Ad Astra 2015 Schedule!

We’re about three weeks out from Ad Astra 2015 and the finalized schedules have been released to panelists, and thus I share mine with all and sundry:

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Friday, April 10th

10:00 am Climbing Out of the Slush Pile (Workshop – Register here)

Note: There’s a discount for con attendees. And attending the workshop will get you a discount on a con membership if you decide to pick one up after. See the reg page linked above.

A mix of publishing industry gab (bring any and all questions), short story/novel market practices, and direct critique of submitted work. Come with questions and prepared to talk. The discussion will be tailored to the submitted work and discussion generated organically during the workshop.

11:00 pm – 12:00 am Late Night Slash Fiction Readings

Panelists: Michael Matheson, Leah Bobet, Angela Keeley, Simon McNeil, Adam Shaftoe, Kris Ramsey, Beverly Bambury, Kari Maaren, Marie Bilodeau, David Blackwood (Other panelists welcome. Trying to get enough people together to do a run of The Skinhead Hamlet. If interested, get in touch with me before the con.)

Note: The end time on this panel is an approximation. This one goes as long as the panelists and the audience feel like running it. Also, this panel is alcohol enabled and welcoming. BYOB. (Though some will be provided by yours truly.) All readings will ideally be no more than 500 words. (It’s good in theory, we’ll see how that holds up.)

Late Night 18+ Slash Fiction reading – exactly what it says. BYO Fiction, brain bleach and sense of humour. Viewer discretion is 200% advised.

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Saturday, April 11th

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm New Weird, Spec Fic, and Uncanny Literature

Panelists: Michael Matheson, Gemma Files, Sandra Kasturi, Simon McNeil

Sometimes straight up Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror just doesn’t cut it. Lets take it a step further and talk about New Weird, Speculative Fiction, and the Uncanny.

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Why Are We Fighting the Same War? Inclusiveness from 1970 to Now

Panelists: Michael Matheson, Gemma Files, James Nicoll, Timothy Carter

Why Are We Fighting the Same War over inclusiveness in spec fic that we fought in the 1970s?

11:00 pm – 2:00 am Late Night Bad Fiction Reading

Panelists: Michael Matheson, Angela Keeley, Erik Buchanan, Matt Moore, Simon McNeil

An 18+ late evening event that lasts until everyone’s ears are bleeding or the readers simply can’t go on.

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Sunday, April 12th

Fuck paneling on Sunday. I’m going to other people’s panels/events on the final day of the con :p

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Tickets to Ad Astra are still available. If you want to sign up for the workshop listed above, do so sooner than later as the number of slots is limited. Do not be put off by the fact that that workshop is at 10 in the morning. We shall all be groggy and irreverent together :D

Posted in Appearances, Event Announcements, Ramble, Uncategorized, Workshops | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Start a Revolution Kickstarter Scheduling Update

Though I’d originally planned to do the Kickstarter/fundraiser (we’ll see which platform that ends up on) for Start a Revolution over a two month period, I’m going to pull that back to one month. The fundraising campaign is now going to run from May 15th – June 15th.

Tightening the scheduling on that for a couple of reasons. Partly because I was looking at the time I have between now and April 15th (when the fundraising was originally going to start), and between all the other projects I need to complete, and the material for the Kickstarter itself, things won’t be ready by mid-April. Also, there is something to be said for running a shorter Kickstarter in terms of less stress for the person actually running it, and the sense of immediacy a shorter campaign lends.

It also means I can spend less time having to run around linking the Kickstarter and sounding off on it constantly. Which also works out better for all the other projects going on around here.

(Like, say, The Humanity of Monsters, which is with layout and its cover is in the works. So I’m hoping to be able to share the cover for that one very soon.)

Otherwise, things are much as they were. More details when they’re settled on.

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An Update on The Humanity of Monsters and the QUILTBAG Anthologies

So I don’t believe I’ve actually written any (directly) anthology related updates since the announcement of the final lineup for The Humanity of Monsters back at the beginning of December. And it’s been longer still since I updated things around either of the QUILTBAG anthologies. Given that, today’s post is going to be about catching up on some news and some announcements, including the crowdfunding project I mentioned yesterday.

