New Normal? First Poetry Reading Since March

Talk about kickstarting the muse! This afternoon I had the pleasure of doing a poetry and chatter session with Amy Zoellers of Hipness and Outrage fame. Check her Instagram out here!

We took turns reading our work and discussing the inspirations behind it. I even got choked up halfway through talking about Carts Full of Air (also posted to PoetryNook here).

That was a good way to start August. I haven’t done a reading since March, I think a day or two before we all shut down. It was the first time to do anything like this on IG. I look forward to more.

I love Amy’s beatnik influences and the way she incorporates the senses into her work. Suffice to say at the end of it I had a crush on a dead guy and a craving for banana cream pie. But why listen to me prattle on about it?

Watch it for yourself here and laugh at all our mishaps, including cameos from a variety pack of pets.

The World Needs Poetry Part One

The World Needs Poetry Part Two


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Buried Author Seeks Shelter

Wanted: Overwhelmed author-publisher seeks strong, dependable bomb shelter to protect against falling deadlines. Must enjoy dark humor and have an inappropriate appreciation for all things morbid. Please do not respond with Pina Coladas and walks in the rain. Corrugated steel a good ice breaker. Photo not needed. Apply in comments.

I like to stay busy, but the past few weeks have been a bit much even for me. I went from zero to 120 miles an hour in mid-July. Before that, I’ve either been doom scrolling or stress gardening.

I find myself at the end of July about to have a coronary. Space and Time lost a small fortune mailing the magazine overseas last issue because as far as we know, only one actually made its destination. At $15-20 a pop to mail international, we can’t afford to keep doing that. I’m not even sure if our Canadian issues made it through.

While we are trying to decide what to do with that situation, we are prepping the latest issue to at least do our domestic mailings. Then I read about how politics and greed have snuck their way into the United States Postal System, and now I wonder if our domestic issues will also be no-shows.

You can read a collection of articles on how snail mail is about to go defunct here.

Hope some mailman is at least enjoying it…

And speaking of mailing, we’ve decided not to use our nice, clear resealable envelopes anymore because we had one magazine returned to us as an empty envelope. Someone had unsealed it, taken the magazine, and resealed it. The post office was kind enough to return the empty envelope to us with an apology. They even took the time to put our envelope in another clear envelope.

We thought we’d made some hard decisions at the beginning of this crisis in order to keep the magazine going, but I think we are going to have to cut deeper. Right now I’m thinking our only choice for the foreseeable future is to refund remaining subscriptions and just let people purchase the issues on Amazon. But we are mulling it over.

I can’t say I would miss going to the post office right now. One of the postmen from our own branch contracted COVID, but that’s not unique. He’s just one of the 39,000 postal workers to contract the virus as of two weeks ago.

I’d also happily take a pass on standing in a crowded line (crowded because no one understands how far six feet is) and looking at all the masks sagging under every other person’s nose. (I’d hate to see how they use a condom). But I digress…

The spuds… just keep… coming…!

The stress gardening I began in late February has turned into 100+ pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes. Suddenly I am buried in cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, onions, potatoes, potatoes, and more potatoes…

One good thing I did find out about potatoes is that if you leave them in the ground too long, they replant themselves for a fall crop. We might almost have these gone by then.

Not bad for my first real garden, but all the picking and processing takes more time than I realized. More accurately, I didn’t plan for all this harvesting because usually I’ve killed it all by now.

This entire lunch was grown within 25 square feet.

More news on the urban homestead front… the chickens started laying two weeks early and are now flooding us with eggs. This is not a bad problem to have, but we’ve had to move up our coop building plans to this weekend so they could be properly housed. We’ve been raising them as chicks in our garage.

Yes, I know the point of having chickens was to have eggs—I just didn’t expect so many so soon. I’m an accidental farm success… and now that I’ve run out of freezer space I guess it’s time to figure out canning. YouTube will save me.

Besides all this there are the usual deadlines for columns, poems, a story that I promised in April (cue screams of frustrated anguish)… this neglected blog. Get the feeling that this is just a rant? Yes it is, and please feel free to stop reading at any time. This is my therapy. I’m just letting you eavesdrop.

