Friday, June 26, 2015

Marriage Equality, Finally

The Supreme Court finally grants marriage equality.

Try as they might, people opposed to marriage equality haven't been able to come up with any rational reasons for their stand. "Because our god disapproves," is not a rational reason in a nation with separation of church and state. "Because the children," is not supported by any legitimate research. (In fact, I can't give a link because I didn't save it at the time, but I remember reading an article a few years ago discussing research that showed the best outcome for children, looking at emotional adjustment, behavior, and performance in school, came from having two lesbian parents.) "Because pedophiles," is a null argument because adults having sex with minors (ignoring the complications of what that means and where the lines are drawn) is still illegal. And that idiot in California who tried to get a proposition on the ballot requiring that anyone who commits "sodomy" be executed by whatever member of the general public got to them first (no, seriously) just makes the anti-GLBT side look even more whacked than it actually is.

I'm sure there are plenty of people moaning and gnashing their teeth today. But look, the sky isn't falling. If you think gay sex is icky, then good news: you're not required to have gay sex. Your kids are no more likely to be gay now than they were last week. And if your kid does come out to you, you're still free to disown him or her, and the people around you who disapprove would probably have disapproved last week, while people who would've agreed you did the right thing last week will probably still think that now. And if your church doesn't recognize gay marriage, your church still isn't required to marry gay couples. Nothing has changed for straight people.

Which is the whole point. Nothing has changed for straight people. We can go about our lives as we always have, because the world still treats us the way it always did.

And in fact, only thirteen states still banned marriage between same-sex couples yesterday. We were already mostly there; the Supremes just acknowledged the way society was moving.

Note, though, that this decision doesn't mean homophobia is dead in the US, any more than the election of President Obama meant racism is dead. There are still plenty of people who see straight as "normal" and gay as "deviant," and who want the laws of the land to reflect their views, some of whom are active on the political stage.

Ted Cruz and Scott Walker are two Republican presidential hopefuls who support a Constitutional amendment allowing states to ban same-sex marriage. Considering that the majority of states allowed it yesterday, and polls show a majority of Americans are in favor of it, I have no idea where these guys thought that amendment would come from. There's no way they'd ever get the two-thirds ratification required to pass it, so...? Marriage equality doesn't affect them, so it looks like either their own fears and squicks on display, or (more likely IMO) it's a flag-waving act, aimed at the very small but very loud radical-right voting pool. "Hey, look how conservative I am! Vote for me!" Of course, that tactic hasn't worked in the last couple of presidential elections, but if these guys want to give it another whirl, bully for them.

And others have already discussed Clarence Thomas's dissenting opinion against marriage equality. From Thomas's opinion:

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

Seriously? Because being a slave, confined and beaten and raped, isn't at all undignified. Because being dragged away from your property (often losing it permanently) and locked up in an internment camp, declared a danger to the country of which you're a citizen, hated and reviled by your fellow citizens, isn't at all undignified. And having people sneer and snark at your marriage, telling you it's just pretend, and having your children harassed and mocked because their parents aren't really married and they don't really have a normal family, that's not at all undignified.

The fact that Justice Thomas, who's married to a white woman, clearly benefits from the results of Loving v. the State of Virginia, and yet declares that Obergefell v. Hodges -- which grants the exact same kind of marriage rights (and dignity) to a group of people who were discriminated against exactly the way interracial couples were discriminated against before Loving -- is wrong and pointless, is bogglingly irrational. It reflects a lack of compassion, and an "I've got mine so you all can go suck it" attitude.

There are plenty of people, though, even in conservative states, who are ready to jump right into getting gay and lesbian couples married, because "conservative" is not the same as "asshole."

Gerard Rickhoff, who oversees marriage licenses in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, has removed the words "male" and "female" from the licenses. He's prepared extra work stations and is ready to keep the office open late. He's planning to have security on site to deal with protesters, "so there's no possibility of discomfort or hate speech." And if same-sex couples are turned away by clerks in other counties, he has a message for them: "Just get in your car and come on down the highway. You'll be embraced here."

Props to Mr. Rickhoff, and others like him in Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Michigan, mentioned in the above HuffPo article, and to people in all states, of all political orientations around the country whose action and support, however loud or quiet, let this happen.

I'll wrap with a quote from President Obama: "Today we can say in no uncertain terms that we've made our union a little more perfect ... America should be very proud."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cover Design

Chip Kidd has been doing book cover design for Knopf for about twenty-five years, and has done some awesome work. He discusses it, with illustrations, in this TED talk, which is well worth a watch, whether you do your own covers or hire other people to do them for you. Knowing what a good cover looks like, and what the possibilities are, is massively helpful when it's time to decide whether or not the person you're paying is doing a good job for you.

Note that Mr. Kidd has the unfortunately common Major Attitude toward e-books. [sigh] I wish people would just get over the whole, "But-but-but the smell of a book!!!" thing already. :P As someone who prefers paper books, it's embarassing how some folks who (unfortunately) share my preference get all sneering and snarky about it. Dude, it's a format. You're allowed to prefer whichever one you like. No reason to insult the other format, and by extension, all the customers who like it. I mean, seriously, do these people really think that if they just slather on the snark thick enough, often enough, the rest of the world will eventually smack its collective forehead and exclaim, "Wow, you're right! This whole e-book thing was a horrible idea! Let's just stop making them and go back to good old (smelly) paper!"

That one annoying quirk aside, Mr. Kidd is a incredibly talented designer. If you have anything to do with making book covers, whether putting them together yourself, or approving and paying for the work of others, give this a watch.


Monday, June 22, 2015

World's Biggest Christmas Stocking

If you knit or crochet, or are willing to learn, this is an incredibly cool project for a great charity.

