Recognize Fascism (updated)

Will you be a part of the rebellion?

I am pleased to announce that my story A Disease of Time and Temporal Distortion will be the first story in the upcoming Recognize Fascism anthology. Edited by the wonderful Crystal Huff and published with World Weaver Press, each of the 22 stories in this collection are written on the theme of “the moments when people see the fascism in front of them for what it is, accept it as real, and make the choice to fight it.” The anthology will be funded via kickstarter, and you can view that campaign here.

My story follows an elderly protagonist suffering from a degenerative time disease caused by a lifetime of illegal time travelling. She is horrified to discover a fascist leader is coming to power in the timeline she set aside to keep her estranged family safe from her enemies, but she struggles to keep herself from blinking out of time. Is she up for one last fight?

Artist Geneva Bowers has illustrated a vivid, gorgeous cover for the collection, check it out:

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You can check out more of Bowers’ vibrant artwork at her website here.

We’ve had a wonderful response to our kickstarter campaign so far (we hit our initial goal in 12 hours!!) and it feels so good to see that what we’re doing is resonating with people. When I first saw the call for submissions for this collection I knew I wanted to have a story inside. I’ve always seen writing as a form of resistance and I desperately wanted to be a part of this project, so I wrote the best story I could and sent it off. My acceptance came over a year ago and I was so chuffed. Last summer editor Crystal Huff and I headed into some serious editing work and they polished my little story into something I’m proud of. We planned an autumn fundraiser and – it all fell apart.

The publisher folded for personal reasons and our dream appeared finished. Freed from my contract, Crystal gave me permission to shop my story around with their edits in place, but my heart wasn’t quite in it, you know? The magic was in the collection, and the sparks it could send out into the world and the unseen differences it could make, because stories matter. But, as it turns out, Crystal Huff hadn’t stopped believing in Recognize Fascism.

Early last winter, they contacted me to let me know they’d found a new publisher for Recognize Fascism who would honour our original contracts if we still wanted in: World Weaver Press. I may have jumped out of my chair and danced a silly dance when I got  the news.

I’ll admit, I was worried that a kickstarter might struggle in our COVID-ravaged world economy, but I clearly underestimated people’s need for stories and heroes that fight fascism. Me too, world, me too. Our kickstarter is running until August 28th, 2020, if you’d like to be a part of this movement. Ebook and paperback copies of Recognize Fascism are included in the tiers, meaning you can support us just by snagging yourself a copy.

At some point in the campaign, there should be a clip of me reading a selection from my story A Disease of Time and Temporal Distortion. Eek! Watch this site and I’ll post about it when it’s up. UPDATE: it’s out today! How’s that for timing? If you want to watch me read my clip, click here and the link will take you through to the kickstarter update where it’s posted.

 

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: water

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 or the theme of the anthology.

This week we’re subbing to the anthology Water: Selkies, Sirens, and Sea Monsters and we’re reading Nibedita Sen’s We Sang You as Ours from Cast of Wonders.

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Water: Selkies, Sirens, and Sea Monsters

Eligibility: stories about magical beings who live in the water under 7500 words

Take Note: final versions should follow Canadian spelling

Submission deadline: September 30, 2020

Payment Offered: $50 CDN and a paperback copy

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

A Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

This week we’re reading (or listening to) Nibedita Sen’s story We Sang You as Ours as published by Cast of Wonders. You can click here to listen or read that story now.

Sen’s story follows the struggle of a siren coming of age into a life without agency. Cadence’s mother has disappeared, abandoning her and her sisters to the care of their other two mothers. There’s a new brother growing inside an egg in the bathtub and Cadence must go on her first hunt soon, seducing a human from the beach to feed her father.

This is a strange, uncomfortable story in many ways. Cadence is only now coming into an understanding of her species, touching on elements of incest and forced labour. She recoils, but she feels responsibility to look after her younger siblings and seeks to create her own agency with the few tools she has. Its this creation of agency that made this story stand out for me, the idea that the most hopeless, bound situation can still have small gaps for a rebellion. It’s a siren call for freedom (pun intended, shamelessly).

