Ken Poyner is at it again. No spineless neurotics or lovable sitcom divorcés found here.

I like Ken Poyner’s work because he writes about men who don’t apologize. His characters don’t have bad relationships or mommy issues. There aren’t any quasi-metros or neurotics. They aren’t spineless twots, or sitcom divorcés “with a heart of gold.”

From The May, 2014 issue, Ken Poyner’s story, “Snake Oil Rights,” has a salesman who sizes up a synthetic human–a female form, his own design:

“…the thunder of her spiked heel nearly touches the floorboard as one blue sensuous snake of a thigh slithers carefully over the other, the lip of her mini-dress folding just a little back. I turn to look over the whole of her, and it takes commitment to this trip’s firm schedule not to stop the truck. But I need to get to wherever this place is. I am the new novelty, straight from the complicated cities. I am bringing progress, modernity, the life folks only see on their quaint hand-held view screens.”

He writes beefy characters so that actors like Gene Hackman, Charlton Heston, Eli Wallach, George Kennedy could have played them.

From Poyner’s latest coming in October, “Establishment”, an android barkeep eyeballs two customers engaged in discourse:

“You hate to see them waste their money on access when they could be wasting their money on maintenance, but I can’t control the bone and protein crowd. I’ve yet to figure out their programming, and I stay out of the mathematics of it when two of them are dealing.”

There it is, from both sides. The first, he’s acknowledging one of the base motivations for improving technology. The second, from the opposite viewpoint, is a unique combination of man/machine sensibility with genuine AI cynicism on what it is to be a man. He’s comfortable in both places.

© Getty Images His characterizations are perfect raw material for classic actors of the sixties and seventies who played some great sonsabitches who didn’t give a shit whether they got the girl or just who their ex-wife was tumbling now.

Ken’s very low-key about all this and prefers a discussion of “personhood”  but as far as I am concerned his voice is clear. And we don’t see enough of this kind of work.

Check out Ken Poyner in the “May, 2014” issue. And get ready to welcome him back in October.

-CTG

Those quaint old print publishers and their silly eBooks, too

I wanted to share the transcription from a talk given at Publishers Forum a few days ago:
http://publishingperspectives.com/2014/05/bridging-the-gap-why-publishings-future-is-at-risk/

So then, print and ebook publishers are doomed to become a niche solution? The most gripping analogy for me was something that I personally experienced: The desolation of books about software languages. They are all but gone, replaced not by eBooks, but by community-produced web apps, databases, wikis, etc. This is good. Personally, my (software book) needs were met more readily than by a print book (or any equally useless eBook transcription).

BDPI am thinking about how this applies to publishers like us. In general I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how, “gee, i wish we made money like the big publishers” or “gee, we NEED eBook versions of our magazine”… At the same time, all the reading we have been doing has led us to believe that there is little difference in the elements of supply chain production between a big 6 publisher and an independent publisher. Similarly, there are parallel paths available for distribution. The real rude awakening for any published writer is the requirement that they have to largely drive their own marketing–even big 6. But I digress.

Let’s stick to presses, specifically independent publishing. When you’re a journal first, Like Black Denim Lit, then a press, like Black Denim Press, I have to look twice to see how the presenter’s discussion of environmental pressures might manifest for a venue such as ours. Here’s my argument for how this might play out:

God Eye

Universe Annex’s Latest

Take the example of a venue in similar scope and reach (and even readership) such as “Universe Annex” (UA). This is a re-incarnation of Baen Publishing’s artsy, sci-fi journal Jim Baen’s Universe–filled with up-and-coming award-worthy (if not award winning) writers.

Take a look at UA today, and if you read through their submissions guidelines, you’ll recognize quickly that the magazine is fed completely on submissions that are cultivated by a writer’s forum that lives here Baen’s Bar.

Duotrope reports that the acceptance rate is about 1 in 15. All UA’s submissions are hosted in a public, free forum, for which anyone can have a reading password. Submissions are in one forum topic and work-shopped in another forum topic by writers and readers alike. Once the story is “good enough” (measured by community consensus) then the story is promoted to the formal electronic publication that is released six times a year (and the writer is paid a professional rate).

