Tag Archives: Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America


Here’s where you can find me this weekend:


Catch me on some upcoming panels! I plan to attend the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association’s Nebulas weekend May 20-22. I’ll be talking about alternate history such as my story, The Last Frontier, in Analog Magazine. I’ll also be part of a Q & A about SFWA’s contracts committee. It’s never too soon or too late for aspiring or published writers to come hear about what SFWA members are doing to assist other writers.

I’m also on a slew of panels May 27-30 at Balticon. Some of these will be recorded for those following from home. Topics include

  • historical fiction vs. alternate history
  • magic in the ancient Mediterranean
  • mapping the landscape
  • getting the most from writers’ associations
  • gods as characters

I love all these topics and can’t decide which will be the most fun! I have at least two more appearances to announce before too long and you can watch them both on You Tube.


2020 was a very tough year for readers seeking signs of hope for the future or solace in a brief respite from reality. It was an equally tough year for writers trying to string words together into something that felt meaningful. When our work did find its way into print or on line, all too often it didn’t attract the attention it merited. It’s time to remedy this! Writers: your readers, both new and old, need to reconnect with your insights. I urge you to put out on social media your 2020 year-end retrospective. Yes, many of cringe at the prospect of doing so. Here’s a bit of advice I wrote on SFWA’s blog as to how you might go about this without coming across as self-absorbed or grubbing for award nominations.

Baltimore Book Festival

Do you love books? The Baltimore Book Festival is free! What could be better than spending a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday listening to terrific writers talk about books? It’s all at the Inner Harbor on September 28 -30. I’ll be part of two panels on Friday:

2 pm. Research, or “How I Spent My Whole Day on Wikipedia”

Whether a writer is after something historical, scientific, cultural, or trivial, it’s easy to fall down the rabbit holes of research. Let our authors tell you about the places they’ve gone for a single reference, as well as tips on how to do effective research.

Panelists: Sue Hollister Barr, Elektra Hammond, Kosoko Jackson, KJ Kabza, Marianne Kirby, Rosemary Claire Smith

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Stage

3 p.m. Beyond Borders, Beyond Maps: The Everything Else That Shapes A World

Worldbuilding is more than just inset maps. It’s about economy, culture, politics, food, entertainment, modes of transit, class structures, gender roles. Panelists talk about creating worlds, and how much they know that doesn’t ever make it to the page.

Panelists: Denise Clemons, Vera Brook, L. Penelope, Jon Skovron, Rosemary Claire Smith, Na’amen Gobert Tilahun

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Stage

Check out the rest of schedule! See you there!

See you in San Jose — Worldcon!

Here’s where to find me at Con Jose Aug. 16-20. Bay Area peeps: this means you!

Ordinary People

16 Aug 2018, Thursday 16:00 – 17:00, 210F (San Jose Convention Center)

Sometimes, main characters in a story are ordinary people – not everyone is extraordinary. Can such a focus make a story more powerful? What makes them appealing? How does such a story differ from a story of heroes and villains?

Panel discussion with Cecilia Tan (M), Nick Mamatas, Christine Taylor-Butler, Rosemary Claire Smith, Sheila Finch


18 Aug 2018, Saturday 15:30 – 16:00 SFWA Table (San Jose Convention Center)

Stop by and I’ll sign promo materials for T-Rex Time Machine (my interactive fiction game) or any magazines or anthologies you brought with my stories and/or articles.

Clarion 50th Reunion Party

18 Aug 2018, Saturday 20:00 – 23:00

Many, many Clarion classes come together to celebrate fifty years of the boot-camp for writers that launched so many careers. Mine included!

EAT YOUR WORLD (Read Your Food)

19 Aug 2018, Sunday 16:00-17:00 location TBA

Dive into Worldbuilding is throwing a party. Juliette Wade and others will bring foods inspired by fiction. Author attendees will be invited to read food-related snippets from their work.

I’ll be at Nebulas Weekend in Pittsburgh

The Nebula Awards

I’ll be part of a panel discussion of what science fiction can learn from archaeology this Saturday at 4 p.m. Also on Sunday from 1-3, I’ll be signing autographs along with a great many other writers. Check out all the events here.

See You at the Baltimore Book Festival!

