Thursday, November 7, 2013

Interview with Jason Bergman about his new Music CD On the Horizon

Today’s interview is the same but different. I have interviewed a lot of writers, I have talked with editors, and lately a couple of editors who have produced some anthologies. However, I am fascinated with people who pursue their dreams and achieve them.
Today’s guest is Jason Bergman, a trumpet professor at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Music in Hattiesburg. Later this month he is releasing his first CD, On the Horizon: New Music for Trumpet and Piano.
I know Jason from church and I have heard him play his trumpet. He is also a member of the Mobile Symphony. An accomplished musician who has a passion for everything that he does. I was not surprised when I found out he had a CD coming out. So I asked if he would be willing to talk with me here on The Write Time. Of course he graciously agreed.
So, welcome Jason as we sit and visit with our virtual mike and wing back chairs.
What inspired you to do this project?
I have always wanted to record a CD. In my field, creating a recording is kin to publishing a book, publishing in a major journal, or having your artwork appear in a major gallery. This particular project came from a desire to record new, 21st century works for trumpet and piano. Each of the composers are living and friends of mine. Four of the 6 compositions on the recording were recorded for the very first time. It’s a daunting task, but was very fulfilling and a great learning experience for me.
What were some of the major challenges to produce this CD?
Funding is the biggest challenge. Thankfully I was able to secure funding from some grants through The University of Southern Mississippi where I work. Preparing the music to the level you need it to be for a recording that will last forever is a big challenge. The logistical, behind-the-scenes aspects of the recording process were a challenge to navigate. These include obtaining mechanical licenses to record and sell the recordings, contracts with the label, etc. Luckily we signed with MRS Music, which is a great independent label. Rob LaPorta was fantastic, patient, generous, and kind through the entire process.
Did you write any of the music for On the Horizon: New Music for Trumpet and Piano?
No. I’m not sure anyone would want to hear anything I have composed. However, Antônio Guerreiro’s Three Pieces for Trumpet and Piano were written for me, and I was part of the consortium that commissioned Erik Morales’ new Concerto for Two Trumpets. 
To me it is interesting that the piano and trumpet are paired up for your music, how did you come up with this combination?
Trumpet and Piano - or any instrument and piano - is a standard instrumentation for a lot of classical music. Some music is composed for a solo instrument and orchestra, for example, but many times in recital that music is performed with a piano reduction. It’s practical, less expensive, and very portable.
I need to mention my collaborators on the recording. Ellen Elder is a colleague and friend. She is a piano faculty member at The University of Southern Mississippi where I teach. She is a fantastic artist and a valued friend. I’m so grateful she was willing to record with me on this project. We have performed dozens of times throughout the United States.
I was also fortunate to record with William Campbell on two pieces. He is my trumpet teacher from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He is a world famous artist and a very valued mentor and friend. We recorded two duets on this album. To have these recordings preserved is very important to me. It’s not every day a student is able to record or perform with their teacher. I feel blessed he was willing to participate and to help be an executive producer in the booth. He has a highly trained ear and can easily hear my mistakes and potential. This wouldn’t have been possible without his contributions as well.
Is there an underlying theme to your CD?
The music is all 21st century new music for trumpet and piano. Sometimes people are scared by a “new” music, but this music is all accessible and nice to listen to.
What was the process used to select the music used?
When I decided on a recording of new music for the trumpet, I began to look at what my favorite new pieces were. Each one has it’s own story, but these are all pieces that I feel in love with. While two of them were in the process of being recorded by other artists, four of the works had yet to be. It was important to me to have some world premiere recordings on the album. I wanted to include music that is becoming a part of the standard repertoire for the instrument. This would allow other students and professionals an opportunity to hear what the music sounds like, but also helps to make the recording relevant.
How did you go about finding a label?
I did a lot of research and investigated what the various labels required. I spoke with many friends and colleagues who have already produced recordings. I didn’t want to release it independently because I simply don’t have that type of time to market and release it! MSR was excited about the project from the beginning. Rob LaPorta, who owns MSR, has so kind and patient in the process. His experience made the whole process easy, fluid, and successful. I’m very happy with the label and am honored to be an MSR artist.
You are married and a father to four children, you play in the Mobile, AL symphony, a Professor of Music, and a Bishop in your church. How do you balance your time?
Very carefully. Sometimes I am more successful than other times. It takes a lot of communication with my wife. She is so supportive and honest. She helps me know when I’m in too deep, or when I can possibly give more. I have to just do the best I can and realize I can’t do it all. Understanding the right order of priorities is important to me also. For me, my family is first. I take time every day to be sure I’m being a husband and father. In that time, I don’t answer my phone for church, I don’t do work, I try my best to keep my electronic devices (cell phone and iPad) off. That keeps me grounded. Even though I can’t do it all, I will do my best and pray others understand.
Are there more projects in the future for the three of you? (I almost asked if there were more projects on the horizon.)
Yes. When determining the title of the project, Mr. LaPorta and I decided on “On The Horizon” because we hoped there would be more there! I am already working on plans for another project which I hope to have out in a few years. It might not include all three of us, but I do plan to do more. Outside of recording, I do a lot of performing, teaching, and touring.
Where can we find more information about your CD?
You can find more at my website:, and at the MSR Classics website:
So you have a website? Yes, is a place to find info about me, the recording, my performing calendar, recordings of live performances, and a newer blog where I discuss various trumpet topics.
You have a kickoff event planned, would you share that with us? 

