Preparing For the Leap

My writing is intensely personal.  Sometimes I want to explore a theme or idea.  Sometimes I’m writing through an emotion (usually panic).  Sometimes I write for control.  Always, my writing process is 100% about me.  


But my writing is not so self centered.  After the first explosion of words, I read.  If there’s value, I edit and revise the work to best stress what’s good.  For example: I wrote Nimgauana’s Undertaking because I was afraid after the election of Donald Trump.  I kept revising and working on the story because I enjoyed the message of hope in the face of cruelty.  

 Blood Moon also shares post election desperation.  This short work rocks because it features a female character owning her own persona.  In “Blood Moon” I hope others get a taste of the emotional state living next door to darkness and danger may provoke.

Many things inspired Follow Me: Tattered Veils.  It central action comes from a dream.  While ruminating over the dream, thinking of the full possibilities of that dream if played out, I saw how much I missed writing, and I realized how miserable I was in a job stealing over 60 hours a week from me.  I wrote Follow Me to take back my identity and to find my joy again.  Imagine my surprise when I shared parts of it and realized I wasn’t the only one who thought it was good.  My book could be so much more than my escape and that made me want things for it.  I think loving something like this and wanting others to see what I love in it, has to be deeply personal.


But Follow Me: Tattered Veils is about to live in two worlds.  On one side lie my hours of work, my emotions, my intentions, my joy and heartache.  On the other side, are the readers and they won’t have any relation to me or my book except for a cover (someone else designs) and a back of the book description.  


It’s like my book is all grown up and going on blind dates. 


This isn’t a plea for readers to be kind to my book.  Part of what’s exciting about releasing a published work is hearing feedback on something that’s lived alone in my head for so long.  It’s more an essay on how a book can mean something specific to its authorand readers can and should get something different when they read it.  To me, this is a cool phenomenon I don’t think we explore enough.  


Both readers and writers shut down the conversation by arguing who has the “right” to assign meaning to a work. Readers will tell a writer “if you meant X you should have been more clear.” and writers retort with “I wrote the thing, I know it’s meaning.”


Let’s end the debate on who has a right to interpret the book.  We’re both correct.  


As the writer, I created Follow Me: Tattered Veils and I could do a chapter by chapter review of what each line means and why it’s there.  I could tell you about all the other options I considered and why I discarded them.  While those kinds of conversations are interesting, they are not the definitive end all be all to what Follow Me: Tattered Veils could mean.  

How do I know this? 

As a reader, I’ve created essays on meanings of other people’s books.  I’ve gone chapter by chapter, line by line sighting how they built point x or built in a secondary plot y.  People bring their own viewpoint and life experience with them to any piece of fiction.  This combined with the words an author provided makes its own truth.  


And I can’t wait for Follow Me: Tattered Veils to go on that second journey.  We’ve traveled together for so long, but our paths are about to diverge.  While I work on my next story, I’ll look at a parallel road and see “Follow Me: Tattered Veils” traveling with new companions, and experiencing unknown response.  It creates a butterfly feeling in me that’s not quite joy or fear.  


What do you think?  Does an author release their “right” to the end all be all interpretation when they release their work?  How you you see reader feedback, is it meant for reader and writer to build something together, is it meant only for other readers, is it something else all together? Published authors/creators: what is your relationship with your readers/viewers? Does their interpretation of you work affect what you do next or how you approach other projects? Does it change how you feel about your own work?

 Do your feelings on the viewer’s rights/abilities to interpret creative work change based on the media (painting, sculpture, movie)?  Does who the person is affect their right to create meaning from a story?

#BeBold Writing and Publishing Fiction For Free

 

Image from openclipart.org by Klaro

Creative writers often debate the wisdom of publishing fiction and short stories to their blogs or posting a creation process behind their creations.  In this post, I will explore the “pros” and “cons” of content.  The topic includes posting short works to a blog or through another site for free, posting spin off works, and posting a “how I made story x”style posts.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’m in favor of all these style posts and my bias shows. Please consider checking out part one in my Be Bold Series regarding posting site metrics on my personal blog

The Concerns

-You are wasting a story you could have gotten published for profit

-The story you post may be stolen by an unscrupulous person and they may get it published for profit or collect credit on their better known site

-You may have held onto the story, continued to work on it and come up a longer, more complete story instead of the short work you published

-Offering work for free reduces the market for paid work.  Why pay money when you can get writing for free?

-Your work may be and the work of your peers may be devalued.  Some believe that free writing is bad writing.  There’s a further idea that free blog writing is writing that could not have been “legitimately” published so they released it “on the cheap.”

-There are concerns around formatting and presentation of fictional works posted to a blog, just as there are formatting challenges through epub.

The Pros

-You as a writer offer readers a sample of your style and theme so they can make a better informed decision if they want to commit to a longer work.  The works I’ve published highlight elements in writing I specialize in and may help me find the right audience home.

