Interview Transcripts

Patrick Swenson, Editor for Talebones Magazine and Fairwood Press 1/22/04



Legend:
Questions from the Audience are presented in red.
Answers by the Speaker are in black.
The Moderator's comments are in blue.

Mary Rosenblum

This is our Professional Connection live interview with Patrick Swenson, Editor of Talebones Magazine

 

Good evening all, and welcome to our Professional Connection interview!

 

Tonight we'll be chatting with Patrick Swenson, Editor of Talebones Magazine and editor for Fairwood Press books.

 

Patrick & Honna Swenson edit and publish the quarterly semi-pro SF magazine Talebones. In early 2000, the parent company, Fairwood Press, began publishing a book line. Their books include The 10% Solution by Ken Rand, the 2003 ALA Best Book Strangers and Beggars by James Van Pelt, and their newest title, Imagination Fully Dilated: Science Fiction.

 

I'm really pleased to welcome Patrick to our website chat tonight! Welcome, Patrick!

Patrick Swenson

Thanks, Mary! It's great to be here

Mary Rosenblum

I have to tell you that I've been pushing 10% Solution all over the website!

 

I'm so glad you publish it!

Patrick Swenson

That's awesome. It's an excellent little book for beginner, intermediate and pro alike.

Mary Rosenblum

It sure is...one of the best nuts and bolts 'how to trim' books Iíve read! So to begin with let's start at the beginning. Just how did you end up in the editing field?

Patrick Swenson

I came into it from a back door really. I'm a writer too, and so I was peddling my stories to the SF magazines

 

and one of them was a small press magazine you might remember called FIGMENT, edited by Barb & JC Hendee

 

who now have a couple of books out from ROC books. I got to start writing a music review column for them, and at some point

 

they decided to hang it up because of graduate studies and I thought, "Man, that was fun (I got to get in on some of the behind the scenes stuff)

 

and I thought if only I had the money, the time, and a good computer, I'd try doing my own magazine.

 

I got two out of the three (you never get enough time!) and I started Talebones. Barb & JC helped with a lot of advice! That was in 1995. At Westercon that summer in Portland, we put out a freebie "Issue Zero," and the first real issue came out that fall

Mary Rosenblum

I met Barb a few times. But I didn't know the whole story! What a lot of folk here

 

probably don't realize is how many small magazines start up and fold. You have succeeded. My hat is off to you! What do you think is the reason that Talebones is still publishing?

Patrick Swenson

I think the biggest reason is we began very modestly, and we decided early on that we were going to go SLOW. We were not going to

 

push too fast because we'd seen magazines go under after only a few issues, and some go under even before they started!

 

We got a nice blurb from Gordon Van Gelder once (editor of F&SF) when he said part of the reason we are around

 

is that we publish well, we publish smart, and we publish fiction people want to read. That is us in a nutshell I think!

Mary Rosenblum

And then again, you also put out a good magazine. I hadn't read it regularly until this year. I'm impressed Patrick. Nice stories! Good magazine.

sweet_muse

What's semi-pro? Is your magazine Talebones available on Canadian newstands?

Patrick Swenson

Thanks, Mary! It helps having two of us at the editing helm. Maybe folks don't know it, but my wife and I co-edit

 

Semi pro means we don't pay professional rates and we have a smaller distribution. We pay 1-2 cents a word and I think pro rates are...what? four cents now, five?

Mary Rosenblum

About five, mostly.

Patrick Swenson

We had some Canadian outlets through one of our small regional

distributors here in Seattle, but when the distributor lost some stores due to the economy, they weren't getting enough orders to keep stocking us.† So at the moment we are available only via subscription for Canadian subscribers. And we have quite a few who do!

Mary Rosenblum

How does Talebones dovetail with Fairwood Press?

Patrick Swenson

When my wife Honna and I started Talebones (actually we weren't married yet when we started this, so I had to make her my co-editor for life!) we decided to also have Fairwood Press as

 

an overall umbrella name. It wasn't until 2000 that we decided we'd try our hand at publishing some trade paperbacks, and we turned Fairwood Press into a corporation. Talebones is now a separat

 

company, but of course we are the same people!

 

Some of the chapbooks (like the 10% Solution) were published before Fairwood incorporated

gskearney

I've put together some tutorials here on the site to help writers deal with current technology and computers. Do you think there's a market for an inexpensive book along those lines?

Patrick Swenson

This is a big reason why Talebones had to go down to 2 issues a year from 4 issues. I basically run two different companies, besides my full time teaaching job.

Mary Rosenblum

Whew, and I thought _I_ was busy!

Patrick Swenson

Yeah, Mary, that's why I had to stop playing in the band I was playing in too. No time! Hi, gs! Mary told me about those. I was going to go take a look at some of those. I imagine there is quite the need, depending on what is being talked about. I know I can barely keep

Patrick Swenson

up with the new tech myself!