The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation helps kids who've lost a military parent in the line of duty pay for college. Caron, the yarn manufacturer, is putting together a project to make the world's biggest Christmas stocking, and is asking people to knit or crochet three-foot squares and send them in to be assembled. They're going for an entry in the Guinness Book, which is also cool.

If you buy your yarn from Caron, they'll give fifteen cents per skein to the CFPF. If you just want to participate in the world's-biggest-Christmas-stocking project, you can buy your yarn from someone else, or use yarn from your stash, so long as it's worsted weight. There are knit patterns and crochet patterns you can download and print out. All the crochet patterns are Beginner or Easy, and the knitting patterns are mostly Beginner or Easy, with a couple of Intermediates that use mosaic colorwork. Even if you're just learning, you can find a pattern that'll work for you. It might take a while to do a three-by-three square, but if you use a Beginner level pattern, it won't be hard. If you have a favorite pattern you want to use instead, you can do that, so long as you end up with a three-by-three foot square.

If you're worried that you'll be too slow, note that they've been working on this since last November, as far as I can tell. They planned for it to go into this year, and sure enough, they're only 20% through right now. Looks like there'll be time for fast workers to do several squares if they want, and for beginners or people who are just busy to do one without knocking themselves out. :)

The main page, with a progress meter, is here.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Gardening Notes

I used to do a lot of gardening before I got married. I lived with my mom for a few years, and she had a yard with some empty space. Mom's into instant gratification, so she mostly bought plants and pots. I've always liked planting seeds; watching them push up out of the soil, get their first set of leaves, and another, and another, and grow into something that has flowers -- that's pretty cool.

Every spring (which in California is, like, February, or maybe late January) I'd start planting seeds in pots or trays or whatever containers I could get ahold of. I used the lids of paper boxes once, but they were really too shallow, and they dried out too fast, being cardboard and all. After we'd been doing this for a couple of years, I'd saved up a bunch of the plastic six-packs and pony packs and small plastic pots that Mom's plants from the nursery had come in, and used those. They worked much better.

Around March or April (I honestly don't remember anymore -- it depended on the weather and how I felt) I'd get out this ancient pickaxe we'd inherited from when my grandparents owned the house, and go over the beds. The soil in Cupertino is dry and sandy and gravelly, and it produces a fine crop of rocks, up to fist-size and occasionally larger, all on its own. No matter how I worked it, or what amendments we put into it (we tried peat moss, compost, actual potting soil, and various combinations) it was back to its dry, pebbly self by the end of the season at latest. I dug down about eighteen inches or so, then mixed in whatever we were adding that year with a spade, so we had great soil to plant out my babies.

By mid-summer, the yard was blooming with pansies and alyssum and baby's breath and yarrow and delphiniums and columbines and carnations and sweet peas and lobelia. All right, I'll admit I had great beginner's luck with the delphs, and could never get them to sprout after that first year. :/ But the delphs kept coming back, mostly, for a few years; I think the last plants finally gave up after four or five. They were gorgeous while they lasted.

And the alyssum and carnations and sweet peas smelled wonderful. Flowers are supposed to stink real pretty, you know? :)

I haven't done that in a long time, though. I planted some columbines in pots while we were in our first apartment in Long Beach, and some bowls balanced on the fence at the condo, but it wasn't the same. My health got worse, and I couldn't get out to tend plants every day.

But now we're in Seattle and I have a little yard, so I thought I'd try it again.

Mind, the yard gets like four and a half minutes of sun per day, and less if it's cloudy, which... well, this is Seattle. But there are plants that do okay in shade, so I'm giving it a shot.

I'm not used to gardening in an area where it gets below freezing every year, though, much less an area where it snows, like two years out of three, at least a little. Wait, seasons? What are seasons...? :P When can you plant seeds outside? I didn't want to get everything sprouted and then have it all freeze. My husband noticed a local community ed program had a workshop coming up for starting seeds, though, and that helped. I didn't go, but I figured if they were planting seeds on a particular date, then it was probably safe, so I decided to plant mine shortly after.

I ordered a bunch of seeds online, and decided to try those pressed cardboard type pots, the ones you can supposedly plant right in the dirt? Although I have no intention of doing that, because I read somewhere that although they do break down eventually, they maintain their rigidity long enough that the plants end up essentially rootbound anyway. But the site I ordered from didn't have the little plastic pots I'd seen in nurseries (basically the 4" pots small plants come in when you buy them; I bought some while experimenting with containers back in the '90s and they were like a quarter a piece). All they had were either shallow little seed trays that required a ridiculous amount of space, or these compressed pots, so there you go.

Bad idea.

The problem is that they dry out like crazy. I water every day, and they're still bone dry by the next watering time. With plastic pots, moisture can only evaporate through the top, but with these compressed pots, moisture can exit from all sides. Which I suppose isn't a major problem if you have an extra-humid greenhouse, or if you sit your pots in huge trays of water. I suppose I could do the latter, but I was born and raised in California, which has droughts with depressing regularity. A wide, shallow tray of water evaporates like crazy, which is a huge waste. So. :/

And about a week ago, I went out to find my plants all knocked around, and some of the pots were bent or broken. Someone's cat got curious. :/ I picked things up and put them back together as best I could, but I lost a lot of plants, including all of my pansies, which really ticks me off.

I've had cats crapping in my pots before, and this is a similar problem. If it happens again, I'll get some mousetraps. They're great -- they sting hard enough to make Mr. Kitty yowl, but don't do any real damage. Great deterrents; even the dimmest cat eventually gets the message.

In the mean time, though, I have a lot less to plant out than I was hoping. Losing all the pansies is really annoying.

I have about half the alyssums left, some Shasta daisies (planted for my husband, because he likes daisies; I've never planted them from seed before, so this is an experiment), about half the lobelia, and some snapdragons, which I've also never planted before, for whatever reason.

Somewhere in this process, my husband started talking about how he'd love to grow some tomatoes.