-Alternatively, you may have a one off story that doesn’t fit your genre and still wish to share it.  I have a drama piece that‘s out of place with my over all portfolio I‘d one day like to publish.  I don’t want to learn all the ins and outs of the drama genre for one piece, a simple answer may be to publish it through a blog.

-You’ve written a work for fun.  Our writing group exercises often fall in this category.  We were challenging ourselves and just want to share the results.

-You want more direct interaction with your audience.  One thing I love about publishing to a blog is that readers post their thoughts and I enjoy that.  Yes I can get feedback via a review on a work, but reviews are for other readers.  A comment is for both the author and other readers.  It’s nice to have an open conversation with my readers.

-Your shorts may be companion pieces to a longer work.  For example: I have a “Downtown Huntsville Tourist Trap” book written from the perspective of the characters from “Follow Me: Tattered Veils”. I also have a drink recipe guide and a tarot guide, all a possible collections for people who enjoy my novel and want more from the voices of these characters.  I have deleted scenes I may publish to add to the novel hype when I launch the book.  Here, I’m selling my novel but adding free bonus material because giving away some writing doesn’t mean I don‘t charge for other works.

The Outcome 

Since I have posted flash fiction and short fiction, it’s obvious I’m in favor of releasing my writing through blog posts.  However, I will add that it comes down to a case of audience or career.  I accept that writing can never be a career for me (for many reasons).  My writers’ goals include finding and keeping the largest audience the themes and style of my writing will allow.  Is that ten people or a million: I’m not sure.  Adding short stories, blogging, and a social media presence are all tactics I’m incorporating to find out.  

I’ve never been shy regarding posting my stories.  There are a few I regret sharing, but those are from a long buried high school account.  Even then, it’s more about the cringe factor than the “missed opportunity” or “devalued work”.  

What do you think?  Do you read short stories from blogs and free sites?  Do you post your own stories for free?  Is there a situation where you would give away content?  Are there situations where you would never give away content?  Share any thoughts you have on getting published for free or reading work that’s been published for free.

December Open Calls For Submission

from openclipart.org by Lazur URH

Dec 15th

Once Upon a Future Time: up to 15,000 words a scifi story that incorporates a fairy tale or folklore.  ALL AUTHORS RECEIVE FEEDBACK on their writing.   pay is $50 and royalties plus a copy of the book

Arsenika: up to 1,000 words all flash and micro flash or poetry.  They respond in 14 days of submission pay is $60 for flash and $30 for poetry

Matter Press: ???words suggests short? looking for anything that deals with the idea of compression.  Response time is 1-3 days and the pay is $50

Smoking Gun Press: 1,200-6,000 words “We welcome stories involving all types of supernatural beings… witches, zombies, vampires, ghosts, werewolves and other were-creatures, demons, and anything else we’ve left out! Mixing and matching of different types of beings in the same story is acceptable” all genres are acceptable pay is $20 and a copy of the anthology

Iridium Press: up to 5,000 words any story so long as it has QUILTBAG+ content pay is $.03 a word. 

Belanger Books: 5,000-10,000 words “this collection will feature all new traditional Sherlock Holmes adventures with a science-fiction edge. Sherlock Holmes: Adventures in the Realms of Steampunk will feature Holmes in a futuristic Victorian setting.  See him deal with airship pirates and steam powered robots. Maybe he’ll even deal with a time traveler or with alien invaders.  ” pay is royalties

Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide: 3,000-6,000 words a YA/middle grade scifi genre story pay is $.06 a word

Selene Quarterly Magazine: up to 100 words between 101-1,000 words 1,001-1,500 words 3,000-7,500 words “Selene Quarterly Magazine publishes quality fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art that dwells in the shadows. SQM desires stories and poetry that are thrilling, reflective, and imaginative.” pay scale varies for length but all are at least $.01 a word

Dec 24th

Ulthar Press: 2,000-5,000 words ” looking for strange, gothic, and fantastic fiction in the manner of E.T.A. Hoffmann between 2,000 – 5,000 words in length. Stories that merely graft his characters into a new story will not be accepted.” response time is 60 days and the pay is $.02 a word

Dec 28th

Thuggish Itch: 1,000-4,000 words theme is theme park looking for horror, scifi, and speculative works.  pay is $5.00 under 2,000 words and $10 over 2,000 *to make this ‘worth it’ you need to write a 500 word pieceD

Dec 31st

Space Opera Libretti: 2,000-7,000 words “The short version of what we want: Silly, diverse sci-fi that involves music. If it’s actually about operas in space, all the better!” pay is $.06 a word

