The short stories we DON’T want to see

Over at io9, Charlie Jane did a nice interview with a group of short fiction editors, asking what we do NOT want to see in submissions. I am one of those interviewed.

If you want a few hints on what not to submit, go ye forth and read!

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What I am loving about Welcome to Night Vale

There’s a lot that I like about Welcome to Night Vale. But here’s what I love.

SPOILERS FOLLOW. SPOILERS. SPOILERS AHOY.

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The 2014 Hugo Award Nominations, The Good and the Complicated

As I mentioned this weekend, Queers Dig Time Lords was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Related Work.

The complete list of Hugo Award nominees is here.

My thanks to the contributors to QDTL, to my co-editor Michael, to Lars at Mad Norwegian Press. My especial and heartfelt thanks to all the Hugo voters who put us on the ballot.

My congratulations to a number of the nominees. The following are the people whose work I have read (or listened to) and endorse:

Seanan McGuire aka Mira Grant, for Best Novel
Cat Valente, Andy Duncan, and Ellen Klages for Best Novella
Mary Robinette Kowal, Ted Chiang, and Aliette de Bodard for Best Novelette
Rachel Swirsky, Sofia Samatar, and John Chu for Best Short Story
Kameron Hurley for Best Related Work
Paul Cornell, Brian K. Vaughan, and Fiona Staples for Best Graphic Work
Ellen Datlow and John Joseph Adams, Best Editor Short Form
Liz Gorinsky and Sheila Gilbert, Best Editor Long Form
Fiona Staples, Julie Dillon, and Galen Dara for Best Professional Artist
The ENTIRE slate for Best Semiprozine, but especially to Apex Magazine
Verity!, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, and Galactic Suburbia in Best Fancast
The ENTIRE Best Fanwriter slate.
The ENTIRE John W. Campbell slate, but especially to Ramez Naam.

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Now, a few notes.

1. The number of nominating ballots this year was up 43% over last year. More participation is fantastic. More participation means more opinions and views. I approve.

2. Counting myself, the Hugo nominations this year have THREE people from my high school. Me, Michael D. Thomas (for Apex Magazine, and with me for QDTL), and Ramez Naam (For the Campbell.) Let’s hear it for IMSA, hmm?

3. The ballot seems perfectly indicative to me of this moment in time, this moment in culture. The last two years have seen a nigh-constant conversation, acrimonious and heartfelt and sincere, in SF/F and in comics and gaming and geekery, about the nature of the future. The conversation is about whether the future of geekery will be open and representative or insular and reactionary. Whether it will be fun or joyless. Whether it will be free or silencing.

All the sides in this argument think that THEIR side is open and free and joyous and representative. All the sides think the OTHER sides are reactionary and insular, dangerous and vocal minorities. The story of this conversation is in this ballot. It’s in a ballot which contains both Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” (nominated for Best Short Story) and Larry Correia’s Warbound: Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles (for Best Novel.) It’s in a ballot with wild extremes of political views espoused by various nominees.

4. So go vote. If you are eligible, vote in the Hugo Awards. Speak up. Make your voice heard, regardless of who you vote for.

5. VERY IMPORTANTLY, here are the RULES for voting in the Hugos. It’s an instant run-off system, sometimes called Australian Rules Voting. Rank your choices; it matters.

6. There is a lot of amazing work nominated. I am so pleased that I get to read it all!

7. My profound thanks to everyone who nominated Queers Dig Time Lords. Profound. Thanks.

You put queers all up in this ballot.

Thank you.

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Hugo nomination!

Here’s the full list of the 2014 Hugo Award Nominations.

It is FULL of good things. I will probably talk more about them later.

For now, I will merely note that Queers Dig Time Lords has been nominated in Best Related Work. And Apex Magazine, under the editorial team of Lynne Thomas, Michael Thomas, and Jason Sizemore, is nominated for Best Semiprozine.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

And an especial thank you and congratulations to Michael. Rock on, sir. Rock the hell on.

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April 17 2014

1. I slept in! Yay sleep. My goodness, I do love sleep.

2. It snowed here yesterday. My yard has about a half-inch of snow. My friends in the north suburbs have about six inches of snow. Weather is wacky.

3. I started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine last night. Now, I don’t like sitcoms. I don’t really like comedies all that much. But so far this isn’t bad. Not really funny, but not terrible. I think I will watch some more of it.

4. And because I slept in, now I am running a smidge late. Whee!

EDIT: Why, yes, it’s APRIL. Not March.

THERE IS SNOW ON THE GROUND.

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Fleetwood Mac? Huh.

It’s the fault of American Horror Story: Coven that I bought The Very Best of Fleetwood Mac.