Umm, okay. The problem is that tomatoes need sun, and we don't have any in the yard. But then I noticed that our little balcony off the living room (which is on the second floor, because Seattle) gets some sun. Huh, that might work.

At that point it was too late to plant tomato seeds, so I told him to look through the online site I'd used and find a tomato plant he wanted to try. I'd order the plant and put it in a pot on the balcony. He was happy with that, but he's almost as good a procrastinator as I am. :P Finally, about a week and a half ago, I went online to order a tomato plant for him. He could live with whatever I got, and maybe next year he'd pick one for himself, earlier.

Except it turns out you can't order just one plant from this site. They sell them in threes only, and I really didn't want three tomato plants taking over our tiny (no, really, it's miniscule) balcony. They'll do a mix-and-match thing with three different plants, though, so okay, I could live with that. I set up a three-pack with a tomato, plus basil and chives, and went to process the order.

Oops, they apparently can't ship live chives to Washington state. No clue why. :/

I tried a couple of other herbs, and they all got bounced. Of course, none of the plant listings tell you ahead of time which states they don't ship to. [sigh] I finally gave up and got another tomato plant, different kind. We'll see which one works best.

The tomatos arrived the other day, which was pretty cool. I've never ordered plants by mail before, and was wondering how they'd be packed. Turns out they have these little three-cell plastic clamshell packs, inside a cardboard box. The root balls are pretty small, but the plants seem healthy, only a bit battered from shipping.

The next step is "hardening them off," which I've never done before, because see above re: California. Apparently you have to keep the plants inside for a day or two, then them used to being outdoors slowly, a few hours a day, until they're ready to be outside full time, like big, grown-up plants. Umm, okay. [bemused smile]

So I have two tomato plants and one basil plant living in the downstairs bathroom, in the sink (because the tub is used for storage -- boxes and an old printer and stuff -- with the light on 24/7. I just put them outside for the first time. I hope they don't, like, die of shock or anything, and that Mr. Kitty doesn't show up. :/


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Anthology Markets

If you've just wandered in off the internet, hi and welcome. :) I do these posts every month, so if this post isn't dated in the same month you're in, click here to make sure you're seeing the most recent one.

Markets with specific deadlines are listed first, "Until Filled" markets are at the bottom (although there aren't any this month). There are usually more details on the original site; always click through and read the full guidelines before submitting. Note that some publishers list multiple guidelines on one page, so after you click through you might have to scroll a bit.


30 June 2015 -- Ain't Superstitious -- Third Flatiron

Theme involving superstition, e.g., luck, prophecy, magic, rational and irrational thinking, Spinoza, dark times, black cats, Orpheus, the Flying Dutchman, Sleepy Hollow, Tam O'Shanter, astrology, witchcraft, etc.

Stories should be submitted in either Microsoft Word (using double spacing), RTF, or plain text. They should be between 1,500 and 3,000 words. Flash humor pieces (Grins and Gurgles) should be short, around 600 words.

Please don't send simultaneous or multiple submissions. If a story has been rejected, you can then send another.

Submit by email to either as an attachment (Word) or in the body of the mail (text).

In the Subject: line of the email, please put flatsubmit:Title_of_Your_Work to avoid being deemed a canned meat product based on ham.

If the work is for the humor section, please note that in the body of your email. A brief bio and a one- or two-sentence synopsis in the body of your email would also be helpful to us.

Your story must be original work, with the digital rights unencumbered. Accepted stories will be paid at the flat rate of 3 cents per word (U.S.), in return for the digital rights to the story for six months after publication. All other rights will remain with the author. We no longer offer royalties. If your story is selected as the lead story, beginning July 1, 2014, we will pay a flat rate of 6 cents per word (SFWA professional rate), in return for the permission to podcast or give the story away as a free sample portion of the anthology.

Third Flatiron will price and market your story to various e-publishing venues. We will format the story for the most popular electronic readers and platforms. You agree that we may distribute a sample (portion of the story) to potential customers.

For non-U.S. submissions, we prefer to pay via PayPal, if you have such an account.

Authors selected for publication will also be entitled to one free online copy of the anthology.


30 June 2015 -- The Spectral Book of Horror Stories 2 -- ed. Mark Morris; Spectral Press

Mark Morris says: "I’m pleased to announce that The 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories is now open to submissions! Stories can be any length (though the preferred length is 2000-8000 words) and payment is £20 per 1000 words, up to a maximum of £100, which means that if you submit a story that’s over 5000 words it will be on the understanding that you’ll be giving us those additional words for free. The closing date for submissions is June 30th, and the book will be launched at FantasyCon in October. Due to the volume of stories I’m expecting to receive over the next few months it may take a while for me to get back to you, and my responses may, by necessity, be brief (I have my own writing deadlines to meet, after all). PLEASE NOTE: NO MULTIPLE SUBMISSIONS AND NO REPRINTS!! All submissions should be sent to:

and stories should be double-spaced in a clear, readable font. There’s no theme for the anthology – all I’m looking for are well-written, original, disturbing stories that push my buttons. If you want further clues as to the kinds of stories I like, I recommend you buy and read a copy of the inaugural volume of The Spectral Book of Horror Stories, which is available from Spectral Press. Thanks – and good luck!


1 July 2015 -- Defying Doomsday -- ed. Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench; Twelfth Planet Press

Defying Doomsday will be an anthology of apocalypse-survival fiction with a focus on disabled characters. We already have some fantastic stories lined up, but we want more! If you have an apocalypse story featuring a character with disability, we would love to read it.

