#TBT | S&T Display at North Independence Public Library

If you stop by the North Independence Branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library you can enjoy a display of Space and Time magazine history. The library has graciously allowed us the use of an entire display case in the entrance to share some of our memorabilia. With 53 years of history behind the magazine, there’s a lot to share.

Included are fan letters sent to founder Gordon Linzner from the beginning, vintage flyers, bookstore requests, original issue #3 from 1968, actual magazines from across the five decades, original issue #5 opened to a 14-year-old Gene Simmon’s (a.k.a. Gene Klein) illustration and a display of speculative fiction and poetry books with an explanation of what the genre is.

So many shelves to fill…!

It was fun to put together, and we have so much material on hand, I may look for someplace to do another Space and Time history exhibit.

If you stop by and see the display, share a photo on Space and Time’s Facebook! I’ll be posting an album of the display as soon as I get more photos. Visit the magazine’s Facebook here.

Special thanks to the  North Independence Branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library for allowing us the space. The exhibit will be on display until October 1.

A Brief History of Space and Time

Space and Time magazine is the oldest continuously published semi-pro magazine in the speculative fiction genre. It began on June 3, 1966 when founder Gordon Linzner printed the first copies off of a mimeograph machine he purchased for $25. Gordon was a high school student at the time. He published Space and Time for the next 100 issues. Many names that are now famous created art, stories and poetry for Space and Time.

Some examples? Gene Simmons (a.k.a. Gene Klein), Jack Ketchum, Jessica A. Salmonson, Norman Spinrad, Jack Ketchum, and Aliette de Bodard.

In 2007, Gordon decided to retire from the magazine and focus on his own writing career. Hildy Silverman took on Space and Time and carried it forward for the next 12 years. Then, at the end of 2018, Hildy decided it was time for her to retire from the magazine. She issued a press release announcing the end of Space and Time

Local Independence residents Angela Yuriko Smith and R. A. Smith took on responsibility for the magazine at the beginning of 2019 with the publication of issue #133.

In all its 52 years of existence, Space and Time magazine was published on the east coast. The Smith’s relocated the magazine to the Midwest, specifically Independence, where now it is printed in Lawrence, Kansas by Allen Press.

Do you know what else hails from Lawrence, Kansas? Fictional characters Sam and Dean Winchester from the speculative fiction television series Supernatural. The television movie The Day After was also filmed in Lawrence. Who knew the Midwest was such a hotbed for speculative fiction?

Maybe that’s what Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz meant when she said, “‘Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

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Accountability | July 2019

Image by Simon Steinberger from Pixabay

Last month I promised I to post my writing productivity on the last Monday of the month. I invite anyone who is looking for some accountability to share their own progress in the comments. Doing this has been a big boost.

Knowing I had this ‘deadline’ spurred me on and I had a stellar month for submissions and writing. I wrote five new short stories for specific requests, streamlined my entire submission process, set myself up a proper Shunn template to copypasta and actively added new projects to my submissions folder. Because I got myself organized, I’ve been able to share submissions with other authors and share the love.

I started this at the end of June, so I rushed and submitted older work to markets I wasn’t familiar with. Most of it was rejected. By July I was writing for specific calls and my acceptances went up. Most of the subs are still being considered, so they’ll affect future month stats. I should also mention that I moved from free markets to paying markets in June. That reflects in my rejection/acceptance ratio. It’s a lot easier to get a yes for free work.

All in all, this is working for me—
01/2019 | 5 submissions | 5 acceptances | 0 rejection | 0 under consideration
02/2019 | 0 submissions | 0 acceptances | 0 rejection | 0 under consideration
03/2019 | 2 submissions | 2 acceptances | 0 rejection | 0 under consideration
04/2019 | 0 submissions | 0 acceptances | 0 rejection | 0 under consideration
05/2019 | 1 submissions | 1 acceptances | 0 rejection | 0 under consideration
06/2019 | 10 submissions | 0 acceptances | 6 rejections | 4 under consideration
07/2019 | 10 submissions | 3 acceptances | 1 rejection | 6 under consideration
Total       | 28 submissions | 11 acceptances | 7 rejections | 10 under consideration

 | My poem, “Love Like Starlight,” won Honorable Mention in the 242nd Weekly PoetryNook.com Contest. The prize was $20.

