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ellen
Posted on Monday, May 31, 2004 - 02:56 pm:   

Since it's getting kind of slow to load in the first topic.

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Joseph Paul Haines
Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - 10:16 am:   

Hey Melissa, no problem. Glad to hear you're going after it again.

And yes, submit to the highest paying markets first. The last thing you want to have happen is to run into Ms. Datlow at a convention and have her say, "I read your story over at "x" magazine. You know, I would've given you twenty cents a word for that . . ."

True story, by the way, or at least I've heard . . .

About workshops, I went to Clarion West in 1995 and it did me equal parts harm and good. I learned a ton about writing while I was there. I met some great people and some great writers and then didn't write a thing for five years after it was over. It can be very intimidating to be in the presence of that much talent.

The odds aren't good. You can't get around that fact. You are trying to break into an international profession. You're not just trying to be the best writer in your town, or the best writer in your state. You're competing with the best in the world for sales.

But, if you care enough and you devote yourself to getting better, there's nothing to stop you from breaking through. The trick is to study the best. Look at what they are doing. Find out why it works. Understand it. Then, apply it to your own writing.

I finally lifted my shattered confidence from the floor and after another workshop started to submit again. I write a minimum of one new story every week. I just wrote two over the three day weekend. As of right now, I have around twenty short stories shopping around to various markets, including one to Ms. Datlow.

I made my first semi-pro sale in January of this year and have made eight more sales since. The trick is to keep getting better. You never stop learning in this business.

If you can stick with it, learn, and submit, you can sell.

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Joseph Paul Haines
Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - 12:43 pm:   

Ms. Datlow,

I've noticed the response times at SciFiction dropping through the floor over the last couple of months. (Most of this is reported through my writer's group of through the Black Hole.)

Is there something new going on that's turning around the stories quicker or is it just a fortunate coincidence?

Curious minds, and all that.

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Ellen
Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - 01:01 pm:   

If it's slush stories that means that Kelly and Gavin are moving faster.

My non-slush reading has slowed down although, I'm trying to catch up now. I'm currently up to stories dated March 21st.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - 02:10 pm:   

I hadn't given up on writing, but that story in particular has been floating in Limbo.

I think I'll go follow your advice with my latest. ;)
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Jason D. Wittman
Posted on Tuesday, June 01, 2004 - 11:26 pm:   

Hi Ellen,

Jason Wittman again. At WisCon last weekend there was a panel called "What is happening with Clarion?" that dicussed the financial problems that have recently befallen Clarion East (of which I'm sure you're aware). One person suggested publishing an anthology of stories by past Clarionites, with the proceeds going toward future Clarions. Someone else shot this down, saying that anthologies weren't very cost effective as a means of scaring up funds. However, since you have published several antholgies yourself, I wondered if you had anything to say about this.

Take care,

Jason
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, June 02, 2004 - 08:14 am:   

Hi Jason,
Well, anthologies don't make much money and they're hard work, so I suspect the nay-sayers are correct. I think a new Clarion anthology is a super idea but not to fund it.
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Luke Hannafin
Posted on Monday, June 07, 2004 - 09:16 am:   

Someone should run the problem by Paul Allen. Seems like he would be able to help out.

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ellen
Posted on Monday, June 07, 2004 - 10:40 am:   

I'm not sure who is in charge of the fund raising effort but that's a good idea, Luke.
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Tempest
Posted on Monday, June 07, 2004 - 09:09 pm:   

Clarion West is doing a semi-fundraising thing. Details here: http://clarionwest.org/website/cat_special_events.html

My goal is to raise $200 :-)

I'm trying to get Clarion East people to get involved and raise money as well.
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Joseph Paul Haines
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2004 - 07:52 am:   

Wow, Tempest. Thanks for passing that along. Okay, lemme see now. Who can I hit up for donations? Hmm . . .
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Matthew
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2004 - 03:42 pm:   

Hey Ellen, what's the average day at work like for you as an editor?
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - 08:09 am:   

Hi Matthew,
It's different from when I was at OMNI, working in an office. I work from home so my schedule is utterly erratic. Usually, I get up around 9:30 -10am and immediately turn on the laptop to check email. For a couple of hours I go through email messages and check BBs, eating brunch in between. Then sometimes I work for a few hours (reading, always reading or editing) or handle fires from work. Go out, do errands, pick up my mail from the po box. I don't usually get down to the heavy duty focused work around the early evening and work until 1:30 am.

If I have a deadline I work steadily until I finish it--eg I got the first pass of YBFH#17 Thursday evening. It was the summary of the year and my honorable mentions --not the stories-- and started looking at them Friday but had the Stokers Friday evening and all day Saturday, so Sunday, Monday and yesterday I finished going through them. Everything else had to wait. This was particularly painstaking because it's always a rush job and running late. The copy edit is not shown to us so I have to check what the copy edit did while going over the proofs at the same time.

Some days I'll grab a few collections to find a couple of classics for the month. It may sound like fun but I'm looking for a particular type of story--I have to like it and it has to be over 30 years old and not dated.

