A Message from the Athena’s Daughters Project Managers

Janine Spendlove:

Wow… I don’t even know what to say.

I look at the number of people Athena’s Daughters has backing it, and it’s a bit staggering.

I mean, I never doubted the project would fund, and hit a few stretch goals, but then this project just took off like crazy. All you wonderful people have believed not just in us, but proven through your support for TWO anthologies entirely about women that there is both a place and desire for well-developed female role models in science fiction and fantasy.

So I guess all I can really say at this point, is thank you. Thank you so very much.

Maggie Allen:

You like us! You really, really like us! Ok, or you like the idea of women writing sci-fi/fantasy as much as we do.  When Janine first pitched this idea to me, my reaction was SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.


It seems like many of you have felt the same way. We are so grateful for your support, not only for your support of Silence in the Library, but for your validating our own feelings that women belong in SF/F.  And we hope that the stories we have written (and that our fellow male authors in the companion volume, Apollo’s Daughters have written) will introduce you to a whole new range of female characters for you to enjoy.

Thank you so much for making this project successful beyond our wildest dreams.


If you’d like to support Athena’s Daughters, please click here.

Janine K. Spendlove is a KC-130 pilot in the United States Marine Corps. In the Science Fiction and Fantasy World she is primarily known for her best-selling trilogy, War of the Seasons. She has several short stories published in various anthologies alongside such authors as Aaron Allston, Jean Rabe, Michael A. Stackpole, Bryan Young, and Timothy Zahn. She is also the co-founder of GeekGirlsRun, a community for geek girls (and guys) who just want to run, share, have fun, and encourage each other. A graduate of Brigham Young University, Janine loves pugs, enjoys knitting, making costumes, playing Beatles tunes on her guitar, and spending time with her family. She resides with her husband and daughter in Washington, DC. She is currently at work on her next novel. Find out more a JanineSpendlove.com.

Maggie Allen recently started writing short fiction, but for her day job at NASA she has years of experience writing and podcasting about various non-fiction topics in astronomy and astrophysics. Maggie is a guitarist and singer in the rock band “Naked Singularity,” which released its first album of original music in 2013.  She has also been a long-time member of the costuming community, and has run her popular costume research and resource sites (padawansguide.com and costumersguide.com) for the past 14 years. Her writer website may be found here: http://writermaggie.blogspot.com


Athena’s Daughters – Funded!


The Athena’s Daughters Kickstarter has funded! We owe a huge thank you to the 1917 backers who made this book, and the companion anthology Apollo’s Daughters, a reality.

Athena’s Daughters features authors like Gail Z. Martin, Mary Robinette Kowal, Sherwood Smith, Janine K. Spendlove, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Rabe, and many others, an introduction by retired astronaut and Shuttle Commander Pam Melroy, and has beautiful illustrations for each story by Autumn Frederickson and cover art by Tietjen Alvarez. Apollo’s Daughters features authors like Aaron Allston, David Mack, John Jackson Miller, Aaron Rosenberg, Michael A. Stackpole, and many others, an introduction by Dr. John Mather, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics, and has amazing illustrations for each story by Elias Pate and cover art by Joe Corroney colored by Brian Miller.

If you’d like to pre-order Athena’s Daughters and Apollo’s Daughters, check out our “Store” tab at the top of the page.

Guest Post By Athena’s Daughters Author Danielle Ackley-McPhail


True strength is in knowing when you’ve screwed up. I know…you might not get that at first. How can knowing you made a mistake be strength? Easy.

Recognizing your error gives you a chance to correct it.

Like this article, for example. It was due…oh…a week ago.

Yeah, I screwed up. It is 5:30 in the morning and I’m scrambling to get it done in the hopes that it will still post on time because if I don’t I’m letting a lot of wonderful ladies down.

See, there’s another aspect of that strength I was mentioning. I care that I screwed up and realize it will affect other people. What if I’d forgotten about this article altogether or decided “meh, I’m already late, what’s the point?” What wonderful things might go unrealized because of that easy choice? Yeah, I’d rather be sleeping. Yeah, maybe I’m too late. Yeah, I had to try anyway, because yeah, it’s worth it. To keep my word the best I can, to support those who have been doing their part to promote the Athena’s Daughters anthology. To not leave the Silence in the Library blog in the lurch when they planned on my piece for today.

This is an important life lesson. Not just for me as a person, but for me as a writer. Think of all the process I just went through to reach my decision to get this done. Now think how that applies to any future character I write. They will be strong—or not—based on the choices I let them make. They will know consequences. They will know the potential for failure and recognize the pivotal part one forgotten commitment can make.