As if things couldn’t get busier and more insane, last week something happened I’m not even at liberty to discuss but it involves someone losing their life and someone going to jail. It’s not me or my current immediate family, by the way. All I can say on that is no matter how you try to toss someone a rope, some people will still be hell-bent on hanging themselves instead of climbing.

Actual chicken that makes my breakfast.

I keep not sharing posts because I feel I have nothing good or kind to say right now, so forgive me. I think the CDC needs to add Becoming an asshole to the list of symptoms because a lot of that is going around.

For everyone who feels enraged that their world has changed and they are being inconvenienced, join the club. We can whine about it or get on with things in this new normal. Pack your grown-up undies because it’s only getting crazier from here and you will need a fresh pair before spring.

On the positive note, if you are reading this and I’ve promised you a review, guest post, email, edit, manuscript critique, my soul… I’m probably a week away from being caught up.

Maybe two…

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Slow and Painful Progress

Today I had a major breakthrough—I wrote 666 words for my HWA column.

Pre-pandemic me wouldn’t have even noticed the victory. I would have snickered at the funny word count and moved on to a few thousand more. Post-pandemic me is in full celebration mode. I feel as happy as when I held my first book.

I have been stunned since this got serious in March. My gears locked up and there were no thoughts to lubricate them. I’ve missed deadline after deadline… but July seems to be a kinder month. I’ve made one deadline early, one a day or two late and I have one very late one I hope to finish tomorrow. I’ve owed that story since April…eeeeep!

The magazine was also late, but it is out and I got my print copy yesterday. I’m happy with the change. There are a few tweaks I’ll make for next issue (goodbye double truck headlines I love) but we are good to go. This change allows us to sustainably keep Space and Time magazine going in spite of it all. You can find it on Amazon here.

So, progress is being made and a new normal is settling. My mental gears are making a little more traction every day and I hope to be back in full production mode by the end of the month. I certainly have a lot of material to mentally process. Who doesn’t right now?

A few milestones I’ve missed celebrating…

  • I have been keeping this blog going for ten, full years as of June 23.
  • I had a poem accepted for the annual HWA Showcase.
  • Space and Time magazine turned 54 years old on June 3rd.
  • Our chickens started laying eggs.
  • I grew a zucchini the size of our Chiweenie.
  • I finished my marketing column after taking a 3-month hiatus.
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Issues from Space and Time About Issues

Now that #137 is finished there are a few issues that have been brought to my attention.

Why didn’t I get a rejection notice? Some of the rejections are apparently getting caught up in the spam universe and not making it through. We don’t understand why or where they’re going but we apologize and are working to fix it.

In the past submissions were answered individually but that started to be too much work for a small team of volunteers to keep up with. We get a lot of submissions each open read.

I would love to use Submittable, but at $84 a month with a 300 submissions cap it won’t work. This period we received 300 submissions in fiction alone. Submittable would run us over $1,000 a year and we would have to limit how many submissions we could take and how many readers could access them. The magazine costs money to run and is a labor of love. When love cuts into groceries, the romance runs thin.

But, we have found another option. We would love to empower our submitters so we are looking at another system called Moksha. This costs $42 a month with unlimited submissions and we can pause it in months we aren’t reading. Even if we kept Moksha going all year it would only cost the magazine $504, and in theory, we could pause it for our non-reading months dropping that to a total of $168 a year. Unlimited submissions, unlimited readers and a permanent archive so we can go back to find previous work.

We will be testing this out, post what we decide and answer any questions. And speaking of questions, to the nearly 100+ messages I have through my email, the blog contact form here, Space and Time FB messages, Angela Yuriko Smith Facebook messages (both personal and public), both Instagram accounts and Twitter… hang on and I will answer.

I usually don’t have time to answer when putting the magazine out. Deadlines get intensive at the best of times… which this isn’t. I also usually don’t get so many questions and comments all at once so please be patient and understand I’m not ignoring you… there are just a lot of you.

I heard you aren’t printing the magazine now. I don’t like PDFs! This is just a weird rumor. Lucky for you, we are still publishing a print version of the magazine and it is available on Amazon right now. Go here to find #137 Summer 2020. We are working on the audio (read by Ryan Aussie Smith) version of the magazine right now and that will be available on Audible. Past issues we’ve published will also be loaded to Amazon so back issues are easy to access. All previous back issues (we call them the waaaayback issues) are being digitized right now and archived. Those, sorry, will only be available as PDFs.

