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Douglas Clegg & John Langan, April 16th

FANTASTIC FICTION at KGB reading series, hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present:

Neverland by Doug Clegg Douglas Clegg is the award-winning author of more than 25 books and 50 short stories, including Neverland and The Machinery of Night. For the past five years, he’s worked on a new novel and several novellas and stories. He will read from one of these as-yet secret fictions.

Clegg lives on the coast of Connecticut with his husband, Raul, in a house called Villa Diodati.

The Wide Carnivorous Sky by John Langan John Langan‘s latest collection, The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies was called “a must-read” by Publishers Weekly, He is the author of a previous collection, Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters, and a novel, House of Windows. His recent stories have appeared in Ellen Datlow’s Lovecraft’s Monsters and Joseph Pulver’s The Grimscribe’s Puppets.

He lives in upstate New York with his wife, younger son, dogs, cats, rats, fish, hermit crabs, and a honey badger–really, it’s a zoo.

Wednesday, April 16th, 7pm at

KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.)

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Adventures in Reading Reviews “The Sounds of Old Earth”

Recently in the wild I spotted this nice review of my Nebula-nominated story “The Sounds of Old Earth” from Adventures in Reading. They say:

“While the story details the last days of this old man on “Old Earth” and his interactions with his family and some of those who have not yet moved on, what the story really seems to be about is of understanding where we came from and of holding a sense of place in your heart.  That we, as humans, came from somewhere and that somewhere is important and belonging to a place is important.  It is sad and wistful, seen through the eyes of a sentimental old man who doesn’t want to leave his home and homeworld, even though it is taking all of his technological skill to keep the poisoned world from intruding onto this one small place of habitation.  It is beautiful, from that perspective, and sad.

And, it is wonderful… I think you should read it.”

It’s nice to know that the story has been received so well. You can read the full review here, but please note it does contain a few spoilers.



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#SSS: Short Story Saturdays!!

My resolution for 2014 was to read more short stories. And I’ve mostly been able to stick to it, because (1) apps like Pocket make it easy to save and organize and carry around all the excellent free short fiction that gets published on the web every week, (2) short stories are more suitable for treadmill reading than novels, and (3) unlike other resolutions (eating healthy, learning a language, being a good person etc), reading short stories is really really fun.

But when you read good writing, you wanna talk about it. And let’s face it, social media conversations don’t exactly blossom over short-form spec-fic the way they do over HuffPo articles and the latest celebrity shenanigans.

So when Daniel Jose Elder mentioned on Twitter that he’s “been pondering how to generate more buzz/conversation around short stories on social media..” that sounded like exactly the sort of thing I’d been thinking about. And of course the answer to any question on Twitter is: make a hashtag.

So Daniel, Lisa Bolekaja, and I came up with Short Story Saturday: #SSS. And then we started twatting at our writer friends and heroes, trying to build some buzz about it. And some awesome people got excited, and started retweeting us. And everybody knows it’s an ironclad law of the internet that once Cory Doctorow retweets something, it’s officially a thing.

And now we need you!! Let’s talk short stories, this Saturday.

Have you read a decent short story in the past week? Tell us all about it on Twitter, using hashtag #SSS to celebrate Short Story Saturday!

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harrisburg book festival

I’ll be at the Harrisburg Book Festival Saturday, March 29 in Harrisburg, Pa., talking YA with authors Tiffany Schmidt (BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE, SEND ME A SIGN) and Jessica Spotswood (BORN WICKED, STAR CURSED). Midtown Scholar Bookstore, 2–4pm. Hope to see you there! Some books will be available for signing or bring your own, or pick up a free bookmark or bookplate!



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choosing your own adventures

20140324_224646One of my favorite parts of writing happens when I’m not writing. You know, those moments during the day when you’re thinking about, maybe even dreaming about, the story or the characters in your work in progress. I love brainstorming, whether it’s my own book or someone else’s work, because there’s a sense of play to it; you aren’t committing anything to paper yet, so it doesn’t take much work. (It also may not feel like work, so you might worry you’re just procrastinating, but trust me, it’s useful.) You can feel free to be as goofy or wild as you want–you’re just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. And it’s cool because you’re working on your book anywhere and everywhere: in the shower, walking your dog, on line at the bank, riding the train, reading other books, watching TV, in meetings at work. A little part of my brain never stops thinking about my novel.

