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THE HOUSE OF THE SHORT STORY. ONLINE MAGAZINE FOR SHORT STORIES


 

Logo design by Milva

Cover design work by @thewholeworldornothing

 


Premier of I Kratko Magazine

Presentation of the sixth issue "Across Nine Lands" 🌐

published by the publishing house Scribens

&

Networking




When: On the 9th of March, 2023

Where: Toplocentrala Sofia, Bar Stage

Time: 19:00 - 21:00


Socials:


 

Introduction



 

What is I Kratko Magazine?:


И Кратко - Й - is a fiction magazine that publishes short stories. The stories are written in Bulgarian only for the moment, but I wish the magazine would be able to expand and attract people who would like to write in English, regardless of their nationality, so we can read interesting stories from across the spectrum. Later in the interview Diana explains why she has chosen this name and how it relates to the agenda of the magazine itself.


How I found out about it ?:


I knew about the magazine for maybe around a year before myself and Diana started to chat on Instagram and end up here in Story Tap. Diana is the founder of the magazine.

Me and my partner, like to discover interesting things online. We are excited and hopeful when we discover someone or something that has a cause, strikes genuine interest and is driven by the idea of giving an actual space for someone to present themselves!


The magazine got us curious and interested, because it is independent and publishes stories written, not only by well known authors, but also by the ''invisible'' lovers of the writer's craft. To be honest many people in Bulgaria write poetry and prose, but the short stories are a bit different to an extend. We can all tell short stories to friends, family or collogues. However, short stories are specific, you need say something or a story that has a beginning, middle part and an end (can be open end). Have a structure, imagination and patience to finish it in an interesting way, so however is reading it can understand your visions, relate to the story or be stunned by way things end. Also, very often nowadays a short story can be an object of interest for the filmmakers around us. This type of writing can be very tempting for directors, actors and just people in general. If the story is good, you know it is, because it actually produces the provocative and opposite emotions and chemical processes in our bodies. This means the good emotions, such as inspiration, admiration, love and empathy and the opposite, such as sadness, regret, anger and others.


I find it fascinating and inspiring to read shorties. They give me the opportunity to read less, but take more out of what I have read.

It's a contradiction in some ways, but it is also a perfect fit for the those of us having a short span of attention.

I am thinking that if you are a visual person a short story allows your imagination to recreate the story visually in front of your eyes (in your brain), hence the joy of what you have just read can be more meaningful and understood.


I know Diana, from Instagram. We exchanged a few comments and messages and soon after ended up talking about an interview. I value what Diana has create, because it was done for two reasons:


Put her energy into something meaningful and to provide space for writers to express creativity in the field of writing, regardless if they are a professional or they simply enjoy to write from time to time.
Secondly, because the issue is independent and growing organically. In the age we live in growing organically is the hardest thing, unless you have a good and sustainable product, service or initiative.

She has found and done both!


I wanted to find out more about the magazine and the story behind the motivations, so here in this interview you would get a good clue as well.



 

On another note, the magazine will have its first show up in public!


As mentioned above:


Premier of I Kratko Magazine

Presentation of the sixth issue "Across Nine Lands" 🌐

published by the publishing house Scribens

&

Networking




When: On the 9th of March, 2023

Where: Toplocentrala Sofia, Bar Stage

Time: 19:00 - 21:00

 

Thank you, Diana for the extensive and honest answers! It was a genuine pleasure for me to read them.



 

Diana, would you tell us how I kratko (И КРАТКО („Й“) came to life and where did the urge come from? This is an online platform for writers who are professionals or just lovers of the writers’ craft.

 

Hi, of course. I kratko magazine was born two years ago in early 2021. I was unemployed and it was still pandemic days, I felt stuck in my life. I had recently moved back to live at my parents’ place.


My dad had passed away two years before. I couldn’t comprehend how I was in the flat I grew up in and he wasn’t. I was expecting him to open the door any minute, to hear him in the room next door, to see him – but of course I didn’t. I loved him so much. I was in an abysmal place emotionally, depressed, questioning everything, applying for jobs I didn’t want and trying to find something meaningful to put my energies into.


