Tag Archives: SFWA

Stories (by Me and Others) Eligible for Awards this Year

Hello all!  If you by any chance are nominating for either the Nebulas or Hugos, here is a list of my publications from 2014 that are awards-eligible (which excludes  reprints and shared-world stories).

I’ve linked to the stories that are available on line.

Best Short Story category:

Elsa’s Spheres, sci-fi (IGMS)

Imma Gonna Finish You Off, sci-fi humor (Galaxy’s Edge)

A Debt Repaid, sci-fi flash fiction (Lightspeed Magazine, WDSF special issue)

Lenora of the Low, dark fantasy (Fantasy for Good anthology)

Best Novelette category:

Balance, sci-fi (Baen.com) (also won second in the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest)

 

And here’s a list of other people’s short work that I recommend. I’m specifically choosing lesser-known pieces that I think deserve far more attention than they’ve received.

Best Short Story category:

The Thing About Shapes To Come by Adam-Troy Castro, sci-fi (Lightspeed Magazine)

Rules For Killing Monsters by David Sklar, dark fantasy (Nightmare Magazine)

Unfilial Child by Laurie Tom, fantasy (Streets of Shadows anthology)

Intersection by Gio Clairval, sci-fi flash fiction (Galaxy’s Edge)

A Dragon’s Doula by M.K. Hutchins, fantasy (IGMS)

Best Novella:

On the Winds of the Rub’ Al-Khali (part 1, part 2), by Stephen Gaskell (IGMS) (ETA: NOTE.  Only part 1 is technically eligible for nomination this year.  The novella will be eligible as a whole next year if part 1 does not make the ballot this year.)

 

And there are a few wonderful people I think you should consider for the Campbell Award for best new writer. I admit to a bias here, seeing as how they are some of my WotF vol. 29 classmates, but I genuinely think they deserve recognition this early in their careers:

Andrea G. Stewart (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, and more)

Tina Gower (Galaxy’s Edge, Black Denim Lit, and more)

Brian Trent (Apex, Analog, and more)

Shannon Peavey (Urban Fantasy magazine, Daily Science Fiction, and more)

 

Go forth, read, nominate!

~Marina

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Waylines Magazine Needs Your Help!

As you probably know, I am a first reader for Waylines Magazine. We’ve got a Kickstarter up for our second year, and would be grateful for any help you could give.

Waylines is unique among speculative fiction magazines in that it is multi-media focused. Every issue brings you short stories, interviews, short films, and now, poetry. Also, the goal from the beginning has been to become an SFWA qualifying market, so the aim is to make sure the pay will continue to be professionally competitive even after the qualification changes coming later this year.

If you’ve enjoyed magazine, please consider donating. And please spread the word. Our campaign page can be found here: Waylines Magazine Year Two.

Help us stick around to keep providing you great spec-fic content in the year to come!

Thanks, all.

And again, if nothing else, we’d really appreciate a signal boost–Tweet, blog, post to FB.

Hope everyone’s January is treating them well.

~Marina

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Writers of the Future Workshop Week and Gala, Part 4, Post Gala

The day after the gala we did a few interviews and had a PR workshop given to us by John Goodwin of Galaxy press. In it we were taught some basics on how to present yourself on camera (be polite, smile, don’t wear white because it wreaks havoc with the lighting), and how to create pithy summaries of our stories. We were each teamed up with a partner to work through some practice questions. Kodiak Julian (author of Holy Days, for which Aldo Katayanagi’s illustration won the IotF gold award) and I practiced together.

Later that day we were treated to a live audio play of one of Hubbard’s short stories. The performance was quite wonderful, and I personally found it a treat.

After that we had a pizza party with our guests and the remaining Judges.

Tuesday was the day we all said good bye, but not before Writers of the Future: The Musical was in full swing. We’d discovered just a few nights before that our group was quite musically inclined. Shannon Peavey (author of Scavengers) treated us to some beautiful a cappella opera, and Alex Wilson sang a quite rousing version of the “Gummy Bears” theme song.

