Author Interview: Maer Wilson

Author Maer Wilson uses her experience in the theatre to build believable characters to inhabit her “cozy dark” stories. Her Modern Magics series, which follows a pair of supernatural detectives whose clients are usually dead, includes three novels and four prequel novelettes. In a departure from that series, she put her own twist on the zombie apocalypse with Apocalypta Z. And in 2016 she shined the light on a science fiction icon in her memoir The Other Side of Phillip K. Dick. You’ll find Maer on her website MaerWilson.com and her Amazon author page. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Between novels and novelettes, you have seven offerings in your series of Modern Magics stories. What are the challenges in writing a series?
One of the most important challenges I was aware of was consistency—in all things: overall voice, characters’ voices, traits and qualities, as well as story arcs. While you want a character to grow, you don’t want them to do things that don’t fit who they are. I tried to keep even tiny things that I established in one book throughout the series. I kept only a small list of notes, but I often referred to my previous work to see what I had done. Such as checking hair color for a minor character who had not been named in a previous book, but who had made a short appearance. I had to make sure nothing contradicted itself.

What was the most difficult aspect of world building for the Modern Magics books?
The world building was relatively easy. I took our world and used it as a basis for what would happen if magic was to become real. I added in two characters (Thulu and La Fi) who could exist in our world, but who had supernatural abilities. From there, I layered in the return of magic. How it would affect the average person, how it could happen in the first place, etc. Rather than be difficult, this was one of the most fun things to do. My biggest concern was making it a logical, believable world. It pretty much wrote itself once I had my main characters established. I had fun picking out names for the magical characters (fairies, pixies, daemons, etc.) and figuring out their personalities. For instance one of my favorites is Aela, a fairy who has a passion for red nail polish and gets drunk on tapioca beads. I wrote the first draft of book one (Relics) in five weeks. I ended up scrapping the second half due to a cliff-hanger ending. The story had to go a different direction, and I was in rewrites for the next year. But the world was there and established and didn’t change much from the first draft.

Apocalypta Z, with its endearing point-of-view characters (one of them a poodle), is a unique addition to the zombie apocalypse genre. What sparked the idea for this story?
I had posted a picture of my puppy Cienna on Facebook, and someone said I should use it as a cover for a book. A story took form, and I began writing “Cienna and the Zombie Dogs.” Except it wasn’t a short story as I’d intended. So I started again and moved most of the short story into a chapter in the novel. I’d been watching iZombie and had recently seen Warm Bodies and loved the lighter touch and departure from such graphic films as Night of the Living Dead. I hadn’t watched The Walking Dead at that time, but I did know the zombie genre had a huge following. As usual, I took the genre and put my own twist on it.

Will those who know you recognize you in any of your characters? What is it about your characters that make readers connect with them?
In the Modern Magics series, there is a little of me in La Fi as well as her grandmother, Nana Fae. And Maddie, Cienna and Chloe in Apocalypta Z are basically a different version of my real dogs and me if we were thrown into the zombie apocalypse. I believe that my extensive theatre background helps me create characters who feel real. They are flawed, but I try to make them as believable (and relatable) as I can.

What was the most challenging aspect of putting together your memoir The Other Side of Philip K. Dick? What one thing would you like readers to know about your friend?
That was a tough one. I had to go back 45+ years. Fortunately, many of the incidents were fresh as I had talked about them often throughout the years. But I wanted it to be accurate, not something I’d changed through the years. Phil and I had many mutual friends, and I asked several of them to read the book to make it as true an account as I could. As to the one thing about Phil? He was not the mystical cult icon he has been turned into. He was partially to blame for that because of some of the writing he left behind, but what he speculated about and what he really believed were not necessarily the same things. Some think he lived only to have deep discussions about philosophy and such, and it simply is not true. He was very interested, of course, but he did not gather people at his feet to dispense his wisdom. He loved to mess with people and say outlandish things to tease them. He would be delighted at all the controversy about him. But at the end of the day, he was just a guy who happened to be a great friend—and a great writer.

Tell us about your writing process/writing routine.
I write when I have time. Usually I’m working in my head, so when I sit down, I simply start writing. I don’t use outlines and only brief notes, so I’m definitely a pantser (except for the memoir) and only have a vague idea where I’m going. I let the characters dictate how the story plays out. I listen to soundtracks while I write (instrumental, not songs).

