aamcnamara: (Default)
Wrote this up a bit ago, posting since a couple of people said it would be interesting to read. I've only ever read slush for Ideomancer, but based on that and my experience with submitting stories and reading other writers' anecdotes of submitting stories, these are all pretty general. Proportions of form/personal rejections vary with market, of course; a site like Duotrope can give you an idea of that ratio.

Rejectomancy is very tempting as a writer. "What did they mean?" and "did they like it?" and "did they hate it?" "do they hate me?"

1. "Not right for us" has approximately fifty meanings. No one can tell which one is applicable except the person sending the letter.
2. Getting a response either more quickly or more slowly than the estimated time online...well, mostly means nothing. Except "I need time later in the week for this other stuff" or "ohgod finals slush will have to wait" or "I traded a piece of slush with someone, and theirs came in later but I'm doing slush now so I may as well get it done" or something else unrelated to the submitted piece in question.
(2a. Exception: if it's over the stated response time, you may query.)
3. A personalized rejection and a rewrite request can be structured and worded similarly, but they are not the same thing.
(3a. Usually, if a personalized rejection letter lists one downside of a story, that is not the only reason that they aren't taking it. That just happens to be the most obvious reason they aren't taking it. If that was the only reason, they'd ask you to rewrite and resubmit.)
(3b. If I read and responded to the same story twice, say in two different months, I would
i) give it the same class of response (pass up, rewrite, rejection) and
ii) if rejecting it, probably give a different reason each time, depending on what was jumping out at me that day/week/month.)
4. Each story really is considered on its own merits.
4a. Names do sometimes ring bells--probably not for bigger markets that have huge slush piles, but at Ideomancer sometimes they do--sometimes I happen to get several stories from the same person. But it dissociates from their prior stories, it's just "oh, that name looks familiar". Maaaaybe "oh, I remember her last submission was really close". I used to get all flinchy about submitting, 'what if they don't like it and then they hate me'--that doesn't happen. (Possibly I'll frown at your con badge because your name is familiar and I can't remember why.)
4b. Publishing credits in a cover letter don't do much for me as a slush reader. It's nice, sometimes, but the story is what we're considering. I have loved stories with bare-bones cover letters, and been meh about stories that came in with impressive publishing credits in the cover letter.
5. Personal preference can never completely be avoided, but slush readers do try to get their brains out of the way of the story.

These transfer to not freaking out when I submit stories, and have partially but not entirely transferred to not freaking out about submitting a novel query to agents. There's stuff to be learned from slush-reading about the actual work with words of writing, too, but most of that doesn't fit neatly into lists.
aamcnamara: (Default)
There is a new issue up at Ideomancer! [livejournal.com profile] magick4terri continues to be awesome, and pretty much exclusively out of my price bracket. I really want the new Swordspoint audiobook. I also want to keep revising A Returning Power.

First I should probably finish this essay about Machiavelli, though. And maybe study for the physics test I'm taking tomorrow...

End of the semester. Grr.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Trying to work out a few things in my head.

Before the past week, I hadn't really gone through a critique process in a while. Like, possibly years. But I've been slushing for Ideomancer for over two years now. Coming back to critiquing felt odd and yet familiar.

Critiquing, my process was very similar to how I slush. Read it once, go away for a while and think about something else, come back to it and write my response (rejection/rewrite/pass up letter, critique). It gives me time to see if it lingers in my mind, what aspects of it linger in my mind, and then I come back to it and look into the nitty-gritty aspects before writing up the response.

What critiquing did was give me a reason to write down everything that I saw. When I'm writing rejection letters, I pick out the biggest reason that I am not passing up the story and the biggest thing I liked about it, and there's the personalized rejection. It's not a list of everything good and everything bad about the story. It can't be. I couldn't do that, I don't have the time.

But critiquing--there you give everything you saw and thought about, you list all the problems from big to small and also the tiny things you vicariously enjoyed. So this past week, I consciously thought about every single thing about the story and then I wrote those things down. (Instead of registering most of them unconsciously.) It helped me see my own process from the outside, and that helped me think about slushing and about my own writing differently. Still trying to figure out what that "differently" is, but it's now there for me to consider.
aamcnamara: (Default)
"I am unable to judge even my own work, and yet I am called upon to be the universal critic of others. Were I to answer the requests in detail, I should be the busiest of mortals. If I condemn the composition, I am a jealous carper at the good work of others; if I say a good word for the thing, it is attributed to a mendacious desire to be agreeable; if I keep silence altogether, it is because I am a rude, pert fellow."