I am a subscriber—when will I get my #137 print issue? Print issues will be mailed to your address as soon as I get them in my hands. This will be in July, of course, unless any new disasters pop up and waylay the USPS further. Because we have switched to print-on-demand, there is an extra step waiting for KDP to print and ship. As soon as they are in my hands I will be turning around and sending them to yours.

Image by Manuel Darío Fuentes Hernández

I didn’t get my last magazine. The United States Post Office killed us this last issue. Many of our international magazines are still in transit. We were shipping replacements, assuming they were lost, and now have been told many shipments have been turned back or held. One of the benefits of going POD is that now we will be able ship from within countries that have Amazon. A magazine costs from $13-20 to ship overseas. We just can’t afford to have them lost.

This issue seems bigger than usual. It is! With this issue, we doubled our page count accepting twelve stories as opposed to our usual five, seventeen poets instead of ten, and took on a new regular column feature: Graggon Speak by Austin Gragg. We managed to use every illustrator on our list.

Image by klimkin from Pixabay

Was it a good idea to take on more than twice the material when I was working with half a brain? Absolutely not, but if I was a wiser, less impulsive person I wouldn’t have taken on a magazine at all.

The mass acceptances were an emotional response to the chaos and fear of March. Every yes we could give was a way we could give someone a good day. Compared to the mass of negativity we were all/are all mired in, it was barely a drop in the bucket. But it was the best we can do.

And that sums this up. From scanning the messages as they came in, many of you are not happy that you didn’t receive notice of a rejection this time. Again, we apologize and thank you for sticking with us while we have searched for an affordable system. We will be testing that later this month.

This magazine, for me personally, has been a miracle. I found it almost impossible to focus on fictional stories that seemed tame in a lot of ways compared to reality. Besides the global drama we all shared, there was plenty of personal drama going on here as well. I won’t go into the details because it’s in the past. We—you who are reading this and me writing it—we all survived so far and that’s all that matters. Let’s keep that up.

Now, back to answering all those messages.

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Space and Time’s Summer Issue… at LAST!

Space and Time magazine’s issue #137 for Summer is available now—in spite of pandemics, pregnancy (not mine!), catastrophic storms, building a sound recording booth, and having solar panel installation clash with a late publishing date. Everything is just about updated on the website here.

The big change on this issue is we have tried the print-on-demand format that Occult Detective Quarterly has used with such success. All an experiment at this point, we should be able to send subscriptions out directly from Amazon eliminating some of the shipping issues we’ve been having the past few months.

It also allows for easier availability, no boxes of back issues to store and we will be able to put the audiobook versions up on Audible. As a bonus, now our readers can rate, review and share each issue. Because of the change, we are able to put more of our recently limited finances toward the creatives that make us what we are.

You will see that in this issue. We accepted twelve stories as opposed to our usual five, seventeen poets instead of ten, a graphic novel from Mark Levine, and had illustration work for every artist on our list. For this, we sacrificed our centerfold poster. It seems a good trade.

So what happens now? I’m still busy wrapping up loose ends behind the scenes—final payments, preparing for #138, and mailing issues of #137. Ryan Aussie Smith is working on the audio recording in his new sound booth and posting to Audible along with the past recorded issues. Our wonderful reading team and editors are already combing through the submissions for the next issue… and the cycle begins again.

I thank everyone for their patience as I’ve limped along with this issue. I am so pleased it’s finally finished, but my real joy is in the brilliant (as always) work that has been submitted.  So much of it speaks directly to the moment we find ourselves in. I hope you enjoy this issue and will consider sharing.

And with that, I must go catch up on around 1,000+ emails that have stacked up over the last three months. If I owe you an email… be patient just a little longer. Thank you to those that contributed financially to the magazine during this time… especially one anonymous donor who paid for almost all our stories and poetry—which allowed me to accept more. I promised not to name names, but that’s a future story to tell here soon.

