There is an adage that goes like this: Cream always rises to the top. To me, this denotes quality, and quality always rises to the top. Whether it’s writing or publishing, the qualified work of any kind will rise. To me, this represents Sue Babcock. As our new micro-fiction editor Brandon Rucker says: Sue is MVP of Liquid Imagination.
Sue first submitted a story for the first issue of Liquid Imagination Online. I remember workshopping the story with her many times, and each time I suggested a change, Sue enthusiastically took the challenge to improve her story until it was ready for publication. Her story, Second Chance, was awesome, but it also showed how Sue constantly worked hard to improve herself.
Eventually, she joined the team at Liquid Imagination. Now she formats the entire online magazine, is my legal business partner, and acts as Liquid Imagination’s business director. That means she keeps us on a timetable, making sure we maintain our schedule. She takes the audio voice of Robert Eccles and the artwork of Jack Rogers (or herself) to enhance the speculative stories Editor Kevin Wallis has accepted for each issue. Since joining Staff, the overall presentation and format of the online magazine has increased in quality because—as I’ve said—cream always rises. One of the reasons Liquid Imagination Online continues to excel in quality is because of the tremendous staff consisting of editors, voice talent, artists and especially Sue Babcock.
Now, let’s get to Three Questions with Sue Babcock:
1) Sue, as an insider of Liquid Imagination, where do you see us in the future?
Oh, geez, you made me sound like I’m doing this alone. I’m not. We have such a strong team at LI – Kevin Wallis, Chrissy Davis, Brandon Rucker, John “JAM” Miller, Bob Eccles, and Jack Rogers, not to mention the writers who risk so much whenever they submit their work anywhere. Every submission I read, every story and poem I help publish, I think about the writer and the risks that we all take as writers, so that others can read our work. So thank you for that very generous intro.
One of the ideas we’ve kicked around for a while is a print magazine. Because of many factors (the economy, the increasing costs of print, the increasing popularity of e-books), we’re reconsidering this idea. E-books are coming. Not everyone embraces them, but experts are predicting that we are only one, maybe two, devices away from a boom in e-readers. And with improved e-readers, exciting new opportunities for e-publishing will emerge.
I like the possibilities that exist for enhanced e-books. It fits LI’s mission – to publish a wide variety of art, including graphic, digital, illustrations, paintings, fiction, poetry, music, animations and other art forms. Print limits us to the visual arts, while e-books allow us to include music, voice and animations. These are exciting times, and LI wants to be a leader in the realm of hybridized art.
I want thousands and thousands of people to see our site, I want hundreds to submit work (music, art, stories, poems), and I think it would be awesome if this all overflowed into an e-book format.
We may someday venture into print, but I see that as a subset of the possibilities of enhanced e-books.
2) You have a PhD in Engineering, and you’ve stated that you have an analytical, left-brained way of thinking. But you’re very creative and a dynamic writer, too. With that in mind, how does a publisher/editor combine the best of both worlds for their publication? How does an editor allow for inspiration and creativity, yet enhance and fuel that creativity with analytical critiques to tighten, improve and exceed past issues in quality?
Some days when I’m struggling with the technical details of running the site or learning new ways to improve the online experience, my right brain chokes. When I’m in this mood, I see the structure of stories more clearly, the grammar and punctuation errors become more obvious, and the actual story – that creative spark that drove the writer – sometimes fades. For this reason, I often read submitted stories at least twice, once when my analytical brain is churning at top speed, and once when I’m relaxed and receptive to my muse.
As for combining the best of both worlds in LI, that is easier. I feel I’m the luckiest person in the world – I can build a website using all the new skills I’ve learned, all the technical stuff, all the latest technology and applications, but at the same time I get to stretch the very limits of my fledgling creative powers and put together art of all types into a unique and wonderful package. These limits – both technical and creative – grow each day for me. There’s no telling where it will take me and LI next.
3) This might be the scariest question: how many projects and publications are you involved in, and what are their names?
LI Online (http://www.liquid-imagination.com/) currently is my most challenging publication. However, it may soon be surpassed in the technical challenge category by a new website and publication, Kids ‘Magination (http://www.kidsmagination.com/). This brand new site, which is still under construction, is dedicated to encourage kids, particularly elementary school aged kids, to write fiction. We may expand into poetry, as well. The site has significant technical challenges because we want to be very careful with a site aimed at children. We must protect the participants from stalkers and inappropriate content. It’s a fun site to build, and it will grow as I learn.
Kids ‘Magination is part of Silver Pen Writing Associate (http://www.silverpen.org/), another site I help build and maintain. I’m a trustee and the vice president of SPWA, and I see so much potential with this non-profit organization, which will continue to expand as we develop new ideas.
I am the fiction editor at Silver Blade (http://www.silverblade.net/), which is also associated with Silver Pen. SB and SP were started by Karl Rademacher, and I’m very proud of the stories and poems we offer at this publication of fantasy and science fiction. I love reading the submissions and discussing with the publisher the merits of each story.