There's more but that's all I have time for now :-)
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Matthew
Posted on Friday, June 11, 2004 - 11:37 am:   

Thank you
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kundor
Posted on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - 12:41 pm:   

Hey Ellen,
I was wondering how you rate great ideas vs. great writing in stories, since science fiction is all about amazing ideas. That is, if you have one story that has a truly novel idea, but with writing that's no great shakes; and another story that has a plot that grabs you by the throat and rushes you to an exhilirating conclusion, 3-d growing characters, vivid descriptions, but no real novelty or profound message, which would you prefer?

Obviously, the answer is "a story with great writing AND a great idea." ;-) But I was wondering if a really novel notion would make up somewhat for prose that's merely fair.

thanks.
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - 02:26 pm:   

No. For me it won't because it's how the great idea is executed that is important and that will draw me in as a reader.
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chance
Posted on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - 02:33 pm:   

Hi Kundor -

I am curious why you think you can't bring the writing level up on the story with the great idea.
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kundor
Posted on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - 04:07 pm:   

Well, I'm in the process of writing my first "real" story (that I'm planning to submit, as opposed to stories for school or for fun.) I think that the concept it's exploring is one that hasn't been done yet--obviously I haven't read even a small percentage of all the SF out there, so I'm hoping it's a new one, anyway.

However, my writing isn't stellar -- I mean, my parents and english teachers liked it, but that doesn't count for much. ;-) It's probably not pro-quality; my dialogue's somewhat stilted.

Plus, in this particular story, the first-person narrator is a twelve-year-old, who tends to speak in run-on sentences. So there's bad phrasing on top of the rest. I try to get Max to pause more, but he's a stubborn twerp.
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chance
Posted on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - 06:52 pm:   

have you tried a workshop? I belong to the online writing workshop for SFF (http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/)

I know I would have never sold a story or attended Clarion without it.

Others have had good success with Critters (http://www.critters.org/)
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ET
Posted on Thursday, June 17, 2004 - 01:07 am:   

Kundor, I agree with Chance. Workshops can be very helpful for both fixing specific stories and learning how to find problems in stories in general (which you learn by critiquing other stories).

I think that if you believe that you didn't do the best possible work with this story (even if it's simply because you can't yet), then you shouldn't submit it immediately when you finish it. Putting stories aside is a time honoured tradition. :-) You can always go back to it later. You will probably have learned some more by that time, and should be able to revise it, but even without that, it always helps putting the story out of your mind for a bit and then looking at it with fresh eyes. In the mean time, just start another story.
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kundor
Posted on Thursday, June 17, 2004 - 11:29 am:   

Thanks for your advice, chance and ET.

I'll look into those workshops. Of course, I need to finish the story first
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Typhus
Posted on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 09:08 pm:   

Ellen,
Speaking of editing, I've got a nuts and bolts kind of question. How do editors deal with changes in point of view? I'm editing a story and some have mentioned my changes in POV are a sure story killer. So, what is your feeling on this type of writing for fledgling (trying to get their first personalized rejection) type writers? This is not for a novel, just a short story. Thanks in advance,
Typhus
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EDatlow
Posted on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - 11:47 am:   

Typhus, it completely depends on the reason for the pov change. If it's intentional and in different sections of the story, that can work fine. It's more when pov changes in the middle of a para or sentence for no apparent reason that it's usually a mistake.
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J.P.
Posted on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 10:37 am:   

So, Ellen, if we have a story at your place and it has been a month or so, could we hope it has made it to your pile and sit back and relax awhile about it? (I know, we shouldn't be thinking about a story once it has grown up and left home, but a parent always cares.)
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EDatlow
Posted on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 10:52 am:   

J.P. I'm not sure I understand the question.

If you want to confirm that a mss has reached us you should include a sas postcard so we can confirm receipt.

If you're asking whether a story out for a month hasn't yet been responded to that depends. My reader only picks up the mss once a month--the third Wednesday (the night Gavin Grant and I curate the KGB readings). So...if the submission is slush and comes in after that third Wed, it would sit here for almost a month before the reader even picked it up--however Kelly and Gavin (who both read it) are fast.

And I'm up to May 10th in my reading.

So that should cover all the possibilities of what you may be asking :-)
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J.P.
Posted on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 11:00 am:   

Thank you. All bases covered.
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Liam Rands
Posted on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 06:00 pm:   

Hi Ellen,

Sorry if this has been asked and answered previously.

I was just curious to know what happens to all the disposable manuscripts that you receive and other Editors receive.

It must add up over time. Do you have a service that takes them away? What about confidentiality? Do you know how they are destroyed. I just have visions of workmen/women pouring over the discarded manuscripts on the way to the dump...

Cheers,
Liam
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EDatlow
Posted on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 06:06 pm:   

Some go into recycling and others I re-use. So a lot of my files have pieces of rejected (and sometimes accepted) mss attached to them.

I work from home so whatever I recycle goes into my building's recycling bin. The city takes it away once a week. Where it goes no one knows. The whole idea of recycling I believe is that the paper is re-made into pulp products but if someone else knows the details please let us know. Somehow I doubt that anyone is going to be poring over scattered, mixed up pieces of mss.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 06:21 pm:   

I hadn't thought of that before, but they do have contact info. on them.
There could be a story in that somewhere...
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chance
Posted on Friday, July 16, 2004 - 01:31 pm:   

Hi Ellen,

I just went over to the new sci fiction bulletin board on the scifi.com site and it wouldn't let me post anything.

