Congratulations to the Grawlix Growlers and all the Flash Battle writers from the LAJD 1:1 match up. LYDIA PRIME earned 25 points for the Grawlix Growlers with A.F. STEWART, JOSHUA E. BORGMANN and DAVID NIALL WILSON each bringing in 10 points. Read the LAJD 1:1 entries here.
Congratulations to the Paradox Pandas and all the Flash Battle writers from the FADE 1:2 match up. FELICIA MARTINEZ earned 25 points for the Paradox Pandas with ALINA MĂCIUCĂ, ELAD HABER and DANI J. CAILE each bringing in 10 points. Read the FADE 1:2 entries here.
Paradox Pandas have moved up to 35 points, closing in on the Grawlix Growlers with Syntax Serpents in third at 20 points. Malaphor Minotaurs are in last place with 0 points.
I have spent much of the past year curled into an mentally uncooperative ball this past year but I’ve still been doing stuff. Amy Zoellers started doing live poetry events on Instagram last fall and she invited me along for the ride. We’ve been doing one a month since. Sometimes they are in exotic locales, like the Woodlawn Cemetery or historic Independence Square. Often they are broadcast direct from our creative workspaces at home.
You can scroll through and find them on her Instagram page at instagram.com/hipness_and_outrage. Or, I might be responsible with my social media from here on out and share the videos here.
Hear all about cake, hot dead guys, discovering new poets and almost getting in a wreck over them, mystery mailman authors, exquisite corpses and more…
DreamForge magazine has been doing some interesting new things over on their site dreamforgemagazine.com. DreamForge and Space and Time have done a lot of cooperative things over the last two years with advertising, general brainstorming and most recently… an anthology of stories from both publications from UpRoar Books.
My favorite memory: having a meeting on Skype with Scot and Jane while I chased a chicken through the yard. That’s high powered publishing at it’s best. Like Space and Time, DreamForge is going through some pivots and reorganization to ride through these difficult times. Who best to share this than Scot Noel, publisher over at DreamForge.
Scot, thanks for taking the time to share the changes going on over at your publication with me, but before we get into that, can you tell readers here a little about yourself and why you and Jane decided to publish DreamForge?
“You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there’s no such thing as the unknown — only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.” —Captain Kirk
“When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” —Mr. Spock
And for me, the attraction of Science Fiction (and Fantasy) has always been fundamentally underpinned by Gene Roddenberry’s notion that “the Human Adventure is just beginning.” Now, DreamForge as an idea came about in 2017. In my reading, I had become disenchanted with the level of apocalyptic thinking and the hopeless tone in many stories. Near the end of that year, I saw the Black Mirror episode entitled “Metalhead,” which was an amazing piece of dark fiction, culminating in the extinction of humanity by AI in the form of robot dogs equipped to hunt down and kill humanity. While there are certainly problems, even existential threats in today’s world, that’s simply not going to be our fate.
I’m just a Star Trek geek who, at the age of 9, was watching TV on September 8, 1966 when the episode “The Man Trap” premiered. I ran to my mom in the kitchen and told her this was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Of course, it was more than a show, it was a philosophy, a way of life.
And so DreamForge was born. While we had no previous publishing experience, we took a year to get organized, plan, assemble test issues, go to conventions, put together a Kickstarter, and launch DreamForge, Issue One “Tales of Hope in the Universe” in February of 2019.
Maybe I’m too dark, but I can totally imagine robotic canines taking out humanity. I’m actually surprised they didn’t show up during 2020—everything else did! What are some of the books that you and Jane love to read? What has inspired you the most? What writers do you admire?
These days, Jane and I rarely read the same book, but we often tell each other about the books we read. I guess we cover more ground that way. When we got married; however, we discovered our book collections had many duplicates, often of the same edition. In part this is because we both belonged to The Science Fiction Book Club growing up, such that our shelves were filled with works by Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, Roger Zelazny, Ray Bradbury, Robert Silverberg, Larry Niven, and especially Tolkien.
Oh, one author we both follow religiously is Jane Lindskold, whom we worked with many years ago in our past careers as computer game developers and now count as a close friend. Everyone should read her Changer and Changer’s Daughter, and anything in her Firekeeper series.
We both highly admire Bill Bryson, and all speculative fiction writers should be familiar with his A Short History of Nearly Everything for an engaging lesson in history, geology, biology, and the universe in general.