All by itself this work-shopping is not a unique idea. What is impressive is that this journal’s practices comes as an extension of a highly-regarded “writer’s publisher” such as Baen. Baen has always been a little different. And always good at marketing. And clearly outstanding at meeting the needs of its readers. And paying its writers.

***

All of this falls in the food-for-thought category–when considering any change in direction that our editorial practices or tools we might offer. I think the accomplishments of the UA submission process are unique and radically different than ours. Would it be the way for us to go over the next year? Maybe. Would it be the way to go over the next five years? Probably.

Similarly, how does the speaker’s predicted trend affect our print and eBook initiative? Is that trend more damaging than the marketing challenges faced, or is it a different take on the same symptom? In other words, is the way to increase print / eBook revenue to take a look at the reader’s interest in the format versus the reader’s interest in the content?

It could be argued that the entire presentation could be largely ignored with regard to Black Denim Lit, but it is distinctly more relevant when looking for success with our print / eBooks.

Thanks,
Christopher

Where in the World is George R. R. Martin? Probably surfing

As a reader, I am not sure I care if George R. R. Martin wants to surf a little and travel and maybe write other stuff before finishing up A Song of Ice and Fire. If it were me, as an author, I would have the events of the remaining story framed up at least. If there are five of seven books published, then it’s not hard to know what happens in the last two.

GOT-ending I’m thinking of all this because Anisa A. Claire asks, “Where in the World is George R. R. Martin?” – which I take to mean roughly, “he’s old and had better not take seven years a book to finish out the GOT universe.” As for Martin, I get the sense that hyper-focus on the one project for decades is not all its cracked up to be. If you look at creators like Rowling (who spent roughly ten years doing one thing) they are now spent … and are looked at with some skepticism.

However, the books are a big soap opera. The built-up expectation of the public is a lot to deal with. The soap is leading to spectacular, all-out war with the creatures of the true north, who will invade as far as a good cold winter will take them, maybe Dawn, maybe more. It’s a soap and my favorite soap of all time. I admit to hoping for an ice dragon that will face off with Drogon, wiping out half the continent in their contest. However, whatever the finish is, it will not be big enough, because the reader will think, “Seven Hells, you just cancelled my soap. Bastard.” I digress.

As for Martin not wanting to have his baby in any other author’s control, well that may be out of his hands to some extent. It depends on what kind of license he will grant for a post-Martin GOT universe of books, games, movies and the possible spin-offs. Jordan wrote till he died and Sanderson did just fine with picking up the sword. Lucas licensed his all beyond the capacity for any one fan to take it all in and then gave it away (although I think he got some money). Even older book “franchises” (Wizard of Oz) had new contributors.

Drogon_Peasant Other “properties” … not so much. Is anyone writing LOTR universe? No. Christopher Tolkien has been quoted saying, “The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.” If Martin follows a similar line of thinking in the next twenty years, either directly or through his estate, then it will be a loss.

Although, I would argue that, by then, the public will recover and produce something new and more relevant. And by relevant, I mean that all the sensibilities played out in Ice and Fire books are a product of this generation. The books would not have resonated with us a hundred years ago, and may not yet, even twenty-five years from now. I digress.

The lasting creations from such weirdly diverse creators as Baum, Tolkien, Lewis, Roddenberry, Lucas, Jordan, Sanderson and even Martin–they never were and never will be enough to satisfy our imagination and lust. There will always be more. We should not slight the authors (or their estates) for how they think of or treat their babies. There will be more.

Announcing Black Denim Press~!

There is a new link below for the book press:

The Press The Magazine
bdp-facebook-preview bdl-facebook-preview

You can see above that we have added a new Facebook page to describe the book press efforts. The press is the larger entity under which we’ll make the magazine and stand-alone books and other publications. We’ll divide the publishing like this:

Overview

So, Black Denim Press serves as Publisher, Distributor and Editor of Books and Magazines, print and eBooks.

