Archive for July, 2011

Submission Rules

They are called submission guidelines, but really, it’s better to think of them as submission rules. If a submission doesn’t follow them, I’m not going to accept it. Even if it’s really good. Even if it’s really, really good. That sometimes makes me sad but there are good reasons for it.

I may not know it’s good.
All submissions get read by slush readers who then vote and/or comment on it. Each yes vote is worth 1 point, each no vote is worth -1 and each maybe is worth 0. I pass on any submission that gets a score of -3 or lower without reading it. Depending on who voted I may also pass on -2 pieces without reading them. Thus, it’s only certain I’ve read a story if it has a score of -1 or better. What’s more our slush readers are told, very clearly, that they do not have to read a story that doesn’t follow the submission guidelines — the most obvious way of knowing this is by looking to see if it’s indented. If a story is indented they tend to just vote ‘no’ on it. It only takes two slush readers doing that to make it likely I’ll never see the submission.

Following guidelines is a skill
Someone who can follow guidelines is someone who can follow instructions. When I accept a submission from someone it is followed by further instructions “Please fill out this agreement and send it back” etc. If a submitter can’t follow instructions even the most uncomplicated of interractions becomes a nightmare.

Ignoring submission guidelines is disrespectful
If someone doesn’t follow our very simple guidelines it feels disrespectful. They are asking us to read and consider their work for publication, but don’t care enough to read and follow our guidelines. It feels like a slap in the face.

Submission guidelines exist for a reason
I don’t create rules in just because I can. They don’t exist because I’m on a power trip or like making people jump through hoops. Each guideline exists for a reason — usually to make less work for us and allow the process from acceptance to publication to move smoothly.

Those are just a few points off the top of my head, but I think it comes down to this: If someone can’t follow submission guidelines I don’t want to work with them no matter how fantastic their work is.

Niteblade Contributor Interview with David Wright

David Wright’s work appeared in Niteblade in 2010. He allowed me to interview him this summer.

When did you first recognize yourself as a writer?

After I saw the movie Star Wars, I became irrepressibly obsessed with the notion of becoming a writer, director, producer, music composer…I’m not sure which. I was only 10 years old. But I knew I wanted to make something like that. I didn’t know how to do that, but that’s what I wanted to do. And if I had to become a writer to do it, then that’s what was going to do.


What draws you to speculative fiction?

I don’t think I heard the term ‘speculative fiction’ until I was in my twenties. In my youth, there were only two genres that interested me—fantasy and science fiction—and they were both found in equal parts in the countless Fantasy and Science Fiction magazines that lined my father’s bookshelves. Ogling those flashy covers with their magical promise of mind blowing ideas was the catalyst for a life-long love of that nebulous genre we now call ‘speculative fiction.’


Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?

“Write about what you know.” I’ve always both loved and hated this piece of advice. If we all wrote about what we knew, there would be no fantasy or science fiction. What would be the fun in that? So let me turn the idiom on its head. Know about what you write. Know the characters, the setting, the world you’ve created better than you know the real world. And then write about it. Now that’s a piece of advice I can stand behind.


In the December 2010 issue of Niteblade, Rhonda chose to publish your story, “Climax Speciation“. Is there a story behind how it came about?

There is nothing more terrifying in life than the birth of your own children–not the actual biological birth, although that’s pretty terrifying, but the effect it has on your own psychology. You are no longer the center of the universe, or even the protagonist of your own personal story. For a brief moment, at least, you glimpse the idea that another soul has entered into existence, and the force of their potential life is staggering. Will they be good or bad? Will they cure cancer or drop a bomb so powerful that it will wipe out all of humanity? That fear may have been the impetus for my story, but I’m not really sure. I wasn’t getting a lot of sleep back then.


What have you been working on lately?

I still write the occasional short story, but my main concern of late is finishing my third novel, Glaive Lord. This is my first foray into the classic genre of sword and sorcery, and I have to admit that I am loving it.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?

