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!

Publisher’s Spotlight: Deadline Round-Up

Have you been keeping track of all the publishing deadlines coming up this summer?  No?  Well, let’s see if I can make that a touch easier for you.  Below is a list of all the Publishers featured on our Publisher’s Spotlight with links to the original posts AND the deadlines for their current calls.

Also, here’s a link to all publishers with rolling submissions, meaning they do not have a deadline (but they might close for the holidays; check individual pages for details.)

Freeze Frame Fiction is currently CLOSED for submissions.

As always, don’t forget to check out their individual sites as it will have all updated info.

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.

Publisher’s Spotlight: Haunted Waters Press

It’s time for another three-for-one special on this week’s Publisher’s Spotlight!  Haunted Waters Press is a small, independent publisher that offers several opportunities to submit, including the following open calls below.

From the Depths 2016: Outsiders Theme
  • In their own words: “From the Depths is the annual literary journal of Haunted Waters Press. Featuring works of prose and poetry, the journal is released in the fall of each year. Described as “one of the most compelling and beautifully illustrated literary journals,” From the Depths was created to showcase and celebrate the writing of new, emerging, and established authors.

    Inspired by the Grand Prize Winning Entry and Runners Up in the 2016 Haunted Waters Press Fiction & Poetry Open, the theme for the 2016 issue is Outsiders. We seek fiction and poetry highlighting the unique struggles, circumstances, and journeys that set individuals apart from others. We look forward to reading your work!

  • Genres they accept:  Any. “We are interested in stories that entertain us, stories that captivate us, but most of all, stories that haunt us.”
  • Word count limit: 7,500 or less for fiction and flash fiction; poetry any length.
  • Payment: $0.01 to $0.04 per word for fiction and $20 for poetry.
  • Reading Fee: $3-$10 donation for their Expedited Decision.
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: No Simultaneous Submissions unless submitted via Expedited Decision.  Expedited Decision submissions are reviewed within seven days.
    • Note: Expedited Decision is the only option currently open, so Yes, they do.
  • Multiple Submissions**: One active submission per contributor. Please wait until a decision has been reached prior to submitting additional work.
  • Previously Published Submissions: Yes, but “entries must not have appeared in print. Please be certain there are no known copyright restrictions.”
  • Schedule: March 1, 2016 – September 20th via Expedited Decision.

So what is “Expedited Decision?”  Essentially it’s a reading fee – you send them a contribution between $3 – $10 and they’ll fast-track your submission so you get it back within a week.  They do have a free reading period, but the deadline for 2016 has passed.

“Hey Liz, I’m strapped for cash.  Any chance of a free submission?”  Why, yes!  Check out…

Penny Fiction Competition 2016
  • In their own words: “Tell us story in exactly 16 words—no more, no less.  Extra points will be awarded for those writers who adhere to the rules. Not really. There are no points. Just read the contest rules below and impress Penny with your ability to follow instructions.”
  • Genres they accept:  Any, but “no poetry, tag lines, or jokes.”
  • Word count limit: 16.  No, really.  But on the plus side, “One entry per author, per round. (Contributors are encouraged to submit multiple stories in a single entry, but may only transmit one submission per round.) One story is fine. Four is cool. Twenty is borderline obnoxious. We like obnoxious! Just remember: a single entry with multiple stories!”
  • Payment: Grand Prize: $25 and publication in the 2016 issue of From the Depths.  Selected Runners Up will also receive publication.
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: No.
  • Multiple Submissions**: See above.
  • Previously Published Submissions: No.
  • Schedule: Round Three – June 1, 2016 – July 31, 2016

“I mean, that’s great and all, but $25 won’t go far.  You got anything with a bigger pay out?”

Yes, increasingly particular imaginary construct!  I do!

Short Shorts: A Summer 2016 Flash Fiction Contest
  • In their own words: “We seek flash fiction of 500 words or less.  Winning entries will contribute to our upcoming “Outsiders” theme highlighting the unique struggles, circumstances, and journeys that set individuals apart from others.”
  • Genres they accept:  Any.
  • Word count limit: 500 or less. Up to three works may be included in each entry.
  • Payment:
    • Grand Prize
      • $250
      • Publication in the 2016 issue of From the Depths

      • Featured Author Interview to accompany published work in print.

    • Runners Up
      • All entries eligible for publication in the 2016 issue of From the Depths.

      • Contributors to be paid $20 for each published story

      • Online Featured Author Interview.

  • Reading Fee: $10
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: Yes (see Submission page for details and limits.)
  • Multiple Submissions**: Yes (see Submission page for details and limits.)
  • Previously Published Submissions: Yes, but “entries must not have appeared in print. Please be certain there are no known copyright restrictions.”
  • Schedule: May 5, 2016 – September 20, 2016

Keep this in mind in case there’s a Short Fiction you want to submit to From the Depths.  Since it’ll cost you either way, it’s probably worth it to pay your $10 here in case you’re selected for a Runner Up slot.

Ok guys, I think that’s plenty of info for now.  Don’t forget to refresh your memory with the reminders below and check out the links for more info on these opportunities!

*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.

Happy submitting!

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.

Publisher’s Spotlight: Phobos

Let’s get back into the swing of things and get back to a typical Publisher’s Spotlight.  This week we’re looking at the Deep Black Sea theme for Phobos magazine.

  • In their own words: “For our fourth issue, Deep Black Sea, we want short stories, flash, and poetry hauled from the brine of oceans both real and fantastic: the shipwrecked rocket bobbing in the black ocean waves of a starless planet, its bloodied crew and their flashlights at the hatch that opens into the perfect dark, and the heavy thump against the hull; the work song of a dozen sailors, and the lilting mezzo-soprano that begins to harmonize from the empty crow’s nest; the fleeing galleon’s dreadful captive gnawing the last rivet from its iron box; the granddaughter that chucks a sharpened stick and spears a skull-sized opal blob galloping across the sand on its little wet fingers.”
  • Genres they accept: Any, but especially the weird stuff.  “We publish macabre, astounding, unsettling, thrilling, baffling, and terrifying stories in the tradition of Shirley Jackson, Ambrose Bierce, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.”
  • Word count limit: 2,500 words for short stories and poetry, up to 1,000 words for flash fiction.  “Flash stories under 1,000 words have a much greater chance of being accepted.”
  • Payment: $0.05 per word or $20 minimum for poetry.
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: Unknown
  • Multiple Submissions**: Unknown
  • Schedule: Reading from May 1st to July 31st, 2016

*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:  Past issues can be found here.  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.  They also have an FAQ page for anything not covered in the guidelines.

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!

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.