Yes, on Friday, November 15 at 7:00 PM, we will be hosting a CD release party at The Pastry Garden at Gordon Creek (129 Walnut Drive, Hattiesburg, MS). It’s free, open to the public, and should be a lot of fun! You can find more at
Thank you so much for agreeing to the interview. Good luck with all your endeavors.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Make a Difference

My e-mail inbox has some really neat things from time to time.  Most of the really cool stuff comes from my father.  He sends all sorts of things out, and as a result people send him lots of neat things.  So giving has a way of receiving.

So here is a story I had in my in box.  I don't know who wrote it, and my google search turned up a lot of other stories but not this one.

In a world so focused on ME, this story is a breath of fresh air.  Part of being productive is taking time away from the hectic part of life.  A slow down and smell the flowers.  To think about others.  Serve.  Help.

I have several more stories I've collected over the years that have touched me in some way. Over the next few weeks I'll share them here with all of you.

Make a Difference.

 At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.

Where is the natural order of things in my son?' The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.'

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?' I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around and made a choice, saying, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning..'

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt.. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat. At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.
The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first! Run to first!' Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!' Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball . The smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay.' Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third! Shay, run to third!'

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!' Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.  

'That day' , said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.

Shay didn't make it to another summer.  He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!
I think if we can see how to help, and make things better, and have the courage to do that, our world will be a little better.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sometimes You Have To Reach Deep Inside

There are so many things to learn, and if your eyes are open, and your mind is engaged, you can find little lessons everywhere.

I have a daughter who is in her High School Marching Band.  As such I go to the football games to watch the band.  It is an interesting phenomena that if the Band is really great, after the half time show the stands empty because the visiting team has so many points the home team has no chance of winning.

Fortunately, the football team is also strong.  So I get to enjoy a great football game and a wonderful halftime show with the band.

Let me set the stage.  The High School is a 6A school.  In the division the ball team competes with the school is ranked No. Two.  Their arch Rivals from across town are ranked Three.  Both teams are undefeated.  They played a few weeks ago.

The game lived up to the hype, and it started off well.  We had a great kick off return, we intercepted a touchdown pass in the end zone.  It was a glorious start.  But as rivalry games go, they are so emotion charged and unpredictable, we lost the game.

Last week we were at home, and the Number One Ranked team came to town to play.  Having come off a loss I wondered how the team would do.  The visiting team received the opening kick and ran 90 yards for the touch down.  8 seconds into the game and it is 0-7. 

I won't give a total recap of the game, however we did pull ahead.  In the forth quarter the visitors were putting together a drive to pull ahead and win. 

To me it looked like the team relized that "hey, we can win this game, we can beat these guys!"  So Number 5 Home team was digging in for a win over the Number One visitors.  The team pulled together and stopped the drive, got the ball back and managed to pull of the win.

So my point is this.  We have set backs from time to time.  Life can get tough on us.  Sales are down, relationships have problems.  I can't find the time to work on my writing.  My project is due, and I am no where near ready.  The room I am painting just won't come together. 

However,  if you reach deep inside you can find what it takes to get what you are after done.  Like the high school team coming off a loss to their arch rival, and then facing the number one ranked team, they found a way to upset all the predictions and stop the drive that gave them the win.

