Party Talk!

It’s that time again – we asked our writers a question and brought their answers here to share with you. This week, we asked, ” What is your favorite childhood book?”

Gail Martin: From my own childhood, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. From my kids’ childhoods, Piggy Pie

Edmund Schubert: Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. If you’re not familiar with it, imagine the Hardy Boys meets Scooby Doo) (I was a huge fan of these as a kid! mm)

Melissa Gilbert: How far back in childhood are we talking here? When I was really little, it was The Little Red Hen. When I was a bit older, Nancy Drew.

John Hartness: A Wrinkle In Time

Misty Massey: When I was little, I loved “Where the Wild Things Are”. When I was old enough to read my own chapter books, I became a fan of Nancy Drew and the Marguerite Henry horse books. Currently my favorite children’s book is “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day”, because even though I’m 53, I still need the reminder that some days are just like that. Even in Australia.

R S Belcher: “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney. My kids LOVED this book and I did too!

Tamsin Silver: Childhood? How young are you talking? My father read to me from five to 15 I think. If you mean very young, it would be the Madeline books. If you’re talking a bit older, it would be the C.S. Lewis NARNIA Chronicles series…specifically, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”.

Diana Pharoah Francis: The Monster at the End of This Book (Aww, I love Grover! mm)

Magical Words Link Roundup 10-20-2016

Tee Morris shares five things he learned about his writing career while running a half-marathon.

Marie Brennan talks about how your role-playing campaigns can inspire your novel.

Math time! How much beer does it take to get a hobbit drunk?

Magical Words Link Roundup 10-19-2016

Lightspeed Magazine presents a cool story for you. It’s called Help Me Follow My Sister into the Land of the Dead but it won’t cost you a thing.

Every now and then you run across a spot that looks utterly unearthly, and for a heartbeat, it seems you might have fallen into another place. Here are ten places on Earth that look like that.

Rosalind Moran discusses the use and misuse of horses in fantasy fiction.

Want a little creepy reading for October, but you’re in the mood for nonfiction? You’re in luck!

Jaym Gates talks about her upcoming anthology, Strange California.

Honestly, I’ve mentioned this before, but if you’re not listening to The Black Tapes or TANIS, you are missing out on some incredible scary-ness.

Zombies Need Brains is looking for submissions for their anthologies: Submerged, All Hail Our Robot Conquerors and The Death of All Things. But don’t wait – deadline is December 31.

There’s a new teaser for Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and I have only two words: Baby Groot.

John Cleese recaps all six seasons of The Walking Dead, and it’s delightful.

67 Posts So Far! 100+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors share personal stories about depression, PTSD for #HoldOnToTheLight


You know their books. Now discover their stories. Over 100 of your favorite science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal romance and YA authors are sharing their personal struggles with depression, anxiety, suicide, domestic violence, PTSD and other mental health issues for #HoldOnToTheLight.

You can find the links to the first 67 posts below (helpfully done up as cut-and-paste-ready tweets for you to share!)

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

The Posts Thus Far (new posts are at the top)

Cat Rambo: Healing starts w kindness A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by  @CatRambo

Jonathan Oliver: Depression lies. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by Jonathan Oliver @RebellionPub

Gaie Sebold: What’s normal? A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @GaieSebold

Stuart Jaffe: The view from the other side. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @StuartJaffe

Weston Ochse: Getting real about PTSD A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @westonochse

Gregory Wilson: What I wish I knew A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @GregoryAWilson

Aaron Rosenberg: Talking helps. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @Gryphonrose

Amy Bauer: Driving through panic.  A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by Amy Bauer @AmaronB

Tera Fulbright: The enemy within. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @TeraFulbright

Michael J. Allen:  Burn bright. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by Michael J Allen @theDscribbler

Robert Greenberger Don’t open the door. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @BobGreenberger

S.H. Roddey Natural born victims. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by SH Roddey @draickinphoenix

Squealing Nerd Dark corners. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @Squealingnerd

Delilah S. Dawson When light slips through your fingers #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on MentalWellness post by @delilahsdawson

Juliet E. McKenna Getting it right. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by@JulietEMcKenna

James Maxey Grateful for my darkness. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by James Maxey @rebellionpub

Valerie Willis My struggle, my victory A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @Valerie_Willis

Mari Mancusi Odd girl out. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @MariMancusi

Phil Giunta Hagridden by a demon. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @philgiunta

