It’s always great to hear how enthusiastic authors are with what we and narrators do with their work. It’s hard to know who’s listening sometimes, and feedback like this is fantastic.
Make sure you check the story out! It’s one of my favourites so far on the show.
Originally posted on Andrew Liptak:
My short story ‘Fragmented’ is now available as an audio podcast! Earlier this year, StarShipSofa opened up for submissions and I submitted it. A day later, I got an enthusiastic e-mail back from them saying that it blew them away, and that they’d love to publish it – that was a nice boost.
Here’s a bit of background on the origins of the story.
The story is narrated by Mikael Naramore, who did an incredible job bringing the story to life. Here’s his bio:
Mikael Naramore has worked in the audiobook industry since 2001 when, fresh out of college, he was hired as a recording engineer for publisher Brilliance Audio (now Brilliance Publishing, subsidiary of Amazon.com). Over time, he transitioned to Director, all the while absorbing technique and nuance from the best actors in the business. To date, Mikael has narrated well over 100 titles, under his own and…
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The title says it all, but it’s my party and I’ll talk if I want to.
As you may or may not know, Writers of the Future is a pretty big thing. It’s an award ceremony and workshop based in L.A. designed to discover new and upcoming writers. They receive tens of thousands of submissions per year, divided up into quarters. They only take the top three of that quarter.
I submitted my story a while back, not expecting much response from it. I started university again (in fact I’m knee-deep in a paper that’s due in two days right now), focused on other projects, went through illnesses, got more involved in StarShipSofa, etc. It slipped from my mind, and considering how many people submit each quarter any sort of response would be unlikely. I’ve already received two Honourable Mentions from them, but I doubted my luck would run much rather.
So last Tuesday I’m out in the morning doing stuff. I get back, flip open the computer to check my emails. I see a response from Writers of the Future. And in the subject line: You’re a WOTF Finalist.
No way. No sodding way.
My heart racing, I quickly scan the email. No, my eyes aren’t playing tricks. My story placed somewhere in the top eight, beating thousands and thousands of submissions from all over the globe. Joni tried to call me, but she couldn’t untangle the labyrinth of phone call connections she needed to make in order to call Australia from the US.
I read it again. Yes, it’s true. I’m a finalist.
Shaking, I pound in a reply, saying something like OMG THANK YOU THANK YOU before deleting it and replying with something much more professional and polite. Then I start jumping up and down like a circus freak on some sort of experimental drug, drinking as much coffee as I possibly can.
I give Joni my number and we have a chat where she fleshes out the details, her laughing and congratulating me. Basically the gist is this: Out of submission well into five figures, I landed in the top eight. The eight stories will then go onto judges, who will decide which stories come 1st, 2nd and 3rd. If you do place, you get a cash prize (between $1000-$500) and flown out to L.A. for a week long workshop. They pay for your flight, your hotel, the whole deal. The likes of Larry Niven, Orson Scott Card, Robert J. Sawyer and countless other headline authors instruct you for an entire week. Your work gets published alongside theirs in an anthology (which is distributed worldwide). You get interviews, go to signings, get artwork…everything she was saying just passed in a blur of awesomeness. I’m still shaking my head that a scruffy kid like me from down under was even being given this opportunity.
And then there’s the award ceremony, attended by various Hollywood stars and the aforementioned authors. Everyone gets a WOTF statue and some time on stage. And the grand prize? $5000.
But let’s pull back on the reins for a little. I’m not at that stage. There’s no chance I’ll even be at the workshop. Out of the eight finalists, five will be yanked out of the running. But three will be given the Hollywood treatment. The chances of me grabbing it are three out of eight. Nearly fifty percent. Almost heads or tails.
Am I nervous? Mate, I can hardly sit still. I feel like a ten year old jacked up on sugar, caffeine and god knows what else.
So my conversation with Joni finished with me on a high. Then I realized that class was almost on so I packed my bag and headed out the door to be educated. I don’t remember much of that class, though, my head was still spinning. It’s still spinning now.
