News on the Robotica Anthology


, ,

I’ve been very busy lately with Robotica anthology submissions, and a couple of other projects I’ll be announcing later, but I just wanted to drop in and give an update on progress for the new anthology.

If you haven’t received a letter from me by this time today… congratulations! Your story has made the second round of submissions. I will be extending offers of acceptance to those who have made it by the end of next week, as promised in our submission guidelines.

I just want to thank everyone who submitted work for Robotica. As usual, your creativity, inspiration and passion has bowled me over and exceeded all my expectations. It’s going to be another great book!

Praise for Love, Time, Space, Magic


, , , , , , , , , ,

I received an email today from fellow science fiction and fantasy author Sally McBride.

Sally had graciously offered to give Love, Time, Space, Magic a read-through, and here’s what she had to say:

“What a sweet, and sometimes salty, confection… just right to read in snack-sized portions. The title says it all. This is a gathering of somewhat random—in terms of style and mood—short fiction about love in a few of its many and varied forms.

Pop Seagull publishing, with Elizabeth Hirst at the helm, is producing some very nice looking anthologies and collections. This one is easy on the eyes, nicely designed and presented, though with a few typesetting issues that didn’t distract from the enjoyment.

The anthology starts off with Deborah Walker’s “I Sing the Recurring Melody”, a parable about devotion, and the need to create above all. Next is something completely different: Fraser Sherman’s “Leave the World to Darkness.” I could almost see this tale unfolding in the lurid panels of a comic book—alternate dimensions, shadow creatures, Nazis! Great fun, plus a spunky heroine with a smart mouth and a notebook.

“Out of Their Minds” by Ira Nayman, is a bumpy ride through infinite dimensions in search of the One True Love… cynical, snappy and strangely sweet. The lyrical melancholy of “The Dying Place” by Melinda Selmys is poetical and thought provoking. “Melanie in the Underworld” by Victoria Feistner, is a longish, poignant, Toronto-centric take on the myth of Persephone, where even if you play by the rules you still might lose. “Modern Love” by Gustavo Bondoni wonders if a pick-up in a bar could be the start of something beautiful.

Other stories take you into the dangers of space exploration, the dark magic of plantlife, and the compelling reasons to embrace the consequences of financial meltdown. Overall, a tantalizing mix of tales.”

Thank you, Sally! We’re glad you gave us a try. This will definitely be appearing on the blurbs page of future editions.

Ad Astra Con Report: Sunday April 12 #AdAstra2015


, , , , , , , , , ,

This is the third post in a series I’ve been doing about my experience at Ad Astra 2015. Yesterday, I covered our fantastic Saturday, including the launch party for Love, Time, Space, Magic. Today, we reach the exciting conclusion of the weekend, where we do better than we have ever done before.

My first event on Sunday was the Guest of Honour Brunch, beginning at 10 am in one of the ballrooms on the main floor. I had scheduled the brunch rather late. Normally, I don’t attend GoH brunches because of prohibitive cost and my lack of excitement over celebrities, but not only was the cost quite fair for this one ($35), but I also wanted a chance to meet some industry professionals, and have some interesting conversation, not to mention a nice brunch. I’m one of those people who could eat breakfast any time of day, so I figured why not.

I ended up at Monica Pacheco’s table, and she was quite nice to talk to. There was quite a lot of good conversation going on at the table, actually, and many puns were made about bacon. The food was decent, although I was expecting more variety. However, I never argue with good bacon and eggs. The company was delightful, and I would have loved to have stayed for more conversation, but I was late for my second demo as it was. I did, however, stay long enough to determine that I did not win the Kobo. Just as well… I wouldn’t want my new Kobo Vox to discover I had been emotionally cheating on it.

I arrived at my demo a tad late, but my crowd, luckily, was undeterred. Kathleen, a friend and up-and-coming young author, had dropped by to see me, and we had a great time chatting.