Are they not going to allow anonymous posting over there?
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EDatlow
Posted on Friday, July 16, 2004 - 01:42 pm:   

You have to register first.
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EDatlow
Posted on Friday, July 16, 2004 - 02:08 pm:   

Chance, I believe you can post anonymously but you also have to register at least once. If you were registered at our old BB use the same login name and password.
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Jer
Posted on Friday, July 16, 2004 - 03:03 pm:   

Ellen,

Just wondering if you remember an author named Pat Cadigan.

I picked up a copy of Mindplayers the other day, and read it and thought it was great. I flipped back to the acknowledgments, and it felt neat to see a name I recognized (i.e., yours).

Are the rest of her works as good?
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EDatlow
Posted on Friday, July 16, 2004 - 03:43 pm:   

Jer,
Pat is on this BB in HER own topic although she hasn't been keeping up lately. She's a good friend of mine. Her novels SYNNERS and FOOLS are very good. She won the Clarke award for one of them--I think SYNNERS.I think she's a fantastic story teller and you can't go wrong with any of her collections.

She's moved to London and is writing. Her collaboration with her husband CHris Fowler (not the horror writer C Fowler) is in our archives and she also did a solo story that's in our archives. Her "Little Latin Larry..." is brilliant and it's on the event Horizon website (which IS supposed to be going back up eventually).
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ET
Posted on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 10:30 pm:   

Ellen, I'm wondering if there's any editor in this field who doesn't work at home. I know that Gordon works from his home office, and Stanley and Gardner used to pick slush at the office now and then but read it at home (or on the train). Don't know about Sheila now or Shawna at RoF. Is there an editor who actually sits at a desk in an office somewhere (except in my fiction, where that is the norm)?
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EDatlow
Posted on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 11:02 pm:   

ET,
I used to at OMNI.
Gardner chose to edit from home because he didn't want to commute from Philadelphia to NYC every day. Same, I think for Stan Schmidt although I don't know where he lives.

Gordon owns the magazine but I assume he has an office within his house that he works from.

Sheila works from the office (maybe she works at home one day a week; I don't know).

Most book editors work in offices.
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David Eland
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 07:37 am:   

Ellen,

I'm new to the SCIFICTION webzine. It looks like there are lots of well known writers. That's great for me as a reader but intimidating for me as an author. What percentage of your stories are by previously unpublished authors?

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David Eland
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 10:10 am:   

Ellen,

I guess I can answer part of my own question above. I just read "The Anatomist's Apprentice" by Matthew Claxton and it is wonderful. His bio said this is his first published story so you do publish first timers. Wow, talk about starting with a bang. I hope you have another story by him "on the shelf" because I want more!

Still curious what percentage of SCIFICTION stories have been by newcommers.

-D
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EDatlow
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 01:43 pm:   

David,
It depends what you mean by "newcomers." I rarely publish first stories. Probably two in the past year and that is extremely unusual. Catherine Morrison's "Elvis in the Attic" is the other. I published Jason D. Wittman's professional sale in 2003.

Over the years I've published "early" works by writers who have become well known. Dan Simmons, Ted Chiang's first, William Gibson's first pro sale, Kelly Eskridge, and a host of others.

The thing new writers need to understand is that editors aren't biased against new writers. It's just that generally the work isn't as polished. And sometimes it is.
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E. N. Wilson
Posted on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 08:26 am:   

I'm new here and I didn't realize that the first Ask the Editor thread was closed. Sorry for the double post.

Anyway...

Hi Ellen,

I have a novel that includes quite a few e-mails, web pages, usenet posts, etc.

When I wrote it, I used a different font for all of the above. When I reformatted in MS form (using a single font), my critique group became confused when I switched from the narrative voice to one of the above.

For the sake of clarity, I don't see any alternative for submission to an editor except by using two different fonts. How damning is this going to be? If it completely ruins the chances of being accepted, do you have a suggestion?
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EDatlow
Posted on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 08:37 am:   

No problem. E.N. it sounds as if the way you're talling the story, you have to submit in different fonts. It wouldn't be a problem with any editor, as far as I know.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 10:58 am:   

Ellen,

Someone in the bigger 'Ask the Editor' thread had asked you about collaborations, and you had mentioned that one person signed the contract and split the check, etc. So, on the manuscript and cover letter, you would just need one writer's contact information? That might be a no-brainer, but I just thought I'd make sure. :-)

Thanks,

Mahesh
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EDatlow
Posted on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 05:28 pm:   

Mahesh,
You can put both, but make sure you make it's clear who is the contact for contracts/editing, etc.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 06:17 pm:   

Okay, I'll make sure to do that. Thanks, Ellen. :-)
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Typhus
Posted on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 05:39 pm:   

Ellen,
So much good information here, I love it. It looks like the manuscripts are picked up the third Wednesday of every month from the posts above. I know your readers are fast (rapid rejection returns are very nice). I'm wondering if they make it through the whole slush pile before the next month's submissions are picked up? Thanks.
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EDatlow
Posted on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 08:44 pm:   

Typhus,
Yes, that's how it works. They always finish by the next month but....if they pass on something to me then of course, it sits awhile longer. I've had queres about mss, forwarded them to my readers, then lo and behold, find them in the (very small) pile they've left for me. :-)
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 01:10 pm:   

Hi Ellen,

May I ask for your advice? I just sold my second story (which I'm very excited about) but it's to the same magazine as my first sale. The standard "My work has appeared in The First Line" makes it sound like there's just one credit. Granted, it's a small press and probably I am fretting about something silly, but I would like editors to know that I've actually managed to sell two things. I was thinking about something like, "My work appears in two issues of..." or "My work appears in the 2004 Spring and Fall issues..." or should I just not worry about it?

