Julia Rios is a writer, editor, podcaster, and narrator. Her fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in several places, including Daily Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, and Goblin Fruit. She was a fiction editor for Strange Horizons from 2012 to 2015, and is currently the poetry and reprints editor for Uncanny Magazine and co-editor with Alisa Krasnostein of Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, and the Year's Best YA Speculative Fiction series. She is also a co-host of the Hugo-nominated podcast, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, a general discussion, interview, and movie review show. She has narrated stories for Podcastle, Pseudopod, and Cast of Wonders, and poems for the Strange Horizons podcast.
"Julia Rios's presentations at Writefest were both enjoyable and helpful. She is down-to-earth and welcoming, and uses her considerable experience and expertise in writing and publishing to educate and support writers at all levels."
“Of all the critiques and edits I’ve received for fiction, including from people who’ve published my work, Julia’s was the most professional, incisive, and compassionate. She entered into the spirit of the story and edited from there, not from some outside standard.”
"Julia Rios has a true editor's eye: when I was struggling to find my footing as a writer, she reached in and grasped exactly what I was trying to do--and showed me how to do it, both in terms of story elements and honing my voice. Not long after, I came into my own and began to sell my work on a regular basis. I cannot recommend Julia enough."
Excerpt from “Editor Interviews” with Julia Rios on Nancy Christie’s website:
As an editor, what do you look for in short fiction when deciding which piece to publish or what short fiction collection or anthology to review?
It depends a little bit on what I’m reading for. In reading for things like Kaleidoscope or the Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction, I look for stories with teens at the center of the plot, and stories that might resonate with teen readers.
For Strange Horizons, I’m looking for science fiction and fantasy that surprises me, and it may not be teen-specific. No matter what, though, I’m also hoping to find stories that grab hold of me at the start and refuse to let go.
What are the key elements that you focus on?
I love stories that hook me with a strong character arc, an interesting world, and a solid and satisfying plot. Sometimes stories can get away with two of these things, and in very rare cases, maybe just one, but the best stories manage to deliver all three.
What are the most common mistakes you see in short stories?
One of the most common things I see is too much exposition, especially in the beginning of a story. A friend recently told me that he’d learned a trick for watching YouTube videos about random things: just skip ahead to 30% of the way into the video and that’s usually when things get interesting. It doesn’t always work that way, but I was surprised at how often that turned out to be true when I tried it.
With short stories, I think there’s a similar problem. There are a lot of good stories out there competing for relatively few publishing slots. One of the things that marks the great ones out is that they don’t waste any time getting to the interesting stuff.
Recommended Books for Aspiring Writers
Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, Jeff Vandermeer
Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu
I believe in encouraging and supporting creative impulses, and in asking what each individual piece of work wants to accomplish rather than prescribing one-size-fits-all ways to edit. My number one goal is to help people streamline their work without losing that spark of creative joy which led them to writing in the first place.