Happy Canada Day & (A.C. Wise’s) Fiction Recs!

(The above image, which feels much more appropriate to post right now than the Canada 150 logo given the ongoing discourse we’ve seen about colonialism, reconciliation, and more in the runup to the celebrations — see articles like this one, for example — is Art Kilgour’s creation in response to Inuk filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s discussion in this video of her talk about Canada 15,000.)

Hey everyone, how you doing? A belated Canada Day to one and all! (See the above paragraph for quick thoughts on same.)

It’s been a while. I’ve been under a crush of freelance work and pulling together the next Anathema or would have posted something sooner. I trust you’ve all missed me? :)

Still in the throes of being fairly busy, so popping in to note that while there’s all this work going on on my end, there’s also acknowledgement of existing work to report. And it’s an absolutely lovely mention:

Yesterday, in honour of Canada Day, A.C. Wise (whose fiction, reviews, and other content you should be reading) put up a blog post, More Than Margaret, to highlight some of their favourite speculative fiction in a mixture of things recent and less so. The post covers novels, anthologies, and short fiction, and there’s a fantastic mix of colleagues and friends in the field represented, all of whom I’m delighted to be mentioned alongside. :D

My own contribution to that list is “And in That Sheltered Sea, a Colossus” from Shimmer #36. I always love seeing the Titan and Serpent stories get a nod or a review. Still working on selling the other five currently written, so hopefully there’ll be more of them available to read soon. But it’s been so good to see both that one and “Until There is Only Hunger” land so well. Indeed, in some cases very well given the feedback they’ve had and the award nomination for the latter — which I’m still trying to wrap my head around.

Now, technically, I’ve also got stories in four of the anthologies/anthology series listed in the post (Tesseracts 19: Superhero UniverseMasked MosaicDead North, and Fractured). And that’s a weird realization — I don’t tend to think about the number of stories I’ve had published since I first managed to sell something back in 2011, or where they’ve come out, but apparently about half my fiction sales have been to Canadian markets? US markets always loom so large when submitting, and yet I’ve clearly been paying equal mind to Canadian markets and just not realized it.

Canada has a complicated history with its own cultural output, part and parcel of which is a decidedly nationalist/protectionist approach for the last fifty years that’s slowly breaking down or being circumvented (Elaine Dewar’s The Handover is an excellent primer for the inception and failures of that national policy), and part of that is absorbing so much American culture. So much so that sometimes you forget how ubiquitous Canadian cultural content is, and how much you participate in it.

Or maybe that’s just me. :)

Either way, it’s a nice discovery to make.

Now go read the list if you haven’t already. There’s some amazing reading there, and all of it Canadian.

 

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Shock and (Award) Awe – Sunburst Longlist Nomination

Holy shit. My Titan and Serpent story “Until There is Only Hunger” (published in Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling, edited by Monica Valentinelli & Jaym Gates) got longlisted for the 2017 Sunburst Award. I, uh, was not expecting that? I mean obviously, but since the Sunburst Awards don’t notify nominees ahead of time it was in all respects a surprise.

I may be excessively fond of that story, but it’s another thing entirely to have an award jury say: “Why yes, this thing deserves to be longlisted for an award.”

So. Yeah.

Quite an impressive longlist across the three categories, and I’m there with friends and colleagues, and looking at a number of excellent stories and novels on that ballot, and dear god the CBC posted about the longlist. O_o

Madeline Ashby and Madeleine Thien are rightly headlining that article, but god damn it my work showed up in an article/press release appearing on the CBC. I’m just going to enjoy this moment because I’d already read all but two of the short stories longlisted and I don’t expect to win my category.

But I’m now a Sunburst nominee! Been longlisted for fiction in a contest before, but never for an award (been award-nominated elsewhere as an editor, but it doesn’t have the same feel), so that’s thoroughly awesome! :D

If anyone needs me I’ll just be over here squeeing.

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End of May Roundup – A(nother) Matter of Time

While it’s not technically the end of May yet, that being about a week away I’m fudging the title of this post a little. Got a few things to update this time round. Some procedural things, and some deadlines.

