Rambling On

Anthony R. Cardno's Fiction and Commentary

Archive for the ‘fundraisers’ Category

Neal and Dexter, the Early Years

I’ve interviewed my friend Neal Bailey a number of times here on “Rambling On,” discussing the progress of CURA TE IPSUM, the fantastic “can one man save himself across the Multiverse” webcomic written by Neal and drawn by the incomparable Dexter Wee. About a month ago, Neal started a Kickstarter to publish a print version of Year Two of the webcomic, with lots of awesome perks for backers … and I promptly dropped the ball in regards to having him on here again to promote it. There’s still four days left and the campaign is going strong, so better late than never, right?

 

ANTHONY: Hi Neal! So, what’s new and exciting in the world of CURA TE IPSUM?

NEAL: Hey, Anthony! Honestly, that probably depends on your perspective. For the readers, we’re going into a section of story that’s going to be decidedly exciting. A big paradigm shift in the next few months, and the beginnings of the origin of the Dark Everett.

For me, what’s exciting is winding toward the middle of Year Five (I write… in the FUTURE) and finishing up this Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style novella I’m doing for the Kickstarter. It’s a lot of fun.

Also… HARDBACKS! We will have hardbacks, it looks like, thanks to this wonderful Kickstarter thing. 

ANTHONY: What made you feel now was the right time to run a Kickstarter for CURA?

NEAL: Honestly, going to cons and watching other independent comics make use of it with no ill effects. I used to write for the internet, and if I learned one thing writing for the internet, it was that if you do a thing and ask for money for it, you get nastygrams from people, for some reason. At least, you used to. That has changed now. As the medium grows, people start to understand if they don’t support a thing, it goes away, which sucks.
I was going to do one big Kickstarter, at the end of Cura, and try and recoup something, anything of the tens of thousands of dollars I’ve thrown into it. I saw Kickstarter as a trigger you could pull once, a fundraising tool to get a thing recognition and a printing.

Then I printed my own trades a few times, and realized I couldn’t continue to do it on my own. I debated options. Going two days a week (which would lead to pay reduction for Dex, which I didn’t want to do). Going to companies (I already have, and a few big ones passed on Cura). That’s when I started asking my other friends doing webcomics and they indicated that the model for Kickstarter has shifted. You’re not a fink for doing one once a year, it’s more of a situation like Kickstarter is a Previews for the indie world. People who like indie comics come, see things that need regular support, order it, and keep it going.

I realized I can do Year Two, and if the people like it, then it wouldn’t be the only hurrah. There is a matrix and community of people who will support a thing that you’re earnestly passionate about. That is quite a reassurance for a struggling writer, and I said to myself, what’s the worst that could happen, you fail? Then you just don’t produce the book, you keep making Cura, you don’t go into more debt, win-win. It’s really quite amazing.

Year Two Cover Concept

ANTHONY: With only four days to go, you’re very possibly going to double your original goal. What are some of the perks backers can get if they sign on before the campaign ends?

NEAL: We’ve had two stretch goals so far, the first one is better paper, which I REALLY wanted to get for folks, and the hardbacks, which people REALLY wanted to get from me. I got a lot of messages asking for them. If we reach the $7,500 mark (and we’re darn close as of this writing) folks will have a hardback option.
The stretch goals after that are pure perks for folks. I’m going to set a new stretch goal the minute we hit that $7,500, if we’re that fortunate, but to be honest, I have been so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that I’ve been floored. Anything after where we are now is just a way to make the book better… it’s already happening! Isn’t that fantastic?

The biggest perk that people will have if we do double our goal, outside of any material thing, is the secure knowledge that it’s setting up Cura for at least another solid year, and guaranteeing that trades will continue to be worthwhile and fought for. There isn’t much squeak between the costs and the pledges, but whatever squeak there is will go right back into the book and the comic. I went bankrupt five years ago throwing my own cash into my work, and I’m so incredibly glad that I have a support net here now to help keep this book going. It makes me redouble my efforts and believe even more in what we’re doing, as shallow as that might sound. It’s amazing what a little validation will do. My life is forever changed.

I’m going to try and manage some postcards and paper dolls, bookmarks, whatever I can manage to throw in as a bonus, depending on the final tally. This is really about the people who made this happen, and I want to reward them as much as I can for their good faith.

ANTHONY: You’re creating a “Choose Your Own Dimension” adventure for backers, right? Tell us about that.

NEAL: I used to collect all of the Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid, and when I was in elementary I was fortunate enough to have a writer of those style of books come to the school and explain the process. Since then it’s fascinated me.

Once I started doing Cura, early on, I realized that it would lend itself extraordinarily well to a Choose Your Own Adventure style narrative, and I started to write one, but I stopped, for several reasons. Firstly, I wanted to make it a comic, which I hadn’t seen before outside of a book that slips my mind, the title, but it was amazing. I am embarrassed that I don’t recall. That had issues, because Dex is busy, and asking him to do a hundred page comic while he’s already doing Cura and other stuff wouldn’t work. The story is narrative enough and a handful.

I set it aside. I kept thinking about it, but I set it aside, and in the meanwhile fleshed out all of the characters I’d already outlined. Then the Kickstarter came, and Greg Rucka suggested, when I solicited his advice on my Kickstarter, that I ought to do a Choose Your Own Adventure. Recalling my earlier idea, it sounded like it might make a great novella, and so here I am, writing it. It’ll feature almost every member of Cura and Nosce that we’ve seen so far, and some other characters we may never see. You’re every Charlie, and some of the choices you can make are pretty hairy.

I did make one change to the basic formula. As morality tales, CYOA novels seem to reward good behavior and punish bad behavior. I like a more chaotic view of nature and nurture. Sometimes if you do the right thing, bad things still happen, and sometimes when you do a bad thing, there are no consequences. But sometimes it’s as you might expect, and I hope to keep people jumping.

Either way the dang thing is 15,000 words and climbing, so it’s not a minor perk, I hope. 

The Last Supper, Cura Style

ANTHONY: I see this question a lot regarding Kickstarters: you’ve hit your funding goal, and passed it — why should I back it?

NEAL: That goes a bit to what I mentioned before, in my earlier answer. First off, the more books I can order, the longer Cura is supported, in multiple respects. I can go to cons and get physical books into the hands of people who have never seen it, which helps the readership, which feeds the book. I can offset the cost of paying Dex, because I believe in paying my artist even when I can’t afford it (and God, have I been stretched thin the last five years). Most importantly, however, every purchase is a vote of confidence that says this book is a thing worth fighting for outside of my own mind, which is critical. It will make my work better, which will in turn feed what I turn out, which will in turn reward those who buy even when the initial goal is met.

