Publisher’s Spotlight: Third Flatiron

It’s been awhile since we highlighted a themed anthology publisher, so let’s take a look at the speculative fiction interests of Third Flatiron!  Details below:

  • In their own words: “We are looking for submissions to our quarterly themed anthologies… Please send us short stories that revolve around age-old questions and have something illuminating to tell us as human beings. Fantastical situations and creatures, exciting dialog, irony, mild horror, and wry humor are all welcome.”Role models for the type of fiction we want include Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur C. Clarke, Dan Simmons, Connie Willis, Vernor Vinge, and Ken Kesey. We want to showcase some of the best new shorts available today.”
  • Genres they accept: Our focus is on science fiction and fantasy and anthropological fiction. We want tightly plotted tales in out-of-the-ordinary scenarios. Light horror is acceptable, provided it fits the theme.
  • Word count limit: 1,500 – 3,000 words. Inquire if longer.
  • Payment: 6¢/word (U.S./SFWA professional rate)
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: No
  • Multiple Submissions**: No
  • Schedule: Please see the main page for upcoming themes.  Current themes as of this posting are:
    • Cat’s Breakfast” Reading period: Feb 15 – April 15, 2017
    • Strange Beasties” Reading period: May 15 – July 15, 2o17

Bonus Feature: “For each anthology, we will also accept  a few very short humor pieces on the order of the “Shouts and Murmurs” feature in The New Yorker Magazine (600 words or so). These can be written from a first-person perspective or can be mini-essays that tell people what they ought to do, how to do something better, or explain why something is like it is, humorously. An SF/Fantasy bent is preferred.”

*This means whether they will allow you to submit this story to another publisher at the same time or not.

**This means whether you can send them more than one story at at time.

Reminders when submitting:

Read the publication:  Their stories are freely accessible on the site.  You have no excuse not to do your research and see what kind of style gets their attention.  It will also give you an idea of what’s been done before so you don’t end up sending them something too similar to a recently published story.

Read the guidelines: I don’t post everything required for their submissions, just the basics.  Furthermore, this is a static post.  Publishers change their submission requirements at will so it’s always a good idea to read and re-read them, even if you’ve submitted to them before.

Follow the rules: Do I really need to say this?  Don’t send pieces over the word count.  Don’t send content they specifically warn against.  Don’t send weirdly formatted manuscripts if they give you specific instructions.  “But Liz, I–” Nope!  No, no, no.  If you do not follow the rules you risk being a pariah to that magazine – and worse, editors can exchange notes on who’s being a pain.

Happy submitting!

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I Hold Your Hand in Mine by Tom Lehr

Liz’s Note: Today’s “story” is actually a hilarious song by the fantastic Tom Lehr.  If you’re looking for excellent MicroFiction sometimes you need to look no farther than a talented lyricist.

I hold your hand in mine, dear,
I press it to my lips.
I take a healthy bite
From your dainty fingertips.
My joy would be complete, dear,
If you were only here,
But still I keep your hand
As a precious souvenir.
The night you died I cut it off.
I really don’t know why.
For now each time I kiss it
I get bloodstains on my tie.
I’m sorry now I killed you,
For our love was something fine,
And till they come to get me
I shall hold your hand in mine.

Ebb and Flow

Celia sat in the little rowboat, the rhythmic sound of wooden planks slapping the waves all to keep her company as she floated further from the bank of the river.

The current took the boat westward away from the looming plantation, white as bone, its windows full of soft yellow light.  She felt as thought it was watching her and took only shallow breaths until it passed from sight.

The forged papers were carefully stashed in her satchel along with a small sum of money she hoped would quiet whoever might ask too many questions regarding where she came from, where she was going.

Ahead was a lone woman with a rifle slung over her shoulder, waving her on.  Soon they’d be running, but for now she let the ebb and flow carry her onward to days when she could breathe easy once more.