And while it would be true to say that I’m racing some time-dependent deadlines as the month comes to a close, it’s not my deadlines I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about deadlines that affect you, the reader. :)

Anathema Submissions Window Closes 05/31

The Anathema submissions window for Issue 2 will only be open for one more week. The official end of this reading period is end of day May 31st, though we’ll read everything that comes in June 1st as well to make sure that we don’t miss out on any submissions because of time zone differences.

We’ve had some fantastic stories come in toward Issue 2, but we’d love to see more fiction and art right now. (We love seeing non-fiction subs as well, though we do end up handling that mostly in-house at this point.) I’m always wary of telling people what we’d like to see in terms of theme and content, because we really don’t know what we’ll love until we see it.

I will say, though, that we absolutely love getting stories that have been hard to sell elsewhere (they tend to be the most interesting things we see, and the least easy to classify). And that we love seeing work from new writers. We offer feedback where we can, and are happy to do so for younger writers, or writers just starting out. (You’re welcome to mention this is the case in your cover letters.)

At this point, our second issue is starting to take shape, but it’s not there yet. We still need more stellar, impossible to resist work to come in over the transom. That’s where you come in. Send us your work (if you’re a queer POC/Indigenous/Aboriginal creator), or send people our way. You can find our full submission guidelines here.

And there’s another way you can help:

Anathema Gift Subscriptions and Patreon

While we’re still setting up the Anathema Patreon, we’ve finally got gift subscriptions (for every subscription tier) up and running on the website’s store. We’ve set them up as voucher/discount codes you can gift to whomever you like. The codes are single use, but they never expire, so the recipient of your gift can activate their subscription whenever they choose, rather than being locked into someone else’s schedule or having only a narrow window of redemption.

We push the subscriptions from time to time because they (and single issue sales) are our primary form of revenue at Anathema — and all that revenue goes straight to paying contributors and the website hosting. We’re debating a subscription drive down the road, but in the meantime, if you’d like to purchase a subscription for yourself or a gift subscription for someone else, you’re directly supporting Anathema paying amazing contributors for their work, and you get some damn good content out of it in the bargain. :D

And speaking of none of the editorial staff making any money from running Anathema, *cough*…

Freelancing Rates Going Up Come 06/01

Every once in a long while I re-evaluate the rates I charge as a freelance writer/editor. My rates are right at the bottom of the professional scale for my industry, and I try and keep them relatively low because I work with a lot of newer and indie authors. Self-publishing and/or running a small press is a hard road, and I like to be able to offer people services at as low a rate as possible to help everyone keep their own business running.

At the moment though, I’m just not making enough off the substantive/developmental and line/copy editing I do to make ends meet. Yeah, I scrape by much of the time, and I take what work in the outside world I can (I’ve got a surprisingly broad skill range from working in multiple industries over a couple decades). But you couple reasonably low rates with some heavy payment snafus and non-payments over the last six months or so and that puts me in a bind.

I’m only changing the rates for the substantive/developmental and line/copy editing. Everything else will be staying the same for now. Might shift some other things down the road as well, but the two types of editing named above are what I most frequently do as a freelancer, so that’s what I’m focusing on adjusting. The current rates are $3/page (250 words) for those two services, and they’ll be going up to $4/page on June 1st.

All work booked before the end of this month will use the old rates, and that includes bookings for work starting sometime later this year. Serialized work started (or booked) before June 1st will be charged at the current rate until that serialized material’s course is run.

If you’ve been hovering on the fence about querying/hiring me for something, bug me about it before the end of the month to get that $3/page rate. I’ve got slots open for the rest of the year, with some work already committed to here and there. But there’s still plenty of room to take on new jobs and new clients. You can find general information at Matheson Freelancing, and information on the various rates I charge here.

And that, my friends, is a wrap for the time being. There’ll be more news as it happens. For now, feel free to spread the word on Anathema and reach out if you have freelancing you want done.

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Still More Anathema and Colossi!

***

I was tempted to set aside this post in favour of writing about the AHCA vote (I’m Canadian, but so many of my friends and colleagues are in the US), but that’s not why I hopped on the blog today. And if I start screaming at the top of my lungs about that vote and the damage it does if it becomes law I may never stop.

