Later this summer I’m going to start with my official SFWA duties and I need to simplify my schedule before then. Step one: Ask someone to help with layout duties for Shimmer.
Job Description: Layout stories to conform to an existing template. Adjust for widows and orphans. Confer with art director on art placement.
Time Requirement: 10-20 hours per issue, quarterly.
Benefits: Exactly what I get. Bio and credit in magazine. Two copies of magazine per issue. Opportunity to hob-nob with talented writers during our conventions parties. Licensed copy of CorelDraw X3 graphic suite. ((If you make a strong case for moving to a different platform and are willing to do the work to make it happen, then we can talk about another program))
Skills Required: Some experience with layout preferred, but will train the right person.
Drop me a line or pass this along if you know someone who might be interested.
Yesterday, while working at the theater, I ran to an internet cafe so I could check on the status of a prop I’d ordered. Two things popped up in my email.
1. Your account has been suspended.
2. An IM from Neil Clarke asking if I’d like to sell him “Clockwork Chickadee.”
So, while I’m on the phone with technical support, I’m also having a conversation with Neil about the story. See, the funny thing is, that I didn’t submit “Chickadee” to Clarkesworld. I sent it to Fantasy Magazine. Yeah… A week or so back, I had a conversation with Cat Rambo, editor, about how she liked the story but had reservations about anything clockwork, because she’s expecting a deluge of them due to the Shimmer Clockwork Junglebook issue. ((To which, I’m not allowed to submit anything because I’m on the staff)) But she liked the story, so she showed it to Sean Wallace, who then showed it to Neil and they decided to move the story to that venue.
This is, I think, the most roundabout way that I’ve ever seen a story of mine take, but I couldn’t be more delighted. It’s due out in June.
Just be sure you aren’t screwing when the actors get there.
Can I get a stiffer rod?
I can retain his rods if I hold them between my pelvis and his head
May I touch your dead animal head?
He couldn’t get it up.
All I have to do is buy this moosehead and then pick up some KY jelly.
I think I can give you a donut but I’ll have to sacrifice a baby bunny
Give me a second to wash the blood off my hands
All right. Who wants to be tied up?
What it really means
I had been painting Greek gods for a show all day and needed to get back to layout
Discussing set construction at a theater.
The metal rod had too much spring in it for the weight of the puppet’s hand.
I kept dropping the arm rods of a puppet that stood waist high.
I was moving some taxidermy heads
At the end of a long day, a puppeteer was too fatigued to lift his arm, and heavy puppet, over his head.
I needed to complete a purchase of a taxidermied moose head on e-bay to be used as set dressing in a show about Teddy Roosevelt. The next item on my to-do list was to pick up KY jelly for another show. It goes in the bottom of ashtrays as a fire safety measure.
We needed a donut to appear magically on stage. The only foam that I had that had the right density was part of a baby bunny prop.
I was mixing stage blood and had it all over my hands
I needed to test a trick rope that had a quick release.
This is Shimmer’s first review at The Fix and so far I’m pleased. It’s nice to have another short fiction review venue, especially one that doesn’t pull punches.
Save for the first story, which was written based on the cover illustration, the art and the stories they inspired are printed together. Unfortunately, this means the art is printed in black and white on plain paper stock, often resized to accommodate text on the same page and apparently printed with a standard printer. Given the detailed linework that features in so many of the pieces, this isnâ€™t the best approach. Images are blurred and details are lost, and while this is likely the result of budget constraints, when the art is the purpose of the publication, it canâ€™t help but have a negative impact. Only the illustration on the cover, â€œPennyâ€™s Graveâ€ by John Picacio, is printed on heavier paper stock, sized so that the details are fully visible.
Ow. I have two reactions to that, one is that we used our regular printer, which I believe is offset. And two, that the reviewer is right. Some of the images are not as crisp as I would like. This has been a problem in previous issues, but one that I thought only bothered me or at least, no one else seems to notice it. And that, is the value of a good negative review when they say something that can make you acknowledge a flaw.
