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?

rawpixel-315198-unsplash

Diabolical Plots

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

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

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

Payment: $0.10 per word

Submit by: opening is for the month of July

Click here to go the original call for details.

A Story to Inspire Your Submission

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

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

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

Good luck.

 

IWSG: June, spec fic, and flights

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

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

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

Submit Your Stories Sunday: blasphemy

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday! Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll recommend a story to help inspire your submission and help newer writers understand how to fulfill a call’s thematic elements.

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

rawpixel-315198-unsplash

Blasphemous Rumors

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

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

Payment: $0.03 per word plus two paperback copies

Submit by: July 31st, 2019

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your creativity:

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

*shivers with story’s delicious darkness*

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

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

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

Such darkness. This story has wonderful depth.

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

Happy writing!

 

the magic of your voice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

blank bloom blossom business
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Submit Your Stories Sunday: twins

Welcome to this week’s edition of Submit Your Stories Sunday! Every week I bring you a unique call for submissions to help you find a home for your stories or inspire a new one. Each call will contain a speculative element and will offer payment upon acceptance. Next, I’ll recommend a story to help inspire your submission and aid new writers in understanding how to best fulfill a call’s thematic elements.

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

rawpixel-315198-unsplash

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!

sometimes, bad reviews hurt like hell

20190520_215938.jpg

Somewhere in the tender, aching place where your skin isn’t tough enough, where your practical shields failed to protect the vulnerable creativity of your writing heart, bad reviews will always hurt. Disappointment crushes you small and all the introverted cells crowded into your body send you staring out your bedroom window for hours at a time, cringing for such an open display of all your failures. It won’t last forever, though I do suspect these days teach us lessons we may not recognize for months or years or decades.

We’re not ‘supposed’ to have these moments. Showing vulnerability is a liability in the shark-infested waters of marketing and promoting ourselves as writers. But of course it’s there, human skin is never tough until a callus earns its place after a lengthy period of pain and sensitivity. We’re not elephants or wee armored pangolins. It’s all right if it hurts.

This vulnerability is the same one which enables us to catch our readers by their heart strings and we do ourselves a disservice to ignore it. Acknowledge it. Protect it. Build shields of logic around it.

Hide pieces of your own creative strength in your places, tucked into books, in folders of past successes, in the ivory space between letters on a page. It will be safe there until the day comes you need to remember what it was like to believe in yourself again. Then retrieve it, use it, hold on to it. Just. Don’t. Give. Up. Nothing, even bad reviews, are written in stone.  Or on stone, as it were. This is how we grow.

IMG_20190421_190038_791.jpg

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.

rawpixel-315198-unsplash

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!

 

love locks

I came across a gate of love locks while haunting the area downtown where I lived in my early twenties. In Europe, love locks are placed on bridges as a symbol of romantic commitment. In Moncton, the plaque stated these locks were a symbol of love for the city’s downtown. Knowing the locals, these locks combine the two meanings together and find their own hybrid vigor somewhere in the smash.

20190504_093534.jpg

2019-05-16 21.22.20.jpg

2019-05-16 21.20.21.jpg

20190504_093456.jpg

There’s an unexpected diversity and creativity hidden in the metal, polish scrubbed away by the elements, rusting patinas standing testament to the salty breezes off the Bay. Maybe Monctonians are a bit like that, too.

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: arcane microfiction

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 the Arcanist‘s open call for microfiction, and reading the drabble Palm Reader by Gwendolyn Kiste as published on the Weretraveler.

rawpixel-315198-unsplash

The Arcanist – Microfiction

Eligibility: science fiction or fantasy stories (horror inclusive) under 100 words. Stories must have a beginning, middle, end, and strong characterization.

Take Note: The Arcanist will be publishing a microfiction story every week on their website, as well as their twitter and instagram accounts.

Payment: $10 USD per accepted story

Submit by: no deadlines, everything open at time of writ. (please check their website in the link below if you’re visiting from the future, you tricky time traveler, you.)

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A Story to Inspire Your Submission:

To get you started, we’ll be reading the 100-word drabble Palm Reader by Gwendolyn Kiste published on The Weretraveler. Click here to go there now. Don’t worry, I’ll be here when you get back.

The reason I chose this drabble is because Palm Reader has a distinct beginning, middle, and end. As we begin the narrator is getting their palm read. We can picture the scene easily without description. We hit the middle as the palm reader squeezes the narrator’s hand, pulling us along in their relationship in a few, brief sentences. They are all we need to know our narrator loves her. The ending arrives and our narrator has been poisoned by their love, thus fulfilling the fortune told in the beginning and bringing the story full circle.

hands black and white fingers palm
Photo by Josie Stephens on Pexels.com

It’s tricky to make your reader care about the characters in such a short piece. This is what the Arcanist wants when they refer to ‘characterization’ – the character should evoke a feeling. It doesn’t have to be positive, but by making the reader feel something, the story will stick with them, no matter how small. We care about the Palm Reader‘s narrator because we know they love this fortune teller, and they still love her despite her murdering of them. That’s a strong, fatal, foolish love. What a loss and tragic end, but they will never awaken to chew on the aftermath, they died in love as ever. It sticks in my mind, frustrating me with its unfairness. Kiste painted this image of character as a function of the plot AND in twenty-five words. The words do double time. Don’t hesitate to use those words.

You know what to do. Good luck!

Happy writing.

third place!

2019-05-07 18.55.20.png

I’m pleased to share that my short story entry won third place in 2019’s Writers Federation of New Brunswick (WFNB) Fog Lit Books for Young People Prize. I won first place in the same competition last year, so it feels good to place again this year and prove to myself it wasn’t a lucky fluke. Last year’s win afforded me the opportunity to read my winning story to an audience for the first time which proved a rich experience for me – one I get to repeat in a few weeks with this new story. The butterflies are already practicing their fluttering in my belly. Eek!