AuthorCulture: When you first started Digital Dragon Magazine (DDM), you wrote at the time that stories with a Christian worldview were being passed over in the marketplace. Now that you've celebrated DDM's first anniversary (congratulations!), how's it going? Have you detected that stories with a Christian worldview have picked up any traction? T.W. Ambrose: Yes and no. I still think there's just not a place for Christian Sci-Fi anywhere in the traditional marketplace, and barely a place for Christian Fantasy. Yet with the growth of Indie magazines like Digital Dragon and Flame in the Dark (yes, a little self-promotion), and the emergence and growth of the small press publishers, there is getting to be more and more of a place for that Christian Worldview in publishing.
AC: Speaking of DDM, how time flies. How'd your first year go? What was the greatest challenge and greatest victory the magazine experienced in your first year?
TWA: Well it has been a great first year, and if you swing over to www.digitaldragonmagazine.net you can check out our 1 year anniversary issue, which has to be our greatest victory. This year we learned that putting out a monthly magazine is difficult. I have seen several magazines that started the same time as us fall by the wayside, and yet a year in, we put out our best magazine yet. Our submissions are up, our readership is up, our staff is growing. Things are good.
I think the biggest challenge we have faced throughout has been the technical side of things, As many early fans know, we crashed on our launch day and were down almost a week. We have also struggled with several of the additional URLs we own getting them to connect. In the end, I am not a technical person.
AC: You've mentioned that Randy Streu is one of your oldest and closest friends. What's it like publishing a project like DDM with an old friend? What happens behind-the-scenes at DDM?
TWA: Working with Randy has been great. I got to know Randy my freshman year of college back in 1996 when we were both hopeful communication students. We later spent time hosting an amazing morning show together and doing "couples" things as we both each got engaged, and eventually married. Unfortunately, we eventually went our own way; Randy pursued a career in radio out East, and I stayed here working in counseling and ministry.
Luckily, with the wonders of the Modern Age, when I decided to do Digital Dragon, I knew Randy was the man I needed helping me. More recently, over the last six months, my wife has really stepped up out of just copy editing to take on a full third of the DDM responsibility.
Behind-the-scenes, I get to do the fun stuff: talking with writers, promoting the magazine, and reading submissions. Randy helps me make final decisions on submissions, as well as putting together our HTML version of the mag. My wife Jen then puts together the .PDF, as well as organizing our team of awesome Copy Editors.
AC: What do you look for from story submissions?
TWA: The first thing I look for is a story that catches my attention. After a year of submissions, that alone can be a tough thing to do. After that, I make sure it fits our family-friendly guidelines. I then try to divide stories into what issues they will be placed. I try hard to place a variety of stories in each issue, giving it a feel of modern and traditional fantasy as well as classic Science Fiction and Space Opera.
AC: I've noticed (with appreciation) that you feature a fair bit of Space Opera at DDM. How did you get into that genre?
TWA: LOL, fishing for compliments, are we? I have been a fan of Space Opera forever in areas like television, movies, and the long-form novel. I never realized that there was a large market for it in a short format until I ran into Ray Gun Revival. I fell in love with Ray Gun Revival, and it became the inspiration for Digital Dragon Magazine with its family-friendly feel, and amazing monthly serials. [Wow! I did not know this. -- Editor.] When I started DDM, I knew I wanted to include Space Opera as part of the magazine.
AC: I understand big things are in the works for the DDM folks for the next year. Could you give us an overview of what you have in the works?
TWA: One thing will always be true, when Randy and I get talking, things will always be in the process of change. However, we do have a couple things that are already in motion, which you should see at some point this year.
First, when we started DDM, we always saw it as part of something bigger. Randy and I have both been passionate about quality Christian media since the beginning, and we really saw DDM as the flagship of a company to do just that. That being said, by the end of the summer we hope to launch Diminished Media Group, which will be the parent organization for Digital Dragon Magazine, A Flame in the Dark Magazine, and Diminished Publishing.
Speaking of Diminished Publishing, that's another big change on the horizon as we hope to launch our first DDM anthology as our first print piece. We also hope to use the small press publishing house as another place for Christian Writers to look to get their work published.
Finally, we also launched our second magazine this June. A Flame in the Dark offers a unique look at Christian Horror. Randy Streu is heading up that project, and I give him a hand with submissions.
There probably half a dozen other things that are possibilities, but until things get nailed down more, we'll just keep that as my little secret!
AC: In light of your experiences this past year, if someone was interested in starting their own e-zine, what one piece of advice would you share with them?
TWA: It's not what you think. I got into the magazine because I loved to write and read. Now so much of my time is taken up with the editing that I have less time to write and read then I ever did before. That being said, I wouldn't change it. Every month, I get to be one of the first people to read our hit serial Windrider, I've met so many great people I never would have met, and put something out there that I can really be proud of.