And then we went our separate ways. I stayed in LA for a few more days on a mini vacation with my husband and my dad, which was fun. Highlights included Universal Studios and the Tesla dealer.

And that wraps up my WotF experience. As always, if there are any questions, I am happy to answer them!

~Marina

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Writers of the Future Workshop Week and Gala, Part 3

Here is a links to Part 2 (which contians a link to Part 1).

So, on Wednesday I typed up the following and posted it to WordPress.  Or, at least, I thought I did.  I was surprised to log in today (in order to moderate a comment) and find that there was no Part 3.  Either WordPress glitched on me, or somehow I navigated away from the page before actually hitting publish.  Luckily I save all of my lengthy posts in word docs.   I apologize for not catching the mistake sooner!

So, Sunday was Gala day.  We had a nice breakfast at the hotel in the morning, and then all the ladies were rushed off for hair and makeup (the guys got a couple of hours of down time, I believe.  Which is a fair trade off, since they did have to suffer through tux fittings earlier in the week).

Our beautification was done by cosmetology students, which had its pros and cons.  As we artists and writers were new to our perspective industries and had been learning all week, I liked the idea of furthering education in yet another field.  However, having students instead of pros do the work had its issues.  The woman who did my hair was very nice, but insisted on curling it.  I tried to explain that it would not work (I slept in curlers for my wedding and my hair was perfectly straight six hours after taking them out), but she went for it anyway.  As a result, when I finally made it on stage that night (I was the last writer to give my thank-yous), my hair simply looked like I’d failed to comb it.  And I’d made the mistake of telling my makeup artists that I usually wear smokey-purple eye shadow.  All she heard was purple, apparently, because man, my eyelids were puuuuurpppple.

Other ladies had much more luck–and others, much worse.  But, overall, despite our hits and misses, we all looked quite fantastic once we slipped into our gowns and jewelry.

My husband, father, brother, and step-mom had all flown in for the awards.  It was fantastic to see them all, if it was only for a few minutes.  I’ve been to several awards events with my husband, and at all of them the awards recipients were given specific times to take pictures with their guests.  Not so at the WotF gala.  We winners were rushed from one thing to the next, pictures here, interviews there, but never with our significant others.  The only time I got to spend with my husband was a few minutes on the red carpet out front, and at dinner (I would recommend future winners take dinner time to break out the cameras).  I got to see the rest of my family even less, as they were understandably not invited to the dinner.

The event itself was magnificent.  Beautiful sets, fantastic guest speakers, and wonderful dancers.  A special vignette was preformed for a few of the stories, and I was so glad mine was chosen.  (ETA: one positive point to the mis-post is that I can now share with you the gala clip that includes the dance done for my story, Master Belladino’s Mask.  My speach is in there too, but you can ignore that.)

Everyone’s speeches went well–even when they didn’t go as planned.  Alex Wilson (author of Vestigial Girl) ended up thanking two wives (though he insists he really only has the one).  I was introduced by none other than Larry Niven, who was quite shy and very nice.

After the ceremony we were all whisked away to the signing (this is when most award events afford the recipients some time for pictures with family).  We were seated in a circle emulating book order, which had me between Brian Trent (whose work opens the anthology), and Andrea Stewart (whose story, Dreameater, comes right before mine at the end).

It was a whirlwind event, with everyone in attendance coming by to get their copies of the anthology and calendars signed.

David Wolverton’s son, who had been in a coma for the entire workshop week, woke up for the first time that night, right before the gala started.   It was perfectly serendipitous.

After the signing I got to see my family for a few minutes, to thank them briefly and give hugs before we were once again rushed back to the hotel for an after party–which Joni Labaqui graciously hosted.  Though I don’t remember the exact time, it was pretty late at this point.  Mike Resnick hung out with us for a while, and though I had to tear myself a way relatively ‘early,’ I know many of the winners stayed up until 4am or so.

And that, my friends, was the gala.

