Submit Your Stories Sunday: Darkness and Chillers

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. I’ll follow it up with a book to inspire your writing and a small collection of writerly articles to fuel your craft.

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Curse the Darkness: an Anthology of Dark Fiction

Eligibility: Original, speculative stories written on the theme of darkness from 3 000 to 10 000 words. Think Doctor Who‘s Vashta Nerada.

Take Note: the editors specifically request stories that will make them “afraid to turn off the lights.”

What makes this call stand out: this is Unlit Press’ inaugural anthology and they are offering writers good rates from the start. This suggests they are confident that their marketing strategy will put this book, and potentially your story, in the hands of a large audience. Offering writers a print copy further suggests they are not relying on selling copies to said writers to offset their costs.

Payment: 75 Euros and one print copy of the anthology

Submit by: December 31, 2018

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A Book to Inspire You:

Chillers From the Rock is an anthology of twenty-five creepy tales written by Atlantic Canadians and published by Newfoundland’s Engen Books. For readers outside of Canada, the province of Newfoundland is often referred to as ‘The Rock.’

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sorry ’bout the raindrops, but they do beat snow

I must admit a few of these stories made me hesitate to turn off my lights. Eryn Heidel’s mysterious, foggy adversary in The Pursuit made me put off going to bed entirely. Do not read it on a foggy autumn night like I did.  Samuel Bauer’s tense take on the Scottish legend of the Nuckelavee made me sink deeper into the safety of my couch cushions. Peter Foote’s wonderful A Friend in Shadow made me pull out my flashlight against the darkness threatening in the corners of my room. The flashlight’s name is Scorch-Bite now. Kelley Power’s oddly hopeful tale Treatment is a horror/fairy tale for the helpless. Depending on which side of the spectrum of evil you may fall on, you’ll either sleep tight or not at all. Read at your own risk.

There are tales here from mildly creepy to full-on supernatural horror, with a handful of paranormal beasts and gore thrown in. The quality of the stories, however, is consistent across the genres. I’ll be reading this one again.

Writerly Links Worth Reading this Week:

I’m still deep in NaNoWriMo and most articles aren’t making it through the writing fog, but the Suicide Bomber Sits in the Library drama certainly did. Facing a strong backlash for the possibly well-intentioned but extremely harmful stereotypes in the graphic novel and the violence it could inspire against Muslim individuals in an environment of seething white supremacy, Abrams decided to pull the book. I think the biggest take-away from this situation is the need to consider what damage can be caused when writers play fast and loose with their imagined perspectives of marginalized people.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Supernatural Tales

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 recommend a book to help inspire your story submission and finish off with a list of the best writing-related articles I came across this week.

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Vampires, Zombies, and Ghosts

Eligibility: stories from 1200-6000 words in any genre containing supernatural beings

Take Note: despite the tentative title, Smoking Press is looking for stories of supernatural beings outside of vampires, zombies, and ghosts as well .

Payment: $20 USD plus two complimentary paperback for writers in Canada and the U.S., and/or $20 USD plus one complimentary paperback for writers outside of Canada and the U.S.

Submit by: December 15th, 2018

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A book to inspire your writing:

For purposes of supernatural inspiration, I recommend you pick up one of Hugo and Nebula award winning  author Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books. The twelfth book in this series came out last August (Night and Silence) and another is scheduled for 2019 release. The first book is entitled Rosemary and Rue and you can probably find it at your local library or on their overdrive app. This is urban fantasy at its finest and McGuire never fails to deliver the intricate and unexpected.

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The series follows Toby, or October, Daye, a fairy changeling working as a private investigator. Her cases focus on the collision of fairy and human in a world with such depth I’ve often wondered if I’ll feel I’ve wandered through it all. Wonder and tension, magic and murder, cityscapes and fairyland are layered upon the page in stories you’ll wish your imagination had come up with.

Toby’s own history and personal flaws make her readable and identifiable. She’s only half-fae, standing on the outside, though not quite as outside as a mundane reader, which makes her the perfect interpreter of the fairy world. This isn’t Tinkerbell or teeny tiny angelic insects, this is the fae of Celtic mythology and you’d better be on guard for tricksters.

