June Deadlines

The Sea is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia – June 30

Fireside Fiction  – June 30

Crossed Genres: Robots, Androids, and Cyborgs – June 30

Penumbra: Lewis Carroll – July 1

Strange Little Girls – July 15

LampLight – July 15

The Book Smugglers: Subversive Fairy Tale Retellings – July 31

This Patchwork Flesh: QUILTBAG Horror – August 31

Childhood Fears – September 15

Wily Writers: Fantasy/Love – September 30

Triptych Tales – ongoing

The Dark – ongoing

Also note: Daily Science Fiction is currently closed to pieces longer than 2,000 words, but they still need shorter stories. So if you’ve got some SF flash that needs a home, now is a good time to send it to them!

These deadlines are, as always, Submitter Beware, because I can’t vouch for any of these publishers. This is basically just a place for me to deposit short story deadlines to which I would like to submit work, so all the markets are paying (usually at least $.01 a word, although I’m getting a lot pickier about pay rates lately) and accept electronic submissions. They’re all genre markets of some kind (horror, science fiction, steampunk, fantasy).

Please be sure to check Horror TreeRalan and Dark Markets for more publications looking for submissions.  This list is by no means exhaustive. Oh, and don’t forget to check posts from previous months (they’re all categorized under Upcoming Deadlines) for publications that are still open.

If you’re an editor or publisher and you’d like me to feature your deadline here, you can email me at sarah.hans at gmail dot com with the details.

Happy Submitting!

Honoring Jay Lake

Jay Lake has unfortunately passed away. Although I only met Jay in person twice, he had a big impact on me as a writing professional. Last year, when I was putting together Steampunk World, I sent him this email.

Jay,

I read your blog post today about your declining health. I am so, so sorry to hear it. While I would love to receive a story from you for Steampunk World, new or reprint, I don’t expect one. It’s a trivial thing in the grand scheme. I’m sure it’s not high on your to-do list right now, and it’s fine if it stays that way.

I wanted to tell you how honored I have been to know you. I know we’ve only met twice (you probably don’t remember the first time, at the rave at World Steam Expo last year, and that’s okay) but you definitely left an impression. You were the only Guest of Honor up late partying into the wee hours at WSE, for one, and I remember thinking “Everyone was right, this guy is awesome!” 

For two, you were the first writer I approached about submitting a story to Steampunk World (go big or go home, right?) at Chicon, and you said yes.  And that might seem like a small thing to you, but to me that was huge. Because believe it or not I’m a shy, rather socially awkward person. I was (and am) this small-time writer nobody had ever heard of, so I was fully expecting you to say no, but you didn’t. You were lovely and kind and generous with your time and your words and because of that, because you said yes, I’ve had the courage to ask other authors to do projects with me, and some of them have said yes. And every time I’m scared to ask someone to be involved in a project with me I just think about how Jay Lake said yes. And every time it gets a little easier, I get a little bolder and braver. 

It’s funny how the smallest gestures can change the world for people. And I just wanted you to know that you changed mine with that little “yes.” 

Love,

Sarah Hans

 

I thought about waiting to post those words in a tribute blog post in the event of Jay’s death instead of bothering Jay with an email, but then I thought what a pity it would be if he never knew what a positive influence he’d been on me. So I sent them to him a year ago. I wasn’t expecting to get a response at all (because…priorities). Instead, Jay kindly sent me a story for Steampunk World. Because that’s the kind of guy Jay Lake was.

There’s a good chance that without Jay’s participation, Steampunk World would not have been so successful. Thus, the publisher and I will be donating 20% of the proceeds from the anthology’s retail sales to the memorial fund mentioned on his blog. It’s a small gesture but hopefully one that will give other cancer patients more time with their families.

I will miss working with Jay very much, but I’m very glad we have his words to enjoy again and again in the form of books and stories and essays…and also in our kindness and generosity to each other. Has anyone made a bumper sticker that says WWJLD?

Best. Panel. Ever.

Best. Panel. Ever.

Guest Blog: Nisi Shawl on Where Writers Live

The amazing Nisi Shawl wraps up my guest blog extravaganza with this entry. Her post here deals with how writers can find the perfect personal setting for living their creative lives.  Nisi’s story “Promised” will be appearing in Steampunk World

 

Location, Location, Location.