Now, there are also things in there that just make me giggle. Like the reviewer wishing that Chrissy Ellsworth artwork had been printed in color. It’s funny because the original image is black and white. Only one was created in color and that’s Carie Ann Baade’s beautiful artwork in Kuzhali Manickavel’s story. Nor did I resize anything to accommodate the text. The half page images were horizontals, so they don’t fill a full page when their width is the same as a vertical. But, the point is taken that it would be nice for our next art issue to have bigger pictures and to really talk to our printer about the importance of clean images.
Fortunately, the reviewer loves our fiction. Here’s the last line of the review.
Despite the formatting problems with the featured art, this is a solid example of good fantastical short fiction, and an issue of Shimmer well worth acquiring.
I want to give a shout out Mike Munsil, who created Liberty Hall Writers, an online group that does weekly flash challenges. My story, “Evil Robot Monkey” came out of one of those. Each weekend, you get a trigger and then have an hour and a half to write a story.
The story itself is sort of the product of two triggers. See, at Shimmer we have a running gag which stemmed from when we were testing the submission system. Beth sent in a trial submission called “Harry Potter and the Evil Robt Monkeys!” ((The misspelling is intentional. You’d be amazed by how many people send in stories with misspellings within the first five lines.)) Brilliant. I decided that whatever the trigger was, my story would have that title. The trigger itself was a piece of clockwork art.
Here’s the first bit of the story.
Sliding his hands over the clay, Sly relished the moisture oozing around his fingers. The clay matted down the hair on the back of his hands making them look almost human. He turned the potter’s wheel with his prehensile feet as he shaped the vase. Pinching the clay between his fingers he lifted the wall of the vase, spinning it higher.
I arrived home today to a flurry of compliments about the art issue of Shimmer and a slip from the post office saying that they were sorry they’d missed me. Curses! Now I must wait still longer to see this issue.
Sure, sure… I’ve been looking at the galleys and such, but it’s different when you get to hold the smooth pages in your hand and fondle the glossy cover with art by John Picacio.
For this issue, the art comes first. We selected art, and then invited some Shimmery favorites to write stories inspired by the images. Our cover image is Pennyâ€™s Grave, by award-winning artist John Picacio; we used it as the trigger for a contest at the Liberty Hall Writerâ€™s Workshop. The winning story is Penny Wise, by Kurt Kirchmeier.
Sandro Castelliâ€™s Cherub inspired Michael Livingstonâ€™s A Very Young Boy With Largely Clipped Wings.
Conceptions of the Mind, by Fatima Azimova, was the trigger for Aliette de Bodardâ€™s Within the City of the Swan.
Chrissy Ellsworthâ€™s My Career as a Fashion Designer inspired Dresses, Three, by Angela Slatter.
And Carrie Ann Baadeâ€™s Untitled (Hawk headed infant with frogs) gave us Flying and Falling, by Kuzhali Manickavel.
These art-inspired stories are joined by new stories from Daniel Rabuzzi and Josh Vogt.
Still looking for that perfect Christmas gift? Look no further!
Subscribe to Shimmer by January 10, and youâ€™ll get 4 issues of terrific new speculative fiction and art for only $17.00 (plus postage). Weâ€™re going to raise our rates then, so this is your last chance to subscribe at this price.
Bonus: We asked Shimmer favorite Ken Scholes to write a special holiday story for us – and he came through with â€œWhat Child Is This I Ask the Midnight Clear,â€ a post-apocalyptic Christmas tale. Weâ€™ll be posting the story on our site soon; but as a special thank-you, anyone who subscribes (or renews!) by January 10 will get a lovely signed chapbook of the story.
Shimmer is pleased to announce The Clockwork Jungle Book. Think steampunk animal parables! Itâ€™s a special double-length issue, guest-edited by George Mann of Solaris Books, scheduled for Autumn 2008. Now accepting submissions. Read the guidelines for more details.
The illustrations throughout this issue were very well done. They had detail and connected very well with the stories. The cover was appropriate and appealing, with a simple graphic design that grabbed the eye without shouting too loud. Inside, the layout was excellent, the stories very readable and the binding solid (it had a graphic novel sort of binding). It was held easier in the hand than a mass market paperback, and each story is just the right length to get you through lunch at the office.