Also, another important factor is that the initial goal is the bare minimum to get the project done, the books alone, and anything after that is where things start to be about extra for keeping the wheels turning. Plus, y’know, perks! Stretch goals. There’s good for everyone if we can keep going.

I can unconditionally guarantee that not a penny beyond the goal will go to anything beyond Cura. Hell, if we made a hundred thousand dollars, after Cura was colored, made into a short film, got an app, got Dex a Syntique, or whatever the heck else could benefit Cura, I’d still take cash from my own wallet and put it into making the comic more.

I am a strange duck, in that I never wrote for profit (shhh, don’t tell editors). I write for love of the characters in the hopes that profit may come, that I may write for love of the characters, on and on and on. If I have a dry room and a pen, I’m good. The cash is all about the book, and always will be. If I needed money for my own fun or amusement, I’d go back to day labor moving cabinets with stoners.

i09.com described Cura as “an emotional crisis on infinite earths.”

ANTHONY: Dexter’s art continues to amaze and astound. Is he creating any special new art for certain pledge levels?

NEAL: Yes! We have just added a new “commission” level at the two hundred dollar pledge. He will make a custom tailored commission. Speaking as a guy who has several hanging in his own house, I can honestly say they’re quite a centerpiece for a geek like me. Plus you get the hardbacks and all the other goodies.

ANTHONY: How about for the book itself?

NEAL: We have an eight-page backup introducing an all-female group of Charlenes who will figure prominently in Year Four and Five. There’s a Filipina, several steampunk inspired designs, a black female Hank (Henrietta), and a few members that will likely surprise you. Let’s just say Mrs. Arntzen doesn’t always die.

The backup has been a lot of hard work while producing the regular pages, but it’s absolutely worth it, and probably one of the best arguments to get the trade or the PDFs.

ANTHONY: The print collections cover Year One and Two, but the webcomic is well into Year Three now.  Has anyone come to CURA from reading the print editions first?  Do you find a different reaction to the story (or characters, or pacing) between print-first readers and web-first readers?  Or even a difference in reaction for people reading it in print after reading it as each page first appears online?

NEAL: Absolutely, in answer to both questions. People have come to print first through cons, and there is a huge reaction when people read it day-to-day as opposed to in a big stream, both in print and digitally.

The comic is written with a very known sense that days are passing between pages. The comic leaps a bit, and I have wrestled with it quite a bit. Some people are annoyed by it, but some love it. I stand by it, in that it is supposed to bring that feeling of jumping around in space and time that these characters are going through. That said, the story is becoming more and more linear as it moves on, perhaps as I learn, perhaps as the ending becomes more and more clear.

Either way, thankfully, I haven’t received any email from anyone calling it a pile of turds. The readership, to a man and woman, have all been incredibly kind and respectful and awesome.

ANTHONY: What is it about the story of Charlie Everett that resonates so well with fans?

NEAL: I’ve been told it’s the fact that he’s optimistic, and also the tension of whether or not he will become the Dark Everett, but I don’t want to speak for the audience and put words in their mouth. Maybe that’s just the things I’ve heard that I want to be true, and for other people it’s that he’s dreamy, or they love tweed, or hey, shout out to the guidance counselors out there who need representation!

That is my tongue firmly in cheek, for the record.

I can speak for myself. Charlie resonates for me because I wanted to write from the age of twelve, twenty long years ago now, and everywhere I went it was like that Dewey Cox movie, a parade of family encouraging me to have a fallback, get a job, stop being such a lazy waste. A relative said, I quote, that I contribute in no meaningful way to my family, doing what I do.

I disagree. And Charlie didn’t. Charlie thought people like that were right for so long, and he cast it off, and even better, he did it for himself. He found hope, he found courage, and through that power. That’s what I see in him, and that’s what makes me love him.

ANTHONY: What glimpse can you give us into the near future for the CURA cast?

NEAL: I’ll be cryptic, and maybe a little scary. A latin demon. Origins. The smell of the person you love the most. Power beyond reckoning in the hands of a madman. The explanation of that moon. Junior’s origin. The House of Cindy. God, now I’m getting creeped out. Soon!

ANTHONY: And a twist on my usual closing question: What is Charlie Everett’s favorite book, and what would he say to convince someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

NEAL: Charlie’s favorite book is Richard III, and he would say that one should read it because even though this man, Richard, in attempting to find his way, becomes a terrible villain because of how he is perceived, he also says one of the most important things any human being ever has in history:

“Shall I live in hope?”

Charlie does, and you should too.

You can follow Neal and Dex on Twitter @nealbailey  @dexterwee. You can find the comic CURA TE IPSUM on the web. But most importantly, you can find the final days of the Kickstarter campaign and donate by CLICKING RIGHT HERE.  If you decide to back, please leave a note here letting me know you did so.

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William Miekle

William Miekle is a Scottish author who works largely in the horror, dark fantasy and urban fantasy realms. He recently launched an anthology project similar to the one I’ll be putting out later this year, where the profits will go towards cancer research. My own project is a mix of genres and authors, while William’s is straight-up horror with stories provided by some of the biggest names in the business. So I thought now was a good time to chat with an author I seem to share a lot of common interests with.

ANTHONY: The Unspoken is an anthology intended to raise funds for cancer research. How did the project come about?

WILLIAM: Cancer is a monster. I can’t fight it. But as a writer and as an editor there is something I can do. I rallied up some friends, and friends of friends, and asked them for some stories. They responded brilliantly. We’ve put them together in a wee book. And now it’s out there, earning money for cancer charities. I’m very proud of everyone involved.

ANTHONY: What’s your personal connection to cancer?

WILLIAM: My Dad has cancer. More than one kind in fact. He’s fighting hard, but cancer is a devious bugger. It hides, it lurks, and it pounces when you think it’s down and defeated.

It has been a presence in my life for as long as I can remember. I first came across it in the late Sixties. My Gran’s brother came back to town to die with his family. I was fascinated by this man, so thin as to be almost skeletal, wound in clothes that were many sizes too large for his frame, his skin so thin that I could see his blood moving… not pumping, for it had long since stopped moving enough to keep him alive long. He rarely spoke, just sat by the fire as if trying to soak up heat, his eyes frequently wet from tears, not of sadness, but of pain. He lasted for months in that condition until it finally took him and I knew then that cancer was a monster.

Since then it has taken others, both friends and family, a young mother with two pre-teen children, a cousin who was like a big brother to me, and a girl I never got to know for she was taken before her twentieth birthday. Other family members are still fighting. There’s my Dad, who meets it all with a good humour that is humbling, and my godmother who has battled bowel cancer into remission twice.