I also finished my Camp Nanowrimo goal of 50,000 words in a month. I finished today with a word count of 51,233. Originally I was just going to work on my Bitter Suites sequel, but I realized early on that was going to frustrate me.

I changed my goal to be total word count rather than a project word count. I didn’t count emails. That would have probably brought me to around 100,000 words.

So, good month. I feel like holding myself accountable has made a huge difference and I’ll continue doing this. Anyone who wants to benefit the same way can post their productivity stats in the comments each month.

How I organize submissions in Google Docs

Previous posts like this…

Accountability for Productivity
Posted on  by Angela Yuriko Smith

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Review | Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

I picked up Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon at the local library. I was looking for something light and inspiring. It delivered that and more. Kleon brings up a lot of good advice that’s not usually shared. My favorite? Be boring.

The chapter starts with one of my favorite quotes by Gustav Flaubert…

“Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

It’s quoted a little different in Kleon’s book (it was translated from French) but the meaning is the same. We only have so much creativity. We can put it towards creating ourselves, or creating art. But we have to choose.

Steve Jobs understood this. He wore the same outfit every day so he could spend all his mental energy on his creation. It’s the same reason I buy my clothes in multiples and wear a hat every day. I like the way the hat looks. I sometimes like how my hair looks. The hat guarantees I don’t waste brain power on my hair. Kudos to Kleon for bringing up an important truth that’s nearly always overlooked.

The entire book is worth reading. The advice is timely. He brings up how things have changed for creatives with the internet. He talks about how we can’t do everything. Doing what we love means not doing some other things. I wrote around 50,000 words this month between poetry, short stories, blog posts and my next book. I don’t have a social life. It’s a trade.

Steal Like an Artist really surprised me for the quality of content. It does read fast, but there’s valuable stuff here. If it were food it would be a meal replacement shake: pleasant, fast, easily digestible and full of everything you need to succeed. While I checked it out of the library, it’s a book I will probably add to my bookshelf, and I can see it being a good one to gift.

Entertaining, informative and succinct. Highly recommended.

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Free Bitter Suites Until July 31

Bitter Suites will be free to read on Kindle from now until July 31. Thank you to everyone who has read, shared and reviewed. If you haven’t read it yet, go here to pick up your free copy.

If you don’t have a Kindle, no problem. Download the kindle reader on your phone, tablet, laptop or computer here.

Free download, free read. #randomactsofliteracy

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#TBT | Space and Time, Vol. 4, No. 5 (Spring 1969)

Throw back Thursday (#TBT) is turning out to be good for R.A. Smith and me. We’re discovering so many surprises in these vintage back issues. This week’s bombshell?

Gene Simmons (a.k.a. Gene Klein) did some illustrations for early Space and Time. Way to go, Gordon Linzner!

Even crazier? I tweeted about it this week and Gene Simmons replied! I invited him to do another illustration for Space and Time but he hasn’t said anything else.

I suspect he may be researching restraining orders just in case, so I’m just letting him think about it. We know he wants to draw for the magazine… who wouldn’t? You can find the infamous illustration of the week on page 15. You can get your own digital copy here.

Turns out Gene Simmons of Kiss isn’t the only music celebrity in issue number 5. Simmons’ drawing was inked by Stephen Coronel, a guitarist and former member of the American rock band Wicked Lester. He co-wrote a handful of songs that would later be recorded by Kiss, including “She” and “Goin’ Blind.”

Don’t believe me? Read it and Tweet!

Famous rock musicians aren’t the ones in S&T #5. This issue also includes stories by Gordon Linzner, Al Saviuk and a flash fiction by a new writer on the scene: A. Filler. I didn’t know “flash fiction” started in the late 60s… just more evidence of how cutting edge S&T has always been. On another note, I enjoy A. Filler’s succinct, tongue-in-cheek style. I wonder if we will see more of him?