Karen E. Taylor Truth by moonlight A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @KarenETaylor53

Jeanne Adams One voice of hope. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @JeanneAdams @romancebandits

Kathy Lyons Not over yet. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @KathyLyonsAuth

Danielle Ackley-McPhail  One rock at a time. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @DMcPhail

Tracy Chowdhury Unlocking bipolar. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by Tracy Chowdhury @trimooneclipse

Myke Cole A soldier/author on what PTSD is. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @mykecole

Dianna L. Gunn Depression, stigma & silence.  #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @diannalgunn

John Hartness Doesn’t hurt to bleed. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by  @JohnHartness

Rowena Cory Daniells One step at a time #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @Rebellionpub @rcdaniells

Laura Anne Gilman Gaslighting myself #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness. @LAGilman on #PTSD

James MacDonald Ride the storm surge #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness. @JimMacAuth #PTSD

Gail Z. Martin #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness @GailZMartin on #PTSD in epic fantasy

Emily Leverett Helping a loved one cope #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness @Emily_Leverett

Jean Marie Ward Becoming the mean girl #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness @Jean_Marie_Ward

Chris Kennedy Fighting the urge to jump #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness @ChrisKennedy110

Josh Vogt Anxiety & asking for help #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness @JoshVogt

Misty Massey The black dog of depression #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness @MistyMassey

Mindy Mymudes Suicide leaves scars. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness post by @Mudepoz

Bishop M. O’Connell The bittersweet sustains. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness post by  @bishopmoconnell

Laura S. Taylor Focus on the good, and fight for that. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness  post by @LS_Taylor

Jennifer Brozek How do you tell someone what it feels like? #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SFF authors blog on #MentalWellness @JenniferBrozek

Rick Gaultieri Identity and masks. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness post by @RickGaultieri

Gail Z. Martin Fandom takes care of its own. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors blog on #MentalWellness post by @GailZMartin

Natania Barron I wrote my way out until I couldn’t. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @nataniabarron

Alma Alexander You are not alone #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @almaalexander

Joelle Reizes The courage to ask for help #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @jreizes

Jennifer St. Giles:  Tell your heart to beat again. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @JenniferStGiles

Leanna Renee Hieber:  Art can heal you. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by  @LeannaRenee

Sascha Illyvich: What’s stopping you? #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post  by @authorSaschaI

Keith R.A. DeCandido:   Pretending doesn’t make it go away.  #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post  by  @KradeC

Susan Griffith: One day I changed. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post  by @clayandsusan

Calandra Usher:   Not Today. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post  by @calandrausherhttp:

Bryan Thomas Schmidt:     What’s normal?  #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by   @bryanthomass

Linda Robertson:  The Dark Road. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by  @authorLinda

Kelly A. Harmon:   Demons and darkness #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by  @KellyAHarmon

Samantha Dunaway Bryant:  Create and destroy. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by  @mirymom

Jada Diaz:   Authors unite #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @ConCarolinas @IamJadaDiaz

David B. Coe:   A reason to live. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @DavidBCoe

Clay Griffith:  Broken minds and broken hearts #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @clayandsusan

Sherwood Smith:  Don’t tell me to smile. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @sherwood_smith

Tally Johnson:  Ink to remember why #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @TallyJohnson535

Darynda Jones:  The vulnerable side. #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by Darynda Jones @Darynda

Jody Lynn Nye:  My Lady of Inconvenient Memory #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @JodyLynnNye

Emmie Mears:  The hole under your feet.  #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @EmmieMears

Tom Leveen:  I hate me. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @TomLeveen

Vonnie Winslow Crist:  Bullies don’t deserve the power. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by @VonnieWCrist

Wendy S. Delmater:  The ship ‘Cruelty’. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by  Wendy S. Delmater @safewrite

Tom Wells:  The Helms Deep Metaphor. A #HoldOnToTheLight 100+ SF/F authors on #MentalWellness post by Tom Wells @kauyin

#HoldOnToTheLight was inspired by #AKF #AlwaysKeepFighting, a campaign from the Supernatural TV show fandom (  I’m especially thrilled to see the #SPNFamily Crisis Support Network creating a fandom-based peer counseling training opportunity. Details here: (Yeah, I’m a huge fan of the show.) As Bobby Singer said, “Family don’t end with blood.” In other words, your true family is the one you gather around yourself.