The story works because it captures the element of responsibility that can come with rebellion, yet finds a way to keep it from stopping the necessity of rebellion in its tracks. There’s an empathy here that Sen has threaded into non-human characters. Yes, we read on in a sort of horror to see the life of secretive human predators revealed, but we keep reading because we forget that we are the prey in this story, deep in the perspective of the siren. One could almost say the reader is held in the siren’s song…

**shakes head** whew, okay, I’m safe, I’m safe.

It’s your turn now, writers, to choose your mythical being, get to know them, and write their story.

Bonus submission opportunity: Pro market Apex magazine has opened for submissions after more than a year away. There is no indication of how long this opening will last, so don’t delay! Click here to go to their submissions page.

Happy writing!

 

 

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Lackington’s

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.

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Lackington’s

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)

Click here to go to the original call for details.

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.

 

Unknown Writer #4897980z has big news!

Yesterday I discovered my Metaphorosis story, Zsezzyn, Who is Not a God, made a list of Must-Read Short Speculative Fiction for June 2020 on Tor.com – seriously, click here, I’m not making this up. I checked it a bunch of times to make sure it was real and – it appears to be?

Now, this probably isn’t a huge deal if you’re famous, but as Unknown Writer #4897980z I – just read my name on Tor.com (whaaaaaaaaat?). This is very encouraging!

Also? Metaphorosis editor B. Morris Allen put some serious work into this story. They had me change the ending, tweak this, tweak that, change Zsezzyn’s name so it stops making that association to readers, and this other thing too. I was challenged, they were patient, and the story is so much better for their hard work and skill.

If you haven’t read the story or you would like to read it again, Zsezzyn, Who is Not a God is available to read or listen to on the Metaphorosis website here.

I’ve mentioned a few times in the life of this blog that in writing nothing happens for a looooooong time and then everything happens at once. In keeping with that, Engen Books decided that the Must-Read list is a good time to announce some news I’m relieved I don’t have to keep under my hat anymore:

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You’ll have to wait a little longer to hear more about this project, but November isn’t too far off.

Thanks for reading, I hope you find some success and something to equally encourage your work today. Keep writing, and please, keep healthy.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Beneath Ceaseless Skies

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

This week we’re submitting to Beneath Ceaseless Skies and we’re reading The Augur and the Girl Left at His Door by Greta Hayer.

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Eligibility: “Literary adventure fantasy” stories that take place on secondary worlds,  historical fantasy, steampunk, or Weird Western up to 15, 000 words

Take Note: editors prefer close POV (as opposed to distant, such as in fairy tales), no .docx submissions

Submit By: ongoing, open call

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

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

A Story to Familiarize Yourself With the Editor’s Tastes

This week we’re reading The Augur and the Girl Left at His Door by Greta Hayer and published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. You can go read it now by clicking here.

The Augur and the Girl Left at His Door is the story of augur who tells the future by reading the marks, wrinkles, and oddities of a person’s body. He can tell how a person might die with a glance at their back, and read their lives in the marks of their scalp. This career has kept him alive but also brought him anguish. When a baby girl is left at his doorstep, he adopts her himself and raises her with much freedom, but he does not teach her his trade. Knowing the future has brought him much pain and he wishes to spare her the same. The girl, of course, fights him on this respect, wanting to know the outcome of her love affairs and her life, each of these mirroring the augur’s private pain, but he holds fast. There is no hope if the future is known, he says again and again.

This story’s strengths lie in its voice and character. Written in close point-of-view, the reader sees the world as a series of interpretations of moles and freckles, painting a vivid picture of the augur’s trade and the repercussions of this kind of knowledge. If Hayer chose to tell this story from the daughter’s perspective instead, it would not be the same story and while we might keep the anguish, the unique world of the augur’s magic would be lost. It takes considerable skill to wield a fictional magic system in this way, and I’ve half a mind to write up some characterization exercises for myself based on what Hayer has done here with my own characters and trades.

Thanks for tuning in this week, writers, and I hope you are well. If you’ve read any wonderful stories lately, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Happy writing!

