Publisher’s Spotlight: Deep Magic

Time for another submission opportunity!  This week we’ve got a publisher interested in some good, clean, speculative fiction.  Check out what Deep Magic wants to publish below!

  • In their own words: “Deep Magic is a quarterly electronic magazine that publishes clean short fiction in the fantasy and science fiction genres…We want a broad, family-friendly audience; think original Lord of the Rings trilogy or Star Wars.”
  • Preferred Content: “What you first need to understand is that we aim to be the dominant magazine for clean fantasy and sci-fi stories. It’s our tag-line. If you can tell a gripping story that doesn’t rely on sex, swearing, and graphic violence—you’ve come to the right place.”
  • Word count limit: 1,000 to 40,000; but note that we cap payment at 10,000 words.
  • Payment: $.06 per word for the first 9,999 words, with payment capped at $599 for stories longer than 10,000 words.
  • Reprints:  For re-printed stories that are not currently available elsewhere on the internet for free, we pay $.02 per word for the first 10,000 words, with payment capped at $200 for stories longer than 10,000 words.
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: No
  • Multiple Submissions**: No
  • Response Time: We strive to respond to submissions within ten to twelve weeks, but our times may fluctuate. Please do not inquire within the first six months.
  • Current Submission Grinder Stats:
    • Accepted:  2.17% – avg 108 days
    • Rejected:  97.20% – avg 58 days (17.25% of rejections are personal)

*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:  You’ll need to purchase an issue to see what they publish, but it’s usually worth it to buy at least one copy to get a better handle on their style preferences.  This will help you determine if your work is a good fit, or if you’re like me and you writing varies, it will help you narrow down which submission to send.  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.

Also – and I feel like I need to point this out, because paying magazines are getting scarcer – support your publishers.  Buy their content.  Read your contemporaries and follow them on social media if you’re so inclined.  Writing is a small community, and it’s important that we contribute to its future.

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!


Publishing Update

Hi all!  The holidays – and aftermath – really did a number on me this year, so I’m taking a break from sharing my thoughts on writing technique and spotlights to share with you some publishing updates and exciting news of what’s to come!

Birds of a Feather is out NOW in the Bubble Off-Plumb Anthology

This one hit in the middle of the holiday craziness, so I missed getting a chance to post about it until now.  One of my shorts, Birds of a Feather, is included in the Bubble Off-Plumb anthology currently on sale through  This story is a personal favorite of mine, a ridiculously fun little piece about an odd-couple living situation featuring an elderly woman and a penguin.

Googling surreal images is a great writing prompt exercise, by the way.

The whole book is like that, so if you’re looking for the odd and unexpected collection of short stories, you should absolutely get yourself a copy.

The Places We Go Where Others May Not Follow takes 5th in Phantom Flash

I’m still fantastically excited about this one, even more so than yesterday when I heard the news!  I’ve been trying to breaking Molotov Cocktail for awhile, and it didn’t seem real until I sat down to write this post.

For those of you who haven’t been following my nonsense on twitter (for shame, go do that), yesterday Molotov Cocktail announced the winners for their Phantom Flash contest and my entry, The Places We Go Where Others May Not Follow placed at #5!  Check back next week where I’ll link to the story so you can enjoy it along with the other fabulous tales that made it in!

If you want to get in on some of that for the next contest, go check them out!  I wrote about Molotov Cocktail on Publisher’s Spotlight about two years back; they take rolling submissions throughout the year (no payment, sorry) and run contests every couple or months or so with low entry fees and a shot at prize money for your efforts.  Keep in mind that their original Spotlight might have some out of date info in there, so check out their site directly for updated submission guidelines if you want in.

Other Publishing News

Also coming down the pipeline, I’ve got a horror short story due out sometime this month so expect a link when that drops, and I have an advance PDF copy of Welcome to Miskatonic University sitting in my inbox.  If you ordered a copy through the Kickstarter you should be seeing that in the mail sometime next month, according to the updated schedule.  I’ll be posting about that one as soon as I’ve got it in my hands.

Thank you all for your support and for checking out what I’ve got out there, I’m excited to share much more with you this year!