Inkling Press: up to 5,000 words “The first anthology released by Inklings Press was Tales From The Tavern – a short collection of five fantasy stories by some of the early, happy crew that thought it was time to have a go. You can still read that – it’s collected in the Tales From The Tower anthology that rounds up the first year of Inklings Press.”  flat $50 pay

Vex Me No More: up to 5,000 words “We want your witch stories! Though they do not necessarily have to be female-centric, they do need to be tales of powerful, unique beings. Remember, this is a horror anthology, so while you can have elements of other genres, we want to be scared.” pay os $.02 a word

Bad Dream Entertainment: 1,500-8,000 words “Bad Dream is now accepting submissions of humorous dark fiction. Editor Brett Reistroffer is looking for original horror fiction with a strong sense of comedy, and most themes, subjects, and settings are welcome but standard genre tropes are definitely discouraged (vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc.). The comedic aspect can be goofy and slapstick or black and morbid, just as long as there are equal amounts of darkness and humor” pay is $.06 a word plus split royalties 

Curse the Darkness: 3,000-10,000 words “For our inaugural anthology, Curse the Darkness*, we’re throwing our doors wide open and inviting submissions on the theme of darkness. That could be the absence of light, the presence of evil, or the sinister thoughts of the afflicted. However you choose to interpret the theme, just make sure you leave us afraid to turn out the lights.” pay is $75 flat rate

Alternate Peace: up to 7,500 words “is to feature alternate history stories where the divergence from our timeline comes from some kind of peaceful change to our past. It must explore the consequences of this divergence, not simply introduce the divergence. Stories featuring more interesting historical settings and twists on the consequences of the peaceful divergence from our timeline will receive more attention than those with more standard changes to the course of history. ” response by end of Feb 2019 pay is $.06 a word

Temporally Deactivated: up to 7,5000 words “is to feature stories where the author explores what the phrase “temporally deactivated” could mean with regards to a person, place, or thing. Stories featuring more interesting takes on the twisting of time and how it is integrated into the story will receive more attention than those with more typical twisted time stories. We do NOT want to see stories where “temporal deactivation” means simply death.” response by end of Feb 3019 pay is $.06 a word

Portals: up to 7,5000 words “is to feature science fiction or fantasy stories that contain a portal opening up between two different worlds and the consequences that come from that portal. We are attempting to fill half of the anthology with science fiction stories and half with fantasy stories. ” pay is $.06 a word

Nothing Without Us: 1,000-3,500 words “All works must be fiction—fiction based on lived experiences is welcome. The lead character must be disabled, blind, Deaf, Autistic, neurodiverse, and/or live with mental illness. We do not expect all of these in one character, although we’re sure that character would be amazing. We are accepting fiction in all genres with the exception of hard-core erotica. We are also only interested in previously unpublished works. ” “We welcome writers across the disability, mental illness, developmental disabilities, neurodiversity, blind, and Deaf spectrums. We welcome those who manage invisible and visible disabilities and/or chronic conditions. We welcome those who count spoons! We’re just looking to have an entire work where we elevate the stories written by the folks in our community.  We welcome the communities that intersect with the disabled, neurodiverse, mentally ill, blind, and Deaf communities, such as the LGBTQIA2 communities.” pay is $.03 a word

Allegory Online Magazine: up to 5,000 words but between 500-2,000 seems best “We specialize in the Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror genres. We will consider other genres, such as humor or general interest, provided that the work possesses an original, “quirky” slant.” pay is $15

Jan 1st

Cafe Irreal: up to 2,000 words “This fiction, which we would describe as irreal, resembles the work of writers such as Franz Kafka, Kobo Abe, Clarice Lispector and Jorge Luis Borges. As a type of fiction it rejects the tendency to portray people and places realistically and the need for a full resolution to the story; instead, it shows us a reality constantly being undermined. Therefore, we’re interested in stories by writers who write about what they don’t know, take us places we couldn’t possibly go, and don’t try to make us care about the characters.” pay is $.01 a word min $2

Crystal Lake Publishing: 500-5,000 words a non themed anthology in the dark fiction genre with fleshed out three dimensional characters pay is $.03 a word

Nexxis Fantasy: up to 15,000 words “Nexxis Fantasy has a twice a year publication. Our goal is to publish an exquisite science fiction anthology filled with the greatest works from across the galaxy.” the upcoming theme is “Lost” pay is $1 per 100 words

November Open Calls for Submission Round Up

from openclipart.org by raseone

 

To be included in this issue markets must pay at least $.01 a word.  Some flat rates only pay that if writers stick to the minimum word count, and royalty pay = all bets are off.

