For Consideration (Part 2)

Posted: January 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

Welcome to Part 2 of things that I liked that you might want to consider liking too as we enter award season! I’ll continue to use the frameworks for the Hugo Award categories for ease of understanding. These are going to be shorter, because in general, my intake of media other than books is a little slim. Here we go!


Best Related Work

Seanan McGuire’s new filk album Creature Feature. Seanan is a powerhouse of creativity. Her output is exceptional and the quality of this album knows no bounds. It’s been on repeat in my car (i know, i’m old school, there’s a 6-CD changer in my car) since I purchased it. Funny, sad, beautiful. Very related, very best. My favorite track is Last Call.

Best Graphic Story / Dramatic Presentation Long & Short Form

I’m not hip enough, unfortunately. Suggestions welcome!

Best Editor Long Form

Liz Gorinsky. She’s won before, but continues to produce beautiful, thought-provoking work through Tor. While i’ve never met her in person, i’m told she’s really the bees knees.

Best Editor Short Form

My favorite people here aren’t….? Eligible I think. But i’ll throw them here anyway, because some day. One is Mur Lafferty, the Editor in Chief for Mothership Zeta. The other is Sunil Patel, who is the Fiction Editor for Mothership Zeta. They put together some great work for their first edition. Nomination rules require four (total) anthologies or issues to be eligible. I don’t *think* that either of them qualify, but check them both out.

Best Semiprozine / Fanzine

So, the eligibility requirements here also baffle me. I’ll throw some of my favorite markets from this year.

The Future Fire. This is a great market. They’re friendly, provide ILLUSTRATIONS (zomg) custom to their work. The work they produce is really unique and interesting.

Mothership Zeta. I talked about this. I also am a slush reader, so i’m a little biased. It also doesn’t qualify, but dang it’s a fun little ‘zine.

Unlikely Story. These folks just started paying pro-rates. Their topics change per issue. They’re working on their second clown edition. They published an Unlikely Academia issue (with me in it!). But I love their work, and love what they’re doing.



For Consideration 2015 (Part 1)

Posted: December 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

Each year, authors, publishers, and other interested individuals offer up their Best Of lists for perusal as the year comes to a close. These are usually in reference to one of the many awards offered up each year.

I think it’s important to mention, before I get to far along, that i’m a very plebeian reader. I like the authors I like and the forms I enjoy. I read a lot, but I also *re-read* extensively over the course of the year. I like to renew the acquaintance of old friends. That isn’t to say I didn’t read new things this year. I did!

Here are so thoughts:

1. Short Story

A Year and A Day in Old Theradane by Scott Lynch in Uncanny. This isn’t eligible for an award as when I read it this year in Uncanny Magazine, it was reprint. You should read it. I loved that it had rich language, was evocative. The plot was tight and fun and playful. And there is something infinitely sad about being trapped as a street lamp for all eternity.

Bent the Wing, Dark the Cloud by Fran Wilde in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This is set in the world of her novel Updraft. Protagonist must navigate family turmoil and life turmoil to succeed. I really appreciate its style. I also like how it speaks to the shifting, uncomfortable, relationships that exist in families that we have to navigate, even when we know we probably shouldn’t.

The Lion and the Unicorn by AC Wise in Lackington’s. This story is beautiful and brutal. There is something about it that reminds me of Those Who Walk Away from Omelas.  It’s stayed with me for a long time and I keep coming back to re-read it.

Planet Lion by Catherynne M. Valente in Uncanny Magazine. This story took a while to read, because it’s thick and meaty and not as linear as spaghetti and requires a lot of brain matter. All things that I love in good writing.

There is some other great writing out there. I would point you toward the Queers Destroy editions of Lightspeed as examples of great writing. Uncanny Magazine put out a wonderful spread this year. But! Short Fiction, is not really something that I read broadly.

I would also point you to Seanan McGuire‘s work. Her Indexing Season 2 is lovely. Here Velveteen vs. series continues to enthrall me. Go check those out.


Speak Easy by Catherynne M. Valente published by Subterranean Press. 1920s in a hotel that might be or not be heaven or hell or somewhere lost in between. Zelda is hunting her muse, her place in the world. And by the time it’s over…well…

I would also point folks towards the beauty that is’s publishing arm. The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson is beautiful.


