Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Literary Magazines

Literary magazines exist everywhere, and they can be pretty easy to find. You just need to know where to look.

To start with what's dear to my heart, there are Island Writer and Theory Train.

But if you don't write speculative fiction or live on Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands, it can be difficult to find a market. There are just so many to go through, and so many corners of the internet where they could be hiding.

Writers' Market is a fantastic resource, but it's expensive, and only updates once a year, at which point you have to buy a new one. Which is fine, in most cases, but errors accumulate over time, like magazines going under or changing their address, so you want to buy a new one every few years at least.

Another option for finding markets is, which is an online catalog of magazines and anthologies and whether they are currently accepting submissions. It's searchable, and usually current to within a day or two.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Author Interview: Adam Schreckenberger

Adam, in addition to being the technological heart of Theory Train, is an author in his own right. I interview him about his series, McCallister Chronicles.

Eileen Young: So, what's McCallister Chronicles about?
Adam P. Schreckenberger: Hmm, that’s a good question. Sometimes, I don’t even know the answer to that one myself. Upfront, it’s about a knight’s duty when it comes to his princess, but that seemed a little boring on its own. To some extent, it is about the endless insanity that lurks in my imagination and a mythology I created to pass the time. I can do whatever I want in those pages. I want a sword that talks? Fine. I want people that can wield fire? Fantastic! It also keeps my girlfriend happy, which carries a lot of benefits.
EY: Was she part of what inspired you to write it?
APS: Oh yes, she was. We had been thinking about writing a story together for a long time, but it just never worked out. One day, she really needed an upbeat, new tale. I sat down and wrote the five pages that became Episode 1. Like always, I posted it on my site for kicks. What I did not expect was the response.
EY: There was a lot of interest?
APS: That day still holds the record for most hits, and I got a few emails with messages asking if I was planning to write new chapters.
EY: Wow, that's impressive. And you've continued to release the chapters as free downloads. What was the thought behind that?
APS: Well, I am a physicist. Writing is my hobby, and that is how it is going to stay. It just has never felt right forcing my readers to purchase my works. Originally, it was motivated by the fact that most of my fans, if you want to call them that, were in high school and had no fixed income. In that sense, it became a simple choice. Either I’d charge for my stuff and no one would read the pieces, or I’d have them available free of charge. Old habits are hard to break.
EY: And now you have the first several episodes available in print. What made you decide to make it available that way, too?
APS: Some of my friends are diehard supporters of MC. When they asked me to make a printed copy available, I obliged. Plus, let’s face it. It is awesome to hold a physical copy of something you wrote. It certainly brings me some joy.
EY: It really is. So, you never considered publishing traditionally?
APS: Once upon a time, I did. I was in talks with a publishing house, but there were terms of the deal that I just did not like. For starters, everyone could kiss the free copies goodbye. They also wanted to put me on a timetable for the remainder of the series, which is not acceptable when one factors in my job. I guess it would be nice to have it released in the traditional sense. It would certainly make it more capable of receiving some recognition, but I am proud of what the book has accomplished.
EY: Is there anything else you'd like to say?
APS: I am grateful that I had the opportunity and the motivation to write MC. It brought me new friends, and pushed my old friends even closer. There is also something worth mentioning to those out there that are on the fence about writing a book or self-publishing. Just do it. Whether you put it on a blog, dA or some website, getting your work out there is worth the effort. We are all extremely fortunate to live in a time when these tools are available to us. Do not let them go unused.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


In an interesting collusion of events, I read an article about real-life makers the same morning I decided to spend most of the day reading Makers by Cory Doctorow.

They both touch on the proliferation of customized technology put out by people who see the need and think the meeting of it is fun; individuals with support networks they can consult, small teams of people with varied skillsets. They're not big businesses. They're representative of the social movement that has catapulted the term for a new company from 'start up' to 'start-up' to 'startup' in our cultural vocabulary. To quote from Makers, this is what the dotcom boom laid the foundation for.

Makers fill a need with their products, or at least an interest. Unlike L'Oreal, which makes everything from Lancome to Maybelline, makers make something unique, which means that anything else that comes along is real competition. There's more drive to be better when the business is more personal.

The same thing's been happening with publishing. Borders is bankrupt because it was not a model for the current and coming era. Author services like are growing faster than publishers, because authors are realizing that they can have an active role in the publishing of their book, they just may lack some of the applicable skills.

Traditional publishers have acted as gatekeepers, as arbiters of taste, but now we can find book reviewers online who review independent and self-published books, and we can find ones who share our taste in reading material. The market acts as a surer arbiter of taste than any book editor can; there's just not enough time in the world to read all of the new material coming out. But books are the ultimate niche market: all unique, all intended to appeal on different levels to different people. Making more of the good stuff available is good for everyone.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gendered Language is like 'Black' Only Worse

"Am I speaking to the lady of the house?"
"Well, I'm not a man, and I live here."

The above conversation is one I overheard my mother having. Being a former hippie, she's part of a movement that understood 'lady' as a trivializing term, whereas I understand it as a respectful term in most contexts.

But what does your reader understand it as? Your main character? Are they the same or different?

Worse, if you're writing for anyone under 30, what do you do for those characters for whom a gendered pronoun is not appropriate? "That person," "they," and [name] can be hard to navigate for the length of a thousand-word short story, ignoring completely the challenge of novels. First person can be a way around dealing with it in narrative, but what about how characters react to them? Does the entire cast have the same biases about a character of non-obvious gender, and if so, is that on purpose?

Even if you're keeping to gendered characters, there's the question of terminology to reference significant others; "partner" is en vogue, but with some subcultures it connotes a same-sex partner, while with others it connotes someone with whom the relationship is too serious for them to feel comfortable using "boyfriend" or "girlfriend," but which is not headed for marriage.

Gendered language is a similar minefield to that of finding politically correct skin-colour/ethnicity terms. It's worse, though, in that melanin content can be described as "Oh, you have a high melanin content." That makes for awkward phrasing, but it's possible without turning too many verbal backflips. Gendered language, though, can be broken down by people who subscribe to a gender binary, people who consider it a spectrum, and people who present socially as one thing but consider themselves another (drag queens are one example of that in play).

It's going to be impossible to please everyone. But in writing, it's a good thing to consider as part of who you're representing in your fiction and who you're speaking to.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Open Mics

Tonight I was supposed to go to the Victoria Writers' Society open mic night, but I was too exhausted to go.

Open mic nights are fun, especially if you get to read, but they're also emotionally draining: exposing your creative side is pointless if emotions aren't involved.

I'm going to cut my incoherence short and go watch Bones.