Dunhams Destroys, Cirsova Builds

I will pay triple what Dunhams Manor is offering for the opposite of what they’re asking for.

Take the kind of story that Lovecraft, Merritt, Dunsany, Chambers or your other favorite pre-Derlethian weird writer would’ve told and tell it without any irony, any deconstruction, any tongue-in-cheek, any post-modern moralizing or mockery.

Tell a good classic pulpy science fiction story with a twinge of existentialist horror via alien and isolating elements.  Or take a heroic fantasy approach to the Mythos; tell a story of the naked apes struggling to survive in the world ruled by Elder Gods and Old Ones.

Ironic hipster parodies and Cthululz have been the norm for decades.  Those need to be destroyed, not Lovecraft, and I’m willing to pay good money to authors who’ll do it.

More of this:


Less of this:


Please no dropping nukes on Cthulhu.  Note that modern and contemporary ::fingerquote:: “Lovecraftian” fiction or detective noir pastiches will be rejected unless you really bring something great to the table.

It will be a few months (probably April) before Cirsova officially opens submissions for issue #2, but consider this a heads up.  We pay .01 per word with a bonus .01 for the first 2500 words.

Yes, there will be a 2nd Issue.  More on that soon…

Early Praise for Cirsova Issue 1!

The Kickstarter is going well, and in just a day, we’re almost up to our initial goal of $500.

To prove that Cirsova is the real deal, a select few sci-fi bloggers have been given an early peak at the first issue that will be out in March. Brian Niemeier, co-host of Geek Gab with Daddy Warpig and contributor to Sci Phi Journal has already read the copy I sent him.

His reaction?

Cirsova is a godsend for fans who’ve almost given up on contemporary SF.

If you have doubts, you can go in for a PDF for a measly $2.



Life has gotten so busy! (Updates & more Updates)

I feel like I hardly have time to blog anymore, because I’m working on so many cool things, but I’m sure that it’s just all in my head; I’ve got plenty of time and plenty of things to blog about!

This week, I need to take a look at Magic in DCC. There are two prevalent opinions on the subject: either it is awesome or it is a headache.  I’m beginning to think it’s a little of both.

On Friday, I got a pre-proof copy in of Cirsova Issue 1.  It looks phenomenal.  If I weren’t such a Luddite that I didn’t have a smart phone or a digital camera, I’d post all sorts of selfies with it.  Well, that’s a lie.  Even if I had a camera, I would not be posting selfies.  And a photo isn’t going to really capture how awesome thing looks any better than the decent res image I already posted.  In short, it is dangerously close to go time.

I’m going to be trying to create a surplus queue of Short Reviews.  That way, if I’m feeling lazy or just want to read novels for a bit instead of short fiction, I won’t be all “Oh, no, no time to read Dying Earth, I’m on a deadline!”  My first since the series has moved to Castalia House can be found here.

Jeffro has a review of Torchship up.  The interview I’m doing with Torchship author Karl Gallagher should be up in about a week and a half.

Next Saturday, new Medicide album Supernova Black is officially released.

Welcome to the New Year!

Things may be slow again this week as I try to catch up and get on top of all of these new developments, so please bear with me.

I have received the final art file for Cirsova Issue #1. It looks freaking gorgeous (a bit like a Jeff Jones, according to Schuyler Hernstrom), and I’ve got the proof layout file done and uploaded. I will be getting back a first proof (sans advertisements) soon; if it looks good, the Kickstarter will go live and this will be a thing.

Cirsova Cover Small

This is just my first stab and subject to change based on how the print copy looks. 

In the coming days, I will be interviewing Karl Gallagher, the author of the truly amazing Sci-Fi adventure novel “Torchship”.

More and more gaming coming up. Plus, I’ve been invited to expand my role as a blogger at Castalia House to help Jeffro Johnson, new Blogging Editor over there, achieve his goal of making CH ‘the best and most popular SF/F and gaming blog’, so expect some of my content to pop up over there as well.

Also, I’m less than 100 pages into the Dying Earth Omnibus and can say with a fair bit of certainty that the aesthetic and tropes of modern fantasy owe as much, if not far more, to Jack Vance as to Tolkien. Now I’m going to be spending days wracking my brain over what recent fantasy story/movie I’ve read/seen within the last year that also involved a character being hit with a control magic spell and being ‘cured’ by being told ‘I command you to act as you would normally act’. I’m thinking Stardust, but I’m not 100% certain.

Guest Post: Matthew D. Ryan

Matthew D. Ryan, author of the Ashes of Ruin Series: Drasmyr, The Children of Lubrochius, and The Sceptre of Morgulan (out now!), drops by to talk Tolkien and Dungeons & Dragons.  He can normally be found blogging at matthewdryan.com or on Twitter @MatthewDRyan1.

