Category Archives: Guest Posts

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.

Things I Learned While Publishing

This is a guest post from Stephen Lomer. 

Let’s start off with an establishing statement: I never once considered going the traditional publishing route with Stargazer Lilies or Nothing at All. Never. Not once. Other authors may be seduced by the potential for big-money contracts and the marketing clout of the big publishing houses, but I wasn’t willing to surrender control of my baby to God knows who for God knows how long for God knows what kind of payoff.

So I did the whole thing myself. And when I say the whole thing, I mean it. I wrote the thing, participated in the editing process, designed the cover, prepped it for publication, released it, and designed the ads for it. That was all me, baby. And did I learn a thing or two? You bet your left elbow I did.

It’s hard

From A League of Their Own: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.” And I think that might be the point. From the specialized formatting you need to do to prepare your book for the Kindle to the exacting specifications that CreateSpace requires, if you’re going to be a DIY publisher, you’re going to jump through some hoops, baby. But I feel like that’s a rite of passage, in a way. A declaration that you’re serious about publishing your book. Because, let’s face it, if there was a one-click button on Microsoft Word that allowed you to upload something instantaneously, there’d be some real garbage on Amazon.

It’s scary

No matter how many writer friends you have or how many friends and family are cheering you on, when it comes time to publish your book, it’s all you. And there’s always one moment just before you click the last button to make it live where you think, “Is this book really any good? Because it’s about to be available to the entire freaking world.” It’s a wonder anyone ever clicks that last button.

It’s not what you expect

I don’t care what any author tells you, they all expect the same thing: the book will go live, a few people will read it, the word will spread, the five-star reviews will pile up, and they’ll be lighting their cigars with $100 bills. Well I am here to tell you that it just ain’t so. The world may stop and hold its breath for you as the author, but by and large, the real world will keep rumbling along, not giving the slightest damn that you’re now a published author. The real work starts after you’re published, not before.

I don’t mean for this all to sound like an awful, unpleasant experience, because it’s not. It’s thrilling, exhilarating, and altogether glorious. Just know that there’s a gauntlet, and you must run it. But every self-published writer has run it, and we’re all rooting for you.

One last little tidbit I’ll pass along while you’re wondering what the hell you’ve gotten yourself into is this: If you’re designing your own cover, leave plenty of bleed on the edges. Trust me, you’ll be saving yourself no end of aggravation.

Happy publishing!


Stephen Lomer has been writing books, novellas, short stories, and scripts for nearly a decade, and one or two of them are actually pretty good. A grammar nerd, Star Trek fan, and other things that chicks dig, Stephen is the creator, owner, and a regular contributor to the website Television Woodshed. He’s a hardcore fan of the Houston Texans, despite living in the Hub of the Universe his whole life, and believes Mark Twain was correct about pretty much everything.

Stephen lives on Boston’s North Shore with his wife, Teresa. Stargazer Lilies or Nothing at All is his first published work.