Where’s the best place for a writer like you to live?

An April 2014 list I spotted online says St. Louis.  Because of favorable experiences with the nearby Hedgebrook retreat and the Clarion West Writers Workshop, I picked Seattle, which squeaks into that post’s top ten at number nine.

When I moved to Seattle from Michigan, a local author offered his advice on where to live.  But his list of “fixer-uppers” wasn’t what I wanted.  In this man’s mind affordability trumped every other consideration, but I told him I’d rather spend my valuable time writing than sanding floors and painting drywall.

Different authors write different stories, and we want and need different living situations, too.  But we do have common points to consider when deciding where we want to be when hearing our Muses’ calls.  Below are some very specific questions to ask yourself; they’ll help you figure out if a particular place is what and where you’re looking for.

*How close will your family be to your new home?*  Too close?  Too far?  A day’s drive away?  A direct flight?  The ideal answers will likely change during your span of days; when I moved to the Northwest one of its pluses, in my view, was the way it put a couple thousand miles between me and all my relatives.  Now I’m in my tenth year of campaigning hard for my mother to come here and share my household.  And I was overjoyed when, before she died last year, my sister told me she planned to move here because of Washington’s liberal pot laws.  Which brings me to the political and other social aspects of the setting you’re pondering.

*What sort of community will you be joining?*  Do you have any idea who else lives where you’re considering going?  Other artists?  What sort of artists–performers?  Professionals?  Will you be setting up housekeeping in the midst of potential audience members and supporters?  And are you opting for a monoculture or for heterogeneity?  Will you share your new neighbors’ racial backgrounds, their sexual preferences?  Will those around you have similar physical, mental, and emotional abilities?  Will they be members of the same age group?  Or will you be the lone 50-something white cis man–and is that how you like things?

*How much is living there going to cost you?*  Though low rent was not my biggest concern when choosing where I’d wind up, I did have a budget.  You should, too.  Also, when adding up the price of living somewhere, factor in not just whatever rent’s being advertised or however much of a mortgage payment the bank demands, but other expenditures as well: taxes, maintenance fees, charges for utilities and parking spaces, and other ponderables.

*What’s great about the place?*  Typically called “amenities,” the features of a given neighborhood deemed nonessential-yet-nice will need to be weighed with your personal preferences in mind.  Is it possible to walk to a bakery or bookstore or coffee shop?  How far will you need to go to get groceries?  Is public transit available, and is it convenient and affordable?  Are there clinics nearby that will provide the medical services you’ll need?  A hospital?  Schools for you and/or your children?  What’s the area’s internet connection like?

Most of the so-called amenities mentioned above would count as essentials in my opinion.  There are other elements such as scenery and nightlife which seem much less crucial to me.  _Those_ are what I would call amenities.  YMMV, of course, as it will for most of these questions.  The same goes for the answer to my penultimate one.

*What’s the climate like?*  Seattle’s famously rainy.  I don’t mind.  Maybe you would, though.  I _do_ mind the Northwest’s shortened winter days, with sunsets around 3:30 in the afternoon, so I have technological fixes I apply.  And I also mind the way the region’s damp weather has made it impossible for some of my writing friends to stay here.  Cynthia Ward, co-author of _Writing the Other: A Practical Approach_, has seen a huge improvement in her arthritis since moving to the sunny Southwest.  The great and brave Joanna Russ, who began teaching writing at the University of Washington in 1977, lived out her final years in Tucson, Arizona, to the dismay of her former neighbors but the relief of her chronic health conditions.  Find out what you can ahead of time about what sort of weather patterns to expect in a given place, but know that direct experience will tell you more than the wisest informant about which conditions you can and can’t assimilate to.

Finally, ask yourself about a variable that “10 Best Cities” post saw as the most important: *How are you going to earn a living there?*  The list I’m referring to gave higher rankings to places where there were jobs to be had writing stuff.  Writers don’t always want or need a day job doing the same thing they do when pursuing their true careers, though.  Octavia E. Butler, for instance, went for manual labor that left her mind free for plotting and planning and thinking through the situations into which she would thrust her characters when she got home.  On the other hand, Ted Chiang is a tech writer for Microsoft.