When I arrived back at the booth, I discovered that we had sold quite a number of buttons. The Pop Seagull slogan buttons were a new thing as of last fall, but they’ve sold steadily, and I think we’re going to print more, with different choices of slogan. I’ve also been tossing around the notion of staff T-shirts for quite a while, and I think we’ll be moving ahead with that, as well. I think it’s nice that people want to take a piece of Pop Seagull with them wherever they go.

If I was worried about selling the last three copies of Love, Time, Space, Magic, I needn’t have been. We sold out, and then had several more people leave the table disappointed. We re-assured them that we’ll be back with more at Genrecon, and in the mean time, we’ll have them at all of the Hamilton Art Crawls this summer. After a smooth tear-down, we left the convention exhausted, but happy.

So, in conclusion, I want to thank everyone who made this weekend such a success for us, but most of all, I want to thank the Ad Astra organizers and staff, who put so much work into making the event such an amazing spotlight for literary folks and who make such a genuinely safe and welcoming atmosphere. The staff showed us support in so many ways, little and big, and I can’t even express what a difference that makes to a small publisher used to having to do it all myself.

So thank you, Ad Astra! I’ll remember this weekend fondly for a long time to come.

Ad Astra Con Report: Saturday April 11 #AdAstra2015


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post series on Pop Seagull’s wonderful time at Ad Astra 2015. Yesterday, I recapped our experiences on Friday with setup and seeing old friends. Today, I’ll report on the most exciting day of the con by far… Saturday!

So, with a good start to the weekend on Friday, and a good night’s sleep under our belts, we headed into Saturday. I got up early, went to the lobby, and printed out posters for the launch. In every convention outing, as in camping or any other trip, I fully expect to forget one necessary item, and this time, paper launch posters were it. So, I went into Microsoft word, made excessive use of the tables feature, and crafted up something that looked pretty nice. I spent the rest of my time before the dealers’ room opened putting the posters up, and none of the time realizing that there had been a discrepancy in communications about the launch location.

Luckily, it was all on the same floor, and there was a very nice gentleman from con staff (thank you, and please comment or tweet if you see this so I can thank you properly) who was penciling in the correct info by the time I realized my mistake. It was a funny scene, actually. I was at the elevators, and I saw him changing the location with a red pen, and I walked up behind and said a hearty “Thank you!” to him, to which he replied, “You’re welcome… what for?” We both had a good laugh.

At the booth, Ira and Mum and I continued to have a good time, made even better by the arrival of my fellow Hamiltonian Stephen B. Pearl. With the party looming large, we pontificated even further on the joys of cake and Japanese candy, and met some more lovely people. My friend Robert from Genrecon (You see that Robert? I got it this time now that I’ve had sleep) came by, and we exchanged many hugs. Mum was also happy to see him, as she has a sort of reflex to want to spoil him rotten.

At noon, I performed my first demo on cover design, which I feel was quite well-attended. I got lots of interesting questions, and one attendee even gave me the privilege of critiquing his work. I found the demos to be quite rewarding, and a great opportunity to pay it forward and use my knowledge to inspire and inform. In fact, there will be a future blog post based on some of the things I’ve wanted to express to newer indie authors that solidified during my workshops this past weekend.

After the workshop, we pretty much had to go straight into party setup mode. We gathered our stuff, somehow got it into the elevator on the cart, and met with the launch liaisons. Everybody was great, there was good security and support at the event room, and our load-in went fairly seamlessly. Due to earlier events going a little over time, however (as they pretty much always do), we were a tad behind in setup. Stephen did a great job of keeping everyone happy and entertained while I set up the book table and the Skype feed, and if it hadn’t been for Jules from the launch team’s fast thinking, we would have been left without an internet connection, so thank you for helping me problem solve in the moment.

I also got to meet one of our authors, Victoria Feistner, for the very first time. Victoria is a lovely and warm local author who wrote an awesome myth retelling set in Toronto that has been quick to garner good reviews. She also came with an enviable group of friends and supporters who helped greatly with the setup (thanks, Marc and Liane!). We are well met, and I think we all hope to see more of her in future.