5 Free Resources to Find Active Submission Calls

Hi all, and happy December!  I hope y’all have had a productive year with your writing projects.  For me, December is the time to reflect on my goals from last year and plan for the future.  This year I met my goal of 52 submissions (one per week) and I even managed to get a few acceptances out of it.  (Info forthcoming as the publications hit shelves… er, interwebs, etc.)

So this year I’d like to pay it forward by offering up some of my resources for finding publications.  As long-time readers know, I often post Publisher’s Spotlights to highlight recurring publications and the occasional one-off submission call.  You can look forward to more of that in 2019, but in the meantime, here are five resources that will help you find the perfect home for your work in progress.

1. The Submission Grinder (and Duotrope)

I did a full blog post on how to use The Submission Grinder to find the perfect publisher, and I recommend checking that out if you’re new to researching publishers in general.  For the rest of you, here’s a quick recap of what they offer:

  • Searchable database of current publishers, including an advanced search to match your WIP with the perfect fit
  • Research a particular market’s submission statistics, pulled from voluntary data submitted by users (this is free to view)
  • Log in to track your submissions and submit your data (this is also free)
  • Check out Sub Grinder’s FAQ for a quick run-down of how they operate

If you’re feeling fancy, you can also check out Duotrope, which has similar functionality.  Duotrope is a paid service but you can get a free trial if you want to compare it to Sub Grinder and see which suits you better.  For more on Duotrope, click here.

2. Submittable

If you don’t already have an account with Submittable, you should get one, for the following reasons:

  • Many publishers already use this system and require you to submit through it
  • It tracks your submission data automatically when you submit to publishers through it, as opposed to Submission Grinder, where you have to enter everything manually
  • It’s free

When you log in to your account, you will also get access to their “Discover” feature, which lists upcoming calls from various publishers.  That link won’t work unless you’ve got an account, but here’s what it looks like:

Submittable search
Yes, I realize it’s back-dated from last week, it takes me awhile to write a blog post.

You can filter down search results based on fees, deadlines, and search for publishers based on tags.  It’s not as advanced as Sub Grinder or Duotrope but you can follow publishers like you would on social media and save upcoming calls to check back on.  There’s a Submissions tab to track what you’ve sent to whom, and you can also save personal info in your profile so your bio/cover letter loads automatically in those fields.

The main page and “How it Works” section are tailored for companies looking to accept submissions rather than those who submit, so you’ll want to check out this page for more relevant information for writers.

3. Horror Tree

Don’t let the name fool you, Horror Tree isn’t solely for Horror markets, but it does lean heavily toward speculative fiction and genre calls.  Like the other sites on this list, it has the functionality to filter based on submission type and pay, but my favorite feature is the calendar view.

I need a deadline to function, so a lot of the time I will write a new piece for a specific submission call.  This is a great way to see at a glance what calls are due when so you can plan out your month and find new opportunities.  I often start here if I’m dealing with writer’s block and looking for fresh ideas and new projects.  Then, if the piece I write for a call isn’t accepted, I’ll circle back to the Sub Grinder to see who else might want what I wrote.

For more info on what they offer and their general mission statement, click here.

4. Master’s Review Blog

The Master’s Review is a publication in its own right that will get its own Publisher’s Spotlight next year.  They tend to be more literary and have a soft spot for emerging voices.  Each month they compile upcoming deadlines to highlight various opportunities for writers on their blog .

You can expect their January post in the next couple weeks, but in the meantime check out their post from this December to catch any last minute 2018 submission calls and bookmark their page so you can check back after the new year.

For more information about The Master’s Review, click here.

5. Freedom with Writing

What’s easier than a newsletter that e-mails writing opportunities directly to your inbox?  Freedom with Writing comes exactly as advertised: they send you writing jobs.  What kinds of writing jobs?  All kinds.  Publishers looking for articles.  Contests.  Fiction publishers.  Mileage may vary on this one just because what they send is so diverse.

My advice?  Sign up, delete the e-mails that don’t interest you and save the ones you do.  Here’s a link to one of their newsletters from this month so you have an idea of what to expect.

Hopefully those sites are enough to get you started with next year’s submission planning.  Got any go-to resources to share with the class?  Link them in the comments below and share the love!  Also, some of the calls linked above are good ’til the end of the month so see if any interest you and get those last subs in for December!

