So as regular visitors to this website know, CCLaP has been dealing with some mixed blessings over the last six months or so; namely, we've been having a whole series of surprise successes with our publishing wing (including being named one of the top 15 indie presses in the nation by Poets & Writers magazine last autumn, which brought us a lot more attention than I was expecting), but all the extra work that's caused me has brought book reviews here at the blog down to almost a standstill, with there now being a whopping 55 titles in our to-read list as of today, and some of those titles now being in that list for an entire half a year. But I don't want to stop the reviews, because that's the main thing that brings people by the blog every day to begin with; so instead, for the last month I've been going through the process of hiring some new reviewers, and I'm proud to say that this week officially kicks off the new 2013 posting schedule featuring all four of us!
First up, say hi to Travis Fortney, joining us from right here in Chicago (in the Rogers Park neighborhood, to be exact). Travis is a working creative writer himself, who got his MFA in Fiction from the University of Montana, and who has had two plays now produced in Ohio. His favorite contemporary authors include David Foster Wallace, Kingsley Amis, Doris Lessing, Richard Ford and Cormac McCarthy, so that should hopefully give you an idea in your head of what kinds of titles he'll be covering for us here at CCLaP.
And then our other new staff writer is Yair Ben-Zvi, joining us from southern California. Yair was born in Israel but has lived in the US since the age of three; he got his BA in English at UCLA, and was also an editor at their literary journal, Westwind. I've become a big fan of Yair's reviews over at social network Goodreads.com, which is why I asked him to come on with us as well.
And of course don't forget that Karl Wolff has just started his second year as a staff writer here too, and that his 2012 CCLaP essay series On Being Human will finally be released in book form at the end of this month. Karl joins us from just outside Minneapolis, and when not writing for us he runs the lit journal The Driftless Area Review.
Starting this week, the four of us will be posting on a rotating schedule, each of us publishing a long (500 to 1000 word) book review on a regular assigned day (Travis on Mondays, me on Tuesdays, Yair on Thursdays and Karl on Fridays); then all four of us will be posting a short one-paragraph review on Wednesdays, and I will be occasionally posting additional short reviews throughout the rest of the week as well, in an attempt to get that enormous backlog of titles we currently have whittled down to size quickly. Don't forget, if you're sending in a book yourself for possible review, you can specifically request that one or another of these people be your book's reviewer; so if you become a particular fan of one of our staffers, make sure to mention it in your cover letter to us. Once we have things running along smoothly, then, Yair and Travis will likely be starting themed monthly essay series of their own later this year, to match Karl's current series The NSFW Files and my own The CCLaP 100.
Oh, and don't forget to check out the way we're planning on paying all these new reviewers -- by gathering up all the content posted at the blog on any given month, and adding four photographer features, written transcripts of our podcast interviews, and a couple of pieces of new original fiction, and publishing it as a traditional monthly magazine, which you can either download for free here, view online for free at Issuu.com, purchase for $5 at Amazon or iTunes, or order a print-on-demand paper copy at MagCloud.com. Issue #2 still not finished! Because I am so busy! Because I have not had these new people yet to help me out! But now that I do, I plan on sitting down soon and assembling all of this blog's content from February and March into an extra thick issue #2, available hopefully right at the end of April; and then after that we should be on a regular monthly schedule, each issue featuring the content that ran at the blog the month previous, with hopefully a one-click annual subscription option at Amazon and iTunes up and running by this summer. (It turns out to be a lot more complicated to sell a magazine through these services than they make it seem, which I suppose should come as a surprise to no one.) One dollar of every purchase goes towards each writer now on staff; so if you're a fan of this blog, and wish to thank these writers for all the effort they put into making it so entertaining on a daily basis, this is a cheap and very direct thing you can do to support them, while getting a very cool looking publication out of it to boot. I hope you're looking as forward to all these new developments as I am!