I’ve never listened to much Fleetwood Mac, or so I thought. As it happens, I have heard it all the time, all my life, because their songs are culturally endemic. Not as infectious as The Beatles, but still endemic.

So I’m listening to the album, and enjoying it, and looking to see what the NAME of [song I have heard my whole life and never knew the name of or who sang it] is, when this greatest hits album reaches “Little Lies.”

And I burst out laughing.

Because OH MY GOD what a dated, 1980s-laden song that is.

I mean. Just. I don’t even.

LOOK at this:

REALLY. YEESH.

Anyway!

Turns out I know and like a lot of Fleetwood Mac songs. Who knew?

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The short bio; an art, not a science

Let’s say, Gentle Reader, that Apex Magazine has bought your poem or essay or short story. Or maybe it’s Strange Horizons, or Beneath Ceaseless Skies, or Tor.com. Someone liked your work! Enough to buy it! What do you need to do next?

Right after you call your grandma, text your best friend, and tell your partner to take you out for dinner, I mean.

Whoever has purchased your work will likely ask you for a bio, a short bio, or a bio paragraph. You know what these are. You’ve seen them in anthologies, in convention program guides. You probably haven’t given a great deal of thought as to how those things are made or who makes them.

Well, Gentle Reader, you make them. You write your own. Unless you have a publicist, you write your own author bio. Here, then, First-Sales-Author, are a few pointers on writing your short bio.

1. The purpose of the biographical paragraph is twofold. First, to establish your credentials and sell your other work. Second, to dispose the audience favorably towards you. It is not, despite the misleading name, to give a biography to the reader.

2. Your bio is written in the third person. Not “I live in Saint Paul, MN,” but “Sigrid lives in Saint Paul, MN.” Don’t write it in first person and presume that the editor will notice and fix it for you. Nope.

3. As to the first purpose, you want to do two contradictory things. You want to remind readers who you are by mentioning your most popular works and biggest awards. At the same time you want to draw attention to your newest or forthcoming work. These are often not the same thing. You may also want to mention facts unrelated to writing if they are relevant, such as your ten years with JPL if your story is about rocketry.

4. As to the second purpose, here you want to know your audience. Is your piece comedic? Then a slightly wry bio might be in order. Do all the bios of your favorite authors mention their pets? Possibly you could mention your cat. Does your story have a somewhat political tone? You might could mention your membership in the NRA or your volunteer work for Planned Parenthood. Personally speaking, I always mention my family structure because I stubbornly insist on raising awareness of queer, poly families. Could I employ that sentence to some other use? Sure. But I have a point to make and I will likely continue to make it. Ponder what you really, really want the reader to know about you. Mention that.

5. Make it short. Three-to-ten sentences. And you should only be hitting ten sentences if you have a lot of accomplishments.

Here is the bio paragraph I am currently using:

“Sigrid Ellis is editor-in-chief of Apex Magazine. She is co-editor of Queers Dig Time Lords and the Hugo-nominated Chicks Dig Comics anthologies. She is editor of the best-selling Pretty Deadly from Image Comics. She lives with her partner, their two homeschooled children, her partner’s boyfriend, and a host of vertebrate and invertebrate pets in Saint Paul, MN.”

Four sentences. Major works. Award nomination. Personal note. Did I leave off my single published short story credit? Yes. I am very proud of that work, but it’s a few years old. Moreover, I am working more now on editing, not writing. My editing credits are more relevant.

If you are writing the bio paragraph for your first sale, don’t despair. And, for the love of all that is holy, do not talk yourself down or apologise for anything. Just, no. No. Make the audience like you. Be charming. Here are examples of a first sale bio paragraph for imaginary people.

A. Daenerys Targaryen is a recent graduate of the University of California at San Diego. Dani is committed to social justice and works for immigration reform with various non-profits in the area. She lives in a housing co-op she helped establish, and dotes on her three iguanas. This is her first sale.

B. Cersei Lannister is a mother, homemaker, and community volunteer. She will happily tell you all about her children over a glass of wine. In addition to this story, Cersei has work forthcoming from Strange Horizons.

C. Varys Arana has lived on four continents but is pleased to call Washington, D.C., his home. He has been a professional activist, a political fundraiser, a private detective, and a translator of non-fiction. He hopes the publication of his poems will draw attention to the ongoing human rights crisis in Sudan.

(My apologies to GRRM and Game of Thrones … )

Think, therefore, about what you want to say. Think about how you want to be recognized and remembered. Don’t apologise. Don’t talk yourself down. Don’t equivocate. And keep it short! Let your work speak for you.

Let the work speak. That is, after all, what you want readers to remember.

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