When I moved to Seattle I did so as a transfer from one branch of a now-extinct retail chain to another.  Being employed certainly made it easier for me to find an apartment.  If you have a marketable skill, take time before you pull up stakes to learn the market for it in your potential new location.

There are many, many online rankings of possible homes for writers.  They collate figures and compare categories that their compilers sincerely believe matter.  In the end, though, it’s up to you what to ask, and what to do with the answers you find.

**

Nisi Shawl, a 2009 James Tiptree, Jr. Award-winner, contributed “Promised,” an excerpt from her forthcoming Belgian Congo steampunk novel, to Steampunk World. It’s the first time we’ve seen a steampunk story in that setting. She’s also active on Facebook, and tweets as @NisiShawl.

MARCon Schedule

I took a break from MARCon for a couple of years because they moved the convention to April. Now that it’s back to May, I’m happy to be a panelist once again! Here’s where you can find me this weekend:

FRI5:30PMFairfieldMeet the Fan Groups

FRI7:00PMSuite 501 Steampunk Story Time with Sarah Hans

FRI8:30PMFranklin ASAT2:30PMUnion BHeroine Addict: Take Two

SAT10:00PMUnion CPublishing Mishaps

If you attend my reading at 7:00 on Friday night you may win a print copy of Time Traveled Tales! See you there!

 

May Deadlines

Pieces of Everything – May 10

Crossed Genres: Typical – May 31

Plasma Frequency: Serial Fiction  – May 31

Torn Pages – May 31

Penumbra: Pain – June 1

Grimdark Grimoire – September 15

She Walks In Shadows – November 15 – December 15

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, Vol. 1 – December 31

Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 2 – December 31?

Perihelion SF – ongoing

These deadlines are, as always, Submitter Beware, because I can’t vouch for any of these publishers. This is basically just a place for me to deposit short story deadlines to which I would like to submit work, so all the markets are paying (usually at least $.01 a word, although I’m getting a lot pickier about pay rates lately) and accept electronic submissions. They’re all genre markets of some kind (horror, science fiction, steampunk, fantasy).

Please be sure to check Horror TreeRalan and Dark Markets for more publications looking for submissions.  This list is by no means exhaustive. Oh, and don’t forget to check posts from previous months (they’re all categorized under Upcoming Deadlines) for publications that are still open.

If you’re an editor or publisher and you’d like me to feature your deadline here, you can email me at sarah.hans at gmail dot com with the details.

Happy Submitting!

Steampunk Empire Symposium Schedule

Convention Season begins this weekend (for me, anyway) with the Steampunk Empire Symposium! Here’s where you can find me:

Friday

9:00 pm  – High Times in the Victorian Era

Saturday

1:00 pm – SteamLolita: Where Steampunk Meets Lolita

4:00 pm – Multiculturalism in Steampunk

I asked about having a table for Steampunk World, but the organizers never got back to me, so sorry. If you have something you want me to sign, you’ll have to corner me after a panel. I wish I was doing a reading, but this is not that sort of convention. Maybe someday when I’m a Big Name they’ll make me a guest and give me a reading slot. A girl can dream!

Bless Your Mechanical Heart is here!

I’m excited to announce the release of my latest story, “Rest in Peace,” which appears in the anthology Bless Your Mechanical HeartThis is actually my third project with editor Jennifer Brozek, but it’s the first to appear in publication. I’m especially excited about this anthology because my story is appearing alongside stories by some really big names and people I admire like Seanan McGuire, Jody Lynn Nye, Jason Sanford, and Lucy A. Snyder. This might sound silly, but somehow this anthology has given me the feeling that I’m a legitimate science fiction writer for the first time. I love horror, and got my start there, but for me writing science fiction was much more daunting, much more intimidating, a hurdle I wasn’t sure I would ever get over. This represents, for me, a big accomplishment. Squee!

And check out this incredible cover by the amazing Larry Dixon.

BYMH

Guest Blog: Graham Storrs on The Joys of Prompt Writing

Today’s guest post is from Graham Storrs, a writer from Down Under whose story “After the Party” appeared in my editorial debut, Sidekicks! Graham’s post is about prompt writing and how it has shaped his career. 

