New solarpunk story markets are popping up all the time. See my first two lists of places to send your solarpunk stories here and here—some of those deadlines have expired, but others are still coming up, or are ongoing.
Below are ten more magazines and contests that are interested in publishing solarpunk stories. They're organized with the earliest deadlines listed first. Know of a solarpunk fiction market I missed? Please leave a comment!
Magazine, Themed Issue
Submission Window: January 1, 2018 – January 31, 2018
Length: 2,000 to 15,000 words
Payment: (2,000 – 7,000 words): $150 USD; (<15,000 words): $300 USD
Big Mama Nature issue: Everyone knows that you need to respect Mama. We’re looking for stories of Nature and her swift backhand when folks get out of line. Give us your stories of ecological wastelands, futures full of solar powered punks, or natural disasters. Climate fiction is the name of the game, and Big Mama don’t play.
Full Guidelines: http://www.fiyahlitmag.com/submissions/
Note: Submissions limited to stories by and about people of the African Diaspora.
Bikes in Space 6
Published by Microcosm Publishing
Submission Window: closes February 1, 2018
Length: 500 to 8,000 words
Payment: based on Kickstarter, no less than $30 per story
The theme for this issue is: Dragons. Stories can be in any science fiction or fantasy – ish genre: high fantasy, hard SF, space opera, fairy tales, solarpunk, spec fic, slipstream… anything but fanfic. Dragons can be literal or metaphorical, from a specific cultural tradition or entirely of your own invention. Surprise me! All stories must contain bicycles—the story doesn’t need to be about bicycling, but this element must be central enough that removing it would change the story significantly. Same goes with feminism. The story doesn’t have to be about feminism, but it does need to break from tired old gender stereotypes.
Full Guidelines: http://takingthelane.com/2017/10/25/call-for-submissions-bikes-in-space-6-dragons/
Published by The Anglia Ruskin Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy
Submission Window: closes February 15, 2018
Length: 3,000 to 10,000 words
Payment: 50GBP per story
For Future Generations (theme): Generation starships establishing new colonies. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Driving back the dark to protect your children. For this issue of Electric Athenaeum, we are seeking genre stories that focus on the issues surounding planning for future generations. We are particularly interested in stories featuring new visions/interpretations of generation starships, the care of fragile ecosystems, and dramatic explorations of balancing the rights of future generations versus the needs of the present.
Full Guidelines: http://csff-anglia.co.uk/ea/subs/
The Moon Magazine
Magazine, Themed Issue
Submission Window: closes February 20, 2018
Length: up to 5,000 words
Payment: exposure only
Permaculture issue: The MOON welcomes submissions of original short stories, poetry, essays, and memoirs of any length (generally less than 5,000 words), as well as photography, artwork, and even video, addressing the following themes. (For 2018 we’re on a mission: what can “save” the world?) March 2018, “Return to our roots: The Permaculture plan for saving the world,” DEADLINE: February 20, 2018
Full Guidelines: http://moonmagazine.org/submission-guideline/
Contest, Winners Published by Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University
Submission Window: closes February 28, 2018
Length: up to 5000 words
Payment: $1,000 grand prize. Nine finalists will receive $50 each
In the wake of Earth’s hottest year on record, the effects of climate change are more apparent than ever. But how do we come to grips with the consequences on the ground, for actual people in specific places? Paolo Bacigalupi, renowned for his climate fiction novels and short stories, believes the answer lies in story: “Fiction has this superpower of creating empathy in people for alien experiences. You can live inside of the skin of a person who is utterly unlike you.” If our political responses and our empathy for people besieged by the consequences of climate change fall short, perhaps we need new stories to help us imagine possible futures shaped by climate change and our reactions to it.
Full Guidelines: https://climateimagination.asu.edu/clificontest/
Note: Last year's winning stories are available as an ebook or a PDF. Download it here. The first story, “Sunshine State” by Adam Flynn and Andrew Dana Hudson is very much solarpunk.
About Place Journal
Magazine, Themed Issue
Submission Window: January 1 to March 1, 2018
Length: up to 4,000 words
Payment: exposure only
Rewilding Issue: Is it also possible for humans to rewild themselves? What would this look like? When humans deny themselves or are restricted from opportunities for deep immersion in nature, or access to their ancestral places, what has been lost? Journalist Richard Louv has suggested that this deprivation is a “nature-deficit disorder” that afflicts many humans—particularly those of us dwelling in urban, high-tech surroundings or housing projects planted on landscapes of pavement under orange glowing lights that so obscure the night sky that we might come to think of the stars and the planets as rumored bodies floating somewhere up above.
For some of us trying to get “back to the garden,” this rewilding may look like resistance. Urban families who seed unsanctioned gardens in vacant lots are often reviled by developers and city leaders, who respond with bulldozers and concrete mixers. When Latinx neighbors install backyard chicken coops, the HOA squawks about it, but when white hipsters make it cool, restrictive city ordinances are rescinded. Houston politicians have tried to ban piñatas from city parks, claiming they often end up as litter—sending a clear message that Mexican families are not welcomed in public green spaces. When Black artists in Dallas are commissioned to create signs for a city park and their proposed designs memorialize a history of racial violence in that public space, their project is cancelled.
For this issue of About Place, you’re invited to describe the “letting go” spaces of rewilding—the critical habitats where and when our human expressions and behaviors might become unfettered—in explorations that are less mediated, colonized, or civilized. And what could such explorations possibly serve to resemble, reify, or reject?
Full Guidelines: http://aboutplacejournal.org/submissions/
Force of Nature
Published by Dark Regions Press
Submission Window: closes March 31, 2018
Length: 2500 to 10 000 words
Payment: 7c p/w up to 7K – 5c p/w for stories longer than 7K
Though some among us have realised the importance of sustainable living, in the broad sense of everyday life, we still demand too much. Our capitalist dispositions have driven a wedge between ourselves and nature; we have become transfixed by the shine of chrome, the luxury of packaged lives, no longer seemingly aware of the solid earth beneath our feet.
