StoryHack

Bryce A Beattie's website blog thing

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Back to the Project

Now that the election is finally over, I can finally refocus a little bit on the literary magazine project.

I contacted some printers and found out that, yes, I can get a magazine/softcover printed significantly cheaper per copy than at createspace. Howver, to obtain that cheapness, I’d need to sell in the neighborhood of 2,000-3,000 copies. That would require a wildly successful kickstarter campaign.

So how likely is it that a literary magazine will have a wildly successful campaign? Not very. There are only a handfull of similar campaigns that have reach wild success. And as far as I can tell, all of those projects are either by a current successful magazine (Lightspeed has several special editions) or by people who have worked in the fiction publishing industry for a long time. I have neither.

So that means for now, I won’t even consider a digest-sized, newsprint paper, magazine similar to the current popular scifi/fantasy magazines (Asimov’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog, etc). It has to be print on demand. To be fair, though, createspace does a great job, so at least it’d be a quality product, materials-wise.

I’m researching now author contracts for this sort of thing.

Preposterous Pitch – Wedding Planet

Ok, Hollywood, listen up. Here’s the story:

Ted, a sullen former space marine who has sworn off love, takes a job as a wedding planner’s assistant at the largest/best hall on the fabulous wedding planet, the most popular of all intergalactic marriage destinations. When a quirky space bounty hunter shows up to arrest the bride in the hour and a half before the season’s most opulent ceremony, Ted is immediately smitten by her sweet moves and witty banter. Now his is torn between his duty to protect the wedding and his reborn ability to love. In space.

Sci-Fi Action Adventure RomCom. I’m pretty sure everyone would go to see it.

Giant Robot Spider

I was once again stricken with the urge to write bad poetry. Happy Halloween everybody.

To every activity there’s a time and a season,
And when it comes to hobbies, folks have their reasons.
But none knows exactly what went wrong inside her
When Yvette designed and built a giant robot spider.

Crazy money she made from trade empires and commissions,
And her brother had access to steel from demolitions.
So when we started a recycling foundry
The press, they applauded her ecological ability.

Weird Yvette drove down to the plant after close
Every night she toiled building girders in droves.
Servos and gears in bulk she ordered.
Science knowledge filled her head without boarders.

Six years she toiled in secret after hours
and clandestined ’nuff stuff to build a large tower.
‘Till finally the hydraulics were finished all in all
Eight legs, laser eyes over two stories tall.

A spider of metal built far out in the sand
of the desert was ready to strike terror in the land.
The product of talent, hard work, and her money
was ready to destroy, ‘cuz she thought it’d be funny.

First place that it hit was a very small town.
Crushed the car of the sheriff, turned all the pants brown.
With web of steel cable, and with powerful winches
Pulled down water towers, just as easy as cinches.

The govn’r knowing that the fight would be hard
Called up militias and the national guard.
But their bullets were puny for the spider’s thick steel
And large, mighty pincers lifted Humvees off wheels.

In desperation the army tried to kill it with fire,
might as well should have gathered and sung in a choir.
‘Cuz the spider undaunted continued to pound
Cement buildings and freeways right into the ground.

Crushing legs, burning lasers, stinging rockets and cable
The spider destroyed all that it was able.
The monstrous contraption cross country it crawled
Ov’r mountains, through citied, under skies without stall.

Black time without mercy the nation it faced
As toward the capitol the spider did race.
All congress like ants scrambled, running away.
Yvette laughed at the TV in her lair on that day.

But finally of terror the evil genius got tired,
So she sent the command to the spider to hide.
Under water, down tranches, it hunkered down then
To wait on its master to call it again.

So parents take heed to that horrible sound.
It’s eight eight eyes full of lasers just outside your town.
Children take cover, take fear, take flight,
Or the giant robot spider will get you tonight.

The Economics of Starting a Literary Journal

I’m still considering launching a fiction ‘zine. I spent several hours over the past few days considering what it would really cost to do it right. I built myself a spreadsheet with every variable I can think of to see at what point it could become profitable. Here’s my projections as to what this would really take.

