Submit Your Stories Sunday: halloween in springtime

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 subbing to Cast of Wonder’s Halloween special and we’re reading Natalia Theodoridou’s Of Pumpkin Soup and other Demons and Austin H. Gilkeson’s The Ghost of Granny Goneril from Cast of Wonder’s 2014 Halloween special.

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Cast of Wonders: Halloween

Eligibility: speculative stories written for a young adult audience up to 6, 000 words, on theme of Halloween.

Take Note: writers can check out the Cast Wonders’ staff wish list by checking #ShortStoryWL on twitter

Submit by: this opening runs from March 1st to March 7th, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A Story (or two) to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

This week we’re heading back to CoW’s2014 Halloween special, where not one, but two eerie and delightful tales await: Natalia Theodoridou’s Of Pumpkin Soup and other Demons and Austin H. Gilkeson’s The Ghost of Granny Goneril. Click here to go read or listen to those now.

Theodoridou’s story captures the eerie essence of Halloween, the thinned veil and the who-knows-what-may-come-knocking quality to the year’s spookiest night. We don’t get all the answer, either, leaving us to wonder who that boy’s father might be, and how a storm could have a child of it’s own, after all. It’s eeriness, unexplained, stays with the reader like a good ghost story should. Just enough reality to settle into your bones and too much supernatural mystery to probe too deeply for the truth.

Gilkeson’s story, coming second, is lighter fare, capturing the fun of Halloween horrors. That opening line “Dead grandparents give the worst candy” sets the tone right away. This will be more fun than creepy, it promises. And it delivers. This story is cheeky, delightful, and solidly YA. It hits many notes of a teenager’s life and shifting experience of Halloween, while tying in more traditional Halloween tropes and staples in an engaging way.

What kind of Halloween story do you want to write? Will yours be a trick or a treat?

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Photo by Alexandro David on Pexels.com
Happy writing!

parachutes, grappling hooks, and pulpiest scifi

Engen Books has announced me as one of the authors in the upcoming anthology Pulp SciFi From the Rock with my story Parachutes and Grappling Hooks. Whew. That’s one less secret under my hat. But… THERE ARE MORE *bursts with excitement*

In the meantime, you can read Engen’s official announcement and check out some of the other authors by clicking here.

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Submit Your Stories Sunday: unidentified funny objects 8

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 getting ready to sub to Unidentified Funny Objects in April, and we’re reading Alex Shvartsman’s You Bet.

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Unidentified Funny Objects

Eligibility: humourous speculative fiction stories from 500-5,000 words.

Take Note: as markets go, this one’s tough. UFO has published big names like Neil Gaiman and George R. R. Martin. Keep that in mind when you sub, send your best, and don’t take it personally if your story is rejected. If you are able to read the forewords written by editor Alex Shvartsman of any of the previous UFOs, he happily drops a dozen hints of what he likes and what he’s looking for. Maybe amazon’s ‘look inside’ feature will help you read those if your local library is short on copies.

Submit by: UFO is open from April 1st to April 30th, 2020.  We have time to write and polish and polish again. Let’s do this.

Payment offered: $0.10 per word plus contributor’s copy

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

A Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

UFO’s website offers no less than seven free stories to give you a feel for their preferred humour – click here to go directly there. If you’re financially able to obtain a copy of the past volumes or lucky enough to have a library that stocks them, one of my favourite UFO stories is Chad vs the Rebel Alliance by Shane Halbach in UFO7. Yes, I am a Star Wars fan, and yes, this story carefully skirts any copyright infringement, but between us it’s Stormtroopers as dude-bros and it is DELIGHTFUL.

However, since most of us are starving writers and our libraries may not carry UFO7 (but you should ask them to), we’re going to dip inside Alex Shvartsman’s You Bet. Click here to go read that now.