So I’m going to post the blog I was writing when the vote came down. Said post is entirely publishing related. For all that publishing is frequently a shitshow, contemplating the good things that come out of it and sharing them is one way I cope with the state of the world.

Thus, today’s post:

***

Screenshot from Dejobaan Games’ Elegy for a Dead World.

Hot on the heels of posting about reviews for Anathema and my own work, yet another recs post went online that recommends … wait for it … both work in Anathema (and the mag itself), and my own work as well!

As part of an excellent list of recommended work, Vanessa Fogg’s March/April 2017 Reading Recs post gives a shoutout to S. Qiouyi Lu’s “A Complex Filament of Light”:

Depression is a topic not easily discussed among Asian-Americans—not even among the younger generations. To see this addressed in a work of fiction is deeply meaningful to me.

You can read the whole review/rec at the link above.

If you haven’t yet read S. Qiouyi Lu’s “A Complex Filament of Light” you can read it for free in Issue 1: http://www.anathemamag.com/a-complex-filament-of-light

And then Fogg goes on to add:

(Note: Lu’s story appears in the first issue of Anathema Magazine, a new journal dedicated to publishing speculative fiction by queer people of color. The other stories I read in this issue are also gorgeous and well worth your time.)

I’m ridiculously happy to keep seeing Anathema connect with our readers. :)

I’m also ridiculously happy that the recs post didn’t just cover editorial projects I’m involved in, but went on to cover my own story, “And in That Sheltered Sea, a Colossus”, from Shimmer 36:

Some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever seen. A lushly atmospheric piece which immersed me in a world unlike any other. Ghosts, titans, and the weight of family. A woman living alone in a drowned land encounters a stranger who might just set her free. This piece is gorgeous.

I’m posting the whole rec/review because … god damn.

“Some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever seen.”

Someone actually said that about my work.

I am still in delighted shock. Especially given the last couple of reviews received for that piece.

In truth it’s timely encouragement since I just started writing the seventh of the Titan and Serpent pieces the other day, and have been thinking about the framework of that story again and what pieces of the narrative I want to tell directly within that larger arc (it really is moving toward working best as a book at this point, rather than solely as disparate stories).

Knowing that people out there are connecting with those stories is a hell of a motivation to keep telling them. :)

For months I have been trying to think of how best to describe Titan and Serpent, since I frequently fumble on trying to include all the elements it contains when I try and talk to people about its larger narrative and themes. (There’s a fair bit of worldbuilding going on, and the material’s time span covers about a millennium, so talking about it gets complicated fast.) But I think I’ve finally found the answer (though you’ll need to understand the video game references to make this work):

The series is, I think, best described as a combination of Shadow of the Colossus and Elegy for a Dead World.

This is not, in truth, surprising to me now that I’ve finally come to that description, since the series began directly as a way of interacting with the kind of storytelling SotC was doing. SotC is still one of my favourite video games — and one of my favourite pieces of storytelling.

But there you go. Now to finish fucking writing all those pieces and figure out how the hell I’m ever going to sell a book with that logline as its sales point. ;)

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Beginning of May Roundup – Anathema and Colossi

May’s just up and running and already it’s a busy month around here — on a couple different fronts, in point of fact:

Anathema’s Open to Subs for Issue 2

Now that it’s May Anathema‘s open to unsolicited submissions again. We’ll be reading subs for Issue 2 all through May, and if you’re a queer POC/Indigenous/Aboriginal creator you should absolutely send something our way! We’ve talked some about what we want at the link above. But mostly we want whatever stories you’ve got to tell through your fiction, non-fiction, and art.

Getting to see what comes in through solicits and the slush pile, and then being able to find extraordinary work to put together and build an issue out of it is the best part of running a magazine. I mean, sure, putting together a finished product and having people read it is pretty amazing, too, but that’s a whole other best part of running a mag. :D

Oh hey, speaking of people reading the mag you put together….

Anathema Issue 1 Got Some Reviews

We’ve been getting piecemeal reviews of the first issue coming in over Twitter, and my god are we happy to see that people kind of love the mag? It’s been so great getting to talk to people as they discover that we’re out here and producing some stellar content (due entirely to our fantastic contributors). But I want to draw your attention to two particular reviews of individual stories coming as part of roundup reviews.

