Bull Spec Poetry Reviewed!

New speculative poetry review site Versification reviews the poetry in Bull Spec issues 1-6! I’m particularly happy that Versification‘s Erik Amundsen is the reviewer, as I’ve enjoyed his other reviews there. Overall, he provides a solid critique for our work with poetry over the last year and more, ending with: “Bull Spec seems to be developing quite well as a poetry publication. I know that poetry is not ever going to be its first priority, but its choices are showing signs of steady improvement, and I’m glad of that.”

Versification: Bull Spec Poetry Issues 1-3

Versification: Bull Spec Poetry Issues 4-6

BULL SPEC #1 Launch Party: Tuesday 23 March at 7 PM at The Regulator Bookshop

You are (well, everybody is!) cordially/enthusiastically invited to the BULL SPEC #1 launch party on Tuesday the 23rd of March at 7 PM! The host will be Durham’s The Regulator Bookshop on 9th Street. (720 Ninth Street to be exact.) So come in, come downstairs, meet and greet some of the authors and other folks involved with not just the first issue but the rest of Bull Spec — translators, narrators, editors, helpers, etc.

No cost to attend (of course! that would be weird…) though, also of course, there will be copies of BULL SPEC #1 on hand. I’m hoping to have at least one of the local authors read from their story, along with a few other surprises. (We’re working on a giveaway item or two, nothing finalized yet so no promises.)

So: please! Please come and say hello, talk about writing, talk about editing and publishing, talk about reading, and help celebrate the end result of a few months of pretty darned hard work.

And if you are on Facebook, there’s an event page there, too.

The presses are rolling!

Well, it has been quite a learning process. But, finally, the proof corrections are in, re-proofed, agonized over, and, *gulp*, paid for. But the presses are finally rolling on BULL SPEC #1!

Final content for issue #1 (72 pages, 16 in full color):


  • C. S. Fuqua: “Rise Up” (with cover illustration by Mike Gallagher)
  • Peter Wood: “Almost a Good Day to Go Outside”
  • Natania Barron: “Doctor Adderson’s Lens” (with photo by Tennille Heinonen)


  • Michael Jasper: “A Gathering of Doorways”


  • Michael Gallagher: “Closed System” (part 1 of 4)


  • Kaolin Fire: “Inspired by Windmills”
  • Ralan Conley: “Ratang”


  • Josh Whiton: “There Are No Orcs” (translated into Spanish by Itzel Leaf and into French by Andrew Matte)


  • Jamie Keys: “Environments Exercise Part 1”
  • Christopher Woods: “The Clairvoyants’ Hotel”


  • D. Harlan Wilson
  • Lee Hammock
  • Sci-Fi Genre


  • Technologized Desire: Selfhood & the Body in Postcapitalist Science Fiction (by D. Harlan Wilson)
  • Peckinpah: An Ultraviolent Romance (by D. Harlan Wilson) (reviewed by J. David Osborne)
  • The Windup Girl (by Paolo Bacigalupi) (reviewed by Blue Tyson)
  • Panverse One (edited by Dario Ciriello) (reviewed by Charles Tan)

Real, physical copies in real stores and in the mail late this week!

[Update: After the break, the final cover as well as page 2 of Bull Spec #1 which is the “contents” page…]

[final cover]
[contents page]

[Hooray! And per my printer, the first print run is scheduled to ship out tomorrow (Thursday the 11th) morning!]

BULL SPEC #1 has gone to the printers!

Well, I just uploaded the file bullspec-01-201002261115.pdf to my printers. I don’t really know what to expect next as this is the first issue, but, well, it’s out there! 72 pages and about a month later than I’d hoped, but I’m incredibly excited to receive that first shipment of a big box of magazines and start delivering them to local bookstores The Regulator Bookshop, Quail Ridge Books & Music, and Internationalist Books & Community Center and mailing out (or for local folks, delivering courier-style!) those pre-orders.

So much to say, but for now, a few bits which didn’t make it into the “thanks and welcome to Bull Spec” editorial column:

First and foremost, because I thanked her nearly lastly in the magazine, the biggest thank you of all goes to my wife, Kendra, for her support of this crazy dream. Probably she should have talked me out of it… but instead she told me to “go for it” and backed me up every step of the way.

Thank you to all the writers who trusted me with your submissions, which overwhelmed me both in their number and in their quality. Thank you to Duotrope’s Digest and Ralan’s List for your support and pointing those writers my way.

Thank you to Dan Shannon (pictured) at Durham Magazine (and Chapel Hill Magazine) for your advice on publishing and encouragement, and for sharing your printer, Publishers Press, with me. I don’t think this would have been possible without their support. Thank you, Bryan and Dee at Publishers Press, for treating a tiny, tiny customer like an important one.

Thank you to Jeff VanderMeer for your good luck wishes! Sure, it was a long line of people getting you to sign Finch and in so many words telling you what to write in it… but I’ll take it.

