we're nocturnal creatures around here...


What the hell is this website?

Happy Insomniac is a literary zine (that term is passé, I know)--meaning that we will be regularly posting new fiction, essays, reviews, and blog entries. I (as in, Karen) will be doing my best to update this site as often as I can, but it will largely depend on my work schedule, social appointments, sex life, what have you.

Who the hell are you?

I am pleased to introduce myself as your webmistress and author, Karen Gsteiger. As I construct the site, I'm kind of using a royal "we." I do hope to have other authors join me regularly. Maybe you!

Karen in a nutshell: I am a former Northwest Indiana "region rat" and currently reside in Schaumburg, IL with my husband, two greyhounds (Cleo and Anubis), and two chinchillas (Machu and Picchu). I am fairly prolific, but as of yet, almost totally unpublished. If you are a publisher/agent/Daddy Warbucks and would like to change that, feel free to email me. Wishful thinking, I know...

Mandy spends an alleged 80 hours per week within the confines of her gray felt cubicle. When she is not fetching coffee, buying Mega Millions tickets, reading other web sites, emailing friends, checking out fabric samples, or glaring down Peter (don't ask), she can be found serving up literary nuggets with a side of snarky fries for you, the masses of Happy Insomniac readers. Mandy is still wookin' pa nub, as Buckwheat once sang. So if you are or know any eligible bachelors, send them her way. Finally, Mandy needs a new job so if you're a recruiter or career counselor, maybe something can be arranged wherein you help Mandy get the job of her dreams, and she'll recap the process for Happy Insomniac readers. Serious inquiries only, please.

Sam, aka "Sam I Am," does not, in fact, like green eggs and ham. When she's not playing Solitaire at her new proposal-writing job (thank goodness for a door that closes!!!), she's mindlessly sprinkling the dreaded phrases "state of the art" or "cutting edge" into marketing documents. Or she's happily writing about her hopeless love life (or lack thereof) for our Happy Insomniac readers.

Alex Papadopulos describes himself thusly: "I am a 25-year-old boy (emphasis on the fact that I will never grow up) living in South Africa. Fully qualified (with degree) IT consultant, but finding the cyber world a little too clinical...so I am delving into writing as a hobby but hopefully will make it a career one day. A couple of pieces have been featured on local websites, but nothing serious yet. A self-confessed hedonistic narcissist, but down to earth in an unexpected way. Found the girl of my dreams, my inspiration and part-time editor, Venessa."

Alan Pritchard, Happy Insomniac's first poet laureate: Born in Cape Town, Alan studied English at Rhodes University and went on to teach at primary and secondary schools in both South Africa and the UK. He is presently head of product development for a leading accelerated learning company, producing books, courses, and resources. He has written three plays for secondary schools (published by New Theatre Publications) and productions thereof have won at festivals in South Africa and Wales. Many of his poems have appeared in magazines and poetry journals worldwide. He now lives and works full time on the Isle of Wight.

Esmarelda is a recent library school graduate born and raised on the West side of Chicago. Through her advice, she will impart wisdom derived from women in her life, whose experience spans the range of Bible-thumpers to gold-diggers, as well as her personal experience with men. While most of her views seem decidedly feminist, she approaches the issues presented to her from a raw, adult perspective that encourages both personal responsibility and femininity. When submitting questions, be prepared for the truth.

donnarkevic, from Weston, WV, is a member of the Barbour County Writers' Workshop. His work has appeared in Jewish Currents, The Comstock Review, and The Birmingham Review. In 2005, his play, The Interview won second place in the Playwright's Circle drama contest, and Main Street Rag Press also published his first poetry chapbook, Laundry.

Matt Ambrose is a Washington, D.C.-based artist and writer. All of his artwork revolves around themes of memory, geometry, order, and dreaded entropy. He doesn't write intentionally about these themes, but second readings always prove him to be consistent. By breaking down his memories of the past into discreet elements and recombining them into new geometries, Matt seeks to clarify their meaning and possibly construct new trajectories for his own life free from the hegemony of their original order and significance.