--Petrarch, 1352, complaining about slush
(tr. Robinson and Rolfe)
aamcnamara: (atlas)
I keep forgetting to post about this!

The March issue of Ideomancer is up--well, has been for a few days at this point. "Spring is springing – slowly – into our back yards and back closets and the backs of our brains alike. So in honour of the best new-old thing that happens all year, our March 2011 issue has three stories full of slanted spring sunlight; stories light enough to float; stories about beginnings." We also have a featured poet.

Though I tend to love everything we publish, usually the first time I read it is when I'm helping to proofread the new issue. This time, though, two of the stories ("Apology for Fish-Dude" and "Ascension") are pieces that came to me through the slush pile and which I passed up to Leah, so of course I think they're particularly awesome.

(Also, if I am allowed to veer personal for a moment, these are the first stories that I've passed up that have been bought by Ideomancer; if you have not been a slush reader, you might not know how awesome it is when you find a story that's as neat as these two are and how satisfying it is to see something you picked up and said "Hey, this is cool" about get published. I now know these things, and lo, they rock.)
aamcnamara: (Default)
After this weekend, Boston is officially on my list of awesome cities. (This list also includes Burlington, VT, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, for those of you playing along at home.)

I can't quite come up with an adequate way to summarize this weekend, so I will just give most of a narrative.

A major theme is really nice conversations with [livejournal.com profile] mlt23. Saturday morning we wandered along the Charles River, talking about college and life and jobs and growing up. We made it all the way to Beacon Hill, which is quiet and beautiful and where we got briefly lost (and I stalked a pigeon for a few feet, until it startled) and then found ourselves again, and Boston Gardens. The Gardens had a number of buskers, but the best was an older man with a magical musical cart, decked out in largely neon green festivity, with a sign saying "Peace Wave Machine". His hat had gauges on it, measuring who knows what--cheerfulness, maybe. He played only happy songs.

We walked back along Beacon Street, and I got to marvel (another theme) at Boston architecture, so different from any other city that I know: the brownstones crowded close together, and what profiles they present as they march down the street ahead of you.

That afternoon, we went to the International Antiquarian Book Fair, where I fit in perfectly with the multitudes of tweed- and hat-wearing people. I say people; I mean men, because very few of the women were wearing tweed. Still, it made me slightly smugly proud to find that I pass as male so very easily in a crowd of rare book dealers.

The books were gorgeous, and expensive; I found a Dante that I didn't think my rare book room owned, and wrote the details down on the business card of the relevant stall. (When I brought this evidence of my busman's holiday sheepishly into work today, my boss accepted it as completely normal.)

In the evening, I got to see an a cappella concert, possibly now that I think of it my first with all-male groups. One was the Dear Abbeys, some of whose music I own, so I was expecting it to be really good, and it was. The crowd in the hall wasn't my favorite part, but endurable for the music--and now I know why the youtube videos of a cappella songs are so loud. (Or rather, I've experienced it live; still not completely sure why it happens.)

The next day, I took the T all! by! myself! to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] jesstherobot and hang out. We talked about, what, writing and college and physics and stuff (clearly I should have written this up earlier) and wandered and drank tea. I got to see Pandemonium, and I bought a book, too, Abraham's An Autumn War.

By the time that I had to get back to the bus station, I didn't want to leave. Fortunately(?), the bus I had been wanting to get on was full by the time [livejournal.com profile] mlt23 and I got there. The next one was an hour and a half later, so we went to get tea. While we attempted to find the best place, I spotted someone in a vest and nice hat, with a chain snaking into his pocket. With only a moment's hesitation (am I that person? yes, I am) I went up to him. "Excuse me," I said, "do you have a pocketwatch?" He glanced down. "No, I have a wallet," he said, with regret. "But I own a pocketwatch--I'm just not wearing it."

So that was Boston. (I got on the next bus; it dropped me off in Amherst, and I took the five-college bus back, arriving at eight-fifteen not having eaten dinner. Happily, my friends had claimed a plate for me and put it in my fridge, so I got some food.)

I realized on the bus back that this is the first time I'd planned and executed a trip entirely by myself, including "this is where I will go to buy food and I will find food and be able to eat for the rest of the weekend" (complicated by only having a fridge and microwave to work with, but it worked out really well!).

And by this point I might even be caught up on homework, due to an annoying but productive couple of days. And next week is Thanksgiving.

Someday I will definitely be going back to Boston.

