The Colored Lens Is Looking For Slush Readers

The Colored Lens is once again looking to expand our staff. We are looking for a first reader to help us keep up with the submissions we receive.

We pride ourselves on our 100% personal responses, and aim to have a 48 hour response time for rejections. To do this, we ask readers to read 3-4 stories a week and provide short personalized responses that include both positive features and the reasons it’s being rejected.

Stories are typically in the 3000-5000 word range, but we accept stories as long as 20,000 words. Slush reading is handled on an “as able” basis, meaning that whenever a reader has time, he/she logs into the database and selects the next unread story. If a reader doesn’t have time to read on a particular day, they simply don’t read any.

All of us at The Colored Lens are volunteers, so this isn’t a paid position. Reading does give you insights into the editorial process, however, and is a good opportunity to gain experience and insights into how the industry works.

If you are interested in the position, please review the stories on our site and send us an email at editors@thecoloredlens.com. In the email, let us know two to three of your favorites, and write a sample rejection for two to three of them that you don’t like as well.

The Colored Lens Interviews Larry Correia

Daniel: The Colored Lens focuses on Speculative Fiction: specifically stories that cause us to see the world a bit differently after reading. Your Monster Hunter series of books are definitely different. Your writing style seems rooted in a desire to create characters who act in ways that, were they in a book more representative of “high culture” commonly found in modern Western canon, would result in a very short book.

Larry: I have never been accused of high culture. I write to entertain people rather than win awards. I’ve been called a pulp throwback, but I’m pulp and proud.

Daniel: Your plots are gritty and, despite the presence of magic and monsters, grounded with a heavy dose of realism.

Larry: I am a huge fan of horror movies, however as a gun nut and self-defense instructor, when I watched them I had to check my brain at the door. Most monster or slasher movies would be over during the opening credits if the protagonists had a clue. My original goal with MHI was to write about my kind of people stuck into those big B movie situations.

Daniel: Maybe there just wouldn’t be much of a story if the group didn’t split up and get picked off by the evil monsters one by one, yet you seem to pull it off with ease.

Larry: In the movies when the monster shows up people scream, run, and get eaten. In real life, my kind of people would simply get out their shotgun and blast the thing. Problem solved. So I needed to come up with a way to have smart, tough, tactically minded people running up against the mystical forces of evil on a regular basis. So I made them contractors who killed monsters for profit. One reason I think readers have liked MHI so much is because the characters treat it like a job. They do this stuff for a living, so they don’t screw around.

Daniel: Sometimes I find myself screaming at a character in a book… maybe I take them too seriously… but really, I want to know why sometimes it seems like, for no other reason that plot development, why don’t characters just do things that make sense?

Larry: They always say “write what you know”, but sadly most writers don’t know jack about weapons or tactics, which is why you end up with urban fantasy action sequences that read as flat out absurd to anybody with a clue.

Daniel: Some literary snobs look down on your style of writing as “pulp” – junk food of the literary world. And in once sense, it is, not that there is anything wrong with that. We need twinkies and cheeze-puffs as much as we need foie gras and filet mignon. And in that same sense, it’s fantastic. Like a B-movie turned cult classic, people seem to revel in the style and latch on to characters much the same as they would a “high-brow” deeply meaningful work.

Larry: There is this idea out there that “serious” authors only write message fiction, which usually turns into some ham-fisted politically-motivated bloated nonsense. Then the literati elite get together and issue each other awards for how brilliant they are. Meanwhile, readers are just sick and tired of getting preached at and just want to be entertained.

One time on my blog, I made a joke list of bad message fic clichés that you should put into your novel if you want to win prestigious literary awards. You know, the usual nihilistic twaddle that English professors love; dying polar bears, drug abuse, nobody is allowed to be happy, man has destroyed the environment, some character better get raped, and the villain should either by a right wing dystopia or right wing religious fanatics (bonus points for both) or a thinly veiled version of Dick Cheney. Then it was pointed out to me that the winner of the prior year’s Hugo award met 7 of the 12 criteria. (and I hadn’t even read and didn’t know anything about that book!)

Meanwhile the number of people who read for entertainment is ever dwindling, but the literati elite just can’t seem to figure out why.

When I became one of the finalists for the Campbell Award for best new fantasy/sci-fi writer, I had critics freak out. I had one critic say that if I won the Campbell Award I would “end literature forever”. Though the best negative review I ever received from a snooty literati critic was when somebody pointed out that MHI had Lovecraftian elements, but that Larry Correia was no Lovecraft, but rather more of a modern Robert E. Howard… He meant it as an insult but I took it as a huge compliment.