If things are not going totally the way you would like them to go, stop and take stock.  The first thing that will need attention, more than likely, is your own outlook.  Your own motivations.  Your own desires. 

Reach inside and tell yourself that you can do this.  You can make the difference in the outcome.  That core belief is what is needed to keep moving forward, and achieving those things you desire. 

Sometimes you have to reach inside, deep inside to come up with a way to succeed.  What are some of the things you do to help you?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

They Don't Make them Like they Used To

A common phrase used with each generation

"They don't make them like they used to."

Think of cars.  Those autos from the 1950's were huge, metal gas guzzeling cars.  A different time, with gas at .05 cents a gallon, who cared if it only got 10 miles to the gallon?  Beautiful works of art, fenders, tail fins, large bumpers.  No seat belts, no air bags, rolling death traps.

Think of craftsmanship.  Fingered drawers, crown molding around the ceilings.  The meticulous attention to detail.  Now we have press wood furniture you can buy in a box and put together (I was going to put in an hour, but sometimes it takes me much longer to assemble that stuff!)

Books and movies have also evolved.  I was watching an old 80's movie a few weeks ago.  The lines were a bit stiff, the villains smiled and rubbed their hands together when things were going their way.  The music came up when the hero was struggling.  Yea, it was cheezy.  And yet, I kind of miss some of that stuff as well.

The books have gone to show not tell, very very well.  I don't mind thinking about things when I read, but sometimes I miss the hints.  The movies are well put together, fast paced, the villains are the hero in there own right.  A lot of grey area, a lot to give people things to think about.  The quality is very much higher than the older stuff.

And yet....

There is a lot to be said in the classic older stories.  I like great music in the movies.  I love the theme songs.  Those are no longer in.  The conflict is a bit more subtle now.

So, yea, they don't make things like they used to.  In some ways things are better now than then.  Yet there is still a lot of great things on those book shelves, and in the film archives.  Don't sell them short because they are classics.  Classics teach us a lot if we will just take the time to savor them.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Five Things That Steal Time

I have found that too many days end with less accomplished than I wanted to complete.  In other words my to done list is way to short, and the to do list is still too long.  Why can I not get everything done that I want to do?  I start the day with good intentions.  I write down the things I'd like to do, I look at the time needed, and the priorities, and the plan looks feasible.  However somewhere between Getting Up and starting the day and Getting Ready For Bed, something happened to derail my plans.

As I look back over the day I try and figure out what happened.  I've noticed a few things that steal my time.  Some of the things are obvious, while others look so innocent, but they take away from my productivity. 

So I've been giving this some thought, and I've come up with a short list of things that seem to steel my time.  Granted, self discipline is a factor, and there are days when I do give my self permission not to do what I wanted to do that morning. (But the self discipline thing is a post for another day.)  Each of the following five items, in and of themselves don't take much but as a whole, they can wreck your productivity. 


My son Kevin could write a text message with his phone in his pocket.  In fact one of his phones he had worn the letters of the key pad because of his non stop texting.  I cut him some slack because he was 18 and a senior and didn't have much in the way of school work.

Text messages are great.  You can fire off a note and continue with what you are doing.  Your phone beeps, whistles, sings, vibrates...  well what ever it does, you check the phone and there is the answer to your question, or the message that just arrived is a question that will need your attention. 

I do not text very fast.  Sometimes I can click on the microphone icon and say my text, but most of the time the phone puts down something totally different, so I have to delete it and type it in again.  Hit send and go back to doing what I was doing.

Then the phone beeps, whistles, sings, vibrates......   and you can not ignore it.  What is it?  Who sent it?  What do they want?  Gotta answer it.

Pretty soon you've spent a lot of time with the little messages.  A short phone call could handle the whole situation in about two minutes, but you'll spend a lot of time texting back and forth. 

Even the boss sends you text messages. 

So, if it isn't important, or helping you accomplish things, move the messages down on your priority list.  The little cell phone is not supposed to be running your life, so don't let it.  The text message can wait.


I had a boss who used e-mail to send out all of his communications.  He would get upset if you didn't respond quickly to his e-mail.  So I had his e-mails sent to my phone so I could be alerted when they came in.  It kept the boss happy, but it ruined my productivity on the things I was trying to do.  Because my phone would beep, whistle, sing, vibrate....  I would have to stop what I was doing, onlock the screen, click on the e-mail button and read the message.  Decide if I needed to do something then, or if it could wait.