Book Review: A Song for a New Day

TW for discussion of the pandemic

The weirdest thing about Sarah Pinkser’s book A Song for a New Day is that it was written last year but reads like it’s about this year. The plot follows two paths and characters, beginning with musician Luce Cannon. Let’s have a moment of appreciation for that name. I love it. Luce is a musician about to play her first big stadium gig when terrorism shuts the world down. She still plays, earning her the dubious honour of being the last known musician to play a live show in the future that follows.

Next, we meet Rosemary Laws, years into the digital future, and from her we understand a scarring pox virus hits soon after the bombs, and life changes drastically. The world goes into lockdown and everyone isolates. School goes digital, dating goes virtual, concerts become a virtual, online event, usually through the StageHolo venue, a link in the monster Superwally conglomerate which monopolizes the future. Packages are delivered by drones and thanks to virtual reality tech, life goes on from isolation.

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This section of the book was enormously comforting to read from my own lockdown and isolation. Many of us are worried about how life is going to look post-pandemic and here is an easily believable future already imagined for us. We survive, and it isn’t that bad at all.

Except.

Sigh.

It turns out that the Superwally’s of the world were making a little too much money off of this new status quo, so much so that they developed a vested interest in keeping people isolated and using their gear. Twenty or so years on, there are congregation laws that dictate people aren’t allowed to meet up in any numbers but there hasn’t been any outbreaks or terrorism in a long time. Luce is heavy into an underground scene of speak-easy like illegal concerts where people attend to experience live music, elements of which never quite translated to the virtual space. The artists chafe against StageHolo’s monopoly of the music industry.

Meanwhile, Rosemary has been hired by StageHolo as a talent scout and is venturing outside her family bubble and meeting people in the real world for the first time, which both terrifies and exhilarates her. She’s about to find out that her safe digital world might be an economic prison fabricated with methods she doesn’t agree with.

This book is a good read, especially from a mid-pandemic perspective. I like that it gave me hope and rang true while also projecting a few cautionary elements that are based in corporate nature. I thought a lot about my musician friends, especially the ones who have been hosting facebook live concerts since March, while I read this book, but I also thought about my own situation.

As a writer, I can handle a degree of isolation without my art suffering for it (unlike Luce). As a mother of young children living in eastern Canada, I’m largely left out of the wider social world of writing conventions, so when conventions went online, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Some aspects of this digital world have far-reaching benefits and I’m not in a place to accept their downsides without a fight. Therefore, the second half of this book made me as grumpy as the first half comforted me. People in similar situations, or people who have disabilities that keep them isolated, may feel the same.

Ultimately, the story wins over my own moodiness. If your mental health is in a place where you can read about a pandemic, do yourself a favor and grab this book. 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Fantasy

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

This week we’re subbing to the newly returned Fantasy magazine and we’re reading The Things My Mother Left Me by P. Djèlí Clark.

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Fantasy Magazine

Eligibility: writers may submit a fantasy poem, flash fiction, or short story, keeping in mind all submissions must be anonymous.

Take Note: Fantasy is sibling to Lightspeed and Nightmare magazine, and firmly among the top markets for fantasy stories. Don’t let this discourage you from trying, but do manage your expectations accordingly.

Submit By: July 7th, 2020 (please note this market is scheduled to be open again August 1-7th, 2020 if you need more time to prepare)

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word, or $40 per poem

Click here to read the full call for submissions.

A Story to Familiarize Yourself With the Editor’s Tastes

Fantasy magazine has been on hiatus, but their archives remain, and from those archives, we are going to read P. Djèlí Clark’s The Things My Mother Left Me. Click here to go read that now.

I think I was half way through this one when I starting grinning with delight and that grin stayed with me to the end. Rich layers and SO MUCH IMAGINATION is something I’ve come to expect from a P. Djèlí Clark story, and The Things My Mother Left Me is no exception.

The story opens following the death of Tausi’s father and she is adrift in a sea of aunts who want her house but not her self because of the mysterious reputation her late mother had. Choosing to take her future into her own hands, Tausi decides to run away. She soon finds a fascinating array of captured creatures in a strange circus who encourage her to learn more about her magical, matrilineal descent. What results is powerful and delightful to read. This is storybook magic for adults and it’s wonderful.