Considering a Magazine (again)

Off and on again, I have wanted to try to publish a magazine. A couple of years back, I did a test issue of one called “Micro Flash Fiction“, and I published it through MagCloud. MagCloud produces excellent quality printings, but it is quite expensive. Ever since then, I’ve had a desire to do it again, but better this time. I even went so far as to plan a pulp fiction reprints magazine once. I pulled some old public domain stories, figured out a real desktop publishing program, and probably laid out 10 or 15 pages before life got in the way.

What it Could Be

If I did this, I’d want to run an action/adventure stories magazine. It would be all genre-inclusive, so long as every story had at least one good action sequence. I would prefer it to be completely reader funded (as in they pay for copies), as apposed to largely advertiser funded. After all, I’m a staff of one, so my expenses would be minimal. And I wouldn’t put “reviews” and other useless filler in there.

Why?

  1. I love short stories.
  2. I love action / adventure stories. And lets face it, most of the smaller modern mags seem to have the phrase “with a literary twist” in their description. The critic in my head assures me that means they want a lot of navel-gazing and virtually no face punching. Or they allow face-punching, but are highly genre-specific.
  3. Because I want to.

Questions I’m mulling over right now:

  1. Would it be ebook, print, or both? I’d like both, but there are some hangups with print, which I’ll dig into in future posts. But it boils down to “Can I make the printed mag affordable enough that readers will take a chance on it?”
  2. Try to offer professional rates to authors? Token payments? “Exposure?” As I’ve started researching, I’ve seen several indie mags (that still charge) that do not offer the author any form of payment. I think authors deserve money.
  3. New works only? Reprints? Reprints of “classic” pulp stories? A mixture?
  4. Self-Funded or Crowdfunded? I’m not going to be able to convince my wife that we should dump a ton of money on a complete risk with small chance of initial return. So if I self-fund “professional rates” goes right out the window, unless I only put 2 stories in, which would seem lame. On the other hand, running a kickstarter requires time and effort and more learnings on my part, and may fail miserably.
  5. Size? How many stories should go in? What would be a fair word count for a fiction magazine? I guess it depends on how much I charge.
  6. How the crap would I market it?
  7. What would I call it? (I have two ideas so far.)

I’ve been writing some short stories recently, submitting them to various markets. (No success yet, but I remain positive.) So as I’ve been looking at many magazines and submission processes, this urge to publish has welled up again.

If any of you out there have thoughts, get in contact with me via the usual channels. (comments here, twitter, or email bryce at this website.) I’d also love to chat with anybody else that has ever given this a go.

I was just thinking.

Just exactly how much dirt has to be dug up on Clinton and Trump before a majority of Americans vote third party?

re: Pulps and Pixelry

David J. West recently wrote an article called Pulps and Pixelry over at his blog. You might want to read that before this, so you get some kind of context. Anyway, it got me to thinking. What follows is likely to be fairly stream-of-consciousness. Sorry. Someday, I’ll be more focused.

I don’t know about other people, but I can’t remember ever looking at the publisher of a book before I read it. I certainly never had a “I don’t read works by independent, self-published authors” rule. Maybe I’m just morally superior to the rest of the market. I’ve pretty much always read based on personal suggestions, and occasionally national trends like Harry Potter. Also, a story has to be pretty abysmal for me to quit reading in the middle.

I know some people just love love love the feel of books. I get that, and I do like physical books plenty. But when I learned about ebooks, holy crap I was excited. I’ve owned a couple of nooks (tablet and eink versions), an ebookman (old school back-lit lcd. best ergonomic reader ever, but hard to get files onto it), 2 Kindles (currently on a paperwhite) and a couple of tablets. I’ve settled down recently. and have gone down to one eink device and one tablet. But I put all my favorite books into Calibre, where I can easily find anything, and I love it. Also, I don’t have a room like David (see the picture at the top of the linked interview) does in which I can stack hundreds upon thousands of books.

And like I said, I still buy and read based on friends / already-liked-authors recommendations, so the torrent of digital slush out there doesn’t bother me.