And now, here are the party photos!

Joy and a very cute baby guest! He was such a good little guy during the readings.

Joy and a very cute baby guest! He was such a good little guy during the readings.

Ira Nayman, in between many laughs.

Ira Nayman, in between many laughs.

This cake says Tim...

This cake says Tim…

Can it be? Tim Carter got the Tim cake? Magical!

Can it be? Tim Carter got the Tim cake? Magical!

Stephen B. Pearl, mingling with some awesome folks

Stephen B. Pearl, mingling with some awesome folks

Yours truly, with new author Jeffrey A. Gartshore. Glad we could welcome you to the community, Jeffrey!

Yours truly, with new author Jeffrey A. Gartshore. Glad we could welcome you to the community, Jeffrey!

Author Victoria Feistner listens intently during Ira's reading

Author Victoria Feistner listens intently during Ira’s reading

The cake was the truth! Didn't last long, though...

The cake was the truth! Didn’t last long, though…

As you can probably tell from the photos, we had a great crowd out, not only in numbers, but in engagement. Everybody really enjoyed the readings, and most people stuck around for the whole party, which was awesome. And, we had a line-up for the book! An honest-to-goodness line-up! Woohoo!

The rest of the day was a whirlwind. At the end of the sales day, we were down to only three copies of Love, Time, Space, Magic, and had sold respectable volumes of our other titles. I had intended to attend as many of the other launch parties as possible, but by the end of the day, I was hungry, footsore and totally, totally wiped. I spent the evening in bed, eating pizza buns and low fat puddings, because I’m a cool cat like that.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion… will we sell all of our copies of Love, Time, Space, Magic?

Oh, wait, I already spoiled it. Still going to be a good story though.

Ad Astra Con Report: Friday April 10 #AdAstra2015


, , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve already posted last week about the success of our book launch at Ad Astra 2015, so if you’d like to hear more about how awesomely amazing that was, click here for the post.

There was more that I wanted to say about the convention, though, beyond simply stating that we did well. It was just a really well put together event, and I thought it might be nice to do a few brief posts about our experiences there to encourage people to get out and experience the convention, if you haven’t yet. I’ve always liked Ad Astra, but I and many people feel that with the death of several local fan-run conventions in recent years, they have really picked up that torch and run with it, and are poised to be the next big thing for those of us who like fan-run and fan-focused events. I’ve posted before about the need in the community for events that are by fans, for fans, and I want to use my platform to help these events thrive. Also, naturally I’m a fan of the literary bent of the convention and I hope that grows, too.

So, the first thing you should know about my convention Friday was that I was sick. Yep, super sick with that stomach flu thing that’s going around right now. But, since I had been working on this launch for eight months, twelve authors were relying on me to do a good job promoting them, and I’d sunk copious monies into the event itself, I was pretty much going to go even if I was sitting at the booth delirious with fever and mumbling stuff about ground shrews. Luckily, my aches and pains subsided throughout the day and I was able to do what I needed to do.

The day started around noon, with a cake pick-up run and a few last-minute stops at those ubiquitous business outlets, Staples and Micheal’s. Naturally, I overdid it at Micheal’s and picked up a bunch of nice decorations for the table, but c’mon… they were having a sale. And they had a blue owl vase that was just perfect for our displays. I also managed to smoosh one edge of the cake, but nobody seemed to notice amid the deliciousness.

From there, I met my two helpers, my husband Robin, and my mum, Viv, who helped me to load all of the stuff for the con into Mum’s SUV. We’re very lucky we took the SUV… veeeery lucky. At least I can say, happily, that due to sales and the popularity of our edibles, there was much less on the way back. We loaded up on schedule, and headed out onto the highway. After a short hop onto the 407, we arrived at the Sheraton.

