Posts tagged Martian Migraine Press
Well, it’s a sad day here at MMP HQ.
Hello, I’m Scott R. Jones. Normally I’d be writing this from the MMP-standard royal “we” (see pretty much every post for the past several years) but the time for full ownership has come. I’m shuttering the press for the foreseeable future. This is due to multiple factors that have, over the past year and a bit, contributed to the increasingly poor functioning of the press and the failure to live up to the admittedly meager ideals it was founded on. It’s painful to write this post, but necessary, and, seeing as I’ve essentially already written it (in a letter to the authors slated to appear in the two upcoming but now sadly cancelled MMP anthologies) I am going to attempt to save myself some further pain and so post portions of that letter below.
Good afternoon, everyone. Hope your weekend is going well so far. Unfortunately, I’m writing to relay a piece of bad news that a number of you have likely expected was coming, considering the delays in production on the upcoming MMP books you have pieces attached to.
It’s with considerable regret that I have to cancel both books and put the press on hiatus for the foreseeable future. This past year has been a bad one for me on a number of levels: personal, financial, and health concerns both physical and mental have combined to basically destroy my ability to do right by the press and the writers I work with. When I started MMP five years or so ago, one of my earliest intentions was to provide a level of basic courtesy and professionalism to the people I chose to work with. Given the “boutique”, one-man nature of the operation, this (for me) meant four things: writers and artists would be paid on time for their work, the books would drop in a timely manner, communication would be timely and transparent, and promotion for the titles would be the best possible given the resources available.
2019 has seen MMP fail on all four counts. Without going too much into the unpleasant details, I have run out of money, credit, time, and the increasingly important mental resources required to operate MMP in even the most bare-bones manner. As some of you have no doubt already noted, contracts as written and signed off on have not been honoured, payments have not been forthcoming, and communication on these matters has been slight and shamefully deferral in nature. Honestly, I had hoped that at least the financial aspect of this would turn around and allow me to move ahead with both Innsmouthbreathers and Monstrous Outlines, however haltingly, but that has not been the case despite a series of best efforts. Again, at MMPs inception, my intention was to not allow the press and its operation to impact my family’s already thin financial resources: with the increase of the usual costs of living, and the arrival of new and unexpected expenses, this has become impossible to do, and so the MMP project has to be sacrificed.
I’d also like to address here another aspect of the problem that I have little doubt will come up. Those of you who are attached to me via social media have likely noted that my personal writing career has seen some significant uptick in the past several months: I was approached about, and eventually sold, a collection of my short stories to another publisher, and my debut novel Stonefish which I’d been working on since mid-2018 has been purchased and is slated for release early in 2020. I recognize and regret the hypocrisy of this. Focusing on my own work had taken a back seat for so long, and the surge in attention and ability I experienced with the writing of the novel overtook me, to the detriment of MMP and, sadly, your own work as represented in MMP books. I have not been balanced in my approach to the work, and the cost has been high. I want to own this and apologize for any harm I’ve brought to you personally and your careers professionally. I should have done better, and I did not.
For all the above, I am deeply sorry. Thank you for submitting your amazing work to MMP, for your patience, and your understanding. All rights to your stories as contracted I now return to you fully in the hope that we may dissolve said contracts and separate peacefully and on good terms. I wish I could do more than just this, as it feels meager indeed, and you all deserved better. Looking forward, on the outside chance that I am at some point in the future able to reinvigorate MMP and restore it according to the framework of my original intentions for the press, I hope that you will consider becoming involved again with either the books being cancelled presently (should they be revived) or new and different ones.
I followed this with an assurance that I would keep my channels open to talk, as I want to foster open and clear communication with the writers I worked with regarding the decisions made. So far the response from writers affected has been gracious, understanding, and sympathetic, which is more than I deserve.