I might not get in this time. I might never get in at all. But in this regard the odds are very much in my favour, to paraphrase Effie Trinket. And it’s one hell of an opportunity, too.
If it wasn’t for them, people like Patrick Rothfuss, Sean Williams, Aliette de Bodard and countless others might not be where they are today. Book deals have been struck, movie deals have been signed, friendships have been made, and careers have been launched, all thanks to Writers of the Future. And I could very well land there in 1st place. Or 2nd. Or 3rd. Or not at all. Joni says she’ll call and let me know in a week or two. But there’s nothing I can do. It’s all in the cards now.
But you know what? It doesn’t matter. I made it here. If I get knocked down, I’m gonna pick myself up again and aim for the moon again. If I get my teeth kicked out and shoved into the mud, I’ll grit my teeth and try once again. And one day I’ll do it.
I’ve come this far. I keep going. And I will.
The slush is done. It’s done. It’s over. And now I know how Frodo felt after throwing the ring into Mt. Doom.
I’ve been so ridiculously busy. Over the course of the submissions I’ve suffered two illnesses, traveled around the globe and back, and a bunch of other personal issues that I’d rather not discuss publicly. On top of that I’m in my final semester of university, and I’ve barely had a second to myself. But you guys all understood and gave me your unending patience, and for that I am grateful. I’ll definitely be looking at getting both an intern for StarShipSofa permanently and a few slush readers to help me out. But right now, I’m so busy that I don’t have the time to hunt down an assistant to help me out because I’m so busy. If that’s not a paradox, I don’t know what is.
It’s been an incredible experience for me, not as just as an editor, but a writer as well. I’ve never really been on the other side on the coin, as they say, in terms of submissions and shifting through slush. But the experience was worth it.
There have been stories I absolutely hated letting go off. There were some that I wrestled with for days and days, completely unsure of what to do. Damn, do you people write fantastic stories. I hated myself for saying no, and writing that letter came with a heavy heart. But the decisions have been made and the acceptances and rejections have been sent off.
For those of you who got acceptances, I’d have given you my personal email address. If you haven’t already, please send your story file and your bio (pasted in the email) over to it. Do not try to reach me via the submissions email – that’s purely for reading slush.
StarShipSofa will absolutely be reopening to submissions. When? I don’t know. I definitely need to graduate from university first, and we’ve got a lot of stuff to sort out over at StarShipSofa. When I get a second I’ll be writing more detailed blog posts about my experience doing slush and the common pitfalls, what to avoid, etc, etc. And if I rejected you, don’t give up. Drag yourself back up and shoot me a story that kicks me in the gut (not literally) and one that I cannot say no to. But more on that later.
It’s been an absolute blast to read your excellent stories, and it’s going to be even more fun working with you all and seeing what the final production looks like. I’ve heard some of them already and they’re excellent. I’m hoping you guys will be as proud of them as I am.
Until then, thank you all so much. And never, ever, ever give up.
So I’ve been slowly, slowly hacking my way through the slush pile of StarShipSofa. It’s a process that simultaneously fun and wondrous, but daunting and difficult. I love being able to see what other people have written and nothing can compare to finding that diamond in the rough and knowing you have to take it, shooting off an acceptance and getting an excited email back filled with thank yous and how they can’t wait to see the finished product.
But it’s also very hard to let go off some of these stories. Very, very hard. But unfortunately that’s part of the process and it has to be done. And there’s always another story for you to send.
Okay, enough of the petty sentiments: At this point, I have read and responded to everything up until July 3. If you haven’t heard back, you are currently in the 2nd round. I will not be tackling this until I finish the rest of the slush, as there was a barrage of last-minute submissions. I’ll let you know as soon as I can.
