November movember snowvember

Hello friends, I am crawling out of my NaNoWriMo-induced hole to a sea of Movember moustaches plastered on my friends’ upper lips, a dusting of snow on the ground… and I think I’m going to climb back in, to be honest. I haven’t made my 50k yet but I’m on track and the biggest story challenges have been worked out, the fores all shadowed, plot devices oiled up and ready to run, and now is the time to write the fun stuff.

I had a particularly good year NaNoWriMo this year, including our rural/elsewhere group being assigned an ML for the first time, which did wonders to create a sense of community, our weekly write-ins taking place on discord (online). She is also a generous ML, sending us swag packets including stickers from our previous NaNoWriMo years – which made me squee with delight because stickers turn me into a twelve-year-old every time. She also tossed in some chocolate writing fuel, a notebook, sweet bookmarks, and a tiny bottle I’m to open in case of emergency (I haven’t yet). This was on her own dime, not NaNo’s, to which all I can say is thank you.

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photobombing kitty legs were not included

On a fun note, someone introduced me to 4thwords, a web-based fantasy writing game wherein you have to write so many words in an alotted time frame to defeat a monster and move on in your quest. If you like games, it could be a wonderful tool to build your daily writing habit. There is a fee of $4 per month, but also a thirty day free trail to see if it works for you. Several of my writing friends are using it now and loving it, so I’m going to try it out after NaNoWriMo is over. Click here to go to the site and see if it’s something that will get you writing too.

Gotta go, my wordcount is waiting!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Experimentation

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 help newer writers understand how to fulfill a call’s thematic elements.

This week we’re submitting stories to Apparition Lit’s call for experimental stories, and we’re reading both Intisar Khanani’s Three Reasons Why Your Experimental Planet Needs Humans published in Daily Science Fiction and Sarah Gailey’s STET as published in Fireside Magazine.

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Apparition Lit: Experimentation

Eligibility: speculative stories from 1-5K words with a theme of experimentation

Take Note: this market has specific formatting rules, be sure to double-check before hitting send.

Payment: $0.03 per word

Submit by: this theme ends November 30th, 2019. Check the website below for upcoming themes and submission dates.

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

A story to ignite your writing mojo:

There’s multiple interpretations of the term “experimental” we need to consider for this call. On the literal side, we could submit a story that uses an experiment as the story’s titular focus, such as we find in Intisar Khanani’s Three Reasons Why Your Experimental Planet Needs Humans, published in Daily Science Fiction and available to read here.

Experimental could also be interpreted as experimental in form, such as we see in Sarah Gailey’s brilliant story, STET, published by Fireside Magazine which you can read by clicking here. TW for child loss.

Either one of these interpretations are worth submitting, or maybe you’d like to mash the two together into something experimental-squared. Have a read, see what you can come up with, and get submitting.

Happy writing!

Jennifer Shelby Award Eligibility for 2019

Cat Rambo, an SF writer I very much look up to, firmly believes writers should post their awards-eligible work, to let readers know what stories they are proudest of, and get those stories into more hands. You can read Cat’s post about it here.  And while I agree with her, I’ll admit this does feel uncomfortable BUT I think if I post this year, all subsequent years will go a little easier. Here’s hoping.

The original story published this year I am proudest of is my fantasy short story The Night Janitor in the anthology UNLOCKING THE MAGIC, edited by Vivian Caethe.

“The magic likes you,” said Solomon.

Zain felt like he’d had the wind punched out of him. His eyes stung with gathering tears.  “Where was all this magic when I needed it most?”

Solomon grunted gently. “What if this is when you need it most?”

Zain gulped at the air. Things like this did not happen, not to him, not to anyone. A moon could not be hauled from the sky, sunbeams weren’t stored in bottles, and boys did not meet old murderers with guns in the middle of the night and survive. They died. Oh god, they died, and he wanted so desperately to live.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: tdotSpec

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 help newer writers understand how to fulfill a call’s thematic elements.

This week we’re answering a call for submissions from Canada’s new market tdotSpec and we’re reading Yoon Ha Lee’s The Second-Last Client, published in Lightspeed Magazine.

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tdotSpec

Eligibility: “cool” speculative stories from 100 to 10 000 words, original or reprint (reprints have a reduced rate)

Take Note: submissions are accepted on Mondays only (that’s tomorrow!)