Since the news around The Humanity of Monsters is shorter, I’ll start with that, and then we’ll get into talking about what’s going on with the QUILTBAG anthologies (Start a Revolution and This Patchwork Flesh).

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The Humanity of Monsters

First things first, this book’s release month has moved up to September 2015. Which, actually, is kind of delightful because that was the original release month for the book before it got moved back to November. I’m decidedly pleased that we all get to have copies of the book out in the world sooner.

Anyway, The Humanity of Monsters is nearing going into layout, I’ve had some exceedingly generous early feedback on the anthology, and it’ll be going around for a few additional blurbs quite soon. Then we’ll see what the review venues think of it. Personally, I’m quite curious to hear what people make of what that book is doing.

Also, because I get asked occasionally: When there is a cover, I will share it. Yes, I am also very much looking forward to getting a look at that.

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Start a Revolution & This Patchwork Flesh

I’m putting the updates for these two anthologies together because what’s going on with them is paired. (It kind of was anyway because they’re companion books, but their fortunes have always been linked more directly as well.)

So, the reason I have been quiet around these two books so long is that on December 22nd I had cause to pull both books from Exile Editions. The full set of reasons for which I will not go into here. Suffice to say that I have gone to Writer Beware over it, it involved attempted contractual fraud among other things (this from a company that has committed two successful instances of contract fraud — that I know about — re other books), and I will not work again with Exile in any capacity. Nor, given their business practices (and other reasons I will, again, not go into here), would I recommend anyone else work with them. But to each their own.

Following pulling the books from Exile I went to several publishers with whom I would have liked to work with on the two QUILTBAG anthologies. Unfortunately all of them are either booked up on projects and/or don’t have the funds to do the books as intended with pro (or I suppose now just shy of pro after SFWA upped the rate) payment. After a fair amount of consideration around the end of last year and into January, and after some additional research and running of numbers, I’m going to crowdfund Start a Revolution on my own. And will discuss that momentarily below.

However, this means that I have to drop putting together This Patchwork Flesh in order to put together Start a Revolution. I simply don’t have the werewithal to plan for and execute both books right now. I may come back to This Patchwork Flesh somewhere down the line, but I am releasing all the stories that were on hold or in the slush pile for This Patchwork Flesh. I will still be sending notices in response to all submissions so that everyone has an update on their submission, and I thank you all for having been so patient around that, and I’m sorry I’ve had to make you all wait so long for responses.

Now, back to Start a Revolution:

After pulling the books I went back and opened up the Table of Contents for Start a Revolution, and ended up expanding the book closer to 100,000 words (from the prior ~80,000). The revised ToC looks like this:

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In the City of Kites and Crows – Megan Arkenberg
Mountaineering – Leah Bobet
And if the Body Were Not the Soul – A.C. Wise
The Hedge-Witch of Welland – Ada Hoffmann/Jacqueline Flay
Made Flesh – Charlene Challenger
And the Woods are Silent – Amber van Dyk
The Shrine – Kelly Rose Pflug-Back
The New New Revolution – E.L. Chen
The Book of How to Live – Rose Lemberg
Queen of the Flies – A.M. Dellamonica
To Follow the Waves – Amal El-Mohtar
Le Lundi de la Matraque (Nightstick Monday) – Claire Humphrey
Kenshō – Adam Shaftoe-Durrant
The Aneurytic – Andrew Wilmot
Two Year Man – Kelly Robson
Listening for the Drowned – E. Catherine Tobler
This Shall Serve as a Demarcation – Bogi Takács
Weep for Day – Indrapramit Das
Nothing Must Be Wasted – Arkady Martine

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That revised ToC bumps the reprint content up a bit and also gives the anthology some new stories. And by the time this anthology comes out some of the stories that were original will be reprints (I offered the contributors the option to sell their stories elsewhere and run them as reprints here when I eventually got the book off the ground again in case getting that done took a while).

