Scary Stories to Oof in the Dark

At some point last year, I remember reading somewhere that the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark movie was actually good. While I didn’t make going to see it a priority, I looked forward to when I could watch it for free from the public library.

Then I had the “oh, wait… from ‘producer’ Guillermo Del Toro…” moment when I finally had it in my hands. For awhile, seeing Del Toro’s name on things was a mark of quality, but I’ve been pretty eh on a lot of his stuff where he’s only had ‘producer’ cred. In fact, I’m struggling to recall the last time I really liked any Del Toro movie, and I think that the one with the teeth fairies might have been the last one [Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, 2010, writer credits].

But anyway…

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was basically a Scary Stories-branded version of the Goosebumps movie with no Jack Black. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that…

A bunch of kids go to a haunted house and find a spookybook of spookytales that come true. The attempts to work the few short scary stories from the book into the narrative of the film were about as seamless as a quilt. For instance, The Big Toe is worked in by having one kid staying home while his parents are out–there’s a pot of stew in the fridge with a toe in it. Why? Were his parents cannibals? Was his mother a mortician? A serial killer? No, the toe in the stew simply exists in the fridge because there was story with a toe in stew and the film needed an excuse for the “where’s my toe?” ghost.

The only genuinely scary part, I think, was the Pale Lady from “The Dream”, even though, other than the iconic look of the character, nothing was used from the original story.

I think that more than any other property, Scary Stories could’ve revived the classic horror showcase format… or they could’ve done a more original horror story that simply borrowed heavily from Gammell’s incidental art and aesthetic. But the whole “here’s a book of spooky stories, people die, and by the way, the big local company was the real villain” just smacked of an unoriginality that many fans of the books might find disappointing.

Quick Rundown of Cirsova’s 2019 Finances

Did the taxes for the business last night.

Cirsova had ~$12,500 in revenues and ~$15,500 in expenses.

~$9k of our expenses went to paying our authors and artists.

A little under $2k went to advertisements and sponsorships.

The rest of our expenses were things like fulfillment and miscellany.

Help us close the gap and consider taking out an advertisement for 2020 in Cirsova Magazine!

Superversive SF Interview + Call for Advertisements!

Sunday evening I was on with Ben Wheeler talking about the future of Cirsova Publishing and some of what we have lined up for this year!

[Apologies for some hiccups; I was experiencing a few technical issues on my end. This was the first time I streamed via Discord]

As I say on the Livestream, we’re looking for advertisers for 2020!

The following are Cirsova’s Advertising Rates:

250 Character Text Advertisement $25
1/4 page Advertisement $35
1/2 page Advertisement $50
Back Cover Advertisement $125 (Note: Spring’s back cover has already been sold, but we still have 4 other cover slots available for 2020.)

Advertisement images should be 300 dpi, with the following measurements:

1/2 Page – 7.5″ w x 4.5″ h or 3.5″ w x 9″ h
1/4 Page – 3.5″ w x 4.5″ h
Back Cover – 7-8″ w x 8.75″ h

Please send as png, jpg, or tiff!

Contact us at cirsova at yahoo dot com for details.

We’re trying to get ads for spring in by the end of this month, so act fast!

Superversive Sunday Podcast + Quick Updates + Need Sponsors!

I’ll be on the Superversive Sunday Podcast with Ben Wheeler this Sunday talking about the future of the Magazine and the current state of indie publishing and short fiction.

Be sure to subscribe to their channel to receive a notification when it goes up!

We should have the cover art soon for Spring, and we’re in the process of lining up some other cover art from some guest artists; with some of the projects we have going on, we may be keeping Anton too busy to do covers for all five of this year’s issues of Cirsova. But I can promise you we’ll have some really cool artists filling in on a few covers!

Also, I’ll be able to announce them as soon as we’ve got the payments sent, but we’ll be attending a few local conventions this year to try to get the word out locally. It’s strange to think that our magazine has such global reach and even includes works by some local legends but is relatively unknown in our home town. So, we’re hoping we’ll change that in 2020.

We’re still looking for sponsors for this year! If you’re interested in being one of our sponsors, let us know! Our rates are posted here. These, more than anything else, will help us to defray our costs and keep bringing you excellent fiction year after year!


The three or four types of indie fantasy covers

Some pretty amusing insights into the current [and at this point, long-standing] state of cover design philosophy.

Emperor's Notepad

Looking at the Amazon best sellers is always a good way to waste spend the time, and it proves that thing about everything having to change for everything to stay the same. If you blink even for a moment, books, authors, or even entire new genres that once seemed ready to become the new hot thing are suddenly gone, yet, at the same time, the new thing looks surprisingly similar to what they replaced.

You would be hard-pressed to find a more strightforward example of creative unoriginality and lack of imagination than today’s book covers, although the same could be said concerning their titles and perhaps even their themes and style of writing. But covers are easier to analyze—and funnier.

View original post 1,068 more words

The State of Things + Upcoming Issues, Projects

The cusp of the new year has me feeling like that moment right when one is about to reach the summit of a roller coaster–it’s going to be wild, the anticipation is building along with a sense of dread and excitement. When it’s all over, I’ll wonder how the hell I did it and got through it, knowing that it was momentum that did most of the work–I just had to hang on. But right now, it’s tense!