What is the best compliment you’ve received as an author?
From M. Joseph Murphy about The Other Side of Philip K. Dick: “The strongest piece of writing I’ve read in years.”

What writing projects are you working on now?
Since I’m one of the partners at Ellysian Press, I don’t always wear my writing hat. Lately I’ve been busy editing and working on our authors’ wonderful novels. However, I do have several of my own novels in various stages. Two are Sci Fi manuscripts. Truthsayer is set in a mining colony about 250 years in the future. Side Step is an alternate universe story. I also have a historical fantasy that spans seven centuries (The Journal) and a fantasy screenplay I wrote years ago that I’m doing the novelization on called The Hourglass.

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3 Fiction Writing Terms: Arcs, Beats, Blurbs

Every occupation has its own set of unique terms, and the writing business is no different. Writers need to understand these terms as much as they need to know the characters they write about. When I began learning the writing craft twenty years ago, I was clueless about many things including simple facts such as MS stands for “manuscript” and a manuscript is an unpublished work. 

This is the second post of a series, a list with definitions and links for further reading that I could have used when I started on my own writing journey.

Arcs

1. Character Arc
“A character arc is the internal struggle and progress a character goes through over the course of a novel that changes him in some way… It can sometimes be confused with character motivations…but why a character acts is different from how he changes because of his actions. Motivation drives the actions. Growth is the result of the actions.” ~ Janice Hardy

K.M. Weiland discusses three types of character arcs on her website:
“The negative change arc tells the story of a character who ends up in a worse place than that in which he started—and probably drags others down with him.” With a positive change arc the protagonist “will be forced to challenge his beliefs about himself and the world, until finally he conquers his inner demons…and ends his arc having changed in a positive way.” A flat character arc (or testing arc) “is about a character who does not change. He already has the Truth figured out in the beginning of the story, and he uses that Truth to help him overcome various external tests.” This type of arc is still one of change because “the character is the one changing the world around him, rather the world changing the character” as is typical with positive and negative arcs.

2. Story Arc (or narrative arc)
More than simply a structure of beginning, middle, and end. According to NowNovel.com, “Story arcs are the overall shape of rising and falling tension or emotion in a story. This rise and fall is created via plot and character development.” Reedsy.com explains, “While the plot is comprised of the individual events that make up your story, your story arc is the sequence of those events.” Also, “The narrative arc is to the story what the character arc is to a character. The narrative arc involves the plot on a grand scale, and a character arc charts the inner journey of a character over the course of the plot.”

For more:
Janice Hardy: “Grow Up Already: Creating Character Arcs”
K.M. Weiland: “Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 1: Can You Structure Characters?” and “How to Write Character Arcs”
NowNovel.com: “Character development questions: Building character arcs”
Reedsy.com: “What is the Narrative Arc? A Guide to Storytelling Through Story Structure”

Beats

1. Action Beats (also dialogue or narrative beats)
Not to be confused with dialogue tags (he said, she yelled), action beats are bits of action interspersed in a character’s conversation in the form of some kind of physical movement (such as body language and facial expressions) and sometimes thoughts. Action beats identify the speaker as the one performing the action and are best used without dialogue tags. “Action beats must serve to move the story forward or advance characterization; they cannot exist only to give the character busy work.” ~ K.M. Weiland

2. Action/Reaction (Emotion) Beats
Barbara Ashford says, “As an actress, I’d drill down into a scene to identify its beats—the moments where the emotion of the character shifts. That not only helped me understand the character’s arc but to depict it convincingly. The same technique can help you craft more compelling scenes in fiction by discovering the emotional truth of every moment and determining if the actions and reactions on the page are making those emotions clear—and vivid—to the reader.” She suggests “if you struggle with creating complex characters or building emotional resonance, try analyzing a moment from a story or novel that you find powerful. Break the scene into beats to determine the moment-by-moment shifts of emotion (s) that the character experiences. Then try the same exercise with one of your own scenes.”

3. Story Beats
A description of the important points or action in a story. A beat sheet is a way of keeping track of those points, similar to an outline. In discussing Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat method of structuring a story, Janice Hardy writes, “Snyder breaks down storytelling into three acts similar to the Three-Act Structure, with very specific turning points in each act (called beats) similar to the Hero’s Journey. In a screenplay, these beats are so precise it even says what page they should happen on, but there’s a little more flexibility in a novel.”