There will indeed be a Part 4, as though the awards event was on Sunday, the workshop week wasn’t officially over until Tuesday.

~Marina

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Writers of the Future Workshop Week and Gala, Part 1

Ok, I’m nearly back on schedule.

The Writers of the Future workshop week was wonderfully educational.  We had two amazing primary teachers, Dave Wolverton and Tim Powers, and a plethora of secondary speakers who all gave their take on different aspects of writing fiction professionally.

When I arrived I was picked up at the airport at the same time as Stephen Sottong (Author of Planetary Scouts), who along with Tina Gower (Author of Twelve Seconds and our Gold Award winner!), was my quarter-mate.  Tina ended up being my roommate for the week, which was fantastic.  After long evenings in the hotel lobby talking to night-owl judges, we’d often go back to the room and stay up a few hours more talking.

The group stayed at the Loews hotel, and walked a few blocks down Hollywood Boulevard every day to the Author Services building.  The writing workshop was taught on the fourth floor, while the illustrator’s was taught on the first in front of the stage for the L. Ron Hubbard Golden Age Theater (where live radio plays of Hubbard’s works are preformed.  We got to see one on the Monday before we left, and it was very well done).

The ASI fourth floor is beautiful, and the area we were taught in is basically one big library (the majority of which is devoted to Hubbard’s works, but there is one wing devoted to the works of WotF winners).  There, Tim, Dave and company instructed us on the ways of the professional.  We received both lessons in craft and in business.

The most amusing thing about the workshop was the constant intrusion of the photographers (who were very nice).  Those pretty pictures you see on the WotF website and newsletter?  They didn’t get that well composed by accident (most of them, anyway).  We were constantly having our table tops rearranged, papers hidden, and drinks removed.  This constituted a bonus lesson in photography.

The most stressful thing about the workshop was by far the twenty-four hour story.  We were given an object, a trip to the library, and a stranger (ok, we had to find the stranger, none were given to us) to inspire a story, then we were expected to produce a completed story(as in, written to the end, not necessarily submission-ready) in twenty-four hours (that’s twenty-four hours writing time.  The inspiration points happened over the previous forty-eight hours or so, so we did have time to think and digest before having to produce words).

On our first workshop day we received our objects.  I was given a box of who-knows-how-old raisins out of Tim’s grab bag.  A few of the other objects included a floppy disk, a magnifying glass, and a hotel room key.

For me, the stressful part came not when we were given the go-ahead to start typing, but when we had to go talk to a stranger.  As a confirmed introvert, striking up a conversation with a random person is not my thing.  But I did it.  Thankfully my stranger was a very nice sunglasses salesman from Turkey (Alisa Alering [Author of Everything You Have Seen] also spoke to a sunglasses salesmen from Turkey–oddly enough, they were not the same person).  A few other people (ahem, Tina) had much more awkward encounters.

The actual writing part went smoothly for me.  I think this is because I’ve had some practice writing stories in a day.  We started writing at 4:00pm and were expected to have our story printed and turned in by 4:00pm the following day.  I was able to write ‘the end’ on a 4,000ish-word draft at around 12:30 or 1:00am, while others were up most of the night.  The next day I edited at my leisure, making sure to strengthen themes and descriptions– other people did not have the same opportunity to rework.

Again, I don’t think writing the story went well for me because of any extra craft skills I possess.  I think it had 100% to do with having written that way multiple times before.   I was able to plan and pace myself accordingly.  If there is one piece of advice I’d give to future workshop attendees, it’s to practice this method ahead of time.

After we turned in our stories, Dave and Tim chose three for us to critique as a group.  For some people, I think this might have been the most stressful part of the twenty-four hour challenge.  A few seemed to dread the thought of their story being pulled from the pile.  Tim and Dave could of course chose whichever stories they wanted by whatever method they wanted, and they joked about throwing the manuscripts down some stairs and picking the ones that flew the farthest.  Apparently mine was quite aerodynamic (a fine quality in a story), as it was picked along with Tina’s and Chrome Oxide’s (Author of Cop for a Day).