Submit by: new market with ongoing subs, but only on Mondays

Payment: $0.015 per word, Canadian funds (T-dot = Toronto)

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your writing mojo:

Our featured publisher is looking for, and I quote “cool $#!t” which is fairly open to interpretation. Send them the stories you’ll chuckle with your buddies over after work. But Jennifer, you say, my cool friends don’t want to talk about short stories. That’s because they haven’t THIS story yet. My response to this call for submissions is to share a story that I passed along to my friends this week, because I thought it was “cool $#!t.”

On that note, we’re reading Yoon Ha Lee’s The Second-Last Client, published in Lightspeed Magazine and available to read free of charge here. In some ways, this story wasn’t enough for me, and I want more from it, but I’m translating that into an earnest hope for more from this universe. This is the kind of story that takes something everyday and thwacks reality on the head, breaking open your imagination. In this case, we’ve got a pair of interdimensional… characters (?) who attend to the apocalypses of  what they call Seedworlds rescuing (get this) characters from books. Us? We don’t get saved, we’re just here to seed the stories. If that’s not cool $#!t, I’m out. I sent this story to every short fiction fiend I know, and I posted it on my blog (ahem).

Last week’s story, Elly Bangs’ The Last Stellar Death Metal Opera, would fit this submission call as well. Between this week and last week, our cool levels should be pretty high, so now it’s up to you to translate that into a new story and get submitting.

Happy writing!

 

IWSG: November, NaNoWriMo, and being a rebel

Hello and welcome to the November issue of the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG), a monthly meeting of writers to spill and share their tales of woe and ink. Click here to see a full list of participating blogs and find yourself an insecure, writing soul mate.

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It’s November, which is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and writers everywhere have holed up in their favourite writing nooks with mugs of coffee and probably some chocolate. My bulletin board is crowded with plot points and sticky notes with reminders of tone, terrible sketches of the alien species featured in my story. I’m still in the early days of struggling, but I’ve been here before, so I know I’ve got to push through until I reach the elation of being fully immersed in my novel. Well, novella, as I’m something of a NaNoRebel this year (again). I write my zero drafts by hand, and then type them up, during which I completely rewrite because those zero drafts are awkward monsters just figuring themselves out. My goal this year is to complete the zero draft of my novella (25-35K) AND get that first draft rewrite complete.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? I’d love to hear about it.

This month, IWSG gave us the optional question “What is the strangest thing you’ve ever researched for a story?” When I was writing Toby’s Alicorn Adventure (Cricket, September 2018) I had to research if rhinoceroses had lips (they do). Never mind that my rhinoceros had wings, I felt the need to be biologically correct before I could make the beastie whistle. #facepalm BUT because some rhinos have differently shaped lips than others, the whole whistling thing turned into a ridiculous rabbit-hole of research that resulted in me cutting the whistle out in its entirety hours later which effected the story… not in the least. Ouch.

In writing news, my short story The Feline, the Witch, and the Universe has found a home in the upcoming issue of Space and Time Magazine.

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Wishing every writer the grit to make it through NaNoWriMo, any other goals you have for the month, and beyond. Happy writing!

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Escape Pod. Also Death Metal. And Endangered Birds.

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 help newer writers understand how to fulfill a call’s thematic elements.

This week we’re submitting to Escape Pod and reading (or listening to) Elly Bangs’ The Last Stellar Death Metal Opera from Escape Pod‘s episode 697. TW for suicide ideation.

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Escape Pod

Eligibility: science fiction stories from 1 500 to 6 000 words

Take note: All submission must be anonymous. Escape Pod publishes story texts on their website and produces an audio version for their podcast. They buy first print and audio rights. Also reprints, please navigate to their website linked below for those details.

Submit by: Escape Pod will close submissions for the summer season starting June 2020

Payment: $0.08 per word, USD

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

A story to ignite your writing mojo:

This week we’re rocketing into Escape Pod‘s archives to read (or listen to) Elly Bang’s The Last Stellar Death Metal Opera. TW for suicide ideation. Click here to go read or listen now. Trust me, don’t skip this one, it’s a delight. I picked this story because it’s easy to connect with and a lot of fun, which is rare and wonderful, and because it asks deep questions about what humanity might be like if we became immortal. Who will our heroes be? Who will we fixate upon and where will this hero worship lead us? And more importantly, if we don’t save those octopodes from being flash-boiled in a supernovae, who will?

