by Bre Stephens, Founder & Editor of THE DARK SIRE
Our first anniversary is tomorrow, Saturday, October 31, 2020. Exactly one year ago today, I sat at my computer, rushing to get the first layout completed and ready for launch. I worked into the wee hours of the morning. I remember clicking the final save and submitting the file to go live around 6am (EST). I'll never forget the elation I felt as I sat there, viewing my work, and letting it soak in that I just published my first magazine issue. I had tears in my eyes.
Now that it's exactly one year later, and I'm again sitting in front of my keyboard in the wee hours of the morn (it's 2:50am (EST)!), I'm in awe of all the things that TDS has accomplished. For a magazine that started with ZERO readers and only dreams of making a difference in the world, I'm just amazed at where we are now. Over 3,000 readers worldwide, with international creatives now finding our submissions box for an American debut opportunity. We did it - and by "we" I mean the hardworking, talented authors, poets, and artists that have given their time and energy to craft brilliant pieces of artistry. These creatives are what make up the backbone of TDS - and whom I call the TDS Family.
Personally, some of my fondest memories are when I work directly with authors and poets. I remember working with David Crerand, John Kiste, Clay Hunt, Krista Canterbury Adams, and Frances Tate on various pieces. To be able to give suggestions to their creative muse and then watch the magic unfold into elevated pieces of art was just an amazing experience. They all worked so hard, and I was afforded an opportunity to get to know each of them as an individual human being, not just a name on a submission. Their hard work definitely inspired me to work even harder.
The most cherished memory I have is the Issue 2 launch party and author's event that was held on Feb. 20, 2020, at The Dover Public Library in Dover, Ohio. John Kiste was our speaker of honor, as a local who was published in TDS. However, S. M. Cook and David Crerand also joined us. The three of them formed an author's panel, discussed their work and writing process, read from their Issue 2 material, answered audience Q&A, and signed autographs as they networked. It was the type of event that publishers and authors dream of to promote their work - a glorious evening, indeed.
And, of all the opportunities that I've been working on behind the scenes, it's the folk music and the podcast that warm my heart the most. Fernandno Fidanza, an Italian musician from Rome, and I have collaborated on six TDS poems, transforming them into folk songs. S. M. Cook, Bartholomew Barker, C. Christine Fair, Ethan McGuire, Katherine Nelson-Born, and Sarah Brown Wietzman all have had their poems composed. Likewise, I've collaborated with seven voice actors and three composers to narrate and underscore several TDS short stories for our upcoming fiction podcast. Charla Jennings was marvelous in her narration of Tainted Love, as were Sandy Orr in A Metamorphosis and Jonathan Larson in both Chambers and The Village - Part I. And I can't forget the marvelous work that Kyle Simpson, Shane O'Niell, and Ben Turner have done in original music scoring for each story. Ben was the mastermind behind the original intro and outro music for the overall podcast itself.
Now that I've talked about my favorite memonts in TDS history, I'd like to share some of the family's memories from the last year. Presented here are their stories:
Bartholomew Barker (Silence, Issue 2)
Congrats on the first anniversary of The Dark Sire! It's always a thrill when my words get accepted for publication but you went above and beyond when you shared my poem "Silence" with Fernando Fidanza who then set it to music. It was the first time I’ve heard my words sung and it affected me more than I’d like to admit. I have you and The Dark Sire to thank for it. I wish you continued success in Year Two!
John Kiste (Kettering Hall, Issue 2)
I have a special place in my heart for TDS for three reasons. First, though I have been published numerous places before and since, my tale Kettering Hall was included in Issue Two, and it is still one of the ghost stories I have written about which I am most proud. Second, it was a collaboration in a true sense, and ideas from Bre and my daughter Gwendolyn made it a much better tale. Finally, I participated in the TDS launch party and author's event at the Dover Library on February 20th, along with two dozen of my family and friends as guests. The Covid pandemic struck us immediately afterward, so this event was the last time I have seen many of them in person--and literally the last time I have touched them. We are in a dark season, but I will always remember that night with joy and great fondness.
