Stephen S. Power

The Wave Rises

The Year in Review

I spent 2017 trying to outline various novels after The Dragon Tower, the sequel to The Dragon Round, was turned (justifiably, really) by S&S. This proved more difficult that I figured. The first outline for what I’ve been calling the Dragonkin novel I tossed out because it lacked true heroes, and in the age of Trump, as Wonder Woman proved, people want them. When the world is grim, grim is out. 

So I tried my hand at an SF novel about guy who finds a time machine in his neighbor’s garage and uses it to escape to the future. That went well until I discovered just how hard it is to figure out what people will be wearing 600 years from now. The philosophy behind the story, the Laws of Humanix, a take of the Laws of Robotics, is interesting, though. I’ll get back to it.

Back to the Dragonkin. I outlined 3 of 5 parts, 18 of 30 chapters, each with four subchapters. Then, after several false starts, I figured where to begin the Dragonkin novel and, more importantly, how to tell it. (For me, a story needs an interesting setting, a want and a technical challenge.)  I’ve drafted the first three chapters, and already a ship is on fire, so I think I’m finally on my way.

Meanwhile, I only wrote a couple of decent stories. I did publish several that had been around from previous years, but my output was low. Stories are distracting, I have to say, because they are so immediately rewarding. Here’s the update I put on my short fiction page:

Forthcoming in 2018

The Paper Dragon, Daily Science Fiction. This will be my sixth story there. Written for a Codex contest and inspired by Japan’s “balloon bombs.”


The Changeling, Unnerving Magazine. I get to be first on the masthead! Everyone probably has a “baby can’t sleep” story. I hope this one sets itself apart from the others by just being more messed up. You’ll want to shave before you read it.

The First Time They Murder BillyThe Arcanist. This story was fun to write, which I did for a Codex contest. Tin Can Audio is making an audio version. I heard the rough draft, and it is amazing.

A Feast for the Minotaur, The Worlds of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Volume III. I wrote this story for a contest on Mythic Scribes. It did well in the voting, but I got dinged for the “something secret” prompt not being made prominent enough. 

The Other Face of Medusa, The Martian WaveThis is my response to Arthur C. Clarke’s “A Meeting with Medusa.” A template for how I’ve written dialogue ever since.


Now back to rooting hard for the Jaguars.



Hail Felipe!

When the Sun Shines, It Blinds

After selling nothing for like 7 months–and not writing many stories either–I’ve now sold 3 stories in the last 30 days: “The Changeling” to Unnerving for issue 5, my second appearance there; “The First Time They Murder Billy” to The Archanist, where it’ll appear 10/31; and one of my favorite stories, which won me a $25 gift card in a contest on Mythic Scribes, “A Feast for the Minotaur” to the anthology The Worlds of SF, Fantasy and Horror 3.

In addition, I can now announce that my Lightspeed story “Fade to Red” has been named a Notable Story Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017. It was also an Honorable Mention in The Year’s Best Science Fiction 34, which is cool because it’s a Macmillan book. I’m shocked and pleased.

I continue to beat my head against novels. One, my main one, the one I’m supposed to be writing, the one with the 30K words outline and 10K word bible, I put aside for a couple others because I realized world events are pushing the market toward positive stories with recognizable heroes, not grimdark stories with amoral heroes, that is, we want more Wonder Women and less Batman.  Last weekend, though, I found a new way into the story, one that could more heroic. So we’re back on the path. I have 6 or 7 chapters planned. What happens in chapter 8 I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out once I get there.


Wow, Have I Not Been Here In A While

So I haven’t updated since mid-October. Anything happen since then?

Here’s where things stand with me:

I’m back because The Dragon Round comes out next week, June 13, in trade paperback, and once again S&S did a wonderful job, including allowing me to make a few last minute corrections and changes. Thanks, Megan. If you read and like it, let me know, either personally or by leaving a nice, honest review on Goodreads and at the etailers.

And check this out from Powell’s downtown!

I love Powell’s. On top of that I scored six books by John McPhee.

For a little promo, I’ll be on two panels at BooksNJ 2017 this Sunday, 6/11: Traditional Vs. Self-Published from 3:40-4:15 and Worlds Beyond Reality: Fantasy and Science Fiction from 4:20-5. I’m looking forward to it.

Sadly, S&S turned down the DR sequel, The Dragon Tower, for a variety of reasons, all of which make perfect sense to me, disappointing as that was, so now I’m working on something new. Three things, actually. Which will get done first, I’m not sure. 

While I’ve had a surprising amount of success writing spec fic stories, I’ve put those on the back burner because I want to continue writing novels, they’re the bread and butter, and stories take up just as much time. Even a 750-word flash story takes 3-4 days. Which is frustrating because I was getting used to the churn of submission/rejection/occasional acceptance, plus the money. But you have to think long-term, which can provide the greater satisfaction.