The first is A.C. Wise’s review of Stephanie Chan’s “Aqua Mirabilis” in her April Words for Thought column over at Apex. We’re excessively proud that a story from Anathema was included in a list of recommended work appearing in ShimmerStrange HorizonsClarkesworld, and Uncanny. A) We’re the only non-pro venue on that list. B) We’re the newest kid on that block by a healthy stretch. And Wise’s take on Chan’s story is just lovely. Here’s an excerpt:

The language in the story is highly evocative, describing scents and how they layer together. Chan uses scent, something fundamental, but often taken for granted, to highlight the vastness of the universe…. The story is lovely, but tinged with melancholy, asking whether humanity can truly explore new worlds, or if they will remain forever unknown.

You can see the whole review at the link above. And the whole review is well worth seeking out for its thoughtful and highly appreciative read of the story.

The second review I want to highlight is Maria Haskins’ take on S. Qiouyi Lu’s “A Complex Filament of Light” in her monthly short fiction roundup for April. There’s an astounding eighteen stories in that roundup (April was kind of an amazing month for short fiction), and the column’s also notable for actively highlighting Anathema and Lu’s own magazine, Arsenika, as periodicals to seek out: “Both are well worth a look, featuring strong voices and great stories.” I absolutely agree, despite the obvious bias re Anathema. ;)

But of Lu’s story specifically, Haskins says:

… this moving and aching story deftly explores anxiety, insecurity, and depression…. and there are also powerful threads of light, hope, and friendship woven into the story. Gorgeous prose.

Again, you can read the whole review at the link above.

Anathema‘s still new enough that getting any reviews is fantastic. But that they’ve been uniformly positive and people have been telling us that they’re connecting with the work and are so glad it’s out there? That’s so incredibly good to hear when staring down another slush pile and hoping you’re making the right choices to give people a chance to see themselves in and connect with the work you’re bringing to light.

Of course, Maria’s column was lovely for a whole other, and for me far more personal, reason:

“And in That Sheltered Sea, a Colossus” Reviews

I’m fairly used to my stories, wherever they’re released, getting mixed reviews or being the story in a mix that doesn’t get cited in favour of far stronger stories. So it’s been a little shocking that my Titan and Serpent story in March’s issue of Shimmer has garnered not just uniformly positive reviews, but some of the most generous reviews I’ve ever received. O_o

One of those two reviews came in Maria’s column mentioned above, where she says two things that blew me away:

I don’t often come across stories that make me think of Ursula K. Le Guin’s writing, but Matheson’s evocative story about love and loneliness and longing does just that.

and

And the prose itself is so beautiful I could read and re-read this story a hundred times over.

I just … how am I ever going to top that review, Maria? How? :p

That whole review’s absurdly generous (read the entire review at the link above), and April was the month that kind of kept giving. Because before Maria’s review came out, Charles Payseur had reviewed the story at Quick Sip Reviews, along with Lina Rather’s (really rather excellent) “Extinctions” that makes up the other part of Shimmer 36’s latter half.

I’m going to refrain from quoting Charles’ review here since it’s more spoiler-laden than Maria’s. Though Charles’ review, too, is exceedingly generous, and a gratifyingly good read of what the story is doing — which you always hope for.

I’m always fascinated, as well, by how people interpret what’s going on in the Titan and Serpent stories. Part of it’s trying to figure out if I’ve given away too much with each story, and seeing what elements speak to a given reader, and what others go unseen.

Honestly, I think the stories work best when read together, which has me leaning more and more toward putting them together as a collection. I’d love to sell the other four currently written first, but who knows how all that will work out at this point?

It’s a thing to think on. And that world’s ever so much fun to write in that even the contemplation of its various elements is enjoyable. :)

In the meantime, this concludes our beginning of the month roundup. As the Anathema reading period covers the entire month, there’ll be updates over on the Anathema blog, some of which I may crosspost or highlight here. Not least of all since we’re likely to be talking about what we’re looking for throughout the month, and this blog currently has a bigger readership than the mag’s. (Most of Anathema‘s outreach happens on Twitter and Facebook at this point.)

