Stay on Target…Stay on Target

That's no MoonWe’ve selected a closing date for issue three of Sybil’s Garage: November 20th. This gives you the weekend if you so wish to refine and polish your gem of a story. Stories received on the 20th will be accepted. Stories received after will not be read.

From the slush pile:

About 135 submissions to date.

119 or so rejections mailed.

9 stories & poems selected.

About 20 items in the contender category.

We are looking to choose about 2 to 3 more stories. Several in the contender category I’m leaning towards accepting, but feel free to query us if it’s been more than 30 days and we haven’t peeped.

Great Bear RainforestThere was a fascinating documentary last night on the Great Bear Forest. Researchers followed around packs of wolves, some of which swam miles in open water. The native peoples told stories of the “wolves that fish” but science has only witnessed this recently. I watched as the wolves closed in on the shallow rivers during salmon spawning season and plucked the fish from the water, preferring fresh brains when the pickin’s good. Great bears, for which the rainforest owes its name, were avid fishers too. They hung on the edge of fallen trees, reaching into the water to snatch their prey. When the salmon weren’t plentiful, the bears ate the abundant sedge grass, and the wolves — well, they sometimes ate the bears. And there were white bears too — not albinos — but the result of some recessive genetic trait. Called Spirit Bears by the native peoples, their white color is supposed to remind man of the ice that covered the land 10,000 years before, a myth passed down by word of mouth from indigenous peoples and shown by science to be true. But what I found most fascinating was this fact: when the wolves and bears are feeding on the salmon, and the fish are mad with spawning, the wolves and bears take dozens of fish at a time into the woods, leaving behind the rotting carcasses of fish when they’re done feasting. As we all learned in first grade, fish make an excellent fertilizer. If we go to the tallest tree in the forest, say a spruce, and we take a needle from it into the lab, we will find nitrogen inside it from the deep sea, brought to the Great Bear forest by spawning salmon, and spread around the roots of millions of trees as fertilizer by the bears and the wolves.

Would that a fish become a tree, said the announcer. What a beautiful phrase.

Though I watched this happen through a tv screen, I could feel the land’s pain first-hand as I watched parts of this beautiful forest clear cut for lumber, roads built for hunters and trappers — the ancient forest decimated in the blink of an eye. Are we so cold, so short-sighted to destroy such a treasure (and others like it) merely for cheap wood? What will it take for the average man and woman to know what beauty still lies on this earth, and to know that they must with all their hearts do their best to preserve it?

A documentary, perhaps?

On the Home Stretch

Pumpkins are not part of the axis of evil, no matter what GW saysWe’re almost done with the submission process for Sybil’s Garage issue three. So far, we’ve received approximately 120 submissions. We have sent 104 rejections. We have accepted about eight stories and a couple poems. We have several in the contender category, but feel free to query if you are concerned or have any questions. As updated on Ralan.com, we plan on closing to subs mid-November, so please send your stories our way if you plan to do so.

Have you seen our new website? Hopefully, it’s easier to navigate, and I believe it’s much nicer on the eyes. The cover you see on the front page for issue three is not the real cover, but a placeholder. And many of the pictures you see in the super snazzy slideshow were taken by Devin J. Poore, with a few thrown in from my own stock. Who knows if one of these excellent shots will make it onto the cover?

Donald Pleasance looking puzzledCongratulations are due to Mercurio D. Rivera (picture) who just sold his story “Longing for Langalana” to Interzone. The editors praised his story, all enthusiastically chanting “yes, yes, yes!” like Meg Ryan in that movie. This is his second pro sale in a few short months, so we hope to see many more from him. Mercurio has guest blogged here during his trip to Cascadia Con.

The mask is Willam Shatner, the knife, Martha StewartSince it’s Halloween today, and I don’t have a costume you can see (or would want you to see), how about this cool picture from the Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Lost Title Goeth Here

Profound inanity!From the reading queue: Approx 115 submissions to date, 94 rejections sent, about 15 in the contender category which includes about 7 poems. The quality of the submissions has been high so far, and we’re moving along smoothly towards issue three.

Sometimes in the middle of the night or right before getting out of bed in the morning I have these great quotes or ideas, and I always either tell myself, I’ll remember that, or I’m too tired to get up, and then I lose it. The same happened with a title for this morning’s blog. I thought, now isn’t that clever. But between the time of my alarm and my shower and shave it has since vanished into history. In one of my drawers I have about thirty loose post-its where I actually forced myself to write down my thoughts in the middle of the night. Here’s one: “Know that all religions are the same because they seek to elevate man above his animal condition.” Profound truth, or profound inanity? You decide.

Lost in a sea of wordsWhile in the last throes of my novel I realized it was not working. For a long while I was happily delving into my imagination, adding this bit or that to spice up the plot or the characters. But the ending needs to be spectacular, and all plot points need to resolve. I ended up having to trash the last two chapters I wrote, and instead spent yesterday afternoon sitting in a coffee shop outlining the end. I like this ending much better because it affords all the characters their final say. I seemed to think it was going well too, because I kept getting chills while writing it. Devin J. Poore happened to walk in there while I was writing and he snuck words into his story while babies screamed and people spoke much louder than they had too. It was Sunday after all. But we both had headphones and blissed out on music.

In other news the Senses Five Press new website is progressing smoothly. Originally, my plan was to release the new website with issue three, but I think I may post it sooner because it’s like a new car you just bought. Why wait for the plates when you can drive it around town and show it off now? I really like the new look of the site, and I hope you will too. The interface is much easier and cleaner and I think you’ll agree.