And now, our Summer #137 Table of Contents:


Artifacts: A Joe Ledger Story by Jonathan Maberry
A Night Out by David Hammond
After Altera by Andrew Reichard
Joy of Life by Alessandro Manzetti
All I Wanted to do was Dance by S.R.Vcardi
Dogs of Mars by Tim Lees
Evolved by Marianna Shek
Forgetting Faces by TJ Berg
A Girl Like Us by Derwin Mak
Stay In Your Homes by Elad Haber
The Hole That Swallowed the World by Kurt Newton
Slash by Ken Hueler


Mother, Mad by Jezzy Wolfe
Legacies by Anton Cancre
A Daemon Beckons by Ashley Dioses
Snow White and the Seven Deadly Sins by Geoffrey A. Landis
The Achilles Heel by Francis W. Alexander
A Twisted Root by Jennifer Crow
When by Felicia Martinez
Pencil-Drawn Boundaries by Hibah Shabkhez
Electronic Djinn by Deborah L. Davitt
Depth Sounding by Tiffany Morris
Divinity in the Afterglow by Colleen Anderson
After the Summer by Russell Hemmell
Lessons from Poe by Lee Murray
Backward(s) by Nancy Cervenka
Orientation at the Time Travel Hospital by Sara Backer
Flight of the Ka by Ronald J. Murray
Dead Cold Night by Kim Whysall-Hammond
Corpse of the Quarter Winner: What We Do for Love


Speculating: 11372.4 by Angela Yuriko Smith
Word Ninja by Linda D. Addison
Take Two at the Movies: The Ironic Resonance of “The War of the Worlds” by Daniel M. Kimmel
Potter Magic: Guiding Libraries in Pandemic Times by Angela Yuriko Smith
Graggon Speak: “Survivor Song” by Paul Tremblay by Austin Gragg
A Message of Hope by John Palisano


Cover by Frank Wu
Room With a View by Mark Levine
Sy Klopz by L. Allen Gillick
Artifact illustration by Martin Hanford
Slash illustration by Doug Draper
Stay in Your Homes illustration by Brad W. Foster
Joy of Life illustration by Stefano Cardoselli
A Night Out illustration by Shikhar Dixit
Dogs of Mars illustration by Alan Beck
Forgetting Faces illustration by Mark Levine
Evolved illustration by Alfred Klosterman
All I Wanted to do was Dance illustration by Simon Walpole
The Hole That Swallowed the World illustration by Al Sirois
After Altera illustration by Anthony R. Rhodes
A Girl Like Us illustration by Tom Nackid

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Space & Time Delayed—and Why

As our last issue of Space and Time went out the door, the world was plunging into chaos. Countries were sealing their borders against the COVID-19 pandemic, people were having fistfights over toilet paper and contradictory ‘facts’ were a secondary deadly plague.

I remember standing in a crowded post office trying to mail my huge stack of magazines for the third time that week and feeling the angry glares of people behind me. It was unnerving to feel such negativity directed my way. It felt like the world was ready to lash out at any moment.

If I can just get this issue out, things might be more settled by the next one… 

This was my thought as I stood in line, sweating under my mask. I had doubtful hope. The world was falling into ruin and I didn’t see how we would be back to normal in three months, but I hoped.

Three months later, I find that we are not back to normal. Somehow we’re worse off.  We’ve slipped so far down the rabbit hole, I think many of us have forgotten what normal is. I don’t know how many times I have read the news in disbelief. I think my ability to be shocked by current events is callused and worn out.

And speaking of current events, here I am as issue #137 Summer 2020 is due and I have done next to nothing. I didn’t forget about this issue. I have stood like a deer on a highway watching the deadline approach until it bowled over me. Now that it’s on top of me I find I can suddenly move… too little too late. I’m already under the bus.

Fortunately, it’s a metaphorical bus so I’m not actually bleeding out on the pavement… but that’s what I feel like inside. I think that’s how most of us feel. Any one of the current crises would be enough to emotionally derail me for a few days. Combined, I have been flattened.

The good news is #137 is shaping up to be a great issue. We’ve doubled the stories and taken extra poetry and all of it is excellent. The art and illustrations pair up with their stories brilliantly, as always. The S&T team (aside from me) has done their part to get this issue out on time.

The bad news is this issue will not be out on time. I need to delay this issue by two weeks to be able to finish it and get our creatives properly paid. The amended publication date will be July 4th, two weeks from today.

