Happy Birthday

Late last century, when I was twelve or thirteen, my mom told one of her uncles that I like to write. “Oh,” he said with sudden interest. “Do we have a budding starving artist in the family?”

I didn’t lose a beat before answering, “Absolutely not. I love writing, but I’m not going to starve for it.” I was irritated, but mostly because the question was condescending. Now I’m angry, because it should have been unfounded.

Over fifteen years later, I’d win a contest meant for beginners. The professional practices surrounding the contest were slipshod and exploitative. The culture around the accolades was demeaning. Many, many people were quick to defend it by pointing out I should be grateful for the honor, and asking me to have forbearance because, after all, it’s all very hard to do. I was angry then. I’ve since managed a different contest meant for beginners and now I’m furious. I’ve learned so, so much, but my biggest lesson is that, actually, doing it well and respecting the professionals involved isn’t that hard.

Five years ago I outlined the gaps in support for creatives, especially ones working in the speculative arts. Game of Thrones was one of the biggest shows on television. Star Wars and Marvel were both deep in vibrant and wildly successful movie franchises. Terraforming Mars was running like a juggernaut through the tabletop gaming world. The value of creative work was obvious and uncontestable. The support for the people doing that work, the cross-training to help individuals fully participate in an industry that requires many hats from its professionals, the platform for artists practicing in a wide variety of different mediums to connect with each other and share their experience, craft, and insight, didn’t exist. I shared my outline demonstrating the need for an organization that would both support creatives and advocate for their interests. People came out of the woodwork to make it happen. I will forever be gobsmacked and honored by that.

But I’m still angry.

Artists shouldn’t starve. It’s that simple. Five years on, Dream Foundry has built a wonderful community, made contributions to the industry I am extremely proud of, and served as an example of what’s possible. But artists are still starving. We’re coming together with our peers and colleagues to learn, grow, improve, and share tips on how to deal with an industry that considers physically destructive conditions, impossible deadlines, and exploitative pay to be something we should be grateful for. That support is good. It’s necessary. It’s not enough. We’re helping each other drown more slowly.

In our first five years, Dream Foundry focused on the nurturing part of our mission. That’s not going away. But Dream Foundry isn’t content to be a life preserver. The ship isn’t sinking; creatives are being thrown from the deck. We survived five years that were harder than anyone could have anticipated. A global pandemic came and we grew. People need us, and we know that. But to be true to our mission, we need to lean into the advocacy part of our mission. To do that well, we need to grow. We need you. 

Dream Foundry was founded in June of 2018. Today, which is also my birthday, we’re opening the five week launch of a campaign meant to serve as the foundation for our next phase. If you’re angry, tired, hopeful, or some mix of all of those, this is for you. If you want somebody who’s willing to step up to a thriving industry and say, “You will do better,” then I hope you’ll help us hit our goal. In the coming weeks, we’ll reflect on what we’ve done so far. Come share our pride. Then, if you’d like to see what more we can do, be part of the campaign to ensure we’ll make even more out of our next five years.

- Jessica Eanes, Founder and Executive Director

$25,000 for Five Years

We want to raise $25,000 to serve as a foundation for the next two years. Here’s a breakdown of what that money will enable us to do:

  • Double the cash prizes offered for the Emerging Artist and Emerging Writer contests
  • Chart a course for being able to apply meaningful pressure on the industry on behalf of creatives
  • Relaunch our free-to-attend seminar series
  • Create a set of tools and resources to enable increased event accessibility
  • Increase the grants we can make through our Con or Bust program
  • Provide a structured environment for experimentation with creator-forward business models
  • Improve the platform for Flights of Foundry
  • Develop and collect pedagogy resources for multi-disciplinary craft training 

Ready to help? Donate now!

Mic Technique for Live Readings and Panels

As an author, you will probably find yourself reading live at events at some time or another and it’s important to make yourself heard by your audience Paying attention to how a microphone works can greatly enhance your performance, and the audibility of your reading. After all, you are there to share your work with an audience, so it is worth doing what you can to make sure that they can hear you well and enjoy the performance without straining. It can be the difference between coming off as a professional rather than an amateur.

Most venues will be equipped with a dynamic microphone, most likely an SM58 or SM57 (see image 1), rather than an ultra-sensitive condenser mic (found mostly in recording studios). Dynamic mics have a unidirectional pattern (commonly known as a cardioid pattern) meaning that the mic picks up what is directly in front of it and cancels any sound coming from behind the mic, audience sounds etc. This type of microphone is useful because it tends to prevent any background sounds from being picked up, enhancing the clarity of your speaking voice. But it also means that if you do not speak directly into the mic your voice will not be picked up, and therefore not heard by the audience or recording device.

The cardioid pattern looks much like the shape of a heart (see image 2), and if you are speaking outside of this invisible pattern your voice will not engage the diaphragm of the microphone. Dynamic mics are also sensitive to the distance between you and the mic. The closer you are to the mic, the louder your voice will be, the farther away, the quieter. So, if you need to yell into the microphone as part of your performance you should back off of the mic several inches (at least).

Likewise if you plan on whispering a section of your piece you should get closer to the mic. In this regard you can think of the microphone as an instrument that requires some amount of skill to use correctly (although easy to learn with a little practice). Watch some videos of one of your favorite singers at one of their live shows to see examples of how effective altering your distance from the mic can be. Not all singers have great mic technique, but those that do tend to sound much better than those that don’t. You will see that as they raise their volume they pull the mic away from their mouth, and bring it closer as they grow quieter. It is also important to make sure that the mic is not being pointed towards the PA system speakers, as this will cause feedback issues (that horrible high-pitched squeal). Cupping your hand over the mic will also cause this issue, so while you may be inclined to cover the mic to prevent feedback you will actually be exacerbating it. If feedback is a problem at the venue, it is also possible to alleviate the problem at the mixing board. While it may be tempting to turn down the high frequencies on the equalizer (since this is the sound of feedback) you’ll actually want to turn down the low frequencies on the equalizer, counterintuitive as this may be.

