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Me and Twitter

Here, have some tweets from me.

This didn’t used to be an issue for me, as I say in the first of those tweets. I spent most of my first year or two on Twitter talking to my friends, or maybe making some new ones–mostly friends of friends, right? I had maybe a couple hundred followers, who I mostly also followed. And even at that level it was difficult to keep up.

Then Ancillary Justice came out. I now have nearly eight thousand followers. It would be beyond pointless for me to follow all or even most of those–I couldn’t possibly pay attention to even a significant fraction of that, and I’d likely entirely miss anything from my actual friends–which is mostly what I follow Twitter for to begin with.

Now, I do look at my mentions, and not infrequently reply to those in some way. I do enjoy doing that. But every now and then, someone will turn up in my mentions in some way that’s very clearly designed to get my attention in a particular way–the tweeter wants me to notice their book, or asks explicitly that I follow them back (and they’re not someone I already know). I’m going to be honest, this irritates me. No offense, right? They’re obviously using Twitter as a promotional tool, where I’m using it to hang with people. This is mostly fine with me, in the abstract, I’ve got no problem with publicity or promotion. In the concrete and specific, I’d suggest that approaching promotion on Twitter as largely a question of amassing a lot of followers who you can then tweet to about your book is, perhaps, not as effective as you imagine it might be. I’ll also suggest that, if you want to engage the interest of someone with a lot of twitter followers, whose retweets or conversations with you might bring you the visibility you’re after, you might want to do your research about who that person is and why they have those followers, and not try to engage them with generic questions, let alone passive-aggressive tweets meant to guilt or provoke that person into replying or following back. But, you know, it’s your call, your life, your Twitter feed. And I’m totally okay with using the block and mute buttons whenever it seems convenient. (That would be the way the “react badly” mentioned in the tweets above usually manifests itself.)

I do follow people back who I know in real life (though not always, sometimes I have a reason for not following back or I’ve missed the follow). And I do often respond to mentions, even if only to heart something that amuses me. But I don’t always respond, and I don’t consider myself to have any particular obligation to respond, to be entirely honest, and nothing will take the shine off someone’s @ing me like their acting as though they are entitled to my attention.

And–this ought to go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway–I block the tweeters of abusive or offensive tweets, without saying anything more about it. To be entirely honest, I’ll block the senders of such tweets even if they haven’t sent them to me, and I’ve just happened across them in a conversation. The begging for follow-backs I describe above doesn’t fall into this category, of course, but I still ignore or mute it.

Seriously, I tweet to hang with my friends, and I enjoy answering questions or hearting or retweeting comments from my readers when I have a chance to. I love sharing things my readers have made, like fan art, or silly jokes. Occasionally I’ll tweet announcements about my stories or books. That’s how I use it, and you’re free to use Twitter however you like. Just don’t expect that I’ll play along.

Worldbuilders Fundraiser

Y’all know about Patrick Rothfuss’ Worldbuilders fundraiser, right? Basically, various cool items are raffled or auctioned off–the proceeds go to Heifer International. If you’re not familiar with Heifer International:

Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Our animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market.
 
When many families gain this new sustainable income, it brings new opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses.

So, every year people donate those cool things to be raffled or auctioned off. This year, I’ve donated signed copies of the Ancillary trilogy. And also a second signed set of the Ancillary trilogy, plus sample tins of my Adagio Imperial Radch teas.

But I’m not the only person donating things. Check out Rothfuss’ blog, check out the Worldbuilders website for more information about how it works, and check out the Worldbuilders auctions that have gone live so far!

Links of interest

First up–a really nice writeup of the Ancillary trilogy at Slate:

The protagonist of the series calls herself Breq; she was once an ancillary and is the sole survivor of the destruction of the Radchaai ship Justice of Toren. Breq is One Esk Nineteen, a single segment of Justice of Toren, but she also is the A.I. Justice of Toren—its last remnant. If that seems hard to wrap your head around, well, that’s rather the point: At the heart of Leckie’s series is a profound grappling with the way identity—our very sense of self—is imagined, is regulated, and shifts over time.

