Submit Your Stories Sunday: Daily Science Fiction

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

This week we’re subbing to Daily Science Fiction and we’re reading Mary E. Lowd’s Home Remodeling from their archives.

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Daily Science Fiction

Eligibility: original, well-written speculative fiction from 100-1500 words.

Take Note: no reprints, no simultaneous subs, and they rarely publish horror

Submit by: no deadline, this call is ongoing

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word for worldwide rights

Click here to the to the original call for details.

A Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

This week we’re reading Home Remodeling by Mary E. Lowd, published earlier this week at Daily Science Fiction.Click here to go read that now.

I chose this story because there are notes that resonated with me, trapped in my home on what suddenly feels like an alien planet. Nothing is what it once was. People are shadows seen from the safety of their yards or two metres away, looking tense, delivering groceries with shallow pleasantries. Also cats, because thank goodness for pets now we’re in isolation (need a pet? Call the SPCA and foster one while you’re home alone). My cats and dog are the stars of social distancing… on my lap, asking for snuggles. Keeping the kids entertained.

I’m finding it difficult to read during this crisis, but stories that have some element of similarity with this situation are still grabbing, and holding, my focus. However, it’s tricky to find stories with those qualities that aren’t going to make it even harder to sleep at night than it already is, SO… Home Remodeling is a lovely little respite. I hope it inspires you to write yourself an escape from the newscycle.

Keep healthy, eat some vegetables, stay home, and write.

 

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

This week we’re subbing to Translunar Traveler’s Lounge and we’re reading Catherine George’s Calling on Behalf of the Dark Lord.

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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 April 15th, 2020

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

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

This week we’re reading Catherine George’s Calling on Behalf of the Dark Lord from Translunar Traveler’s Lounge’s current issue. Click here to go read that now.

I like this story because it catches the rare fun aspect TTL is looking for, and it gives us something new to consider at the end. The protagonist has been listlessly going from dead end job to dead end job and finally ends up at the dreaded call center. Except in this call center, she’s a demonic telemarketer hunting up followers for the Dark Lord. It’s a far cry from the partial year I spent in the hell of call center work. People don’t yell at you when you’re calling direct from Satan, apparently. The job seems to suit our protagonist, she gets better and better at it and it starts to change her… drastically. You’ll have to read to find out the rest, I’m afraid.

Stay safe everyone, wash your hands, and please take care of your mental health. If you feel like everything is too much, that you’re teetering on the brink of a breakdown, take a step back. If getting a rejection on top of this pandemic is going to be too much, then don’t submit right now. Rejections can hurt on good days and these are not good days. We are all handling this differently, so please tend to your creativity. Writing can be an excellent escape and that is the only purpose it needs to serve until we are on the other side of this.

Be well.

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Clarkesworld

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

This week we’re subbing to Clarkesworld magazine and we’re reading D. A. Xiaolin Spires’ story Coffee Boom: Decoctions, Micronized from the March 2020 issue.

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Clarkesworld

Eligibility: science fiction and fantasy stories from 1,000 to 22,000 words. Translations welcome.

Take Note: stories should formatted for online reading (i.e. overlong paragraphs or experimental paragraphing are discouraged). The editors also have a list of ‘do nots’ on their submission page (linked below).

Submit by: ongoing open call

Payment offered: $0.10 per word

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

The current issue of Clarkesworld holds a story that is close to this coffee drinker’s heart: Coffee Boom: Decoctions, Micronized by D. A. Xiaolin Spires. Please click here to read that now. As the hordes, um, hoard toilet paper I’m sitting here worried about coffee. We don’t grow any in Canada. If shipping shuts down, I… (sobs).

I want to say I’m not some sort of coffee snob, but I only drink freshly, *finely* ground dark roast from my french press. It’s actually the perfect coffee maker if you live in an area prone to power failures like I do (crap, I hope no one realizes I was hooked on my french press long before I moved here). I also drink it black, but again, that doesn’t make me a coffee snob. I just got used to drinking it that way back when I was a student and I couldn’t afford luxuries like milk and sugar.

I’m glad we’ve established that I’m just a regular coffee drinking writer who would never be swayed by a story about a protagonist in search of the perfect cup of coffee. Or one where said protagonist would go so far as to plan the heist of super collider in search of the perfect cup of joe. Or, you know, one where the drinking of such a cup of java would vastly improve not only one’s life, but one’s entire outlook. I would never be able to empathize with characters or a story like that.

