Submit Your Stories Sunday: House of Zora

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 inspire your submission and help newer writers understand how to fulfill a call’s thematic elements.

This week we’re looking at a call from a new Canadian market, House of Zora, and reading Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance, originally published in the anthology Cosmic Powers and reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine.

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House of Zora

Eligibility: speculative stories from 1k to 7500 words, with a preference for 3500-5K

Take Note: the HoZ editors are looking for stories set in the future with a strong attraction to resistance, activism, transhumanism, feminism, and 2SLGBTQIA+

Payment: $50 – $75 Canadian dollars

Submit By: July 15th, 2019

Click here to go to original call for details.

A story to inspire your submission

This week we’re reading Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance by Tobias S. Buckell, originally published in the Cosmic Powers anthology and available to read online at Lightspeed magazine by clicking here.

Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance begins with a crab-like robot discovering an enemy CEO (loosely, a wealthy privileged) clinging to the hull of the bot’s ship after a space battle. The battle was fought over the idealist “True Form” believers (non-augmented humans) and self-determinant life forms such as our protagonist bot, who chose to become a maintenance bot and leave free will behind. It’s a fascinating take for Buckell to tell the story in first person from the bot’s point of view because it forces the reader, presumably a human in “Truest Form”, to empathize with the character least like themselves.

Our Bot-protagonist is duty-bound to assist CEOs and so our bot brings the man to its private space, thus revealing its own vulnerabilities. The CEO treats the bot with endless scorn and distaste, torturing it for it’s sacrificed free will, threatening what it loves, and finally bribing the bot to take him to freedom. The bot’s friendships are strained, its ideals tested, but its cleverness remains  and bot uses this cleverness to resist into a delicious conclusion.

Buckell’s story ticks off three of House of Zora’s preferences. It features transhumanism (technology-based evolution of humanity), resistance, and futurism. The clever riff on Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance doesn’t hurt and certainly performs well as an attention-grabbing title. For your submission, there’s no need to stuff as many of the editor’s preferences as you can into the story, but if you can fit more than one and still spin a fine story, why wouldn’t you?

Happy writing!

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?

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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.

 

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.

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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!

 

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.

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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!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: recognizing fascism

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 anthology Recognize Fascism and reading Cyd Athens’ Poison in Fireside Magazine.

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Recognize Fascism

Eligibility: fantasy and science fiction stories from 250 to 5k words on theme of the first moment a character recognizes fascism and determines to resist.

Take Note: this project will only go ahead if crowdfunding is successful. This is fairly standard for most anthologies and while it does involve some risk, writers should not be deterred from submitting.

What makes this call stand out: with professional payment, there’s a good chance you’ll recognize some of the names in this anthology when it’s finalized. Get in there and submit your story alongside your favorite writers. You never know.

Payment: minimum $0.08 per word.

Submit by: June 3, 2019

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your creativity:

For this week’s inspiration story, I’m stretching the theme a bit to bring you a story that makes you, as reader, the character who first recognizes fascism and resists. You can read or listen to Cyd Athens’ story Poison in Fireside Magazine by clicking here (there is no charge to read/listen to this story but please consider subscribing or buying the issue if you are able).

Poison is written in second person, which gives the reader a deeply immersive experience into the story. In this instance, Athens uses this perspective to reveal the story details like little bombs as you, the reader, awaken to the story reality alongside the character awakening from their poisoned cryo-sleep. Disorientation follows, a strong sense of something isn’t right here and suddenly we’re pushed into an erupting violence and it’s shoot or die, survival instincts screeching as the part of us that’s holding back wondering “Whoa! What is going here?” gets smaller and more subdued as we rescue our fallen friends and race to safety. Once there, Athens pulls back and fills in what we’re missing. Yes, we’ve committed genocide in this story world, we had no choice, we are forced into it by our rulers. The clues were all there, but the confirmation sits awful on us all the same.

This is why I chose Poison to match with the Recognize Fascism call: through Athens’ words, we have just experienced the rising of fascism. We had that moment of sensing something wasn’t right, moving to enormously wrong, and a leap into some future’s mirror to see what horrors we have committed while in a stupor of confusion. An allusion to the dulling and desensitization by relentless media brainwash of dictatorships. These are the elements we need to understand, recognize, and feel to write a story for this Recognize Fascism call. Now we just need to build our stories around them. Good luck.

Happy writing!

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: longevity

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.

PLEASE NOTE: there will no Submit Your Stories Sunday next week (April 28th) as I will be attending the Frye Literary Festival in my hometown. The series will resume on Sunday, May 5th, 2019. Thank you!