Many thanks for all the helpful advice you offer.
Mary
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 02:23 pm:   

MaryRobinette, congratulations! I'll keep an eye out for your TFL story this issue. What was the last one called?
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 02:44 pm:   

Thanks, Melissa! The last one was called "Just Right."
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EDatlow
Posted on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 03:05 pm:   

Mary,
"My work appears in the 2004 Spring and Fall issues..." sounds perfect! Congratulations.
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 10:25 pm:   

Thanks! I'm very excited.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 02:33 pm:   

Hey, MaryRobinette-looks like we'll be sharing a TOC this time!

I'm still looking for my copy of the issue with "Just Right" in it.
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 04:11 pm:   

Congratulations! I look forward to reading your story. I don't know about you, but I had a blast writing this one.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 04:59 pm:   

Thanks. I found the copy. You got OCD down right.
I had no idea where I was going with this line, but I guess it turned out all right.
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 06:30 pm:   

Funny. I just went to find you, too. I remember crying in "Worlds Apart" when Ellen gave Mr. Martin the flowers.

Thank heavens they're allowing more words now, because I don't think I could pull off that much emotion in such a tiny space.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Friday, August 13, 2004 - 07:08 pm:   

Wow-you just made my day! Not that I usually like to make people cry, but writing's different.

It's funny, but I'm having a hard time breaking my old habits. When I first started, TFL's limit was 600 words. I got so used to cutting my stories in half that my rejections from them so far this year have said things like "Nice story, but it feels like it should be larger."
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Angel
Posted on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 03:36 am:   

Question for Ellen Datlow: Do you know of any horror or sf (or a mix of the two) novels or short story collections that should rightfully be considered classics but which are often overlooked? I am always searching for these works on many 'best of' lists in the hope of finding them. Sometimes I am lucky, and just recently I came across The Dark Domain, by Stefan Grabinski.

I hope you have maybe a few (or many if you have the time) recommendations for me (and for others who read this).

Thanks in advance.
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chance
Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 05:57 pm:   

I'm sure this is painfully obvious, but previously the SCI FICTION guidelines said you were overstocked on novellas, now it says you accept works up to 17,500 words.

Does this mean although you are still publishing novellas, you are not interested in receiving unsolicited ones? (alternatively, you are publishing your inventory of novellas, but you won't be publishing future ones?)

(the implied question being if you are still publishing some novellas, can I query you?)

thanks for clarification on this.

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EDatlow
Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2004 - 09:25 pm:   

The guidelines have not changed recently. Novellas are over 17,500 words which means I don't encourage slush novellas. I will certainly read novellas by writers I've published before. I am no longer overstocked on novellas but since I can only publish four a year at the most I'm very very picky.
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chance
Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 06:52 am:   

Thanks!
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StephenB
Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 03:30 pm:   

Ellen, I'm wondering, if you don't mind me asking. How do you get the money to be spec-fictions highest paying market, being a "free" magazine? Is it all payed for by the T.V network, Sci-fi Channel? Do you have a certain monthly budget? I think the site is great, arguably attracting the best fiction in the field. It just seems suprising that a television network would pay for something that they don't directly profit off, or has widespread appeal, but still it's pretty cool.
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EDatlow
Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 07:42 pm:   

This is basically how I answered the question when it was asked on the F&AF BB a few months back--although now we are owned by NBC--I've updated the response slightly:

The whole site is funded by Universal (which is about to become NBC-Universal or some such). Most of the site is used to support the SCI FI Channel offerings--to boost ratings, which is does. Originally, the idea was to be an all purpose site--to provide lots of original material and be the science fiction site that everyone would go to.

Only the fiction, the event calendar, and SF Weekly and SF Wire provide original material any more.

Hopefully, we'll be around awhile--we don't provide money but we do provide prestige for a relatively small outlay of bucks. So far it's over four years and counting.
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StephenB
Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 08:27 pm:   

Not NBC, say it ain't so. At least you still have complete control on the content, so I guess it doesn't matter where the money comes from.... I can't complain.
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Tribeless
Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 12:58 pm:   

In a round about way, you just did :-)
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ellen
Posted on Monday, August 30, 2004 - 01:21 pm:   

No different from being owned by Universal-Vivendi. Maybe more support and money though ;-)
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 11:16 am:   

I'm probably about to ask a stupid and naive question, but has it occurred to the powers that be at Scifi Channel (or the leash holders of said channel) that maybe they should be converting the stories seen on Scifiction to a show based format?

Surely even the worst story on Scifiction (which has good stuff, btw, I just hate reading fiction off a screen or I'd comment more) is better than the fifth rate tripe we see offered up on shows like The Outer Limits and Star Trek's latest incarnations.

Or maybe, as we sorta discussed at Asimov's, indy film makers could take some of the stories and convert them to a video format.

