- Would you give us an overview of Smith's Monthly?
The idea came from magazines like Ellery Queen and Asimov’s and other old digest magazines such as Zane Gray’s Western Magazine. But I wondered what would happen if I wrote everything in every issue. And when I mentioned that to Kris, she said “Sure, why not?”
I’m not sure if she actually heard my question. (grin)
Issue #17 is now out after a little delay, I’m finishing up #18 which will ship in a week, and will have #19 to the copyeditor by next week. That’s the cut and dry of it, but the fun for me is writing the novel in varied genres every month. And then I do the cover and layout of the paper copy myself, which is great fun because I get to do the covers of the short stories and so on.
Smith’s monthly is just me having fun in this new world, but it has numbers of subscribers and the issues sell in both paper and electronic editions, and I publish the novels two or three months after each issue comes out as stand alone books. And a lot of the short stories are also out as stand-alone stories.
In the first 12 issues I had 14 novels (two were serial novels), one nonfiction golf book, a bunch of poems, and 51 short stories.
2. For some reason I don't associate genre writers with golf. But there you are.
Back in what seems like a distant past, meaning early 1970s before I started writing, I was a PGA Golf professional for a number of years. Yeah, I know, crazy, huh? And I did the golf nonfiction book, a humor book about getting to the first tee of any round of golf, plus three of my real-life stories from my days in golf. And even stranger, starting in Smith’s Monthly #18 is a serial golf novel called “Easy Shot.” It’s a thriller I published under a pen name a bunch of years back, and since the publisher died the week it came out, I figured I’d give it a new life.
And just last week I wrote a science fiction golf story for an editor at Baen Books.
3. Not only a golfer but also a poet.
Well, that was also in another life, although I still write a poem or two at times. Back when I started writing, I started with poems and sold a bunch of them. Thirty or more to literary magazines. I stopped mailing them out when my focus turned to fiction, but I still write them and at times, not every issue, but at times, there are my poems.
Again, the magazine is all mine, so I just get to play with what I want. I was nominated for a Hugo four times for my editing at Pulphouse, but when putting these issues together, I just play.
4. The Cold Poker Gang concept is cool. How did it evolve?
The Cold Poker Gang was an idea I had when writing a thriller a bunch of years back under a pen name. And as I got into the thriller, I realized having a bunch of retired detectives investigating cold cases didn’t fit in the thriller plot at all, so I cut it out. But the idea always sort of hung around.
Issue #18 will have the third novel with the gang called “Calling Dead.” It’s got a pretty high body count. (grin) But cold cases often tend to be serial killers. The secondary characters in this, Annie and Doc and Fleet, are the main characters in a political poker thriller I published last year called “Dead Money.” I’ve done a couple short stories with those two, but at the moment they are hanging around as support characters for the Cold Poker Gang.
Eventually I’ll write another thriller in the Dead Money world and the Cold Poker Gang will be support characters. I sure love the freedom of this new world.
5. This is the first issue I've seen. The stories are excellent. But a monthly pace?
Actually, the only time the monthly pace became a problem so far is when WMG Publishing shut down for December for the holidays. That got me off pace and I’m just now getting back on because I was sick part of March. And compared to so many writers in the past that I admire, a novel or more per month isn’t a hard pace to keep up. And I tend to write enough short fiction each month, or have stories that need to be brought back that it will be years before those are an issue.
I’m not known for writing mystery novels or thrillers, since all that I wrote for traditional publishers were either ghost novels or secret pen names. But now with Smith’s Monthly I’m having a blast writing new mystery novels under my own name.
6. Where do you think Smith's Monthly will be a year from now? Any plans you care to discuss?
I see Smith’s Monthly a year from now hitting issue 30 or so and just continuing onward. Unless I get sick or fall over dead, I sure see no reason to slow this down. I’m having far, far too much fun. I wrote 18 novels in 16 months and a bunch of nonfiction books and am having a blast.
This new world of publishing, and WMG Publishing, allows me to do this crazy thing. And the subscribers support it, and so do my fans on my blog and on Patreon. And then when the novels come out as stand alone novels, they sell as well. I’m making more money now and having more fun than I ever did in thirty-plus years and hundreds of novels in traditional publishing.
And in no world of traditional publishing did anyone ever think of having one writer fill every month, every story, of a 65,000 word magazine. At least not since Dent in the pulp era. So I’m sure having fun.