The other major thing? That would be the very special episode 400 of StarShipSofa. We’ve got a groundbreaking author lined up, one responsible for making SF/F what it is today. This author is without question of the most popular and well known writers in and outside genre. A pillar of contemporary literature. StarShipSofa has been graced with the mammoths that are George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, Michael Moorcock, Lisa Tuttle, Kim Stanley Robinson, and now this author.
Who is it?
You’re going to have to find out yourself. It’s taken months of planning, but it’s nearly here. And I can’t wait to see what you think.
Just an update for you in regards to StarShipSofa’s submissions. I’m so sorry that it’s taking so long – I got far many more submissions than I could possibly have expected, many of which were in the 8k+ and upwards length. Additionally, I became very ill at one point and couldn’t muster the strength to sit up in bed, let alone read slush. And now that I’m back at university, things are more hectic than ever. I’m starting to read submissions during my lunch breaks between classes, it’s the only way I can keep up.
But enough excuses. At this point, I’ve read and responded to everything up to June 23. If you haven’t heard back from me at this point, I’ve put your story in the 2nd round and I’ll be holding onto it before making a final decision. And good lord, you guys have made those decisions hard as hell. Seriously, there have been some pieces I’ve found so hard to let go, but ultimately had to. This is both a good and bad thing, as it means I can take the crème de la crème, but also makes it very difficult to send that rejection. But if I took everything that I wanted to, StarShipSofa would be backlogged for years. Several years. Yes, I got that many submissions. You guys are awesome.
Also, just so you know I always personalize my rejections, and I try to give some feedback as to why I had to say no. And if I asked you to submit next time we’re open, I definitely mean it.
I’ll keep reading as fast as I can. If I haven’t gotten back to you that means you’re still under serious consideration. Please be patient, and thanks again for sending me your work.
A little late with posting this, but life’s been hectic. Very hectic,
Anyway, our latest episode over at StarShipSofa is very special. Why? Not only do we have a fantastic short story by Peter F. Hamilton, but we also have an interview with Mr. Joe Abercrombie, the Lord Grimdark himself.
We chatted about his books, his jagged prose style, the way he approaches fantasy as a whole, why he choose to write homages to other genres, why the Shattered Seas trilogy was so different to the First Law, and mostly importantly, why a long-time fantasy writer decided to set his latest books in a post-apocalyptic setting and use elements of science-fiction. The answers are all there. Oh yeah, it’s an hour long.
I started reading his books back in 2012 and was absolutely blown away by them. His down to earth prose, his raw and unapologetic characters, his livid battle scenes, his witty humour, all of it just captured me from the very start. I can’t even say what an honour it was to speak with him for over an hour face to face (we actually did meet in Sydney, where we arranged the interview). I doubt you’ll ever be seeing this, but thank you again, Joe. It was an absolutely pleasure, and I hope it is not the last time we have it.
As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been that active, either here or on social media, etc. Well, that’s because for the past few weeks I’ve been paying a visit to good ol’ US of A. And you know what? I had a ripping good time.
Not all of it, though. We ran into at least a dozen complications with our booking before we even got to the mainland, this namely being the airline forgetting to put my dad’s last name on his ticket (how we even passed the gate in Sydney is an enigma that’s never gonna be solved), the travel agency assigning us to the wrong airline, an airline that we had to pay for both entertainment (a sorry selection at that) and meals. On a 22 hour flight.
Oh, and we couldn’t even sit together.
But we did manage to solve this all in the end, although the process was nothing but painful.
First stop was Hawaii before our connecting flight to Los Angeles, but I can’t say I remember too much of it since I was half-dead and completely jet-lagged. I just remember it being hot, sandy, and stormy. L.A. was a different matter entirely. We spent three days at Disneyland, California and Univerisal Studios park, and I can’t remember a time when I ever felt more like a kid. You’re never too old to go there, seriously.
You may, however, recognize these locals.
Oh, and we went to this little place called the Hollywood walk of fame.
And then was the drive to Vegas. Six hours through nothing but this.
