Submit Your Stories Sunday: flash for the abyss

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 Abyss and Apex is opening soon for flash fiction and we’re reading The Gifted Sommellier by Grayson Bray Morris from the Abyss and Apex archives.

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Abyss and Apex Magazine

Eligibility: imaginative, character-driven, speculative flash fiction, defined as less than 1250 words.

Take Note: flash fiction submissions are to be included in the body of your email, not a separate, attached document.

Submit by: The flash fiction opening is vaguely defined as “the first week of August,” which suggests August 1st to 7th. I recommend submitting early to avoid disappointment on the 7th.

Payment: $0.06 per word

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your imagination:

Today’s story comes from Abyss and Apex‘s flash fiction archives, The Gifted Sommellier by Grayson Bray Morris. You can read it on the Abyss and Apex website by clicking here. TW for discussion of abuse.

The Gifted Sommellier introduces us to a wine expert (or sommellier) who serves the dead the perfect vintage to help them pass on. For reasons unrevealed, the Sommellier and the woman who asks for their help, have not crossed over. Instead, they serve the dead with honor and respect inside a strange hotel which hints at a much larger world in the ‘Divinika’. Throughout the story, the Sommellier collects clues from the woman as they narrow the possibilities of who she is and which wine will send her to the mysterious next.

This is a brooding, imaginative tale of considerable depth. Morris gives a single sip from the life of the Sommellier, a story told from their perspective and spurred on by their desire to solve problems. They thrive on finding the wine to release a trapped soul. The harder ones are the most fulfilling. As such, their character drives the story.

If you read through the other stories available in Abyss and Apex‘s archives, you’ll find the stories are written with a similarly lush prose as Morris used. Another fine example is the wonderful short story One Soul, Parchment Thin by Calder Hutchinson, which is a feast of delicious prose. Write your loveliest, poetic lines for Abyss and Apex, writers. Good luck.

 

 

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: industry

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 Speculative City‘s call for industry themed stories and reading Cat Rambo’s story Left Behind in Clarkesworld magazine.

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 Speculative City: Industry

Eligibility: original stories poetry or essays on the theme of industry up to 5500 words, including urban fantasy

Take Note: the editor is specifically looking for stories of the effects of industry upon individuals and communities within the cityscape

Payment: $20-$75

Submit by: August 19th, 2019

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your writing mojo:

This week we’re reading Left Behind written by Cat Rambo and published in Clarkesworld magazine. You can read it online by clicking here.

This science fiction tale, set far into the future, follows a woman who prepares the elderly to move into a virtual mind world based upon their memories while their brains and bodies unconsciously pilot ships filled with dormant humans into deep space. Only the elderly, based upon a lack of neural enhancement available in their youth, are capable of piloting these ships and as such, are considered a valuable commodity. There are massive financial incentives for families to turn over their elderly.

These un-enhanced elderly are now dying out, signalling the end to our protagonist’s profession and financial doom. The worlds she builds for these future pilots are a constant reminder of luxuries she will never afford now, as well as the choices and mistakes she never had the chance to make.

A fun trick of science fiction is the ability to create an industry that doesn’t currently exist, and use it to mirror contemporary society. The disparity between the rich and the poor and the psychological effect this has on the protagonist’s sense of valueless-ness is familiar. She works in an industry that could not exist without her, yet since she is not in a supervisory position she will be the first let go when it falters, which is any minute now. She is frantic to escape, to find a better life than the one which awaits her. This is the effect of industry upon her community, glimpsed through the individual.

Although Rambo’s story is clearly set within a city, I recommend, for this call to a publisher named Speculative City, to engage this setting more in your submission.

What other industries exist that you can use to plot a story for this call? Do any industries have a good effect on their communities? What does that look like? Can you spin a story out of it? Yeah? Then get writing and good luck.

Happy writing!

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: fantasy fall

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 Cloaked Press‘ annual Fall into Fantasy anthology and reading A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies written by Alix E. Harrow and published by Apex.

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Fall into Fantasy 2019

Eligibility: original fantasy stories of all sub-genres between 2-7.5K words.

Take Note: this is a wonderful place for new writers to build their publishing credits or get their first publication. If you write science fiction, bookmark this publisher as they put out an annual “Spring into SciFi” anthology as well.

Submit By: August 15th, 2019 (please note this is annual publication though the due date for 2020 may change)

Payment: $10 OR a contributor’s copy.

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your creativity:

We’re up for a fairly wide theme with this one, all genres of fantasy, a fair word count, and one teeny-tiny line in the print that reads “we want stories that delight.” Fair enough, I’ll give you a story which delighted me: A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E. Harrow and published in Apex. You can read it on their website by clicking here.