At an ever-advancing tipping point, humanity persists in its war against the natural world. Running a trail of extinction and cutting down vast swathes of oxygen-producing forests, we breed at an alarming pace, overpopulating a planet we seem hell-bent on reigning in – but at what cost? It seems we’re playing a cruel joke on the system that sparked our existence, and which has sustained us ever since.
Or could the joke be on us?
Force of Nature (working title) will be an anthology of original short fiction that explores the physical and metaphysical boundaries between humanity and the natural world.
Full Guidelines: lynnejamneckdiaries.blogspot.ca/2017/12/submission-guidelines-weird-nature.html
Stories of the Nature of Cities 2099
Contest, Stories Published by Publication Studios / Guelph
Submission Window: closes April 15, 2018
Length: up to 1,000 words
Payment: $3,000. $1,500, $500 prizes, honorable mentions published with no payment
What are the stories of people and nature in cities in 2099? What will cities be like to live in? Are they lush and green, verdant and biodiverse? What will cities look like; be made of? How will they be designed and powered? Will they be tall, short, dense, under ground or under water? What of public spaces? Social organization? Mobility? Government? Sustainability and food? Wildlife? Climate change and resilience? Poverty, consumption, wealth, and justice? How will we interact and relate to one another and the natural world? What sort of stories can we tell about our communities and the spaces that shape will them?
Full Guidelines: http://www.storiesofthenatureofcities.org/
Submission Window: June 15 - July 15, 2018
Length: 1,500 and 3,000 words
Payment: 6¢ per word
Terra, Tara, Terror: Whether the setting is a cabin in the woods (Terra), Fae (Tara), or spaceship Nostromo (Terror), take us there and spin your adventure. For a bit of mood whiplash, we'd like a mixture of dark and bright stories. Examples: Obsession with odd artifacts (like Roadside Picnic's golden sphere?), alternate histories, paranormal romance (no erotica, please, we're PG-13).
Full Guidelines: http://www.thirdflatiron.com/liveSite/
Dancing Star Press
Small Press Publisher
Submission Window: April 1 – June 30 and October 1 – December 31
Length: 17,500 and 40,000 words
Payment: Royalties, not specified
Dancing Star Press is seeking submissions of speculative fiction novellas. Space operas, solar punk, dark fantasy, and urban fantasy. Hard science fiction with an emphasis on biology or chemistry rather than physics. Fantasy based on non-Western cultures. Optimistic futurism. Polar Tesla pop and soft science fiction.
Full Guidelines: http://www.dancingstarpress.com/submissions/
I've been reading through submissions for my anthology Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers, which closes to submissions on November 15, 2017, and I'm loving a lot of the stories I'm seeing there. If you have something that fits the theme, or can write it by November 15th, please send it to me!
A couple of months ago, I posted 10 Markets for Solarpunk Stories. Some of those deadlines are coming up, and I've come across even more projects that would be great for solarpunk writers to submit to. Most of these don't explicitly ask for solarpunk, but many of them have environmental or social justice themes that are absolutely compatible with solarpunk. Okay, and the last two are a little different—rather than anthologies or magazines, it's a publisher's unagented open door (they say they're looking for utopian and cli-fi!) and a call for academic papers on utopian and dystopian literature of the 21st century.
I'm not affiliated with any of these projects, so please follow links/guidelines/etc. But if you do get a solarpunk story accepted by any of these markets, please come back and leave a comment to let me know!
New to submitting short stories? Check out my blog about that here.
1. Economic Security Project
Contest, Stories Published by Gizmodo’s io9
Submission Window: Submissions are due November 1st, 2017
Length: up to 5,000 words
Payment: $12,000 over 2018 in $1,000 per month payments beginning 2/1/2018, as well as airfare and accommodations to attend an awards dinner in San Francisco, date tbd (the “Grand Prize”). Short list winners will receive $1,000 upon publication.
What might a world look like where all of our most basic needs are met? In 5,000 words or less, we want you to explore the impacts of a basic income on individual lives and on society at large. To be clear, we are not expecting you to draft economic policy, but hope to ignite debate around new economies with stories that offer nuanced critique and evidence of impact. Writers may want to address how this economic policy could shift relationships of power, or if economic liberation is even possible without first addressing racial and gender justice. Writers may consider universality (i.e., whether this benefit applies to everyone), investigate the community impact, and even give this economic idea a new name.
Full Guidelines: https://medium.com/economicsecproj/into-the-black-a-short-fiction-contest-with-a-big-prize-f91cd6553967
2. Indigenous Futurisms & Imagining The Decolonial
Anthology or Themed Issue, Published by Anomaly
Submission Window: November 1, 2017 - March 1, 2018
Work should relate or respond to indigenous futurisms, indigenous futures, and/or imagining the decolonial (future, present, or past). Speculative and non-speculative work are both welcome. Imagine the future, re-imagine the past or present. Let’s talk about what future we’re fighting for. What lives we’re living, now.
Note: They accept work in Spanish, Tagalog, and other languages, as well as bilingual work, with or without translations.
Full Guidelines: https://medium.com/anomalyblog/call-for-submissions-indigenous-futurisms-imagining-the-decolonial-7a556a70404f
3. TROUBLE THE WATERS: Tales from the Deep Blue
Anthology, Published by Rosarium Publishing
Submission Window: ends November 1, 2017
Length: 2500 – 7000 words
Payment: $0.06 per word
TROUBLE THE WATERS: Tales from the Deep Blue will be a new anthology of water-themed speculative short stories that explore all kinds of water lore and deities, ancient and new as well as unimagined tales. We want stories with memorable, engaging characters, great and small, epic tales and quieter stories of personal and communal growth. Science fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, and unclassifiable works are welcome. We are seeking original stories in English (2500 – 7000 words; pays 6 cents per word) from writers of all walks of life from this beautiful planet and will accept some select reprints (pays 2 cents per word).
Note: Unable to accept simultaneous or multiple submissions.
