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Interview with Apex Magazine Editor Lesley Conner

This post is part of the subscription drive for my all-time favourite science fiction and fantasy magazine, Apex Magazine. Lesley Conner is one of the editors who works there, and she was kind enough to stop by here today and answer a few questions. I hope you’ll check out the other interviews in this drive as well!

What would you like to see more of in the submissions to Apex Magazine?

Ooo, great question! I would love to see more sci-fi stories in the slush. We get some, but I seem to read a lot more magical realism or fantasy stories than I do science fiction. And we’re not looking for straight up sci-fi, something-is-wrong-with-the-ship, oh-no-we’re-going-down! stories. I read a LOT of those. Give me something more than that, more than man/woman in space in peril. I’d love see more stories like “The Laura Ingalls Experience” by Andrew Neil Gray, “Soursop” by Chikodili Emelumadu, or “1957” by Stephen Cox.

What have been a few of your favourite stories that were published here so far?

Well, I’m a big fan of all three stories I mentioned in the first question. In addition to those, I absolutely love “She Gave Her Heart, He Took Her Marrow” by Sam Fleming, “The Gentleman of Chaos” by A. Merc Rustad, and “Next Station, Shibuya” by Iori Kusano. Each of those moved me as a reader and excited me as an editor.

Oh, and “Blood on Beacon Hill” by Russell Nichols! That story is so much fun to read!

Little bit of a sneak peek: we have a story coming out in the May issue by Evan Dicken called “How Lovely is the Silence of Growing Things.” Read it! You do not want to miss that story! It is amazing!

 Have you ever had a dream about one of the stories that was submitted to you? If so, which one was it? If not, which story do you think would provide the most interesting fodder for a dream?

I don’t think I’ve ever had a dream about any of the stories submitted to us. If I have, I’m not remembering them now, but a lot of the stories have realities that would be make interesting—if not terrifying—dreamscapes. Immediately “Screaming Without a Mouth” by Travis Heermann and “Aishiteru Means I Love You” by Troy Tang come to mind. *shudders* Both of those stories stuck with me long after I finished reading them and I could see them causing a few nightmares.

By the way, Troy Tang wrote this absolutely horrifying story about abuse and self-loathing that questions whether or not doing horrific things to an artificial intelligence is it still wrong and loathsome—after all, they aren’t living—and he is one of the sweetest individuals I have ever worked with. Working with him was a lovely experience and I’m so glad we were able to bring his story to the world, even if it does continue to haunt me to this day. Just goes to show that stories a person writes do not reflect who they are.

How often do you and Jason disagree on whether or not to accept a story? How do you resolve those conflicts when they occur?

Honestly, Jason and I don’t disagree on stories very often. I think that’s one of the things that makes us a good editing team—we have the same vision for what types of stories we want to see in Apex Magazine, so we don’t spend a lot of time arguing over one story or another. We do discuss a lot of stories before deciding one way or the other on it, but that’s usually to talk through one or more aspects that may not be sitting quite right with us. Jason passes on stories that I like all the time, but most of the time if I’m absolutely in love with a story, he likes it too, and you end up reading it in a future issue of Apex Magazine. If he doesn’t, well then, Jason will pass on it. He’s the editor-in-chief, so when it comes right down to it, he makes the final call.

Lesley Conner is a writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in Mountain Dead, Dark Tales of Terror, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, as well as other places. Her first novel The Weight of Chains was published by Sinister Grin Press in September, 2015. Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 marks her debut experience in anthology editing. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel. To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.

What Twitter Can Teach You About Mindfulness

Something fascinating has been happening to me recently on Twitter. Social media definitely isn’t the first place I’d expect to grow more mindful, but I’ve been learning more about what it means to live in the moment when I use this particular site for several different reasons.

Reason #1: The Case of the Missing Tweets

Every once in a while, my Twitter stream grows quiet for a few hours during the day for reasons that I’ve never been able to tease out.

There’s no pattern to it that I can find. It doesn’t happen at the same time or on the same day of the week. The small number of people that continue to tweet during those quiet periods shifts as well, so it’s not that everyone in a certain time zone or geographic region has suddenly been distracted by something.

The first time I noticed this, I thought I had missed out on a big section of my timeline. I scrolled back through my timeline to find the tweets I thought I’d lost only to come up empty-handed and more confused than ever. It took me a few rounds of this to stop searching for the tweets that never existed in the first place. The people I follow simply grow quiet at the same time every once in a while, and I actually look forward to those moments these days.

There is something relaxing and surprising about spending time on social media when barely anyone else is around. It’s kind of like being the last person to leave a party. The room that was so full of energy a few hours ago has quieted down. You can almost hear the final note of the song or the sound of two people saying goodnight as your eyes sweep the room before you turn off the lights.

I’m always glad to see my timeline fill up again, but I’m learning to enjoy these pauses in the conversation as well.

Reason #2: Everything Has a Season

There are memes that last for a day or a week before suddenly disappearing forever. Other jokes can come back when you least expect them to.  Your timeline might be full of depressing political news one day and cute puppy pictures or a hilarious conversation between friends the next. People you once had long conversations with might stop logging tweeting tomorrow. Other people sometimes show up again after being away for six months. In short, Twitter is in constant flux.

When I first began using this site, stuff like this bothered me occasionally. I worried about the people who disappeared and wished that the collective mood there would somehow become more consistent. It was strange to log in every day and have no idea who or what I was going to find.

The interesting thing about accepting all of these sudden shifts on Twitter was how it changed the way I think about the non-digital world as well. While there are things I can have an influence one, some experiences aren’t ever going to be predictable or controllable.

Everything has a season. You can’t make it begin early or stop it from ending. All you can do is enjoy the ride and see where the stream takes you next.

