2018 was a wonderful reading year. I beat my goal of 36 books by about 10. 17 of these books were nonfiction and not eligible to make this list. Out of 30 books, these are the top five fiction reads. Starting from least favorite to most treasured read. For an in-depth look at my 2018 reading check out Books Read in 2018.
5. Traitorborn– Has everything I like about “Hunger Games” in it but tells the story in a fresh, compelling way. My favorite aspect of this series is that there are not “good” characters (at least from my perspective). Most of the characters, our hero included, have a piece of the solution for their dystopian society and they are also holding on to part of the problem. It’s refreshing to have a complex group of characters I can empathize with some times and despise other times. Where so much conversations happening around me are polarizing, it’s nice to read a book that reaches for full open conversation and understanding, without surrendering one’s agency. For more on this series check out my Kindle Unlimited post.
4.Dragon Ridden– Don’t let the cover fool you, this was just fun and well written. There isn’t any messaging in it, it’s just an immersive fantasy read and sometimes that’s enough. Pure escapism, a well-developed fantasy world distinct from earth, and a cast of well-rounded characters. It’s enough. For more on this series check out my Kindle Unlimited post.
3. End of Days– Dark, thoughtful work with a great balance of action and tense “waiting”. Left me wondering about the conclusion all the way to the end and it leaves just the right amount open ambiguity to make me think about it for days afterward but still find satisfaction with the close given to us. I’m sorry “Traitorborn” is on its second book while “End of Days” is a complete series because I think if I could compare the conclusions of both books, it may flip their positions on this list. Still both books are wonderful. Sold to young adults but they hold positives for all age groups.
2. Card of Chaos– Complex, excellent execution, everything I look for in the retelling of classic fairytale/folklore. It begins with humor and ends in affection. I like how the author draws the reader in and connects us with this strange if familiar world. Loved the beautiful scenes, the deep philosophy and the language. It may be my second favorite book of the year, but it’s my first recommendation to others.
1.The Book of Etta– Enjoyed every second. I know this is a polarizing book because it explores gender roles, what gender is, and whether sex and gender can be two separate things. The beauty of this book: it can explore the internal struggle being genderqueer/trans/gay/bi ect often brings and ignore all the political bullshit that’s happening in our own world. Here we can enjoy a human vs self moment. We can see all the factors in the book which exacerbate the struggle and rail against them without hating our own culture. Sometimes the call to action in a book can cut short a person’s thoughtful introspection, but The Book of Etta lacks this baggage and I’m beyond grateful. Where the first book took a premise, I didn’t feel was true but expounded on it in a way that pushed me to read on, Etta felt right from the first words. I knew Etta, I’d been Etta, and I sometimes still am Etta. I knew Flora and have been her too. Heck, there was a part of me that felt like I’d been Alma before and that I knew her. The beauty of this book is that it allowed me to feel and it allowed me to celebrate so many aspects of who I am as a person. Everyone will have a different time reading it. But, it’s the jewel of my 2018 reading list.
Happy New Year! What were your five favorite reads of 2018? Was your reading list similar? Do you have any recommendations for me? What are your reading goals for 2019?
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
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
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
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
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
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
Long time readers of the North Alabama Writers’ Group blog may know I started a monthly series called “The Best of Daily Science Fiction”. For this series, I read every story Daily Science Fiction published each month and featured the works I enjoyed. I stopped the series after Feb even though I read all the stories through April. I stopped posting the series because:
1. Creating a post with so many links and references was a hassle. It takes a long time to write, edit, and find a photo for most posts. What takes 20 minutes to write ends up taking an hour and a half to get set up for publication. These Daily Science Fiction posts took FAR longer because I would research the authors of stories I featured and link to other works/sites where readers could find them. The feedback I got wasn’t worth the time.
2. I didn’t enjoy reading Daily Science Fiction. It pains me to type this, but the truth is: most of the stories Daily Science Fiction aren’t fun, interesting, or unique. And I want to like Daily Science Fiction, but I can’t.
