Submit Your Stories Sunday: Upon a Once 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 you get a feel for the editor’s tastes or the theme of the anthology.

This week we’re submitting stories to Air and Nothingness Press’ Upon a Once Time anthology and reading Maya Chhabra’s Lethe.

Upon a Once Time

Eligibility: stories that mash together two fairy tales from any part of the world, between 1,000 and 3,000 words.

Take Note: writers can glean more information regarding theme and editor’s tastes by reading through anthology’s successful kickstarter campaign. Click here for that.

Submit by: deadline is September 17th, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

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

A Story to Familiarize You with the Editor’s Tastes

For this week’s story I chose a recent Daily Science Fiction publication by Maya Chhabra, who is listed on Upon a Once Time‘s kickstarter as a confirmed contributor. Her story Lethe takes a look at, not fairy tales, but the Greek myth of Eurydice. You can click here to go read that now.

This is fairly short story, even for flash, honing in on the moment of confusion faced by Eurydice as she follows her husband Orpheus from the Underworld. She doesn’t know her own myth, only that he’s come to rescue her. Orpheus is told he can only succeed in taking her from Hades if he does not look back to make sure she’s following him. He fails, of course, and in so doing loses her to the Underworld forever. Chhabra offers us the same story, but through the confusion of Eurydice’s perspective. Lethe, the title of the story, is a river that flows through the Underworld, the one that brings forgetfulness to the dead. They pull together into a sad, quiet loss in this story. I’ve always been intrigued by the losses we don’t know we’re experiencing, and I like the way this story stayed with me.

(On a slightly nerdier note, Lethe eurydice is also a type of lovely moth, though I’m not sure if it will make you forget anything…)

That’s all for this week, folx, I hope this finds you well and safe.

Happy writing!

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 you get a feel for the editor’s tastes or the theme of the anthology.

This week we’re subbing stories to Podcastle’s open call and reading Ken Liu’s To the Moon.

Podcastle

Eligibility: fantasy stories up to 6,000 words (3,000-4,500 preferred)

Take Note: writers are allowed to submit one original story and one reprint story to this call

Submit by: September 30th, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

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

A Story to Familiarize Yourself with the Editor’s Tastes

This week we’re reading, or listening to, Ken Liu’s story To the Moon, from Podcastle’s 2018 archives. There are many wonderful stories published by Podcastle, but I’ve been reading a lot of Ken Liu lately on the advice of a critique partner and I’m finding his voice so kind and soothing during these troubling times that maybe you’ll appreciate his voice now, too. Click here to go read To the Moon now.

To the Moon is the story of an immigrant applying for asylum. As do many of Liu’s stories, several different versions of the same story run parallel, stories within stories. We have the story of the moon, a breathless fairy tale told from a father to a daughter, we have the story-of-necessity, and we have lived truths, stark and nude without the clothing of their metaphors. We don’t know if the story ends well, but that’s what I like about Liu’s work. His stories bring out the kindness inside ourselves as much as they offer alternative means to survive the troubles in which we find ourselves entangled.

I hope this post has found you well and filled with story ideas. In my area of the world school is starting up again and with it comes fresh anxieties to threaten creativity. Be safe and please keep writing.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Flash Fiction Online

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 you get a feel for the editor’s tastes or the theme of the anthology.

This week we’re subbing to Flash Fiction Online and we’re reading August by Katie Piper from their August issue.

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Flash Fiction Online

Eligibility: complete stories from 500-1,000 words

Take Note: writers may submit up to three pieces of flash fiction at a time (as three individual submissions through Submittable)

 Submit by: ongoing submission call, currently open

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

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

 A Story to Familiarize Yourself with the Editor’s Tastes

This week we’re reading Katie Piper’s August. Click here to go read that at Flash Fiction Online. This is a creepy little tale where Piper makes an interesting use of detail. We’ve got a girl who discovers her grandmother’s grave in the woods near her house and who is clearly struggling with a strained relationship and possible neglect from her mother, but we’re only given brushes of these things and our imagination does the work of filling in the details. There’s a trick to this: it makes the story as much the reader’s as the writer’s; it makes us emotionally committed.

In between these gaps, Piper does give us details of the dozens of items lining the Walgreens shelves, the who’s a cat we never meet does not like, what is happening with that man’s tattoos??, and in this seeming minutiae the rules of this story world are built around us. There is room here for magic, but otherwise this world is not so different from our own. Stylistically, it’s an intriguing and compelling technique I’m tempting to play with myself. I hope this story inspires you to try something different with your writing too.

In the meantime, be well and happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Apparition Lit

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 you get a feel for the editor’s tastes or the theme of the anthology.

This week we’re submitting stories to Apparition Lit‘s themed call and we’re reading The Limits of Magic by Samantha Mills.