Something as simple as a message not delivered can change the outcome of a war. A task left incomplete can lose a valuable opportunity. Or, the easy way out can lead to unforeseen complications…

In my story, “Looking Back”, Lady Clara must decide if her relentless pursuit of her desire to find her cousin is worth the unwitting harm her search has caused to the very fabric of time. Does she disregard the warning that comes to her from an unexpected quarter? Or does she have the strength to step back and recognize that forcing fate could have dire consequences? It definitely takes strength to pursue a dream…but how much more it requires to let it go.


Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s published works include four urban fantasy novels: Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court and The Redcaps’ Queen: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections. Learn more at www.sidhenadaire.com. In her down time she concocts her own cookie recipes (Spirited Delights), gets crafty, and makes costume horns. All the spaces in between are filled with reading…lots of reading!

If you’d like to support Athena’s Daughters, please click here.

Guest post by Athena’s Daughter’s author E.J. Lawrence


E.J. Lawrence

The first adult novel I remember reading was David Edding’s ‘The Diamond Throne’ from his Elenium series followed closely by David Brin’s ‘Otherness’. They were as far apart as Fantasy and Science Fiction could get, but together they were my base, my home turf. My David and David.  Everything I read after that was compared back to them. They could do no wrong. Imagine my delight just this last year to have met David Brin, to –squee as my twelve-year-old self would have done- at enjoying his company, hanging out, and driving him back to his hotel. That child is still inside me bouncing in glee.

I don’t doubt that my reading tastes growing up directly influenced my career choice in science.  I was going to be an Egyptologist. I knew that as an outspoken third grader. Everything I did was in pursuit of that goal, including living in Cairo during my Junior year in college.  Nothing was cooler than Ancient Egypt and mummies, well except doing DNA on ancient mummies and constructing royal genetic genealogies.  It wasn’t possible at the time, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming.  Leaving Egypt, I also left behind my dream of Egyptology and instead pushed forward at what could be. At what genetics could offer, if only it could do what I wanted it to do.

Looking back now I realize that science fiction in general pushed me to dream about what could be in science.  Not was.  But what could be if there was just a little more knowledge, more skills, more techniques.  I am proud to say that mummy DNA testing is full in swing today, just 13 years after my stint in Egypt. The Neanderthal genome has been extrapolated, and an entire species of hominid, the Denisovans, have been described from a single finger bone and a genetic profile. It is an exciting time in archaeogenetics. It is even more exciting as I am a DNA expert in the field of forensic identification of aged skeletal remains.

But there are so many more ‘what ifs’ out there. There is so much more to be discovered. In a way, I believe that science fiction drives science as much as science drives science fiction.  You have only to look at cell phones to see a Star Trek communicator or a Kindle/Nook to see a Star Trek PADD. And though female figures within the scientific community do help to drive young girls into the scientific fields with role models to look up to, I believe that female figures within science fiction also serve in that capacity. Perhaps more so, because in science fiction and fantasy for that matter you get to live out those ‘what ifs’ far sooner than we can make them happen for real, but those ‘what ifs’ drive us towards getting there that much faster. Those characters faced tough decisions, stood up for what they believed in, and showed the reader that there are many types of strength. I can still recount all the difficult choices of every female character within the Elenium. Perhaps because I saw myself in them, even a little bit.

Join us in the journey with two anthologies celebrating strong women from both female (Athena’s Daughters) and male (Apollo’s Daughters) authors. Let us inspire the next generation of female scientists who hunger for those ‘what if’ scenarios.

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AthenasDaughters-cover-front-webA Forensic Scientist and genetics expert, EJ Lawrence has practiced her craft at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, the Smithsonian Institute, and the cutting edge of genetic diagnostics.  When not doing things most of us can’t spell or pronounce, she is busy raising a brood of boys, a needy golden retriever, and thanking her lucky stars that she is married to the smoking hot author, Brian Shaw.  She is also known to practice sarcasm on occasion.

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Want to support Athena’s Daughters? You can do so here.


Guest post from Athena’s Daughters author, Conley Lyons: Don’t Be Afraid to Show People Your Work!


Don’t Be Afraid to Show People Your Work! Or: You Never Forget Your First Workshop

I’ve been thinking a lot about writer’s workshops in the past month. One of my good friends and I had a discussion this summer about whether they are helpful, and whether I should encourage her to take them.

In full fairness, I told her about the reason I love workshops and still believe in them. I’ve been attending them for years. The first one I remember was part of a summer arts programming series put on by my hometown university. It was offered for kids in the area who were interested in creative writing. My mother signed me up and told me I was going. I imagine it was in the hope that this  would be a good opportunity for me to be encouraged and to meet new friends around town.

The story I prepared was about a Victorian-era girl named Lucy, who was twenty (glamorous!), was a college student involved in a dark mystery (even more glamorous!), and who also had a dashing fiance named John who wore three-piece suits (I die of glamour!) It was probably the result of fervent, ongoing obsessions with Anne of the Island, Daphne duMaurier, and a lot of PBS shows.  

