Midweek Markets: The Dark Earth Edition

If there’s any auspicious day to be a writer, it’s most likely today, William Shakespeare’s birthday. But I’ll spare you the astrology and entrails- or tea-leaf readings and simply wish the Bard a happy birthday. What do you get the 450-year-old cultural icon who has everything? Naturally, you write in his honour.

will.i.am.not--folio

Title page of the First Folio, with copper engraving of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout. Image courtesy of Elizabethan Club and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University (via Wikipedia).

On that note, here are some midweek markets to help you blast away that coating of quintessence-dust!

  1. Get grisly: Writer, it’s the wee hours of the morning and you’re plotting revenge. If you can scare people with your own desert places or alien races, then Dark Markets could be after your new blood. Check out this clearinghouse/treasure-trove of sources and resources to send your “dark” writing darlings out to, for possible sacrifice. It’s wordcraftery, Lovecraftery, and more!
  2. Love Your Mother: Brother, can you spare a rhyme? Okay, it need not rhyme, but if you can tap into a brevity of wit about Mother Nature/Earth Day, Six-Word Memoirs and SMITH magazine want your six-worded thoughts. Their SixContest #22 seeks nuggets of “What You’d Say to Mother Nature” and features a small prize (a keychain). Submit through Friday, 25 April, until 3:00PM ET, on their site. Good green luck to you all!
  3. You down with OTP? That would be On the Premises, “a Web-based fiction magazine . . . [that] aims to promote newer and/or relatively unknown writers who can write what we feel are creative, compelling stories told in effective, uncluttered, and evocative prose.” There are no entry fees. Nonetheless, they offer cash prizes, publication/exposure for winners, and free critiques for contest finalists who do not get published (nonfinalists can also purchase critiques). The latest contest unravels in the form of decisions. They write: One or more characters face an especially difficult decision.” To find further criteria for your “1,000 but no more than 5,000 words” piece due 30 May 2014, visit OTP online. Note that they also hold mini-contests (with small cash prizes) for only their e-newsletter subscribers. My personal observation as a several-year newsletter subscriber is that if you’ve got spec-fic (speculative fiction) chops, this market will be particularly fruitful for you.
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The Unbearable Density of Confidence

Self-Confidence Ahem. Over here. See me? I’m that invisible girl in the corner. I’m the joists, nails, and boards just behind the wallflower.

Long gone are the days when “talks too much” and “finishes work early and distracts classmates” were written on my report card.

That said, I began this blog—if neither a writecraft chiseler nor an editorial bonesaw—to trephine something consequential from me and put it on the ephemeral e-page. Given that some of my writing here has smacked of semi-autobiography (either that or it’s been flattened by the semi wheels of autobiography), this self-exposure has not always been a lingering tiptoe through two-lipped prose. Rather, it has at times been a steeltrap bandolier across the throat and chest. The clink of a prison door closing, a book’s cover shut with the bite force of a saltwater crocodile. But I hyperbolize!

This blog represents the confidence I’d like to wrest from the jaws of stoicism and regret, my willingness to kill my prose darlings and invite you to silver bullet them, too.

In life, Jacob Marley was . . . Erm, in my real life, I’m a more or less ordinary uniquity: mom, wife, reader, writer, editor, jogger/runner, gardener, Nature-lover, musician wannabe, eater of delicious Indian dals and Greek delicacies (among many other favorites), overindulger of chocolates and sweets and herbal teas, introvert, and fellow passenger on Spaceship Earth. With the vagaries, confidences, anxieties, plans, and scars most other people possess.

“I am large, I contain multitudes.”

I can’t claim those lines. Poet Walt Whitman wrote them in “Song of Myself.” But, thanks to Chris Donner’s clarion call to self-expression, I get to wax philosophical on myself, which evokes a certain amount of existential discomfort. But if this blog is to be a creative expression, as much as I shy away from confessionals, then this post is the full flowering of that unease. It is an experiment in creative confidence as much as i-want-confidence-kitten-lionself-confidence. (Read more about creative confidence here.)

