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A Message from the Editor:
We have been publishing steadily for nearly 25 years, and the time has come to say good-bye, sort of. As the editor, I've had a great time, learned a great deal about online magazines, and enjoyed every moment of publishing Clever. But it's hard work, and as some of you know, I did this mosty alone, with technical help from my son-in-law, Jeff, the most amazing tech guy ever. We financed it and kept it ad free for the entire run. I designed the site, and did all the updates. Jeff kept the site up and running. Stuff happens, the kind of stuff that I didn't want to learn how to do. Jeff was there for that.
Originally, I thought I'd just do a personal website, but I knew from the beginning that it wouldn't attract many readers. So I figured if I asked other writers to join me, I'd be more successful in attracting a larger audience. It worked. Better than I even hoped. I got a few lucky breaks early on, some national exposure, thus some interest from writers that I never would have made contact with, a definite break. Then I started making connections with writers and other editors, one thing leads to another. And here we are.
Twenty-five years is a long run for an ezine, and over time, things change, especially technology. That's technology: change, make it better, make it different, make it faster, onward. In 1998, ezines were quite popular. Entertainment online. Wow! Nowadays we don't need ezines for entertainment, and the traffic to my site has diminished somewhat. Once the numbers started going down, I knew that it was time to move on to something else.
So during the hiatus period, I'm sorry to say that I will no longer be reading and accepting submissions. If I change my mind, I'll let you know.
One last thank you to the contributors and the readers. You are amazing. It's been a long and wild ride.
Winter 2021 update: I'm in the midst of moving out of my home of 10 years. Sniff. I'm going to miss it, but it had to happen. I definitely need a change of scenery. Not going far, but still, the horror of moving. I'm packing books, so far I've filled 12 banker boxes with them, and I just ordered another set. I'm desperately trying to declutter, give away, sell, and otherwise dispose of stuff. Friends have wandered through what's left of my garden to take home whatever they can dig up. I'm liking that. The ground will shift once the developer gets us all out of here. More high rises coming.
The world has turned since just a few months ago. We have a new president, so I'm sleeping better. The virus seems to be abating a little. I still haven't been vaccinated but maybe Friday it will happen. I've been out and around, doing some renovating on the new place. One should always paint when there's no furniture in place, get some new flooring, and some kitchen updates. I'd like everything to work. A girl can hope.
So updating Clever needed to be done before the move. I was so surprised to see so many dog stories. We do love our animals, and it shows. Since few of us are traveling, vacations are not a hot topic. I was expecting more slice of life at home stories, but that didn't happen. Maybe we need to let this past year jell a little before we can write about it.
Speaking of writing, I have an idea. I came up with a writing prompt for anybody who is bored enough to write a short story. I'm hoping some of you will take me up on it. I'd love to have a handful of stories about this: "I live next door to a serial killer". It's fiction of course, or at least I hope.
See you all this summer,
Winter 2020/2021: Still sheltering in place, sort of, and completely locked down here in the Bay Area. Not seeing anybody except close family members. Trying not to worry too much about who might have the dreaded virus. Even the thought of a friend or family member catching the virus gives me the shivers. The summer smoke is finally gone, and we are having a mildly warm winter, with the promise of rain and lower temperatures ahead. I'll be moving sometime in the near future, a complicated story that I'll save for another day. I have an adventure ahead of me that I'm looking forward to. So I'm sorting, thinking about what to take with me, what to part with, all that stuff. Channeling that clutter free book I read a while back.
Looking forward to a much better New Year politically, especially after January 20. We have been through a horror show between the pandemic and the trump fiasco. We will only come to realize how bad things really are once life gets back to some version of a new normal.
As an older person, the stay at home order doesn't hit me quite as hard has working folks struggling with school age kids. But I do miss my friends, and the ability to just walk out the door and do whatever I want to. The solitude gets to me even though I have a cozy home, books to read, reliable TV, cats. What else? I'm still able to get to the grocery store, the pharmacy, and I can head off to sneak a burger or a car coffee occasionally. I bring a book and read in the car. Occasionally I have a car coffee with a pal. Separate cars. Oik! Or perhaps a quick drive to the ocean to look at the waves when Santa Cruz is in a good mood, and will let us stop without harassment.
I've sort of neglected Clever Magazine for a while. Personal health issues, lack of ambition, a combination of boredom and abject terror, mixed in with rage at what's happening to the country make it hard for me to do projects of any kind. I'm finally getting over that as I sift through my belongings while anticipating the move out. There's nothing like the thought of moving to fire up some energy.
