SFWA Presidential Platform Statement

Cat at World Fantasy Convention 2012

Visiting with a constituent at World Fantasy Con.

Dear SFWA members:

Yep, I’m running for President, even though that’s a two year term. I’ve got a number of projects I want to see through, and this seems the best way to do it. The self-pub and small press qualifications amendment has passed, and I’d like to help SFWA adjust to that large change.

You’ve seen me in action as vice president for a year. I don’t know that it was the most representative year since I spent most of it on the road, but I think I’ve demonstrated that even when other stuff crops up, I do stick around. I had to put a couple of projects on the back burner while waiting for the selfpub/small press qualifiying vote to shake out but now that the vote has passed, I hope to pick up those loose ends. By now, I’m starting to get more of a handle for the internal workings of SFWA, and that should help me be even more effective.

I’ve fixed a few small problems, and I’ve got some other stuff in motion that will solve others. Some of that is fairly visible, such as the push to make it easier for volunteers to find roles within SFWA. Overall SFWA is still suffering some growing pains, and I’ve found my experience as management very helpful there.

Most of you that have worked with me know that I’ve got decent people skills and a solid work ethic. When it comes to the various factions that clash occasionally, I’ve got friends on most sides and pride myself on trying to listen and understand where people are coming from. I’ve tried to be good about touching base with other members of the SFWA team and working well with them, including weekly Google Hangout sessions and phone calls. I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong, and I try to learn from both my mistakes and what other people pass along. Aside from deciding to run, I am reasonably sane.

I do have other commitments. My first novel comes out this year, its sequel is only half done, and I have family responsibilities. But I removed all other volunteer work last year in order to focus that energy on SFWA, and will continue to do so while in office.

I’d like to mention a major reason I feel comfortable running: some of the people I know will continue to be part of the team. SFWA’s Office Coordinator Kate Baker has been a pleasure to work with this year, alerting me to potential problems, working quickly to identify and solve issues, and going above and beyond on multiple occasions. Along the same lines, talented Jeremy Tolbert is dedicated to the point of madness when it comes to fixing our web problems, our CFO Bud Sparhawk is constantly savvy and on the ball and knows what’s going on, and PR representative Jaym Gates has put a great deal of work into expanding SFWA’s presence in multiple venues. My dream VP has stepped up (I’ll let them post their own announcement rather than out them, though.) Archimedes only needed a lever and a fulcrum in order to move worlds; give me a high performance team, and I know I can work some wonders for the org.

Here’s my VP statement from last year, with some annotations on the goals about how close (or not) I came.

I joined SFWA in 2005, as soon as I made my first qualifying sale. Among the work I’ve done for SFWA are stints on the Nebula short fiction and Norton juries, work with the Copyright Committee, interviews and articles for the SFWA blog, articles for the SFWA Bulletin, assisting with the YA-SIG’s move to a mailing list, and helping develop guidelines for and moderating the discussion forums. At the time I joined, I was excited and proud to be joining the ranks of so many writers I’ve admired, and I continue to be an enthusiastic advocate for and supporter of SFWA.

I have worked with the current administration and know that I can interact smoothly with it to maintain and continue to build the organization as a valuable resource for speculative fiction writers and one whose members can take pride in their membership. I’m pleased to see SFWA continuing to adapt to changes in the publishing landscape, such as the recent rate increase for SFWA-qualifying markets and the work of the Self-Publishing committee, and hope to lead similar efforts.

My priorities as a board officer include:

Building SFWA’s name and influence by reaching out to both established and newer F&SF writers who have not joined but would find it useful. I’d like to see SFWA’s social media presence continue to expand and to work to interest and intrigue potential members.

(I don’t know that I’ve accomplished this in the way that I would have liked. I’ve reached out to some writers, and I’ve tried to build our presence here where I could, but much remains to be done. I’m very excited about the launch of the upcoming SFWA Youtube channel under the able administration of Juliette Wade.)

Preserving SFWA’s institutional memory through archives and collecting existing information.

(Much of this was already underway when I came onboard in the form of the OPPM and the archive project led by Lynne Thomas. I’ve contributed where I can and helped enable some upcoming efforts. I’ve also been reaching out to some places to gather information for the forthcoming new Nebula Awards website and coordinating getting content written.)

Improving the existing volunteer structure in order to more effectively connect volunteers with SFWA’s needs, as well as recognizing and rewarding volunteers more consistently.

(Okay, I’ve done a lot here. We’ve gone from a basically moribund system to one where a number of volunteers are doing interesting things. There’s a group of about a dozen people I still need to find roles for and I HEARTILY apologize to you folks but it’s been kinda crazy. We’re working on bringing in a paid volunteer coordinator. There’s a special discussion board forum for volunteers that includes listings of available roles. I’m also trying to make sure we recognize and aid our volunteers: there will be a volunteer recognition breakfast at the Nebulas Sunday morning that has several cool things lined up for it and we’ve had two actual volunteer newsletters so far with every reason to suspect there will be more.)

Assisting SFWA as it determines qualifications for self-published writers as well as how it can best serve such writers.

(DONE. As I’ve said on the discussion boards I fully expect to see this process launched successfully on March 1 with people able to immediately apply.)

Working to address internal miscommunications by better communicating what the board is doing and how people can assist in such efforts. I’d like to help current volunteers and SFWA officers tell other members what they do.

(We’re still working on some of this, but we’re getting better. I have tried to be responsive on the discussion boards whenever questions arose and I’ve made it a point to get to SFWA informational and reading events whenever possible.)

My primary role as VP, though, would be to support SFWA’s President. To assist me in that role, I’ve got good people skills, a sense of humor, and the fact that I don’t take myself overly seriously. I will continue to represent SFWA with the enthusiasm and respect such an august organization deserves.

/End VP Statement

A half year later, my sense of humor remains intact, as does my enthusiasm and respect. It’s certainly been an interesting six months. I’m willing to stick around, if you are willing to trust me to lead you as best I can.

My updated professional qualifications:

I’ve worked as both a writer and an editor. I have over 100 original short story publications, including in such places as Asimov’s, Weird Tales, and Tor.com, and four collections (three solo, one with Jeff VanderMeer). In 2015 my novel BEASTS OF TABAT (the first of a fantasy quartet) will appear from Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta’s excellent publishing house, Wordfire Press, while Hydra House will be publishing another two-sided story collection, NEITHER HERE NOR THERE.

My short story, “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain,” was a 2012 Nebula nominee, while other works have been nominated for the Locus Award and the Million Writers Award. I was the editor for several years of award-winning Fantasy Magazine, receiving a 2012 World Fantasy nomination for my efforts there, and I most recently guest-edited Lightspeed Magazine’s Women Destroy Fantasy issue. I have worked as a volunteer with multiple speculative fiction organizations, including Broad Universe and the Clarion West Writers Workshop.

I’m currently creating the 2015 edition of CREATING AN ONLINE PRESENCE, a guidebook for writers trying to navigate the confusing world of online self-promotion. I teach a popular series of online classes on writing and editing and do some podcast narration.

I am a frequent convention-goer and make a point of organizing or participating in SFWA activities when they’re available at such gatherings. This year, I will be attending ICFA, Emerald City ComicCon, Norwescon, the Nebula Award ceremony, the Locus Awards, GenCon, and Worldcon.

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About Cat Rambo

I am a science fiction and fantasy writer and editor. My three collections of short stories are THE SURGEON'S TALE AND OTHER STORIES (with Jeff VanderMeer), EYES LIKE SKY AND COAL AND MOONLIGHT, and NEAR + FAR (forthcoming this September).
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