Full Guidelines: http://rosariumpublishing.com/trouble-the-waters-submissions.html
4. The Golden Key
Magazine, Themed Issue
Submission Window: October 1 and November 30, 2017
Length: under 3,000 words
Payment: flat fee of $10
The past year has thrown into sharp relief the surreal terrain of our contemporary landscape, and here at The Golden Key, we have watched this rising social and political upheaval with a contradictory, heart-rending mixture of despair and awe. While the world is facing unconscionable violence and pervasive attacks on human rights, there has been an extraordinary response to these systematic injustices and abuses of power. People have taken to the streets in defense of the rights of women and immigrants, to protest political corruption, to reject white supremacy. And even in the midst of our rage and grief and heartbreak, there has been such beautiful strangeness and joy. More than anything, this past year has shown us we must create radical change, through our words and through our deeds.
With this in mind, The Golden Key has decided to devote our upcoming issue to the theme of revolutionary things. We’re looking for stories and poems that subvert, that upend the old order, that wheel and circle, that present novel modes of belief or being.
Note: Also accepts poetry up to 100 lines.
Full Guidelines: http://www.whatwonderfulthings.net/main/submissions/
5. Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of a City That Never Was
Anthology, Published by Mason Jar Press
Submission Window: ends December 7, 2017
Length: up to 6,000 words
Payment: $.02/word plus a contributor’s copy
Metropolitan tales of city-focused fantasy with queer perspectives. Squalid flats, glittering spires, and alchemical trolleys. Manipulative heirs, handsome swordswomen and noble automatons. Write us something built with borrowed Bordertown DNA, purloined echoes of House Tremontaine society and stolen grit from the dark of London Below. Be inspired by Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany, China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, or “The City Born Great” by N.K. Jemisin.
We are looking for stories that explore the edges of urban fantasy through queer stories. While the city these stories are set in should be vast and unnamed, highly specific neighborhoods and landmarks are encouraged and sought after. We welcome a broad interpretation of the genre that is inclusive of postmodern folk tales, future/ancient noir, and stories that happen both behind closed doors and in plain sight. Throughout, we’re looking for rich, varied and nuanced understandings of gender, family and ethnicity.
Full Guidelines: https://masonjarpress.submittable.com/submit
6. The Maleficarum
Magazine, Themed Issue
Submission Window: closes November 15th, 2017
Length: 1,000 to 8,000 words
The Maleficarum is looking for stories about nature. Whether it be the earth taking back what it rightfully belongs, or simple observations of what goes on in life, send me your wonderful works. From these submissions, I will choose 10-15 works to go into the first issue!
Note: Debut issue.
Full Guidelines: https://rosettemaleficarum.wordpress.com/submission-guidelines/
7. After the Orange
Anthology, Published by B-Cubed Press
Submission Window: closes December 15, 2017
Length: 500-5000 words
Payment: $0.02 cent a word paid on publication + shared royalties
We are looking for near- or farther-future stories, society as it is AFTER 2032 – at least two presidential election cycles after Donald Tr*mp’s last eligibility. Show us America or the world in a new era, or look at world politics changed by the actions of US policies and people. Or go beyond.
Stories may present an optimistic or pessimistic, utopian or apocalyptic visions of the future, with some clear connection to current events and the world as it is in 2017. Political shenanigans would be interesting, as well as romance, spooks, robots and evil overlords, satire or parodies. But remember, the world has moved on. The editors generally favor character- and/or plot-driven stories.
Full Guidelines: https://bcubedpress.com/open-for-submissions/after-the-orange/
8. Alien Dimensions
Submission Window: ongoing, see theme deadlines
Length: 3000 to 5000 words
Payment: $10 per story
The goal is to release stories with mind-numbing ideas, brain expanding concepts, or just to get a reader to say WTF? There isn’t enough SF out there that really makes you think about the universe, so, that’s what I’m looking for – something that at least includes SOME hard science. The definition for Alien Dimensions is that science fiction contains real or extrapolated scientific ideas or concepts, and I need more of those. So, I have many fantasy stories ready to go for the rest of the year, but not enough hard core science fiction stories containing real science or non-anthropomorphic aliens. Alien Dimensions is a predominantly positive series about the future.
Full Guidelines: https://aliendimensions.com/submission-guidelines/
9. Angry Robot Open Door 2017
Publisher, Full Length Only
Submission Window: opens November 1, 2017
Length: 70,000 to 130,000 words
Payment: Advance + royalties
We publish Science Fiction and Fantasy. These are wide genres with many, many subgenres, so to be clear: we want anything broadly in the realm of science fiction and fantasy. This includes: alternate history, military SF, space opera, epic fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, silkpunk, anypunk, grimdark, utopian fiction, modern fantasy, cli-fi, unclassifiable SF/fantasy mash-ups, and so on.
We do like getting submissions that are hard to classify, especially if they’re innovative blends of various genres. It’s the Angry Robot way. So if you’ve written a science fiction novel set in an unexpected location – the Stone Age, or Urban Outfitters, say – great. Maybe you’ve found a way to write a novel that combines your interests in cryogenics, social media, and the Third Reich. In short, don’t be afraid to send us your extremely unusual science fiction or fantasy novel – as long as it would sit in that section of the bookshop.
Note: Full book-length manuscripts only
Full Guidelines: https://www.angryrobotbooks.com/open-door-2017-guides-faq/
10. Utopia and Dystopia in the Age of Tr*mp
James Doan and Barbara Brodman, editors
Submission Window: abstracts due by February 1, 2018, finals due September 15, 2018
Length: 5,000-7,000 words (abstracts 300 words)
Editors Barbara Brodman and James Doan are seeking original essays for the fifth in a series of books on images of the supernatural and the futuristic in film, literature and visual arts. This volume and its predecessor, Apocalyptic Chic: Visions of the Apocalypse and Post-Apocalypse in Literature and Visual Arts (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2017), take the reader into the futuristic realm of apocalypse and post-apocalypse, utopias and dystopias.
Note: This is a call for non-fiction critical essays, not fiction.
Full Guidelines: https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2017/09/05/utopia-and-dystopia-in-the-age-of-trump
My anthology Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers is open for submissions today through November 15, 2017. I'm looking for short stories (up to 8000 words) about summertime in a solarpunk world.
What's solarpunk? See my blog about it here.
What does it mean to "edit an anthology"? See my blog about that here.
Writing solarpunk, but your story doesn't match my theme? See other solarpunk markets here.