And at Interfictions, “Translating Gender: Ancillary Justice in Five Languages“:

After reading a comment by the Hungarian translator, Csilla Kleinheincz, posted on Cheryl Morgan’s blog, we wanted to know more about this. We invited the translators of the novel into Bulgarian, German, Hebrew, Hungarian and Japanese to discuss the process, with particular interest in the translation of gender. What emerges is an insight into the work of translators and the rigidity and versatility of grammatical gender in the face of non-standard demands. Where necessary, translators turned to innovative and even inventive ways to write their languages.

And last–a link to my Etsy store. I have ordered another batch of Awn pins, plus a batch of Spoiler pins. I still have some Translator Dlique pins left. Once the Awn pins arrive here, I’ll start listing them again (and the others as well). I’ll do the same thing I’ve been doing–I’ll list them in batches of twenty, I’ll combine shipping if you order more than one pin, and I’ll leave a listing up a day or two before I tweet or blog or tumbl about it. In the past, they’ve gone really quick once I’ve tweeted! So if you’re one of the folks who keeps just missing them, favorite the shop and check back regularly probably starting in about two weeks.

Back home for a while, and miscellaneous

So, that was an eventful couple of weeks! I’ve been thinking “I should totally write a blog post about this/that/the other thing” and then realizing that actually I just want to not do anything for a while.

Which means that I’ve got kind of a list of things to share. Which, okay. List!

1) I have a Facebook account, but I pretty much never use it. Lots of people want to friend me on Facebook lately, though! Which is nice and all, but.

So, I made an Ann Leckie page on Facebook. I will try to remember to post things to it. But that’ll be better than my actual Facebook account, which I basically ignore unless someone tags me or sends a friends request.

2) Last week, Ancillary Mercy hit the New York Times Bestseller List! Only for the one week, and it was the very bottom of the list, but it counts! I am now officially a best-selling author, and AM is a bestseller. Which is kind of super awesome.

3) You may have noticed there are a number of songs in the trilogy. A few of them are real, existing songs, but many of them aren’t. The always awesome Foz Meadows has set “It All Goes Around” to a tune of her own, and then that kind of started some stuff. I’d give a bunch of links here, but Abi Sutherland at Making Light has gathered them all together, including a link to Foz’s tune, so I’ll link to that.

4)For those of you keeping tabs on my Etsy store, well, I ran out of Awn Elming pins halfway through my tour the other week. I’m ordering more today, but it will take a couple of weeks for those to come in. Once they do, I’ll probably start listing batches again. And the Translator Dlique pins, and the Spoiler pins as well.

5)Big thanks to Subterranean Books and the University City Library for hosting my Ancillary Mercy release party. Cookies were eaten, wine was drunk, books were signed, and it was a great evening.

I think that’s it, actually. Well, I went to ICON40 and had a fabulous time, but that really ought to be a post of its own. Maybe not today, though, so let me just say that ICON was a great time and I really appreciate all the hard work of concom and all the volunteers to make it such a wonderful weekend.

Books you might enjoy

So, it won’t be long till Ancillary Mercy is available pretty much everywhere. So far reviewers seem to like it! Like, for instance, B&N’s Sci Fi and Fantasy Blog:
 

I’ll admit that after finishing the second book, I couldn’t imagine how Leckie could wrap up the series with just one more. I thought I knew how things needed to end, but, with skill and grace, Leckie proved me wrong. She has delivered a thrilling, clever, and incredibly satisfying conclusion, one that is both totally unexpected and redefines the two previous books. In short, Ancillary Mercy is an absolute delight.

 
But unless you’re a reviewer, you can’t read it yet. Sorry! I wish you could! I’d make it available to all of you right now if I could. But as it is, you’ll have to wait about twenty more days.

In the meantime, here are two books I’ve read recently that you might enjoy! And they’re out now, so no waiting.

First up, Zen Cho’s delightful Sorcerer to the Crown.
 

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman–a freed slave who doesn t even have a familiar–as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession.
 
At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain–and the world at large.

 
It’s a book that’s very much in conversation with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (which I loved loved loved and if you haven’t read it yet, add that to your “Waiting for Ancillary Mercy” reading list). If you liked JS&MN, you will almost certainly enjoy Sorcerer to the Crown. If you enjoy Jane Austen, and/or Patrick O’Brien, likewise. Or Georgette Heyer, I gather, though I’ve only read one or two of hers and can’t speak authoritatively on that.

