Update on “The Future”TM

Couple things…

I’m almost done going through the submission pile. I’ve got about six stories left to read. If you haven’t heard from me yet, you will hear from me soon. If you’ve already heard from me and your story has been accepted, I’ll be in touch with a terms and an offer in the next couple of weeks. I think we have enough content to keep us tided over for a bit, maybe even into early 2019.

I’m also serious about wrapping up Cirsova’s “Volume 1”. We’ve published some great stories and will continue to publish great stories, as we continue to receive and read great stories. But the scope of the magazine has shifted away from what it was originally intended, and unless I forcibly refocus it, it will continue to do so and become a cyclical problem. Unfortunately, the inclusion of Heroic Fantasy in the title and publishing works of fantasy and sword & sorcery have nudged the window a good bit in that direction, which also means that the spread has gone that direction with it. Honestly, we get far too many mundane fantasy pieces, fairytalesque fantasies, and lone swordsman stories with very little to make them stand out. And if changing our subtitle will get me one less little girl in the woods story, so be it, it’ll be worth it.

On the plus side, I think that we may have enough solid contributors who can and do write what I’m looking for that we can and will go back to an invite-only status. That will allow me to conserve my time and resources to work with the writers I know can write what I’m looking for, or, for those who are close and just good writers, I can have them write to spec.

We’ve got things planned out for Cirsova Publishing for a couple years now, which is good. I don’t know if we’ll stay the “gold standard” of the “Pulp Revolution”, but I really can’t focus on that right now, because I’ll probably be busy trying to address the massive disconnect between modern, contemporary writing and the sort of pulp stuff I’m actually looking for. Even with our guidelines clearly spelled out, it’s obvious that a lot of folks don’t really get what we’re looking for when they submit – part of that is that folks don’t always look at the markets that they’re submitting to (a problem that will be addressed, to a degree, by going invite only for a bit), but also I feel like I’ve failed to make it understood just what I’m looking for because people are not nearly as aware of the examples I’ve held up as I think they should be. So, I’ll be redoubling my efforts towards raising awareness of the kinds of stories from the pulps I enjoy and specifically what it is I’m looking for and wanting to see more of. Cirsova Publishing may even branch into collections of public domain works by relatively unknown pulp authors who should be better known. Or at least I’m thinking about it. I don’t know yet. I still hate the mercenary nature of most pulp reprints.

Anyway, the strategic direction of the flagship magazine is temporarily locked in for the foreseeable future; volume 2, if there will be one, won’t launch until 2019. The Pulp Revolution’s successes and failures in 2018 may shape how well we do as an influencer in that community, and with so many new publications springing up, it would be unsurprising if an agile newcomer became the new tastemaker for that scene. There are enough writers writing enough content that there’s not going to be any kind of real “drain” on the scene, which is great. Switching back to invite only will also allow us to be more agile; we took submissions this summer in part because so many people have wanted to write something for Cirsova, but anything we buy now won’t be published for at least 9 months, much of it longer, and that’s hardly agile! It’s nuts to think that nothing written in 2018 will be published by us in 2018. That’s an entire year of energy that 2017’s Pulp Rev boom will have fueled that we won’t be tapping into! Ultimately, that may be a huge mistake for us, but by 2019, I think we’ll be jumping right back in with the agile approach.

Lastly, reviews…

Cirsova Issue 5 has been out for 3 months, sold nearly 250 copies, and has only garnered one review on Amazon. I’ll reiterate that Amazon reviews help us A LOT, they’re quick to write and it doesn’t cost you a dime, but I don’t think that saying it again will make that much difference. At this point, I really don’t know what to do.

I will be hitting people hard for reviews on Issue 6; the earlier in an Amazon’s product life reviews are left, the better that product tends to do. Y’all can make it up to me by helping Issue 6 get those critical 25 reviews the first couple weeks it goes live!

Win An Ad In Cirsova Magazine!

mishaburnett

I am giving away a quarter-page ad in Cirsova magazine.  Why? Because I believe in Cirsova and I want to support it, and because I believe in the crew of indie authors who follow this blog and I want to support you.  So it’s a win-win.

Please, only enter if you will be using the ad.  Cirsova is a high quality adventure fiction magazine and your ad will be seen by readers who are looking for Independant Science Fiction and Fantasy fiction.  Details on the requirements are available here, and the winner can contact Cirsova for more information.