I got some very insightful feedback, and have since reworked the story a bit more.  I submitted it for the first time on Tuesday.  If you get a chance to participate in this workshop, do your best to make sure the story you write isn’t a throw away.  Don’t complete the challenge just because you have to–aim to get at least the beginnings of something submitable out of it.  Every story you write is practice and the Big Game all at the same time.  So, it’s ok if you try something and it doesn’t work for you (like writing a story in one sitting), but always do your damndest.

I will return next week with Part 2 of my recap.  There might end up being a Part 3, we’ll just have to see.

If you’ve got any questions about the workshop or twenty-four hour story in particular, feel free to ask!

~Marina

P.S.  I’ve sold another story!  Details soon.

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WotF Vol. 29 Cover

It’s a little after-the-fact, but the cover for Writers of the Future Vol. 29 has been released, and the book itself is available for pre-order!

WOF-29-Bookcover

Anybody else hear Elton John in their head singing “Rocket Maaaaan” when they look at the cover?  The illustration is by wonderful Stephen Youll.

You can pre-order a mass market paperback from Barns & Noble or Amazon.  The e-book version will be available in several formats for imediate download on April 14th.

~Marina

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Updates on Submitomancy and The Submissions Grinder

These are the two Duotrope alternatives I introduced a few weeks ago.  That post is here if you’d like to familiarize yourself with it.

Sadly, we’ve lost Submitomancy before its launch.  Its Indiegogo campaign was unsuccessful, meaning they did not receive the funding they needed to get off the ground.

Though Submitomancy frequently posted aesthetically pleasing screenshots of the possible site on both their Indiegogo page and their facebook page, I’m afraid not having a working model to sample hurt them.  When Duotrope closed to those who could not or were unwilling to pay their subscription fees, those who fled were ripe for the picking.  I believe the Submissions Grinder ran away with the bunch, since it launched in about a week after Duotrope’s pay model went into full effect.  Because there was already a free, functional alternative, and there was no working model of Submitomancy to test, I believe most people did not see a clear reason to donate to the cause.  Why pay for something that looks pretty but may not work at all?

Perhaps if its creators ever decided to take another shot, they might put up a basic, functional version to heighten their appeal to donators.

The Grinder, on the other hand, is in full swing.  It’s highly functional as a sub tracker and market database, and they’re adding new features all the time.  I have to say, I’ve never seen a nonprofit venue work so hard to accommodate every user.  If you’d like to see a function, just suggest it.  If it makes practical sense, it will go on a to-do list.  I really hope they can keep their customer service up, as it’s run by just two individuals (that I’m aware of) in their spare time.  Their mission statement declares that their users will never have to pay a mandatory fee for an account–but man are they earning their donations.

Two things really excite me about this site.  First, the one thing I’ve longed for in a sub tracker are graphs.  Bar graphs, line graphs, stem and leaf charts–anything to make the data more accessible to the visually-oriented.  I always meant to suggest it to Duotrope, but I could never find a suggestion box on their site (if they had one, it wasn’t very obvious).  Right now the Grinder has histograms that display response times on each individual market page.

The second thing I’m excited about is a feature not yet available.  In addition to submissions tracking, they also want to add sales tracking–which is brilliant.  Only tracking submissions means that tracking ends with either an acceptance or a rejection.  But that’s not helpful to those who actually sell their stories.  There’s a world of things to keep track of afterwards: edits, publication dates, payment, rights reversion, etc.  To the professional, having a system to track these things accurately and consistently is priceless.

So, if you do use the Grinder, I hope you’ll seriously consider donating.  They are working hard to make writers happy, and they know that not everyone can afford a subscription.  Here’s their link again, if you haven’t tried the site yet: The Submissions Grinder.

~Marina

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Being SMART With Your Goals

Ok, I might be a little late here.  A goal-oriented post usually belongs at the beginning of January, not at the end.  But…

I want to discuss setting real goals vs. setting non-goals.  You’d be amazed (or, perhaps not) at how many writers I’ve seen this month declare non-goals for 2013.  Non-goals don’t help anyone, least of all the person who sets them.

