On second thought, let's skip ahead to the interesting stuff. If you've found this page, that probably means Earth:Final Conflict, Writing, Science Fiction, or one of the dozen or so other topics the typical search engine might latch onto.
Unlike most science fiction and fantasy writers, I didn't read science fiction or fantasy as a kid. You have to understand. I grew up in a small, western Kansas town where some of the newer books in the school library had a copyright date of 1949and I'm not that old. While I used to watch Star Trek on TV . . . yes, the original . . . yes, the first time it aired . . . [okay, so I am that old], that was about my only exposure to anything galactic. When my age was still in single digits, Cowboy movies were the most popular entertainment, John Wayne movies in particular. [Perhaps that's why I walk like I just got off a horse.]
Because of such late exposure to all things alien, my fiction tends to be less about science or magic and more about people. You see, I've always been around people. The science and magic, especially in the form of fiction, didn't show up until I was in college . . . and forever would it control my destiny, as Yoda would say. While I'd read some Jules Verne and H.G. Wells as a kid [they wrote a long time ago, after all], I'd never even heard of Lord of the Rings until a friend loaned me a copy of the holy trilogy. I read the first two books and made my way into the third before my girlfriend went ballistic. You see, she couldn't understand how I could find some boring old novel more interesting than her. [Come to think of it, I'm not sure how I did, either.] Obviously, grand old J.R.R. Tolkien had me hooked.
Life continued. The girlfriend didn't. A new girlfriend came along who eventually became my wife, and like many new spouses, she was eager to please her signficant other. Heck, the first few months we were married, she even got up and fixed breakfast, and for our first Christmas, she bought me a boxed set of Marion Zimmer Bradley novels even though she had her misgivings about those weird books I liked to read. This set of five novels proved to be the starting point for my writing career.
It's not that I hadn't been a writer before discovering MZB [as I always called her]. I started writing poetry and short stories when I was eleven. By the time I turned sixteen, I was working on a mainstream novel. But I lacked a sense of direction, and perhaps more important, an obvious place to market my work. Then I discovered the Friends of Darkover, and suddenly I had both.
While many people have said many things about Marion Zimmer Bradley, she undoubtedly published more new writers than almost any other editor during the last couple decades of the twentieth century. Up until her health started failing, she also did something most editors refuse to do today, which is provide personalized feedback for each short story rejected. While I didn't always agree with what she thought about my stories, I always listened to herand I learned.
In 1988, just six weeks before my daughter was born, Marion sent me a check for my story, "Circles", which she published in her Four Moons of Darkover anthology. Suddenly I was a published author. From there, the short story sales started coming relatively fast, considering those first few years also saw the birth of my children, a move to a different city, and the start of a new and very demanding job. My only regret was that I didn't send more stories to Marion Zimmer Bradley. I thought it would "look bad" if I sold all my fiction to one market. So I tried selling to Asimov's, Analog, and other magazines, never quite realizing that they rarely published what I liked to read; why would they want to publish what I liked to write? For any aspiring writer reading this, if you ever find an editor who likes your work, stick with him or her. Sell everything you can. Call in sick and write more if you need to, because unfortunately, editors don't last forever. Marion Zimmer Bradley passed away in 1999. At the time of her death, I'd realized my earlier mistake and was sending her stories again. Unfortunatley, with her passing, her magazine went away, and I received back one of my stories, "When Pigs Fly". Marion had written one word on the first page: "Cover?" What she meant, no one knows, but I like to think she planned to buy it for a cover story.
Legacy, which is the novel I'm promoting so heavily on this web site, is not my first novel . . . or my second . . . or my third. . . . It is simply the first novel that sold. Strangely enough, it sold before I wrote it, meaning I sold the synopsis and wrote the novel afterwards. In my opinion, it's a good novel. Perhaps more important, it's a novel I wanted to write.
And that's what I'm doing today, writing what I want to write the way I want to write it. Sure, all old, experienced writers will tell young writers that this is the thing to do. Only they forget that most young writers either don't understand what they really want to write or don't yet have the skills to do it justiceat least not until they become older, more experienced writers, who then spew forth their own jewels of wisdom.
Speaking of which, it's time I got back to work. While it's fun chatting with you all, it doesn't put books on the shelves or bread on the table.
All the best,
<Glenn R. Sixbury>