Most of the time the thing could wait.  It was a bad idea to have e-mail sent to my phone. 

The best thing to do is have a time of day when you open your e-mail, read them, and sort them out and put things on your list to work on, and get on with things.

Stopping to check the e-mail every 20 min or so will bog you down and put a huge damper on your productivity.  So give e-mail the time it needs to keep communication flowing, add things to your work load, answer questions that need your attention, and then shut it down and keep going on what you need to do. 

You rule, not your e-mail.


I love new things, and I love the electronic world.  All sorts of neat gizmos to make life easier, and more fun, for the most part.  So the tablet/iPad is supposed to help you be more productive, it is also filled with things that distract you.  Sorting play lists, playing a quick game....

10 to 20 minutes can zip right by and suddenly you are in a hurry to catch up on things.  So use the tools wisely.

Checking Status on Facebook/Twitter

I keep hearing that Facebook is addictive.  In fact I've heard that there are people who have a fear of missing an update from someone.  I also understand that the younger generation is really hooked on the facebook/social media thing. 

It is true, I do have a facebook account, but I get on about once or twice a week, and spend about a half hour with it.  I like to know what my friends are doing, but I would rather talk with them and hear it from them, not reading about it on some computer screen.  I feel less conected with my friends with facebook.  I want them to tell me what they are doing, not checking their account to see what they are up to. 

I do like the photo memes and the wit and jokes.  I can see how you can get lost in all of that.  However, decide how long you want to spend on it and set a timer and get out.  You'll find you'll spend the whole night looking at facebook.

Current Events

It is good to be informed.  I like to know what is going on.  The internet gives you instant updates and lots of links, and a lot of folks have a lot of things to say about a lot of issues.  I've worked hard, I want to take a break, and I'll check on the news.

Well with all the ease of getting things, again you can find yourself spending more time in the arena than you had originally intended.

 * * *

So all these things that save time, and make things easier, can, and often do, take up more time than you realize.  Remember, you are the master.  You decide how much time to allot to these things.  Do not allow them to run you, and suck up all your time. 

Moderation is the key.  Texting, e-mail, electronics, facebook/social media, and current events are all good, and if used with a little self control, can help your productivity.  Just don't let all the gizmos and fun distract you from your own list of things that need your attention and need to be done.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Notebook Anyday

In my quest to stay organized and be productive I've tried all sorts of tools.

My favorite by far is the Franklin Planner, but the cost is prohibitive.  I've had a few jobs that have provided me with the Franklin Planner.  My first job even had a training video that I watched.  Some of that material I learned in that training I've shared here in my blog.

I have tried several apps for my phone.  There are several that I do like.

I feel that there are some disadvantages to the apps and all the technology.  Technology is great, when it works.  When the battery needs to be recharged any data you are looking for has to wait.

I work in a noisy environment.  So being able to put my phone on speaker to access the info from the apps is hard if not impossible.

The real kicker for me is I am so visual I can't find the things I am looking for.  What did I name it?  How long ago did I save it?  Where did I save it?  Did I delete it?

So I found a pen I really like, and I got a mead composition book at Wal-mart.  I can find my notes I've written, no battery.  If I wrote on the left side of the page, it is still on the left side of the page.  If the battery in my phone needs to be rechareged, I can still open the notebook and find the information I am looking for.

I love the gadgets, but sometimes a pen and paper wins.

The main thing is this:  Find something that works for you, and keep at it.  Being organized is partly a matter of self discipline and staying with things.

So after all my looking I find I like to write things with a pen in a notebook.  There is just something about writing it down that works for me.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Interview with Matt Sinclair

I met Matt at AgentQuery Connect; he is a moderator with the writers’ forum. A few years ago I was involved with a query writing session on AQC. If you are an aspiring writer, AQC is a great place to go for information and help on writing a query. I was assigned to critique Matt’s query. A daunting task for a new writer who has had more things shot down than I care to admit, and I am trying to give Matt a critique? Talk about intimidation. However, Matt was gracious, and I’d like to think I did give him something he could use in working on his own query.

Well I’ve learned more about Matt. He and several other moderators from AQC have been busy writing and publishing things. It is the publishing thing that fascinates me. So I asked Matt if he would agree to interview about what he’s been working on. I was surprised when he said yes.

(Side note to my regular readers, if you don’t ask, if you don’t try, you never will know if you will succeed. Or as the cliché goes, if you never ask, the answer is always no.)