Martian Migraine Press has been in operation since, oh, let’s call it early 2014. Five years and change is not too bad in this wild west of a business, I’m told. I am grateful (as an editor, a publisher, a writer, and a human being, basically) for the experience. Working with established authors and brand spanking new writers of considerable talent and energy, collaborating with and learning from other editors in the field, soliciting gorgeous covers from unique artists and illustrators, and then hearing from readers both online and in person how much the MMP books were enjoyed has been wonderful and heartening. Most of the time, it seemed to me that I didn’t know what I was doing here, other than creating reading experiences I myself enjoyed, but that seems to have struck a chord within the horror and weird fiction communities, and for that I am supremely grateful.
All MMP titles in both TPB and electronic formats will continue to be made available here and from most major retailers.
Thank you, all, for your support and dedication to MMP. Comments will be left open below for questions or concerns.
Scott R. Jones
“The nethermost caverns … are not for the fathoming of eyes that see; for their marvels are strange and terrific … out of corruption horrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where earth’s pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl.”
— H. P. Lovecraft, The Festival
We’re excited to open submissions to our sixth anthology…
The full title of this book will be
CHTHONIC: Weird Tales of Inner Earth
Pelucidar. The Hollow Earth. DEROS, and the Shaver Mysteries. Blue-litten K’n-yan, red Yoth, and black, lightless N’kai. The Amigara Fault. Derinkuyu. Agartha. The world (and worlds) below. Inner earth, a near infinite space of vast, echoing potential … our (possible?) birthplace, and the place where we all return, either as corpses, or something other? … the churning, chaotic underworld, and true home of all that is weird, unconscious, and forbidden. Descend with us in this anthology of weird fiction; descend to the realms CHTHONIC.
We are looking for weird fiction that explores the mystique and terror of caverns, abyssal spaces, and subterranean worlds. As with previous MMP anthologies, we will be including a seed story from H. P. Lovecraft’s oeuvre (in this case, The Rats in the Walls, though many of his stories went underground). We want to see bizarre civilizations, mind-boggling physical and biological phenomena, horrific rituals, mad science and madder sorcery. We want to feel the tunnel floors beneath our feet shake with the passage of beasts, machines, and gods that have never seen the light of the sun; sentient oils, intelligent muck, living rock, molemen, formless spawn and Efts of the Prime, worms, Dholes, and ghastlier things. But CHTHONIC won’t be just a serving of pop culture “surface” material, if you’ll pardon the pun. We like to see stories with depth (oh god, another one, sorry!); emotional and psychological explorations of the internal spaces of the human mind and soul, as well as the ground below. Write us stories that induce crushing claustrophobia or open us wide to new dimensions of thought and being. If your story can do both, so much the better.
Final story count for the anthology will be determined based on quality and number of submissions. CHTHONIC: Weird Tales of Inner Earth will be released as a softcover paperback and as an electronic book in multiple formats.
Submission period closes JULY 31, 2017. The anthology will be released in early December of 2017.
Please use Standard Manuscript format when submitting. That’s double spaced, left justified, Times New Roman or Courier or something at least readable, a header on the first page (at least) with your author info and word count and… well, you know the drill. RTF or DOC files preferred, but DOCx and text files also accepted. Obviously, you could send us something that’s not in Standard Manuscript format, but it will lower your chances of it being looked at seriously.
We will look at both original work and REPRINTS.
To submit a story to CHTHONIC: Weird Tales of Inner Earth send an e-mail (with the story file attached, not in the body of the email) to: email@example.com, with subject line: CHTHONIC, title of your story, and your name.
For short fiction, we’d like to see anything from 1,500 to 7,000 words.
FLASH FICTION: got something under 1500 words? Send it in. However, the following still applies…
All accepted submissions will be paid .03CAD per word, via Paypal, as well as two contributor copies (paperback) of the anthology, and copies in all electronic formats (mobi, EPUB, and PDF). Authors are also entitled to electronic copies of three additional Martian Migraine Press titles of their choosing.
