Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Final Cover & NaNoStuff

Since Photobucket has decided to stop hating me, here is the final cover art for In the Leaves, my Just Write Thursday story:

Obviously it's not one of the three I showed you last month, but after a lot more waffling I hunted through some more stock photo sites. As soon as I saw this pic it just felt right for me and the story. My thanks to Maria Zannini for sending me to, where I found it.

While I'm into pic posting, here are the official 2014 NaNoWriMo badges (and click on any image to go to my Photobucket link):

And for those who liked my own designs, once more here are PBW's Unofficial NaNo Badges:

The new NaNo website has also listed this year's sponsor offers for participants here, and some of them are pretty neat, so do check it out when you have a chance.

Image credit for In the Leaves cover: massonforstock

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sub Op Scoop: Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly Q&A

Yesterday I mentioned a sub op from Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly, an e-zine I discovered via the Paying Markets forum on Because it's extremely rare to find a paying market for any type of SF romance, I decided to do a bit more research on the pub. That resulted in me asking Diane Dooley, SFRQ's fiction editor, a lot of pesky questions, which she very kindly took the time to answer:

Q: What made you decide to embark on this venture?

A: KS 'Kaz' Augustin, Chief Editor of the Quarterly, tech goddess and businesswoman, approached myself and Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express with a wild idea: are you two nuts enough to collaborate with me on a quarterly magazine dedicated to Science Fiction Romance? The answer was yes, we are nuts enough. I had recently served as content editor for an anthology of SFR short stories and was interested in providing a paid market for SFR in the short form. Jumping aboard the Quarterly gave me that opportunity.

Q: What can readers expect to find in a typical issue of SFRQ?

A: Kaz kicks off the issue with an opinionated editorial on some aspect of SFR, followed by a new release round-up, several honest reviews from our much-loved review team, as well as regular columns like Scopebox by Charlee Allden, Mistressworks by Ian Sales, and The Cosmic Lounge by Heather Massey. There will usually be an opinion piece by a guest columnist, an interview with an SFR author, and, of course, an original piece of SFR short fiction.

Q: What sort of SFR stories would you love to see submitted for consideration? What sort of stories don't you want to see?

A: Fresh, original, emotionally engaging stories that blend the Science Fiction and Romance genres seamlessly -- that's what we want. We'd love to see more submissions with PoC characters and/or from non-Western perspectives.

Stories we're not interested in seeing? Ones that ignore the requirement for an upbeat ending for the romance arc. We've received (and rejected) several otherwise excellent stories that did not have an emotionally satisfying ending. Neither are we interested in stories that neglect the world building. The story must clearly be science fiction.

We have a primarily female readership, and one of the things they love about SFR is the variety and complexity of the heroines, so we have a preference for female characters with agency.

Q: In your FAQ on the SFRQ website, you define SFR as "a romance that takes place in a technological setting and has an upbeat ending." Do you expect all submissions to strictly adhere to this definition, or are you willing to consider stories that define SFR differently?

A: The story must have an upbeat conclusion for the romance arc, either a 'happy for now' or a 'happy ever after' ending. Otherwise, we are open to whatever wonderful thing the author comes up with.

The "technological setting" phrase is to provide a guideline for certain sub-genres that straddle a couple of different genres. Steampunk, for instance, or time travel, might lean towards the historical or fantasy genres. The basis for an SFR story should be technological rather than magical: a new invention or a time machine, rather than a magical portal to another world.

Q: Do you have any objections to submissions of SFR stories which feature non-traditional romance characters (i.e. members of the LGBTQ community, non-humanoids, artificial lifeforms, etc.)?

A: No objections whatsoever. We've received submissions of all of the above and would love to see more.

Q: What do you see in the future for SFRQ?

A: We hope to see solid growth in our readership. We made a unanimous early decision to fund the magazine through advertising rather than crowdfunding. Our future growth, then, is what will keep bringing us sponsors (as we refer to our advertisers). Kaz, Heather, and I are unpaid. The money we raise via advertising goes to pay the authors of the fiction we publish and each issue's cover artist . So far, we have raised our flat rate once, and have recently raised our rate again to 2 cents/word. We have also started commissioning paid original cover art. We would love to be able to offer pro rates in the future, but we don't intend to run before we can walk.

Our goals are to provide an entertaining and thoughtful magazine for fans of SFR, a targeted advertising opportunity for SFR authors and publishers, a viable short story market for writers, and a paid showcase for cover artists. So far, we're meeting our goals and having a hell of a lot of fun along the way.