The deadline for advertisements is August 1st, so let’s get on with it.

The contest is simple. Below are some Book Of Lost Doors trivia questions. Do not, please, post the answers here–instead send me an e-mail via my Contact Form. The first entry I recieve that has…

View original post 154 more words

Submissions Closing: Final Day is Today!

I’ve decided to close things even earlier. Today is the last day I’ll accept anything unsolicited. (23:59 CST)

By wordcount, we’re very nearly full up and I still have nearly 2 dozen stories I have to look at and consider.

At this point, nearly anything else I receive, I’ll have to turn away for reasons of having neither space nor resources anyway, so you might as well hold on to it.

Important Announcement: Submissions Window Update

Cirsova’s Submission Window has changed; we will be accepting unsolicited new submissions through June 30th.

New Window: June 1 – June 30th

We will still accept manuscripts until July 15th in the following circumstances:

  • If we have asked for a rewrite
  • If we have asked for an additional/alternate story
  • If you are a past contributor to Cirsova HFASF Magazine

Fangbone

Been really enjoying this show. It took a couple episodes to grow on me, but there’s just something about it. The other night I found myself thinking that I couldn’t really imagine Fangbone having the sort of toxic fandom* that a lot of cartoon shows do, like Steven Universe or even, to an extent, Adventure Time. And I think I may have stumbled upon why.

Fangbone celebrates and reinforces classical masculine virtues.

The overarching theme of the show is brotherhood and camaraderie between two young men and how they learn important skills and virtues from one another: hard work, dedication, honesty, loyalty, martial prowess, etc.

Both main male characters have plenty of comic foibles, but neither is portrayed as dumb in the sort of broken and helpless way you so often see, despite the frequent use of fish-out-of-water comedic situations.

Fangbone may seem wild, weird and silly because he’s a Barbarian trying to fit in with a bunch of suburban school kids, but his biggest fault is not he’s a dumb barbarian but that he can be hard-headed. Yet part of why he is hard-headed is that he is very traditional, very honest, and very loyal. As the guardian of Drool’s toe, he is under a tremendous burden which, while many things in the show are played for laughs, is treated as a serious responsibility. So sometimes he can push others much harder than they can take and in ways that can alienate, but his “Battle Brother” Bill is always there for him to remind him that he is not alone in his burdens.

Bill is kind of the straight man to Fangbone. As the “civilized” character, he reigns in some of Fangbone’s more uncouth and abrasive behavior, just as Fangbone is able to pull Bill out of the comforts of modern civilized life to make him a stronger, braver and better person. Bill

But the typical “lesson” of the day for an episode of Fangbone?

-Strength is a virtue, Intelligence is a virtue, and they need not be exclusive

-It’s okay to push your friends to better themselves, but you can’t be a dick about it

-Honesty is the best policy

-One should not break an oath (even if it was an oath to a villain)

-Always be there for your Battle Brothers, and they will be there for you

The adult male figures who appear in the show are hardly role models (Bill is fatherless, the Barbarian wizard is a twit, and the Clan Leader is hardheaded and taciturn), but that ends up serving to reinforce how much Fangbone is a show about boys growing up to be men under difficult circumstances. Without role models, they can only pursue the ideals; despite the adversity they face, they do so admirably.

*:I’m sure I’ll be proven wrong on this someday.

 

Guns of Pellucidar – Pt 3

The assault on the Nazi forward base went both smoother in some regards and rougher in others than I’d hoped. Rougher because I was using too many scales (I didn’t want a huge base, but I wanted the players to be able to tactically maneuver, so I used 500ft sub-hexes within an approx. 1.5 mile portion of the 6 mile hex). Smoother because somehow the party managed to pull it off with only three characters dying (the little Wehrmacht force made some really bad rolls).

The party wisely kept off the main game trail and skirted around a machine gun nest that could’ve mowed them down, had they taken it straight to the base. A jungle snake grabbed one of the guys and nearly killed him, but the medic managed to juice him up to keep him standing for the op. The snake didn’t last long against several guys with trench knives and bayonets, and the otherwise ineffective commu guy managed to put in the killing blow. Also, since they went counterclockwise around the outskirts of the base, they didn’t run into any patrols. Had they tried to go around the south side, they would’ve crossed paths with an SMG scout team.