Publisher’s Spotlight: Grievous Angel

Who likes Short Shorts? Grievous Angel likes short shorts!  They’ll pay Pro-rate for anything under 700 words (and accept poetry too!)  Details below:

  • In their own words: “We are looking for original Poetry and Flash Fiction…At the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious, apart from the word length, the key factor with Flash Fiction is it has all the elements of a traditional self-contained short story, including a beginning, a middle and an end, even if some aspects may be implied. Flash Fiction is NOT an extract or vignette from a longer story and should never end with the words To Be Continued…
  • Genres they accept:We are a SFF&H genre-only webzine. This means Science FictionFantasyHorror and related speculative fiction sub-genres, including Urban Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Mythos, Steampunk and Magical Realism, as well Humour/Satire riffs on these genre.” (Emphasis is theirs.  Copy/paste did something funny today.)
  • Word count limit: Flash: 700 words max. Poetry: max 36 lines each, up to 5 poems submitted at one time.   They encourage micro-fiction.
  • Payment: $0.06 per word or $1 per line of poetry.  $5 minimum for the short stuff.  (Note: You’ll need a PayPal account to accept their payment.)
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: No
  • Multiple Submissions**: No (but up to 5 poems at a time.)  Please do not submit again until 6 weeks have passed (it helps keep the slush pile down.)
  • Schedule: Open.

So get to it and submit those short shorts today!

*This means whether they will allow you to submit this story to another publisher at the same time or not.

**This means whether you can send them more than one story at at time.

Reminders when submitting:

Read the publication:  Flash is short and their stories are freely accessible on the site.  You have no excuse not to do your research and see what kind of style gets their attention.  It will also give you an idea of what’s been done before so you don’t end up sending them something too similar to a recently published story.

Read the guidelines: I don’t post everything required for their submissions, just the basics.  Furthermore, this is a static post.  Publishers change their submission requirements at will so it’s always a good idea to read and re-read them, even if you’ve submitted to them before.

Follow the rules: Do I really need to say this?  Don’t send pieces over the word count.  Don’t send content they specifically warn against.  Don’t send weirdly formatted manuscripts if they give you specific instructions.  “But Liz, I–” Nope!  No, no, no.  If you do not follow the rules you risk being a pariah to that magazine – and worse, editors can exchange notes on who’s being a pain.

Happy submitting!

Traditions Across Time

Clara felt déjà vu wash over her as she became caught in the folds of time.  Her skin, wrinkled with age, became taught and smooth, liver spots shrinking into freckled birthmarks on the back of her sun-kissed hands.  Her small fingers twisted blonde hair over and under while her sister fidgeted below her.

“Sit still, Hannah!”

“I’m trying!  Are you done yet?”

“Almost.”  Clara reached down to pick another dandelion from the field.  She wove the golden strands around the flower, trying her best to hold tight as they slipped through her slender fingers and stuck out at odd ends.

“Grandma?”

Clara snapped back to the present, her wrinkled hands still grasping her granddaughter’s golden hair.  They sat facing the ornate dressing room mirror, white from head to toe.

“Are you done?”

“Almost.”  She fished a white rose from the wedding bouquet and slipped it gracefully into Hannah’s hair.  Perfect.

God Given Talents

Moses stood by the side of the highway, his staff in one hand, a construction sign in the other.  He twisted it to “Slow” and the cars sped by, one by one past the towering waters of the sea.  The traffic in the other direction piled up behind the “Stop” portion of his sign, waiting for their turn.

A pick-up truck slowed as it approached, the headlights reflecting off of Moses’ orange construction vest.

“Hey, Moe!”  The driver gave him a wave from the inside of his vehicle.

“Evening, Phil.”

“Looks like it’s gonna be another late night tonight.  The boss is calling for overtime to finish up this section of the tunnel construction.”

The old man groaned.

“Hey, at least it’s more money.  Once this project’s finished you’ll be out of a job.”

“Doubt it.  Are you out of a job every time you finish a tunnel?”

“S’pose not.”  He spat a thick glob of chewing tobacco onto the gravel.  “Guess that’s how it is with all contract work.  You do your job until they’re done with you, then you got to move on and find someplace else that’s looking for a skilled pair of hands.”