Submission Guidelines:

== (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.
== We feel strongly that disability or chronic illness (etc) should have an impact on the character’s life and during the post-apocalyptic event. For example, a character with a deadly peanut allergy in a world where peanuts have been wiped out by a plague isn’t going to quite cut it. However, we are not looking for issue stories or stories where disability is the sole focus of the narrative.
== Some sort of cataclysmic event must have occurred or be in the process of occurring. We are open to a variety of events, including apocalypses, alien invasions, devastating war, natural disasters etc. Be creative! We are most interested in stories set in the near future, however, we will also consider stories set in the far future or an alternate timeline version of the recent past.
== We are not interested in fantasy (that means no magic).
== Stories can be young adult or adult stories. Graphic themes and content are okay, but we’re not looking for erotica or gratuitous violence.
== Stories should be between 3000 and 7000 words in length and submitted in standard manuscript format.
== No reprints, no simultaneous submissions, no multiple submissions.
== Email submissions to:

We want a varied anthology with stories that are fun, sad, adventurous or horrific etc. We are also looking for variety in both characters and apocalypse scenarios. Most of all, we are looking for good quality, well written stories.

Submissions are open from 1 May 2015 to 0:00 1 July 2015 Australian Eastern Standard Time (so maybe aim for submissions to close on 30 June if you live somewhere other than Australia or New Zealand).

Payment will be 7 cents per word (USD) to be paid on publication in exchange for First World Publication Rights, with an exclusivity period of 12 months (with the exception of Year’s Best reprints).


26 July 2015 -- Clockwork Phoenix 5 -- ed. Mike Allen; Mythic Delirium Books

CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 5 is the next volume in the anthology series edited by Mike Allen, tentatively scheduled to be published by Mythic Delirium Books of January 2016. It is open to the full range of speculative and fantastic genres.

Editor Mike Allen emphasizes, “We are committed to diversity, and are open to and encourage submissions from people of every race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, political affiliation and religious belief.”

Allen says CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 5, like its predecessors, “is a home 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. A straight psychological horror story is unlikely to make the cut unless it’s truly scary and truly bizarre. The same applies to a straight adventure fantasy or unremarkable space opera — bring something new and genuine to the equation, whether it’s a touch of literary erudition, playful whimsy, extravagant style, or mind-blowing philosophical speculation and insight. Though stories can be set in this world, settings at least a hair or more askew are preferred. I hope to see prose that is poetic but not opaque. I hope to see stories that will lead the reader into unfamiliar territory, there to find shock and delight.

"Over the course of reading for the first volume, I developed some criteria for stories that aren’t likely to interest me (though exceptions are always possible). These include straightfoward retellings of well-known fairy tales; stories in which a Machine Discovers Its Humanity; stories that aim to prove Christianity/Religion Is Bad; stories about a Privileged Schmuck who comes to understand Oppression Is Bad; stories whose entire plot can be described as X Commits a Murder; stories of wish-fulfillment with little complication — i.e.: character longs for something; character is granted that something; end of story.

"My aim with the CLOCKWORK PHOENIX books is, somewhat selfishishly, to create books that satisfy my own tastes as a reader. And as a reader, I enjoy stories that experiment, that push the envelope, that dazzle with their daring, but I’m often personally frustrated when an experimental story ends without feeling complete, without leaving an emotional crater for me to remember it by. At the same time, I find myself increasingly bored with the traditional, conventionally-plotted and plainly-written Good Story Competently Told. For better or for worse, I envision the CLOCKWORK PHOENIX books as places where these two schools of story telling can mingle and achieve Happy Medium; where there is significance to both the tale that’s told and the style of the telling.

"For the second and third volumes, I received few stories with the rococo sf elements I enjoy seeing. I hope more people will try their hand at them this time around."

UPDATE FOR 2015: "For Clockwork Phoenix 4 I saw more of the kind of sf I like, and hope the trend continues with this new book."

RIGHTS PURCHASED: First English Language Rights, print and electronic. We will ask writers not to allow reprints for a year after publication, with exemptions made for "Best of the Year" anthologies. We do not ask for audio rights.

PAYMENT: $0.06 per word on return of counter-signed contract as an advance against royalties, then an evenly divided share of royalties after earnout, plus one print contributor copy and electronic copies in preferred formats.

WORD LENGTH: Stories should be no longer than 10,000 words; stories under 5,000 words STRONGLY PREFERRED.

READING PERIOD: We are open to submissions until July 26.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: Submissions are electronic only. Please submit your story via e-mail, as an RTF or DOC file attachment. (Please do not send DOCX files; we can’t read them.) Your e-mail subject line should say “Submission: Story Title”. Include a brief cover letter in the body of your email. It should have your name, address, e-mail address, title of story, number of words, and brief biographical information in case we don’t know you, with most recent publishing credits, if applicable. We are open to new writers and seasoned veterans alike. We do not accept reprints.


WILL SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS BE ALLOWED? No. "No one is going to get a formal acceptance from me until after the reading period ends. If you can’t wait that long to find out what I think, then please don’t waste my time or Inbox space."



31 July 2015 -- Hidden Youth (Long Hidden 2) -- ed. Mikki Kendall and Sofia Samatar; Crossed Genres

Crossed Genres Publications will publish Hidden Youth: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History (expected release January 2016). Below are guidelines for submitting stories to Hidden Youth. Please read the guidelines carefully before submitting.

Direct all queries to Please do not query asking for an exception to the guidelines. Do not send story submissions via this email – see below for how to submit without using the form.

We welcome stories by authors from all walks of life. We especially encourage submissions from members of marginalized groups within the speculative fiction community, including (but not limited to) people of color; people who are not from or living in the U.S.A.; QUILTBAG and GSM people; people with disabilities, chronic illness, or mental illness; and atheists, agnostics, and members of religious minorities. The protagonists of your story do not have to mirror your own heritage, identities, beliefs, or experiences.

We also especially encourage short story submissions from people who don’t usually write in this format, including poets, playwrights, essayists and authors of historical fiction and historical romance.

Submissions are due April 30, 2015. If it’s still April 30 in your time zone, you’re good. Acceptance notices will be sent by October 1. The anthology is tentatively slated for a January 2016 release.