ANTHONY: Why call the anthology “The Unspoken?”

UNSPOKEN

WILLIAM: There is a taboo in talking about cancer, and death. I remember it well as a child, watching my mum and aunts whisper, taking care that we, the children, were kept distanced from it, kept away from the horror, as if in fear it might somehow be contagious. Couple that with the reticence many people feel when talking about things that affect their bodies and there is definitely a lot left Unspoken.

ANTHONY: What authors are involved in the anthology, and did their personal experiences with cancer influence the stories they chose to tell?

WILLIAM: The lineup is stunning.

Ramsey Campbell – Introduction

Tim Lebbon – Just Breathe

Simon Kurt Unsworth – Photographs of Boden

Steven Savile & Steve Lockley – The Last Gift

John Shirley – Where the Market’s Hottest

Anna Taborska – Underbelly

Stephen James Price – Pages of Promises

Scott Nicholson – Heal Thyself

Stephen Laws – Harbinger

William Meikle – The Unfinished Basement

Nancy Kilpatrick – Alien Love

David Riley – A Girl, a Toad and a Cask

Barbie Wilde – Polyp

Johnny Mains – The Cure

Guy N Smith – The Big One

Pete Crowther – Cankerman

Steve Duffy – X for Henrietta

Gary McMahon – Bitter Soup

Cover art by Simon Marshall Jones

I know from private correspondence that each one has been touched in some way by cancer, whether it be personal, family or friends, but I’ll let their stories speak for them – the rest is a private matter for them to speak about if they wish to.

ANTHONY:  Tell us about your story in the anthology.

WILLIAM: The Unfinished Basement is a cancer metaphor story – there’s several in the collection.

I write about monsters, and have been doing so for a long span of years. Just recently I’ve started thinking more about why and taking a harder look at my motivations. A look back at several recent things I’ve done was revealing. THE INVASION features an alien invasion that comes in the form of an organism from space that eats anything in its path, transforming it into something different and unnatural. My short story THE COLOUR THAT CAME TO CHISWICK features a colour out of space that gets into beer and, when consumed, eats the drinker away from the inside out. THE UNFI|N|ISHED BASEMENT features gross body changes and loss of identity, and even my current work in progress, ostensibly just a little creature feature disaster story, features genetic modification leading to crawling chaos. I may not have been consciously aware of it, but it’s obvious to me now that the Big C has been on my mind.

ANTHONY: You write short stories and novels. Does your writing process change at all from one format to the other?

WILLIAM: To me it’s all just writing. The story itself dictates its own length. The end format is just another method for me to deliver the story. I’ve been published in all lengths, in print, ebook, audio, and on film and I’ve read stories at storytelling evenings in a variety of bars. I’m sure when the time comes for media to get delivered straight into people’s brains that I’ll be ready with something to publish that way too.

ANTHONY: You also are known for writing stories with characters like Doyle’s Professor Challenger and Sherlock Holmes, Lovecraft’s Cthulu mythos and Thomas Carnacki. What draws you to these classic (and somewhat public domain) characters over and over again?

WILLIAM: Nowadays there is a plethora of detectives in both book and film who may seem to use the trappings of crime solvers, but get involved in the supernatural. William Hjortsberg’s Falling Angel (the book that led to the movie Angel Heart) is a fine example, an expert blending of gumshoe and deviltry that is one of my favorite books. Likewise, in the movies, we have cops facing a demon in Denzel Washington’s Fallen that plays like a police procedural taken to a very dark place.

My interest goes further back to the “gentleman detective” era where we have seekers of truth in Blackwood’s John Silence, Sherlock Holmes and William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki, and, mixed in with that, a deep love of the American PI books and movies of the ’40s and ’50s.

I’ve written numerous stories set in the late Victorian / Early Edwardian era, for Sherlock Holmes, Carnacki, and Professor Challenger. I was raised on Doyle, Wells and Robert Louis Stevenson and I love that historical period they covered in their work. It’s also the time period I’ve come to prefer for my own writing and I can see me settling in there for a long time to come.

ANTHONY: You also have your own continuing series, like The Midnight Files. Tell us a little bit about them.

WILLIAM: I read widely, both in the crime and horror genres, but my crime fiction in particular keeps returning to older, pulpier, bases.

My series character, Glasgow PI Derek Adams, is a Bogart and Chandler fan, and it is the movies and Americana of the ’40s that I find a lot of my inspiration for him, rather than in the modern procedural.

That, and the old city, are the two main drivers for the Midnight Eye stories.

When I was a lad, back in the early 1960s, we lived in a town 20 miles south of Glasgow, and it was an adventure to the big city when I went with my family on shopping trips. Back then the city was a Victorian giant going slowly to seed.

It is often said that the British Empire was built in Glasgow on the banks of the river Clyde. Back when I was young, the shipyards were still going strong, and the city centre itself still held on to some of its past glories.

It was a warren of tall sandstone buildings and narrow streets, with Edwardian trams still running through them. The big stores still had pneumatic delivery systems for billing, every man wore a hat, collar and tie, and steam trains ran into grand vaulted railway stations filled with smoke.

To a young boy from the sticks it seemed like a grand place. It was only later that I learned about the knife gangs that terrorized the dance halls, and the serial killer, Bible John, who frequented the same dance floors, quoting scripture as he lured teenage girls to a violent end.

Fast forward fifteen years, and I was at University in the city, and getting an education into the real heart of the place. I learned about bars, and religious divides. Glasgow is split along tribal royalties. Back in the Victorian era, shiploads of Irishmen came to Glasgow for work. The protestants went to one side of the city, the catholics to the other. There they set up homes… and football teams.

Now these teams are the biggest sporting giants in Scotland, two behemoths that attract bigots like bees to honey. As a student I soon learned how to avoid giving away my religion in bars, and which ones to stay out of on match days.

Also by the time I was a student, a lot of the tall sandstone buildings had been pulled down to make way for tower blocks. Back then they were the new shiny future, taking the people out of the Victorian ghettos and into the present day.

Fast forward to the present day and there are all new ghettos. The tower blocks are ruled by drug gangs and pimps. Meanwhile there have been many attempts to gentrify the city centre, with designer shops being built in old warehouses, with docklands developments building expensive apartments where sailors used to get services from hard faced girls, and with shiny, trendy bars full of glossy expensively dressed bankers.

And underneath it all, the old Glasgow still lies, slumbering, a dreaming god waiting for the stars to be right again.

Derek Adams, The Midnight Eye, knows the ways of the old city. And, if truth be told, he prefers them to the new.

