Archive for May 27th, 2007

jwolf.jpgPlease tell us about your ezine, Musings: A Magazine of Words. How did it get started?
Well, it kind of started in a round about way. I had been trying to submit stories to publications, online EZines and different magazines and found the market very tough. There are a lot of writers out there and plenty for the magazines to choose from.

Through out my writing career, I’ve always dreamed of working on a magazine. One that would have a literary bent, which would feature other writers and their work. I wanted a magazine that was different from others. Most focus on just poetry or just fiction. I wanted a magazine that would focus on anything the written word had to offer.

As I started self-publishing some of my material and my work, I became more knowledgeable in what it would take to run a magazine. I put out two issues, for September and October 2006, to test the waters. The response was highly favourable.

I knew it could do more, though. I decided to get serious about MUSINGS: A Magazine of Words because I knew it could be a literary treat or a stepping stone for another authors career. So instead of simply publishing the magazines off of my web site, I made a site just for MUSINGS that included everything an author looking to submit would need to know.

Then I started asking around for submissions, knowing that I wanted the magazine to be as diversified as possible, as different from anything that was out there. I experimented with formats, cover design and layout. I took a short graphic design course and learned how to format a magazine. I studied other magazines like Oprah and Mental Floss to see how they laid out their work. I looked at other literary magazines that followed the same idea; Tin House magazine was a real find. It has a little bit of everything literary. So I knew there was a market for MUSINGS.

When submissions started coming in, I was happy. When more started to come in, I was thrilled. MUSINGS is a celebration of word and there are so many out there waiting to be written. All in all, it took about three years from brainstorm to the publication of our new April issue to finally get MUSINGS where I wanted it to be.

It was a long, bumpy road, but I’m glad I travelled it.

Is Musings open to submissions? What kind of material are you looking for?MUSINGS is always open to submission. We publish a new issue every two months, so we’re always looking for work by new or established authors. As for material, I love anything having to do with the written word. But here are a few examples of what I’m looking for:

Flash Fiction
Short Stories
Book Reviews
Movie Reviews
Blog Entries
Columns and Articles

I even enjoy doing interviews with authors.

What is the most challenging aspect of managing an ezine? The most rewarding?

I find the most challenging aspect of managing a magazine is promoting it. It’s all well and dandy to format it and put the magazine together. But how do you get it out there into the hands of everyone who might like to read it? How do you let people know about it?

I’m always trying to come up with new ideas to promote the magazine. One idea was to start a blog featuring all the contributors to MUSINGS. It’s called MUSINGS: A Blog and you can find it here: http://www.musingswords.blogspot.com/ It’s a way for the writers who contribute to MUSINGS to communicate with readers when they’re waiting for the new issue.

I also know that visual media is really important for catching someone’s interest. So I put together a small movie trailer for MUSINGS and I put it on the blog but, most importantly, also at YouTube. You can view the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diRDokWIyRU I wanted those that may not read to want to read MUSINGS. Thus far, the video has been really popular.

The most rewarding aspect of running MUSINGS is hearing how happy the authors are when they see their work published. It never fails to make my day when I get a lovely email from one of the MUSINGS writers. I always love getting emails from readers too, letting me know how much they enjoyed one story or another. Knowing that something in MUSINGS has touched a readers life is an amazing thing.

In addition to being a magazine editor, you’re also an author. Please tell us a little about your books, both fiction and non-fiction, and where they’re available.

I write several different genres. Primarily, I write speculative fiction. I have a trilogy of urban fantasy novels titled Electric Pink, Electric Blue and Electric Red. I also have a book of short stories that is primarily fantasy entitled Garden City. You can find these at my web site located here: www.jamiesonwolf.co.nr/ They’re published by Long Story Short Publications.

I also have three non-fiction works available. Finding the Muse is a book on how to write from inspiration. It’s also published by Long Story Short Publications and is also available as a workshop. You can find more information about it at my site at www.jamiesonwolf.co.nr/ I also have a book of essays on Stephen Kings Dark Tower series that is available for free on my web site.

My new book, WRITE NOW! Exercises for the Aspiring Writer, is about how to write. It’s for those who have always wished they could write. I show them where to start and how to build on what they’ve learned. You can find WRITE NOW! At it’s web site located here: http://want-to-write-now.tripod.com/

How would you compare and contrast the writing process for fiction vs. non-fiction? Which one is your favorite?
Writing fiction and non-fiction aren’t all that different. Whether it be a story you’re making up yourself or a factual subject your writing about, you still have to paint a picture of it with words. There is research involved with writing fiction and non-fiction and the writing process is often the same for me.

