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!

 

summer write-a-thon

A few months ago, when the lockdown first began in my part of the world, Clarion West offered a series of free “lockdown classes” to writers. The spaces for these online classes were limited and somehow, probably via sorcery, I managed to score a seat in Catherynne M. Valente’s class Plotting for Clowns. Writers, I fangirled. I’ve read the entire Fairyland series, Space Opera, and I got my eldest daughter Valente’s Minecraft: The End as a birthday gift (to borrow when she’s finished). Imagine getting the chance to attend a small-sized class with a writer you’ve been reading and looking up to for years.

On top of that, I learned SO MUCH in Valente’s class. She covered retellings and dove deep into some elements of Greek drama I’d never heard of (aresteia and arete, specifically). In the second half, we got to plot a book together, which was hilarious and fun and holy crap I got to plot a book with Catherynne M. Valente!!!!!!

It was an incredible opportunity and I am so thankful to Clarion West for giving it to me. So when I heard about Clarion’s yearly fundraiser, the Write-a-thon, I wanted to try it out and give something back. Clarion West uses this fundraiser to keep offering classes (like the one I took) and workshops to writers around the world. How it works is that I collect sponsors and write my bottom off from June 21st to July 31st. If you’re curious, if you’d like to join the Write-a-thon yourself, or if you’d like to sponsor me, you can click here to head to Clarion West’s website.

My plan is to write a piece of flash fiction every week to keep up with my submissions, as well as working on a novella starring this lovely lady:  wp-1592589443913.pngIsn’t she pretty? She was designed for me by artist Jose Silva Rodrighiero based on a character description I gave him. He is having a sale to help make ends meet during lockdown, so if you’ve ever thought of having an artist render your characters, check him out, he’s amazing! That link will take you to his facebook page with the sale posting.

But this isn’t a proper request for sponsorship without adding a special incentive, is it? So here goes, if you choose to sponsor me via donation in the Write-a-thon, you get to give me a writing assignment. I’ll give it a maximum of 500 words and I will keep the rights to the finished work. The assignment cannot involve erotica, hate speech, child or animal abuse,  and the definitions of these are up to me. Just be sure to email me with a screenshot of your paypal receipt at shelby dot jenniferd at gmail dot com as it can take some time for the donations to show up for me. Here is the link to my Write-a-thon page, just click the big, orange button that reads “Sponsor JenniferShelby” and you’re in.

Thanks for reading everyone, I hope you’re all healthy, safe, and fighting oppression with everything you’ve got.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Fireside (updated)

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 stories to Fireside Quarterly and we’re reading Akhulume by Larissa Irankunda from Fireside‘s April 2020 issue.

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Fireside

Eligibility: original speculative works up to 3,000 words

Take Note: Fireside requests the submissions have a font size 14 (rather than 12). UPDATE: Fireside’s website has been updated to reflect the guest editor’s personal preferences, including: bodily transformation, repurposed tech, effects on trauma on relationships, and cyberpunk. Check it out here.

Submit by: this opening begins tomorrow, June 15th, and closes June 19th, with special guest editor Ryan Boyd.

Payment offered: 12.5 cents per word

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

A story to ignite your writing mojo

This week we’re reading Akhulume by Larissa Irankunda from the April 2020 issue of Fireside. While Fireside has no specific themes, reading what the magazine publishes can still give writers an excellent idea of the type of story they prefer. Akhulume is available to read, or listen to, by clicking here.

Akhulume tells the story of being trapped inside an alien ship, somewhere in the stars. The protagonist holds tight to their sense of self and their family, but gradually their grip loosens, the worlds entangling, reality muddling. We can feel them losing that sense of themself as they lose their voice, moments bewildering and uncomfortable for the protagonist and the reader.

In a craft sense, I’m drawn to how Irankunda moves the story from beginning to end. Google tells me (keeping in mind that Google is rarely perfect) that “akhulume” means “speak,” setting the theme for the story. Irankunda breaks the story into eight sections, each beginning with “the nth time they asked you your name…” to usher the reader through each shift. With each consecutive question, we are reminded again of the power of speech and voice, the personal history, and what language means to the protagonist. As time moves on, the reader can be confident of the time structure, while the speech aspect becomes less reliable, evolving and changing. It’s an excellent technique.