Nonetheless, I’ve updated by short fiction page to address my most recent pubs.

In addition, I have a new job. In December, I left Amacom for Thomas Dunne Books, where I’m now an executive editor. The pace has been insane (I just put my third crash of the year into production), but incredibly rewarding, seeing as the first crash, John Kasich’s Two Paths, was a NY Times bestseller.  The second crash is Amy Knight’s Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder, and the third is Bandy Lee’s The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. Both are important and promise to be newsworthy, especially if Trump takes a page from the Putin playbook and  starts killing his critics and/or if he goes insane, respectively. I’m also working on President Carter by Carter’s Chief Domestic Policy Adviser Stu Eizenstat, William Shatner’s next book, Live Long And…, Bill Press’s From the Left and Bernie Sanders’s next book. And many, many more. I love going to work.

So not much success to report, but a lot of writing, in part thanks to my new Chromebook, which is such a fantastic device.

Great October

October, which by my decree shall include all days since I last posted, has been very good.

Lightspeed pubd my story “Fade To Red: Three Interviews About Sebold’s Mars Trilogy,” as well created a wonderful audio version and did a spotlight interview with me. What an amazing job they did, especially the audio version recreating the interview structure. And fittingly, the day it came out, Europe’s probe approached the planet, while Pres. Obama said America, despite the story’s prediction, would be sending a manned mission.

It’s gotten two reviews so far. Charles Payseur at Quick Sips was very generous. Rocket Stack Ranking didn’t like it as much.

Eddie Generous at Unnerving Magazine was also kind enough to post an interview with me prior to the release of the first issue, which will include my story “The Glittering Point.”

And StarShipSofa podcasted “Stripped to Zero.” To hear a story set in Tennessee read in a very different accent adds whole new dimensions to it.

And the month is only going to get better with Amazing Stories pubg “The Sounding Cataract” on 10/16 and Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores pubg “Mr. Pony” around Halloween.”

Meanwhile, in my other life, I’ve been blogging for Amacom. Here are my essay What DON’T Editors Want. Soon I’ll start a series called “The Why to Buy,” which will show authors how to create a business model for your book.


Hot Streak

When do authors find time to update their blogs? When they discover the Gator-Maryland game isn’t on at 7, it’ll be on at 7:30. And with Florida a 36-point favorite, I imagine it’ll be over by 8. Houston’s already used up all the underdog luck for today.

The last two weeks have seen me hit a mini-hot streak. I had my very first speculative fiction story, “The Glittering Point,” finally accepted after after 42 rejects, 2 previous titles and many rewrites along the way. It’s either urban fantasy or light horror set in Chicago. It’ll be in a new magazine called Unnerving in their first issue this December.  The lesson: Just as there’s someone perfect for everyone in this world, there’s a perfect market for every story, provided your diligent about searching and have patience

I also had a slightly younger story, “The Other Face of Medusa,” taken by the annual anthology called The Martian Wave. It’s a response to Clarke’s “Meeting with Medusa,” which answers the question, Whose funding gets cut to support another’s discovery in space?

And Daily Science Fiction took “18 Things Only A Martian Mom Will Understand (You Won’t Believe #13!),” which was inspired by Cassandra Khaw‘s tweet prompt, “Write a Buzzfeed headline from a dystopia.” The story wrote itself. If Medusa was my first stab at humor, this one suggests I may be getting the hang of it–even if it’s a series of one-liners.  This will be my fifth story in DailySF, for whom I wrote the story specifically, suggesting I’m also getting the hang of what they want.

In Dragon Round news, Booklist gave it a very favorable review:

This is a promising start to the series, and future books will hopefully…bring on more dragon showdowns.

Oh, they will. The sample chapter and synopsis for The Dragon Tower is off to Paul the Agent for submitting to S&S. With Simon451 becoming defunct and Brit the Champion leaving for Orbit, I understand that it’s facing an uphill battle, but my fingers are crossed anyway.

Meanwhile, friends keep sending me pictures of it in stores around the country, which is awesome, plus it’s up to 4 stars on Amazon with 16 reviews, which is a nice bump from the 3ish stars on Goodreads after 100+ reviews.

And The Revivalist was podcast by Gallery of Curiosities, as well as Radio Riel Steampunk. What an amazing job they did.

 (Update: My weekend is starting better than the Gators’, who are only up by 3 in the 3rd quarter because they’re trying their best to let UMass win. Zetetic just took my story “The Time Traveler” in a record 7 hours, 5 minutes (and pubd it after a couple edits 2.5 hours later!). It’s more experimental than most of my stories, but that’s what appealed to them. I wonder how long I can ride this streak.)