AC: We've seen some startling changes in the publishing industry over the past year. You have a multifaceted perspective as a reader, author, and editor. Where do you think the publishing industry will go in the near future?
TWA: You know a lot of people are singing doom-and-gloom to print media, yet I don't see that at all in the near future. Books are not like VHS tapes with a solid run from the mid 80's to the mid 90's. Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press sometime around 1439 and the printed word has been popular ever since. I think over the next years we will see a growth in the small press, and well as self published books. We will see most books come out in multiple formats, including e-readers. Large publishers will have to change to keep up with the times, striving to offer more choices to an audience who has realized they can get exactly what they want. One thing I do see dying is the local bookstore, which is unfortunate as it's truly a gem we will miss.
AC: If you could meet any one writer right now, who would you like to sit down and talk to over coffee?
TWA: Well, I guess that would depend on a number of things; living or dead, fiction or non-fiction. I will say one person whose writing has been a huge inspiration for me as well and millions of others is J.R.R. Tolkien. I've always felt he would be a fascinating man to talk to, and I think a cup of coffee would be the perfect way to chat with him. Although he's English, so we may have to sit down for tea. And he's dead so...
AC: What's coming up for you personally?
TWA: A lot, actually. I've been employed through the state as a Career Counselor for the past year or so, and unfortunately, with the lowering revenue base, that job will be ending. So over the next few weeks, I'll be trying to figure out what God has for me. Unfortunately, I am not yet to a point where I can make a living with DDM. One thing I do hope to do with the time is to get back and do some more writing again. I have a number of projects in the works including a Fantasy Epic, and a Space Opera serial, so let me encourage everyone out there to keep an eye out for them.
AC: How can we keep track of you and Digital Dragon Magazine?
Linda Apple is the author of Writing From Your Soul, Writing Life ~ Your Stories Matter, Connect ~ A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers, POW; Promises Kept and Women Of Washington Avenue, her debut novel and the first book in her Moonlight Mississippi series. Her personal experience stories have been published in 16 of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her devotions have been published in numerous devotion magazines and books. She lives in Fayetteville Arkansas with her husband, Neal, their five children, five children-in-love, and ten grandchildren.
Jody Bailey Day writes inspirational fiction from west Texas. Her debut novel, Washout Express, released June 2013 from Harbourlight Books. Her short stories, poems, devotionals, and articles have appeared in Mature Living, Splickety Magazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Southern Writers Magazine, and Christiandevotions.us, She is a two time Grand Prize Winner at the East Texas Christian Writers Conference, and a Faithwriters.com Best of the Best award winner. She and her pastor husband have six grown children and nine grandchildren.
Deborah Dee Harper writes from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, by way of Michigan, Kentucky, Alaska, Mississippi, and Alaska (again). Deb is a graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild classes and writes Christian humorous and inspirational books for both children and adults. Her children’s adventure series, Laramie on the Lam, available in both e-book and print, is being re-published as six individual print books. Her Road’s End series (Misstep, Faux Pas, and Misjudge) for adults is also contracted and should be published soon. She is currently nearing completion on the first book of another series. She is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency.
Lisa Lickel is an award-winning multi-published inspirational novelist, blogger, reviewer, and writing mentor. A freelance editor, Lisa loves all things historical. Her work has appeared in Writer's Digest and Christian Fiction Online.
Liberty Speidel has been a voracious reader since reading her first Nancy Drew book. But she was telling stories long before then with her figurines from Disney's Rescue Rangers. When she's not writing, you may find her gardening, baking, crocheting, or hiking. A lifelong Kansan, she now resides in the Kansas City metro area with her husband, children, and chocolate Labrador, where she could rival Captain Jean Luc Picard in consumption of Earl Grey tea. She is the author of Emergence, Retaliation, and Capitulation, novellas and novels in her series featuring superhuman and police detective Darby Shaw.
Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in English literature (Renaissance) and for eighteen years taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His poetry has appeared in leading journals and is collected in his book Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond.His fiction includes a light-hearted mystery, Rhapsody in Red, and two suspense novels, Deadly Addictive and The Lazarus File, and a historical romance, Lightning on a Quiet Night. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ groups and conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction and poetry, as well as essays on writing, ethical issues, and U.S. foreign policy.
Editor/Author Linda Yezak lives with her husband in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She is a speaker/lecturer for various writers' groups and conferences. Her fiction books include Give the Lady a Ride, The Final Ride, and The Cat Lady's Secret. Her nonfiction books include Writing in Obedience, co-written with retired Hartline Literary agent Terry Burns. "Slider," her historical short-story, won Honorable Mention in The Saturday Evening Post's Great American Fiction contest and is published in their 2016 Anthology.
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