Polar Borealis Presentation at the Creative Ink Festival!

I will be making an hour-long presentation about Polar Borealis Magazine at the upcoming Creative Ink Festival. The Blurb in the program book will read:


“Are you a beginning short story writer struggling to compete with professional authors? Consider Polar Borealis Magazine, a semi-professional paying-market SF&F fiction zine aimed at beginning writers, especially those seeking their first sale. Polar Borealis Editor and Publisher R. Graeme Cameron will explain what he is trying to accomplish and the sort of story he is looking for. He will also reveal how the world’s worst business plan makes it ridiculously easy to publish a magazine. If Graeme can do it, anybody can do it!”

The Creative Ink Festival is a splendid gathering of writers, editors, publishers, and beginning writers eagerly seeking to become published authors.

Takes place Friday March 31st through Sunday April 2nd, 2017, at the Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre in Burnaby B.C.

For detailed information, check out: http://www.creativeinkfestival.com/

POLAR BOREALIS #3 now online!

Polar Borealis #3 now available for free download!

With cover art by M.D. Jackson.

Interior art by G.W. Thomas.

Poems by Eileen Kernaghan, Marcie Lynn Tentchoff, J.J. Steinfeld, Mary E. Choo, Kirsten Emmott, Matt Moore, Lisa Timpf, and Richard Stevenson.

Stories by Karl Johanson, L.L. Hill, Robert Dawson, James A. Conan, Michael Donoghue, Jonathan Cresswell-Jones, Holly Schofield, Sylvia Son, J.J. Steinfeld, Joe Mahoney, Kellee Kranendonk, S. Kay, Ira Nayman, Michael John Bertrand, William Squirrell, R. Graeme Cameron, Darren Ridgley, and Matthew Hughes.

Article by G.W. Thomas.

Just click on Current/Back Issues, then on the appropriate issue link.

Issue #3 gearing up!

Now that VCON 41 is over and my duties as Chair of that convention are at an end, I can turn my attention and focus back to preparing issue #3 of Polar Borealis for publication.

I expect to send out the majority of contracts to contributors over the next two weeks or so. Then payments will follow.

Still intend to publish in December. Certainly no later than December. Late in November if possible.

Still some negotiations with authors to complete, requests for slight rewrites and such. The usual in other words. I anticipate no delays.

Cheers! The Graeme

Polar Borealis submissions closed for a while

Hate like hell to do this but I’ve built up such a backlog of stuff I want to publish anyone new being accepted won’t appear till the summer issue next year. Long time to wait.

At the rate submissions are coming in soon I’ll be forced to tell people I want to publish them but it won’t happen till 2018, or 2019, or whatever. Hardly fair to hopefuls.

So, even though my original intention had been to be always open, I’m cutting off short story submissions as of now.

I’ll get the next two issues out, then open up once again, possibly in late spring next year.

Sorry about this, but it is just the way it has to be.

However, I am still open to poetry submissions.

Art submissions on hold. Not sure how long as yet.

Cheers!  Graeme



Polar Borealis #3 on hold

I regret that my ever increasing duties regarding chairing VCON 41 ( Go to vcon.ca to check it out. If you can, buy a membership. It’s going to be a fun convention!) force me to put all my other activities on hold.

I have selected all the material for PB #3. And PB#4 for that matter. But I won’t have time to do any editing or sending out contracts till after the first week in October.

In the meantime, I’m still accepting story and poetry submissions, but it may take several weeks before I respond.

Things will get back to normal, with Polar Borealis once again my highest priority, once VCON 41 is over.

Still intending to publish PB #3 before the end of the year.

Cheers!  Graeme

POLAR BOREALIS #2 published!

POLAR BOREALIS #2 is now available for free download to anyone who wants to read it.

Click on “Current/Back Issues” above and scroll down to feast your eyes on the following:

Cover art by Eric Chu.

Poems by Colleen Anderson, Rissa Johnson, Mary Choo, Eileen Kernaghan, Rhea Rose, and J.Y.T. Kennedy.

Stories by Stan G. Hyde, Ron S. Friedman, Steve Fahnestalk, Michael John Bertrand, Holly Schofield, David Perlmutter, R. Graeme Cameron, Catherine Girczyc, dvsduncan, Nina Munteanu, Matthew Hughes, and Spider Robinson.

I am very happy with the way this issue came together. A hearty “thank you” to all the contributors.

Cheers!   The Graeme

Polar Borealis #2 coming soon

Since I launched Polar Borealis Magazine in January I have received 81 submissions from Canadian authors, namely 48 short stories and 33 poems. Not bad, methinks.

The second issue is well on its way to publication sometime in July/August. Contracts are currently being sent out. Payments will follow. Everyone might even be paid before publication! That be my goal for every issue.

Third issue (third in a series of three “Proof of Concept” issues) should be out no later than November/December.

Feeling good about the future of PB. I can swing it if I can consistently put aside $100 a month. That would guarantee three issues a year. Someday I’d like to go to four issues a year, then every two months.

There’s enough talent out there to fill that many issues a year no problem. All I need is to be able to afford paying the contributors. Not a task which discourages me. I’m having too much fun.

So many submissions!

Only one issue out and already I’m accepting stories for publication late next year.

Thing is, I like most of the submissions I’ve received thus far and have committed to publishing them. But it’s beginning to look like the authors are in for a long wait.

Some magazines have enormous slush piles. I’m constructing a gigantic “to be published eventually” file. Darned if I know which is more frustrating to an author.

Time to remind contributors that I offer two forms of acceptance, namely “tentative” and “confirmed.”

“Confirmed” means I want to send you a contract wherein you agree not to resell your first publication  as a reprint till one week after I publish it.

“Tentative” means I want to publish your story but will not offer you a contract for the time being, which leaves you perfectly free to sell “First Publication” rights elsewhere if the opportunity arises. In which case I’d still publish your story, but as a reprint, once your first sale period of exclusivity ends.

If, on the other hand, what you offered me is already a reprint, you are of course perfectly free to sell it again anywhere to anybody anytime, even before I publish it.

Hope the above is clear and logical. I think it makes sense, I think.

Another thing I’m thinking of doing is running a sort of lottery. Yes, fill up a zine in sequential order of submissions, but leave a few slots open. Come close to publication time, randomly choose stories set for later publication to fill those slots, which presumably would be a pleasant surprise for the authors.

Of course, if I were really evil, I could assign ALL submissions lottery status for a given upcoming issue. Trouble is, the more submissions that come in, the lower the chances of any one of them getting published. Not liable to be popular methinks.

The OBVIOUS solution is to publish more often. That would require, in order to pay the contributors, kindly patrons showering me with money for this purpose. Sounds like a plan to me!

So, all you philanthropic-minded millionaire SF fen out there, if you’re tired of floating in your swimming pool full of cash Scrooge McDuck-style, feel free to throw away a few bucks at the GoFundMe link below.

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

After all, I get none of it. Every penny goes to pay contributors. Save the sanity of my contributors! Drive away their backlog blues. Make ’em happy!

Cheers!  The Graeme

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