Mid-April Already

The days are indeed, as Bukowski would have it, running away like wild horses over the hills. Thanks to rain and some warm weather West Michigan is slowly turning green, and it is beautiful to see.

My free time remains captive to Caffeinated Press and The 3288 Review; enough that I probably should stop considering it “free time”. Or even “mine”. But it is all for a good cause, and fun besides. This past week saw a two hour “get it in gear” meeting for The 3288 Review, which segued into a sort of unofficial planning-for-the-future meeting for Caffeinated Press. To wit: we have a couple of ideas for fun projects which will help tie us in to the Grand Rapids creative communities, and allow us to give something back. We needn’t only look for literary talent to publish. West Michigan hosts a large pool of talent in all forms of creative expression.

Following closely on this is the realization that we need to have physical office space. Meetings in living rooms and on porches are all well and good, but they quickly begin to feel less like career builders and more like hobbies. I am reminded of a friend, many years ago, who in a fit of pique referred to the UICA as the “Suburban Institute for Contemporary Arts”. I don’t see that happening to us, though I admit I might be naively optimistic. We have a diverse-enough cast of characters, both in people and people-who-know-people, that we can avoid the subtle trap of provincialism.

Then again, provincialism sells.

Office space will allow us to host community-level gatherings, be they round-table meetings of our (over a dozen) editors, or open space for people to camp out and write, or to provide workshops for the local literary community. And at the most practical level, sometimes you just need to get out of the house.

This may be the last beautiful day of the month. Time to work on the yard.

ConFusion 2015, Panel 6: Current State of Short Fiction

[This post is part of a series which collects and expands upon notes taken during panel discussions at the January 2015 ConFusion science fiction convention in Dearborn, Michigan. The index page, which links to the other posts in the series, is here.]

Panelists included Scott H. Andrews, Ron Collins, Elizabeth Shack and moderator Catherine Shaffer.

As I complete this post, on Easter Sunday 2015, more than two months after the fact, I find myself thinking back on the panel itself. So much laughter and goodwill, and people – editors, writers, and publishers – who have worked their fingers to the bone, but still have such extraordinary optimism and generosity for people in the community of genre fiction. Scott Andrews, in particular was a treasure trove of information. It helps that he is the publisher (and editor-in-chief) of Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

Here are my notes. Less narrative form, more of a raw info-dump.

* Who is publishing, reading, and writing?
** Galaxy’s Edge
** Uncanny Magazine
** Bastion Science Fiction Magazine
** Fireside Fiction
** Lackington’s
** The Dark

* Early issues are where you find your audience and pool of writers. This means that for publishers, the first few issues of a journal are where you determine what will be submitted going forward.

** Terraform
** Urban Fantasy
** SubmissionGrinder

* Professional rate for genre fiction authors is $0.06/word

* ClarkesworldNeal Clarke is a GENIUS at marketing. He has made his enterprise so successful that it can no longer be considered a semiprozine.

* Flash Fiction (1000 words or less) is becoming more viable,thanks to on-line/digital publishing

* Podcasts/audiobooks of short stories are very popular. This in itself makes the shorter forms more commercially viable, particularly for venues which are comfortable releasing works online.

* Who’s writing short fiction?
** Seth Dickinson
** Gregory Norman Bossert
** Cat Rambo
** Helen Marshall
** K J Parker
** Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
** Alex Dally MacFarlane
** Tamara Vardomskaya
** Laura Pearlman

* Trends for 2014 – 2015
** fewer zombie stories
** More humor in Flash Fiction

* For any question “Is anyone publishing X?”, the answer is YES. BUT: Can you find the publisher willing to publish X?

* Novellas are becoming a viable length again, thanks to digital publishing.

* “Making a living” in short fiction? Difficult. Very difficult.

* Readers of old media sometimes resist converting to new media. People want their analog. This is why many of the classic magazines are still viable.

* Rejectomancy – divining the underlying message in a rejection letter (explanation here).

And that’s about it for this panel. More to come in the weeks ahead.

Hello, April!

Well, it’s been a quiet week here in Lake Wobegon Grand Rapids, near the shores of Lake Michigan. Spring has sprung with the crocuses running rampant in neighborhood lawns and our first, albeit brief, thunderstorm Thursday morning. Work has been quiet thanks to the one hand being out of synch with the other, though that will likely change very soon. Bench time is a precious commodity and not to be wasted on frivolous pursuits. We will shortly move into our new office space on the fourth floor of 99 Monroe Ave, overlooking, um, Z’s Bar and Restaurant.

Energy level in Master Lee’s classes is still high. The students are practicing hard, and we are giving them a lot to practice. We have two upcoming events – our annual demonstration at the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts on Saturday, June 6; and our Sifu Day celebration on August 8. We seem to have passed a tipping point of some kind and have a lot of students suddenly learning more advanced forms.

Caffeinated Press is going strong! We have at least three novels in the editing pipeline and many stories submitted for Brewed Awakenings II. The 3288 Review is approaching the edge of the precipice where it goes from being an idea to being A Thing. I have a stack of lit journals on my coffee table which is approaching two feet tall. We are homing in on the format we want, and from there on to the amount of content we can have for each issue. Then we need to figure out advertising, distribution, compensation, all that fun stuff.

All this is lead-up to our community introduction event at Schuler Books and Music this upcoming Monday, April 6, at 7:00pm. We hope to see a room-full of writers to whom we can offer our services as editors and publishers. Word on the street is that we will have something close to a full house. I am allowing myself to be cautiously optimistic. Regardless, We can expect a significant surge in submissions.

All of which is to say, Spring will be busy, and summer likely moreso. But all in a good way.