Patrick Swenson

Chapbooks are great for those kind of things.

Mary Rosenblum

I'll send you the links after the chat, Patrick.

Patrick Swenson

The tech you speak of, gs

 

is even partially responsible for the ability to PRINT books like that

 

with the advent of POD technology.

sailor

What exactly is a chapbook?

Patrick Swenson

Sailor, it's a broad term that defines a small, inexpensive book, usually small press, limited press run (like 200-500 copies, let's say) ...

 

and often are saddle-stapled with

 

maybe a card stock cover, or a 2-color cover, rarely full color with a lot of production value.

 

Ken Rand's 10% Solution started off as a saddle-stapled chapbook, but now we perfect-bind it because the printer we use has a binder in shop he let's us use.

 

What we often do with chapbaooks now

 

is run the number of covers we want, say 200 covers, and then print 50-100 insides, what we know will sell

 

and bind those, and if we sell those, we can print more insides.

Mary Rosenblum

And you'd better explain...

 

saddle staple and perfect bound, Patrick. I can hear the questions winging my way! :-)

Patrick Swenson

Ah...saddle staple: say 8 1/2 by 11 sheets, folded in half, with cover, and stapled twice in the middle along the crease. You could do it cheaply if you had a long-reach stapler. Most print shops will have a saddle staple machine to do it and

 

perfect bound is a flat binding, glued like most mass market paperbacks and trade paperbacks.

paja

Do chapbooks have to be non-fiction?

Patrick Swenson

No, Paja. Of the chaps we've done, two have been non fiction (10%, plus Tom Piccirilli's great writing book aimed for the beginning writer called WELCOME TO HELL), and two have been fiction collections, and one is poetry. A chap can be anything!

senicynt

ok... What exactly is Ken Rand's 10% solution? I haven't heard of it until tonight. :-)

Mary Rosenblum

Why don't you tell people about Tom' s book, too.

 

It's also quite good!

Patrick Swenson

Senicynt, it's a book on self-editing that we published in 1999 (I think)

 

and it outlines how to trim your fiction to make it tighter. Basically, Ken says take your finished story

 

and then cut it about 10%. The book outlines how to do that using the search function on your word processor, giving a great list

 

of words to look for to cut, or at least to look at and ask yourself , "Do I need that, or is there a better, more succinct way to say the same thing?"

 

Tom's book, Welcome to Hell, is a working guide for the beginning writer.

 

He covers all kinds of things like overcoming rejection, discouragement,

 

how to act at conventions, how to get good ideas, technique, style,

 

making time for yourself, reading reading reading in the field,

 

networking, writer's block...all in a really FUNNY way too!

pgn1101

Does Welcome to Hell deal with non-fiction also?

Patrick Swenson

Some about nonfiction I think, pgn, but mostly fiction. A lot of the things he talks about

 

certainly would cross over. At the end he says there are no secrets. Tom writes because he needs to write

 

and to stay true to your art and yourself and never let anyone steal your faith. (I quoted there, roughly)!!

 

Writing and sending stuff out, and getting rejected, and persevering and doing the whole thing over and over again...it's hell out there. So you just gotta keep at it. Sounds easy, eh?

Mary Rosenblum

Patrick, I'm getting a lot of questions about where to get these books.

 

Want to put your website here? I'll make it a link in the transcript...

Patrick Swenson

Ah, insert marketing tool here!

Mary Rosenblum

And do give the price here. They are SO cheap!

Patrick Swenson

You bet. All our Fairwood titles are at our website. We have two now. One for the magazine at www.talebones.com †and

 

the Fairwood site (chapbooks, paperbacks, etc) at www.fairwoodpress.com

 

And see ... I've got a feeling that I'll have to get back to the print shop and print up some more copies of these real soon! The 10% Solution is a rare chapbook in that

 

it has sold nearly 1500 copies. Something almost unheard of for a little 60 page book.

 

without major national distribution

 

yes, very cheap, very affordable. to 5.99$ - 6.99$

Mary Rosenblum

No kidding.

 

You don't GET books for that price...not good ones, that is.

Patrick Swenson

And off the website, those chapbooks (and single Talebones copies) get shipped without shipping costs. Of course, these are also available on Amazon, but naturally we get a better money cut if they're purchased directly through us.

Mary Rosenblum

You'd better start printing after we're done here. :-)

smeagol

Are you still publishing poetry chaps? What kind of poetry?

Patrick Swenson

Smeagol (Gollum!), we've only published one poetry chap. It was a special deal, really, a collection of

 

Michael Arnzen's horror poems called GORELETS. Michael started a website (gorelets.com) with a challenge to write a short horror poem a week, for

 

52 weeks, and made them available to subscribers. It did really well. It was all designed for the PDA. He approached me about doing a print version. It came out

 

just last November, and is now about 3rd in the voting for the Bram Stoker Award for poetry. In reality, poetry books are a tough sell. You know the old saying: poets starve.

arfelin

The 10% Solution is an awesome writing tool. It's made a big difference in my writing. Ken Rand is a genius!