I’ve previously expressed my admiration for this venue, and I’ll continue to do so here. The service, cleanliness and convenience at the Sheraton were all that I have come to expect from attending numerous conventions there. The staff were always attentive and helpful, the food was decent, and the rooms were clean and at a nice temperature. Since I’ve spent a considerable amount of time at this convention center, it was pretty easy to find the loading docks and get everything loaded into the dealers’ room.

I’ve spent some time streamlining and check-listing our set-up and tear-down processes lately, and so I can proudly announce that we were set up in record time. We were in a good position, along the right-hand wall between two steampunk accessories vendors. Our neighbours were lovely, and it was nice chatting with them over the weekend. In fact, I wish I’d had some money to add to my signature hat collection. Next time, Gadget… next time.

One very pleasant surprise in the dealers’ room this year is the addition of a few friendly faces from Genrecon. Rob and Nick, and their warm welcome, are part of the reason why I’ve become such a booster for Genrecon in the past few years. It was great to see them helping out with Ad Astra as well, and spreading some of that great work around. Plus, let’s face it, it was just nice to catch up. Throughout the weekend, they were totally there for my team, helping us put up posters, making sure my demo space was set up correctly, and just generally serving as contact to the outside con world for us booth hermits.

Soon after setup, our other booth companion, Ira Nayman arrived. If you’re familiar with his work, or have met him locally, you can probably imagine that his wit and humor (not to mention his charm with con-goers) added a lot to our weekend. If you’re not familiar with him, and you like to laugh, you owe it to yourself to look him up. Ira and I spent the rest of the evening chatting with folks, handing out cards for the book launch, and indulging in much hyping of the cake.

Mum shuttled between locations, bringing us food and drinks, and making final arrangements for our hotel room. She was a life-saver in this capacity all weekend, and I couldn’t have done it without her. Pop Seagull underwent some surprise turnover late last year, and at first I didn’t know who would step up to fill the shoes left empty by the departure of our second editor. As it turns out, we’re better staffed and running smoother than ever, thanks to careful re-organization and Mum stepping up to the plate. She was completely new and unaware of con culture when she first arrived, but now she is fast becoming a favourite with Pop Seagull’s convention friends, and she enjoys meeting so many intelligent and unique people.

After all of the work and hauling and lifting and chatting and worry that went into Friday, everyone was about done in by closing time. But, I still made a bit of time for my friends down at the bar. We swapped stories, shared tips we’d discovered between cons, and just generally laughed and had a good time. I shared my idea for a new TD marketing campaign based on Star Wars. Seriously, it’s the bank of choice for jawas. Why else are they always yelling “Ooo TD!”? It’s the perfect slogan, I tell you. Pretty sure Disney is holding onto that copyright, though.

Anyway, that’s day one. Stay tuned for Saturday… now with photos!

Robotica is still open! Get in while you can!


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In case you haven’t heard yet, our last anthology launch was a huge success, selling out over the 2015 Ad Astra weekend. We had tons of guests visiting our launch, laughing with and listening to our author line-up and sharing the good times. We had people coming to the booth after we sold out.

Want to be part of our next success story? Submit to us!

You, too, could read to packed rooms, and have your book sell out in less than three days. You could become part of Pop Seagull’s growing author community, and network with other published authors from around the world, doing cross-blogs and other social media events.

Submit to us, and, if selected, you’ll experience the personal attention and care that we put into our books, and our authors. We’ll support you every step of the way, from contracts to marketing materials. We may be a small publisher, but we put big effort into our titles.

Plus, you’ll make money. What could be better than that? We pay 1 cent per word for short stories, plus three contributors’ copies, and authors get a generous discount on purchases.

So, what are we looking for? Well, right now we need short stories to fill our Robotica anthology by May 1st. Submit a story of 500 to 10, 000 words to lizmclean (dot) artist at gmail (dot) com that revolves around robot love, sex, relationships or procreation. We’re looking for science fiction or steampunk stories (or any related ‘punk’ genre) which answer the question of how these things work for robots. Come up with the most original, entertaining or throught-provoking answer, and we’ll publish it!