At panel discussions, or multiple author readings, there isn’t always a mic for each presenter. In this case it is worth passing the mic around between readers, as the pattern is not large enough to cover the area of an entire table, and only those close to the microphone will be heard.

With a little practice, mic technique can be greatly improved and the better your mic technique the more your reading will be clear to the audience. After all, if they can’t hear you, how are they going to be able to enjoy your work?

Dream Foundry 2021 Art Contest Winners

Dream Foundry is excited to announce the winners of this year's contest for emerging artists. This contest is designed to provide a boost to beginners in the field, with professional judges and significant cash prizes. In addition to cash prizes, all winners will receive first pick of workshop seats at Flights of Foundry and showcase events at the online convention in April 2022.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Dream Foundry Art Contest:

1. Ellen He
2. Yue Feng
3. Vinnia Kemala Putri

Special thanks and a round of applause to this year's finalists:

  • Mikoto
  • Albokhari Mohamed
  • Nair Nascimento
  • Alex Pernau
  • Julia Quandt
  • Mols Slom
  • Cathlyn Vania

Our first place winner is the recipient of the Monu Bose Memorial Prize, which the Dream Foundry is honored to issue. More information on the prize can be found here.

We would also like to extend our thanks to contest coordinator Dante Luiz and judges Juliana Pinho and Charis Loke. We are incredibly grateful for the gift of their expertise and time to help us uplift emerging voices in speculative art and illustration.

A dark background with gold confetti and several spotlights highlighting the words

Dream Foundry 2021 Writing Contest

Dream Foundry is excited to announce the winners of this year's speculative short story contest. This contest is designed to provide a boost to beginners in the field, with professional judges and significant cash prizes. We're pleased to have had over 400 contestants, with entries from more than 40 countries. In addition to cash prizes, all winners will receive first pick of workshop seats at Flights of Foundry and showcase events at the online convention in April 2022.

Congratulations to the winners of the 2021 Dream Foundry Writing Contest:

1. "Cooking: A Science" by Shinjini Dey
2. "Amadi on the Concrete" by Jarred Thompson
3. "Clear As Water, Red As Ruin" by Sigrid Marianne Gayangos

Special thanks and a round of applause to this year's finalists:

  • Amy Johnson
  • Brienne D. Hayes
  • C. Bradley White
  • Cat T.
  • Kay Orchison
  • Kellye McBride
  • Robin Sebolino

We would also like to extend our thanks to contest coordinators Vajra Chandrasekera and J.D. Harlock and judges Vajra Chandrasekera and Premee Mohamed. We are incredibly grateful for the gift of their expertise and time to help us uplift emerging voices in speculative writing.

Free Fall Challenge 2021

We're delighted to announce that this fall, our Free Fall Challenge will be returning! This event is for creatives of all kinds, with a community space to encourage attaining goals, fostering skills, and honing craft.

The challenge will begin November 1st. Prepare to stretch your creative muscles, set goals, leap into new feats, and cheer each other on!

The goal of this month-long event is to foster skills that will help you translate your current workflow into something sustainable as you learn your limits, expand your boundaries, build endurance, and learn how to work without burning yourself out. Build a plan! Set goals! Make a schedule! And cheer each other on! And if you don't succeed, that's okay too. In fact, failing is a valuable learning experience and we're here to help guide you through it.

Maybe you're writing a novel this November. Or perhaps a series of short stories? Awesome. This is for you. If you're thinking of making a new interactive fiction game? Good! This is for you, too. Want to stretch your drawing practice or try a new medium for a month? This challenge is all yours. Want to translate a poem a day, or write the scripts for your next SFF podcast? Jump right in! Whatever your project is, if you’re dedicating the month to doing something big and difficult for you, the Free-Fall November challenge is for you, and we're here to help you with it.

We're running the challenge through our Discord server, complete with a dedicated channel for co-working, tips, and encouragement.

How it works!

  • The Dream Foundry is providing space for co-working, accountability, and scheduling help. 
  • Come over to our Discord server and find the #free-fall-challenge channel. 
  • Let us know what your plans and goals are - and if you’re not sure how to set goals that are the right level of challenging, we’ll help you out! 
  • When you have your plan ready, you can sign-up here. If you want to join the official co-working sessions, you’ll need to sign up.  
  • You can also share your progress and join in on twitter with the hashtag #freefallchallenge.  
  • And if you stumble along the way? We’ll help you recover, with some cheerleading from the other folks working on their own challenges. 
  • The official launch of the Free Fall Challenge will take place in our community room November 1st. Details and invites will be sent to those who sign up using the form below. We look forward to seeing everyone there!

Preparations for your jump can start now! Drop in, get hyped, and prepare to make November a challenge that gives you life!

Sign up here!

Interview with Flights of Foundry Guest of Honor Wendy Xu

We're hosting a virtual convention this weekend, May 16th and 17th, called Flights of Foundry, and we're so excited because it's almost time! We've got a ton of great content lined up that will be going almost 24 hours a day, including panels, interviews, seminars, workshops, and more. If you want to check out our schedule, go here. And when you decide you absolutely have to attend, you can register for the con using this link.

We have a whole heap of Guests of Honor that we've invited to attend the convention to give you insight into the world of professional writers, artists, translators, and editors in the speculative genres. Today one of our Guests of Honor, Wendy Xu, is here to do an interview in advance of her attendance.

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