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Not as Prolific as I Seem

I’m a fast writer but not as fast as it may seem over the next few months.

I’ve begun posting links to my work on this site. A lot of that work is under pseudonyms; some public, some not public.

One of my public names, Pádraig Cahill, has caused a problem for the publisher and for me, because, come to find out, some of the on-line retail systems have issues with the a-fada in my given name.

The problem with the letter isn’t apparent in the listings themselves, but in the way search routines handle it. As a result many of these books have been virtually invisible on certain sites unless they were searched for by title or ISBN.

I guess I should have expected this. Even the punctuation in my anglicized surname occasionally proves problematic. However, I thought that commercial information technology systems had moved beyond the point where I needed to worry.

Obviously I was wrong.

The net result of this is that the publisher is going to reissue these books under the Patrick O’Sullivan name. It will take some time to do that, so until then you’ll find some Pádraig Cahill books on this site. It isn’t an ideal solution but at least you’ll be able to find them.

Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest Story

My grand prize winning story, “The Lamplighter Legacy”,  is up at the Baen website and you can read it for free, at least for the rest of the month of June.

Here’s the link:

I hope you like the story.

I had a fun time writing the story and a fabulous time meeting fellow Writers of the Future winner Bill Ledbetter, and editor Jim Minz from Baen Books, and world renowned author and visionary David Brin, and the legendary (and personal hero) Vernor Vinge at the International Space Development Conference in San Diego.

It isn’t only the award that makes me happy but the friendships I’ve made, and the heroes I’ve met, and the relationships forged that are worth more than any prize. I’m honored to know these folks. They’re people I respect. I hope to continue to do good work worthy of their regard, and of yours.

Thanks again to the National Space Society, and Baen Books, and all the kind folks that have made 2013 a year to remember.

Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest

I received some fantastic news today. I’m the Grand Prize winner in the 2013 Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest. 

I am deeply honored. Baen Books publishes many of my favorite authors, folks whose books I pre-order the instant I learn of them, knowing they will be a great read.

One entire bookshelf in my library is stuffed with hardcovers by David Weber, and David Drake, and Lois McMaster Bujold, and John Ringo, and Eric Flint, and Elizabeth Moon, and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, and Wen Spencer, and more. I can’t tell you how many other brilliant Baen books I have on my e-reader. Suffice it to say I’m a Baen fan and have been since my wife handed me David Weber’s On Basilisk Station and said, “You have to read this.”

It was a no-brainer for me to enter the contest. I owe Jim Baen, and Baen Books, and all of these great writers Baen publishes for countless hours of heart pounding, fist pumping enjoyment. Baen Books publishes the sort of stories I love to read. I had a great time writing this story, and I hope that when you get a chance to read it you’ll like it too.

I’ll follow up later with full details when I know more.

Thanks again to the folks at Baen Books, and the National Space Society, and all the dedicated people who make the contest possible.

Special thanks to R.P.L. Johnson, the 2012 winner, and the Writers of the Future Volume 27 Grand Prize Winner, whose brilliant story inspired me to enter.

If you wish to learn more about the contest look here:

To learn more about the National Space Society and why you should join today look here:

And of course, you can learn the latest news about Baen Books here:

A Nice Reader Comment

Here’s a comment from the Sony Reader Store, regarding my story in Volume 27 of the Writers of the Future anthology:

“Maddy Dune’s First and Only Spelling Bee”: I’m not telling you anything about this. You have to go read it. :: Dear Patrick O’Sullivan, I would like to read a novel featuring Maddy and Tan. Love, Emily. 5 stars.

Thanks so very much to Emily and all the other kind folks who keep me motivated.  I’ve been heads down, working on a Maddy Dune novel the past year, so I haven’t been as present here as I’d like. Now I have time to come up for air.

It’s comments like this that make it all worthwhile. They help me keep going when I’d rather sleep than write, and rather pound my head against the wall than edit.


Another Fantastic Review

Another fantastic review of L. Ron Hubbard Presents The Writers of the Future Volume 27, with some incredibly kind words about my story, “Maddy Dune’s First and Only Spelling Bee.”

Check out this quote:

“I’m not going to spoil anything by going into any detail, but this is hands-down the best entry here; it’s worth buying the book just for this one. I would love to see someone pay O’Sullivan to turn this into a series.”

Read the full review by Chris Hawks here.

Fantastic Review from Fantastic Reviews

Fantastic Reviews has done a review of my story “Maddy Dune’s First and Only Spelling Bee”.  It’s worth a look just to see M. O. Muriel’s brilliant illustration for the story in full color.

Here’s my favorite part:

“I enjoyed this piece from start to finish, and I read it to a group in my office who loved it as well.”

Read the full review here.

Volume 27 Now Available for Pre-Order

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 27 is now available for pre-order on Amazon. My story “Maddy Dune’s First and Only Spelling Bee” begins on page 39.

A link to the page on Amazon is here.

Writers of the Future Photographs

I received my copy of the event photographs today.  I’ll post some in coming days.  For now, here is a shot of the cover of L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 27.

The Writers of the Future Experience

I’ve been asked to comment on my experience as a first-place winner of L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest.  A number of images stick with me.

On the last day of the writing seminar Robert J. Sawyer stood before our class of twenty-four writers and illustrators.  I knew Rob only through his work, as a reader and a fan.  He spoke eloquently and with great passion, and what he said was a revelation.  He put into words the reasons, all the reasons why I struggle to write, to communicate, to connect with readers, and why it always felt like treason when I considered giving up.  It wasn’t what he said that was new to me.  I’d had those exact thoughts many times.  The surprise was that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.  I wasn’t alone.