I’ll have to check these out. I think I own a copy of Bryson’s book and I’ve been meaning to read Lindskold. How about the work you publish? DreamForge has a strong vision for the stories and poetry you print. Why are stories of hope so important?
Human technology is advancing faster than the human brain can adapt. Right now, we are in an informational trap of our own making, as the Internet spreads bad news and misinformation around the globe at the speed of light. The main problem is not bad actors spreading conspiracy theories or even actual conspirators, the problem is that our brains have not evolved to handle the feedback loops and echo chambers we’ve created.
We’ll probably be able to handle it in a generation or two, but right now the world needs everyone who can to spread the idea that humans have always handled anything that is thrown against them, including many of the problems we create ourselves. I would venture to say few people reading this know that, on the whole, forests worldwide are increasing, or that renewable energy is set to account for 95% of the net increase in global power capacity through 2025, or that while the human population has increased dramatically to nearly 8 billion, starvation is decreasing. From literacy to education, advances worldwide have been dramatic in the last century. The future of humanity is bright, but self-doubt, defeatism, and self-degradation can cause us to retreat in fear from shadows of our own making.
Let’s get to some of the changes your are making with your publication. Tell me about DreamForge Anvil? How is that different from DreamForge the magazine?
2020 was a challenging year. Though DreamForge achieved its share of critical success, dwindling resources, along with stresses at our day-jobs and on our families (all largely attributable to the pandemic) have forced us to consider how we can continue in 2021. Where DreamForge was a lavishly illustrated print magazine, DreamForge Anvil will be primarily a digital resource presented in our online Reader’s Portal.
DreamForge Anvil will be presented in 6 issues over the course of 2021 with a new mission:
One – To present speculative fiction that is positive and hopeful, demonstrating humanity’s ability to overcome challenges.
Two – To go behind the scenes of our storytelling with author notes, editorial observations, essays on writing, and even some line edits showing story development.
Three – To point out that the overarching trend of humanity’s direction is toward enlightenment, compassion, and an ever-advancing civilization.
What do you have planned for the future? How can new fans find and follow you?
Right now, the future just means getting DreamForge Anvil up and running, telling some good stories and helping some writers improve their craft. We’re planning a subscription drive Kickstarter to start around February 20th , with a submissions period opening at about the same time. Watch for us on Kickstarter, and watch this page to see when we open for submissions. – https://dreamforgemagazine.com/call-for-submissions/
One piece of excitement for our Kickstarter is that we’ll be introducing an Anthology, Worlds of Light & Darkness, published by UpRoar Books that contains 20 of the best stories from the pages of both DreamForge Magazine and Space & Time.
We’ll also be continuing our cooperative effort with Space & Time – if you are a paying subscriber of one magazine, you can have free digital access to the other, all in our online Reader’s Portal. If you check out our Kickstater, we’re grateful for any support you can give, and we look forward to getting to know you.
I am so excited to welcome ALINA MĂCIUCĂ to my blog. Technically we are in an Horror Writers Association mentee/mentor relationship but she is such a natural writer she doesn’t need any help with her craft (more then we all constantly need to hone our craft). I love her dark prose, rich atmosphere building and realistic characters. If anything, she can just use a hand getting her name out there.
Alina, welcome and thank you for taking a few minutes to chat with me. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read by you and am excited to include your story in the next magazine. It’s always exciting to find a fresh talent. Tell me a little about yourself and why you write.
Hi Angela! Well, in a nutshell, I want to bring all these worlds and characters that I spawn in my head into our own world, imbue them with life, somehow. It’s an impulse, nothing too complicated. When I see something that intrigues me in a certain manner, I grab it and twist it and find a place for it in a universe I’m going to write down someday. Maybe it’s a rundown house that still has curtains in its windows, or a china puppy, or someone’s hair or whatever. But I suppose that’s how most of us do it. I’m a city girl and there’s lots of things you can imagine when you walk the city by night.
Hahahaha! Spoken like a true writer. One thing is true of all good writers is that they are always good readers. What are some of the books that have inspired you?
There’s so much stuff that I love to read and it’s all so different. I don’t even know where to begin. I set this rule for myself as to what concerns my reading habits, I should only be reading two books at a time, one fiction, one non-fiction but it doesn’t always work like that. For example, now I’m “officially” reading Gene Wolfe’s “An Evil Guest” and a book on sexuality and Romanian customs and taboos, but I’ve also skimmed some chapters from Alai’s ‘The Song of King Gesar’ or China Mieville’s ‘Iron Council’, which I should have read years ago, anyhow, because I’ll need to refresh my memory about the Bas-Lag stuff, as it’s been years since I’ve read the previous two.
