Apex Magazine

Why Revive the Drive?

If you follow Apex Magazine, you probably know we’re currently running a promotion called Revive the Drive. It’s a mix of subscription drive, fundraiser, and an excuse to have some fun (the Pumpkin vs. Oz cuteness showdown, the live stream of It Follows commentary).

We called it “Revive the Drive” because we cut our annual drive short back in November after the election. It was a time of celebration for Trump supporters. It was a time of sadness for Clinton supporters. Nobody was in the mood to spend money. Bigger things were going on.

Also, being raised a Southern Baptist in the hills, I’ve always had a thing for revivals.

But why do a drive at all?

Fair question.

Apex Magazine makes enough via regular promotions and day-to-day sales to maintain the status quo. But what’s a life if you’re not always trying to improve? We want to increase our author, artist, and editor pay. We also desperately, and I mean DESPERATELY, need to hire a part-time assistant editor. Lesley and I struggle to keep our heads above water at times.

There are also plans to expand how much fiction we publish each month, but that’ll require a bit more than our $10,000 goal.

But really? This is all a grand scheme to make Lesley Conner watch and live tweet It Follows with me.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Joseph-Beth Booksellers

Kid #1 attending the Cat Valente signing

Kid #1 attending the Cat Valente signing

With so much angst in the inner circles of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, it is easy to forget how much books mean to so many people.

When I heard that Catherynne M. Valente would be Lexington in support of her Fairyland series, I asked my daughter if she would be interested in going. I know Kid #1 loves books with strong female protagonists, and when she read the synopsis of the first book, she became excited and said she definitely wanted to attend.

I would be going anyway, as Cat Valente and I have known each other for a long time (I’ve published her a number of times, and most importantly, Cat is a former editor-in-chief of Apex Magazine). I’d not seen her in a few years and wanted to say hello. But being able to take my kid would vault the experience from being a cool reunion to a father/daughter memory.

We take our seats and the lady of the hour arrived. The woman in charge of running the children’s reading program at Joseph-Beth tried to introduce Cat several times–each time interrupted as she couldn’t hold back the tears. Finally, Cat stood and gave the lady a warm embrace. The woman was a huge fan, and shared how much her books (both Cat’s YA and adult titles) meant to her. I’m a rather emotionless beast, but even this warmed my cold heart a degree or two.

The waterworks ended, and Cat read a chapter from book five of the Fairyland series. The lady knows how to pen a sentence.

Catherynne M. Valente reading

Catherynne M. Valente reading. The store did a nice job with decorations.

After the reading, the kids in the audience went on a Fairyland scavenger hunt. Cat signed books. Several people in the line around me were quite nervous meeting Cat Valente. Heck, I even felt it a little. For them, her works had meaning to them beyond entertainment value. They were there for their children, or perhaps Catherynne’s books spoke them in a personal way, or simply they liked signed books. Value comes in many forms.

I had my stack of books signed. I had a nice brief chat with Cat. We took a photo together.

Author of Radiance looks radiant. Editor guy looks like smiling hurts his soul.

Author of Radiance looks radiant. Editor guy looks like smiling hurts his soul.

I ran into Christopher Rowe making crafts under the harsh reprimands of Gwenda Bond. Those two are comedy gold.

Kid #1 and I finally go home. She’s excited about jumping into the Fairyland series. She asks me if I will read it with her.

So the rest of y’all can go back to insulting one another on Facebook and Twitter. I’m going to be reading a book with my daughter.

Apex Magazine in Print?

Over at my day job (Apex), we’re running a questionnaire regarding the possibility of bringing Apex Magazine to print. It is currently digital only.

I know a lot of this blog’s followers are either readers or writers, so it would be great to have your input regarding a dead tree version of the zine. If you have two minutes to spare, I ask that you fill out the questionnaire below. Thank you so much!

I am a pro-level juggler

Like most modern day members who live on the bleeding edge, I’m crazy busy these days. Because I only get myself in trouble during times of introspection and boredom, keeping the wheels burning is a great thing.

FREELANCE:
I’m ready to reload. I’ve finished the work of the first wave of freelance clients and am ready to pile it back on. To the best of my reckoning, I received high marks across the board.

If you’re interesting in my editing, writing, or web services, please check out this page: https://jason-sizemore.com/freelance-services/

WRITING:
I have one story out right now. It’s a weird sci-horror piece that I’m quite pleased with. I hope it finds a good home.

I’m also making slow progress on my alien invasion novel based on the short story “Sonic Scarring” from Irredeemable.

EDITING:
I’m editing an anthology with Lesley Conner titled Best of Apex Magazine. The plan is to end the poorly selling The Book of Apex series and replace it with an irregular Best of… antho. It contains 20 stories selected by Lesley and I from the first 78 issues of Apex Magazine. Fans get to vote on the 21st story. The story that receives the most votes will be included. Cool, right?

APEX MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION DRIVE:
Speaking of Apex Magazine, we’re running a major subscription drive until November 13th. We’re hoping to raise $5000 in order to do some cool things in 2016 with the zine. If we make our goal, we’ll be publishing a great novelette by Ursula Verson set in the same world as her award-winning “Jackalope Wives.”