Here is a little about Matt:

Journalist covering U.S. nonprofits, foundations, and life in general. President and Chief Elephant Officer of Elephant's Bookshelf Press, LLC, which in 2012 published Spring Fevers, which includes sixteen stories by ten AQC writers, and The Fall, a collection of tales from the apocalypse. Ironically, The Fall was delayed by the apocalyptic Hurricane Sandy.  In July 2013, EBP published summer’s Edge and Summer's Double Edge, a two-book collection of stories from twenty-five authors.

So Matt, here is our virtual microphone, hope you are comfortable. Let’s visit, shall we?
I’ve a few questions for you.

What gave you the idea to do the Spring Fevers anthology?
The first anthology was inspired by an online conversation I had with Cat Woods, a fellow moderator at AQC. At its heart, the discussion revolved around how we were at the epicenter of a wonderfully talented and diverse group of writers while the independent and self-publishing evolution was starting to take off. We both knew talented writers who were exploring this brave new world, and we thought it might be worth exploring ourselves, even though we both had our eyes set on traditional publishing. We decided to create a collection of short stories from a variety of genres, and I took the lead on it, going so far as to create an LLC. And since we didn’t know if we’d have enough to work with, we allowed those writers to submit up to three stories.

So, Elephant’s Bookshelf Press is a direct result of publishing Spring Fevers?
Well, they’re definitely related. My blog had the name Elephant’s Bookshelf before I’d ever discovered AQC or any of the writers there. When I put together the contract with the writers, I felt I needed them to have a contract with an entity rather than a person. From there, I decided I wanted to protect it and me as best I could, so I decided to invest in forming an LLC.

How did you decide what stories to put into the anthology?

As far as we were concerned, the first step was nailing down a theme, and this took a phone conversation and subsequent emails. We decided on a theme of relationships, which we felt was broad enough to attract the diversity we sought. Of course, we didn’t fully realize yet how difficult it is to market an anthology like we had in mind. Short stories are hard enough to sell to readers! From there, we sent out requests to more than a dozen writers we knew who we felt could produce quality fiction – or who might have unpublished stories at the ready. Initially, we were planning to publish electronically only. I had a small group of reviewers and we read and made recommendations on each of the submissions. I have to say, it’s not easy to reject stories from very talented writers, and we had to do that. I won’t embarrass anyone, but one of the stories submitted for what became Spring Fevers was later published in one of the summer anthologies. But it’s more focused now than it had been when first submitted. There was another that we sent back for a revision and resubmission, but the writer had too much going on at that time to turn it around fast enough. I hope we’ll see it resubmitted one day.

How well has Spring Fevers done?
Actually, quite well, and that’s quite a thrill. Keep in mind that it’s free, but we’ve had upwards of two thousand downloads and are still averaging more than fifty a month. For an anthology of essentially unknown or little known writers, I think that’s outstanding, especially when you realize it’s been out for about a year and a half now.
Where did the idea come from to publish The Fall? 
Actually, that came about somewhat by accident. Even as we were finalizing the stories for the first anthology, we didn’t have a title. In the end, Robb Grindstaff, who served as the copy editor of the anthology, came up with Spring Fevers. I shared that with the rest of my brain trust and I jokingly suggested that we could name the next anthology “The Fall,” target the fall of 2012, and try to capitalize on the whole Mayan calendar/end of the world hoopla that was sure to be zipping through social and traditional media. As a result, we decided we’d do a series of four anthologies in what we now call the Seasonal Series.

I love your comment on the irony of Sandy. 
Well, as someone who experienced Sandy – my wife and our then 3-year-old twins lived in a house without heat or electricity for nearly two weeks; a period that also included a freak snowstorm – the irony was all too real. But having the apocalyptic theme helped to get the anthology noticed.

This may seem like a silly question, but I am curious, how do you find the writers for a project like an anthology? 
After Spring Fevers, they found us. One of the requirements for each EBP author is to promote the anthology in their areas of influence. I include it in the contract. They can do it via their social media vehicles or their Web sites. They can let their local paper know about it. Media is media. All I ask is that they help get the word out.

So writer's need to submit to be put into the anthologies?
Absolutely. Moreover, we expect submissions to be high quality, not messy first drafts. And the days of allowing three stories per author and of worrying whether we’d have enough submissions appear to be long gone.