Our reading period is from May 1st to May 31st, and so every story will be considered equally, during the reading period, and responded to by the end of the month.

Good luck, and happy submitting! We’d love to welcome you to the Pop Seagull family.

Sold-Out Print Run at Ad Astra!


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

I have been recovering from my time at Ad Astra this entire week… not because it was a chore, but because it was totally amazing! So amazing that I wore myself and my helpers out just drinking it all in, taking advantage of all the amazing opportunities and bringing Love, Time, Space, Magic into the world.

We had an absolutely stellar weekend which tripled even our best estimates. Our book launch was fun, well-received and well-executed, thanks in large part to the support of our authors and convention staff. Props to everybody who pitched in to make sure we were well-informed, the guests were entertained during setup, and that we were stocked with an assortment of wonderful goodies for people to enjoy between readings. Our guests said afterward that the launch was fun, low-key, well-paced, and that the readings were entertaining and of a good length.

The best news, however, is that we sold out of Love, Time, Space, Magic, demolishing all or our best estimates for sales. During the weekend, we sold nearly 50 copies of the book, which given the size of our company, and the convention size, is absolutely through the roof! We are currently out of copies and I am going to be ordering more from the printer this week.

Additional to the commercial success of the book during launch weekend is the positive feedback we have received from respected members of the local industry on our book design and cover standards. We had lots of compliments on the cover, many people stopped to tell us how beautiful they thought it was, and our book design seminars were well-attended by people eager to learn the craft.

The recognition of our design standards is a big victory for Pop Seagull, because from the very beginning we have striven for excellence in all things illustration and design, determined to be the very best we can be and bring world class standards to our books, whenever possible. This time, we really pulled out all the stops, and it’s great to hear that recognition from the community. I really hope that the workshops we did this weekend will be the start of many such events, because I feel there is a big need in the indie publishing community for this kind of knowledge and more people need to be informed about the design choices they make for their products. In fact, that sounds like a blog post in the making…

Right now, I’m out of town and missing my camera cable, so I’m going to do a series on the different days of the convention and some of the highlights, with photos, next week. Until then, I just wanted to announce what a success it has been, and that we plan to build on this success by bringing you more fabulous, beautiful books.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Anthology Advice for Writers from Fantasy Author Deborah Walker — Our first Guest Blog!


, , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Sell Short Stories to an Anthology

By Deborah Walker

‘I sing the Recurring Melody’ by Deborah Walker appears in Pop Seagull Publishing’s Love, Space, Time, Magic anthology. Deborah writes short fiction: fantasy, science fiction and horror. In the last six years, she’s been published in quite a few anthologies. You can check out her bibliography here:


First off, I’ll pepper these words with caution. This is how I do things. You might have a much better way of selling stories to anthologies. And if you do, could you please tell me in the comments.


Sometimes an editor will chance across a published story and decide it’s perfect for their anthology. Make it easy for them! Publish your contact information on the interwebs. A bibliography of your published stories with links is good, too. I speak from experience. A few years ago, I had no contact information on my blog, and an editor had to track me down via Facebook. Thank you so much, Mr. Editor.


Search for anthology calls and guidelines on The Grinder A quick search of paying markets gives fifty-eight anthologies open today. That’s a lot!

But lots of writers use The Grinder. I also use submission call sites, like Horror Tree, Dark Markets and My Little Corner Anthology leads can also be found on social networks: writers passing on submission calls, mentioning a submission or an early sale.


Selling stories is difficult. There’s no doubt about that. There’s a lot of great writers out there and you’re competing on an international stage. My strategy is to make a lot, a lot of subs. Sure not everyone has my time or my enormous bag of stories, but the more subs you make; the more rolls of the dice you make.


Once you’ve found an anthology call you’d like to submit to you need a story to submit.

