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Five Years and Still Ticking

  • May. 10th, 2010 at 9:16 PM

 I almost forgot, but today's my anniversary.  I've now been with RoF for five years.  That's basically a third of the magazine's existence.  Wow!

Thanks Everyone!

  • Nov. 19th, 2009 at 12:19 AM

I just wanted to take a moment to express my thanks to everyone who has congratulated me on my recent promotion, whether it was on this blog, via email, in a forum, or in person. It means a lot to me. Thanks.

Transmission out.

Promotion? For Me???

  • Nov. 17th, 2009 at 2:29 PM

All right, I've been sitting on this one for a little while now. But it's been offered, I've accepted, the details seem to have been worked out, and I will be appearing as such in the masthead of the next issue of RoF (Feb 10). So I may as well share ...

I've been promoted to Editor at Realms of Fantasy. :)

Needless to say, I'm thrilled. I'm sure this news also raises a question or two, so let me do my best to answer them now. I will still be handling all of my old duties with the magazine. In addition, I am taking on the managing editor duties. So everything I will now be doing is getting lumped under the title of Editor. It will be my lone title appearing in the masthead.

Now, I have shared this news privately with a few people already. One of the first questions I was asked was whether this meant I was replacing Shawna. To that I say no. Emphatically no. Shawna is the heart and soul of this magazine. She had a hand in its creation and is the only person who is left from the first issue. I could never replace her. Shawna remains the Fiction Editor, which is her current listing in the masthead. She maintains complete control of the fiction department. When it comes to this department, it will be as it has for almost five years: I'm her tireless assistant editor, trying to find slush survivors for the magazine, handling queries, etc. What she says goes.

So, with all of that out of the way ...woo hoo! Big big thanks to Warren for having so much faith in me. Words can't express my appreciation. We haven't even known each other a year, but after the billions of emails we've swapped I feel like I've known you a lot longer. Thanks for saving the magazine. Thanks for bringing me back. Thanks for throwing extra duties my way early on. Thanks for the countless bits of advice and for always making yourself available. In short, thank you thank you thank you, boss!

Also, I would be remiss without thanking Shawna. She was the one who hired me as Assistant Editor back on May 10th, 2005. Over the years she has encouraged me, taught me, recommended me, and demonstrated to me her many levels of awesome. Warren would not have been able to offer me this position if she hadn't taken me on to begin with. So big thank you thank thank yous to Shawna as well.

And to finish, wow.

Four Years and Counting

  • May. 10th, 2009 at 2:30 PM

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there.  It's also a special day for yours truly.  Four years ago today I started working at Realms of Fantasy.  I suppose you could make the argument that I haven't been with the magazine four full years, since it was canceled from late January to early March.  But during this time I still had a number of official tidbits to wrap up with the magazine, so my work wasn't quite done.  Hence I'm keeping the May 10th date intact as my anniversary.

Anyway, the last third of year three proved to be quite the roller-coaster and year four is promising to be the most exciting one yet since year one.  Good stuff! 


Story Rejection

  • May. 30th, 2008 at 9:18 AM

 I rarely blog about rejections I receive for my fiction.  Telling a bunch of writers you received a rejection isn't exactly news.  But every once in a while I receive one worth mentioning.  Yesterday I received a nice rejection from Edmund Schubert at Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show.  Here's the money quote:

I'm going to pass on it, but I have to say your writing is very smooth these days. In fact, up to page 14 I thought there was a good chance I might be buying this one. But then the piece veered off and though the writing was still smooth, the story itself wasn't working for me.
I'm pretty much past the point where I get excited over personal rejections.  I've gotten the "almost" rejection, the "try us again" rejection, the Gordon Van Gelder "alas (plus feedback)" rejection, and even the "requested rewrite but still got rejected" rejection.  Been there and done that.  And while I know how busy editors are and always appreciate any feedback they care to give, the "moral victory" of a personal rejection doesn't get me too excited either.

This one mattered though.  Why?  Because he called my writing "very smooth."  Style has been one of my biggest bugaboos.  Before I took the Odyssey Workshop back in 2000, I was a complete rookie.  My style was weak, plain(-jane), uninspired, sloppy, etc.  After Odyssey I went in the opposite direction.  I ended up trying too hard, and went through a very frustrating phase during which my writing became over-stylized, i.e. the dreaded purple prose.  I attended Orson Scott Card's workshop a year later and he called me out on this.  And that began the long journey toward achieve clear effective writing.  