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Submitting, y’all!  See you in 2019!

Why was my submission rejected?

So, you’ve done the hard work of writing your short story, editing it to the best of your abilities and sending it out to a publisher.  Then, a few weeks later an e-mail pops up in your inbox: thanks but no thanks.  “So what went wrong?” you may be asking yourself. Why was my submission rejected?

First off, you’re in good company.  This year was one of my best in terms of output with 45 submissions and 4 acceptances, but you’ll notice that even then I’m only at a 10% acceptance rate.  That’s a lot of ‘no’s.  So many that I default assume that a submission e-mail is a rejection before I open it.  (And statistically I’m right.)

But anyway, we’re not here to sulk or boast, we’re here to talk about what you can control and how to improve.  So let’s look at three reasons why submissions are commonly rejected and how to keep yourself in good standing.

It Wasn’t a Good Fit

Ooh, tough break, kid.  Probably the highest tier rejection; your piece was good, but not quite good enough to make the cut.  This can be for a number of reasons:

  • Your story might not have worked well with the others that were already selected
  • Your story might’ve been similar to another one, and they chose that one instead
  • If this isn’t for an anthology, it could just be a timing issue – I got a rejection once because my story featured a unicorn in the opening scene and “we’ve just seen too many unicorns as of late.”  (For the record: the unicorn only appeared in that one scene but hey, their fault for not reading past the first page.)

How do I know if this is me:  Sometimes a publisher will be kind enough to offer feedback or tell you how close you got it.  Maybe you got a second-round confirmation but didn’t make the final cut.  You can also check out the anthology to see what did make it in and see if your piece might not have worked well with the other content.

How do I fix this:  Check out other publishers.  Your best bet with a good story that didn’t make the cut is to send it somewhere else, preferably somewhere where your style and voice fits right in.  Be sure to give it a cursory read-through when you get it back to see if it has any glaring errors or if you need to revise the content for the next publisher.  Then, send it back out there and try, try again.  At any rate, don’t despair.  Most stories will get rejected a few times before someone picks it up.  In the meantime, make sure you’re reading the publications you submit to.  It will give you a better sense of what styles they like and which pieces you should send them in the future.

It Needs Work

So your story has been out to a few publishers and hasn’t gotten any takers.  It might be time to swallow your pride and admit that this one might need a serious revision before you send it back out there.  If you want to explore what might not be working, I suggest going back to the Content Checklist and make sure that your story doesn’t have any major issues with any of the three core story components:

  • Pacing: does it drag?  Is it confusing?
  • Characters: are they interesting?  Do I care what happens to them?
  • Conflict: did anything meaningful happen?  Was it a satisfying conclusion?

How do I know if this is me:  Publishers will rarely tell you why a piece isn’t working for them, but if you go awhile without any notes whatsoever it might be time to solicit some feedback.  Do you have over five rejections?  Over ten?  When was the last time you revised it?  Read the stories the publisher selected and compare them to the story you sent them.  Are you writing on the same level as the competition?  Check that above link for more details on common content issues if you think this might be you.

Another note: it’s possible that if you have an objectively good story and you’re just aiming too high to compete.  Are you submitting to only pro-rated publishers that pay $0.05 per word or more?  Are they the kind of publisher who only prints established authors, winning Hugos and Nebulas year after year?  I’m not saying don’t submit to them, aim as high as you please, but maybe curb your expectations a little.  The competition is that much fiercer at the pro level.

How do I fix this:  Revise.  Start there.  You know that nagging feeling in the back of your head that says this flash fiction piece really ought to be expanded but you don’t want to because that’s a lot of work?  Listen to that feeling.  Same thing if you have a 10,000 word epic that drags in the middle.  Learn to kill your darlings.  You’re going to have to learn how to make those hard edits if you want to be published.

If you’re having trouble figuring out what’s wrong with the story, make friends with some writers on Twitter.  Join a writer’s group through MeetUp, or even ask someone who knows something about what makes a good story.  If I have a story that I know is good but has problems, I will send it to a publisher who routinely gives out feedback just so I can get their professional opinion.  And no matter what kind of feedback you get, be open minded.  Sometimes the best thing for a story is a complete re-write.  It can be tedious, but you have to put your ego aside and do the real work to whip it into shape.

