the goddess of unfinished stories

A recent social media meme asked me “If you could be a goddess or a god, what would you be the patron deity of?”

My first thought was ‘semi-colons’ because my brain doesn’t work well under pressure. Still, I supposed semi-colons are better than colons, considering that at some point someone is going to misunderstand that title and the colon gods will be elbow deep in proctology.

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meme credit to Mr. P’s Mythopedia on the book of face

Then I thought about it a little more and decided I’d like to be the goddess of unfinished stories. I don’t think there is a current goddess of unfinished stories and just think of how handy I could be. Instead of letting unfinished stories rot in a notebook, characters frozen in whatever terrible situation you’ve put them in, you could call on me. Deadline looming and not sure how to end your story? I’m your goddess.

I’m not comfortable with prayer (my mind-reading skills are terrible), but feel free to text or email.

Writers could leave offerings of freshly ground dark roast coffee, Sharpie pens (fine), the occasional smudge stick. For big messes maybe some HP75XL printer ink (cough cough  George R. R. Martin). In return I’d help them finish their stories.

The upside will be all the books dedicated to me and my mentions in acknowledgement pages at the end of books. Do you ever read those? They’re strangely dull considering the authors are… well, published. When I become the goddess of unfinished stories, that is going to change. The acknowledgements will be epic, full of entertaining doodads and hilarious anecdotes. They will become the book version of end-of-credits sequences on beloved films. The true fans will adore them and hipsters will covet them.

All in all, I’m not sure we as writers can afford to not make me the goddess of unfinished stories, except for this whole mortal thing I have happening. If anyone has any suggestions or hacks for becoming a goddess, please pass them along so we can get this thing started.

Happy writing!

 

Submission Sundays: paying homage to the Princess Bride

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submission Sundays! 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.

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Somebody Kill the Prince!

Eligibility: heroic fantasy adventures that pay homage to the themes and humor of William Goldman’s the Princess Bride.

Caveat: you can only submit the first 500 words of your story. They will request the rest based on your opening.

What makes this call stand out: Hello. My name is Jennifer Shelby. You killed my prince. Prepare to read. (pardon my silly play on the Inigo Montoya speech)

Payment: $42 flat rate, currency unknown.

Submit by: submissions close “fall of 2018” when the 10 story quota is filled. Their site further advises that monthly submissions close after they reach 100 submissions, reopening on the first of the next month.

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image via google and thechive.com

Click here to go to the original call for details.

Writerly links worth reading this week:

I came across this handy article explaining the ‘first rights’ we sell to publishers when they agree to print our stories. Excellent for anyone who finds the concept a little fuzzy.

Happy writing, and if you’re submitting this week:

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Image via google and https://ervinandsmith.com/blog/seo/inconceivable-your-favorite-princess-bride-characters-are-the-perfect-metaphor-for-your-seo-strategy/

the mermaid’s return

I slip inside the waves, the sea kissing my skin. We’ve been so long apart. She soothes my aching senses, dulling the sharp sounds and smells of the open air.

My tattered feet merge into my tailfin. Out of habit my eyes hunt for the notch I earned from a run-in with a nurse shark when I was seven. I take comfort that my true form remains the same after so many years hidden away.

Everything turns inward. I am aware of my self in the water, my breath, my heartbeat. I swim deeper, reaching for the distant clicks and whale song of the sea, leaving the land and all its ghosts behind forever.

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Submission Sundays: Young Explorers Adventure Guide

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submission Sundays. 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.

Copy of jennifershelby.blog

The Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide

Eligibility: Original science fiction adventure stories for readers aged 8 to 12-years-old from 3000 to 6000 words.

Caveat: judging is blind, so make sure your manuscript is scrubbed of your identifying information before submitting.

What makes this call stand out: a sale to the annual Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide is considered a professional sale and qualifies writers to join the SFWA.

Payment: $0.06 per word

Submit by: December 15th, 2018

Click here to go to the original call for details.

Writerly links worth reading this week:

This powerful article written in response to an RWA speech gutted me.

In further industry news, more information has come out in the strange case of literary agent Danielle Smith. Authors beware.

skeleton keys

“Skeleton keys don’t unlock skeletons, you know,” said the boy. “It’s a real shame, too.”

“I guess, but this one will open my mum’s closet,” said his friend.

The first boy shrugged. “Yeah, but who cares about some old shoes and dresses. Come on, let’s go play outside.”

The door slammed behind them.

The skeletons in the closet relaxed in a clatter of loose joints. That was close.

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Submission Sundays: Tor Novellas 2

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submission Sundays. 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.

Copy of jennifershelby.blog

Tor Novellas

Eligibility: Original speculative fiction novellas from 20 000 to 40 000 words.

Caveat: Submissions must be polished and complete before submitting.

What makes this call stand out: This is Tor’s second opening to novellas, and the last expected opening for 2018. By opening to unsolicited submissions like this, writers have the chance to submit their work to an established publisher without first acquiring an agent.

Payment: Advance against royalties, or royalties.

Submit by: August 13th, 2018 (Please note they do not open the submission window until Monday, July 30th)

Click here to go to the original call for details.

Writerly links worth reading this week:

I was excited to find this lesson on tab indents for Word 2010. It’s handy for prepping submissions for web publication. Alas, the next day trusty laptop died and the new one uses Office 365, where the find and replace ^t does not work. If anyone has a similar guide to use with updated versions of word, please share with me!

This older post from Allison Maruska has excellent tips for manuscript editing.

In this interview Maria Dahvana Headley, she offers her methods of getting started when her brain refuses to let her write. When the heat is high and the sleep is rare, I need all the tricks I can collect to get the words out.