He’s turned up in three novels so far, THE AMULET, THE SIRENS and THE SKIN GAME, all out now in ebook at all the usual online stores and in shiny new paperback editions from Seven Realms Publishing in 2013.( All three books will also be appearing in Portuguese language editions in 2013/14.) The Amulet is available in audiobook at Audible.com, and there’s also a film company looking for funding to bring him to life, several short stories, and an anthology appearance in the forthcoming CTHULHU 2012 anthology from Mythos Books.

Derek has developed a life of his own, and I’m along for the ride.

ANTHONY: The e-book of The Unspoken has been available for a short while now. What’s the response to the book been like from readers?

WILLIAM: Slower than I hoped actually. Anyone who has read it has been very positive, but sales are sluggish. I’m hoping interviews like this one will help raise the profile.

ANTHONY: When will the print version of the anthology be available?

WILLIAM: It should be along later this year, funds permitting.

ANTHONY: Where does the money raised by the anthology go?

WILLIAM: The money is going to The Beatson Cancer Research Institute, an organization who have done a lot of tireless work in helping sufferers for many years – including my dad.

 

The US Kindle edition is available on Amazon: The Unspoken. And if you’re interested, here’s the link for Amazon UK.

You can learn more about the Beatson Cancer Research Institute by visiting their website.

You can also learn more about William’s writing on his website, and follow him on Twitter.

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Yeah, I did. Another cover video.

This time, it’s to fulfill a promise I made to the good folks at Crossed Genres (Kay Holt and Bart Leib) for their Kickstarter for the LONG HIDDEN anthology to be edited by Rose Fox and Daniel Jose Older.  They had reached their initial funding goal, but were really trying to reach a stretch goal that would enable them to include artwork for every story in the anthology. To motivate people to contribute, Bart promised to die his long dark locks all the colors of the rainbow, and I promised that if they hit the stretch goal, I’d record another cover video, of an artist of their choice. Of course, they chose Britney Spears.

So this weekend it was back to DisGraceLand studio, home of The Dalliance with producer Darrell Long, a.k.a. Floopjack, to record and film. This one was tougher than the Bieber. The song as written (and when you’re using karaoke tracks for the instruments and backing vocals, you have to sing it as written) doesn’t really sit comfortably in my range, but I muddled through and near the end even give my full falsetto a work-out.  There are some awkward notes, but as Darrell pointed out: a) it’s all for fun, so let the warts show through and b) it proves that it’s all me.

So, whether you donated to the Long Hidden Kickstarter or not, here it is: my cover of Britney’s “Ooops, I Did It Again,” minus the awkward skit interlude about the diamond necklace…

 

 

 

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Here’s a quick guest post from my young friend Anthony Gargiula. I’ve interviewed Anthony several times, and am always proud to support his annual fundraiser Bowling Against Bullying.

Anthony Gargiula

I am in the process of organizing my 3rd Bowling Against Bullying Fundraiser and I would really appreciate your help.

Due to the amazing fundraising events I have already organized, I have been able to help fund many area schools’ anti bullying programs. In November I had the opportunity to give a $1,000 check to the largest anti-bullying convention in the United States. For this upcoming event, I am focusing on continuing to give money to local area schools for their mandated anti bullying programs, while also spreading my “anti-bullying” message around the country.

This year’s event will be held on Sunday, May 5th 2013, 2:00 – 5:00 at Spare Time Bowl in Clifton Park. We will be hosting up to 300 bowlers at this event. We are looking for any amount of monetary donation, a donated item for our raffle and/or you and your family/friends/colleagues to join me for this fun day. We are encouraging “work” and “family” bowling teams to do this as a group effort!

For any monetary donation or raffle item donated, your business will be advertised on a sponsorship board displayed on the day of the event, as well as being announced throughout the afternoon by the DJ. Also, Albany Broadcasting is our official media sponsor so this means that this event will be promoted on FLY 92 – 104.9 The Cat – B95.5, Magic 590AM and Jamz 96.3.

If you are interested in participating in any way or have any questions, please call my Dad, Rich, at

518-469-6695.

My goal this year is $14,000 since I am turning 14 on April 30th.

Thank you for your support,

Anthony Gargiula, Student Organizer

If you can’t make Anthony’s event but would like to make a monetary donation, you can mail a check made out to BOWLING AGAINST BULLYING to Rich Gargiula, PO Box 433, Glenmont, NY 12077

 

 

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I meant to post this a few days ago. In case you might have missed it, I did a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and A Beat.” Why? Because I promised that if Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s Kickstarter for the RAYGUN CHRONICLES sf anthology he wanted to edit hit full funding in the final 24 hours of the project (which it was looking like wouldn’t happen), that I would record myself singing a Justin Bieber song. And “Beauty and A Beat” is the only one I can claim more than a passing familiarity with, since my pals Hollywood Ending covered it a while back (and put their own spin on it).

I was originally going to just download the karaoke track and play it on my laptop while I sang into the camera on the laptop, but then my friend Darrell Long got involved, which pulled our friend Barry Mangione in, and the result was four hours in DisGraceLand Studio in Brewster, recording my vocals and Darrell’s rap (we call him Dicki Minaj now) and Barry’s backing vocals, then mimicking the effects on the original, then shooting the video, and then spending another hour getting it uploaded to Youtube. The result is here:

 

And just for comparsion, here’s Hollywood Ending’s acoustic cover. How many dance moves did I steal? Count ’em all!

 

Over the weekend, I made another promise: that if the Kickstarter for the LONG HIDDEN anthology hit $30,000 (enough to include brand new artwork for each story in the anthology), I would record myself singing a Britney Spears song. (The LONG HIDDEN folks chose the artist this time.) So be watching for that sometime in the next month or so. (I’ll be on the road for two weeks for work starting Sunday, so recording will have to wait til I get back.)

Now I’ve also committed to two other videos.

1) If Barry Mangione’s APPLY THE GRAFT project manages to raise almost $10,000 in the next few days, Darrell and I will create a Bieber/Britney/Buble mash-up.  Here’s the link to donate to that project if you’d like. And here’s a link to my interview with Barry about the project.

2) My young actor friend Sam Lant is doing his annual fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House in Pasadena. He’s about $1,500 short of the goal he set for himself. So I promised that if he hits his goal, I’ll do a cover video of whatever song he chooses (So far, it’s a toss-up between Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and Lady GaGa’s “Bad Romance.”) If you’d like to donate to that worthy cause, here’s the link to Sam’s Donation Page.

Interestingly, no one has asked me to cover One Direction. I wonder why.