I’ve been involved in the fantasy genre for most of my life. One of the first book series I ever read was The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. That stands as a kind of monolith in the fantasy genre. It was probably the first series of books in the modern age that really put fantasy on the map as a serious genre. Prior to that what you had was mostly folk tales and epic poems like Beowulf and such. Good stuff, but The Lord of the Rings was a game-changer. Its influence was felt by virtually everything that followed it; this includes the entire fantasy gaming industry. I mean, where would Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, or what-have-you be without the blueprint of the classic fantasy quest so eloquently conveyed by Frodo’s journey into Mordor?

Nowadays, there is so much other fantasy on the market the influence of LOTR is fading (although it did spawn six highly successful movies). Harry Potter, I think, is taking over the reins. In my youth, though, the pinnacle of fantasy was LOTR. We even had to read The Fellowship of the Ring in high school English class. It was regarded as serious literature.

Anyway, LOTR was probably one of the strongest influences on my entire fantasy career. It affected my writing, my gaming, everything. I read the entire series at least a half dozen times in my teenage years. As far as my writing is concerned, I loved the eloquent way Tolkien used language—a kind of modern/old English fusion that no one else has ever come close to mastering like him. I loved the names of his characters, creatures, and nations. Laketown, Dale, Smaug … they all fit together in a symphony of sound. I appreciate the skill it takes to achieve that fluidity. There were other influences of course: Dragonlance, Pern, and more. But the lion’s share belongs to LOTR.

As a gamer, the influence was felt in every gaming session. What is a gaming career but a series of adventures not unlike the quest to destroy the Ring? I DM’ed a lot. Created my own worlds and campaign settings, always referring back to the gold standard itself: Middle-Earth. I named my own creatures and lands trying to capture the same flavor of language Tolkien used. Sometimes I did that well; other times, not so much. All of that—the designing of worlds and such—overlaps with fantasy fiction writing. The two go hand-in-hand.

One thing I’ve learned to appreciate from my gaming days was that the best adventures had more than hack and slash. I learned to appreciate the riddle. Something to challenge the intellect of the players in a way that dice-rolling simply won’t. Not just the mysterious cryptic rhymes like those found in The Hobbit but also more general problems that required out-of-the-box thinking by the players. A few years back, I DM’ed a thief campaign. Thief characters usually have very specialized skills which sometimes don’t translate well into the typical fantasy quest (even though Bilbo Baggins was hired as a burglar). In my experience, thieves are probably the weakest character class in AD&D 1st and 2nd editions; I don’t know how they match up in later editions; my player group never moved beyond 2nd. In 2nd, they don’t fight well; they don’t have magic; and the bulk of their skills are very situation dependent. So, I ran an adventure with low level thieves just starting out and joining their first Thieves Guild. It stretched both my skills as a DM and the skills of my players; but it was great fun. It invited a whole new host of problem-solving skills.

Another facet of writing I’ve come to enjoy and implement is the twist. This is found in most genre writing, not just fantasy. It relates to the riddle above, but is meant more to shock and surprise the reader/gamer rather than challenge. The best ones are those you don’t see coming. I’ve used them in games and in writing both. Again, influences in this regard are probably too numerous to name.

So, we have the quest, the riddle, and the twist; those are probably the three facets of my writing that have been shaped the most by the many other writers (like Tolkien) I have read and my many years of gaming both as a player and as a DM. They are critical elements of both the game and the book. They form the skeleton of any basic fantasy adventure. And when used properly, they can bring about untold hours of fun.

Cirsova Issue 1 Update! (Submissions)

This is a pretty important update and I will change the FAQ accordingly.

I’ve received some great submissions!  Thanks to everyone who has been sending stuff in.  I’m reading and editing as quickly as I can and I promise to try to get to everyone in a timely manner.

Right now, I can safely say that I am good on Heroic Fantasy submissions.  I still need another good Planetary Romance or two.  If you send me something that is Heroic Fantasy, I will read it and I will consider it, but your best bet on getting bought right now is submitting a story about pirates on Saturn or Venusian gunslingers.

I won’t be buying reprints at this time; in the future, I may consider it, but for the time being, I’m getting enough original submissions that they will be taking priority.

I’ll be looking at acquiring 3 or 4 more stories.  I’d love to get more, but I want to keep cost on the first issue low enough that I can keep the price for print issues down.

So, here’s the plan:

  1. Acquire those last couple stories.
  2. Look into getting some illustrations; I don’t know that I’ll have money to commission illustrations for every story, but I’d like to have at least a couple.
  3. Tweak some layout stuff and figure out what I have in terms of adspace.
  4. Make the cover.
  5. Fill some adspace locally
  6. Kickstart for pre-orders and to fill more adspace.
  7. Make the darn thing and send it out to folks!