Here are the two vivid memories I have of that workshop: I didn’t have an ending for my story. And, as the group sat around a dilapidated, square lab table, flipping through our typed printouts and our copies of handwritten stories, I was convinced everyone hated it. Granted, I was probably ten or eleven at the time, and the other kids were in middle school or high school. I might have been convinced they didn’t like me no matter what I wrote, because a lot of them wore ripped jeans, were into alt rock, and had multiple earrings. Compared to a seventy pound kid in a kitten t-shirt and LL Bean athletic shorts, they were all way cooler by default. But that anxious tugging in my chest–that awful silence as I waited for strangers to pass divine judgment on words I’d put on paper instead of keeping inside my head–is a feeling I’ve never forgotten. And it’s what prompted my feelings about workshops as a tool for writers.

A. They are terrifying.

B. If you get the chance, and feel brave enough, you should do one.

I’m not saying a single workshop session will make you a better writer. Over the years, I’ve participated in plenty of classes where the group didn’t click. Workshops where I left feeling more confused than when I went in. Workshops where I had no idea how to fix the draft I’d submitted, and didn’t get much concrete feedback other than “what you have now isn’t working.” Workshops where we weren’t allowed to write science-fiction or fantasy stories because they weren’t “real.” I’ve also been my own worst enemy in some workshops. I’ve turned in drafts of ideas I hated because I was too afraid to write about an idea I loved.

But for all of those experiences, I also have plenty of stories about positive workshops. Sessions where I sweated and angsted about a submission I couldn’t wrangle, and my fellow writers said, “Well, have you tried x? What if your main character did y? Why not start the story at point z?” Sessions where I feel I can be brutally honest with the group, and they’re brutally honest with me in return. Sessions where I was also excited (and not just terrified) to put up my work for peer review.

In the end, I still love the workshop model and believe in it. Mainly because it is so helpful, and so important, to have other people see your work. Whatever you produce – whether it’s fan writing, original fiction, an outline, or a bare thread of an idea – being able to talk with a trusted group or trusted person about something you’ve created is one of the best feelings in the world. The story I produced for Athena’s Daughters was done under deadline for my writers’ workshop.

For me, it’s a way to make sure I have legitimate writing output, as opposed to keeping multiple, hundred-page word documents on my computer and tinkering with story bits in secrecy for years. A good workshop doesn’t even have to be a formal class that you pay to take. It can be as simple as assembling a group of your people, fellow writers, who love telling stories and want to see what like-minded peers think of their drafts.

So, if you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about, I say try it. Maybe your workshop will be fabulous, and you’ll meet your people. Maybe you’ll just get a wince-inducing story out of the experience, which you can then trod out at parties. (“Hey, remember the workshop where that guy didn’t spell or grammar-check his submission? WTF?!”)

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AthenasDaughters-cover-front-webConley Lyons is a 2010 graduate of Elon University, with a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing. She is an avid costumer and runner, having completed a full marathon, numerous half-marathons, and many other races. After years in restaurant management, she is currently a freelance writer living in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Her work will be featured in the 2014 science-fiction and fantasy anthology Athena’s Daughters. Find out more at http://lyonswrite.wordpress.com

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Want to support Athena’s Daughters? You can do so here.


Guest post by Janine K. Spendlove: How do you do it all?

Co-producer of Athena’s Daughters (and one of the authors in the anthology), Janine K. Spendlove has allowed us to re-post one of her more popular blog posts: “Balancing 3 lives: How do I do it all? The answer is, I don’t.” In addition to being a part of Athena’s Daughters, Janine’s 3rd novel of her War of the Seasons trilogy, The Hunter, is out today. Be sure to check it out! 


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I am a wife, mother, Marine, pilot, writer, marathoner, costumer, all around geek, and more. One of the questions I often get asked is “How do you do it all?”

The truth is, I don’t.

There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Seriously, if I could find a way to survive without sleeping and gain another 8 hours a day I would be a very happy camper. Actually, I hate camping, so I’d be a very happy wife/mother/Marine/pilot/author/marathoner/costumer/all around geek. That is not to say I’m not happy now, just that I finish out each day thinking: “man, I didn’t get half as much done today as I wanted to!”

I suspect that even with an additional 8 hours a day I’d just find more hobbies/things to get involved with and would lament that our earth days weren’t actually 30 hours long instead of 24.

So, how do I accomplish half of what I’d like to do? Well, let’s not discuss the condition of my home (hurricane central!), nor my inability to cook or bake anything outside of tacos or wookiee cookiees. But one thing I do well is prioritize my time.