Non-goals are more easily defined as dreams–something you wish would happen, but don’t actually have any control over.

A real goal is entirely self contained and under your control.

Example of a non-goal: Qualify for SFWA.

Example of a real goal: Write ten short stories and submit them to SFWA qualifying venues.

See the difference?  Some people don’t.  At least, not right away.

There’s a well known model for goal setting that has circulated widely in the business world.  Which, naturally, means that writers are the last to hear about it  (I don’t know how many times I have to say it, but if you want to SELL something you’re in a BUSINESS, so we artsy types can all stop acting like ‘business’ is the eight-letter ‘b’ word).

This model is called SMART.  It’s an acronym that stands for Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-bound (actual words may vary depending on who you’re talking to, but the system remains the same).

Specific.  This one’s easy.  It’s the What, Where, Why and Who portion.  What are the requirements and restrictions? Where do I have to go/send/be in order to accomplish this?  Why is it important that this goal be accomplished?  Who is involved in making this goal happen (hint: if the goal requires someone in addition to yourself they have to be working towards the exact same goal.  Most editors are not working towards the same goal as you are, neither are agents or publishers.  They do not count as goal partners)?

Measureable.  This means you must have a concrete way of assessing your progress towards the goal and the goal’s completion.   You are looking for quantitative, not qualitative criteria.  How questions prominently figure in here.  For example:  I must write X number of stories and submit them.  Not: I must write a bunch of good stories and submit them.

Actionable.  This means the goal can be implemented and attained through your direct action only.  Which means it must be within your power to attain.  It is not a goal so lofty that you cannot reach it.  Nor is it only attainable if outside forces or circumstances happen to aid you.

Relevant.  Is there a point to this goal?  Will your career suffer should you fail?  Will it be aided should you accomplish it?  If the answer is no, it’s not really a relevant or worthwhile goal.  Is the goal of stamping and addressing twenty envelopes in a row relevant to your career as a writer?  The action might be necessary at some point, but it should not be a focal point.

Time-bound.  This one is especially important, I think, to writers.  It’s all about When.  How many people do you know who say, “I’m going to write a novel one day”?  I’m guessing a lot.  Most likely those people will never write that novel (they might never even start it, let alone complete it), because they have not deemed it important enough to put a time frame on.  A worthwhile goal must be constrained by time.  I will write ten stories someday will most likely leave you feeling unaccomplished come 2014 when you’ve failed to meet that non-goal.  Whereas if you say, I will write ten stories by June first, you have given yourself a time limit, an area of temporal space in which to work, and most importantly, complete your task.

So, it might be time to reevaluate your most recent goals.  You’ve lived with them near a month by now, how far along are you?  How close are you to completion?  When will you finish?  What is there still to complete?  If you have no way of concretely answering such questions, you might want to scrap your non-goals and set some real ones.

Non-goals only leave you with heartache when they are left incomplete.  We all want to have real goals that pull our dreams down to Earth and help make them our reality.  Otherwise, what’s the point of setting them?

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Was this post helpful?  Did you reexamine your goals?  Were your goals solid the first time around, or did you need to change a few things?  I’d love to know!  Leave me a comment.

~Marina

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Duotrope and Alternatives

By now, if you’re at all involved in the short story community, you’ve heard that Duotrope is going paid.

That’s fantastic.  Nothing wrong with someone who provides a service getting paid for said service.  Everyone’s got mouths to feed and bills to pay, and no one should be expected to provide a service at a loss simply because others would prefer it to be free.

That said, anyone who charges for a service really needs to price it practically.  You’ve got to understand what your business is worth to consumers.   No one’s going to pay $35 for a glass of lemonade or $65 for a loaf of bread.

And on that note, I won’t be paying Duotrope’s exorbitant yearly subscription price of $50.  Why?  Because it’s not worth that to me.  And I’d be hard pressed to believe it’s worth that to anyone else, save in entertainment value.  (I also need to point out that you can subscribe on a monthly basis for $5–but who would really use it only a couple of months a year?)

