It’s that time of year, when award ballots are tabulated and editors throughout the realm determine which stories they liked best from the year prior. These tales are bound anthologies so readers can sprawl about in the wonder!
I am super-pleased to tell you that “The Bird Country” by K.M. Ferebee (Shimmer #15) will appear in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2013 (Prime Books). Shimmer‘s own Cory Skerry will also be part of the anthology with “Sinking Among Lilies” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies).
What a nice little publication. I’ve been meaning to get a subscription to this respected quarterly, and as soon as I subscribed online I received an e-promise from publisher Beth Wodzinski that she’ll drop it in the mail shortly. A week later I had my copy. Service like that alone deserves a subscription.
Shimmer has recently announced that it is paying professional rates for its stories, which is big news for this little magazine. It publishes contemporary fantasy, with an occasional foray into science fiction or horror, “and the stories tend to be tinged with sorrow,” as its home page says. On the basis of Issue 15, I’d call that a fair description — especially the sorrow part.
Shimmer #15 is making its way through the world. It stops every now and then, to fan through its own pages and marvel at the words, the art, and then it picks itself up and carries on. Oh, it glimpses toward Mars, wondering, but then brings itself back to Earth, resolved. Still, it wonders…
…what do they like best of me? Is there anything? I am filled with, yes, multitudes. So much gorgeous in a slim, glossy package!
Don’t keep Shimmer #15 in suspense!
Drop by our reader survey and let us know what you thought of the issue. That way, we can let Shimmer #15 know, and maybe, just maybe, it will no longer dream of Mars, but will instead dream of you.
If you include your email, you will be eligible to win free a back issue of your choice! Shimmer #15 insisted. One needs good reading when one wanders the universe. We will also ask the author to pretty please let us share the wonder with you on our site!
If I were asked to name the most awesome thing about working at Shimmer, I would be stumped. There is too much goodness. Wait, can there BE too much goodness? Rest assured, there is a lot of awesome involved in this job and here’s where I get to share some of it with you!
Shimmer #15 hit the streets last week, and six of the seven authors are new to our pages. We always interview our authors, trying to get a peek behind the scenes, a glimpse of the magic. I hope you enjoy these glimpses as much as you will the stories themselves! I am blessed to work with the outstanding people I do.
The spark initially came from the eruption of Mount Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. I was fascinated by the images of volcanic lightning…
Things grow: they come up out of the ground, and some are stunted, and some flourish, and I have no real insight into the nature of what’s happening. I suppose I’ve just inadvertently called my own mind inhuman and overwhelming, but that feels accurate as well. I stand by the analogy…
Reject simple dichotomies. Never use gender, color, age, or orientation as short-hand in characterization; none of those traits necessitates or presupposes any other character trait. Show the world not as other people tell you it is or as you’ve learned to see it, but as you see it when you’re really looking…
Writing-wise, the most important thing I learned was that writing was a job that I was doing. Not a kind of ethereal ongoing vision quest (though there can sometimes be elements of that). It’s about putting the words on the page, putting the pages in the mail and doing it again and again and again. And then you die, I think…
While I approached this project with a great deal of fear and trembling at the start, worried I wouldn’t be able to do it justice, [this] is now a story I can single out as an example of my best work and a project I didn’t allow to beat me…
I’ve also wondered about how hacking, phishing, spam, flame wars, and other internet phenomena might work on a galactic scale. Suppose we finally communicate with aliens, and they turn out to be telemarketers?
Feed the dragon regularly. The expenses alone will keep you writing – dragons typically demand to be fed imported caviar, fine single sourced chocolate, organic ranch raised bison and beef, teddy bears, and fairies.
In 2006, a call went out for slush readers at Shimmer. I was in a place with my writing where I felt it was something I should do–the experience could only help my own writing, as I would be learning what worked and didn’t when it came to fiction. It’s always easier to see flaws in the writing of others, isn’t it?