Trailer Park Fae by Lilith St Crow. Not your Shakespeare’s Puck. It’s beautifully written. The world fully-imagined and the conflict the kind of thing you check yourself over and over again to make sure it didnt suddenly infect you through the pages.

Updraft by Fran Wilde. It’s…not quite fantasy. It’s almost Fantasy. It’s not Fantasy. Protagonist suddenly finds herself getting the attention of people she doesnt want in a world where people live in the hollowed our ribs of some monster no one has seen. Crazy, powerful, beautiful. Lovely.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson. This was my favorite new-book read of the year. Baru is a genuius and a master manipulator and we follow her journey as she tries to take over the world. It costs her over and over again, but she is relentless and witty and smart and when she finally wins, I was crying because of how much it cost.







Awards Eligibility 2015

Posted: December 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

Every year, most authors provide a list of works they published for easy reference. It’s usually pretty declasse to actively recruit for nominations, etc. In general, we’re disusing nominations for the World Fantasy, Nebula, and Hugo awards. I want a Hugo the way I want few things in this world, BUT! This year’s field has been stellar for short fiction. That said, please find my literary contributions to SFF:

Short Story (<7500 words)

  1. Rustsong, published by The Future Fire
    This is a piece of science fiction, maybe fantasy. It’s about the last life on Mars and is told in first person present tense. The artwork is beautiful (I didn’t have anything to do with the art).
  2. Beatification of the Second Fall, published by  Apex Magazine
    This story is a take on the Southern Gothic. It’s about a boy and his mother, who has an angel in her guest bedroom. Which she sells for folk remedies. There’s some horror, there’s some longing. It is, in my opinion, the best of my writing. It’s told in first person present tense, which is kind of fun.
  3. Scander and the Red Briar Prince, published by Rose Red Review
    This is a fairy tale told in the same world as m novel. It’s about how Scander grew up and grew into himself. It’s his first quest and how he took to the road.
  4. The Blue Tigress Dreams, published by The Colored Lens
    Folks are welcome to look this up if they’re interested. It’s a re-telling of a classic franchise, told in letters between two siblings. For a number of reasons, I have not discussed it much. I am going to be releasing it as an ebook (hopefully with audio!) in the new year.
  5. Minotaur: An Analysis of the Species, published by Unlikely StoryThis is a research essay on the minotaur. I love the quirky folks at Unlikely Story. They’re really fabulous. This story is about our monsters and our laybyrinths. Tamora Pierce called it “a wonderful addition to the scant literature of the minotaur”. And Lois Tilton didn’t hate it.

If you’d like to know how to nominate work you liked to various awards, feel free to drop me an email or look it up online. I am not eligible for the Campbell Award (Not a Hugo). Also, I don’t have any longer works available so, there’s that! I will have an additional post regarding what I thought of the field in the last year.

Should you feel as though some of my work is worth nominating, I would definitely steer folks toward “Beatification of the Second Fall” and “Minotaur”. Both were pieces that were particularly special to me and were published thrugh pro-rate markets (meaning I got paid for them).

Thank you to everyone who has read my work, followed me on twitter, talked to me via e-mail or facebook. You’re what keeps me going.

Responder 22

Posted: October 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

As part of the release of The Journal of Unlikely Academia a number of the contributors have worked to produce an “extra”. In my head, i’ve been calling them “Footnotes” know…Academia. You can find mine, “Responder 22” below. But first, you’ll find links from the other contributors.

Journal of Unlikely Academia

Bonus Material by Abra Staffin-Wiebe

Apocalyptic Tumblr by Julia August

Responder 22

Minotaur: An Analysis of the Species

By Sean Robinson

Excerpt from Appendix C: Questionnaires


Responder: 22

Name: Smokey

Location: Undisclosed per non-disclosure agreement. Greater Rocky Mountains region. United States and Canada.

Physical Attributes:

Age: Unknown

Height: 3.65 Meters

Weight: 600 lbs

  1. Parentage:

They met on their way up the summit of Mount Elbert, in Colorado. 14,400 feet above sea level. Mom used to tell me the story. She was a half-mile from the summit when the weather changed, and out of the rain came a man. They huddled together in a lean-to. One thing led to another. Only thing he left her was his raincoat, to keep off the chill. They didn’t share names. They just shared a kid. A kid he never met and she never wanted. All my mother—Rhonda Clark—wanted was the peaks and the sky.

