A little over nine years ago, I was sitting in a northside bar with a woman I worked with. We’d been out for a drink with a client, who’d left early; he lived in Lafayette and had another engagement there. Neither my woman friend nor I had anyplace to go, so we hung out and had another drink. I believe I was drinking gin. I’m guessing she was drinking vodka.

We talked about a lot of things that evening. It was one of those “so what are you going to do with the rest of your life?” conversations. We were both in our mid-forties. Both happy in our work, but restless in our relationships. Both a little anxious about the future.

One of the things I mentioned was that I had always wanted to start a magazine. It was true: I thought about it a lot, and Scott and I used to talk about it when we were out on our afternoon runs along the towpath. At the time, I was writing science fiction stories, and I couldn’t understand why all the science fiction magazines were so pulpy and crappy. And the market for mainstream fiction was virtually nonexistent. I thought magazine publishers were doing it wrong–that there had to be a way to publish a cool magazine and not lose your butt in the process.

I’m sure I was totally naive. But that had never stopped me before.

So here it is, nine years later. Today we launched a magazine: a web magazine called Punchnel’s. It contains fiction and poetry, film and music and book reviews, essays, some interesting features, video, and more. We’re proud of the way we did it. We did it all ourselves, and we had fun in the process. We paid outside writers for their contributions. We bought really good stuff, and we intend to buy a lot more.

Will we succeed? We sure hope so. The world needs more thoughtful, engaging work from people who are passionate about what they do. Writers need more publishers who are willing to pay them, even a tiny amount, for their work. And we’ve had a gas getting it up and running.

And Punchnel’s has a good pedigree. Scott and I talked about it more than a decade ago, before we were partners.. He and Matt Mays and Mark Need and I talked about it when we started Second Story. These ventures have worked out pretty well so far.

The other result of that nine-years-ago conversation in a northside bar was a little event called Tonic Ball. So we have a nice precedent there, too.

And the woman I was with that evening? Dear reader, I married her.