Doing the most GUD

Another kickstarter announcement!
One of my favorite literary magazines of all time, Greatest Uncommon Denominator, is holding a kickstarter drive in order to fund issue #7! They are one of the most beautiful, most carefully curated spec-fic literary zines I’ve ever read, and seeing another issue from them is something I’m pretty invested in. Honestly. They’re up there with Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet in my estimation. 

And, bonus, in addition to copies of the magazine they’re giving out handcrafted Vogon poetry (lucky you!) and postcards featuring my art from their 2010 Halloween Monster quiz! If you’ve ever wanted to own your quiz answer in hard copy, this is your chance!

Baby VW

Right now there are 17 days left to get in on the action! Don’t waste time, I’m sure there are people you know who need the above postcard desperately. Think of them!



Just a reminder

Only 5 days to go on the Fireside Magazine Issue 3 Kickstarter, and we still have more than $4,000 left to raise. If you’ve been thinking about throwing in a donation, now’s a really great time to do it! Help support great art, fiction, and fair pay to contributors!


Issue Three will include short stories by Daniel Abraham, Elizabeth Bear, and Mary Robinette Kowal, as well as one by Lucas J.W. Johnson… We’ll have a comic written by Rachel Deering and drawn by Christine Larsen. And our artist for the issue is Lisa Grabenstetter.

And if you contribute anything, you get a copy of your very own! Pretty damn exciting, yes?

Fireside Magazine

I’m ridiculously thrilled to announce my involvement in Fireside Magazine issue 3!

Fireside Kickstarter screenshot

For those who haven’t heard of it yet, it’s a robust multi-genre literary magazine that focuses on good good storytelling and great treatment of its creative elements. Issue three will contain fiction by Mary Robinette Kowal, Daniel Abraham, Elizabeth Bear, and Lucas J.W. Johnson. And I get to illustrate all that! Plus the amazing (I am not kidding) Christine Larsen is illustrating a comic by Rachel Deering for the issue, which should be absolutely gorgeous.

But yeah, I get to contribute four illustrations (including the cover). Can I reiterate how thrilled I am?

If you need to catch up on the back issues, you can do that either by heading over to Weightless Books or by throwing at least $9 to the kickstarter (you know which one I’d recommend…) I’ve read them both, and give a hearty reader’s endorsement.

Where to Weird

Just one more post like this and then we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming I promise. (Without ruling out the possibility that posts about cool new publications and other goings on in the SFF community will become more of a regularity.)

My last post was, admittedly, a little all over the place. I was trying to give a pretty wide sample of the sort of literary magazines out there, regardless of their exact placement on the spectrum that is the speculative fiction genre. So for this post, I’m going to reign it in and talk about a few places you can go to get your fix of Weird Horror (and maybe send that Weird story you just yanked from Weird Tales‘ submission queue). 

(Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my own devotions along these lines.)

Innsmouth MagazineInnsmouth funding driveThe first is publisher Innsmouth Free Press, and their triannual Innsmouth Magazine. Innsmouth is helmed by the inestimable Silvia Moreno-Garcia*. In addition to being one of the most active review and essay blogs in the genre (think but almost exclusively for Weird Horror), it’s also a strong contender for ‘heir to the Weird fiction magazine throne’. A nontrivial cherry on top of that creepy-crawly sundae is their announcement today of a funding drive for their next two anthologies (Sword and Mythos and Jazz Age Cthulhu), with their final push goal being a hike to pro rates for Innsmouth Magazine itself!

Dagan BooksSecondly, I’d like to highlight Dagan Books, the tiny press responsible for Cthulhurotica. Its focus is similar to Crossed Genres in that its publications tend to take a base made of Weird and mix it with a big ol’ dab of Something Else (whether that be Alien archeology or Books within books.) At the moment they’re just about to close submissions for Cthulhurotica 2, so if you have something kicking about your hard drive that might suit, be sure to get it to them before August 30th.

Then there’s Chiaroscuro, which is another small Weird horror press with an occasional zine habit. They publish a little bit of short fiction on their website, but have shifted their main focus in a more bookish direction. ‘Embrace the Odd’ is their well-observed motto. If you’re a longtime connoisseur of Weird, you might recognize a number of their authors.

And if you’re a devotee of the audible, my two favorite podcasts with a consistent Weird emphasis are the unpredictable (and for me, local!) Drabblecast and the the (very Cthulhic, seemingly never safe-for-work) Pseudopod!

I know there are a number of great new anthologies out recently that fit under the Weird umbrella, including one from Ann Vandermeer (the editor of Weird Tales‘ best run) and her husband (author and editor) Jeff Vandermeer**. I’m not going to get into individual novels or anthologies further than that, but if there’s something that I’ve missed or that you just really want to talk about, please do bring it up in the comments!

