the summer of the candy moths

The maple trees bring us maple syrup in early spring and now it’s early summer they gift us with visits from Rosy Maple Moths. These vibrant little beasties lay their eggs on the maple trees where their larvae will hatch and munch the leaves. Their populations are reasonable enough our maples don’t sustain permanent damage (although this could change with climate collapse) so we’re free to delight in our candy-colored visitors. They certainly help boost this writer’s sense of wonder during the dreaded summer slump.

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Peekaboo!

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Submit Your Stories Sunday: oldies

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 looking at Third Flat Iron‘s call for longevity submission and reading Kameron Hurley’s The Corpse Soldier as published in Uncanny Magazine.

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Third Flat Iron

Eligibility: speculative stories from 1500- 3000 words on theme of longevity and how that longevity is won. Any horror should be light.

Take Note: submission formatting is precise and on a different page than the call for submissions – don’t miss it.

Payment: $0.08 American per word

Submit by: August 3rd, 2019 (submissions open July 10th, 2019)

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

A story to inspire your submission

This week’s story, The Corpse Soldier by Kameron Hurley, would be too long fit Third Flat Iron’s call for submissions, but it should get your imagination in gear thematically. The Corpse Soldier is available to read in Uncanny Magazine by clicking here.

The Corpse Soldier tells the tale of Nev, a soldier who shifts from body to body upon death. Certain he will not escape his current body and unwilling to kill the small girl near him, he gives her his summoning stone and tells her to return it to his masters. The stone gives his masters the ability to recall his soul from death. Ultimately, Nev escapes his dying body that night. Decades pass, he’s fallen out with his old masters, and now he hunts for the stone he gave the girl. Without it, his freedom can never be guaranteed.

Hurley’s spun a new legend of longevity with this story, offering up a mind-boggling weapon for war, a dark and cursed existence, and an excellent kickstart to our own imaginations to come up with our own ideas. What other ways can you play with this theme? What can you do with futuristic technology or endless magic at your disposal? Are their any other ways to live forever?

P.S. I did cover this submission call earlier this year. With an abundance of new readers, the opening coming up fast, and the pro-payment eligible for SFWA qualifications, I decided to showcase it again over some newer calls offering a pittance. If you need more mojo juice for your imagination, check out that original post paired with a science fiction story, to get you going.

Happy writing!

 

 

Evil

I have lived my whole life with the privilege of peace
Never knowing it a privilege
And now as Evil knocks upon my door
As it rips children from their mothers
And flings them to sell their flesh in the street
As it invades my community with this sudden fad of hate
I see it in my brothers face
in my sisters sense of race
I do not know how to endure it
How to fight without gagging on the bile of my revulsion
And my contempt for the inhumanity that says we are all different
That justifies immoral acts with the sputum of a child’s tantrum
I’ll not leave it to some Great Invisible
To judge you for your crimes.
I see you, Monsters, gathering around me
All your hate on proud display
You are seen and you are judged evil
I record your every act
Your every curse, your each betrayal
And I will yell it across the expanse of time
To each and every generation down the road
And they will hold up pictures of your faces, stolen from your instagram and say
This! This is what Evil looks like
This is what we must guard against
It looks like you or me,

with all their hate consuming them confusing them confounding them
Nothing but hate on display
While love sells its flesh on the street

Submit Your Stories Sunday: House of Zora

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 looking at a call from a new Canadian market, House of Zora, and reading Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance, originally published in the anthology Cosmic Powers and reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine.

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House of Zora

Eligibility: speculative stories from 1k to 7500 words, with a preference for 3500-5K

Take Note: the HoZ editors are looking for stories set in the future with a strong attraction to resistance, activism, transhumanism, feminism, and 2SLGBTQIA+

Payment: $50 – $75 Canadian dollars

Submit By: July 15th, 2019

Click here to go to original call for details.

A story to inspire your submission

This week we’re reading Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance by Tobias S. Buckell, originally published in the Cosmic Powers anthology and available to read online at Lightspeed magazine by clicking here.

Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance begins with a crab-like robot discovering an enemy CEO (loosely, a wealthy privileged) clinging to the hull of the bot’s ship after a space battle. The battle was fought over the idealist “True Form” believers (non-augmented humans) and self-determinant life forms such as our protagonist bot, who chose to become a maintenance bot and leave free will behind. It’s a fascinating take for Buckell to tell the story in first person from the bot’s point of view because it forces the reader, presumably a human in “Truest Form”, to empathize with the character least like themselves.

Our Bot-protagonist is duty-bound to assist CEOs and so our bot brings the man to its private space, thus revealing its own vulnerabilities. The CEO treats the bot with endless scorn and distaste, torturing it for it’s sacrificed free will, threatening what it loves, and finally bribing the bot to take him to freedom. The bot’s friendships are strained, its ideals tested, but its cleverness remains  and bot uses this cleverness to resist into a delicious conclusion.