I've wanted to do this anthology for a long time, and I'm excited to see what comes in to the slush pile. I'm hoping to see a lot of stories about optimistic futures with cool tech and colorful settings. I'm calling this anthology "Glass and Gardens" because those two images evoke the solarpunk aesthetic: glass for solar panels and skyscrapers, gardens for farms and urban greenery.
This is a paying market for writers, but how much World Weaver Press will be able to pay depends on reaching some stretch goals in a Kickstarter that's currently running. The Kickstarter supports the translation of a different Solarpunk anthology from Portuguese to English, and the stretch goals support author payments for Glass and Gardens. Click here to see more about the Kickstarter.
Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers Submission Guidelines
GLASS & GARDENS: SOLARPUNK SUMMERS
Anthologist: Sarena Ulibarri
Open for Submissions: August 15, 2017 - November 15, 2017
Expected Publication: Summer 2018
Story Length: up to 8,000 words
Payment: TBD (Determined by Kickstarter success.)
Solarpunk is a type of eco-conscious science fiction that imagines an optimistic future founded on renewable energies. It might take place in a wind-powered skyscraper or on a solar-powered robotic farm. Often coupled with an art nouveau aesthetic, and always inclusive and diverse, solarpunk stories show the ways we have adapted to climate change, or the ways we have overcome it.
For this anthology, I want to see solarpunk summers. Show me futuristic stories that take place in summer, whether that involves a summer night in a rooftop garden, or characters adapting to extreme heat and weather, or an annual migration to cooler lands. Keep it planet-based (Earth or other), and optimistic. Solarpunk worlds aren’t necessarily utopias, but they definitely aren’t dystopias.
We're a northern hemisphere publisher, but southern hemisphere summers are also welcome!
Need inspiration? Read New York 2140 or Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson, Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation, or Wings of Renewal: A Solarpunk Dragon Anthology.
Submission Method: Send your story as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachment to solarpunk[at]worldweaverpress[dot]com with Submission: [story title] in the subject line. Please include a brief cover letter, but DO NOT summarize your story in the cover letter.
Simultaneous submissions = okay. Multiple submissions = no.
About the Anthologist: Sarena Ulibarri attended the Clarion Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers' Workshop in 2014 and earned an MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her fiction has appeared in magazines such as Lightspeed and Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, as well as anthologies such as Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures and Dear Robot: An Anthology of Epistolary Science Fiction. She has been Editor-in-Chief of World Weaver Press since 2016, and edited the anthology Speculative Story Bites.
Leena Likitalo is one of the fantastic authors I was lucky enough to get to know at the Clarion Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers' Workshop, which we both attended in the summer of 2014. Though many of our cohort have published a good deal of short fiction since that summer (some of it very well received), and a few have landed small press book deals, Leena is the first of our group to be published with a "Big Five" publisher like Tor. THE FIVE DAUGHTERS OF THE MOON by Leena Likitalo is out today, July 25, 2017, and the sequel, THE SISTERS OF THE CRESCENT EMPRESS will be available in November 2017.
I'm thrilled that more people will finally have the chance to experience the wondrous worlds that flow from Leena Likitalo's fingertips.
Inspired by the 1917 Russian revolution and the last months of the Romanov sisters, The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo is a beautifully crafted historical fantasy with elements of technology fueled by evil magic.
Sarena Ulibarri: In a nutshell, what was the path from manuscript to publication for THE FIVE DAUGHTERS OF THE MOON?
Leena Likitalo: The Five Daughters of the Moon came to me, demanding to be told right at that moment, and perhaps that's why everything happened so very fast.
The story came to me first in November 2014. I had just started in a new job and resolved not to work on any novels for the time being. This story didn't care about that! It was so insistent that I had no other option but to scribble it down as a short story.
The good thing about insistent stories is that they pretty much write themselves. The next summer, when I had some time off from work, I jotted down a synopsis for the duology — by then I'd realized the story was too big and complex for one book. It took me around three months to complete the first draft of the novel, and in November 2015, I had a book in my hands.
I'd been in touch with Claire Eddy—my editor-to-be—before about a different project. While she said no to that one, her kind feedback encouraged me to approach her with my new project in February 2016.
Fast-forward to June of the same year, and there I was with a two-book deal from Tor.com, represented by the wonderful Cameron McClure of Donald Maass Literary Agency.
SU: What advice do you have for young writers who are struggling through the first draft of a fantasy novel?
LL: You can do it. You can. Just keep on writing. Word after word. Sentence after sentence. See, put them after each other like that. There's your first page, chapter, and the rest will follow. It's fine if you don't know how the story is going to end. Eventually you'll get there if you just keep on going.
Keep on writing. Write every day, even if it's just a word, even if that word is wrong, or perhaps it's the right one. One sentence a day is a lot. A whole page? You're on the right track.
Finish what you're writing. Cherish it. Toss it away in shame. Both are fine. As long as you feel something toward what you wrote, you're doing it right. If it's bad, you know you should probably try a different thing next time around. If it's good, then great!
Google. Google your favorite author and how they got where they are now. Read forums on how to become a writer. Learn the trade. Blog post after another, websites, too. Standard manuscript format, synopsis, query, publishing deal anatomy, foreign rights. You want to know all about them. Just in case one day…
So you have a novel in your hands? I'm so happy for you! Is it ready go or do you want to work on it still? It's ready? Then it's time for the next step on your journey.
Query agents. Get rejected. Cry. Get over it. Submit again. Rinse and repeat. This is writer's life.
Put the first novel into a drawer. Start a new one. Rinse and repeat until success follows. It might take only one iteration. Or then nine. But eventually, one day, maybe one day your writerly dreams will come true.
SU: What books, authors, or films most influenced you when writing THE FIVE DAUGHTERS OF THE MOON?
LL: I've always loved Russian literature. When I was fourteen, we read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in school. I was the only kid in my class that cheered on the assignment. But darn, that language, the impeding melancholy… that's my cup of tea. And if you want to read a novel with the most fabulous cast of characters ever brought to life, try War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.
Around the time The Five Daughters of the Moon came to me, I wanted to brush up my Swedish. Maria Turtschaninoff had just won the prestigious Finlandia Junior prize for her novel Maresi, and so I decided to try that one.