Just wondering.

Second question, about Omni. There were two stories I recall reading back when I was a teenager, but can't remember the titles.

The first is about a teenager who encounters an alien that gets stoned on oregano, which I thought was pretty cool.

The second was about the first Soviet Cosmonaut to go to Mars and ends up stranded on Mir or some such space station (basically he has decayed too much to endure one gee).

Thanks.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Tribeless
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 01:24 pm:   

Great suggestion Steven!

I'm a Trekkie from way back, but the latest spin off, 'Enterprise', the concept of which had such potential, has such awful plots and writing that I've completely given up watching.

There's nothing clever anymore and the whole series has been slowed down to a second rate soap opera.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 03:25 pm:   

It is a geek porno in disguise as a space opera, Tribeless. Porno isn't a bad thing and I do enjoy looking at a fine female form, but I don't see why Trek has this bodyglove fetish. It was interesting at first with Seven of Nine, but now it is grating.

I can't figure out why the MAPOs are on board. It is almost like someone said, "Remember Ensign Redshirt? We'll, maybe if we had a whole squad of them. . . "

But I digress and I'm taking up threadjack space on Ellen's thread. :-)

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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EDatlow
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 04:15 pm:   

I have no control over what the SCIFI Channel does and doesn't make. They've got "first look" at dozens of very filmable stories--if they aren't interested (and they don't appear to be) there's really nothing I can do about it. I used to send each week's stories to someone who worked with "on air" and was assigned to read them. But he's long gone and no one replaced him.

Anyway, I can't think of waht the first story you mention might be but the second is, I believe "Red Star, Winter Orbit" by Bruce Sterling and William Gibson.
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Robert Burke Richardson
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 05:24 pm:   

^Maybe more than any other prose mag, I find the stories on SCIFICTION unfilmable. This, to me, is a good thing. The characters in SCIFICTION stories have such rich inner lives, you would lose an awful lot transitioning to another medium (look at any of Ilsa Bick's stories for an example of what I mean). Speaking very broadly, SCIFICTION stories do what written SF does best, and I fear the stories would be unrecognizably altered if made into features.

There are acceptions, of course. The recent "Tang Dynasty" story is certainly filmable, but would require an enormous budget. Same with a lot of the Waldrop classics.

One thing I will continue to fantasize about, however, is a Coen Brothers adaptation of Ray's "The Wages of Syntax." That story could make such a beautiful low budget film...

All this just my opinion, of course -- I'd love to be proven wrong with a brilliant 'Leviathan' weekly series :-)
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EDatlow
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 05:38 pm:   

Somehow I can't see "Leviathan" being made into a weekly series--you'd have to change the ending for one thing (not that it hasn't been done--even from stories to novels).

In Dan Simmons's novelette "Carrion Comfort" certain characters die. He resurrected thenm back for the novel version--he claimed because I told him he couldn't do a sequel...
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 06:03 pm:   

I don't know about Scifiction stories per se, but it does seem to me that there are filmable, near future stories out there. Any of Maureen McHugh's near future stories would be feasible. She has done a fair amount of work that revolves around Alzheimer's and possible cure/coping issues. Nancy Kress has some as well, to include Beggars in Spain both in novel and short format, as well as Computer Virus.

Doesn't matter, I suppose. The Scifi Channel seems bounded and determined straight to video store type material on the air. Then again, they have produced Dune, Children of Dune, Riverworld and are getting around to some of LeGuin's work as films so I suppose it isn't all bad.

It is just that some of the filler that gets put on there is just that, filler.

Then again, I also suppose I'm griping not only to the wrong person, but someone who might feel as I do.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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H. Wolf
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:16 am:   

Ellen, do you have any concrete plans for a new anthology with all orginal fiction? Just like anthologies such as your 'The Dark' or 'Little Deaths'.

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H. Wolf
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 11:17 am:   

I meant to say original, of course.
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H.Sumlin
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 12:42 pm:   

Hey, it's three hundred pounds of heavenly joy!
Howdy, Smokestack Lightning.
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EDatlow
Posted on Wednesday, September 01, 2004 - 02:13 pm:   

H. Wolf,
I'm hoping to but nothing's definite yet--when it happens I'll certainly announce it.
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H. Wolf
Posted on Thursday, September 02, 2004 - 10:27 am:   

Thank you for your time and best of luck with any new projects.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Tuesday, September 07, 2004 - 02:25 pm:   

Maryrobinette, I got my copies of TFL today, and your story's the first in the issue.

I haven't started reading it yet, because I'm still recovering from Post-Con disorientation. ;)
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SuziB
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 09:14 pm:   

Instead of 'Ask the Editor', I guess this might better fall under the topic 'Tell the Editor': Ms. Datlow, you might want to read what's going on at the F&SF Board under the thread 'An Open Letter to Professional SF Writers'.
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datlow
Posted on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 09:58 pm:   

I've been reading and commenting assiduously ;-)
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Luke
Posted on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 11:57 am:   

Ellen,

I asked a similar question in Gordon's forum: do you find that you do a lot of journaling and note taking on stories, do you rely on your memory, or do you allow them to be more ephemeral things?

I find, as I grow older and as I read more and more stories, they fade in my mind sooner, and it takes more and more to refresh my thoughts on them.