One day I figured out there wasn’t a short fiction publication in Bulgarian. I was disappointed and even scared about the state of affairs, but I also saw an opportunity to put my energies into a meaningful project and latched myself onto it like a drowning person to a plank. Just a couple of weeks later I started the magazine. It's probably safe to say that this project preserved my sanity then.

It wasn’t until another couple of months that I finally found a stable job so I suppose from the perspective of the magazine I was “lucky” to be unemployed for so long and able to dedicate sufficient time to it at kick-off stage.


What also helped me at kick-off stage is when I came up with the name. It was like a small epiphany. The name is just one letter in Bulgarian („Й“) whose name has the word ‘short’ in it: literally, ‘short i.’ I thought it is awesome to have just one letter as a name and it was a very cute pun. Once I came up with the magazine’s name I was seized with great motivation and everything else fell into place almost by itself.

The name set the whole tone of the publication, slightly playful, quite laconic in its communication style (unlike my replies in this interview), and so on. It gave the publication its own force and character, its own life, which is what I was really hoping for.

I didn’t want it to be ‘my’ project – I didn’t put my name almost anywhere in it – I wanted it to be its own thing. And I think it succeeded in being its own thing.


 

So how does it work? Who can submit stories, how do you choose the themes for the different issues?


 

It’s a fiction magazine that publishes short stories: a regular anthology.

It comes out three times a year and each issue has a different theme which is advertised in advance.

Currently I choose the themes pretty randomly, trying to alternate slightly more generic themes with slightly more unusual ones, keeping it all quite varied. I always try to make the title interesting which leaves ample room for interpretation of a theme but also makes it hard to translate them in English for this interview.

However, some of our themes have roughly been about metamorphoses, love, distant lands, and crowns and we just announced the next one that will be on artificial intelligence.
The way the magazine works is that anyone can submit a story during a specified time period. When the submission window closes, I anonymize the stories, read them all and select some of the best ones for the issue.

It is highly competitive because so many people write stories and I can only publish about 10 or so in each issue. The authors get published; they get recognition and a copy of the magazine. The readers get a good read and get to hear about the writers. I get the satisfaction of doing something good.

There is nothing original about the setup, there are tons of publications like this in English. It was disturbing that there wasn’t something like this in Bulgarian.

 

Can you expand on that? You said earlier you were scared about the state of affairs when you found out there wasn’t a publication like this in Bulgarian. Why?

 

Yes, I think this is a really important question. The magazine wouldn’t necessarily have been so valuable if there were already ten other publications out there doing the same. But if there isn’t any publication like this, this is scary, and here is why.

Without publications of this kind there isn’t a mechanism by which new and upcoming writers can test out their craft. There isn’t an outlet for authors who don’t write very often.

Let’s say you are someone who has only written five or six stories. There would be no way to get these stories out other than write a few more stories and self-publish an anthology of your own stories. This might not be a good anthology because your stories might be very different form one another.

The Bulgarian book market is full of books like this and these books get very little visibility, because when we speak about new writers, there is no reason for the reader to choose one anthology over the other.

So, there isn’t a way for readers to get acquainted with new writers. There isn’t a place for people who love to read short stories, to go and consistently, reliably, read new short stories that will be of a consistent high quality.

I kratko does precisely this. It is a meritocratic publication where anyone can submit a story, and some of the best ones get selected, so each issue has consistently high-quality content.

Also, it doesn’t matter whether you are a well-known writer or someone who only has written one story because it is a blind review. If your story is good enough, there is high chance that it will be included in the issue.

There were a couple of other publications in Bulgarian open for submissions, but they had major flaws.


1. First, they weren’t available online or in a digital edition.

2. Second, they were not specializing in short stories. In one issue they would publish something like two stories, ten poems, and three essays. For someone who is mainly interested in stories, this isn’t good enough.

