For many of our readers, their academic year winds down in May and June, but things are just getting started for us, because this is when we usually hold the annual Dargon Writers’ Summit. The Summit is unquestionably the biggest event of the year for us, and this year ten of our contributing writers made the pilgrimage to our annual writers’ gathering. This time the event was hosted by longtime DargonZine contributor Carlo Samson, and took place in Chicago in mid-May.
Each year, in order to get the most benefit from our time together, we very diligently schedule a healthy balance of formal working sessions and fun, active outings and into each day. But because we usually have no more than 60 hours together, we usually aren’t so conscientious about scheduling sleep time!
This year, we got more writers together than ever before, extending the brotherhood and camaraderie of our core group to a larger group of contributors. We devoted time to getting to know one another better, and enjoyed hanging out together. Among the fun activities we enjoyed were learning how to play a game called Icehouse, playing pool, eating at a Mongolian grill, visiting Chicago’s Navy Pier, and playing laser tag, as well as Summit traditions like mini-golf and go-karting. Like I said, there’s little time for sleep!
And as if that wasn’t tiring enough, we also spent about ten hours in formal working sessions, discussing all kinds of topics. We covered a lot of ground, made more rapid progress than could ever be made on our writers’ email discussion group, and came to many very important conclusions that are going to make the Dargon Project better than it has ever been. Specifically, we made a commitment to raising enough money from the writers to offset the magazine’s production costs, and affirmed that we want to begin a judicious advertising campaign in order to grow our readership. We set in place a formal mentoring program, charged with finding ways to bring new writers into the fold as gently as possible. We also came up with a great way for readers to easily provide feedback on individual stories, and that is currently being developed for the Web site. And we kicked around a whole lot of other ideas that while not as far-reaching, will improve the project and the magazine significantly.
One of those smaller ideas that was suggested at the Summit was to make our publishing schedule available on our Web site. Well, we never had a publishing schedule until a couple years ago, because it was difficult to predict when any given stories might be finalized. In recent time, we’ve been able to predictably distribute issues every six to eight weeks, and so we can now made our tentative distribution dates available to you, along with whatever we know about what each issue will contain. The Publishing Schedule can be found at <http://www.shore.net/~dargon/pub_sched.shtml>. That’s just one example of some of the brainstorming that we do at the Summit, and how it translates into better service to our readers.
So this year’s Summit was another great experience for us. If you are interested in reading more about the Summit or checking out some of our pictures, visit our 1998 Dargon Summit Web page at <http://www.shore.net/~dargon/summit98.shtml>.
In addition to last month’s Dargon Summit, I’m pleased to announce that this issue marks the debut of another new writer: Stuart Whitby. Here Stuart prints the first installment in a three-part storyline called “A Spell of Rain” that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
It’s always a pleasure for us to be able to introduce new writers. After all, our mission is to reach out to aspiring new writers and help them improve their writing. However, last year we only had one new writer print his first story, and that was a serious concern at the end of 1997. This year, we focused on fixing that problem, and Stuart will be our third new writer to see print so far this year. I hope to have the privilege of introducing several more to you over the remainder of the year!