A lot of authors that have inspired me are not actually SFF. When I say this, I think of Georges Bataille, for example, or of Herman Hesse. ‘Demian’ will stay with me ‘till the day I die Anyhow, my tastes are quite eclectic and really depend on my mood. I find beauty in both Byron and Bukowski. I also try to stay up to date with SFF and Horror and love reading genre magazines and anthologies.
I think reading a variety of material and genre goes far to helping us write creative stories. Something else I think is important is seizing every chance to polish are craft, which is how we met through the HWA mentorship program. I’ve been a mentee twice and can attest it really helps. How did you become involved with the HWA and their mentorship program?
I don’t remember precisely how I found the HWA, basically it was a long time ago. I guess I was Googling an author I was reading, and they were a member of the HWA or a Bram Stoker nominee or winner. I thought it was awesome that there’s such a thing as a Horror Writers Association and just lived with this thought in the back of my head for the following years, until 2020 when I started seriously reconsidering writing again.
Fair enough. So glad you joined up so I could run into you. I love the story you have coming up in Space and Time. What inspired this story? Does anything stand out in your mind as particularly easy or difficult when writing it?
Yes, and that’s amazing! When I was a kid, I loved to imagine that, at night, all the ghastly denizens of the city came out and played. I like to think of this story as a scene from one of those unseen worlds unfolding on the city streets.
To be honest, shaping the voice of the narrator protagonist was something I found frustrating, at times. I never thought it would be so challenging to write from the perspective of someone who’s completely hammered when you’re sober and sipping tea, and have twenty more minutes left until you need go to sleep, because, hey, work tomorrow. But overall, I really enjoyed the experience.
I think that’s what charmed me so much. You effectively caught the experience of being intoxicated. I think most of us have some experience to draw from there. What do you have planned for the future? How can new fans find and follow you?
I’d love to keep the short stories coming, and maybe I’ll want to live through the novel experience. Everyone that would like to say hi or just check what I’m up to, could follow me on Instagram or Facebook, but you’ll just have to request it first, as I keep my profiles private. Find ALINA on Instagram here and/or Facebook here.
I would love to read a novel by you and hope we will stay in touch. Consider me a fan.
Don’t you wish there was an easy free way to be exposed to new readers, find feedback on your work and show off your awesome skills? It would be really great if it was fun and foster writer friendships too. Good news—everything I just said is open for sign ups right now. It’s called Flash Battles. Can’t wait to find out more? Find out all the details here.
How do you participate in this magic? It’s easy. Sign up to be on a team. You can choose from the MALAPHOR MINOTAURS, GRAWLIX GROWLERS, SYNTAX SERPENTS or the PARADOX PANDAS. Once you sign up you get randomly chosen to participate in a Flash Battle. Don’t worry if your invite comes at a bad time. You will have a week to let us know you are ready to battle. If you aren’t, your name just goes back into the pool and you can play at a better time.
If you are ready to battle you will be paired with three other writers. You will all be given the same prompts, word count and time to write up your bit of speculative 500 word flash fiction. Then voting is opened up to readers. Readers can vote once for every story they like. Every vote is a point. Points get awarded to your team. Simple.
Now here’s the really cool part: some of these stories will be chosen to be published in the magazine and read by Ryan Aussie Smith on Space and Time‘s YouTube channel here—with your permission, of course.
One of the most important things you can do to make a name as a writer is to get published. Here’s an easy, fun and free way to do just that regularly. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a team to sign up with. I’m thinking I might join the Syntax Serpents…
Remember our poor exquisite corpse? Last spring it was thriving, well fed on all the bits of poetry we fed it as a community. Then the pandemic kicked in and, like many things in 2020, it went into hibernation. But here it is… proving you can’t keep a good corpse down—or is that kill what’s already undead? Regardless, January 2021 brings our friend back to life.
Don’t worry if you missed it. We will build a new corpse beginning next February 13th and you can add your bit until the 19th. Can we keep a new corpse coming each month all year? This is the challenge, and it’s up to you. This corpse can’t build itself.
