Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jess Harris, Author and New Publisher #guest

Today I hand over my blog to an old writing buddy of mine, Jess Harris. But he explains everything below, so I'll shurrup now...

Nerine and I have been friends since 2007, when we started critiquing each other’s work on (a very rewarding experience for me.) She published one of my early stories on “Toad’s Corner,” which was my first international publication. I have long been fascinated with her artistic vision, and am delighted to watch her career develop. So, right up front I want to say thank you, Nerine, for giving me a few lines of your blog today to talk about something very dear to me.

For some, thirteen is a lucky number, but lucky or not, 2013 will be a transitional year for me. I was profoundly saddened when SNIPLITS closed. Not only did SNIPLITS provide me with my first pro sale, it was a wonderful place for new writers to have their work listed alongside established and celebrated professionals. Many SNIPLITS stories went on to win major awards, and some excellent authors got their start there. SNIPLITS’ tragic closing was the goad I needed to do something I’d been thinking about for some time: start a new publication for the express purpose of giving voice and exposure to under-appreciated writers.

To that end, I am opening Mustang’s Monster Corral (MMC) to original fiction. Duotrope has just listed us as a new paying market, and by this time next year, we expect to be a qualifying market for both Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and Horror Writers of America (HWA.)

Initially, we are paying one cent (US) per word, but according to our business plan, we expect to increase to pro rates (5 cents per word) in about six months. We are publishing flash-length stories (1 000 words or less) almost exclusively, and will probably stay with that model for some time. MMC’s fiction theme is the antagonist. Good monsters go a long way toward making good stories. (All you fans of Nerine’s work surely appreciate the importance of a good monster!) We talk about other things as well, but “monsters” (broadly defined) interest us the most.

Personally, I love the flash-length story, which happens to be the fastest growing format in fiction. I expect this is due in part to the microscopic attention span of the average television-saturated persons of our age, but it is also because a reader with a smart phone or tablet can fit in a flash story anytime, anywhere. For me, the attraction comes from my admiration for writers who can be simultaneously succinct and poignant. There is the famous if somewhat apocryphal account of Hemmingway winning a bet by writing a story in under 10 words - “Classified: Baby Goods: For sale, baby shoes, never worn.” Whether or not he really wrote that particular example, it is a fine reminder of how few words we truly need to offer a tale. Writing with extreme economy is its own skill. I also think short-shorts are a great fit for an anthology. Like many people, I like to read before I turn out the light. I can read flash fiction for two minutes or twenty without ever leaving a story unfinished. I intend to end each year by publishing an anthology of MMC’s 52 weekly stories, perhaps with a few more thrown in for good measure.

My vision is to see MMC putting the names of at least 52 writers a year into the hands of readers. I am also terribly excited about the prospect of helping writers get into organizations like SFWA and HWA, which can be an important milestone in starting a professional writing career.

I do not harbor any illusion that this will be a money-making venture for me, but there is a great difference between “money-making” and “profitable.” MMC is truly a labor of love: my love for short fiction (especially dark fiction) and my deep affection for all those who put dreams to paper. Upon the labors of such as these are built the foundations of civilizations, and make those civilizations worthy of survival. Writers and dreamers have also been the downfall of many tyrants. Indeed, the profits of a venture such as this are immeasurable, in every sense of the word.

If you, dear reader of this blog, have a short-short story with an intriguing monster (no matter how you define the word) please stop by Mustang’s Monster Corral at and click on “SUBMIT TO MONSTER CORRAL.” I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks again, Nerine, for propping up my soap-box for a moment.

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In addition to corralling monsters, Jess Harris is a published author of short stories, with two novels nearing completion. He sometimes suffers from SOS (Shiny Object Syndrome.) He is a reasonably well travelled military officer, and is insatiably interested in nearly everything, past, present and future.

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