We pay USD 6¢/word for global English first publication rights in print and digital format. The author retains copyright. Payment is upon publication.

==Length: 2000-8000 words (FIRM)
==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. By “marginalized” we mean that they belong to one or more groups of people that were categorically, systematically deprived of rights and/or economic power. Examples in most times and places include enslaved people, indigenous people, queer people, laborers, women, people with disabilities, and people who do not share the local dominant religion, language, or ethnicity. Many people belong to multiple marginalized groups, and many are marginalized in some ways and privileged in others. Your story should acknowledge the complexity and intersectionality of marginalization.
==Your story must contain a significant element of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or the weird, without which the story would not work or would be a substantially different story.
==All submissions must be in English.
==Please note: while we are looking for stories about young people, this is not specifically a YA anthology. We are interested in work that will appeal to a broad audience.
==No reprints. No simultaneous submissions.

We will not accept any story containing the following:

==Gratuitous or titillating depictions of violence.
==Gratuitous descriptions of bodies or body parts, or people described only in objectifying ways.
==Horror that relies on shocking or grossing out the reader.
==Stories that are all about how someone non-marginalized became an enlightened champion of marginalized people.
==A protagonist from a societally or technologically powerful group who happens to be temporarily or situationally powerless (e.g. a peasant who’s really a prince, a representative of the British East India Company shipwrecked on Ceylon).
==Depictions of marginalized people as being doomed to hopeless misery.
==Depiction of any group, no matter how powerful, as universally, inherently, or irredeemably evil.

If you decide to incorporate one or more of the following elements, please do so with caution and awareness of the ways that they can be problematic or difficult to write about.

==Violence, particularly sexual violence. We recognize that sexual violence is frequently used as a weapon against marginalized people, so we are not issuing a blanket prohibition against it, but please consider very carefully whether you need to include it in your story; and if you decide that you do, please consider very very carefully whether your story needs to show the violent act itself.
==Consensual sexual encounters. We’re not averse to sexual or erotic content, but it needs to further the story and incorporate awareness of the ways real-world power relationships affect sexual behavior and decision-making.
==Stereotypes and clichés.
==Alternate history that drops magic powers or anachronistic technology into a historical setting.
==A protagonist who is the only marginalized person in the story.
==Revenge fantasies.
==A setting that’s already very commonly used in speculative fiction, especially one that’s often associated with stories featuring members of privileged/dominant/colonizing groups, e.g. Victorian England, the American “Wild West”.
==A rewrite of a common YA trope. No Twilight, Hunger Games, Harry Potter reboots please. Yes that means we don’t want to see “If Bella was a Black girl in the 1800’s”.

Your story doesn’t need to have all these elements, but we’re especially interested in stories that have at least some of them.

==Accurate depictions of life on the margins.
==Thoughtful, sensitive incorporation of religion, superstition, and folklore.
==Depictions of historically accurate societal attitudes in the context of an authorial voice that does not condone or espouse bigotry. (For example, your female characters will probably have to deal with societal sexism, but your descriptions of them should not rely on sexist stereotypes.)
==An understanding of how economic, technological, political, and religious influences shape a time and place, especially in alternate historical settings.
==Research bibliographies and suggestions for further reading.
==Integration of friendships, family relationships, and community into the story.
==Protagonists who make conscious choices and take conscious action.
==Side characters who are real people.
==Personal triumphs and successes.
==Making us laugh, think, cheer, and weep.

To submit a story to Hidden Youth, please fill out the form [on our web page.] Be sure to:

==Address your submission “Dear Hidden Youth editors” or “Dear Ms. Kendall and Dr. Samatar” or “Dear Mikki and Sofia”. Include your story’s year and location at the beginning of your submission.
==Attach your story as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file, with your name, the story title, and the wordcount on the first page.
==There will be an email address to send submissions to if for any reason you’re unable to use the form.


31 July 2015 -- Shadow People and Cursed Objects -- ed. C. Le Mroch; Haunt Jaunts

We’re very excited to announce submissions are OPEN for our first ever anthology! It will be published in both paperback and ebook.

SHADOW PEOPLE & CURSED OBJECTS: 13 Tales of Terror Based on True Stories...or are they?


== 13 fiction stories about ghosts or haunted objects. (As long as your story contains one or the other, we want to read it!)
== We’re open to any genre of fiction. Your story doesn’t have to be horror. It can be a paranormal romance, literary, humor. (Although, we’re not going to lie. We love horror. But we’re looking for the very best stories about ghosts and/or haunted objects that we can find.)
== It must, however, involve either a ghost or a haunted object. (We can’t reiterate this enough.)
== Word limit: 5,000


Our anthology is going to be a little different. We want readers to participate by trying to figure out if your tale of a ghost/shadow person or haunted object is based on a true story or not.

The print version will have a section at the back detailing whether the author based their tale on a true story…or if they culled it purely from their imagination.

The ebook version will have a link back to our site with the answer.

Your story does not have to be based on a true story.

If it is based on a true story, we’ll need you to supply the details. (You don’t have to send it with your submission, though. We can get this info later if your story is accepted. We want to try and guess whether it’s based on a true story or not. We’re not gonna lie. We’ll cheat if you supply it ahead of time.)


Authors will receive $50 upon acceptance for Non-Exclusive Rights, plus 10 print copies upon publication.


Use the Submission Form [Click through and scroll down.]

Please note a few things before submitting:

== It’s perfectly acceptable to copy & paste your story from a Word document into the form.
== If you do copy & paste, please take a moment to check the formatting before sending. If it’s all running together, please at least add spaces between paragraphs. This helps make it more readable on our end.
== We are looking for fiction.
== In case you missed it above, your story must contain either or ghost or haunted object. (Or both if you can manage that!)

[Click through for a FAQ list and submission form.]