Cirsova Magazine (Update & Sticky)

Just wanted to let everyone know, Cirsova is still taking and reading submission for the semi-pro Sword & Planet/Heroic Fantasy zine.

FAQ for writers considering submissions can be found here.

There’s still no “hard deadline” but I am anticipating having enough materials (fingers crossed!) to go forward to phase 2 by the end of October.

I’m going to take a brief break on making offers to give folks who have expressed interest time to get submissions in. This should give people who are still working on their stories a better shot than if I were just taking stories as they come.  (Sorry for not having a better process in place to begin with.  Hi!  I’m new at this!)

Cirsova Anthology Update! (Looking for SFF Writers!)

Things are moving along quickly.  I’ve received an unexpected and impressive level of interest in this project which bodes well. I’ve already received a few submissions and have a couple of awesome pieces locked in.

I’ll be keeping the FAQ updated as stuff comes up.

Several people have been asking about deadlines.  It’s not a hard and fast deadline, and if things take an unexpected drop-off I may extend it, but your best bet would be to get submissions in by the end of October.  Currently, I am be reading pieces and making offers in the order that I receive them.  So, the sooner the better.

Cirsova is Looking for SFF Writers!

Are you a Sci-fi/Fantasy writer?  Then I may be looking for you!  Cirsova is launching a semi-pro zine focusing on Sword & Planet and Heroic Fantasy fiction.  Please share, reblog, retweet, whatever!  Get the word out!

What are you looking for?

4-6 Original short stories between 2000-7500 words.

1 or 2 short essays on the subjects of S&P, Heroic Fantasy, Pulps, Pulp Art, or any of those subjects’ effect on tabletop gaming.

Submissions should be in finished, final draft form.  Please do not send unedited works, excerpts or pitches.  Well, you can send me a pitch, and if it sounds awesome, I will tell you “That sounds awesome, now write that story, make sure it’s edited, and submit that to me”, but that’s it.

Update: Issue 1 is full up!  Submissions are closed until I’m ready to move ahead on issue 2.

What do you mean by “Sword & Planet” and “Heroic Fantasy”?

“Sword & Planet” typically refers to a style of romantic swashbuckling fiction that takes place on Earth-like non-Earth worlds.  It could be set on a Mediterranean Mars, an Amazon Basin Venus, or a Sub-Saharan Sqarnix IV.  Dashing heroes performing daring feats in exotic locales is a must, scientific accuracy is not.  If a story meets those criteria, but doesn’t have swords, then it’s more of a “Planet Romance”, which is also fine.  I want those too!  “Heroic Fantasy” is similar in that you still have heroes performing daring and/or clever feats, often in exotic locals, but it is typically more focused on the deeds of a single character(Cugel, Conan, Brak, Elric, etc.).  HF does not necessarily have a sci-fi element, but there is definitely some overlap.  You can put them together to go all out and have a sword-wielding barbarian king of a fallen space empire linked by automated shuttles go on adventures from world to world!

Can I submit something that’s not Sword & Planet or Heroic Fantasy but is still Science Fiction or Fantasy?

Good question!  The answer is yes.  While I’d like to put S&P/Planet Romance/Heroic Fantasy at the forefront priority-wise, if you’ve got a great story, there’s still a chance I might buy it.  Not really looking for “hard” science fiction, engineer tales, or modern “high fantasy”.  I’ll indulge a steampunk story if it’s set on a moon of Saturn or something.

I have serial I’d like to publish; can I submit that?

As much as I’d like to say yes, I can’t promise that there will be a 2nd issue unless the 1st one does well, so serials are out for the moment.  BUT, if you have a character about whom you’ve written stand-alone stories, feel free to submit one of those!

Can I put steamy-hot action in my story?

It really depends, but it’s not a deal-breaker.  I’m not looking for any explicitly erotic stories, and it probably shouldn’t make up more than a few lines to a paragraph or two in anything this short if you do include it. In terms of how explicit you can get without hurting your chances of being accepted, consider the upper boundary to be Andrew J. Offutt (at least what he published under his own name) or Thomas Burnett Swann.  If you have something that looks like Jean Auel wrote it for one of her Earth’s Children sequels, you’ve crossed a line and should probably reconsider more than just your submission.

What do you mean by “semi-pro zine”?

It means you’ll get paid.  You won’t get paid as much as if you sold your work to one of the big pro-zines, but I’ll try to at least make it worth your while.  Cirsova will pay $0.02 per word up to the first 2500 words and $0.01 per word up above that.  So, you’re looking at around a $50-$100 range.

When will this magazine come out?

