Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Interview With Frank Ludlow of Albedo One




Frank Ludlow of Irish SpecFic magazine Albedo One kindly agreed to be intrviewed by Write1Sub1:


Albedo One



W1S1: Tell us about Albedo One and the sort of story you're looking for.

Albedo One is Ireland's best (i.e. only!) magazine dedicated to speculative fiction, though others do pop up now and again and mostly last for just a few issues. We've been established since 1993, and in that time have progressed from being an A5 photocopied and hand-stapled production, to what we are now, A4 with full colour covers, about 60,000 words per issue, and no more hand-stapling! Along the way, we've also managed to win the Best Magazine and Best Publisher Awards from the European Science Fiction Society - not bad for a magazine that relies entirely on volunteers (none of our editors are paid, alas!).

All of our editors are long-time readers of science fiction, fantasy and horror, so we've seen just about everything, and are on the hunt for something that can still surprise us. Often we find that in stories that blend genres, or are otherwise hard to classify.


W1S1: You also run the Aeon Award for speculative short stories. Can you tell us about that?

We started the Aeon Award in 2004 as a way of promoting writers and writing in all the speculative fiction genres, by giving our winners a substantial cash prize and publication in a long-running and respected spec-fic magazine. We also wanted to buck the trend towards more and more writing contests that are clearly predatory in intent (e.g. large entry fees, small prizes, prizes only guaranteed if enough entries are received, or if the author can attend the "award" ceremony, etc.) or at least appear to offer minimal benefit to the writers, and are more about making the organizing body money.

So with the Aeon Award, we offer 3 Grand Prizes, of 1000, 200 and 100 euro, and guaranteed publication in Albedo One. The entry fee is a modest 7.50 euro, and we aim pretty much to just break even. In the event that there is a surplus, we put that straight back into the production of Albedo One, and have been able to also increase our payment rate for stories submitted directly to the magazine. This is an ongoing process and we hope to be able to raise the rates again in the future.

Back to the Aeon Award: the contest is now annual and runs each year from January 1 to November 30. Entries can be submitted at any time between these dates, each year, and there is no bar to entry by nationality or location. Oh, and as a bonus, the winning stories are often translated and published in a variety of prestigious European speculative fiction magazines, such as Galaxy SF (France) and Phase X (Germany). So get those stories submitted!

Aeon Award


W1S1: Anything you see too much of in your slush pile?

The usual suspects would be vampires, elves, werewolves, etc., in stories that don't add anything new to the mythology, lore (or science!) of these creatures. But more generally what we see are lots of well-crafted stories, where the writing is fine, but the story just fails to sparkle. Where it lacks just that one last twist or surprise for the reader. My advice is that when you have written a story and polished it up, leave it sitting there for a while, maybe a few months while you work on your next piece, then come back to it fresh and think about that one single change that could elevate the story to another level. Almost always it does exist and is worth seeking.


W1S1: Anything you don't see enough of?

Stories about (or featuring!) vampires, werewolves and elves that blow me away and shame me for my cynicism! Otherwise, what I miss most are really good science fiction submissions, where the science is well thought out (and not just borrowed window-dressing using the latest buzz words). And more importantly, perhaps, where the social implications of any new major technology or development is well thought through and integrated into the world (and presented in a "show not tell" manner - no one wants to read a thinly disguised instruction manual for some new device or technology!!).


W1S1: Do you see any recurring flaws in the submissions you get? And tips for folks thinking of submitting?

I see many submissions that clearly haven't read our submission guidelines - that's always the minimum an author can do to show that they have put commitment into their submission - remember, we're committing time to read and consider your work, often during our lunch breaks or at night after work. I would also recommend that authors buy a copy of our magazine (just 4 euro in pdf or ebook) or look at some of our free stories online (see our Albedo 2.0 Fiction Showcase Series), both to see the type of fiction we like, and to see whether the author themselves feel that their work is a good fit.

Submission Guidelines


W1S1: If you had to pick one speculative fiction book and one speculative fiction film to take to a desert island, which would they be?

Assuming I would be stranded alone on this island, I guess I would have to take a book in which (for company!) the characters leap out - probably one of Philip Jose Farmer's World of Tiers series. Old-school, I know! As for a film, although this choice would probably only increase my sense of isolation given the theme, I would have to take Moon from 2009, directed by Duncan Jones. Only because it has so far defeated my attempts to watch it. Attempt 1, a Christmas DVD gift, in which the film would only play with the Director's Commentary overlain. Attempt 2, streaming the film, during which time (in the first 5 minutes, in fact!) my computer literally goes on fire.



Many thanks, Frank! If you're interested in submitting to this fine magazine, full submission guidelines are here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Week #29 Check In

The end of Week 29 is here!

How did it go this week? Did the words flow like wine or was it a week of Write none Sub none? Here's your chance to tell everybody about it, whether you're a weekly or monthly (or anything in between) Write1Sub1 participant.

If you've managed to write a story and submit a story (or poem) this week, let everyone know about it in the comments. And if you've had something Write1Sub1-related accepted, tell us so we can add you to the Write1Sub1 Hall of Fame. But if stuff has interfered with your writing and every reply has been a rejection, let us know that too, so we can commiserate. We've all been there.

Please report ONLY accepted/published stories that you wrote as part of your participation in W1S1 (2011-2014).

(Please note that reports will not immediately appear, as they must be verified/processed by the weekly moderator) 


While W1S1 continues to encourage all avenues for publication, we want to especially highlight those stories and markets that help to put new books on a writer's shelf. 