Also of note is Clark’s use of setting in the story. It’s woven skillfully into the tale itself and I don’t come across that as often as I’d like. At one point Tausi looks up into the sky and sees a cracked moon, with broken pieces of another moon in its orbit, but it’s revealed as mythology: a brother moon shattered in a bout of rage by his sister moon. Her crack is what remains from the collision where she shattered him. Tausi makes mention of the tidal waves that wrecked the world upon this collision, deep in the past now, and of the goddess who left the world when this happened. More than just a story within a story, we’re given a strong sense of what life is like post-apocalypse. Likewise, the goddess who ran away returns in the magical objects Tausi seeks and also plays significant role in both the climax and the ending of the story. If nothing else, writers should read The Things My Mother Left Me as a study of how to use setting to create an amazing and memorable tale. 

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That’s it for this week, writers! I hope this post finds you well and healthy. If I may, I’d like to remind you that I am participating in Clarion West’s Write-A-Thon where some 500 writers like myself are writing our collective bottoms off to raise money for Clarion’s scholarship programs. If you have found these posts helpful, or if would simply like to help writers in need, you can visit my sponsorship page here. Thank you.

Happy writing!

Book Review: Dreadnought by April Daniels

TW for discussion of transphobia.

April Daniels’ Dreadnought tells the story of Danielle, a transgender girl who happens to be present when the superhero and Legion-member Dreadnought is killed by the supervillain Utopia. Upon his death, the Dreadnought mantle passes to Dani, giving her superpowers but also physically transitioning her to female. Dani’s dreams have come true, but there’s still her friends and family to deal with and when she finally comes out to them, they fail to support her. wp-1593696052282.png

Worse still, when the Legion invites her for a meet-and-greet, she is outed without her persmission and Legion member Graywytch proves herself to be extremely transphobic. Dani leaves, determined to figure out things for herself, and strikes up a friendship with Calamity, a western-styled hero, not super, but with excellent sleuthing and parkour skills. With Calamity’s support, Dani learns how to navigate both superhero-hood and accepting herself for who she is.

Here’s the thing that grabbed me the hardest, reading this book in this time and space. I probably won’t always recognize transphobia on my own but  I believe my transgendered friends when they tell me something or someone is transphobic.  I believe them when they tell me a certain famous magic book author is being transphobic. Heck, I bought this book to support a transgender author while that whole fiasco was happening. But. BUT. This book made everything clear. There’s a scene in which Graywytch goes on a rant about why she despises Dani and everything she is. The story is told from Dani’s perspective, so we see Dani’s exhaustion with hearing these tired, damaging stereotypes over and over again. These stereotypes? Claiming that transgendered women will use their access to female spaces to sexually assault cis women. Claiming that she (Graywytch) will never stop trying to protect her sisters, and in this instance “sisters” is meant in a feminist sense.  Which is exactly what the transphobic author is tweeting. My eyes almost popped out of my head. She could have pulled those tweets straight from Graywytch’s dialogue. And here’s the thing, and why Dreadnought is an important book for cis folks to read, because if you can’t recognize the stereotype for the parroted drivel of hate that it is, who the person who parrots that drivel can hide just how bad what they are doing is.

We need to read books that explore identities outside of our own precisely because they are outside of our own. The powerful awakening that Dreadnought gave me is a fine example of how books can broaden our worldview. Stories are a unique means to live as another person, if only for a time, and that’s a superpower of its own. Obviously, I highly recommend this book, please read it. 5/5 stars.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: space & time

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

This week we’re submitting storing to Space & Time and we’re listening to The Feline, the Witch, and the Universe by yours truly.

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Space & Time

Eligibility: speculative stories, including creative hybrids, up to 10k.

Take Note: Space & Time has recently begun releasing an audio version of their magazine and writers are able to share these audio versions of their stories as they like.