NEW KITTY:
After the passing of Ghost, I thought it would be awhile before I wanted another cat. But a visit to the Lexington Humane Society’s setup at PetSmart disabused me of that notion quickly. A feisty little orange guy charmed me and the family in record time. We went home with him that evening and promptly named him Pumpkin.

He’s lazy, though. This is his reaction this morning when I told him we needed to go to the office and work on some editing:

12183779_10153038824407820_7869248450969806437_o“Work? I don’t think so!”

Subverting Racist Tropes in Fiction

Over at Apex Magazine, I published a powerful short story by Maurice Broaddus titled “Super Duper Fly.” The author confronts the deeply ingrained “passive” racism that still exists in contemporary literature. In particular, offensive stereotypes of black people: the magical negro, the mammy, and others.

It struck me after reading “Super Duper Fly” that writers lean a lot of stereotypes to build stock characters. The story even references one of our society’s most famous depictions of the magical negro trope by one of our most popular and beloved authors: John Coffey in The Green Mile by Stephen King.

“The Magical Negro is not bound by the rules of space and time. It is a sacred responsibility.” Another man stepped from his light. Over six and a half feet tall, weighing over two bills, he strutted toward the two, all swagger without consequence. He held his arms out, either for an embrace or waiting for a white woman to swoon and fall into them. “You had one job. One.”

“What was that, The Buck?” The Magical Negro asked.

–excerpt of “Super Duper Fly” in issue 77 of Apex Magazine

I interviewed Maurice about the story. We had a good discussion about race in fiction. At least, as good as one you can have between a pasty white country boy publisher and a popular black author. He had some smart things to say about Stephen King, about an author’s social responsibility, and cultural appropriation.

There is also the unspoken, yet very present, social responsibility to the community in terms of the stories we tell and the characters we craft.

–excerpt of interview with Maurice Broaddus

I encourage you to check out the interview and story. You’ll enjoy them.

“Super Duper Fly” by Maurice Broaddus

My interview with Maurice Broaddus

Raising Money for Pic and Michelle

WhatMakesYouDieLast Saturday, writer and all-around wonderful person Tom Piccirilli passed away after a long fight against brain cancer. Like many in genre circles, Tom was an influential person. He always had time to offer advice. If you needed a cornerstone author to legitimize your anthology, Pic would step up (if he believed you had the chops) no matter how busy he was. And he was always busy. If you search for his work on Amazon, you’ll see 162 results.

I am honored to say that at least 5 of those results are from Apex. In 2013, we published his novel What Makes You Die. He also recently appeared twice in Apex Magazine.

Pic believed in me, believed in Apex right from the start. I recounted my first conversation with him in For Exposure.

Hours later, blissful and exhausted, I made to leave. On the way out, Tom Piccirilli took me aside.

“Look, I want to help you out. I might have a story I can send you, you pay me what you can, just don’t tell anyone. As far as the world knows, I squeezed you for my usual rate. Right?”

“Right—”

“The zine’s not perfect. It’s a bit rough around the edges, if you know what I mean. But I can tell you’re trying to do this the right way. Writers appreciate that. So don’t fuck this up.”

I gulped. “No, sir, I won’t.”

Tom shook his head. “You and your fucking ‘sirs’.”

A week after Hypericon I received a fantastic dystopian science fiction piece from Tom.

I want to help his wife, Michelle Scalise, a wonderful lady I met at MoCon five or six years ago. To that end, Apex is selling Tom’s novel What Makes You Die and the two recent issues of Apex Magazine and giving all net proceeds to Michelle.

You can order via the following links:

What Makes You Die (TPB/eBook)
Apex Magazine issue 59
Apex Magazine issue 65

If you don’t order from Apex, please check out these lists of Tom’s other work and buy one or more. Every bit helps and in return you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic reading experience.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_14?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=tom+piccirilli&sprefix=tom+piccirilli%2Caps%2C231

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tom+piccirilli?fs=0&_requestid=995437

20 Days Till the Apex Celebration

After a weekend trek to the hills for a bit of down time, I’m back home and working hard on preparing Apex Magazine for publication tomorrow. As people kept telling me last week, I am now “living the dream.”

Since my livelihood relies heavily on the success of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, I wanted to post some links that provide ways to help Apex, our authors, and me.

Would you like to try one of our books? We sell our books direct (along with the usual sites Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.). But buying direct helps the publisher more than anything else.

Direct buy: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/collections/all-books

Would you like to subscribe to our magazine? Subscriptions are for one year, 12 issues, and are only $19.95. Magazines are a money-hungry business and needs a lot of food! Subscriptions are available directly from Apex (along with Amazon and Weightless Books).

Direct subscription: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/collections/apex-magazine-all/products/apex-magazine-subscription

Friends and fans ask me where they should buy our books. My answer is “Your preferred vendor.” Every purchase helps us. True, direct purchases are the best for the publisher, but without our vendors we wouldn’t exist. Also, the customer experience should be comfortable and easy. So if you’re an Amazon buyer or you like to track down your books via Booksense, it doesn’t matter to Apex. Just buy! 🙂

On June 20th, we celebrate my 10 years of being a genre publisher. Event page is here. Event info is below.