This week we’re looking into the theme of longevity for a pro-paying anthology and reading Rebecca Lang’s What No One Ever Tells You About Becoming Immortal on DSF.

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Third Flat Iron Anthologies: Longevity

Eligibility: speculative stories between 1 500 and 3 000 words OR humorous pieces under 600 words, on the theme of longevity.

Take Note: the wording suggests the editors are looking for stories focused on the hows and why of the longevity, rather than just the effects or character living with it.

Payment: $0.06 per word

Submit by: this call is open from July 10th to August 10th, 2019. Lots of time remains to craft up a fresh story.

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your creativity:

To get our imaginations fired to answer this call, we’re going to read Rebecca Lang’s What No One Ever Tells You About Becoming Immortal, published on Daily Science Fiction in 2014. Click here to go read that now.

In this story, Lang uses a steady rise of technology to retain and lengthen lives to an extreme point. It begins with nanotechnology to fix the protagonist’s cancer and later, replace her hip. Medical marvels all, but then the story turns, focusing on the uncomfortable fixation with youth that modern media keeps telling us we have. The marvels shift into vanity, or hubris, and things fall apart for the protagonist. She buys her way out of death, but in so doing loses her self. This story is both a tragedy and a vivid reflection of financial privileged society.

Lang’s story answers the questions Flat Iron poses in their call (how is this life extension possible and what are the side effects) from a Capitalist perspective. What perspective unique to your voice and your favorite genre can you use to write a different set of answers to craft your submission around?

The longevity theme also comes with its own inherent trope. Vampire stories, especially, paint the immortal with endless angst about the perceived tragedy of immortality and outliving family and friends. These stories suggest that if death is cheated, all one finds is regret. We see this echoed in Lang’s story as the protagonist acknowledges that while her body lives, she does not. This trope makes these stories nice and safe for us mortal readers. There, there, gentle reader, you don’t want this immortality you can’t have, just be content with your lot.

Meh. I’ve seen people die of old age. I’m not buying this trope anymore.

So why not blow the trope out of the water? How can you subvert it into something fresh and unexpected? What is it going to take for someone to be happy after thwarting death? Do they need to be a villain, an extreme introvert, or… ? Play with it, see what you come up with. Answer the call to adventure – oops, I mean call for submissions.

Happy writing!
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Submit Your Stories Sunday: felines, bicycles, and space

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 finish off with a list of writing industry news and articles I came across this week.

This week we’re looking at the Bikes in Space anthology series and reading the Bicycle Rebellion by Laura E. Goodin and published by Daily Science Fiction.

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Bikes in Space

Eligibility: feminist bicycle fiction on the theme of cats, 500-6K words

Take Note: must be feminist, speculative, and contain kitties

What makes this call stand out: I’ll be honest, it’s the quirkiness that grabs me. I love my bike, I love feminism, and I definitely love my cats.

Payment: dependent upon kickstarter success, but no less than $30 USD per story

Submit by: August 1, 2019

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your creativity:

For the purposes of getting your writing mojo fired up, I’m going to focus on the bicycle aspect of this call rather than the cat or feminism. Those are fairly straightforward, and writing about bicycles always poses the greater challenge for me. The bicycle story we’re going to look at, the Bicycle Rebellion by Laura E. Goodin, does not take place in space, either. What it does do is stretch our imaginations outside of the usual way we think about bicycles, which is what will best help us craft our own stories.

Laura E. Goodin’s the Bicycle Rebellion is available to read for free on Daily Science Fiction. Click here to go there now. I’ll wait.

This story is no wind-in-your-hair love story to the “the beautiful duet of human and machine” (I do love that line of Goodin’s).  The bicycles are not behaving as a bicycle should. They have shed their identity as an inanimate object and rove in “packs of feral bicycles.” This is fresh. It makes me think of both wild animals and those horrific pileups you see on turns in bicycle races. It grabs the reader’s imagination and lets them know the usual rules will not apply in this story. This is the kind of permission we need to give our creative selves when working on a bicycle-in-space story. What can a bicycle do beyond  gravity-required transportation? What can a bicycle be besides a human powered vehicle? We’ve got two wheels, a gear mechanism, some brakes, and the whole universe to work with. Let’s get writing.2019-04-13 15.44.26.png

NOTE: There are multiple Bikes in Space anthologies available. I recommend reading them as they’re fun, imaginative, and the stories are well-written. They will give you the best sense of what the editor likes and what you can do with this theme. However, I couldn’t find them in my local library system and it is important to me to keep this blog inclusive to writers who may not have financial privilege.

