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Editing

The Joshua Tree

As preparation for launching Space Westerns magazine I began researching Western-genre fiction. I wanted to be familiar with the tropes, plots, themes, stock characters of a Western so I’d recognize them in a Space Western story. So I read John G. Cawelti’s The Six-gun Mystique, and David Mogen’s Wilderness Visions, and Jane Tompkins’ West of Everything, and Matt Braun’s How to Write Western Novels. Now when I watch Star Trek, I don’t just see colonists and Starfleet and Klingons; I see homesteaders and the U.S. Cavalry and the Mexican Army. When I watch Star Wars I don’t see Han Solo and Chewbacca and Boba Fett; I see The Lone Ranger and Tonto and The Man with No Name. It dawned on me: this is just another example of designer Robin Williams’ The Joshua Tree Principle:

Many years ago I received a tree identification book for Christmas. I was at my parents’ home, and after all the gifts had been opened I decided to go out and identify the trees in the neighborhood. Before I went out, I read through part of the book. The first tree in the book was the Joshua tree because it took only two clues to identify it. Now the Joshua tree is a really weird-looking tree and I looked at that picture and said to myself, “Oh, we don’t have that kind of tree in Northern California. That is a weird-looking tree. I would know if I saw that tree, and I’ve never seen one before.” So I took my book and went outside. My parents lived in a cul-de-sac of six homes. Four of those homes had Joshua trees in the front yard. I had lived in that house for thirteen years, and I had never seen a Joshua tree. I took a walk around the block, and there must have been a sale at the nursery when everyone was landscaping their new homes—at least 80 percent of the homes had Joshua trees in the front yards. And I had never seen one before! Once I was conscious of the tree, once I could name it, I saw it everywhere. Which is exactly my point. Once you can name something, you’re conscious of it. You have power over it. You own it. You’re in control.

I see “Joshua trees” everywhere now.

Categories
Editing

Thaumatrope writer open pimp thread

This is an invitation for all writers who have been featured on Thaumatrope to pimp themselves in this thread. Feel free to make it as long as you like, but if your comment contains multiple links then it’s likely to go into moderation (so please be patient while it’s in the queue). Also, pending editorial approval, writers who post a comment under 140 characters may have their pimps tweeted to the Thaumatrope timeline for all 2,206+ followers to see (include your twitter account and the #pimpage hashtag in the comment). For example:

@nelilly has been working on the back-end web development needed to revive Space Westerns Magazine @spacewesterns #pimpage

The #pimpage tweets will also appear on the main Thaumatrope website under the interviews section.

All right, tell me what you’ve been up to!

Categories
Editing

Thaumatrope payments sent

Let me just start by saying that I’m very embarrassed that it took me this long to do this: I’ve sent out every outstanding payment request that I had in my e-mail inbox for Thaumatrope. I’m sorry that it has taken me this long. I hope that I can be forgiven for making the writers wait. I don’t have any excuse, but I can try to do better in the future. I hope that the people who don’t accept my apology, will at least accept my money.

If anyone cares to chastise me about how long I’ve taken to do this, please feel free to do it in the comments. I won’t harbor any ill will towards any writer who feels the need to vent at me. I deserve it.

If you requested a payment and haven’t received it, then I haven’t received the request: please contact me and I’ll settle my debt to you.

The theory for this payment system was that, rather than being sent several payments of $1.20 by Paypal, the writer would be able to allow the payments accrue to a threshold that they felt comfortable with before submitting a payment request. I was then able to process payments ranging from $1.20 to $12.00 (or more, as needed). It saved time, but it did cause a little confusion. In the future I would make sure to add more information about this payment style.

I still have more work to do to close up Thaumatrope (and other markets) but the payments are my biggest outstanding obligation, maybe not in terms of currency, but in terms of goodwill.

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Editing

What I learned from Thaumatrope

Brevity is the soul of wit.

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Editing

What killed Everyday Weirdness?

Everyday Weirdness languished then suffered a brief return from the dead in September 2010, before finally becoming inactive again in December 2010. What finally killed it, like Thaumatrope, was time and money.

In retrospect, again like Thaumatrope, I should have pulled the plug, tied up loose ends, and made changes to the website to reflect the fact long before now.

Like Thaumatrope, Everyday Weirdness may return in the future—my core focus at the moment, after paying outstanding debts, is to relaunch Space Westerns. Any other fiction market will have to wait until I’ve accomplished that.

Categories
Editing

What killed Thaumatrope?

This has been a hard post for me to write… All fiction markets die; every last one. It saddens me to (officially) announce the closure of what was the first Twitter fiction magazine. I’d like to thank all of the contributors who submitted to the market while it was open. It was fun while it lasted.

So what caused the demise of Thaumatrope?

  • Twitter API: OAuth
  • Time
  • Payments

I was feebly plugging along when Twitter changed their API, and I wasn’t able to make the site compatible with those changes. In order to truly relaunch the magazine I have to go back and completely rewrite the backend of the website (which included all of the code to receive submissions and send acceptances/rejections) to work with OAuth. Which leads to the second Thaumatrope killer: Time.

The time it takes to edit stories that are 140 characters long is minuscule. Not only does it just take about 5 seconds to know if your going to accept the story, it only takes 5 seconds to read the entire story: beginning, middle, and end. Unfortunately, it takes much more time to run the magazine (think marketing, advertising, development, and for the truly courageous, commerce) than what I was able to provide. Rewriting the back-end to really work with OAuth, and/or so that volunteers might be able to manage much of it in my stead, is time that I don’t have.

Which leads to the final reason that Thaumatrope closed: I got behind (WAY behind… embarrassingly behind) in my payments to authors. It reached the stage that I didn’t see the point in going further into the hole. My current goal is to address all outstanding payments before I launch (or re-launch) any additional fiction markets.

In retrospect, I should have pulled the plug and made changes to the website to reflect the fact long before now, but I didn’t have the time. As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t even really have the time to read and respond to e-mail, among a host of other things I didn’t have the time for. As I wind down my fitness regimen and get used to my schedule working on the house I’m finding more time to get back online and tie up loose ends. At some point Thaumatrope is likely to relaunch, and when it does you’ll hear it here first.

Categories
Editing

Everyday Weirdness returns from the dead

Everyday Weirdness has been on temporary unannounced hiatus, but it returns with “Zombus Zombi Zombimus” by John Medaille, “Zombie Boyfriends are Totally in for Spring” by Camille Alexa on Friday, “Re: The Peace Treaty” by Rich Matrunick on Saturday, and “Zombie V” by Melanie S Page on Sunday.

I’m not normally one for publishing zombie works, unless they’re really something special, but I’m currently inclined to look at any and all zombie flash fiction (poetry, images, comics, etc.) this week.

Here are some previously published zombie works on Everyday Weirdness:

For even more, check out Tor.com, which is currently in the midst of their zombie love-in.