Lastly, if you’re aiming for the big leagues, you might want to try a less competitive publisher with semi-pro pay rates.  Build your skills in the minor leagues while you work up some credits and keep trying for those pro-rated markets.  They’re tough to get into, and there’s no shame in missing the mark.  Even successful authors get rejected; it’s a numbers game.  That said, keep revising.  You’ll never consistently get into the pro markets if you don’t sharpen your skills.

You Done Goofed

I really debated skipping this one, but it shows up so often on the list of publisher’s pet peeves that I figured it was worth a nod as one of the top three reasons for rejection.  To recap, this is for all those submissions where you messed up:

  • Sent in content that didn’t fit the submission call
  • Didn’t follow the word count limits
  • Ignored the formatting (either on purpose or because they stuck it somewhere obscure on their website)
  • Either did not read or assumed that the rules did not apply to you

How do I know if this is me:  Did the rejection come back so fast you wonder if they read past the first paragraph?  They might not have if you didn’t follow the rules.  To be fair, maybe you missed some rules on accident, but this is more of a problem with carelessness than content.  And if you deliberately ignored the rules in order to stand out from the crowd?  Hoo boy.  Sit down, we need to take you back to square one to explain basic etiquette and how not to get yourself blacklisted among publishers.

How do I fix it:  Read the directions.  This is an easy fix, guys.  If you thought you could get away with being careless, you can’t.  If you thought ignoring the rules is clever, you’re probably going into the reject pile before they even open your file.  We all make mistakes, but you’re only going to improve your acceptance count if you learn from them.

So there you go!  Got any tips on how you improved your own rate of acceptance?  Questions about how to revise?  Post ’em in the comments and share with the class!

Happy submitting!

What’s the difference between Suspense, Thriller and Action Adventure?

Hi guys, this is going to be another NYC Midnight genre primer post.  In the past we’ve discussed the different flavors of the comedy genres, particularly political satire, but this is another common issue that vexes NYC Midnight contestants.

Every year I see the same flurry of panicked tweets and forum posts asking if anyone knows the difference between thriller and suspense.  I’ve had my own issues with it in the past, but after some diligent research I think I can help shine a light on where the categories overlap – and where they differ.

To start with, let’s take a look at NYC Midnight’s official genre definitions before we break this down a bit further (I’ve edited them down to their core components for brevity’s sake, but the full definitions are linked above.  Emphasis mine.)

Summary of Genre Definitions

Suspense: A story that slowly generates feelings of anxiety, anticipation and uncertainty in the audience. Common elements: slower pace, heightened anticipation, audience knows more than main character, dramatic music.

Thriller: A fast-paced, gripping, plot-centered story…usually the protagonist is in danger from the outset. These fast-paced stories typically involve major threats…and the attempts to prevent something from occurring. Common elements: faster pace, action scenes, plot twists, prominent villain, “ticking clock” timing.

Action-Adventure: A suspenseful story in which a mission involving risk and danger forms the primary story line…Action sequences are frequently featured, especially those involving chases, explosions, and attacks. Common elements: likeable hero, unlikeable antagonist, physical action, fast pace, violence, changeable setting.

Ok, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the three areas that best define these genres as a group: Pacing, Plot, and Dramatic Tension.


Pacing is the most obvious way to define these genres, which is why I grouped them together initially.  Think of it as a sliding scale, with Suspense on the low side, Action-Adventure on the high side, and Thriller somewhere in the middle.

Pacing scale

Suspense has the slowest pace, with tension gradually building to a climax. Thriller is more fast paced, and centers around what happens after the danger has been established.  If suspense is waiting for the shoe to drop, thriller is the sequence that follows the reveal.  Action-adventure is also typically fast paced, but the scenes more often involve direct conflicts such as fight scenes or escape from imminent danger, whereas a thriller can have more of a psychological element that’s common in suspense.


Like pacing, plot drives the story for these three genres.  Don’t think of plot as how complicated the story is (it’s flash, you won’t have room for complex twists) but rather, what is the conflict and how does it play out? 