For more:
C.S. Lakin: “Actions Speak Louder than Dialog Tags: Using Beats in Writing”
Janice Hardy: “Plotting with the Save the Cat Beat Sheet Structure”
K.M. Weiland: “An Easy Way to Immediately Improve Your Character’s Action Beats” and “Most Common Writing Mistakes: How Not to Use Speaker Tags and Action Beats”
Storyfix.com: “Introducing the Beat Sheet”

Book Blurbs

1. Back Cover Blurb
A brief summary of a book, written in a compelling way that hooks readers. “At basics, the back blurb is a sales pitch. It has to be almost an exaggeration of your story that entices the reader to buy, or at least download a sample to their Kindle or iPad.” ~ Joanna Penn

2. An Endorsement of a book, preferably by an expert or an author representative of the book’s genre or niche. An early endorsement from an important person in the industry can sway an agent or publisher to an author’s side. “[T]estimonials and endorsements from relevant, influential, or important people tell us that the book we’re thinking about buying is a safe purchase. Favorable comments from people we already trust tell us the book is a low-risk investment. They reassure us.” ~ Build Book Buzz.com

For more:
Joanna Penn: “How To Write Back Blurb For Your Book”
Abigail K. Perry on diyMFA.com: “Writing Back Cover Copy: A Secret for Your Novel’s Success”
Sarah Juckes: “How to Write an Effective Blurb for a Self-Published Book”
Mike Duran: “The Ugly Truth about Author Endorsements”

Writing is a complicated business that includes learning the mechanics and finer points of dialog and story structure, as well as constructing a compelling book blurb and reaching out to others to secure endorsements. So many things to know and learn, but we’re all on this journey together.

Is there a writing term you’d like defined? Include it in a comment below, and I’ll add it to a future post.


Check out the first in the series: “Fiction Writing Terms: Active Verbs, Author Intrusion, Backstory.”

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Posted in Fiction Writing Terms

Publishing is Not the Prize

Come to peace with your journey and realize getting published is not the prize. The journey (and who you’re becoming on the journey) is the prize. ~ James L. Rubart

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2018 Wednesday on the Web #1

It’s been a few years since I dragged out my bottomless bag of (lost and found) online articles and tidbits. Read on for: a list of “bad” stories to avoid if you want to get published, a travel calculator to help plan your next space adventure, and vintage computer ads that might make you snort—and more!

■ For Writers

How to Write a Sword Fight
A. Howitt’s article “Swordplay for Fantasy Writers,” posted to the Mystic Scribes website, covers the basics of realistic swordplay to include balance, timing, footwork, a progression of skills, and offensive/defensive moves. The author’s intent was “to make swordplay accessible to anyone, so writers didn’t feel bombarded with terminology, but got just a hint of it to put into their work.” A few cool videos are included in the post.

Stories to Avoid Writing
The editorial team at Strange Horizons has seen so many recurring (overdone and annoying) story lines they felt the need to compile them in a list in “Stories We’ve Seen Too Often.” Many publications link to this 51-item list as part of their own submission guidelines. Though geared toward speculative fiction (with horror having it’s own list), many of the points are valid for other genres, such as, “A place is described, with no plot or characters,” and “People whose politics are different from the author’s are shown to be stupid, insane, or evil, usually through satire, sarcasm, stereotyping, and wild exaggeration.” Number 4 is one of my favorites – getting to the end of the book and discovering the story is a dream or takes place in virtual reality, or the protagonist is insane or is writing a novel (and the story is part of that novel).

■ Science

Doughnut-Shaped Planets
Anders Sandberg discusses the possible existence of toroidal planets in “What would the Earth be like if it was the shape of a donut?” He also details how gravity, light, seasons, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere might work.

Space Travel Calculator
Want to know how long it would take to reach a planet or star by spacecraft? Or how much energy your craft will need and the maximum velocity it will reach? How about observer vs. traveler time-lapse? Visit Nathan Geffen’s site, enter the distance to your destination, click calculate, and watch the little rocket move across time and space.

■ For Fun

Just Married Window Clings
Need a nifty gift for a geeky couple? Choose from nine themes: 8-bit Love, Back to the Future, Chalkboard Love, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Sherlock, Spiderman, Star Wars, and Zombie Love. The philosophy of Anthony Herrera Designs is, “We are not going to spend the time creating it, if it’s not fun. Life’s too short for that.”