Mary Rosenblum

The method really shows you your own personal weaknesses with language.

Patrick Swenson

You're right, arfelin! Ken Rand also does our interviews for us (in Talebones)

 

I'll tell Ken you called him a genius

Mary Rosenblum

We all think editors are gods when we begin sending our stuff out. We know you sit at a huge desk, slamming down a gavel on each quivering submissionÖREJECTED! SOLD! So what's it really like? And can I try the gavel? :

Patrick Swenson

!!!

 

Well, Mary, we ARE gods? Didn't you know? !!

Mary Rosenblum

I THOUGHT so!

Patrick Swenson

The gavel is in the shop right now, getting gold-plated

 

I actually had a writer who was sending us stories for about a year

 

and at one point he took a night writing class my wife and I were teaching

 

and we got to be good friends, and he actually told me he used to think we were these god-like people with special editing powers, etc

 

and then he said now he knew we weren't really that special, just normal people!

 

with day jobs

 

and mortgages and children and everything.

Mary Rosenblum

Laughing!† Amazing, huh?

Patrick Swenson

We get about 200 submissions a month for TALEBONES. We try and keep on top of the submission pile

 

but it grows really fast! At some point we hunker down and put in big reading sessions

 

and we have to do this at home in the evenings

 

or weekends,

 

and as a teacher, I often have lots of papers I bring home to grade too, plus I not only edit, I also am the publisher, so I do all the layout and I do all the marketing (what I can) ,

 

and part of the production, the mailing, the renewal notices, etc.

 

Itís crazy busy sometimes.

Mary Rosenblum

Want to talk a bit about the response time issue? It ...of course...drives everyone nuts from the writer's end of things. Let's hear the editor's side!

Patrick Swenson

We used to pride ourselves in very short response times.

 

It was rare for a manuscript to stay in our office more than a week, unless we were considering it further .

 

Our way of keeping the time down was also a way to keep the overall time from acceptance to print down. We never buy for

 

more than one issue at a time. We don't stockpile stories. So at the end of a reading period, we go to our hold pile, and we might have 15 stories on it, all decent in their own way, and

 

we have to say we're going to buy these 6 or 7 stories, and pass on the others. We won't say we'll buy your story for an issue a year and a half from now.

 

So we didn't keep manuscripts around, keeping the response time low. Now, publishing only 2 times a year, we don't keep up as much as we used to, and we have

 

twice the number of manuscripts vying for the same 6-7 slots. We still try and get manuscripts back in about a month, but we have had some times

 

where we've been about two months. It's just life getting in the way.

Mary Rosenblum

Actually, I wasn't speaking of YOU, but in general, I think writers fail to realize just how much an editor has to do. It's not just a matter of reading a few stories in a day!

Patrick Swenson

That's true, Mary. A lot goes into it.

pjwriter2

What do you look for from a writer as far as ms goes?

Patrick Swenson

As far as the look of the ms, pj, or the story? (or both!)

Mary Rosenblum

You might as well talk about both, Patrick!

Patrick Swenson

I'm actually quite impressed with the writers out there in the spec fic market. They do their homework about manuscript preparation, and I rarely

 

get manuscripts that are totally off the wall and / or unreadable. I'll often get single-spaced manuscripts, and sometimes handwritten, but not that often.

 

I won't read single-spaced. My eyes can't take it. Heck, I don't read single-spaced work from my high school students! They know they have to have a final paper

 

double spaced and in the right font or they'll have to redo it!

 

But, generally

 

I'm not a stickler for every single little detail being right. There's no "It must be Courier 12 point or nothing!" law with me. Or

 

what! Italics instead of underlined words! Shame! Big deal. If we buy the story, it saves ME time having to change 'em all myself!

pjwriter2

What type of stories /articles do you do in Talebones?

Patrick Swenson

There are a lot of "red flags" for the beginner that I often take notice of,...I don't know how much about that you want me to go into, but ..

Mary Rosenblum

DO go into it. I know people want to know.

Patrick Swenson

As for the stories themselves, PJ, we're looking for entertaining well-written stories. We're not looking for literary

 

mainstream gloss

 

although, a story should have some literate sensibilities.

 

We tend to gravitate toward darker fiction, but we are pretty eclectic in our tastes, and publish

 

straight SF, dark fantasy, contemp fantasy, etc. Very little blood-n-guts horror, actually.

 

We like a strong beginning, and a story that keeps at you, pulling you through to the end.

Mary Rosenblum

What is your word limit, Patrick?

Patrick Swenson

Red flags....hmmmm. Don't send simultaneous submissions. If you do, TELL the editor you are. If you tell me, I'll send it back

 

and tell you we don't accept them, and to try us with something EXCLUSIVE, and then we hope that's what you'll do from then on.

