Saturday Morning Cartoons

Perhaps one of the things I miss most from years gone by is the ability to tune in to network television on Saturday morning and find a wide variety of animated cartoon programming. Much of this is due to television networks in the period of 1992 to 2002 deciding they didn’t make enough money to continue supporting animated programming. Also, around 2001 my wife and I decided that neither cable nor satellite TV were necessary items for our budget and we could see all the TV we wanted with other media such as DVDs. Of course, our decision was all part of the national trend that helped to kill animation in the first place. Not many people eschewed broadcast TV altogether as we did that early, but the number of choices available made it harder for networks to justify the expense of animation when certain cable networks specialized in it.

I grew up watching cartoons in the 1970s. I fondly remember many teams of crime-solving kids from shows such as Scooby-Doo and Josie and the Pussycats. The Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Hour provided some great comedy, much of it originally produced much before my time. I was already a Star Trek fan and loved the animated adaptation that aired in the mid 70s. There were even some cool live action experiments during that time such as Land of the Lost about a family trapped in a land of dinosaurs and the superhero-themed Shazam/Isis Hour.

I never really fell out of love with cartoons, but the 1990s ended up being another high point for me. That was in the early days of my astronomy career and cartoons became an escape from my working life. They were also a welcome treat when my first daughter was young. What I particularly remember from that period were some exceptional superhero shows such as Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men. There were also some great animated superhero parodies such as Earthworm Jim, The Tick and Freakazoid.

Of course, for all the gems, there were many forgettable shows as well. Still, what I find amazing living in the times we do is how many of these shows that I thought I would never see again are readily available on video or with the touch of a button on the internet. For a guy like me who occasionally wants a dose of nostalgia, these are great times. That said, the real joy of those Saturday mornings was the fun of discovery and I think that’s what I really miss is having that easy means of discovering new favorites.

Giving people a way to discover new authors was much of the reason I edited Hadrosaur Tales followed by Tales of the Talisman. Publishing those magazines also helped me appreciate the economic reality that caused the networks to take Saturday morning cartoons off the air. Like TV shows gone by, you can still get most of the back issues of both magazines. There are some great stories there by authors such as Neal Asher, Nicole Givens Kurtz, David Boop, and Janni Lee Simner and many more. You can find the back issues of each at:

As it turns out, I can do better than just give you nostalgia, Hadrosaur Productions has published two anthologies of stories set around planets discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission. Be sure to check out:

Queries, Marketing, and Talismans

It’s been a little over a year since Tales of the Talisman volume 10, issue 4 hit the streets and I thought I’d take this opportunity to update you on the magazine’s hiatus.

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I took the break, in part, to finish three novels under contract. Where those stand is as follows: The Brazen Shark was published earlier this year. I just turned in the first round of galleys for The Astronomer’s Crypt. I still need to write Owl Riders. My goal is to work on that novel this autumn and winter. Lurking in the background was also the anthology which is now called Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales. As I mentioned last weekend, construction of that book is well underway.

I’m also conducting an experiment to see whether it’s a better business decision for Hadrosaur Productions to focus its publishing efforts on anthologies rather than a magazine. That experiment is on-going and you are welcome to participate. If you’re a writer, we’re reading for the anthology Kepler’s Cowboys right now. Find out what we’re looking for at the Guidelines Page. If you’re a reader, be sure to visit my homepage at davidleesummers.com and sign up for my newsletter so you can be among the first to know when the book is released! Just as a brief update for those writers who have submitted, the first short-listed stories are with my co-editor Dr. Steve Howell right now to get his opinion. If you want to check on the status of a submission, please feel free to query.

Which brings me to a brief digression for some writerly advice. Over the last few weeks, I’ve received a few queries about Tales of the Talisman and other projects. When writing a query, keep it short, on point, and avoid presumptuousness, no matter the reason for the query. A specific example comes to mind when someone queried to see if I’d be interested in reading an essay they’d written. About mid-way through the query, they said something to the effect: “This essay is longer than your guidelines specify, but the material is so interesting, I’m sure you’ll want to take a look.” A writer needs confidence, but this is not the best way to express it. Better would be a simple statement of the length. This would allow me to decide if I’m willing to bend the rules. Best would be to indicate willingness to work with the editor if changes are desired. In this case, don’t even indicate that it’s the length that’s at issue. The problem with the query letter was that it was so specific on the point of length that I suspected the author wouldn’t be willing to make any changes. Even if I had been buying essays for Tales of the Talisman, this would have made me less likely to consider the essay.

