It is with tremendous pleasure that I can finally announce that Fantasy Magazine will return in November of 2020 (auspicious, I hope?), co-edited by my dear friend and colleague Arley Sorg and myself.
Arley and I share a passion for finding new voices in SFF and bringing them to readers. With that as our North Star, we will be open from the 1st-7th of every month, for anonymous submissions of short fiction, flash fiction, and poetry. See our Submission Guidelines for details.
I can’t wait to see what you’ve written.
Worried about your Cover Letter? FRET NO MORE. This is the easiest thing you will ever have to do as an author. Guidance can be found Here.
What makes a story good enough to publish? Some insight can be found Here.
My story was rejected by Lightspeed and/or Nightmare. Can I submit it to you?
Yes. Editors have different tastes! Our vibe is not their vibe. We’d love to see it.
What’s your turnaround time?
We aim to clear the queue between each submission period, which means that we’re shooting for anywhere between one day and three weeks. We do expect a deluge when we open for the first time, and we don’t have slush readers, so expect up to six weeks, just to be safe.
Are you sending form rejections?
Yes. This is based on our experience as writers receiving rejections ourselves (oh, so many rejections): we would much rather give you a quick turnaround and let you move on than labor over exactly the right thing to say (that may be contradicted by another editor at a different publication!) and make you wait. If we think we have something truly helpful to say, we will. But otherwise, we always wish you well and want to see the next thing you write. Always.
Why anonymous submissions?
Because we want to do everything we can to eliminate our reading bias, and we think this is the best way to do that. We don’t look at your cover letters before we read your stories (so please STOP WORRYING ABOUT THOSE). Your story will have to stand alone, without regard to previous publications, name recognition, or any other form of privilege. The first read by Arley or myself will always be anonymous; if one of us loves it we will kick it up to the other for a second opinion. We both have to love it for it to make it to publication.
No changes or additions this time around, except that I’m now maintaining a single workbook year to year instead of creating a new one.
I find it so gratifying that so many people have found the workbook useful! To answer a question I get every year (Fran, I’m looking at you): No, I don’t have a Ko-Fi or tip jar or anything. I really appreciate the thought, but it’s enough that you’re using it and it’s (hopefully) helping you stay motivated.
Here’s to a productive New Year!
“The Crow and the Phoenix” now available at Daily Science Fiction
I’ve been working on a particular novel for a long time now–originally drafted in 2014 in fifteen minute increments, I’m now on my third rewrite after a grueling workshop with Kij Johnson and Barbara Webb over the summer. When I took my latest draft to the workshop one thing was missing: the prologue, which I had decided to cut and turn into a flash piece. Would it work as a stand-alone story?
I’m very happy that editors Michele-Lee Barasso and Jonathan Laden felt it did. It’s now up at Daily Science Fiction under the title “The Crow and the Phoenix,” a bite-sized story of 1,000 words.
And looking at it again…I think it probably does belong in the book after all.
RESIST: Tales From a Future Worth Fighting Against
ANYWAY…a few months ago I had the tremendous good fortune to join an editorial team working on a Secret Project: an anthology of speculative fiction to benefit the ACLU. The book was conceived by Gary Whitta (of Rogue One fame), and co-edited by Gary, Hugh Howey, and myself. All of the authors and editors–even the proofreader!–donated our time and work to the cause.
RESIST: Tales From a Future Worth Fighting Against was originally released as part of a Humble Bundle–the “Get Out the Vote!” bundle–which raised $60,000 for the ACLU. It’s now available on Amazon in both print and ebook editions, and all proceeds after Amazon fees will continue to go to the ACLU forever.
I have a new story out today! “Her February Face” is up at Diabolical Plots, about the faces we wear and the way we hide (or display) our hearts; it went out to newsletter subscribers a few weeks ago. Many thanks to editor David Steffen for giving it a home.
I was lucky enough to have a fourth-grade teacher who loved science fiction. Fourth grade was the last year in which teachers read to the class as part of the daily curriculum. (This was around 1980.) That year our teacher read Ray Bradbury stories (“The Fog Horn” and “All Summer in a Day” being particularly memorable from that time), Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (of course)–and The White Mountains by John Christopher. When I spotted an aged copy at the library book sale, I picked it up, whereupon it accumulated nostalgia and dust for two years. I found it the other day, and needing something to read, decided to revisit the book that had so frightened me and helped to shape my early understanding of science fiction.
My memory of it was confused, at best. I suspect that I conflated it with the later books in the series, which our teacher may have also read, or maybe I picked them up on my own. I remembered the books being far-future science fiction, absolutely terrifying, and largely taking place in a snowy mountain range, with a solitary protagonist in ever-present danger.
Instead what I found was a post-apocalyptic story set in the current time, a return to a feudal society after the fall of human civilization at the hands of the enormous, robotic Tripods, who now rule through mind-control via the mesh metal “caps” that are placed on every person coming of age. No one knows where the Tripods came from, whether they were made by humans or arrived on Earth from somewhere else—but capping brings an end to curiosity, a confident knowledge of one’s place in the world, and a social harmony that makes the presence of the Tripods a thing that most people neither object to nor fear.