Here are the details of this issue:

Space and Time, Vol. 4, No. 5 (Spring 1969).
Linzner, Gordon. “Encounter,” Space and Time, Spring 1969, 1.
Anonymous. “Fan-zine Reviews,” Space and Time, Spring 1969, 6.
Saviuk, Al. The Dawn of Time,” Space and Time, Spring 1969, 7.
Staff, Editorial, “Open Orbit,” Space and Time, Spring 1969, 10.
Filler, A. “The Cornucopia,” Space and Time, Spring 1969, 17.
Linzner, Gordon. Editor.
Coronel, Steve. Contributor.
Dogramajian, Seth. Contributor.
Klein, Gene. Contributor.
Saviuk, Al. Contributor.

Space and Time, Vol. 4, No. 5 (Spring 1969) is available here.
You can find more Space and Time Throw Back Thursdays (#TBT) here.

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Do NOT Shun Shunn

Image by Devanath from Pixabay

Last week I talked about rejection, and why it’s not always a reflection of your work. This week I break down tip #2: “Stand out by looking pro.Read last week’s post here.

I’ve been writing professionally for many years, but I never heard of William Shunn’s proper manuscript format until February 2018. It was at Borderland’s Writers Boot Camp. Many of us submitted our assignments in the same format this post is written in: no indents, single space except between paragraphs.

We were introduced to Shunn, and strongly encouraged to never submit any other way. Ever. At the time I thought it was silly and old school. The internet and Google Docs use this ‘blog’ format as a standard. Why bother with indents and double spaces?

But… I did it. I learned to set my documents up this way and saw my submission acceptances improve. If it helps my work get out, I’m willing to go “silly and old school.” Now that I’m publishing a magazine, I have a whole new perspective on why Shunn is so important.

There is a sample manuscript at the bottom of the page. You’ll notice it has the author’s name, their address, word count, email, title, byline and some other vital info. While it seems like overkill, the editor and/or publisher will appreciate seeing all of it here.

Here’s the information I look for, and why:

First is word count. When I pick up a story, my eye looks for the word count first. Why? Because as a paying publication, word count means money. If I see “about 10,000 words” in your manuscript’s upper right, I’ll stop right there and save us both some time. I don’t have room for 10k words and I don’t have the budget for $1,000. I have a big pile of stories to read. I have to be honest for both our sake.

I also need word count because I have a loose tally in my head of what I have room for. I know how much I can fit in Space and Time. As I read, I have an idea of that space filling up. If I look up to your manuscript’s upper right and don’t see a word count, I’m annoyed at you.

I can’t just read your story. I have to select all and word count it. Then, as I read I have to remember what that word count was. If I love the story, now I have to go back and select all and word count again, because if your story has wowed me I certainly don’t remember a number I read 10 minutes ago. If I love your story, I’m annoyed at you. If I didn’t love it… Do us both a favor, and just put your word count up top.

Second is your contact info. Not everyone prefers PayPal. If you request to be paid by paper check via snail mail it’s awesome on my end not to have to search your address up in a long chain of emails. I love efficiency. I love to save time without cutting corners. Help me do this by putting your address and email in the upper left.

If I need to pay you I can just go to your manuscript and get the address from that. I can verify that I’m paying the right person for the right work because it’s there on the manuscript. If I need to follow-up by email, I can search a long chain of emails… or look in the upper left of your manuscript.

Do you write under a pen name? I will have that information on your manuscript. Your given name will be in the upper left with all your contact information, but your byline under the title will be the name you publish under. Again, that saves me a search through a long chain of emails. Of course the story needs to be polished and original with a compelling start, but if I look and see all the information I need I already like your story a lot.

Please make use of headers with Name / Title / page number. Do you know what happens when I’m printing and the papers scatter on the floor? Just some mild grumbling unless I find stories with no Name / Title / page numbers. If that happens, I have to throw the stack away and reprint any pages I can’t identify. Do you really want your story to be the John Doe headed for the trash? What if I forget to reprint, run out of ink/paper, get sucked up by a tornado… make it easy and identify your pages in the header.