Daniel: Through all of this, you’ve had books rank up into the top 25 on the NYT Best Seller list. To what do you attribute this success?

Larry: I want my readers to have fun and be entertained, so I try to write books that do that. When people have fun, they tell their friends.

Daniel: What goals to you seek to achieve when you set out to write a new series of novels? Besides bringing home a nice paycheck of course 😉

Larry: I do love me some royalty checks. I’m not one of those sensitive artiste types. I like to get paid.

When I do a new series it is usually because I’ve got a bunch of stories in my head that I want to share. I love world building and I love research. A new series is just a great way for me to expand out and tell the types of stories that don’t fit in one of my already existing worlds. I’ve got three going on right now, but plans for an additional two and a couple of stand-alones.

Daniel: You do a lot of table-top roleplaying in various worlds such as Dungeons and Dragons. Does this experience affect your storytelling?

Larry: I am a gamer, and right now my game group is made up of a bunch of novelists. We’ve got Hugo and Nebula nominated writers, an award winning poet, and if I count the dude that is moving to Germany, 3 Campbell finalists. So my game group is pretty dang good at story telling. I don’t know if that has any actual bearing on my writing (other than sucking up my free time) but I am enough of a dork that I still write game journal stuff that is basically glorified fan fiction for fun.

Daniel: Your first Grimnoir Chronicles book Hard Magic just came out in mass-market paperback. One can’t help but notice certain similarities between it and your Monster Hunter series: individuals with special abilities being used by the government for their own purposes.

Larry: I think that is mostly a result of me having worked as a contractor. 🙂

Daniel: Do these series share the same universe?

Larry: Nope. Totally separate.

Daniel: Give us a brief overview of this new world you’ve created, where, in an alternate history, magic reappears some time in the 1850s.

Larry: The Grimnoir Chronicles is a sort of alternative history/epic fantasy series. The timeline diverged from our own in the 1850s when a small section of the populace started displaying magical abilities. As time goes on, a growing percentage of the population becomes magically “active”, until by the 1930s about 1 in 100 has some form of power, and 1 in a 1000 is capable of really screwing with the laws of physics. The first book is Hard Magic, and it takes place in 1932.

The presence of magic has altered history quite a bit. As a history nerd this allowed me to really tweak a few things. I looked at how magical super powers would change things like war, art, culture, sports, even organized crime. It was also an excuse for me to read a four foot tall stack of history books.

So then I took that world and cloaked it in a sort of hardboiled-noir-action-pulp style. I went for Raymond Chandler writing the X-Men. The main character is an ex-con, war hero, bounty hunting P.I. named Jake Sullivan who gets roped into a case involving the Grimnoir. The Grimnoir are a sort of self-policing secret society that tries to protect people with magic from the world, and to protect the world from people with magic. Their main opponents are the magical Iron Guard of Imperial Japan.

This is the only book I’m aware of that features a teleporting magic ninja fight on top of a flaming pirate dirigible.

Daniel: Spellbound, book two in your dieselpunk series, continues on where Hard Magic left off, only now the members of the Grimnoir Society are being hunted, and Jake Sullivan once again finds himself in the midst of the adventure.

Larry: Spellbound was a ton of fun to write. I’m working on the 3rd book in the series now, Warbound.

Daniel: Monster Hunter Legion is slated to be available September 4th. Monster Hunter Alpha gave us some unique insights into Earl Harbinger and provided interesting back-story to the world you created in the first two books. Monster Hunter Legion will return to follow yourself… er, your main character Owen Zastava Pitt,

Larry: We’re both large, gun nut, accountants, but beyond that we’re really not very much alike at all. However, whenever a critic accuses me of creating a Mary Sue, I simply smile, nod, and say that particular Mary Sue has paid my house off.

Daniel: We find him at a Monster Hunter convention where, naturally, huge monsters attack and the fate of the world once again hangs in the balance. What other developments can we look forward to seeing in this newest book?

Larry: Legion gives me a chance to introduce rival monster hunters from around the world. A leftover from a WWI weapons experiment crawls out of the ground in Dugway which sparks a not-so-friendly competition between the various companies to see who can bag it first. Only the creature is a whole lot more dangerous than anyone suspects. It ties into the overall story of the first few books, plus it gave me an excuse to totally trash Las Vegas.

Daniel: Why Las Vegas? Is there only so much action that can take place with Owen et al. in the deep south?

Larry: The first two books were set primarily in Alabama, but Monster Hunter Alpha was set entirely in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The series will continue to bounce around to wherever I think sounds the most interesting, and that gives me an excuse to go on “research” trips that I can write off on my taxes. Come to think of it, I really should set a future novel on a cruise ship. 🙂

Daniel: Can you tell us any details of the much rumored TV deal?