I apologize to our readers, the creative team that delivers amazing work each issue and our small army of editors and readers. This delay is all on me and I have no good excuse. My reactions to this pandemic have been in suspended animation. Luckily for me, the Mac truck of a deadline seems to have shaken me from my stupor.

If you are a creative wondering what is wrong with you, you’re not alone. From all corners I’ve heard the same complaint… the majority of us have been “…less than productive” to quote a friend from last night. I believe many artists realize their emotions through their creativity. Given the potential black depth of these emotions is it any wonder we are avoiding them?

I, for one, would rather spend the rest of the apocalypse in my garden watching the world from behind my peas and kale. Call me when the zombies are gone is what I’d like to say. Instead, I have a magazine to get out and words building up in my head.

To publish is an act of faith, something I’ve been light on lately. Regardless, it’s time for me to move forward into this new future. I’m not striding bold like I imagined I would. I’m limping, staggering, hesitant.  I creep forward to see where I stand… and am grateful to find I still can.

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“Wolves at War” on PoetryNook

Image by Fajrul Falah from Pixabay

Nearly a month ago I thought I was getting back to “normal-ish.” How Pollyanna of me. I give up on the concept of things returning to anything I recognize. The best I can hope for is to move forward. Or try to move forward.

I’ve never had writer’s block or lacked for ideas until recently. The past few months have had me stunned and unable to write much beyond a few poems. Through May, I didn’t even produce poetry.

Yesterday I finally forced myself to produce something on cue and submitted a poem for the annual HWA Showcase. That seems to have broken the inertia because then I wrote this poem for PoetryNook… and then this blog post. And I am touching my computer again. Before this May I’d managed to hold a 46-week streak with PoetryNook. With this poem, I begin again.

But that’s really where we all are right now. Everything is in turmoil. Things we have taken for granted like StokerCon, meat in the store and logical people… just throw that crap out the window. None of that matters now. We have new rules. It is a new beginning.

Where have I been? Gardening, raising chickens, and sewing. None of these things were part of my pre-pandemic life. In my pre-pandemic life I just wrote. I watched Little House on the Prairie as a child and read all the books on repeat but I never expected to be an urban farmer. But here I am… when I ran out of yardspace for planting I started building a passive hydroponics system inside. I raise mealworms. I build stuff.

Am I insane? Yep. We all are. The entire world seems to have gone mad. As I write this there are rioters in my city protesting the death of George Floyd. I support the protests, but how is destroying an unrelated someone’s property justice? Businesses have been struggling to re-open and now many of them have to contend with violence, property loss… now even life lost. What did they have to do with the situation in Minnesota?

Nothing. Anger and injustice is more contagious than any virus. Fear and panic have spread across the world and everyone has been touched to some extent. Last night, instead of making a story deadline, I was glued to the live feed of protesters downtown Kansas City wondering if things would turn violent like elsewhere. They didn’t for the most part. A few months ago we were there, also in record numbers, but to celebrate the SuperBowl win of the Cheifs.

This is the normal I wish we could return to, but I’m afraid I’ll have to make do with this: a tremor of uncertainty, a shadow over tomorrow and the screaming song of wolves at war… which segues into my poem this week for PoetryNook.

Am I back? Your guess is as good as mine. I will take things a poem at a time for now and be grateful when I have words. Stay safe!

Wolves at War

My words are all gone

dried up somewhere between hates

and tossed Molotovs

shaken and well stirred

by a well-chilled media

looking to give thrills

like a bad boyfriend

entertained by my sorrow—

relishing my tears.

Here my words are lodged

like a stone lump in my throat…

too big to swallow…

Read the rest on

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for cash prizes. Previously published work welcome.


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“Word Salads” on PoetryNook

May the fourth be with you!

With this poem I’m getting back to normal-ish. I’ve learned not to expect it every day. Every dawn brings a new chance to… continue. And that’s enough for now.

My poem for this week has some anger and I’ve been told by political-minded friends that it is both left and right. That’s what’s cool about poetry… the reader participates with their interpretation.