Maresi is a quiet and dark story that builds up slowly and stays with you months and months after reading the last page. The women in the story are strong, each in their own unique way. This novel inspired me to seek new dimensions in the stories I had to tell -- I realized that it was possible to write tales where women are in control of their own fates even if the world is set against them.
Now movies, you ask? Gimme historical dramas. I like the aesthetics of Downtown Abbey – the dresses, the country houses, ridiculous dedication to etiquette. Another favorite of mine are the Hercule Poirot movies. The best one is of course Murder on the Orient Express.
SU: What’s your favorite memory from the Clarion Workshop?
LL: Ah, Sarena, you should know that there are too many to name just one!
I think the utmost best thing about Clarion was making connections that last for years and years to come. We're still in touch with my group, and it's been immeasurably valuable to me! No one understands writer's pain and anxiety like another writer… And to see my fellow classmates selling stories and becoming editors – it's a fabulous thing to witness!
SU: How many stories did you write at Clarion, and what became of them?
LL: I had decided that I would write six stories in Clarion, and while I did stay true to my decision, I think I might have been better off with just four or five.
My Week 1 story was not good at all, and I knew it even when writing it. The sole purpose of that story was to remove the writerly blocks lingering in my blood and get going with the actual business of telling tales.
My Week 2 story, Operating Santa's Machine, was a hit amongst my Clarion classmates — but let's just say that there's not much market for naughty Santa stories.
My Week 3 story, Give Your All to the Cause, started as a silly car-ride conversation about buying political favors with organ donations. It took me half a year to finish this story, but once it was done, I was very happy with it. This one found home at Galaxy's Edge magazine and I think it's one of my best scifi stories to date.
My Week 4 story, The Village At the Shadow of a Sleeping Cyclop, crushed me. It spiraled out of control, and I couldn't finish it in the way I wanted. I'm still thinking of fixing it, because I like the imagery and concept. But there's so many stories I really want to tell, that this one might need to wait a few more years still.
After Week 4, I was sure I couldn't piece another story together. And then this epic poem came to me pretty much out of nowhere, and so Ocelia, Ocelia was born. Jeff VanderMeer bought it for weirdfictionreview.com, and there's a Finnish translation available, too, coming out hopefully this year still.
And then there was Week 6 — rather than letting an idea come to me, I decided to go with an idea I'd been toying with for some time already. The end result was crafted rather than organic. Not my finest piece.
SU: Do you have any readings or signings coming up? Where can readers find you?
LL: Worldcon 75 will be organized in Helsinki — my very hometown. I'll be participating in a panel there, and hanging out in countless others.
You can find more about me and these events in www.leenalikitalo.com.
Leena Likitalo hails from Finland, the land of endless summer days and long, dark winter nights. She lives with her husband on an island at the outskirts of Helsinki, the capital. But regardless of her remote location, stories find their way to her and demand to be told.
While growing up, Leena struggled to learn foreign languages. At sixteen, her father urged her to start reading in English, and thus she spent the next summer wading through his collection of fantasy and science fiction novels. She has fond memories of her "teachers": J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Roger Zelazny, and Vernor Vinge.
Leena breaks computer games for a living. When she's not working, she writes obsessively. And when she's not writing, she can be found at the stables riding horses and playing polocrosse.
You can visit her online at www.leenalikitalo.com.
Since solarpunk stories are (usually) science fiction, you can send your solarpunk story to any of the big science fiction magazines: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, F&SF, Strange Horizons, etc. If the story’s good enough, and it fits what they’re seeking for their next issue, they might publish it. I’d love to read more solarpunk stories in the professional SFF magazines! But what are the magazines and anthologies that are actively looking for solarpunk right now? Below are ten paying markets, either themed issues, themed anthologies, or solarpunk-friendly magazines that might be interested in publishing your solarpunk story.
Just starting to submit your fiction to magazines and anthologies? Check out my Six Step Sequence for Submitting Short Stories for tips about how to make a good impression on editors. Not sure what solarpunk is? Check out the reference guide.
Know about solarpunk magazines, anthologies, or contests I left out? Leave the info in the comments!
Anthology, Published by Afrocentric Books
Submission Window: closes September 30, 2017
Length: 1,000 to 7,500 words
Payment: $0.01 per word
Futurism is a broad umbrella, encompassing many elements of science fiction and fantasy. For this anthology, we are most interested in science fiction. Time travel, space travel, cultures far advanced from our own. This world, other worlds, space stations, the setting doesn’t matter.
We want adult science fiction stories in diverse settings, featuring diverse people. The “in the future all people are a uniform color of café au lait” trope does not interest us. While it is not necessary for you to describe the physical features of all your characters, we do want to know that one of your main characters is of indigenous African descent.
Note: This is specifically a call for Afrofuturism, so a solarpunk story featuring characters of indigenous African descent could fit their needs.
2. Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns
Anthology, Edited by Rhonda Parrish, Published by Tyche Books
Submission Window: closes August 15, 2017
Length: up to 7500 words
Payment: $50 Canadian (non-Canadian authors welcome)
Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns will be filled with stories about every kind of fiery creature you can imagine, not only those listed in the subtitle. We’re looking for phoenixes, ifrits, salamanders, lava monsters and fiery beasts no one has ever heard of before. And of course this anthology will not be complete without at least one demon, dragon and djinn!
Note: In the editor’s Manuscript Wish List for this anthology, she specifically mentions wanting “a fiery solarpunk story.”
3. FutureScapes: Blue Sky Cities
Submission Window: closes October 13, 2017
Length: up to 8,000 words
Payment: $2000 first prize, $500 for 5 runners up, + publication in anthology
We’re seeking stories set in a near-future city where significant strides have been made toward improving air quality, climate adaptation, or even net positive impacts on climate and air quality.
We want to see your vivid ideas and concepts, but don’t forget the basics of story: strong voice, compelling characters driven by real desires, facing serious obstacles that sum to an engaging plot and story.
You need not paint us a utopia – we don’t really believe in those. We believe that at any given time, depending on individual perspective, every city has dystopian and utopian aspects. The key is to show us a solution, but don’t strip it of realistic political, scientific, or logistical obstacles, and don’t neglect the possibility and ramifications of unintended consequences from even the best solution.
