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Once again I’m helping out a friend. This time it’s David Lee Summers, who acted as publisher for the Exchange Students anthology. Please welcome the editor, Sheila Hartney!


Editorial Itinerary

I’ve been reading science fiction ever since I learned to read. My older brother belonged to the Science Fiction Book Club back in the 1950s, and I got to read all of the wonderful books that were published then. We lived in Utica, NY, and at the time they put all their science fiction books in a separate room which was off limits to little kids. I’d sneak in, and sometimes a kindly librarian would let me check out what I wanted. Otherwise I had to persuade my older brother or my mother to do so for me. That policy just made me want to read science fiction all the more. 

And write science fiction. When I was about ten I wrote my first s-f story that I called “A Voyage to Antwerp” and I’m horrified by what little I can recall of it. Thankfully it has not survived. 

Some years later, living in Boulder, Colorado, I took two writing workshops and a science fiction class from Bruce Holland Rogers. One evening he ended class a bit early, then read us a story of his and said, “I just found out today that this was the first place winner in the current quarter of the Writers of the Future Contest.” He was almost incoherent with joy. Right then I decided if he could do it, I could do it. 

A couple of years later I attended Jim Gunn’s short story workshop in Lawrence, Kansas. From it came my own Writers of the Future story, “Kidswap”. Over the years I’ve attended other workshops, notably the one that came with being a Writer of the Future, and more recently the Taos Toolbox, team taught by the wonderful and amazing Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress.   

Alas, I haven’t written as much as I should have in the years since. I do hang out at some s-f cons, and have become friends with any number of wonderful people who write in this genre. 

Several years ago I was chatting with David Lee Summers at a con, and knew that he both wrote and edited s-f. I rather casually mentioned that I had some ideas for anthologies, and he encouraged me to submit them to him. I offered six different possibilities, and the one he chose, the one that was my favorite in the first place, was “The Exchange Students”.   

Working on the anthology has been rewarding. At first I was a bit concerned that I’d know what I was doing, but all those workshops helped me a lot. Plus, David made it clear that while I could reject stories on my own, any and all acceptances must go through him. I’m so glad he insisted on that. Especially in the early months, when I felt very uncertain about certain stories, and his critiques and insights helped clarify if a particular story should be accepted or rejected. 

In the end we accepted 22 stories, including the one that I had written several years ago which was my inspiration for this anthology. At the outset I’d been a bit concerned that reading and editing and rereading the same stories multiple times would make me start to hate them, but exactly the opposite happened.  I got to like them more and more. Even a couple that I’d original thought of as marginal, grew on me. 

I’m just a couple of days from actually holding a copy of the anthology in my hands, and I can hardly wait! Sheila. 


Exchange Students

Study abroad! See new places! Meet new people! 
 
In our exchange student program, you can literally study anywhere or anywhen you can imagine. We’ll send you to new planets. We’ll send you to new dimensions and realms of existence. We’ll send you through time itself! 
 
Don’t believe me? This exciting anthology contains many tales of our thrilling and educational exchange student program. You’ll read tales of aliens coming to earth and humans traveling to alien worlds. You’ll meet a denizen of Hell who travels to Heaven. Some students will discover their super powers on their journey. Other students will have encounters with the undead. You’ll meet a law enforcement officer who travels to the realm of the fae to help solve a crime of truly interdimensional proportions. 
 
Featuring twenty-two amazing stories by Roze Albina Ches, Jaleta Clegg, Ken Goldman, Paula Hammond, Sheila Hartney, Chisto Healy, Joachim Heijndermans, Sean Jones, Tim Kane, Alden Loveshade, Tim McDaniel, J Louis Messina, Jennifer Moore, Brian Gene Olson, David B. Riley, Katherine Quevedo, Holly Schofield, Jonathan Shipley, Lesley L. Smith, Emily Martha Sorensen, Margret A. Treiber and Sherry Yuan. 

Now available for Kindle or in print from Amazon.com. Other formats can be had at Smashwords.


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I invite you all the take a break from your writing struggle and think about the other end of the process: the reader! David Lee Summers posted a great reflection on the PBS show, “Reading Rainbow,” and how it helps build our society when so many other forces seem bent on tearing it down. I’m happy to share David’s thoughts here.


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David Lee Summers' Web Journal

El Paso Comic Con happens this weekend, and one of the people I’m most excited to meet is LeVar Burton. I’m excited to meet him because of his role as Geordi LaForge on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I’m perhaps even more excited to meet him because of his role as the host of the PBS TV series, Reading Rainbow.

Reading Rainbow ran from 1983 until 2006 and not only depicted books as fun in their own right, but showed the real world adventures books can lead you to. The series suggested many books for my wife and I to share with our daughters. What’s more, I enjoyed watching the show with my daughters. I find it frustrating when I come across a review of a book or movie that claims something to the effect that adults won’t enjoy it, but kids will love it. To me…

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Enjoy this guest blog by my friend and fellow editor, David Lee Summers.

Dragons have a long association with the sea.  Examples from mythology include Scylla, the many-headed sea monster from The Odyssey or Jörmungandr, the sea serpent who circles the globe in Norse mythology.  There are many examples of ancient maps depicting sea serpents cavorting in the most mysterious ocean realms.  Although we often think of the line “Here be dragons” being printed in the ocean on ancient maps, it only actually appears on two globes — and on land!

For me, perhaps the most iconic image of a sea monster is the octopus-like kraken reaching up from the depths of the sea to pull a hapless sailing ship to its doom.  The kraken might not seem very dragon-like until you consider its serpent-like tentacles, which lend it more than a passing resemblance to a many-headed sea dragon like Scylla.

When Steve Howell, head of the Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division at the NASA Ames Research Center, suggested we compile a follow-up to A Kepler’s Dozen, our 2013 anthology of short stories set on real exoplanets discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope, I knew I wanted to do a story featuring my space pirate Captain Firebrandt and his crew.  One of the exciting discoveries of the Kepler mission has been a whole new type of world we don’t see in our solar system — a water world.

We tend to think of Earth a water world, but in fact, it’s a rocky planet with a thin veneer of water on much of the surface.  A true water world is mostly water all the way through.  Putting Captain Firebrandt on a water world opened up the possibility of a science fictional meeting of pirates and a kraken!  Perhaps this kraken could be an alien being, or perhaps even a giant squid from Earth raised on a water world colony.  After all, it’s thought possible that stories of krakens originated from sightings of giant squid or colossal octopi.

The next challenge came from the anthology’s theme.  Steve and I are both fans of western-inspired space operas such as Firefly and Cowboy Bebop.  As a tribute to the genre, we called the new anthology Kepler’s Cowboys.  So, how did I cowboy up this meeting of pirates and a futuristic kraken?  I decided that on this futuristic water world, the inhabitants held water rodeos with the giant squid they raised and the good captain saw a way to make some easy money.  Of course, being a pirate, he plans to cheat.  keplers-cowboys-displayTo find out how that works for him, you’ll have to read the story!

You’ll find “Calamari Rodeo” alongside thirteen other short stories and five poems about real planets discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission in Kepler’s Cowboys, which will be released on March 1 and may be preordered at:

 

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