Sunday, June 14, 2015

I've Landed

It's one of those days that I'll forget later was really successful. So I figured, since I actually have time and I'm always bemoaning to myself the fact that I don't blog as often as I should, I'll recognize it here.

I've written and edited nearly all day. I sent off a piece of memoir/nonfiction to Red Fez, which I hope will be published in the not distant future. I've finished an initial edit of the Billy Bobble sequel (still aiming for the end of the year on that one!), and I also finished a book review and a Q&A for work.

It's nice to mark "Done" on my list of things to do for a day or a week. I add things as I go, too, so those lists are never really done. But that's the way it is with anything. Whether it's doing the laundry, feeding the kids, cleaning the cats' box, tasks both enjoyable and uninspiring greet us each day. I've been able to accomplish ones that meant a lot to me today. And I've even been able to blog about it.

To be sure, I have loads of things to do still. We've closed on submissions for the horror anthology, and while our review team and I check the stories out, I just want to say it's been wonderful to discover new voices. We'll be trumpeting a bit more this year at the Elephant's Bookshelf.

Hope your Sunday is at least as successful as mine has been and that your week is even better!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Giving Back and Giving Credit

As anyone who knows me well is aware, I'm a strong believer in giving back to one's community. It's something that I've been able to incorporate into Elephant's Bookshelf Press, with perhaps the most obvious example being Steven Carman's Battery Brothers, for which all the profits will go to the Starlight Children's Foundation, which fulfills wishes of sick children and works to improve the lives of kids and families overall.

We all belong to many communities. It's not just about where we live or where we work, but also the places where we thrive and help our peers survive. In that light, I'd like to call attention to R.S. Mellette, who was recently recognized for his volunteer efforts with his local chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

R.S. is an important part of the EBP family, but he's also become a huge part of the SCBWI community out in California. I wanted to call attention to his dedication to writers; it's at least as strong as his faith in readers. Great job!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Catching Up

I never realized when I launched Elephant's Bookshelf Press back in 2012 how busy I would become. Without a doubt, a big part of all that activity is due to my love of short stories and my belief that great shorts can pave the way for wonderful novelists. (Case in point, see A.T. O'Connor's Whispering Minds and R.S. Mellette's Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand; and we'll see it also in Cat Woods' Abigail Bindle and the Slam Book Scam later this year.) Another big part of it is because there is so much that goes into the production and promotion of books that it never seems to stop.

While this blog has been relatively quiet for much of 2015, we haven't been. In fact, EBP is taking giant strides to getting our books out in front of more and more readers. If things go as planned, we'll be on shelves in a couple independent bookstores in New Jersey and another down south.

I think it may happen in time for the releases of Abigail Bindle in late August/early September and the as-yet-unnamed horror anthology in late September. Plus, we're editing the next installment of the Billy Bobble series.

In the meantime, we're still accepting submissions for the horror anthology. If you haven't heard back recently, don't dismay: we're still reviewing stories and we've learned over the years not to send acceptances out too soon. But the deadline is fast upon us; they're due on June 8, which is right around the corner. I haven't even revised my own story yet to submit to reviewers yet, so I'm sure you'll be able to get something together.

We hope to hear from you all soon. Lord knows you'll be hearing from us throughout the year!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Q&A With Leopold McGinnis, publisher of Red Fez

In my literary travels, I’m fortunate to e-meet lots of interesting people. Sometimes they even reach out to me. Earlier this year, Leopold McGinnis and I started communicating. He’s the founder and publisher of Red Fez, an online literary journal. (Full disclosure, this week they published a piece by me, though he and I had agreed to do this interview before I’d written anything for Red Fez, and he was not involved in the decision to accept or reject my submission, for which – like all Red Fezers – I wasn’t paid.)

Elephant’s Bookshelf Blog: What is Red Fez and how did it begin?