1 August 2015 -- SNAFU: Hunters -- ed. Geoff Brown, Amanda J Spedding, and Dawn Roach; Cohesion Press

For this anthology, we want hunters of the supernatural. Sam and Dean… Grimm… Van Helsing… with soldiers, hunting along the edges of reality, watching their backs while others watch them from the shadows. Take us along for the ride while your soldiers or hunters take the fight to their enemies. Both hunter or hunted may die, but above all, show us the hunt.

We still want ORIGINAL military-style combat from any period, don’t get me wrong, but we also want fear… we want suspense and tension… we want originality in the monster/antagonist. Most of all we want action, action, ACTION! We want something jaw-droppingly amazing.

If there are no soldiers in the tale, make the hunters and the action military in nature. We STRONGLY suggest you read the first, second and/or third SNAFU volume to see what it is we like.

Edited by Geoff Brown, Amanda J Spedding, and Dawn Roach

Payment: AUD3c/word and one contributor copy in each format released

Wordcount range: 2,000 – 10,000 words (query for shorter or longer)

Submission window: May 1st 2015 to August 1st 2015 (anything submitted outside of this window will be deleted without being read)

Projected publication date: October/November 2015

Please follow these guidelines when submitting to us:

1. Please put your full contact details on the first page of the manuscript top left, with word count top right.
2. Standard submission format, with minimal document formatting.
3. Courier or Times New Roman set at 12pt. Italics as they will appear. No underlining.
4. Double spaced.
5. Please don’t use TAB or space bar to indent lines. Use ‘styles’ only. If unsure or using a program that has no styles, do not indent at all. That’s still cool.
6. NO SPACE between paragraphs unless a line-break is required. ONE SPACE after full stops.
7. Please put full contact details on the first page of the manuscript (yes, I said this twice… it’s important).
8. Send your submission to Geoff Brown at as an attachment (.doc only – no .docx).
9. In the subject line of your email, please put HUNTERS: [STORY TITLE] (Replace [STORY TITLE] with your actual story title. Yes, unfortunately I do need to state this)


For a guide to standard submission format, see: The only variations to this format are that italics MUST appear as they will be used – no underlining – and again, only one space after a full stop. Anyone that fails to follow these guidelines will likely see their story gobbled up by spam gremlins.


1 August 2015 -- Creepy Campfire Stories (for Grownups) -- ed. Jennifer Word; EMP Publishing

Did you ever go camping as a kid and sit around the fire at night listening to scary stories? Or how 'bout that classic scene in so many horror movies where the group of young friends decide to camp out, and before the killing spree begins, they sit around the fire telling creepy stories to effectively set the scene? EMP Publishing is calling for all lovers of the classic horror campfire story to send in your scariest, creepiest, most terrifying tales. We don't want kid's campfire ghost stories, though. We want truly terrifying, so scary it's Rated R, horror stories. No comedy, please. Levity is fine, and can improve a story, but the main feel of the tale should be serious, so no campy horror melodrama, thanks. What we do want are scary stories that are as twisted and depraved as all you wonderful horror writers out there can imagine up. We want to be shocked. We want to be disgusted. We want to be terrified. We are looking for EXTREME horror here, folks.

Gore is fine, just as long as it's fitting to the story. Gore for the sake of gore alone is not what we are looking for. Sex is fine, too, so long as it isn't overly gratuitous. Save the graphic descriptions for the bloody scenes. Profanity is permitted, but too much of anything can ruin the effect. Other than that, censorship is off the table. Whatever your sick little minds dream up, send it in, as long as it's good and scary.

What we don't want: NO YA, please. If it's something a person under age 18 can read, it's not scary enough. This anthology is for ADULTS. Also, we are looking for mostly modern horror. Too many twisted tales set too far in the past will make it difficult for readers to connect with the horror. We want fresh horror. We want scary stories that a modern day reader can connect to. These stories should make the reader horrified that something similar could happen to them. If the horror is set in WWII, that becomes difficult to achieve, so we are hesitant to accept historical horror at this time. The bulk of these stories should be set in the year 2000 or sooner. We want modern horror campfire stories for this century. And if you cannot truly imagine your story actually being told around a campfire, then it doesn't fit the campfire theme.

Please do not send stories over 6000 words. We'd also prefer stories be a minimum 1500 words in length, so no flash fiction, please. Make sure your manuscript is 12 pt. Times New Roman, double spaced. No headers, please. Simply include a title page with story title, author name, total word count, and author contact information, including e-mail and phone number. You do not need to include page numbers, as long as you adhere to the word count limit. An author bio can be included, if you like, but it is not necessary. We accept .doc and .docx files only.

Please take the time to re-read the above paragraph, and follow these guidelines. It is a sign of great disrespect to our company for authors to clearly not take the time to properly prepare your manuscript to submit to our anthology, following our specified guidelines. PLEASE run a basic spelling and grammar check as well before submitting your story. We also strongly suggest you simply read through it one time, to catch any glaring typos or other simple errors. Thank you. When we receive stories with sentences missing periods at the end, or an obvious typo in the opening sentence, it gives us the impression you didn't take the time to do a basic edit.

Payment for accepted stories will be 6¢ per word. Limit is $360 per story. EMP Publishing is asking for exclusive print and epublishing rights of selected work for six months from publication date. Selected authors will receive two contributor's copies as well as payment. Creepy Campfire Stories (for Grownups) will be distributed in paperback and Kindle e-book versions. The book is set for release on October 20, 2015.

Multiple submissions are okay, but please send only previously unpublished works, this includes online published works, including personal blogs and website. We will not accept stories that have been previously published in any form. Please no simultaneous subs, if we like your story, we don't want to worry about it being pulled for acceptance elsewhere a week before we announce our lineup.