The current plan for actually producing the book is this:

I’m going to run a crowdfunding campaign (still deciding between Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and gathering more advice on both platforms) to acquire the necessary funds for printing/shipping, professional editorial/layout/e-book conversion/cover art (that last already exists in mockup and I’ll share the final version once the fundraiser starts), and contributor payments. I will not be taking an editorial payment unless the fundraising campaign is far more successful than I expect.

Said crowdfunding campaign will run from April 15th – June 15th. I’m going to be using Mike Allen’s excellent fundraising model for Clockwork Phoenix 4, by which I secure a base payment for contributors and hope to use stretch goals to get to the desired contributor payments. That base goal is all or nothing, and would allow me to pay the contributors .03/word for original fiction and .01/word for reprint fiction, and through the stretch goals I hope to raise enough to pay the contributors .05/word for original fiction and .03/word for reprint fiction. There’s also discussion of trying for .06/word for original fiction and .04/word for reprint fiction, as well as other possible stretch goals, and there is also an ongoing discussion about the Rewards that will be on offer. A few things set up and I’m looking into more for that.

My aim is to produce the book for late October/early November (still figuring out the actual release date) so I can have copies with me when I head down to World Fantasy. I’m also carrying over the promotional work I started when the book was still with Exile, so there’s some promotion already underway, and the rest is in progress.

There should probably be more fanfare accompanying this announcement. But the whole thing’s really just getting underway. I’ll be moving some of the QUILTBAG related material around on the website in the coming days, and I’ve got a lot of e-mails to write, along with all the other ongoing work I need to get done, so I may be a bit scarce over the next few days.

Hey, there were three blog posts in three days. That’s a lot more activity than this blog normally sees, so it’ll probably be more like things going back to normal around here….

While I get things underway by all means feel free to spread the word about what’s going on with  Start a Revolution and the coming fundraiser, share the anthology’s revised ToC, or ask anything you like related to the project. I’ll answer when and as I can.

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Friends of the Merril Collection Communications Policy Update

So, popping in to make quick mention of an update to one of the Friends of the Merril Collection communications policies and codify a personal policy as well, because the thing that prompted this came up the other day in an e-mail. And this is probably going to be relatively uninteresting to most of you reading this, but I’m noting it for going forward and so that my personal policy is on the record as well.

To start: Though I’m the Chair of the Friends of the Merril Collection, I’m not usually included as a recipient in a lot of the general mailings that go out to the Friends mailing list because even though I’m a member most of the time I already have that information or it’s been shared through internal channels. So I only get the general e-mails every once in a while.

A couple of days ago I got one of the general mailing list e-mails, and it had a different signoff from the one I’m used to seeing. Instead of the “The Board of the Friends of the Merril Collection” signoff I’d always seen prior, my name and position as Chair were used as the signoff on a general mailing. Which actually goes against my own policy of never having my name attached as author to any documentation I don’t personally write.

So. Turns out that when we were doing the hand off and I took over as Chair at the beginning of 2013, we had some people on the Board who were out sick, there was some other stuff going on in the background that was an update to prior policy, and we had just come off an extremely busy year of programming. And we just never actually had the discussion about communications procedure re the mailing list because of the intersection of those various things. Because of which, I wasn’t aware until a couple of days ago that my name was being used to sign off on some of the Friends communications written by other Board members. And I’m by no means averse to the content of the messages we’ve been sending out (if I didn’t want to support and aid the Merril Collection I wouldn’t be Chairing the Friends organization that works to aid it), but what’s been happening bumps up against the personal policy mentioned above.

Especially so since the e-mail that went out a couple of days ago was a solicitation letter for memberships and donations. And that is a whole other kettle of fish.

Said kettle of fish makes me uncomfortable because I also don’t hold with personalizing organizational solicitation letters. (A lot of reasons for that, none of which I’m going to go into here.) And especially not using my name attached to an organizational request for money that I didn’t write. Only time I ever ask people for donated money to get something done is when I’m doing a personal project of my own, and even then that’s pretty rare for me to do.