Is Elephant’s Bookshelf Press open to submissions, and how would an author submit something?
We are accepting short stories submissions for our winter anthology. This will be the last one in the Seasonal Series, obviously. The theme is regret, and stories can be sent to, which is what we’ve used since the beginning, or

Is the Press strictly for short story anthologies?
No, but I’ve not opened it up to submissions of novels and won’t for a while yet. I have entered agreements with novelists that will put us well into 2014 and possibly into 2015. Our first novel, Whispering Minds, is an intriguing young adult story by A.T. O’Connor, who’s had some wonderful stories in our anthologies. It’s a story of a girl who is trying to piece together her past and doesn’t know who she can trust. Next year, we’ll be launching a baseball related YA book – more details will be coming on that soon – a new, standalone anthology that’s very topical – we’ll have a lot to say about that later – and a middle grade mystery that’s a pure delight. And if the planets align correctly, I’ll be able to announce the acquisition of a middle grade science fiction novel. It’s very clever and could be a real hit. One of these days, maybe I’ll be able to publish one of my own novels, but the way things are looking that’ll be 2015 at the earliest -- and even that might be pushing things.

What was the inspiration for these latest anthologies, Summer’s Edge and Summer’s Double Edge?
In a sense, we combined the relationship theme of Spring Fevers with the apocalyptic theme of The Fall. The result: relationships at a turning point.

Why two books?
The two anthologies were the result of having so many submissions that we loved. We were assessing stories on a rolling basis and receiving roughly twice as many as we got for The Fall. Making it more challenging, a lot of the stories were much longer than 5,000 words. On Spring Fevers, I don’t think we had any that reached 4,000 words. I had stories that I liked out with reviewers and many that we’d approved. Pretty soon, the word count was surpassing The Fall with several weeks left before the deadline. I was nervous about trying to sell an inch-thick paperback version of short stories.

Honestly, I don’t want to do that for the winter anthology, so I think it’s going to be a tough job for our reviewers. We’ll need to keep a tighter rein on the number and length of stories. That’s part of the reason I reduced the word count to 5,500
– I almost went to 5,000. The deadline for submissions to the winter anthology is October 16, which I hope will give us enough time to both finalize the decisions on which stories will make it and also to edit the stories that are accepted. I’m aiming to publish in December, but I accept that it might end up being early January.

You said October 16th is the deadline for the Winter Anthology. What are your submission guidelines? 
Well, the nitty gritty comes down to this: Stories about regret in any genre except erotica. They can’t be longer than 5,500 words. And they can’t be previously published. I suggest readers check out our blog at for more details.

What is the premise of the winter anthology?
For the winter anthology, we’re looking for stories of regret.  To be human is to have regrets, to question our decisions, even to doubt our own abilities and capacities. We all have had moments of regret, whether it’s because of a path not taken or a decision made for selfish or –  perhaps worse – unselfish reasons. We might regret not recognizing an opportunity. Or we chastise ourselves for being too quick to grab a seemingly easy victory that left us unable to clutch the better opportunity behind it. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, but dammit, no one likes to be damned.

I find it interesting that each of your four seasons has a distinct flavor for that book. Which is your favorite and why?
Well, of course, I love them all. I’ve learned something from each one. I love how Spring Fevers provides some very different stories from the same writers. For example, there’s a big difference between Robb Grindstaff’s stories there. Heck, even the two of mine are quite distinct from each other. I also love the eclectic nature of the stories in The Fall. Who’d have thought you could have such a wide variety of tales from the apocalypse? I hadn’t expected the number of ghost stories that arrived for the summer anthologies, and that’s an area I hope we’ll explore further down the road.

Once you complete the Winter anthology, what is your next project?
Well, there’s the novels I mentioned already, and we’ve just begun discussing a different anthology that’ll be very topical. If things go as we’re planning, that one will have a different person running the project, too, which will be fun.

It is great to have you here. I've learned so much about this. Perhaps I can get my writing to a level where I can have one of my short stories appear in your anthology.
(Smiles) I hope you do. We can’t consider what hasn’t been submitted. The writer writes. The publishable writer takes the next step, whether that is submitting a story or learning from rejection.

I will have Matt back again to discuss more on self publishing and the challenges writers have to day with all the technology, and those who want to hold a book in their hands.

Thanks again Matt.

Thank you, Dean. I really appreciate it and I look forward to sharing again in the future.