Darlene Eliot (Pigeon, Issue 4)
The Dark Sire invites you to be daring. It invites you to “go there” without pulling punches or apologizing for a story’s trajectory. It welcomes writers from all the dark subgenres to tell stories around the fire. That’s the thrill of it. The joy of it. The surprise of it. One story takes you down the musty steps of a castle. Another tells the tale from the point of view of a vulture. Then, a poem sneaks up and puts you face to face with the devil. Unexpected---but that’s why you came, isn’t it? The Dark Sire looks for the twisted familiar, the unexpected laugh, the shiver. And, before you know it, you’ve moved even closer to the fire. And, it’s one thing to write a story. It’s another to send it into the world. That step comes with trepidation, but can also result in joy. The joy of publication and, in this case, my first pub (yes, I shrieked with the same exhilaration I feel on the first drop of a roller coaster and I’ll never forget it). The best advice I’ve heard about submitting a story: Be patient and find a good home for it. The Dark Sire was the right home for “Pigeon” and I will always be grateful. The neighborhood is great, the next-door neighbors enchanting, and every three months there’s a block party to celebrate the newest creations in town. Thank you, Bre.
Gina Easton (Tainted Love, Issue 1)
I remember very well how excited I was when you accepted my story, Tainted Love, for the debut issue of Dark Sire. You told me that you’d been waiting for such a story to complete the inaugural edition. Then, to my delight, you featured another of my stories, Skin Tight, in Issue 4. It has been a great experience to be a part of TDS, and I hope our collaboration will continue.
Ian Richardson (Sharps, Issue 3)
The thing I’d like to add is what a charming, warm, personal and involved response and correspondence I had with Bre. Such a difference from most magazines where writers are largely viewed as a necessary nuisance!
Jessica Van de Kemp (Bone-Man, Issue 3)
The best things about being part of the TDS family are its endeavour to support both emerging and established writers and its aim of recognizing its contributors through author events, interviews, and other opportunities for promotion. It’s obvious that TDS is very proud of its contributors and deeply invested in their success!
Ethan McGuire (The Reaper's Revelation, Issue 2)
I am a proud member of the West Florida Literary Federation. When I received the November issue of the WFLF’s newsletter, The Legend, I saw that excellent area poet Katherine Nelson-Born – the newest Northwest Florida Poet Laureate – had published her poem “Standing Watch” in the first issue of a new publication called The Dark Sire Literary Magazine. Immediately, I knew I needed to submit a piece as well. ‘Twas that very night I poured myself a glass of bourbon and proceeded to clean up my poem “The Reaper’s Revelation” for submission. The submission gods must have decided to have mercy upon a struggling poet, because “The Reaper’s Revelation” journeyed out into the world and into the second issue of The Dark Sire, and I have had a wonderful working relationship with The Dark Sire and Bre ever since. My fondest memory of my work and The Dark Sire Literary magazine is the time Italian singer-songwriter Fernando Fidanza put “The Reaper’s Revelation” to music during a collaboration with The Dark Sire. Fernando did a terrific job, both communicating my intentions and transforming my words. I highly recommend all of his collaboration songs with works from the magazine.
Amanda Crumb (A Metamorphosis, Issue 2)
A good memory I have is hearing my story narrated and set to music. It was such a great experience, one that many authors never get, and I was so grateful for it because it helped me see and appreciate the story in a whole new way. Being part of the TDS family has been wonderful! I'm so appreciative of your support and all your hard work! It takes so much to run a publication and help your authors be as successful as possible, but you make it look easy.
Leilani Ahia (Innards, Issue 4)
Congratulations on adding to the team at The Dark Sire! I am so happy to hear that this magazine is growing. "Innards" was one of my first acceptances and the process with The Dark Sire was very personable. I appreciated how communicative you were as an editor, while the story was under consideration and after. Even now, you continue to reach out to your writers.
Daramola O. Femi (Maybe There is a Devil, Issue 4)
Publishing my work in The Dark Sire is like a dream that came through, especially as the first-ever Nigerian to be published. It gives me the utmost joy and fulfillment everyone desires. When some of my colleagues here in Nigeria read the poems and stories in the previous issues, they were all amazed. I am glad TDS published my work not minding my race and culture. I was welcomed to the family with so much love, just like every other writer. Thank you for having me represent Nigeria.
David Crerand (The Village Series, Issues 1-4)
I am so happy and anxious to see your impending anniversary issue, you should be immensely proud. What you have accomplished in just your first year is remarkable and praiseworthy. I am so proud to be a part of TDS' development. To be accepted for the debut issue was exciting enough, but, when you expressed an interest in the complete series, well, I was over the moon! TDS, through its' most thoughtful editor, Bre Stephens, took an active role in helping me prepare The Village for presentation. Working with TDS has begun a relationship that I hope will continue for many years to come.
Celebrate our birthday by sharing YOUR memories with us. What were your favorite stories, poems, artwork, or serializations from our first year? How has TDS enhanced your reading experience? Let us know in the comments.