Larry: Entertainment One, the same company that did the Walking Dead, optioned the rights to Monster Hunter. Right now they’ve got the rights, but I haven’t heard anything about it actually going into production. Hollywood is a strange place, and though it would be totally awesome to get a TV show, I have no idea if it will actually go into production or not.

Daniel: Joss Whedon to direct perhaps?

Larry: That would be great. However I’m hoping he takes all of his Avengers money and makes a new Firefly series.

Speaking of Joss Whedon, I’ve had a couple hundred emails from fans pointing out some similarities between the endings of MHI and MHV and something that happens in Avengers. Personally I think that was a coincidence, and that it was just something way too awesome not to do, and somebody else probably wrote that into a story long before I thought of it.

Daniel: How is it that a Combat Accountant / Author like yourself ends up inside a GI Joe comic book?

Larry: I’m a fan of the guy currently writing GI Joe. Chuck Dixon wrote the Punisher and Batman for a long time and I think he’s the best writer in comics (When you watch the new Batman movie this summer, Chuck’s the creator of Bane). I got to know Chuck on the internet and I gave him some gun advice. When he found out I was an accountant right when he had a storyline where GI Joe needed an accountant, Spreadsheet was born. Yes… Codenamed Spreadsheet.

So I am officially a GI Joe. 12 year old Larry Correia has now achieved all of his goals in life. (I also married a girl that looks just like the Baroness).

Daniel: Recently Apple has been accused of price-fixing. Amazon has long led the charge to discount E-books to prices that publishers say are unsustainable. You’ve partnered with Baen, a champion of DRM-free E-books in a variety of formats and available for almost every platform. It’s obvious that digital publishing has changed the world forever, but what do you see for the future?

Larry: The last few years have had so much change that it is hard to predict. People ask me all of the time about self-publishing, because that is how I got my start, but already only a few years later the way I did it is obsolete.

I do believe that Jim Baen got it right a long time ago though. DRM is annoying and stupid.

Daniel: Is there a balance where anyone can publish their own novel and yet the concept of digital-rights and copyright protection still exists?

Larry: As long as there is any kind of art, there will be pirates. I like to think that most people are honest and if given the chance to pay a reasonable price for something, they will. There are like fifty scumbag pirate sites ripping me off right now, but honestly most of the people who download thousands of free ebooks aren’t going to actually read them. They’re hoarders. Same as the dude with 100,000 illegal song downloads.

I work and produce a product, and decent people are going to pay for that product if they want it. Jerks will steal it. Same as anything else.

That said, the absolute last thing I want is the government to overreact. I’d much rather be ripped off by pirates than give the government some sort of Orwellian powers over the internet.

Daniel: I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about your stunning success as an initially self-published author. Do you have any advice for budding authors seeking to have their own works published?

Larry: Regardless of how you go about getting published, the traditional way through agents and submissions, or through the eBook revolution, self-publishing, or whatever:

1. Practice until you are good enough that people will give you money for your stuff.

2. Find the people who will give you money for your stuff.

Read Larry Correia’s newest book Monster Hunter Legion, now available for download in eARC (electronic Advanced Reader Copy) format exclusively on BaenEBooks.com

Daryl Parker: An Exclusive Interview with the Author of Sacrifice of the Season

Daniel: I appreciate the time you’re taking to talk with us about your new book today. Tell us a bit about yourself. You haven’t been an author for very long, have you?

Daryl: Yeah, but you know, growing up I had a lot of interest in books. I read all the time. The fantasy-fiction genre was what I mainly read. Tolkein was one of the very first fantasy trilogies that I read. It was just my kind of thing. I’ve always been interested in being a writer.

Daniel: Sacrifice of the Season is your first novel?

Daryl: It’s the first book that I’ve written, yes. It’s actually the first in a planned series of four.

Daniel: If you had to categorize it, what genre would you say Sacrifice of the Season falls into? To me, it seems to be a bit of a mix of Slipstream and Fantasy.

Daryl: Yeah, I think that’s the best fit for it. It’s a period novel set in the 1880s, but it’s a little bit Harry Potter meets Tom Sawyer.

Daniel: So maybe just a little bit of Alternative History thrown in there, just for good measure.

Daryl: Just slightly.

Daniel: Give us an overview of the main characters in your story, without giving too much away to our readers who haven’t had the chance to pick it up and take a look at it yet. We’ve got Jack, who is one of the main characters, and we’ve got these vague, shadowy figures, the Ba’ath.