 

6000 words limit, Mary, with a few exceptions (from queries)

 

Don't put your social security number on the manuscript. (We'll get it from you if we buy your story and are going to pay you money!)

Mary Rosenblum

NEVER put your SS# on a ms!!!!!!!

Patrick Swenson

Avoid weird pen names.

 

Don't tell us in a cover letter that you are a beginning writer and this is the very first story you've ever sent out.

 

Don't tell us to excuse the grammatical and spelling errors, knowing that we'll just fix it on our end if we buy the story.

 

Donít say your story is approximately 4, 246 words long! Haha.

 

Thatís pretty exact.

 

Don't insult the editor.

 

Oh, the stories I could tell you about cover letters....

Mary Rosenblum

Now there's a basic! oooh...tell, tell! :-)

Patrick Swenson

Our first year of publication, 1995, we had a cover letter from a guy

 

who had quite a few writing credits (mostly small press)

 

who said "I know this story is longer than your guidelines say, but please read it up to 5K (that was our limit when we started)

 

and hopefully you'll care enough to finish it, or spend

 

the rest of your life wondering how it ends. Then, after his credits, he said, he eagerly awaited our

 

reply, one toe on the edge of a teetering chair. No rush, but the noose was beginning to itch."

Mary Rosenblum

oooh....lordy!

 

My eyes are rolling!

Patrick Swenson

Funny, actually!

 

My all time favorite one, which I still have,

 

came from a really bad typewriter (you know, with all the strikeouts and smudge letters, etc)

 

and was a page and a half single spaced

 

where he goes on and on about his story, which was a Superman story, and he was worried about copyright, and so he was telling us

 

how he had changed names (Louise Llane) and then got into this whole thing about Nieitsche's superman, etc etc.

 

And it was full of typos and crazy wordings,

 

and then on and on about how he had been to Seattle....twice ....looking for a job once, and he skipped out of a job interview

 

for an ad agency looking for motivated people! Ha! Then said he got the feeling he was writing to a

 

nonlucrative zine entrepeneur, and he said he knew we were going pro, but one musn't take onself seriously

 

and that he planned to send this story off to the more reputable publishers

 

and quote:" after all, no offense it's science fiction, what's the best rep you could have?"

 

but he was giving us the first crack at it going public of course.

Mary Rosenblum

Oooh...you got that one framed, Patrick?

Patrick Swenson

And he said send him info on getting the magazine, that I could even take the price of a copy out of his commission!

 

It's in my "best cover letters" file, Mary!

chatty lady

These are priceless, what an idea for a book: "Cover Letters Never to Write."

Patrick Swenson

Ha, Chatty! You're right. Although, when I do the infamous "Tales from the Slush Pile" panels, I'm always worried

 

one of the writers is going to be in the audience when I share stories....! That same writer asked if he should include the single-spaced intro to his story because Iíd have to pay him more money.

pjwriter2

I am not sure what you mean by dark fiction. Could you please tell me?

Patrick Swenson

Not cheery, no elves, not fairy-dust coated, it's horrific, disturbing, supernatural,

 

Psychological.

 

I think of horror as blood n guts, like a slasher movie, and I think of dark fantasy as horrific stories with a fantastical element.

 

so our dark SF stories have horrific, disturbing, scary moments in an SF setting.

 

There's a fine line, I guess. Our subtitle for the magazine used to be: Fiction on the Dark Edge, which meant that our

 

stories straddled the edge between dark and light, sometimes going over the edge into pure dark, sometimes having no horrific elements at all. What happened was Gardner Doizois kept reviewing us as a horror magazine.

speckledorf

You mentioned queries. Do you prefer them or the complete manuscript?

chatty lady

I find 'dark fiction' more of the mind and horror fiction more of the slasher, mindless blood & guts, do you agree?

Patrick Swenson

Speckle, complete manuscripts. Query only if you have something that might be a tad over the guidelines limit, or something you're

 

just not sure is appropriate. Doesn't hurt to query, I guess...i don't MIND them (you can email us for queries, but manuscripts have

 

to be sent by mail. Query at info@talebones.com , by the way.

 

that's it, Chatty!

Mary Rosenblum

A couple of people have asked about the name 'Talebones' Patrick...where it came from?

Patrick Swenson

A good story, there, Mary.

 

Once Honna and I had decided to get a magazine rolling, we started brainstorming names

 

and we kept coming up with things like Dark Visions, and Black Planet and Doorways, and blah stuff like that,

 

which we knew wouldn't work. We remembered how cool the name PULPHOUSE was when it came out, and we wanted something

 

that really stood out, and stood for what we wanted to publish. As it happened, my roommate and his girlfriend one day were coming back

 

from a trip to a bicycle store, and they had bought a bike for her, but the seat was not right for her, so they had

 

to buy a seat separately, and the name of the bike seat company was TAILBONES. Honna and I looked at each other in that very instant

 

and said THAT'S IT! Only spell it TALE-BONES.