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Barry Mangione

As I said last post, I’ve promoted a lot of Kickstarters on here recently. It’s usually about books, and last post it was about sending theater students to Scotland. This one is a bit more personal than most.  While I’ve only known Barry Mangione for a couple of years, he has become a close friend and an inspiration. Even when I’m at my most self-deprecating (usually when attempting to write song lyrics), Barry believes in me, and I in turn believe in him.  His latest project is a bit of a departure for him, as well as being a summary of where he’s been the past few years and how he’s got to where he’s at now: mentally, physically, spiritually. Apply The GRAFT is going to be something new and unique, but it needs your help. I’ll post the Kickstarter and website links at the end, but first: read what Barry has to say about the project and how important it is to him.

ANTHONY: Let’s start off with a simple description: What is APPLY THE GRAFT?

BARRY: The GRAFT is interactive self-healing through music, visual art, and social media. It’s a story that starts with hitting rock bottom, continues through a healing process, and ends with finding happiness and love.

ANTHONY: Is APPLY THE GRAFT musical theater, or something different?

BARRY: It’s a live acoustic performance by musicians, so there are no actors in The GRAFT. The story is told through the music, the lyrics, and the videos that accompany the songs.

ANTHONY: How will the interactive component work?

BARRY: Throughout the show, the video screen displays questions for the audience to answer based on their own experiences. For example, “If you were given everything you needed to face one fear and conquer it, which fear would you face?” A Twitter account also appears on the screen (@applythegraft), and the audience is asked to Tweet their responses at that moment to that account. Someone monitoring the Twitter feed selects some of the audience’s responses, and then displays them on the screen for the entire audience to see and share.

ANTHONY: Does this mean that Twitter followers not in the theater can also take part in the experience?

BARRY: Anyone who happens to follow @applythegraft will see the Tweets that people are sending during the show, but since they’re not in the theater, they won’t see the questions prompting those Tweets. If someone is familiar with the show, the music, and the progression of the questions, it would be very interesting to follow along even if you’re not in the theater. I think it would be very interesting for someone who’s already seen the show to follow the performances on Twitter when they know the show is live.

ANTHONY: Something the Kickstarter video doesn’t really address: What happens on stage in between the nine musical numbers?

BARRY: Questions appear both during the songs and in between the songs. Some songs have an instrumental bridge that provides space for the questions to be displayed. Other songs don’t have that, so questions will be shown after or before those songs. For breaks in-between songs, the video being shown will be the focus of the show until the music starts up again.

ANTHONY: Tell us about the song-writing process for GRAFT.

BARRY: It was a therapeutic process for me. It started with the second song in the show, “I Wish I Had My Skin.” I had two other songs already written for other projects, but saw a link between them. When I decided to go with the GRAFT as a theme, I wrote songs around each of the themes and healing steps that make up The GRAFT: Gratitude, Ruthless honesty, Acceptance, Forgiveness, and Thoughtfulness. It was a different process for me, because I normally write individual songs. Writing several songs that would each tell their own story while also conveying a greater message was challenging!

ANTHONY: The stage production will include art by Scott Witt. How has that collaboration worked?

BARRY: Scott has been phenomenal! He offered his services when I mentioned The GRAFT during a live streaming show. I had seen his work and really liked it. I gave him some rough demos of the songs, and some lyric sheets and asked him to draw whatever came to him. I had no idea he would connect with the material so well. I’m really happy to have Scott on board, and looking forward to more artwork for the full-length video for the show.

Darrell Long & Barry Mangione performing a song from The GRAFT.

ANTHONY: APPLY THE GRAFT is a deeply personal work for you. What else would you like people to know about the project that you haven’t told us yet?

BARRY: I think there may be a perception that The GRAFT is only for people who’ve hit rock bottom or are going through deep suffering. I’d like people to know that the tools in The GRAFT are applicable for anyone at any stage of their life’s journey, and the show itself is not just about healing, it’s also about entertaining the audience. I don’t promise to give anyone the answers to their life’s problems with The GRAFT. My hope is that when people leave the theater, they’ll have questions to take with them that will lead them to their own answers, because we all have to find the truth for ourselves.

ANTHONY: The Kickstarter for APPLY THE GRAFT is moving slowly. What perks can backers choose from?

BARRY: What can we do to spread the word? The backer rewards start as low as $5.00 for a lyric book. Besides tickets to the show, you can get two one-on-one life coaching sessions and private performances of the show. One of the more interesting perks gives you the chance to be a part of every show, not just the one you attend, by submitting photos or video to be included in the show’s featured video. If you have photos or a short video that embodies one or more of the themes in The GRAFT, you can submit it to us and we can include it as part of the show. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s already contributed, and thank anyone in advance who will be pledging their support in the future. As far as spreading the word, the term “viral” is just a new word for an old phrase: “word of mouth.” The best thing people can do other than pledging support through Kickstarter is to tell friends about it through social media and create a “buzz” around the show. It’s a show and an experience that has the potential to change people’s lives, so the more people who know about it, the greater the chance someone will see it and it’ll make a difference in their life.

 

So there you have it. You heard the man: even if you can’t contribute monetarily to the Kickstarter, you may know people who can. Spread the word, about this interview if nothing else. Let’s get Barry to a theater with Apply The GRAFT so he can build even more word-of-mouth.

You can follow Barry on Twitter @BarryMangione.  You can follow the project itself on Twitter @applythegraft. You can find Barry on Facebook, and The GRAFT on Facebook as well. And there’s the website, of course.

But most importantly: the Kickstarter. <—– There’s the link. Click on it. Watch Barry’s video explaining the project in more detail. Read what he has to say. Listen to the demos. And help that dollar amount go up. He’s got 18 days left and a long way to go, but we can make this happen.

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Signs of Our Occupy cast, in Oakland

I’ve featured a lot of book and webcomic Kickstarters on this page, so here’s something a little bit different: a theatrical Kickstarter. The students of Oakland School of the Arts are taking a very personal theatrical creation, “Signs of Our Occupy,” to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer, and they need help with production expenses. In the following interview, conducted through OSA theater teacher Michael Berry-Berlinski, the students of OSA talk about why this project matters and why you should help them raise as much money as they can:

ANTHONY: Hello OSA! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me about “Signs of our Occupy.” Let’s start with the easy question: what is “Signs of our Occupy” about?

“Signs of our Occupy” is an original theatre production consisting of 14 monologues, each expressing a unique perspective on the Occupy Movement. The show looks at issues and hot buttons that involved thousands of people in the Oakland area. The show is political in nature, but we do not take any particular political position. Instead, we offer commentary on the events themselves, as told through characters that are fictional in nature. Each of the 14 monologues are based on actual signs created by protesters in the movement. ~ Sarah

ANTHONY: Most of us were distanced from the Occupy movements (in Oakland, in New York, and elsewhere). They were just images on the screens of our televisions and computers. In the Kickstarter video, several of you talk about the events of Occupy Oakland happening just outside the school. How did it feel to be at the epicenter of something so large, so international?