Though the series began in 2009, the early books still have a freshness to them that sucks you in with thoughts of “ooooh, I haven’t read THIS before.”

To the library!

Writerly links worth sharing this week:

This article in Gizmodo tackles the idea of utopias and why humanity may benefit from a break from all of this dystopia.

Happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Neon Druids, Tolkien, and C. S. Lewis

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. I’ll follow it up with my best read from the week to inspire your writing and a small collection of writerly articles to fuel your craft.

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Neon Druid: An Anthology of Urban Celtic Fantasy

Eligibility: Original fantasy stories from 100 to 10 000 words that contain characters from Celtic mythology and are set in an urban environment. Writers can submit one short story or two flash pieces.

Take Note: this anthology isn’t paying great rates, but that can mean a better chance of acceptance for newer writers looking to get more experience and publishing credits. Use your judgement.

What makes this call stand out: Celtic mythology contains a huge range of lesser-known fairies, goddesses, and monsters to work from. The possibilities are staggering.

Payment: $10 USD for short stories, $5 for flash fiction, which they list as up to 1 000 words

Submit by: December 10th, 2018

Click here to go to the original call for details.

What I’m Reading:

I picked up a copy of Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by Diana Pavlac Glyer at my local library. It was an impulse loan which ended up being a fascinating read.

The Inklings is a critique group in Oxford that included Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and many others. The writers met twice weekly, once for chatting and uproar, and once to read aloud their work and subject it to the criticism of their peers. Bandersnatch gives the reader a chance to be a fly on the wall of that group, to hear Lewis argue hobbits with Tolkien and Tolkien’s opinions of Narnia.

If you’re still on the fence of what a critique group can do for you, you should read this book. If you already have a critique group, you’ll find yourself nodding your head and commiserating with your heroes. My heroes, anyway. It might take the sting out of some of those harsher critiques when you see the greats suffered the same.

As a fan of Tolkien, I found myself thrilled with this book. As a writer, I felt inspired. While I read a library copy for this review, I’ve ordered a paper copy to keep on my writing desk to dip into when I need the inspiration.

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Writerly links worth sharing this week:

This article about a writer who won a prestigious writing award from the university that employs her as a janitor is nothing short of inspiring. I can’t stop smiling over how excited she is. She also makes an excellent point about choosing a stress-free job to keep one’s priority on writing.

Chuck Wendig was put in twitter jail this week, and he uses that experience to give an important warning for creative people on social media. NSFW: Chuck employs colorful language to make his point. The fallout from Wendig’s twittering, which you can read in subsequent posts, include his firing from three Star Wars projects and Marvel comics. There is a lot to unpack there as a writer with conviction. Wendig has long been outspoken against injustice.

Less writerly, more fangirl, Margaret Atwood published a review of my favorite book, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, in the Guardian this past week. Just in time for Halloween.

Happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Steampunk Edition

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. I’ll follow it up with the best read from my week to inspire your writing and a small collection of writerly articles to aid your craft.

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Steam and Lace

Eligibility: The Steam and Lace anthology, to be published in print and ebook, is seeking noblebright, fantasy, steampunk stories from 1 000 to 10 000 words with a theme of ‘steam and lace’.

Take Note: the setting must be steampunk in some fashion, but reliance upon steampunk elements may vary. Editor’s notes suggest that the stories should be free of sexual content.

Payment: $0.01 per word, USD.

Submit by: November 1, 2018

Click here to go to the original call for details.

What I’m Reading:

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of J. B. Cameron’s steampunk novella, Flights of Fancy: the Great Atlantic Run. I do love a good airship adventure and Flights of Fancy is such fun to read I finished in one setting.

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The story opens with Captain Fancy arriving late to the Great Atlantic Run, fumbling into another captain, and “accidentally” betting her ship against his lumbering behemoth of a ship. Fancy might have a gambling problem. By the time she finally makes it to her beloved Persephone, the race is on and she discovers the lumbering behemoth is, in fact, the fastest ship in the race. It’s going to take some serious ingenuity to keep the Persephone under her name, especially with a stowaway in her hold, a storm approaching, pirates ahead, and a renegade steam-bike gang out to get her. Fancy is just the lady to rise to that occasion.

