The Graeme as Editor

What sort of editor am I?

(Insert string of adjectives here.)

“Amateur” springs to mind. But also “conscientious.” I really do want to do my best for both the magazine and my contributors.

I’ve received all sorts of advice. “Cut nothing. Change nothing. Just accept or reject.”

That would be the easy way out. I’d hate to see a great idea for a story go to waste because of flaws which lesson the impact of the underlying concept.

Some writers explore their ideas in the process of writing, winding up with passages which are essentially “improved” versions of paragraphs found earlier in the text. Some judicious editing required, methinks. A bit of cutting.

Then there was the writer who sent me what I found to be a very nifty story, only for him to panic when he realized he’d forgotten to send me the last third of the story. On reading it, I decided it didn’t add anything and so chose not to use it. The original two thirds is a good story as a piece. Editorial decision.

Some stories I accept as is. Others, I feel, need to be sharpened, made clearer. This because I belong to the “clear pane of glass” school. I envision the reader looking through flawless window glass (the nuts and bolts of the telling of the story, grammar, choice of words, description, voice, etc.) to the vista beyond (the “reality” of setting, characters, and events). The last thing I want is the reader focusing on flecks of dirt spattered on the glass and being distracted from the beautiful or amazing “outside” imaginary setting the author has struggled to create.

So when I think a story needs a little polishing, I almost literally think in terms of grabbing a clean rag and wiping the window pane till it’s dust free and the view is superb.

On the other hand, I should never make the mistake of thinking “This is how I would have written the story.” That would make it a different story. It would be a terrible disservice to the author.

Instead I concentrate on trying to figure out what the author is actually trying to express and is there anything which can be done to improve the clarity of the author’s purpose and intent? Anything which makes the story easier to read?

Removing roadblocks which knock the reader out of the story is an important editorial function in my opinion. Maybe the most necessary thing an editor can do.

Something else that’s important is the editor responding ASAP. I generally receive a story by email and open it immediately to give it a first reading. Then I respond with my first impressions. The fastest turnaround time was under an hour. On average I respond within 24 hours.

Of course, this will change when the “slush pile” becomes larger as the flow of submissions increases. Even so, I don’t want my (potential) contributors to wait more than a few days, a week at most. Such is my intent.

So far I’ve rejected very few stories. I always explain why it’s rejected. One author who submitted a short-short was rejected but got back a letter of explanation about four times longer than the story itself. I was worried she might be upset, but it turned out she was pleased because this was the first time she had got a written response to anything she had submitted anywhere, and she found my comments and advice useful (or, at least, some of it).

The whole point of the zine is to help beginning writers. I figure explaining why I rejected a given submission is part of that self-imposed mandate.

On the other hand, my editorial “skills” might lead numerous writers to refer to me as “That idiot on the West Coast.”

Who knows? They could be right. But I’m an idiot with a mission and will carry on. Running this magazine is the perfect retirement hobby for me. It is far too much fun to even think of giving it up.

By the way, if you have any comments on this editorial or anything else to do with this web site and its contents, feel free to contact me at polar.borealis.magazine@gmail.com

My literary standards

The upcoming second issue is much like the first one, a mixture of styles. The proposed third issue is now about half full, and leans toward light SF combined with humour. This is a reflection of the sort of submissions I’ve been receiving.

Further more, it could be argued the majority of the material in the third issue, thus far, is rather old-fashioned. Well, so am I. I imprinted on such as Burroughs and Heinlein in my youth, and remain a sucker for anything resembling H.G. Wells or Lovecraft. Literary I ain’t. A ripping good yarn wins me over every time. I tend to be concept oriented. Idea driven is more important to me than character driven, though I do like offbeat characters.

On the other hand, I’m not opposed to “New Wave” or “Modern” SF, I just haven’t received many such stories yet.

Then again, there’s a much more diverse mixture of sub-genres in the poetry I’ve received, all of which I like.