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Apparition Lit

Eligibility: unpublished, speculative stories from 1,000 to 5,000 words on the theme of Satisfaction

Take Note: all responses will be given by the 15th of the month following the call’s closure

Submit by: August 31st, 2020

Payment offered: $0.03 per word with a minimum of $30

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

A Story to Familiarize Yourself with the Editors’ Tastes

This week we’re reading (or listening to the audio version of) The Limits of Magic by Samantha Mills and published by Apparition Lit. The magazine has included an “creator spotlight” after the story is finished, so be sure to read through that section below the story for encouraging stats and submission drama. You can click here to go to read those at Apparition Lit now.

One thing that stands out to me in The Limits of Magic is its depth. We begin in a narrow world, thinking we’re reading a certain type of story, but then it shifts, expands, and reveals a new depth, a new view of the world of the story. More than once, the story evolves like this in unexpected ways.

The Limits of Magic is also a story of sustained oppression, of lives so terrible they cannot be contemplated for fear of becoming unbearable, or more unbearable, than they already are. The scaffolding of a fictional religion is set up to be the main oppressor, or the tool of oppression, while women, and children, bear their suffering. Fear not, it’s not all doom and gloom, this is a story of hope and what happens when you decide you won’t be complicit in your own oppression anymore.

I hope you enjoy this week’s story as much as I did, and good luck to everyone submitting to this call. Be well, and happy writing.

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Uncanny

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 you get a feel for the editor’s tastes or the theme of the anthology.

This week we’re subbing to Uncanny‘s once-a-year open call and we’re reading  Tina Connolly’s Once More Into the Breach (But Don’t Worry the Inflatable Swords are Latex-Free).

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Uncanny

Eligibility: intricate, experimental, and speculative stories from 750-6,000 words

Take Note: Uncanny is not open to poetry submissions at this time

Submit by: September 9th, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.10 per word

Click here to go to original call for full details.

A Story to Familiarize You with the Editors’ Tastes

This week we’re delving into the strange birthday nightmare that is Tina Connolly’s Once More Into the Breach (But Don’t Worry the Inflatable Swords are Latex-Free) published by Uncanny. You can read this story online by clicking here.

This story reaches some out-of-control proportions that somehow perfectly encapsulates the surreal experience of navigating children’s birthday parties as a parent. At least, it does in my experience. The bewilderment, the horror, the what-in-the-actual-ness of the spectacle, the dread of offspring on sugar, the unbridled excitement making wild beasts of our carefully groomed children. The heady get-me-out-of-here desperation (that’s not just me, right?). I laughed, I cried, I nodded “hell, yes.”

Connolly has clearly made some bold choices in this piece and she pulls it off, but the real magic, for the rest of us, is in the attempt at this kind of experimental writing. We’re probably going to fail spectacularly several dozen times before we get it right, but there is so much to learn as we push that proverbial envelope and see what we do if we fold it this way, then that, and suddenly – an origami delight. Uncanny as a market is so big and so revered you have to take big risks and wild leaps to reach the level required to be there – and if this market falls within your goals, have fun with those risks and leaps because it’s going to take practise to reach this one. Write your heart out, take the chance you never take with your writing, and see what happens.

Have fun with it.

In the meantime, be well, and happy writing.

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Frozen Wavelets

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 you get a feel for the editor’s tastes or the theme of the anthology.

This week we’re subbing to Frozen Wavelets and we’re reading Waiting for Beauty by Marie Brennan and published by Frozen Wavelets.

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Frozen Wavelets

Eligibility: speculative stories or poetry under 750 words

Take Note: on Frozen Wavelet‘s blog, they mention they are particularly interested in drabbles (100-word stories) and poetry for this call. All submissions must be anonymous.

Submit by: August 16th, 2020

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word or $1 per line of poetry

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

A Story to Familiarize You With the Editor’s Tastes

This week we’re reading Waiting for Beauty by Marie Brennan from Frozen Wavelets, which you can read by clicking here. Spoilers ahead, so please, read the story first.

This is a twisty story, laden with subverted expectations that work well together. We venture to the castle, unsure what’s happening, suspecting we might be in a Sleeping Beauty story, but no, wait, it’s a Beauty and the Beast tale. And the moment we’ve decided we’re comfortable, it’s not Beauty and the Beast after all, we’re in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily and hoo boy this got dark.

As readers, we get a lot of emotions tying us to this ongoing tale, and the mix-and-match keeps us guessing. Waiting for Beauty achieves a in few words, something always important to good flash fiction, and part of how it does this is by manipulating what we know of the familiar stories. Everyone likely knows the Sleeping Beauty and the Beast stories, and while fewer may be familiar with Emily, they don’t need it to grasp the true horror of the scene of they’re witnessing. The horror is also magnified against the happy ending we’ve learned to expect from the stories.