If you are allergic to Austen or O’Brien, or JS&MN, well, maybe this won’t be your thing? But honestly, this book is just great fun.

In the interest of full disclosure (and also of giving you cool stuff to read), when I edited GigaNotoSaurus I bought a story of Zen’s, “The House of Aunts.” It’s free, it’s awesome, it’s shorter than a novel.

The other book you might want to check out is Fran Wilde’s Updraft. It’s set in a world where people live in the tops of constantly growing towers of bone, and people fly between towers on manmade wings.
 

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother’s side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.
 
As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever-if it isn’t destroyed outright.

I happen to know that Fran did some actual wind tunnel skydiving as research for this. This book has political intrigue, action, airborne wind tunnel combat, and voracious flying monsters with tentacles. Seriously. You want to read this.

Long List Anthology Kickstarter

So, I don’t know if y’all are aware of this, but the Hugo Awards this year were somewhat unusual.

Yeah, you’re all sighing. I’m sighing too, for any number of reasons. But! Basically, David Steffen is Kickstarting an anthology of short fiction that was shoved off the Hugo ballot by asshole slatemongers, or that would have come close.

Because there’s so much short fiction published every year, it’s not unusual for even folks who nominated in the short fiction categories to find work they’re not familiar with in the eventual Hugo Voters packet–and, after the awards themselves, in the nominating data the committee releases, which includes works that just missed nomination. This is one of the cool things about being a Hugo voter, and one of the joys of not being the sort of person who insists that the ballot only consist of your own approved choices.

So David Steffen has stepped up to edit this anthology of work that, if things had gone the way they usually do, would have turned up on the Hugo ballot, so that we can all have the fun of reading them. Or that would have turned up in the nominating data as having almost made it onto the ballot, because Hugo nominators genuinely loved them and thought they were award-worthy.

The kickstarter has met its goal, but it’s just shy of its final stretch goal, which is to be able to afford not just short stories and novelettes, but also some novellas. At the $10 level, you’re basically signing up for an ebook of the anthology.

This is actually my favorite kind of Kickstarter–the sort where you’re basically pre-ordering a book. This is going to be an assortment of excellent fiction, and personally I think it’s well worth your while to consider contributing just so you can get all of it in one place.

*****

If you’re a longtime reader, David Steffen’s name might sound familiar. He runs the Submission Grinder, an online sub tracker for writers, and he is also the current champion of Ferrett Steinmetz’s Rejection Challenge. He received a rejection to a story some five minutes after he submitted it. The submission was to Podcastle, and was very short, and was timed exactly perfectly for the slush reader to respond to it almost immediately. I know this because I was the slush reader in question. High five, David! I’m exceedingly glad you’re doing this antho.

Note, by the way, that David says nothing about slates or assholes. That is entirely my description of the situation.

Old Posts–Bias in Editorial Decisions

So, way back in 2011 I was on a panel at Wiscon called “Reading with a Squint.” It was about gender bias in editorial decisions. At the time I was still editing GigaNotoSaurus, and the issue was one I’d been chewing over for a while. I had lots of thinky thoughts about it, but in the way of panels, not all of my chewing or my thinky thoughts got expressed. So I came home and wrote a big honking long post, which I then divided into seven parts.

I was recently talking with a friend and realized they hadn’t read any of it, because they hadn’t known me then. I did have a WordPress blog at the time, but I didn’t always remember to crosspost (and didn’t have any widgets that would do it for me) and it was really an afterthought–I was mostly centered on LJ at the time. So these are all on LJ. I should probably import them over some time.

But for now, I’m going to link to them, because I still think there’s stuff worth chewing over.

Wiscon-Related Thoughts:

  • Part 1 Taste Is Culturally Constructed

     

    When I first heard about the infamous 4’33” I was in high school. The piece was described to me as “four and a half minutes of silence.” Another phrase that featured in the description was “total bullshit.”
     
