Live on #Spotify, Ep 1 of the #ArtsyRaven! #ChrisGorman, #fantasy #writer, shares his #writing tips and reads from Dawn of Magic!

The first episode of The Artsy Raven podcast is live! It’s available on Spotify and YouTube at the moment. Anchor will be sending out the podcast to other channels as well, but it’s still early so the computers are all talking to each other and negotiating, I presume. Bonus content about the secrets of success from the guests for each episode is available exclusively on Patreon.

We had a tiny party with myself, my husband and my little one because of COVID and we didn’t feel comfortable asking people over to our tiny apartment. The cake was baked by Ginny who is fighting on Food Network’s Great Chocolate Showdown and it is a chocolate cake. She said all sorts of fancy words like “caramel something” and “ganache something,” I will have to ask her for exact terms before I post about the specifics of the cake! But it was yummy, that’s the important part!

Chris Gorman, the first guest on The Artsy Raven, has been recording the Words with Writers podcast for a while now and he was the most prepared guest. I had sent him questions and he actually wrote out almost every word he was going to say and even practiced reading the entire transcript to note his speaking time! Of course when we actually did the recording, we interjected impromptu things and I had to cut him off from answering three questions or else we would go overtime.

It’s a bit frightening how fast the podcast went up after the files were ready for uploading. With the click of a button, it was live on Spotify/YouTube and I could see it in the search engines when I look for it. Editing the podcast took a few hours in comparison and I hope in the future I can produce these episodes faster as I become more experienced. At the moment I’ve booked a lot of “local” guests and the challenge in the future is asking “strangers” to come onto the show. I feel I need to have a few more episodes up before approaching big potatoes to come onto the show.

Forward and onwards!

Writing through COVID-19 and Horror Readings Panel

To celebrate Women in Horror month, I’ve partnered up with the amazing Kit Daven and Elizabeth Hirst to present a panel on how writers are surviving COVID-19 on Feb 27 (free event link here). We’ll also be reading our horror stories.

Admittedly I have a little bit of imposter syndrome because I don’t write in just one genre. I’m greedy and as a speculative fiction writer, my stories may involve horror, fantasy and science fiction all mashed together sometimes. For my horror author pic I used the PITU app which I adore to make myself look eerie. My husband says I laugh like a maniac whenever I use this app, but I can’t help it, it’s hilarious to play with!

For this panel I will be reading a pure horror story – My Girl, which I made a YouTube reading of (link here) earlier this month. It was inspired by a time when I had a miscarriage. In this story, a woman has a chance to giver her dead baby life by stealing the life of another baby’s. If this was possible, would women do this? I have no doubt that some would and some wouldn’t. It depends on a person’s values in the end even if they are in a horror story.

I’m also trying something new at this panel, the King Sumo raffle service. We’ll be giving away some Dark Helix books in a digital raffle and one audience member will walk away with a few books.

See you at the panel!

Write-Rice launches this Fri, Feb 19!

During a meeting in Jan 2021 with a few Asian authors, they lamented over the fact that they haven’t been getting much support from others since they were isolated due to COVID-19 and they lived in places with relatively few Asian people. This inspired Ricepaper Magazine to put together a Write-Rice Asian writers support group. Of course, it’s also open to anyone supportive of diversity, we want to be inclusive as well!

The list of topics we will touch upon includes the different methods of publishing to tips on how to write better. The hosts for 2021 are JF Garrard, Vincent Ternida, Derwin Mak and Cynda Yeasting. For more details and to register for these free sessions, click on this link: ricepapermagazine.ca/writerice