#AlwaysKeepFighting #AKF showed the reach media stars have when they talk about issues, and I wondered what would happen if genre authors opened a similar conversation. I recruited my usual partners in crime—John Hartness, Misty Massey, Jaym Gates, Jean Marie Ward, Emily Leverett and my husband, Larry N. Martin—as the steering committee, and we started asking our colleagues and author friends to join us.

The result? More than 100 science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal romance and speculative fiction authors are part of #HoldOnToTheLight—and the outreach grows every day.

Among the authors participating so far are: Robin Hobb, Jody Lynn Nye, Cat Rambo, Seanan McGuire, Laura Anne Gilman, Chuck Gannon, Kameron Hurley, Catherine Asaro, Gaie Siebold, Karen Miller, Rowena Cory Daniels, David B. Coe, Marc Tassin, Jonathan Oliver, Jeanne Adams, Nancy Northcott, Aaron Rosenberg, Jennifer St. Giles, Mark Van Name, Juliet McKenna, Jennifer Brozek, Darynda Jones, Christopher Golden, Clay and Susan Griffith, Gregory Wilson, Josh Vogt, Darin Kennedy, Jon Sprunk, James Maxey, Karen E. Taylor, Justin Gustainis, Misty Massey, John G. Hartness, Gail Z. Martin, Jean Marie Ward, Jaym Gates, Laura Taylor, Weston Ochse, Ron Garner, Kathy Lyons, Mari Mancusi, Leanna Renee Hieber, Davey Beauchamp, Cheryl Wilson, Rod Belcher, Travis Heermann, Cara Santa Maria, Michael J. Allen, Trisha Wooldridge, Alyssa Day, J. F. Lewis, Joshua Palmatier, Keith DeCandido Mindy Mimudes, Emily Leverett, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Tera Fulbright, Tamsin Silver, Stuart Jaffe, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Eric Asher, Rick Gualtieri, Chris Kennedy, Ken Schrader, Samantha Dunaway Bryant, Valerie Willis, Alexandra Christian, Jake Bible, Matthew Saunders, Jay Requard, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Kelly Harmon, Sascha Illyvich, Kelly Swails, Bishop O’Connell, Sherwood Smith, Peter Prellwitz, Tracy Chowdhury, Trevor Curtis, Leo Champion, Alma Alexander Natania Barron, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Addie J. King, Joelle Reizes, Gabrielle Faust, Selah Janel, Whitney Evans, Tom Leveen Deborah J. Ross, Tally Johnson, Calandra Usher, Jada Diaz, Harry Markov, Brian Rathbone, Robert Greenberger, Linda Robertson, Leona Wisoker, Dianna L. Gunn, Emmie Mears, Lyndsey Harper, Tom Wells, Wendy S. Delmater, S.H. Roddey, Jeri Smith-Ready, Delilah Dawson, Phil Giunta, Myke Cole, Amy Bauer and more.

How can you help spread the message and broaden the conversation?

–Read and share the blog posts by our participating authors

–The links below to the newest author blog posts double as tweets you can cut and paste. Easy!

–Visit the authors’ blogs and like, comment

–Tweet or email about the campaign and tag bloggers, podcasters and genre media

–Ask your favorite genre convention to add panels on mental wellness

–Volunteer with or donate to one of the campaign charities listed at the bottom of this post

–Join the #HoldOnToTheLight Facebook page.

About the campaign:

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to and join us on Facebook



Quick-Tip Tuesday: Lessons From a Concert

A little over a week ago, I saw Edgar Meyer in concert. Edgar Meyer, for those of you who don’t know, plays double bass, the HUGE acoustic bass that you see in jazz bands and classical symphonies. And saying that Meyer “plays bass” is bit like saying that Willie Mays “played baseball.” Meyer is a virtuoso, the recipient of a MacArthur genius grant, and someone who has excelled in classical, folk, bluegrass, and jazz circles. You might know him from the Appalachian Waltz and Appalachian Journey recordings he did with Yo-Yo Ma and Mark O’Connor.

This was a solo concert. He opened with the Bach Suite for Solo Cello no. 1, which he adapted for double bass. Brilliant. Then he played a work in progress — a concerto he’s composing. He had the first and third movements just about complete, but he was still working on the middle of the piece, which was going to be one or two movements. He played one middle movement, but he made it clear that it was, for now, a place holder, something that might or might not remain in the final version.