OSC is a big proponent of clear writing, and one of the biggest reasons he dubbed Edmund to be the editor over at IGMS is that he was he confident Edmund would select strong stories that reflected his own tastes.  So to have Edmund call my writing smooth means a lot.  I have by no means conquered style, and am not even close to satsfied with where my style is, but it's good to know I'm noticeably improving.  It's been a battle to get to this point, and the fact that I appreciate lush prose (ala George Martin, Robert. E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and Dan Simmons to name a few) and unusual imagery (see the names I just mentioned) probably made it all the harder to get here.  Both of these things can easily contribute to overwriting, I think. There has been a lot of stuggle involved to achieve a sort of balance.

So while it's not an acceptance, it's an important step in my writing career.  Now if I could just get some editor to tell me my plotting is flawless ...             

Three Years and Counting

  • May. 10th, 2008 at 5:24 PM

I've now been assistant editor at Realms of Fantasy for three years.  Not too shabby. :)


I Missed My Anniversary!

  • Apr. 15th, 2008 at 7:21 PM

I completely forgot that April 3rd marked the two-year anniversary for my blog.  If this anniversary involved a girlfriend, I'd be in trouble!  But I suppose this is in keeping with me forgetting last year's anniversary.  Thanks to everyone who tunes in to read my blog.  I've made some excellent friendships through LJ, learned some interesting stuff along the way, got into one nasty flame-war (don't ask if you don't know, because I'd rather not revisit that!), and when it's all said and done I imagine I'll be blogging for a while yet.


The Black Hole Website

  • Aug. 12th, 2007 at 2:46 PM

So the Black Hole website is a place that tracks response times for speculative markets.  Every so often they update the site, removing data from a few years back, thus keeping their #'s current.  When I started working at Realms our average response time was 121 days.  I whittled it all the way down to 84 days before they updated the site again.  Now our response time over at the Black Hole is 61 days, basically two months.  I've cut our response time in half.

Not too shabby.


In Quest of the Hancocks

  • Apr. 3rd, 2007 at 8:28 PM

Some years ago I used to be quite the autograph hound in the speculative genre. Living near NYC enabled me to indulge this habit quite a bit. Eventually I outgrew this phase ...with one monster exception.

Many of you may recall the LEGENDS anthology, edited by Robert Silverberg, which came out a few years ago. Many of the biggest fantasy authors were rounded up, and each one contributed a story in his/her most popular fantasy world. Contributors comprised Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, Robert Jordan, Orson Scott Card, Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Goodkind, Raymond E. Feist, Terry Pratchett, Tad Williams, Anne McCaffery, and besides editing Robert Silverberg also contributed as an author.

A pretty impressive list. So let's rewind to more than a month ago, when I attended the NY ComiCon. At this point, the only autographs I needed to complete the set were Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, Anne McCaffery, Terry Goodkind, and Raymond E. Feist. Although I've been told that Stephen King no longer signs autographs, when I learned he would be attending the NY Comicon, I lugged along my LEGENDS anthology, in the hopes of actually tracking the man down, showing him all the autographs I'd accumulated, and appealing to his sense of humanity. Alas, I never caught a glimpse of Mr. King (I had to meet the publishers of RoF when King was doing his panel, or I would've tried there), and so never had the chance to appeal to that good ole humanity.

Enter my good friend Alethea Kontis. I hung out with her for much of the con, and come Sunday she could see how down I was that I never had a chance to snag King's autograph. "But," she told me, "I'm going to a con next month and can easily get you Pratchett's autograph."

I love this damn girl. She's traveling all the way back to Tennessee, but she didn't mind lugging this brick of a book back with her, and then doing so again to and from this con. So I finally touched base with her today, and this wonder girl landed me Pratchett's autograph. She'll be mailing me back "the Precious" in a few days. It tells you how much I think of her that I was willing to part with this thing.