Joseph-Beth Booksellers
Lexington, KY
5:00 pm

Apex Publications 24-7!

xAPEX-Pub-banner-101812

Ten years ago I started a small zine named Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest. Although I started the publication for the simple goal of channeling my creativity, it didn’t take long for me to realize something else. I would rather be editing, publishing, and writing than doing software development.

While Apex Publications has grown and done well, the circumstances of life and reality has kept it firmly in a nebulous state between hobby and small business. During the last ten years, there has been war, an economic recession, and a housing market collapse. My wife and I had two kids. At no point in that time could I risk quitting the relatively stable profession of software development to pursue my dream of running Apex full-time.

Recently, however, the opportunity of switching professions became a reachable goal. The company has undergone tremendous growth over the past two years. Suddenly I found myself facing a difficult choice: hire somebody full-time to run Apex, or personally take over Apex full-time and draw a salary from the company. I chose the latter!

Starting June 1st my official profession will be publisher.

The first step of the journey! Issue #1 of Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest.

The first step of the journey! Issue #1 of Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest.

A lot of people have asked me if I’m scared. My answer is “Heck no! I’m excited!” I’ve been working ten years toward this goal. All those many, many months of working a day job, going home to take care of kids, then spending late weekday nights and whole weekends playing book and magazine publisher are finally paying dividends. I’m taking this opportunity and running with it.

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably someone who has made my career transition possible. I want to thank you for helping make my dream happen. My goal is to pay back your support with more great books and stories by more incredible authors. Let’s keep this rocket ship blasting skyward.

But first, we will celebrate the past ten years of Apex Publications on June 20th at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, KY as authors, editors, and artists who have played a major role in my journey join me in a reading, a Q & A, dinner, and a cocktail party. More details can be found here: http://bit.ly/1Q8FZhP.

And here’s to another fantastic ten years of Apex Publications!

Do Editors Really Reject You For That…A Writer’s Lament 1

A question I’m asked frequently in my short fiction workshops goes like this: Do you really take into consideration things like elements of plot and the part of a story when you’re considering them for publication?

My response is: Yes, but maybe not the way you thinking.

I know that’s a dodgy answer. But give me a chance to explain myself.

When I’m reading a story for publication in Apex Magazine, I don’t have a checklist that I mark off: introduction–check, rising action–check, climax–check, etc. The elements of plot aren’t constructs that editors insist you adhere to, but merely tools to get the job done.

What is that job? To write a damn good story!

I’m not checking off if you write to basic structure of a story. I will take notes if I think the climax is a let down. Or if the rising action requires more. Or if your introduction needs a tweak.

Many of the most memorable and best stories play with story structure. I’m not talking in a cutesy “Hey look at my verbal hijinks” manner.

Some of my favorite Apex Magazine stories are rather unconventional. A couple of examples: “The Performance Artist” by Lettie Prell and “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky.

Naturally, some of my favorite Apex Magazine stories have a convention structure. A couple more examples: “Pimp My Airship” by Maurice Broaddus and “Frank” by Betsy Phillips.

As a writer, you should understand the basic mechanics of short fiction. But it isn’t something to fret about if you’re hoping to sell your fiction. A great story is a great story. End of story…

 

Apex Magazine — Back in the saddle again

Art by Emma SanCartier

Art by Emma SanCartier

Yesterday, Apex published issue 68 of Apex Magazine. This was the first one with me functioning as editor-in-chief in 53 issues (almost 4.5 years in magazine time). Prior to 68, I edited issues 1-15 of Apex Magazine and all 12 of the printed Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest.

Damn, it feels good to be back in the saddle.

Over those 4.5 years, I’ve edited several short story anthologies. They’re fun…but they’re not as fun as the magazine.

Truth be told, I have missed running the zine. I mean, I did run the magazine in a managing sense. I helped make editorial choices here and there. And I gave editorial direction to the E-i-Cs. But it was the ability to select stories to publish, to find the diamonds in the rough, to bring the voice of fantastic writers to the public, that I missed.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have hired three outstanding editor-in-chiefs: Catherynne M. Valente, Lynne M. Thomas, and Sigrid Ellis. Each put their stamp and legacy on the zine in their unique ways and helped build Apex Magazine into a respected, (dare I say) beloved, and 3-time Hugo Award nominee. Cat has gone on to become a fantastic novelist. Lynne co-edits a great new zine of her own. And I have no doubt Sigrid will find her star rising with whatever she decides to do next.

And now it is time to pressure you into checking out the new issue of Apex Magazine!

Check it out here:
http://www.apex-magazine.com/issue-68-january-2015/

You can read most of the content for free on the zine’s website. There are some bits of exclusive content when you subscribe or buy an eBook copy.

I hope you enjoy issue 68. Remember, new issues land on the first Tuesday of every month!