Replies and Queries
We will try to acknowledge receipt of your submission within a week of its arrival in our inbox. The submission period itself will close on July 31, 2017 and we should be responding to all submissions, yes or no, throughout the submission period and no later than August 2017. We do our best to ensure that all submissions are contacted and kept up-to-date, but sometimes items fall through cracks, so, if you haven’t heard from us by September 15 2017, please query.
For full details, please consult the submissions page
Well, if you’ve been following me or Martian Migraine Press on Facebook and Twitter over the last month, you’ve watched as I worked myself into a lather over the impending visit I made to Providence, Rhode Island, “birthplace of the Weird” and of course the home of Lovecraft, the “Copernicus of Cosmic Horror”, and so on and so on, yadda yadda. In the weeks prior to actually stepping onto the plane, I probably overshared about my mega-gut-butterflies at sitting on a ‘Religion & Lovecraft’ panel with stone-cold atheist and HPL scholar S. T. Joshi, or watched us fret collectively over how many books to bring to the vending hall for the MMP table. Would they like us? Should they like us? And the like.
Basically, all this fuss and bother was down to a simple fact: NecronomiCon Providence 2015 was to be my first convention. Of any kind. Until this past week, I had never set foot in a convention venue for purposes of… convening? Yes. Never sat on a panel. Never sat in the audience for a panel, even. I was going in blind, mostly. A virgin, in need of gentle handling. Oh sure, there were tales about what to expect, and I picked the brains of folks who knew what was what. Oh, how I picked! At brains. Like a fevered monkey I dug into the thinkmeats of those who consented to the assault. But, like a fever, I was not easily cooled. The nerves were singing like the harps of angels on high, if those angels were, say, actually high on some kinda celestial stimulant.
I needn’t have worried, though. NecronomiCon was amazing. Stimulating, fun, enriching, and yes, problematic. Last things first, then…
The Thing in the Pulpit
You’ve heard, likely, of the shadow that was cast over the event at the Opening Ceremonies on the evening of Thursday 20 August (Lovecraft’s birthday, incidentally, for those who don’t know). I don’t want to necessarily go over the details here, as others have done a very decent job of breaking that down. Steve Ahlquist, a longtime Providence resident, has a great article here, and of course NecronomiCon organizer Niels Hobbs had a lot to say about the issues raised on Thursday in the excellent ‘Lovecraft & Racism’ panel on Saturday, which I managed to attend (and which you should watch, if this issue is important to you). More upsetting, I think, than Mr Price’s comments at the Opening Ceremonies (I’m pretty sure there are still dropped jaws gathering dust on the floor of the First Baptist Church) were the foul comments of folks rising from wherever these people rise from, defending that kind of xenophobic rhetoric, and proving, sadly (as Ask Lovecraft impresario and wit Leeman Kessler puts it), that for many people, Lovecraft’s racism (in his letters, in his stories) is more of “a feature than a bug.” I dunno. Ask the Stormfront people how they feel about Howie. You’ll need a wash afters.
So yeah, that was… not super. Not a great way to start. And you could tell how much of a pall it cast on Niels, the organizers, and everyone there who came to celebrate the creations of the man. There’s a lot of work to be done, if Weird Fiction is to move into the future. And that work is going to have to be done by all of us, by making our books and world open and inclusive: the doors must be opened, and the welcome mat laid out for everyone, if the genre is to grow and become as challenging, interesting, and entertaining as it was when it was in its infancy. As has been pointed out, this year was the ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIFTH year since HPL was born. It’s time. Time to move on. A good start was made here (much of it serious, and one particular instance quite humorous, but more on that below!) but there’s a road ahead to the event in 2017, and much of it uphill. S’alright, we’ve got the legs for it, as a community. This can be done.