  1. Labyrinth

She stayed with me for a while. In a cabin. Taught me how to fish. I taught her how to find the paths that weren’t clear as we walked. Then there was a day where I went walking, to taste the air, and feel the sun. When I got home, she wasn’t there. Not in her little sleeping bag, or by the lake, or…or anywhere. She was gone. And when I went to look for her, she wasn’t there. Wasn’t there ever again.

But after a while, it didn’t matter. Because there were trails we hadn’t walked together, up and down the mountains. Gulley’s that no one had ever hiked before. Trees so tall they shadowed the valleys. And it spoke to me, whispered to me. In the wind off trees no man had ever seen. It told me it would be there for me if my mother wasn’t.

  1. Diet

Read an article once. Hikers like to leave their trash at their campsites sometimes. Fish and Game says that in the last ten years there’s been just shy of three thousand fatalities across the country while people are out hiking. I really hate people who litter.

  1. On Death

I don’t think about it much. Won’t be a trip down the trail. Won’t be altitude sickness. Won’t be a lot of things. There’ll be someone lost on a trail, inching closer to the place where the summits meet. They’ll be smart enough to pack for a long trip in the backcountry, smart enough to hear my hooves on the brush. It’ll go quick. And when it’s done, I’ll still be beside the lake, still looking at the open sky.


Posted: September 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

A freelancer is a professional who offers their services for a fee, but who is not a full-time-only employee of a publishing company. Many have supplementary training in the areas that they’re working in. Hiring a freelancer to help with your writing may be a beneficial course of action, based on number of factors.

First and foremost, you are spending money on your story. You need to be careful here, because NEVER EVER spend money to have someone read or publish your story. Those services are unethical and predatory. What we’re talking about here is using professionals to support your work. This may mean editing, or artwork, or formatting if you’re self-publishing your story.

When hiring a freelancer, you are entering a business agreement. Check what you’re signing (contracts, timelines, etc) for terms, for credit, etc. This is another of those places where you’re building your professional reputation, people are spending their time on you, and you’re supporting the local community.

Freelancers work in a number of areas:

  1. Art. There are a variety of folks who create artwork–covers, internal designed, etc.
  2. Editing. Editors provide a variety of support. Developmental edits, line edits
  3. Copy Editing. Copy Editors can check grammar of the story
  4. Formatting. Formatting for ePublishing can be tricky. These folks will put it all together and make sure it works
  5. Website Design. A professional website can be a central landing place for your readers.
  6. Audio. Want someone to read your work? There are voice actors who will provide narration.

As always, check websites, check people’s previous work and references. And then happy publishing!

Oh gosh! You completed your novel. You submitted it to an agent. You followed the Submission Guidelines to the letter. What happens next?

This depends a lot on the process of the agent in question. As will the response time. But we’ll be general here.

When an agent receives a manuscript they’ll read it. They’ll read the Query Letter, the synopsis, and whatever sample you sent. Depending on the Agent, they may ask for more. Sometimes twenty pages, or the first few chapters. Others will ask for the whole thing.

This is a place where you need to pay attention. Does the agent ask for exclusivity? If you are being exclusive, it means they want to be the only one reading your submission until they say yes or no. Be professional here. If you agree to be exclusive, you cant change your mind later.

The agent will then say whether they are interested in taking you on as client.

You finished your story. You submitted your story! Now what happens?

Each market handles submissions differently. You can probably find information about your particular market’s process via their website. But, let’s be general.

For most submissions, your story will enter the Slush Pile. The Slush Pile is the accumulation of all the submissions a market gets. Generally, a First Reader / Slush Reader will look at the story in the order they’re received. First Readers are tasked with winnowing out the submissions. Some will be looking for folks who followed the submission rules, and others will be giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on on a particular submission before passing it up the line.

Submissions then go to an editor. The editor will either pass on it, or pass it up to an Editor-in-Chief for final determination. Your mileage will vary (so will your response time).

At any point you might get rejected. This happens, a lot.

Strange Horizons offers a very explicit view into their process. You can see it HERE

National Suicide Prevention Day

Posted: September 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

I wasn’t aware that it was National Suicide Prevention Day. Frankly, I wasn’t aware that it existed. It isn’t part of my personal calendar, until one of my favorite authors did something brave and shared.