Buckell’s story ticks off three of House of Zora’s preferences. It features transhumanism (technology-based evolution of humanity), resistance, and futurism. The clever riff on Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance doesn’t hurt and certainly performs well as an attention-grabbing title. For your submission, there’s no need to stuff as many of the editor’s preferences as you can into the story, but if you can fit more than one and still spin a fine story, why wouldn’t you?

Happy writing!

7 Reasons to Pre-Order Your Flights (from the Rock)

Huzzah and hello, for today is the day I put on my big-girl marketing pants (which don’t fit well and WHY ARE THEY SO ITCHY) to give you 7 Reasons to Pre-Order Flights From the Rock. Flights is a beautiful anthology of speculative flight stories releasing July 14th, 2019, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first non-stop Trans-Atlantic flight from Newfoundland (AKA the Rock) to Ireland. A century ago, Alcock and Brown spent June 12th preparing to launch their epic flight. This June 12th, we’re preparing the epic launch of our own flights, and I’m here to give you 7 Reasons to pre-order your Flights from the Rock ebook today:

promo.png1. everyone knows advance tickets, especially for Flights, are best booked and ordered in advance. The more advance the better. In fact, I’m pretty sure the best day to order THIS flight is today.

2.Complimentary pretzels!! And by pretzels I mean a mind-contorting glimpse into my loopy imagination… via my story, Borrowed Wings, found in Flights from the Rock and which may or may not be about the living taxidermy of damaged fairy wings. Twisty. Like pretzels (no regretzels!).

The thing about pretzels is that you’re also going to need something to drink, which brings us to reason #3 why you should pre-order Flights from the Rock today:

3. we’ll let you carry liquids bigger than 100 ml on this flight, bay-bee. Heck, you can read this ebook with a coffee mug/teacup/wine glass the size of your head if that’s your Best Self. You want to soar into the blue beyond on the the wings of your imagination from the comfort of your overflowing bathtub? Go for it.

4.  On Flights from the Rock, there are no economy class seats. Every seat is a first-class trip to Imagination-town.

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5. woke up to discover your passport expired/lost/chewed to bits by your imaginary hellhound Cerberus IV? No problem. The Flights from the Rock ebook will be sent to your device on July 14th by Amazon’s magical ‘whispernet’ and promises not to ask for your passport, I.D., or rifle through your luggage (some exceptions may apply if your e-reader has picked up a poltergeist, haunted virus, or is possessed by a demonic librarian).

6. no extra travel insurance needed! Flights from the Rock‘s Armchair Airlines is covered by your existing health insurance/Medicare so you can feel secure no matter how lost you get in our stories.

7. By pre-ordering your e-copy for $2.99 today, June 12th, you will help my squadron of story-eyed pen pilots defeat the algorithm bombers and soar us to the top of Amazon’s Ace-sellers list, making you a hero and all of us victorious over the lows of reality, gravity, and all the other -itys.

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E-copies will be landing on July 11th, a few days before the official release July 14th, as a thank-you for helping our mission. Pre-orders are available for $2.99 (Canadian funds) by clicking here. Armchair Airlines thanks you for your patronage. And so do I! *hugs you after asking permission*

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Diabolical Submissions

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

This week we’re looking at Diabolical Plots‘ upcoming opening and reading Matt Dovey’s Why Aren’t Millennials Continuing Worship of the Elder Dark?

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Diabolical Plots

Eligibility: original speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror) up to 3500 words.

Take Note: authors may submit up to two stories during the open period and submissions should be anonymous

What Makes This Call Stand Out: Diabolical Plots has one opening per year, so this is your chance to get your story into their yearly anthology, newsletter, and website. Their website is attached to the ever-popular The (Submission) Grinder, which writers should make themselves familiar with (and support if you can) if you haven’t discovered it yet.

Payment: $0.10 per word

Submit by: opening is for the month of July

Click here to go the original call for details.

A Story to Inspire Your Submission

When a speculative fiction magazine has an opening, the submitting writer should make themselves familiar with the body of work already published. One of my favorite stories recently published on Diabolical Plots is Matt Dovey’s Why Aren’t Millennials Continuing Traditional Worship of the Elder Dark? I may have hooted coffee through my nose the first time I read it. Yeah. I can still smell dark roast when it rains. Click here to read that cheeky story now.