And that e-mail going out with my name attached to it times out a little awkwardly, because I am tomorrow (in addition to everything else I need to talk about with ongoing projects tomorrow) going to start talking about a project of mine that will require some crowdfunding to pull off. So that’s less than ideal timing for it to look publicly like I’m asking people for money on multiple fronts.

Anyway, long story short:

To avoid this cropping up in future, and so the Friends’ and my own communications policies mesh, the Friends are, going forward (at least during my tenure as Chair, whatever another Chair down the road wants to do with communications policy is totally up to them), going to sign off the public communications solely with the “The Board of the Friends of the Merril Collection” signature, except in instances where authorial attribution is required.

Which gets us around all the issues I just brought up here. And honestly that’s it. That’s the extent of the update. Sharing it here and elsewhere instead of just internally because it’s an excellent time to clarify my personal communications policies as well.

See? told you it wouldn’t be interesting to most of you :p

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2014 Recommended Reading, Retrospectives, and Notes

In truth, this year’s post is much more of a retrospective than solely a slate of recommended readings. 2014 was a very full year, in multiple respects. And between freelance work, Clarion West, the runup to Clarion West, moving, editorial projects, and some financial bullshit in the last quarter or so (?) of the year, I read far less than I would in a normal year. And much of what I did read last year feels quite scattered.

So rather than doing a slate of recommendations, as I’d intended, I’m mostly just going to note the books I read, the short(er) fiction I feel like highlighting (for whatever reason), and talk about the places I read things and some of the venues kicking around. In the end maybe this is more of an overview of my reading habits in 2014 than anything else. Not that I’d be averse to compiling a list of award recommendations (I still suspect I’ll get around to nominating in at least some of the Hugo categories), but I’ve got three posts (including this one) to pull together for the blog over the next three days, ongoing work and projects to attend to, and my head is just honestly not in compiling an awards recommendations slate right now.

Which I suspect will work out fine anyway, because a lot of people did pull together recommended reading lists, and I’ve tried to list a number of those. I’ve also listed some lists people pulled together of other people’s recommendations. (At this point some of the listing I’m doing feels very meta, and decidedly like it’s just turtles all the way down….)

This is a list that will get expanded, but I’ll note that I’m doing a lot of my catching up on 2014’s fiction output now, so I might update things here, and I might not. I certainly hope to, but it’s all a bit nebulous at the moment. And I’ve only had a chance to start a number of books that I need to be in different headspace for. Still only partway through Hild, and only had a chance to start Girls at the Kingfisher Club, The Mirror Empire, and Ancillary Sword. All of which I look forward to getting back to, but I’ve really only been in the right headspace for shorter fiction and The Goblin Emperor as of late. (A fantastic book which you absolutely should pick up if you haven’t already.) Which I am also reading through slowly because I am reading everything slowly right now. Which is mostly a function of exhaustion.

I noped out of a lot of stuff last year over said exhaustion, as well as a refusal to put up with bullshit of various stripes (among other things that cropped up I quit reading for Apex last year when an internal conversation about some harassment issues came up and I, along with some other people, decided we didn’t want to continue reading for the magazine a) given what was going on and b) if Sigrid was leaving – and there’s some other stuff with different situations and places that aren’t Apex that’ll come up in later posts). And I handed off a number of the volunteer things I do to other people where possible. Incidentally, as an answer to people who keep asking me if I’m still with the Friends of the Merril Collection: yes, I’m still the Chair of that organization, I just handed off the short story contest to Charlotte Ashley (who’s done a fantastic job with it), and handed off the newsletter/newsmagazine to Alicia Freeborn (who has likewise done an excellent job running it).