All right, now it’s your turn, writers, time to get to work and send out the best you’ve got. I hope you are safe, well, and your loved ones near. Until next week,

happy writing!

Review: FIYAH no. 14

This week’s review is issue no. 14 of FIYAH magazine. This issue of FIYAH contains four short stories and two poems, and I’ll review them in the order of publishing. My overall impression of this is issue positive. I read several literary magazines a week (I love me some short stories!) but I rarely find one wherein I enjoy each and every story as I did this one.

Guardian of the Gods by Tobi Ogundiran

In the opening story, Ogundiran’s protagonist is an acolyte named Ashâke who struggles with her place in the temple. Her peers have moved past her but she remains stymied by her inability to hear the voices of the gods. One night, she comes upon a band of poets who finally tell her why she cannot hear these voices, and everything she knows about the world and herself is altered forever.

Ogundiran sets a stormy mood in the mountain of the temple, set in a vast world landscaped by the battles and fellings of gods. Its a rich setting and Ogundiran wields it well. Ashâke could easily be a character difficult to empathize with for a casual reader (I won’t say why to avoid spoilers), but Ogundiran presents her well, taking care to ensure the reader empathizes well with her before the bigger revelations arrive. As such, Guardian of the Gods is a good read for writers who may be wondering how to accomplish this in their own stories.

Guardian of the Gods take the reader on a winding journey to an unexpected and thought-provoking conclusion. Fans of mythology and high fantasy will love Ashâke’s story.

Uniform by Errick Nunnally

Uniform is the story of Veteran Mechanized Staff Sergeant Patrick McCoy, a former soldier who enlisted to financially assist his family. After a mortar round destroys his body, he opts for the further combat bonus of being converted into a mechanized soldier. The story opens somewhere in Patrick’s retirement, trapped in a metal box, his brain and memories human, but nothing is the same. Nothing smells the same, nothing feels the same. His avoids his family, frightened or ashamed of how he looks, and instead he wanders the city and rides the subway to ease his loneliness.

Unfortunately for Patrick, most mechanized soldiers were created from criminals looking to escape harsher punishments, and lay citizens regard him with distrust and fear. This attitude only reinforces Patrick’s inner shame, so when a crises threatens the citizens who despise him, Patrick has to decide how much humanity he has left inside him, after all.

Of all the stories in this issue, this is the one that stayed with me the longest after reading. It got to me. Nunnally has created a tragic character in Patrick most readers will connect with. The story is by times emotionally painful to read, difficult to feel, and well written.

A Terminal Kind of Love by Veronica Henry

In A Terminal Kind of Love, Athena is a software engineer recovering from the dissolution of her marriage to Donovan, her former business partner and the man she still loves. As his cruelty deepens, she turns to her skillset for revenge, lovingly crafting a malware she has named ShadeThrower to destroy Donovan’s business and store her original code elsewhere. But as she decides better of her revenge and attempts to delete ShadeThrower, the malware takes on a life of its own and refuses to take Athena’s orders anymore.

Athena and Donovan’s separation, her pain, her shame, and the lingering intimacy of the memories they share make this story vividly real. Henry weaves loving history with new betrayals into a devastating account that feels as true as any break-up I’ve experienced. The menace of ShadeThrower, something Athena’s skillset has her on equal footing with, doubles as a sleek metaphor. She can’t fight Donovan’s new love, but she can fight the monster their separation has created. As a reader, I always fall hard for a clever metaphor.

Your Rover is Here by LP Kindred

I capital “l” Like this story.

When a Rover (think: uber) driver with occult ties picks up Caleb, a strangly quiet client who insists on ignoring the driver and humming under their breath, the driver doesn’t think too much of it, happy for the fare. However, when it becomes clear the client is being controlled by a coven with the intention of suicide-bombing a Black Church, our driver had to toss off their human trappings and tap into their buried power to take back control of the vehicle and save the church.