And that’s the key, I publish what I like.

What do I like most? Probably the discovery of a derelict alien spaceship, artifact, or ruined city, with the human characters attempting to figure out what it all means. Yeah, that’s the ticket. The cover of issue #3, an evocative piece by M.D. Jackson, reflects this theme well nigh perfectly.

I’m not keen on internalized angst, in other words. I prefer characters resolved to struggle against the odds and win in the end, even if they have to make sacrifices and achieve only a partial victory. Failure is an option, but only if it is extremely interesting. Or, even better, intriguing.

I guess I’m really a twentieth century sort of reader, leaning toward the kind of speculative fiction which stirred my wonder as a teenager half a century ago. But I have eclectic tastes. Polar Borealis may surprise you yet.

Meanwhile, Eric Chu polished up his cover for issue #2 (for which I thank him for putting in the extra effort–it’s a great cover!), adding detail, making the image crisper, and changing the publication date to July/August. That be more in line with reality, methinks.

The message of the cover, of course, is that there ARE squids in space! Isn’t that cool?

 

Horror-themed special issue upcoming

I am planning an issue, possibly #4 in 2017, centred around the Horror Genre. Horror sub-genres include: Alternate History, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Lovecraftian, Monsters, Mythological, Science Horror, Steampunk, Supernatural, Weird Tales, and no doubt others I can’t think of at the moment.

In other words, surprise me. As long as it is horror-related and imaginative. Want short fiction 3,000 words or less, plus poems on the same theme. Already have a cover by Jenni Merrifield which is Noir/Gothic in appearance. Very atmospheric.

Still open for any & all SF&F works for issue #3, too.

I note that the kind folks at Duotrope have listed Polar Borealis as a market. Huzzah! Absolutely imperial!

Cheers!  Graeme

More submissions!

Wow! It’s starting to rain submissions. They’re beginning to pour in.

Two short stories and three poems in one day. Excellent.

But I’ll wait to read them because I’ve been sick as a dog the last twenty hours or so. Food poisoning maybe, or a particularly wretched flu.

It does my potential contributors no favour to struggle through a first reading while resisting the urge to vomit. And for all the wrong reasons too.

I think I’ll wait till I’m in a more impartial frame of mind. Will get back to everybody within a week or less. As someone who spent 40 years waiting for word from assorted persnickety editors I figure I owe it to contributors to respond ASAP. I know the pain of waiting.

Issue#2 IS full up, so anything I select from now on will be going into issue #3 which may not come out till January. And there’s a special “themed” issue for later in 2017 I may put contributions aside for. More on that in the near future.

Cheers! The Graeme

 

PB #2 gets more content

In addition to the items listed in the previous post, three more items have slipped in under the wire as last minute additions to the bulging file of Polar Borealis #2.

They are:

Two poems by Colleen Anderson: PILOT FLIGHT and SHORT SIGHTED, both with rich and beautiful imagery,

And a short story, A MATTER OF ANTIMATTER, by Ron Friedman, which I think readers will find delightfully whimsical.

Publication of PB #2 has been pushed back to July, but I will publish earlier if at all possible.

Meanwhile, I am always open to submissions. Don’t yet know when the third issue will be ready, but no later than January of next year and hopefully earlier.

Cheers all!   The Graeme

Issue #2 Contents Finalized.

I am very happy to report it looks like Polar Borealis #2 is complete. Still needs lots of preparation, editing, and proofreading, and the contracts have yet to be sent out, but I’m hoping for publication by the end of June, or sometime in July at the latest. Earlier, if possible, of course.