Well, it’s a tricky thing, being an upstart zine.  The first goal will be to get enough written material for the first issue.  Once I have enough stories, if I have any money left, I’ll try to find some illustrations.  Once I have the stories and illustrations, I’ll be offering a few local businesses some free token ad space.  Then, I will probably do a Kickstarter, which will send the zine down one of two tracks.  If successful, the Kickstarter will be used as a means of soliciting limited additional adspace, (semi)bulk ordering for any stores interested in carrying the zine, and maybe getting some additional art funds.  If we can’t Kickstart, the zine will still go forward, still be available in digital and print copies, just probably in a smaller run.

So, it could be awhile.  I’m pessimistically (realistically?) thinking a year from now, but if everything comes together, I could see this coming out by spring of next year.

What is this zine going to look like?

Well, I keep calling it a zine, but it’s going to be more of an anthology book.  Think the Flashing Swords! collections, but with some advertisements.  Unless I find a decent alternative, it’ll probably be printed through a service like Lulu, so it will be a fairly nice perfect-bound book.  If there is sufficient interest, however, I might consider making a hard-bound edition available.

Do you know what you’re doing?  Do you have any idea what you’re getting yourself into?

Actually, yeah, I do.  And I’m hoping to get away with 1/5th the cost and half the headache it took to put this out on vinyl.

How do I get in touch with you?

Comment here and I’ll email you.  Or you can send an email to cirsova at yahoo dot com.

I’m an artist and would like to submit something. Can I?

My first priority is finding stories. That doesn’t mean I’m not looking for artists, though. If you are interested in doing some line-illustrations, get in touch with me and show me the sort of stuff you do. Once I get the stories wrangled, I WILL be looking for accompanying line art.

Is there a submission deadline?

Right now, no, there is no hard deadline. The deadline is “When I have enough materials for a first issue/When I’ve spent all the money I’ve budgeted for buying stories on buying stories.”   It’s not a hard and fast deadline, and if things take an unexpected drop-off I may extend it, but your best bet would be to get submissions in no later than the end of October.  Currently, I am be reading pieces and making offers in the order that I receive them.  I am taking a brief break on making offers to allow those who have expressed interest time to submit.  A lot of people have said they are interested and a few have even submitted stories. So, let’s say the sooner the better.

When will I be paid?

You will be paid as soon as your story has been accepted.  Payment will be made either by paypal (preferred) or by check if necessary.

Can I use a pseudonym?

Sure.  Just include the pseudonym you want to use in the by-line of your manuscript.

What rights are you buying?

Global first print and digital publication rights; you’ll be giving Cirsova the exclusive rights to publish and use the purchased material prior to and for one calendar year following the publication of those materials.  After that period, Cirsova will retain the right to publish and sell the purchased materials non-exclusively in the collected format (i.e. the anthology will remain available in print and electronic format as initially offered, however the materials will not be repackaged and resold).  Cirsova will have the right to use your name and portion or whole of the material to promote the work.  During the period of exclusivity, you agree to refrain from publishing the purchased material in whole or in part without prior consent.

What happens if you don’t end up publishing my story, even though you bought it?

I don’t anticipate this happening, but I want to say upfront that I’m not going to pull a Dangerous Visions here. If something happens that prevents me from publishing stories I have bought in a timely manner, we’ll work something out wherein I will relinquish exclusivity.  Again, I really do not see this happening because a)there is a lot of interest, and I don’t really see ending up with too few stories to publish and b) I’ve got enough money budgeted to put this thing together even without a Kickstarter.

Should I submit a bio?

Feel free to include one or two sentences as to where folks can find you.  Once submissions are closed, I may throw up more detailed “bios” page here for additional exposure for contributing authors.

How do I get in touch with you?

This is an important question, so I understand why it needs to be asked and answered multiple times.  You can email submissions to cirsova at yahoo dot com, you can comment here and I will email you.  Note that I may email you from my old retrovirusrecords account if I initiate contact based on a comment you’ve left, so keep an eye out for me!

My story is longer than 7,500 words, can I still submit it?

Sure!  While 5,000 to 7,500 is kind of the sweet spot, for really good stories, I’d consider anything up to 10,000, maybe a little more.  It’s sort of a case by case thing.  One of the reasons why I’d be hesitant to go much beyond 10,000 and want to avoid novella length works comes more from my own feeling that I can’t really pay what those stories would be worth.  By the time Issue 2 comes around, it may be a different story.

What is your editorial process?

For the most part, I’m going for a light touch.  Though submissions should be in final draft manuscript format, I’ll still give it a good once over for any glaring typos.  If you’ve got a solid enough story that just needs a little more work, however, I’ll be more than happy to work on some revisions with you if I think it would be a good fit.

Can I submit a reprint?

At this time, I will not be buying reprints.  In the future, I may consider, but I am making original first print works a priority.