    Which as it happens is also a pretty accurate way to describe calling 4’33” “silence.” Because that’s absolutely not what it is. But if you haven’t heard any of the conversation the piece is part of, don’t have any of the context, that’s certainly the way it seems.
     
    4’33” is (among other things) part of John Cage’s contribution to an ongoing discussion, a conversation that began with the question, “What is music?” It’s a question that seems incredibly simple and obvious when you first ask it, but then when you think about it your obvious answer falls apart. Music has this and that and the other characteristics–this other thing has those but you don’t call it music. Why not? Well, then, music also has….but this other thing also has, or this thing you say is obviously music doesn’t have something you just said was necessary…

  •  

  • Part 2 Slush
     

    So, at Wiscon, in the “Reading with a Squint” panel, I made the assertion (as I frequently do–regular readers of this LJ will have heard it before) that the gender ratio of slush shouldn’t actually be the same as the ratio of its corresponding ToC. That is, 70/30 male/female in slush might not actually translate to 70/30 in the ToC, all other things being equal.

  •  

  • Part 3 Ann Likes Red

     

    I also want to say something about representation. When I was a wee little Ann, I was dazzled by the color red. It was, in fact, my favorite color. And so, when I was given a copy of that enduring classic Ann Likes Red, I was thrilled. It was as though the author had seen into my very soul! And written a book about me.**
     
    I lucked out. My name was Ann, my favorite color was red. Maybe I still would have liked the book if those things weren’t true–the amazon reviews suggest that it was an excellent book for beginning readers and was beloved by more than just us Anns. Still, I had that extra joy, of seeing myself in the story.

  •  

  • Part 4 Bias Is Inherent in the System

     

    You all know this story, right? And Mary Anne Mohanraj mentioned it during the panel itself. But I’m going to tell it again.

    Symphony orchestras–the big ones, the world-class ones–have no percentage in excluding excellent musicians. They want the best, and that’s where their interests lie. No one was ever saying “Well, we’ll take Bill even though Jane is a little better, because Jane has girl cooties.”
     
    Still, for years and years, there were very few women in the big orchestras. The folks who made the decisions said–very honestly–that they weren’t trying to exclude women, it just turned out that women didn’t play quite as well as men. It was sad, but that was reality. They only wanted the very best.

  •  

  • Part 5 Women Write Different Stories From Men?

     

    Do women write different stories, or do we see them as different like hearing their music as thinner or lesser? I don’t know the answer. Certainly some women write different sorts of stories. Certainly many women’s lives are very, very different from most men’s. At Wiscon, in the bar, a male writer who had been the stay-at-home parent for his family said (I paraphrase), “I realized, things that were supposed to be how women are were really how it is when you’re the person home with the kids all day.” Yep. You get a very different view of the world like that.

  •  

  • Part 6 Fight for Your Right to Party

     

    You know, sometimes it seems like we’re all at the SFF party, all talking, moving from one bunch of friends to the next. There are a bunch of people over by the table with a tray full of apples–they call it “The Fruit Tray” actually, and if you ask them they’ll tell you this party is all about the great fruit you can have and they point to that tray full of apples–anyway, there are men and women hanging out by the apple tray. And whenever someone unfamiliar with the party asks, “So what’s that party like?” someone points to that tray of apples with the people crowded around it.

  •  

  • Part 7 Ending on Felicitous Seven

     

    It’s no use saying that an editor just wants good stories. Every editor wants good stories. Every editor has constraints on the kinds of good stories she wants–a stated mission or target for her zine, the tastes of an established audience, demands of advertisers or publishers, and so on. Every editor wants something much more specific than just “good stories.”

  • The Bitter Story Behind the UK’s National Drink

    Every now and then I see someone remark that obviously I lifted the conditions on Fosyf’s tea estate (in Ancillary Sword) from the Antebellum South. In point of fact, I did not. I was (I thought fairly undisguisedly) thinking about actual conditions on actual Earth tea plantations. And if anything, I soft-pedaled it. Because the actual facts would have seemed cartoonishly, mustache-twirlingly unreal.

    Except it would have been entirely real.

     

    The joint investigation by Radio 4’s File on Four and BBC News in Assam, north-east India, found workers living in broken houses with terrible sanitation. Many families have no toilets and say they have no choice but to defecate amongst the tea bushes.
     