“Ancient” Computer Ads
The decades-old newspaper and magazine advertisements included in “18 Vintage Computer Ads That Are So Bad It Hurts” are a humorous contrast with our current computer choices (especially in price). Computers and peripherals have come a long way since I first learned to program using punch cards in the early 80s!

■ If I Only Had the Money

Photographer Rob Lovato captures fantastic images from around the world, the kind I would love to admire on the walls of my own home. I’ve seen many of these displayed, and they’re gorgeous. I especially like the night sky photos. Paper prints are available at a reasonable price, but I want a large one “infused directly into a specially-coated aluminum sheet to create a print with incredible luminescence, detail, and durability.” Of course, choosing just one would be impossible…

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve found on the internet this year?

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Fiction Writing Terms: Active Verbs, Author Intrusion, Backstory

Every occupation has its own set of unique terms and slang. Musicians talk about riffs while machinists talk about welds. To a sailor, a floor is a deck and a wall is a bulkhead. And writers need to know about riffs and welds and decks if they’re to write knowledgeably about a particular character and setting, but they also need to understand the unique terms of the writing profession.

When I began learning the writing craft twenty years ago, I was clueless about nearly everything. I didn’t even know basic terms like MC (main character), POV (point of view), and WIP (work-in-progress). This is the beginning of a series, a list of terms I wish I’d known when I started on my own writing journey.

Active Verbs vs. Passive Verbs
(See * below for active vs. passive voice.)

“The difference between an active-verb style and a passive-verb style – in clarity and vigor – is the difference between life and death for a writer.” ~ William Zinsser

Active verbs show action, but passive verbs indicate a condition or state of being. Writers are often advised to avoid using passive “to be” verbs – such as is, am, are, was, were, has, have, had, be, to be, and been – in order to tighten and strengthen their writing. The presence of “to be” verbs might indicate a place where stronger, more active verbs can be used. The same is true of using a “to be” verb along with a verb + “ing” ending.

Robbie Blair explains it like this: “The ‘is’ verbs are connecting terms that stand between your readers and the actual description… Any time you use ‘is,’ you’re telling the reader that the subject is in a state of being. Using an ‘ing’ verb tells the audience the verb is in process. By using ‘is verbing,’ you’re telling your audience that the subject is in the state of being of being in the process of doing something.”

Here’s a simple example:

Passive: Jake was jogging along his favorite path through the forest. Birds were chirping overhead and squirrels were skittering through the trees. Jogging was the best way to clear Jake’s head.
Active: Jake jogged along his favorite path through the forest. Birds chirped overhead and squirrels skittered through the trees. Jogging always cleared Jake’s head.

It’s not possible or recommended to remove all “to be” verbs, but learning to recognize what weakens our writing is a good goal for any writer.

*Not to be confused with active vs. passive voice (sentence structure) – Frank ate the ice cream cone (subject/verb/object) vs. The ice cream cone was eaten by Frank (object/verb/subject). This type of sentence structure shifts the importance from the subject doing the action to the object receiving the action. For a more detailed explanation, read Liz Bureman’s excellent article about passive voice.

Author Intrusion
(See * below for authorial intrusion as a literary technique.)

“Author intrusion is when the author projects him or herself into the story. Let’s be clear, you will bleed into every character you write (that’s okay), but—most of the time—you, the author, are not welcome in your fictional world. You cannot expect your reader to believe the characters you are writing about are real if you keep reminding them that someone, somewhere made up this story. The very existence of you, the author, is a distraction.” ~ Shannon Dittemore

A writer might drop their own opinions into the story (which often feels preachy), or insert a dump of information about a setting or a profession (usually a result of research too good not to share), or include dialog that doesn’t fit a character. And if all characters in a story speak and act the same, it might be because they’re projections of the author’s own character and viewpoint. Author intrusion will always pull a reader out of the story and waggle a finger at the author.

Beth Hill points out, “Author intrusion is also not the skills, the special knowledge, and the personal style that a writer brings to story to give it richness and distinction. Author intrusion only becomes a problem when those skills, knowledge, and style point outside the story and toward the writer rather than drawing readers inward to the fiction.”

For more:
Go Teen Writers (but not just for teens): “Suspension of Disbelief: Author Intrusion” by Shannon Dittemore
The Editors Blog: “Weed Out Author Intrusion” by Beth Hill

* The Write Practice’s Liz Bureman writes that author (or authorial) intrusion is a literary technique used to “establish a relationship between the author and the reader where the author is an active character in the story’s narrative.” This type of acceptable author intrusion is found most often in classic literature by such authors as CS Lewis, Charlotte Bronte, and Jane Austen but sometimes in more modern works such as The Princess Bride by William Goldman and the Lemony Snicket series of children’s books. For more, read “Authorial Intrusion: Definition and Examples.”