* (Though I’d heard of IFP before, my first encounter with Moreno-Garcia’s own fiction was through her story “Jaguar Woman” when it came out on Podcastle. I just wanted to share.)

** (I’ve heard that it leads with a portion of illustrator Alred Kubin’s The Other Side, a book very dear to my heart and also very difficult to find. Or at least, difficult to afford. In my estimation, that alone makes it worth looking into.)

And now for something totally… better.

Several very wise people advised me, in the comments on yesterday’s post, to give up and move on. And… after much thought I agree. There is really nothing Marvin Kaye (et al.) can say to me at this point that will restore my faith in Kaye’s capabilities as an editor, or my hopes for Weird Tales’ future as a publication. It had a long, often rocky, often problematic history capped by a few years of shining brilliance… followed by a dive off of a sheer cliff into the sea.

RIP, Weird Tales. I’m sorry you had to go this way.

But, as Silvia Moreno-Garcia reminded me, all is not lost! There is a veritable smorgasbord of delicious, socially conscious speculative fiction in the world right now. So as a unicorn chaser, let’s talk about some!

ShimmerYou might’ve heard about how Mary Robinette Kowal, author and former art director for Weird Tales, stepped up to the plate earlier this week and is using her own pocket money to bump Shimmer up to pro rates for fiction. Shimmer’s known for poignant, thoughtful speculative fiction (that means spanning all genres traditionally thought of as SFF) and general progressive wonderfulness.

GUD MagazineGreatest Uncommon Denominator (GUD) Magazine is another one I’ve mentioned before. They don’t come out often, but when they do they’re a hefty and satisfying tome of both genre and literary fiction chosen with a great deal of skill. Though not the specific focus, they’ve been known to house some of the most interesting monster-centered stories I’ve encountered. They also have terrific taste in art (I’ve published with them.)

FiresideFireside Magazine‘s one of the new kids in town. Its focus is on story-driven specfic with compelling, unsinkable plots. Some of my favorite people on the internet are involved in this one, but even detaching myself from that I have to say it’s one of my favorite magazines already. They’re only on issue 2 so far, which makes catching up easy.

Crossed Genres has an interesting premise. Every issue takes specfic and crosses it with a different, specific theme – “Lies” and “Bildungsroman” are two examples (full disclosure: yes I have done art for them! I choose well). Also a newly pro-rate market, CG makes a particular effort to showcase marginalized groups and sub-groups in their magazine and anthologies. The ones responsible for ‘Science in my Fiction‘.

ApexApex Magazine is another one I know some folks at: and they’re all cool. A magazine of fantasy and horror, Apex is a venue that puts focus on marginalized and non-USian voices. Famously, their extremely adult reaction to a certain prominent SF author’s outspoken Islamophobia was to publish an issue dedicated entirely to Muslim writers and artists. I’ve been subscribed for some time, and have never been disappointed.

Lady Churchill's Rosebud WristletLady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet a collaboration between Kelly Link and Gavin Grant of Small Beer Press. LCRW is strange, amusing, and difficult to categorize – each issue contains everything from specfic to recipes, essays to comics and poetry. Of all of the zines listed here, it has the most zinelike feel to it. It’s even printed on a xerox machine and stapled together like something you’d expect to find in the ‘unclaimed copies’ bin at Office Depot. Consistently one of my favorite magazines out there. Also the only one I know of that offers a subscription plan that includes a chocolate bar with each issue.

If you need some fiction right now, Lightspeed Magazine has got you covered. An amalgamation of fantasy and SF (they recently absorbed Fantasy magazine) Lightspeed hosts a generous portion of its content for free reading on the web. Delia Sherman, Ken Liu, and Linda Nagata are some recent contributors – to give you an idea of their standard of quality. You can also subscribe and toss these awesome folks a few bucks to keep it going.

ClarkesworldClarkesworld is another long-standing and much-loved magazine, with wonderful free content trickling through the website at all times. It’s won more awards than you can shake a book at (the Hugo, Nebula, and Shirley Jackson just to name a few) and even posts audio versions of their stories as an extra bonus.

The Future FireThe Future Fire is another favorite of mine (which.. full disclosure, I’ve made art for) Their entire mission statement is to focus on socially progressive specfic. They’re currently collecting stories for a colonialism-themed anthology of new fiction focusing on the experiences of the colonized called ‘We See a Different Frontier’. Definitely give them a read!

And if you’re a part-time e-reader like myself, it’s always worthwhile to check out the subscriptions section of Weightless books*. Small Beer press, who owns them, is a great source of exciting and reliably conscientious things. Browse around the whole site and see what some other small presses are up to while you’re there.

