Submit Your Stories Sunday: 99 Tiny Terrors

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday. Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll recommend a story to inspire your submission and get you thinking of the theme in original ways.

This week we’re submitting stories to 99 Tiny Terrors and we’re reading Larry by Elsa Richardson-Bach as published at Flash Fiction Online.

99 Tiny Terrors

Eligibility: horror stories from 500 – 1000 words, with atmospheric setting, unexpected turns, and supernatural elements preferred (though not required)

Take Note: writers may submit up to two stories

Submission Deadline: October 31st, 2020

Payment Offered: $25

Click here to go to the original call for full details.

A Story to Kick Your Mind into Gear

This week we’re reading a horror flash with an atmospheric setting, an unexpected turn, and supernatural elements: Larry by Elsa Richardson-Bach and published at Flash Fiction Online. Click here to go read the story now.

Larry is the story of an unsettling man at the protagonist’s place of work. Her peers seem to overlook him, unconcerned, certain of who they think he might be. As the story progresses, more and more we get the impression he is someone slipping from their minds, but why? And furthermore, why should we worry about it?

For more horror flash stories and to get a feel for 99 Tiny Terrors editor Jennifer Brozek’s taste, you can listen to her horror podcast, Five Minute Stories, by clicking here.

That’s it for this week, writers, and I hope this finds you well as the second wave breaks over much of the world. I hope you can find some peace and escape in your writing and your reading. Be well.

Happy writing!

Book Review: Riverland by Fran Wilde

Fran Wilde’s Riverland isn’t a particularly easy book to read, but it is worth it. The difficulty comes from the abuse the young protagonists face. Wilde articulates the constant edge of living in an abusive household, the careful interpretation of every twitch, every air, and every mood, waiting for the monster to appear. There were moments my chest was so tight I swore I’d never put down the book again until it was finished. I couldn’t leave sisters Eleanor and Mike there, I couldn’t leave myself there.

To feel safe enough to sleep, the sisters hide under Eleanor’s bed, where she has set up socks on the sharp coils of the springs, and Christmas lights for cheer, blankets positioned to hide the light from outside their protected space. She’s been reading The Hobbit to Mike, a brief escape, when one night a river appears beneath them, and the girls tumble into another world.

Once inside a strange world of herons, birds, ponies made of rags, nightmares made of smoke, and a lighthouse with a light solid enough to travel by, the girls learn their matrilineal ancestors had promised to protect this place. They’d set up glass fishing buoys to catch the nightmares and stop them from entering the “real” world. The girls know these buoys, they once hung in their house before their father smashed them in a rage.

The girls’ worlds soon collide, the weight of keeping their family’s dark secret against the girls’ mission to save Riverland sending shards of glass into the impossible foundation of their lives. There’s a friend and a grandmother who offer hope, but the girls are in a terrible place. Everything they face is too much for their tender ages. I spent the last third of the book clutching it, white knuckled and muttering, “Oh, Fran, please save them. Don’t leave them there, don’t leave them there.”

I guess I’d call this middle-grade horror fantasy, and it got to the core of me. Protect yourself if this kind of content triggers you, but for me? I give it 5/5 stars.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Reinvented Heart

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday. Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll recommend a story to inspire your submission and get you thinking of the theme in original ways.

This week we’re submitting stories to The Reinvented Heart anthology and we’re reading Merc Fenn Wolfmoor’s How To Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps.

The Reinvented Heart

Eligibility: original stories along the theme of a reinvented heart (more details are in the guidelines linked below) from 500-5000 words

Take Note: this call is open to female and nonbinary writers. If you do not fall into those categories, here’s another great call you might enjoy.

Submit by: October 31st, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

Click here to go to the original call for full details.

A Story to Get You in the Groove

This week we’re reading Merc Fenn Wolfmoor’s story How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps. TW for suicide ideation. You can read this story at Lightspeed by clicking here.

This story is fairly loaded with metaphor and I’ll let you interpret them in the way that suits you best, but for the purposes of getting you thinking about your own submission, Tesla is in love with a robot. Since they secretly consider themselves a robot, this isn’t too far a stretch for the reader to believe.