Writerly links worth sharing this week:

In a bold move, the Writer’s Guild America East and West advised writers to fire their agents this week. This comes in the wake of distrust caused by agents working for both writers and film companies in negotiation of film rights, which the Writer’s Guild pointed out as a conflict of interest. David Simon detailed his experience of this conflict in an article posted last month.

Happy writing!

 

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: once upon a paranormal romance

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 finish off with a list of writing industry news and articles I came across this week.

This week we’re looking at a call for paranormal romance novelettes and reading Deborah Harkness’ book A Discovery of Witches.

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Once Upon an Enchanted Forest: an Anthology of Romantic Witchcraft Stories

Eligibility: paranormal (witchcraft) romance stories from 7K to 15K on the theme of an enchanted forest. The details in the call strongly suggest the editors prefer the witchcraft element of the story to focus on the magical elements of the Autumn Equinox. Writers are encouraged to look in the lore and history of the Autumn Equinox as research for their story.

Take Note: the editors expect happy or happy-for-now endings

What Makes This Call Stand Out: the terminology suggests the editors are actively seeking out new writers

Payment: $75, 2 paperback copies, and 25 e-copies to distribute. Please note this is a token rate for a novelette.

Submit by: May 15th, 2019

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A story to ignite your creativity:

While I usually try to find a free-to-read short story for Sundays, in this case I’m recommending Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches, the first book in the All Souls trilogy. Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the television series and my opinions reside solely on the books. The protagonist of the story, Diana Bishop, is a spellbound witch and Oxford scholar who finds herself entangled with chemist/vampire Matthew Clairmont when she calls up a enchanted book in the Bodleian library. Love, intrigue, and time travel soon follow. As it often does.20190406_123615.jpg

What I like about this book for Once Upon an Enchanted Forest‘s call is the looming darkness that begins in A Discovery of Witches as demons gather around the book and Diana discovers her magical abilities. The mood is right. If the witchcraft is removed from the story, it will fall apart.

Most of the magical elements of A Discovery fall under the ‘common knowledge’ umbrella.  Here’s where I’d encourage you, as a writer, to do a little research into the Autumn Equinox of pagan religions. Harkness has several original elements in the novel, so she can get away with common magical tropes. You aren’t likely to get away with that for the Enchanted Forest call. There is fascinating lore to Mabon (the Autumnal Equinox), and finding something unexpected and unusual to build into your story will give you an edge. How do cultures outside of the western hemisphere celebrate the harvest and shorter days with longer nights?

The intrigue of A Discovery of Witches is rich and tangled, matching the request of the Enchanted Forest’s editors. A novelette will have less room to build this intrigue than a trilogy, obviously, and that is where depth and focus must take over. Plot heavily and weave in the intrigue with stealthy fingers. Just make sure its there.

Writerly links worth sharing this week:

The Hugo award nominations are up! You can read them all here.

In this article, Arkady Martine suggests that every writer gets one free talent and we can use that to build on the talents we don’t have naturally.. What do you think? What’s yours? Disclaimer: I have no idea what mine would be.

Happy writing!

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: a flash of fantasy

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 (or three) to inspire your submission.

This week we’re looking at Escape Artists’ upcoming fantasy flash fiction contest and reading the winners from contest IV.

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Escape Artists Flash Fiction Contest V

Eligibility: original fantasy stories under 500 words, one entry per writer. There is no entry fee. Entrants will be able to login to the Escape Artists forum to read, comment on, and vote for the stories. The top three stories (based upon reader votes) will be published online and podcasted in an upcoming episode of the SFWA-qualifying market, Podcastle.

Take Note: all stories will be posted anonymously in the Escape Artists’ forums. Because these forums require a log in and password, this does not count as using up a story’s first publication rights. Stories must remain anonymous and writers are not allowed to tell anyone which story is theirs or ask friends or family for votes. Two years ago a contender was removed in the finals because their wife voted for them – which suggested the writer told someone which story was theirs. This is taken VERY seriously so don’t risk it.

What makes this call stand out: my entry came into the top ten of Contest IV two summers ago, which stunned and thrilled me. It’s a great contest to get feedback from readers (tough skin required, btw) as the voters WILL be commenting heavily on your stories. I learned a tonne  from the experience. Stories featuring rape, sexism, and/or racism will be treated terribly by this crew.