The governing submissions guidelines for stories are found here. Remember:

  • General Lit and Sci-fi/Fantasy preferred.
  • Action/adventure or Western.
  • Mystery, Crime, Suspense or Thriller.
  • …but not erotica nor horror.
  • Prose, not poetry.
  • Fiction, not letters, essays, journals or other non-fiction.
  • Material of all length considered

Over 17,500 words will be stand-alone volumes under Black Denim Press. Under, will be handled in the magazine, Black Denim Lit.

Without entering into a debate as to what qualifies as “literary” we are looking for stories that have unique and lasting artistic merit.

Find all of it on bdlit.com or Twitter, Facebook, and most social media using “BlackDenimLit” keyword.

Comment below or write us and tell us what you think~!

Thanks~!

Tell @t_morrissey to keep going. “Scent of Darkness” hits 500 reads

I just wanted to mention regarding Scent of Darkness. Ted Morrissey has been writing a series of interconnected stories, which he thinks of as “the village stories,” that he plans to tie together in some sort of experimental novel. So far stories that have been published are:

I guess we’re prejudiced, since that last one has been read more than 500 times in the first month of its availability, so we think Ted should keep going.

Author Payments go “Semi-Pro”~! (no more $5 checks)

We’re upgrading author payments from a flat $5.00 to semi-pro rate. Black Denim Lit now offers a semi-pro payment for each piece published online at www.bdlit.com:

  • $0.01 per word
  • U.S. Dollars
  • Payment is through PayPal (you are responsible for currency conversion cost)

If a piece is selected for the twice-annual anthology, the contributor will also receive a free print copy of the edition containing their work. Next print release: Fall, 2014.

Authors have been notified that this is retroactive for acceptances back to March 14, 2014~!

For full submission guidelines please see, http://www.bdlit.com/submissions.html

Don’t forget, as always, we are woefully short on women author submissions.

Keep writing.

 

What we do with copyright violations

As can happen sometimes, one of the stories licensed to Black Denim Lit has been re-posted on another website without permission or attribution. The original author contacted us to say that there was no permission at all granted for the other “reprinting site” to reproduce this story. We acted quickly on the author’s behalf to get the post removed.

In this case, there are several reasons why the reprint violated the author’s rights:

  • All content on that site was made newly available under Creative Commons license “BY SA” which is insufficient to protect this copyrighted material (from being propagated for profit or being modified)
  • The posting of the story was missing the author copyright notice
  • It was missing the correct attribution to the author
  • It was missing the attribution for the source publication
  • The reprint site solicited for financial compensation (a gratuity), implying there was an agreement between the author and the reprint site, which there was not
  • The posting listed an email for the original author on the site’s domain, which was not under the actual author’s control. Also this appearance would incorrectly imply to a casual reader that the author is a contributor for them, which he wasn’t.

In the beginning, we at Black Denim Lit were able to acquire the author’s story under paid license for First Rights only. Anyone reprinting without permission from the author is a misappropriation. In other words that act infringes on the author’s control of copyright that were never licensed to anyone.

Specific to us as a magazine, copying the material from Black Denim Lit threatens our ability to assure our authors that their works remain their own and that they have all other copyrights over what they have trusted to our magazine first.

In general, during the story acceptance process I tell authors not to agree to publishing stories without understanding what rights exist over their work and how to grant or license the rights to others. Advocacy sites such as www.pw.org can help. For our part we enforce a terms of service link on the site. Among many simple points of law and common courtesy, it advises site users that they aren’t supposed to be reprinting without written permission.

In the end, I asked that the reprinting site remove the story immediately and they complied within a day, providing an indefensible explanation and tepid apologies. They offered no means for the author to be given any funds that were solicited from the public on his behalf. Lastly, they severed their relationship with us, withdrawing all their articles about “Black Denim Lit,” which is arguably unnecessary, but probably for the best.

It was an unfortunate situation, but copyrights are important and should not be thrown down casually for the sake of exposure or ignorance of what is guaranteed by law to be fair.