Marisa N. Pickar lives in the O.C. in Southern California, where she enjoys the year-round sun and close proximity to the beach. A native Californian, Marisa spent three years living in Jerusalem, dodging terrorist bombings and getting spiritual. She is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to a local magazine. She earns a living working as an administrative assistant for a brokerage firm. She likes to spend her free time walking along the seashore, reading and writing poetry that touches people's souls.

Carrie Cahill is 27 years old and has lived in NJ most of her life. She currently works as a loan officer but takes her writing very seriously. She is currently working on a chapbook of poetry.

Laura is married, living in southeast Iowa, with six unconventional "children" that would include three dogs, a cat, a macaw, and a tortoise; all of whom provide endless hours of entertainment and immeasurable amounts of poo (especially the tortoise). She is also a self-proclaimed tax junkie who reads tax publications in her spare time and has learned much of the classical music catalog via the IRS's hold line. When not battling the evil forces of imposed taxation, she likes to travel, attempt photography, and amuse people with her uncanny ability to recite useless information such as T.V. commercials, product jingles, and random movie quotes (a talent she one day hopes to cash in on when Worthless Knowledge Jeopardy is invented). She recently fell in love with haiku and will be submitting her little ditties when the muse strikes.

Luke Boyd is an inner-city high school teacher from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He is an avid reader and movie critic. Some of his published work has appeared on Silverthought and in the Kutztown University Journal Shoofly.

Michael Larrain was born in Los Angeles, CA, in 1947 and is the author of three volumes of poems: The Promises Kept In Sleep (Wilderness Press, 1978), Just One Drink For the Diamond Cutter (Animist Press, 1980) and For One Moment There Was No Queen (Wufahtibootda Poetry Press, 1981), the audio CD of his selected love poems, Lipstick: A Catalogue of Continuous Undressing and three novels: South of the North Star (1978), Movies on the Sails (2001), and As the Case May Be, due out this summer from Spuyten Duyvil Press of Brooklyn, N.Y. He has for many years made his home in Sonoma County (Northern California), where he lives with his wife and two-year-old daughter, Wilder Kathleen the Rage of Paris Larrain.

Charles Clifford Brooks III is a poet and freelance writer living in Georgia, USA. He was inducted into the National Creative Society his senior year at Shorter College where he also obtained a BS in History\Political Science with a minor in English Literature. Along with his creative endeavors, he also contributes articles to several magazines and a newspaper. In 2008 he was brought on as a Contributing Writer for Babel and Poetry Editor for Literary Magic Magazine. His poetry has been published in Istanbul Literary Review, Semaphore Magazine (New Zealand), SHOTS Magazine (UK), Juice Magazine, AEGIS, Chiaroscuro, Jack Magazine, Poor Mojo's Almanac(k), Act Two, Awen, HA! Magazine (2006 Honorable Mention Award), Jimston Journal, and many more. Most recently he was interviewed by Chicagowrites CLARION as a "New Poet to Watch." Samples of his fiction and nonfiction can be found in the Jimston Journal, Pitwit Magazine (UK), Ha! Magazine, Poor Mojo's Almanac(k), Nuvein Magazine, Cloud Nine Magazine, Crimson Highway (UK), 3AM Magazine, Twisted Tongue Magazine (UK), Ego Magazine (Egypt), Sein und Werden Magazine, and The Chimes.

Dawn Colclasure is the author of five books, among them Take My Hand, BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: How We Survive as Writing Parents and 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat The Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity. Check out her website here.

Jessica Maher is just beginning her career as a writer, though she's been writing fiction since grade school. A recent graduate from SUNY Albany, she currently lives in upstate New York and writes freelance for local publications. She appreciates any comments, suggestions, or advice for an aspiring writer, so feel free to email her.

More mini-bios to follow...

Hey, Karen, I went to grade school/high school/college/grad school with you. What's with the extra G in front of your last name?