I was wondering if you have any thoughts on this.

Luke
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 07:13 am:   

Not for SCIFICTION. I read the stories at least twice before they're published and usually more. If there are any revisions before I buy them I read them. Also, when I buy a story for the site, I immediately write a short summary--which I've done since working at OMNI. So I can still look up old OMNI stories (the ones I published) to check what they were about if I don't remember. Many of the stories I've published though, I'll always remember.
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Luke
Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 07:32 am:   

Thanks, Ellen. I'll always remember many of them as well; I can still see those red lights from "Dogfight." which I read at a bus stop in 1985
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Beth
Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2004 - 11:43 am:   

Hi Ellen,

I hope you don't mind, but I have a question about online workshops that I'd like to ask you and all the editors who read your forum.

Here is the situation: I had always heard that if an online workshop was password-protected, most editors would not consider a story which appeared in there as published. However if the workshop was open to the public, then the writer would use up their first rights by posting, even if they later revised the story.

But recently, another writer told me that wasn't true. She said editors would consider such stories as works-in-progress, and first rights would still be available, as long as they revised the story.

So my question is -- am I nuts? Er, no. Don't answer that one. What I mean to say is, have things changed? Or maybe I've been reading the wrong sources?

(And if other editors would care to reply, I'd be delighted.)

Sincerely,
Confused in Connecticut


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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2004 - 03:09 pm:   

If a story is on an an online workshop open to anyone, I would consider that published. Other editors may not feel that way.
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Tribeless
Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2004 - 08:33 pm:   

ou ah.

What about a workshop like Zoetrope's Virtual Studio, where you have to be a member to post, and only members, after meeting the rules of the workshop, can read the stories in order to review them?

A bit of a can of worms otherwise?

(Hey, perhaps this is why none of my stories have been 'published'. I was thinking it was just because they were no good).
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Beth
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2004 - 04:30 am:   

Thank you, Ellen. Your answer is the one I'd always heard, but I wanted to ask you and other editors directly, just to make sure. This question is part of an ongoing discussion on a writer's board, and I didn't want to lead anyone there astray (especially the newbies).

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2004 - 05:29 pm:   

Tribeless, that sounds ok.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2004 - 05:31 pm:   

I think it depends on how many people see the story before it's sent out. If there are more than 20 or so ( the largest workshop size that works) then I'd hesitate to consider such a story. It really does depend.
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Beth
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 07:12 am:   

So how do the large online workshop fit into this picture? Both Critters and OWW use passwords, but they also have hundreds if not thousands of members. Not every member reads every story, and most stories get fewer than twenty critiques, but there's still the potential that more than twenty people will read a story.





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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 08:27 am:   

I really don't know. I'm not sure it's come up. When writers send me stories they usually don't mention where it's been critiqued. If a story only gets 20 critiques I guess it would imply only those 20 people read it.
It's a slippery slope.
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 11:32 am:   

Ellen,

I read the previous thread about word count, and now I'm really confused. You mentioned that the proper way to count words is 6-8 per line, times the number of lines. But wouldn't that change depending on whether a manuscript is in Courier or Times? How do I know whether to use 6 or 8 as my multiplier?

I've seen some advice from Cory Doctorow to multiply 250 by the number of pages in the manuscript (and then round to the nearest hundred). Will this give similar results?

Somehow, it seems I escaped Clarion West without a clear understanding of wordcount. Grrr. This means that my currently-circulating manuscripts may have the wrong wordcount. What is my responsibility as a writer here? Do I need to notify these editors of the correct wordcount (if so, how)? Or should I mention it if they show interest in the story? Going forward, it's easy enough to count correctly, but I'm wondering what to do about the ones I've sent out.

Thanks.

--Vy
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 12:06 pm:   

Vy,
I just count the average number of words per line (if the typeface is different the number of words per line would be different).

250 words per page is often inaccurate--it completely depends on your typeface and how many lines you type per page. Since you're the one typing you should be able to figure it out.
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 12:22 pm:   

All right, I can do it that way. I was just confused by the 6-8 part.

What should I do about the manuscripts that are already in circulation? I recalculated a few, and none are off by more than 200 words either direction. Should I even worry about this, or just do it right from this point forward?

--Vy
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StephenB
Posted on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 12:50 pm:   

So does that mean you shouldn't use word's word count? That would mean that I could send a story to a market that I figured it was too long for -- at least -- going by the 8 words a line count. But I don't want to be deceptive to the editor.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 06:46 pm:   

Vy and Stephen,
Don't worry about it too much.
I'm not at all sure how accurate word's counter is but a lot of my writers use it. For all I know it's more accurate than my usual, lousy counting. :-)

If you're way off, I'm sure someone will let you know.
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 04:26 pm:   

Ellen,

Does it matter what kind of SASE and mailer we use at all?

I was reading elsewhere that some editors prefer self-stick envelopes, and I was wondering if you had a preference.

--Vy
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - 10:26 pm:   

The only envelopes I don't like are the plasticky kind that are impossible to open except with a razor. They're white and letter openers don't work on them.
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Ed Itter
Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 02:23 pm:   

Yes, Vylar, we do prefer self-adhesive envelopes--as it prevents coming in contact any writer's rabies-infected saliva. And thanks for asking!
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2005 - 09:55 pm:   

Rabies-infected saliva? Hardly. I use only the finest quality germs available. My preference is for designer virii that target editorial brains, causing feelings of rapture and a tendency towards impulse purchases of stories.