The very first time I attended a tutorial on writing, the tutor opened a newspaper and said, “This is what I use for writing prompts.” It seems he scans the headlines until one catches his fancy. It could be anything. In today’s news, for instance, I see, “Doctor’s Reject Work Contracts,” a story about 3,000 public sector doctors being forced by the State government onto very disadvantageous employment contracts. Having picked your story, the writer went on, you turn it into a “What if..?” question. “What if all those doctors decided to up stakes and leave the State?” Finally, you look at how your hypothetical would affect an individual, one of the doctors, perhaps, or a member of their family, the nurse who’s in love with her, a patient, a member of the patient’s family, and so on. I’ve never used this formula, but it’s easy to see how it could work. He claims to have based several best-selling novels on the technique.

At the time of the tutorial, I had never come across the notion of writing prompts – phrases, ideas, pictures, or whatever, intended to stimulate the imagination and kickstart the process of story creation. Yet, I realised, my very first book had been written as a result of one of them. I was a child of ten or eleven years and a creative writing exercise in a school textbook asked us to take a paragraph presented there and to continue the story, which I did, spinning it out across several notebooks into a fast-paced adventure story involving a couple of kids my age who had found an alien creature and were trying to keep it safe from the authorities – and that was a long time before E.T., I’m pleased to say.

For many writers, having ideas is not the hard part. The difficulty lies in evaluating the ideas and selecting the one that can be developed into a short story or even a novel. Yet, for many, the creative muscle needs a poke with a stick to get it twitching. Loads of websites exist to stimulate writers in this way, offering daily writing prompts or collections of writing prompts. Take a trawl through Writing Prompts, Daily Writing Prompts, Writer’s Digest’s Creative Writing Prompts, and a hundred others like them to see what’s on offer. But don’t do it just yet. I know how stimulating these things can be and I’d rather you finished reading this before you’re driven to your laptop in a frenzy of inspiration.

One of the most effective sources of writing prompts I’ve ever come across is the call for submissions to a themed anthology. The beauty of such a prompt is that, if it does inspire you, there is a market for your story, ready and waiting. Some I’ve written for in the past few years include Sidekicks! (the theme being the perspective of the great hero’s sidekick), In Situ (archeological finds), From Stage Door Shadows (the lyrics of the Elton John song, Tiny Dancer) and Masques (masks and masques). The same goes for themed writing competitions and themed magazine issues – which have also paid off in prizes and publications.

But inspiration may strike at any time from any direction. I’ve written two fat space operas based on a glimpse of a young starlet in a TV ad, and two sci-fi thrillers based on a drawing of a robot I saw on DeviantArt. I suppose the take-home message from those two examples is that, when you’re in a receptive frame of mind, just about anything and everything becomes a writing prompt.

OK. You can go and look at all those great sites now. But, before you go, why not leave a comment to share your favourite source of writing prompts?

**

Graham Storrs has released three novels since Sidekicks! came out. Two of these, Timesplash and True Path, are set in the same world as “After the Party” and were published by Pan Macmillan/Momentum. The third is a near-future thriller about the perils of augmented reality called Heaven is a Place on Earth.

April Deadlines

Streets of Shadows – April 3

Crossed Genres: Time Travel – April 30

Penumbra: Hyperspeed – May 1

Sword and Sorceress – May 19

Daylight Dims – June 30

From Out of the Dark - October 31

Ruthless Peoples (flash only) – ongoing

These deadlines are, as always, Submitter Beware, because I can’t vouch for any of these publishers. This is basically just a place for me to deposit short story deadlines to which I would like to submit work, so all the markets are paying (usually at least $.01 a word, although I’m getting a lot pickier about pay rates lately) and accept electronic submissions. They’re all genre markets of some kind (horror, science fiction, steampunk, fantasy).

Please be sure to check Horror TreeRalan and Dark Markets for more publications looking for submissions.  This list is by no means exhaustive. Oh, and don’t forget to check posts from previous months (they’re all categorized under Upcoming Deadlines) for publications that are still open.