A Million Tiny Links

Best news of the day: Daily Science Fiction picked up my story “18 Things Only A Martian Mom Will Understand (You Won’t Believe #13!)” It was inspired by Cassandra Khaw‘s tweet challenge: write Buzzfeed-like headlines from a dystopia. This title, then story immediately wrote themselves. DSF was the first and obvious place to send it.

I have also seen The Dragon Round  in the wild at last at the 555 Fifth Avenue B&N. B&N has given it great placement: face out on the New SF/F shelf in every story around where I live and work.  The sunrise cover really pops next to its neighbors. I appreciate the store’s support. I could use some reviews there, though…

20160809_125419 - Copy

I’ve also written a bunch of blog posts in support of the book:

Stephen S. Power: How My Novel Saved Me From Drowning


A Peek into the World of Publishing, Interview with Stephen S. Power, Senior Editor for AMACOM

What Do Editors Want? The Five Things to Include in Your Business Book Proposal

This week I’ll follow up that last one with five thing editors don’t want to see, then a long series on creating the “why to buy” for your book, that is, instead of writing a book, then trying to figure out to get it published and sold, building a business model for your book before you pick up your pen.

Now to incorporate my agent’s edits to the first chapter of The Dragon Tower and the synopsis for submission to S&S as their option.  Tonight, of course, I’ll be watching the Hugo Award ceremony. Here’s how:

Can anyone tell I’ve just discovered how create link profiles?

Have a good week.






With The Dragon Round coming out (and getting some good reviews on Amazon), that means I became a guest blogger.

Writers Digest published an updated version of my post “The 2 Questions You’re Actually Asking When You Ask, ‘How Do I Write a Novel?’” with a much better tagline on Twitter: “How to Go from 0 Words to 100,000?”

And Amacom published my new piece “5 Ways Writers Can Pass the Hemingway Test.”

In a nice bit of happenstance for book promotion, Every Day Fiction put out “Card, Candle and Mirror” and Swords & Sorcery published “Time Is a Lady’s Unerring Blade.”  Deep Magic will include “The Catskill Dragon” in their August issue.

I heard that Lightspeed will include “Fade to Mars” in their October issue. October will also see “Mr. Pony” in Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores for Halloween.” “A Presentation to the Imperial Society of Mancers” probably won’t be out in the Silent Screams anthology until November. The issue of Amazing Stories with “The Sounding Cataract” has been delayed as a result of health issues, and I’d rather see Steve Davidson’s wife get better than see anything I’ve written in print.

This week was devoted, though, to the first Business Writers Conference, where I led two sessions, “What Publishers Want” and “The Why to Buy” on creating a business model for your book before you write it. I’m thinking of turning the latter into an AMA webinar. Plus I got to drive back to Atlanta with my author, Paul Smith, which was great fun–then he got me into the Delta Sky Lounge. I just can’t return to sitting at the gate.

Now back to writing novels.

Library Journal and Kirkus

A very positive review of Dragon Round from Library Journal:


Jeryon has been captain of the Comber for over a decade. When his ship is attacked by a dragon, the crew mutinies and offload Jeryon and Everlyn, the vessel’s apothecary, onto a small boat with no rudder or sail. The two wash up on an island and discover a baby dragon. If they can train the creature, they may be able to make their way home. As Jeryon finally heads back to civilization, he knows that what awaits him will not be justice or rules but political intrigue and revenge. ­VERDICT Power’s debut brings to mind Naomi Novik’s “Temeraire” series, with its dragons and maritime themes, and will keep readers engrossed as they follow his protagonist’s quest for survival and vengeance.—KC

Rock on, KC!

It also was mentioned in a fantasy roundup in Kirkus:

If you crave more traditional fantasy, embark on a quest to find The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan, where the struggle for world dominance is dependent on the magical power found within the blood of the fearsome, but dying, drakes. Or Tony Daniel’s The Dragon Hammer, in which the son of a Duke must rescue his family after they are captured during a surprise invasion by enemy forces.  The Dragon Round by Stephen S. Power is a swashbuckling adventure that begins when a ship captain, after being abandoned by his mutinous crew, discovers a dragon and seeks sweet revenge. Taking itself less seriously is The Dragon Lords: Fool’s Gold by Jon Hollins, which has a group of misfits rebelling against the dragons that rule them because (what else?) their taxes they impose are too high.

I’m planning on reading the Ryan myself. I wonder if the reviewer thinks Dragon Round is taking itself too seriously?

In any case, with the great PW review, I’ve now completed the pub industry review trifecta.

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