Nov 11th

Speculative City:  open word count suggests nothing above 5,500 word count.  Looking for a speculative work using the theme “knowledge” has a preference for under represented characters within the genre but accepts all stories. responds in 90 days.  pays $20-$75

Shooter: 2,000-7,500 words the theme is rivalry “Send us stories, essays, reported narratives and poetry on anything to do with competition, antagonism, warring forces and individual foes. The context might be sports, business, romance, politics, survival; the characters might be students, frenemies, parents, current and former lovers, courtroom opponents. As ever, the theme is open to wide interpretation.” pay $25 a story

Nove 12th

Pseudopod: 1,500-6,000 words “We’re looking for horror: dark, weird fiction. We run the spectrum from grim realism or crime drama, to magic-realism, to blatantly supernatural dark fantasy. We publish highly literary stories reminiscent of Poe or Lovecraft as well as vulgar shock-value pulp fiction.” pay is $.06 a word

Nov 14th 

One Story: 3,000-8,000 words looking for literary fiction that stands on it’s own. 3 month response time. pay $500 and 25 contributor copies

Bikes in Space, the Non Binary Edition: 500-8,000 words on bikes in space scifi/fantasy genre with author and characters with non binary gender expression pay is at least $30 with 5 contributor copies

Nov 15th 

Lamplight: up to 7,000 words “dark fiction, both short stories and flash fiction. We want your best. But then, doesn’t everyone? No specific sub-genres or themes, just good stories. For inspiration, we suggest “The Twilight Zone”, “The Outer Limits”” pay is $.03 a word

Gehenna& Hinnom Books: 250-3,000 for flash and 3,001-5,000 word short story “We are looking for stories that fit the themes of Weird Fiction and Cosmic Horror. Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy are all welcomed, as long as they fit in the realms of Weird and Cosmic. All stories must also be speculative in some way. What we mean by this is that we don’t want stories based in realism.pay is $45 for flash and $55 for short story

Apparition: up to 1,000 words on the theme security pay is $5 flat rate

Nov 16th

Nothing’s Sacred3,000 words max “The horror within can range from subtle to grotesque, psychological to physical, dark to full out terror so long as it is character driven. Theme wise, Nothing’s Sacred is relatively open outside of distasteful stories of rape, the degradation and/or humiliation of women, and child porn of any kind.”pay is $.05 a word and accepting the magazine’s hypocritical title

Nov 25th

Moonlit Dreams/ Moonlit Nightmare: 1,500-10,000 words “short stories that explore the nature of the psyche, the world (or worlds) around us, and that speaks in some way to the theme presented. Stories should be well crafted and flushed out, having elements of a great story that could be told for generations to come. Including such things as romance, intrigue, comedy or drama are all par for the course as far as I’m concerned – the key is to write a story that lingers both in your heart and mind by the time the last page is turned.” pay is $.01 a word

Nov 30th

Mickey Finn 20th Century Noir: about 5,000 words under 3,000 is probably too short and over 8,000 will be too long “An annual anthology of hardboiled and noir crime fiction to be released each fall beginning in 2020, Mickey Finnwill pick up where the three-volume Fedora anthology series left off, pushing hard against the boundaries of crime fiction. Contributors will be encouraged to push their work into places short crime fiction doesn’t often go, into a world where the mean streets seem gentrified by comparison and happy endings are the exception rather than the rule.” won’t hear back to Feb 2019 pay is royalties 

The Twelfth Planet Press: 17,000-40,000 words “We want gritty pieces that challenge the system and punch the patriarchy in the face. We want stories that resist and rebel… and maybe also books that comfort & inspire. For when things are bad out there in the world. We are looking for books that feed the angry soul.” pay is $300 plus royalties

Third Point Press: up to 3,500 words no theme or genre guidelines pay $10 and a copy

Moonlight a Queer Werewolf Anthology: 1,000-2,000 words “Whether your werewolves are in space, school, or ruffing it in the outdoors, it doesn’t matter to us! We are looking for stories that span genres and tones. Your werewolves may be moody or the life of the party. All that matters is that they are openly queer and that there is an engaging story around them to be told.” pay is $.07 a word

Crannog: under 2,000 words no genre or guidelines pay is $50 per story

Apparition: 1,000-5,000 words on the theme of resistance “Apparition Lit is seeking original, unpublished speculative fiction that meet our quarterly theme. Speculative fiction is weird, almost unclassifiable. It’s fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and literary. We want it all. Send us your strange, misshapen stories.” pay is $.03 a word

Podcastle: up to 6,000 words “looking for fantasy stories. We’re open to all the sub-genres of fantasy, from magical realism to urban fantasy to slipstream to high fantasy, and everything in between. Fantastical or non-real content should be meaningful to the story.” pay is $.06 a word