We'd like the stories to have that classic campfire feel to them, but other than that (and that's fairly subjective), there's no limit. Use your imagination, and scare the socks off of us! We want to be thoroughly creeped out!! We are looking for original scares, or completely new takes on old classics. Ghosts, monsters, aliens, paranormal phenomena, the sky is the limit, so long as your story is scary, not silly, and hopefully unpredictable. EMP Publishing wants to put out an anthology of creepy tales that will become the new classic campfire stories for this century.

Deadline for submission is Saturday, August 1, 2015 by midnight EST. All selected authors will be notified no later than September 20, 2015. However, our response time currently is 1-2 weeks or less. Payment to selected authors, however, will be sent out on September 20. Payment will be by check from EMP Publishing, or through Paypal if author prefers.

[Click through and scroll down for a link to their Submittable page.] Thank you and good luck!


8 August 2015 -- Tales from the Miskatonic Library -- ed. John Ashmead and Darrell Schweitzer; PS Publishing

The small press anthology Tales From the Miskatonic Library is now soliciting stories for submission. This is an anthology of tales about, found in, inspired by, or stolen from the Miskatonic University Library.

Your editors are Darrell Schweitzer & myself, and we are looking for tales that:

1. Are good stories.
2. Can be included in an anthology titled Tales From the Miskatonic Library without involving us in elaborate explanations.
3. Aren’t "Boy Reads Book; Book Eats Boy."

So, your chance to have a bit of grim fun:

== What sort of tales might be found in the Miskatonic University Library? Kept perhaps in the secure reading room? Shared by Chief Librarian Henry Armitage over faculty sherry with only a trusted few?
== And how did Dr. Henry Armitage acquire his position as Chief Librarian? And what of his successor(s)?
== What unexpected problems might be faced by an acquisitions librarian at Miskatonic University? Or a cataloger? Is the Necronomicon quite as rare as it is made out to be?
== What is the real explanation for the curious gaps in the Dewey Decimal System?
== What might it take to see the unexpurgated account of the Pabodie's 1930 expedition to The Mountains of Madness? Together with their troubling cross-correlations with Shackleton's private diary? The US Treasury Departments internal report on the incident at Devil Reef off Innsmouth?
== Why are no students allowed within the stacks? Are rumors of non-Euclidean spaces within merely rumors? Why was Einstein called in for a consult in 1944? And his frequent correspondent Schrödinger brought over secretly from Ireland that same year?
== And are series like Warehouse 13 or The Librarian or Charlie Stross's The Laundry really just cover stories for the MUL? precautions taken to make sure if a bit of the truth gets out, it will be seen as merely a publicity stunt?
== …

And, there is absolutely no requirement to mention the Necronomicon or even the Cthulhu Mythos at all! So long as its appearance in our anthology makes sense, we’re good with it.

Our publisher is PS Publishing, which has just published Darrell's That is Not Dead: Tales of the Cthulhu Mythose Through the Centuries, and which has a very strong line of Lovecraftian titles. As this is small press, maximum 1000 copies, the rate is — alas — correspondingly small: 3¢/word max $100. Sigh. But, Honour & recognition! Or, even better, a chance to warn the world of untimely horrors!

Please send stories in electronic form only! RTF, Word, or Pages are OK. Not PDF, which is not editable.

No reprints. Your original work only.

Send to me, John Ashmead, at

Any questions, ask!


31 August 2015 -- Enchanted Soles -- Less Than Three Press

ENCHANTED SOLES — Bisexual Anthology Call — Many a tale is filled with enchanted objects that help to overcome insurmountable challenges. Swords, mirrors, pots, books—but none is more famous than the enchanted shoe, from a slipper made of glass to boots that walk seven leagues in a single step.

Less Than Three Press invites you to submit your tales of people assisted on their way by magical footwear.


==Deadline is August 31, 2015 (give or take, we won’t kill you for sending it off the following morning).
==Stories should be at least 10,000 words and should not exceed approx 20,000 words in length.
==Stories must revolve around the theme of magic shoes, feature a bisexual character, and contain a romance*.
==Stories must have a happily ever after (HEA) or happy for now (HFN) end.
==Any sub-genre is gladly accepted: sci-fi, mystery, contemporary, steampunk, etc.
==All usual LT3 submission guidelines apply.

*Aromantic & queer platonic relationships are accepted; email the editor for more info.

Enchanted Soles is a general release anthology, which means authors will receive a flat payment of $200.00 once LT3 has a signed contract. Authors will receive one copy each of the ebook formats LT3 produces and two copies of the paperback compilation.

Stories should be complete before submitting, and as edited as possible—do not submit a first draft. They can be submitted in any format (doc, docx, rtf, odt, etc) preferably single spaced in an easy to read font (Times, Calibri, Arial) with no special formatting (no elaborate section separation, special fonts, etc). Additional formatting guidelines can be found here.

Questions should be directed to Sasha L. Miller at (or you can ping her on twitter @nikerymis). Submissions should be sent to Include the following in your email:

==Put SUBMISSIONS: ENCHANTED SOLES in the subject line! Emails without this subject line run the risk of not being seen or read, so please, do not forget this!
==Your real name, pen name (if you use one), and preferred email address.
==The approximate total length of the completed story.
==A brief summary of the story, not to exceed approximately 200 words in length.
==Attach the complete manuscript in .doc, .docx, or .odt format.


31 August 2015 -- Futuristica -- Meta Sagas

We are currently accepting submissions for our first anthology of short fiction, Futuristica Volume 1.

Submissions Guidelines & Payment Information:

== We pay 6 cents per word against a pro rata share of royalties.
== We buy first rights and exclusive eBook rights for 6 months after the date of publication.
== We do not purchase reprints.
== We accept simultaneous submissions.
== Manuscripts should be in standard manuscript format.
== Manuscripts should be between 3,000 and 10,000 words.
== No prior publishing experience is required.

Story Criteria:

== Story content must be original. We do not accept fan fiction or derivative works.
== 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.