In short, this is a wonderful story. I hope you get to read it while drinking your favourite cup of coffee. { FWIW, I also love tea, but this story isn’t about tea, sorry, may I recommend John Chu’s Probabilitea to soothe your ruffled feathers? } Have a read of some of the other Clarkesworld stories while you’re there and get a feel for the editor’s taste. Wash your hands, write some stories, stay home if you can, and keep healthy. I want to read your stories one day.

 

 

book review: Do Not Go Quietly

Apex Publication’s Do Not Quietly anthology of short stories is an emotional tour-de-force that will snatch you out of your seat and leave you cheering. 5/5 stars. Every story in this book is worth the read, but there are a handful that stood out or shook me to the core, and their review follows

Do Not Quietly opens with Brooke Bolander’s Kindle, the story of a little girl caught in a reincarnation cycle until she gets it right. The story that starts with a familiar match-girl, abused in the cold selling her matches. Frozen, she strikes a match, and pictures the flames devouring her abusers. It goes out. Another match and this time her lost matriarch whispers to her that the blood of warrior queens runs in her veins and she must take back what was taken from her. You know what happens next, she freezes there, on the ground, a dead girl with matches spent. In the next life she dreams of saving her friend, a dream version where the sulphur of the match factory hasn’t taken the girl’s teeth. There comes a few more cycles until she sets the flame to buildings, to factories, a palace, until she reclaims her own story. I held my breath for entire sections of this story, it absolutely blew me away with its simmering rage and stunning protagonist.

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Rachael K. Jones’ Oil Under Her Tongue introduces us to Erin, a youth growing up in a strict Christian cult. It is modern day but her only future is that of wife and baby-maker. For now, she’s not yet 18 and working with Carlos in a gas station. He’s just bought a junker car for $50 and Erin’s spinning psalms into magic spells. They’re in this car when Hailey, an android imprinted on an owner who has died and left her heartbroken, finds them. As the pair try to help the android overcome her programming, a loosely veiled metaphor for Erin’s own programming, the relationship between Carlos and Erin deepens and the certainty that they need to fight for their future clarifies. This story punched me in the gut. Erin’s early life ran a little too similar to my own, making this both hard to read and a story I will always keep close to read again and again.

I’ve never reviewed a poem before and I’m not sure where to start, but I’ll say this: I wish every little girl could read If the Fairy Godmother Comes by Mary Soon Lee. I copied it out and hung it up where my daughters will see every day.

April Teeth, by Eugenia Traintafyllou, is another one that haunts you after reading. In the story’s world teeth are pulled and given to a goddess-like Tooth Fairy on faith they will regrow. The devout will lose their teeth naturally, while others will have to them pulled. It’s a story about how power pivots on acceptance and faith in that power,  and the “invisible thread that goes taut every time you overstep the boundaries… set for you.”

If this sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to check out the Kickstarter the same publisher has going on for their next anthology, containing many of the same authors, Invisible Threads. In some of the rewards,  you can support them simply by ordering copies of Do Not Quietly and Invisible Threads. You can also get story crits from some of the best in the biz (gasp!) which I happily admit I’m drooling over. If it funds, they’ll also be opening to submissions (cough cough pay attention writers). Check it out by clicking here and please consider helping them reach their goal before time runs out.

Stay safe everybody. Wash your hands.

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: On Spec

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

This week we’re subbing to On Spec and reading Marissa K. Lingen’s Say it With Mastodons as published in Nature: Futures.

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On Spec

Eligibility: speculative, character-driven, high stakes stories up to 6,000 words

Take Note: while worth the wait, writers should be aware that this market can take several months to get back to you.

Submit by: this submission window closes March 28th, 2020

 Payment offered: $50-$200 Canadian, dependant upon a tiered word count, one contributor’s copy for stories under 1K, with anything over receiving 2 contributor’s copies and a one-year subscription

Click here to go the original call for full details.

A Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

On Spec is available at Weightless Books and other fine book retailers, but they don’t offer any stories for free. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, but in this column I want to support impoverished writers struggling to make it with an empty cupboard and wolf at the door. If you can, please buy and read a few issues of On Spec, it’s always a wonderful read. Today we are going to switch things up a bit and read a story from a writer On Spec has published at least four times. It’s safe to assume they like Marissa K.Lingen’s work, so we’re going to read her story Say it With Mastodons as published on Nature: Futures and available to read here.