I can’t speak to every writer’s experience, but this is how my imagination works. The more I think about the story, the more ideas I have. Often, my subconscious mind makes connections that needed days, weeks, or months to develop. Initially, I avoided outlining because I wanted to give myself as much of that flexibility as possible to discover the story and let it develop organically, but I’ve since realized that outlining can also get you thinking about the whole thing much earlier, and there’s nothing limiting about it–it’s just one path, and you can take the story in different directions any time a better idea presents itself. I like research for the same reason; all that reading feeds me more ideas and opens up new possibilities.

pubcrawlSo this book I’m working on… It started with a lot of brainstorming and outlining, then I started drafting it and inevitably veered off from the outline a bit. I got some great notes from my editors, and I just completed the first major revision—a few hours ago. As I tried to re-imagine the plot and characters and come up with a better ending, the whole process reminded me of something very old, something from my childhood: Choose Your Own Adventure.

[Read the rest of this post at Pub(lishing) Crawl]


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Photos from March 19th with Ellen Kushner & David D. Levine

Ellen Kushner & David D. Levine

Ellen Kushner & David D. Levine

The house and our cups overflowed this past Wednesday, as we were delighted by readers Ellen Kushner and David D. Levine. David read part of his story “The Wreck of the Mars Adventure” from the Old Mars anthology, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, about a mission to Mars using sailing vessels and balloons for lift. Ellen Kushner read an excerpt from her novel-in-progress, a new edition to the Swordspoint series. Fellow Altered-fluidian Mercurio D. Rivera subbed in for Ellen Datlow, who was away at ICFA. (Contrary to hopes, he did not wear a wig.) Meanwhile, I snapped photos of unsuspecting guests doing my best to imitate Ellen’s photographic style.

My photos of the night can be seen here.

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Vote for me, for the Locus Award!

My short story “The Beasts We Want To Be,” published in the final issue of Electric Velocipede, is on the ballot for the 43rd annual Locus Awards. Please check out my story, and vote for it if you like it! Deadline for voting is April 15th. Anyone can vote, but votes from Locus subscribers count double.

Some awesome people had some awesome things to say about it -

Gardner Dozois wrote of “The Beasts We Want to Be”:

Electric Velocipede 26 and 27 each … contained one of the best stories of the year…. The best story in Electric Velocipede 27, the magazine’s final issue, is “The Beasts We Want to Be” by new writer Sam J. Miller, a dark, brutal story of the kind of men produced by harrowing conditioning sessions with Skinner Boxes and electroshock therapy in an alternate Russia just after the Communist Revolution and how those men struggle to reconcile what they have become with what they once were.

Locus included it in their 2013 Recommended Reading List.

The ChiZine blog called it “heartbreaking,” and “a searing critique of society’s uncompromising expectation of a specific kind of masculinity,” and that while the protagonist “learns about beauty, love and the dangers of the Pavlov Boxes… in the end none of these messages have half the strength of the genuine grief at lost friendship that seeps off the page.”

Rich Horton wrote:

“The Beasts We Want to Be” by new writer Sam J. Miller [is] a strong SF horror story set in an alternate post-Revolution Russia told by a “Broken” soldier who has been conditioned in a “Pavlov’s Box” to serve the goals of the Revolution as he commandeers the artwork of an aristocratic family, then finds himself drawn to save a woman of that family from reconditioning, and then to save a painting of her husband.  Very dark stuff.

In her 2013 year in review for Locus, Lois Tilton called it “a strongly realistic piece of human loss.”

The online ballot is here; once again, the deadline is April 15th. Please check out my story, and vote for it if you like it! And then read tons of the other stuff on there. Everything on that list that I’ve read has been phenomenal, including stuff by friends and heroes like Ted Chiang, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Matthew Kressel, Jeffrey Ford, Karen Joy Fowler, Amahl El-Mohtar, Ken Liu, Aliette De Bodard, Indrapramit Das, James Patrick Kelly, Charlie Jane Anders, Christopher Barzak, Catherynne Valente, Kenneth Schneyer, Genevieve Valentine, and so many more.