Nov 31st

Martian Migraine Press Monstrous Outlines: 1,500-7,000 words “an anthology of horror and weird fiction with a focus on the theme of camouflage: people, entities, monsters, gods, even concepts, that masquerade as things other than themselves. Predators in plain sight, deities on their down time, sublime extra-dimensional terrors slumming in 4D. We want to see stories of exceptionally well done camouflage, all the more baffling and frightening for its seamless nature. We want to see stories of seeming where the hidden thing is poorly hidden for a number of reasons: perhaps there are layers to its camouflage, or perhaps it doesn’t care how well it hides. Imagine the moment when the perfectly hidden thing reveals itself. When the poorly hidden thing reveals itself. We’re also interested in duplicates, doppelgangers, and shapeshifters.” pay is $.03 a word

Dec 1st

Remnants: word count varies a post apocalypse shared world story/series go to the site for details.  Pay: royalties

2100 A Health Odyssey: “give us your best 3,000-word short story that challenges today’s assumptions about the future of health care in the U.S. We’re offering a first prize of $10,000, second prize of $5,000 and other prizes for runners up and current employees, students and alumni of Jefferson.

Compelling Science Fiction: 1,000-10,000 words science fiction genre pay is $.06 a word

Deadman’s Tome: 4,000-7,000 word short story OR flash “Horror and dark fiction about demented psychopathic killers with a winter holiday setting” pay $10 plus royalties

 

 

October Call for Submission Round Up

It’s that time of the month again!  The time I round up all the open calls for submission I can find.  This time around I took a queue from Chris’ post on Dragon Con and only added calls where the writer is paid at least $.01 a word.  Until I looked for it, I didn’t realize how little some of these venues pay.

Oct 15th

Shifters United: 20,000-35,000 words on urban fantasy involving shape shifters ideally non-traditional variety pay is a royalty structure

Oct 24th

NonBinary Review: up to 5,000 words that have a clear connection to Dante’s Inferno could be the themes or the characters or setting.  pays $.01/word

Oct 31st

Heroes of the Apocalypse: 5,000-15,000 words with stories of “end of the world” author’s choice of how the end happens but the heroes must fight against the end of the world.  pay is royalty based.

Our Loss Anthology: up to 8,000 words on loss/pain looking for a creative way to incorporate the theme pay is a profit sharing thingy

The Realm of British Folklore: There doesn’t appear to be any word count but he is looking for British Folklore theme.  No specification on traditional vs more modern settings.  Pays $.01/word

Barking Sycamore: up to 1,000 words creative unthemed issue that appreciates neuroscience diversity, queer, or poc characters. pays $.01 word

PseudoPod: 1,500-6,000 words looking for horror, dark, or weird fiction pays $.06/word 

Nov 1st

Spring Song Press: 1,000-10,000 words “Steam and Laces Steampunk anthology” fantasy speculative fiction.  Pays $.01/word

Millhaven Tales: 2,000-8,000 words winter guidelines are action/adventure/western payment is a royalty based scenario 

The First Line: 300-5,00 words “As we trudged down the alley, Cenessa saw a small ___________” pays $25-$50

Concrete Dreams: 5,000-10,000 words on urban/modern fantasy is a kickstart campaign with a poorly laid out website (which is why I linked to HorrorTree instead of their junk site) but they plan to pay $.04/word

Unlocking the Magic: 3,000-6,000 words in the fantasy genre (no scifi) Looking for the common stereo type of the mentally ill person being susceptible to magic, but using self care to enhance instead of threaten their abilities. A healthy look at how magic/religion/ceremony can play with mentally ill pay is $300/story

All About that Genre, that Genre, that Genre

image from open clipart.org by SteveLambert


When I queried agents over my novel Follow Me: Tatter Veils, I got one personal rejection.  The agent (and I apologize as I can’t find the email to name him) told me a major stumbling block I might encounter in pitching my novel is that I suggested it for multiple genres.

My mind makes connections.  If someone followed my thought process, it’s like one of those mind maps except almost everything connections to each other some way.  In all my work pulling together this massive 75,000 word work, I’d never thought opening it up as a genre crossover would limit my ability to market.

Since then, I describe Follow Me: Tattered Veils as an Urban Fantasy. It fits considering the book happens in present day world and introduces magical/mythic elements into an otherwise mundane setting.

Except, it also doesn’t fit.  Follow Me: Tattered Veils is at its heart a book about obsession and stalking.  The protagonist, Roxi, is living her daily life when Gerry, an ancient unpredictable fae being, deigns to take notice of her.  From there, it’s a cat-and-mouse game of near brushes and tense attempts from Gerry to lure Roxi into his world.  The novel culminates in a chase through faery land where Roxi must either save her friends and escape this dangerous world or surrender her autonomy to Gerry.   

Could be Magical Realism.  I use the concept of fae glamour to make these otherworldly beings hide in plain sight.  I suggest this idea of two realities, the one we know and this other layer waiting underneath that Gerry, Roxi, and others work with.  It isn’t the traditional secret society type deal, more like an alternative experience of reality.