In a lot of ways I’m kind of just in that place in my life where I don’t have the time or energy to keep doing things for free anymore above and beyond the little I am already doing on a volunteer or pro bono basis. And just looking over the things I need to get done this year, it’s going to be a long year. I’m still hammering away at finishing the collection so I can actually send the damn thing out (that’ll be sometime this year, though I’ve no idea when). There’s a project announcement on Tuesday. There’s ongoing work to be done with the projects already in progress. And I spent a lot of last year yelling at people online for either being harassers/abusers, or for fostering environments where that could thrive. And it looks like I’m probably going to be doing more of that this year.

Anyway, a pause in other proceedings then, to talk about books, fiction, and venues.

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To begin with, other people’s recommendations (and some award eligibility posts, and just some conversations or links that I thought were worth directing people to – this is a bit of a mix of things, really, and there’s no order to the following list):

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Other Notes:

Unlike last year, the books I intended to get to this year will only include a couple of entries (I’d have to port over most of last year’s list otherwise). I’m also going to give comics/graphic novels read this year a section of their own, rather than noting them in passing here (I mostly read collected TPBs, so that section will be short). Poetry’s going to get unintentional short shrift again this year. I read some amazing poetry throughout the year, much of it at Goblin Fruit and Stone Telling, and I’ve noted a couple of pieces below, but wasn’t tracking that as tightly for a couple of reasons.

Also, just going to note here that according to Amal El-Mohtar, Goblin Fruit is eligible for a Hugo Award in the Best Semiprozine category. If you take nothing else away from this post, for fuck’s sake let it be that you should vote for Goblin Fruit in the Hugos. Because that magazine is extraordinary.

Incidentally, I’m going to do the magazine discussion again this year. But as I’ve not yet more than skimmed a handful of magazines (and only had the chance to read the full 2014 runs of a couple) from last year I am including the section, but I’m not going to be filling it in when I post this. I’ll update it once I’ve had a chance to look things over more fully.

I’m sure there are things I read and enjoyed and have just forgotten to list here. In multiple categories. I’ll add them in as I remember them or stumble across them again.

Before we get going on the readings/recommendations though, I am going to note a list of people eligible for the 2015 Campbell Award who I think you should vote for. I had intended to narrow it down to five before posting this, but screw it. As I’ve not yet winnowed this list down to the five I intend to nominate, have the full ten I’m still looking at.

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Recommendations for the 2015 Campbell Award

The full list of authors eligible for the 2015 Campbell Award (first year and second year) is here. My recommendations are below:

  • Emily Jiang
  • Carmen Maria Machado
  • Usman T. Malik
  • Helen Marshall
  • Sam J. Miller
  • Bogi Takács
  • Natalia Theodoridou
  • Alyssa Wong
  • JY Yang
  • Isabel Yap

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Fiction/Venues Read in 2014

I’ll note that this covers fiction only right now because though I did read some long form non-fiction in 2014, much of it was not memorable, and a fair bulk of it otherwise was older work I wanted to re-read for various reasons. You are welcome to treat these lists as a basis for recommendation, though I’m listing everything I can recall reading in 2014, some of the books not necessarily having been released in 2014. And some of the books listed below are books I worked on in an editorial capacity at CZP. I note in the novels category what I dropped out of reading, and if non-novel length fiction is on the list it’s because I enjoyed it enough to finish and thought it worthy of note. (There is one piece that is a kind of exception in the short fiction category, which I will discuss there.)

Also, where less than novel length fiction is concerned, I still have a list of things I want to actually finish reading. Which is why certain names are absent from the lists below. I will likely be adding various things in as I finish them.

I will also note the following: DNF means “did not finish” and RR indicates a “reread.”

