Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Friday, December 28, 2007

16 things I learned from guest-editing "qarrtsiluni" Insecta

Photo credit: Today's photograph at qarrtsiluni is flyy by Emilie Zoey Baker. For more, wing over to qarrtsiluni.


The Good & the Bad

1.

I have always had a terrible weakness for people, their endearing, funny, and un-funny foibles as well as their abilities and their rising-above-self merits, and I still do. I especially liked getting to know Ivy Alvarez and the managing editors, Beth Adams and Dave Bonta, and I relished most of the correspondence with writers and artists.

2.

Never shift to gmail for editing without learning how to use it first, or you will accidentally shoot a bunch of rubbish and notes to somebody and confuse them mightily.

3.

Ask and it shall be given! There’s nothing wrong with nerving oneself to ask somebody you admire for a piece—I asked Paul Stankard for some images, even though I thought he was entirely too famous to bother with us. But he did bother with us. Hooray!

4.

Some people have no self-control when it comes to submissions. After a while, this becomes funny, and a certain name becomes a cherished byword.

5.

It’s lovely to see a piece go through multiple revisions and come back a stronger and more controlled piece.

6.

Now I appreciate magazine editors properly.

7.

Never, no-not-ever sign up to guest edit a magazine during a period that covers both Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially if you have three children and a rotten respiratory bug.

8.

Being fuzzy around the edges, I never ever remembered whether a person had been widely published or not, according to his or her letter. Prior publications made no whit of difference to the work.

9.

Visitors to blog-style online magazines still visit but do not leave comments around Christmas Day.

10.

Come up with an interesting topic and hone the work: a startling number of readers will show up.

11.

Dave Bonta is a gen-u-ine character, wonderfully cantankerous and beauty-loving, and he ought to be in a novel. Maybe he is in a novel. I’ll have to check.

12.

I am excessively dutiful. I do not want to be an editor, because such things would take over the little wisps of time that I gather together to do my writing.

13.

One for Ivy, for luck: Axolotls are useful little beasts, loving and burning and doing handsprings and frolicking.

14.

I am burdened overmuch by a Southern tact handed down from my maternal grandmother, Lila Eugenia Arnold Morris, an upright and shining pillar of her community, a fervent-to-burning Southern Baptist, and a woman who gave birth to nine children and managed to rear them right despite the Depression and many losses.

15.

Rejecting people you know or e-know is not any harder than rejecting people you don’t know. It’s all the same amount of hard, that hard nugget of no.

16.

Never-ever-ever say that your dear mama, your darling wife, your darling husband, your granny, your granpappy, your adorable kitty, your sweet addled puppy, or any other beloved family member really liked your poem just exactly the way it was. Even if your poem is exceedingly attractive and alluring, this becomes a stumbling block and a hindrance to two editors, who then walk around said stumbling block and talk about it until finally they send your poem back to you with what are really quite sincere regrets, along with a certain amount of bemusement.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bottles, qarrtsiluni, more--

New wine

Illustration to my story, "Drunk Bay," in the current issue of Postscripts: here.

Old wine in an old bottle

In honor of Advent, the annual money-grubbing Christmas movie rush, "The Golden Compass," and the "dust" kicked up by Philip Pullman, I resurrect an old post from the depths of blogdom--back in the era when I was mostly writing for myself, no doubt! Here is "Pullman, Lewis, & the world-changing redemption of the ordinary."

***
New wine in a brand new bottle
qarrtsiluni is sputtering and spinning along in good bug fashion. Ivy Alvarez and I are working on our sixth batch of submissions right now and will probably wait until the deadline of the 15th to begin on the seventh, unless there is an unexpected Deluge. One of the great things about accepting a call to work on a project like this is getting to know the co-editor and managing editors, and I have enjoyed the contact with all three.

One thing that I have re-learned is how very satisfying it is to take a piece that has some flashes of brilliance but really needs more work and help somebody shove it closer to perfection. I feel very pleased with the pieces that are up and those that are in the queue waiting for a turn. It would be interesting to have a site where one attempted to help somebody revise every day--one poem or story per day--but it would take an inordinate amount of time. Of course, it would also be pleasing to have one's own pieces treated in such a detailed way!