Payment: the top three stories will be paid $30 USD for publication and audio rights

Submit by: the contest is open from April 15th to April 30th, 2019

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A trio of stories to ignite your creativity:

The best prep for this contest is reading contest IV’s winners, which are available to read or listen to by clicking here. The first thing I’ll point out is that the winners have and had well-established publications in speculative fiction. I didn’t expect to see a well-established writer in this contest and it threw me. Does this matter in an anonymous contest? Not entirely, but noting that established writers are entering the contest should work to keep your expectations in check but your goals high. Coming in second or third place is still a major achievement.

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Next, I’ll point out how different these stories are from each other. Ogden’s tale is surreal and dark. Kendig’s story has a literary bend with shades of magical realism. Proctor tugs at our hearts with the hardest experience unrequited love can endure.

As for similarities, they are all well-written with a strong voice, but so were many other entries.

If you read this trio of stories, you may notice a certain grimdark edge to them. It stands out strong for me because I read every story submitted to the contest as a voter and I know that a handful of excellent stories with a brightness to them didn’t make it to the top three. This struck me as a reflection of the current trend. Grimdark hasn’t gone anywhere, but it isn’t as popular as it was in 2017, perhaps due to a darkening of reality. Hopepunk is rising, but what’s here right now? What trends are you picking up in the latest stories of your favorite publications?

It’s hard to ignore that Odgen’s winning story is about cats. Post a cat photo anywhere and suddenly you’re popular. Cat video? Me-yow. Is it the same with putting cats in stories? I want to say no, but… in either case, the lesson is clear. You need to please a diverse crowd of readers to win this contest. Pay attention to what presently pleases them and write that into your story. If you do venture into experimental/artsy stuff make sure you do it extremely well.

These three stories are also wildly unique, and this is key. Proctor gives us a retelling of Humpty Dumpty, but it is a Humpty Dumpty we have never imagined. Who has a one-night stand with a constellation? Why is the future of the Earth predicated on a cat who eats its kittens? Who dreams this stuff up? Successful writers, that’s who. So… how do you write something unique? That’s the million-publication question. What’s your weird? What can you write that no one else can? Answer those questions, find your story, write it as best you can, and you’ll be well on your way to rocking this contest (and your career).

Happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: moonstruck

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 short story to help inspire your submission and finish off with a list of writing industry news and articles I came across this week.

This week we’re looking at Eibonvale Press’ upcoming anthology The Once and Future Moon and reading Arthur C. Clarke’s The Sentinel as well as Sheila Marie Borideux’s The Third Martian Dick Temple.

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The Once and Future Moon

Eligibility: speculative stories from 1k to 5k words focused on the Moon. Roughly half of the stories will take a historical bend on how the Moon affects our lives and the second half will be near-future stories on the same theme.

Take Note: the editors offer a list of recommended reading to get a feeling for what they want

Payment: 10 Pounds plus contributor’s copy

Submit by: April 30th, 2019

Click here to go to the original call for details. – please note this links to a pdf

A story to ignite your creativity:

For the purposes of this call, we’re going to look at a story in the recommended reading listed by the editors in the call, The Sentinel written by Arthur C. Clarke in 1951 and eighteen years before the Moon Landing  (pdf available online by clicking here). We’ll compare Clarke’s story to one that appeared on Daily Science Fiction in 2018, The Third Martian Dick Temple by Sheila Marie Borideux.

*spoilers*

The two stories are fun to compare because they share many ideals of exploration and discovery beloved to science fiction. Clarke’s story follows the awe of finding a moonbase far beyond human technology. Eager humans break it apart to study what they can learn from the alien culture and technology. In the end, wonder turns to fear.

In Borideux’s story, the human protagonist discovers her third temple on Mars. There is an initial, exciting moment of discovery, followed by abject disappointment. The temple is full of penis statues, just like the other two temples. The work of cataloguing the endless Martian dicks wears away at her. She doesn’t want to do this anymore, this is meaningless, demeaning, and this is such a let-down after all of our dreams of space.

What I like about these two stories side-by-side is that the first reflects the hope of space travel so prevalent in the 1950’s and the second perfectly captures the anticlimactic future we have found ourselves in seventy years on. Otherwise, these stories are essentially the same idea written on a different theme. We haven’t fulfilled the potential we dreamed of in the 50’s and our story got jaded. It’s our once and present Moon. These stories also show us how a shift in theme can change a story completely, and that is something we can use to build ideas of our future Moon.

Writerly links worth sharing this week:

David Simon posted an eye-opening expose of the business of writing-and agenting writers-in Hollywood. It’s worth reading before you get into film options for your work.

If you’re new to submitting short stories, SFWA president and prolific short story writer Cat Rambo has created a few excellent youtube tutorials to get you started.

Happy writing!