And now for something different:

I rarely share calls that do not offer payment to writers, but sometimes ones come up for charities that capture my attention, like this one. Back from the Brink is a UK conservation agency seeking sci-fi poetry and fiction up to 2k words with a focus on saving endangered species. Science fiction has long had the reputation for inspiring tech, and this collection is seeking to focus that reputation to solve a worldwide dilemma. Have any ideas? Again, this is not a paying market, but you might be able to do some good. Check out that call by clicking here.

Happy writing!

Inktober: the finale

Happy Halloween, writers and readers! We made it to the spooky end of Inktober: Writer’s Edition, in which I wrote a 50-word story based on a set of prompts everyday this past month. You can read the beginning with prompts here, and my weekly compilations here, here, and here.

Without further ado, here is my final set of entries.

Day 24: dizzy

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Jake’s kisses made Louis dizzy. Louis knew it was because Jake’s species was toxic to humans but damn if it didn’t feel good. They should stop before the toxins grew too strong for them but Louis had always been a sucker for forbidden love and Jake, well, Jake was hungry.

Day 25: tasty

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Few things were as satisfying as the tasty crunch of broken glass when she chewed it between her stainless steel teeth. This glass must have been made from the sands of Mars, the unique bouquet of Martian radiation burning bubbles into the soft brass of her throat as she swallowed.

Day 26: dark

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“I’m not mad, I tell you, I’m a visionary! If you can make power from solar energy, you should be able to make dark power, see? Sun to the black hole, one emits energy, the other absorbs it. All I need to do is harness the power of that absorption.”

Day 27: coat

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This coat was my mother’s but my body has changed so much since the war. I hear it tear as I slide the coat over my shoulders, my carapace piercing through the fabric. The zipper will not close against my chitin breastplate no matter how I fumble with my pincers.

Day 28: ride

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“Let’s ride.” Seven-year-old Famine climbed onto his muddy BMX. Pestilence placed her favourite doll into a pink basket which hung from her Schwinn. War rode a red Raleigh with training wheels and had spikes on his helmet while his little sister, Death, followed on her battered tricycle, handlebar streamers flapping.

Day 29: injured

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The ship shuddered when he applied pressure the seam of rivets running up the leeward bulkhead, her whimper echoing through the docking bay. She’d been injured. He pulled out a map of her species’ skeleton, tracing the fracture lines with his fingers and calling for his team of medical engineers.

Day 30: catch

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“Come in,” said the re-animation specialist. “Before you catch your death out here.”

She rolled her eyes, swooping her net back and forth through the darkness of the Nether Beyond. “That’s the point,” she muttered, too quiet for anyone to hear, gritting her teeth and leaning further into the void.

Day 31: ripe

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After asteroids, moons became ripe. We traveled the galaxy, collecting them. The wild ones were sweeter somehow. We’d carry them in nets trailing behind the ship, brushing near stars to soften their tough outer skin and through wormholes to liquefy the core ‘til the moons would burst between our teeth.

And that’s a wrap! Now if you’ll excuse, I have to get ready for NaNoWriMo. Happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: urban horror

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 help newer writers understand how to fulfill a call’s thematic elements.

This week we’re looking at Speculative City‘s call for urban horror stories and reading Nathan Ballingrud’s The Maw in Nightmare Magazine.

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Speculative City

Eligibility: horror stories under 5500 words

Take Note: stories must contain a strong city setting, and this city must play a strong role to the story

Submit By: December 2nd, 2019

Payment: $20 to $75 dependant on length of story

Click here to go to original call for details.

A story to ignite your writing mojo:

This week we’re reading Nathan Ballingrud’s The Maw as published in Nightmare Magazine. You can read it online by clicking here.

Ballingrud’s story plays on several horror elements, we’ve got a familiar city neighbourhood turned sinister, dangerous, and hungry. The dead are not acting dead, not safe, not respected, rather playthings for creatures that play on the nightmare of distortion: the wagoneers are human-like but stretched grotesque, just recognizable enough to make the strangeness of their actions frightening. And into this nightmare cityscape we march, in search of a missing dog. Now here I have to swallow hard, because a missing dog is the one thing that will send a protagonist into the nightmare realm with my heart well in tow.

I won’t spoil the end, that’s for you to read. Can you pull out the elements of the city Ballingrud has woven into this story? Can you see how he has done that? Good, because now it’s your turn.

Happy writing!