Magical battles? I’m in. Possibly demonic protagonist? Please let me read everything you’ve ever written, L.P. Kindred. This is FUN read and there are hints at a much bigger universe at play. Fingers crossed we’ll get more of it.

Zombie of Palmares by Woody Dismukes

This poem makes excellent use of colors and the language of pain and illness. Its dark and you will feel the rot setting in as you read it. Recommended.

Autolysis After Mentor Pursues Me While In a Relationship by Jacqui Swift

I had to look up the word ‘autolysis’ and discovered it refers to when a cell digests itself through its own enzymes. I think this might be the perfect word to describe how it feels when someone longed-for takes notice, not with love, but a temporary lust that will ruin everything that comes before and after. Swift has captured this feeling perfectly in this poem and I want to hate it for reminding me, but it’s far too raw and real. This poem should be celebrated for its accomplishment.

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END OF REVIEW

If you’d like to purchase this issue of FIYAH, or any other issues, please click here and check out their website.

 

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: through other eyes

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 All Worlds Wayfarer‘s  Through Other Eyes anthology and we’re reading John Wiswell’s Tank at Diabolical Plots.

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All Worlds Wayfarer: Through Other Eyes

Eligibility: 1500 to 5K word speculative stories that show the reader the world through non-human eyes “to discover new ways of looking at our own {lives}”

Take Note: All Worlds Wayfarer states that they love stories that explore identity, so be sure to emphasize this as you explore your non-human POV

Submit by: tentative deadline of June 15th, 2020, “but may run longer”

Payment Offered: $20 honorarium

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

A story to ignite your writing mojo

This week we’re reading a story by an author who has a serious knack for writing non-human voices: John Wiswell. Specifically, we’re reading his story Tank as it was published by Diabolical Plots. You can click here to go read that now. It’s worth noting Wiswell has another story that would fit this anthology call coming out any minute now with Diabolical Plots called Open House on Haunted Hill, a beautiful story that I also recommend you watch for and study as an example of making a non-human voice work (it was sent in DP’s last newsletter but hasn’t been published to the website at time of writ).

Tank is the story of a socially awkward tank trying to navigate a Con. They struggle with revolving doors, forms, invasive questions, crowds, and the dreaded small talk. Here’s where Wiswell works his magic: he makes the reader empathize with Tank, a hunk of metal and tracks, by putting tank in human situations and humiliations that all of us been through in one form or another. Their actions are the actions of a tank, but the emotions are our own. Wiswell got me when Tank saw someone they immediately wanted to befriend based on first impression, only to fail to think of something to say and lose the chance. And then there’s the clumsiness… sigh.

Martha Wells employs the same tool in her Murderbot series; while readers may struggle to empathize with a cyborg killing machine, we can certainly understand Murderbot’s yearning to sink into their media files and make the world go away.

To break it down: Wiswell and Wells make their non-human POVs come alive by focusing on what they have in common with humans, rather than what makes them different.

That’s it for this week, writers, happy writing and I wish you good health. If you live in the U.S. and you’re protesting, please be safe, and remember the rest of the world is watching and we think you’re brave AF.

I know there are difficult financial burdens in the world right now, but if you can, here is a link to a gofundme for the medical bills of a friend of my good friend who was hurt in the protests. Feel free to add more related fundraisers in the comments and I will share them on my social media.

 

Book Review: The Medusa Effect by J.S. Pailly

I seem to be overcoming my anxiety-related reader’s block. It’s also possible that the compounding anxiety has just cancelled the old anxiety out, welp. All told, it’s good news, because I’m excited about the Medusa Effect: A Tomorrow News Network Novella by J. S. Pailly.

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I finished this one the same day it came out: it’s that triple-threat of a great premise, easy to read writing, and excellent pacing.