There are differences though; with fiction, a story can go anywhere you want it to. With non-fiction, you have to remain truthful and stick to the facts. I never used to like writing non-fiction. I found the genre dry and boring and didn’t read very much of it either.

However, I just had to find something I was passionate about. I write about learning how to write and that I enjoy. I thrive on that. I’ve written a short book of personal essays about Stephen Kings Dark Tower series. That I love because the books are something I obsess over. It took me a while to discover that writing non-fiction should be as enthralling as fiction; you just have to find the right subject.

You also review books for your blog, The Book Peddler. What type of books do you consider for reviewing? What is your stance with poorly-written, mediocre books?
I review almost anything for The Book Pedler. You can find The Book Pedler here:

Fantasy, science fiction, chick lit, mysteries, thrillers. I love it all. I read pretty much everything (and recently quite a few biographies and memoirs) because I’ve never believed in limiting what I read.

That’s like getting a box of chocolates and getting only caramel centres. I love caramel centres but I want variety. Variety is the spice of life, even in your reading.

As for poorly written books, there are a lot out there. And I mean A LOT. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something good about them. The story may have a fire that lights it, the characters may be engaging. There is always something. I’m usually honest in my reviews but I tend to find something I like about any book I read. Otherwise, why would I spend time reading it?

Do you think there is a lot of ‘facile praise’ on the net when it comes to book reviewing? If yes, why do you think this is so? Print publications don’t usually have this problem.

I don’t think so. Regardless of the medium, whether it be the Internet or on paper, reviews should be honest, thought provoking and readable. Speaking as a book reviewer, I try to be as honest as I possibly can when I review a book. I tell people if I don’t like it or if I do. But it should always be up to the person reading the review whether or not they want to read the book; the review shouldn’t change that.

Reviews, especially on the internet, give a reader an idea of what the book is about, what to expect and whether or not they may enjoy it. I can’t think of any better use for the internet. It gives easy access to any information you could possibly need about a book. You just have to decide for yourself which reviews are good and which ones are bad; this is true of any review whether it be on paper or on the Internet.

Would you say that review blogs are becoming as powerful as review sites, or do you think blogs still have a long way to go?
Book review blogs and book review sites are on par with each other, I think. They each appeal to a different type of reader. I think blogs are working their way up to becoming more popular than review sites, but not necessarily more powerful. I don’t think it’s a question of power, really.

More, what format are the reviews being delivered? What kind of reviews? Saying that a review blog is less powerful than a review site simply because it’s a blog, when they both offer the same service, is a bit odd. Blogs will eventually out do sites in terms of popularity, but review sites are here to stay.

How do you promote your magazine and blog to attract visitors? Do you have any specially effective strategies you would like to share?

I’m always trying to come up with new ideas to promote the magazine. As previously mentioned, I’ve started a blog featuring all the contributors to MUSINGS. It’s called MUSINGS: A Blog and you can find it here:

Enjoyable blogs are in high demand, so I look at the MUSINGS blog as a different format of the magazine. It’s more open, more friendly. And it offers quick, fun articles for those who may not have the time to sift through an entire issue of MUSINGS.

I also know that visual media is really important for catching someone’s interest. So I put together a small movie trailer for MUSINGS and I put it on the blog but, most importantly, also at YouTube. You can view the trailer here:

As well as the YouTube Trailer and the Blog, I also promote the Magazine in my newsletter that goes out to subscribers once a month. I announce the Magazine and submission information in different writing groups, email lists, etc.

One thing I’m going to try is having a cover contest for our June issue. This way, more people will hear about the magazine and, hopefully, want to read it.

Promoting is all about getting the word out anyway you can. I’ve done up press releases, released information about the magazine in online directories, etc. We’ve had almost two hundred people download a copy of MUSINGS in less than a month, so I guess something must be working. 

Do you have a website where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Of course I do! Here are links where you’ll be sure to find all the information you might need.

Web site: www.jamiesonwolf.co.nr

Blog: www.jamiesonwolf.blogspot.com

What advice would you give to fledging writers who are trying to break into print?

Keep writing. Write every day and have fun with it.

The internet is a great tool and a great resource as well. There are tons of different markets on the internet, EZines that publish poems and fiction. It may not always be a paying market, but its exposure.

And never be afraid of rejection. I receive at least one rejection letter a week. Chances are if one person doesn’t like what you’ve written, someone else will.

One last piece of advice: Always believe in yourself. You are your own worst critic, so be nice to yourself, okay?

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