Conversations Between Writers

Selfies Art plus textMad Scientist Journal is edited by Jeremy Zimmerman and Dawn Vogel. You can read new fiction there every Monday and follow them on Twitter for news.  They are currently Kickstarting the anthology SELFIES FROM THE END OF THE WORLD. I messaged Dawn and she was able to fit in a Conversation with me about it.


Minerva Zimmerman: I haven’t talked to you in forever!

Dawn Vogel: Yeah, it has been a long time!

MZ: I think the last time was at the reading for By Faerie Light? Maybe?

DV: I’m not sure I went to that one. I know I saw you at Ryan and Lily’s wedding, but you were busy that day. 🙂

MZ: A little 🙂 It turns out being a Human of Honor is a little work

DV: But you did a fantastic job. I loved the titles they used for everyone.

MZ: I appreciated the gender neutral titles and lack of delineating marital status.

DV: Exactly.

MZ: I don’t think anyone ever wakes up and is like “You know what I’d like to be called at some point? Matron.” I mean it bothered me enough as a title in World of Warcraft that I’d never use it.

DV: Yeah.

MZ: At least there isn’t a crowdsourcing platform called Matreon

DV: Wow, yeah, that would be atrocious!

MZ: Well, speaking of crowdfunding… (ooo my transistions are so sneaky) Mad Scientists Journal is running a KS campaign right now. Can you talk a little about what MSJ is and what the campaign is for?

DV: So Mad Scientist Journal started out as Jeremy’s crazy idea. He brought me in pretty early on to do the editing, and we’ve been co-editing it since. We publish weekly stories online, all told from a first person perspective of some sort. After about a year and a half, he wanted to do an anthology. That ended up being That Ain’t Right: Historical Accounts of the Miskatonic Valley. We ran a successful Kickstarter for that last February, and the book has been very positively reviewed. We wanted to do another one this year, and came up with Selfies from the End of the World: Historical Accounts of the Apocalypse. The goal of the Kickstarter is to be able to pay the authors for the anthology more than what we normally pay. We fund MSJ out of our own pockets, for the most part, so having crowdfunding is a huge help.

MZ: So, it’s first person accounts of the Apocalypse?

DV: Yep, the apocalypse, or possibly post-apocalypse if it’s one of those apocalypses that doesn’t wipe out humanity.

MZ: Hmmmmmm. If only I had an apocalypse in my wheelhouse I could write about 🙂

DV: We’re hoping to reach our funding goal early, but we should be able to open to submissions by the beginning of March at the latest. And then we’re hoping to get all sorts of apocalypses. And not just the traditional ones, like zombies, weather, and plagues. We’re hoping for some really creative ones!

MZ: Yeah, I do not have an entirely altruistic reasons for you to meet your funding goal. I do really enjoy revisiting destroying the world. I also really enjoy Mad Scientist Journal

DV: Thanks, we’re always glad to hear that people like it! I’m sometimes surprised at how much that little idea has grown and blossomed. I actually had someone I’ve never met, who I was talking to about Norwescon, say “oh, you do Mad Scientist Journal!” Recognized my name. That’s pretty awesome. 🙂

MZ: I think there’s a lot of overlap between writers, readers, and those who have read the more mundane scientific journals. Just speaking for myself, my brain grabs on to the weirdest bits of journal articles so it’s nice to see a publication putting out a fiction publication in this same vein.

It’s just a great jumping off point for a publication.

DV: I do the same thing with random bits of history. I think that’s part of the reason Jeremy knew I’d go for him putting “historical accounts” in the titles of the anthologies.

MZ: I think it also helps people think about jumping into a fully formed world mid-stream, which is a good indicator for good genre fiction.

I think when you’re first starting out as a writer you think about building the world one word at a time, and when you get more experienced you realize you have to indicate that the world existed before the story started and continues even though no one is reading it.

A world has to have history for the present to have context, even in fiction.

DV: Yep. The amount of work you can put into that as a writer can be really staggering.

MZ: and 99% never ends up on the page 🙂 It can be maddening!

DV: Yeah, that too!

MZ: So you’re not just an editor and publisher, you’re also a writer. What have you been up to? Working on anything right now?

DV: I’ve been working on short stories since December. Just finished one, and have three more that I’m trying to get done soon. And I’m working on plotting out a big fantasy novel that I want to write this spring. I’ve got a pretty ambitious schedule lined up for this year.

MZ: Is it just me or does 2015 seem kind of intimidating writing career wise? Like, writing seemed simpler in the past and now things have to be more ambitious.

DV: Yeah, there is a little bit of that. I think I’ve read so many articles about writing that I’m now just in this mode of “WRITE until your hands fall off.” I’m actually making myself get in writing time 5 days a week since the beginning of the year.

MZ: Wow! Is that going well?

DV: It’s better some days than others. 🙂 But it is definitely helping me get things done. Which makes sense, really.

MZ: Yeah, I don’t have a very big daily goal, and I don’t write every day, but I try to average 500 words a day over 30 days. Slow but steady.

DV: That’s the way to do it. I haven’t given myself a word count goal, because I’m often writing one thing and revising something else, or polishing up those last little details on another story. But I sit down each week with what I’m trying to get done, and try to get as much of that accomplished as is actually possible.

Sometimes my dream goals are a bit bigger than reality.

MZ: I think that’s a feature, not a bug. 🙂 If we catch up with our dreams too often it gets weird.

DV: Yeah, but it is nice to check off all of the ticky boxes on a to do list every once in a while. And then it’s on to the next list, for me, at least.

MZ: Oh I am a HUGE ticky box person. I love it. I am getting better at breaking things down in to smaller do-able things

DV: Yep. I have my ticky boxes for the doable stuff, and then my spreadsheets for the big picture. And it’s all color coded because I’m a huge dork like that.

MZ: also colors make stuff prettier to look at which helps when you’re supposed to stare at it a lot. I’m in the process of making an over-arching organization system to my whole life, work, writing, and home. So I’m way big into color coordinating and otherwise making stuff easier for myself right now. It is slow though.

DV: Yeah. It’s nice, though, when you get a good system that works into place. Everything gets SO much easier.

MZ: I intellectually know that’s true… but I totally want to give up and “Internet foooooreverrrr”

DV: I have a LOT of days like that. Juggling work and writing and editing and crafting and cats. Some days I just decide it’s a mental health break. 🙂

MZ: It IS helping my mental health a lot to organize. It’s probably the main thing helping me push forward. It is letting me NOT think about stuff

DV: Yeah, I think that is a really helpful thing.

MZ: Is there anything else you want to talk about?

DV: I was going to ask you what writing projects you’ve got in the works.

MZ: Well, my main project at the moment is a Rural Fantasy novel about a middle aged Norse Chaos Mage who ends up in charge of her small mountain town’s magical protection and preventing the end of the world and she’s not happy about it.

DV: That sounds like fun! I’d love to read it when it’s done!

MZ: I will be looking for Beta Readers in a few months, Gods willing and the creek don’t rise.

DV: I should be available after April!

MZ: Excellent! I will be sure to drop you a line when I get a workable full draft.

Well, let’s make sure we get the link to Mad Scientist Journal and a link to the KS in here, because I’d really like to write a story to submit to this anthology when it funds 🙂

DV: is the link for Mad Scientist Journal. With new stories up every Monday morning.!And the Kickstarter is:

MZ: Thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to talk to me about this.

DV: Thanks for having me!