This week was a pretty standard weak, as far as things go. I have seven stories you might enjoy. I was recently reading someone's May SFF short story round-up. She covered a few stories, but there are so many SFF and spec fic stories published each moth that a few for a month seems far too few. She also gave a little summary of each. Some of the stories I post are flash, my summaries would be the legnth of the story. I also often read the stories and then decide when to post them much later. This means that I don't always remember exactly why I decided to put it in the share pile, just that I did. For now, I will continue to share with no context other than it is something I enjoyed. And I tend to write things I enjoy. Therefore, if you like these stories, you might like what I write. And if you like my stories, you might like these.
Going back to 1999, Nature Futures published COMP.BASILISK.FAQ by David Langford.
MoonPark Review published Business as Usual by Gaynor Jones in 2018.
This week I posted six short stories, skipping Thursday when I participated in #PitMad, which I blogged about here.
John Wiswell won a Nebula this weekend for a story in Diabolical Plots. I adored his story from March in Fireside Fiction called We Are Not Phoenixes. At 817 words, it is only a 4-minute read.
Wings by Vanessa Fogg was published by Translunar Travelers Lounge in August 2019.
The Heron-Girl by Mari Ness was published by Baffling Magazine in April.
When I decided to get on Twitter in August 2020 in preparation for querying my SFF novel, I immediately learned of #PitMad, a pitch event or pitch party where writers post tweets trying to entice agents to request their queries. You can learn all about PitMad, the rules and intentions at the Pitch Wars website. I decided to participate on September 3, 2020. It runs 8 am - 8 pm Eastern Time. The only problem? I'm on Pacific Time. I learned quickly how to schedule tweets (something I'd used Hootsuite for in 2015 and earlier before my five year hiatus from Twitter.)
I participated in RT (retweet) rings. It was a great way for me to go from no followers on Twitter and only following some of my favorite authors to having 100 followers and following a bunch of cool writers in under a week. Some people will unfollow following the pitch party. I was thrilled that my pitches that I'd polished through a Facebook writer's group got 20, 34, and 54 retweets, not counting QRTs, and some comments. All the likes were from people who didn't know better, but it's still a good feeling to know that someone saw a pitch and liked it or wanted to support it.
Instead of querying, I entered Pitch Wars and was not selected. I procrastinated and edited my novel, and participated in PitMad again in December. I had a writing group and we polished pitches, which I'll talk about more later in this post, and we retweeted each other. I joined a few more retweet rings. I went in thinking that time I'd get way more engagement and an agent like. It wasn't quite the right attitude. I still had fun, but it was much more stressful and disappointing. I averaged more retweets, 30, 46, and 58 on my new polished pitches with comps, but all those likes were still people who didn't know better or scam publishers.
Then I procrastinated and edited some more until March. I skipped the March PitMad. Why? Because you have to have a specific outlook going in. PitMad is huge. There is so much noise. There will be over 1000 tweets in 10 minutes on the hashtag. I was feeling a bit out of the cool kids loop. I had more experiences with people who say they'll be supportive, but are not. I wasn't in the right frame of mind for a pitch event. I had some FOMO, but mostly stayed off the hashtag.
I finished my last, final, truly no more, round of edits on my novel in March. So I decided to throw my pitches in the ring for #LGBTNPit. (See next section on how that went.)
I started querying my novel mid-April. I wrote a short update about it with regard to my goals for the year. In the midst of querying, I decided about a week out that I was going to do the June PitMad. Why not? Maybe it would catch an agents eye this time. I returned to the outlook of the Pitch Event and Pitch Party being more about building community, promoting other writers, and seeing what people are writing up than about those agent likes. My overall average of retweets was somewhere in the middle of the previous two PitMad events, at 32, 40, and 51.
The retweet rings will get you retweets. They will get you followers. And as long as that is your goal, you'll have fun.
As I mentioned above, after deciding I was truly done editing my novel before sending it off, and on a last minute, night-before (or maybe 2 days before) decision to participate, I did #LGBTNPit. You can learn more about their goals and rules here. It was the first one and it is currently planned as an annual event. They had slightly different rules where likes and retweets were for agents, but QRTs and comments were for others to participate.