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Stories to Be Translated into Czech Magazine XB-1

Recently Martin Šust of the Czech magazine XB-1 contacted me about translating two of my stories. They will be publishing translated versions of “The History Within Us” and “The Sounds of Old Earth,” the latter of which is up for a Nebula Award. I was very flattered that Martin asked to translate these stories. I became familiar with the Czech magazine after my friend Mercurio D. Rivera had several of his stories appear there. Their covers are always superb, and the magazine itself is beautiful. I’m not sure when the stories will appear yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing them, as they will be my first translated works.


XB-1 Cover March 2014

XB-1 Cover March 2014

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Lunacon this Weekend


Cats in space reading ebooks.

This weekend I’ll be at Lunacon in Rye Brook, NY. I’ll be on two panels, and supposedly reading with Mercurio D. Rivera in the “library pit” at 8pm Saturday night. I have no idea if this means that if the audience doesn’t like our stories, they will throw us into the “pit”.

My schedule:

Sat, 1pm – “The Future of Privacy”, Westchester Ballroom
Our concepts of privacy are changing daily and mostly due to technology. What will the future hold?

Sat 8pm – Reading with Mercurio D. Rivera, “The Library Pit”[?]

Sun, 1pm – “Writing Groups and Professional Associations” William Odelle
Writing groups? Professional Associations? Secret Society? SFWA, HWA, MWA, the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers and ____. All are writing organizations, either local or international. Do they really serve a purpose in our writing lives or are they another distraction from writing? Come here writers discuss their experiences.

Come up and say hi if you’re there!

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Finding A Place to Write

As most writers know, finding the perfect place to write is almost as challenging as writing itself. Of course, some will say that there is no perfect place to write. That you must write everywhere and anywhere you can. Perhaps that’s true. But for anyone who has ever tried to write in a crowded coffee shop, with babies screaming, people on cell phones, and the guy in the table beside you who keeps sniffling and smells like he put on too much cologne this morning — well, I’d say that some spots are better than others.

I used to write in my living room / office nook, which for most of the day is about as dark as a cave. But since I use the same computer for my day job stuff as a web designer / programmer, I found it was best to separate the two locations. So I wrote in the kitchen, on the hard wooden chairs. That’s where I finished the final draft of “The Sounds of Old Earth,” which is now up for a Nebula Award. You would think that I’d stay put, since the location appears to have worked in my favor.

But ever on the search for a better place, one day I was hit with one of those lightning bolt realizations. My bedroom is sunny almost all day. I don’t know why it had never occurred to me before. So now, this is where I do most of my writing:

My writing desk

My writing desk in Queens, NY

Yeah, it may not be the most ergonomic setup imaginable. But it suits me. On those cold winter days, when it was 7 degrees outside, I found myself right beside the radiator. That and with the sun, I am usually quite toasty here. I even have a small succulent plant to keep me company. C and I call her Bertha.

I have a secret. This new writing location didn’t come entirely out of the blue. Though it took me several months to come up with the idea, I modeled my setup after this:

My writing desk in Maine

My writing desk in West Bath, Maine

This past summer, C and I spent a week at a cottage in West Bath, Maine that overlooked a tidal estuary. Every six hours the tide went in and out, and the waters receded so much you could (if you had the right shoes) walk across to the other side. I wrote at this desk every morning, a mug of hot tea beside me, while the local wildlife chirped, twittered and cheeped from the bordering forest. If ever there was a writing desk, this was it.

And so I modeled my home desk after this perfect spot. And while the M-train subway cars rattling outside my window aren’t quite as natural as the trickling tides, I do find soothing the regular rumble of the trains. And while my current view is a cement backyard, and a barb-wire fence, and a bus depot and train yard, none of this really matters when the sun is shining and the words are flowing, because I’m deep into a story, somewhere in outer space in the far future, or at a rock concert swarming with time travelers, or walking through old factories in a New England post-industrial town, or somewhere else.

So maybe those people who say you must be able to write anywhere are correct; once your imagination takes over, it doesn’t matter where you are. But I still believe that some spots are more conducive to creativity. And those spots don’t necessarily need to be at a cottage overlooking a tidal estuary. There might be one right beside you.

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