One day, when Tesla returns to the coffee shop where the object of their affection works, they find the robot gone. After they manage to track the robot down in a scrap yard, Tesla is desperate to repair the damaged bot, even as their lives fall apart around them.

In the call for The Reinvented Heart, the editor asks us to consider how romantic and aromantic relationships may change with technological advances and the possible distance of galaxies. Taking a lesson from how Wolfmoor weaves Tesla’s humanity with the idea of her robot self in this story can give us a roadmap for making new ideas of love and technology work.

Happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: DSF

elcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday. Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll recommend a story to inspire your submission and help newer writers understand how to fulfill a call’s thematic elements.

This week we’re looking at Daily Science Fiction‘s open and ongoing call for flash fiction and reading Clayton Hackett’s Illegal Entry from their archives.

Daily Science Fiction (DSF)

Eligibility: speculative stories from 100-1500 words

Take note: writers will have to create a login to DSF’s submission system, and can use it to check their story’s status. Likewise, it’s free to sign up to receive DSF’s weekday offerings mailed to your inbox to get a solid feel for what the editors like.

Submit by: Daily Science Fiction accepts submissions year round with the exception of December 24th through to January 2nd.

Payment: $0.08 per word

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A Story to ignite your writing mojo

This week we’re reading a story that came out on DSF a few weeks ago, Illegal Entry by Clayton Hackett. You can read it at Daily Science Fiction by clicking here. I chose this story because it stayed with for a long time after I first read it. In this story, Hackett muses on what would happen if the unnamed Superman/Clark Kent boychild crash landed in rural America today.

It’s an unflinching look at a refugee’s story dressed in the face of one of our greatest heroes. Hackett does play with the form of flash fiction in this piece, mixing fiction with non- fiction: a quietly clever nod to Clark Kent as reporter for the Daily Planet.

Can you write a piece as powerful in as few words? You’ll never know until you try.

(Please note: this post was originally published a few years ago, I’ve got a house full of sick kiddos at the moment. Sorry for the re-run but DSF is evergreen – I submit there every chance I get. Good luck.)

Happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Translunar Traveler’s Lounge

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday. Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll recommend a story to help familiarize you with the editor’s tastes.

This week we’re subbing to Translunar Traveler’s Lounge and we’re reading Marissa Lingen’s The Swarm of Giant Gnats I Sent After Kent, My Assistant Manager.

Translunar Traveler’s Lounge

Eligibility: fun, speculative stories up to 5,000 words

Take Note: stories should offer hope rather than bleak futures

Submit By: this opening closes October 15th, 2020

Payment offered: $0.03 per word, with a minimum of $20

Click here to go to the original call for details.

Story to Familiarize You With the Editor’s Tastes

This week we’re reading Marissa Lingen’s story, The Swarm of Giant Gnats I Sent After Kent, My Assistant Manager, from Translunar Traveler’s Lounge‘s August issue. Click here to go read that now.

I have no heavy-handed analysis of this fun story for this week, writers. This week was hard. This story offered me a chuckle and a daydream of the good gal coming out ahead that I think we just might all need after a week like the one we had, which… is kind of the point of fun stories like the ones Translunar Traveler’s Lounge is looking for.

If you can still tap into the well of good times inside your imagination, these are qualities to look for in your stories. Treasure the escape in the writing of them and the reader will follow.

Be well, keep safe.

Happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Upon a Once Time

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday. Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll recommend a story to get you thinking about your own submission and to help you get a feel for the editor’s tastes or the theme of the anthology.

This week we’re submitting stories to Air and Nothingness Press’ Upon a Once Time anthology and reading Maya Chhabra’s Lethe.

Upon a Once Time

Eligibility: stories that mash together two fairy tales from any part of the world, between 1,000 and 3,000 words.

Take Note: writers can glean more information regarding theme and editor’s tastes by reading through anthology’s successful kickstarter campaign. Click here for that.