It is a much smaller event than PitMad. It felt homey. I managed to participate in some retweet rings but found that with the QRT rule, others didn't engage quite as much. Or rather the engagement was less a rote retweet by large numbers and more actual engagement per individual. I, personally, liked it. It required reading the pitch and making a comment of some sort. And the engagement was higher quality. There were also the people who promised to retweet and never did. It felt worse during LGBTNPit since this was specifically for a group of marginalized writers.
But I got a like from an editor. Even though my novel was not a good fit for that publisher, the like was confidence boosting, and a major reason I decided to give PitMad another try.
My stats for #LGBTNPit don't compare to #PitMad in the same way. There were also four tweets instead of three. I'll discuss how I picked my pitches next.
There are a ton of resources out there about creating pitches. Many writing groups will help writers polish pitches. Even going to Twitter and using the pitch party hashtag to ask "who wants to vet my pitches?" or "who wants to trade pitches for feedback?" will get an interested writer help on polishing pitches.
For the first #PitMad, I was mostly in Facebook Writers Groups. In one, I worked with a few others in a specific post and sub-threads to help polish pitches. I had no comps in September because I didn't understand them and was struggling to find good ones. For the December #PitMad, I had a different writing group I leaned on to help me polish pitches. I led with the one that was most similar to the favorite from September. But a totally different one was most popular.
#LGBTNPit allows four tweets. I polished the two that had been popular in the past and then did a throw-away meme-style one for a Twitter meme that was popular at the time - "Just because you're vaccinated doesn't mean..." [The CDC made the joke pointless about a month later.] And I added one to emphasize a specific aspect of my novel that I had not before pitched on. The meme got a lot of commentary. The new aspect got me the editor interest.
I took those four and reworked them yet again, though on my own this time without group help, for June's #PitMad. At this point, I know the structure of what the pitches should look like. I know what has gotten interest. I know what I want to say about my story.
You can see from the tweets that I continue to play with the available hashtags. It's important to use hashtags that describe your story. The LGBTQIA* aspect of the story is not huge, so I abandoned that hashtag. However, there is a disability framework, and it's written from my own experience. So after gaining the confidence to lean on that aspect of the story, I've added the disabiity hashtag.
Obviously, I don't have a run-away pitch. Pitching is something I need to work on, whether I continue pitching with this novel or for another. Or maybe I've done my year of pitching and it was fun, but I'll just observe from the sidelines in the future. Who knows?
There are many twitter pitch events out there now. Agent participation varies. There were complaints the SFFPit was low agent activity. I only participated in #LGBTNPit with the support of writer friends because I otherwise felt like an imposter. That was the primary reason I did not participate in October's DVPit. There's also genre-based pitch events for romance, horror, picture books, faith-based, or events based around author identification, such as Latinx, API, Diverse Voices, LGBTQIA*, Disabled, or events based around particular group, like Insecure Writers Group, RevPit, AMM, etc.
If you're looking for future pitch events in 2021, check out Emma Lombard's 2021 Twitter Pitch Party Calendar.
This week is the week of podcasts. If you enjoy listening to stories, this will be a fun week for you!
Escape Artists published the next four stories in 2021.
Smokelong Quarterly published Photographer and Model by Stefani Nellen in 2007.
This week I have seven more short stories for your enjoyment.
Infinite Tiny Lives, Infinitly Small by Shane Halbach was published in April 2021 by Flash Fiction Online.
Listening to it Rain by A.A. McNamara was published by Fireside Fiction in September 2013.
Daily Science Fiction published The Telepath's Reading Material by Malai N Escamilla in April 2021.
Duppy by Bendi Barrett was published by Baffling Magazine in April 2021.
This week I've got seven short stories for you, in case you missed them on Twitter or Facebook. I try to give you different magazines and websites to visit every week. Hopefully you read entire issues when one of these stories sparks your interest.
I'll start with two from Daily Science Fiction. I've never read back through their archives, so you only get a few stories starting in 2020 or so that strike me.