Now, those clients that cancelled on friday need me now, so I have to go fix some computers (wink wink, nudge nudge).

Hanging on the Porch

From the reading pile: About 100 Submissions so far, 89 rejections mailed out, and about 14 maybes. If that doesn’t add up, then perhaps it means someone is sneaking stories into the pile. Who is it? You? You?

Is it me, or is there a whole lot of new publications springing up recently? I remember perhaps a year or two ago when sending out stories I said, nope, sent to that one already, nope, there are no markets for this story. And now, when I look at Ralan.com I see dozens of new publications all the time. I believe this is a good thing, however, let’s hope that most of them stick around. It’s very easy to start a magazine. It’s much harder to finish.

Jim Hans on his fecund porchOn Saturday I had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Hans at his home. Jim was the creator of a magazine in the 70s called Time Machine, not to mention a talented artist and avid collector. I sat with him for an hour asking him about his life and experiences creating a magazine in Hoboken, but I felt I could have been there for a week and still missed out on things.

Jim Hans on his fecund porchJim founded the Hoboken Historical Museum, and his house is the only one in Hoboken, NJ with a porch (because his wife is from Georgia.) Here you can see the morning glories running up the side. (PS, these pics will be in the next issue of Sybil’s Garage, but because you’re such a faithful reader of my blog I’m giving you an advanced viewing.) The full interview will be available in issue number 3.

On Friday my sister was “revealed” for her stint on “What Not To Wear” and my family and I all met her in a bar called Sutra, which is located at First Ave and First Street in Manhattan (the Nexus of the Universe.) She came out to much applause, twirled flamboyantly, then smiled as everyone crowded around her to compliment her. My cousin and other sister prodded me to get in from of the camera to say something about my sister, but I hid. Yet, the producer heard, “The brother is here? We were looking for you.” I know, I thought. That’s why I was laying low. They pulled me in front of the camera. “Free Tibet!” I should have shouted or “Peace on Earth!” Instead I just praised my sister and told the world how good she looks.

And, at the risk of repeating myself, I’m really digging the Maximo Park CD, A Certain Trigger. Think Rush meets Bloc Party, meets Sex Pistols meets Devo. English new punk emo techno pop math rock blah blah blah. It’s good, so listen to it. And leave me a comment if you like it. I know nothing about them either, but I have a feeling I will soon.

We Want You!

We want you for our experimentsAlteredfluid needs writers! Alteredfluid is a weekly writers’ group that meets in downtown Manhattan of which I am a member. Because of attrition, people moving away, and murders, etc., we have lost members in the past few months and we are looking to fill a few spots. What we are looking for: Speculative fiction writers of any genre. Our members typically write science fiction, fantasy, horror, and that strange interstitial land called slipstream. Not all of our members have been published, but some have been multiple times, and a few have received honorable mentions in the year’s best, and others have won major awards. A few of our members have been to Clarion, and we use that style when critiquing, but that is not a prerequisite to joining the group. If you are looking for a writing group in the New York Metro area and think you might want to meet once a week in downtown New York, send an email to Mercurio D. Rivera (aka Evil David) at this address.

Now on to the slush pile news. We’ve received approximately 90 stories so far. We have rejected 71. We have accepted 7 stories, 2 poems. 6 stories are in the candidate pile as well as several poems. We would like to see more science fiction. We expect this issue to be bigger than the last, both in page count and circulation (especially now with our snazzy new ISSN 1557-9735) so if you are interested in advertising with us, please contact us using the email address link at the top of this page.

Blade Runner Baby!

New Scientist has a forum that’s been running for weeks on The Best Science Fiction Works Ever. Of course, like music, opinions abound, and there is much saber rattling, but my all time favorite film, Blade Runner, consistently rates at the top. As a science fiction novel, Dune (the original) ranks as my favorite and is kind of in the untouchable category. Anyone who criticizes this novel frankly doesn’t understand it. People also have been raving about the short lived Firefly, which I have never seen, so I’ve put it on my Netflix queue.

Solar Flare has an excerpt of an interview with Scott Bakula of Enterprise fame (or infame). Bakula blames Paramount for the cancellation of the show, saying no one in the organization supported them, but he believes people will be watching his show 20 years from now. One thing I noted about Enterprise compared to all the previous Star Trek series was its poor writing. Can’t think of a new plot? Well there’s always Time Traveling Nazi’s (yes, they did it). Can’t think of a new enemy to fight? Well let’s take the Taliban and rename them the Suliban and hope no one notices where we got the name from. At least in the other series, any commentary on real life was veiled enough so that you could take it on its own, or apply it to any event from history. Take Deep Space Nine’s Cardassian occupation of Bajor. That could be seen as Germany in Poland, China in Tibet, Israel in Palestine. But the viewer is left to make that relation herself.

What I would like to see instead of the same tired old let’s-conquer-the-universe themes is something I call Star Trek Stories. Think Outer Limits or Twilight Zone without the creepiness, but taking place somewhere, sometime in the Star Trek universe. Think Trials and Tribble-ations times a thousand. Imagine having an episode take place anywhere, anywhen in the series. A day in the life of a janitor aboard Enterprise A. A day in the life of a school teacher at Starfleet academy. A day in the life of a cadet aboard a time ship. You could have recurring characters too. There are endless possibilities with this theme, and I think it would allow the Star Trek universe to expand without becoming stale. I thought I would throw it out there, anyway.