Submit Your Stories Sunday: Podcastle

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 stories to Podcastle’s open call and reading Ken Liu’s To the Moon.

Podcastle

Eligibility: fantasy stories up to 6,000 words (3,000-4,500 preferred)

Take Note: writers are allowed to submit one original story and one reprint story to this call

Submit by: September 30th, 2020

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, or listening to, Ken Liu’s story To the Moon, from Podcastle’s 2018 archives. There are many wonderful stories published by Podcastle, but I’ve been reading a lot of Ken Liu lately on the advice of a critique partner and I’m finding his voice so kind and soothing during these troubling times that maybe you’ll appreciate his voice now, too. Click here to go read To the Moon now.

To the Moon is the story of an immigrant applying for asylum. As do many of Liu’s stories, several different versions of the same story run parallel, stories within stories. We have the story of the moon, a breathless fairy tale told from a father to a daughter, we have the story-of-necessity, and we have lived truths, stark and nude without the clothing of their metaphors. We don’t know if the story ends well, but that’s what I like about Liu’s work. His stories bring out the kindness inside ourselves as much as they offer alternative means to survive the troubles in which we find ourselves entangled.

I hope this post has found you well and filled with story ideas. In my area of the world school is starting up again and with it comes fresh anxieties to threaten creativity. Be safe and please keep writing.

Book Review: The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

Before we get started, I’d like to put out a content warning about partner abuse in this book. The abuse isn’t gratuitous, it’s pivotal to the plot, and you can’t skip over it. Please protect yourself.

The Space Between Worlds follows the story of Cara, a woman who travels between worlds, quite literally, thanks to a technology that allows her to travel through the multiverse. The caveat to this travel is that should a version of yourself already exist on the world travelled to, you will not survive the initial arrival. Because of this, people who have endured high-risk lives, such as Cara’s impoverished upbringing and life in Ashtown, a town exposed to the harsh elements of a heavily polluted Earth. Cara has died enough times that she is able to traverse to over 300 worlds safely, offering her the appearance of safety in the rich, environmentally-protected city of Wiley. But that protection pivots on the Eldridge company’s need for her particular skills and a secret she must keep at all costs.

In every parallel Earth Cara travels to, she meets different versions of her loved ones. Her mother ranges from loving prostitute to a disapproving zealot, her sister from innocent to cunning. Her once and former lover, Nik Nik, is always cruel, always abusive, and always the Mad Max-like emperor of Ashtown when she finds him. Sometimes he knows her, sometimes he doesn’t, but her Ashtown family remains under threat beneath his rule and their history. When she finds a version of Nik Nik that is not, everything in the all the worlds she thought she knew begins to unravel and Cara discovers that she’s not the only one at Eldridge with secrets.

Johnson’s novel makes for excellent commentary about privilege. The disparity of life between the rich Wileyites and the Ashtowners holds no secrets: we see the trauma of Cara’s lives, the terror of the Runners as a child, the rare kindness she found in the safety of her mother’s brothel. We see the obliviousness of the Wileyites, who have little idea what life is like outside their protected bubble.

I found the abusive sections difficult to read but the ending of this book, oh the ending. It is a breath of beauty, an ending so perfect I had to close my eyes and hug my e-reader for a moment. No, I’m not going to spoil it, but as a writer? This is the kind of ending I aspire to, an ending that takes into account everything that has come before, the story it is telling, and the world that has been built. I give the book 4 out of 5 stars, but the ending gets 6 out of 5.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Flash Fiction Online

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 Flash Fiction Online and we’re reading August by Katie Piper from their August issue.

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Flash Fiction Online

Eligibility: complete stories from 500-1,000 words

Take Note: writers may submit up to three pieces of flash fiction at a time (as three individual submissions through Submittable)

 Submit by: ongoing submission call, currently open

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 Katie Piper’s August. Click here to go read that at Flash Fiction Online. This is a creepy little tale where Piper makes an interesting use of detail. We’ve got a girl who discovers her grandmother’s grave in the woods near her house and who is clearly struggling with a strained relationship and possible neglect from her mother, but we’re only given brushes of these things and our imagination does the work of filling in the details. There’s a trick to this: it makes the story as much the reader’s as the writer’s; it makes us emotionally committed.

In between these gaps, Piper does give us details of the dozens of items lining the Walgreens shelves, the who’s a cat we never meet does not like, what is happening with that man’s tattoos??, and in this seeming minutiae the rules of this story world are built around us. There is room here for magic, but otherwise this world is not so different from our own. Stylistically, it’s an intriguing and compelling technique I’m tempting to play with myself. I hope this story inspires you to try something different with your writing too.

In the meantime, be well and happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Apparition Lit

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 submitting stories to Apparition Lit‘s themed call and we’re reading The Limits of Magic by Samantha Mills.

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Apparition Lit

Eligibility: unpublished, speculative stories from 1,000 to 5,000 words on the theme of Satisfaction

Take Note: all responses will be given by the 15th of the month following the call’s closure

Submit by: August 31st, 2020

Payment offered: $0.03 per word with a minimum of $30

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

A Story to Familiarize Yourself with the Editors’ Tastes

This week we’re reading (or listening to the audio version of) The Limits of Magic by Samantha Mills and published by Apparition Lit. The magazine has included an “creator spotlight” after the story is finished, so be sure to read through that section below the story for encouraging stats and submission drama. You can click here to go to read those at Apparition Lit now.