This book is a lot of fun. Remember when books were always fun? This is book for those days. It reminded me of rainy, youthful days spent reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped and Avi’s The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. If you’d like something to put a smile on your face and forget about your cares for a while, this is the book for you. I absolutely loved it.

Click here to learn more about Flights of Fancy: the Great Atlantic Run.

Writerly links worth sharing this week:

Have you ever considered consulting a sensitivity reader, or being one?  Click here to read Lila Shapiro’s interview with Dhonielle Clayton’s work as a sensitivity reader and a chief executive of We Need Diverse Books.

The Atlantic published Greg Manaugh’s fascinating article entitled How Police Will Solve Murders on Mars. The research here is noteworthy. Definitely a must-read for science fiction writers.

 

My Top 5 Books of 2017

Looking back over the book lives I lived this year, five particular books stood out (note: they weren’t necessarily published in 2017, just read by me in 2017). Here they are, in no particular order:

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The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

I’m a sucker for books about books. Books about bookstores are a special treat. This one is about a bookstore on a barge whose owner faces a personal crisis that sends him, his bookstore, and a young writer down the river in search of the owner’s lost love. Full of book nostalgia, hope, and deep thoughts, this was a treat to read.

Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction by Benjamin Percy

Thrill Me is a craft book on writing speculative fiction. As a writer, I consume a lot of craft books … and most of them get left unfinished, because they’re as dry as my ninth grade math text. My personal philosophy about craft books is if they aren’t written well enough to keep my interest, I shouldn’t be letting them teach me how to write. This is where Thrill Me shines: it grabbed me in the beginning and thrilled me to the end. I devoured it, yearning to get back to it each time I put it down. It reminded me why I love speculative fiction and why I write it. An inspiring book for all writers in the genre.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls is a powerful middle grade fantasy about grief. As he sorrows and rages against his mother’s imminent death and all the changes this brings, Conor’s grief is physically manifested in a terrifying, Ent-like monster. It is a beacon to the genre in that it never preaches, it never sugarcoats, and it never holds back. The raw power of Conor’s grief is a punch to the gut the reader won’t soon forget. I’ve rarely been so moved.

 

 

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

This middle grade fantasy is a beautifully written, fantastical romp into the bog home of a repressed people forced to sacrifice the youngest child in their village every few years to a mysterious witch. The witch, on the other hand, cannot figure out why these silly folk keep regularly abandoning infants in the forest. She rescues them, feeding them starlight and finding them homes beyond the bog, past the sleeping volcano that seethes beneath the story. Then one night, the witch accidentally feeds one of the foundlings moonlight instead of starlight and enmagicks the child, whom she names Luna and raises as her own. As Luna grows, the real evil demanding the babies be sacrificed becomes clear as Luna, the witch, a dragon, a swamp monster, a desperate new father, and a mad woman embark on a journey that will bring them together and change their world forever. This adventure is a wonderful romp I never wanted to end. I’ll be reading this one again soon.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

This one makes it to the list because of its originality. A prequel to Every Heart a Doorway, this novella in the Wayward Children series follows Jack and Jill through their portal into a dark and frightening world. One of the twin sisters is adopted by the local vampire to a life of luxury and blood, while her sister Jack is apprenticed by the vampire’s nemesis, a mad scientist. They come of age beneath the burgeoning knowledge that they are destined to become the next generation of an ancient rivalry, and on opposing sides. But deep within Jack’s heart stirs an impossible loyalty to her sister. It’s a heck of a story that brings the mad scientist of old spooky movies into the new millennium.

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That finishes my list and as the old year closes I’m excited to see what books 2018 will bring … in January alone I’m counting down to the release of Seanan McGuire’s Beneath the Sugar Sky (the third in her Wayward Children series mentioned above) and the English translation of Ahmed Saddwi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad.

What were some of your favourite books this year? Any you’re looking forward to?