Reason #3: Every Tweep Can Teach You Something

The best part about following people from so many different walks of life is that my timeline has become a beautiful mishmash of ideas.

An angry political tweet from one tweep is often immediately followed by a Haiku poem, a picture of someone’s naughty cat, a link to a news article about a new scientific discovery, or the announcement of a different tweep’s brand new book or website.

I can’t count the number of times that someone has tweeted something that was exactly what I needed to hear or see that day, whether it was a joke or a serious essay. If you sit quietly and wait, all kinds of wonderful and meaningful things will come your way.

The picture on the right reminds me of what this process feels like. The best thing to do as the tweets flutter by is to sit quietly and see what they’ll teach you.

Reason #4: Tweets Are (Usually) Temporary

This reason is similar to reason #2, but there were just enough differences between the two for me to separate them into different points.

A tweet’s shelf life is short but also unpredictable. It’s rare for me to see anything retweeted on my timeline that’s older than a day or two, so I have to live in the moment when I’m on Twitter. What is relevant today might be forgotten tomorrow.

On the other hand, I have had a few of my own tweets travel much further and for much longer than I ever would have expected them to. These aren’t things that I was expecting to happen. What grabs people’s attention isn’t always easy to predict, so I try not to have any expectations when it comes to what kind of reception my tweets will get. Sometimes they are ignored, and other times they are the beginning of a long conversation.

There’s something to be said for throwing yourself so fully into the moment that you don’t think about what might happen tomorrow. No one can predict the future. Just pay attention to the present without any expectations about what might happen an hour, a week, or a month from now.

Reason #5: People Don’t Always Tweet the Full Story

The strange and fascinating thing about social media in general is that it only shows the highlight reel of most people’s lives for reasons that are far too complicated to get into in this post.

One of the nicest things about fully realizing this is that I don’t assume I know everything about someone because I’ve read their tweets for X number of months or years. This isn’t to say that I think people are lying about their lives online. Being careful about what you share for privacy or other reasons is something a lot of folks do, including me! It’s not a bad thing at all.

You can accept what someone shares without making any judgements about how your life compares to theirs or what the hidden parts of their life are like. This isn’t something any of us can know anyway, and making assumptions about it doesn’t do anyone any good.

If you’re not already on Twitter, I hope this post has given you some food for thought. If we hang out together over there, I’d love to know what you think of this post. Has social media changed how you approach mindfulness? What has Twitter taught you about life?

Suggestion Saturday: March 25, 2017

Here is this week’s list of comic strips, calls for guest posts, and other links from my favourite corners of the web.

In the Air. For those of you who live in places that have long, cold winters, does the air in your neighbourhood smell like spring yet?

Guest Posts Wanted via DarciaHelle. Are any of you interested in this?

The First Runs of the Season via andre1begin. This was such a descriptive blog post about what it feels like to go for a run again just after winter has ended.

7 Ways to Overcome Destructive Self-Criticism via colleen_m_story. What a great essay.

Escape to Another World. I wonder how this will shape the world in the future? I’ve heard of similar things happening in Japan, so this kind of escapism could be more common than we think.

From The Secret to Happiness? Stop Trying to be Happy:

Indeed, if people recognize in Pasricha’s “values” some of their own but they can’t seem to live them out, that’s because they’re facing another, deeper dilemma: They are growing up or growing old in an era unlike any other in human history, where the basic instinct to survive has morphed into a complex desire to thrive.

 

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Exercise Makes Me So Hungry

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet. I don’t mind writing a long post when the topic requires it, but I also think there’s something to be said for conserving your words if fewer will do just as well.

My exercise routine was interrupted a few times over the winter due to an injury and a couple of mild illnesses. Now that I’m back into the swing of things, though, I’ve noticed that I’m much hungrier than normal these past few weeks.

Drinking extra almond milk, water, and tea has helped this somewhat. Sometimes thirst can masquerade as hunger, especially now that we’re in a time of year when the temperatures are slowly beginning to rise above freezing again. I know have to remind myself to drink more fluids once it gets warmer outside until I’m back into that habit again. It’s an easy thing to forget when the weather is cold and you’re not losing a lot of extra fluids through perspiration every day.

The portions of food that filled me up when I temporarily needed to stop lifting weights and taking long walks aren’t enough for me now. Even the amount of oatmeal I eat for breakfast has needed to increase to keep me full until lunch. (That makes me giggle for some reason. I’ve never thought of oatmeal as something that wasn’t completely filling, but now that I’m eating a bigger bowl of it I’m feeling full after breakfast once again).

I didn’t have a huge appetite before I started exercising regularly a few years ago. In fact, I’ve always been known for having eyes that are bigger than my stomach. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve ordered a meal at a restaurant or made a plate of food that I soon realized I couldn’t possibly finish in one setting!

To be honest, I’d half-forgotten how hungry I felt when I first began a regular exercise routine. It was a little surprising to start needing more food again until I remembered that this has happened before.

I’ve started adding food like:

  • Hardboiled eggs
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Radishes
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • And occasionally homemade blueberry muffins

as snacks or in addition to my regular meals.

It’s going to take some time to get used to my bigger appetite again, though. It amazes me to see how quickly I can polish off a dinner plate full of sliced fruit and vegetables as an afternoon snack and still be ready for supper a few hours later.

Does this mean that I’ll be able to eat an entire portion of restaurant food the next time I go out to dinner? Anything is possible, although I’m still going to be prepared to ask for a doggy bag for the leftovers unless I’m very hungry that day. Haha!

If you’re around on Twitter today, come over and tell me about your experiences with exercise and suddenly wanting to eat all of the food in the entire world. 😉 I’d also be curious to know what other changes in your life you’ve noticed after exercising more frequently or more intensely.