Thaumatrope payments sent

Posted on: August 14th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

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.

Wall Street Journal Interview

Posted on: August 8th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

I was interviewed by Don Steinberg for an article about Cowboys and Aliens that appeared on The Wall Street Journal: Hollywood Frontiers: Outer Space and the Wild West. He tracked me down from Space Westerns.com and my article on Strange Horizons: The Emancipation of Bat Durston. Here’s the relevant part of the article that was paraphrased from our interview:

“Avatar,” set on a distant moon in 2154, isn’t obviously a Western—but hold on, says Nathan Lilly, who runs SpaceWesterns.com, a website dedicated to the subgenre. The Na’vi tribe are classic movie Indians. They may be 10 feet tall and blue, but they shoot arrows, wear their long black hair in ponytails and live in harmony with the land. The greedy white mercenaries intent on snatching the land’s precious minerals are familiar characters, as is the one renegade who falls in star-crossed love with a native woman. In “Avatar,” it’s Marine Jake Sully, who inhabits a lab-made body that resembles the natives, under orders to embed with them and gather intelligence. He romances the lovely Neytiri, and as the invading soldiers try to destroy the tribe’s sacred tree and mine the valuable ore beneath it, Sully leads the resistance, with help from an alliance of clans from around the planet.

Falling for the squaw is very “Pocahontas” (1995) and very “Dances With Wolves” (1990), but there are earlier precedents. In “Broken Arrow” (1950) Jimmy Stewart is a former Union Army soldier who befriends Cochise in 1870 to learn Apache ways and stop their attacks. He marries an Apache girl and is seen as a traitor. In “They Died With Their Boots On” (1941), Errol Flynn is General George Custer, leading the 7th Cavalry. Pioneers pushing west want every scrap of Indian land. Anthony Quinn, as Sioux chief Crazy Horse, says his people will give up everything except the sacred Black Hills, where “the spirits of our fathers dwell,” warning that if those hills are infiltrated, all the tribes will unite and fight back. Just as in “Avatar,” greedy bureaucrats direct soldiers to invade the sacred territory, tribes unite, and we know what happened to Custer.

We did speak more about Firefly, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Westerns in general, but it seems to have overlapped with other interviews where it may have been more relevant to quote or paraphrase someone else.

I know what I’m gonna do today

Posted on: June 16th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

If you weren’t already aware of it, go watch Phineas & Ferb. I highly recommend it.

Here’s the intro, which sums up the show better than I can:

It’s smart, funny, witty, subversive (but not in a crass or mean-spirited way) and speaks to my inner geek. It also has great musical numbers:

Yesterday was the last day of school for my children; Today their summer vacation begins. Summer is a great time to be a kid and you shouldn’t waste any of it.

I know what I’m gonna do today.

Warrior Dash PA, 2011

Posted on: June 14th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

This weekend I ran the Warrior Dash in Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, on the Skirmish paintball fields. Warrior Dash is a 3½-mile run with a dozen obstacles (from mud pits to rope walls) placed along the route.

It was a dark, cloudy day, made even more so by the fact that a cloud bank covered the field by the time that my wave began at 3:30. Here’s a video of my run, though I imagine it’s only of interest of people who want to run the Warrior Dash.

[music for the video by Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band]

I was bib #33968, I came in 802nd place (out of 8,281 runners for the day), and took 105th place for my age group (out of 743 runners in the 35-39 male age group). My final race time was 40:33.80, which was an 11:35/mile pace, a little less than 4 minutes slower than the first place finish which paced 7:38/mile.

It was a great run, and a great time. I’ll likely do it again next year, but for now: I must get my head back into web development.

What killed Everyday Weirdness?

Posted on: June 10th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

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.

What killed Thaumatrope?

Posted on: June 9th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

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.

Why blog, why now?