It was a beautiful sight, though. You always hear about the Mojave desert, and you see the Mid-Western desert a lot in films. But to actually see the barren landscape for what it is…that’s a different story altogether.
And then, there was Vegas. Oh, Vegas….
I mean, seriously, who builds a metropolis of gambling, sex and booze in the middle of the desert? Americans, of course, and it was awesome. Not the gambling and sex, of course, but you can get some dirt-cheap beer in the States.
The thing about Vegas is that it’s wrapped in a time-warp. You can wonder the streets for hours and hours like we did, and suddenly realise it’s 1:30am. There’s no change in crowds, and (almost) everything’s open around the clock. I also couldn’t help thinking what would happen if there was some sort of apocalypse how lucky everyone in Vegas at the time would be. You’d likely be shielded from the worst of it and in one of the most lavish places on earth. But then they made a videogame out of that, so I won’t be copyrighting that concept!
Oh, and I couldn’t not share this.
Sadly our trip there was pretty short and we drove back to LA in the early hours of the morning for our flight to New York City. We stayed in Brooklyn. Easily the highlight of the trip. It’s such a progressive place: it’s got such a *now now now* vibe to it that you can’t help but kept swept up in it.
And then there’s Times Square.
Seriously, there’s no place like it on earth. We only had a few days there, but it definitely wasn’t enough. A month would have only allowed us to scrape the surface. It’s a gold-mine of discoveries in that city and I’m roaring to go back.
I also had the opportunity to meet up with fellow author and editor Alex Shvartsman. A good many conversations over various things were had, and an extremely tasty pizza was consumed. I even reviewed his collection for Strange Horizons, which you can check out here.
Oh, and look what I happened to pass by!
Anyway, we were onto Boston to stay with my aunt and uncle. Now here’s where we ran into a roadbump: I got food-poisoning. Or something. I dunno what it was and at this point I’m afraid to ask. All I know is that our six hour drive from NYC to Boston consisted of me hugging my stomach and needing to stop every few minutes because I was on the verge of puking. Thankfully I didn’t and after what seemed like a drive through Satan’s personal traffic lane we arrived in Boston. It took me a good three days to recover. Three days of eating dry toast, drinking flat lemonade and sweating in bed. Amoung other things, but I’ll spare you the gory details.
Eventually I did recover, and we set out to explore Boston. It was definitely a much more relaxed pace than before – we weren’t rushing around desperate to see everything like before. And I have to say that Boston is a beautiful city. Very English. Oh yeah, did I mention Americans like guns? Like, like like?
I swear, there were more guns in that room than the entiriety of Australia. Rows and rows and rows of ’em. And yeah, I got to hold one. More than one. Many more than one. And that’s all I’m gonna say on the matter. But still, it’s strange to see these killing machines on the racks as if they were bread rolls!
We stopped at a little quaint village for coffee, and this was our view. You could do much worse.
Aww, bless your heart, auntie. You’ll make anarchists out of us yet.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and I’m back in Sydney, knee-deep in uni work and other stuff. It’s my last semester, which I have mixed feelings about. I can’t wait to get away from the study and work and turn to making a career out of writing and working in the publishing industry somewhere…but never getting up in the morning and going to your favourite class? No longer seeing your friends daily? No longer experiencing that university spirit? It’s a toughie.
Oh, and I do have news. Well, pretty big news in fact. We’ll call it That Thing that I Can’t Talk About™. Unfortunately I can’t talk about That Thing that I Can’t Talk About™ just yet, so it’ll have to be on hold. But it consists of several things, and those things are sales to major markets, including one I’ve been trying to break into for several years now.
But enough of my rambling. I’ll update you when I can.
And ’til next time, America! Keep being weird.
Anyone hoping to even have a sliver of a chance at getting an agent to look at your novel, reading (and applying) this is not optional.
Originally posted on Red Sofa Literary:
By Melissa Seymour, Spring 2014 intern
This past semester I had the pleasure of interning for Red Sofa Literary. I learned so much and had the ability to see what happens behind the scenes at a literary agency. One of my main tasks at Red Sofa was helping to read queries. And let me tell you, it’s not an easy task…for the writer or the letter recipient.