So on to the next issue. I found some emails that I have neglected which reveal some good material for the winter reading. Thanks to everybody who contributed. Please accept my apologies for not getting around to reading email in a timely manner. Keep in mine, we will continue to publish as long as something shows up in my inbox.
We sort of take for granted the fact that we are surrounded by beautiful state and local parks, wilderness areas, golden hills of pastures. Now we are suffering from the worst fires in nearly 100 years. I have no idea how this will end.
I've received so many great submissions over the last few months that I decided to publish them. We have all had more time to write and think, and send out materials to publications like mine. I love to hear from you. Do remember, if I didn't accept your piece, send it on to the next journal. What's not quite right for me might be just perfect for the next one.
Let's keep our chins up, our masks on, stay home as much as possible and hope for the best. Here's hoping for better times ahead.
Like everybody else in the world, I'm shocked and amazed beyond belief at what has happened to our country in the last months. It was back in February that the horror began with the pandemic and sheltering orders. We heard about the people contracting the virus, the case numbers and the horrible deaths, first small numbers with people shaking their heads wondering what all the fuss was about. And then... you know.
Now over 100,000 Americans are dead from it as I write this. More will die, many more, as the second and third waves hit. And everybody is home, so eerie. I make a run to the grocery store occasionally, huge treat, Walgreens, another special outing. Sometimes at 8:30 am I get in my car and make a run up the freeway and then turn around and come home. Keep the battery charged. When I first did this I was the only one on the road, now there are a few more cars, but it's nothing like the normal 280 rush hour.
And now comes the police brutality protests. The George Floyd murder. I'm just a bystander, like most of America. But we get it, black men die at the hands of cops way too often. And they get away with it. We sit by the TV and watch, pay attention to advice from our mayor or governor. Try to stay out of the way, try to understand, try to figure out if there's anything we can do to help. It's a disheartening state of affairs, mind numbing, and horrible, all rolled up together.
I stopped writing in journals years ago, figured I'd done enough whiny bad writing, but I started one in February, somehow knowing that this would be an unusual time, and maybe I'd like to record what's going on. Not like we won't remember it, but time and memory have a way of blending things together, distorting the truth, and the feelings.
At first my journal entries were sort of boring as I tried to explain to myself exactly what was happening, why the virus was so scary, like that. I soon tired of that, and began to write about what I'm doing to wile away the hours. Being an introvert I have an advantage, but I'm what they call a social introvert. I have lots of friends and run out to see them often, lunches and coffees mostly, but when I get back home, I'm exhausted from the conversation, the moments away, and so happy to be back home. So sheltering is a breeze for me. I can read, do craft projects, sew masks to give away, take care of my many cats, and just loaf, idling away the hours until the next meal. After the first week, I was totally okay with not going out at all.
And now I write journal entries like: helicopter hovering overhead because the authorities fear Santana Row is going to be looted; Gorge Floyd protesters wear masks saying "I can't breathe", and Rachel is explaining that we might be teetering on the edge of civil war if what trump says is true, and millions are worrying about the rent payments and lack of food, whether their children will ever go back to school.
And when I don't feel so hot in the morning, I worry, and when I cough I worry, and when my daughter says she doesn't feel good I worry. And while all this is going on our earth is trying to heal itself, the air we breathe is cleaner, the scientists are busy watching things improve, and too many people are dying and others are screaming.
It's not the cat lady's boring journal.
Reminder: if you send something in between publications of the new issue and I really like it, I'll publish it into the current issue. So keep things coming. I'm picky but many of you know what I'm looking for these days.
Thanks, everybody, for the great contributions to this summer issue. I enjoyed every word, no kidding.
Until the next issue, stay safe and well,
Your calm and collected editor, Dianne
I've been doing this publishing gig for over 20 years now, it's time for a change. Checking the visitor stats, I'm noticing that readers are looking at the same pieces, and it's usually not the new stuff. Lots of really old stuff is being opened, mostly mine, I have no idea why. So I'll do an experiment and follow the stats more closely and what else interests readers. And additionally while I'm cleaning up the archives, I'll republish old pieces that readers might want to see again.
Social media is changing. Twenty years ago online magazines were all the rage, and my idea was to copy the format of a print magazine. Currently users are not turning to ezines for entertainment, instead we are reading blogs, listening to podcasts, checking in with Facebook, and that Apple news service -- quickly -- and with very short attention spans. I'm as guilty as everybody else. It's the times. We are still reading, bookstores, e-readers, audio books are doing well. But the bottom line: It's an iphone world.