His willingness to perform an unfinished work struck me as incredibly courageous. Now granted, the man is probably the greatest living bassist in the world. It wasn’t like any of us were about to walk out if the performance wasn’t flawless — which, by the way, it was. But still, playing the piece for us took guts.

And yet, it was also something I could relate to. [Please note: I am NOT equating myself with Edgar Meyer — I’ll wait to do that until after I’ve received a MacArthur Grant of my own…] I’ve done readings of works-in-progress — short fiction and segments of novels. Yes, it’s a bit intimidating to do this. Reading from incomplete works makes me hyper-aware of their weaknesses; sometimes it helps me identify them. Which, of course, is the point. It’s not that my audiences for readings tell me what sucks and what doesn’t. They’re almost always way too polite for that.

Rather, I become much more aware of which parts work and which don’t as I read aloud and make myself hear what I’ve written the way my audience does. Sometimes even preparing for a public reading of incomplete chapters and stories forces me to evaluate them in a different way. I read them through not as a writer preparing a first draft, but as a performer rehearsing a script. And doing this, I become more self-conscious, and less willing to tolerate wording that I might otherwise let pass in the early stages of a manuscript’s development.

So, if you’re working on something and need to identify problems that you might otherwise not see, do a reading — for colleagues, for family, for friends, for a single person you trust. The act of performing the piece might help you work through some of those issues you’re having.

Usually, I would end my post there, but I had another revelation that night at the concert that I thought I might also share with you. This requires a bit of set-up, so let me start by telling you two things about my creative process. 1) As some of you already know, I’m usually a plotter. I tend to outline my books ahead of time, as opposed to structuring my books as I go, the way so-called “pantsers” do. And 2) I often listen to music as I write. When I do, it is almost always instrumental jazz or bluegrass with a strong improvisational element. I find that the creation of music in the moment feeds my creativity as I write.

But my current project is one that I haven’t been able to outline — I’m not sure why, but I’ve found that this plot doesn’t want to reveal itself to me in that way. I’ve been plotting as I go, which has been the source of some fits and starts along the way.

That night at the concert, though, I had an epiphany. I usually write with a good deal of structure in my process, and so I thrive on relatively unstructured music to inspire my creative process. So, I thought, what if with this project, to which I’ve taken a relatively unstructured approach, I listen to classical music and use that high level of musical structure to impose some order on my writing? I started doing just that the following day, and it worked really well. I was more productive, and found my thinking about the book more focused than it had been in recent weeks. The experiment continues, but I thought I would share the experience, on the off chance that it helps some of you.

Keep writing!

Magical Words Link Roundup 10-18-2016

“Because that would f&$%ing rule!” said the humans, high-fiving each other and slamming cans of 24th century Red Bull.” In other words, the explanation for everything we’ve ever invented. Ever.

Mary Robinette Kowal waxes thoughtful on the problem of being friends with someone who turns out to be a jerk.

The wonderful anthology Strange California is nearing it’s goal. If you haven’t pledged already, now would be a perfect time!

Neil deGrasse Tyson isn’t afraid of killer robots in our future. Whew!

Author Ann Leckie talks about the worry new writers (and old ones!) sometimes have about irritating the wrong publishing professional and ruining their careers.

Looking for a good scary read? Here are ten titles that might send that shiver down your spine.

Alexandra Erin explores the difference between safety and justice in convention culture.

Magical Words Link Roundup 10-17-2016

Kate Elliot talks about whether it’s better to write a series or a stand-alone.

Are you in the Charlotte NC area? Looking for something cool to do this weekend? Come out to the Geek Gala! There’ll be contests and prizes, costumes and games, music and gyrations! Tickets are still available, so come on out and have some geeky fun with us!

Speaking on the weekend’s events, A J Hartley will be signing his marvelous Steeplejack at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh on Sunday, the 23rd.

Wow. As I have mentioned before, it’s better to just treat all people with respect, because eventually your bad behavior will come back to haunt you.

Are you reading IronJack? WHY NOT????

Liana Brooks offers tips for agent querying. Here’s a hint – there’s no secret knock.

President Obama (who is a self-professed geek and that just makes me love him more) offers his list of must-see SF. (Okay, no, Cosmos is science fact, but I love it too much to call Mr Obama on it.)

Barbara Barnett speaks about Byronic Heroes in Contemporary F&SF.

Maybe a zombie uprising isn’t really possible, but here are 5 ways the apocalypse could happen, or so science claims.