Mary Rosenblum

Cool story! I hadn't heard that one before!

Patrick Swenson

The idea being we got a little idea of the "dark" slant we were looking for, but mostly that we

 

were looking for good entertaining stories (tales) that had great backbone, that writers would flesh out the skeletons of their ideas into great work!

 

Something like that.

 

Anyway, we were typecast early on, and have fought

 

the "horror" label all this time.

Mary Rosenblum

I have to admit that that is the reason it took me so long to start reading the magazine --

 

because of those references.

 

Glad I finally figured out it wasn't a horror mag! :-)

roe

Is there anything special you look for in stories for your magazine?

Patrick Swenson

Yep! Well, even Gardner has changed his tune now! (He was even considering a story for reprint this year).

Mary Rosenblum

Cool!

Patrick Swenson

I think the "Bone" font had something to do with it too. Actually, with the next issue, we'll be doing something we've never done in 8 years. We are getting rid of the bone font!

chatty lady

You know when something is especially strong/good, you say it has GOOD BONES, I thought maybe Talebones meant a magazine with good/strong stories.

Mary Rosenblum

Ha, another definition for you, Patrick!

Patrick Swenson

Roe, we're looking for an entertaining read, well-written stories

 

And we're really wide open. We have a few dislikes in our guidelines, but at

 

any time, we're liable to say the heck with GLs and buy something we wouldn't normally publish. That is, if the story is good.

 

Yes, that's it chatty. Thatís what we've always been about.

umesh

What are the criteria for accepting or rejecting manuscripts?

Mary Rosenblum

Who has the last word?

Patrick Swenson

We don't take vampire fiction, but we've published a vampire story. We don't take stories about writers, but we've published a few. We don't do cat stories and

 

well, okay, we don't publish cat stories! (Unless you count Steve Rasnic Tem's story, which had Cats in it, but it wasn't what it was about).

 

Honna and I are a team, umesh. We both read from the slush pile when we get a chance,

 

and when we find stories we like, we set them aside for the other person to read later. Sometimes that happens right away,

 

sometimes it might be a while. basically we both have to like a story to accept it. Otherwise, either one of us will write rejections.

 

Sometimes, if we're reading together, I've come across a story I liked, and I've snuck it back onto the slush pile for Honna to pick up, and she'll read it and say "hey, read this one," and then

 

I grin and tell her ha! already read it. It's amazing how we click that way. We're a good team because we like a lot of the same

 

stuff, and her background was more in dark fiction/horror growing up, and I was more interested in SF/straight Fantasy.

 

Oh

 

I'd say that the majority of manuscripts that get rejected

 

get rejected because they haven't hooked us in the first few pages. It's true, kids! We rarely read stories all the way through.

babbles

Patrick would reincarnation fit into your mag?

senicynt

Ghost stories?

Patrick Swenson

Stories about reincarnation? Sure, why not? If the idea was new, fresh, and the story engaging.

 

I love a good ghost story.

pjwriter2

Could you give us the address for ordering guidelines?

Patrick Swenson

"Holding Onto Ghosts" in issue #26...great ghost story set in Africa, about Apartheid and all that

 

pj, you can email me for e-guidelines at info@talebones.com †(or patrick@talebones.com ), or you can snail mail to:

 

5203 Quincy Ave SE; Auburn, WA 98092† That's also the address for all submissions.

senicynt

Have you ever had a situation where one of you loves a piece and the other hates it? How do you resolve that?

Mary Rosenblum

No email submissions, right?

Patrick Swenson

Senicynt, the one who hates it gets to write the rejection slip!!

 

Right, Mary. We used to accept email submissions, but

 

it just got to be too much of a pain. It was like having TWO slush piles, and only I was reading the e-slush, and you'd get all

 

manner of submissions, a larger percentage of inappropriate stuff, things I couldn't even read, etc.

 

The best it gets, seni, is one likes it, and one tolerates it, and that's if we don't have enough other things on the pile that we both like.

smeagol

Why no cat stories? Poe's "Black Cat" is a good one! :-)

Patrick Swenson

But that's rare. We usually have a hard time making decisions to cut down to the top 6 or 7.

 

Yes, it's a good one, and there are good cat stories out there, and a whole bunch of cat anthologies. And we figure

 

there are enough venues for cat stories out there, and we don't need to add to the mix.

Mary Rosenblum

smiling!

Patrick Swenson

Because we used to get SO MANY of them.

arfelin

Does a title ever make the difference to you or Honna on whether to accept or reject a story?

Patrick Swenson

And it's hard to do a cat story we haven't seen a dozen times before.

