Thursday, October 25, 2012

Indie Spotlight: Sundog Lit

One of the things I love most about the interwebs, and obsessive social media sites like Twitter, is the lightening speed rate at which you are bombarded by new things. Some of it turns out to be trash, or outside the scope of your interest, true... but if you're following the right kinda crowd, a lot of what comes at you is right up your alley and you sudden fall down the rabbit hole of awesome-new-things-I-must-immediately-become-acquainted-with. 

In my case, running in bookish circles as I do, my rabbit hole is small press publishing. And this week, The Insatiable Booksluts all but shoved me down one with their links to the stories published by new-to-me Sundog Not only are they snagging some awesome literature from even awesomer writers, they love running features and series nearly as much as I do! But rather than listening to me go on and on about why these guys should be placed on your must-watch-closely and expect-great-things lists... I thought I'd let Managing Editor Justin Lawrence Daugherty do it for me. So, without further ado... Sundog Lit:

This is an introduction, of sorts, a hello, a how-do-you-do, a pleased-to-meet-ya. This is a howdy to the world.

Hello back at ya, you say. Who are you, though?

This is Sundog Lit, an online lit mag of incendiary, earth-scorching literature. I wrote about the early days, the all-or-nothing days (mind you, only 2.5 months ago, that was), the days of sweat and calloused fingers, for the Passages North blog. I wrote about how this beast first breathed life from its lungs, about how this began at AWP in Chicago this year and how it eventually came to where we are, really, now.

But, there's an untold story. I think part of the story is my own tale to tell. About how I returned to Omaha, Nebraska, the town I spent the first 27 years of my life, the town I left with a fiance, and came back to without that fiance, and with a sense of loss – not of her, but of having left Marquette, Michigan, Lake Superior, friends, Northern Michigan University, a girlfriend (whom is also no longer in the picture). I had left behind what had very much defined me for the last few years, an MFA program where I grew – I like to think – exponentially. In Omaha, I felt a need to connect, to be a part of something.

Sundog Lit came about in part out of that, but also out of the desire to see a venue for literature that really is active, incendiary, full of broken bones and blood and fury and all that. A venue for new, emerging, passionate voices. We wanted literature that really connects with the reader, makes them feel something, makes them unable to forget what they've read. Literature that breaks into your skin, gets deep in your bones like a chill in winter.

At first, we were unsure what we would get, what this mag would really look like, if we'd get any submissions, whether there'd be a first issue. There are so many magazines out there that you have to stand out, have to really try and shake foundations. We launched the site and soon had a few series – Photogene, an art-and-writing prompt contest (free!) that we run on the site, This State of Literature, a series of guest articles written by publishers and writers and lit mag runners on the state of literature in our world, and Friday Rex, our Friday recommendation series showcasing excellent literature from around the online literary world.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time on Twitter, on Facebook, out there promoting every single thing we created. Sometimes it felt like too much, but we generated interest, buzz, electricity, I think. People seemed excited for the first issue. There were hiccups, of course, but in October we finally released Issue One, something I'm so proud of, and featured so many amazing writers, people who I am really excited to have been able to feature and publish.

 Since then, we've partnered with Robert Kloss to offer Texts Inspired by Robert Kloss' The Alligators of Abraham, a series of texts from established writers responding, in some way, to Kloss' excellent novel. That series runs throughout November, 2012, in the run-up and aftermath of the release of the book. We're working on partnering with a couple other writers to do exciting, new things in conjunction with their book releases early next year.

We launched a blog, where we'll publish interviews and reviews, new series and feature articles and guest posts. We are preparing theme issues and contests. We're spreading and building quickly. There's something to be said for the slow build, but I've never been great with patience.

We will be at AWP in Boston. Come see us!

What my big dream is, though, is to launch a press, to publish books that push boundaries and incite readers, books that make readers really mull over what they've read, books that make them want more, more, more. I hope to work on that early next year. So, stay tuned.

The reaction to what we've done so far has been truly inspiring. People seem to love what we're doing and what we're putting out. The writing we've been blessed with publishing has been great. That's the most important thing. The writing. That's the reason any of us do this at all, the reason this mag exists. It's all about the writing. 

BIO: Winner of the 2012 Gigantic Sequins Flash Fiction Contest prize, Justin Lawrence Daugherty manages Sundog Lit from Omaha, Nebraska. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Normal School, Barrelhouse, Monkeybicycle, NAP Magazine, HOUSEFIRE, Whiskey Paper, Midwestern Gothic, Bluestem, A-Minor, Recess Magazine, Heavy Feather Review, and elsewhere. He is an Assistant Fiction Editor for Bartleby Snopes and the Music Editor at Used Furniture Review and is at work on putting together a podcast with a few other fine folks, to be announced soon. He is at work on a novella, a novel, and several other projects. 

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