And if you’re wondering, yes. I have let a few stories go because they weren’t formatted like this. It’s not to be a snob, which is exactly what I thought the whole Shunn hoopla was about in the beginning. It’s about making things easy on the editor who has a stack of 20 stories to sift through… with room for five.

Water will flow down the easiest path, and so does paper. Don’t shun the Shunn and make it easy to say yes to your next submission… which for Space and Time will should be around September 21.

Here is an example of a well formatted submission. Learn all about proper, professional formats for all kinds of writing on Proper Manuscript Format Shunn. Actually read the sample, it’s full of great information.

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Review | The History of Soul 2065 by Barbara Krasnoff

This book reminds me of a colossal stained glass window. As I first entered the story to meet Chana and Sophia, I could only see colored fragments. The first stories seemed to connect up at random, but each set of brilliantly hued words glowed under Krasnoff’s treatment and was enjoyable as a separate part.

As I moved deeper into the book, I began to see connections—some were quite surprising. Two Jewish families, one from Russia and one from Germany, began to take shape in the reflections. The tales reached out to interact not only with each other, but with me as the reader. More of the picture became clear.

Coming to the end was like stepping back far enough to see the whole grand window. I could no longer distinguish the individual lives that had built this vision. The two families had interconnected to create this mosaic of life, love and promises kept.

Beautiful, delicate science fiction with the warmth of the human experience running throughout, the stories reflect all of us. I enjoyed The History of Soul 2065, and look forward to more from Barbara Krasnoff.

You can find The History of Soul 2065 by Barbara Krasnoff on Amazon here.

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New Curious Fiction Series: Leftovers

I’ve been threatening for a while to release another collection of short stories. I finally found the perfect venue for it on Curious Fictions.

Every Friday I’m posting a new short story in English and Spanish under the series title Leftovers. When I run out of short stories, I’ll publish the collection under the same name.

This week is “Cereal Killer,” a short story I wrote in a HWA writing workshop which first appeared in the 43nd issue of The Sirens Call eZine: Women in Horror Month 10.

It’s about a boy named Josh whose mom won’t win any mother-of-the-year awards, but she is good enough. When good enough isn’t enough, however, casual wishes become permanent regrets.

You can find my Leftovers series in progress at Curious Fictions here.

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#TBT | Space and Time, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Spring 1968)

I hold in my hands an original copy of Space and Time magazine #3, circa 1968. No, you can’t have it (…but you can buy the digital back issue here). This is literary history.

The creation of a young Gordon Linzner, he was a new college student and the founder. Armed with a mimeograph machine, a group of like-minded friends and plenty of chutzpah, he became the father of Space and Time.

He didn’t let it go to his head, as you can read in this excerpt from the regular editorial feature, Open Orbit (p. 23).

Dear Gordon,

…I enjoy reading Space and Time. Not because it’s editorially or factually perfect, but because it’s not. Nobody expects high school students with a limited budget to turn out an issue of Life single-handedly. Sure, sometimes you tend to ramble and some of your sentences are ambiguous and confusing. So what? You’re not Rod Serling—yet.

Lynn Daugherty

Actually, Lynn, we are now college students with an extremely limited budget, and you’d be surprised how many people expect, if not an issue of Life, at least a Worlds of If. We’d still like to thank you for your kind words, and if you can just convince 199 of your friends we’ll have a sell-out issue.

If I could go back in time I would visit an early S&T staff meeting. I imagine them sitting around a wilting cardboard box with the greasy remains of cheap pizza clinging to the sides, discussing literature and arguing semantics.

Nestor Jaremko and Larry Lee were both contributing editors while Al Saviuk and Alvin Dickerson did the art. Stories in this early issue were by Linzner, Jaremko and Lee joined by Willie White, Lenni Sedlak, Reef Freeman and T.V. Parodi.

The writing is raw, but fresh and innovative. This is fantasy coming to life, not just for the fictional characters, but for the real ones stapling pages in between their classes. If anyone had told Gordon that his DIY fanzine would last over five decades and be the first taste of being published for hundreds of hopeful authors, he probably would have scoffed.