This weekend, I’ll be at the Baltimore Book Festival (Inner Harbor), in the SFWA tent, talking about human adaptations, science fiction and dinosaurs! Hope you’ll drop by if you’re local and have a listen. Come find out about my forthcoming project: an interactive game featuring dinosaurs and you. Plus there are so many other great panels at this 3-day event (Fri.-Sun.). It’s free!

Here’s my schedule:


11 AM Humans, Adapt!: How Humans and Cultures Adapt in Fiction
From the zombie apocalypse to invasive government to zero gravity to uploaded consciousness, our panel discusses humanity’s ability to adapt to new environments in fantasy and science fiction, and the resilience of the body and spirit.
Authors: Carrie DiRisio, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Erin Roberts, Christopher Mark Rose, Rosemary Claire Smith

12 Noon Dinosaurs, Diseases, and Dwarf Stars: Actual Science in Science Fiction
From eclipses to eoraptors, we’ll talk about great science in fiction. May the facts be with you!
Authors: Gwendolyn Clare, Jack Clemons, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Vivian Shaw, Rosemary Claire Smith

Check out the full schedule.





Ad Astra

I’m thrilled to report that I have a recipe in Ad Astra, which is the SFWA 50th Anniversary Cookbook. It’s just come out and looks delectable. Who knew that so many fine writers have a culinary trick or three up their sleeves? And wow, I can say that I’m sharing a table of contents with Octavia Butler, John Scalzi, William Gibson, Charlaine Harris, Connie Willis, Walter Jon Williams, Nancy Kress, Chuck Wendig, Pat Cadigan, Joe Haldeman and many more! How cool is that?

If these talented authors cook half as well as they write, there will be loads of scrumptious recipes. You can get your very own copy here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011YM8874/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B011YM8874&linkCode=as2&tag=carawr-20

Proceeds go to a terrific cause–SFWA’s Legal Fund, which makes loans to its writers who have writing-related court costs and various other legal expenses.

Huge thanks go to Cat Rambo and Fran Wilde for undertaking the job of editing Ad Astra and making that task look ridiculously easy.



I set out to write science fiction and fantasy quite a number of years after having received one of the best gifts of my life. In fact, so many years had elapsed that I no longer thought much about this marvelous gift. No, I don’t mean the ability to create stories, but rather a more fundamental gift, which turned out to be the first of several that have come to me courtesy of fantasy and science fiction. But already I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me begin again.

Soon after sitting down to capture on paper the characters, conversations, and non-existent worlds whirling through my mind, I began to get intimations that creating fiction can be a hard business built on considerable labor for little return. With effort and persistence quite beyond the point where a less stubborn person would turn to a more rewarding endeavor, there did come a point—a seemingly miraculous one at that—where I learned that one of my stories had been accepted for publication. Little did I know that this particular story wouldn’t see print until six years after I sold it, and that turned out to be several years after I’d had other stories published. At any rate, I remember the sheer excitement of holding in my hands the anthology containing my first published story, and of opening the book to find my name (spelled correctly!) together with the title listed in the table of contents. Better yet, there was my story on the page indicated, with my name in out-sized letters. My first publication was way more than enough to keep me filling pages with imaginary people and events for a good while.

And so I wrote through the solitude of the hours and days in which the majority of the conversations I heard took place between people who didn’t exist, people who lived in imaginary lands, people who struggled to overcome all manner of problems large and small that also didn’t exist. Inevitably, a moment came to me, as it does to nearly all the authors I’ve talked to about writing, when the thrill of seeing my work in print and on an electronic screen, no matter how marvelously illustrated, was no longer enough to propel me through what looked to be a discouraging ocean of indifference populated by far too many sea beasts of rejection, ever ready to bite and slash and snark.

Thankfully, I had a secret weapon to supplement raw determination. I could draw upon a huge gift that my Mom had given to me as a child. Actually, she gave me two gifts. First, my mother taught me to read. Second, she surrounded me with all manner of wondrous, fantastical tales. While growing up, I had devoured Greek, Roman and Norse myths before branching out to Dr. Seuss, Alice in Wonderland, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I visited as many exotic lands as a kid who lived in an uneventful country village could find. I spent endless hours with fascinating new people, gravitating to the ones who weren’t human. Naturally, there came a time when I moved on to the stories it seemed like everyone of my generation read: Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, The Martian Chronicles, A Wizard of Earthsea, Sherlock Holmes mysteries, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, on and on. The gift of being able to sink into new books, fresh characters, and far-flung worlds never grew stale, never lost its enchantment. As time goes by, I only discover more and more marvelous tales told by remarkable writers. For it is gifted writers who continue to inspire me, who stir up my own urges to return to the keyboard once more, who drive me back to listening and watching those characters in my head as they struggle to deal with their predicaments, which are no less my own and everyone else’s too.