Spring is in the capable hands of Xavier; once I get it back and work in those changes, it’s off to Mark–then I bury Mark under the Summer special. The Spring issue is slated for mid-March. I feel like I’m behind, but I know it’s more that there are so many other things that must be done in addition to having the Spring issue ready.

Anton is hard at work on the cover for Spring, which will showcase an all-new Mongoose & Meerkat adventure, The Golden Pearl, by Jim Breyfogle!

Cirsova Publishing is also working with Jim to bring you guys an illustrated anthology of the first five Mongoose & Meerkat stories, plus an all new fantasy novella. We’ll have more details on that soon; we’re just hammering out a few things with our artist(s).

I won’t go into details, but December and the start of January have been ROUGH financially; we really need to get on the ball as far as advertisements go and doing a better job of maintaining our advertiser relationships. But suffice to say that advertisements help us A LOT, and we have space for advertisements in Spring that we need to try to fill by the end of this month.

Finally, you may have noticed that there are no more Short Reviews or Retro Fandom Fridays going up; this is because we’ve exhausted the queue of content from the three years I spent blogging at Castalia House. I don’t know when I’ll be able to catch up, and I unfortunately wasn’t able to build up a buffer during the six months I wasn’t writing any. But I still plan on resuming at some point, because creating a library of reviews of pulp stories, even if my reviews are mediocre at times, is probably one of the most valuable things I’ve managed to do to help point people interested in checking out the pulps in the right directions.

Cirsova 2019 Awards Eligibility by Category

Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense is a semi-pro publication that, in 2019, paid .0125 per word for original fiction. In addition to its flagship magazine, Cirsova Publishing has released original fiction in Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen’s Duel Visions and the 35th Anniversary Editions of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars.

Cirsova has published 38 eligible works of fiction in 2019.

[Bold works are Tangent Recommended; * indicates Ursa Major Award eligibility]



  • Halcyon, by Caroline Furlong [S. Spec.]*


  • The Elephant Idol, by Xavier Lastra [2.1]
  • La Molejera, by Marie Brennan [2.2]
  • The Ghost of Torreon, by Edd Vick and Manny Frishberg [S. Spec.]
  • The Bullet From Tomorrow, by Misha Burnett [S. Spec.]
  • The Star-God’s Grave, by Schuyler Hernstrom [S. Spec.]
  • Bleed You Dry, by Su-Ra-U [S. Spec.]
  • The Last Fortune of Ali al’Ahmar, by Rev. Joe Kelly [S. Spec.]
  • The Blacklight Ballet, by Misha Burnett [Duel Visions]

Short Stories

  • Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She, by Edgar Rice Burroughs & Michael Tierney [2.1]
  • Atop the Cleft of Ral-Gri, by Jeff Stoner [2.1]
  • The Idol in the Sewers, by Kenneth R. Gower [2.1]*
  • Born to Storm the Citadel of Mettathok, by D.M. Ritzlin [2.1]
  • The Book Hunter’s Apprentice, by Barbara Doran [2.1]
  • How Thaddeus Quimby the Third and I Almost Took Over the World, by Gary K. Shepherd [2.1]
  • Deemed Unsuitable, by WL Emery [2.1]
  • Warrior Soul, by J. Manfred Weichsel [2.1]
  • Seeds of the Dreaming Tree, by Harold R. Thompson [2.1]
  • The Valley of Terzol, by Jim Breyfogle [2.1]
  • Moonshot, by Michael Wiesenberg [2.1]
  • A Little Human Ingenuity, by William Huggins [2.2]
  • The Burning Fish, by Jim Breyfogle [2.2]
  • For I Have Felt a Fire in the Head, by Adrian Simmons [2.2]
  • Pale Moon’s Bride, by Ville Merilainen [2.2]
  • Pawn to the Queen, by Christine Lucas [2.2]
  • People of Fire, by Jennifer Povey [2.2]
  • Blue-Like-The=Sky, by Spencer E. Hart [2.2]
  • Doomsday Shard, by Ken McGrath [2.2]
  • Titan, by Rebecca DeVendra [2.2]
  • The Handover of the Scepter of Greatest Regret, by Hal Y. Zhang [2.2]
  • The Grimgrip, by Michael Tierney [Wild Stars III: Time Warmageddon 35th Anniversary Edition]
  • Sinker, Sailor, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • Ragged Angels, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • The Green Truck, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • Selena, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]*
  • The Statue, by Louise Sorensen [Duel Visions]
  • The Summer of Love, by Misha Burnett [Duel Visions]

Covers for the Spring and Fall issues + Wild Stars Omnibus were done by Anton Oxenuk.

Omnibus Cover 0.05a

Cover for the Summer Special and art for our Illustrated Stark were by StarTwo.

Covers for the 35th Anniversary Editions of Wild Stars were by Mark Wheatley.

Proof Frontsproofs 7

Duel Visions’ cover was by Susan Bolhafner.

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