The truth? It’s not liberal or conservative. “The Man” in the poem isn’t Trump—but he can be for you if you like. For me, it represents pig minded oppression. We’ve all experienced it. Whether it was a manager, a teacher, a co-worker, relative, friend… you will have a face to go with the image.

The magic in poetry is the interpretation.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Word Salads

We eat word salad—
force-fed false facts, statistics
alternative truth.

The Man keeps us down—
slaves to appearance, to greed
‘til debt do us part.

Ignorance and lies—
they whisper and we spread them…
good little Sheeple.

Pay no attention
to the man on puppet strings.
He is the jester

shiny ring of keys
meant to dazzle our senses
and keep us cooing

babes behind crib bars
fed pablum and pestilence…

Read the rest on

Enter’s free weekly poetry contest
for cash prizes. Previously published work welcome.

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“Candle in the Abyss” on PoetryNook

All I seem to write lately is poetry. It allows my mind to wander through my feelings. By constricting my emotions into a literary form, it encourages me to look at them. That’s the only way I can identify them as mine.

Everything not in a poem is something foreign to me right now—someone else’s sorrow, a piece of media, a snippet of dark fiction. Right now, it’s good for me to write poetry. And some good news: my poem “Song of Lazurus” won Poetry Nook’s 264th Weekly Poetry Contest. Read it here.

I’ve been submitting an original poem to Poetry Nook’s weekly contests for 45 straight weeks. I almost missed this one, but here it is on the cusp. Tomorrow I’ll be coming up with something new for the 287th.

For now, I have this rensaku (my new favorite form). It reminds me of a time years ago when a friend was my tiny light in the abyss and it made all the difference to me. This one is for Osbert. Without him, I wouldn’t be here.

Candle in the Abyss

I stand at the edge
of the abyss—dark, cold, lost
with a single flame

to illuminate
the midnight chaos ahead.
Quivering candle

to drive away dark…
it will never be enough
to defeat the night.

I toss my pale light
into the pit where it falls
a wavering star…

Read it on

Enter’s free weekly poetry contest
for cash prizes. Previously published work welcome.

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Publisher’s Roundtable

At a time when speculative fiction and fact seemed to have collided, three small magazine publishers have gotten together to discuss their viewpoints on the genre and the future of publishing. Join Scot Noel of DreamForge Magazine, John Linden Grant of Occult Detective Quarterly and me, Angela Yuriko Smith of Space and Time as we discuss how the pandemic is affecting publishing.

Do you have a burning question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments and I’ll organize another of these.

  1. Where do you see the role of speculative fiction right now as the world seems to have become part of some wild, dystopian tale?

John Linwood Grant: It depends how people utilise the fiction they read or write. For some it is pure escapism, a chance to take their heads away from whatever real life anxieties they have – which is admittedly harder when under the direct influence of a pandemic. It wouldn’t surprise me if people are reading more classic mysteries, romance and pure fantasy at the moment. For others it can be cathartic, exploring fears and psychological issues in a fictional environment as a way of processing it all, which where weird and strange tales can actually have relevance and value.

Scot Noel: The role of speculative fiction is first to entertain by engaging the reader in flights of imagination – no different really than telling stories beneath the night sky 50,000 years ago. (My wife made the painting below for me years ago.  If I had a more high-res version handy, you could see that every moonbeam has its own story, bit of mythology, connecting the storytellers to the sky and the universe itself.  And when are they telling the story – at night, when they are most vulnerable and alone.)  Secondly, speculative fiction can provide perspective. We are both ancient and newborn.  100,000 years from now we will still be in our beginning. In our adolescence we may know the worlds of the galaxy. In our maturity, we may make of space and time a craftwork to call our own. Plagues far worse than this one have (and may yet still) spend all their might against the human spirit with no lasting result beyond our increasing power to understand and outmaneuver them.

Angela Yuriko Smith: In the past I’ve compared speculative fiction with the mirrored shield Perseus held up to defeat Medusa. Using the shield, he was able to safely look into the face of evil and defeat it. In my mind, this is the role of spec fiction. It is the mirrored shield that allows us to gaze upon the monster safely and study best how to defeat it.