Backstory

“Back story is events that have happened before the narrative starts. Most stories have it—because they rarely start from the beginning of a character’s life. However, writers tend to misuse it or include too much.” ~ Roz Morris

This could include the history of a city as well as a character’s personal history. While important to understanding the story, it’s best to drop in bits here and there and avoid a data dump, especially in the first pages. Roz Morris relates this to establishing a new friend. We’re drawn to someone because of their personality, etc. but only learn their history over time and when the relationship is established. She goes on to say, “In the same way, the reader at the start of a novel can coast with a few well-deployed details—just enough to understand what’s going on. The detailed picture might not emerge for a long time.”

Go ahead and do character sketches and interviews and create a history of your city or kingdom (maps are fun too) to gain understanding of your characters, how they’ll act in certain situations, and where they fit in the larger world. But most of this backstory should just be for you, the author. Only a portion should make it onto the page. Write with this understanding and let it come out naturally in dialog, actions, setting, and how the character sees the world.

For more:
Roz Morris on Jane Friedman.com: “How to Tell If Back Story Is Sabotaging Your Novel
Writers in the Storm: “How To Deliver Critical Backstory Using The Setting” by Angela Ackerman and “Story Genius on Backstory” by Lisa Cron
Novel Rocket: “Backstory vs Character History” by Rachel Hauck
Now Novel: “How to Write Backstory but Not Bog Down Your Book

And don’t forget to study the stories that resonate with you. Chances are those authors avoid passive verbs and author intrusion, and use backstory effectively.

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10 Tips to Survive a Relationship with a Writer

Writers_Write_-_How_to_survive_a_relationship_with_a_writer


Writers Write is an organization based in Johannesburg, South Africa whose motto is “write to communicate.” They have a great website that offers advice, inspiration, and instruction. Check out the Writers Write About page and the link to the above graphic “How to survive a relationship with a writer: Top 10 Tips.”

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On Writing: Don’t Hoard What Seems Good

One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a better place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. ~ Annie Dillard

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An Update Long Overdue

In case you didn’t notice, I was mostly absent from this website in 2016 and 2017. My mom once told me people don’t notice things about us the way we think they do. Unless we have a button unbuttoned, a zipper unzipped, or broccoli in our teeth. But if I point out an imperfection – “Look how this mirror brings out my grey hair,” or, “Does this pimple look really bad?” – then it becomes obvious. So now that I’ve drawn attention to myself, I thank you if you noticed my absence (and also if you didn’t).

I wasn’t completely absent from the internet, though. I posted 2-3 interviews a month on the SouthWest Writers’ website (28 in 2017, for a total of 71 in the last three years). This group, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is full of wonderful, encouraging writers who meet twice a month to network and learn from others who’ve been in the trenches. Check out their video presentations on YouTube.

Way back in 2016, I said I was holding my breath for a response from an agent who requested the manuscript of the first book in my fantasy trilogy. I didn’t do a follow up to that – Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group actually offered me representation! Much of 2016 was a blur as I worked like a fiend to complete a self-edit of the book while I waited on word of a sale. My perfectionism went into overdrive in 2017 as I continued to revise that first novel. I’ve since moved on to book two with 20,000 words towards a first draft. I’m still waiting on the sale of book one and, as always, I’m enjoying torturing my characters in their continuing quest.

My goal of selling one or more short stories last year was a bust. I’m still writing, revising, and submitting as well as entering stories in competitions. I did find a great editor (Bethany Kaczmarek) who worked with me on one of the shorts, as well as the first chapter of book one. For me this is a necessary part of the process of polishing my writing. I do participate in two critique groups, but their valuable input can’t take the place of a good developmental edit.

New for 2018:

  • Actually sticking to a blog schedule – once a week on Wednesdays with the occasional Friday thrown in.
  • A fun project working with my teenage granddaughter who, if you’ll pardon my bias, is an awesome artist. She’ll be helping me develop a comic strip inspired by popular movies and television programs that you may or may not recognize.
  • Sharing my work in the form of serialized short stories and snippets of longer works. This is a huge step for me (and my perfectionism), but one I need to take or continue in an eternal edit of everything.
  • Posting advice from writers regarding character development, setting, tone, tension, etc., as well as interviews with speculative fiction authors. I’m also hoping to include guest posts from writers who’ll share their knowledge and creative process.