Duotrope is a wonderful convenience to me.  It takes all the things I have at various places (market lists, submission tracker, response times) and puts them all together in one convenient, user-friendly space.

But that’s just it: it doesn’t give me anything I can’t get elsewhere.  Its entire worth to me is based on two-to-ten minutes worth of time saving per submission.  Course, it probably costs me more than that in the time I spend procrastinating using the site to check response times (which does nothing for my own submissions–I’ll hear when I hear).

The convenience of using Duotrope is not worth $50 of my hard earned money.  I would have to sell one flash piece a year just to cover it as an expense, and since it does not make me money (it does no marketing, it does not put me in touch with editors, it does not get a single story of mine in front of anyone who can buy it.  I have to do all that leg work myself), I can’t really justify spending my entire income from one story on the privilege of using it.

It was absolutely worth the $5 they claimed every user needed to pay a year in order to cover their expenses.  I’d hazard it would even be worth $10 or $15 to me.  I know it’s worth $20 to $30 to other people, as that’s what they’ve donated in the past.  I haven’t met anyone who claims to have donated anywhere near $50, so where that price tag comes from, it’s hard saying.  And the anonymous Duotrope staff have been less than transparent about their financial goals.

I think their misguided pricing is based largely on a belief that those who have donated regularly in the past will be more than happy to subscribe now.  Unless they already had a ton of people donating more than $50, they’re going to lose more by charging more. I think they don’t quite understand how differently people perceive a charitable organization vs. a private business.

When it’s on pure charity, people are willing to pay the way of others as well as themselves: “They need $5 per person? Alright, how about I pay for myself and three others who can’t afford it? Spread the love.”

When it becomes a business, the consumer has to go into business mode as well: “How much am I getting out of this service? Is it worth to me what they’re charging?”

Basically, I think they’re over estimating what their product is actually worth. And I think it will be worth even less now, because they’re driving away the source of their worth, which is the large data pool they draw from

I don’t want to see a site like Duotrope disappear. And I’m complaining about the price because I think they’re shooting themselves in the foot. I think they’ll find their business model not only ineffective, but damaging. I can only hope the staff can change directions quickly enough to avoid disaster. I want them to stick around, because I appreciate what they’ve created and the time I’ve spent using their service.

But, at the same time, I can’t justify telling poor writers to spend $5 a month or $50 a year on a service they don’t need.

So, here are a few alternatives to the services provided by Duotrope, should you be unable or unwilling to subscribe come January:

Market lists:

http://ralan.com/

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~mslee/mag.html

http://www.sfwa.org/join-us/sfwa-membership-requirements/

http://www.speculativeliterature.org/Writing/mktlists.php   (This one is a list of market lists.  I have not explored it yet.)

Submission tracking:

www.writersdb.com

http://writersplanner.com/

ETA: http://www.spacejock.com/Sonar3.html (Suggested by J. Deery Wray)

Submission response times:

http://www.critters.org/blackholes/index.ht

http://ra-log.livejournal.com/

It’s also very easy to create an Excel sheet that tracks your subs and also doubles as a market list.  I also have a separate file that matches editors to their market and the market’s physical or digital address–a service which Duotrope does not provide.

If you are part of a large on line writing community, you could also start tracking your response times as a group.

I’ll be leaving this post up on the front page the whole week–so no Wednesday post.  I feel it’s important.

If you’ve got any other link suggestions, or just want to discuss Duotrope’s decision, feel free to comment!

~Marina

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Best Submissions Week Ever! P2

So, did you figure it out?  Two SFWA qualifying sales in one week!  Yahoo!  Still living off the high.

Getting to some copyedits for my Mirror Shards sale now.  Belive it or not, that’s pretty exciting for me, too.

And I hear finalist calls have already gone out for WotF q2!  Congrats, all!

Had any excitement recently?  Tell me about it.  🙂

~Marina

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