  • Feb 19 – JF Garrard (What are the different options for publishing? Traditional/Self-Publishing/Vanity/Podcasting/Youtubing, etc)
  • March 19 – Vincent Ternida (What is the difference between short stories, novels and poetry?)
  • April 16 – Derwin Mak (What do editors look for? Surviving the slush pile and looking for submission calls for fantasy and science fiction genres)
  • May 14 – Cynda Yeasting (What is an author platform? Discussion about networking and promotion ideas)
  • June 18 – JF Garrard (What is the difference between genres? Scifi/fantasy/horror/specfic/magical realism, etc)
  • July 16 – Vincent Ternida (Writing a good villain and interesting characters)
  • August 20 – Derwin Mak (What happens at genre conventions for science fiction, fantasy or romance? Are they worth the money to learn about writing?)
  • Sept 17 – Cynda Yeasting (Social Media 101. What is the difference between Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Tiktok, etc)
  • Oct 15 – Vincent Ternida (Writing realistic fiction and plotting)
  • Nov 19 – JF Garrard (Nainowrimo Write in session, e-book prizes during “Word Wars” in which people compete to see who can write more words in 10 mins)
  • Dec – no session, survey link will be made available for feedback

See you soon!

Capricon 41 Panels

This year I’m doing a few talks at Capricon 41 (Feb 4-7, 2021), a spec fic convention based in Chicago. I’ve been sent their panelist invites a few times, but this is the first time I’m attending.

To my surprise after receiving the schedule, I saw that I’ve been paired up with a few people I know from Toronto and someone I met at Detcon1 years ago! Looking forward to meeting these friends virtually again!

The con features many panels on writing, science and fandom – so if you’re looking for people to chat passionately with about geek topics, come hang out!

To get a pass to events (free/donation), visit http://capricon.org/

My schedule and panels:

  • Diversity, Inclusion, and Safety in Our Creative Spaces, Willow room – Fri 6:00 PM CT / 7:00 PM EST
  • Publicizing Your Book: Tips, Tricks, and No-Nos, Willow room – Sat 1:00 PM CT / 2:00 PM EST
  • Horror and Dark Fantasy Writing, Ravinia room – Sat 2:00 PM CT / 3:00 PM EST
  • Future of Publishing, Willow room – Sun 1:00 PM CT / 2:00 PM EST

Hope to see you there!

Immersion and Brave New Girls

Immersion, an Asian speculative fiction anthology of fifteen stories which I edited with Allan Cho and William Tham is out! Two years in the making, we’ve used a lot of blood, sweat and tears on this project. The stories range from glimpses into loving relationships (with mermaids, grandparents, etc) to science fiction (using fish slime for fashion) to horror (supernatural beasts and an artist painting in blood). When we started the project we didn’t know what would come in the door. All we knew was we wanted to offer a chance to authors to send in the fantastic and surprise us! Towards the end we also did a cover re-haul and it looks completely different from before!

My latest published short story, The Curse, made it into Brave New Girls: Adventures of Gales and Gizmos. This anthology is the latest release from editors Mary Fan and Paige Daniels, featuring young adult science fiction tales about teen girls with a knack for science, tech, engineering and math… hackers, mechanics, inventors, and more! Proceeds from sales will be donated quarterly to the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund.

 

 

 

 

Futuristic Canada Out!

Futuristic Canada is finally out! I’ve been working on this book for the past two years with Sarah WaterRaven. The project went through a lot of changes, with authors coming and going, lots of hospital visits (family members and ourselves), changes in directions for things…anyhow, the project is over and our book baby is finally here!

Admittedly creating a book about the future of Canada is not the best business decision given our small population and seemingly boring country. However, the stories in here will surprise people with their twists and unforeseeable endings! A superhero librarian, woo hoo! Puritans taking over the future, oh boy! Government sending old people dates for their executions, oh dear.

Sometimes a writer makes a terrible editor too because we spend so much time thinking about how the story will flow and we tend to get bored easily if a story is too predictable. I have to say that the writers in this book managed to make me jealous of their storytelling abilities and lyrical words.

We’ll be giving away Futuristic Canada as an e-book during Canada Day week of July 1-5, 2019. Grab a free copy from Amazon and please leave a review on Goodreads/Amazon if you can. Many thanks and enjoy!

Ingram Spark Vs Amazon KDP Createspace

For publishing purposes, mainly I’ve been using Amazon Createspace (print division) and Amazon KDP (e-books) for distribution. These two were merged recently and not much has changed other than the fact you don’t have to fill in tax info and log in twice. Some past receipts have gone missing, but other than that, the transition has been quite flawless. Creating a title for publishing has been great on Amazon. There is no charge for uploading, you keep what you earn minus fees.  If the print book comes damaged, they will offer to re-print another copy.