Shvartsman is the editor of the UFO series and wrote this story as a Kickstarter campaign prize. I think it’s a good choice for our purposes because it shows us what the editor himself finds funny. Rather than puns, cleverness is the way to go if you want to get into UFO. In You Bet, Shvartsman introduces us to poker game where the players are tropes. They’re playing for their own relevance, and they only leave the game when they disappear from the larger culture. The story’s humour revolves around the trope characters themselves and how they see the world, so while it makes us chuckle, the jokes also serve to deepen its own themes. That’s impressive.

Now it’s your turn. How do you make your friends and coworkers laugh? Have you tried translating that to paper before? You’ve got nothing to lose but a bit of ink and a little time. Let’s get writing.

Happy writing!

IWSG and the power of a picture

Hello and welcome to my February IWSG post. IWSG, or the insecure writer’s support group, is a monthly meet up where insecure writers all over the world can share their thoughts and encourage each other. Click here to check out the many other writers participating.

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This month’s IWSG question asked us if there were any images that inspired us and hoo boy I have so many folders of images that whisper stories into my subconscious, but one does stand out. I’ll share it as the screenshot I took of it when I first found it, which isn’t pretty enough for stealing, and please click hereto check out Paolo Cirmia’s other work if you like this image.

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When I first saw this picture, it shot a story directly into my imagination. This story ended up being fairly significant because it was the first story where I entered the realm of space fantasy, which is slowly becoming more and more ‘my thing.’ The story I wrote did very well in a handful of contests, being both a finalist in one and placing in another. It nabbed a bit of feedback that thrilled me to my toes and I printed off and tucked inside my “anti-discouragement files” for bad days. And I LOVE this story. I can’t explain why it means so much to me, beyond the world it opened up in my imagination, but it does. It hasn’t found its home yet, and remains unpublished, gathering almost twenty rejections thus far. Sometimes I think I should give up on it but then I read it over and fall in love with it again. Some day I’ll find the right market for it, and until then when it receives a new rejection I remember the advice from Richard Thomas

never

and I dust it off and send it out again.

Happy IWSG day everybody! I can’t wait to check out your posts.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Dinovember

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 getting ready to submit to Cast of Wonder‘s Dinovember: intelligent dinosaurs call, and at their behest, we’re reading Ann Leckie’s The Endangered Camp as published by Escape Pod.

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Cast of Wonders: Dinovember

Eligibility: stories featuring intelligent dinosaurs up to 6k words

Take Note: Cast of Wonders requires anonymous submissions and will reject your story if your name is found anywhere on your submission. So don’t miss your last name in the header of your standard manuscript format like I did that one time. Ugh.

Submit By: opening is from March 15-31st, 2020, so get plotting!

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

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

A Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

Cast of Wonders has made it easy on me this week, offering their own example of a story that meets their call’s criteria. That story is none other than The Endangered Camp by Ann Leckie, and you can read or listen to it at Escape Pod by clicking here.

One of the elements that stands out in Leckie’s story (for our purposes) is the perspective of the dinosaurs. They aren’t human, but dinosaurs filtered through a human gaze. Their worldview, culture, mannerisms, and motivations are (dino)saurian. Often referred to as ‘furry fiction’, the reader is pulled into a strong, non-human point-of-view. This requires a deep understanding of the animal in question and strong world-building skills.

For this call, you need to pick your favorite dino, get into their heads, and take them on an adventure. We really do have the best job, don’t we? Good luck, or rather, GRRRRAAARRRRRR!

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Photo by José Luis Photographer on Pexels.com
Happy writing!

Secrets

This is the post where I titillate you with hints of a Secret Project. Yes, I have secrets. In between flash fictions and short stories I have been working on something… bigger. Longer. And secret.

I think 9/10 of our good news energy as writers is spent keeping it entirely to ourselves. Acceptances we can’t talk about until the magazine makes their announcement, wins we must keep under our hats until everyone has been notified, and of course Secret Projects.