He was young and blindly walking forward into a dream. He was publishing by instinct, one issue at a time, simply for the love of it. One issue at a time, he forged a legendary publication.

For the first time, we are making the oldest issues of Space and Time available as digital back issues. This is the safest and easiest way to archive these historic publications and make them available to everyone.

Your purchase goes to the cost of printing, postage and paying authors and artists for their work as well as ensuring that Space and Time will continue to publish for years to come. Issue #3, and many other issues from the late 60s, are available here.

Here are the details of this issue:

Space and Time, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Spring 1968).
Linzner, Gordon. “Battle of the Wizards,” Space and Time, Spring 1968, 1.
Jaremko, Nestor. “The Man and the Mountain,” Space and Time, Spring 1968, 4.
Linzner, Gordon. “Superedgar,” Space and Time, Spring 1968, 6.
White, Willie. “Valgart of Zantar,” Space and Time, Spring 1968, 9.
Sedlak, Lenni. “The Glass Harp,” Space and Time, Spring 1968,18.
Sedlak, Lenni. “Noon Under the Weeping Willow,” Space and Time, Spring 1968, 18.
Parodi, T.V. “Son of Time Funnel,” Space and Time, Spring 1968, 19.
Staff, Editorial, “Open Orbit,” Space and Time, Spring 1968, 23.
Freeman, Reef. “5AM Half Dream,” Space and Time, Spring 1968, 23.
Lee, Larry. “Nastasi of the Apes Returns,” Space and Time, Spring 1968, 23.
Sedlak, Lenni. “Shadows Dim Candle and Not Even the Rain,” Space and Time, Spring 1968, 24.

Linzner, Gordon. Editor.
Jaremko, Nestor. Contributing Editor.
Lee, Larry. Contributing Editor.
Saviuk, Al. Illustrations.
Dickerson, Alvin. Illustrations.

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Rejections Are Not Reflections

As I write this, emails are going out for the fiction selections (and rejections) for issue #134. This has been a tough reading period.

We had around 500 submissions between poetry and fiction. All of them were good. We wanted most of them. We can only take a few.

This is why rejections should never be taken personally. While sometimes it’s a hint that you need to work on something, often it comes down to factors you can’t control.

An example is genre. This submissions period most of what came in was fantasy. Last period it seems like there was an overabundance of sci-fi. No one can predict this, but here’s some tips on how to boost your chances.

  1. Mash-ups for the money. My job is to create a nice balance of speculative fiction. If I have 100 fantasy stories, I look closer at the other genres that come in. If you can give me a solid horror, sci-fi and/or fantasy blend, your chances just went up because it fits multiple genre. It’s more flexible.
  2. Stand out by looking pro. It does amaze me when we get a submission with typos and poor formatting. I’m not judging—I’ve submitted plenty of  poor looking manuscripts in my past. When I finally learned to submit with Shunn Formatting, my acceptance rates went way up. Click here to see what your manuscript should look like. I’ll get more into why in a later post.
  3. Fat word count is not a bonus. I am a firm believer in not writing for word count. If the story can be told in 300 words, use 300 words. If it needs 30,000, use 30,000. For a publication like Space and Time, shorter (within reason) is better. We are here to publish authors, the more the better. If I have a choice between two well-written 3,000 word stories or one well-written 6,000 word story, I’ll take the two 3k every time. My sweet spot seems to be 2-5k.

Writing is an art, submitting is a competition and publishing is a business. Keeping these things in perspective will increase your chances of getting a publisher’s yes. Most important, do not get discouraged when you get a rejection. It’s not a judgement on you, or even your writing most of the time. Very often it is simply too much of one thing and not enough of the other.

Whatever the outcome, every time you submit a piece you are a winner. You are way ahead of the masses of want-to-be writers that find reasons to never submit. You are the brave soul that extracted a piece of your secret self, pinned it on paper and tried to sell it. That takes guts, and I applaud you, whatever the result.

Now, do it again in mid-September when we open for #135 submissions.

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