Mein schweizer Grossvater, Adolf Gsteiger, ist in 1912 in der USA eingewandert. Er hat seinen Familienname veraendert; "Steiger" ist einfacher fuer die Amerikaner zu aussprechen. Aber weil unser echter Familienname ist "Gsteiger," glaube ich, dass es nett waere, wenn ich ihn benutze, als ich schreibe. Wie spricht man "Gsteiger" aus? Soviel ich weiss, genau wie man "Steiger" ausspricht. [Entschuldigung fuer die Grammatik.]

Re: psemi-pseudonym, are you seriously going to keep that up?

We'll see.

[gasp] Language!!!

It's probably worth noting that not all content on this site is appropriate for all ages. I take no responsibility for warping the minds of your children, and I'm sure they've heard it all before by now, anyway.

How come your site looks weird on my browser?

I'm new at web design. I'm trying to keep things as simple as possible (the words are more important to me than some funky Flash intro with music), but I really can't make any iron-clad guarantees if you're not using Internet Explorer v. 6.0 or so. I will do my best to address any obvious bugs before we're up and running...

Do you accept submissions?

Tentatively, the answer to that question is "yes." I'd really like for this site to be more than my own personal ego-fest, and I'd like to build working relationships with other writers. And, selfishly, if I've got more people writing, that takes the pressure off of me a bit!

Here's the thing: I tend to be a passive-agressive, eager-to-please type. On the other hand, I need to maintain a certain editorial standard. So I encourage you to send an email with the story or articles you'd like to submit, and I can assure you that they will be reviewed. But I can't promise you that they will definitely be posted. Besides overall quality (content and style), I'll also be looking at whether your work fits our general tone and genre. For example, an irreverent film review = yes! A well-written essay about the trials and tribulations of your love life = yes! A well-written short story about the ongoing adventures of your alter ego = yes! Erotic "24" or "Buffy" fanfic = not so much! A suicide note posing as a poem = you will be referred to professional counseling.

Some general guidelines:

  1. UPDATE: I recently received some very useful legal advice from a reader. It hasn't been independently confirmed, but it sounds about right. It takes a village to run a zine...Anyhoo, if you decide to submit a piece to me, I will be asking for "first world serial rights," but you will not be signing a deal with the devil. You will retain all other rights, and I would never stand in the way of your being published by bigger and better outfits. I am not opposed to posting previously published work (in which case I would have "second world serial rights"), as long as you have not made some exclusive deal with anyone else. I was joking about the "lawyer phobia"...sorta, but I'm not going to fight anyone who sends me some sort of "cease and desist" letter. So it's on you to know what you can publish where. However, I would still like you to show some interest in this site in particular...don't just send me a link to another site, expecting me to go to such site and decide if I want to repost whatever you have up there. (It's been done before, and it annoyed me to no end.) So please send your work to me (as described below) as an attachment that I can open up without too many problems.
  2. I am a professional editor, and rampant spelling and grammar mistakes cause my eye to twitch. So please, demonstrate your interest in HI and dedication to the art by proofreading!
  3. Time is my rarest and most precious commodity. Save your time and mine. Before you send your work, please look over the stories already posted to get an idea of what we're looking for.
  4. If you haven't yet been put off, send your work (preferably as a Word doc attachment) to happyinsomniaczine@yahoo.com.

What kind of compensation can I expect?

At this point in time, nothing beyond the pride you will feel seeing your name in HTML. It's art for art's sake around here...

Will you link to my site?

I am definitely open to the idea, but it will depend mainly on what your site is. Send an email with the appropriate link, and I'll let you know.

Should I break up with my significant other?

If you're asking yourself that question, the answer is probably "yes."

Is there some sort of list I can join?

Why, I thought you'd never ask! My goal is to build an email list and send out site updates to any and all who would be interested. Just send an email with the subject line "EMAIL LIST," and we'll set you up. If ever you decide to unsubscribe to our list, all you have to do is send another email with the subject line "Jane, get me off this crazy thing!" or anything else that indicates your desire.

Thanks for finding us, thanks for reading, and thanks for spreading the word!--karen