You know what bugs, me though, is when the publisher sets the ebook price at or higher than the print version. When I encounter that with a non-fiction book, I’ll often just search the net for a few synopses and call it done.

Speaking of pulps, I have thought about putting together an anthology/starting a magazine/something that is printed in the size/paper of the Farmer’s almanacs. I think it’d be fun. With none of those boring non-fiction articles you see in some mags. Only action adventure stories. I wonder how cheaply those can be made? Doing black and white (or color) interiors on a POD like MagCloud makes a high quality product. However, copies can be cost prohibitive. I did play with that once, though. I want to produce something that could be theoretically handed to a fan with out huge expense.

Of course, I’ll need to get a few fans before that becomes an option. I’d better get writing.

Things my son wants for his 5th birthday.

  1. A real blue sonic screwdriver.
  2. A butler to do his chores.
  3. A monkey.

Dear classified ad responder;

An open letter to everyone who responds to my online classified ad.

Here is how negotiations work with my ad. First, I offer a price for an item. I also provide photos and a description in my ad. Next, you ask any questions you need to determine if you want to buy my item and how much you should pay. Then, you either accept or reject my offer, or you make me a counter offer. Do not just ask how low I’m willing to go. It’s rude. Do not counteroffer less than half of what I have offered. It’s rude. Plus, I’m already giving you a good deal. Trust me, I went and researched what the market value of my item is. Twenty, maybe 30 percent lower is perfectly fine, as long as you can give me a reason. It doesn’t have to be a good reason. We take turns giving counter offers until we reach a place where we either both are satisfied or we decide we cannot reach a consensus.

Thanks,

Bryce

Send a Secret Message! One-Time Pad Generator for Pen and Paper Encryption.

A pen and paper system for passing encrypted notes. Includes a random one-time pad generator.

How to Self Publish a Book

Off and on for the past several years, I’ve been writing a free book to help authors to self publish a book. I’ve had a version up on a separate blog for a while, but I’ve been finishing it and editing and reformatting and such, and now I’m posting the book on this site. It […]

The final (for now) covers.

Here’s what I’ve ended up with for the two new short story covers. I think I’m happy enough with them now, and I can publish more in the same style so they will look like they kind of belong together. Links go to the stories at Amazon.

Then you can’t vote for her, either.

Politics. If you don’t like them, don’t read this post. I am going to rant for a minute. And let me get one thing out of the way- I am not planning on voting for Trump. I disagree with many of his stated policies. I find his personality grating. Do not mistake what I am […]

Still Fiddling with Covers

Here’s some newer versions of one the covers I’m occasionally working on. I’m not really sure which way to go. In this round I changed the author name to be a little more in line with the whole pulp aesthetic I’ve been playing with. I swear, I’ve probably looked at a thousand pulp covers looking for inspiration. And my goal here is not to really sell more of the short stories that I have already released, but to establish more of a consistent style as I release newer stuff.

cover_test_1 cover_test_2

Quick Question for Authors

Out of curiosity, do you have royalties/etc paid to you directly, or do you have a separate legal entity, like an LLC?

If you get a book contract, do you make it with the LLC or with you personally?

IAmA MIB AMA

Yay for fiction! In this short piece, a man has a frightening encounter with a pair of bizarre government agents. I’ve been trying to write something every night over the last little while. This idea just popped into my head a few nights ago as I lurked around reddit’s nosleep community. I’ll be cross-posting this […]

Finding Art for New Covers

I decided the covers on my short stories need to change. I’m also planning on self publishing a few more over the next little while. Here are the two specifically that I’d like to replace: What I’d like is a pulpier feel with more genre-appropriate art. Also some sort of attempt at same-ness author branding. […]

Silly Request for Reviews

I’ve been ordering a bunch of art from fiverr to redo some of my short story covers (and get one for the upcoming release.) I’ll talk about that process very soon. Right now I want to tell a different story.

For whatever reason, fiverr decided to love me as a customer and it gave me a $5 credit. There’s not much I need from fiverr that only costs $5, so I browsed around for anything that could be useful to this site or me as a writer. I looked at some of the “shill” reviews that were being offered, but that just made me feel dirty. I checked out the music categories to see if $5 could score me some kind of theme for the blog. (Answer: not really) Finally what I ended up with was the following silly little plea for reviews.