Given the recent conversation sparked by GUD’s poll which is exploring the ratio of writers to readers of short fiction, I found this article in Wired News very interesting.
A small press, growing? How could it be?
Against market trends, Dzanc Books is a small publisher poised to succeed, hiring staff and expanding quickly. And that may be because it sprouted from a blog rather than a traditional printing press, and it is certainly web-savvy.
Naturally, with my involvement in Shimmer, I have a vested interest in the fate of small presses. In particular, I’m interested in some of the viral marketing Dzanc has been employing. A lot of the things in the article turned up in the panel on Small Press that I was on at WFC.
I’m of the opinion that one of the things that small presses need to do is to rediscover what they do that no other media can provide, in much the same way that painters had to discover what paint did that photography could not.
I believe that small presses need to really pay attention to the package that they deliver the fiction in. There are other ways to get a quick cheap fiction fix so the people to whom a printed book will appeal are those people who like a physical artifact. A savvy publisher, like Subterranean Press or Nightshade, will recognize that and cater to the people who want their fiction in a nice package. And look at the way Clarkesworld magazine or Fantasy magazine are leveraging the online presence to publicize their anthologies.
I suspect that printed pulp fiction will vanish because there are other ways of getting it. But I’m betting that as the internet allows publishers to reach niche markets more easily that small presses can ultimately thrive.
I got on the train with no further mishaps and was rewarded by getting to sit next to the lovely and talented Andrea Kail on my way up. Granted, I spent about half the trip sleeping, but the conversation prior to that was great.
It was hard to cross the lobby without running into someone that I knew, which was a wonderful feeling. Like old home week.
Now, I’m off with Beth Wodzinski to pick up supplies for the Shimmer pirate party. Yarr!
Pirate Issue Release Party: Friday — 9:30pm, Suite 556
Today started with me sleeping through my alarm, though waking up in enough time to make the 8:15 train to Saratoga if I hurried. I ran out the door, struggling along with pounds of Shimmer magazines in my backpack, and came down to the steps of the subway station just as the train I needed was arriving. Whew.
And then, in a bonus stroke, when we got to 96th street, the express train magically appeared across the track. I hopped over and started breathing a little easier. I even got a seat.
Then the train stopped in the tunnel.
It crawled forward finally arriving at NY Penn Station at 8:07. Gah! I ran into the building, sweat pouring down under my coat, knowing that I wasn’t going to make it, but having to try. After all, Amtrak had sent an announcement to expect delays. Maybe it was late pulling in to Penn. Sure enough, I checked the board and it was still there. I grabbed my ticket, no line, and turned to the gate.
Which I couldn’t find. Oh, sure… there was a track 5 E, but it was only accessible by an escalator, which was going up. I needed to go down. A station attendant saw me and another man run to 5 E and look panicked. He shouted, “The stairwell behind you. Run! It might still be there.”
I ran. Top of the stairs. Glory be! The train was still there.
At the first landing, the doors shut. Halfway past that, the train pulled forward. I stopped and dropped my bag. The other man did the same thing. Almost in unison, we cursed.
I turned around, lugged my bag upstairs to exchange my ticket for the afternoon train.
That done, I walked back to the red line to go home. A line from the platform wound down into the main terminal. It wasn’t moving and from where I stood, I could see the crowd at the top, filling the platform. Someone said, “Train’s not running.”
“Any of them?”
“Not on this line. An ‘incident’.”
Groaning, I walked back to the other end of the station to take the C train home. As I waited, I watched six E trains come by and a couple of A’s but no C. Finally, an announcement said that they were running “slower than usual due to an earlier incident.”
What’s with all the incidents? After waiting for forty-five minutes, a C finally came, just as I was about to give up.
I got home about 10:30 and collapsed in bed.
Half an hour later, the phone rang. The production had run into a problem and wanted to know what they should do. With a sense of grim irony, I said, “Fortunately, I missed my train this morning. I’m still in town.”
So, I skipped the afternoon train, fixed the intestines and the dead dog and will go to World Fantasy tomorrow. Somewhere in all of this, I’m planning on sleeping more than half an hour.
(Tor Books — August 21, 2018) Continuing the grand sweep of alternate history laid out in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course, the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, […]