Suspense, with its focus on anxiety and building tension, can have a much more mundane set of external events while focusing on the internal conflicts or employing dramatic tension (see below.)  Action-adventure is on the other end of the spectrum with more overt conflicts between two opposing forces, be it a conflict with a nefarious villain or the natural environment as in disaster movies.

Thrillers fall in-between by having a more action-oriented plot than suspense, while still digging into the complex psychological aspects that make suspense so engaging for the reader.  You want to capture that edge-of-your seat feeling here more than either of the other two genres.  In terms of content, thrillers are one of the hardest genres to define because they blend so well with other genres:

Thrillers provide such a rich literary feast. There are all kinds. The legal thriller, spy thriller, action-adventure thriller, medical thriller, police thriller, romantic thriller, historical thriller, political thriller, religious thriller, high-tech thriller, military thriller. The list goes on and on, with new variations constantly being invented. In fact, this openness to expansion is one of the genre’s most enduring characteristics.

But what gives the variety of thrillers a common ground is the intensity of emotions they create, particularly those of apprehension and exhilaration, of excitement and breathlessness, all designed to generate that all-important thrill. By definition, if a thriller doesn’t thrill, it’s not doing its job.

— 45px, 45px, James Patterson, June 2006

For all three genres, you want to make sure that the stakes are high.  Tension is a major factor in these genres, and you can’t have that if the outcome doesn’t make a impact on the protagonist in a meaningful way.  The conflict can be a perilous situation, a threat of impending disaster, or even something that is important to the protagonist on a personal level.  Stakes need not be world-ending cataclysms, but they still need to be high enough that engage your reader throughout the full narrative.

Dramatic Tension

Here we come to the part where the genres branch out most distinctly. Dramatic tension asks: who knows about the conflict, and how is it conveyed through the story?  The biggest difference comes from how the tension engages the reader.  A key point in the above suspense description is that the characters don’t know about the danger, but the readers do.  Alfred Hitchcock said it best:

We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let’s suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence.

Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one.

In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!”

Alfred Hitchcock (full quote available here.)

This is what makes suspense distinct.  In a thriller or action-adventure, the protagonists are often aware of their predicament and are fighting to resolve the conflict.  To continue Hitchcock’s analogy, a thriller would involve the characters attempting to defuse the bomb and engaging the readers with the tension of their actions, whereas suspense draws its tension from the dramatic irony of knowing something the characters do not.

It’s important to note that suspense, like thrillers, can also blend with other genres, most notably horror.  Thrillers can also overlap with horror, but as noted above, that type of horror is the kind you’d find in 80’s slashers, whereas suspenseful horror is more likely found in gothic stories and weird, Lovecraftian tales.  For more on the creeping dread-like qualities of the suspense in horror, check out this video below:


The most important thing to note when comparing and contrasting these genres is that they exist on a spectrum.  They often share many traits with each other and the variance is mostly due to the intensity of their story components.  You should feel free to explore different flavors of these genres as well: try a suspense that doubles as a mystery.  Make your action-adventure a swashbuckling historical fiction piece.  Spy thriller?  Absolutely.  These genres are limitless in their possibilities, so don’t freak out too much about what is and what is not allowed, so long as you engage your readers with a tension-filled narrative.

Want a typical example of each you can read right now?  Check out:

Got any tips to share with the class?  Questions about what may or may not qualify?  Leave a comment and let’s brainstorm some examples together!


Publisher’s Spotlight: Bards and Sages Annual Writing Competition

So, y’all may remember last year, when my short story, Confessions of a Modern Galatea, took first place in the Bards and Sages Annual Writing Competition.  Well, I have two pieces of follow up good news: the first is that you can find my winning entry in this year’s Bardic Tales and Sage Advice: Volume X (also available in hard back) and the second is that the 2018 Competition is open for submissions!

Ready to win big?  Check out the below summary for submission guidelines:

  • Summary of the contest: Dating back to 2002, the Bards and Sages Annual Writing Competition originally started as a stand-alone event to benefit the International Women’s Writing Guild.  Following their subsequent successes, in 2009, Bards and Sages decided to showcase contest winners in an annual publication.