We’re getting close to reveal time and my excitement is building. Soon. SOON! *lightning crashes into my frankensecret while I cackle into the stormclouds*

Ahem.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Abyss & Apex

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 Abyss & Apex’s upcoming opening and we’re reading Joy Kennedy-O’Neill’s The Roots That Roam from A&A’s 2019 archives.

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Abyss and Apex

Eligibility: speculative, character-driven stories up to 10K words

Take Note: flash submissions must be copied into the submission email, not attached

Submit by: this opening is the first week of February, 2020

Payment: $0.06 per word to a maximum of $75.00 USD

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

A Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

This week we’re dipping in Abyss & Apex‘s archives to read The Roots That Roam by Joy Kennedy-O’Neill. This will help give us an idea of what the editors like. Click here to go read The Roots That Roam now.

This is a tiny story that sandwiches it’s own grimness between two slices of wonder. Trees are walking around, but the civilization’s gone and our heroine is trapped by dint of her uterus, but maybe there’s a chance for freedom yet, if she takes it. Imagining her future is left to the reader to fill in after the story closes, which, in cases like this, reads like a gift.

Good luck to everyone submitting next week, and be sure to let us know when one of your stories makes it in.

Happy writing!

 

stop being lazy, brain

I promised myself I’d write a midweek post more regularly than I have been but January’s been a beast. I’ve written one and two half-stories this month and little else, which would be fine if I didn’t have several large, pterodactyl-like stories flapping around inside my head demanding to be freed. So what’s the problem?

Ack.

Laziness, and that’s about it. December, fresh from NaNoWriMo, is a busy, busy month. I am not the sort of person who likes busy, so I let my writing ease off as a form of self-care and I let this happen without guilt because I worked hard in November. January is not a busy month, but my brain, sneaky as a seven-year-old trying to sneak in an extra episode of baby Yoda before bedtime, has tried to stay in self-care mode.

I realized it a few days ago. “Well, brain, best be getting some writing done.” To which my brain sighed deeply (because it has lungs for our imaginary conversations), pouted (also lips), and tried to convince me that after a long day of what-have-you, it deserved a rest and maybe an episode of the Mandalorian. Or read, yeah, we could read something.

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And I fell for this, for weeks. Which has the nasty side-affect of taking away the benefits of these activities as self-care AND made my writing muscles lazy. I still wrote something everyday, but it was a paragraph, maybe two, before my brain convinced me it was tired, and would write better after some rest (which never happened). Inevitably, writing started feeling like a chore, like something I was nagging myself to do, which made me push it further and further away.

Until I realized how lazy I’d become and forced myself past that two-paragraph wall of fatigue. Just keep writing, brain. I’m in charge here.

It hurt. My brain wept. Okay, not really, that’s not physically possible. But it fought me. And then the muscles remembered. After an excruciating page I got into it. It wasn’t so bad. Maybe even pleasant. Holy crap, I forgot how fun this was! How deeply satisfying it was to edit out this passage and replace it with that one, cackling like an unstable scientist as their unholy creation zapped to life.

And then I wondered how I could have forgotten how much fun I have when I’m writing. How? Brains are tricky when they want one more episode. Hopefully, next time, I’ll remember this blog post I wrote once upon a time and I can come back here to remind myself. Feel free to do the same. In the meantime, I’ve a got a few more stories to get out of my head and onto the page.

Happy writing!

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: eclipse glasses

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 Third Flatiron‘s Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses anthology and we’re reading Mary E. Lowd’s story Necessary as a Rose in Kaleidotrope.

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Third Flatiron: Gotta Wear Eclipse Glasses

Eligibility: speculative stories of a positive future between 1,500 and 3K words, or humorous pieces around 600-1k words.

Take Note: think along the lines of “my future’s so bright I gotta wear eclipse glasses”

Submission Dates: this call is open from February 15, 2020, to March 15, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

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

A Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo:

This week we’re reading Necessary as a Rose by Mary E. Lowd as published in Kaleidotrope. You can click here to go read that story now.