Like On Spec stories, Lingen’s Say it With Mastodons is character-driven. Indeed, the protagonist has taken incredible leaps to recreate mastodons as a means to say I love you – without actually needing to say I love you – as awkwardly and sweetly as possible. The stakes are high because the protagonist is clearly uncertain of this declaration and how it will be received and since it also appears cattle is dying of the black leg plague, their act of love might be helping save the communities involved. We never quite get all of those details, but they are not the protagonist’s focus in their stumbling, rambling, desperate hope. They feel like a real person and here I am, hoping their mastodon-infused love is returned or at least they hold hands for a moment before the agony of awkwardness overcomes them both.

Good luck to everyone submitting to this call, and as always,

Happy writing!

Book Review: Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

This week I’m reviewing Seanan McGuire’s Come Tumbling Down (2020, Tor), the fifth in the Wayward Children series which began with the award-winning Every Heart A Doorway. I am a huge fan of this series and I look forward to each new installment every January on tenterhooks.

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In Come Tumbling Down, we return to the lives of the Wolcott twins: scientist Jack and vampire-in-training Jill. We first met the twins in Every Heart a Doorway and visited their Moors world in Down Among the Sticks and Bones (book 2 in the series). All of the books in this series revolve around the students and teachers of Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, a sanctuary for youth who once entered a portal into a magical world but were not allowed to stay. They are safe to suffer their broken-hearted longing for their magical worlds at the Home, and to spend their time searching for the Door that will take them to their worlds again.

After Jack’s girlfriend Alexis arrives at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children with a Wolcott in her arms, we learn that Jill has exacted a terrible revenge upon Jack. Because Jack had murdered and resurrected her (Book 1), Jill is no longer able to become a vampire as her precious “father” intended to make her. To circumvent her dashed dreams, she has switched bodies with germaphobic Jack via Moor science. Jack, now trapped in Jill’s vampire-nibbled body, has arrived at the Home for Wayward Children to seek help. She must regain her old body before Jill is reborn as a vampire and Jack is trapped in Jill’s body forever. With Jack’s severe cleanliness issues, she knows her mind will break within months. Wild and sugary Sumi, mermaid Cora, skeleton Christopher, and stoic Kade follow Jack and Alexis into the monstrous Moors.

In this story, McGuire reveals more of the Moors, the gods and monsters of the sea, and offers hints of the creatures who live beyond the dark valley. She gives us more of the mythology behind the vampire-scientist duology, though admittedly it didn’t play out the way I expected with the twins. Yet.

This book, unlike the first four in the series, doesn’t open with the rich storyteller voice I’ve come to associate with the series. It works for the story as a small hint that we will be deviating from the usual rules, but I will say that I dearly missed the opening feast of words I found in the other books. I give it 4/5 stars and eagerly await book six.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: liquid imagination

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

This week we’re subbing to Liquid Imagination and we’re reading My Little Monster by Iseult Murphy from Liquid Imagination‘s November 2019 issue.

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Liquid Imagination

Eligibility: intense and emotional speculative (or literary) fiction up to 8, 000 words.

Take Note: this market has format guidelines that differ from Standard Manuscript Format, please read guidelines carefully at the link below.

Submit by: open today, March 1st, 2020 until 6-8 weeks before the May issue’s release date (please note this is not specified, so get your submissions in early)

Payment offered: $8 for short stories, $3 for flash (below 1K words), with $2 bonus if payment allowed by paypal

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

A story to ignite your writing mojo

Iseult Murphy’s My Little Monster was published in Liquid Imagination‘s November 2019 issue and is available to read online by clicking here.

This cautionary fable tells of a blacksmith, Jonathon, who purchases a creature called a Diae from a fairy market. He is given specific care instructions and told to share what wealth his beautiful monster brought him when the fairy market returns in the next year. At first all is well, but Jonathon grows jealous of the children who come to play with his Diae, of the people who come to admire it, leaving small gifts in return. Jonathon retreats in a paranoid state of forced reclusion, taking his Diae with him, but the creature suffers in this state, its beauty fading into ferocity.

It’s a familiar story, but there’s also lesson here about sharing one’s gifts. I’m not sure I agree with the lesson one hundred percent, but I don’t fault it’s delivery. Murphy hits Liquid Imagination‘s desired notes, intensity (the drama in Jonathon’s house as the Diae changes) and emotion (the delirious joy of meeting the Diae, Jonathon’s jealousy, and finally, his fear). Now it’s your turn to hit those notes and send your story off to Liquid Imagination before they close.