40.1 / 60

The more novels I write (and rewrite), the less the multiples-of-10k milestones mean to me. But hey, I hit one!

--also, Ideomancer is hiring slush readers and I work there and it's awesome and you should be awesome too and apply. That is all.
aamcnamara: (Default)
304 / 350

"There is too much stuff! I will never fit this all in fewer than fifty pages!"

...humans (/writers) are so predictable. Forging onward!

Highlights of today include but are not limited to Free Hugs, passing a guy playing guitar in the park, and working on old sheet music at the bindery.
(Lowlights include walking a mile and a half in the heat-index-91-degrees early afternoon. I didn't drop dead. Go me?)

The King's Peace: Interesting--not certain I will pick up the sequel, but I might.
Pale Fire: There are a few stories behind me reading this. One of them is "So I was reading Nabokov on the bus today..."*. One of them is "This morning I thought I wanted to read some SF-y, maybe space opera, novel, and then Nabokov lured me"**, and one of them is "Aaaaa, Nabokov"***.

All of them are true!

Spoilers, reading-protocols, slush )

**Reader/writer (at least in my case)
***Writer/reader (ditto above)
aamcnamara: (Default)
1. There will be a new issue of Ideomancer live sometime today.

2. If you are not following [livejournal.com profile] ideomancer already, you may wish to begin doing so.
aamcnamara: (Default)
The September 2009 issue of Ideomancer is live! (Or rather, in accordance with the theme, undead...) There are stories, also poems. They are awesome.
aamcnamara: (Default)
1. I would totally read Tom Bombadil fanfic.

2. YA Panels at SFF Cons, How They Succeed and How They Fail )
I would be interested to hear opinions on this one. From people of any age, who have any range of interest in YA.

3. I need to start reading a lot more nonfiction.

4. Today is my official Day to Relax and Not See People. And, you know, keep working on the novel. (And slush.)

37759 / 80000
aamcnamara: (Default)
I thought I just got out of the public school system.

But apparently, though you can take me out of the public school system, you can't take the public school system out of me (or I could always blame the Shadow Unit writers...), because when I sat down to figure out the worldbuildy thing today, instead of a nice normal free-typing session, it came out as a school report by my main character.

Who has not and would not write a school report on this particular aspect of the world, and does not attend school. Who, in fact, probably could not write a school report to save her life.

Then again, who am I to complain? I just work here.

On the other hand, it's an issue, because now when I think of that character, I assume she knows everything she wrote in that school report. And following her logic, the natural next step... will bring her to a very easy solution to her main problem.

I guess now I have to find a way to keep her from taking that next step.

In other news, I finished with my first batch of slush from Ideomancer today! Now I feel like a Real Editor.

So I think I've earned a quiet evening in, reading The Shadow Speaker. I started reading it yesterday, and so far it is excellent.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Victory, victory, victory. I wrote a first draft of a short story this past weekend. It's not a terribly good draft, or story, but it is a first draft of a new story, and it's complete, and sometimes that's what counts. I have a few ideas on how I can start to revise it, too. These have partially been put off until I don't have to go to school any more. (That is, until Thursday. That is to say the day after tomorrow. Ack.)

I always thought I would be one of those people who disliked high school without exception, who were relieved and glad and happy to get out. And to a certain extent I am. But there are pieces of this place that I will carry with me forever.

Today in theater class I did a 'senior farewell' piece. I might post it here when I type it up. It's said that anything that goes up on the Internet can never be taken down again, and I kind of like the idea of that piece going out and on into forever.

Also, on a less maudlin and self-centered note, the June issue of Ideomancer is up. I did not help edit this one, but it's awesome anyway. (Okay, maybe a little bit of self-centeredness.) You should go read it.

Note: strawberry popsicles are awesome.
aamcnamara: (Default)
Firstly, Ideomancer has hired me as a Junior Editor. I am super excited, because Ideomancer is awesome.

I would say more here, but I think that this pretty much speaks for itself.

Secondly, I have helped to edit my school's literary and arts magazine and have coded a webpage for it. My goal was to get everything coded and uploaded before my term at Ideomancer starts (which is Monday).

This was harder than it sounds because my school district uses a particularly annoying form of content management which is intended to make it easy as pie for teachers who don't understand computers to put up tiny websites for their classes. This makes it almost impossible to code a decent webpage if you actually know what you're doing with HTML.

However, I have emerged triumphant.

Y'know, this editing thing is actually kinda fun.

May 2017



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