Daryl: Jack is, of course, the hero of the book. He’s about twelve years old, but he has a lot of help in, what I call a co-hero, his friend Lucius. Lucius is an old former slave who helps Jack through his difficulties in the book.

Basically it’s about a rich family who moves from Philadelphia to this mining town in West Virginia, but this mining town has a problem with children disappearing. This generally seems to happen during a certain season, hence the title of the book, “Sacrifice of the Season.”

Daniel: Without giving too much away, what are these creatures? We know they’ve been around since pretty much the beginning of mankind. They at times seem goblin or fey-like, and at others they appear almost demonic.

Daryl: What I really tried to show, what they really are, is all of our fantasies and mythologies kind of wrapped up all in one.

You know, everything starts with a seed of truth. In our mythology, in a Christian mythology, we have angels and demons. In other mythologies you have other creatures and mythical beings, and maybe they’re all one thing. Maybe there is one kind of being and all of these myths and creations from different societies and different civilizations are all based on the same beings.

Really, the magical characters in my book are all of those.

Daniel: Interesting. They are then an archetype of our boogey-men and gods all wrapped up into one.

Daryl: Exactly.

Daniel: Did you have any background in sociology or anthropology that you drew upon when creating this mythos? Your book really does incorporate many of these items from popular mythos into it, and makes this world that you’ve created quite engaging.

Daryl: No, I don’t have an educational background in any of those subjects, but I was in the US Marines for 21 years and during my time in the Marines I traveled to a lot of different areas and was exposed to many different cultures. I have a lot of experience with the way different cultures see things, their folk tales and that sort of thing, so I put some of that into the book.

Daniel: You’ve mentioned that this is a four-part series. What kind of adventures and story lines can we look forward to seeing in the upcoming books?

Daryl: First, you can expect to see the story from “Sacrifice of the Season.” Where we left off we’ll pick it right back up. There’s more work for Jack to do, and you can expect Jack to do some traveling in the future.

Daniel: So we’re not going to be stuck in the back woods of West Virginia for very long then.

Daryl: No. Cobbs, West Virginia, the scene where all of this takes place in book one, is just a starting point. That is where Jack as a young boy is introduced to these characters. The other three books are his journey in discovering what they are, where they came from, what they want, and what he can do about it.

Daniel: Moving on to a slightly different topic: a lot of our readers are aspiring authors themselves. Many of them are looking for ways to get started in writing in general, and speculative fiction including sci-fi and fantasy in particular. Do you have any advice for budding writers, for someone who is seeking to just jump right in and write their first novel?

Daryl: Yeah. I guess my advice would be: Don’t do that.

[Laughter]

Daniel: Don’t follow your example then.

Daryl: No, don’t do that. The reason I say that is, you know, the thing that I had in my corner was that I had appeared on the show Top Shot, which is very popular and all of a sudden there were three million people who knew my name.

I had the forum to be able to do that. I could throw it out there and see what happened. Luckily the quality of my writing has passed the litmus test of the public, and people like the book.

What I would say to a new writer, or someone who wants to get into it, is don’t rush into it. Really really make sure that your writing is good writing, because there is so much bad writing out there, and there is so much marginal writing, that the publishers, the traditional publishing model, are very skeptical of new writers.

You really have to make your work quality stuff.

Daniel: What’s a good way that authors can do that?

Daryl: Well, what makes quality is often subjective. There are a couple of things you can do. For one, get your work professionally edited. I’m pretty good with grammar and punctuation and all that, but you still need a person who does it for a living to professionally edit your work.

Second, get your material, not all of it but pieces of it, into as many hands as you can. Join some book clubs. What they do is they meet once a month or so and they exchange pieces of work.

Daniel: Did you join any writing or critiquing circles?

Daryl: Yes, I did. I actually belong to a couple of them in the Dallas area, and you know it wasn’t so much, “Hey, help me with my writing.” I go there to get feedback on my work. The other side of that is that you’ve got to give other people feedback on their work. It’s a bit of a learning process too. You write something, and then you get someone else’s work and read it too and go, “Wow, this writing is really good. They’ve got a certain way with words,” or, “I really like that phrase they used,” and so you can kind of judge where you are in the pack of writers.

Daniel: At The Colored Lens, we focus on the short story. In some ways, the short story is considered more difficult because you have to take and distill the story down to less than 10,000 words, for example, while still having full characters and a well developed plot. At the same time, we’ve found that it can be easier for new authors to take the smaller bite that is the short story, rather than tackling an entire 150,000 word novel all at once.