I didn’t think, however, that I would make the cut. I worried over my application, because Shimmer was a publication I loved. Shimmer filled a niche in the genre community–quirky and often unclassifiable fantasy. It’s what I often wrote. So, I sucked up my courage and applied (and crossed my fingers). It wouldn’t be any worse than a fiction submission, I told myself. It’s either yes or no and then you move on.
When it was a yes, it’s possible I danced around my desk a bit (a lot). Reading those first submissions was scary (terrifying). I had the power to reject stories and it’s one I had to take seriously–and still do. When Beth asked me to take the reins when it came to fiction starting with issue 15, I had that moment again, the moment where I thought I wouldn’t make the cut.
Still, I wanted it. I had learned much from Beth and slush and my fellow readers in six years (!) and it felt right to take that step. Terrifying (in a new way), but right. Not only did I still have the power to reject stories, I had the power to say which stories would actually make it into the issue. Which also meant I had to figure out the best way for stories to fit together, the best way to use the space, and exactly what I wanted Shimmer to look like.
What Shimmer looks like isn’t changing. Beth and I have much in common when it comes to our story candy, and since I’ve always loved what Shimmer does, Shimmer is going to keep on doing that. Of course there are things I like that Beth doesn’t, but the bare bones are the same. You are walking in deep, dark woods without a visible path beneath your feet (but you feel the stones, they’re cold), and in the distance you see a glimmer of light piercing the black canopy.
I am enthusiastic about stories that are warped like a Dali painting. Sure, it’s a watch, but look how it flows right over that tree branch. Stories that are surreal, worlds that glide over the surface of our own. You will find this within “What Fireworks” in issue #15. I’m also deeply enamored of stories that make something new of death (“The Undertaker’s Son”), of what it means to die (“Harrowing Emily”), of what it means to live (“Soulless in His Sight”). Of angels and birds and poetry. Deliberately going to the underworld and coming back with dirt under not only your nails but your soul. To prove that new things will emerge, issue #15 contains a story we rejected, but one that wouldn’t let me go. I kept thinking about it as I read other stories, so knew I wanted to revisit it.
Issue #15 was my first issue to experience the process from slush pile to finished product. Usually, after making edits to accepted stories and proofing the final copy, I was done. But this time, tasks remained. Layout! Artwork! Coordination! Printers! There was the discovery that no one works the way I do, which should be a no-brainer, right? People rarely work the same way. I found that deadlines enabled me to keep working the way I do.
Still, everything takes longer than you think it will. No one works at the same speed or in the same fashion. Keeping everything moving forward was (and remains) a challenge. There are many people in the chain, from readers to editors to writers to artists to printers, and every single person has another job and a family and a life and often conventions and travel, and these things must be respected.
It’s not so easy to choose the final stories which will end up in an issue. There are many stories we linger over and may not accept even though they’re lovely. The first story I bought was “The Undertaker’s Son,” a haunting piece that will draw you into the world of young Albert who has a special talent with the dead. “The Undertaker’s Son” became our cover story, as I feel it anchors the entire issue.
Building an issue around this story was an incredible thing to watch. I had no idea how it would go, but at times the stories seemed to fall together on their own. What one story says, another may echo; what one story explores may be the reflection of another. You begin to see patterns in the chaos and find your way forward.
Still, it was scary. What if no one likes it, my brain moaned. The rational side to my brain told the moaning side to shut up. It’s no different than a story submission. Some will like it, some will not. This is the way of all things. What if people love it? my brain suggested. Yeah. What if?
I’ve learned a lot about myself over the course of this issue (I work best with deadlines? Never would have believed that! I like stories involving angels? More than I thought, apparently!). I’ve also come to find a fantastic friend in Beth, who guided me from start to finish. Issue #16 is full of its own challenges, as we will be publishing ten thousand more words than we have before.
In January, Beth told us she had audacious plans for 2012. We’re half way through and I cannot wait to show you guys what’s next.