Submit by: July 6th, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.01 per word

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

A  Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

Traditionally I spend the week leading up to these posts reading through back issues to find the right story. However, as Space & Time does not publish their stories to read online for free (and there is nothing at all wrong with that – I just don’t want a paywall for struggling writers here) I’m going to flip things around. I am a fan of Space & Time and I think they are a wonderful market to work with so I want to show them off to you. So instead of reading someone else’s story, this week we’re going to listen to the audio version of my story published in Space & Time‘s December 2019 issue, The Feline, the Witch, and the Universe. Click here to go listen to that on my soundcloud.

This is the awkward bit where I dissect my own story, or??? Yeah, I’m not going to pretend I could pull that off. My imposter syndrome is raging hard enough just writing this post, thank you very much.

That said, if you listen to the story, you’ll soon discover that this is the story of a witch biking around outer space in search of her missing cat. Fantasy, in space. Space fantasy! This falls into the category of creative hybrid that Space & Time says they welcome. In their submissions page, on the left, they also write, in bold no less, “we seek the literary outliers.” Send in those weird tales that don’t fit into the neat categories of science fiction or fantasy or horror. Send in those stories that keep getting those “we liked this but it’s not (insert subgenre) enough for us” rejections.  Pull out those gems of weird you still have feelings for, and send them in.

WriteAThon

This post publishes on day 8 of Clarion West’s WriteAThon and I am writing my butt off. I have three new stories and one poem drafted and somewhat polished from the past week alone. The folks at Clarion West are amazing, providing us with writing workouts, sprints, panels with Big Names, and tonnes of advice. I lucked out and got a coveted spot in a Flash Fiction Critique Group, so I am committed to a new flash piece based on a given prompt and seven critiques per week for the six weeks of the WriteAThon. We’re doing all of this to raise funds for Clarion West scholarships to help writers in need attend their workshops. I think I may have stumbled upon the best way to ‘give back’ imaginable, tbh. That said, if this blog has ever benefited you and you have some spare cash, please considering sponsoring myself or one of the other 508 participants in this year’s WriteAThon. Here’s a handy link for that and thank you for reading.

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Happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Augur

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

This week we’re submitting to Augur magazine and we’re reading Change as Seen Through an Orrery of Celestial Fire by Michael Matheson.

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Augur

Eligibility: authors can submit up to two speculative stories under 5 000 words

Take Note: the theme for this call is “a multiplicity of futures” (see original call linked below for more details). They request that writers do not submit pandemic stories.

Submit By: July 15th, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.11 CDN per word for stories over 1K words, or $110.00 for flash fiction

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

A Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

Augur‘s stories aren’t available to read on their website (which is fine, of course, but does not meet this blog’s mandate of offering submissions to writers of every financial situation), however, they did publish a preview issue when the magazine first began, in which we can read reprints without a paywall. And we’re in luck, because in that preview issue is a gem of a story called Change as Seen Through An Orrery of Celestial Fire by Michael Matheson. Click here to go read that story now.

Matheson’s story is a delight of superhero-like characters imbued with qi, fire on the part of the protagonist Shurui and ice for her lover, Zetian. Throughout the story, Matheson nails the world-building by alluding to a much longer universe at play behind the story. They give us hints of Shurui’s past lovers and history, of something beyond mortal existence in the climax of Shurui’s burning, and the deep relationship between herself and the person that might have been an antagonist if this were a different kind of story. We’re given a taste, and it proves just enough to fascinate and keep our minds digging deeper into the story, hunting for more clues. I scrolled back to the beginning and read it again for any detailed delicacies I missed the first time, and I love it when a story pulls me in like that.

Another moment in the story that wowed me was the description of Shurui’s resurrection. Rather than brushing past it, or skipping to an awakening, Matheson takes up the challenge and provides the reader with a lush and visceral description of a body rebuilding itself from ruin, and it is extremely effective. Don’t miss out on that reading experience… or skip those challenges in your own work.

For a bigger picture of what the Augur editors like, click here to head over to the full preview issue, or, if you can, purchase one of their recent issues.

That’s all for today, writers. I wish you good luck on your submissions and good health to you and your families.

Happy writing!