Anthology Opportunities: June 2015

Depositphotos_7200270_originalThere are quite a number of science-fiction and fantasy anthologies looking for submissions right now, so I thought I’d share some of the ones that interest me, in case you might find them useful as well. (Of course, these are all time-sensitive and subject to change.)

Clockwork Phoenix 5

Looking for “stories that sidestep expectations in beautiful and unsettling ways, that surprise with their settings and startle with the ways they cross genre boundaries, that aren’t afraid to experiment with storytelling techniques. But experimentation is not a requirement: the stories in the anthology must be more than gimmicks, and should appeal to genuine emotions, suspense, fear, sorrow, delight, wonder. I will value a story that makes me laugh in its quirky way more than a story that tries to dazzle me with a hollow exercise in wordplay.

“The stories should contain elements of the fantastic, be it science fiction, fantasy, horror or some combination thereof, [but] bring something new and genuine to the equation.”

6 cents/word,  stories under 5,000 words STRONGLY PREFERRED. Submit by July 26, 2015.

Defying Doomsday

Looking for stories of “apocalypse-survival fiction with a focus on disabled characters. (One of) the protagonist(s) must be a character with disability, such as physical impairments, chronic illnesses, mental illnesses and/or neurodiverse characters etc. We will consider stories with characters experiencing all kinds of disability and hope that submitting authors will be creative with the possibilities.”

7 cents/word, 3000-7000 words. Submit by June 30, 2015 to clear the July 1 Australian deadline.

Futuristica Volume 1

“We prize diversity, specifically stories that include multicultural backgrounds or lead characters of atypical ethnic origins. Basically, while we have nothing against heterosexual white American males, we feel they are already adequately represented in science fiction and we want stories about the rest of humanity.

“We are interested in character-oriented fiction.” They stress their desire for women-positive, sex-positive, and science-positive stories.

7 cents/word, 3000-10,000 words. Submit by August 31, 2015.

Hidden Youth: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History

“Your story must be set before 1935 C.E. (NO exceptions), and take place primarily in our world or an alternate historical version of our world. (Travel to other worlds, other dimensions, Fairyland, the afterlife, etc. is fine but should not be the focus.) Your protagonists must be young people (under the age of 18) who were marginalized in their time and place.”

6 cents/word, 2000-8000 words. Submit by July 31, 2015.

SNAFU: Future Warfare

“We want ORIGINAL military-style combat with strong elements of future technology/sci-fi, and we want horror. Give us fear… suspense and tension… we want originality and speculation about future aspects of war. Most of all we want action, action, ACTION! We want something jaw-droppingly amazing.”

4 cents/word AUD (so 3 cents/word USD, per Google), 2000-10,000 words. Submit by August 13, 2015 (or August 12 to be safe again, because Australia).


Header image purchased from and copyright innovari/depositphotos.com.

Story Cubes with Toddlers

Over on Google+, John Ward introduced me to a product called Rory’s Story Cubes as an idea-generation tool for the bedtime stories I tell my daughters. I ordered the base set and the Voyages add-on. There are several ways to use the dice, but for my purposes, the three of us took turns rolling dice and making up the story, with the goal being a complete story in nine dice.

Story Cubes

Here’s a transcript of my first attempt at using them with my daughters. Given that they’re two years old, I took a lot of control, but they enjoyed rolling the dice and getting in to the story. As they get more used to making things up, I will happily relinquish the reins to them.

Dad: Okay roll the dice. [Daughter 1 rolls die.] So what’d we get? Oh, it looks like an insect, a bug. So is this going to be a story about a bug?

D1: Yeah.

Dad: Okay, so, what’s the bug’s name?

D1: It’s called Cristers. [Crickets?]

Dad: Cristers?

D1: Yeah. I want to get more!

Dad: Okay. So we have a bug named Cristers. And then Daughter 2, you pick a die and let’s find out some more about the story. Okay, roll the die. [D2 rolls die.] Uh, it’s a shrine, a temple. So we have Cristers and he’s going to the temple to pray about… What? What is he praying for? Why is he going to the temple?

D2: Because he’s um going to craaaaaassssshhhhh! Again!

Dad: He’s afraid he’s going to crash again? Okay, so we have a bug named Cristers who’s going to the temple to pray because he’s afraid he’s going to crash again. He’s obviously an airplane pilot of some sort. So I’ll roll one now. [Dad rolls die.]

D2: Glasses!

Dad: Oh, glasses… So he goes to the temple and he says to the monk, “I am very afraid that if I fly a plane again, I will crash again.” And the monk says, “Perhaps you should wear glasses the next time you fly the plane.” And Cristers says, “Glasses! Why didn’t I think of that?” Okay, pick a die. Roll it, let’s see what we get. [D1 rolls.]

D1: Stars!

Dad: Oh, stars and a wand. So let’s think what happens next. At that moment, a fairy godmother comes down and says, “Cristers, you have one wish. What will it be?

D2: My turn!

Dad: Okay. And Cristers says, “I wish for a pair of glasses that will allow me to see a hundred miles away.” Now you roll the die. [D2 rolls.] And you got, hmmm, looks like… a trap door in the floor with stairs going down? And the godmother says, “Okay, I will give you the glasses, Cristers. But first you must go down the Flight of a Thousand Stairs into the darkness.” And then what happens next? Cristers goes down the stairs into the darkness and he finds… [Dad rolls.] A pyramid! A pyramid deep under the earth. So he goes into the pyramid—

D2: My turn! My turn!