Would I love a spotless house? Yes, but I love to spend quality time with my family more.

Would I love to write two novels a year? Yes, but I need to maintain my mental and physical health, hence my running/training.

Would I love to attend every single book signing and Sci-Fi and Fantasy convention I get invited to? Obviously! But the Marine Corps comes first, and I go where I’m needed, so I can’t always make it to events I’d like to.

The important thing is to find balance in your life. For me, I have to balance 3 lives, and I do look at them as 3 distinct lives.

IMG_12951-First and foremost I’ve got Family Me. I’m a wife and mother, and my duty to my family is more important than any others, and I will always put them first. That said I don’t fill up my life with all things family – I try to maintain balance. I know that I won’t make it to every family event, but I try to make it to many of them and I if I have to miss one, I make sure my family understands why I won’t be there (ie, I am deploying or had already committed to a convention). Are we both disappointed I won’t be there? Yes, but my family understands because we keep those lines of communication open and transparent. We talk to each other!

Also, we have a set night every week (usually Monday night) where we have “family night.” Here we go over everyone’s schedule to make sure everyone has rides and that we are all aware of where we all need to be (and whose turn it is to cook or do dishes), and it really eliminates a lot of the confusion. In addition to a lesson that we all take turns giving, we also have some fun together time where we play games or go out for ice cream. The important thing is we are together. Sometimes this is the only time during the week that we are all in one place!

2-Next, I’ve got Marine Me.
I’m a Major in the United States Marine Corps and my duty to my Corps and Country is something I take quite seriously and will take precedence over my writing career at least until I retire from the Corps. But that isn’t to say the two are mutually exclusive. IMG_5108As a KC-130 pilot, I’ve logged a lot of flight hours and in my current job working as a Marine Liaison Officer at the House of Representatives I travel a lot. This gives me plenty of time to work out plot snarls, sort through my different plot bunnies, and, if I’m a passenger instead of the pilot, do some actual writing.

As for my running, aside from it providing me much needed mental rest and alone time, I also get loads of physical benefits, not the least of which is as a Marine I need to be great shape (running is definitely part of my job). Plus races are addictive, lots of fun, and finisher medals are cool!

3-Lastly, I’ve got Writer Me. Since I have to prioritize my time, this is the lowest priority “me,” because it is, I feel, the most selfish one. I started writing for ME. Because I liked it. Because I needed it. Because I wanted to.

Proof!Lots of “I’s” and “me’s” in there.

Because of this when I do write, I try to do it on “my own time.” ie, when my family has gone to bed, or as mentioned above on down time on work trips, at night at conventions, etc.

That said, my daughter is a big supporter of my writing. In fact she’s one of my biggest fans and is constantly hounding me to finish my next book so she can read it. My husband is a great support too, so more and more I’m able to encroach into “family time” and write with their full encouragement (when I do this I try to write in the same room they are in so that I’m still around them even while I’m working).

In addition to that, I used to attend conventions and signings on my own. Now, not only am I generally too busy to be a one man show at these events any more (a good problem to have, I’m not complaining!) but my family accompanies me, so we still get some family time as we all geek out together.

As for everything else (costumes, knitting, various fandoms, etc)? I fit it in when I can.

So if you email me and don’t hear back from me for 2 months? Now you know why – it’s not that I don’t like you, or I’m ignoring you, I just haven’t found the time to properly answer you yet.

As I said at the beginning, I don’t do it all – but doubt I’ll ever stop trying!

Need a copy of one of my books? As it happens you can buy them here.

janinespendloveJanine K. Spendlove is a KC-130 pilot in the United States Marine Corps. In the Science Fiction and Fantasy World she is primarily known for her best-selling trilogy, War of the Seasons. She has several short stories published in various anthologies alongside such authors as Aaron Allston, Jean Rabe, Michael A. Stackpole, Bryan Young, and Timothy Zahn. She is also the co-founder of GeekGirlsRun, a community for geek girls (and guys) who just want to run, share, have fun, and encourage each other. A graduate of Brigham Young University, Janine loves pugs, enjoys knitting, making costumes, playing Beatles tunes on her guitar, and spending time with her family. She resides with her husband and daughter in Washington, DC. She is currently at work on her next novel. Find out more at JanineSpendlove.com

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Don’t forget to check out our current kickstarter for Athena’s Daughters! An all women Sci-Fi/Fantasy anthology. We’ve also reached our $24k stretch goal where we will be doing a companion volume to Athena’s Daughters of all male writers telling stories about women. So be sure to check it out and support!

Guest post by new author, Tera Fulbright

AthenasDaughters-cover-front-webWhen Janine asked me to be a part of the Athena’s Daughter’s Kickstarter, I was ecstatic!  A chance to have a story in an anthology with folks like Mary Robinette Kowel and Gail Z Martin (and so many others), how could I say no!