“Ain’t that the truth.”

Moses watched Phil drive away and turned the sign so the other line of traffic could pass through the parted waters.  He sighed.  It’s a living.

The Memory Forge

Melissa sits too close to the fire, staring into the flames.  The logs crackle and shift, sending a flutter of glowing embers shuddering into the sky like fairies.  Behind her the other girls are running through twilight dew, clasping their hands around the fireflies that dot the clearing.

“Here,” Scoutmaster Jeannie says, handing her a skewered marshmallow.  “Make yourself useful.”

Melissa smiles up at her, dipping the plump, too-white blob into the flames.  Jeannie tips the edge of the skewer higher, so that the orange flame just barely licks the bottom of the marshmallow.

“Medium rare, if you please.”  She winks at Melissa.

Melissa’s daughter will roll her eyes at that one day, as well as the many stories and inside jokes her mother will relate from her days at Girl Scout camp.  But for now the fire of childhood is lit, and her memories are just being forged.

Without a Net

Adriana stretched out her left leg until her big toe lined up with the taught braided rope.  She always did her routine barefoot, the coarse fibers of the rope reassuring against her calloused feet.  She knew other acts who used a nylon wire, but she preferred the scratchy thickness of it.

She kicked off from the platform, end over end.  She cartwheeled down the line as the audience gasped, her arms taking hold halfway across, swinging her legs above her into a handstand.

“Look Ma, no hands!”  When she was ten Adriana rode her bicycle down the drive, thrilled at her achievement.

“Adri!” her mother shrieked.  “Cuidado!  You’ll fall!”

It was her scream that caused Adriana to lose her balance, but Mama said it was inevitable.

She exhaled and raised one hand off the rope, balancing on only one point.

The key, she knew, was never to doubt yourself.

#MFM Winner: Gerry Kennedy

Congratulations to Gerry Kennedy, winner of our final #MicroFictionMonday contest!  I hope you enjoyed reading this month’s winners as much as I did!  Things should be going back to normal around here for a little while, but without further ado I present the winning entry!

Dinosaur Jr.

The teenage reptoid stands preening himself at the mirror, tugging his baseball cap lower over his brow, a toothy carnivorous grin split across his face. He looks good enough to eat, even if he says so himself.  Yup, this will look near enough human in the night of downtown.

He hopes to sneak out unseen, but millions of years of predatory instinct hardwired into large hunting eyes means no movement goes unnoticed.

Father: “Hey, where you heading son?”

Son: “Overground, I gotta date.”

Father: “That’s my boy.”

Mother: “So who is this lucky young reptoid? Do we know her?”

Son: “No, she’s a… um… a human.”

Mother and Father roar “A HUUUMAN?!!!”

Father:  “Are you crazy son? We eat humans, we don’t date them. Jeez, today’s kids!”

Mother: “And how would you know a human?”

Son: “Social Media.”

“Damned computers,” Father growls.

Son: “Sure, we’re always on the web. She says her parents are so old-fashioned they are practically dinosaurs, so we have a lot in common.”

Father growls louder.

Mother: “And, um, does this human have a name?”

Son: “She’s called Katie.”

“K/T?” Father explodes. “K/T? Are you trying to give me a heart attack son – is that what you’re trying to do to your old man huh? Next you’ll be telling me her surname is ‘Extinction’.”

Mother: “Son, you know how father feels about the ‘E’ word.”

Son: “I didn’t say ‘Extinction’ – he did!”

Father howls longer, louder and harder.

Mother: “Best you go now and I’II try and calm Father. If your date doesn’t work out tonight you can always bring her back here and we can have her for supper tomorrow evening; Father would like that.”

Son ascends towards street-level shuddering with indignity; Katie is right he thought, parents today are just sooooo prehistoric.

About the Author:

Gerry Kennedy lives in London, still hopefully seeking out the upsides within the downsides of life. Follow Gerry on Twitter: @GerryKennedy10