That’s it for this week, folx, but before I go I’d like to share a tweet that clearly resonated with other short story writers, so it may with you as well:

letweet

be well and happy writing!

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: water

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 you get a feel for the editor’s tastes or the theme of the anthology.

This week we’re subbing to the anthology Water: Selkies, Sirens, and Sea Monsters and we’re reading Nibedita Sen’s We Sang You as Ours from Cast of Wonders.

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Water: Selkies, Sirens, and Sea Monsters

Eligibility: stories about magical beings who live in the water under 7500 words

Take Note: final versions should follow Canadian spelling

Submission deadline: September 30, 2020

Payment Offered: $50 CDN and a paperback copy

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

A Story to Ignite Your Writing Mojo

This week we’re reading (or listening to) Nibedita Sen’s story We Sang You as Ours as published by Cast of Wonders. You can click here to listen or read that story now.

Sen’s story follows the struggle of a siren coming of age into a life without agency. Cadence’s mother has disappeared, abandoning her and her sisters to the care of their other two mothers. There’s a new brother growing inside an egg in the bathtub and Cadence must go on her first hunt soon, seducing a human from the beach to feed her father.

This is a strange, uncomfortable story in many ways. Cadence is only now coming into an understanding of her species, touching on elements of incest and forced labour. She recoils, but she feels responsibility to look after her younger siblings and seeks to create her own agency with the few tools she has. Its this creation of agency that made this story stand out for me, the idea that the most hopeless, bound situation can still have small gaps for a rebellion. It’s a siren call for freedom (pun intended, shamelessly).

The story works because it captures the element of responsibility that can come with rebellion, yet finds a way to keep it from stopping the necessity of rebellion in its tracks. There’s an empathy here that Sen has threaded into non-human characters. Yes, we read on in a sort of horror to see the life of secretive human predators revealed, but we keep reading because we forget that we are the prey in this story, deep in the perspective of the siren. One could almost say the reader is held in the siren’s song…

**shakes head** whew, okay, I’m safe, I’m safe.

It’s your turn now, writers, to choose your mythical being, get to know them, and write their story.

Bonus submission opportunity: Pro market Apex magazine has opened for submissions after more than a year away. There is no indication of how long this opening will last, so don’t delay! Click here to go to their submissions page.

Happy writing!

 

 

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Lackington’s

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 you get a feel for the editor’s tastes.

This week we’re subbing to Lackington’s and we’re reading Heavy Reprises of Dark Berceuse by Priya Sridhar.

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Lackington’s

Eligibility: speculative stories from 1 500 to 5k words for an issue themed “archives”

Take Note: Lackington’s prefers experimental prose and structures

Submit by: currently open; closing when full (they estimate 8-12 weeks)

Payment Offered: $0.01 CDN per word ($25 minimum)

Click here to go to the original call for details.

A Story to Familiarize Yourself With the Editor’s Tastes

This week we’re reading a sample story from Lackington’s website, Heavy Reprises of Dark Berceuse by Priya Sridhar.Click here to go read this story.

This is a fairly dark story, we have characters living in fear and pain and they aren’t going to find reprieve but that which they find inside their music. General Tanager delivers a violinist, Starling, to the kingdom of the sorceress side of two warring queens, one fae, one a sorceress. There’s a hint to the idea of a talented peasant left to the whims of a warring monarchy: they are helpless, but if they’re clever, they can keep themselves alive.

Starling is tasked with composing a battle cry for the birds that Tanager uses to complete her work, whether that is protecting the castle or capturing Starlings from their music schools. The story itself is written with poetic prose, but the key here lays in the music and revealed by the title, Heavy Reprises of a Dark Berceuse. A reprise, in music, refers to repetition; of the opening material coming back, and repeated, later in the song. In this story, opening as the Tanager sends her birds to claim the Starling, the reprise is the second battle fought by the Tanager’s birds, this time to protect the Starling. A berceuse is a term for soothing music, or a lullaby, which suits this story because it does feel like a dark lullaby. It has its helplessness and fear, but it’s told in such a way that the reader feels the hope lurking in the shadows.

Likewise, the structure of the story is broken into headings; moderato, adagio, tenuto, and finale. Each of these headings represent tempos in music, which is essentially the speed at which the notes are played, and these headings match the level of tension building in the story itself. And again, all of this folds back into the characters themselves, each of them named after birds, using birds to do their work, and birds being a creature of music themselves, well, you see how well-knotted together this theme and story world become.

I think this could be considered a heavy read for some readers, especially for those who may not be familiar with the musical theory (like myself), but once you have the key to understanding, it’s a very strange and vivid world Sridhar has created here. The musical wordcraft is beautiful.