ProWritingAid shared 22 Rules for Storytelling from Pixar. I bristle at the idea of ‘rules’ but there is good stuff in there for kickstarting creativity.

Happy writing!

dark and liquid matters

The soil drinks deep of long-awaited rain. Gnomes are fleeing from their flooded burrows.

The beach is closed for fecal matters, try again tomorrow. The Kraken feeds.

Reflections quiver and shimmer on the rock wall rising from the creek. A sylph’s breath upon stone.

A toxic algae flourishes in the depth of a lake. The lake demon grins and whispers “my garden is blooming.”

The humidity will be high this week and Environment Canada has issued heat warnings. The waterlogged ghosts of drowned people are expected to crowd the living this week. You have been warned.

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It’s been hot and humid on the mountain these past few weeks, making it hard to sleep. Sleeplessness has a strange, twisty effect on my imagination. The above lines are my muddled responses to things I saw or heard on the news. Future stories, perhaps, but the water theme tempted me to gather them together.

In writing news, the editor/publisher of the children’s bedtime story anthology Eeny Meeny Miney Mo: Tales for Tired Tykes sent me this review of the book, mentioning that my piece, Leif the Story Hunter, was their favorite. That gave me a thrill.

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Print copies of the book are now for sale on the Patchwork Raven’s website for $65 (NZ, international shipping included). My print copy hasn’t arrived yet but I am watching for it.

Happy writing!

Submission Sunday: Lab Coats and Love Letters

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submission Sundays. 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.

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Spark: Lab Coats and Love Letters

Eligibility: Original, paranormal romance flash fiction (or just regular romance) from 300-1000 words, though stories less than 700 words are preferred. Stories must follow the theme of ‘lab coats and love letters.’ I encourage writers to click through to their website as there are other themes and submission dates available.

Caveat: Authors are required to submit a professional headshot upon acceptance, to be published with the story. Selfies are not allowed. Do you have one? Can you get one? Is this feasible for you considering the small payment offered?

Payment: $0.02 per word, American, plus a print copy of the magazine.

Submit by: August 24th, 2018

Click here to go to the original call for details.

Writerly links worth reading this week:

This first link is a bit of a rabbit-hole, but as most markets are gearing up for their Halloween issues this should help you get into a macabre mood. It is an in-depth read about coffin flies sure to inspire a macabre tale or two.

The Write Practice published this piece on how to sell your books locally. The last section, on how to sell books in person, was particularly enlightening.

Whether you call them trigger warnings, content warnings, or content notices, Mythcreants has posted a thoughtful argument to their value. I’m still unpacking how I feel about the idea of rating books as we do movies.

Happy writing!

adventures in the gorge

Summers here are glorious and humid, creating a vortex of increasingly unbearable heat. Write in the mornings when it’s cool, then escape. Grab the kids and follow the water.

We’ve been spending our summer weekends exploring and hunting stories. Down the mountain from our home lies a deep, protected gorge with a creek running through it. The trees are old, the creek is cold, and the wilderness is criss-crossed with aged dirt roads.

The gorge has a long history of logging, farming, and we’ve heard rumors of abandoned villages. We haven’t come across those yet, but we did find this structure.

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It might have been a section of an old boiler (based on surrounding structures) or a possibly a brick oven. I prefer to think of it as an abandoned goblin lair, myself.

There are stories hiding everywhere in these woods!

In another section of the gorge, we came across the ruins of a castle. Okay, okay, not a castle, but a stone wall once built to border a farm long since invaded by forest. I have long dreamt of finding the ruins of a castle in the woods. Coming this close was a thrill.

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Following a dirt road at the bottom of the gorge with some vague directions from Google maps, we fjorded the creek past a caved-in bridge and hiked along a quad trail to a covered bridge. Covered bridges are fairly common in our area, but we don’t often find them this far into the wilderness. Perhaps it was the missing bridge along the road to it which made it feel like a secret place.

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There were three well-worn camp sites near the covered bride, and an excellent swimming spot for the kids beneath the bridge. It’s fun to hunt for trolls beneath the bridge and look up at the construction to see how they were built way back when.

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Ever since I was a child I’ve wanted to build a fort in the rafters of a covered bridge, tucked up from the road and sheltered just enough. This bridge, nestled into the woods with the mountains towering on either side, brought that urge back with renewed vigor.

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Are you taking breaks from your writing to have an adventure or two this summer?

 

Submission Sundays: Apparition Lit

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submission Sundays! 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.

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Apparition Lit’s Monthly Flash Fiction Contests

Eligibility: Original, speculative flash fiction under 1000 words written to the month’s theme. The following themes are coming up: August 2018 – parasites; September 2018 – Emily Dickinson’s Because I Could Not Stop for Death; October 2018 – you can see the bone; November 2018 – Security; December 2018 – the final problem.

Caveat: rejection letters are not sent for the flash fiction contests, instead watch the website for the winner published online on the 20th of each month.

What makes this call stand out: flash fiction is a wonderful way to sharpen your skills and keep yourself writing every day between longer stories and editing projects.

Payment: $5.00 American, flat rate.

Submit by: each theme must be submitted by the 15th of the assigned month

Click here to go to the original call for details.

Writerly links worth reading this week:

This article on how one author used multiple points of view well is an excellent lesson in using point of view to further your story.

Mermaid’s Tears is a wonderful piece of non-fiction focusing on a lesser-known aspect of mermaid lore.

Written Word Media created this post about promo-stacking for authors in the marketing phase.

Now’s your chance to vote for the finalists in 2018’s alternate Nobel Prize for Literature. The authors were chosen by a team of Swedish librarians and the laureate will be chosen out of the final four we vote in. Have your say, there are some wonderful authors nominated.