But since this was also the first time I was involved in a Kickstarter, I was not quite sure what to expect.  As I suspect most of you know, we funded in about 36 hours!!!  And by the end of the 6th day, we passed the stretch goal where I get to add a story.

I am utterly blown away by the support this anthology has received.  It has been unbelievably exciting to watch the funding send us past stretch goal after stretch goal.  Thank you so much to all the folks who believed in this.

As a new author, I am thrilled to have this chance to share my stories with a wider audience.

As a result of the Kickstarter, Janine asked me to write a blog post for Silence in the Library and I wasn’t sure what to talk about.  After a bit of thought I decided to answer the questions that I’m most often asked at a convention.

How did you get started writing?

In my case, once you get past the history of having a degree in English, I usually tell people it was a confluence of lucky events.  In my non-normal life, I am a pirate re-enactor and con-runner.   As a result, I consider myself very familiar with pirates and pirate history and I happen know a few authors.  We were at a convention and I happened to overhear a pair of authors (hat tip to Val Griswold-Ford and Davey Beauchamp) talking about an anthology whose theme was “Pirates and Magic.” I immediately begged to be allowed to submit a story.  Val graciously said yes and so I went home and wrote a story about a time-traveling Air Force pilot who meets the pirate Grace O’Malley.  And to my utter surprise and amazement, it was accepted!   From there, I had the good luck and grace to then be asked to submit to several other anthologies.  So my advice to other aspiring writers is to keep trying (and find really good editors!)  I have been incredibly blessed to have both Val and Michael Ventrella (Fortannis Anthologies) as my first editors, who in addition to accepting my stories, have always given me great advice on how to make them better.

R&R cover frontsmWho were your influences?

I have so many influences that it would be like writing a who’s who list of SF/F authors. But if I had to pick the books and authors I have learned from…then I would say I have four big ones…Timothy Zahn, Katherine Kurtz, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.  Margaret and Tracy’s Dragonlance books were my first introduction to fantasy that wasn’t written for children or young adults.  They are still the only authors who have made me throw a book across a room in anger.  I actually still re-read the Dragonlance novels frequently and find myself touched by the characters and moved by the emotions of the story.  There is something comforting about their stories.  Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni series, I adore because of her world building.  Her world, perhaps because of its very familiarity to our own, is very real when I read it.  Last (but never least) is Timothy Zahn.  Like many others, I came to Tim via his Star Wars novels, but I follow him because of the rest of his writing.  Tim is an amazing SF author.  He has a way of making the “science” in science fiction understandable (for me).  His characters are always well rounded with flaws and feelings that even in worlds miles away from my own understanding, I can relate to them.  (Add to that he is an incredibly nice person!)

What is the hardest thing you find about writing?

Finding time to write.  But, as it pertains to writing, I will add that one thing I have learned very early is to identify where I struggle as an author… in my case, I like “talking heads” or lots of dialogue and not enough action or descriptions.  Because this is a challenge for me, I often try to go back though my stories after I’ve written them and describe the scene as my hero sees it or add movement (fingers tapping, a walk around a room).  These types of adjustments come by listening to your editors (and beta-readers).

Thank you again to all the backers who have made it possible for me to have a story included in Athena’s Daughters and I hope you enjoy all the stories!

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headshot small-front2Tera Fulbright has been a fan of the SF genre since first reading C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia in the 4th grade.  Her experiences and interests range from costuming and stage combat to running conventions to writing. 

Her first short story, “History in the Making” was published in the anthology Rum & Runestones in 2010. Her second story, “Faith,” was published in Michael Ventrella’s Tales of Fortannis: A Bard’s Eye View. In 2012, Tera’s third short story, “Anne Bonny’s Child,” was included in Spells and Swashbucklers, the follow-up toRum & Runestones. 

As a fan, she serves as the Quartermaster for the DMB Lightning’s Hand of the Buccaneers of the Atlantic Coast.  Tera enjoys costuming; some of her costumes include Mara Jade & Padme of Star Wars, Hathor ofStargate: SG-1 and various lady pirates. Along with her husband, James, she helped run conventions such as StellarCon and RavenCon for over 15 years. 

In her non-fandom life, Tera works as the University Relations Coordinator for B/E Aerospace.  And in what, admittedly limited, spare time she has, she enjoys miniature painting, playing D&D, reading and spending time with her husband and daughter at their home in Greensboro, NC.

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Want to support Athena’s Daughters? You can do so here.

Athena’s Daughters: FUNDED & a guest post from author Sherwood Smith

AthenasDaughters-cover-front-webAthenasDaughters-cover-front-webAthenasDaughtersWow! Just – WOW! Athena’s Daughters funded in just over 36 hours – that was incredible, and completely thanks to all of you. 