“This year’s competition will benefit local animal shelters. The winners of this year’s writing competition will be able to direct the charity portion of their prize to their own local animal shelter.”

  • Genres they accept: This year’s competition is open to all fiction genres except romance, erotica, young adult, and children’s literature.”
  • Word count limit: Up to 25,000 words.
  • Entry Fee:  One Entry: $5, Two Entries: $9, Three Entries: $12
  • Prizes Awarded
    • Grand Prize
      • $250 Donation to the winner’s local animal shelter
        • or animal charity of choice
      • $250 cash prize
    • 2nd Place
      • $100 Donation to the winner’s local animal shelter
        • or animal charity of choice
      • $100 cash prize
    • 3rd Place
      • $50 Donation to the winner’s local animal shelter
        • or animal charity of choice
      • $50 cash prize
  • Simultaneous Submissions: “Simultaneous submissions are fine with us. No need to point it out. Just let us know if it is accepted elsewhere so we can remove the story from the queue if needed.”*
  • Multiple Submissions: You can send up to three stories. “If sending multiple entries, please attach all entries at once. Do not send multiple emails for each entry.”
  • Reprints: “Stories that are previously published but not currently available for sale are eligible, but you must specify where the story was previously published when submitting.”
  • Schedule: Open for submissions now through October 31, 2018.  Winners are announced in January, 2019.
*Note: I read this on their general submission guidelines page, so I think it still applies.  Double check my work and think real hard about if you want to be in the position of turning down prize money because someone else accepted your piece before January.

Additional information:

Read the publication:  This is where I’d normally point out what a good idea it is to read the publication and see what kind of stories they enjoy.  You can check out my winning entry from last year as well as the other stories in Bardic Tales and Sage Advice: Volume X.  You can also check out what they publish in Bards and Sages Quarterly by signing up for their newsletter.

Read the guidelines: Please, please, please read both pages for comprehensive guidelines to enter.  I don’t post everything required for their submissions, just the basics.  They have guidelines specific to the contest, but you should also click on the second link for formatting requirements.  (Read them well in advance of the deadline; they’re not standard manuscript and they are very specific.)

Good luck and happy submitting!

“Wolf Daughter” now available to read on!

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the end of summer has been crazy around here.  I almost caught my breath and then hurricane Florence came through, so my posting schedule has gone to the dogs.  …Or, well, wolves in this case.

At any rate, I’m excited to share my latest publication, Wolf Daughter with you today, which was published over at earlier this month.  It’s a take on Red Riding Hood that I’m especially proud of, and I’m so happy that it finally found a home!

Wolf Daughter went through a series of rejections and rewrites for the better part of 2017, and made the short list in early January before it was accepted in April.  I don’t normally share this kind of info, but sometimes it’s helpful to know just how long the publication process takes, even for shorts that are published online.

The story is free to read online so be sure to check it out.  You can read the whole issue for free as well, and if you like what you see, you can send over a donation at the bottom of the page, or donate to their Kickstarter to support their upcoming Best of NewMyths anthology.

Want to see your work published by  Check out their submission guidelines and be sure to mark your calendar for January, when their next submission window opens.  (I haven’t made a Publisher’s Spotlight entry for them yet, but I likely will when they’re open for submissions again.)

Thanks for reading!


Video Essay Spotlight: Just Write

Time for another Video Essay Spotlight.  One of my absolute favorites is the YouTube Channel Just Write by Sage Hyden.  Each video is akin to a mini-lecture on various writing techniques and how they work when applied to a particular movie or TV show.

“But Liz, we write fiction not – ugh – scripts.

Well, first off, slow your roll, imaginary strawman reader, or you’re really going to lose your mind by the time I get to Lessons from the Screenplay.

Anyway, what I love about Just Write is how Hyden breaks down writing concepts and gives a clear example of how to use them, and why they work.  Take a look at last week’s upload for a primer on flat characters and characters arcs, for example.  In it, he discusses where we break the rule of character arcs and why it works – specifically in terms of Paddington, with nods to Back to the Future and The Hunger Games.