College was rough. I was poor when i shouldn’t have been. I was unable to pay bills, eat food. There was a Christmas where I ate goldfish crackers and Hawaiian punch.

I took a Poetry class. We wrote science poems and mine was about black matter and in the middle of class, things got jumbled in my head. I left class. We were on the fourth floor of a big old academic building with a spiral staircase. I went to the balcony, went to the wrong side of the railing and stood.

I didn’t jump.

Because my friend Amelia made me promise to call her if i felt that way. Because i had agreed to talk to someone if i felt that way. Because the poem–“Black Ibis” was a bad poem and had no business being the last thing I ever wrote.

I carried a bottle of bubbles in my bag for the rest of college. Whenever I got down, I would stop and blow bubbles.

Most of the time, I don’t talk about it. I have never had a friend commit suicide. I have not been to that place since, and i have few reasons to ever go back there. When I am down, I think about things, because I am stronger than I think I am when i’m down.

I have found my tribe. There are people that if i call them at 2am they will pick up. If i break down into tears on the phone, they will tell me to come over. I buried both of my parents, and one of my dearest friends. If i can survive that, I can survive anything.

Microfiction, “Rustwisdom”

Posted: August 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

Earlier this year, I was fortunate to publish a story “Rustsong” at The Future Fire. They are currently in the middle of their Ten Year Anniversary. As part of this, former contributors were invited to submit an addendum to their TFF pieces, set ten years after their story. Mine went live today.

Rustwisdom was inspired by a picture, which you can find HERE

“There had been no wisdom for rust.”

Rustwisdom is just a moment, a heartbeat. It is what is after after, and what waits in the end. And how when the rust came, it did not take so much as change. It inscribed.

You may read Rustwisdom HERE

We have discussed this in a previous entry (How Much Will I Get Paid? (Long Fiction)) in general terms. We have discussed that an Advance is issued by a publisher against an author’s royalties and that additional money won’t be paid out until the Advance has been Paid Out. We’ve discussed that all of this is outlined in the Contract that you signed with the publisher, which was negotiated by your agent.

In SFF one of the most recent big publishing deals with made by John Scalzi (an author) with Tor (a publisher). The publication deal Advance was for an estimated 3.14 million dollars. This is a lot of money. It is for a ten year, 13 book publishing contract. You can read about it, and some particulars on his blog HERE.

But let’s look at the math for a moment. $471,000 (15%) will likely go to his agent. Leaving a total of $2,669,000 coming to him over the course of ten years. Most professional authors budget out approximately 30% of their income to pay for taxes. For this amount, that is roughly $800,700. This will leave a total of $1,868,300 over the course of ten years for the advance sales.

But wait! There’s more (also, consider how this impacts *YOUR* advance. The numbers will be different, but the math will remain the same).

Let’s assume (this would be explained in your contract, that you signed, that your agent negociated, and your personal wealth manager is aware of) that this in-pocket total is based on each of the 13 novels in the agreement. This means that the total amount of money is broken down by thirteen, or $143,716 (ish) per title. After the taxes and the agent are paid. This is still a lot of money per book. To go even further, it is often the case that Advances are paid in installments, often times two. John Scalzi’s deal specifics are not shared, but let’s make an assumption or two, for sake of conversation.

Often, the first half of the Advance is paid upon acceptance by the publisher’s Editor. When the Editor says that the manuscript meets their editorial and publication needs. This is generally half the advance. For this example, it would be $71, 851 or so. The second half (in the same amount) would be paid upon publication. There is often nine months to a year between acceptance and publication. This is still a lot of money.

Looking at a more traditional advance, the math stays the same.

First-time novelist is, via contract (which you signed, and your agent negotiated) is $10,000 dollars. Which will be paid in two installments–in February 2016 when your final draft is accepted and in January 2017 when your novel is published.

In 2016, you will earn $5,000. Minus 15% ($750 to your agent). You will receive a check for $4,250 of which 30% ($1275) will go to taxes. You will bank $2,975 for the year of 2016

In 2017, you will repeat yourself. $5,000. Minus 15% ($750 to your agent). You will receive a check for $4,250 of which 30% ($1275) will go to taxes. You will bank $2,975 for the year of 2017. You will only begin making royalties after you have Earned Out your advance. This may take a day, this may take a hundred days, or years. No more money until you Earn Out.