3. Finally, the third flaw is that they don’t persist or aren’t regular enough. This is crucial. As a reader, I wouldn’t know when I could expect a next issue, and as a writer I wouldn’t know when I can submit stories.


All this is pretty suboptimal and I kratko delivers on all three fronts. It publishes only short stories. It comes out regularly with issues announced well in advance, so everyone is informed. It is available online and in a digital edition so everyone, from everywhere, can submit a story and read it.

 

You must be glad to see your efforts paying off. You have some news to share! The publishing house Scribens is going to be supporting you in this venture and publish the next issues of the magazine. Congratulations! How do you see this as the next step in developing the magazine and will you be looking for new team members?

 

Yes, I’m happy because this is a recognition. You have to understand, I had no writer friends, no literary circle. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by intelligent people all my life, but they were mostly scientists and engineers with little interest in the arts.

I never even had any close friends who read a lot of books. For someone like me, with no proximity to people in the ‘book world’ it was hard to know where to start.

Only a few months earlier I was contacting various publishers who either showed no interest in the idea or were supportive but had no capacity to help me because they prioritized other projects. The people at Scribens were alert enough to see the potential of the project and its cultural value. They even offered to help me distribute previous issues of the magazine entirely gratis!

Apart from recognition, the publishing house is of course immense help in practical terms. Scribens helps me financially because I won’t have to invest money in printing myself – basically I won’t have to deal with monetary side of things at all, which is a huge relief. So far I didn’t make any profit – I only about managed to get out even in December. From now on I won’t have to put in my own finances, and I will even get paid a little which is nothing compared to the hours I put in, but that is the way the publishing industry works and is a massive step forward from not getting paid at all or even losing money.

The biggest help would be with managing distribution of the issues, and the extra assurance of having more people involved, for example additional pair of eyes looking at the final copy pre-print.

However, I would still be looking for another team member. Another editor. Scribens is a relatively small team and ideally I don’t know if any of their editors would have the capacity to become a permanent member of I kratko editorial team.

 

How do you want to finish this interview?

 

I want to thank everyone who has in one way or another helped this project. I did most of the work, but of course I didn’t do everything.


A friend of mine – Todor – receives a big thanks for having helped me in most of the issues with the most boring job in the world – grammar check. He is the king of commas. Bulgarian language has very strict and not entirely intuitive rules about commas which I often mess up and I find it extremely tedious to spell-check and put the commas where they ought to be.


I want to thank my mother who was initially against the project (worried that I work so hard on something and don’t get paid) but in the last year became supportive and was invaluable help with distribution, i.e. going to the post office and sending copies of the magazine to people who ordered it. Sending issues in the post is hard to fit around other commitments and I think one of the big benefits of publishing with Scribens from now on will be that neither I nor my mother will have to deal with it!


Many thanks to Magdalena who creates the beautiful art for each issue’s cover. I found her two years ago by stalking designers on Instagram and am so glad she became part of the team, as she has done amazing work with the covers of all the issues.


An enormous and very special thanks goes to Milva, a designer who I’ve never met in person, who one day just over a year ago contacted the magazine via e-mail, announcing that she loved the idea of the magazine and had created a logo. This is the logo that you can now see everywhere. It is in tune with the playful nature of the magazine and changed entirely the tone of the covers (you can see this by comparing the covers of the first two issues with all the rest.)


A very big thanks go to you, Teodora, for being so supportive of the project, for suggesting and organizing an event for the magazine in Sofia in a few days, and all your help in promoting it.

Also, for the opportunity to feature the project on Story Tap.


Thanks most of all go to the authors who create the awesome stories that go into each issue. I feel in such a privileged position being able to read your creations, reading stories is definitely my favorite part of the process.

Last but definitely not least, I want to thank the regular subscribers.

You are few, and most of you people I don’t know, but I want you to know that at the start of this project each one of you might have just made the difference to keep the magazine going. It is one thing to believe in a project, another thing to have a stranger support you.


Thank you for having the eye to see the value of I kratko.


 



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