 

Not usually, arfelin. We won't NOT read a story because of a bad title, because we want to see the STORY succeed...

 

and if we like a story enough to buy it, and we don't like a title, we'll tell the author so, and tell them to come up with a half dozen to a dozen alternate

 

that we can look at and choose from (and sometimes we'll suggest a title ourselves).

sailor

If a publisher wants more rights than the writer wants to sell, when is the right time to mention that? At time of submission? After acceptance?

Patrick Swenson

Does anyone here know Paul Melko? An excellent writer who has been selling tons lately

 

and who had some of his first stories published in Talebones. He once sent us a story, a fantasy/fable, that we just LOVED

 

and it was titled HONNA'S ROSE. I think he did it more as a joke, but he did say he thought it was a pretty name. He changed it, of course, at our request,

 

to IKARA's ROSE. He also said he would've tried "Gardner's Rose" if he'd sent it to ASIMOV's!!

Mary Rosenblum

-)

Patrick Swenson

Generally, short fiction markets will state what they buy in their guidelines. Most markets will buy FNASR, and that's it. One-time rights, those rights reverting back to the writer upon publication.

 

It's also in our contract, so that would be where a writer would have a chance to object, I guess.

Mary Rosenblum

First North American Serial Rights, folks.

 

Do you ever consider reprints?

Patrick Swenson

Ah, yes, sorry. There are really no other rights to sell, other than electronic rights, and most mags won't bother with those.

Mary Rosenblum

That means he buys the right to publish your story first in North America.

Patrick Swenson

We have never done a reprint in Talebones, Mary. All original stuff for us!

Mary Rosenblum

But YOU the author still own the story.

bingocliff

Do you or your wife ever search the net ( RoseDog.com) for a story?

Mary Rosenblum

I bet you get plenty in the slush pile!

Patrick Swenson

The author owns the story, yes. The moment you finish typing it, you own the copyright on it (and so that's a good reason why

 

you don't send up another red flag and put copyright symbols and such on it, as well as what rights you're offering)

 

nice plugging, Bingo! :) No, we don't go looking for stories on the net.

pjwriter2

Do you have to have an agent (the writer)?

Patrick Swenson

We might ask a writer we've met, or know, to SEND us a story.

 

We consider stories published on the Net as published, and so we wouldn't do reprints.

 

You don't need an agent to sell short fiction.

 

Most professional novelists, when they sell short fiction, don't use their agents.

Mary Rosenblum

What Patrick just said about stories on the net is a very good reason to think twice about

 

publishing stories for free on websites just to get them up there. They ARE published

 

and you can no longer sell FNASR.

Patrick Swenson

Yep, good point, Mary!

babbles

Mary is he saying we shouldn't put the circled c on our ms? I swear I saw that on a ms format somewhere.

Mary Rosenblum

Want to explain, Patrick?

Patrick Swenson

You know, I don't know for sure, Mary. What's your take on it? I mean it doesn't HURT anything to do it, but it really isn't necessary, as far as I understand the copyright laws, and it's just

 

become more of a red flag than anything else.

Mary Rosenblum

I just had a publishing lawyer on the site for a visit

Patrick Swenson

A circled C implies, I think, that you've actually registered the manuscript through the copyright office

 

which is probably not likely.

 

Yes?

Mary Rosenblum

What he said is that no symbol is necessary. You can register that story but it's not necessary unless you are likely to be

 

involved in litigation about publication or ownership of the story.

Patrick Swenson

right

Mary Rosenblum

It does mark you as an amateur.

Patrick Swenson

bows gracefully.

 

bows gracefully.

babbles

What age level does TaleBones target?

Patrick Swenson

Adult, babble. A very frequent comment I'll write on a rejection slip is that

 

we're not known for publishing fiction about or narrated by young adults or children.

.

20 something on up.

smeagol

and a follow-up, are Talebones' readers mostly male?

Patrick Swenson

(Oh, no holiday stories for us, either.)

.

I've never done an official demographics check, but I'd say overall there are more male readers. But my sub list is pretty even.

smeagol

The shorter and more succinct the better in cover or query?

Patrick Swenson

Absolutely, smeagol. Here's my manuscript offered for publication. Here' are my credits if I have any. I look forward to hearing from you. If you don't

 

have any credits, skip that paragraph. Here's a big tip: If you have no credits, if you're a very beginning writer

 

just say "Enclosed is my story "This or That" for possible publication in Talebones magazine. The manuscript is disposable (if it is), and

 

is not simultaneous... and then I look forward to hearing from you." Too many beginning writers take the time to

 

explain to me that they are beginning writers, that they've never sold a story, or they're just starting out, and / or they spend half

 

a cover letter summarizing what the story is about. First, let the story do the work for you. Don't give the editor a chance to reject you

 

before reading the story itself. Many PRO writers I know send stories with cover letters that don't mention credits, so how will I know if you're a beginner or not, unless you tell me?