Some of my indie publishing friends have gone with both Amazon and Ingram Spark because they want the most out of distribution. Amazon distributes to limited venues and although Amazon captures 60% of the market, the other 40% is still land worth venturing into.

The site Ingram Spark has gone through many changes lately since I visited a few years ago out of curiosity. They provide very detailed manuals on how to publish and upload files. They have a live chat and telephone customer support system during office hours.  However, it costs $25-49 to upload a title and for every revision it will cost $25. There used to be an annual fee of $12 per title, but I believe that has been dropped now. Regardless, I had high hopes for Ingram given they are a giant distributor and supposedly more “professional” for publishing than Amazon.

Last night I tried to set up a title for both print and e-book distribution on Ingram Spark to try out their service. The first snag was the software on the website not allowing me to save the book title. The title “Trump Utopia of Dystopia” has no funny characters, so I was surprised at this happening. After the 10th try of pressing enter, something happened and I was allowed to go to the next page. This hope was false because I would hit other errors on the worldwide rights page and ISBN page. No matter what I did, the page would’t move on. I renamed the title to draft and tried again, only to be stuck on the title error once more. After numerous attempts and running into the same errors over and over, I gave up and went to bed because their customer service hotline was closed.

Waking up, I called them first thing and told them what happened. They asked what browser I was using. I said I tried chrome, explorer and safari. The person on the line advised me to download firefox. So I did and behold, firefox didn’t work either! After calling them back, they sent an email saying tech support will get back to me (unknown about timeline). They mentioned that the issue was trying to use the print/e-book uploading option. Apparently if you upload just print or e-book it’s fine. There is a bug in the code to do both print and e-book at the same time and they it’s been happening after their last software update.

In comparison, Amazon’s software has been fairly flawless for me. Their print and e-books are separate processes with the option to link both onto the product page later. The only time I’ve had a mental breakdown with publishing on Amazon is due to formatting but it’s nothing to do with their software not working.

I am on the fence about using Ingram Spark. If their tech people ever contacts me perhaps I will try again. However, my time is worth something and with tons of things to do, the price of putting up with flawed software might not be worth it in the end for me.

 

 

 

 

Editing speculative fiction and diversity panel – part 2

To reiterate, next week I’m giving a talk to Editors Toronto, the largest branch of Editors Canada (also known as the Editors’ Association of Canada) on a panel entitled “Editing Worlds: Speculative Fiction and the Editorial Process”. Tickets are available here on their website (free for members). Part 1 of post is here.

The Trump: Utopia or Dystopia book slush pile wasn’t that big, about 100 submissions. However, we still had to sort through all stories to pick ones we thought had potential of being great stories after some polishing. Our pay rates were token rates, which meant the editors would have to spend more time with writers as experienced writers would more likely submit to higher paying publishers.

While thinking about how to present the slushpile, I came across Neil Clark’s slushpile bingo blog post. He presents why Clarkesworld, his sci-fi magazine would reject a story.

Given we are speculative fiction publisher and not solely sci-fi, our version of why we would reject a story is slightly different. However, it gives writers an idea of why a story didn’t make it through the slushpile at Dark Helix Press.

Out of 100 stories here are the stats:

  • 100 submissions received (17 females, 83 males, 6 visible minority)
  • published 32 stories (8 females, 24 males, 4 visible minority)
  • percentage published/submission (47% women, 29% men, 67% visible minorities)

As a female and visible minority, with a mandate to publish as many diverse writers as possible, special attention was paid to stories from females or visible minorities.

However, at the end of the day, publishing good quality stories is the basic principle. If the story is horribly written, it doesn’t matter if you are from a diverse group or not, we just don’t have the time to rewrite entire manuscripts.

To make the odds of publishing diverse writers higher, they also have to send in more submissions. Looking at just our Trump book, by far, the highest number of submissions were from male, white writers.  I’m not sure what the stats are with other book projects, but I’m willing to bet they are similar, unless there were exclusion guidelines in place (eg. female only or LGBT only, etc).