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Long Form (Novels, Collections, Anthologies, Non-Fiction)

  • Ben Aaronovitch – Broken Homes
  • (DNF) Megan Abbott – Fever
  • (RR) Mike Allen (ed.) – Clockwork Phoenix 4
  • Nancy Baker – Cold Hillside (ARC)
  • Nancy Baker  – The Night Inside
  • (DNF) Robert Jackson Bennett – City of Stairs
  • (DNF) Holly Black – The Darkest Part of the Forest (ARC)
  • (DNF) Sara Rees Brennan – Untold
  • Angela Carter – Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories
  • Janie Chang – Three Souls
  • Deborah Coates – Strange Country (ARC)
  • Peter Darbyshire (writing as Peter Roman) – Dead Hamlets (ARC)
  • Ellen Datlow (ed.) – Fearful Symmetries (ARC)
  • A.M. Dellamonica – Child of a Hidden Sea (ARC)
  • Gemma Files – We Will All Go Down Together (ARC)
  • Jeffrey Ford – The Drowned Life
  • (DNF) Daryl Gregory – Afterparty
  • Nicola Griffith – Ammonite
  • Nicola Griffith – The Blue Place
  • Kenneth Mark Hoover – Haxan (ARC)
  • (DNF) Jonathan L. Howard – Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute
  • (DNF) Emmi Itäranta – Memory of Water
  • Shirley Jackson – The Sundial
  • Matthew Johnson – Irregular Verbs and Other Stories
  • Michael Kelly (ed.) – Shadows & Tall Trees 2014
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan – Alabaster: Pale Horse
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan (writing as Kathleen Tierney) – Red Delicious
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan – Two Worlds and In Between, Vol. 1
  • Lesley Livingston – Now and For Never
  • (DNF) Edan Lupecki – California
  • (RR) Maureen F. McHugh – China Mountain Zhang
  • (DNF) Josh Malerman – Bird Box
  • Helen Marshall – Gifts for the One Who Comes After
  • (DNF) Christine Miscione – Auxiliary Skins
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia (ed.) – Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse – Disclosure: I have a story in this one
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Love and Other Poisons
  • David Nickle – Knife Fight and Other Struggles
  • Nnedi Okorafor – Kabu Kabu
  • Jonathan Oliver (ed.) – Fearsome Magics
  • Helen Oyeyemi – White is for Witching
  • (DNF) Paul Park – Those Vanished Engines (ARC)
  • Ursula Pflug (ed.) – They Have to Take You In – Disclosure: I also have a story in this one
  • Sofia Samatar – A Stranger in Olondria
  • Karl Schroeder – Lockstep
  • Robert Shearman – They Do The Same Things Different There
  • Peter Straub (ed.) – Poe’s Children
  • Simon Strantzas – Nightingale Songs
  • (RR) Caitlin Sweet – A Telling of Stars
  • Caitlin Sweet – Door in the Mountain
  • Ayelet Tsabari – The Best Place on Earth
  • Jeff VanderMeer – Authority (ARC)
  • Jeff VanderMeer – Acceptance (ARC)
  • Jo Walton – The Just City (ARC)
  • (DNF) Andy Weir – The Martian
  • Robert Charles Wilson – Burning Paradise

Comics (TPBs) & Graphic Novels

  • BPRD: The Universal Machine (Mike Mignola and John Arcudi)
  • Fables: Cubs in Toyland (Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham)
  • Legal Drug: Vol. 1-3, Collected Edition (Clamp)
  • Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal (G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona)
  • Who is AC? (Hope Larson and Tintin Pantoja)
  • The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act (Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie)

Novellas

Though I’m sure I read some this year, couldn’t find any in my notes that I wanted to highlight. Might still run across some that I want to later though. And will add them when I do.

Novelettes

Short Stories

There is a noticeable absence of stories from several venues below (principally places like Clarkesworld and The Dark) because I’ve not had time to read much of their fiction from last year. As with the rest of this list, I’ll add things in as I come across them.

Poetry

I read a great deal of gorgeous poetry this year, but most of that while trying to find time away from other things, so I wasn’t taking notes for much of that. Still, several things immediately come to mind while compiling this list. (And at some point I’ll go back and add in things from Goblin Fruit‘s 2014 run and possibly elsewhere as well.)

Magazines

Will be filling this in at a later point. I’d need to go back and actually look through way more of 2014’s venues than I’ve had a chance to at this point in order to do this section properly.