Mary Rosenblum

ooooh, bless you, Patrick! I don't know how many times I have said this to students....

Patrick Swenson

Don't give the editor an excuse to pass on your story before he reads it!! Editors are LOOKING for a way to get through the

 

slush pile in a hurry, but they're also looking for that new story by the great new writer!

Mary Rosenblum

from now on Iíll just send them to your transcript and they can read it direct from an editor's mouth...or keyboard anyway!

babbles

I have a private editor who helps me revise should I mention this in my query or cover letter to an editor?

Patrick Swenson

That's why David Hartwell (at TOR books) says he only wants to see complete novel manuscripts (or at least he did a few years ago). Why send him

 

an outline? Gives him a chance to reject the book without reading a word of it!!

 

I don't think it's necessary, babbles. Probably more of a red flag than you want to put up.

 

lol, mary

smeagol

I've heard it might be bad to say mss is disposable. True?

Patrick Swenson

Nope, smeagol. But, you know, if you send a 5000 word story, and you only include a business-sized envelope with a 37cent stamp on it,

 

it's pretty obvious to us it's disposable. What's worse, as far as I'm concerned, is

 

to send a self-addressed stamped postcard, with a note that you want the editor to send it back to show the manuscript arrived there okay.

 

For us it's silly, because we don't even open the envelopes until we're actually reading them. We'll just put the postcard in the other SASE with the rejection.

Mary Rosenblum

Patrick, you have been wonderful, and have answered a lot of questions tonight! I really hope you'll come do this again.

Patrick Swenson

Oh absolutely, Mary! It's been two hours already!??

Mary Rosenblum

Any last words of advice for those hungry writers out there? Time flies, doesn't it?

Patrick Swenson

Read a lot. And then read a lot more. In the genre you're trying to write, and read nonfiction about WHAT you're writing. And then write. Write every day if you can,(famous last words), but whatever

Patrick Swenson

you do, make sure you are professional as you can be, send your stuff out, keep it out there, revise when necessary, and then write the next story.† TELL A GOOD STORY!!

smeagol

Mary, time to ask him if he attends the SF conventions??

Mary Rosenblum

Which ones will you be at, Patrick? The NW ones, right?

 

What else?

Patrick Swenson

Yes, I do attend conventions. As many as I can within our limited time and budget.

 

Norwescon, every year forEVER. Although we might miss our first in a looooong time, since the World Horror Convention is the same weekend in Phoneix. Honna loves the hot country.!

Mary Rosenblum

Worldcon in Boston this year?

Patrick Swenson

I try and go to World Fantasy every year or every other year. An excellent pro convention.

 

Worldcon is always hard for me because it's the weekend before the new school year starts

Mary Rosenblum

That's right!

Patrick Swenson

We went to LA in 1996, and Philadelphia in ____ whenever that one was.

Mary Rosenblum

Where's world fantasy this year? I can't remember?

Patrick Swenson

We go to Orycon in Portland, we hit the Westercons that are close. We're going to Radcon in the Tri-Cities area for the first time in February.

 

World Horror, World Fantasy, Westercon ...all in Phoenix this year!!

Mary Rosenblum

Me, too. lol

bingocliff

Thank you Patrick for an enlightening forum......

speckledorf

Wonderful forum tonight...thanks ever so much!!!

smeagol

Thank you! Thank you! Very helpful chat!

chatty lady

I have never seen 2 hours fly by so quickly, you sir are fantastic, Thank You

Patrick Swenson

The Sturgeon Law is that 90% of everything is crud.

Mary Rosenblum

Crud wasn't the word, as I recall. :-)

Patrick Swenson

To tell you true, it's not that hard to get into that other 10%. So get busy!

gskearney

Thanks, Patrick. This has been great.

babbles

Thanks Patrick

roe

What a great forum. Thank you

Patrick Swenson

Thanks so much, bingo, speckle, smeagol, chatty.

 

gs, babbles, roe. It's been GREAT FUN!!

Mary Rosenblum

Patrick, you are a hit. I will definitely get you back here!

 

Thanks so much for coming!

Patrick Swenson

I'm ready to come back. Whose here next week? GRIN

 

Check out our sites. try a sample copy of Talebones (or a subscription, of course!), check out our books at Fairwoodpress.com.

 

Oh...we have public forums for posting on our Talebones site. Would LOVE to see some of you post.

Mary Rosenblum

Do. Talebones is a good read.

Patrick Swenson

Maybe see some of you at Radcon?

molly

My children ty, lol, i was too involved to put them to bed.

Mary Rosenblum

There you go...talk about being a hit! :-)

Patrick Swenson

LOL

Mary Rosenblum

Radcon is in Tri Cities, up in Washington. I'll be there, too.

smeagol

Mary, invite him to pop by our weekly chats when he has time

Patrick Swenson

Yes, as a matter of fact, Mary is one of the Guests of Honor!!