The base was made up of 4 sandbag walls with light machine gun teams at the four corners of the base, each covering a portion of the treeline, two crude towers with observers and snipers, and some tents. The party approached from the northeast corner and not only did the observation tower abysmally fail their awareness roll, the machine gun team critically failed, so were busy smoking and chatting instead of watching the treeline.

The sniper tried to take a shot at one of the machine gunners, but just barely missed. That gave the signal to the mortar team, who began shelling the area where the tents were. The players quickly overran the gunners’ nest, but fooling around with the MG 42 and trying to get it and all of associated junk moved to the other side of the barrier cost a few guys their lives. Except for the sniper, most of the Nazis were lousy shots, and eventually the combined fire of a couple BAR gunners, the guys who got the MG 42 up and firing, the mortar fire creating confusion, and the other assault teams eventually honing in on where the fire was.

By the time the German patrols got back to the clearing to respond, all hell had already broken loose.

Really, this fight was probably a foregone conclusion from the outset for a handful of reasons. There were only about 60-80 Nazis in the hex in total, 50 of whom were in the sub-hexes the party was going through. The Allies put 130 men out of their 180-200 total, because it was a do-or-die op, so there were several teams in the hex reconning in force. They were going to win (probably), it was just a matter of how many PCs died in the process while I tested the upper bounds of how combat in this could scale.

Holes in my rules:

Suppressive fire doesn’t quite work the way I hoped in fire-fights. I need to figure a way for suppressive auto fire to pin guys who are in cover. Probably I will just allow extra attacks against targets that pop-up from behind cover to take a shot.

Sniping needs to be a bit more refined. Most of the sniping rules assume relatively close sniping range. I need something for longshot sniping. Enemy snipers will also make pretty short work of characters, since it’s not even an active save vs. death roll; the enemy sniper just has to roll under his dex, so the one sniper in the tower probably did more damage picking off the guys fooling with MG-42.

Movement rules are based on D&D and assume standard D&D distances. Doing a hex-crawl on a quasi-tactical level put it under some strain. The battle area was large enough that groups could move round-robin through several hexes avoiding combat all together, but the scale was such that folks could fire at one another from adjacent hexes and, in some cases, from multiple hexes away. The pain point was determining where in the 500 ft hex anyone was during a round and how that might have affected combat variables. By the time the minis were broken out, I got away with it by acknowledging that the positioning of the minis were not to scale combined with the fact that the party spent most of the fight pinned down but with much heavier firepower at their disposal than the Germans had.

 

I think that this will work out better for smaller-scale fights, like against a single strongpoint or pillbox, or against some random Aufklarung unit they might happen upon.

Also, so far this has been more of a serial wargame disguised as an RPG rather than an actual RPG, and I’m pretty okay with that for the moment. I’ve already acknowledged that this is basically turning into a tabletop version of Close Combat, which has definitely scratched an itch for me. But I would like to see a bit more roleplaying elements worked in eventually.

So long as the party stays in the immediate area of their base camp, they’re going to be under the orders of the commanding officers and answerable for all of their actions, so no murderhoboing, obviously. I’m hoping that they’ll eventually take up an opportunity to do some advanced scouting and get far enough away that they have to become a self-sustaining fighting unit in the wilds of Pellucidar, meeting some natives besides angry Lizardmen. I’d like to eventually peel away some of the military trappings bit by bit as it becomes more of a “dudes lost in the jungle, fighting to stay alive – also there are Nazis” game.

But I’m also finding that I’m already itching to be back on the player side of the table and break out DCC again…

Update on Submissions Window

While I didn’t quite make the headway over the weekend that I would have liked, I DID make acceptable progress…  I got my stack down to just a dozen stories (though I received 10 more over the weekend).

At this point, no more barbarian swordsman or fantasy adventure stories unless you’ve already been published by us. We’re more than good on those.

Also, at some point, I need to figure out a way to articulately define the fantasy subgenre of fairytalesque stories of “there was once a girl who lived in the woods and strange magical things happened to her” so I can “no more of these, please”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some really good and enjoyable examples of those, but they are not what I’m looking for.

I’ve contacted about half of the folks whose submissions I’ve read; I’ll be trying to get in touch with a few more people every day so I don’t keep anyone waiting too long.