Which is exactly as it should be. My thanks to Ms. Dooley for taking the time to answer all my Q's, and to the entire staff of SFRQ for opening up a new market for SF romance writers.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sub Op Ten

Ten Things About Submission Opportunities

Baen has opened to submissions for the 2015 Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award Contest: "Write a short story of no more than 8,000 words, that shows the near future (no more than about 50-60 years out) of manned space exploration. No entry fee. But please only submit one story...your best one! No reprints. All entries must be original works in English. Plagiarism, poetry, song lyrics, or stories that utilize characters or settings from another person’s works will not be considered. E-mail submissions only. Send entries as .RTF attachments to: Please put the word SUBMISSION in the subject line when sending a contest entry and QUESTION in the subject line for questions to the contest administrator. Please include the following in the body of your email: The title of the work, the author's name, address and telephone number, and an approximate word-count. The manuscript should be a RTF attachment, in standard manuscript format and should be titled and numbered on every page, but the author's name MUST BE DELETED to facilitate fair judging. Employees of Baen Books, NSS and previous Grand Prize Winners are not eligible. Previous Second and Third place winners are eligible. Contest opens for submissions on October 1, 2014 at 12:01am EDT. (Entries sent before that date will be deleted unread.) Deadline - February 1 (12:59pm), 2015."

Dark Recesses Press has an open call for their upcoming time-themed antho: "Dark Recesses Press is now accepting short novella length submissions for A COLLECTION OF UNTIMELY HOURS. Between four to six stories will be selected for this themed anthology. The theme is time. The genre is dark fiction. A broad spectrum, we know, but what we mean by this is truly the dark spectrum – from horror to supernatural, to slipstream – and all points in between. That said, Splatterpunk and Bizarro fiction are probably not the right fit for this gathering. This is also not the venue for high fantasy or hard sci-fi, but if you have a shadowy urban fantasy or a dark tale that happens to take place upon a space freighter, that’s fine. Just make sure there’s no need to learn a new language in order to read the story. Seriously. The key here is to offer our readers a cool creep, a sense of dread, and the tension of time from which they can’t escape. It’s your world. Build it, and drag the reader through it with the seconds ticking at their heels." Length: 15-25K firm; Payment: 3¢/word, no reprints, electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: December 31st, 2014.

Dark Regions Press has an open call for their upcoming ladies-only Lovecraft-themed antho: "The only set requirement for the anthology is that all submissions must be written by women. Submissions from international, multi-cultural and LGBT/GSD perspectives are encouraged, as this collection will aim to present the diversity of voices within the field of Lovecraftian fiction. All stories must be submitted in English. There is no restriction on setting, so don't feel like you have to remain within the 1920's/1930's - far future stories, contemporary, steampunk, psychological, horror, fantasy/sf and, of course, historical settings are all welcome. I am open to a wide interpretation of 'Lovecraftian', but I'm not looking for pastiche work. Nuanced weirdness welcome, as is the overtly strange." Length: "Word count for submissions is set between 2000 and 10 000 words. If you would like to submit something shorter or longer, please query." Payment: "Payment for accepted stories will be 5c per word up to 5k, then 3c per word over 5k." No reprints, electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: January 31st, 2015.

Nightmare Magazine is open for submissions: "Nightmare is seeking original horror and dark fantasy stories of 1500-7500 words. Stories of 5000 words or less are preferred. We pay 6¢/word for original fiction, on acceptance. To see which rights we’re seeking, please view our contract template for original fiction. All types of horror or dark fantasy are welcome; if in doubt, go ahead and submit it and let our editors decide. No subject should be considered off-limits, and we encourage writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope. We believe that the horror genre’s diversity is its greatest strength, and we wish that viewpoint to be reflected in our story content and our submission queues; we welcome submissions from writers of every race, religion, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation." Reprints okay if not currently online, and pay is 1¢/word on reprints, electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details.