That’s it for me. What have you been up to in the last few years? Any goals you’d like to share?

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2017 SFWA Short Story Qualifying Markets for Speculative Fiction

Many writers of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, etc.) pursue active membership in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). In addition to membership benefits, SFWA provides free resources, including an Information Center packed with great articles of interest to writers. And their Writer Beware® postings are an indispensable resource for advice and warnings regarding the publishing industry.

Novel sales is one avenue to membership, sales of short stories is another. While I work to perfect my novel, I pursue the short story option through markets that satisfy the requirements. Unfortunately, the SFWA website lacks an updated list of qualifying markets (and no links are provided). To the rescue: The Grinder and Ralan.com. These websites fill in the gaps with complete market listings that I sift through for those specific to SFWA.

The following are the markets I submit to first. These qualifying markets pay professional rates of 6 cents or more per word for short stories. Those listed are still accepting unagented submissions as of July 19, 2017. At the end of the post you’ll find a link to a pdf spreadsheet for future reference. (This list is for adult markets. If you write for children/middle grade, check out Cicada, Cricket, and Highlights magazines.)


1. analogo_bwAnalog Science Fiction and Fact publishes science fiction stories in which some aspect of future science or technology is so integral to the plot that, if that aspect were removed, the story would collapse. The science can be physical, sociological, psychological, but stories must be strong and realistic, with believable people (who needn’t be human) doing believable things – no matter how fantastic the background might be.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
2,000-80,000 8-10¢/word to 20,000
Serials: 6¢/word
2-3 months No
Other: Serials: 40,000-80,000 words. No simultaneous submissions. Accepts online and hardcopy submissions.

2. new-banner092512Apex Magazine is a monthly online prose and poetry magazine of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mash-ups of all three. They seek works full of marrow and passion, stories that are twisted, strange, and beautiful.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
Up to 7,500 6¢/word 1 month
No
Other: No simultaneous submissions or multiple submissions.

3. as_logo_blAsimov’s Science Fiction is looking for character-oriented science fiction in which the characters, rather than the science, provide the main focus for the reader’s interest. They also publish borderline fantasy, slipstream, and surreal fiction, but no sword & sorcery.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
1,000-20,000 8-10¢/word to 7,500
8¢/word over 7,500
5 weeks No
Other: No simultaneous submissions, serialized novels, explicit sex or violence. Accepts online and hardcopy submissions.

4. Beneath Ceaseless SkiesBeneath Ceaseless Skies is an award-winning online magazine publishing “literary adventure fantasy” with a secondary-world setting – different from our own primary world – and a traditional/classic fantasy feel, written with a literary focus on the characters.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
Up to 14,000 6¢/word 2-4 weeks No
Other: Accepts simultaneous submissions (read guidelines). No multiple submissions, novel excerpts, urban fantasy or modern/contemporary settings. No graphic sex or violence beyond an R-rating.

5. ClarkesworldClarkesworld Magazine is a Hugo award-winning monthly science fiction/fantasy magazine. Science fiction need not be hard SF. Fantasy can be folkloric, contemporary, surreal, etc. Horror can be supernatural or psychological, as long as it’s frightening.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
1,000-16,000 10¢/word to 5,000
8¢/word over 5,000
2 days No
Other: No simultaneous submissions. See their list of hard sells.

6. DailyScienceFiction_200Daily Science Fiction accepts speculative fiction submissions: science fiction, fantasy, slipstream, etc. They will consider stories with dark elements but no pure horror.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
100-1,500 8¢/word < 1 month
No
Other: Accepts flash series (3+ standalone stories built around a common theme). No simultaneous/multiple submissions, erotica, or pure horror.

7. escapepod2Escape Pod seeks science fiction stories, centered on science, technology, future projections, alternate history, and how any or all of these things intersect with people. Fairly flexible on what counts as science. No fantasy, magical realism, or more than a tinge of horror.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
2,000-6,000 6¢/word Unknown Yes
Other: Reprints: $100 flat rate. No serialized fiction or novel excerpts. Closed to submissions Aug 1-31, 2017.