:-)

--Vy
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 09:22 pm:   

Ellen,

I want to learn more about what it's like to be a sf/f editor. There's tons of books on "how to write" --are there similar books about how to edit? Can you recommend anything?

I have no plans to become a fiction editor (although you never know). I'm just curious about the basics. Books, good web sites--whatever resources you think are interesting.

Thanks.

--Vy
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Tracy Taylor
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 08:13 am:   

Ellen,

I think I may have made a mistake when submitting my latest story to you. I was using the USPS "Click and Ship" service for the first time and I am not sure if I indicated that no signature is required upon receipt. I did put stickers on the outside of the envelope to that effect, but I don't know how effective they will be. If the post office does ask for a signature, will the package be rejected?

Thanks for your help.

Tracy Taylor
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Tracy Taylor
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 08:26 am:   

Ellen,

In general, do you ever "hire" volunteers to help you with things like first readings, etc? If so, can you please tell me how I would go about applying for a such a position? I have just moved to New Jersey with my husband and because of the type of visa I am on, I cannot work or go to school, yet I am wanting to learn more about the publishing industry and become a better writer. I was thinking that volunteering could help me in this regard and what better magazine to start with than one of the best.

Thank you again.

Sincerely,
Tracy Taylor
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 02:39 pm:   

Vy, I don't believe editing can be taught by book. You really have to do it on the job. However...in several of my interviews I've discussed the process of what an editor actually does. If you do a search for "editing" or "edit" in some of the interviews with me (on my website...www.datlow.com) you'll probably find enough info to help you get an idea of what it's all about.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 02:41 pm:   

Tracy,
Since all mss go to my post box, which is a storefront, it shouldn't be a problem. They sign for mss and other packages that need it.

Also, I pay a reader to read the slush. I don't have room to have an intern, which is what you're actually suggesting, as I work out of my apt, which isn't very large. There are other magazines that might need some help. F&SF is out there--maybe Gordon and John could use some help.
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 05:23 pm:   

I particularly liked the interview with Jack Womack. All the talk of lead pipes makes me wonder if he's familiar with the Scorched Earth Party.

Thanks! Very interesting reading. It's answering some of my questions.

--Vy
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 06:15 pm:   

Glad they've helped a bit :-)
I also talk about these things at con panels (when appropriate) and at kaffee klatsches at cons.
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SDR
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 06:32 pm:   

Since we're vaguely on the subject of the slush pile here (g), can you let us know about where you're at in your non-slush pile? :-)
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 10:13 pm:   

Oh sure. I have two stories I've been holding from mid-November (with the permission of the submittors, as I need to give them another read) but I have one story from November 30th and then next up I start December.
I haven't been reading the past couple of days because I've been busy editing the Feb 23rd story and finishing choosing stories for YBFH 18...but should be getting back on track over the next few days.
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 01:19 pm:   

I've read most of the interviews, and I still have a few questions about editing.

1. You've said that you just buy stories you like, and hope the readers like them too. How do you handle your personal preferences when it comes to stories? Do you think your tastes are very broad and open, so that rarely happens? Or do you think that some types of stories might be very good but just not the sort of thing you like?

2. What factors are considered for anthology awards, such as the World Fantasy Award? The quality of stories, the order they appear in...?

3. How many hours can you read before you need a break? How many hours total in a day do you spend reading (manuscripts, published stories, whatever)?
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 04:10 pm:   

I think my tastes are pretty broad. If I think a story is really really good but still not for me, I'll let the submittor know that. And possibly suggest another market.

I've been a World Fantasy judge and for an anthology it's the quality of the stories that comprise the anthology. At least it was in the year I judged. However, with judged awards, there's usually some give and take with the other judges --for a few categories we all agreed on a winner and that was that. A few categories we had differences of opinion and had to compromise.

I read on and off whenever I'm home. Or edit. I'll read a few stories at a time and take a break.
How much time I take to read depends on how many hours I'm home. And there's always too much to distract me so it's important for me to focus and take breaks. Last week there was an article in the NY Times about this subject of how people who are online all the time juggle the various things they work on.
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 01:50 pm:   

Ellen,

I received a very nice rejection letter for a story I sent to a themed anthology. The letter basically said, "We really liked your story but it didn't fit with the others."

Can you explain to me more about how the stories are chosen for anthologies? Does an editor usually keep an open mind until the stories come in, then start deciding what the book will "really" be like? Do editors have categories in their head that they're looking to fill--different story types within the theme's boundaries? Or is the process different every time, so there's no real answer to this question?

(I'm not asking you to interpret the letter I received; just trying to understand better how selections are made.)
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 02:06 pm:   

It's usually easier to get into an anthology at the beginning of the process than the end as the "needs" of the editor narrow as the anthology begins to form--whether themed or not. At a certain point, the editor might realize she has too many stories from the first person point of view, or too many stories about children, or too many longer stories.

I'm sure some editors have an idea of what kinds of stories they want--how strict those "categories" are, I don't know. For myself, I start off very open and as room runs out I look for stories different from those I've already bought.