Oriental Excess Co. has an open call for stories written for their universe: "Oriental Excess Co. is looking for science fiction authors to help create the world of our new intellectual property, Tokyo Yakuza™, by writing 2,000-3,000 word short stories for publication first as e-books on Amazon Kindle and other devices, and later in print as part of braided anthologies involving multiple authors and recurring characters and themes. Authors on this project may select their own cover image from our catalog of original artworks, before writing their short stories, to serve as inspiration for the piece. For acceptable submissions, we pay 6 cents per word in exchange for the rights to publish the story online and in print and related electronic endeavors. We offer, in addition, a 10% share of the e-book profits after the advance is recouped. We also ask for several other rights: translation, audio, and the right to include the story in Tokyo Yakuza-branded anthologies. All rights we acquire are exclusive, and royalties from sales of the anthology are paid to individual authors on a pro-rata basis.Tokyo Yakuza™ is our brand for an upcoming board game to be released in 2015 in hard copy and digital formats. The Tokyo Yakuza™ world is a near-future dystopia and alternate history in which the Yamaguchi-gumi organized crime family starts a brutal gang war between the 5 clans in the year 2020, during the Tokyo Olympic Games. Lovers of hard-boiled crime, film noir, yakuza eiga, Japanese anime, and cyberpunk with surreal or light fantasy elements, based on Shinto and oriental mythology, will do well writing for this project." No reprints, electronic submission only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: when filled [PBW notes: the pub date is listed on as November 13th, 2014, so I'd hustle if you're interested.]

Roar 6 has an open call for submissions: "We're looking for excellent general audience furry stories on the theme "scoundrel." Submissions should be under 12,000 words, no lower limit. If you have an excellent story, but you're not sure it fits the theme, give it a try. We can be flexible on "scoundrel," but all stories have to be furry. That means an anthropomorphic animal figure should be significantly featured in your story -- it could be anthropomorphic in body or only intelligence. We'll consider any type of furry fiction from secret life of animals to fox in Starbucks -- as long as it's excellent." Payment: "Payment will be 1/2 cent per word and one contributor's copy on publication." Query on reprints, electronic submission only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: April 1st, 2015.

Sci-Fest 2015 has announced a short story contest: "The Los Angeles Science Fiction One-Act Play Festival is initiating a new short story writing contest for adult writers over the age of 18 called THE ROSWELL AWARD. All submissions must be short stories (not plays) and must be an original work of science fiction (not fan fiction) and be no longer than 1500 words. The contest is open to U.S. writers and writers outside the U.S. Five finalists will be chosen and their stories will be read aloud by professional actors associated with iconic Sci-Fi TV shows in a special awards ceremony to be held at the festival on May 23, 2015 at 7:00 PM (Memorial Day Weekend). The winner of THE ROSWELL AWARD FOR SHORT FICTION will receive a cash prize of $1,000.00. A brief reception will follow. All stories submitted must be typed in English and must have the contestant’s name, email address and phone number clearly typed on the title page. All entries must be submitted electronically via the website. Entries longer than 1500 words will be disqualified. Submissions can be made at Terms and conditions can be read on the website. The deadline for submissions is January 15th, 2015. Finalists will be notified by March 15th, 2015." [PBW notes: No fee for this one according to Ralan.]

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly is open to submissions for their upcoming issue #5: "Length: 2,000 to 7,500 words. Payment: 2 cents/word (US) paid upon publication, promotional biography with two links, and a complimentary quarter-page advertisement. Rights sought: Six-month exclusive world digital rights from date of publication; non-exclusive thereafter. Other info: One short story will be published per issue. Please send only edited and polished work. Due to time constraints, we are unable to give personalized feedback on rejected stories. Stories that tie-in to a previously established world will be considered, but story must stand alone. All sub-genres of science fiction will be considered. Any heat level, from sweet to erotic, will be considered. Original, previously unpublished fiction only. No fan fiction, please. All stories must contain elements of science-fiction, include romance, and have an upbeat ending. No multiple submissions. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please inform us if the story is placed elsewhere." See guidelines for more details. Deadline: December 1, 2014