I know a lot of Niteblade’s readers are just like me—budding writers who’d like to make it big someday. But I’ve been budding for a long time. I’m not rich. I’m not famous. I may not even be that good. But I have no regrets. I write because I love it, and there’s no better reason than that.


Attention citizens of the People’s Republic of Portland, Oregon, USA: Cozy up with a handful of local authors for the evening of Sunday, July 17 at 5pm at Tabor Space. The winners of the EphSpec literary contest want to read their amazing and thought-provoking stories to you. EphSpec is an organization dedicated to creating ephemeral, time-based events around the literature of speculative fiction. Get your geek on and still be home in plenty of time for Game of Thrones. FREE. Details at

Niteblade is not associated with EphSpec, I just agreed to help spread the word on behalf of one of our authors.

Special Poetry Edition of Niteblade

Back in May, Alexa Seidel agreed be a poetry editor for Niteblade. She and I have worked together on the June and September issues and it’s been painless and fun. Come 2012, however, Alexa is going to take over the poetry editor position. We wanted to do something to celebrate the transition, to look back at some of the awesome poems we’ve included in Niteblade, and include some brand new content too. With that in mind, we decided to do a special edition of Niteblade in December (just in time for Christmas! /sales pitch).

The December issue, tentatively entitled “Looking Back, Going Forward” will only include poetry. Some of those poems will be reprints from back issues of Niteblade, some will be brand spanking new. What’s more, in addition to offering a .pdf version we will also have a limited number of print copies available for sale.

Intriqued? Click here to learn how to submit to the special poetry edition, and keep an eye on this blog for more details as they become available.

Niteblade Contributor Interview With Brian Rosenberger

Brian Rosenberger poems have been published in several anthologies and books. Visit him on the web at

When did you first recognize yourself as a poet?

In my early twenties, I began writing poetry. These early efforts were influenced by Charles Bukowski and Henry Rollins. I’m still big fans of both. I also really enjoyed the work of Charles Baudelaire. Being a teenager in the 80’s, I was also a big heavy metal fan, drawn equally to the music as well as the lyrics. Bands like Iron Maiden, Slayer, Testament, Metallica, Antrax, Black Sabbath were also influences.

What draws you to speculative poetry?

I grew up on monster movies and horror films. I’ve always learned more to the darker side of fantasy. While I enjoy sword and sorcery and space opera, horror is ingrained in my DNA. I use to publish a poetry ezine called Decompositions and published a lot of well known and lesser known spec poets. That was really the jumpstart for me writing speculative poetry.

Is there a piece of writing advice you’ve never followed?

Most likely but nothing I recall specifically. The best piece of advice is the old adage, a writer writes. That has considerable weight. If you’re not putting in the time, you’re not going to yield results.

In the June 2010 issue of Niteblade, Rhonda chose to publish your poem, “Flea Market Zombies”. It was also the inspiration for the cover that month. Is there a story behind the poem?

As a kid in Smalltown, IN, I always enjoyed exploring our local flea market which was affectionately called the Sale Barn. I was usually hunting for comic books but it was always fun to rummage through the various vendors’ wares. One person could be selling socks, fruits and vegetables, roach clips, bootleg cassettes, ninja stars, rabbits, and fishing lures all out of the same van. It was a fun time. “Flea Market Zombies” was drawn from those memories.

What have you been working on lately?

No big projects. Real life has intervened as it sometimes does so writing as been on the backburner the past few months. I had three books released last year, a collection of short stories (As the Worm Turns) and two poetry collections (Scream For Me and And For My Next Trick). Once things stabilize on a personal level, I hope to resume pen to paper. In the meantime, my “Ideas” folder continues to grow. A writer writes after all.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with Niteblade’s readers?

Thanks for the opportunity for the interview. I have work forthcoming (hopefully) in Terror of Miskatonic Falls, Ruby Red Cravings, Splatterpunk is Not Dead!, and a variety of other places.

See you in the shadows.