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 inspire your submission and aid new writers in understanding how to best fulfill a call’s thematic elements.
This week we’re looking at a new market, Dream of Shadows, and reading The Dead, in their Uncontrollable Power by Karen Osborne and published in Uncanny Magazine.
Dream of Shadows
Eligibility: original fantasy or horror fiction up to 3K words featuring honest, daring protagonists reaching for a goal. One story will be published on the Dream of Shadows website per month, culminating in a 12-story anthology at year’s end.
Take Note: the wording and title strongly suggests dark fantasy will be preferred over brighter fare.
Payment: 20 Pounds per story
Submit by: no deadlines posted as yet, but keep an eye on the site linked below for any changes
A story to ignite your creativity:
This week we’re reading The Dead, in their Uncontrollable Power by Karen Osborne and published by Uncanny Magazine. This story, like the ones requested in this week’s call, involves a honest, daring protagonist pursuing a goal. This is story easily falls under the dark fantasy category the Dream of Shadows is looking for. You can go to Uncanny’s website and read it by clicking here.
The Dead follows the story of a sin-eater aboard a vessel eternally bound for Paradise. The ship’s captain employs the sin-eater to absolve their conscience of any misdeeds. Upon the Captain’s death, a new sin-eater, in this case an underage girl, must literally swallows the Captain’s sins forever, while the Captain’s successor eats their blessings. The new Captain moves forward in blissful ignorance, questioning nothing about her position’s right to authority over the three classes of citizens aboard the ship.
The past Captains come alive inside the sin-eater, clutching at her voice when she tries to speak of their monstrosities, throwing her to the floor in convulsions when she fights back, forcing her to relive the murders they committed again and again. Her experiences during this physical and mental invasion speak to the honest and daring protagonists the Dream of Shadows call is looking for.
We never learn her name. It is erased by her profession and the hundreds of Captains that invade her soul, but she dares to tell her story just the same.
After she uncovers a dark truth about the ship’s journey and the last Captain’s bid to remain in power forever, she has to find a way around the hundreds of previous Captains inside of her, working against her, to tell the people and to show the new Captain the truth about what this Captain has inherited. This is the goal she reaches for, the goal that builds the story tension to a shriek of nail-biting intensity.
By its nature this story is dark, delving into the what-ifs of humanity’s dark side, religion, and the easy corruption of power. As readers we can pull so many parallels with our modern troubles. Osborne’s ending satisfies, but I wouldn’t call it happy. The Dead, in their Uncontrollable Power leaves us thinking, a trick that good dark fantasy does well.
The Nebula Awards ceremony was last night and you can view all the winners at the SFWA site here. Congratulations to all the nominated and winning writers, you amaze me!