D1: A castle. I bring a castle!

Dad: It’s D1’s turn. So he goes into the pyramid and… Roll the die. [D1 rolls. Dad gasps at skull and crossbones.] Oh no. And he walks into the pyramid and he discovers that there is a curse and it says, “Anybody who enters this pyramid will surely die. And then D2 rolls. Oh, a fountain. And Cristers would die, except he discovers the Fountain of Life, and he reaches into the fountain and he pulls out… [Dad rolls.] A goblet. And he uses the goblet to drink from the fountain.

D1: A trophy!

Dad: Oh, is it a trophy? Okay, he gets a trophy that says, “You survived the Pyramid of Death by drinking the Waters of Life. Your reward is a pair of glasses that allows you to see a hundred miles away.” And Cristers put on the glasses and he got in his plane and he flew away and he could see perfectly and he flew and he flew and he landed fine and he didn’t crash and he was happy. The End.

The Only City Left: Part Four

Welcome back to The Only City Left. Head back to Part Three first if you missed it. And here’s the Table of Contents.

The Only City Left: Part Four

I threw myself into the utility shaft and grabbed hold of the ladder. Above me, the shaft continued beyond the reach of my light, but the only way I could ascend would be to chimney-climb it, and big, blue, and ghosty was not going to give me the time to do that.

Snarhworgrowl!, came its howl as if in agreement. Time to go.

The nice thing about heading down-ladder, even though it was the opposite of the direction I wanted to be heading, is that it’s easier to climb down than up. I gripped the vertical poles of the metal ladder in my gloved hands and slid a few rungs at a time, keeping my descent controlled. As long as I was in the utility shaft, I was safe from the slavering ghost-beast above me, so I felt no need to rush. No need, that is, until the sound of howls and gnashing teeth from above me was joined by the sound of metal straining and tearing as the creature forced its bulk into the shaft. Just great.

I gave up on slowing my descent and just let myself slide down. I could feel my palms heating up through my gloves from the friction, but that was a small worry compared to what was coming after me. It continued to force its way down, buckling the metal walls of the utility shaft as it went. Meanwhile, I didn’t know at what point the shaft would dead-end, and I hadn’t seen any exits yet.

Splash! I hit water and was submerged before I knew what had happened. Air bubbles escaped my mouth as I gasped and clamped my mouth shut again. I twisted left and right to look around, trying to get my mind around the fact that the utility shaft was flooded. Water below, monster ghost above. My options were running out.

I pulled myself back up the ladder and out of the water to get some air and to see if ghosty was still coming after me. Sure enough, his glow was getting stronger, his growls and the sounds of the shaft being destroyed getting louder. Well, not much of a choice then. I took a few quick breaths and then one deep one, blew it out, and dropped into the water.

With no air in my lungs, I started to sink, but not quickly enough for my tastes, so I flipped over and started pulling myself down the ladder as fast as I could. Even with my coil illuminating the water around me, it was still a dim, murky, and above all, freezing hell in there. My pulse pounded in my ears ever louder, and I already yearned for fresh air.

When a small cross-corridor showed up, I pushed off the ladder into it without a spare thought, even though the shaft also continued downward. If I didn’t get some air soon, I was going to open my mouth, gulp some water that my body only wished were air, and drown. The side corridor was the better bet to find a way out of the flood zone.

I seemed to kick and pull myself along that tighter corridor forever, in slow motion. The light of my coil dimmed until the world was only a thin tunnel in front of me, and I began to feel removed from the whole experience. The person being chased through the flooded ductwork by a monstrous ghost-beast was someone else. I watched him from a comfortable distance, pitying him.

I saw that person scrabbling against the ceiling of the duct and then falter when the space was unexpectedly empty. He looked up and saw a circular gap. With the last of his strength, he got his feet underneath him and pushed up into another vertical shaft. That shaft didn’t have any water in it, and there was a ladder heading up. He grabbed at it, sucking in great gasps of air, and I thought, Good for him. He made it. I closed my eyes and fell further back into the tunnel.

* * *

I remember when I was 15, that’s when I really started to question the life I was living with my parents. There were still a lot of communities around then, or at least there were in the parts of the city that we moved through, but my parents, my dad especially, refused to let us settle down with them.

“But Dad! It’s safe here,” I protested, upon hearing the news that we were moving on again. “They have light and food, heat, good air, clean water. They even have books!”

The encampment was called Glin’s Rising, for no reason that I could tell. It probably wasn’t as great as I was making it out to be to my father, but it was better than constantly tramping from community to community, never resting.

My father couldn’t look me in the eye, so he grabbed the lantern coil that hung on his chest and rolled it between his fingers.

“This is about a girl, isn’t it?” he asked, his voice sad.

“No!” Yes, of course it was about a girl.

“Look, Allin,” he said, letting the coil go and raising his head to look me in the eyes. “If we could stay, we would. I want you to be happy, but you know what’s even more important?”

I mumbled the answer, looking down. With a firm hand he grabbed my chin and forced me to look up at him.

“Louder.”

“Stay alive.” I spat the words at him. “Always. Stay. Alive.”

“That’s right. Now go find your mother and tell her we’re ready. If she still needs something, we’ll get it at the next town.”

I glared sullenly at my father for a moment and then turned to go find my mom.

“Yes, father. I’ll try to stay alive while I’m at it.”

If he heard my lip, he ignored it, and I’m pretty sure I heard a weary sigh as I stalked away.

Continue to Part Five.

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