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.
This week we’re subbing to Lackington’s and we’re reading Heavy Reprises of Dark Berceuse by Priya Sridhar.
Eligibility: speculative stories from 1 500 to 5k words for an issue themed “archives”
Take Note: Lackington’s prefers experimental prose and structures
Submit by: currently open; closing when full (they estimate 8-12 weeks)
Payment Offered: $0.01 CDN per word ($25 minimum)
A Story to Familiarize Yourself With the Editor’s Tastes
This week we’re reading a sample story from Lackington’s website, Heavy Reprises of Dark Berceuse by Priya Sridhar.Click here to go read this story.
This is a fairly dark story, we have characters living in fear and pain and they aren’t going to find reprieve but that which they find inside their music. General Tanager delivers a violinist, Starling, to the kingdom of the sorceress side of two warring queens, one fae, one a sorceress. There’s a hint to the idea of a talented peasant left to the whims of a warring monarchy: they are helpless, but if they’re clever, they can keep themselves alive.
Starling is tasked with composing a battle cry for the birds that Tanager uses to complete her work, whether that is protecting the castle or capturing Starlings from their music schools. The story itself is written with poetic prose, but the key here lays in the music and revealed by the title, Heavy Reprises of a Dark Berceuse. A reprise, in music, refers to repetition; of the opening material coming back, and repeated, later in the song. In this story, opening as the Tanager sends her birds to claim the Starling, the reprise is the second battle fought by the Tanager’s birds, this time to protect the Starling. A berceuse is a term for soothing music, or a lullaby, which suits this story because it does feel like a dark lullaby. It has its helplessness and fear, but it’s told in such a way that the reader feels the hope lurking in the shadows.
Likewise, the structure of the story is broken into headings; moderato, adagio, tenuto, and finale. Each of these headings represent tempos in music, which is essentially the speed at which the notes are played, and these headings match the level of tension building in the story itself. And again, all of this folds back into the characters themselves, each of them named after birds, using birds to do their work, and birds being a creature of music themselves, well, you see how well-knotted together this theme and story world become.
I think this could be considered a heavy read for some readers, especially for those who may not be familiar with the musical theory (like myself), but once you have the key to understanding, it’s a very strange and vivid world Sridhar has created here. The musical wordcraft is beautiful.
Do you have any passions that could lend to an experimental story? Is there a story form you’ve been wanting to try but aren’t sure you can pull it off? Here’s your chance. All they can say is no.
Happy writing, friends, I hope this finds you well.