3. Reading the stories there and trying to pick “good ones” was lowering my standards. While I compiled stories for March’s post, I included anything that “was a story” even if I thought that story was cliche. Reviewing the stories to post spiralled me into a depression. Where were my standards? Since when has “almost having a conclusion” good enough? I would never accept something so sloppy in my work or in the work of my fellows. Why was I recommending work that didn‘t inspire emotion or new thoughts? To fill out a blog post, no I wouldn‘t do it.
4. Daily Science Fiction has a terrible website. It‘s slow and often crashes. This is annoying when one is trying to comb through it for cross links. It’s also pretty frustrating when I would try to rate the stories only to have the site continually crash. I suspected the site craps out intentionally if you‘re giving a low score to a story most people seem to like. This conspiracy theory is probably not true, but it‘s hard to keep pleasant thoughts for a site that refused to load consistently. It is a professional paid market, get some web support!
5. I hate the layout of Daily Science Fiction’s website. I would try to search for ALL the stories from authors I enjoyed or from authors I was “on the fence” to read more, and the search engine was super clunky. Also Daily Science Fiction lets repeat published authors write very different bios for each story they submit so I often had to read through as many stories as possible, read the story AND the author bio again looking for hints. They should just have a directory with the most up-to-date bio of each published author in alphabetical order and include links to any publications they‘ve ever had within Daily Science Fiction. This is website networking 101. If the goal of your publication is to offer short scifi work to readers and feature writers others might otherwise never read, make it easier for readers to find more from these writers!
6. The website is ugly. This is petty and not worth mentioning when a site is easy to navigate, but Daily Science Fiction isn’t well laid out. Being on a site that crashes often, takes a while to load, and doesn‘t search well, gives a person a long time to see how unpleasant the whole experience is. The over all aesthetic quality matters a lot more. Guess what, Daily Science Fiction isn‘t winning any awards in color scheme or intuitive navigation.
Tell me about your experiences. What turns you off to a website? What do you look for in a flash or in recurring newsletters? Do you read Daily Science fiction and if so, what’s your experience as a reader? Have you published through Daily Science Fiction and what was that experience like?
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.
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
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
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
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
Nothing’s Sacred: 3,000 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
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
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
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
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
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.“
This post speaks to my personal writing process for “Halloween Spirit” and as such is contains spoilers for that work. For a deeper understanding of the elements included or explained in this post please read my flash fiction (it’s short and free ^_^).
Zach Standfield challenged me to write a piece of flash fiction in August. One of the ideas I had was to create an elaborate detailed summoning rite that brought about the end of the world. The short work would focus on my strengths: lyric description and magic set in a modern world. It would avoid my weakness for action scenes and it side steps issues I have about over explaining or creating a finite conclusion.
I wrote two flash works for Zach (neither of which he’s seen) and they both took a grim turn resulting in the brutal murder of the female main character from outside forces she surrenders to. Waaaaay too close a metaphor for the suicidal tendencies slipping into my own head because I’m not handling stress well at work. For the record, I’m not contemplating a plan to end my life, it would be stupid to take a permanent solution for a fleeting problem. But the stress from ongoing conflicts at work is leading me to think “it would be much easier if I wasn’t around” and that was coming through too literally in my writing.
I shelved the third flash idea since I didn’t want it to morph into a 30 something female woman sacrificing herself on the boardroom floor, using the energy of her death to open a hell dimension that forces the people who mistreated her their to suffer for eternity.
Then, I had an idea for our blog. Each of us should write a Halloween themed flash for our blog. Awesome idea, except I suck at short stories and had no idea what I would write.
I thought maybe I’d lean into my fae angle and do a “Wild Hunt” style thing, but “The Most Dangerous Game” already exists. Plus, the idea took over 1,000 words to explore. If I wanted to do something new/interesting, it would take more than 1,000 words.
Next I thought “what’s my thing in the writers’ group?” My literary device is some kind of magic. This reminded me of the summoning story I‘d planned for Zach’s challenge. The problem: no Halloween tie in. So I changed the summons and instead of focusing on a cinematic summoning ritual, I focused on the holiday and hidden darkness that lingers in the fall. I played on the “Wicca” God and Goddess creation myth where the Goddess Births the God, they become lovers, and he dies on Samhain, to be birthed out again in the following Yule. I tossed in two cult classic “Wicker Man” (1973) references to hearken the reader back to a certain time and tone.