Consider the stories you’ve already written. When I see an anthology, I go through my list of stories (non-sold and reprint) and think hard about if it could fit. That sounds foolish doesn’t it? Surely it should be obvious. But by thinking hard about the anthology’s theme and thinking outside the box, I often find a story that fits in an non-obvious way. Consider the editor. She’ll receive a large number of stories riffing off the most obvious interpretations of the anthology’s theme. A creative interpretation might stand out. Certainly, I’ve sold stories that I thought were long shots for a theme. Possibly more often than the perfect fit stories!

If the anthology takes multiple subs, consider sending more than one. I’m very bad at guessing what editors like. When I send more than one piece, you can bet the editor takes the story I didn’t think they would.


What you write is your call, of course. But as I mentioned an editor will receive a lot of submissions on the most obvious interpretations of the theme. How about making your story stand out a little?

If you’ve written a story specifically for an anthology, a rejection can sting. After all, you’ve written something new, and now you’ve been rejected it was all a big waste of time. But not so! I find rejected anthology stories sell to other venues just as well as stories written for no particular venues. Sometimes rejected anthology stories sell to different anthologies. Some years ago I did some number crunching, let’s lay aside the fact that the numbers were too small to be statistically meaningful. Stories that I wrote specifically for a themed anthology and were rejected went onto sell slightly better than stories I wrote with no particular theme in mind.


If the guidelines don’t mention reprints, I often query to see if the editor will accept them. I’ve also queried about length and, I just had a bit of flash accepted which I queried about as the guidelines asked for 2000 words +. If you come across an invite only anthology, you can query. Editors don’t bite—most of the time. A word of caution: do query privately, via e-mail. Once I saw a query on Facebook that turned unpleasant.


Anthology editors receive most subs at the start and the end of the submission period. Try not to sub at the end if you can help it. That’s not always possible, I know. Some anthology calls respond to everything at the end of the submission period, and might say so in their guidelines. But subbing early sometimes means that you get a second bite of the cherry and can send in another story if the first one’s rejected.


You’ve sold to an anthology! Congratulations. Now don’t forget to practice good after-sales. I always respond to the initial acceptance letter with a thank you. I respond quickly to queries and copy-edits, always within a week. Once the anthology is out, promote it on your social network to the extent of your comfort zone. Do all these things because they’re good manners, and because you’ve found an editor who likes your work and maybe, just maybe, they’ll buy from you again in the future.


I hope you find bits and pieces of this advice interesting. There’s nothing quite like being published in an anthology. I love the camaraderie between the contributors and love reading the authors takes on shared theme. Anthologies are a lot of fun. Good luck and don’t forget to share your tips in the comments.

Ira Nayman on Interdimensional Travel, and More!


, , , , , , , , , , ,

In the week-long run up to the launch of Love, Time, Space, Magic, some of the authors and I are doing a series of guest blogs around the interwebz. The first in the series is Ira Nayman, guest blogging on Fraser Sherman’s blog about the inspiration for his story in Love, Time, Space, Magic.

Ira’s path to this particular story is long, circuitous and interesting, and we’re proud to be featuring such an important piece of his science fiction universe. Check it out!

Get a free taste of our latest title, today!


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


With only a couple of weeks to go until our big launch of Love, Time, Space, Magic at Ad Astra Science Fiction Convention, it’s time to give our readers a sneak peek at the anthology!

As such, we are now open for pre-orders on Kobo and iBooks, and a free sample of Victoria Feistner’s story, Melanie in the Underworld, is now available in our samples section on the top navigation bar.

Victoria’s contribution to the anthology is a daring and adventurous tale of one woman who will do anything to bring back her deceased love. Drawing from roots in classical mythology, Victoria has pulled a timeless tale of love and loss squarely into twenty-first century Toronto, with plenty of cheeky surprises even for the mythology sticklers out there.

So have a peek, and let us know what you think. Let the pre-orders begin!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 88 other followers