Things Remembered at Thirty Thousand Feet Above Sea Level by Lauren Ring is a story featuring "kaiju + mount everest + alzheimers." Lauren is a member of Cat Rambo's Discord for Writers.
Neon by Marcus Vance.
My Mother's Hand by Dante Luiz is published by Constelación Magazine. I encourage you to go subscribe to the magazine or to their patreon.
This week I have seven stories for you mostly from 2019 and 2021, and a single story from 2012.
Constelación Magazine published The Excruciating Beauty of Ephemera by Keyan Bowes in 2021, and is 939 words.
Economic Principles of the Zombie Apocalypse by Wendy Nikel was published by Daily Science Fiction in 2021.
Joanna West's Final Five Reviews on the Day of the Apocalypse by Kelly Sandoval was published by Orion's Belt in 2021.
Translunar Travelers Lounge published Dear Sir, by Kaolin Fire in 2019.
Earl Grey by Jae Steinbacher was published by Baffling Magazine in 2021.
This week I have seven stories published since 2013 and another personal essay.
Skinned Knees by R.D. Sullivan was published at Fireside Fiction in October 2013.
Kaleidoscope by Silvia Morena-Garcia was published by Constelación Magazine, available on their website in April 2021, 912 words.
Daily Science Fiction published The Shepherd by Lynne Lumsden Green.
In 2019, Elsa Sjunneson wrote a personal essay, Rubella gave me a disability. This is my message to anti-vaxxers at CNN, regarding vaccines and her disability. Vaccination is always important. In the current situation of covid-19 and the push to vaccinate, this essay is even more important.
I posted a summary of 2020 and goals for 2021 at the end of December. We are one-third of the way through the year, and it seems like a great time to do an update of meeting my goals.
Polishing a story to submission: By now I should have four new stories done to stay on target for thirteen by the end of the year. I have five!
Submitting stories: I have submitted fifteen pieces thus far in 2021, which is two more than my time-tracked goal!
Rejections: I have received exactly the amount of rejections if they were to come in like submission. However, I happen to have two acceptances this year. So I'm quite happy with this!
I got trapped in a quagmire with Author Mentor Match and my novel. After mentee selections were announced (and I was not one), I realized I was using mentorship programs and revising as a way to procrastinate sending out my novel to agents and pursuing publication. After talking at lengh with a critique partner and attending Flights of Foundry, I got myself organized and started querying agents.
My goal had been to query five agents per month (starting after the AMM announcement) with a partial/full request rate of 10%. However, the implementation of that goal didn't end up working for me. (Also, it would mean I should have queried fifteen agents at this point and another five by the end of next week.) Instead, only about two weeks ago, I put together my list and queried sixteen agents since. My plan is to keep about a dozen queries out at any given time until my list is complete or everyone closes. I try to send out a new query every time a rejection comes in. However, the 8-day of query out mark was rough with four rejections coming in within about 24-hours of each other and I did not have more querying in me. I will try to get more out this weekend to get back up to a dozen queries out.
Still hoping for that 10% request rate, I received a partial request within my first eight queries. I've modified the goal that it should be a 10% request rate amongst rejections/assumed pass due to time passing. (Therefore, as of this moment I have three more rejections before I need to consider reworking my query package - ie general query letter, first pages, synopsis, etc.)
This is somehow a first third of the year and only two week update with also the immediacy of what I'm doing right now reported. To date I have queried sixteen agents, recieved one partial request, and six rejection including on the partial request. This marks me as on-target for my novel goals.
While that novel is in the querying trenches, I need to make some decisions about the novel-in-two-parts, the one-in-progress, and new novels.
Normally I only post short fiction in this round-up, but there are two essays I read or re-read this week that I am posting along with the fiction. I've placed them after the seven short fiction pieces.
Brightly, Undiminished by Sarah Grey was published in March by Lightspeed Magazine.
Read or listen to Keeping House by Sarah Day at Pseudopod, also from March.
Bite by KC Shaw is published at Daily Science Fiction.
The final entry to this week's round-up is a youtube video where you can listen to Cat Rambo read from her essay on Mentors, Mentees, and Mentorship in the Pocket Workshop from Hydra House. This will be of most interest to speculative fiction writers.