Leopold McGinnis: Red Fez started as an online literary ‘zine in 2002. We were looking to explore and exploit the strange new world of online publishing. At that point in time, we were digital cavemen and the biggest concern for writers of the day was ‘but what if someone copies my stuff?’ Nowadays people can barely be asked to read work, let alone steal it, so it’s non-issue.

Publishing very long work (because it was cost-neutral on the web) and using yellow text on a red background were two other innovations that didn’t really pan out as ‘good ideas.’ I think we can put that second innovation squarely in the 'bad ideas' box, actually. On the other hand, having a searchable database of authors, and the ability to categorize and find work by themes and genres has worked out great.

Nowadays, we’re somewhere between a literary magazine and social media hub for people who read and write. People can participate in the ancient art of reading in a very modern way: follow authors, comment on work, like, share, make lists and engage in all sorts of technicoliterary wizbangery.

EBB: I like wizbangery. What do you publish?

LM: We publish fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, film, and audio works. Stylistically, we’re quite open-minded. We believe art should be interesting and engaging at its first level, but, ideally have a further depth to it, beyond its yummy outer layer. We try to keep a healthy mix of high-brow/low-brow and have published those who have been highly schooled in making art to those who’ve learned it on the streets. You can think of us as fans of Mad Magazine who went on to discover great literature. We have an appreciation for the range...and especially those things that can bridge both extremes.

EBB: When did you become a monthly publication?

LM: We started publishing monthly (except January – that’s our break) back in 2011. I was initially against it, but our editor-in-chief at the time, Michele McDannold, convinced me (and the staff) that we could do it. We’re totally volunteer run, so that’s a lot of work, and I always kind of freak out that we’re not going to make it. But after four years of freaking out I guess that I have to accept that we’re pretty equipped to do this! Our 78th issue just came out today.

EBB: How many of your authors are frequent contributors?

LM: Oh boy. I could probably give you an exact number if you gave me some time to do research. But I’d say about half of each issue is people we have published before, and half are new to us. We have been publishing for twelve years so we’re increasingly seeing repeat offenders, which is natural. If by frequent contributors you mean people who submit once every two to four issues, I’d say maybe 10 percent?

EBB: Have any of your authors gone on to literary fame or infamy?

LM: We have definitely published some heavy lifters, both in the underground and academic circles. Whether we were responsible for their fame, or whether they carried fame with them when they came by is up for debate. Definitely people have gone on to find book deals and increased infamy after publishing with us.

Last year, we published the guy who wrote the screenplay for Kickboxer (Glenn A. Bruce), and a couple of our other authors have had Hollywood level film scripts produced. Comic artist/writer Jeff Lemire published with us before he was big. We have a lot of infamous undergrounders in our published ranks as well – Misti Rainwater-Lites, Noah Cicero, Josh Olsen, William Taylor Jr. On the academic side, we’ve published Richard Kostelanetz and a couple of others.

EBB: Looking in your crystal ball while wearing your red fez, what do you see in the future for your publication?

LM: Great fame and infamy! Actually, we have grown tons in the last few years and we have begun introducing a members system. Currently it’s only available to authors who have published with us, but it really expands the kinds of things readers and writers can do on Red Fez. I’m super excited to launch that to everyone in the not-too-distant future, as it will allow authors to promote themselves and their work, and help readers wade through everything we publish to find the work they will really enjoy. But right now we’re just really focusing on making sure the experience is simple and error free – so my crystal ball just looks like a lot of work for the next few months. I can’t really see through that work fog at the moment, but I’m sure behind that lies fame and infamy. Or a handsome stranger riding a horse. The ball is not quite clear on that front.

EBB: So, were you named after Leopold Bloom?

LM: Funnily enough, yes. My father was a big fan of Ulysses (plus he was Irish). My mother had loved the name Leopold from a Cary Grant movie called Talk of the Town. Strangely enough, they found each other and I emerged. Thankfully I was a boy, otherwise I would have been called Leopoldine. True story.

EBB: As they say, truth can be stranger than fiction. Thanks, Leopold for sharing with us!