This is, specifically, a story about portal fantasies and the bibliophiles who devour, who need, who long to get lost inside them. And a witchy librarian who feeds them to us-I mean those-bibliophiles. If you read portal fantasies, you may be familiar with the sort of restless ennui that comes with never finding a portal of your own. Harrow has turned that feeling into a story then flipped the tale and told it from the perspective of the person manipulating those portals, however subtly, and evokes nothing short of story magic. I love this story and I hope you do too. I hope it delights and inspires you to write your own magic. Good luck.

Happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: story vending machines

Welcome to Submit Your Stories Sunday. Every week I bring you a new call for submissions to find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll highlight a story to help newer writers understand how to best fulfill the call and kickstart your creativity.

This week we’re exploring Short Edition’s call for short stories and poetry to place inside their vending machines and reading Susan O’Neal’s Harnessing the Unicorn from Short Edition’s website.

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Short Edition

Eligibility: short stories and poems up to 8 000 characters and children’s stories up to 7000 characters. Please note this is characters not words. Spaces are included as characters. (tip: if you’re using MS word, the wordcount function also displays characters with and without spaces)

Take Note: the rights requested wander from the norm, so read them carefully before submitting to ensure you’re comfortable with them.

Payment: $75 for poetry, $125 for short and children’s stories (currency unclear)

Submit by: call is open at time of writ, no closure dates listed.

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A Story to Ignite Your Creativity

Susan O’Neal’s Harnessing the Unicorn is one of the science fiction and fantasy stories published by Short Edition and available to read on their website by clicking here. What begins as a simple day in the life of a virtual reality programmer twists into a heart-pounding tale as a bug switches off the safety parameters with an 8-year-old inside.

O’Neal’s story works for a broad audience by grabbing our heartstrings (save the kid!), keeping the technical aspects of the story low, and employing unlikely heroes we can’t help but cheer for.

These short story vending machines have been turning up here in Canada at large airports, appealing to bored travelers who might not have the time or attention span for the novels sold at the airport bookstore. There’s a difference between this kind of audience and the ones who might pick up an anthology or read a literary magazine. Experimental fiction probably won’t succeed as well in this venue, nor will intricate stories which require close attention and deep thought. Controversial topics likely won’t do you any favors here either. Simple, easy-to-read fiction that entertains should be your goal and O’Neal’s story does this well.

Good luck with this one, and I hope to see your story in a vending machine one day.

Happy writing!

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!

 

 

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!

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.

 

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!

 

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!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Dream of Shadows

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 we’re looking at a new market, Dream of Shadows, and reading The Dead, in their Uncontrollable Power by Karen Osborne and published in Uncanny Magazine.

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Dream of Shadows

*new market

Eligibility: original fantasy or horror fiction up to 3K words featuring honest, daring protagonists reaching for a goal. One story will be published on the Dream of Shadows website per month, culminating in a 12-story anthology at year’s end.

Take Note: the wording and title strongly suggests dark fantasy will be preferred over brighter fare.

Payment: 20 Pounds per story

Submit by: no deadlines posted as yet, but keep an eye on the site linked below for any changes

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your creativity:

This week we’re reading The Dead, in their Uncontrollable Power by Karen Osborne and published by Uncanny Magazine. This story, like the ones requested in this week’s call, involves a honest, daring protagonist pursuing a goal. This is story easily falls under the dark fantasy category the Dream of Shadows is looking for. You can go to Uncanny’s website and read it by clicking here.

The Dead follows the story of a sin-eater aboard a vessel eternally bound for Paradise. The ship’s captain employs the sin-eater to absolve their conscience of any misdeeds. Upon the Captain’s death, a new sin-eater, in this case an underage girl, must literally swallows the Captain’s sins forever, while the Captain’s successor eats their blessings. The new Captain moves forward in blissful ignorance, questioning nothing about her position’s right to authority over the three classes of citizens aboard the ship.

The past Captains come alive inside the sin-eater, clutching at her voice when she tries to speak of their monstrosities, throwing her to the floor in convulsions when she fights back, forcing her to relive the murders they committed again and again. Her experiences during this physical and mental invasion speak to the honest and daring protagonists the Dream of Shadows call is looking for.

We never learn her name. It is erased by her profession and the hundreds of Captains that invade her soul, but she dares to tell her story just the same.

After she uncovers a dark truth about the ship’s journey and the last Captain’s bid to remain in power forever, she has to find a way around the hundreds of previous Captains inside of her, working against her, to tell the people and to show the new Captain the truth about what this Captain has inherited. This is the goal she reaches for, the goal that builds the story tension to a shriek of nail-biting intensity.

By its nature this story is dark, delving into the what-ifs of humanity’s dark side, religion, and the easy corruption of power. As readers we can pull so many parallels with our modern troubles. Osborne’s ending satisfies, but I wouldn’t call it happy. The Dead, in their Uncontrollable Power leaves us thinking, a trick that good dark fantasy does well.

Writerly News

The Nebula Awards ceremony was last night and you can view all the winners at the SFWA site here. Congratulations to all the nominated and winning writers, you amaze me!

Happy writing!