  1. Where do you see the future role of spec fiction heading during this time of mandatory social distancing?

John Linwood Grant: To be honest, I’m not sure why it should change, but then I’m old enough to have lived through nuclear scares, HIV/AIDS and all sorts. The role of speculative fiction is to speculate. The intrinsic elements of the pandemic are little

Image by Ahmed Hassan Kharal from Pixabay

different from those which have occurred during other diseases outbreaks. Quarantine, isolation, fear of infection, anxiety and suchlike have all been explored in fiction before, and will be again. I only pray that we won’t later be subject to ham-fisted stories where Covid-19 has been levered in to make a fast buck.

Scot Noel: All fiction is going to have to deal with some new realities. A hundred years from now, this time may be no more than a forgotten moment only a few will look back on with curiosity. For now, it is possible that “social distancing” may be with us for a lifetime or two. Many of us will have to live out our lives with a new awareness of viral threats, COVID-19 in particular. I think it would be a mistake, however, to look at a future a century or two from now where society is structured to keep us apart in common practice as a bulwark against plagues. That just won’t happen. We’re far too technically gifted and biology is on the verge of a revolution that will put the computer revolution to shame.  That said, it would be cool to imagine all the ways we engineer the defeat of anything that would keep us apart in that way, along with its unforeseen consequences.  (I already see memes hinting that this is why so many characters in the Star Wars universe wear helmets and breathing gear.)

Angela Yuriko Smith: I think our stories might become less dystopian now that we are in the middle of the real thing. Going back to my Medusa metaphor, she is no longer a theoretical threat. She’s in the room with us in the form of COVID-19, shortages, and politics going off the rail. No need to think about how we might defeat her. Now is the time to just get on with it. I think our stories in the future might change the most by not dwelling on the horror. Like soldiers who don’t like to discuss their war, I think literature may be able to move past 1984 and A Clockwork Orange. Maybe.

  1. What are some of the challenges with keeping a magazine running before the pandemic?

John Linwood Grant: If you have any realistic confidence in your ‘product’, then the main problem is always making people aware of it. I’m absolutely sure that more people would read Occult Detective Magazine, for example, if they knew about it, but with an almost non-existent marketing budget, that’s a stumper. There are horror fans, crime enthusiasts, people wanting a different read now and then, people bored with what they have to hand etc. out there, and so few of them know we exist. More sales means being able to buy more stories and art, or to pay higher rates, or to have a genuine, funded marketing plan.

Image by Сергей Ремизов from Pixabay

Scot Noel: My wife and I had decades of business experience before running a magazine, so perhaps the “running” part was too easy for us.  What we utterly failed to consider was how difficult getting subscribers would be. The market is just too rich with often fabulous content. Our experience, backed up by what we hear from some others, is that the “cost-per-acquisition/customer” (that is, how much do you have to spend in advertising and outreach on average to get a subscriber) is about $50/person for a magazine.  That’s more than we can charge, because that’s just marketing, and the cost of the magazine would be on top of that.  So except for large businesses with big bankrolls in a position to amortize startup costs over time, the challenge of putting out a magazine like DreamForge is almost insurmountable.

Angela Yuriko Smith: Funding is always the biggest hurdle for us. At best, S&T nearly balances income with outgo. Nearly. After artists, authors, printer, and postage are paid, we usually have a zero balance and are ready to begin the cycle again. We lose a small amount on every issue we send out, even after raising prices this year… but we expected and accepted that before we started. It’s truly a labor fueled by passion and prayer.

  1. How have those challenges evolved during the current crisis?

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

John Linwood Grant: No staggering changes, but there are inevitable problems with distribution – bookstores are closed; online retailers prioritise other products; conventions and physical launches are cancelled and so on. Some people in the business, including the writers and artists themselves, are heavily involved in sudden additional family responsibilities; some have employment problems. Which can mean communications can slow down. And many readers have rightly to focus their cash on essential supplies – no one’s going to buy a magazine instead of bread. Well, not a lot of them.

Scot Noel: People have other things on their minds and getting any new subscriptions to a magazine, for a while anyway, seems unlikely. Boy, doesn’t that sound grim.

Angela Yuriko Smith: We are facing a plethora of possibilities right now. With the USPS talking about having to raise prices or close, small businesses closing, and ourselves having less expendable income we are looking at a variety of changes we may have to make to keep the magazine going.