    Living and working conditions are so bad, and wages so low, that tea workers and their families are left malnourished and vulnerable to fatal illnesses.
     
    There was also a disregard for health and safety, with workers spraying chemicals without protection, and on some estates, child labour being used.

     

    And turns out, the Rainforest Alliance’s certification, which is supposed to let consumers know that the tea they’re buying was ethically produced, doesn’t actually mean much.

    None of this surprises me.

    I am not posting this in the hope people will stop drinking tea–Mithras knows I drink gallons of the stuff myself. But this is going on. And it might be worth thinking about where else it’s happening and we just don’t see it.

    Who’s going to write me a short fiction tracking app?

    I asked that question on Twitter, and got a couple of “I/someone I know is working on that!” Which I was glad to see.

    I also got some folks saying they keep a spreadsheet on Google Docs, and/or pointing me to wikis or spreadsheets keeping track of award-eligible fiction for this year. And those things are awesome! But not what I want, not exactly.

    So, this is the thing. When you make up your mind to be a Hugo nominator (or Nebula, for that matter), you read (one hopes) a lot of fiction. There’s quite a lot of short fiction out there. And January rolls around and nominations open up and you say, “Right, what did I read this year that I want to nominate?” But maybe you don’t recall what you read earlier in the year (you have, maybe, an impression that it was actually the year before and so not eligible) or things slip your mind and later noms close and you go “Oh, yeah, “Aliens Ate My Ant Farm” was super awesome and I forgot about it, but I’d have nommed it if I’d remembered….”

    Folks who are using spreadsheets, or Evernote, or whatever, are making sure that doesn’t happen to them come nominations time. And I think that’s great, but I also think a lot of people won’t do that, for one reason or another. Yes, it seems like a very small initial setup, but things happen and maybe spreadsheets aren’t that easy for you to navigate or whatever. And I would love to make it as easy as possible for people to nominate for the various short fiction categories. I would love to have more participation in those categories.

    What I think would be super awesome would be an app that would, say, give you a button to put in your browser–like Pinterest, say. And in fact, what I’d like is something like Pinterest, only that doesn’t require large (or any) images. Something that lets you click a button and bookmark a story, add tags and notes, and then go in and look at your list of bookmarked stories.

    The ability to show (or not) your list of bookmarked stories to others would be an extra. Something that would count words, and tell you what category a piece might be eligible in, would be really, really nice.

    Someone pointed out that what I wanted was essentially Pinboard. And I think they’re right, except Pinboard costs. Now, it doesn’t cost much, but even that little bit might be a barrier, and my hope is for something that would make it super easy for folks to keep track of their short fiction reading specifically in order to look back at the end of the year and think about award noms.

    All this is to say–someone write us that app! And in the meantime–do y’all know about Pinboard? Maybe think about starting a spreadsheet or setting up some tags in Evernote?

    And there’s a great list of award eligible work here, check it out.

    Editing to add–on twitter someone suggested that Instapaper would do the trick nicely. I’ve never used it, and will poke around a bit and see what it’s like.

    Free Short Fiction by Annie Bellet

    For no particular reason, except perhaps to namedrop and let everyone know that I knew Annie Bellet way back when, I present to you a story I bought and published in 2012 while I was still editor of GigaNotoSaurus: “On Higher Ground.”

    One moment there was snow beneath Kayi’s skis, the next just sky. Her wingsuit snapped in the sudden wind as she dropped off the south face of Annapurna. Her eyes watered despite her mask and the pressure shift of falling thousands of feet in seconds popped her ears with a painful squeak.

     

    Kayi angled her body, tucking her poles in along the line of fabric between her arm and torso and angling her skis up, fighting the air that wanted to push them down and twist her legs up. The land beneath her was black, rust, and white; snow and stone blurring into one as she gained speed. Proximity flying, going so close to the steep slope that she could almost touch the snow, was dangerous. Doing it with ski equipment on was even crazier.

     

    If you’re not familiar with GNS, it’s a webzine I founded to publish longer short fiction. I still own it, but it is now edited by the fabulous Rashida Smith. One new story monthly, check it out!