Posted on: June 2nd, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

Blogging has been around at least since 1997. The actual term “blog” wasn’t coined until 1999. In 2004 it became Merriam-Webster’s #1 Word of the Year. I even took a stab at a journal on LiveJournal, mainly to keep in touch with friends and writers who were already on it, but I lacked the desire to continually publish entries and it has since become a place for people on LiveJournal to follow my various projects (including this personal blog). After having left this blog lie fallow for a short time I’ve decided to try to post more often, on no particular set schedule. So, why did I wait so long to create a personal online journal, let alone decide to publish regularly? I have a tremendous lack of ego.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted this space to be; why I needed to create it; why I should devote time to this rather than other projects that are continuing to languish.

When I was 12 years old, I was a young man with a certain fondness for science and science fiction. I don’t think I was your typical introvert, but it was a tremendous achievement for me to get past my shyness. When I did it, I attacked the problem in my usual fashion: I overcompensated. In my first year of high-school I joined band and drama club, and by the following year I had joined choir and ran for (and was elected) student council president (being the youngest student council president that anyone could remember). I made myself very outgoing, and this continued through my college years (DJing for WLHU, acting in stage plays).

So, now I’m doing the same thing for my humility. I’m being more aggresive in putting myself out there. I don’t believe that what I think is really going to change your life. I don’t believe that you really care about my opinions, my past, or my future hopes and dreams. This isn’t about you…

It’s all about me.

I’ll be posting what I feel needs to be posted. There probably won’t be any underlying theme to what you’ll find on this blog in the near future. What you’ll be treated to here is whatever frivolous, inane thoughts that cross my mind and occasional updates about what projects I’m working on. There will be no attempt to be entertaining for you. In fact, you will very likely be bored with the minutae of my life. If you get annoyed that I’m posting too much about fitness/health/diet or that I’m mucking around too much with one particular project—don’t complain, you’ve been warned.

Getting my house in order

Posted on: May 25th, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

You deserve an explanation. An explanation as to why I haven’t, among other things, answered an e-mail, called a friend, attended a convention, or updated any of the fiction markets that I operate (and/or other websites) in quite a long time… I bought a house.

This is a good thing! I haven’t died; I’m not sick; I’m not stuck in a major depression (just a little ennui). It’s just that I’ve become utterly unreliable for everything outside of my family, my day job, and the house. Overall my priorities shifted a bit and my fannish/freelance enjoyment took a back seat. Until this past weekend when I attended The Steampunk World’s Fair, I hadn’t been to a convention since Balticon 2010 (last Memorial Day). I haven’t played Dungeons & Dragons with my regular group, my childhood friends, in quite sometime. I haven’t kept up with my e-mail, often going weeks at a time avoiding it. I’ve got a long, long list of things I haven’t done or kept up with.

I have been working hard at a demanding job as a web developer at a major financial institution. I have been enjoying quality time with my family, including game nights, carnivals, birthdays, etc. I have been exercising regularly, eating right (probably not in the way that you think) and improving my health. So, personally, things have been going well for me. I almost wish I had a crushing depression so that I’d be able to excuse my utter neglect of everything else…

Thaumatrope is closed. Announcements to this effect and changes to the website will appear (when the stars are right). It is very likely to reopen in the future. Outstanding payments will be sent out. The site will remain online, and the stories will remain available. I’m planning on publishing an anthology.

Everyday Weirdness is closed. Announcements to this effect and changes to the website will appear (again, when the stars are right). It is somewhat likely to reopen in the future. Outstanding payments will be sent out. I’m planning on publishing an anthology.

Space Westerns is on hiatus. It will reopen. I still have big plans for it. The website redesign is stalled, but when it launches (soon, always soon) that will be the first sign that things are happening on that front. When it returns in full it will return with big guns.

Containment is being updated. If there are conventions in your area that you think should be on it, either add them or let the proper people know about the listing service so they can add their info.

So, I’m starting to be able to be active again. I’ll have more detailed posts about the markets soon, but if anyone has any questions, just let me know.

Pardon me, I fell off the face of the Earth

Posted on: May 21st, 2011 by Nathan E. Lilly

I was gone. People noticed. Things happened. Decisions were made. Stuff was purchased. Now I’m returning. Apologies are given. Explanations forthcoming.

It’s not like it’s the end of the World.

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