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Black Gate 12, Morlock, and Other Musings

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

1. I finished proofing Black Gate 12 and will be dropping the pages with corrections in the mail around noon. You’d probably expect me to say this, but it’s my favorite issue yet. All but one of the entries is a fantasy adventure piece, which is about the perfect ratio. Those of you who want to see Black Gate as the home for exciting sword-and-sorcery and heroic fiction should rejoice. If you don’t want to see that, don’t hold it against me. There’s plenty of magazines NOT offering adventure stories. Really. Some are pretty good, too. Don’t complain to me; go read those and point your friends who DO like adventure our way.

2. John will make the corrections and ship it to the printer, and launch promptly into prep work for number 13. In the meantime, yours truly is going to take a whack at layout of number 14. It will speed everything up if both John and myself can be relied upon to lay out the magazine, and if I’m working on 14 it gives me more time to learn the program.

3. I’ve been reading more and more Morlock these days. James Enge has a new Morlock tale in this issue of Black Gate, and I had two more in my in box that I read last night, so I’ve had three more Morlock tales this week than almost anyone else. I feel like a guy who got let into the kitchens of some posh restaurant to sample the finest meals before they were introduced to the rest of the world.

4. I’ve been re-reading some texts for historical research on the Abbassid Caliphate. You know, Thousand and One Nights era Baghdad. What to do when one source says ALL men were wearing turbans, and another that says turbans were optional? What to do when one calls the outer layer of clothing a diraa and the other calls it a jubba? More cross referencing, of course. Sources on the period in English are scarce. Perhaps I should get back to learning French beyond counting exercises and tourist information.

5. I have a novel out making the rounds. I grew accustomed some years back to the fact that publishing moves at the speed of slow, so I don’t think too much about a manuscript out there until at least three months have gone by. I figure a year with an agent or publisher probably means it’s time for a query. If anyone else has opinions out there on that, I’d love to hear it. Unfortunately, I’m not even at the six months spot with either the agent or the publisher considering the book, so I shouldn’t have my curiosity up. But I do. No news is good news, right?

6. Work continues apace on my Dabir and Asim novel. The break away from mist novel 2 has gotten me liking the whole mist world again (I needed either a pat on the back or a breath of fresh air) but in absence of any movement with mist novel 1 I’m going to keep cranking on the Dabir and Asim novel, which I’m really enjoying. If someone comes knocking about mist world 1, I have an outline and over 30 k of text roughed out on mist 2, so I’m in what I think is respectable shape. I must admit, however, to giving some thought to “branding.” As I’ve said, I consistently sell Dabir and Asim, and the stories helped land me this Black Gate gig. If those stories are a wedge in to publishing, maybe I should keep hammering away with them, hence the novel. Maybe writing of other characters and settings, much as I like them, isn’t as smart as creating a “brand” and honing that and getting it out there until it’s established. I would say if rather than until, but I would tell myself and other writers to practice craft and believe in yourself. Not because I’m promoting arrogance, but because we need to believe in our work if it’s going to shine, and because the world, honestly, doesn’t really care that much and a writer has to learn that and live with it and find support from within. We also have to work hard on our craft, but that’s a whole separate post.

7. We have a huge number of reviews in the queue. I’m not sure about the monthly game column now, as I’d like these book reviews to come out sooner rather than later. Maybe I’ll take a vote. How many of you want a monthly game column? Maybe bi-monthly is the way to go.

Howard

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