The story’s teenage protagonist, Milo, is something of a screw-up. He lives with his family on a lithium mining colony on a far-flung planet. He has no memories of Earth and struggles with his grades and agriculture duties. When not overwhelmed by the science of the mines, Milo spends his time with his girlfriend Lianna, watching Talie Tappler and the Tomorrow News Network online as they travel through time and space recording the great tragedies, disasters, and events throughout the universe.

When he sees Talie and her cameraman, a cyborg addicted to illegal emotions named Cygnus, at his colony, he knows something terrible is about happen. I’ll stop here before I spoil the story.

Something that stood out to me with Pailly’s writing is the hard science embedded into the story that can easily confuse readers who may be unfamiliar with the more complicated concepts. Pailly glides the reader through these tricky bit with easy to understand explanations and admirable clarity. I suppose this is to be expected from a writer who also publishes a science blog.Click here if you’d like to visit that blog for yourself (I recommend it). Pailly is also a wonderful artist, as demonstrated on his blog and his cover artwork (did I already mention triple-threat? Yeah? Okay, I won’t say it again, then).

The Medusa Effect ends all too soon but there is a also a bonus short story at the end that introduces a rival time-travelling network (!!) and hints of more Tomorrow News Network stories to come. I’ll be first in line for those. I give this one 5/5 stars.

The Medusa Effect: A Tomorrow News Network Novella is currently available as an ebook for kindle. Click here to go check it out.

 

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

This week we’re submitting to Podcastle‘s open call and we’re reading Gem Isherwood’s Salt and Iron.

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Podcastle

Eligibility: fantasy stories up to 6 000 words

Take Note: the editors request writers remove their legal name and address from standard manuscript format before submitting

Submit by: submissions open tomorrow, June 1st, and run through to the June 30th, 2020

Payment offered: $0.08 per word

Click here to go to original call for full details.

A story to ignite your writing mojo

This week we’re dipping into Podcastle‘s recent archives to read (or listen to) Gem Isherwood’s story Salt and Iron. You can click here to go read or listen to that story now.

There are several elements to this story that read like a fairy tale, in keeping with itself as a retelling of the Girl Without Hands, collected by the brothers Grimm. To escape being sold to the fairy king, the protagonist Dagna chops off her hands and a local midwife bewitches her a pair of iron hands to replace them. Dagna struggles with her new freedom and her new identity, but after killing a would-be lover with her uncontrolled strength, she banishes herself to the outskirts of society. It’s hard not to think of Frankenstein’s monster in this scene, following that first murder of his own, and I think Isherwood did that intentionally to illustrate Dagna’s shift from innocent to clever to monster in society’s, and her own, eyes.

Here Isherwood leaves those traditional narratives behind, pulling Dagna from the presumed monstrosity of her disability and putting her on the path of redemption. I like the course of this redemption especially because Isherwood upends many of the harmful disability tropes rampant in fairy tales. Neither is the happy ending guaranteed or even inferred, instead Isherwood gives Dagna the agency of her own future.

This kind of fresh take on an old story is key to a successful retelling, and the trope-busting elements are among those I’ve learned to associate with Podcastle over the years.

Now, it’s your turn writers! Give them the best you got. In the meantime, stay healthy and happy writing.

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one of our first spring flowers, a violet from my ‘lawn’

 

Just Enough for Jenny is now available on Short Èdition

Hello writers! I’m happy to announce that I’m feeling much better and Submit Your Stories Sunday WILL be happening this week (stay tuned… )

In more personal news, my flash fiction piece Just Enough for Jenny has been published by Short Èdition/Rendez-Vous fiction! This market was featured on a Submit Your Stories Sunday about a year ago, so if you’d like details on submitting to them, check out that post here.

Just Enough for Jenny tells the story of a grieving fisherman who spies a mermaid in the bay and remembers an old bit of folklore that just might save his beloved. If you’d like to read my story, click here. I’d love to hear what you think! All stories are available on the website without charge. The fun thing is that my story will also be in one of their short story dispensers, fun little vending machines for short stories in waiting areas around the world. How cool is that?

Wishing you well, see you Sunday!