oakland, CA
One day, happens throughout the year
Next: December 9, 2018, Master Class with Gail Carriger

Milford, Wales, UK
One week in September

Odyssey, Manchester, NH
Six weeks in the summer

Taos Toolbox, Taos, NM
Two weeks in June/July
I was at the first one (2007) and loved it

Viable Paradise, Martha’s Vineyard, MA
One week in October

Villa Diodati Workshop, various locations in Europe
Two five-day retreats each year, spring and fall

Writing Excuses
Runs courses and retreats (including a cruise!)

Workshops for youth

Alpha, Pittsburgh, PA
Only for people aged 14-19
Two weeks in July/August

Shared Worlds, Spartanburg, SC
Only for teens
Two weeks in July

Online workshops

Odyssey Online
Offers month-long classes through the year

Online Writing Workshop for SFF
Online workshopping community

LitReactor
Offers an array of online classes.

Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers
Live and on-demand classes through the year on a variety of topics, delivered by Cat Rambo and many other hot SFF writers. Scholarships available.

UCLA Extension Program Online
Offers a certificate program in fiction writing. My wife Alyx teaches Speculative Fiction writing here.

Writing the Other
One day seminars, on-demand master classes, and weekend intensives

Post-secondary studies

Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, University of Kansas
Offers courses in Speculative Fiction Studies (also MFA and PhD, see below)

UCLA Extension Program
Offers a certificate program in fiction writing

MFA programs

I’ll only list the MFA programs that are specifically friendly to speculative fiction. This list is surely not complete. More info at Michael Underwood’s blog.

Graduate Program in Creative Writing, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
MFA and PhD programs – Faculty includes Kij Johnson

Creative Writing MA, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
Faculty includes Helen Marshall

Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing, Portland, ME
Low residency
Faculty includes James Patrick Kelly, Theodora Goss, Elizabeth Hand

Temple University MFA in Creative Writing, Pittsburgh, PA
Samuel R. Delany is on the faculty

NC State MFA in Creative Writing, Raleigh, NC
John Kessel is on the faculty

Seton Hill MFA, Writing Popular Fiction, Greensburg, PA
Lucy A. Snyder is on the faculty

SF-related Masters of Arts

Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL
Offers an MA in English with a concentration in SF and Fantasy

Other workshops

Many established writers are passionate about paying it forward. Check out the websites of your favorite authors. Chances are good they sometimes teach.

Many Science Fiction conventions offer workshops, master classes, lectures, or manuscript critiques from established writers. Some big ones upcoming:

The Surrey International Writer’s Conference embraces all genres. It’s a superb professional development conference that offers access to editors, agents, and superstar authors.

What have I missed? Email or tweet me.

Kelly’s eligibility post – 2017 edition

Fiction

Cover by Sam Wolfe

In 2017, I published two novelettes:

Lesbian gothic horror “A Human Stain” at Tor.com
At Locus, Paula Guran said, “…this spellbinding gothic novelette’s graceful writing and superlative atmosphere of dread alone are more than enough to commend it.” (10,000 words)

Far future SF “We Who Live in the Heart” at Clarkesworld
Gardner Dozois said, “The worldbuilding
here is fascinating, as is the intricately
worked-out detail of how the living ‘‘submarines’’
function and how it would be possible,
to some degree at least, to control them, but the
human relationships among the crew are equally
complicated and equally compelling. By the end,
the story has generated a great deal of suspense…”  (15,000 words)

I definitely think of myself as someone who writes short, not long, but these pieces pack a lot of story into the wordcount.

Also, both stories happen to feature lesbians. I didn’t plan that, but it’s kind of awesome.

Nonfiction

I also published two essays in Clarkesworld: “The Dream of Writing Full Time” (September 2017) and “Being James Tiptree, Jr.”
(April 2017). I’m proud of them.

Recommendations

Usually, I don’t do a recommendations post. I just tweet about good stories throughout the year, and add my recommendations to the SFWA Suggested Reading lists.

However, I’m compelled to super-push two works. First, Annalee Newitz’s novel Autonomous, because it’s just freaking spectacular (AND a lot of fun). I loved it so much. It’s got my vote for best novel of the year.

Second, please read and nominate K.M. Szpara’s terrific novelette “Small Changes over Long Periods of Time.” This is brave, bravura work and deserves to be recognized as one of the best stories of the year.

My SFContario Schedule

Cover for Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, out March 16. Cover by Jon Foster http://www.jonfoster.com/
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, out March 16. Cover by Jon Foster http://www.jonfoster.com/

SFContario is coming up soon, right here in downtown Toronto. Here’s my schedule:

How to Overthink Your Way Out of Writing
3:00 PM Saturday, November 18 – Gardenview room
Charlotte Ashley, Matt Mayr, Ira Nayman, Kelly Robson (M)
Theodore Sturgeon famously taught “Ask the next question.” Beginning writers everywhere are advised to ask “What if…?” as they develop their story. With a little research and some extra caffeine you too can come up with such a plethora of possibilities that your story becomes a dense jungle with no clear path – impenetrable and neverending. As denizens of the Digital Age, with its abundance of information and surfeit of attention span, we have never been in a better position to over-complicate our stories – and our lives!

Reading (30 minutes)
4:30 PM, Saturday, November 18 – Parkview room
I’ll be reading from my forthcoming book Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach.

Where do we go from here?
12:00 PM, Sunday, November 19 – Solarium room
Matt Mayr, Lawrence Schoen, Kelly Robson, Clare Wall (M)
Speculative fiction speculates, it’s all there in the name. In today’s rapidly changing climate – cultural, political, and scientific – where should we be pointing next? How can current SFF keep pace with the current developments, and still prepare the way to the future?