Things Started in 2014 That I Want to Finish in 2015

  • Katherine Addison – The Goblin Emperor
  • Rin Chupeco – The Girl from the Well
  • Kameron Hurley – The Mirror Empire
  • Catherine Lacey – Nobody is Ever Missing
  • Ann Leckie – Ancillary Sword
  • Genevieve Valentine – The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

-2014

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The Pre-Update on Upcoming Projects and Anthologies

No, but seriously, this is the post before the actual update post, which is in the works.

The blog’s a little quiet right now because there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes, and I’m busy with a whack of different projects. (As ever.) Including some long-standing things that should have been cleared up before the end of last year that are seemingly minor, but just keep getting pushed aside temporarily so I can deal with the next emergency that comes to the fore. (To the several people owed those last couple of things, yes, they’re coming. Before the end of the month at this rate. But at least that’s something.)

This is in no small part because the tail end of last year saw some … let us say interesting … things happen. Some more immediate than others. And of variable magnitude. This in a year with a lot of problematic shit cropping up on multiple fronts.

You may recall that last year I spent a fair amount of my time yelling at people to come join the rest of us in the actual world — you know, the one where harassment (of any stripe) is not fucking acceptable. A course of action (the highlighting of these things and telling you who I’m not interacting with because of these issues) that is going to continue on my part.

And I should note that some of the other things that happened last were far, far less public. Some of which I will be talking about going forward.

But right now, I’m putting this update here to let everyone know that there are anthology updates coming, either on the 15th or 17th. Would prefer to do so nearer the middle of the month, but news on a Sunday sinks like a stone with precious little ripple, so I’m debating holing off until the Tuesday instead.

A slow way to start the year, but it’s always like this around here, isn’t it? With all the actual work going on without much public comment and just being presented when done. And depending on how things time out I may actually end up posting the lengthy Recommendations post before the coming updates.

Anyway, news and updates coming in a week or a little more.

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2014: The Year in Writing (And So On)

Apparently this is my 200th post on the blog. Probably would have been more appropriate to have that milestone be the 2014 Recommended Reading, Retrospectives, and Notes post. But if the timing on that one follows suit from last year it’ll show up in February (I need to finish actually assembling my notes before I put that up). So here we are, talking about what I had published in 2014, instead.

We’ll start straight in on that. And follow that up with notes.

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Poetry

Fiction

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Not a bad year, all told. Five pieces published seems to be fairly standard for me. (Been holding steady at that since 2012, we’ll see if that carries on in 2015). One story published at pro rates, another published for token payment in a charity anthology (the rare instance in which I will accept less than semi-pro rates to sell a story these days). And the three poems published came out in places I am happy to have them, and two markets I am especially happy to be placing poetry in because the company there is exquisite. And I got to put together an audio recording of the poem in Stone Telling, which was quite a thing.

Actually, it’ll be interesting to see what comes out from me in 2015. I didn’t spend a lot of time submitting in 2014, and all of the things I did sell in 2014 came out last year. Going into 2015 with no expected publications beyond the ones already listed on the Bibliography page, and I’m pulling three of the four forthcoming stories listed there after I finish this post. At this point I don’t think those three are happening. Which doesn’t bother me because I look back at those pieces, and they’re not written at the level I’m writing at now.

I’m not fond of this idea I see floated every once in a while that a story should be kept in circulation until it sells, simply because it is in your inventory, regardless of when you wrote it. Sometimes a story is fantastic and it just takes a while to find a market, sure. But as writers, we grow beyond our old stories. Tear a story to component parts and tell it better if it represents craft you are beyond now. (For the record, my trunk is full of stuff I’ve scavenged parts from–all stories that are reflective of an earlier level of craft–so I’m speaking from experience.)