We’ve been busy behind the scenes… but we can finally reveal what we’ve been working on. A revamped Space and Time website—but wait—there’s more! Spaceandtime.net is now more than just a place to park the latest issue. The new website features ways for writers to interact in both team and solo competitions. And of course, the Exquisite Corpse has been revived to come play with us again. Visit the fresh new site here.
What is the point of this? To do our part to energize and add a dynamic element to the speculative genre. These competitions offer new ways for writers to interact, show off their skills, gain credibility and build a spirited, united literary community. But that’s all the warm fuzzy stuff that keeps me up at night. You might be more interested in how ink will be spilled in the paper arena. Keep reading…
What are the Flash Battles like? Think of the most ferocious gladiator battle you can imagine… four demon warriors, drenched in sweat and blood as they eye their opponents ready to fight to the end. Now imagine four writers creating these four warriors in 500 word flash stories and ready to write to the end. That’s a flash battle. Four writers go head to head to write their speculative fiction story in three days. They will all be working from the same three prompts.
How do you begin? Sign up for a choice of four teams. You will be notified when we have a match available and given a week to decide if you’ll be able to compete. No matter what, you earn points for your team. Readers vote on their favorite stories, which is where the points come from. Some stories will be randomly selected to showcase in Space and Time magazine. Ready to learn more? Find our all about Flash Battles here.
But what if you are more of the Max Max, lone wolf type of writer? You don’t play well with others and prefer to go it alone? Then you may be suited to try out for Iron Writers. Each month writers will pit their skills pen to pen in 1,000 word flash fiction inspired from four prompts in seven days. The piece with the most reader votes (each reader may vote once for each piece they like) wins that month and can’t compete until the quarterly challenges. Finally, the quarterly champions will compete to earn the title of Iron Writer Champion 2021. This challenge will begin in June 2021 and run until June 2022. All winners receive recognition and get to showcase their flash in Space and Time magazine. Find out all about the Iron Writer Challenge here.
But what if you don’t want to compete at all? Then come help us build an exquisite corpse. Not a new event, the Exquisite Corpse game has been played either here or at spaceandtime.net for about two years now… and exquisite corpses as a form of poetry have been around far longer. Like the Stone Soup of poetry, come with your half baked thoughts, toss them in the pot and see what magic we conjure. Each exquisite corpse is honored in Space and Time magazine with the new prompt going up on the 13th. Exquisite Corpse submissions are open from the 13th – 19th of every month. January’s poem is up now. Find out all about the Exquisite Corpse here.
I invite you to come poke around the new Space and Time. This is just a little of what we have planned for the next year with more being announced in the coming months. I believe that the responsibility to change the future rests with those who can visualize it. Those that can visualize it are those who can write it.
While I have been busy in other realms in cyberspace (we are behind the scenes building two websites plus) I just found out that Altars and Oubliettes was named a Best Poetry Collection of 2020 by Tor’s Nightfire. Did I expect this? Not at all. I have barely even mentioned the book since I released it last October. Am I in shock? Why yes, yes I am.
Altars and Oubliettes was the poetry collection that I started two years ago and then trashed when I realized I didn’t like much of it. Marge Simon was my mentor during that time. I knew I didn’t like it but I couldn’t tell if I was being overly critical or if it was mostly crap.
I asked Marge her thoughts. She kindly critiqued it for me and super nicely confirmed my worst fears: it was mostly crap. Consequently, she became one of my very good friends that I turn to often for input. I’m honored she has given me a foreword for Altars. If you have a professional friend that will be honest with you about your work, you have found gold. Marge Simon is gold.
Which is why I’m so excited to see Mary Turzillo and Marge Simon’s collection also on that list! I’ve read Satan’s Sweethearts and I loved it. The voices of female serial killers slide off the page to lodge in your mind. You won’t soon shake off their delicate and deadly influence. One of my pet peeves is that no one much mentions the female serial killers. I suspect there aren’t as many reported because women don’t tend to get caught. Perhaps it’s poets rather than police that should be after them. Marge and Mary did an excellent job of capturing these killers.
There are other names on the list I’m familiar with and consider friends. Ashley Dioses, K. A. Opperman, Michael Bailey and Christina Sng are all poets whose work I’ve read and recommend. I’m ordering many of these books off Tor’s list after I recover from the shock of being included.