Another thing I notice is that the level of competency out there in the world is quite high. The difference between the poems taken and the ones not taken tended to be in the areas of style, love of language, or something we might call vibrancy: the illusion that a work has some degree of life. However, some pieces we didn't take were interesting and lively but seemed to demand more revision than we felt we could fit into our schedule--and the room in our schedule simply had to decline as we moved closer to the submission deadline of December 15th. Some pieces we didn't take were well done but felt too familiar; others we seized on immediately managed to de-familiarize and enchant the ordinary.

We have some surprises hidden up our sleeves and hope to delight and please some more before Christmas. The last postings will be up by early January at the very latest.

***

Photo: Artist's bottle house window in bright sun with a misbehaving camera, Wilmington, North Carolina. August 2007.

***

Bottle trees

One of the things I want next year is a bottle tree. In a dreary Yankee February, one needs (this one needs) a little bit of Southern color and dash and trash. Otherwise, one might just take the dirty snow at the edge of the street too much to heart. The magpie and the homesick child in me demand nothing more than a bottle tree.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tinnerty Leaves a Note

During Advent, an evidently-tiny elf sometimes leaves very small messages around the house for N, who a terribly busy small person and easily bored in the absence of daily Peewee football. As I am still laboring away on qarrtsiluni Insecta with poet Ivy Alvarez--please go see our magnificent bugs in word and image--and still struggling to recover from that pernicious bug, The Flu, I now present one of those notes, found under my pillow along with an uncomfortable lump that turned out to be books.

Still wondering what to give your great big lumpen friends of the human kind? How about one of these gigantic books, packed like St. Nicholas's pack with good stories? Love, Tinnerty

There! Getting an elf to write one's blog posts seems an excellent idea. I may have to continue the practice.

Logorrhea has to be the most imaginative idea for an anthology in years. John Klima, editor of Electric Velocipede, invited writers to contribute stories inspired by a winning Scripps spelling bee word. Mine was smaragdine, a word I knew from the marvelous Puritan poet, Edward Taylor. Daydreaming about the metaphysical poet, stuck in the wilds of Massachusetts, I came up with a story called "The Smaragdine Knot. " (I confess to having used the divine Mr. Taylor before, as the unnamed Puritan minister at the close of Catherwood.)

Excerpt from "The Smaragdine Knot"

"Smaragdine" podcast mini-tale by Jeff Vandermeer, from his round-up story that hit each of the words in the anthology.

For author bios, more excerpts, reviews, and more, go here.


Looking for an Epiphany present? Rich Horton's Fantasy: The Best of the Year will be out on New Year's Day. In it, you may find my story, "The Comb." Here’s an Amazon link for reference.


Other recent and forthcoming appearances that may be of interest to the literary shopaholic include my novella set on St. John's, "Drunk Bay," forthcoming in this month's issue of Postscripts (U. K.). The issue is forthcoming in hardcover and paperback. Soon coming up is a story in Firebirds Soaring, the next anthology from Firebird/Penguin and Editorial Director Sharyn November of the magnificent red hair. For more upcoming publications in anthologies and magazines, as well as information about recent publications, see my bibliography for more information.

And here's one final suggestion...

Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling's Salon Fantastique recently won the World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology.

The collection includes my "Concealment Shoes" (a Locus Recommended Reading pick.) This is a story that--unlike most of my work--uses real elements from my life. The concealment shoes were at one time in the living room chimney. All three of my children and one of the cats (the calico, not the idiot Russian Blue, cute and bug-eyed) make appearances, and my 1808 house gets a starring role, along with a nearby bit of the Village of Cooperstown. It is related in setting and characters to the story "Rain Flower Pebbles," forthcoming in Postscripts (U. K.)

***

Image credits:
In order of appearance, the covers shown are from Bantam, Prime, and Thunder's Mouth.