In our wildest dreams, we were hoping to fund in a week. A day and a half is just incredible. We’ve also hit our first 5 stretch goals and we’re just nearing the end of the first day – HOLY SMOKES! Don’t worry, there are still plenty more stretch goals to reach!

Thank you so much. It is more gratifying than we can express to know that you guys are as excited about this project as we are. 

Below we’ve got a guest post from one of Athena’s Daughters’ authors, Sherwood Smith. It’s a repost she gave us permission to use from one she did back in 2012, and you can see the original post here.

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Regency-era-dress1The other day I was with a group of people, and one of the subjects that came up was favorite books, and the defense thereof. One person was defending romances, saying that the fact that she’s getting exactly what she expects when she picks up a romance is a selling point. She pays down her money not for shocks or (unpleasant) surprises, but to see how the author guides the characters to the expected happily ever after.

Someone then called Jane Austen the first author of romances. I said that ‘romance’ in the sense that we mean it now was around far earlier—gave examples, like Mary Davys, Eliza Haywood, etc—and then I said that Austen didn’t actually write romances.

“Of course she does! Every one of her novels ends with wedding bells and happy smiles all around,” was one response, and another gave me the hairy eyeball. “Are you going to try to tell me that Georgette Heyer doesn’t write romance?”

Far from it, I said. She did write romances, in the Silver Fork tradition. I offered to give the two-minute rundown on the history of Silver Fork novels, but nobody wanted that, so I was ready to drop the subject, when the daughter of a friend said, “You’re talking like there’s a big difference between Austen’s romances and Heyer’s. I don’t see any difference.”

Okay, how was I to address that shortly and succinctly? We were at a coffee shop, not in a lecture hall, and half the people there had already said they didn’t read romance or Austen. Yet she really wanted me to answer.

So I began with pointing out the obvious–that Austen was writing contemporary novels and Heyer a historical setting–then fumbled a long, disconnected sentence about tone and handling of language and authorial intent, stumbling to an abrupt close, as usual, when I became aware of eyes beginning to glaze.

If I were socially ept, I’d be able to explain these things succinctly, but I’m not. I am the mistress of the three a.m. toss-and-turn endless replay, the mental fret about what I should have said.

So I thought, okay, get it out of my system right here. Maybe someone will find it interesting enough to discuss.

What I should have said was this: “Do you know what a hapax legomenon is?”

Either the group would have said “Never heard of it,” or someone might have scoffed and said, “Learned that in sixth grade: a hapax legomenon is a word that occurs only once within the works of an author.”

After which I could point out that that the word ‘ton’ is a hapax legomenon in Jane Austen’s work. It only occurs once in all her novels, and as usual, it is used ironically. And the thing that makes it interesting to me is that this single word illustrates best the difference between the works of the two authors.

In Georgette Heyer’s novels the word ton appears not only in its actual period form (as an adjective or noun meaning ‘high and exclusive or fashionable style, from the French for ‘tone,’) but she also borrows the shift in meaning that actually became popular some years after the Regency by usington for the ‘upper ten thousand’—the leaders of society.

It appears frequently in Heyer’s novels, as you’d expect of a word that represents the guiding principle and the goal for her heroes and heroines: being at the top of the social ladder. That is in essence what a Silver Fork novel is, a novel that holds up high society as the epitome of social success. Add to that marital success, and you’ve got a beguilingly popular subgenre nearly two centuries old.

But Austen wasn’t writing Silver Fork novels. Her heroes and heroines are part of her own class, the gentry—for whom she was writing. Her audience knew the fashions of the time, so she never describes them. They knew the invisible social rules, so she doesn’t explain them. As far as highsociety is concerned, except for two exceptions (Mr. Darcy, the son of an earl’s daughter, and Col. Fitzwilliam, the impecunious younger son of the same noble family, who is obliged to earn a living until he can marry a fortune) the tonnish crowd—the nobles and London’s social leaders—are arrogant, snobbish bores in Austen’s novels. Even ignorant snobs and bores, like Sir Walter Elliott. Or amoral, as we learn through the charmingly dissolute Crawford siblings.

The single instance where the word ‘ton’ occurs in Austen’s work is in Mansfield Park, Vol. 1, chapter 9. “A clergyman cannot be high in state or fashion. He must not head mobs, or set the ton in dress.”

The dialogue goes on to defend the calling of clergyman. Just as Austen’s nobles are mostly risible snobs, Heyer’s clergy are mostly risible and servile fools. We find one kindly priest in These Old Shades—a novel that sets out most blatantly Heyer’s favorite message, that birth will always tell. No doubt Heyer read Austen, but I don’t think she took her as a model: the worldviews underlying the Austenverse and the Heyerverse are so different as almost to be in conflict.