Submit by: deadline is September 17th, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

Click here to go to the original call for full details.

A Story to Familiarize You with the Editor’s Tastes

For this week’s story I chose a recent Daily Science Fiction publication by Maya Chhabra, who is listed on Upon a Once Time‘s kickstarter as a confirmed contributor. Her story Lethe takes a look at, not fairy tales, but the Greek myth of Eurydice. You can click here to go read that now.

This is fairly short story, even for flash, honing in on the moment of confusion faced by Eurydice as she follows her husband Orpheus from the Underworld. She doesn’t know her own myth, only that he’s come to rescue her. Orpheus is told he can only succeed in taking her from Hades if he does not look back to make sure she’s following him. He fails, of course, and in so doing loses her to the Underworld forever. Chhabra offers us the same story, but through the confusion of Eurydice’s perspective. Lethe, the title of the story, is a river that flows through the Underworld, the one that brings forgetfulness to the dead. They pull together into a sad, quiet loss in this story. I’ve always been intrigued by the losses we don’t know we’re experiencing, and I like the way this story stayed with me.

(On a slightly nerdier note, Lethe eurydice is also a type of lovely moth, though I’m not sure if it will make you forget anything…)

That’s all for this week, folx, I hope this finds you well and safe.

Happy writing!

Book Review: The Drowned Country

The Drowned Country, by Emily Tesh, is the sequel to Silver in the Wood and as such, I cannot properly review it without revealing spoilers regarding Silver, so please, be warned.

The Drowned Country opens upon a bereft and sulking Henry Silver, his grand house a shambles, his mood dark, and Bramble furious with him. Silver is the Green Man now and Tobias has left, called to aide Henry’s mother in her magical work, and their brief romance ended in anger. Heartbroken and still struggling with the new weight of an immortality he’s ill-equipped to handle, Silver is ruled by multiple waves of deep grief.

Then his mother appears, engaging his assistance in the rescue of a girl from a vampire, and he agrees for the chance to see Tobias again. Upon their reunion, Tobias’ stoic exterior plays further tricks on Henry’s tortured mind. When they find the girl, her situation not quite what they expected, Henry catches a glimpse of the Drowned Country, a remnant of fairy land lost, and a sharp spark of hope ignites in his woebegone heart that leads the three of them deep into a world hidden by a dark sea and full of unexpected danger.

I’ll stop there. I enjoyed this novella, missing Tobias myself as much as Henry Silver, but the tone shift from Tobias’ stoic, gentle focus on nature to the twisted torture of Henry’s grief was hard for me, living in Pandemica as we are. It works to get us empathizing with Silver, but I would have given anything to slip into the sweet soothing mind of Tobias for a moment. I begrudgingly took a star off for this, leaving the book with a more than respectable 4 out of 5 stars.

I like the way the story ends, it feels cozy, and there is a reveal and a kindness that pleased my storied heart. Sorry, no spoilers, but this is an easy read in a few short hours to get at that ending on your own. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Podcastle

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday. Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll recommend a story to get you thinking about your own submission and to help you get a feel for the editor’s tastes or the theme of the anthology.

This week we’re subbing stories to Podcastle’s open call and reading Ken Liu’s To the Moon.

Podcastle

Eligibility: fantasy stories up to 6,000 words (3,000-4,500 preferred)

Take Note: writers are allowed to submit one original story and one reprint story to this call

Submit by: September 30th, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

Click here to go to the original call for full details.

A Story to Familiarize Yourself with the Editor’s Tastes

This week we’re reading, or listening to, Ken Liu’s story To the Moon, from Podcastle’s 2018 archives. There are many wonderful stories published by Podcastle, but I’ve been reading a lot of Ken Liu lately on the advice of a critique partner and I’m finding his voice so kind and soothing during these troubling times that maybe you’ll appreciate his voice now, too. Click here to go read To the Moon now.