Overall my co-editor Jen Frankel and I have been very happy with the authors selected and feel proud of this book even when people look at us in disgust that the main subject is Trump!

Now I have to go rehearse my talking points! Practice makes perfect!

Editing speculative fiction and diversity panel – part 1

Next week I’m giving a talk at the “Editing Worlds: Speculative Fiction and the Editorial Process” panel to Editors Toronto, the largest branch of Editors Canada (also known as the Editors’ Association of Canada). Tickets are available here on their website (free for members). Here is a link to short quirky interviews with all panelists: Jen Frankel, JF Garrard, Dominik Parisien and Drew Hayden Taylor.

Jen Frankel, my co-editor for Trump: Utopia or Dystopia will be joining me in talking about the process we went through on editing this anthology along with the issue of diversity in speculative fiction. We’ll be touching on:

  • the realities of indie publishing, crowdfunding, editing, and world building (Jen Frankel and JF Garrard);
  • the lessons learned from panels on writing and pop culture about the need for diverse stories in literature, film, and media (Jen Frankel and JF Garrard); and
  • strategies for supporting authors of different backgrounds and identities while keeping their voices intact throughout the editing process (Jen Frankel).

For my portion I’ll be using PowerPoint and thought I would share some of my more interesting talking points.

To kick off the diversity issue, I’m going to present the findings from Lee and Low book’s 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey. This independent publisher conducted a survey with 40 publishers and review journals. They sent out over 13K surveys with a response rate of 26%, a bit over 3K responses.

The categories they surveyed included executives, sales, marketing, pr and book reviewers. The results found that nearly 80% of those surveyed identified as white.

Source: https://blog.leeandlow.com/2016/01/26/where-is-the-diversity-in-publishing-the-2015-diversity-baseline-survey-results/

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the majority of the gatekeepers in traditional publishing are white. Going forward, if change is to happen, it’s going to take all of us, white and not-white to make the effort to change if diversity is truly an issue we all care about as a society.  However, it has to be done in a way to prevent “diversity branding” which is backlash with the illusion that things are fair and leads to bias against certain groups. Sometimes diversity programs lead to more negativity and it’s something that we all have to be aware of.

Similarly, I’ve been having a debate with another indie publisher about Dark Helix broadening it’s subject matters from only multicultural subjects. At the end of the day I want to be known as a publisher who provides great stories to readers and be inclusive, regardless of race or gender. To brand my company as solely for diverse authors is excluding other populations. This touches on the diversity branding mentioned earlier.

As a business, by being too niche, it’s very difficult to sell to the general population. In being more inclusive about writers and broadening subject matters, I hope to attract new readers to my publishing house who will then take a chance on the multicultural titles I have to offer as well.

But to publish more diverse writers, they also have to send in more submissions. In Part 2 I’ll talk about the slush pile for the Trump book and stats gathered from the making of this book.

Trump book published on Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Trump: Utopia or Dystopia anthology is now live and available for sale or free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers on Amazon!

I’m not sure if I ever want to publish a book on Christmas again as it is quite stressful. A lot of frantic phone calls, emails and general panic about last minute changes. Although these things are typical of the publishing process with any book, I wasn’t sure if anyone would be working at Amazon on Christmas day to make it happen. It turns out there is a lot of automation I presume and at least one poor person (hopefully making triple salary) processing kindle books out in Amazon land.

Sadly, I’ve discovered that the previewer in Amazon isn’t that great. However, once I download the book or see it in the official previewer software for publishers, the book looks fine. Apparently it’s an ongoing problem that hasn’t been fixed by Amazon yet.

Jen Frankel and I are proud of the Trump book as it is one of the most creative exercises we have ever taken part in! All the writers have been great to work with and I’ve noticed that a few are in other Trump anthologies as well.

Our family also had fun with a Duplo building contest to see which design was deserving of a copy of the Trump book! There were a lot of abstract builds!

IMG_20171225_190116_024

In the new year I need some energy to finish an anthology about Canada and will be working with Sarah Water Raven. She will be the main editor as I will be contributing a story, so I need someone else to tear me to pieces. One becomes blind to their own writing after a while and the only cure are fresh eyes!