 

Inktober’s continuing adventures through the universe

I’m muddling through Inktober 2019 Writer’s Edition, which is rather new and diverges from solely drawing to writing a 50-word story based on the official Inktober’s prompts. Inktober’s having the same ups and downs I’ve come to recognize from NaNoWriMo, moments of fun, crushing self-doubt, why am I doing this, a place of magic beyond the plateau, and… well I’m hoping it ends with the same sense of creativity I get from NaNoWriMo. I’ll let you know once I reach it. The following are my entries for the past week, from day 16-23. You can see my earlier entries by clicking here,  here, and here.

Because these stories are meant to exist as unrelated snippets, I’m including a photo that suits the story’s mood before the story itself, as something of a palette cleanser. They run a wild gauntlet of un-relatedness, but here they are. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them and please drop your @’s in the comments if you are Inktobering yourself so I can follow your adventures.

Day 17: ornament

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With relief the Ambassador shed her body, strange ornament of solid flesh, at the end of her workday. Her ghost stretched, floating free. What a hindrance bodies were, yet so necessary in dealings with these solid, carbon-based life forms. It was strange to think she was once one of them.

Day 18: misfit

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She inspected the device, knowing it instantly. Its core was carved from the hearth stone of a misfit moon, pistons from the mechanimals of Titan, and a human heart to pump the fuel. Her heart. She’d found it at last. She transferred the credits to the peddler. “I’ll take it.”

Day 19: sling

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“I used to sling boosters in the asteroid mines,” she told them, taking the explosives and tucking them into her bra. “I’ve got this.” She dove from the cliff, mechanical wings unfolding and catching the upstream as she soared over the slaver’s camp, the first explosions rising in her wake.

Day 20: tread

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“Careful,” she touched his arm. “The moss releases a toxin when you tread upon it.”

“I didn’t know you cared.”

“I assure you I don’t, but neither do I care to die at your side.”

The Queen’s words echoed in his mind. “Kill her. No matter the sacrifice, make it.”

Day 21: treasure

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He lowered his blaster to aim at the Andromedan’s third heart. “I don’t give a damn what you do with the treasure but you are not taking my dog.” The yellow lab peered up at him with adoring eyes.

The Andromedan sighed and lowered their weapon. “Can I clone it?”

Day 22: ghost

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The note fluttered with grace to the ground. The Ambassador’s ghost escaped like a breath on a winter morning, her body collapsing to the floor like so much meat. There would be bruises in need of explanation come morning, but she dared not refuse a summons from the Soul Keeper.

Day 23: ancient

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“Crushed beneath the woolly mammoth we found this ancient body, preserved in the peat. We radiocarbon dated the remains and it’s as old as the mammoth, but here’s the thing, this corpse had a pacemaker. My thesis advisor says I’m not allowed to say it was a time traveller, but…”

that’s it so far, folx. Happy writing!

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 inspire your submission and help newer writers understand how to fulfill a call’s thematic elements.

This week we’re covering Podcastle’s current opening and reading (or listening to) Samantha Mills’ heartbreaking story Strange Waters from Podcastle‘s recent archives.

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Podcastle

Eligibility: fantasy stories of all sub-genres up to 6k words, reprints welcome but a flat free replaces per word payment (see original call)

Take Note: all stories will be published on their website and read for the podcast, so they are paying you for both print and audio rights

Submit by: the current opening runs until November 15th, 2019

Payment: $0.08 per word, USD. It appears as though the website submissions page might need an update on their payment per word, but their submittable page reflects the recent pro increase to $0.08 per word.

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your writing mojo

Today we’re dipping into Podcastle’s August episodes to read or listen to (it is a podcast, after all) Strange Waters by Samantha Mills. Click here to go there now.

Strange Waters is a haunting time travel fantasy of a mother and fisherwoman caught out of her time in a sea known for temporal portals. Once lost, she manoeuvres her craft into every possible portal, eager to go home to her children. She moves back and forth through centuries, guided by constant stars to her home city as it grows, changes, decays, and builds. This city knows its time travellers, eager to trade for fish now extinct, to question her for the history of the future, to capture her until she tells them what they want. Through her travels, she sees what damage knowledge of the future has done and refuses to share or learn what became of her children, because she’d rather be there than hear of it secondhand.

This story is deeply imaginative and absolutely heartbreaking. Maybe its my motherhood that clung to Mika’s story so tightly, leaving me in tears by the end, or maybe it’s the skill of Mills as she spun this haunting tale.

What can you do with all of fantasy at your disposal? Are you going to make us cry, laugh, or fall in love? I can’t wait to find out.

Happy writing!