If you’re an editor or publisher and you’d like me to feature your deadline here, you can email me at sarah.hans at gmail dot com with the details.

Happy Submitting!

Guest Blog: LaShawn M. Wanak on Making Time to Write (When You’re Out of Time)

LaShawn M. Wanak is another writer whose work I have not yet had the pleasure of publishing. I’ve long admired her work, however, and I’m very excited to have her here for the Guest Blog series to talk about time management for writers. 

Ten years ago, I made the decision to become a professional writer. Not that I wasn’t a writer before; when I was in college, I did a lot of fanfic writing, and I was working on my first novel (of course, I’m still working on that first novel, but that’s besides the point). The reason I did this was because, being a stay at home mom, I needed something to fill up the time besides endless episodes of Teletubbies and Little Einstein (which I was disturbingly hooked onto). So I wrote, and submitted, and got published.

Later, when my son was older, I did work part-time. It was perfect. I’d work four hours, pick up my son from school, write while he did his homework, cooked dinner, then write in the evenings. Then my inlaws moved into our house, and things got even better: my mother-in law did the cooking on weekdays, which meant I could spend even more time writing. It was awesome. For three and a half years, I had what I’d considered the perfect creative schedule.

Naturally, of course it didn’t last.

Now, I’ve gone back to being employed full-time, which I haven’t been in ten years. A couple of weeks ago, my inlaws moved out after living with us for three and a half years. That’s a lot of change in a short time. It’s a drastic change.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not griping. These were necessary, positive changes. How many times I’ve griped about my inlaws bickering and just wishing I had a quiet house for once? Or being frustrated at all the work I had to do but not being able to finish it because I was part-time? All the changes that happened this year are good, and I don’t want to give them up.

But still, change is change. And having the normal routine being shaken up is hard. I have become spoiled from having so much time in my life. Time to run errands, time to take care of my son…and time to write. Now, I have less time to do things, and I have to figure out how to balance writing, which is the soul of my life, into it.

There was a period of time when I stopped writing. It was right after I graduated from college, got married, and started working at a new job. Remember the fanfic writing I mentioned at the beginning of this post? That stopped. And so did work on my novel. I wanted to write, needed to write. But life had become so crazy busy that by the time I came home from work, I was so exhausted, I had no headspace left to even contemplate working on fanfic, let alone write.

One day, on my way to work, I checked my watch. It was one of those watches that had a tiny window that showed a sun during the day,  a moon at night. With my watch, the mechanism had jammed, so the sun and the moon were both stuck in the window, perpetually stuck between dawn…or dusk, if you prefer.

And the most depressing thought popped into my head:  there’s a story in that. I don’t know what, but I want to make up a story about that. But when? I have so much to do…I don’t have time. And what would I write anyway? I can’t think of anything now. All sorts of ideas would come into my head. But now, I got nothing.

I went to work. I didn’t write anything down. And I felt miserable. I didn’t have writer’s block. It was more writer’s constipation.

Now that I’m writing and publishing my work, I never want to experience that again. So I do what it takes to keep it going.

On Monday night, I finally bit the bullet and set my alarm for 5:30am to get up and write. I’m a night person, so I didn’t think it would be possible, but I was already so tired from running around and catching up on things, I was glad to crash.

Tuesday moring, at 5:30am, I woke up. The house was dark. Very quiet. I wandered the rooms with a cup of hot tea, wondering if I could do this, if I could really do this.

Then I opened my laptop and wrote.

Writing’s a crack habit. I suffer from withdrawal symptoms when I don’t do it. It’s the best bad habit one could have. I love writing because it takes me places I’ve never been before, whether if I’m doing it for an audience of one (me), or hundreds of people I will never see. And writing changes you, makes you into something you’d never thought possible.

As I am writing this, I am watching the world gradually brighten into being through my window. Outside the sun is rising, though in the west, the moon is still there, shining bright. Outside, it looks like dawn.  It also looks like dusk.

There’s a story in that somewhere. Think it’s time to write it.

***

LaShawn M. Wanak is a graduate of Viable Paradise XV and has been published in Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction,  and Ideomancer. Writing stories keeps her sane. Well, that and pie. Find links to her stories at her blog, The Café in the Woods.