And if there’s any publication of particular splendor that I’ve missed and you’d like to share in the comments (your own, even) please do! Let’s get the word out: beautiful things do still exist.


Weird Fiction ReviewUPDATE: Oh! And don’t miss this newer endeavor by Ann Vandermeer and friends, the ones who contributed directly to Weird Tales’ former glory. Weird Fiction Review isn’t a literary zine per se, but it’s still a whole lot of strange, neat things all together in one place, curated by people that can be trusted.

*(Note: Weightless books does carry subscriptions to Weird Tales. They’re offering a chance to swap your subscription to a different magazine for free, though, and I suspect that if Kaye continues down this path they won’t be offering it for much longer.)

Prismatic Art

If you’ve missed the news that I’m a huge nerd, you haven’t been following me too closely. I’m a huge. Nerd. Also a huge proponent of equal rights and representation for everyone, even in fantasy settings. So when Prismatic Art Collection put out a call for artists, you can imagine my feelings. I threw in my contributor hat immediately.

What is it? Well, right now it’s a Kickstarter project with the aim of commissioning a bunch of art from illustrators of diverse backgrounds of fantasy characters with diverse backgrounds. It’s hard to miss that the worlds of D&D and most of its cousins are peopled by a jarringly homogenous cast. The aim of Prismatic Art is to compile a selection of stock illustrations that add a little (racial, gender, ability) diversity to the mix.

If this sounds as encouraging to you as it did to me, go take a gander at the project! Even if you can’t afford to contribute, spreading the word is a great way to help too!


The things we love

I enjoy many things. A clear sunny day spent sitting under a tree with my sketchbook, a brisk walk  on a rainy and blustery afternoon. Birds chirping and  flittering about me as I stand still in the forest. A good hot mug of chocolate. And books, and art, and beautifully shot, convoluted movies with fantasy deep in their plots.

Beautiful weather and birds aside, much of what I love has a person, or people, to thank for it. And because of the internet, I’m closer to those people than ever I was in my childhood. I can read an author’s blog and learn how she sat in a coffee shop for hours, years, drinking hot chai and typing long fluid sentences. I can follow an art director’s twitter stream and watch the development of a cover from concept to print. I can visit an artist’s portfolio site and see what work inspired and was inspired by the cover I enjoy so much. If ever I feel threatened by a disconnect between myself and the world of wonders I consume, I can go online and immediately discover myself a part of a community of writers, artists, readers, creators. It is a beautiful, exhilarating feeling. It reminds me of why it’s such a lucky thing to be human in this century — our society is huge.

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A few good places to send your spare dollars

I know that excess money isn’t a problem that many of us have at the moment.

I'm shocked that I even HAVE $22.02 in my wallet

Still, I wanted to highlight a few good places to spend a little if you have a tiny bit to spare. For all of these, you also get something in return, which makes them even better expenditures still, right?

The Ripple project You may have heard of this. It’s a sketch project started and curated by illustrator Kelly Light. Artists donate small illustrations that pertain to the BP oil spill , and the ripple project sells them for just $10 (or $50 for famous illustrators). All profits go to wildlife rehab and cleanup in the gulf. As of my writing this, more than $10,000 have been donated through Light’s efforts. A wonderful way not only to help, but obtain a beautiful piece of original art while you’re at it.

The Omikuji Project Authors make criminally low salaries, considering the beauty they create and the amount of work they do. Omikuji is a side project of Catherynne M. Valente’s. She writes a brand new short story every month, which is then mailed out to all subscribers. For $5 a month you receive an email with a PDF version of the story, or for $10 a physical letter in your mailbox. Valente receives all profits for this herself, with no intermediary taking a 99% cut, which helps her fund her lifestyle of getting a ridiculous amount of incredibly gorgeous prose written. An excellent way to fund a truly brilliant writer, and get something lovely in exchange.

Kickstarter In case you haven’t heard of it, Kickstarter is a platform for projects to get funding via micro donations. Each project sets the amount of money they’ll need in order to complete their objective, and a time limit for when they’ll need it by. People who are interested can donate anything they can afford to help get it off the ground. If the project meets or exceeds its goal, they get the funding and get started. If they don’t, nobody loses a dollar. Projects generally have levels of donation for which you, the donor, will receive various rewards in return- such as copies of the publication, or the software, etc. I don’t have any particular project at the moment that I’d recommend, but browse the site a bit and you’ll likely find something you’d be interested in backing.

Anybody have a good cause they’re looking to fund at the moment? Even the cause of “I need to eat, and I make wonderful things that I sell in my etsy shop”? Drop me a line in the comments, and I’ll likely boost you in a future blog post.