But, I think Magical Realism has more magic integrated that’s just a shoulder shrug.  Everyone knows about it, accepts it, and moves on.  My magic systems imply they are real like Christianity and like Christianity, few people have or seek a genuine experience.

My colleague Lionel Green, suggested the back was “terrifying” and he read straight through that part “non stop”.  It makes me wonder, is my work horror?  There are both the real world and fantasy elements of the book that are horrifying.  

In my heart, the book is a lot more about how a woman experiences the male gaze.  In that way, I think Follow Me: Tattered Veils might be women’s fiction.  The men who have read the book suggest that they “enjoyed reading it.  Good on its own, but I’d never buy this book based on the description.”  Does this feedback mean I’m marketing the book badly for both genders or is the work intended for a female audience? 

This sort of bullshit was why I wanted an agent.  Don’t they help you find and speak to an audience?  What do they do?  Because I had the idea, wrote it, edited it, and submitted it. So I’m just wondering when someone else comes in to help or if publishing is a solo journey.    

Alas, I need to choose the genre too.  Is there any part of publishing that isn’t a struggle?

Does anyone else have trouble identifying their genre?  Do you think being in the right genre is core to success?  Have you written anything that someone has labeled a cross over?

What about summarizing long works or picking which elements are most paramount?  I am so invested in Follow Me: Tattered Veils, sometimes it’s hard for me to know what’s important.  Any tips or tricks?  Do I Google search what’s hot and sell it that way?

Best of Kindle Unlimited: Amy A. Bartol “Secondborn Series”

    

Cover Art from Goodreads

Along my reading, I picked up Amy A. Bartol’s Secondborn.  Even as someone who thrives on the drama of a YA post apocalypse world, I didn’t expect to like this book.  I’d just been burned by the likes of Death Thieves and The Hundredth Queen.  All three YA books trying to take advantage of my love of The Hunger Games and all three of books have 4 star reviews in Amazon and Goodreads.  When will these writers get that what made Hunger Games amazing wasn’t just the kids fighting in the arena?  So, curious despite myself, I picked up Secondborn expecting it to either disappoint or be a guilty pleasure.

Instead  Secondborn and it’s sequel Traitor Born were a joy read and touch on larger conversations we need to have in today’s world. Bartol focuses on the heart of what’s great in post apocalypse YA: the transformation of the main character and their perception of the world around them.  First, I appreciated Roselle as a savvy character who avoids the “ignorant for the sake of exposition” trope.  From the beginning, Roselle shows she is a smart character aware of differing undercurrents even if she’s not sure of how deep those waters flow.  Her thoughts and feelings change as she has new experiences and uncovers more schemes in the world around her.

Through Roselle the reader learns to empathize with many perspectives.  By the time I finished the second book, Traitor Born, I was no longer sure there was a “good side” or “bad side”.  It’s a rare risk for a writer to twist the bad characters into ones we might understand and to muddy the water so we despite the good characters.  I read plenty ambiguous characters or where one “side” transforms into not the villain/not the hero, but leaving a reader with no character to trust or side with is bold and exciting.  Even as I can’t “support” or “root” for any one outcome, I empathize with them.  I want relief for these characters, but it’s not to accomplish their goals.

Amid this shifting terrain, Roselle sinks, struggling with PTSD, and a series of complicated interpersonal relationships.  Her flashbacks, the way she falls to pieces in key moments and rises in others, and how she struggles with drugs feels authentic and relevant.  I thought I’d decided about who I wanted with Roselle as allies or friends, who Roselle should work with and who she should keep at arm’s length, but Traitorborn makes me question the decisions I made.  There’re dangerous edges on everyone and redeeming qualities.  I resented my favorite ally from the last book, forgot how evil/distasteful another character was because he has these moments of genuine connection, and I thought someone who was once a snake in the grass might become a true ally.

And I haven’t even gotten to the science fiction.  Unlike The Giver or The Hunger Games, that keep technology vague and only available to isolated pockets of society, Secondborn distributes the technology to everyone.  The gadgets themselves aren’t innovative, chips in webbing or right hands to track and grant access, hover vehicles and airships, robots who are servants/guards/trackers/medics, and a weapon that seems a cross between a light sabre and a plasma gun.  All ideas I’ve seen before right?  Bartol re-images these ideas to give a fresh unique society.  The world and the devices of it feel lived in and true.  Beyond the existing tech, Bartol continues to introduce upgrades and improvements to her tech.  It starts in one spot with these flaws and then a patch comes out.  The upgrades make her world feel more real and provide new challenges for her characters to overcome.

I’m glad I read the first two books (even if both endings are cliffhangers) and am looking forward to the third installment.  If you like a future society where teens and young adults have to fight for their lives, you will enjoy this series.  While a simple premise, the layers of nuance make it enjoyable and thought provoking to many age groups.