Will, our protagonist—his name likely being symbolic—is starting to question the necessity of capping as he has just lost his closest companion, his cousin Jack, who has been capped and has joined the society of adults. Will in his grief and loneliness meets a Vagrant, a type of man whose bond with the Tripods didn’t take, leading him possibly to madness, but certainly making him an outcast in a society that functions in complete unity. This Vagrant calls himself Ozymandias, and his cap is a fake that allows him to travel without suspicion. He convinces Will that his fear of capping is valid and reasonable, and tells him that there is a society of free boys and men who have refused to be capped living in the White Mountains, who he could join, if he has the courage.
Will makes the decision to flee before his capping, leaving his family and future behind, and inadvertently teams up with his boyhood antagonist, Henry. Together they leave the land (England–a discovery to me, but maybe obvious to those who know the place), and cross the channel into France, where they adopt a third member of their party, a young man with an inventive mind who they call Beanpole as they can’t decipher his accent (it’s really Jean-Paul). When Will falls ill, he is taken in by the nominal ruling family and nursed back to health, separated from his companions and maintaining the cover of being an average, if adventurous, Tripod-compliant boy. The three must escape the feudal enclave—where Will must part with Eloise, a girl he has grown close to, who will soon be offered up as a sacrifice to the Tripods and will live out her life in service to them, wherever it is that they abide—and outrun, outsmart, and survive the Tripods that have picked up their trail.
It was not unusual for literature of the time to have little in the way of women or girls as capable of adventure as the boys, and I tried to bear in mind that such books were written specifically for boys (we girls were meant to be reading Little House and Trixie Belden mysteries—which I happily also did); even so, I did find it odd that there were absolutely no girls or women in the entire world with curiosity and strength of will equal to three pre-teen boys who could reach the free people in the White Mountains. If I were to see a reboot of this today, I think Henry would make an interesting Henrietta, and curious and defiant people would not be limited to a single gender.
The prose in The White Mountains is formal, but simple and evocative, and the diction never gets in the way of the action. Even now I found I didn’t want to put it down, and having forgotten most of it in the intervening decades, I was eager to discover what happens next. The tension in the Tripods’ pursuit was as chilling now as it was then, and the strange traditions around Capping Day were fascinating and creepy. Will himself grows and changes in productive ways, at one point realizing that he has treated Eloise with terrible disrespect and deeply regretting it.
I’m glad this is part of a trilogy; there are simply too many unanswered questions about the Tripods, as nagging as an unscratched itch. In this book their unpredictable nature and unknown origin makes them ominous and terrifying, but if I didn’t believe that answers might lie ahead in the second and third books, I think I would leave this one unsatisfied.
I wasn’t going to do a year-end thing this year, but my friend Luna convinced me that it was worth doing. Though there may be more to it than that—a lot of things seem a lot more worth doing than they did a short while ago. More on that in a moment.
2017 saw my first publication in three years: “Things That Creep and Bind” in The Sum of Us from Laksa Media. This was a solicited piece, and I am so deeply grateful to Lucas Law and Susan Forest for inviting me to the project. If they hadn’t, I might not have written any prose at all in 2016.
And then they did it again, inviting me to contribute to next year’s anthology, Shades Within Us, and once again, I wrote when I otherwise would not have. The result was the completion and sale of my first novelette-length work, coming in around 9,000 words in the end. The story was a major overhaul and expansion of one of the first stories I’d ever submitted anywhere (so there may be some editors out there who recognize the title when they see it). Finishing something that long was a major victory for me, especially given that I’m most comfortable under 3,000 words.
I am also grateful to Diabolical Plots editor David Steffen, who bought “Her February Face,” which will come out this spring. Additionally, two comics that I either wrote or co-wrote in 2016 were published this past summer, along with at least one of the four I edited. And in the category of “passive victories,” a story of mine was optioned, which is a thing I didn’t really expect to ever be able to mark off my bingo card.
I started a new day job in the wine industry, which has been great. It gets me out of the house and talking to people other than my immediate family a few days every month, and I find it low-pressure and fun.
My D&D party wrapped up a seven-year campaign, if you can believe that. (We did take a year off in the middle while various party members dealt with big scary adult things.) We’re already thinking about our characters for the next one, due to start in January.
I started work on that comic that I blogged about recently. It’s a secondary project for now, because my primary project is a novel manuscript I originally started in 2014, which I returned to this year. I even went on a brief AirBnB retreat, where I drank copious amounts of tea and added nearly twenty thousand words. I’m still working on it, and there’s a long way to go, but I’m working at it consistently, because now I can. Which brings me to…
In the final quarter of this year I saw a new doctor, who asked me some pointed questions that no other doctor had asked. I suppose I should not have been surprised by the results. The upshot is that my depression—which I have likely suffered from to varying degrees my entire life–is now being treated. It’s early days yet, but I can report that virtually every part of my life seems better, like my baseline state of being has been upgraded from “persistently defeated bordering on miserable” to “just fine.” Previously when something exciting would happen, like a story sale, I might spike into “pretty satisfied.” Yesterday a cool thing happened–that option payment and a very kind note from the producer arrived–and I felt good. Happy. I’m able to stay on task; I’m able to take actual satisfaction in getting things done, instead of feeling that every accomplishment is merely another battle in the losing war against entropy. It’s a surprising and extremely welcome change.
So that was 2017. The state of the world aside, I’m hopeful for the coming year. My goals are fairly modest, I think, which is fine. The important thing is that they seem achievable.
As ever, I wish you and yours a happy holiday season, and a hopeful new year. I think we all earned it.