If I had to level a criticism, it would be that the earlier videos are titled by the media that they’re dissecting and not the lesson we’re supposed to be learning.  So if you click on the Wonder Woman video, for example, you won’t know until you start watching that the subject is “bathos” and where sincerity fits in a culture that’s oversaturated with irony and anti-heroes.  This naming convention makes it harder to remember the lessons he’s already covered, or circle back to get a refresher on areas where your own writing is lacking.  On the other hand, it does help you avoid spoilers for media you haven’t seen yet.

Further reading:

If you love this video, check out more Just Write content on YouTube. (And sorry, one more plug for their Game of Thrones video on everything that was wrong with Season Seven’s writing.  It was really cathartic, guys.)

If you love this video and want to pay him money to produce more content, consider supporting him on Patreon.

Special plug: if you pledge at the $10 level: “You’ll get my email where you can send me a sample of your work-in-progress, whether it’s a novel, screenplay, or a short story, and I’ll give you notes on possible improvements. ” (I’m not sponsored by him or anything I just thought that was a pretty cool option.  Who doesn’t love feedback?)

Lastly, check out the website for blogs and other content.  The reading list is pretty cool, I see those books quoted fairly often in writing craft videos.

Publisher’s Spotlight: “Release the Virgins!” Anthology

By now y’all should have figured out that I have a wicked sense of humor, so when I read about this publication call I HAD to share it.  It’s an anthology entitled Release the Virgins! after all.  So let’s take a closer look:

  • In their own words: “Submissions are open for short stories that include, somewhere in the story, the phrase “Release the Virgins.”  An email proposal is required to make sure you are not duplicating an idea already reserved by one of the accepted authors. “
  • Genres they accept: Humor, obviously.  Anything else isn’t specified one way or the other.
  • Submission tips from the editor:
    • Avoid unicorns. I’ve already had a bunch of proposals about unicorns and even if the submitted stories are all good, I’m not going to want to have more than one or two unicorn stories in the anthology. We want variety.
    • Be creative. If it looks like you just took a story you already had and found a way to work the phrase into the story in such a way that I could remove the phrase completely and it wouldn’t hurt the story, then I will probably not accept it. The phrase should be relevant and necessary to the story.
    • Don’t send me a proposal with spelling and grammatical errors. I mean, duh.
  • Word count limit: 5,000 words.  “A good but padded story may get rejected over a concise, fast-moving one, because we want to fit in as many stories as possible.”
  • Payment: 5¢/word
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: Not specified, but you have to send a proposal first, so why would you send it anywhere else?
  • Multiple Submissions**: Same thing; I doubt they’ll accept more than one proposal idea.
  • Reprints: Doubt it, but you can ask when you query.
  • Deadline: September 1, 2018

Reminders when submitting:

I’m going to skip my usual spiel since this is a one-time call.  Here’s what you need to know:

  • An email proposal is required to make sure you are not duplicating an idea already reserved by one of the accepted authors. Send to michael.ventrella@gmail.comDo this first.
  • Want more info?  Click here for full guidelines, updates and formatting preferences.

One final reminder: Read their guidelines, follow their rules.

Good luck, and happy submitting!

“Quality Protection Guaranteed” now available in HAVOK!

I’m so excited to announce that my short story Quality Protection Guaranteed(TM) took first place in HAVOK’s Rampage! Monsters vs. Robots contest issue!  This is the second of my stories to make it into HAVOK, but the first placing in one of their contests.  More details on the issue below!

Monsters vs Robots
God I love this genre.

Do you love giant monsters battling insanely oversized, impractical battle mechs?  Of course you do.  And why wouldn’t you?  From Pacific Rim to Voltron, Power Rangers, Evangelion and Godzilla this genre kicks some giant ass.

You can get your hands on a copy by clicking here to order print copies or getting the Kindle edition through  Have Kindle Unlimited?  Download it for free!

Speaking of free, did you know that you can get a FREE digital subscription to Splickety’s flash fiction magazines just by joining their mailing list?  Click that link to check it out and never miss an upcoming issue!

If you’re eager to see your own fiction in print you can check out their Upcoming Themes and Deadlines page – there’s a Halloween issue coming up and the deadline is July 27.  Want to know more about the other Splickety imprints?  They were featured in this Publisher’s Spotlight post.  Be sure to check the updated guidelines in case any details have changed.

Thanks for checking it out and happy reading!