I have now been on both sides of the query letter. I’ve been the nervous writer sending my life work into the unknown and I’ve been the one clicking through hundreds of queries, searching for a golden egg.
Writers often associate words like “dreaded,” “terrifying,” or “the worst thing in the entire world” with the query letter but working for a literary agency has given me a new perspective. Your query letter is an opportunity. It’s exciting! This is your chance to show…
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So now submissions for StarShipSofa are closed. Please do not send me any further submissions, and any sent will be deleted unread. I hate having to do this, so please don’t make me do it.
But anyway, thank you so much to everyone who submitted. I’m not going to disclose how many I got, but let’s just say that I received enough stories to last StarShipSofa for several years. Several, several years, in fact. So obviously this means I’ve got a massive wealth of stories to choose from and I’m looking forward to it.
But it’s going to take some time. More than I anticipated.
By my count, I got at least twenty stories of the novella-ish length. That’s around 15-20k of words each, multiplied by twenty. That’s easily the size of one of the longer A Song of Ice and Fire books, and that doesn’t include the other submissions, many of which are pretty damn long in their own right. But I’m not complaining: I asked for long submissions and I got ’em. But it’s going to take some time to read through them all.
Am I going to finish all these beasts? No. But I will definitely read for as long as I can, as a writer myself I know that the ending can make or break a story, and I’m not one to read a couple of paragraphs and instantly smash the big ol’ red reject button. But there does come a point when I’m prettttty sure I’m not going to pick this story up. But a lot of the time I can’t justify an answer unless I’ve gotten to the end, or near it. So please, be patient with me and I’ll have an answer for you sooner or later.
That’s it for now. Thank you all again for allowing me to consider your stories.
– Jeremy Szal
This is my first time reading slush, and it’s lovely to see all the fantastic submissions pouring in. And ¡Ay, caramba!, I’ve come across some ripping stories. It’s an absolute joy to see this talent blooming, by both new authors and established authors alike.
I’ve already sent out a handful of acceptances, as well as a few rejections. Sending a rejection sucks just as much as receiving one, and I always try to pin-point what I personally didn’t like about the submission, or my reason for rejecting it. Remember, it’s just my opinion, and someone’s already picked it up, so you’re already on the right track.
But please, do remember to follow the guidelines. I’ve had a few submissions where the original publication venue is not listed, it’s addressed to “dear editor(s)” (despite the fact that my name is on the email address itself, and last time I checked I don’t have a double, as much as I’d like one). The latter I can forgive, but the former I cannot. I need to know if it was self-published by a vanity press, or if Ellen Datlow picked it up for her Tor anthology. It makes a big difference, and I will not read the work unless you follow these guidelines. Yes, it sucks, but I don’t have the time to trace its origin when I’ve got another 50 submissions from people who did follow the guidelines. It’s not fair on anyone. But overall I’ve had nothing but fantastic work and marvelous people, so keep that up.
This is the way I sort out the submissions. When the stories come in, I read from the earliest sent. I keep reading, and sometimes I’ll know immediately that this is a story I cannot let go, and I’ll email over the acceptance. Other times I’ll sadly have to send over a rejection immediately, as the story is not what I’m looking for. But most of the time, I’ll read the story and like it, and move it to the “Maybe/further consideration pile”. This means your story has a fighting chance, but I need to weigh it up amoungst the other submissions in the pile and decide against those merits. So basically, if you haven’t heard from me, you’ve moved to the maybe pile. The longer I hold on, the better. And I’m getting a lot of submissions, sometimes clocking it at 18,000 words, and for the most part can’t justify a response unless I’ve gotten to the end.
So, that’s it from Szal towers for now. Keep those submissions rollin’ and I’ll have an answer for you…sooner or later.
– Jeremy Szal