Our school was at the epicenter of this movement in Oakland. This was exciting, yet at times, scary. Daily we heard the police, the riots, the protesters, the loud sounds of breaking glass. At times we felt like we were in a war zone, yet we knew that there were people marching in the street for a better Oakland. It was cool to see our school on tv, or to see friends and family in the crowd. There were a lot of times I was proud to be from Oakland, then other times when it was embarrassing to see people in my city doing so much damage. Being so close to the scene, feeling like we were a part of the movement, that was an experience unlike any other and it will stay with me for a very long time.  ~ John

ANTHONY: We rely on the Arts to put society under a lens and bring attention to important issues, but that scrutiny can be double-edged. Sometimes, we end up filtering the message so much that it becomes diluted and loses impact. In your stage production, how are you dealing with making the universal personal?

I think everyone has felt suppressed in some way or another in their life. What makes this topic appealing to an international audience yet very personable at the same time is that the themes are so relatable. People of all races, nationalities, social statuses all struggle at some point. We know this show will be recognizable to so many people because the themes of standing up for justice, community and solidarity are universal, yet at the same time they are very personable issues for people.  ~ Amy

ANTHONY: The format of “Signs of our Occupy” reminds me of shows like “The Laramie Project,” which has endured controversy and censorship/banning. Has there been any reaction of that kind so far to “Signs?”

We have not staged the show yet, however, we do see a mixed reaction when people learn we are doing the project. Most are very excited…..they think it is a cool concept and really important message. They also love we are doing it at Fringe and sharing Oakland with the world. Still others feel it was such a personal thing, that they are not 100% loving the idea of the show. ~ Lukas

What has the writing process for “Signs” been like? How are the monologues being crafted and refined?

All 14 actors have been teamed with 14 Literary Arts students from our school and we have all selected a sign that we connect with. From that, we began writing, giving a unique perspective in each of our stories. There are some pieces that are pro-movement, some that are anti-movement. All are personable and come from our own experience or point of view, through the fictitious characters we are creating. We are just wrapping up a 4 week revision process and now starting to move into the blocking phase of rehearsal.  ~ Cameron

ANTHONY: How did the opportunity to travel to Edinburgh come about?

Our Director takes a group to Edinburgh every 2 years to perform. This year we created this original work and then set out to raise the $60,000 to make the dream possible. We have booked our own airfare, hotels, venue space to perform, etc. It is a lot of work. We hope to continue on the success from 2 years ago at the Fringe and set the standard for other students inn our department to go in years to come. ~ Ashly

ANTHONY: The money from the Kickstarter will go to defray technical production costs so that the families of the students can concentrate on airfare, hotels, and other such costs. How intricately technical will the production be? Will there be a multi-media aspect, and if so, how is that being incorporated?

We will have sets, lights, sound and costumes to pay for the trip. We will have multimedia and video as well as some other special effects. Our show will contain music both live and pre-recorded. All of this takes money to create, buy rights to and then transport overseas. By contributing to our Kickstarter campaign, you play a huge role in helping us defray our costs.  ~ Elana

ANTHONY: Will there be an opportunity for supporters of the project to see the production? Will it be filmed, or performed in the US at a later date?

Yes! Our show will be performed in Oakland at Oakland School for the Arts Blackbox Theatre in June. It will be open to the public and of course, our AWESOME supporters! Tickets are $20 each and all proceeds will go towards our trip! Please stay tuned for show dates which will come soon! ~ Max

ANTHONY: What do you all hope the long-term effects of “Signs” will be, especially on other teenagers?

To expand the views of individuals and to allow them to think about revolutions and social change. We want people to leave the theater wanting to make a difference in the world around them. We hope to speak to a great human need of reclaiming the political space in which we live. Hopefully from this, people will remember our show and our message and how we were all represented in unity.  ~ Nia

 

And there you go, straight from the students’ mouths. You can find out more about the details of the Kickstarter and what perks backers can expect by going to the SIGNS OF OUR OCCUPY Kickstarter page.  If you donate, tell them Anthony sent you. They have 19 days left in the campaign and while they’ve already hit their $7,500 goal, the more they raise the better!

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Ted Fisher

I’ve been acquainted with escape artist / street performer / magician / jack of all trades and all around nice guy Jason Escape for a while now thanks to Twitter. He impressed me right away as a man concerned not just with making a living at his trades-of-choice but also with social justice and being a good person and a positive light in this world. I’m not the only one who thought so, as you’ll see in this interview with Ted Fisher.  Ted, with his wife Karen, is the director of a 15-minute documentary about Jason called “Hanging Downtown,” and is now running a Kickstarter to film a full length documentary about Jason’s life both on stage (on the streets of Boston) and off. When I found out about the project (a little belatedly) I jumped at the chance to talk to Ted about the Kickstarter and his documentary-filming experience.

 

ANTHONY: How did you become familiar with Jason Escape?

TED: I met Jason on Twitter. I was hoping to make a 5-minute documentary, and in my search I discovered what he does and thought it would be very interesting. Quickly, however, I realized that there are many interesting aspects to his life. So my wife and I traveled to Boston, and the result was … eventually … a 15-minute documentary called “Hanging Downtown.”

ANTHONY: Why make a documentary about Jason?

TED: In the 15-minute documentary, one theme that emerged was the idea of struggling to overcome a challenge. It addressed his struggle to be recognized as a performer, his struggle to engage an audience, and his struggle to complete a challenging escape. Since then, however, he’s gotten married, had a child, and faced the challenge of making a living as a performer. Ropes, chains, handcuffs? Easy. Father, Husband, Businessman? Now that’s a challenge.

So the new feature-length film provides an opportunity to learn more about him, and to explore this wild challenge of being an escape artist and family man.

ANTHONY: Documentaries come in all shapes and sizes. What’s the feel of your film going to be?

TED: I love the classic observational documentaries. At the same time, both my wife and I are really from a background in the fine arts, and we love the complex, multilayered approach you find in the best contemporary art. So, you might say we’re using strategies from art to shape a traditional observational documentary.

ANTHONY: What’s your plan for filming, and what equipment will you be using?

TED: My camera bag looks a lot more like a photojournalist’s than you’d expect. I’m a proponent of HDSLR video — using the video capabilities of still cameras or hybrid cameras — so I use small cameras like the Panasonic GH1 and GH2. Everything is chosen to be extremely mobile and lightweight. I value audio highly, so items like a quality lavalier microphone and a good shotgun microphone on a boom pole are essentials — but everything packs up in a very small case. Small LED lights are used to augment available light when needed, but again the emphasis is on working in a way that matches the street performer aesthetic.