Dovey’s story is a Lovecraftian riff on the way Millennials are treated in the media. Like all good satire, it exposes absurdity by holding up a mirror and flipping the rules. The story is revealed, reporter-style, from a series of interviews with traditional worshipers mourning the il-legalization of human and animal sacrifices, the lack of Millennial participation, and the inevitable insanity to be unleashed upon humanity without it. Like all good journalism,  the Millennials are also given a say, culminating into the arrival of Eric Rawlins, Millennial, Devoted Son, and rigid – well,  you read the story. Mob rules on this one. It’s funny, it’s timely, and it’s endlessly entertaining on multiple reads: a great story.

In terms of meeting the guidelines, with magazines it’s often easier to write a story already gathering speed in your imagination, rather than diving into specific themes like we do to submit to anthologies. As a writer, you’ve got freedom to roam, which can be liberating but can also freeze you with sudden agoraphobia. My advice? Pick your best story. This is a top market and that makes it hard to get in, so send them the story you’re most proud of. If it doesn’t work out this year, keep writing and try again next year.

Good luck.

 

IWSG: June, spec fic, and flights

Hello and welcome to the June installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support (IWSG). As the name suggests, we’re a bunch of over-confident writers who get together to discuss our top-secret plans to fix the Earth’s climate and resurrect dinosaurs with necromancy and a good souffle. Or, and this is more likely, this post is part of a support network for confidence-challenged writers everywhere. If you’d like to join up or read along, click here to see the other writers taking part.

This month’s optional IWSG question asks what genre do we read and write in. I write speculative fiction short stories, science fiction and fantasy more so than horror, and I read the same. Short story collections, magazines, and anthologies make my heart beat faster. Short fiction is where my writing is focused at this point, so that’s what I need to be reading. My favorite short story writers working in spec fic right now are Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, Brooke Bolander, and France Wilde.

In writing news, it has been announced that I’m going to be one of the authors in Engen’s upcoming Flights From the Rock anthology. ‘The Rock’ refers to Engen’s home province, Newfoundland. The anthology celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first Trans-Atlantic flight. I’ve got a few friends in this one which is a good feeling AND it marks my first reprint sale. Engen has since revealed the anthology’s cover as well, so here it is in all it’s whimsy:

Submit Your Stories Sunday: blasphemy

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

This week’s call is for Necro Publication‘s Blasphemous Rumors anthology and we’re reading Kevin J. Anderson’s Dark Angel, Archangel as published on Daily Science Fiction.

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Blasphemous Rumors

Eligibility: original, dark horror stories on theme of religious blasphemy, up to 5k words. Any religion is acceptable.

Take Note: The tricky part of a call for religious blasphemy is working within the confines of a religion you’re familiar with enough to write about. It’s not unreasonable to expect a certain amount of fall-out from your religious Uncle Whatshisname. If you live in a religiously oppressive society (or one that is rapidly becoming one *cough *cough), keep in mind that blasphemy is oft considered a religious crime and carefully consider any risk before submitting.

Payment: $0.03 per word plus two paperback copies

Submit by: July 31st, 2019

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your creativity:

This week we’re reading Dark Angel, Archangel by Kevin J. Anderson and published on Daily Science Fiction. Click here to go read that story now.

*shivers with story’s delicious darkness*

There we had a tale of two Deaths and a Death who refused to do their duty. To discuss the blasphemies, I’m issuing a SPOILER warning. Daily Science Fiction has a 1k word maximum, go read the story. You won’t regret it.

Dark Angel, Archangel, by its very nature, falls into blasphemy. We’ve got the traditional deity replaced with mysterious aurora beings powered by the sun. That’s probably not going to get you excommunicated, tbh. But then, as we near the end of the tale and Death reveals that he may have gained power from humanity’s belief and not just from the auroral deities. God might not be as all-powerful as described. Clutch your pearls, readers, because we have religious blasphemy in our midst.

Our dark angel of Death goes into to a sort of Devil-arc as he tries to convince the White Lady that they have the power to refuse the deities’ will to eradicate humanity. This is fun twist because it forces the reader onto the side of the blasphemous, which may not be comfortable for some. The White Angel responds by killing the former Death but it’s too late, the idea of power has corrupted her and she toys with the idea of saving us. The story closes before we learn her choice or how she would get away with it should she choose to save us. It’s left us with damaged deities, corrupted angels, and a looming threat of extinction. And what about that original Death locked under the polar ice caps? Those things are melting, you know.

Such darkness. This story has wonderful depth.

For purposes of our stories, blasphemy is anything that suggests the religious narrative is false or imperfect. This offers many rich possibilities to the writer, especially for dark fiction, as we are already playing on fear. Hone in on a detail which has unsettled you and see if you can build it into a story.

Happy writing!

 

the magic of your voice

This past weekend I attended a benefit concert for an old friend, listening to a band new to me. I commented to my Brenterest friend that the band had talent, “They could make it.”

My friend shrugged. “I don’t know if their sound is unique enough to make it.”