On that note, I should mention that we here at Martian Migraine Press have opened submissions to our 2016 anthology, Cthulhusattva: Lovecraftian Tales of the Black Gnosis, and we want to strongly encourage and invite all writers of every colour, gender, LGBT, and traditional outsiders to the Mythos to submit stories to this book. Especially considering the theme of the anthology, which is (and I’m boiling it down here; please consult the submissions page at the link above for details) takes on the Mythos from the perspective of the enlightened cultist, as opposed to the crusty academic white man for whom profound confrontations with the Other trigger madness and general flapping about and gibbering about “mongrel hordes”. Seriously, if you have “horde membership”, we’d love to hear from you. OK.
Veni, Vini, Vending…
(That’s Latin, right? Right?) This was certainly a highlight for me. The Vending Hall, or Cave of Freaking Wonders, more like! Anyway, if I had a worry here, it was the niggling thought that all the books I had sent along to Providence ahead of time (and thanks to that prince among men s. j. bagley for allowing his PO Box to get clogged with MMP books and t-shirts!) would be coming right back home with me.
THIS DID NOT HAPPEN.
The opposite of that happened: we sold out at the MMP table. All our copies of my own When The Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality were gone by mid-day Saturday. Justine Geoffrey’s PRIESTESS by close of shop Saturday. (Possibly the best quote of the final hour? “Thanks for peddling smut!” Oh. Oh, you’re most welcome.) RESONATOR: New Lovecraftian Tales From Beyond took longer to disappear, but then, as our latest, brightest, and most awesome title, we brought a lot of copies of that, so the last few copies went into deserving hands around noon on the Sunday. And we sold some t-shirts and ephemera besides. So, a huge thank you to everyone who stopped by the Martian Migraine Press table (which we shared with my friend and editor Ross Lockhart’s Word Horde, who also sold out of all his stuff!) and endured our carnival barker patter.
If there’s a downside here, it’s that by spending a good chunk of my con time in the Vending Hall TCBing, I missed… well, a lot of stuff. Like, so much. Panels. Shows. Didn’t get to see Ask Lovecraft LIVE. Missed the Ramsey Campbell reading. Ohhh, if I start listing things, I’ll only depress myself. Suffice to say, I’d like to do it differently next time. And I will. Less Vending, More Viewing/Visiting. More actually getting around to all the other artists and publishers and Mythos weirdos with arcane bric-a-brac to fill up my return luggage with. Yes.
The Dread Panels…
Yeah, I was terrified of these. I’m a decent public speaker: grew up in a millenarian apocalypse cult and was groomed for the podium, spent a good chunk of time on public radio talking into thin air, and was blooded in the slam poetry scene of the early ’00s. I can talk, sure, my tongue can waggle like a happy lil puppy on demand… but to sit with noted authorities on subjects (Lovecraft & the Occult, Lovecraft & Religion) and talk sensibly, in a way that didn’t show me up as a complete fraud? Well. I had some doubts going in, let’s just say.
Again, unfounded. I discovered to my surprise and actual delight, that panels are essentially the kind of diverting conversations you have with like-minded and interesting people over coffee, just higher up off the floor on a riser and with anywhere from 30 to 100 people watching and listening to that conversation! The moderators were insightful and balanced (Anthony Teth for the Occult panel, and Ross Lockhart for Religion) and really made the experience a great one. On the Occult panel, we managed to skip all the hoary old goofy questions (“How bout that Necronomicon? Real? Whaddaya think, huh?” or “Lovecraft: Secret Priest of the Great Old Ones?”) and really get down into the grit of what it means to map fictional constructs onto occult practice. “God is Dead, but Dreaming”! I was very grateful and humbled to be on that panel with Doug Wynne, Justin Woodman, and Richard Gavin (who in my opinion is one of the finest weird writers working with this material today). The ‘Religion & Lovecraft’ panel was slightly hairier… S. T. Joshi was, like, right there. As in, on my right. The energy on that guy is palpable. And of course, considering the other panelists (Robert M. Price, for one) and the subject matter, the panel was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Biltmore. This was my view from the table…
Yup. Big room, and most chairs filled. Kinda terrifying. But y’know what? It was fine. I barely got a word in edgewise, sure (though I did get to tell a fun story about my son dressing as Superman for Halloween. It applied, honest!) but I was happy with what small part I had in the conversation and pleased that, as the only theist at the table, I didn’t get strung up by my intestines from the nearest wall sconce! This is how it should be, folks. You can view the whole panel here.
