March 2021

A year ago this week, we published our last monthly editorial that didn't mention COVID-19.

While we're more optimistic than we've been in a long time that, at some point in the next year, it once again won't seem necessary to mention it, that point is not now. We're unlikely to be eligible for vaccination before late spring, and traveling anywhere still feels like a distant dream. Donald still works from home about half of the time. It's been almost a year since either of us has used public transit. When we do see friends in person (outdoors), some variation on "How is the pandemic treating you?" is still one of the main topics of conversation, especially if we're avoiding politics.

We haven't suffered as much as many others have. We have no children to worry about, we haven't had financial troubles, we're healthy and only middle-aged and hence not especially high risk for complications if we do get COVID. We're both introverts who get along with each other really well, so loneliness isn't a problem. Unlike some of our friends, we haven't lost loved ones to COVID, or been unable to attend a parent's funeral because of travel and gathering restrictions, or been stuck alone in our homes without either the technology to connect with the people who can't visit us because of the risk or the ability to use the technology even if we had it. It wasn't a great year for us, but it also wasn't the worst year either of us has had.

And yet, the pandemic has definitely restructured our lives in ways that we didn't anticipate a year ago. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Although both Donald and Kristin are fiction writers as well as editors, neither of us has managed to do much writing in the last year. It didn't seem important enough when the world was suffering so much; or we were too easily distracted by doomscrolling; or we couldn't find the time; or video games were just more fun. Kristin used to dutifully listen to short fiction podcasts while driving, to try to keep up with what other magazines were publishing; now it feels like too much emotional effort and she just listens to music instead (but has rediscovered her love of music and is totally getting her money's worth out of Spotify Premium). Donald enjoys not having to leave the house even to play D&D and welcomes the potential shift to a more work-from-home oriented world.

We love the new openness to participating in online groups that aren't as limited by geography, through Zoom and other platforms. We're in a Tuesday evening Zoom Bible study now with people who live on the other side of Boston; rush hour traffic would make it impractical to meet in person even without COVID. Over the summer, we were featured guests at a conference that was able to welcome people who would have found it prohibitively expensive to travel to in a normal year. If we can all continue to encourage hybrid models for conferences and conventions, it could potentially make them more accessible to more people.

The downside is that many of the elderly, disabled, and impoverished who have been the most isolated during this pandemic don't have smart phones or computers with webcams, which has made them unable to participate in many of the opportunities for connection and community that moved online. Those of us who don't think twice (or at least not three times) about installing a new platform for videocalls or virtual parties should be careful, as life returns to something approximating normal, not to default to doing everything online because it's easier and more convenient. For local events and activities, sometimes in-person is more inclusive.


As of writing this, 66 of the 287 submissions we received in January have been read and evaluated by at least one editor or first reader. 57 were rejected, 5 are waiting to be read by Donald and/or Kristin, and 4 have been advanced to the final round (i.e., the short list). 10 were withdrawn by their authors before we had the chance to read them, though in some cases the author then re-submitted what we assume to have been an updated version of the story. (We allow this as long as it all takes place before the submission window closes.)

This year we have a new first reader helping us out: John Nadas, the Australia-based author of "What Comes Before" and--our most recent story--"Salvation". We're really grateful to have another volunteer, as it takes some time to read everything when it's just Donald and Kristin.

As we explain on our About page under Staff Submission Policy, while we don't disqualify our volunteer readers from submitting stories to us, we don't allow them to do so for submission windows where they're reading stories that other authors have submitted, so that no one is potentially rejecting stories in direct competition with their own. We also don't plan to publish fiction by Donald or Kristin, who are ultimately the ones making all final decisions on what gets published here.


Here's what we have for you in March and April, fiction-wise:

March 22: "Milestone and the Fifth World", Marissa James (weird western)
April: 26: "The Secret Place of the Lord", J.L. Royce (contemporary supernatural)

Remember, we always have a story the 4th Monday of each month, and in January and July we have an additional story on the 2nd Monday of the month.

Speaking of which...


Our biggest source of funding for Mysterion is Donald's salary. Our second biggest source of funding is our Patreon page. We look forward to the day when those two change places. You can help!

For as little as $1 a month, you get access to Patreon-exclusive posts about "the inside story of our publishing adventure" (which may occasionally include useful information for other authors and independent publishers), and the opportunity to participate in monthly Discord chats with Donald and Kristin and some of our Mysterion authors. Patrons who pledge $3 a month get to read all the stories we're going to publish each month on the first day of that month.

As our Patreon funding increases, we plan to offer more to our readers: more stories and more artwork. At the same time, we are also working toward being able to fund payments to authors and artists entirely from Patreon support. Check out the long-term plan here. Right now, the goal we're working toward is to raise enough funding to be able to publish 16 stories a year instead of 14. We'll start doing this once we have $275 a month in pledges (currently at $214!).

Please check it out, if you like what we're doing and aren't already a supporter!


Our third biggest source of funding is Amazon royalties for sales of our two anthologies.

This is also a great way to support us. Most of the stories in the original Mysterion anthology still aren't available anywhere else. And, while all the stories in Mysterion 2 are available to read for free here on our website, a copy of the book still makes a wonderful gift for those who don't know about us yet, or who just prefer books to reading on their computer.

(The books are available through other vendors as well--Kobo, for instance--if Amazon isn't the best option for you.)

Take care, everyone! We hope you're well, wherever you are and whatever your situation. Stay safe and healthy (so far as it depends on you), and don't forget to come back on March 22nd to read Marissa James's story...

Support Mysterion on Patreon!