Lowd takes us on a journey through space with a lonely astronaut and a rose bush they believe is embedded into the workings of the ship. They feed the rose, speak with it, nurture it, and watch it bloom, but as time goes by, the astronaut’s mind grows more and more erratic. They question themself. Why are the rose’s petal purple and orange? What does that mean? Have they flown through dangerous radiation? Why are these new petals pink? Each of these questions deepens the astronaut’s paranoia as they drift, alone, unable to fill in the gaps of their knowledge, through space.

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I wouldn’t call the future in this story ‘so bright I gotta wear eclipse glasses’ but I chose Necessary as a Rose because it offers multiple elements that suggest a brighter future. One of the most profound elements, for me, is the inclusion of nature. I was raised by trees, so when I read/see a lot of military-type sci-fi stuff I get an ache for the lack of nature and a weak-but-present sense of claustrophobia without something green and alive nearby. Nature helps ease human stress and strengthen our sense of wonder, which can lead to a happier future.

Another element of a positive future is the astronaut’s journey: they are travelling to a new world to accomplish their dream of being an architect. We find new worlds! We can have satisfying careers again! And finally, we see how much the citizens of this future care for strangers, and that promises much more below the surface of the story.

What’s the brightest future you can imagine? Can you see it? Okay, toss in some conflict and get plotting. We’ve got less than a month until Third Flatiron opens.

Happy writing!

 

one hundred rejections

My writing goal for 2019 was to get one hundred rejections. Because what writer wouldn’t want to get rejected that many time, amirite? A few writers recommended this to me as a means of putting my work out there. To get that many rejections,  you have to submit a lot of stories, and along the way, some of them are going to find homes. The goal also gets you studying markets more closely and watching for more opportunities. No market is too small or too strange.

I pulled in 106 rejections with 10 acceptances over 122 submissions. In the unseen shadows of those numbers, I had four stories held for consideration at a handful of my dream markets. This was a major boost for me, even if they ultimately wound up in the rejection pile. In the end, 2019 was my best year, acceptance-wise, yet so I’ve decided to make this an annual goal.

Now, I do recommend trying this if you’re making a move to take yourself seriously as a short fiction (or novel writer, for that matter), but… you should be prepared. There are approximately 365 days in a year, so you can reasonable expect to receive a rejection every 3.65 days. That’s a lot rejections, but hey, that’s doable, right?

WRONG.

Because it doesn’t go like this at all. All those editors and slush readers get together, probably with some sort of booze or I don’t know, psychedelics made from writer’s tears, and pick a single day to just reject the heck out of you. And you can bet they’re giggling while they do it. There are long stretches of nothing, which always get your hopes up because a late response could mean that they’re thinking about your story. At this point you’re probably clicking stats on The Grinder every hour, deep in the pit of rejectomancy. Then…

BOOM.

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You get four rejections in a single day.

I have no advice for those days. I wish I did. Practise self-care, yes, whatever that means to you. Two rejections? Pfft. No big deal, I am a writer, dang it. Rejections are my life. Three rejections? Hey now, that stings a little. FOUR? Oh sweet baby Yoda, nothing has hurt like this since Whatstheirface dumped me in grade 11.

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Big, deep breath.

I’m sure there’s a callus that grows over your soul at some point and in the year 2030 it will take forty rejections per day to turn me into such a sniffling mess (the climate apocalypse plans on making me jaded AF). There was a point when one rejection felt as discouraging as four did in 2019-which brings me to another thing that this whole one hundred rejection goal did for me-it made me more resistant to rejection. Four? Before 2019 I’d never received more than one a week, max, and if we want to be writers, we do need to get used to rejection. Gosh, we’re in a masochistic profession.

I’m still not where I’d like to be in terms of faith in my own writing, but I am learning to need that faith less, and to trust my voice more. Which is probably what I needed to learn more than anything, TBH.

What about you? Did you make any goals for last year this year? Want to hash them out?