So now all I need are autographs from King, Goodkind, Feist, and McCaffery. McCaffery would probably rank as the hardest one to get, being as she lives in Ireland. But here's the good news. My good friend Andrea Kail (check out her new website and blog: has recently won the 4th quarter of the Writers of the Future Contest. There's a chance Ms. McCaffery will be in attendance this year, and the lovely Ms. Kail has graciously offered to lug along my LEGENDS anthology and try to score me McCaffery's autograph.

Consider me tickled. :)

So if all goes according to plan I'll be down to Goodkind, Feist, and King. Not bad. But how to get these last three? Well, when Shawna interviewed me way back when for Realms of Fantasy, she mentioned that she could pretty much get me whatever autograph I wanted. I've never followed up on this, but if down to a mere three autographs for my LEGENDS anthology I may have to put this comment to the test ...and then the "One Ring" shall truly be mine.

A Year in Summary

  • Dec. 29th, 2006 at 4:48 PM

The speculative industry is great.  I love it.  But it's also a harsh mistress.  Trying to climb the ladder of the speculative world is like climbing a mountain.  It can be exhilerating, but more often it's downright frustrating, exhausting, and on occasion it's even depressing.  But I stick with it, as do many.  Why?  When you consider the odds we're up against insanity certainly factors into the equation.  But mostly we keep fighting because of the love.  Love knows no percentages.  Right?

Right.  But love can certainly use a little reinforcement every so often.  So I'm doing a Year's Summary for me to provide a little fuel for next year's fire.  So let's have at it.

This was actually my most successful year to date in terms of speculative accomplishments.  On the editorial front, I saw stories I fished out of the slush reach print for the first time, 9 of them all told.  A lot of these stories went on to receive praise or notice, and one of them, Sarah Totton's "A Fish Story," was purchased for Rich Horton's FANTASY: BEST OF THE YEAR anthology for 2006.  The year 2006 also saw me fish out 5 stories from our slush piles (although I started working at Realms of Fantasy in May 05, so I'll be more curious to see how many stories I discover between June 06-May 07, another full calendar year if you will).  This year also saw me discover two stories by two previously unpublished writers, David Pinault & Elizabeth Glover.  In addition to my duties as assistant editor with the magazine, I also snagged a promotion of sorts as one of the magazine's web editors for our web site (and stay tuned for more news regarding this position in 2007!)

On the convention front, I went to five conventions this year, a personal record, and sat on panels for the first time.  I also taught at a writer's workshop for the first time and on a separate occasion I lectured on the craft of writing to a college class with a couple of my fellow editors.  I also did my first appearance on a speculative radio station, host Jim Freund's "Hour of the Wolf," where, with John Joseph Adams, I discussed my work as an editor.  All this has been great for networking purposes and just plain getting my name out there.  Blogs are good for this too, and I also started my blog this year, which tends to focus on my speculative wheelings and dealings.  Quite honestly, I had no idea what to expect when I started blogging.  It's great having you guys tune in and read my ramblings.  I plan to keep this up for a while yet.

Then we come to the writing.  Not much to write about, but the good news is that there is something to write about.  In the non-fiction department, I wrote my first review of a fantasy novel and saw it published in Paradox Magazine, run by Publisher/Editor, Christopher Cevasco.  I also had my first story accepted for publication this year, a dark fantasy novelette called "Feelings of the Flesh."  Not only is it gratifying to know my work will be printed (yup, still waiting at this point), but it's a great feeling to know my first sale is coming with Interzone Magazine, which is a very respectable venue.  Nice way to break in.  Short term, this is the most gratifying accomplishment of 2006.  Long term, however, I anticipate my most gratifying accomplishment being that I landed myself an agent, one Jenny Rappaport of the L. Perkins Agency.  Considering that my credentials aren't quite impressive as some (although the editorial accomplishments certainly help), I consider this a testament to networking and hard work.  Also doesn't hurt that Jenny likes my writing. ;)

So that's pretty much it.  There's other stuff that I'm still waiting to learn about--some of it potentially big stuff--but if it hasn't happened yet then it doesn't count.  Same thing goes for rewrite requests, etc.  All well and good, but I just wanted to focus on real tangible progress, stuff I could point to and say, "I did this and here are the results." 

And you know what?  There may be a lot of mountain left to climb, but 2006 wasn't half bad.  Onward to 2007.  I hope everyone else had a productive 2006, writing, editing, and otherwise.

Happy New Year guys.        


Douglas Cohen

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