The Sehnsucht Project is open for submissions: "We e-publish various mediums in science fiction and fantasy, as well as poetry and non-fiction. Payment is currently via found pennies, love, publication, and byline credit until we can get the wheels cranking for funding. We are currently accepting fiction, non-fiction, reviews, blog entries and poetry, or any medium working with creative, spiritual expression. We are looking for personal spiritual experiences, whether you are an avid astral traveler, channeler, philosopher or muggle (probably have to credit that term to JK Rowling so we don’t get sued), we’re interested in hearing your voice. During 2015 we will be accepting digital film shorts and graphic art stories. It’s unfortunate to have to put in this type of disclaimer, but some folks are determined to go the distance with gratuitous sex and extreme gore and violence. This doesn’t impress us. If Harlequin, Hustler or Charles Manson would publish it, this is not your market. We publish professional, provocative material that challenges our minds and helps us contemplate our soul’s journey. And it is a GRAND journey. Don't send us garbage or regurgitations of other stories and plot lines... Don’t be derivative- this is YOUR time to shine. Please send innovative ideas, thoughtful essays and well-researched articles on relevant topics examining human life in this time of ascension and spirituality. We love razor-wire fiction, experimental, eclectic poetry and prose. Science fiction that pushes our buttons and considers new paradigms (and aliens!) will be well received. Please don’t send stories about unicorns and fairy princes, or bimbos (male, female, or otherwise) who fall for vampires, werewolves, yetis or skunk apes. Challenge yourself. Maybe the “bimbo” is actually a super intelligent, under-appreciated, walk-in who falls in love with her spirit guide. Point being, stay away from clich├ęd plot lines. Write well, write often, and write for the love of it!" Payment: Pay: 1¢/word via PayPal only; query on reprints, electronic submission only, see guidelines for more details.

WolfSinger Publications is open for submissions: "We are looking primarily for Science Fiction and Fantasy Novellas and Novels, but will consider other genres except children's and erotica. For YA - we prefer books that are geared for older teens that might also appeal to adult readers as well. We do not have an upper word count - though if you are looking at submitting novel length material we recommend you try some of the other small presses that publish novels first. Our preferred word count is 15,000 - 80,000 words. Please note that works less than 25,000 words will only be released in electronic format only, instead of both electronic and print format. We will only be publishing a maximum of 10 print titles per year. Submit the complete manuscript to Please put 'WolfSinger Submission - "the title of your submission" - your last name' in the subject. While we are primarily a royalty press, we do offer a $50.00 advance for print books, $25.00 for ebooks, and a $5.00 advance to contributors to anthologies. Once a book earns back its production costs the author will be receiving 60% of all monies earned." Query on reprints, Submissions Close: December 31st, 2014.

(Most of the above sub ops were found among the marvelous market listings over at

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cafe Quiz

How addicted to coffee are you? Take this interesting online test and find out. My results:

I figured I'd be more of a social coffee drinker; would be another story if we were talking tea -- I probably drink at least a gallon per day of the leaf. So how much of an addict are you? Let us know in comments.

(Test link swiped from Gerard at The Presurfer)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Such a Character

Saw this incredibly fun character chart in a bunch of life-saving diagrams over on BuzzFeed:

The floating skull -- that's what has been missing from my writing life all these years! I call dibs.

Honestly, when I saw the chart I really thought it was a brilliant approach to characterization solely because of the stick figures. Everyone can draw a stick figure, and if you wanted to illustrate your story crew something like this would be perfect (and simple enough to make.)

The chart also gives you a one-glance look at your story crew, which after five or six chapters can often be difficult to herd, much less envision all at once. The archetypal categories on the Buzzfeed chart are for fun, but you could do a serious version with the same sort of role names for your characters: the protag, the antag, the sidekick, the dark horse, the love interest, the first victim, the floating skull, etc. Okay, maybe not the skull, but you get the general idea.

The other element about this chart that is seriously awesome is that the creator was having fun with the idea. Often taking everything about our stories so seriously leads to much stress, angst, sleepless nights, wrinkles, formation of stomach ulcers etc. The chart is a good reminder to give yourself enough creative space to have fun with your characters (and everything in your story, for that matter.) Writing is very hard work, but there's no reason you can't have a good time with it, too. Based on my own experiences, I think the more you enjoy your process, the more likely you'll be to stick with your story and actually finish it -- and possibly write something that has real potential.

Related PBW links:

ABCharacter is a quick and easy way to outline any character's personality

Get your game on by designing your own Character Trading Cards

Use colors to help explore and define your characters with From Focus to Palette

How to make your own Character Art

Ten Things to Help with Creating Character Names

(Found the Buzzfeed chart via another link swiped from Gerard over at The Presurfer)

Friday, October 17, 2014


Almost ten thousand miles + over ten thousand images + five minutes = a breathtaking visual tour of Norway (with background music, for those of you at work):

NORWAY - A Time-Lapse Adventure from Rustad Media on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: the completed In the Leaves novella, with the last of the new material beginning on page 37.

For more details on Just Write Thursdays, click here to go to the original post.