Hanging Downtown, the documentary short

ANTHONY: Is this your first documentary/film? What other films or directors have influenced your plan for this documentary?

TED: I’ve made several short documentaries, and with my wife the 15-minute “Hanging Downtown” documentary, but this is our first feature.

ANTHONY: What do you hope people get out of seeing Jason’s story?

TED: I think the theme of facing a challenge is probably going to be key to the new film. But I think the balance between his career, his ambition, his performance and the other elements of life is going to be something that everyone can relate to.

ANTHONY: What else would you like people to know about Jason and/or the film?

TED: Jason is amazing as a documentary subject because of what he does — it’s something that’s incredibly visual, has an element of danger, and is fascinating on screen — but to us the more important aspect is that he’s chosen to really reveal himself, and to let the audience in to experience his life.

ANTHONY: The Kickstarter still has nine days left. You’ve met the initial fundraising goal of $1,000. What will the money be used for, and what is the plan for funds raised over the intial goal?

TED: Realistically, our initial $1,000 goal was set when we weren’t sure if people were going to love the idea of the film as much as we did. But when people backed the Kickstarter, often specifically commenting how much they loved it and wanted to see it succeed, we realized there was an audience for the film. We celebrated loudly when we saw the funding hit our goal — but quickly realized that our real costs in just getting to Boston and staying there might be double that initial $1,000. So we’re thrilled to meet all of our backers, and to see the Kickstarter be considered a success, but we know we need to raise much more and stay with it just to see the filming begin. Our production approach is just my wife and I and sometimes a very small crew. We work with a very low-budget, minimal approach. So … we’re pretty streamlined. But airplane tickets and hotel rooms are the first hurdle to the initial filming.

ANTHONY: What sorts of perks are you offering backers?

TED: Well, we’re very excited to present a download of the initial 15-minute documentary “Hanging Downtown.” It’s still screening at festivals, but very soon we’re going to put it into the hands of our backers so they can discover Jason in that film and become part of our team for the feature-length doc. As well, we’re really focused on the importance of music in the film, so we’re offering a download of the soundtrack. Then, of course, people are going to want to see the new feature when it is done — and that’s another reward. Beyond that, we’re are offering a chance to meet Jason at special coffee and lunch events in Boston and San Diego right between performances.

There’s one other very innovative reward offered as well. We are creating a small team of Associate Producers. These are people who will see the film as it develops — in online preview screenings — and provide feedback and commentary for scenes of the film straight from the editing computer. We want to take advantage of the new possibilities for sharing with our audience early, no matter where they are. So we are building a group of people who can be very involved in the film, and who can help us understand how it is working as we refine it over time. We think it’s a new and exciting direction to go.

ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who has never read it to convince them that they should?

TED: As a documentarian, it makes sense that I love very personal nonfiction — like the diaries of Anais Nin, for example. My wife is an art historian finishing her Ph.D. in the history of photography, so right now she has a stack of huge academic photo histories in front of her. I think the reason to read any book is similar to the reason to watch a film — it allows us to “try on” someone’s experience of life, and to better understand our own as a result.

Jason Escape, himself

You can find out more about the project on the Kickstarter page.  You can also learn more about the original documentary by visiting Ted’s website. You can follow Jason himself on Twitter @JasonEscape and get a better sense of what Jason is all about by talking to the man himself.

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Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Today, I welcome my old friend Bryan Thomas Schmidt back to the site. Every so often, Brian and I like to catch up on his latest editorial and authorial goings-on. He’s recently successfully funded a Kickstarter and has another on-going right now, both for anthologies of science fiction short stories. So, without further ado … my latest chat with BTS:

ANTHONY: Welcome back, Bryan. Good to chat with you again.

BRYAN: Thanks, Anthony. Always good to be here.

ANTHONY: Congrats on finishing Beyond The Sun. That was your first Kickstarter success story and from the Table Of Contents, I think it’s going to be well received. Of course, I admit I’m biased, since I have a story in there, but Robert Silverberg, Nancy Kress, Mike Resnick, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Cat Rambo, Jennifer Brozek, and many more recognizable names are a part of it. I feel lucky to be included.

BRYAN: Me, too. It really came together in an amazing, blessed way, and the stories are far above what I expected. Tons of variety on the theme of colonial science fiction stories, and just top notch writers. I’m grateful.

ANTHONY: Was the success of Beyond The Sun part of the impetus for your present Kickstarter Raygun Chronicles?

BRYAN: In part. Every Day Fiction wanted to work with me. And being a small press, they were throwing around ideas to fund this. They really want to pay writers pro rates, and they also wanted to take it to the next level of writers. Plus, they had some great writers they’ve been working with who deserve a better audience. With my experience and contacts, I was able to recruit some top name talent to the project to appear alongside this developing talent, which will ensure greater interest in the project than we would have had without it.

ANTHONY: For sure, with names like Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick, A.C. Crispin, Allen Steele, Seanan McGuire, Brenda Cooper, Robin Wayne Bailey and Sarah A. Hoyt, who could resist?

BRYAN: I know, they are great choices. That’s three Star Trek writers (Smith, Rusch, Crispin), two Star Wars writers (Crispin, Rusch) and five others with experience and demonstrative skill in space opera. Resnick has the Starship space opera series from PYR, Allen Steele has written several, including Apollo’s Outcast, his latest, a YA in a definite Heinlein vein, and Hoyt’s Darkship novels from Baen. Seanan and I met at a Con last year, and I’ve heard her wax on about her love of Firefly, so that’s what I pitched her. “How’d you like a chance to write a story with the Firefly feel?” She jumped on it. Crispin, Resnick and Cooper actually had trunk stories that were perfect. Everyone was very quick to jump aboard when asked.

ANTHONY: You have reprints as well as new stories, correct?

BRYAN: Yes, we have picked some reprints from a defunct space opera zine called Ray Gun Revival, which EDP funded. There were a lot of old school stories with larger-than-life characters and that older feel, but still contemporary, and a few with diverse takes and I thought they deserved a bigger audience and would make a great remembrance as well for RGR fans, so EDF suggested we combine the two and add some new stories  and Raygun Chronicles was born.

ANTHONY: Tell us about the Kickstarter. How’s it going?