Hope that helps.
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 - 02:18 pm:   

That does help. Thank you!
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 04:42 pm:   

If a story includes several letters, do you have a preference on formatting? I'm uncertain whether I should indent the whole thing, underline it, or put it in quotes, like:
"Dear Van,
"I miss you.
"Love Grandma"

Any hints about the way you'd prefer to see that would be lovely. My own preference is for indenting it, but I'm afraid that will throw the wordcount off.
Thanks!
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 06:01 pm:   

I'm not really sure off-hand. I can't think of a story I can check. Throwing off the word count is the least of problems though. The important factor is making the ms as easy as possible (visually) to read.

Anyone here have suggestions as to how they do it?
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Byron Bailey
Posted on Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 06:28 pm:   

While you're at it, I could use any advice on how to make a story consisting of one letter still look like a letter but still comform to something resembling standard manuscript preparation. The trouble is that most letters I've seen are single spaced and when you double space them, they don't look like letters on the manuscript.

I've thought about having everything double spaced (which seems to be necessary) but have no indention and have a line break (#) between the paragraphs. It still doesn't look like a letter but it should look like a letter once the copyeditor gets a hold of it. Still, all those line breaks look a bit odd and somehow unnecessary. I can't help thinking that there's a more elegant solution I'm missing.

And while we're at it, does anyone have any idea whether an epistolary can consist of only one letter or do they have to be multiple letters? (A recent example of a one letter story would be "Sergeant Chips" by Bradley Denton but is it an epistolary?) My definition in my dictionary seems to indicate it requires multiple letters but I have my doubts.
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MaryRobinette
Posted on Friday, April 15, 2005 - 11:38 am:   

Thanks, Ellen. If you don't have a preference then I won't fret too much about it. I'll just print it out and look at it in dim lighting--my equivalent of tired eyes--to see which is easiest to read.

Bryon: I wrote one story as all one letter and I just used standard manuscript format. The only place I broke from that was the salutation, date and closing. I don't know if that helps.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - 04:39 pm:   

http://www.nightshadebooks.com/cgi-bin/discus/show.cgi?tpc=233&post=48349#POST48 349

MaryRobinette, I really liked your Rapunzel story in the new First Line. (at least I'm assuming it's yours, and not by someone else named MaryRobinette. ;))

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Mark Siegal
Posted on Thursday, June 02, 2005 - 08:18 am:   

What is the official or preferred name of your magazine? I've seen it many ways:

SCIFICTION
SCI FICTION
SciFiction
Sci Fiction
SCIFI.COM Fiction

Just curious. As someone with an easily misspelled last name, I can sympathize...
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, June 02, 2005 - 09:26 am:   

SCI FICTION, but it's difficult to preserve the consistency.

It would never be SCIFI.COM fiction although it might be SCIFI.COM's fiction. :-)
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Mark Siegal
Posted on Thursday, June 02, 2005 - 09:48 am:   

Thanks for clearing that up!
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Vylar Kaftan
Posted on Thursday, June 02, 2005 - 10:22 am:   

Can we spell it Psy-Phikkshun? :-)
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Beth
Posted on Thursday, June 02, 2005 - 11:07 am:   

::scribbles note to self -- remember the space between SCI and FICTION next time::

On the plus side, I remembered that you prefer Times Roman *before* I mailed the sub. :-)

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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, June 02, 2005 - 12:31 pm:   

Vy, if you can repeat it three times quickly, sure :-)

Beth, just got the mss today.
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Beth
Posted on Friday, June 03, 2005 - 10:21 am:   

Ellen, Eep. Er, I mean, oh good!

::attempts to exude confidence::

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MaryRobinette
Posted on Tuesday, June 07, 2005 - 03:24 pm:   

Thanks, Melissa! I enjoyed your "Olive Branch" too, and noticed that the First Line put it in the first slot. According to sources unnamed, they put their favorite story first.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Tuesday, June 07, 2005 - 06:18 pm:   

Sources unnamed just made my day! I figured they just thought it was weird. ;)
Thanks!

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Jennifer Lee
Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 05:38 pm:   

Hi Ellen,
I've been trying to login over at Scifiction for almost a month now and fortunately someone on another bbs pointed me here. I apologize if this question has already been asked before but what exactly is space opera? I have tried several sources and the term seem to be amorphous. Since the guidelines at scifiction say no space opera and I have no idea what that term means to you I'm a bit concerned. It seems like everything can fall into the neo-space opera category.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 06:43 pm:   

Space opera to me means soap operas or superficial adventures in space.

The so called "new space opera" is not space opera at all (IMO). It is fiction taking place off-world.

I'm sorry you haven't been able to log in to SCI FICTION. Can I have our community liason contact you about getting onto the site?
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Jennifer Lee
Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 07:08 pm:   

Absolutely. Please do. I've tried everything I know to login.
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Jennifer Lee
Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 07:14 pm:   

Oh I'm a goof my email is anoki (at) prodigy (dot) net. Sorry for the funky format I just don't wanna get harvested/trolled.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 07:47 pm:   

No problem. I just linked on your name. I've given your edress to Laura, our community person. I hope she can get you onto the Boards.
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Jennifer Lee
Posted on Sunday, June 12, 2005 - 08:02 pm:   

Thank you so much! I look forward to it.

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