Thank you to Paul Riddell for the fun mailer from your Texas Triffid Ranch, the first “official” BULL SPEC mail. (I won’t count the pile of mass mailings addressed to the PO Box’s previous occupant if you won’t.)

Thanks to the twin buoys by which my likely ill-advised efforts have been guided. The first is Mur Lafferty‘s advice on her I Should Be Writing podcast, “It’s OK to suck!” Having decided to apply this to editing, design, and publishing, new editor of Durham Magazine Matt Dees had another point of view for me, “Dare not to suck!”

Dad, while I thanked you for my life-long love of science fiction and fantasy, thanks in particular for Heinlein’s “Space Cadet.” I couldn’t have asked for a better first “real” book. Mom, while I thanked you for the trips to the library, thanks also for always encouraging me to be myself and follow my dreams. Heather, thanks for bookshelves full of “hand me down” books over the years and someone to talk to about them.

All those teachers over the years: Mr. Loeffler, Mr. Stuckey, Mr. Cox, Mr. Shank, Mr. Munn, Mr. Brice, Mrs. Ross, Mr. Walton, Mr. Hill, Prof. Rauh, Prof. Mathur, and so many others I cannot even recall by name. I am not sure how many individual pieces of information I remember but I remember scenes and themes, the overriding theme being one of an expectation of an honest effort, and a feeling that you all genuinely cared that I learn something, whether it was grammar, or history, or math, or how to make a turtle move on a computer screen, or simply how to grow up and take responsibility for my own life. You were all role models to me and I often think fondly of each of you. Thank you so very much for a foundation of learning and life.

Thanks to Kim Stanley Robinson’s inspiring challenge that “we need to imagine what it might be like if we did things well enough to say to our kids, we did our best, this is about as good as it was when it was handed to us, take care of it and do better.”

Thanks to Uri for being more understanding than I deserve about moving his fiction to issue #2. Thanks to Duotrope’s Digest for giving me reprint permission for some of their market information, even though that is another thing which didn’t make it into the final 72 pages. (It was supposed to be 64, darn it!)

And finally a heartfelt thanks and welcome to anyone so gracious enough to give this magazine a chance and a read.

Whew. Now I get to do this all over again. (Along with getting out and spreading the word about the issue, finalizing the electronic versions and audiobooks, …) This time I’m aiming for just two weeks late instead of four…

Sneak Peek: BULL SPEC #1’s cover (draft)

Still some tinkering to do in all likelihood, but for the most part I’m going to leave it alone. Interior design and layout is going actually quite nicely this week, though still some important things to decide on and some last bits of art to select and place.

Anyway; here’s something fairly close to what should any week now be on a shelf near you, if you’re in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, or in your mailbox if you’re elsewhere, with cover art by CLOSED SYSTEM’s Mike Gallagher to accompany the feature fiction for this issue, C. S. Fuqua’s RISE UP:

And after the jump? The back cover, though it is much, much more subject to change and tinkering.

Thanks for checking it out, and for any feedback! The “font of interest” here is Bleeding Cowboys and it is used by permission. As always, the Burning Catalonian Bull is by Stuart Yeates and is used and available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.

Sneak peek: "Closed System" by Mike Gallagher.

“Closed System” is a graphic short story (comic book) which will be serialized in the 2010 quarterly run of BULL SPEC. When artist and writer Mike Gallagher pitched the idea of a “guide to time travel by giant disembodied ape head” I must say I was pretty interested. When he sent me the first sketches I knew I had the artist I wanted, and now that I have the first installment of the story for BULL SPEC #1 I can’t wait to show it off. So, the cover for CLOSED SYSTEM:

Interested? There’s more: a sneak peek inside the first installment.

I didn’t give Mike much of a runway to put together the first four pages for the first issue, but he really came through both with an interesting story and lovely art:

He made a great choice in color tone, along with some more great choices in terms of layout, letting drawings flow where they needed to, creating a most enjoyable read and memorable images:

And no, you don’t get to see any more today! BULL SPEC #1 (including CLOSED SYSTEM) will be online and in print when it’s ready, which looks today like the end of January or beginning of February. I know I can’t stand the wait, and I hope this sneak peek entices just a little bit of that same anticipation in some of you. I really want BULL SPEC to be a magazine for everyone, with stories, interviews, reviews, and yes, pretty pictures, too. Thanks to Mike I think I’m able to take my best shot at doing just that.

We’re pleased to announce that BULL SPEC #1 will include a feature on: game designer and author Lee Hammock.

Rounding out our interviews for BULL SPEC #1 will be game designer and author Lee Hammock, currently Lead Game Designer on the RPG/FPS hybrid MMOG Fallen Earth for Cary, North Carolina-based Icarus Studios. We’re very much looking forward to sitting down with him and talking about his writing, gaming both digital and tabletop, Fallen Earth, and what’s next.