I remember saying “This’ll be awesome!” after the July issue. Before I came to the Broadsheet this year, the magazine had been briefly silent during the search for a new Editor-in-Chief. I felt the need to make up for the the lack of a Spring issue in 2011 by doing a double for fall. It was insane, as such things are. One issue already takes an incredible amount of work, and in the midst of the reading period was interviewing prospective assistant editors, and the motley assorted Real Life issues over the summer.
So, our final issue of the year lives. Carol and Justine put in an amazing amount of work with me on it, Sarah came to the rescue when a last minute 404 popped up, our writers and artists were all amazing, and Karen made sure everyone got paid. Our CMS did the best to drive me crazy. I think I held onto a few SAN points.
I’m humbled, because Broad Universe hired me to be an Editor-in-Chief this year, for a publication that has seen articles by Mur Lafferty, Jay Lake, Anne Wilkes, Cat Rambo, JoSelle Vanderhooft, Samuel R. Delaney, Chelsea Quinn Yarbo, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, Jennifer Pelland, Elizabeth Bear, and dozens of other talented, dedicated people.
This issue we had work from Lois van Baarle, Marico Fayre, Stephanie Crist, Will Hindmarch, Ryan Macklin, Trisha Wooldridge, Morgan Dempsey, Jaym Gates, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Amanda Valentine, Paula R. Stiles, Jennifer Brozek, and April Grey.
You can read our communal and utterly delightful effort here.
Every issue of a publication, you can learn from your colleagues and your writers. Or you can be a dick, and completely ignore everything you can use as a take-away lesson from their work.
Wheaton’s Law says not to be a dick, so I’m doing my best to learn from the people I work with.
I have a phenomenal copy editor. Justine is a dynamo at it, and I’m in awe. She catches things that slipped my notice, flagged things I had forgotten to, formats like the wind, and has an eye for style guide violations like few I’ve ever seen. Things she can catch have been weak points for me in the past. I wouldn’t dream of replacing Justine (she’s too good!) but I can improve my editing skills by watching her work.
Carol, who runs our Create section, is another dynamo. When articles she’s been the editor for come to me, I’m learning to see how Carol brings out the lede. Ideas are crisp, and my eyes often provide only a confirmation they’re good, and a light copy editor. Justine’s the one who I know will wrestle it to the ground, exorcise its demons, and make it absolutely press ready. The only reason I can see the shadows of her work on articles is by working with enough editors to catch differences in how edited work sounds. Good work edited by talented editors has the ability to magnify the voice of an author. Carol makes people sound even more like themselves.
The writers are always awesome. It’s why I woo them away from a dozen assignments to sneak a Broadsheet article in.
I’ve had a problem since college that’s followed me into editing, and I finally noticed it this issue. I was often burying my ledes or not having clear things to get across in writing during my undergrad. Sometimes it was fiction that wandered, often it was a story I’d pitch to my editors, which would leave us both confused after: well, that was a nice idea, but what was the point? How much were who, what, when where and why really answered?
I’ve assigned a number of stories this issue, and it telegraphed to me that as an editor, and that’s when I saw that I still have that issue haunting me. Some writers are used to working with me, and have an easy idea of catching what I don’t properly convey when giving them an assignment. Others struggle through with me to find the lede, and give their article focus. Both sets of writers are Saints, and have shown me that communicating a crisp, focused idea in assignments is something I need to learn how to do, or I’ll always subject writers to a sink-or-swim experience.
It’s not pleasant to realize; seeing your flaws writ large in your work is pretty damn humbling. But I work with such fantastic people, with skills I can learn from, that the only choice I see is to learn from them, and strive to do better.
I had the opportunity to steeple my fingers like an evil villain, and interview my boss for Another Passion. That romp through time and space is now live for your enjoyment. I had a lot of fun, in part to having a clear idea of what questions no one had asked her before.
Cat Rambo did a fantastic post for Tor.com titled Suffragette Steampunk, which is a fantastic source of food for thought on widening the lens of both characters and subject matter in the Steampunk genre.
There are some incredible essays, both more and less recent, on the subjects of disability, women, feminism, imperialism, race, mode of dress and politics in steampunk clothing, literature and community. These are just a sampling, and I am sure an uncomfortable read for many. I also associate some of that discomfort when approaching things that make us uncomfortable to be a mark of honesty, in both the writing and the reader, not as a signal to tune out.
Title: Candle in the Attic Window
Publisher: Innsmouth Free Press
Release: September of 2011
Format: 289 pages. Available in paperback and e-book
Candle in the Attic Window starts with a Bronte epigraph. This is the signal to know that acts of gothic literature are about to be committed. The twenty-seven stories and poems in the anthology can be found in its four sections: Dwellings & Places, Lovers & Desire, Objects & Mementos, Ghosts & Death. Candle in the Attic is an invitation to the reader. Come into their freaky, scary house. You’ll love it there.
The belle of the ball for me was At the Doorstep, by Leanna Renee Hieber. It presents a vivid, gritty world reeling from war; dangerous for mediums and more so for the everyday people in it. I was ecstatic to discover upon reading her bio that the world of At the Doorstep will be further available to readers in November, with her book Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul.
Happily, Heiber’s story is not the only gem. The poem A Fixer-Upper by Amanda C. Davis, the opening piece in the anthology, is a delightfully twisted, frank take on the old chestnut of the heiress who inherits the haunted house.
The Seventh Picture, by Orrin Grey, starts slick and a little self-aware, but I warmed to it by the end. With a hat tip to Robert W. Chambers, and a Blair Witch feel, it’s still got a shot of good old-fashioned horror as you join a film crew on a trip to a terrible place best left undisturbed. Liminal Medicine, by Jesse Bullington, was achingly beautiful, with violence appropriate to the story.
Housebound, by Don D’Ammassa, is a solid, if very strange story. The City of Melted Iron, by Bobby Cranestone, was one of the stories I wasn’t sure I’d like at the start. By the end, it was a personal favorite. It has a keen take on the high price of living.
The Ba-Curse, by Ann K. Schwader is a delightfully short, violent poem about the perils of archaeology. Hitomi, by Nelly Geraldine Garcia-Rosas, is an all too brief story with wonderful payoff.
E. Catherine Tobler’s The Snow Man was a rather tender piece of romance, and Mary E. Choo’s The Malcontents is good, if rather botanically disturbing. The Forgotten Ones, by Mary Cook, was a swift, emotional gut punch. It’s skilled and brief, but it isn’t kind. Frozen Souls, from Sarah Hans, was a clever story that hides and reveals, playing an enjoyable game of smoke and mirrors. Nine Nights, by T.S. Bazelli, was a deftly rendered tale, and I greatly appreciate it for being set in a place and situation I’ve never experienced in horror in the way Bazelli tells it.
Colleen Anderson’s Obsessions (or Biting Off More Than One Can Chew) was too high concept for me, and one of my less than enjoyable reads. In His Arms in the Attic, by Alexis Brooks de Vita, was one of the stories I found neither enjoyment in, nor merit in the subject matter. The rest of the stories were a mix ranging from serviceable to gruesome; as executions of corners of the genre I do not cherish, they are likely forgettable to me but of exceptional interest to others. No matter what breed of gothic literature you prefer, Candle in the Attic Window has a little something for everyone; like the dread inducing mansion on the hill, it has many, many rooms.