BRYAN: Well, we’re almost half funded with 9 days to go. We launched in January and end March 7th, so we need $500 each day for the next 9 days to fund. If we don’t fund, it doesn’t happen. It’s tough because Kickstarters often start slow and drag until you reach a certain level. Then, if it’s a success, people pile on. Projects which fund 50% tend to be more likely to get 100%, so we’re hoping the next 9 days will be exciting, but it’s hard. No matter how you spread the word, people often think “I’ll do it tomorrow” or it gets buried in posts. With all the people who love pulp fiction out there, I know we have an audience. The challenge is to find it. We had a PR firm signed up before we launched, but right after we launched, they backed out, which was a big blow, because we hadn’t planned a huge PR campaign on our own. They were handling it. With all we have going on, including one of the publisher’s first son being born in the midst of this, we’ve really had to scramble. But it’s paying off. Last week was our best week since the launch. We got $900 in new pledges and had our best day ever with over $500 coming in. So that’s the big hurdle. Now we need some slightly smaller big days to make it happen.

ANTHONY: This is your third anthology project as editor, correct?

BRYAN: Yes, I edited Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales 6 for Flying Pen Press last year, and then Beyond The Sun, but in addition to Raygun Chronicles, I have an anthology of military fantasy, Shattered Shields, I’m coediting for Baen Books with Jennifer Brozek, and a YA reprint anthology I’m packaging as well. I have 9 more ideas in development.

ANTHONY: So you enjoy editing anthologies? Why?

BRYAN: Yeah. Anthologies allow me to create a concept and play with other writers, including my own writing heroes like Rusch, Silverberg and Resnick. I also get to help and encourage writers in developing their stories and pay them decent money to do it. And since I love doing that, it’s become part of how I make my living, and it’s a blessing to do what you love, you know?

ANTHONY: For sure. So tell us a bit about some of the Raygun Chronicles stories.

Bryan: Well, as far as the new stories go, Peter J. Wacks has written us a story called “Space Opera” which has a conductor conducting an orchestra as a historical battle replays. It’s actually quite well executed and unique. Brenda Cooper’s “Holly Defiant” about a writer who discovers a talented singer and fears she’s about to be kidnapped by slavers and sets out to save her, finding surprising connections to her (the writer’s) past. That’s just the new ones I’ve seen. Some will be written once we fund. As far as reprints, both Milo James Foreman and TM Hunter have series about classic-style space opera heroes named Captain Quasar and Aston West, and these tales are full of action, humor and satire and a lot of fun. We also have a bit of all-American fun with humans tracking down a UFO in Lou Antonelli’s “The Silver Dollar Saucer,” A.M. Stickel’s Star Trek inspired “To The Shores of Triple, Lee!”, another of Mike Resnick’s great and funny Catastrophe Baker tales, and a never before released short from AC Crispin which is excerpted but expanded from her fantastic space opera novel Starbridge about three travelers fighting to survive and find oxygen to continue their journey, who discover a new sentient life form.

ANTHONY: Sounds great. How can we help?

BRYAN: Well, for as little as $5, you can get the ebook of the entire anthology when it’s published. For $25 you get both print and ebook. There are hardbacks available for as little as $40 and also t-shirts, exclusive bookmarks, story critiques and more. We tried to offer something for everyone at various income levels. We even have a trip to OryCon for the book launch at the highest level. All you have to do is go to the Kickstarter and select your level to preorder the book, and we’ll do the rest. It’ll be in your hands in November.

 

For those curious about the type of book Bryan puts together, you can find the announcement of the Table of Contents for BEYOND THE SUN at sfsignal.com.  You can also find the TOC for his first anthology, SPACE BATTLES, on sfsignal.com as well. You can follow Bryan on Twitter @BryanThomasS, sign on to his Facebook Author page, and visit his website, where he also posts transcripts of the weekly Science Fiction / Fantasy Writers Chat #sffwrtcht that he hosts on Twitter every Wednesday night at 9pm Eastern.

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Tonight, I’m taking a break from interviewing people and letting my old friend (by which I mean, we’ve known each other a whole year now!) Brian White talk to you a bit about why you should, if you have a few extra bucks and love good stories from all genres, back the Kickstarter to fund Year Two of Fireside Magazine, to help the magazine move into its new format. So here’s Brian. Oh — ignore the nice things he says about me, but pay attention to the nice things he says about everyone else:

Galen Dara’s cover art for Fireside

One of the great things about my multigenre fiction magazine, Fireside, has been watching a community grow up around it as we have spent the past year funding it through Kickstarters.

By using crowdfunding to create a magazine, we have — inevitably, in retrospect — created a crowd around it. It is pretty awesome.

We see things like people who are collecting the coasters my wife makes that we have offered for rewards. People who have been drawn into illustrations in each issue. And then there’s Anthony, the only backer whose name has been used in a story in every issue. It’s really fun having these common threads running through Fireside, like seeing family every time you get together.

We’re hoping to keep this community together as we move into our next phase: relaunching Fireside as a monthly website and ebook. We’re running a Kickstarter now to fund the entire year at once, as opposed to the three issues we funded one at a time last year. It’s been a lot of fun doing it that way, but it’s time to create some stability and certainty in this experiment in publishing great fiction and in paying writers well.

Our plan for each issue in our second year is to have two flash-length stories, two short stories, and an episode of a serial experiment by Chuck Wendig. We have a terrific slate writers for the short stories: M. Bennardo, Jennifer Campbell-Hicks, Karina Cooper, Jonas David, Delilah S. Dawson, A.E. Decker, Steven J. Dines, Adam P. Knave, Ken Liu, James McGee, Jason Ridler , and Lilith Saintcrow. We already have eight of their short stories in, and they cover a wide array of genres. They are also awesome.

It will all be offered on a website being designed by Pablo Defendini, with a focus on simplicity and on readability on screens of any size. There will be ebooks too, for those who prefer to read e-ink and not a glowing screen.

If we do fund successfully by our deadline of March 5, we will be opening to flash fiction submissions on March 15. We will be re-opening to short story submissions as well in the future, sometime after we get Year Two going on July 1.

Our hope is to use this Kickstarter to give us the bridge to start moving to subscriptions as our main source of revenue, but I hope our community stays close and excited as we continue to create art together. It’s been so gratifying that people believe in us. They are the spark that brought Fireside to life.

* * * * * * *

What Brian didn’t mention is that as of this posting, there’s still a little over $15,000 in pledges to raise in 12 days. Here’s the link to the Kickstarter campaign. Help us get this thing funded, so there are more chances for me to see characters named after me!

Also, here’s the link to the magazine’s current website where, for free, you can read two of the three stories featuring main characters named after me: Christie Yant’s “Temperance” and Damien Walters Grintalis’ “Scarred.” Both of these stories will also be reprinted in my anthology THE SEVEN TORTURES OF ANTHONY CARDNO, about which more in a later post. (I mention it largely because the anthology is largely Brian’s fault.)

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