  1. Has the pandemic affected your motivation? How, and what are some of the things you are doing personally to get through?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

John Linwood Grant: I can only speak personally on this one. Anxieties about infection and the complications of lockdown mean that instead of having more time to work on the magazine, I actually have less. Being at the supermarket or the chemist at the right time is more important than finishing an editorial; checking on family elsewhere and far-flung friends takes precedence over submission reading. I’m not a big drinker, so I scientifically titrate my evening gin or pale ale to achieve that point where I am mildly less stressed but still more than functional. And I spend time with the dogs, who quite frankly don’t care what’s going on as long as they get walked, fed and entertained. The lucky little sods.

Scot Noel: I don’t mean to be too flippant with this answer, but if something like a little global plague is going to demotivate you, you probably shouldn’t be trying to publish a magazine. Story tellers, publishers, printers, entertainers, and the whole “steal hope from the jaws of death” crew need to be ready, and always have been ready, to work through wars, plagues, totalitarian regimes, inquisitions, natural disasters, and probably mass extinctions.  We are the torch bearers that keep the frightened masses moving through the night, always toward the dawn, passing the torch when we fall, always and ever firm in our resolve, the belief that the dawn shall never fail to return and that those who see it must be ready to live it out in hope and joy and the confidence that they belong. For the universe is indifferent to our existence, but it is irrelevant without us.

Angela Yuriko Smith: Short answer, yes. I’ve found it very hard to focus on the magazine and my own writing as real-world crisis takes over. As a writer, I think it’s less a lack of motivation than just a need to process. For me, the world in my head just joined the world we all share and there is some readjustment there. I’d love to sound zen and suggest that we be kind to ourselves and allow that space to process, but that would be hypocritical of me. I started off fine, got hit with illness and personal loss and am just now finding my feet again. I attribute my retention of sanity to dogs, gardening, and patient loved ones.

Participating Publishers:

About John Linwood Grant:  John Linwood Grant is a professional writer/editor who lives in Yorkshire with a pack of lurchers and a beard. Widely published in magazines and anthologies, he writes strange fiction, including the Mamma Lucy tales of 1920s hoodoo, the Last Edwardian series and contemporary weird stories. His 2017 collection ‘A Persistence of Geraniums’ – stories of murder, madness and the supernatural – is available on Amazon. He was the co-founder of Occult Detective Magazine (with the late Sam Gafford) and continues to edit it, now with Dave Brzeski. He is also a regular editor of anthologies, including ‘ODQ Presents’, ‘Hell’s Empire’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes & the Occult Detectives’. For more information on the magazine visit

About Scot Noel: Scot and his wife Jane Noel are, to be honest, life-long geeks whose eclectic tastes in reading are well steeped in the worlds of SF and Fantasy. They’ve been together since the early 1990’s when they met working their way toward Project Management positions at computer game developer Dreamforge Intertainment, a now defunct but fondly remembered organization (ahh… you have it now!) Scot is the writer, having bluffed his way into computer games with a Second-Place win in Bridge Publications’ Writers of the Future Contest, Volume VI. Jane (then Jane Yeager) is the artist and designer whose work as Art Director assured the success of early Dungeons & Dragons computer game titles like Menzoberranzan and Ravenloft: Stone Prophet, along with award winning original titles like Anvil of Dawn. Both Jane and Scot worked on Chronomaster, an adventure game title designed by Roger Zelazny and Jane Lindskold. While it was Roger’s last project, we’ve been blessed to have Ms. Lindskold as a dear friend ever since, and we appreciate her guidance, support, and participation as we undertake the daunting challenges of establishing a new genre magazine. Upon leaving gaming, Jane and Scot worked together to found a web development and digital marketing agency known today as Chroma Marketing Essentials. With CME set to celebrate its 20th year in the spring of 2019, we’ve decided our younger partners are the better stewards of our beloved company’s future. And though we have no intention of quitting our day jobs, we believe it’s time for one last great adventure. For more information visit

About Angela Yuriko Smith: Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher, and author. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for a 2017 Elgin Award. Her novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. In 2019 she won the SFPA’s poetry contest in the dwarf form category. She has been nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize. She co-publishes Space and Time magazine with husband Ryan Aussie Smith. For more information visit

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