Note: The first entry to this contest is free, but it costs $24 to submit a second story.
4. The Future Fire
Magazine, Edited by Djibril al-Ayad
Submission Window: ongoing
Length: up to 10,000 words
Payment: $20 per story
The Future Fire publishes beautiful and useful fiction and poetry that focuses on the social-political elements of imaginary, futuristic, fantastic, horrifying, surreal or otherwise speculative universes. We are particularly interested in feminist, queer, postcolonial and ecological themes, writing by under-represented voices, and stories from outside the Anglophone world.
Note: The Future Fire has also been collecting a list of recommendations for optimistic science fiction books.
5. Glass & Gardens: Solarpunk Summers
Anthology, Edited by Sarena Ulibarri, Published by World Weaver Press
Submission Window: August 15 to November 15, 2017
Length: up to 8000 words
Payment: Ranging from token ($10) to semi-pro (see guidelines for details)
Solarpunk is a type of eco-conscious science fiction that imagines an optimistic future founded on renewable energies. It might take place in a wind-powered skyscraper or on a solar-powered robotic farm, in a bustling green-roofed metropolis or in a small but tech-saavy desert village. Often coupled with an art nouveau aesthetic, and always inclusive and diverse, solarpunk stories show the ways we have adapted to climate change, or the ways we have overcome it.
For this anthology, I want to see solarpunk summers. Show me futuristic stories that take place in summer, whether that involves a summer night in a rooftop garden, or characters adapting to extreme heat and weather, or maybe an annual migration to cooler lands. Keep it planet-based (Earth or other), and optimistic. Solarpunk worlds aren’t necessarily utopias, but they definitely aren’t dystopias.
We're a northern hemisphere publisher, but southern hemisphere summers are also welcome!
Note: Full disclosure, I’m the primary editor for this project.
6. Hyperion and Theia
Anthology, Edited by E. O. Smith, Published by Radiant Crown Publishing
Submission Window: December 1, 2017 to January 31, 2018
Length: 1001 to 40,000 words
Payment: $0.01 per word
Year Two Theme: Rebus
Language offers up a whole new world if one can decipher the many meanings hidden within a word. Year Two of Hyperion and Theia wants stories and poetry that runs the gamut of genres and offers to the reader a rebus of sorts, filled with cryptic messages. Submit a sci-fi caper featuring humanity thwarting an alien invader with the use of signs and symbols. Dazzle us with a comedic horror in which communication with the dead takes on a whole new meaning.
Note: In their “Of Interest” section, they list: “Dieselpunk, Solarpunk, Weird Westerns, Cyberpunk, Magic Realism, Gothic Horror, Retrofuturism, Afrofuturism, Wuxia, Romantic Suspense, Historical, Capers, Gothic Romance, Neo-/Noir, and lesser known sub-genres”
7. Rebellion and Refuge
Anthology, Edited by Laura Harvey, Published by Pen and Kink Publishing
Submission Window: October 1 to November 30, 2017
Length: 1000 to 15000 words
Payment: $10 + copy of the anthology
This anthology will explore resistance and rebellion within a romantic context—because sometimes love has to take a stand—but it will also include stories of refuge because you can’t fight all the time, and sometimes love is the only thing that brings you peace (or at least a place to breathe).
We want stories of feisty park rangers fighting the good fight, couples falling in love at protest marches (bonus points if they start out on opposite sides of the issue) and people forced to choose between what is right and what is easy. We want stories where a character’s only emotional refuge is within the arms of their lover and ones where couples work together to do the things they believe will make the world a better place.
We’re open to stories at every heat and kink level, and any sort of pairing (or more-ing) that you can imagine. Stories must have a real conflict and tension with a HEA or HFN ending.
Note: This is a romance anthology, and most stories included will likely be contemporary or historical, but a near-future solarpunk romance still has a good shot at fitting what they’re looking for.
Magazine, Edited by Michael J. DeLuca
Submission Window: ongoing
Length: up to 45,000 words
Payment: $0.06 per word
The short version: fiction preferably at least a tiny bit speculative, nonfiction preferably more creative than journalistic, poetry tending towards the narrative and preferably with some thematic heft, art your guess is as good as mine. But the heart of what I want is your searingly personal, visceral, idiosyncratic understanding of the world and the people in it as it has been, as it is, as it will be, as it could be, as a consequence of humanity’s relationship with the earth.
Note: Focused on stories of “environmental justice.” Darker tales or “pre-solarpunk” may do better here than stories that skip over how a solarpunk society was created.
9. Retro Future
Magazine, Edited by John Carimando
Submission Window: closes September 1, 2017
Length: 250-500 words is especially welcome; longer works may be serialized.
Payment: “We will always meet or exceed SFWA minimum compensation guidelines.” ($0.06 per word)
Issue Submission Themes—Issue #4: Resistance to oppression.
We welcome submissions of art and writing that approaches retrofuturism through a progressive lens. We are looking for forward-looking and optimistic science and science-fiction. Sensitive topics can be part of a good story, but a vision of a future better than our present is the focus of Retro Future.
Note: Retro Future is looking for both stories and comics. Future submission themes will vary, but their request for optimistic science fiction carries over between issues.
10. Seat 14C
Submission Window: closes August 25, 2017
Length: 2000 to 4000 words
Payment: $1500 + trip to Japan, + publication on website
Your short story is a first-person account of the passenger seated in 14C aboard ANA Flight #008. What does this person experience as they arrive in 2037 and explore a changed world? How has emerging (or not-yet-invented) technology altered society for the better, and how does your character discover and interact with this technology?
We are hopeful for our future, and we ask that your story creatively weaves technology and culture, envisioning an optimistic and exciting future for mankind.
Note: This contest is prompt-based, and writers should read some of the other “seats” to see what they’re looking for and what’s already been done. No fee to enter.