For birds gathering, I chose crows over ravens primarily to reference the figure “The Crow” (1994) and foreshadow the death elements. Also, crow mythology pegs the creatures as watchful, resourceful and often tricksters… all elements I wanted to elicit in my story. I thought about using Ravens in honor of Edgar Allan Poe, but those birds are larger, live in only specific regions, and mythologically relate back to winter.
I wrote the first 600 words in one afternoon and would have finished, but I had to stop and go to work. I reread/edited what I had so far and finished the first draft four days later. Ran everything through ProWritingAid and posted to Google Docs for the Writers’ Group to Critique. I read it out loud one last time and added it to our queue for publication.
While the creation process was painless, I’m torn on whether I like the final product. There are great single lines and ideas, but the word limit combined with the time constraint kept me from digging in to find a perfect moment. I usually only consider works done after months of review and reflection, so I figure in six months time, I’ll know what would make this story engaging.
Interested in reading more from Jessica Donegan? Check out the NEWG bliz round robin exercise here with Jessica’s ending available here
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.
Shifters United: 20,000-35,000 words on urban fantasy involving shape shifters ideally non-traditional variety pay is a royalty structure
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
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
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
Along my reading, I picked up Amy A. Bartol’sSecondborn. 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.
We have an ongoing submissions page here. Back because it seems like our round ups get the most comments.
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
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
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
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 Finger– Either 2 flash at 5oo or 2 flash at 2,500 or 1 flash at 5,000 “take us someplace we haven’t been before”
Third Flatiron-Up to 3,000 words Galileo’s Theme Park” – Space opera, SF, physics. The great Italian scientist is famous for standing up for science in the face of the Inquisition, doing his best work while under house arrest. He also brought us our first views of Jupiter’s moons by combining a convex lens with a concave one to invent a high quality telescope. We invite you to take us on a journey to the lands beyond Earth revealed to us by Galileo and other space scientists. Suggested reading: “The Old Astronomer” by Sarah Williams” pays $.06 word
Visions– Up to 5,000 words “The first issue will centre on the concept of home in the broadest sense, from the physical structure to the social construct. For instance, we hope the stories will revisit what the notion of home is – a house, a planet, a device? – and what it means to feel at home or homesick. What do we mean by home? How does the concept of home adapts as the world around us changes at a radical pace?” $.06 a word
Future Visions-2,000-7,000 words “The Future Visions Anthologies is a science fiction anthology series, aiming to deliver excellent and diverse short story collections on a quarterly basis. In the tradition of great television anthology series such as The Twilight Zone, and Black Mirror, the Future Visions Anthologies will broadly explore all genres and traditions of science fiction and speculative fiction, seeking in each story to explore deeply themes that are relevant to a modern audience”
Circlet-2,500-8,500 words “Here’s your chance to talk about romance for the characters uninterested in sex. Give me your space pilots in serious relationships with their sentient ships. Think about how an incubus would patiently court a demi-sexual. Maybe you have a regency fantasy where only a virgin can wield the talisman, and thank goodness we’ve got an adult countess who can step up.” $25 for eprint and another $25 if print published
Iridium Magazine– ANYTHING with queer non conforming characters up to 5,000 words
Electric Spec– “We consider any story between 250 and 7000 words with speculative fiction elements. We prefer science fiction, fantasy, and the macabre, but we’re willing to push the limits of traditional forms of these genres.” $20 flat rate
Fantasia Divinity- 500-10,500 words. “Spring is a time for growth and rebirth. Beauty is everywhere as the world awakens and comes back to life. We are looking for stories that capture the essence of this beautiful time. What makes the flowers bloom? Why does love permeate the air? Be it nymphs, fairies, gods or goddesses, or even something far more sinister, we want to know. “
Dead Man Tome– “Genre and theme: Horror, Dark fiction, bizarro framed around conspiracies whether it be UFOs, JFK, 9/11, or Las Vegas. All conspiracies are fair game. Have fun.”