One thing that stands out to me in The Limits of Magic is its depth. We begin in a narrow world, thinking we’re reading a certain type of story, but then it shifts, expands, and reveals a new depth, a new view of the world of the story. More than once, the story evolves like this in unexpected ways.

The Limits of Magic is also a story of sustained oppression, of lives so terrible they cannot be contemplated for fear of becoming unbearable, or more unbearable, than they already are. The scaffolding of a fictional religion is set up to be the main oppressor, or the tool of oppression, while women, and children, bear their suffering. Fear not, it’s not all doom and gloom, this is a story of hope and what happens when you decide you won’t be complicit in your own oppression anymore.

I hope you enjoy this week’s story as much as I did, and good luck to everyone submitting to this call. Be well, and happy writing.

Meriden’s Moonlet at Hybrid Fiction

I’m pleased to announce that my flash fiction story, Meriden’s Moonlet, has been published in Hybrid Fiction‘s August issue. Check out this beautiful cover:

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The issue in its beautiful, hybrid totality is available for purchase on Hybrid Fiction’s website here, and Meriden’s Moonlet is available at Hybrid Fiction‘s website as August’s free content. Click here to go there now. Huzzah!

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Meriden’s story has been near and dear to my heart for a long while. His is the first story in which I tried to express a character’s change from seeing themself as a hero to realizing they’re actually just a bully, and doing something about that. The moonlets, the fireflies, they ignite some magic in my soul. I think this is my favourite story that I’ve written to date and I hope you like it.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Uncanny

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 Uncanny‘s once-a-year open call and we’re reading  Tina Connolly’s Once More Into the Breach (But Don’t Worry the Inflatable Swords are Latex-Free).

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Uncanny

Eligibility: intricate, experimental, and speculative stories from 750-6,000 words

Take Note: Uncanny is not open to poetry submissions at this time

Submit by: September 9th, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.10 per word

Click here to go to original call for full details.

A Story to Familiarize You with the Editors’ Tastes

This week we’re delving into the strange birthday nightmare that is Tina Connolly’s Once More Into the Breach (But Don’t Worry the Inflatable Swords are Latex-Free) published by Uncanny. You can read this story online by clicking here.

This story reaches some out-of-control proportions that somehow perfectly encapsulates the surreal experience of navigating children’s birthday parties as a parent. At least, it does in my experience. The bewilderment, the horror, the what-in-the-actual-ness of the spectacle, the dread of offspring on sugar, the unbridled excitement making wild beasts of our carefully groomed children. The heady get-me-out-of-here desperation (that’s not just me, right?). I laughed, I cried, I nodded “hell, yes.”

Connolly has clearly made some bold choices in this piece and she pulls it off, but the real magic, for the rest of us, is in the attempt at this kind of experimental writing. We’re probably going to fail spectacularly several dozen times before we get it right, but there is so much to learn as we push that proverbial envelope and see what we do if we fold it this way, then that, and suddenly – an origami delight. Uncanny as a market is so big and so revered you have to take big risks and wild leaps to reach the level required to be there – and if this market falls within your goals, have fun with those risks and leaps because it’s going to take practise to reach this one. Write your heart out, take the chance you never take with your writing, and see what happens.

Have fun with it.

In the meantime, be well, and happy writing.

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Frozen Wavelets

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 Frozen Wavelets and we’re reading Waiting for Beauty by Marie Brennan and published by Frozen Wavelets.

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Frozen Wavelets

Eligibility: speculative stories or poetry under 750 words

Take Note: on Frozen Wavelet‘s blog, they mention they are particularly interested in drabbles (100-word stories) and poetry for this call. All submissions must be anonymous.

Submit by: August 16th, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word or $1 per line of poetry

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

A Story to Familiarize You With the Editor’s Tastes

This week we’re reading Waiting for Beauty by Marie Brennan from Frozen Wavelets, which you can read by clicking here. Spoilers ahead, so please, read the story first.

This is a twisty story, laden with subverted expectations that work well together. We venture to the castle, unsure what’s happening, suspecting we might be in a Sleeping Beauty story, but no, wait, it’s a Beauty and the Beast tale. And the moment we’ve decided we’re comfortable, it’s not Beauty and the Beast after all, we’re in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily and hoo boy this got dark.

As readers, we get a lot of emotions tying us to this ongoing tale, and the mix-and-match keeps us guessing. Waiting for Beauty achieves a in few words, something always important to good flash fiction, and part of how it does this is by manipulating what we know of the familiar stories. Everyone likely knows the Sleeping Beauty and the Beast stories, and while fewer may be familiar with Emily, they don’t need it to grasp the true horror of the scene of they’re witnessing. The horror is also magnified against the happy ending we’ve learned to expect from the stories.

That’s it for this week, folx, but before I go I’d like to share a tweet that clearly resonated with other short story writers, so it may with you as well:

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be well and happy writing!

 

taking a small break

Hello readers and writers,

I’m struggling this week, feeling overwhelmed and anxious (dang pandemic!), so I’m going to take a small mental health break. Unfortunately, that means I won’t be posting Submit Your Stories on Sunday, but rather than leaving you with nothing here’s a tiny version: Fantasy Magazine is open as of today, until the 7th of August (click here).

Cheers all

and be well.

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!