Keep an eye out for that, and potentially other news (I can’t think of anything else right now, but things inevitably come up) as the month progresses. And if you want to go read the source material of everything reviewed in this blog post, you can

read Anathema‘s April 2017 (inaugural) issue here, for free

and read “And in That Sheltered Sea, a Colossus” here, also for free.

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Ask Not for Whom the Freelance Tolls

TOTALLY not a commentary on current situation. Nope. Not at all…

Lo, it is once again the end of a month where things … might … have gone pear-shaped a bit in financial terms. It’s so weird, my 2017 has been great in multiple respects thus far, just repeatedly not financially.

Anyway. I’m seeking freelance work asap or something with a short turnaround to make up for the shortfall I’m currently dealing with. Because my May rent calls to me. Or more accurately it demands immediate attention and some form of solution. So. Anyone need freelancing done? Go to the link below for editing, ghostwriting, and copywriting (I do also do other forms of technical writing, but for that it’s best to just query directly to mathesonfreelancing@gmail.com and we’ll talk through what you need):

Matheson Freelancing

For those who haven’t been to that site before, it contains descriptions of the kinds of work I do and lists base rates for those services. And yes, my rates are negotiable depending on your financial situation.

Speaking to rates, I’m upping some of the editing costs come June: substantive/developmental and copy/line editing will be going from $3/page to $4/page. Proofreading will remain $2/page.

Doesn’t seem like a big change, but it adds up over time. I’ve held off doing that for ages because I prefer to keep my costs as low as possible so I can work with more low-income writers. But those (quite literally bottom end of the professional scale) rates are just no longer feasible. And those rates may get raised again down the line, but for now that’s all I’m going to raise them.

Anyone who books freelance work before the end of May, regardless of the start date of the project, gets the current rate. And then all jobs booked from June on will use the new rate.

All that said, feel free to spread the word. I could do with the signal boosting right now. :)

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New* Story Free to Read at Shimmer and Anathema Submissions

Free Fiction to Read at Shimmer

For those who’ve been waiting for “And in That Sheltered Sea, a Colossus” to go free to read at Shimmer, that time is now! :D

You can read the story here.

The story’s part of Shimmer #36 (which came out in March, hence the asterisk on “new”), which is a fantastic issue with some absolutely beautiful stories in it. And if you want to support Shimmer and pick up a copy you can purchase one, or a subscription.

And while I feel a bit like a broken record saying this, for anyone who isn’t already aware: “And in That Sheltered Sea, a Colossus” is part of a story cycle loosely called Titan and Serpent. It follows chronologically after “Until There is Only Hunger” (which appeared in Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling). The stories in that cycle all work as individual set pieces, so you can read either first.

There are four other stories currently written in that cycle, with more planned. Still trying to sell the other four, but in the meantime you can read those two stories, and I’m calling that a win. :D

Anathema Submissions Reopening Soon

The other half of this post is that Anathema is open to our next round of unsolicited submissions come May 1st!

In just two short weeks we’ll be settling in to start reading for Issue 2. Personally, I’m hoping for a heavy influx of submissions. It’s always more fun editing an anthology or an issue of a magazine when the choice of what to include is made more difficult by virtue of a wealth of amazing work. :)

We talked a little bit about what we want to see this time round in this blog post. But, honestly, as long as you’re a queer POC/Indigenous/Aboriginal creator we want to see your fiction, non-fiction, and art. (As long as it has some speculative element.) Our full submission guidelines can be found here.

By all means spread the word. And if people are curious how to talk about what Anathema does or just want a sense of what kind of content we gravitate to, you can read the entire first issue for free here.

And this is the part where I remind everyone that Anathema is always free to read, but we do also offer individual issues and subscriptions for sale because that’s how we raise money to pay for content. You’re welcome to spread the word on that, too. ;)

That said, feedback on the story and/or Anathema is always welcome. It’s great to hear how people react to the projects I’ve got on the go. Both writing and editing anthologies and magazines are about creating dialogue, so I always love when people engage with something I’m involved in. (In the case of Anathema that’s a joint effort with Andrew Wilmot and Chinelo Onwualu, so credit when that one works is due to all three of us.) :D

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