Take Aways From Bartol’s Success:

1. Don’t be afraid to market an idea another book/work made famous just BRING VALUE, don’t expect other’s success to sell a sub par work

2. Have complicated dynamic characters and don’t limit quantity.  Readers can keep up with you as long at each character has a personality-and embrace the baggage being in traumatic situations leaves these characters.  Let them have flashbacks, PTSD, aggressive or tearful reactions to simple daily events.

3. Don’t shy away from near future tech in your science fiction.  Embrace the evolution of these systems to make them feel real and dynamic within your world.

4. Female leads can be emotional and strong/combat oriented.  Roselle is a great balance of action/battle training and intelligent emotional thinking.

5. Have a kick-ass looking personal website.  Just look at Bartol’s website, the graphics and layout make me want to read her work more than her covers!  She’s inviting her readers’ imagination to tackle fan fiction for her characters, and through their fannish excitement, spread her work to new audiences.

Looking for more to read? Check out the next in this series: T. A. White’s “Dragon Ridden Series”  or Sara C. Roethle’s “Tree of Ages”

Wondering why Kindle Unlimited? Here’s 7 reasons I read this way.

Looking for more conversation on reviews? Try “Would you Rather…” or “Does Being Critical in Reviews Hurt me as a Writer?” or consider “9 Things That Make a Book Good (For Me)” or “7 Steps I take Before Writing a Bad Review.”

September Call For Submissions Round Up

image from optnclipart.org by Firkin

 

We’re really getting into crunch time for horror, fantasy, and science fiction writers.  Calls for submissions are coming in by the dozens.  Hope you have game face on for these next two months.

 

September 14th

Thug Itch: 1,000-5,000 words horror, scifi, or speculative fiction centered around one of the listed scientific concepts (they will read five stories from each concept and choose one to be in the final anthology) pay is $5 for under 2,000 words and $10 for about 2,000 words

 

September 15th 

Corpus Press: 2,500-4,500 words Non-themed horror stories pays $.03 a word

18th Wall: 4,000-20,000 word on finding/interacting/discovering a lost book or lost books.  There is a TON of prompts, suggestions, extra information in the post go there for more.  It seems like such a cool idea to me  The pay structure is strange.

Dead Man Tome: 5,000-7,000 words theme is Bikers vs the undead pays a $10 token and 60% net earnings

Scifi Monkeys Seasons She’s an Elf: 2,000-7,000 words must have a female elf be the lead character all genres EXCEPT horror welcome there’s a % scale for pay

Zimmel House November Falls: 4,000-25,000 want a story that takes place in the fictional town called November Falls and they want the place to feel like a community, this is a romance publication but nowhere in the request does it demand a romance story no pay

Arsenika: under 1,000 words flash fiction or poetry all genres pays $30 for poems and $60 for flash

Gehenna &Hinnom: 250-3000 word or 3001-5000 looking for weird and cosmic fiction if fantasy must be dark.  $30 for short story $55 per longer story

September 19th 

Do Not Go Quietly Into The Night from Apex Publishing: up to 7,500 words stories about resistance and revolution set in scifi/fantasy setting pays $.06/word minimum $60

 

September 20th

Enchanted Conversations: Under the Hunter’s Moon: 700-2,000 words 1,500 words is ideal theme is spook, spellbinding, or creepy in a fairy tale, folktale, or mythic settings “Absolutely none of the following: Sci-fi, dystopian, erotica, high fantasy, excessive world building, time-travel, futuristic or space travel.”   pays $10

September 21st

Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores: 1,000 words and up but short fiction is preferred.  Science fiction in all forms pays $.06/word

September 30th

Bumble off Plumb Anthology: 1,000-5,000 words on “something not quite right” all genres looking for weird, strange, stories with lots of twists. pays $.03/word

Not Just a Pretty Face bar Dead Light Publishing: 2,000-5,000 *female authors only* words about a female character who’s more than just a pretty face seems to be looking for a scheming or violent character flat rate $25

Grim Grit & Gasoline: put to 7,500 words it’s complicated but it appears like they are looking for fantasy/scifi/steampunk fiction that takes place in WWI with fairy tale elements interspersed sounds very cool pays $.01/word

Excession Press: 30,000-60,000 words  horror, science fiction, weird western, or dark fantasy they response time is 3-6 months pay $300 advance with 40% royalties afterward

Consequence:up to 5,000 words no genre and while they state they pay writers, I didn’t see prices listed for short stories, perhaps prose? $10?

Nashville Review: up to 8,000 words welcomes poems, fiction, and novel excerpts of all kinds pay is $25 per poem and $100 for everything else

 

October 1st

Red Room Press: 3,500-5,500 words the theme is American Psycho Serial Killers so looking for dark horror fiction about killers response time is 4-8 weeks and the pay is $100

Cherry Tree: didn’t see a word count?  Looking for literary fiction pay is $20

August Submissions Roundup

We have an ongoing submissions page here.  Back because it seems like our round ups get the most comments.