Guest Post by K.T. Ivanrest, author of the story "Lightless" in Equus, an anthology forthcoming July 18, 2017 from World Weaver Press
I seem to have a conflict problem. In the first draft of my Sirens story, "Threshold," there wasn’t enough conflict. In contrast, my early drafts of "Lightless" had too much. Below is a section of the first scene from an earlier version of "Lightless," and while I ultimately couldn’t make the fading/crime connection work with the rest of the story, I do like the extra tension it brought and wanted to share it (because what the world needs right now is more conflict, right? Right?...).
(Note: because it’s an early draft, it’s not the best-edited excerpt you’ll ever read. Bear with me.)
[Fulsa, locked in a tower with his slave Phaios, awaits the arrival of the empress.]
He peered down at his hands, but could discern no difference in their glow. It was impossible, here in this prison with only Phaios for company, to tell whether there had been any more change, any further dimming. Beside the lightless slave he always looked radiant, so bright he could almost forget what was happening, and then the empress would arrive for her weekly visit and he would see the truth again.
Her footsteps were soft tps on the polished stone stairway, her presence announced by the gradual spread of light that preceded her up the staircase, pressing away the shadows with proud disdain and careless ease.
“Your Imperial Majesty.” He knelt as she ascended the last of the stairs, the silver fabric of her coat rustling softly on the stone, scattering specks of light like jewels for the less fortunate.
“Fulsa.” Did she practice making his name sound like an insult, or did it just come naturally, a ready accompaniment to her anger and shame? “Another turn of the heavens. Are you, perhaps, finally prepared to make a confession?”
For the briefest moment he considered saying yes, inventing an offense and apologizing and begging her to let him free. But of course it would do no good—the fading would continue and she’d know he had lied, and still she would not believe he’d done nothing.
“No,” he said at last.
Her eyes narrowed to slits, her fury flashing like her ever-present light. “You persist in lying to me. Every day you pale further into night and yet you continue to insist that you are innocent.”
“I am. I’ve done nothing, I don’t know why this is hap—“
“Ridiculous,” she snapped. “I could overlook your crime, whatever it is, but your arrogance and dishonesty are unforgiveable.”
She gave him a long, searching look, perhaps trying to decide whether arrogance and dishonesty were severe enough defects to cause someone to fade. But if that were the case, he thought bitterly, she would have faded long ago, and quiet, dependable Phaios would be sitting on the throne in her place.
He shook his head and forced himself to meet her eyes. “I will not incriminate myself.”
“Then we are finished.” She spun, the glass beads woven into her hair clicking as she moved.
“Please.” He reached after her but dared not touch even her coat. “Please, is there nothing I can do or say to prove myself to you?”
I want to go home.
A long silence, pure and perfect like all the silence here in this desolate place, away from the city, from the stables and his team, from the thousands of citizens lighting the island with their glow.
At last the empress spoke, voice hard as stone. “I will not visit again. When you are prepared to confess your crime, send word.”
She strode forward and he leapt after her, desperate. “Wait, mother, plea—”
By the time she’d spun again he was back on his knees, hot with shame, but the fire did nothing to increase his glow, which instead seemed to dim beneath the empress’ glare.
“Look at you. Cowering like a lightless.” She turned once more and strode toward the staircase, and though he knew exactly what she was going to say next, it didn’t hurt any less to hear it. “You are no son of mine.”
How does it compare to the final version of "Lightless"? You’ll have to read the story and see! </shameless plug>
K.T. Ivanrest wanted to be a cat or horse when she grew up, but after failing to metamorphose into either, she began writing stories about them instead. Soon the horses became unicorns and the cats sprouted wings, and once the dragons arrived, there was no turning back. When not writing, K.T. can be found sewing and drinking decaf coffee. She has a PhD in Classical Studies, which will come in handy when aliens finally make contact and it turns out they speak Latin.
My contributor copies of Biketopia have arrived! Or, more accurately, I have managed to track down my contributor copies of Biketopia. See, my story "Riding in Place" was accepted for this anthology at the tail end of 2015, and I moved in the spring of 2016, and apparently forgot to update my address with the publisher. I realized this after it had been shipped. I considered using an expensive interception service, but figured the package would just be returned to sender and then resent to my new address.
Fortunately, for the first time in my life, I've only moved across town, and not across the country, so when I discovered the package had been delivered a week ago, I decided to go knock on the door of my old apartment. The new occupant was there, and quite nice. They'd tried to return the package, but it only got re-delivered to them, so it had just been sitting around in the P.O. Box for a week. They said they'd also gotten a shipment of "weird alien books" last December, and I had to tell them, yep, sorry, those were mine—a shipment of Campaign 2100's returned from a bookseller that I had to go pick up from the UPS warehouse after a UPS worker tracked me down through the World Weaver Press Facebook page.
Update your addresses, kids.
But the books! I have them, and they're beautiful. My solarpunk story "Riding in Place" is the first story in it. In this collection that alternates between utopian and dystopian visions of the future, my story takes on the utopian path. A sentient robot on an asteroid mine just wants to see the utopian world her labor has helped create, and a human miner who has a troubled relationship with her daughter doesn't believe it's a utopia at all.
I look forward to reading the rest of the stories in this anthology, especially to see if there are others that might be considered solarpunk—it's a bit rare to find in the wild.
There are a couple of different release dates listed, so I'm not entirely sure when you'll be able to get your copy, but if you're interested, there are a few ways. You can get it in ebook or paperback from Amazon by clicking the links below, or you can order a paperback directly from the publisher (which I highly recommend), Microcosm Publishing. And if you use the code BIKETOPIANS at checkout, you'll get 10% off.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me for some advice about how to submit short stories to magazines and anthologies, so I'm sharing the advice I gave her with the world. If you're a new writer who's just stepping a toe into the world of publishing, or if you've gotten lucky with a few markets but don't really understand how the whole thing works, then this article is for you. This advice about submitting short stories is primarily for those writing fantasy and science fiction, as some of the details may differ if you write literary (for example, many literary markets allow simultaneous submissions while SFF do not), but no matter what genre you're working with, this six step sequence can help point you in the right direction.
And who am I to give this advice? No one, really, but I've published approximately 35 short stories (many of them very short), ranging from non-paying and token markets all the way up to professional and prize-winning. According to Duotrope, I've sent out 535 submissions in the last six years. I'm also an editor who has read a good deal of slush for both magazines and anthologies over the last five years.