As far as the hiatus is concerned, I estimate I’m about two-thirds of the way through the time-critical projects that I knew would take a lot of my attention from the magazine. The experiment to see whether anthologies are a better product for Hadrosaur is really just gaining momentum. The upshot is that the hiatus will continue through 2016 as planned and will continue into 2017. About mid-way through 2017, I’ll take another look and see where things stand.

Of course, the one thing that speaks volumes to any editor or publisher considering a project is sales. The thing that would most convince me to bring back Tales of the Talisman sooner than later is a surge in back-issue sales, which actually brings me to another writer tip. For me, one of the hardest things about marketing is tooting my own horn. However, magazines and anthologies offer a way around that difficulty because there are great works by a number of authors. Instead of tweeting “buy my book” you can encourage people to “check out this magazine with an awesome story by Lee Clark Zumpe and an terrific poem by Beth Cato.”

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If you go to the “Issues” link at TalesOfTheTalisman.com you’ll find the four issues of Volume 10. More than that, if you scroll to the bottom, you’ll find links to all the past volumes. For an extra special treat, check out Tales of the Talisman’s predecessor, Hadrosaur Tales. Many of the back issues are available at the HadroStore! These older issues are a real bargain. If you’re a writer who wants Tales of the Talisman back as a market, why not recommend a few of these older magazines to your readers. I encourage readers to browse and find something they’d like to try. Even though the issues have dates, stories and poems don’t spoil. They’re just as fresh as the day they were published.

Tales of the Talisman – Autumn 2014

Admittedly winter is almost upon us according to the calendar, but we still have a couple weeks of autumn left and I’ve been working hard this past week to finish the Autumn 2014 issue of Tales of the Talisman Magazine. Tales 10-2 cover The issue has something of a mad science vibe with stories of elder gods manipulating the Large Hadron Collider to break through to our world and Thomas Edison working to contact the dead. We also meet nineteenth century scientists working on the first artificial heart and we see a world where the wealthy reenact early space flights.

There are plenty of other stories as well, including the tale of a man who seeks King Arthur’s grave to implore the once and future monarch to rise and save the world. A doctor visits a village in Mongolia only to encounter terrifying magic. Another man peels up the corner of the world to reveal the elephants underneath. Of course, the issue itself is supported and enhanced by wonderful speculative poetry and terrific illustrations. I hope to send the issue to press sometime in the week of December 14. My guess is we’ll be shipping it out early in 2015. Please watch for it to appear at TalesOfTheTalisman.com and support the fine work of the authors and artists who have made this issue possible.

I suspect most people have heard by now that Tales of the Talisman will be going on indefinite hiatus. I thought I would take this opportunity answer some questions I’ve received about our break from the magazine.


Why are you going on hiatus?

In short, both Art Director Laura Givens and I have a lot of new, exciting opportunities on our plates and we could use more time to focus on them. I am contracted to deliver two novels to Sky Warrior Publishing in the next eighteen months. I will start working with my editor on a third novel for Lachesis Publishing early in 2015 and I have several other projects both personal and professional that have long been on the back burner simply due to lack of time.

By my estimate, I spend about 4.5 months of my year working at Kitt Peak. This is pretty much on par with an ordinary eight-hour per day, five-day per week job. Tales of the Talisman requires about 4 months of my year. That leaves about 3.5 months to do everything else, which has included writing a novel roughly every other year, multiple short stories, and attending conventions to promote my work.

In 1995, I assembled a small anthology called Hadrosaur Tales. That soon grew into a magazine, which I edited until 2005. At that point, in consultation with several people, we decided to take the magazine to the next level and add illustrations and give the stories the presentation they deserve. This became Tales of the Talisman.

For most of those twenty years, Hadrosaur Tales and then Tales of the Talisman supported themselves. However, they neither made me nor any of their contributors a living, much less making us rich. I have been delighted to have seen all the stories and poems that have come in to Tales of the Talisman and Hadrosaur Tales over the last twenty years, but I also felt like twenty years marked a good point to take a break and pursue other opportunities while I consider the next, best way for Hadrosaur Productions to present short fiction


When will Tales of the Talisman come back?