Let this blog and, moreover, this post be the opening keystrokes to bringing that anxious, frightened girl out of her lonely corner. And into your world. I’m ever-grateful that you invited her (okay, me!) in for a spell.

Six Words on Spring Renewal

Boing, boing. No, that’s not the sound of my last wit snapping.

Here in the States, it is Spring, and for the religious, a series of holidays/holydays are occurring. If nothing else, it is a time for a renaissance of Nature.

To that end, Six Words/Smith magazine is seeking—but only until 3 p.m. CST today, so get hopping—your six-word ruminations on renewal. If you don’t participate over there (technically, I’m not participating with them either), feel free to direct me to your six-word post.

Here are a few I played around with; hope you enjoy them. Likewise, your day and weekend!

Six-Word Meditations on Spring

Last year’s tomatillos, diaphanous snow globes.

Noticed hole in soul; went running.

Chives sprouting, daughter’s skin like onions.

Violets bouquet the grass with bruises.

Bunny ricochets yard detritus: Spring’s harrier.

Ornamental pear flaring; beetles begin awakening.

Monday Writing Markets, The Speculative Fiction Edition

Hic sunt dracones!

Three-headed Russian dragon

A three-headed Russian dragon (titled “Общины св. Евгении,” 1912) from Wikimedia Commons. Originally by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin.

For those of us many years in arrears on our Latin studies, as I, this phrase is translated as “Here are dragons.” To date, this sentence has been found on a dyad of old globes.

Dragons perhaps best typify that crux of imagination and uncertainty. They are terrible and terrifying to some, powerful and majestic myth to others.

On that note, let’s get on the trail of some speculative-fiction writing markets, where I hope you’ll be able to chart your own course to creativity, complete with dragons or critics (or do I repeat myself?). As always, please read back issues of the publications themselves (where available) or subscribe to them; scour their pages or Web sites to see what work they like to publish; do your own research on the market(s); and, if you decide to submit, marry yourself to their submission guidelines or calls for queries.

  1. Even if you’ve never personally made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs, if you write science fiction (or fantasy), Parsec might be just the venue for you. Their latest short story contest, with a theme of “parch,” seeks stories from the horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres. “Stories must be original, unpublished, unsold and no more than 3500 words in length,” and can be submitted only by non-professional writers, whom they define as “those who have not met eligibility requirements for SFWA or equivalent: sale of a novel or sale of 3 stories to a large circulation publication.” Deadline is April 30, so throw on that wingéd thinking cap!
  2. Try it before it’s gone (time travel notwithstanding): Kazka Press has an unthemed SFF (“sci-fi, fantasy, horror, or related sub-genres”) writing contest, called 713 flash fiction after a previous incarnation of a 713-word count, whose deadline is April 20 and, the month after that, nil.Sadly, this speculative fiction competition is closing after April 2014, so get to work on your as-yet-unpublished short story between 500 and 1,000 words. They note that “If you’re selected as a winner of our monthly contest, we’ll purchase First Worldwide Electronic Rights from you for $15, regardless of word count.”
  3. And now, at last armageddon (translation: I’ma gettin’) to this week’s last market. Do you have a disturbing apocalyptic potboiler of a manuscript? Then Dystopia Press might be just the place for your chiseled wordcraftery. DP publishes “post apocalyptic (what happens after the world/civilization collapses) and dystopian (what happens after the world/society veers off in some disturbing direction) trade paperback novels.” If you have an 80,000- to 100,000-word unpublished manuscript, consider working up a synopsis and sending them the first 50 double-spaced pages of the edited manuscript. Submissions are managed free via the online service Submittable. Read complete submission details here.

Happy wordcrafting, fellow spec-fic-ionados!

 

And the Clocks Tick Maliciously

Bleeding Pen--Objects

Writing is bleeding. Photograph ©Leigh Ward-Smith, 2014.

I was adrift, but now I’m back on familiar sands. To celebrate, here are a couple of sifted fifties of flash fiction for your reading Schadenfreude (only kidding!), submitted for the Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge.

