• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:

    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!



Fallon Friday: The Reason they call it a “slush” pile

Once upon a time, during dinner with some very clever industry insiders, we got to talking about how hard it is to find “publishable” new material, and the quality of work coming off the slush pile. And yes, there was alcohol involved.

Now I’ve seen a few slush piles, and they are scary places indeed. My agent has closed hers off, she’s so over it, and an editor was telling me she was appalled by how many people can bang off a 100,000 word MS and send it in, often without even reading it through before they print it out! As a writer who re-writes endlessly, I find this almost incomprehensible, but apparently there’s a whole sub-species of humans out there who believe that if you own a computer and you can write that many words, then you ought to be published, even if you don’t know how to use the spell checker.

The moral of this story, of course, is that is you’re not having any luck getting published, then maybe it isn’t because all editors are ignorant corporate bastards who don’t know a good story from a donut. It might be because you haven’t submitted something they consider “publishable”.

Spare a thought then, for the editors at Clarkesworld  Magazine. They’ve gone so far as to post a list in their Submission Guidlines of stories they’re not going to publish, no matter what, (they call it “a hard sell” but they really mean “we’ll publish this when Hell freezes over”) and it’s as funny as it is scary…

“Though no particular setting, theme, or plot is anathema to us, the following are likely hard sells:

  • stories in which a milquetoast civilian government is depicted as the sole obstacle to either catching some depraved criminal or to an uncomplicated military victory
  • stories in which the words “thou” or “thine” appear
  • talking cats
  • talking swords
  • stories where the climax is dependent on the spilling of intestines
  • stories where FTL travel is as easy as is it on television shows or movies
  • time travel too
  • stories that depend on some vestigial belief in Judeo-Christian mythology in order to be frightening (i.e., Cain and Abel are vampires, the End Times are a’ comin’, Communion wine turns to Christ’s literal blood and it’s HIV positive, Satan’s gonna getcha, etc.)
  • stories about rapist-murderer-cannibals
  • stories about young kids playing in some field and discovering ANYTHING. (a body, an alien craft, Excalibur, ANYTHING).
  • stories about the stuff we all read in Scientific American three months ago
  • stories where the Republicans, or Democrats, or Libertarians, or the Spartacist League, etc. take over the world and either save or ruin it
  • your AD&D game
  • “funny” stories that depend on, or even include, puns
  • sexy vampires, wanton werewolves, or lusty pirates
  • stories where the protagonist is either widely despised or widely admired simply because he or she is just so smart and/or strange
  • stories that take place within an artsy-fartsy bohemia as written by an author who has clearly never experienced one
  • your trunk stories ”

If you think that list is terrifying, check out the even longer list over at Strange Horizons, the online speculative fiction magazine. They have a whole page dedicated to Stories we’ve seen too often.

You really have to wonder what sort of tales have come off the slush pile at these magazines to prompt lists like that. Clearly, they have a sense of humour at Clarkesworld, but then, in my experience, for an editor, it’s an essential job requirement and the only thing keeping them sane*:)

*Assuming they are sane to start with, of course, which is debatable, given they’re working as, well, editors…LOL

Delve further into Jennifer Fallon’s mind at her blog. Jennifer Fallon is the author of thirteen fantasy novels published by Voyager, including most recently The Chaos Crystal, published in December 2008. She’s currently at work on her next series.

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