Here is the projected table of contents to whet your enthusiasm:

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR POLAR BOREALIS #2

00) – EDITORIAL – R. Graeme Cameron

00) – THE NATURE OF DEMONS – by Stan G. Hyde

00) – THE ENTHRALLERS’ VALHALLA – (Poem) by Rissa Johnson

00) – THE SEARCHERS – by Steve Fahnestalk

00) – ROOMMATE – by Michael John Bertrand

00) – MOONTRACE – (Poem) by Mary Choo

00) – MUSHROOMS – (Poem) by Eileen Kernaghan

00) – TOUGH CROWD – by Holly Schofield

00) – PINK VENUS – (Poem) by Rhea Rose

00) – THE NIGHT ATLANTIS BURNED – by David Perlmutter

00) – DEVOURED – (Poem) by J. Y. T. Kennedy

00) – ARTIST IN A LANDSCAPE – by R. Graeme Cameron

00) – SONNET 13 A&C – (Poem) by Rissa Johnson

00) – THE CUP – by Catherine Girczyc

00) – MAJOR MAX – by dvsduncan

00) – RUNNING OUT OF TIME – (Poem) by Eileen Kernaghan

00) – ANONYMOUS TIP – by Nina Munteanu

00) – ARBORVITAE – (Poem) by Rhea Rose

00) – THE HAT THING – by Matthew Hughes

00) – ROSETTA 2051 – (Poem) by Mary Choo

00) – THE GUY WITH THE EYES – by Spider Robinson

 

Welcome to Polar Borealis Magazine

Featured

(Note: PB #2 Cover art by Eric Chu)

IMPORTANT NOTE TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: POLAR BOREALIS MAGAZINE IS NOT A COMMERCIAL ENTITY OR A BUSINESS.

POLAR BOREALIS Magazine is a non-profit semi-professional SF fiction magazine which costs nothing and is free to anyone who wants to read it. No income is derived from distribution of this online non-profit magazine, nor is any income derived from any ads contained within its pages. All ads are placed at no charge to the advertiser. Polar Borealis Magazine is strictly a private hobby publication.

NEVERTHELESS POLAR BOREALIS IS A PAYING MARKET FOR CANADIAN AUTHORS AND ARTISTS, albeit for sums less than SFWA standards, which is why POLAR BOREALIS is deemed “semi-professional” rather than “professional” by definition. All contributors are normally paid on acceptance (depending on the Publisher’s state of finances).

So, if you want to read the latest issue, simply go to Current/Back Issues, click on it, and open the appropriate file. Download if you like. It’s free.

And if you’d like to submit a story, poem or art to Polar Borealis, check out the Submission Guidelines, the PB FAQ, and anything else that looks interesting, then send your query and/or word document MS to: polar.borealis.magazine@gmail.com

Take note that the upcoming second issue is complete. I am currently gathering short stories, art, and poems for the third and fourth issues.

Since it is not easy to cover costs on a fixed pension income, I have started a “GoFundMe Campaign” asking anyone interested in supporting this magazine to donate small amounts to help with costs. All, and I mean ALL the money received will go directly to pay the authors, poets and artists contributing to the zine. Any and all help appreciated.

You are welcome to donate at: https://www.gofundme.com/jwj3dzgc

Thank you!

Cheers! R. Graeme Cameron

P.S. Check out Duotrope at < http://duotrope.com > for listings of this magazine and other writers markets.

Quick note on Fiction Pay Rate:

Duotrope lists my poetry rate as semi-professional because $10 CA exceeds $5 minimum US.

However, Duotrope lists my fiction rate as “Token Payment” because I pay less than 1 cent a word US. True. But I pay 1 cent a word in Canadian funds, and publish only Canadian authors, so the 1 cent a word does indeed = 1 cent, just not in American funds. So, speaking for myself, I still regard Polar Borealis as semi-professional, at least within a Canadian context.

Apart from my delusional thinking, please understand that a “Token Payment” sale (by American calculation) is still a legitimate and genuine sale, albeit not up to SFWA standard.

I highly recommend Duotrope as a superb listing service of potential markets for writers. As a publisher, I’ve found them lightning fast in responding to update information. You can’t go wrong with Duotrope.

Another excellent source is <  http://ralan.com/  >

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