In order to create a better future someone has to imagine it first.  Thanks to L. Ron Hubbard and the Writers of the Future Contest I’d spent a week getting to know writers whose work fueled my imagination and shaped how I see the world.   Of course Rob could put into words exactly how I felt.  He’d been to the future and scouted it out.  I’d been reading his reports for years.  Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle had been sending me reports for most of my life, reports like Ringworld, Lucifer’s Hammer, Footfall.  Thanks to the Writers of the Future Contest I got to shake their hands and tell them just how much their work meant to me.

Meeting the writers who inspired me was only part of the experience.  The Writers of the Future Contest launched me into a community of up and coming writers from around the world, writers who have proven they have the right stuff to entertain and inspire readers.  I now have new friends in South Africa and Australia as well as in the United States and Canada.  I’d love to see a winner from Ireland next year.  I expect that now that the contest is open to electronic submissions we’ll see an even more diverse group of writers and illustrators in future volumes.

In order to reach readers every writer needs help.  Once you’ve put in the seat time, once you’ve logged enough lonely hours learning how to craft stories that astound and amaze the work is only partway done.  You need a team.  Galaxy Press was our team, and they let us peek behind the curtain, to see how our stories would make it into the hands of readers.  Off we went to Delta Printing Solutions.

The scent of printer’s ink, the sound of the printing presses, so loud we had to lean in close and shout to one another, the low-frequency vibration that was felt more than heard, all those were just distractions.  The endless loop of a conveyor belt wound toward me, bearing what would soon be L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume Twenty-Seven.  The trimming knife fell with authority, final and permanent.  My lonely apprenticeship was over.  People were going to hold a book in their hands, and they were going to flip it open, and they were going to read my work.

I know there’s a lot of excitement about e-Books, but zipping up a file and posting it to the web has none of the impact of witnessing a real mass printing.  Here is a physical object that, well cared for, can last for centuries.  I was there as L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume Twenty-Seven began its journey to bookstores and then on into the waiting hands of readers.  Book after book after book found their way into never-ending boxes of twenty-four.  There must be a lot of hands out there waiting.

I don’t remember much of the awards ceremony, but after, at the book signing, I met so many people, people who wanted me to succeed, reader after reader who asked me to sign their books, not because they were certain I would someday pen a best seller, but because they hoped I might, with that same selfish hope I harbor for every writer whose work I love and want to see read.

I signed so many books that my fingers cramped.  There’s a muscle in my arm I didn’t even know I had, one that begs for mercy after an hour or more of flipping to page thirty-nine where my story begins, and holding the book open, and doing that again, and again, and again.   Avid readers and writers I’ve long admired looked me in the eye, and shook my hand, and told me how much they liked my story.  New readers told me how much they were looking forward to reading it.

You can’t buy this experience.  It has to be earned.  It’s a lot of fun, but it comes with responsibilities.  It means that the next story has to be that much better, that I have to work that much harder to continue to earn that respect, to repay that trust.

The book signing impressed upon me the seriousness of what I’d signed up for.   This wasn’t just my name on a story I posted to a web site or online bookstore.  I could do that by myself, and it would only be my name and reputation on the line.  This was something completely different.

L. Ron Hubbard and the judges of the Writers of the Future Contest handed me a bit of their reputation, of their prestige.  L. Ron Hubbard’s name is on the cover of a book with my story in it.  It isn’t just me believing in me anymore.  I’ve looked into the eyes of readers who trust me to deliver, not just any story, but one that is worthy of inclusion in the world’s most anticipated annual collection of science fiction and fantasy.  When those readers pick up my next book, or my next short story they’re banking on it being of equal or better quality.  That’s an awesome responsibility, and a mighty challenge, but that’s what I’ve signed up for.

The best thing is that now I have help.  I already have a request to see a proposal for a novelization of my story, I already have cover blurbs lined up, and I know I have a network of peers around the world, friends I can turn to for advice.  This idea nags at me on the plane flight home:  Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game began life as a short story.

It doesn’t cost anything to dream big.  I know now that sometimes those big dreams do come true.  Anything can happen.

Imagine this:  You’re in Hollywood, and you’re standing in a richly paneled room, and it is full of your heroes, except they’re not just your heroes anymore, they’re your mentors, and they’re cheering you on, and you’re surrounded by your peers from all over the world, men and women who share your love for the literature of ideas in all its forms, and every person in that room has been inspired by their heroes, and their heroes’ example of paying it forward.  Would that inspire you to do the same?  That’s the legacy of L. Ron Hubbard and the Writers of the Future Contest.  I’m honored to be a part of it.

If you have the skills, and the work ethic and the drive to produce world-class writing or illustrations and you love science fiction and fantasy like I do you have a chance to be a part of it too.  It doesn’t cost a penny to submit your work and you can now do it electronically from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.

Having a shot.  Getting a fair break.  That’s all every decent new writer wants.  I’ve been working my heart out, honing my craft, and I felt like no one in the world cared but me.  Then I got the call.

“This is Joni, and ‘Maddy Dune’s First and Only Spelling Bee’ is going to be in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume Twenty-Seven.  We’d like to fly you out to Hollywood.”

It took me a while to realize this wasn’t a dream.  It was the future calling.

I don’t remember what I said, but Kevin J. Anderson taught me what you should say if you ever get a call like that.

“I can do that.”

I’m very glad I did.

Back from the Writers of the Future

I just got back from the Writers of the Future event.  I’m exhausted, but in a good way.  I’ll post more on this soon, but I need to get some sleep.  For now here’s a picture of the hall.  It’s the same room the first Academy Awards were held in.