 

Aug 15th 

 

Strange Constellations– Short speculative stories 3,000-7,000 words scifi-fantasy preference but will take anything that compels pays $30

 

Psycho Pomp Magazine– up to 5,000 words”The Psychopomp Magazine staff is committed to publishing original fiction that dares to redefine traditional storytelling and genre borders. While we like stories that treat the concepts of passages, transitions, and the state of being betwixt and between, we are open to all work regardless of theme. We are generally not looking for traditional realist fiction or pure hard genre.” pays $.02/a word

 

A Punk Rock Future– 350-6,000 words “We’d like to see dystopias, utopias, or something in-between; anything with a punk rock sensibility/ethos; alternative history; the promise of punk; the failure of punk; music-inspired stories; science fiction; fantasy; or horror. No matter the genre label, stories must have a speculative element.” pays $.06/ word

 

Luna Station Quarterly– 500-7,000 words scifi/fantasy with Crones as the main proganist looking for female identified authors pays $5

 

Aug 21st

 

Colp– 1,000-5,000 words anything goes with the theme “Sky is the limit” pay $5 for 2,000 words and $10 for above 2,ooo words

 

Aug 22nd

 

Three Crows Magazine– up to 4,000 words looking for weird dark fiction or gritty fantasy/scifi/horror looking for morally ambiguous decisions pays $25

 

Aug 30th

 

Qulit Magazine– prose up to 8,000 words no genre suggestions pays $100

 

 

Oklahoma Pagan Quarterly– a scary story contest with prize money for Samhain aka Halloween themed stories.  They have more details at their side

 

Apparation Lit– 1,000-5,000 words on the them of the theme of diversion speculative in nature= scifi, fantasy, horror, weird fiction, genderless fiction pays $.01 a word

 

There are a lot more submissions out there, but I cut the list down to what interested me.  Others either didn’t click with my creative muse or insulted my inherent sense of value (I’d do that, but not for the money they’re offering).  Very subjective collection, but I hope it gives others a place to start this month.  Happy writing!

The Rules of the Game

image from open clipart.org by nicubunu

 

I am the self-appointed editor of our group round robins.  Anyone who’s read our work knows I am LEAST qualified of the four of us.  ProWritingAid is the great equalizer, or at least I have to tell myself it is.

As the editor I have self-imposed rules.

 

1. Don’t change the core of other’s sections.  Whatever they wrote is what they intended and I have to work with that, not hack and slash around to change inherent meaning.  Too much change makes it “my story” instead of “our story” which runs contrary to the round robin’s goals.

 

 2. Seamless flow from one writer to the other is the goal, but I can’t change all the phrasing to be “Jessica” (or anyone else’s) style to achieve this.  It’s not right to erase someone else’s voice on a joint work to showcase another’s.

 

This worked well in our first round robin.  I used ProWritingAid first to correct grammar, style, to catch and rework repetitive phrasing, and to delete adverbs.  The major change I made was plot continuity driven.  One writer misread another’s part of the story.  Where Anges finds a dead body that writer interpreted it as Anges being the dead body.  I had to change content.  I adjusted three lines.

 

Fast forward to our second round robin project.  We used Reedsy to find a prompt.  The gist was: “Your grandmother makes pancakes for you every morning.  Your grandmother dies, but there are still pancakes the next morning.

 

This prompt was a different challenge from the last.   The first story blooms from three words/themes.  Using a specific scenario, encouraged more partnership instead of competition to “take over” the story.  This second round robin was smoother and required a lot less finessing to make it seem like one person had written the work.

 

If reworking it was simple why isn’t it posted here?

 

The “problem”: I hate my part of the story.  Not all.  I’m happy with the first three almost four paragraphs, but it goes downhill fast.  My ambitions to churn the most words and be the first to “finish” a round robin in fifteen minutes left me with a rambling sticky mess.  I do not want to publish such a poor expression of my writing.  Everything I think is weakest in my form is on display.

 

What might be worse, my closing section only drives towards a handful of endings.  I broadcasted the only natural conclusion, and that’s driving me to play with the less obvious choices to thumb my nose at myself (because I hate authority so much I’ll rebel against myself when I become the authority and isn’t that an unattractive personality quirk).

 

Help!  Do I publish and unfinished story as it stands?  Do I scrap this work as hopeless?  Do I make my changes because if I cut the last two paragraphs I could write three kinds of separate endings on my own?  Are more drastic changes to my section a benefit I gain as the person completing the editing work?  Do I have to keep everything I wrote in the spirit of the exercise and endure the cringe?  Tell me what’s a “professional” writer/editor to do in this situation with my minor conflict of interest.