Austen’s stories end with marriage because that was pretty much the only choice open to women of her social stratum, and she writes from a woman’s perspective, giving women’s points-of-views first place at the table. But her context is social criticism. She proved she knew the word ‘ton.’ It just was not important to her.


While Heyer can get ironic, her scorn is mostly saved for the social climber—someone trying to rise above the station in life that birth placed them in. Social climbers also get Jane Austen’s quill stuck in them, but mostly for their lack of principle in attaining their goal. It’s interesting to note that Mrs. Elton in Austen’s Emma (arguably the most problematically social-rank conscious of all Austen’s books) exposes herself and her pretensions by serving as an example of how not to converse intelligently in society. There is one chapter devoted specifically to her conversational solecisms, as that kindly man, Mr. Weston, attempts to talk to her.

Here’s where I think the difference is sharpest: the best conversations in Heyer’s books are the comic ones, for example in Friday’s Child, or the highly entertaining one in the otherwise fairly pedestrianApril Lady (depending, as it does, on the hero and heroine not talking to one another for the entirety of the book) wherein the lively brother and his pals set out to become highwaymen for a day.

The sort of conversation that Austen valued most—witty exchanges in which moral principle is overtly or covertly in question—are pretty much absent in Heyer’s romances, replaced by vivid dialogues focused around male conflict and action, verbal battles (especially between the sexes), mistaken identity, etc: the stuff of highly entertaining romance.

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Sherwood Smith’s story for Athena’s Daughters is titled “Commando Bats” – Commando Bats: what happens when old women get powers. 

When asked what inspired her story, she said: “There were two inspirations: one, shouts for diversity seem to be limited to the young, and two, out of all the figures of Greek mythology, I’ve always found Hera the most interesting, because of the contradictions in the various myths. Over the years I’ve come to see those as a remarkable mirror, fashioned more than two millennia ago, of the problematical status of women in largely militant societies. 

I should say three inspirations, because I wanted to write something in which old women got to have the fun of adventuring!”

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SmithSher-Remalnas-Children-ebook-1500-x-2250Sherwood Smith began her publishing career in 1986, writing mostly for young adults and children. Sherwood Smith studied in Austria for a year, earning a masters in history. She worked many jobs, from bar tender to running the copy department at MGM studios, then turned to teaching for twenty years, working with children from second grade to high school.  She specialized in literature, history, drama and dance.  To date she’s published over forty books.

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Remember, there’s still time to get Sherwood’s story “Commando Bats”

and so much more at the Athena’s Daughter’s Kickstarter!

Athena’s Daughters Kickstarter launches – Maggie Allen & Space camp!

AthenasDaughters-cover-front-webAthena’s Daughters Kickstarter Launches!

Silence in the Library Publishing has partnered with Kickstarter and a host of renowned authors including names like Mary Robinette KowalGail Z. MartinJean RabeSherwood Smith, and many others in a new Kickstarter project titled Athena’s Daughters. 

Athena’s Daughters is a collection of short fiction from some of the best female science fiction and fantasy authors in the industry. This anthology features stories written by women about women. We are also incredibly excited to have an introduction to the anthology by retired astronaut and Space Shuttle Commander Pam Melroy.


Here to tell you more about this great anthology is one of the co-producers of the anthology and also one of the author’s, Maggie Allen. BTW, she’s also one of the 3 co-founders of Silence in the Library Publishing!

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Maggie, left, having pretend adventures in space as shuttle commander at Space Camp. Credit: Geoff Burns

Maggie, left, having pretend adventures in space as shuttle commander at Space Camp. Credit: Geoff Burns

When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an astronaut.  I went to Space Camp when I was in 10th grade, and I also spent my teenage years reading a lot of Heinlein juveniles. If you’re not familiar with these, they were adventure stories for young people (well, teenage boys, actually, it was the 1940s and 50s) written by well-known science fiction author Robert Heinlein.

My favorite of these was “Space Cadet,” about a boy who gets into an elite space academy where he is trained to be in the Space Patrol, an organization that ostensibly helps to preserve peace within the solar system.  Written in 1948, I was always amazed that his characters cooked things with microwaves and had personal phones.  Very prescient. Of course, the flip side of this, is that it was written in 1948 and rereading the book today makes me cringe at the sexism buried in what is essentially a great space adventure story.

But when I was in high school, and later on, in college struggling through an astrophysics degree, I related to the main character’s own difficulties with learning “astrogation,” and his stubbornness in pursuing something that was challenging.

When I would reread this book (which I did multiple times), I’d mentally put myself in the main character’s place, because if you strip away the few bits of dialogue that reek of male superiority, gender is actually pretty unimportant to the identity of most of the characters.

