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SFFWRTCHT: A Chat With Editor Michael Ray of RedstoneSF magazine

Just prior to publication, RedstoneSF was notified by the SFWA that they have been approved as a pro-qualified market, making all stories published by them in their first year, SFWA credits for all authors. Congrats to Michael, RedstoneSF and all their writers for this huge accomplishment!

Editor and co-Founder of RedstoneSF, Michael Ray lives in north Alabama, where he teaches advanced classes in history and economics. He has a B.A. in Political Science History and has an M.A. in Human Performance Studies. He did post-graduate study in Early Modern Political Thought and completed the Russian Basic Course at the Defense Language Institute.  In addition to editing Redstone SF he writes fiction and creates websites. He can be found on Twitter as @RedstoneSF and on Facebook as Michael Ray or through the magazine website at www.redstonesciencefiction.com


SFFWRTCHT: To start, why don’t you tell us a little bit about how you came to want to edit a science fiction ‘zine?

Michael Ray: I began writing again a few years ago. I learned about the process of submitting etc. I learned there were very few pro markets. I talked about it with Cassondra Link and Paul Clemmons after the John Scalzi article about the low paying markets. We decided we might enjoy investing the time and money in a pro online magazine and we just got rolling. We started publishing then. We set up the site in we set things up in March 2010 and took submissions then. June was our first issue.

SFFWRTCHT: Besides providing pro market, did you have other goals/focuses in mind when you founded Redstone? Was there a particular niche you wanted to fill?

MR: We wanted Science Fiction as we saw it. Something changes society – how will people react? We probably have a more traditional idea of scifi. Haldeman and Heinlein, Cassondra likes Dangerous Visions New Wave-influenced stuff.  I like Mieville type stuff, as well. But I felt we could be a place for more science oriented stories. From the beginning we set out to be SFWA qualified. I followed John Scalzi’s lead on paying writers a pro rate and we followed SFWA guidelines.

SFFWRTCHT: Why an ezine as opposed to print?

MR: We chose online because it was simple (for us) to do, inexpensive and gave us complete control over the product.  I have some website experience and all of us have been lifelong SFF readers. It simply made sense.

SFFWRTCHT: How difficult has it been to build an audience and how do you go about it?

MR: We used Twitter and Facebook from the beginning to let people know about us. Many were helpful like Christie Yant at Lightspeed.

SFFWRTCHT: Is it just the three of you or do you have slush readers and other help?

MR: Right now it is we three. Cassondra was between semesters at grad school and handled a lot of slush, last summer and in November. We listed at Duotrope and Ralans to get the word out as well, probably the most important thing.

SFFWRTCHT: So what does your ideal story look like? Hard science?

MR: Something happens – people react to the change and we can’t easily see the outcome. We like different things. Our reprints from Hannu Rajaniemi and Ken MacLeod were two of my favorite stories from the last few years; to show what I like.

SFFWRTCHT: Any genres you’d like to see more of?

MR: Our story by Vylar Kaftan is adventure, but not quite Military Science Fiction. I’d love to have some, a few were very close.

SFFWRTCHT: What’s your editorial lead time?

MR: From acceptance to publish – right now 4-6 months, but we cleared the decks this past Spring.

SFFWRTCHT: Do you offer writers any feedback on stories you reject or send stories back for revisions and ask them to resub?

MR: We have asked for a few rewrites. I Love our story from Rahul Kanakia—British highseas in space, and he worked with me on it.

SFFWRTCHT: In addition to stories, do you do regular columns and other features?

MR: We have a columnist—Henry Cribbs who does a great litcrit of SF column every month. I’m hoping he’ll get more notice.

SFFWRTCHT: Have you been influenced by other editors/zines in various ways?

MR: Not really. We are trying to be our own magazine. I like several mags—Clarkesworld and Escapepod podcast—but we want to be Science Fiction. If something is great, but is “fantastic”, we let it pass because it doesn’t fit us.

SFFWRTCHT: Redstone SF is not even a year old and you have already won some awards, tell us about those.

MR: “Raising Tom Chambers” by Daniel Powell and “Michelangelo’s Chisel” by Christopher Miller were storySouth Million Writers Award Notable Stories and Miller’s story was declared by a new review blog, Sensawunda, as one of the top stories of the year.

SFFWRTCHT: What kind of feedback do you get from other pros in the field? Has it been supportive?

MR: Nothing but support. We’ve done interviews with John Joseph Adams (Lightspeed, Fantasy) and Cat Rambo (formerly Fantasy). We got stories from Mary Robinette Kowal and Cat Rambo, giving the new guys a chance.

SFFWRTCHT: Did you have any Creative Writing or editing training or an MFA before starting this?

MR: I minored in English/Creative Writing, but I’m a teacher: AP History and AP Economics.  I grade essays all the time.

SFFWRTCHT: What are your students’ reactions to your work with Redstone?

MR: The students who are Science Fiction fans are tickled by it. Particularly my hackers.

SFFWRTCHT: You have issues coming out monthly?

MR: Monthly issues. We try to have a 4000 word story and a 1000 word story. Unless we do a reprint.

SFFWRTCHT: Do you aim for a particular audience or age group?

MR: We don’t think age, but primarily adults.

SFFWRTCHT: One of the issues people face is the cost of doing the ‘zine. Can you make a profit doing a pro ezine?

MR: Real Profit – I doubt it for a while. If we can build a name and get solid ads, maybe. We have an amount we’re willing to spend. We also have a Kickstarter fundraiser coming up. We want to do 8000 words an issue for the last three months of our first year. We want to get in our year and be SFWA accredited and then we’re going to explore more funding.

SFFWRTCHT: Towards An Accessible Future was interesting and successful. Any plans to do themed issues/contests?

MR: We will probably do another  this summer. The contest really sparked a lot of talk. It did a little good I think.

SFFWRTCHT: Do you have any plans to release print “Best Of” anthologies in the future?

MR: We expect to go that way. I’ve started investigating it and will see how it pans out. There will definitely be some print.

SFFWRTCHT: Besides the Kickstarter campaign, how can we support you?

MR: Visit redstonesciencefiction.com and read; download the PDF’s and EPUB’s and nominate our good stories. We are new, but we want our stories to be on lists next year at this time. Subscriptions are free but we happily accept PayPal donations.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the forthcoming space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

 

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