Random memories: Hanging out with Gardner and Laura Anne Gilman at a SFWA Publishers Reception in NYC, laughing about writing sex scenes (“Always clean your sword!”) . So many publisher’s receptions with him…. Gardener telling hilarious stories of the slush pile in the SWFA suite at the NASFIC in Raleigh, NC. I remember running into Gardner holding forth at more SF con room parties than I can count. Gardner and Andy Duncan and I sharing odd appetizers at World Fantasy in San Jose. Conversations in so many green rooms, seeing him at panels, stopping to chat in the con hallways.
His encouragement of Abyss & Apex in its infancy, especially the half-page Locus review of us he did that put us on the map. Learning how to suggest A&A’s year’s best stories to him and me getting into the habit of sending him a little something about A&A for his industry summations, and the correspondences that followed. The thrill of A&A’s first honorable mentions in one of his Year’s Best anthologies, which never got old and was such a resume-builder for my authors.
Gardner told me that he chose his “year’s best” picks the same way choose my stories for Abyss & Apex. He could not get those stories out of his mind. Think of that, my friends, an editor that high up the food chain, at the pinnacle, who simply could not get our stories out of his mind.
He was an editor who was, first and foremost, our fan. He became a kingmaker almost accidentally, as a mere byproduct of his love of the genre and his willingness to help others’ careers.
As an editor, he was a role model to me. As a friend, he will be sorely missed. Godspeed, Gardner. Much love, always. But you knew that.
I’ve been fairly quiet here, on Facebook and on Twitter. There are reasons. Things are fine, I’m just very busy.
I’m getting ready for ConCarolinas. Meanwhile, the staff and I and are knocking down A&A slush and I’m doing all it takes to run an online magazine. It takes more work to run than you dream, people. Three rewrites this last week, technical issues, working with specialty consultants to fact check the science or anthropology in stories, art issues….
Add to that my list of fiction novels and shorts stories I am writing, plus non-fiction books and articles, then add basic home maintenance, various home improvement projects. It’s a very good thing I only need 6 hours of sleep a night.
Right now I am listening to a lovely rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Music helps me de-stress while I work, and this is one of my favorites. I am also fond of Fat Boy Slim (techno, for those who don’t know), Sting, and various instrumental jazz artists (especially The Rippingtons).
So, things are fine, just hectic. Although I’m still pretty torn up about losing Gardner, and I’ll write a eulogy with some memories once I’ve processed that he’s really gone.
Here’ my schedule for ConCarolinas. And yes, I’m doing a panel called “Finding Your Inner Smut Queen.” While I personally don’t write smut, I edit it all the time. You can especially ask the novelists I’ve worked with, but it’s in some short stories, too.
Friday, June 1
3:00pm – Choosing an Editor
10:00pm – Finding Your Inner Smut Queen
Saturday, June 2
10:00am – Writing What You Don’t Know
2:00pm – Live Action Editing
5:00pm – Worldbuilding (moderator)
7:00pm – Out, Out, Damned Slush!
Sunday, June 3
9:00am – The Eternal Time Suck (moderator)
10:00am – Reading with Wendy S Delmater
11:00am – Selling your book in 244 characters or less
This is Tigre, modeling what it looks like when the full sun is too hot in the South. Sunbeams: optional. Nap times, mandatory
Today’s #bookqw keyword is “Prepare.” Here’s a quote from “Stone Eater” by Brent Knowles of BioWare fame, in Abyss & Apex. Link to the story: http://www.abyssapexzine.com/2012/03/stone-eater/
Gaven said, “They mourn you then, I think.” Ongar said nothing. The captain continued, “My son, he rode with me. He’s not one of the prisoners the conjurling took, he’s dead, out there, his bones in the sand. I never should have allowed him to accompany me. He was not prepared . . . I was not prepared.”
“You could not have known.”
“Perhaps,” the captain said, There was a long pause before he continued, “If you swear to me that you’ll slay that rotting conjurling I think I might have the means to free you.”
Ongar shifted uneasily, pain ripping through his stretched and sore joints. In what way could the man free him? It was madness, nonsense from a sun-baked mind. “The wizard is with him, always. It would be impossible.”
The captain said, “Destroy the tower.”
Ongar tensed. “No. I could not. I have no-”
“Look here,” the captain said, raising his arm slightly, revealing a metal band on his finger. “By the same power that will transform this chunk of iron into the means to your freedom, you could make that tower fall. You could end it all.”
Ongar looked away.
“Don’t be the fool. You are no common dwarf: that’s why they have suspended you from the earth, bound you without iron. That is why your badger feeds you rocks. By the Four Fathers what I would give for the chance to save my men from slavery, from death. I can’t. But you can.”
“No, you may not make the bed.”
Well. My feline overlords have spoken. Who am I to argue?
According to the Turkey City Lexicon, a primer for SF workshops, a “grubby apartment story” consists of:
Writing too much about what you know. The kind of story where the starving writer living in the grubby apartment writes a story about a starving writer in a grubby apartment. Stars all his friends.
And I’ve just found another prime example of this sort of thing in my slush. Le Sigh.
Today was a slush day for me, reading Abyss & Apex submissions. Still working on February subs, but staff and I are making great gains.
For Mother’s day, I received a custom made gift: an eyeglass chain with charms that had to do with Abyss & Apex Magazine. (Thanks, Christine and Maggie!) There’s a Chinese dragon charm, a Western dragon, a book, an alien, an inkwell with a plumy quill, a unicorn, a fairy, and a little hourglass with sand that glows in the dark.
I’m not sure if the hourglass stands for time travel or how I’m always so busy, trying to shoehorn two lifetimes into one. But then, I’ve mellowed with age. It used to be three lifetimes I was juggling at once.
Hooks and Holding on
How do you go about creating such a trance state in your readers?
First, you have to reel them in.
In this age of instant gratification, on-demand entertainment, and lightning web searches you have very little time to catch a reader’s attention. When a reader (or an editor) sees your story, you have perhaps eight seconds to snare them when they read those first sentences.
The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the effects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.
Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds. Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media,” the report read. – “You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish,” TIME, May 14, 2015
If you’re lucky, potential readers will give you up until the end of the first paragraph, tops. If you’re really lucky, they might read the first three paragraphs. If your short fiction has not engaged them by then, most readers will probably move on to something they find more interesting.