Our Art Director, Galen Dara, is nominated for a Hugo Award!

This year’s Hugo Award nominations have been announced, and Galen Dara – who not only volunteers as our Art Director but whose work has graced Cthulhurotica, FISH, and Bibliotheca Fantastica – is up for Best Fan Artist! This is, in part, because of the work that she has done for us at Dagan Books, and we are so very proud.

click on the image for a larger version

click on the image for a larger version

Galen first drew for Cthulhurotica in 2010, creating black-and-white images to fit with our stories. She came back in 2011 to do color versions (see above) and in 2012 she drew new art for our revised edition:

Galen Dara's illustration for “Le Ciél Ouvert”

click for a larger version

When KV Taylor and I put together FISH in 2012, we knew exactly who we wanted to create our cover. Galen worked with us on a couple of designs before we all decided we wanted something personal, something truly special. Galen immortalized my mother in an amazing piece of art that looks as good as a book cover as it does hanging on a wall:

FISH by Galen Dara

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She also created five original pieces of interior art, lending her bold, energetic style to the pages of FISH, just as she did for Cthulhurotica.

For the cover of our next anthology, Bibliotheca Fantastica, editor Don Pizarro asked us to use Galen again. After discussing what he wanted, Galen and I talked through the elements we wanted to capture: a woman, books, the magic of learning, the beauty of science & math … and look what she came up with:

Bibliotheca Fantastica, by Galen Dara

click for a larger version

In addition to working with us, Galen has created amazing images for the covers of Lightspeed and Fireside magazines, as well as others. See her online portfolio here.

Through the years, we’ve come to rely on Galen as a consummate professional who not only listens to our needs but creates gorgeous artwork that combines what we want with her own special vision. Though the publishing industry is often slow to move forward, suffers from delays, and – as a small, independent company – we can’t afford to pay her what we know she’s worth, Galen has always answered emails and questions, been open to suggestions, and turned her work in on time. We will continue to buy her art for our future projects, and consider ourselves very lucky.

We love Galen, as a person and as an artist. She came into our lives when Dagan Books was just beginning, on our very first project, and she has worked tirelessly to make sure that we are making beautiful books. We could never thank her enough.

If you like her work, or you want to support Dagan Books by supporting the artist who’s helped shape our style, please vote for her. You need to be a member of LoneStarCon 3 (the 71st WorldCon), but Supporting memberships are only $60 US. That’s a small price to pay for being one of the people who decides which novelists, short story writers, magazines, editors, and artists are recognized as the best our community has to offer. Get your membership here.

Thank you.

– Carrie Cuinn, Publisher

Tentacled Love, Galen Dara, 2011

BIBLIOTHECA FANTASTICA: Cover and List of Contributors

Stories within stories … twenty new fabulous tales of bibliophilic wonder, enchantment, terror, romance, mystery, and adventure…

BF FINAL cover_v2_front cover_sm

Edited by Don Pizarro; cover by Hugo award-winning artist Galen Dara.

Contributing Authors (in alphabetical order)

Colleen Anderson
Megan Arkenberg
Jesse Bangs
Todd T. Castillo
Tina Connolly
Michael J. DeLuca
Andrew S. Fuller
Lidya S. Gray
S.J. Hirons
Garry Kilworth
Yarrow Paisley
Amber Polo
Ursula Pflug
Gord Sellar
Trevor Shikaze
Michael Skeet
David Sklar
Ray Vukcevich
George S. Walker
A.C. Wise

We are so pleased to be able to show off another beautiful cover, designed and illustrated by our Art Director, Galen Dara. Be sure to click on the cover image to see a larger version!

Drawing Cthulhurotica: Thoughts from Art Director Galen Dara

Last year Carrie approached me about doing some illustrations for a new anthology she was putting together:  Cthulhurotica. A collection of Lovecraft-inspired tales with a healthy dose of Whoopee. The place where Sex and Madness meet.

How was I supposed to resist that??

Embarrassing admission: up till that point I didn’t know a whole lot about Lovecraft, so I got busy learning a few things. Well, I still can’t pronounce ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. Nor have I yet read a copious amount of Lovecraft himself.  But I have gained a healthy respect for those dark elder gods and I have read some fabulous fiction inspired by their original tales.