Unverving– “Haunted are These Houses is an anthology of Gothic fiction and poetry due out in September 2018, edited by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi and Eddie Generous.” 400-6,000 words firm pays $.01 a word
Hellbound Book Publishing-5K-15K words “Shlock Horror An anthology of short stories based upon/inspired by and in loving homage to all of those great gorefest movies and books of the 1980’s (doesn’t need to be set in that era!), the golden age when horror well and truly came kicking, screaming and spraying blood, gore & body parts out from the shadows...”
The Geeky Press– “This collection isn’t meant to advocate a position. We aren’t looking for manifestos. We aren’t looking for academic papers. Instead, we want well-told stories, personal narratives, essays, and reflections in fiction, scriptwriting, and poetry from people who come from diverse backgrounds and want to share their American story”
Fiends in the Furrows– 5,000-10,000 words “Folk Horror has emerged from the shadows of the late 1960s and early 1970s into a haunting subgenre of horror, fusing atmospheric and horrifying elements of cults, pagan sex, and human sacrifice. In the world of Folk Horror, the laws of God and Man are stripped away by secretive, provincial, surreal, and occult ritualism that subverts the established order in favor of a monstrous, all-consuming, elemental force of ancient evil.”
Apex Magazine– 1,500-5,000 words pays $.06 a word “This summer, award-winning author and editor Sheree Renée Thomas (“Aunt Dissy’s Policy Dream Book,” Apex Magazine, Volume 95 April 2017 and Volume 101 October 2017, Sleeping Under the Tree of Life, Shotgun Lullabies, and the Dark Matter anthologies) willguest edit a special Zodiac-themed issue. Sheree seeks short stories that explore the heavenly cosmos and unveil mysteries, tales that reimagine Zodiacal archetypes and/or throw them on their heads.”
Midnight Hour Media– 1,500-8,000 words “We are looking for horror, dark sci-fi, dark speculative fiction, neo-noire, and cyberpunk themes. Please read the general submissions for more details.”
Midnight Hour Media– 1,000-10,000 words “We are looking for holiday related horror, dark sci-fi, dark speculative fiction, neo-noire, and cyberpunk stories. We like stories with Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza themes. Alternatively, they can simply take place during the holidays (like how Die Hard isn’t really about Christmas) or even just involve wintery or snowy settings. Please read the general submissions for more details.”
A little last minute, especially for the mid March deadlines, but I figured I’d offer them anyway.
Cenorot 2,500-6,000 words pays $.06 a word the prompt: “The year is 2025. The planet has been riddled with radiation and in an effort to sustain life the world’s leading scientists have come up with a new procedure to keep humans and animals alive. The success rate was high … until the new creatures began to show signs of rot. Genetically and physically enhanced, these monsters begin to turn on each other and their makers.” On a personal note I really wanted to write something for this and found myself bogged down in the “how” and “why” but I’d LOVE to read this anthology. Hoping to see good things here
Transmundane Press up to 6,000 words story themed with dreams, hallucinations, nightmares, and/or visions pays $5-$20 depending on length
Gehenna & Hinnom Books Their magazine does rolling submissions with one window closing March 15th. Looking for weird and cosmic fiction $30 for flash and $55 for short stories they respond in 30 business days to a query.
Corpus Press Halloween stories 4,000-8,000 words scary, atmospheric, thought provoking, humorous or satirical pays $.03 a word
Pantheon Magazine “What we want: Weird, dark fiction; slipstream; magical realism; horror. Fiction with a touch of mythic quality. We want themes based around transformations—things that are shapeshifting, things that are emerging. Make Ovid’s Metamorphoses contemporary and weird and scary. We want a wide scope of voices, cultures, and perspectives.” 1,000-2,000 words flash pays $.06 a word
Weird Nature Anthology 2,500-10,000 words. The title intrigued me but I couldn’t make heads or tales or what the publisher wanted. Couldn’t even figure out an excerpt to offer.
Paper Dog Books 1,000-5,000 words “We’re looking for works of short speculative fiction that consider the future of the internet, artificial intelligence, the mind, and robots. Give us your optimistic, fantastic, bittersweet stories of fantasy and science fiction” pays $.06 a word and attempts to respond within 60 days