And the Clocks Tick Maliciously

While hiking, Ava rolls memories—arils of time—on her tongue. The blurred bridge from mother to daughter grows acrid, sways, begins to cinder. Cells synchronize, but strands draw taut. She forces violets to ease through mind grooves and presses any relics of familial contusions under sandals, into yielding clay.


Little Lives in Play

Your curly mop wheels with the wind. Dervish, sprite, or joy made bodied, you stack worlds skyward with your words. Shouts tumble out, raft down to me, Huck-like. Then, Icarean, on the highest rung, arms suddenly scissoring, and a sick smack of watermelon-splitting.

I wake in a skin of sweat.

Midweek Markets: The Bards and Bell Jars Edition

Good day, friends. The “cruellest” month has arrived. No foolin’. Yet you needn’t sit around and watch lilacs breed out of the dead land. I hope you’ll instead tilt your thoughts to action, put your pen to paper, hitch your heart to the art, and cartwheel your cares into the aether. In short, I wish you writing, or any creative striving, for the remainder of the week.

ART-Will

William Shakespeare statue situated at the heart of Tower Grove Park in St. Louis, MO. Created by artist Ferdinand von Miller and dedicated on 23 April 1878, it bears “Hamlet” and “Falstaff” pieces and other insets on its four sides. Photograph by Leigh Ward-Smith.

So let’s get write into this week’s markets, which include a fellowship and a couple of contests.

  1. Mooky Chick online has been bashing the bell jar since 2005. An online United Kingdom–based endeavor, MC seeks feminism, activism, LGBTQ, reviews, fashion, how-to guides, arts and crafts, and other approximately 600-word previously unpubbed pieces to populate its literary manse. “Surprise us. Surprise yourself. Send us what you’ve got,” they urge folks of “all genders,” and, presumably, from around the world. If mindcake, “inclusivity and joy . . . sweet and ballsy” mark your writing and persona, then Mooky Chick is where it’s at. No deadlines, just an evergreen market here!
  2. Although it might not be “that time of year thou mayst in me behold” leaves steadily yellowing, it is almost that time of year again where we bring out the “happy birthday” signs . . . for the 450th time (okay, 449th time, if you don’t count the first April 23rd birthday in 1564). So, locate your sparkly hats; it’s time for a Bardy party, courtesy of Litro magazine. William Shakespeare is t’ birthday boy, and sonnets are the subject. C’mon, ye paragon of animals, just craft 14 lines, a Shakespearean sonnet with the ababcdcdefefgg rhyme pattern and in iambic pentameter, of which this is a most excellent example. The deadline is midnight April 10 (presumably Greenwich Mean Time Zone UTC), so don’t wait until 11:57 to get started, lest you leave no time to out, out that damn annoying blank (or red) spot on the page.
  3. Pen Parentis offers writing fellowships to “new” parents, with at least one child under the age of 10. They note: “Writers at any stage of their career may apply. The winner will have his or her entry published in Brain, Child magazine and [is] encouraged to present their winning entry at the Pen Parentis Literary Salon [in Manhattan, NY] in September 2014 to receive the prize money” of $1,000 granted toward your writing career. There is a $25 entry fee, and the deadline is April 16, 2014 (postmark deadline; though online submissions are also accepted). Find full grant guidelines here.
  4. Want headlines good enough to undam waves of lachrymal laughter? Well, you need not scour the pages of The Onion (besides, that might damage your eyes). Just skippidy-do-da over to Writer’s Digest and Brian A. Klems’ fourth annual #AprilFools4Writers contest. Here’s the beef on the April Fools 4 Writers contest: “Create entertaining, clever and witty headlines that would appear in an Onion-style newspaper for writers about anything writing-related (grammar, authors, books, etc.) and post it in any of the ways mentioned . . . ” Your deadline, should you choose to accept this hilarious challenge, is Friday, 4 April 2014. When you visit Brian’s blog piece, you can (re)confirm the hour of the deadline (i.e., there’s a couple date typos on the original post). Good luck, we’re all counting on you (and don’t even think about calling me Shirley)!