Happy writing!

 

book review: Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

When I picked up Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh (Tor, 2019) I warned myself, “don’t get too excited, it might not be as good as it sounds.” It was, though. I finished it the day I started and happily give it 4.5/5 stars.

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This magical novella follows the story of a Green Man (of pagan lore), happy in his woodland home with his dryad friends, who befriends his flirtatious new landowner, the handsome Silver. Silver is a folklorist fascinated by Green Hallow’s history whose giddiness over his subject matter is both familiar and endearing. Our 400-year-old Green Man can no more resist the nerdy sweetness of Silver than he can act upon the lad’s flirtations. Our pagan friend, it turns out, has something of a curse upon himself and his past is about to threaten his new love interest. I’ll stop there before I spoil it for you.

I’m a sucker for the Old Ways and Tesh writes about the woods like someone who’s spent a childhood or two under trees. That’s rare. But they also bring in Silver’s mother and manage to make her one of the more intriguing characters in the story. That’s doubly rare. I am delighted by to see the overbearing, demonized mother trope flipped on it’s proverbial head. Now let’s kick into a Nixie’s pond and leave it there forever, hmm?

If you’re looking for a passionate love story, this slow burn Victorian affection isn’t it, but if you’d like a story that leaves you as refreshed and bright as a walk in the woods, choose this one. It’s lovely.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: future gender

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

This week we’re subbing to Hybrid‘s Future//Tense: Gender anthology and we’re reading Merc Fenn Wolfmoor’s The Frequency of Compassion in Uncanny.

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Hybrid’s Future//Tense Gender anthology

Eligibility: the Future//Tense anthologies focus on identity in the future, this one specifically on gender identity. 5K to 15K words preferred.

Take Note: Hybrid has no restrictions on gender or orientation. #ownvoices encouraged.

Submit By: open to submissions until April 1st, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.025 per word, to a maximum of $100

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

A Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

For this call we’re reading one of my favorite short stories, The Frequency of Compassion by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor. You can read this story online at Uncanny magazine by clicking here.

The Frequency of Compassion follows an autistic, agender protagonist, Kaityn Falk, into deep space, accompanied by their AI, Horatio. Extremely introverted, their solo expeditions suit Kaityn well, though their memories follow and haunt them in the darkness. When Kaityn and Horatio stumble into an unusual distress call, Kaityn’s gender identity is what gives them the tools to understand and survive First Contact.

What I like about this story is it’s emphasis on compassion and that it tackles the question of gender representation head-on within the story. In a flashback we hear Kaityn’s ex argue that Kaityn’s gender identity would only confuse any alien species they might encounter in deep space. The story itself acts as rebuttal to the ex’s argument.

Happy writing!

 

In Darker Corners of Your Favorite Band, Which Cannot Save You.

I’m trying to write more book reviews, the reason being that I’ve never been comfortable writing them. Imposter syndrome and all that. But I’m never going to get comfortable writing reviews if I don’t write more of them. Towards that end, here are two books I enjoyed this week.

In Darker Corners

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5/5 Stars – Indie

I was excited to receive my copy of Peter Gillet’s second collection of short works, In Darker Corners,  as I enjoyed his first, Mind Full of Prose. This collection has a blend of narrative nonfiction, album reviews, and dark fantasy stories.

Finding a sequel to the Beards and Bearability story, Tests and Testimonies, deep into the book was a delight. Fans of the original will not disappointed. Marked by Death, an essay about a tombstone that fell on the author as a child gave me the best kind of chills. No wonder Gillet’s horror works well, in particular the creepy Dimensions of Mediocrity and Viral. In Darker Corners is a wonderful collection to dip into for a story before falling asleep.

Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You

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4/5 stars – Tor Books

Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore follows a music blogger who comes across a transcendent new band that quickly becomes an obsession. The music starts controlling people’s emotions and soon sacrifices some listeners to open interdimensional portals. Alien monsters tumble into Earth. The protagonist denies all evidence in front of him and keeps plunging deeper into the music-caused danger like a hapless teenager in a horror movie, pulling the reader along for the ride.

Moore perfectly captures the annoying aloof quality of your music snob friend and then blows it into another dimension. This book is like the movie Almost Famous collided with the crack in Amelia Pond’s wall (Doctor Who) during a Sharknado and Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You climbed out of the wreckage fully formed. It’s a fun, campy read and I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like it. I’m hopeful for a sequel. Let’s take this ride off-world.