I froze. I’ve never heard anyone talk about writing that way, but the cogs and gears fit together in my mind and something shifted forward. It holds true for writing as much as music, and the words have stayed with me.

We writers start out with scraps of our voice, but it isn’t honed yet. We may not recognize it. This voice is rough, it needs time and craft and patient work, but when we’re new we don’t know that. We read the latest rules, writing fashions which ebb and flow as much as any other fashion, and only see the problems with our work.

Our voice gets quiet in response, hiding shyly behind crossed-out paragraphs and angry red ink.

We keep writing, maybe finding a critique group. If we’re lucky, we’ll find a good one. But most likely, we find a group as inexperienced as us, and those critiques will be based on what the critiquing writers read in the rules last week and are actively working on. Our voice grows quieter still, until it’s washed from our final drafts completely. The story stands, polished and shiny for everyone to see, but it’s lost its uniqueness. It sounds like a story anyone could have told. It doesn’t sell and we grow more discouraged with every rejection.

Neil Gaiman once said, “You’re not selling them the story. You’re selling them the way the story is told.” We’re selling our unique voice, our way of telling. The lucky writer recognizes the problem, and pulls their voice out of the mental drawer where it was stuffed, applies it, and discovers something else has happened in the interim. This voice has picked up a few rules it respected, it got in the practice of our first drafts if nothing else. We grow bolder, protective of our voice.  We learn to tune out the critique partners who will cut our voice. Eventually, to avoid them.

We may still struggle to sell stories, but we’re moving forward. We still need to practice and hone the craft of our particular strangeness. There will be readers who hate this voice. This will hurt. There will be readers who love it. Appreciate them. Our job is to find our voice, learn its strengths and weaknesses, cultivate its evolution, and spend the rest of our writing lives honing its magic.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Submit Your Stories Sunday: twins

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’s call is from Celestial Echo Press on theme of twins and we’re reading For Sale: Fantasy Coffins (Ababuo Need Not Apply) by Chesya Burke and published by Apex Magazine.

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The Twofer Compendium

Eligibility: up to three unpublished stories from 500-3k words on the theme of twins

Take Note: submissions are to be anonymous, so format accordingly

Payment: $10 USD per story, plus an e-copy

Submit by: June 21, 2019

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your creativity

This week we’re reading For Sale: Fantasy Coffins (Ababuo Need Not Apply) by Chesya Burke. You can click here to go to Apex Magazine and read it for free right now.

*waits*

Burke has created a story of a Nantew yiye, something of a soul escort/protector, in Ghana, Ababuo. The story opens to Ababuo coveting coffins she may not have, yearning to be buried as her kind never can be. Ah, the beauty of the thing we cannot have. We don’t fully understand why she can’t have a coffin, but she is appealing and young and the promise of mysteries revealed pulls us along (warning: spoilers ahead).

We discover that Ababuo has thirteen souls to escort/protect/rescue in her lifetime. I’ll be explicit: Ababuo can rescue trapped souls, or ghosts, as easily as she can use her powers to save lives, but she is limited to thirteen. When we meet her, she has already used ten of these souls, and a desperate father has sought her out to save his twin girls, already dead, but their souls trapped on the train tracks where they died, forced to relive their deaths over and again.

The story carries along past the twins’ rescue, to her next rescue, that of a mother in childbirth, both baby and mother at risk. **super spoilers** Ababuo uses her last two souls, including her own, to save them, thus martyring herself for her values.

The grandmother of this new babe, who watched Ababuo in the coffin shop at the opening of the story, commissions a fantasy coffin in thanks to the girl. Ababuo may not be buried in the soil, but thankful grandmother finds a way around this by setting Ababuo’s coffin adrift on a river in a lovely show of respect.

Regarding the link of twins to the Twofer Compendium’s call, they are not main characters, but pivotal plot points in Burke’s story. For purposes of the call, I’d recommend putting your twin elements to the forefront, but for my purposes of inspiring your creative juices, this story works and it haunts for a time after the reading. It forces us out of the tired (and gross) twin fantasy trope, while packing several unusual story elements around us; a fine recipe for creative thinking.

Writerly Links Worth Sharing:

Aliette de Bodard penned an inspiring acceptance speech for winning a Nebula award for her novella The Tea Master and the Detective last week. Lucky for us, she posted the full speech on her blog so we can bookmark it and re-read it when we need a reminder that it’s okay to have fun with our writing. Click here to go read that now.

Engen Books announced me as one of the authors in their upcoming Flights From the Rock anthology. Huzzah! I’ve had to keep this under my hat for a while (right next to my Paddington Bear-style marmalade sandwich). I’ve got several writer friends in this anthology and I’m excited to be sharing a table of contents with them. Click here to read the announcement.

Happy writing!