Announcement: Learning (Game) Programming in Scratch

Over the past year and a half, I’ve been volunteering, teaching a programming class at a local elementary school. I’ve been using scratch to teach, as it’s easy to get something fun done fast for the kids. I created a curriculum for the class that mostly consists of video tutorials the kids can follow along […]

It’s my birthday!

It’s my birthday and as such I suppose it might be acceptable for me to mooch for reviews. So if you have ever read something I’ve written, please consider leaving me a review. My Amazon Author Page My Goodreads Author Page My Smashwords Page Me on Barnes and Noble Or maybe like my author page […]

StoryHack Podcast #1: David J. West Interview

I’m calling this the StoryHack Podcast, Episode #1. However, don’t hold me to any sort of schedule for releasing more of these. I have no plans for regularity. That being said, it was a lot of fun, and I would like to do more author interviews in person. Cutting now to the chase, I’d like […]

Coming Soon

I just got back from my first ever live author interview. I’ll post the audio in a day or two, as soon as I can listen to it and make a couple of notes. There was a big car wreck on the freeway on my way back. It took 2.5 times as long to get […]

Random Replies

As of late I’ve been “discussing” politics and morality and religion and all sorts of stuff around the internet. Yes, I know that arguing on the internet almost never changes anyone’s mind.  I’ve come to the conclusion I should probably cut back. After all, I want to remain friends with certain people despite our differences of opinion. Still, people are wrong out there and I HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING.

In place of fighting on various threads, I’m going to put some of my responses below, listed without any context. I just need to get this stuff out of my system.

  • Yes he does, and so does every other senator. They all get donations/rewards from companies and special interest groups. All of them on both sides of the political isle. Don’t act like he’s a special case.
  • Who cares?
  • This doesn’t work and I’m not dumb enough to share it or like it thinking it’s going to work. It’s a prank.
  • That headline is phrased as anger-inducing clickbait. It’s not a strong debate point. I mean, if another publication, maybe one like the National Review, printed that story they could have easily re-titled it “GOP Senators vote to not take away citizens’ 5th amendment right to due process.”
  • This news is sickening. I think they should abolish the draft altogether, so that none of my children can ever be forced to kill or be killed at the whim of war-monger politicians.
  • Pledged delegates and superdelagates might be a problem, but it’s one with your chosen party, not the actual election. Electoral college is a separate issue altogether.
  • I’m pretty sure by this point that Bernie Sanders will not be getting the nomination, but I do appreciate your enthusiasm.
  • If you continue to lie to your children like that, they will not believe anything you say when they get older. My kids at know that I claim to be Santa for them. One day they’ll be like, “Man, society lied a lot to me, but my Dad always told the truth. Maybe he was also right about…”
  • It is this exact fear to vote 3rd party (or independent) that keeps the current parties in power. Suck it up and vote for someone else, man.
  • Wait, you disagree with the sentiment that both sides only present skewed and misleading statistics? I can provide you with several more examples, but you obviously have your mind made up. I won’t waste my time. Please, continue your uninformed ranting.

Writing Again & other News

Okay, so I’ve been making an effort  to write every night at least a little. For as much as I enjoy writing, I realized I haven’t been doing much. Now I need to add in edit a little every night, too, so I can get that kids’ book polished up. Also, I’m in a consolidating phase, […]

Just another Million Dollar Idea…

Does anybody else get scam calls from the same place over and over? Even after you tell them to stop calling? It bugs the heck out of me. I wish there was an app that would remember the numbers of those places and not just block them, but play loud, annoying noises over the phone until they hung up. Or maybe a message that said something like “Hi, and welcome to Captain Zeusmonger’s private horoscope hotline. Because Captain Zeusmonger values you as a human being, you will only be charged $39.95 per minute to use this exclusive, powerful, life changing service. Your horoscope today is as follows…”

I’d pay for that app. That is all.