Mary Rosenblum

Yes, you certainly are invited to drop by any time, Patrick.

Patrick Swenson

When are the weekly chats

Mary Rosenblum

They are m, w, f at 10 am while you're in class

 

but Sunday at 5 pm.

michelle 1

Would Radcon be useful for someone outside the SF genre?

Patrick Swenson

Time IS tough to find. I've spent the last three nights SOLID doing design and layout for our new Fairwood project, a collection of stories by James C. Glass, a NW SF author.

 

michelle, can't say for SURE, because I've never been to this particular con, but all cons have great panels on writing.

 

And Mary's going to be there, and Mary knows Gardner Dozois, and Gardner is also going to be there!

Mary Rosenblum

That's right. :-)

Patrick Swenson

And he knows a heck more about publishing/editing than I do!

 

She will introduce ALL OF YOU!!

 

heh heh

senicynt

Tri-Cities - Is it snowing there? when, what time date?

Patrick Swenson

Don't bring your manuscripts though...

Mary Rosenblum

Hope not, sen. Weekend of Feb 13/14

 

13/14/15.

Patrick Swenson

I think the webpage is radcon.org, isn't it?

Mary Rosenblum

Yes, I think that's it.

 

It's not hard to get yourself introduced to Gardner. :-)

Patrick Swenson

Gardner is FUNNY. Just going to a panel he is on will be worth the price of admission.

Mary Rosenblum

No kidding!

Patrick Swenson

Gardner is INFLUENTIAL.

 

Gardner is GOD

 

-like

Mary Rosenblum

That's true. :-)

Patrick Swenson

heh heh

 

I blab on and on here, but I'm often the quiet type around the conventions.

Mary Rosenblum

Patrick you'd better start printing those books. I have a feeling you're going to need them. :-)

Patrick Swenson

I know...I can't even keep Ken stocked these days, what with his own writing seminars. He just ordered 30 from me.

Mary Rosenblum

Great. Well, 1500 is an impressive number of books sold!

Patrick Swenson

We used to say that book was our cash cow, our bestseller, but now we can't! The trade paperback we did a few summers ago

 

STRANGERS AND BEGGARS by James Van Pelt, has sold 2500 copies to date, and is going strong. It got put on.

 

the American Library Association's list of Best Books of 2003, and it's been going gangbusters.

Mary Rosenblum

Wow! Impressive!

 

I should have you back here to talk about small press publishing next time.

Patrick Swenson

Jim Van Pelt is a writer to watch, a great storyteller you could learn a lot from just by reading his stuff. I read some of his

 

stories in my science fiction class

 

It's now also a finalist for the Colorado Blue Spruce Award. On a list with people like JK Rowling, Scott Card, Tamora Pierce. You know, the also-rans. haha

Mary Rosenblum

cool!

Patrick Swenson

Well, I would LOVE to stay and keep chatting, but Honna's called up and has a late dinner on the table. Better get rolling.

Mary Rosenblum

Thanks for coming, patrick!

 

We'll do this again!

 

Soon!

Patrick Swenson

Thanks again, Mary, for asking me to come

 

Anytime, Mary!

Mary Rosenblum

See you at Radcon!

Patrick Swenson

(well, almost any time!)

 

See you there. I'll be rooming with Jay Lake

Mary Rosenblum

Cool! Ha, I get a room to myself for once! What a treat! :-)

Patrick Swenson

(we're doing a chapbook of Jay's this spring)

Mary Rosenblum

Great!

 

Stories, I assume?

Patrick Swenson

Yes....his Rushes stories. The twelve stories he had on Strange Horizons based on the English Folk song Green Grow the Rushes,

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, yes!

senicynt

Thanks Patrick and mary! good nite.

Patrick Swenson

Good night. Happy writing everyone.

 

I am out.

Mary Rosenblum

Have a good evening all!

 

See you tomorrow!

 

Return to Interview Transcripts


Home | Writing Course | Short Story | Full Story Writing Test 
 
Send Me Full Info | Enroll | Our Instructors | Our CredentialsSample Lesson 
College Credits | Tax Deductibility | From Overseas  | Writer's Bookstore  
Free Writer's News | Life Support for Writers | Chat Room  | Live Forum | Writing Craft
Calendar of Events | Professional Connection | Transcripts | Post a Note | Surviving & Thriving
 
Student Center | Privacy Policy | Web EditorComments | Writing for Children 

LongRidge Writers Group
91 Long Ridge Road, West Redding, Connecticut 06896
Telephone: 1-800-624-1476 ~ Fax: 203-792-8406
Email:
InformationService@LongRidgeWritersGroup.com

Copyright © Writer's Institute, Inc., 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
No part of the electronic transmission to which this notice is appended may be reproduced or redistributed in any form or manner without the express written permission of Writer's Institute, Inc.