I also had the great pleasure, earlier in the con (Friday morning) of reading with three other authors (Nathan Carson, who read from his excellent tale in Cthulhu Fhtagn!, Vincent O’Neil, who read a very creepy passage from his novel Interlands; and Ian Welke, who I sadly had to duck out on because something had to be attended to in the Vendor’s Hall, I forget what. Regrets!)
The Grassy Knoll… with Extra Bacon
The infamous Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast is something you hear about in Lovecraft-land, sure. As a Guest of the convention, I wasn’t sure whether I had to buy a ticket or not, and what with everything going on, whenever the idea of attending came to mind for a moment (“I should ask someone about this…”) it was invariably diverted by something more pressing in the next moment (“Ooh! Cool thing!” What can I say. I’m a magpie) and the CPB would be forgotten. On Friday night, however, having left the Eldritch Ball in hopes of finding a room party of actual living writers, I ran into Cody Goodfellow in a hallway of the Biltmore. Cody is, of course, one of the spiritual leaders of the CPB, so I asked him how I could get in.
“Gosh, sir! Can I ever!”
And like that I was recruited to serve as a Cyclopean backup dancer for Goodfellow’s Temple of Yog-Sothoth. This meant a number of things: 1) I would be able to eat as much bacon as I could stand; 2) I’d have to wear a repulsive vinyl mask, with the left eye hole positioned in such a way that a thin lip of material would scrape the surface of my actual eyeball the entire time it was on my face; 3) The aforementioned ululation. (Note: Goodfellow cornered me the night before, Saturday, and dragged me out back of the Biltmore to prove, in the street, that I could indeed produce the needed sounds. Because he’s a pro); 4) I (along with Tom Lynch, my fellow Cyclops, whose mask fit just fine, apparently) would, at a verbal signal from Goodfellow, assassinate the Hierophant of the Esoteric Order of Dagon. Yes, Bob Price would go down in a froth of foam from the carefully concealed bubble guns we were packing. (Mine malfunctioned the first couple of times I pulled the trigger, but the third time? Charming.)
It was goofy fun, obviously, but also served a purpose in the larger context of the convention, particularly vis a vis the shadow that Price had cast over the proceedings on the opening day. I think, in more than a few ways, it was a watershed moment: a changing of the guard, even. Certainly it signaled, with humour, that even the casual milquetoast racism of the “Feature, Not a Bug” Lovecraft fandom, will no longer be shrugged off if the Weird is to evolve at all and grow into the 21st Century. Think HPL had some good ideas about swarthy types? That it’s “more important to know what to hate, than what to love”? Sorry, not sorry, but from here on out, you’re gonna get called on it. We’re packing.
The High Point…
Permit me a small moment of pride in my accomplishments…
Years ago, I came to Weird Fiction through, not Lovecraft, but one of his later acolytes, Ramsey Campbell. I think it was his The Hungry Moon I picked up at my local buy-paperbacks-by-weight secondhand bookstore, or possibly Cold Print. Anyway, it was Campbell that got me started, and when I did finally encounter Lovecraft, old Howard suffered greatly in comparison. Ramsey needs no introduction here, really. Not gonna sugarcoat it, he’s a master. I’m a big fan, and his writing has meant a lot to me over the years. So what a treat it was to see him interviewed on Friday morning (by some fella who strangely thought it would be OK to go on about himself for a ten-minute block of Ramsey’s time, but honestly, though this was off-putting, the remainder of the time was so engaging it hardly mattered) and find him to be affable and generous with his advice and anecdotes.