Do you have any passions that could lend to an experimental story? Is there a story form you’ve been wanting to try but aren’t sure you can pull it off? Here’s your chance. All they can say is no.

Happy writing, friends, I hope this finds you well.

 

Submit Your Stories Sunday: Beneath Ceaseless Skies

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 Beneath Ceaseless Skies and we’re reading The Augur and the Girl Left at His Door by Greta Hayer.

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Eligibility: “Literary adventure fantasy” stories that take place on secondary worlds,  historical fantasy, steampunk, or Weird Western up to 15, 000 words

Take Note: editors prefer close POV (as opposed to distant, such as in fairy tales), no .docx submissions

Submit By: ongoing, open call

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word

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

A Story to Familiarize Yourself With the Editor’s Tastes

This week we’re reading The Augur and the Girl Left at His Door by Greta Hayer and published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. You can go read it now by clicking here.

The Augur and the Girl Left at His Door is the story of augur who tells the future by reading the marks, wrinkles, and oddities of a person’s body. He can tell how a person might die with a glance at their back, and read their lives in the marks of their scalp. This career has kept him alive but also brought him anguish. When a baby girl is left at his doorstep, he adopts her himself and raises her with much freedom, but he does not teach her his trade. Knowing the future has brought him much pain and he wishes to spare her the same. The girl, of course, fights him on this respect, wanting to know the outcome of her love affairs and her life, each of these mirroring the augur’s private pain, but he holds fast. There is no hope if the future is known, he says again and again.

This story’s strengths lie in its voice and character. Written in close point-of-view, the reader sees the world as a series of interpretations of moles and freckles, painting a vivid picture of the augur’s trade and the repercussions of this kind of knowledge. If Hayer chose to tell this story from the daughter’s perspective instead, it would not be the same story and while we might keep the anguish, the unique world of the augur’s magic would be lost. It takes considerable skill to wield a fictional magic system in this way, and I’ve half a mind to write up some characterization exercises for myself based on what Hayer has done here with my own characters and trades.

Thanks for tuning in this week, writers, and I hope you are well. If you’ve read any wonderful stories lately, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Happy writing!

Submit Your Stories Sunday: 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 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 the newly returned Fantasy magazine and we’re reading The Things My Mother Left Me by P. Djèlí Clark.

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Fantasy Magazine

Eligibility: writers may submit a fantasy poem, flash fiction, or short story, keeping in mind all submissions must be anonymous.

Take Note: Fantasy is sibling to Lightspeed and Nightmare magazine, and firmly among the top markets for fantasy stories. Don’t let this discourage you from trying, but do manage your expectations accordingly.

Submit By: July 7th, 2020 (please note this market is scheduled to be open again August 1-7th, 2020 if you need more time to prepare)

Payment Offered: $0.08 per word, or $40 per poem

Click here to read the full call for submissions.

A Story to Familiarize Yourself With the Editor’s Tastes

Fantasy magazine has been on hiatus, but their archives remain, and from those archives, we are going to read P. Djèlí Clark’s The Things My Mother Left Me. Click here to go read that now.

I think I was half way through this one when I starting grinning with delight and that grin stayed with me to the end. Rich layers and SO MUCH IMAGINATION is something I’ve come to expect from a P. Djèlí Clark story, and The Things My Mother Left Me is no exception.

The story opens following the death of Tausi’s father and she is adrift in a sea of aunts who want her house but not her self because of the mysterious reputation her late mother had. Choosing to take her future into her own hands, Tausi decides to run away. She soon finds a fascinating array of captured creatures in a strange circus who encourage her to learn more about her magical, matrilineal descent. What results is powerful and delightful to read. This is storybook magic for adults and it’s wonderful.

Also of note is Clark’s use of setting in the story. It’s woven skillfully into the tale itself and I don’t come across that as often as I’d like. At one point Tausi looks up into the sky and sees a cracked moon, with broken pieces of another moon in its orbit, but it’s revealed as mythology: a brother moon shattered in a bout of rage by his sister moon. Her crack is what remains from the collision where she shattered him. Tausi makes mention of the tidal waves that wrecked the world upon this collision, deep in the past now, and of the goddess who left the world when this happened. More than just a story within a story, we’re given a strong sense of what life is like post-apocalypse. Likewise, the goddess who ran away returns in the magical objects Tausi seeks and also plays significant role in both the climax and the ending of the story. If nothing else, writers should read The Things My Mother Left Me as a study of how to use setting to create an amazing and memorable tale. 

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That’s it for this week, writers! I hope this post finds you well and healthy. If I may, I’d like to remind you that I am participating in Clarion West’s Write-A-Thon where some 500 writers like myself are writing our collective bottoms off to raise money for Clarion’s scholarship programs. If you have found these posts helpful, or if would simply like to help writers in need, you can visit my sponsorship page here. Thank you.

Happy writing!