December Middle of the Month Updates

It being round about the middle of the month, seems an appropriate time for updates on several things.

To start with, the prevalence of images heading up the last few posts has put me in the mood to try doing that uniformly going forward. Brightens up the place a bit, so to speak. :)

So, I’d been debating putting together the year in writing post this month, rather than in the middle of January as I would normally. I think I’ll do that once we’ve had the full span of the year though. I don’t expect that there’ll be many more submissions out of me before the year’s done (just given what my workload looks like right now), but that could always change before the year’s out.

I will be putting together the 2016 recommended reading blog earlier than usual though. Normally I leave that until the middle of February because it’s also a record of what I’ve read throughout the year in long form, so at least part of it’s a record for me. But leaving it until February 15th routinely always means that it’s too late to be of much use to anyone who wants additional options to consider before the Nebula nominations deadline hits. I can’t nominate directly — not being a member of SFWA — but I do like to give people the option to use the recommended reading lists as both a chance at catching up on things they might have missed, and as a resource for whatever awards they want to nominate for.

To that end, I’m going to aim for having the 2016 list up by January 15th at this point. That should still give me enough time to get through the majority of things I want to look at.

Speaking to time and recommendations both, I’ve not really managed to get a lot of reviewing on this blog done throughout the year. Largely because my time is taken up reviewing for Publishers Weekly and with the freelancing and with work in the outside world to help pay the bills and with my own work as well. That lack of time for in-depth reviewing on the blog affects the yearly recommendations list as well because by the time that goes up I don’t have the wherewithal to comment on everything there, tempted though I am.

Generally if I don’t leave a comment it’s that I enjoyed something and don’t feel the need to qualify that. Even with the DNFs (did not finish) list (which this year is long enough that I’m going to give it its own category) often there it’s not that the books are bad, it’s that I’m the wrong audience or I dropped out of it for a variety of other reasons. If a book is terrible or offensive for whatever reason, I’ll talk about that. And I make this point because as writers we see a DNF tag and we fill in the blank by assuming a problem, and I don’t want people thinking I hated their work just because I didn’t finish something of theirs. Believe me, if I hate someone’s work, I have absolutely no problem being honest about that to their face. :)

But the more pertinent reason I bring up the lack of reviews on the blog this year is because it’s possible that trend may continue next year. There are a lot of things I wanted to review on the site (that I don’t have the opportunity to review elsewhere), and I just don’t know where the time to do that is going to come from right now. Especially with Anathema starting up in 2017.

And speaking to Anathema:

Anathema solicitations have begun. And because the guidelines on the website won’t actually be going up until the website’s fully launched on January 1st, and that’s the same day we’ll be opening to submissions, I want to give people a bit of a head start on getting things ready. So I’ll be posting a brief rundown of the submission basics (minus submission e-mail) to the blog about a week before the 1st. Given the timing, it’ll probably go up around Christmas and is thus going to be my gift to everyone for the season this year.

A marginally lazy gift, true. But it doesn’t mean I like any of you any less for the effort I didn’t put into getting you something more extravagant. I wanted to give everyone something more, but then we had a cold snap and I was all “Fuck going outside,” and I never know what to get everyone as a blanket gift that would speak to what everyone wants and needs throughout the year, so I ended up getting everyone this magazine instead. What are you gonna do, right?

Walking back from the marginal absurdism momentarily…. Soliciting for the magazine brought to mind something that I come up against every time I have to send out invitations for a project, and even sometimes when I’m just pitching things to people. Said thing being the following (which I posted to Facebook this morning and am now just reposting here):

And now, a thing often said by anthology editors, but also echoed by those of us just trying to dig up people’s contact info (or in this case, trying for the umpteenth time):

Writers, for the love of all that’s motherfucking holy/unholy, have a contact e-mail listed, or a contact form, on your website or any of your social media. For those worried about personal safety and trying to maintain limited accessibility, contact forms are perfectly fine and also help protect you from assholes spamming you (especially if your form requires senders to verify they’re an actual person sending you mail).

This is true for artists as well — who, for the most part, are far, far better about having contact info and/or methods available on their websites and social media. It’s almost like the ability to commission artists is built into the understanding of how a visual artist survives and manages to make (whatever qualifies in this context as) a living. Writers need to be thinking likewise. You may not want to be available to take commissions and solicitations depending on how you work, but if no one can figure out how to get in touch with you, you’re going to miss out on opportunities to sell your work.

Other things you don’t *have* to do, but that are super helpful:

– If you have an agent, list them on the contact page of your website.
– If your agent is only handling certain types of projects for you (short fiction, long form, film/tv, and so on), mention that. The assumption otherwise is they probably handle anything you’ll be asked about/solicited for. Which is usually not an issue, but best to avoid confusion in the long run.
– If you don’t have a website, get one. It doesn’t matter what form of social media you’re using, a website is still a highly functional hub for aggregating all the various work you do. Hell, you can build a perfectly serviceable hub website through Tumblr if you (understandably) dislike most website back end interfaces. And you don’t have to use a paid website hosting service, there are a number of perfectly fine free hosting options to be had if you want to do minimal work and just want to park various information online and let it be.

It’s a worthwhile thing to make some time to do. And let me reiterate: Giving people the opportunity to locate your work or get in touch with you online doesn’t have to sacrifice your privacy, nor does it have to put you at risk. There are good, safe ways to both have an online presence and make sure you’re protected.

And for all those who already have their work online and have been putting together award consideration posts (or even just writing year in review posts), let A.C. Wise and Cat Rambo know so they can include your post in their meta eligibility posts. Twitter’s, I think it’s fair to say, the easiest way to do that right now (?):

And with that, I’m out. See you all next week to talk more about Anathema. Until then, look after yourselves, and enjoy the season. :)

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