Part of my education was to see how other artists had rendered the creatures and landscapes of the Lovecraftian universe: Cthulhu, Deep Ones, etc. (In addition, there’s a good amount of erotic content out there involving tentacles.  No, I’m not linking to them.)  Many artists have used pigment and pixels to bring Lovecraft’s monsters to life.  It was a dark and delicious journey poking my way through those varied creations, picking up slimy tidbits along the way.

I drew three illustrations for Cthulhurotica using pen and ink on Bristol paper. They were not tied directly to any of the stories but based on the general concept of the book.  Carrie and I did a bit of back and forth on ideation and appearance, then they were placed in the book following stories that had similar themes.

click on the image for a larger version

After publication I had the opportunity to be in the World Horror Con art show and I revisited the original B&W illustrations to digitally re-create full color versions:

click on the image for a larger version

For the up-coming re-release of Cthulhurotica we are adding more art to the collection, and this time I’ll be doing illustrations specific to some of the stories.  I love this part: getting into the stories, finding that scene or that image and trying to capture it visually.  It’s wonderful to be cozying up to Cthulhu again.

(And now, I really must learn to pronounce ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.)

Cover Art: IN SITU

We are pleased to present the cover for our second title, IN SITU:

(click to embiggen)

The cover was created by Oliver Wetter, who also did the cover art for Cthulhurotica!

Oliver designed this custom image from “You’ll Always Have The Burden With You“, by Ken Liu, which appears in the book. Ken was kind enough to work with the artist on design elements so we could have a cover which captures unique details from his story while still retaining the classic sci-fi look we were going for.

Thanks again, Ken and Oliver!

Cthulhurotica – Excerpts and More

Waiting on the Cthulhurotica to be released? So are we, and we can’t wait! To share a little more of what we love about this book, please download the free PDF below:

Cthulhurotica Excerpts

We have a brief description of each story here and the Internet Speculative Fiction Database has the book listed here

The Facebook fan page for the book is here (and if you’re not already following Dagan Books on Facebook you can find us here)

What I love about being a Publisher

With Cthulhurotica only a few days from going to press, I’ve had a chance to reflect on the process of creating, editing, and publishing an anthology. While working on this collection, I also founded Dagan Books, and have been simultaneously expanding my knowledge of the publishing industry while I learned how to be a better editor.

Neither of which I would have been able to do without the lovely contributors, both artists and writers, who made this anthology possible. Though the editing process can be stressful on both sides, each of the writers responded to my questions and suggestions with an evolving tale which ultimately expressed itself in the best possible way. They were, as a group, engaged and polite throughout the last few months, and I have found a core group of writers I would gladly work with again. The artists, each one, produced work which was exactly what I needed before I was even sure what I was going to need. I thank all of them.

As the publisher, I’m responsible for the decisions. There have been quite a few things that I’ve learned to do a different way in the future, and I’m grateful for what I’ve learned. The number of aspects that fall under my domain are staggering: web design, accounting, working with a printer, a distributor, planning convention attendence, hiring and (sadly) letting people go, putting out open submissions calls, advertising, membership in various guilds and groups, and a lot more. While it might seem like too much, to me it seems like heaven. I love being able to be involved in so many aspects of this business. There is never a day where I feel like I don’t know what’s happening with Dagan Books, and I hope it always feels this way.

A few months ago, Cthulhurotica was an idea. Most people saw it as an excuse for tentacle porn; I saw it as something much more – an opportunity to expand on Lovecraft’s Mythos, a fictional universe I love so much, and also as an opportunity to kick off the publishing company I’ve always dreamed of having. I believe I’ve done both.

If you don’t like the book, or wish something had been done differently, talk to me. Ultimately I’m responsible for any failures in Cthulhurotica, or any Dagan Books title. If you loved the book, and I think you will, thank the writers and artists, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible. Their vision is what you’ll see in the pages of Cthulhurotica – I only helped it along a little bit. I love that they’ve allowed me to do just that.

– Carrie Cuinn, Publisher

Looking for a way to Submit?

Because we’re not open to unsolicited manuscripts at this time, you may be wondering how to get into the pages of a Dagan Books project.

Current Open Projects is a frequently updated list of any titles which are still accepting writing submissions. If available, it also includes a description of the next project in the queue so you can start work on your submission before the acceptance period opens.

Art: Submissions is a newly added page to give you an up-front and completely transparent payment structure … and some helpful hints.