To the Moon is the story of an immigrant applying for asylum. As do many of Liu’s stories, several different versions of the same story run parallel, stories within stories. We have the story of the moon, a breathless fairy tale told from a father to a daughter, we have the story-of-necessity, and we have lived truths, stark and nude without the clothing of their metaphors. We don’t know if the story ends well, but that’s what I like about Liu’s work. His stories bring out the kindness inside ourselves as much as they offer alternative means to survive the troubles in which we find ourselves entangled.

I hope this post has found you well and filled with story ideas. In my area of the world school is starting up again and with it comes fresh anxieties to threaten creativity. Be safe and please keep writing.

Book Review: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Before we get started, I’d like to put out a content warning about partner abuse in this book. The abuse isn’t gratuitous, it’s pivotal to the plot, and you can’t skip over it. Please protect yourself.

The Space Between Worlds follows the story of Cara, a woman who travels between worlds, quite literally, thanks to a technology that allows her to travel through the multiverse. The caveat to this travel is that should a version of yourself already exist on the world travelled to, you will not survive the initial arrival. Because of this, people who have endured high-risk lives, such as Cara’s impoverished upbringing and life in Ashtown, a town exposed to the harsh elements of a heavily polluted Earth. Cara has died enough times that she is able to traverse to over 300 worlds safely, offering her the appearance of safety in the rich, environmentally-protected city of Wiley. But that protection pivots on the Eldridge company’s need for her particular skills and a secret she must keep at all costs.

In every parallel Earth Cara travels to, she meets different versions of her loved ones. Her mother ranges from loving prostitute to a disapproving zealot, her sister from innocent to cunning. Her once and former lover, Nik Nik, is always cruel, always abusive, and always the Mad Max-like emperor of Ashtown when she finds him. Sometimes he knows her, sometimes he doesn’t, but her Ashtown family remains under threat beneath his rule and their history. When she finds a version of Nik Nik that is not, everything in the all the worlds she thought she knew begins to unravel and Cara discovers that she’s not the only one at Eldridge with secrets.

Johnson’s novel makes for excellent commentary about privilege. The disparity of life between the rich Wileyites and the Ashtowners holds no secrets: we see the trauma of Cara’s lives, the terror of the Runners as a child, the rare kindness she found in the safety of her mother’s brothel. We see the obliviousness of the Wileyites, who have little idea what life is like outside their protected bubble.

I found the abusive sections difficult to read but the ending of this book, oh the ending. It is a breath of beauty, an ending so perfect I had to close my eyes and hug my e-reader for a moment. No, I’m not going to spoil it, but as a writer? This is the kind of ending I aspire to, an ending that takes into account everything that has come before, the story it is telling, and the world that has been built. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars, but the ending gets 6 out of 5.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Flash Fiction Online

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday. Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll recommend a story to get you thinking about your own submission and to help you get a feel for the editor’s tastes or the theme of the anthology.

This week we’re subbing to Flash Fiction Online and we’re reading August by Katie Piper from their August issue.

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Flash Fiction Online

Eligibility: complete stories from 500-1,000 words

Take Note: writers may submit up to three pieces of flash fiction at a time (as three individual submissions through Submittable)

 Submit by: ongoing submission call, currently open

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

Click here to go to the original call for full details.

 A Story to Familiarize Yourself with the Editor’s Tastes

This week we’re reading Katie Piper’s August. Click here to go read that at Flash Fiction Online. This is a creepy little tale where Piper makes an interesting use of detail. We’ve got a girl who discovers her grandmother’s grave in the woods near her house and who is clearly struggling with a strained relationship and possible neglect from her mother, but we’re only given brushes of these things and our imagination does the work of filling in the details. There’s a trick to this: it makes the story as much the reader’s as the writer’s; it makes us emotionally committed.

In between these gaps, Piper does give us details of the dozens of items lining the Walgreens shelves, the who’s a cat we never meet does not like, what is happening with that man’s tattoos??, and in this seeming minutiae the rules of this story world are built around us. There is room here for magic, but otherwise this world is not so different from our own. Stylistically, it’s an intriguing and compelling technique I’m tempting to play with myself. I hope this story inspires you to try something different with your writing too.

In the meantime, be well and happy writing!