When I once complained about the above to my friend Mike, he pointed out that there were lots of other good books with space adventure stories that weren’t sexist. But for some reason, despite its flaws, I found it hard to let go of Space Cadet, and how Matt Dodson’s deficiencies in math made me feel better about my own.

My friend Mike was right, of course, there are many, many wonderful stories of space adventure that are less, how shall we say, of that time.  One of my favorites was Laura J. Mixon’s “Astropilots,” which features a female main character, who is top of her class at a space academy.  I also gobbled up Rick North’s “Young Astronaut” series, about teens training for a Mars mission.  And then there was “This Place Has No Atmosphere,” a teen coming-of-age story by one of my favorite YA authors from the 70s and 80s, Paula Danziger, which just happened to be set on the Moon.

All this is to say that I’ve always loved Young Adult space adventure stories – so it was only a matter of time before I wrote my own.  And they would feature female lead characters, of course.

My story for Athena’s Daughters is about a thirteen-year-old, African-American girl named Bee who spends her summer vacation at camp on the moon.  Her passion is botany and anything to do with growing plants – so you can imagine her excitement at spending a summer learning about moon rocks. Lunar Camp ends up being way more than she bargains for in many ways.

Retired Astronaut and Shuttle Commander, Pam Melroy

Retired Astronaut and Shuttle Commander, Pam Melroy

I’ve written another story, which will be a gift to our first 100 Kickstarter backer, which takes place in the same world. A 16-year-old Bee has a cameo.

I am hoping to one day write a novel with these characters, but for now, I’m having fun finding out who they are. I hope you will like them too.

So, as for me, (spoiler alert!) I am, alas, not an astronaut. A couple of knee surgeries and other health issues have gotten in the way. But I did finish that astrophysics degree, and I do work at NASA. And I’m quite happy with where I’ve ended up, which is getting to explain the science that NASA does to the public.

Because I am still a big fan of space exploration, I was incredibly thrilled when Pam Melroy agreed to do the foreword for our anthology. She is a retired astronaut and one of only two female space shuttle commanders. I got to meet her once and what a thrill it was to talk to a woman who actually got to have real adventures in space.

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maggieallenMaggie Allen recently started writing short fiction, but for her day job at NASA she has years of experience writing and podcasting about various non-fiction topics in astronomy and astrophysics. Maggie is a guitarist and singer in the rock band “Naked Singularity,” which released its first album of original music in 2013.  She has also been a long-time member of the costuming community, and has run her popular costume research and resource sites (padawansguide.com and costumersguide.com) for the past 14 years. Her writer website may be found here: http://writermaggie.blogspot.com

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This is only a small portion of what is waiting for you when you visit the Athena’s Daughters Kickstarter project page. Please join us and become a part of the Athena’s Daughter’s journey by visiting http://tinyurl.com/athenasD and contributing today!

Author Michael Jan Friedman Guest Blog


Veteran Science Fiction Author Michael Jan Friedman On Launching His New Novel Via Kickstarter

The hero of my new young-adult superhero novel, I Am The Salamander,  is a cancer survivor.

I didn’t set out to make Tim Cruz a kid who had cancer. In fact, when I first started working on th book, it was the furthest thing from my mind. But when you read I Am The Salamander, you’ll see why it makes perfect sense for Tim to have beaten that disease, and why he’s in a position to offer hope to real teens trying to beat cancer themselves.

Why am I trying to fund I Am The Salamander through a Kickstarter campaign? The publishing landscape has changed. It’s harder than ever to get publishers to take a chance on a story, especially a quirky one like I Am The Salamander. And when they do, the book’s shelf life is shorter than that of a jar of half-sour pickles.

I want I Am The Salamander to be around for a good long time. That means I have to get it in the hands of readers on my own, and I have to keep it available to them.

But I wouldn’t ask anyone to donate to the I Am The Salamander campaign just because it’s a worthwhile thing to do. I’m asking because it’s also the best thing I’ve ever written, and because I want to get it out to readers the most direct way possible.

Where does the $5,000 go? To cover the cost of cover art, book design, and a modest print run. The book’s cover, by the way, was rendered by up-and-coming Brazilian talent Caio Cacau, who previously illustrated the cover to my recently re-released first novel, The Hammer and the Horn.

We’re offering backers great rewards like the chance to name a character after themselves and signed, limited edition pieces of Caio’s artwork. These are the kinds of rewards I myself couldn’t pass up. If you’re interested in lending a hand, check out the project at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1354092292/i-am-the-salamander.

About the Author

Michael Jan Friedman, a co-founder of indie publisher Crazy8Press, has written 70 novels for major publishers like Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, and Random House. His Kickstarter campaign ends on Nov. 16th at 7 p.m.