I’m a fan, sure, but acutely aware of being too fanboy about things, so I didn’t line up to meet him after the interview. However! Earlier in the year I had sold a story to the Word Horde anthology Cthulhu Fhtagn!, a story which riffed on Campbell’s own The Render of the Veils and which was dedicated to him, and further, editor Ross Lockhart had brought copies of that freshly released book to NecronomiCon. I really wanted to gift Ramsey with a copy, so I messaged him on Facebook to that affect. The next morning he and his lovely wife Jenni swing by the MMP table in the Vendor’s Hall, and I was honoured to present him with a copy, which he insisted I sign for him! (I’m still so unused to signing things I’ve made or been a part of making; being Canadian, it all seems so arch to me, but this past week went a long way to my becoming somewhat OK with it!)
Three hours later, Nathan Carson (a fellow contributor to Cthulhu Fhtagn!) and his gracious partner Erin Laroue, arrive at the MMP table to let me know that Ramsey had just dropped my name and the story (which he had obviously gone ahead and actually read!) in answer to a panel question along the lines of “name the best writers of weird stuff out there right now”. Nathan tells me that Ramsey claimed that Assemblage Point was better than the original. Which was when I had to go behind a curtain for a bit and bite the fatty part of my thumb to keep from hollering.
It was just a really, really decent moment. The highlight.
But it wasn’t over. After the rush of the remaining days (meeting so many authors and editors and publishers I look up to and am inspired by, drinking with not-a-few of them, the EARTH concert at the Columbus Theatre, but mostly, as mentioned, vending vending and more vending) I finally packed up the MMP table and managed to find my way to the ‘Writing the Mythos’ panel. It was half-over by the time I got there, but I learned a lot from Campbell, Pulver, Pete Rawlik and the rest during that time. But then, during the Q&A, the panel was again asked “who’s who in the Mythos zoo?” (I’m paraphrasing) and this time I was in the audience, hearing with my real live earholes, as again Ramsey enthused about Assemblage Point. (The words “infinitely superior to my original” were used.) I plotzed, basically: I wanted to simultaneously hide behind a chair and crow. Cody Goodfellow was sitting two rows ahead of me and to the right, and had seen me come in; he signaled me to do the latter, and I deferred to his years of wisdom. I very carefully put up my hand and said a meek thank you to Ramsey. At which point Ramsey lit up and pointed me out to the folks in the room, told them to remember my face, since they’d be seeing a lot of it in the future.
Anyway, that’s when I died. I don’t know how I’m even writing this right now. Not even the panel moderator (who I’ve had some small unpleasant interaction with in the past, and who had spent the weekend resolutely looking right through me whenever we passed) with his little dig of “well, only until he’s eaten by a shoggoth” could diminish that moment. I’m assuming it’s just some random firing of my dying brain introducing a brief note of hellishness into an otherwise beatific hallucination as I starve for oxygen in some pre-death realm of being. Ramsey liked my story, and said so in front of a lot of people.
RAMSEY CAMPBELL LIKED MY STORY.
I honestly don’t know what else I can say after that. In short, it was a great time, even though I didn’t do two-thirds of the things I could have done while in Providence. The walking tours? The film showings? Most of the panels and readings? Yeah, I’ll have to hit those next time. But even with all I missed, I left NecronomiCon uplifted and inspired, ready to dive back into writing, editing, building cool books, and creating the future of the Weird with this amazing community of people.
Thank you Niels Hobbs and the entire staff of organizers and minions; I can’t imagine what a truly boggling enterprise putting on an event of this magnitude must be, and I along with many others thank you for all your hard work and tireless effort. NecronomiCon Providence 2015 was my first convention experience, and you made me feel welcome and at home and a part of things. Thank you. See you in 2017!
Scott R Jones is the author of the short story collections Soft from All the Blood and The Ecdysiasts, as well as the non-fiction When the Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality. His poetry and prose have appeared in Innsmouth Magazine, Cthulhu Haiku II, Broken City Mag, Flesh Like Smoke, Cthulhu Fhtagn!, Broken Worlds, and upcoming in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.