8. fsflogo5_200Fantasy & Science Fiction is looking for stories that appeal to science fiction and fantasy readers. They prefer character-oriented stories, whether fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, or another genre. The speculative element may be slight, but it should be present.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
Up to 25,000 7-12¢/word < 8 weeks No
Other: No simultaneous or multiple submissions. Accepts online and hardcopy submissions.

9. Fireside publishes all speculative fiction genres. They want stories that go somewhere, that keep people reading to find out what happens next, but they aren’t looking for character studies or metafiction or hallucinatory visions.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
1,000-4,000 12.5¢/word 30 days after sub. window No
Other: Prefers shorter word counts. No simultaneous or multiple submissions. Submission windows (subject to change): flash fiction (up to 1,000 words), Sep 17-23; short stories, Nov 5-11.

10. FlashFictionOnline200Flash Fiction Online seeks complete stories with a resolved plot and strong, interesting characters (not a story synopsis or scene from a novel), and (to some extent) settings.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
500-1,000 $60 flat rate 2 days-10 weeks Yes
Other: Reprints: 2¢/word. No erotica, graphic sex, or egregious violence. No simultaneous submissions. Accepts multiple submissions.

11. logo302bIGMS (Intergalactic Medicine Show) is looking for science fiction and fantasy stories up to 17,500 words (query the editor for longer works). Science fiction: hard sf, sf adventure, alternate history, near-future, far-future, psi, alien, etc. Fantasy: heroic fantasy (based on any culture’s mythology), fairy tales, contemporary fantasy, and horror in the sense of supernatural suspense (not gory bloodfests).

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
Up to 17,500
6¢/word 3 months+ No*
Other: *See reprint guidelines. No multiple submissions. No profanity, explicit sex or violence (think PG13).

12. sh_headStrange Horizons is a weekly online magazine seeking speculative fiction, broadly defined, previously unpublished in English.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
Up to 10,000
8¢/word < 40 days No
Other: Preferred word count: < 5,000. No simultaneous/multiple submissions, resubmissions, serialized novels/excerpts, erotica, or horror. Submissions re-open every Monday night and continue through the week until the queue is full

The following are open to submissions periodically but are currently closed. Subscribe or join their newsletters for updates.

Lightspeed is seeking original science fiction and fantasy stories of all types. No subject should be considered off-limits, and they encourage writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
1,500-10,000
8¢/word 2 days-2 weeks Yes
Other: Preferred word count: < 5,000. Reprints: 2¢/word. No simultaneous/multiple submissions, but you may submit one science fiction story and one fantasy story once every seven days. Last submission window, fantasy only: April 1-15, 2017.

nightmare_28_january_2015_bannerNightmare is seeking original horror and dark fantasy stories. All types of horror and dark fantasy are welcome. No subject is considered off-limits. They encourage writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
1,500-7,500 6¢/word 2-14 days Yes
Other: Preferred word range: < 5,000. Reprints: 1¢/word. No simultaneous/multiple submissions, but you may submit one story every 7 days. Last submission window: February 15-March 14, 2017.

The following pay SFWA professional rates and are in the process of qualifying for SFWA market status.

Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores is seeking science fiction, fantasy, myth, legend, fairy tales, and eldritch from 1,000 words on up, but favor shorter pieces. They care about character, plot, ideas, and storytelling ability whether serious or humorous.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
1,000+ 6¢/word 1-12 weeks Yes
Other: Reprints: 2¢/word. No simultaneous/multiple submissions. No horror, hate, blood and guts, explicit language, excessive violence, or sex. Submission windows: Mar 21-28; Jun 21-28; Sept 21-28; Dec 21-28.

Pseudopod is a genre magazine in audio form. They’re looking for horror: dark, weird fiction. They run the spectrum from grim realism or crime drama, to magic-realism, to blatantly supernatural dark fantasy.

Word Count Payment Response Time Reprints
flash: <1500
short: 1,500-6K
6¢/word < 2 months Yes
Other: Reprint rates vary. Prefers flash of 500–1K words; short stories of 4500 words. Accepts simultaneous but not multiple submissions. See their Submission/Closure Schedule. Flash submissions: Aug 15-Sept 15; short stories: Sept 15-Oct 31.

Here’s a handy spreadsheet incorporating the information from this post. Go HERE for the pdf version with clickable links. I’ll keep an updated list on my Writing Resources page.

Good Luck!

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Writing is…Magic

Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. ~ Stephen King

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All who wander are not lost. ~ JRR Tolkien

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