Even if you have no acceptance or publication news to report, please update us on your week's progress in the comments. Successes and failures, triumphs and disasters, brilliant ideas and insane dreams: we want to read all about them!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Annual Backup Reminder Post

Stories about authors who lose stories - or even whole novels - because their computer dies still crop up from time to time. It's the nightmare scenario. Writing something once is hard enough. Writing it again, from scratch, doesn't bear thinking about.

So, this is a gentle reminder to ensure you have a reliable backup regime in place. There are lots of ways to do it these days. Do all your writing online in something like Google Docs. Save your files to a Dropbox folder. Use one of the many online backup services. But do something.

The key, in my view, is to set up an automatic system. If you rely on manually copying files to another drive, or emailing files to yourself, sooner or later you'll forget. And then when you really need that backup it won't be there.

So, if you're not covered, sort something out today. Set up an automatic system and it can work away without you having to worry about it. One day you'll be glad you did...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week #28 Check In

The end of Week 28 is here!

How did it go this week? Did the words flow like wine or was it a week of Write none Sub none? Here's your chance to tell everybody about it, whether you're a weekly or monthly (or anything in between) Write1Sub1 participant.

If you've managed to write a story and submit a story (or poem) this week, let everyone know about it in the comments. And if you've had something Write1Sub1-related accepted, tell us so we can add you to the Write1Sub1 Hall of Fame. But if stuff has interfered with your writing and every reply has been a rejection, let us know that too, so we can commiserate. We've all been there.

Please report ONLY accepted/published stories that you wrote as part of your participation in W1S1 (2011-2014).

(Please note that reports will not immediately appear, as they must be verified/processed by the weekly moderator) 


While W1S1 continues to encourage all avenues for publication, we want to especially highlight those stories and markets that help to put new books on a writer's shelf. 

Even if you have no acceptance or publication news to report, please update us on your week's progress in the comments. Successes and failures, triumphs and disasters, brilliant ideas and insane dreams: we want to read all about them!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Interview with Sam Bellotto Jr. of Perihelion SF



Perihelion SF has published several stories by Write1Sub1 folks in the past. Sam Bellotto Jr, editor of the magazine, kindly agreed to be interviewed by Write1Sub1. Here's what he had to say:


W1S1: Tell us about Perihelion and the sort of story you're looking for.
"Perihelion" was originally established by myself and Eric M. Jones (now the contributing editor) in 1967. It was a print magazine, of course. But print was extremely expensive and funding difficult to obtain for two kids fresh out of college. After seven issues, I was forced to discontinue the publication. I'd always wanted to restart it as soon as conditions became favorable.

In the meantime, I pursued a career as a journalist, editor, writer, in New York City for almost 40 years.

I retired in 2012. That, plus the ease of producing Internet-based magazines, finally did give me the perfect environment to bring back "Perihelion." Eric was also enthusiastic about helping with a webzine.

Briefly, we seek what I like to call "honking good stories" as opposed to exercises in writing as a fine art. Don't misunderstand. The stories must be well-written. But the plot takes precedent over literary quality. I like strong characterization, realistic dialog, and a tight narrative. A short story isn't a novel. The best short stories crystallize a moment, and don't require pages and pages of expositional setup.

Let me emphasize that we are science fiction, not speculative fiction. The effect of science upon the human condition should be stressed. This doesn't mean only rocketships, aliens, and time machines. Archaeology, mathematics, and chemistry are sciences, too. The science must be integral to the story, whether the story is about a genetically modified potato that can grow anywhere and how that would impact humanity, or an impending gamma ray burst that threatens to fry our planet.


W1S1: Anything you see too much of in your slush pile?
Trying to cram a novel into a short story. As I previously mentioned, a good short story describes a pivotal moment in the characters' lives. If your story needs to relate an entire timeline of disparate events, multiple plot threads, and a legion of characters, it probably isn't a short story. It's a novel.

Also, too many writers lack the ability to produce a satisfying ending. You can't leave the reader holding the bag, wondering what just happened, or what is going to happen that isn't told. The first chapter of a projected novel is not a short story.

I also get submissions from authors who boast that the manuscript is part of a story series, set in the same universe, with the same characters. That is well and good; the problem is that, usually, to understand what in blazes is happening, you have to read most of the other stories in the series!

And one final piece of advice (a commandment really): Do not take ten pages to get to the beginning of your story!


W1S1: Anything you don't see enough of?
Unconventional storytelling. Thinking outside of the box. It's true that there are none (or few) wholly original plots under the sun. That's okay. The skill is how you twist the visitor-from-another-planet trope, or time travel tale.


W1S1: Do you see any recurring flaws in the submissions you get? And tips for folks thinking of submitting?
Other than what I have previously mentioned, sloppy proofreading is a turn-off. Please proofread your manuscripts carefully and submit them in proper manuscript format; that is, double spaced, inch margins all
around, page numbers, byline and email address on every page.


W1S1: If you had to pick one Science Fiction book and one Science Fiction film to take to a desert island, which would they be?
I prefer the short story format. As I don't publish novels, that's probably a good thing. So I'd likely take an anthology. In my estimation, Stanley Kubrick made two of the finest science fiction films ever: "2001: A Space Odyssey," and "A Clockwork Orange."



Thanks, Sam! If you're interested in submitting, full guidelines for Perihelion are here.