And yet, notwithstanding the renewed burst of energy and enthusiasm for writing, there still comes a point where my fingers falter. Sometimes the characters wander off into complacency or the plot lurches into predictability. I sit and wonder why I am doing this. That’s when it’s time to take out and unwrap another gift, one which writing fantasy and science fiction has given me. I summon up the looks on the faces of those in the audience when I do readings—their expressions as they sink into the characters, their growing worry as they apprehend mounting threats to those characters coupled with the closing off of options that the characters might take to deal with their problems. Above all, I watch my listeners’ growing need to find out how it all comes out. Their responses to the ending can be fascinating. Once, I received the gift of being berated by a distraught woman whose favorite character didn’t survived the final encounter.

Because I’ve always reveled in being swept away to fabulous worlds, I cherish the gift of being able to transport readers to distant lands, whether real or imaginary. My Mom is the reason why I treasure this gift the most. One day, a few years ago, I had been struggling to write a time travel story and eventually decided that my mother would make a terrific main character. Problem was that, though she had an adventurous streak, she was terrified of airplanes and had never flown in one. So I called her up and asked her about time travel. Hypothetically, if she were to win an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the Cretaceous—the land of the dinosaurs—would she go? “Oh yes,” she said without a bit of hesitation. “It’s some place I’ve never been.” That was the moment I knew I absolutely had to write “Mom and the Ankylosaur.” Alas, she passed away not long after the story was published. But I did have the joy of doing a reading of the story at her local library; she and her book-club friends all turned out. Of all my memories of her throughout the years—and she lived to be eighty—my most treasured one is the look on her face that evening as she listened to her own adventure in the Mesozoic.

Final note: This blog post is cross-posted at the SFWA blog, which has been featuring posts by various writers as part of its count down to its 50th anniversary festivities in June. If you know nothing about that, you are in for a treat, or rather, a number of treats. So get on over to their site and read what Robert Silverberg and others have to say.  https://www.sfwa.org/blogs/sfwa-blog/


Rosemary Claire Smith and Rick Wilbur at WFC

Now that the literary dust has settled and I’m back from the 40th annual World Fantasy Convention, I have several thoughts. First, I got to watch writers, editors, artists, and agents share the Hyatt Hotel in Crystal City, VA with a gathering of Rolling Thunder motorcyclists who annually commemorate American POWs/MIAs. When human curiosity took over, members of these groups interacted at the hotel bar and began to learn a bit about each other’s driving interest.

As far as gatherings of the science fiction clan go, I’ve reached the point where there are simply more people whom I want to see at conventions than time to do so. Hence, I never really got a chance to talk to several people who were there fleetingly on the other side of a room. (Hi, guys! Hope you had a good time!) What partly made up for that was the opportunity to meet new people, and some whose work I’ve enjoyed for years. Above is Rick Wilber, who volunteered with me to cover the SFWA table, fielding questions that came our way from members and non-members, alike. Doing so was a reaffirming experience, at least for me, as I was reminded all over again that SFWA membership is a meaningful thing if one goes by the looks of longing on the faces of some writers who have yet to qualify.

One highlight of the four days was the World Fantasy Awards banquet, where mistress of ceremonies Mary Robinette Kowal treated us to the sort of witty, incisive, and comforting speech that only she could give. Naturally, it was terrific to see Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Ellen Datlow receive well-deserved lifetime achievement awards. I also enjoyed a panel by one writer friend and a reading by another, both of whom had never been on a panel or done a reading before. They were well prepared, entertaining, and generally terrific.

A lovely tradition of World Fantasy Convention is that each attendee receives a hefty canvas goody bag of books. Mine came with titles by Cherie Priest, Scott Lynch, Nnedi Okorafor, Geoff Ryman, Joe Abercrombie, Jo Walton, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. So now the pleasant decision becomes which to read first.

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