Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Year of Midnight Circus

With the announcement that EAB Publishing will soon be cutting off the further publication of the first four issues of Midnight Circus in order to release a collected anthology of all of the contents contained in those issues, it seems to me that it's a good time to take a look back at both the issues themselves as well as my experiences in working on those issues. Naturally, we'll start with the beginning!

New England Fear started things off right and I believe it let people in the literary community know that this was a magazine to look out for. I had heard the plans from people involved, and it sounded exciting, but the truth was plans like that always sound exciting. I could sit down right now and tell you some grandiose ideas, and you could do the same to me, and it would sound great. But when I had the journal in my hands with a collection of great stories, well, I had to acknowledge there was something here. I was intrigued.

I can find something of value in every issue, but I think my favorite in this issue was The Dullahan's Curse by A.E. Stueve and Britt Sullivan and it's tie-in with the Titanic. I also thought Christopher McLucas did a nice job with his brief story The Man. Good stuff all around, and with that I decided to look into the theme for the second issue to see if perhaps I would submit something.

Aw, the second issue. Classic Lit on the Side. Different perspectives of classic stories from the public domain--a necessary evil to avoid evil lawyers, but a limiting one to a degree and so this was a risk, because it was drawing close to fan fiction. fan fiction has its place, but probably not in a serious journal.

Yet I believe that was avoided, and spectacularly. You be the judge, but I think the pieces were of merit and avoided that label nicely.

Furthermore, while the first issue was great and set the template, I thought this represented a giant leap in some ways. In this issue you could really see that the mag was branching out with a host of new faces writing material. They even published a piece by some guy named Jeremy Morong. . .

So about that. It's no secret to anyone that knows me that Adventures of Huckeberry Finn is my favorite book. I've probably read it twenty times, and that is a conservative estimate as I first cracked it open at the age of six. If you want to debate its merits or discuss the racial aspects of it, I'm your, well, Huckleberry. So this was my chance to play in that sandbox and while it was daunting, I thought I was able to have just enough of a different approach to keep it fresh. I wrote in the second person in order to put the reader in the shoes of Jim, who had to leave behind his family to attempt to secure his own freedom. I'm my own worst critic, and my story could have used a little more punch I think, but overall I'm pleased with it and I'm honored that it was chosen.

Again, I enjoyed all the stories, but my favorite (including my own "Jim") was David Atkinson's brief "The Side Grind." I don't want to spoil it for anyone who might read it, but I've always thought of fictional characters of having a degree of sentience (News flash: I'm weird) and this story took that approach. A Christmas Carol is another of my favorites and I enjoyed this take on the old classic.

Issue number three was a milestone of sorts for me, because I was asked to do some copy editing. I had never done copy editing before and truth be told, I was not looking forward to it, because obviously I have to edit my own stuff--and it's painful. Yet I agreed because I believed in what EAB was doing and wanted to help in anyway I could.

And so I learned something interesting: editing other people's stuff is not painful. In fact, it's downright fun--you sort of get the satisfaction of creation without all the pain, torture, self-doubt, and agony that often accompany that creation process! I had a blast and I believe it was of use to the group, who I know had spent a lot of time editing this issue.

Hard to pick a favorite in this issue, as always, but "Degenerating" by Megan Mealor was quite powerful. "The Hearthrob and the Ladybug" by Jeremy Johnson was also a lot of fun.

Now to the fourth issue. I did not get an opportunity to do any editing on this one as there were some deadline issues, and truth be told, I was a little bitter about it as I had so much fun with the prior issue. But I eventually got over it, sucked it up, and cracked the issue open, where I could view it as any other reader would.

And the issue was great. Invasion and Occupation. To me, the theme implies war, and yet the submissions were so much more than that, which says a lot about the creativity that goes into Midnight Circus. I read this issue in one sitting and enjoyed it all, as usual (sense a theme), but the standout for me was again from Mr. David Atkinson, who scored with "Home Invasion: Single Guy Problems." I enjoyed it so much that I actually emailed him and suggested expanding the story to a full novel, for I think it has that much potential. Of course, a writer has to write what they want to write, as a novel is a huge undertaking (trust me), and so it was only a suggestion. But I really did enjoy it and would love to see those devilish children antagonize Irwin the single guy for another 200 or so pages. I have this feeling that he might even start to like the little bastards by the time it was all over. . .

And so that's where Midnight Circus took me through it's first year. I've done quite a bit more work on the first two issues this year, which have all been outstanding, and will be doing even more work on future issues, which I am looking forward to. Yet I know that thanks to the work that has been done, there is an awfully high standard to fill.

Finally, there is one elephant in the room I should acknowledge: Midnight Circus is not only made up of short stories, but also poetry. I enjoy many of the poems, but the truth is, I often could not tell you what makes a good poem and what doesn't. I even get confused when sentences don't rhyme, if that tells you anything. While it is an important part of Circus, I don't feel qualified enough to even comment on the pieces to pick out faves. So let's just say I like them all, equally. ;)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Public Service Announcement

My public service announcement for today, coming from someone who works in a bank. There are a lot of scams out there, and some of the scammers are good, but most of the schemes are not.

First off, when you win the lottery, you DO NOT need to wire or Western Union money to anyone. The lottery doesn't work that way. This goes double if you didn't even buy a ticket.

If anyone calls and asks for your social security number or bank account information, see if you can have theirs first. It's only fair that you trade even up, and there's a chance they might have better credit and a larger balance than you.

If someone calls to tell you they need to fix your computer, they will only need to do so because they're going to break it first, along with your bank account and credit cards. Hang up after cussing them out for a bit.

Finally, your Nigerian uncle may own an oil well, but he didn't leave you anything in his will--you didn't even send him a Christmas card last year. None of us are lucky enough to have dead, rich uncles we didn't even know.