The most straightforward answer is, I don’t know. In short, deadlines are upon me for some of the projects I’ve mentioned above, plus I’m still spending time working on getting the final issues of Tales to press. I simply haven’t had time to consider that question. I plan to have a more definitive answer by the end of 2015.


Will Tales of the Talisman come back?

I’m not entirely certain, at least as it exists in its present form. Hadrosaur Productions, the company that publishes Tales of the Talisman remains committed to presenting great short speculative fiction. What we have to consider is whether the magazine is the best, most cost and time-effective way to do that. I have been considering other options, including an annual or semi-annual anthology, which might allow for quicker ebook conversion and easier distribution.


How long will Tales of the Talisman be published?

We have purchased stories through the spring 2015 issue. So, including the one that’s about to go to press, we have three issues to go. The artists are currently working on the winter issue, so I hope it will be released well before the spring winds start blowing here in New Mexico. We have all the material we need to fill those issues, so there will be no further reading periods until such time as we start up again, in whatever form that happens.


How will subscriptions be handled that extend past the last issue?

We don’t have many of those at this point. If you are one of those subscribers, I’ll contact you after we ship the final issue and find out if you want a refund for the balance of your subscription or if you’d like a product from the Hadrosaur Productions catalog for the value of the subscription.


If you have a question that I haven’t covered, feel free to ask in the comments. I want to thank all those people who have supported Tales of the Talisman and Hadrosaur Tales over the years. I ask that you continue to support my work and growth as a writer in the coming months. I hope that growing as a writer will help me grow as an editor as well. When we come back—in whatever form that is—I want the short fiction and poetry venue of Hadrosaur Productions to be a strong, vibrant home for the best voices in speculative fiction. My goal for this hiatus is to grow so that the material I choose and guide remains on that cutting edge. Please visit davidleesummers.com, browse my books and sign up for my newsletter.

Versatile Blogger Award

This week, Bell Night presented me with the Versatile Blogger Award. Bell is a writer with a passion for the strange and mysterious who writes an interesting blog containing trivia about well known and historical authors. Thanks for the nomination, Bell. For the rest of you, go check out her blog!

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As indicated by my link above, the Versatile Blogger Award has its own blog where you can find the rules. Of course, the goal of these awards is simply to allow us to “pay it forward” and recognize other bloggers plus provide an opportunity to answer some questions or cite some trivia about ourselves we might not cover in other blog posts.

My response to this particular nomination comes at the end of a busy week that has involved tracking asteroids, trying to set up a spectrograph for infrared observations before a blizzard came in, and weathering said blizzard at Kitt Peak National Observatory. I’ve just returned home where I plan to accept stories for coming issues of Tales of the Talisman Magazine, discuss some business with one of my publishers, and prepare for Wild Wild West Con and the Tucson Festival of Books which are both happening the weekend of March 8-10, 2013.

In the case of this award, I’m supposed to tell the person who nominated me seven things about myself. These seven things all have some relation to this past week.

  1. The first blizzard I remember happened during a family trip to Fort Tejon, in the Grapevine, north of Los Angeles.
  2. The first observatory I took data at was the Smith 24-inch telescope at Mount Laguna Observatory run by San Diego State University.
  3. I live in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
  4. I also have a residence at Kitt Peak National Observatory outside of Tucson, Arizona where I work.
  5. Tales of the Talisman used to be known as Hadrosaur Tales.
  6. My first novel was The Pirates of Sufiro and it was originally released on audio cassette in 1994.
  7. The first convention I attended as a dealer, as a panelist, and as a guest was CopperCon, all in different years.

In the spirit of paying it forward, I’ll recommend some blogs I like to visit. Now, a lot of these folks are busy and I don’t expect most of them to respond to this award meme, but I’d nevertheless be delighted to see their answers if they choose to. Either way, you should go check out what these folks are up to!

  1. Joy’s Live Journal
  2. Author Ryan Schneider
  3. Dark Cargo
  4. Dab of Darkness
  5. Robert E. Vardeman
  6. Stephen D. Sullivan
  7. Ernest Hogan
  8. Emily Devenport