Monday, May 23, 2011

A Message from Steven Schend

Kickstarting a Publishing House,

or, “How are Secrets like Dragons Anyways?”

I’m Steven Schend, a former coworker of Jeff's from TSR and Wizards of the Coast, and I'll admit that Jeff taught me a lot over the years as a game designer, editor, writer, and publishing professional. I owe Jeff enough already as a mentor and friend that I need large trucks in which to haul all the beer with which I repay favors and kindnesses. Today, Jeff’s been kind enough to invite me in and grant me his blog space to talk to you about something a block or two off of Grubb Street.

I’m launching a new publishing house—Vistag Media—and the new world of Kharndam via an initial fiction collection entitled Secrets, like Dragons... In a nutshell, Ed Greenwood, Jaleigh Johnson, Rosemary Jones, Joe Martin, and I are co-authoring a fantasy novella collection that’s quite a departure from our usual Forgotten Realms novels or other shared world fantasy works. Clicking on the book title above takes you to the Kickstarter pitch page with a short video of me talking about the book followed by the initial book trailer for Secrets, like Dragons...

Why fantasy?
I wanted to publish a fantasy work first as that’s where I cut my teeth as a writer and storyteller. Also, my approach to this world is darker than my usual work. Kharndam’s stories won’t provide obvious moral compasses for readers; hat or flag colors won’t reveal who’s a hero or villain, though actions will…as will magic. Fantasy tropes allow us ways to get at the real truths too often inaccessible in our mundane world. Magic even exposes hidden secrets a character or narrator might choose to keep hidden, and secrets lie at the heart of this world and this work.

I’ve planned Secrets, like Dragons… to encompass 350 to 400 pages of fiction and side matter from five different authors, and it’s available as a PDF, trade paperback, or hardcover book. I want as many folks as possible in on the ground floor of this new world and new company... There are a number of benefits to donating early at Kickstarter, and we'll be revealing a few more over the last week of our project, so please check back as often as you can.

On May 29, 2011, our Kickstarter fund-raising drive ends, and I truly hope we can meet its financial goals. The funds allow me to pay authors and artists (and others behind the scenes) solid professional rates for their work. That’s a no-brainer for me, as both a creative and as a publishing professional, even if it makes the start-up more costly. The start-up budget also accounts for producing the physical books and mailing them to early patrons and benefactors (and a few reviewers, to be honest). 

Whatever the outcome of this project and drive, please know that I appreciate any and all attention and time you can spare over at or at my own site where there’s a few more posts about the project.

Thanks again to Jeff for allowing me the space and time to speak with you all here; I hope some or many of you take a look at the project and join us in support of new creative endeavors,


PS: Only now did I realize that I never answered the sub-titled question. Here goes….
  • Secrets, like dragons, grow more powerful when hidden…at least in fearful minds.
  • Secrets, like dragons, can sleep for decades before wreaking havoc with their revelation.
  • Secrets, like dragons, are at least as deadly as those what spawned them. 
  • Secrets, like dragons, may mitigate the damage they unleash if treated with respect.
  • And, at one of our author’s suggestions….Secrets, like dragons, are more noisy in taffeta.