November 2020

It's the middle of autumn here in Boston but felt like winter as we entered the weekend, with about two inches of snow and sub-freezing temperatures. Kristin brought in the fennel bulbs from her garden just in time and is all set to make shrimp and fennel chowder. The snow peas don't appear to be as hardy as their name might suggest, but we'll see if they bounce back once it warms up later this week. The lettuce and spinach should be fine. It wasn't that cold, and Kristin has seen unprotected spinach plants survive a Boston winter.

A picture of our house on Saturday morning:

Which holiday is it again?

We're thinking the local trick-or-treaters may have been more at risk from icy sidewalks than COVID-19. 

No one came to our house. We have a 200-foot driveway and are lucky to see three or four groups of children in a normal year, when we've attempted to make the house look as inviting as possible with jack-o'-lanterns and spooky animated projections in the front porch window. This year, we put out a cookie sheet with ziplock sandwich bags of candy and a hand-scrawled sign reading "Happy Halloween" just in case anyone ventured all the way to the front door. That's okay; candy will make a fine dessert to follow shrimp and fennel chowder.

World Fantasy Convention

Although Donald and Kristin were both registered to attend this year's virtual World Fantasy Convention, we weren't able to "attend" as much of the convention as we would have liked, due to both Mysterion deadlines and non-publishing life (shoveling snow, running errands, day job) getting in the way. We both showed up for Donald's reading (all the programming was on Zoom) plus a few other program items here and there, and some "parties" on Friday night. Zoom has a new-ish feature where you can set up "breakout rooms" that participants in a Zoom call can move themselves in and out of, useful for semi-structured socializing. You can view the list of available "rooms" and see who's in them before entering. 

It doesn't really compare to an in-person convention, but the format does allow people around the world to participate with fewer financial and other obstacles. From what we were able to make time to watch and/or participate in, it seemed that the convention committee and staff did a great job of keeping everything running as smoothly as possible, and that they really did make the best of an unfortunate situation when it became clear that holding an in-person convention would not be possible.

One traditional perk of attending the World Fantasy Convention is the bookbag: a bag of free books for each attendee, donated by publishers in the hope of creating buzz and generating reviews for particular titles. Bags are packed by convention staff ahead of time, so you don't get to pick which books you receive, but there's always an exchange table where you can leave books you don't want and take others that didn't appeal to someone else.

This year, the bookbag was as virtual as the convention. All the titles were ebooks, but every attendee had access to each book that had been donated and could choose whichever they wanted. 

We hope that at least a few attendees picked this one:

Several Mysterion authors also had offerings in the virtual bookbag:

These are all available from Amazon, if you weren't so fortunate as to receive free copies as a World Fantasy attendee. Laura VanArendonk Baugh and Wendy Nikel have both had stories in the Mysterion online magazine (reprinted in the Mysterion 2 anthology); Rachael K. Jones had a story in the original Mysterion anthology, and another in the online magazine this past July.

The Mysterion 2 anthology is not yet available from Amazon, but we hope it will be soon! The ebook has been ready to go for a while, and once we have the cover flat back from the cover designer we can order a proof copy of the paperback and see how it looks and whether it needs any last-minute adjustments or corrections, inside or out, before it goes on sale.

Mysterion updates

No, we haven't finished reading the July submissions. Soon, honest!

Come back on November 23rd to read this month's story, Patrick Doerksen's slipstream fable "Omnipotent Marble".

On December 28th, we end the year with "This is the Way the Prayer Ends", from Barbara A. Barnett, about the power of music and poetry at the end of the world.

We have new artwork up this month, from Brazilian artist Yuri Magalhães. Be sure to check out his online portfolio to see more of his work!

You may have noticed that we don't have new art as often as we used to. We've had to go from every 3 months to every 4 months, now that our Patreon funding has dropped below $200/month (currently at $192/month).

If you'd like to see new art more often, and also help us work toward our next goal (16 stories a year instead of 14, once we reach $275/month), please consider supporting us on Patreon. Depending on your support level, rewards include early access to all our stories, plus free copies of any books we publish. Plus we have monthly chats for Mysterion editors, authors, and Patrons on our Discord server, there are monthly polls, and you get extensive (and exclusive!) coverage of Kristin's vegetable garden and Donald's video games.

And if you'd like us to consider using your art, send us a link to your online portfolio! Instructions are here. We pay $100 to use existing artwork, which will then appear on the magazine's home page for 3-4 months (depending on Patreon funding). Keep in mind that, unlike story submissions, you'll only hear from us if there's a particular piece we want to use. However, we do look at every portfolio, as long as it's easy to navigate to and doesn't require that we sign up for anything before we can see your artwork. 

As always, we'll be open to fiction submissions again on January 1st. We're still not really looking for pandemic stories, but might be less opposed to them than we were in July. This does not mean that we expect near-future science fiction stories to pretend the pandemic never happened / isn't happening. We're just wary of stories where the pandemic is the main focus, especially given the magazine's theological bent. Remember that you're not the first author to wonder about The Problem of Evil during difficult times. And that we tend to be more impressed by character-focused stories than Big Ideas.

We hope you and your loved ones are all safe and healthy, especially as we see COVID infection rates spike in so many countries around the world. Thanks for reading, and for those of you who are authors, we look forward to seeing your stories in January!

Support Mysterion on Patreon!