Maybe it’s just the way I approach an investment in my work–I’m not committed to the idea that I have to sell everything I write. Hell, I know lots of people go into Clarion, or in my case Clarion West, with the idea that they must come out of it with six publishable stories, or as near that as possible. Me, I was just happy to finally get a chance to write and experiment after three months solid of having no time to write. (2014 was a ridiculously busy year, what with the move, the anthology projects, chasing down freelance work–let alone the Clarion West fundraiser, or attending Clarion West itself, and all the other stuff going on in the background that I’ve not talked about.) I came out of CW with one story I focused on and kept revising, and a partial way in to another. The rest (I wrote five there, and started a sixth) were just practice–written in aid of trying different things, or playing with form. And I consider the time spent doing that extraordinarily well used. Because while none of the theory there was new to me (god, that sounds like an asshole thing to say, but I’ve been doing this a very long time–far longer than it looks like from the outside, and theory of craft has never been the issue), for me Clarion West did represent a skill jump.

Part of that is that I no longer care about getting it right on the first draft. I’ve never been a first drafter anyway. My first drafts are all skin and bone, and I flense further back and then build a story up again as I revise. Can take anywhere up to a couple of years until a story’s ready. Sure, I’ve written a story and sold it as a revision of a first draft. Done it a couple of times. I don’t think those are my best work. (One I know isn’t, the other hasn’t seen the light of day yet, so we’ll see, but it lacks the layering I would normally build into a piece, and it’s not as spare nor as sharp as I’ve have made it had I kept at it.) So I trust the method that works for me. Makes it interesting in the couple of instances I’ve had anthology invites. I’m far more likely to take something I’ve already got in the works and revise that in aid of meeting the call than I am to write something from scratch. (For open calls I’ve written from scratch, and that can work, but I’ve usually got months to work on and revise something, so it pans out.)

And the real argument for scrapping work that no longer represents your level of craft is that if you can write better, you’re also probably not having the same conversations in fiction that you were with those earlier pieces. All fiction is a conversation. All stories address something, intended or no. And the conversations we are having change as our internal conversations do. Some authorial conversations are more pointed and less nuanced than others, true. And sometimes people get locked into having the same conversation for a couple of decades, which is … strange. Or some authors only ever want to have one conversation. That happens. But most discourse changes over time. A combination of experience and investment. Sometimes a shift in worldview. Sometimes a shift in physical state.

Writing, like living, is a function of growing into something.

I keep thinking about that as I work toward compiling my notes for the recommendations post. Despite the fact that I read what feels like fuck all last year in terms of short fiction (just due to workload), there are writers whose work I keep an eye on, and who I’ve watched raise not only their level of craft, but their level of conversation as well. It’s fascinating to watch. Also puts me in mind of the fact that I need to pull together my final list of writers to recommend for the Campbell Award.

And while this is technically my second year of Campbell Award eligibility, I’d much rather you voted for someone else. Even if you were thinking of voting for me, and I can’t see why you would given the extraordinary writers active in the field who deserve the nomination. You can find a list of writers eligible for the 2015 award here, and I’m pretty sure I’ll have narrowed my selections down to five eligible writers that I would recommend for nomination by the time I put up the forthcoming recommendations post.

Although, right now, I’ll tell you I don’t know how I’m going to pare that down. My current shortlist includes Emily Jiang, Carmen Maria Machado, Usman T. Malik, Helen Marshall, Sam J. Miller, Bogi Takács, Natalia Theodoridou, Alyssa Wong, JY Yang, and Isabel Yap. And that list might get longer still before it gets shorter.

[Edited to add Sam J. Miller to that list. Because I’d forgotten he was still eligible until I checked the list again. Well, this selection just keeps getting harder -_- ]

Oh well. An abundance of choices is always better than a dearth.

For now, I’m going to go back to compiling things. I’ve had word of good things that I’ll announce down the road, and an awful lot of things in the works right now. I suppose I could also reflect on the whole of 2014 before I wade back into the work again. Though it would be simplest to state that 2014, as a year in writing and a year in larger concerns, was full of dizzying highs and some abysmal lows. As all years tend to be. I’m not entirely sure I’d trust a year without sea change.

In the end, I’d rather be looking forward than mulling on the past. I get more done that way :)

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