31 August 2014
And, of course, thank you readers! We wouldn't exist without you.
28 August 2014
We really pride ourselves on presenting readers with unique fiction. In the upcoming issue we have stories about: Elvis and the apocalypse (did you know these were related?), an ancient severed head causing a lot of trouble, a back-to-school sci-fi/fantasy spoof, what happens when girls get it on with fairies, and a Hawaiian steampunk murder mystery. Are you intrigued? I am and I've read them all already. :)
One of our favorites authors, Carol Berg, is sharing an excerpt from her brand-new novel Dust and Light. It begins with: Coroner Bastien's not-quite-a-smirk was immensely irritating.
"Constance sent word we've another mystery."
Check it all out on August 31, 2014!
26 August 2014
- "The Bog Man" by David K. Yeh
- "The King Must Die" by Bo Balder
- "Kites and Orchids" by George S. Walker
- "Sci Fi High" by Clint Spivey
- "When the Moon is Waning" by Larisa Walk
It looks like we have some exciting other features as well. Here's a hint: Carol Berg.
I'll give you some more coming attractions on Thursday August 28.
Be sure to check out the new issue on August 31!
21 August 2014
by Clint Spivey
YA gives writers an interesting opportunity. While ten thousand authors are all chasing the same nickel in a world where readers dwindle due to distractions, YA flourishes. It seems parents, who may not even read themselves, see the value in encouraging it in their children, and with good cause. But what does this mean to writers? Do we strive to please parents, the ones likely buying the fiction? Or do we seek to try and give an accurate picture of the world to our ultimate goal, the dear reader.
I ask this because, through work-shopping a recent story, set in a high school world of monsters, robots, angels, and inter-dimensional beings, I found myself being criticized for language and themes that were too mature for the story’s teenage characters. While I appreciated all of the advice I received, and ultimately followed it since it helped get the story published, I found myself conflicted.
My own high school experience, completed some seventeen years ago, was full of drugs, drinks, sex, curse words, and crime. This isn't to say I engaged in these acts, sex almost never, but these things were all around my fellow students and myself. Drugs from pot to meth and even LSD were available on campus if one knew the right person. Knives were visible, probably guns, though I never saw any. I know many people who were having sex regularly. Our on site day care for teen mothers attests to that. This wasn't some school in a terrible place, either. But the very school where the guy who first wrote, ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…’ attended.
I don’t believe YA fiction for high school students ought be filled with sex, drugs, and gangs. But do we do our readers of this group a disservice by treating them with kid gloves? While reading, surrounded by reality replete with the dangers mentioned above, do they smell a phony only trying to get their parents to make a purchase? I admit I’m not well read in YA, but after writing the aforementioned story, I figured this was an interesting discussion to begin.
19 August 2014
Bo would like to tell us about:
by Bo Balder
It was one of these rare moments of inspiration – I woke up at 5 in the morning with most of this story in my brain. I couldn't get back to sleep as long as the story was forming. I tossed and turned, feverishly imagining more, fleshing it out, until I gave up, got out of bedand wrote a brief outline. The actual writing, later that day, was as feverish and unusually smooth. I'd been to Vegas once, so imagining and looking up what it looked like in the seventies was easy. I've always loved Elvis and his music, so that wasn't hard either. The title is from Mary Renault's novel about Theseus in ancient Greece. In the novel, kings die to ensure their people's health and prosperity. I don't know where the frogs came from, I really don't. They were just there in the story from the beginning. Maybe somebody else will have an explanation what metaphor they are, but as a writer I think you should leave these symbols alone and just be grateful they appeared to you at all… Of course the story needed revision, but the essence was there from the beginning. It's special to me because of its strange birth, and I'm glad it's found a home!
12 August 2014
by Larisa Walk
People often ask writers about the sources of our inspiration. It is not an easy question to answer, because the ideas often come from many sources: dreams, something heard on the news, nature, another writer's book or story that triggers an A-ha moment, a conversation overheard while having a cup of jasmine tea at a tea house, mythology, or seemingly out of nowhere at all. That latter one is a gift, especially when the story comes to you from its beginning to its end, all but wrapped in shiny paper with a pattern of peach-colored roses and a matching bow.
I can identify my two of the most frequent sources of inspiration: Russian history and mythology. They inspire me not only because I was born and raised in Russia, but because there is so much conflict and mystery in them. And to me conflict and mystery are what makes a satisfying story.
Take the fact that Russia lived under the Mongol domination for 200 years. Immediately questions rise up like bubbles in a boiling pot of water: How did those people survive? What was their life like? Was there a resistance movement? Was there nothing but hatred toward the oppressors or were there stories of love between the Mongols and the Russians? After five years of research of both English and Russian sources, I wrote a novel that answers those questions: A Handful of Earth.
Then there is the Russian fairyland where each character has a dominion over a certain part of people's lives. The domovoi keeps an eye on the house; the dvorovoi rules over the yard and cares for the animals that live there; and the bannik looks after the bath house. This, of course, brings more questions, more mystery, and more inspiration. From here the writer's imagination takes over, and the crafting of a story begins.
07 August 2014
When we accept a story we send along a contract. Once the author accepts the contract we start editing the story. Things move pretty quickly this month since we're publishing the next issue on August 31.
Here are some tips based on our story discussion:
- A strong voice is important but other things are important as well, namely, a plot
- Make sure your story is speculative fiction. Macabre fiction, in particular, can be tricky here. For example, if a story contains a mysterious blurry figure, is it a ghost or an illusion? If it is a ghost you've got speculative fiction. If it's ambiguous...maybe not.
- It's probably not a good idea to include tampons in your story. Editors are susceptible to the ick factor like everyone else.
- We don't like super long (over 5000 words) stories. They're a pain to edit.
Other take-aways from the meeting: we're going to modify our webpage to indicate that we've been taking longer to get through slush. :(
We're going to ask authors if they'd like to contribute to the blog.
We were thinking of doing something special for our ten-year anniversary (next year), but we're leaning against it.
I guess that's all the highlights. We'll start previewing coming attractions next week.