So let's celebrate this next step.
With affection, Diannek
Spring 2019: Our last issue was very well received, as usual. As I begin work on this latest one I'm pleased with the new submissions. And as always, I thank everybody who takes the time to send in a story that they would like to see in this magazine. Without you there would be no Clever.
The theme of this issue is: "Going to the dogs". As I looked over the array of stories that I've collected over the past few months, a theme emerged: dog stories. It's a popular topic for us. I was surprised to see so many of them.
The dog featured above is our adorable family pet, Barkley. He belongs to my daughter but he spends lots of time with me too. Barkley is a shepherd/lab mix of uncertain age with a checkered past. We think he may have been abused as a youngster. Karen coaxed a friend to give him to her, and after lots of work and love he has become the most laid back, unassuming pal a person can have. His name suggests that he might be a barker. Not true. I have never heard him bark or growl. He pants, slobbers, and occasionally his feelings get hurt to the point where he might give out with the tiniest whine. Sometimes he becomes afraid, which we can see in his eyes, but otherwise, he is silent sam, patiently waiting for the next walk, the next pet, the next treat. He loves to ride in the car, go to the dog park, run on the beach, and sleep. He loves cats and they don't mind him. He's the perfect dog. Long live Barkley.
Important note to contributors: Dog stories are sweet and non-threatening, something we rely on when the going gets tough. Our pets are important to us. I know that as well as you do. I get it. However, isn't there something more interesting to write about? I've noticed over the years a certain phenomenon with writers. When you sit down to write, you have a hard time coming up with a topic. So you fall back on those creative writing classes that said choose an incident from your childhood, or write about somebody important to you. To that I say, can't you think of something a little more interesting? We are living in an age of chaos and uncertainty. Most of you have been around for a long time. You have suffered, done stuff, known people, been angry, frustrated, exhilarated. Could you draw on that? Can you comment on current events without turning it into a facebook rant? I would love to read something besides dog stories, and goofiness. You can do this.
In the meantime, I know you just can't wait to go to the dogs, so without further ado, here's the new issue!
We are celebrating, it's the 20th anniversary of Clever Magazine! What an amazing run. If you notice carefully, there are no ads on Clever, there is no revenue production whatsoever. I do this as a hobby and it has become quite an impressive one, thanks to all the contributors and readers, and my family support and assistance over the years.
Publishing Clever is an ongoing process. It is never really gone from my thoughts. The emails come in batches, the largest volume comes when a new issue is published. However, submissions dribble in all the time. So I'm always reading pieces and deciding whether to use them or not. If I can't decide, I have one of my volunteers read it and give me some feedback. What we consider: image, fit, sense of humor, seriousness. Am I getting a little too old (possibly cranky) for this job? Lots of stuff to think about.
Once I turn my attention to a new issue, I sort of drop everything else in my life, and go through the process of building the new issue. I do most of the work myself, but I have the crucial IT backup for any technical problems that might come along. I also have several volunteers that I call on for questions and issues that come up. You would be surprised at some of the odd conversations we have had over the years. With this issue, I'm also doing some housecleaning. In the process I've found some older stories that we have dusted off and are featuring in the issue. I'm going to continue with process for a while. Mostly the archived stories are being deleted, but once in a while, I find one I think we will all enjoy a second time. I do contact the contributor ahead of time to make sure it's still fit to print. But as a result, this issue has taken much longer to piece together.
Regarding the Clever guidelines: I suggested to several contributors that there might be some format changes to the magazine in the coming months. I have made a few simple changes to the guidelines. You can find them here.
The biggest change is that we are cleaning up the files and dumping the archives altogether as a database. I'm going to keep the old articles that are still being read but there won't be a database to search for them. It's about the future, not the past, as far as I'm concerned.
This current published issue did very well, as far as traffic is concerned. We are holding about 10,000 readers per month, and they are spending more than a few seconds with us, reading widely throughout the magazine. Some of the old stuff continues to be read over and over. I have no idea why but I don't give it much thought. The new stuff gets read too. The automated traffic monitor isn't as concerned about individual pages as I am so we just assume all is well.
As I look over the current submissions, I'm encouraged. You are in for a treat with this issue. Thank you to everybody who made the cut and is part of the fall issue. Good job!
Hang in there, better days ahead!
To contact the editor, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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