On a side note… in the first paragraph I mention that we are working on two websites. Very soon we will be showing off a new Space and Time website that has some crazy amazing new opportunities. We’ve been working hard back here (by we I mean Kyra Starr, web genius). The other website will remain a mystery for a little longer.
And speaking of Kyra Starr, we will be releasing a poetry book together this April to celebrate National Poetry Month. Called Kraken Fever, here’s the blurb:
Two poets, trapped in the suffocating depths of 2020. From them came poetry, bubbling to the surface, seeking the light. Two drowning voices, an ocean between them, buried their fears in the monsters they created together. Kraken Fever is the golem they built from ink, paper and a sea of tears. But more on that later as well.
We try to drink bottled water and eat organic but there isn’t much to do about our air quality… besides not smoking. This is what I used to think before my husband started working for Rabbit Air, creator of some of the best air purifiers on the market. Honestly, clean air is not something I’ve ever thought much about… until I learned these purifiers are also effective against viruses. Why do I suddenly care about viruses in 2020?
He was telling me all about some of the Rabbit Air models the other day and he suggested I do a blog post about how effective and important they are. That’s a good idea, I thought. And then I had a better idea. “You’re a writer. You’ve written a book! You should write the blog post.” He agreed.
I’m happy to introduce Ryan Aussie Smith, my husband and fellow writer, to share his knowledge. A little about him for those that don’t know… a native Australian, he co-publishes Space and Time with me and produces all the audio publications for the magazine. He is currently producing all my audio books as well.
He just published his first book, Shadow’s Lament, which you can find on Amazon here. He is a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and he is my best friend. He complains about having too many dogs in the house, but since our house doesn’t smell like it has too many dogs (thanks to the MinusA2 air purifier) he complains much less. Marriage is all about compromises, after all.
And now, here’s everything you should know about air purifiers from Ryan Aussie Smith… Want to know about Rabbit Air purifiers? You can find them online here.
As I read this introduction, I want to mention that we still have too many dogs but Angela is correct that you can’t tell unless you actually see and hear them. This is largely because of the MinusA2 SPA-780N we have centrally located downstairs and a BioGS 2.0 SPA-625A located upstairs. The units have many filters but much of the heavy lifting is performed by the HEPA filter and charcoal based activated carbon filter. The HEPA filter is a TRUE HEPA filter, able to filter out 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size. The activated carbon filter can reduce all kinds of obnoxious odors from pets and cigarettes and less obnoxious odors from, say, cigars and bourbon.
Now note where I say “centrally located.” This is a crucial part of helping an air purifier do its best for you. An air purifier needs a great location to actively draw in air to purify it. A common mistake is locating a purifier in locations with poor air circulation. If your air purifier can’t pull in ample air, it won’t be able to give you back ample purified air.
Up until the pandemic, the biggest reason people wanted air purifiers was for odor and allergen removal but 2020 has made us all suddenly aware of viruses. Some of the biggest customers at Rabbit Air are schools, dentists and homes for the elderly specifically as our units filter out 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size. This is important to all of us this year. I’m much happier to know any viruses floating around in my house will spend most of their life caught in a HEPA filter.
This isn’t the only reason to have a quality air purifier with TRUE HEPA filtration (which Rabbit Air purifiers are). Unless you are an allergy sufferer, you probably don’t think about the triggers floating around you. But for many, ignoring pet dander and pollen is not an option. Hay fever affects between 10 and 30 percent of all adults in the U.S. and as many as 40 percent of children, according to Healthline.com. They estimate as many as 60 million adults in the U.S. suffer from hay fever, and that number is increasing.
This is one reason Rabbit Air purifiers are in such high demand. Impurities are all around us—wildfires, pollution, pets, pollen, smoking—all these particles affect us when we breathe them in. I can’t control air pollution, smoke output from fires or even germs. Unless I make my home air tight, irritants will find their way in.
What I can control is how the air inside my home is processed. By running my two Rabbit Air purifiers on AUTO mode, I am assured 1,440 sq ft of my house is being purified at all times. Whether my family is sleeping or awake, Rabbit Air is on patrol.
This is why I have such an admiration for the company I work for. This is a good product. Because of it, I know thousands of schools, hospitals and homes have an extra edge on protection right now. There’s a lot we take for granted, but suddenly safe air can’t be one of them. Having my Rabbit Air purifiers is one way I know my family is protected.
And I don’t have to complain (as much) about dogs.