Daryl: The benefit, in my mind, to a shorter story, is that you can focus all of your attention on that one project for a short period of time. You can turn out a really high quality piece of work, and you can do that a number of times. If you write enough of those quality short stories, people are going to notice.

The other thing about writing a full length novel is writer’s block. It actually happens, and when you are halfway through your novel and all of the sudden you’ve reached a point where you’re not sure how to go further, it causes problems. Shorter stories eliminate much of that.

I also want to add one thing about self-publishing. There are a lot of authors, established authors, who are now taking the self-publishing route because the traditional publishing model, unless your book is just a runaway success, is not a great way to make a living. It’s just so hard to get your foot in the door with the publishers. You have to have an agent and that sort of thing. It’s just really hard.

Before you go the self-publishing route, you have to be prepared to do a lot of promotion by yourself. You have to be ready and able to go around to book signings, and without that level of promotion, you are giving yourself the kiss of death. After you self-publish, the publishers will not touch your work.

There are few exceptions, but once you self-publish it’s all on you to make that piece of work a success.

Daniel: Well we wish you all the success because you’ve got a fine novel and I can’t wait to see what happens in the upcoming three sequels.

For any of our readers who would like to get their own copy of Sacrifice of the Season, it’s available in paperback and Kindle format from Amazon.com, or you can get your own signed copy of course from Daryl’s website DarylParker.com.

Daryl: Thank you very much. I’m working on book two right now, Journey of Fear, and I hope to have that one finished by the end of February, so look for the release probably in June.

Daniel: Great, we’ll definitely be looking forward to that book. Thanks again for talking with us.

Daryl: It’s been a pleasure.

Read Daryl Parker’s newest short story The Death Of More, a companion piece to Sacrifice of the Season, which is available in the Winter 2012 issue of The Colored Lens.

The Colored Lens #1 – Autumn 2011

When the editorial team here at The Colored Lens sat down and started thinking through the myriad of decisions involved in putting together a magazine, I confess I had my doubts and fears. I worried that our theme of shifting perspectives on the world would be either too limiting or too conversely too generic. I worried that we wouldn’t get very many quality submissions. I worried that we wouldn’t find a reader base. I even worried that we might blow up over creative disagreements among the editorial staff.

Now, as we debut our first official issue, I find my concerns to have been so far from the reality that I can only laugh. There have been no blow-ups, or even real disagreements. We’ve got the start of a reader base. We’ve had a plethora of great submissions. And we’ve put together an excellent handful of stories that do, indeed, help us see the world just a bit differently than when we started the story.

In Margaret Taylor’s “Ravensdaughter’s Tale,” we see the magic that can come from friendships, even in the least expected of ways. Gerri Leen’s, “Cinema Verite” shows us the value of memories, and the cost they can carry. Erin E. Stocks’ “The Bringing Moon” offers a different kind of cost for the things we hope for. Shawn Rubenfeld’s “Martha in the Manuscript” shows us how difficult escaping the past can be. S.J. Hirons’ “You’ve got to Tell Your own Tale” reminds us of how magical a world can be, and how differently it can be interpreted. Elise R. Hopkins’ “The Heroics of Interior Design” reminds us what it’s like to be on the fringes of society. And the first half of Gary Cuba’s novella “Songs of Eridani” introduces us to a world that leaves us questioning what the true dangers are.

We’re excited to present the first issue of The Colored Lens, and hope you enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed bringing it to you.

The Colored Lens is a quarterly publication featuring short stories and serialized novellas in genres ranging from fantasy, to science fiction, to slipstream or magical realism. By considering what could be, we gain a better understanding of what is. Through our publication, we hope to help readers see the world just a bit differently than before. The Colored Lens #1 – Autumn 2011 is available for only $0.99 in e-book format for Kindle or Nook. Read a free sample of this issue in your Google Chrome or Safari web browser by clicking here.

Welcome To The Colored Lens

The goal of speculative fiction has always been to examine the real world through the lens of the imaginary. By considering what could be, we gain a better understanding of what is.

The Colored Lens strives to do exactly that. By publishing four to five short stories and serialized novellas a quarter in genres ranging from fantasy, to science fiction, to slipstream or magical realism, we hope to help our readers see the world just a bit differently than before they came to our website.

No matter how fascinating the imaginary world can be, we live in the real world. Therefore we also publish non-fiction articles meant to broaden our perspectives and perceptions of the world around us.

Finally, we publish author interviews of writers whose books we have particularly enjoyed and would like to bring our readers’ attention to.

The Colored Lens is available both here online, and in ebook format. We hope you enjoy our pages.