Women Positive:

== We want stories with awesome female protagonists.
== Zoë Washburn? YES!
== Princess Leia? Definitely!
== That blonde girl from The Temple of Doom? No!
== Bella? Hahahaha. No.

Sex Positive:

== Can the story contain sexual content? Absolutely! However, the sexual content should be integral to the story, but not the whole story.
== Does there have to be sex in the story? Nope.
== No demeaning sex acts.
== No rape. Period.

Science Positive:

== Stories should explore science fiction, scientific fantasy, space opera, emerging technologies, etc…
== We have a preference for near future, near Earth settings.
== No high fantasy, please.
== No dragons or dinosaurs, unless they also have lasers.


We are committed to responding to submissions as quickly as possible. Manuscripts will be evaluated in the order in which they are received. We will update [the guidelines] page regularly with the date for which we are currently reviewing manuscripts.

If the review date listed at the top of this page has passed the date on which your manuscript was submitted and you haven’t heard from us, you may query us using the Contact page. Please include a subject line of "Submission Query" and the author and title of the manuscript.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Genre and Boundaries

Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro have a great conversation about Breaking the Boundaries Between Fantasy and Literary Fiction over at The New Republic. They range all around the topic, looking at the history of genre and how literature with fantastical elements was viewed in the past.

Gaiman: When Dickens published A Christmas Carol nobody went, "Ah, this respectable social novelist has suddenly become a fantasy novelist: look, there are ghosts and magic."

Very true. And there's still some of that today. Some literary writers get a pass on fantastical elements; others are shoved into the genre mudhole while the rest of the literary artistes point and laugh. And of course, in Dickens's day, he was pretty much considered a sentimental hack who catered to the ignorant masses, so there's that; even though there wasn't a genre mudhole to push him into when he published A Christmas Carol, he wasn't exactly revered by the literary establishment of his day. That came later.

It's a great conversation, with touches on Westerns and porn and musicals and improving literature. Go read it. :)


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Awesome Latte Foam Art

Michael Breach makes truly amazing art in latte foam using a toothpick. Click through and check it out. (I love the one he did for the movie Gravity.)

Thanks to Dear Author for the link.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Great Review of Alchemy and Steam

Keith West at Amazing Stories posted a great review of Alchemy and Steam.

He says:

It’s one of the shorter volumes, but I think I’ve enjoyed this one more than any other, including the time travel issue. Usually there’s one at least one story that isn’t really my cup of tea. That’s not the case here.

That's pretty amazing, if you'll pardon the expression. :) I'm with Mr. West; usually there are at least a couple of stories in an anthology that don't do it for me. I'm so glad he liked them all.

Every story was top notch in terms of craft. The voice, the pacing, the setting and characters. Totally professional level work in each case.

That's also pretty awesome to hear. We have a great group of writers subbing to these books, and the editors pick the best of a great bunch. I read all the stories subbed for this book, and it would've been tough to put together a bad anthology.

Thanks to Mr. West. I'm glad you liked our book. :D

Alchemy and Steam is available:

in paperback on Amazon
in e-book on Amazon
in paperback on B&N
in e-book on B&N
in e-book on Smashwords


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What Are We Paying For Again...?

From ABC News:

An internal investigation of the Transportation Security Administration revealed security failures at dozens of the nation’s busiest airports, where undercover investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95 percent of trials, ABC News has learned.

Wow. So we get lined up, barked at, irradiated and/or groped, little tin dictators in spiffy blue shirts with official looking epaulettes and shiny fake badges[1] treat us like cattle or prisoners, and... for what again?

According to officials briefed on the results of a recent Homeland Security Inspector General’s report, TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 tests, with Red Team members repeatedly able to get potential weapons through checkpoints.

Gee, I'm so glad we have TSA making us feel so much safer than we were before 9/11. Oh, wait....

Security experts have said before that all the security rules put into place at the airport at the security checkpoints can be defeated without too much trouble, and I've discussed that here before. It's common knowledge; I'm sure all the terrorists know.

Or maybe this is a one-time thing?

This is not the first time the TSA has had trouble spotting Red Team agents. A similar episode played out in 2013, when an undercover investigator with a fake bomb hidden on his body passed through a metal detector, went through a pat-down at New Jersey's Newark Liberty Airport, and was never caught.


[T]he review determined that despite spending $540 million for checked baggage screening equipment and another $11 million for training since a previous review in 2009, the TSA failed to make any noticeable improvements in that time.

And according to a USA Today story in 2007, about failure rate of screener tests:

Howe said the increased difficulty explains why screeners at Los Angeles and Chicago O'Hare airports failed to find more than 60% of fake explosives that TSA agents tried to get through checkpoints last year.

The failure rates — about 75% at Los Angeles and 60% at O'Hare — are higher than some tests of screeners a few years ago and equivalent to other previous tests.

So I guess that's a "nope" on the one-time failure thing.

And of course, part of the problem is that so much of the effort is focused at airports. It's as if Homeland Security thinks terrorists have some kind of a compulsion to attack airports and airplanes. News flash: terrorists want to cause terror. They'll do that anywhere they think will be effective. Other places will do just as well, places like sports stadiums, shopping malls, theme parks and other tourist attractions -- anywhere large groups of people gather. There's no way to guard every possible target against terrorist activity without turning the US into the ultimate police state. Money wasted on TSA would be much better spent on intelligence, stopping terrorists before they ever get near their targets.

David Burge, on Twitter, has it right IMO:


At $8 billion per year, the TSA is the most expensive theatrical production in history.

Yeah, that's just about right. [sigh]

Thanks to Bruce Schneier for posting about this.

[1] Yes, fake badges. The TSA screener uniforms and badges are designed to make travellers assume that the screeners are law enforcement officers, for purposes of intimidation and compliance. They are not law enforcement, and have no arrest powers. If a TSA screener thinks you should be arrested, they have to call a real cop like everyone else.