Quatloos and Credits and Latinum, Oh My!
1:00 PM, Sunday, November 19 – Solarium room
Alyx Dellamonica, Kelly Robson, Cenk Gokce (M)
Economics is frequently overlooked in SF. Do adventurers simply live on nuts and berries and what they can kill? What do they pay with when they visit an inn or buy a drink? How is trade carried out, particularly between species? Is there still a struggle for resources or has science advanced to the point where anything can be fabricated?

When good enough is not good enough

Young Woman Drawing (Marie Joséphine Charlotte du Val d’Ognes) by Marie Denise Villers, 1801

Until yesterday, I was super happy with my current story-in-progress. The drafting went comparatively fast, and the second draft revision was smooth. The sentence-by-sentence writing developed a few lovely turns, and I was happy with everything I’d done until the third draft polish when suddenly—

I realized the last quarter of the story was dumb. Beautifully written, but dumb. I mean, it was okay. It was probably good enough. Someone, somewhere would have bought the story. Readers would probably go hmmm at the end.

But I’m not in this to make readers go hmmm. I’m in this to make their heads snap back.

I mentioned this situation to a friend, who asked, “How do you know the ending sucks?” Difficult question. Basically, my instinct told me. It simply didn’t feel right. So I sat down with my big sketchpad and did what I always do when I have story problems—doodle and sketch out my thoughts (why does this suck — this is so bad — I have no idea what I’m doing) until I figured out the problem.

The ending hinges on the main character’s reaction to a big dramatic public proclamation, and the person making that proclamation really doesn’t have a reason to do it. They don’t necessarily need a reason—they’re not the point of view character—but without a solid reason, the story rings hollow and false.

So I’m reworking the whole ending. Not quite sure how I’ll fix it. But it’ll be a good ending instead of one that’s just barely good enough.

My schedule at Can-Con, the Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature

T-Rex probably won’t be in Ottawa for the con, but you never know.

I’ll be at Can-Con, The Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature, in Ottawa on October 14 and 15. The convention is held at the Sheraton hotel, 150 Albert Street, and promises to be a wonderful weekend full of everything SF people love.

The con committee does a terrific job with programming. I’m looking forward to it so much. Here’s where I’ll be:

Saturday, October 14, 10:00 AM
Readings
Kelly Robson, Kate Heartfield, Tonya Liburd

Reading from our latest works. I’ll be reading from my forthcoming book “Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach.”

Saturday, October 14, 1:00 PM
Advice to Aspiring Writers on the Craft 

Charles de Lint, Tanya Huff, Kelly Robson, Haden Trenholm, Eric Choi  (moderator)
Established pros discuss their hardest lessons, the watershed moments in their careers (both creative and business), and offer their tips and tricks to emerging and aspiring writers.

Saturday, October 14, 10:00 AM
What Makes Romantic Chemistry Between Characters?
Julie E. Czerneda, Jennifer Carole Lewis, Linda Poitevin, Jamieson Wolf, Kelly Robson (moderator)
Most writers, no matter the genre, at some time need to create romantic chemistry between two characters, whether this will be consummated or remain as ships passing in the night. The panel of writers will use examples from their own published works, as well as positive and negative examples from TV and movies to analyze romantic chemistry.

Sunday, October 15, 2:00 PM
Leveling Up Your Writing with Formal Courses
Curtis C. Chen, Suzanne Church, Timothy Gwyn, Leah MacLean-Evans, Kelly Robson (moderator)
Previous participants in courses like Clarion, Odyssey, Taos Toolbox, MFAs, etc. discuss (1) the benefits and drawbacks of residential vs. online writing courses, (2) how they got in, (3) what they learned there vs. other places to learn.

About impostor syndrome

I was a rodeo princess.

Whiskey and me

When I was a teenager, we lived on an acreage west of Hinton, Alberta, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It’s beautiful country, but not a great place for a bookish kid to live — especially pre-internet.

I wasn’t naturally athletic. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I was naturally horse-crazy. I competed in the local rodeo and summer gymkhana meets, riding in the barrel racing competitions along with a variety of other timed events. I did steer riding only once. It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever done, next to driving in Sicily.

When I was 14, I lost the rodeo queen competition. Yes, there were tears (I was only 14!). The next year, I was first runner-up, which officially made me Rodeo Princess. Always better to be the princess than the queen, if you can manage it. All the glamour, none of the responsibility.

Lucky and me

But despite all this outdoorsiness, I was a nerdy kid at heart. I never felt comfortable in my rodeo princess skin. I always felt like an impostor, a poseur, a fake.

Writers talk about impostor syndrome a lot. We don’t often acknowledge that it’s not a phenomenon confined to the writing world. Impostor syndrome happens to everyone who’s actively working at getting better at something that most people don’t have the guts or the ambition to try. It happens whenever we’re taking risks.

One of my barriers to becoming a better barrel racer was psychological. I was too scared of getting hurt to really push the speed. Plus, I was working on learning the skill by myself, so I could never see what I was doing right or wrong. And, crucially, I didn’t have anyone to coach me through my fears.

Writers don’t take physical risks, but we take psychological and emotional risks that are just as scary. We have to, or we don’t get better. This is why most of us crave relationships with other writers. We need peers and (occasionally) teachers or coaches to show us the risks are worthwhile, tell us what we’re doing right and wrong, and reassure us that we will get better if we just keep working.