Want to submit short stories to magazines or anthologies? Here's your six step sequence.
First of all, is your story ready to submit? Have you had your critique group or beta readers look at it, and implemented as many of their suggestions as fit your vision for the story? Have you teased out every possible specific detail about these characters, this setting, this situation, as you can fit into the space of a short story? Have you read it out loud to listen for clunky sentences, word echoes, stilted dialog? Have you let it sit for a couple of days (or even weeks) and then read it again with fresh eyes? Is it absolutely the best you can do at this moment in time?
If you answered no to any of the above, stop right now, and stop thinking about publication. Maybe it needs another rewrite, or five. Maybe you just need to write a different story. Or five.
Second, research the markets. Decide what matters to you. Do you want to be paid professional rates, or are you okay with less? Do you want a paper copy, or do you prefer online publication? Do you want to be in a well-established publication, or do you want to take a chance on something newer? Market listings such as Duotrope.com, the Submission Grinder, and Ralan.com are excellent search engines that can help you discover new markets and narrow down the ones that are looking for the kind of story you’re writing. To find anthologies, visit small press websites (or follow them on social media) to watch for anthology announcements, and skim Kickstarter for anthologies that may still be taking submissions. Always visit the magazine or anthology’s website, and be sure to read the submission guidelines. Avoid any market that charges a submission fee*, and watch for red flags such as asking for exclusive rights. After you look at a dozen or so submission guidelines, you’ll have an excellent sense for what’s normal and what’s not.
(*Submission fees are more common and accepted for literary markets, but are anathema in genre fiction. Contests are different, but should still be treated skeptically, especially if the entry fee is high.)
Third, once you’ve decided which markets you’d like to submit to, read them. If you’re looking at anthologies, pick up another anthology by that editor or publishing house. If you’re looking at magazines, pick up their latest issue. Most magazines are available online, but you can also go camp out at your local Barnes and Noble to look at paper issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, Asimov’s, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, and a few others. Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons and many others have podcasts you can download to listen to while you drive, walk the dog, or eat lunch. However you do it, make sure you’ve read at least a few stories in a magazine before you send yours there. You don’t have to read all of them cover-to-cover, but read enough to get a sense of what they value in a story, and if they’re publishing stories like the ones you’re writing. Even if your story is great, the editor won’t take it unless it’s also a great fit.
Fourth, use Standard Manuscript Format (unless otherwise specified) and submit the story according to the market's guidelines along with a brief cover letter. Do not describe your story in the cover letter. The cover letter should be very short, and include the story’s title, word count, any previous publications or writing education you may have, and a “thank you” for their time. Don’t have any publications or writing education? No problem, just leave that part out. Do not apologize for having none, or offer any rationalizations or frustrations about it. Simply omit. If you have other education or life experience that relates to the content of your story, you can also include that. For example, if you are writing hard science fiction about space travel and you have a PhD in physics, say so. Or, if you are queer and so is your character, you can let the editor know the story is #OwnVoices.
Here’s the standard cover letter I have sent out for years:
Dear [Magazine Title] Editors,
That’s really it. A cover letter is not a query letter (which you need for submitting a novel). It is simply a polite introduction that says “Here’s my story, thanks for taking a look.”
Fifth, practice Rejectomancy (and abandon all hope). You can keep track of your submissions at Duotrope or the Submission Grinder, which will let you see the average response times for markets. Most science fiction and fantasy markets do not allow simultaneous submissions, so you’ll need to wait until you hear back from the first one before submitting the same story to the second one (and so on). If you know that Asimov’s, for example, takes an average of 100 days to respond, but Clarkesworld takes an average of two days to respond, that can help you plan which markets to submit to first, and help allay your anxieties as you wait for that response. If you haven’t already, start writing a new story.
Sixth, when that dreaded rejection comes in, move on to the next market on your list, make sure to follow their guidelines (which may differ slightly from the last one), and submit the story to that magazine or anthology. Keep submitting until you run out of places you would be proud to see your work in. The pro-markets are great, but there are a lot of semi-pros and token markets that do a great job as well. Or, if the editors were nice enough to give you personalized feedback, you may want to do another pass through the story and incorporate their suggestions. Unfortunately, you can’t resubmit it to the same magazine or anthology unless the editor specifies that they’d like you to (called a "revise and resubmit").
If their response is an acceptance rather than a rejection, then do a happy dance, sign the contract (after reading it closely), make sure you get paid, and always share the news with your friends and social media followers when the story is released.
And then, if you haven’t already, submit your next story.
As part of the Apex Revive the Drive subscription drive campaign, I have the privilege of interviewing Apex Magazine managing editor Lesley Connor. I'll admit I haven't read every issue of Apex, but every time I dip into it, I find a new favorite, and some of my all-time favorite short stories have been published there, stories such as "Jackalope Wives" by Ursula Vernon, "Frozen Planet" by Marian Womack, "Paskutinis Iliuzija (The Last Illusion)" by Damien Angelica Walters, and of course "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" by Rachel Swirsky. Apex stories are always dark and gorgeous, and stay with you long after you hit the end.
The Apex Subscription Drive runs until April 17, 2017, and features some very cool perks. See the full details here.
Sarena Ulibarri: The aesthetic of Apex Magazine has surely changed and evolved over the years and under different editors. What are some of the stories you feel best define the current Apex aesthetic?
Lesley Conner: This is a fantastic question! And also a really hard one to answer because it isn’t as simple listing personal favorites. Apex Magazine is striving to publish stories that are dark and surreal, stories that push boundaries, that blend genres—or throw genre out the window entirely. We want real human emotions in fantastical worlds. Give us outrage, desperation, sorrow, and then twist it into something new and heart-wrenchingly beautiful. We want stories that introduce us to new worlds, that stretch our imaginations.
None of these are things that are easily defined. But I will give it a shot!
Stories I feel best define the current Apex aesthetic:
This is a pretty fair mix of stories. Different genres, different subject matter. Authors from different backgrounds. But all of these stories have something that says “Apex!” to me when I read them and I think they’d be a good place for new readers who wanted to sample what Apex is about.
SU: What's the process a story goes through between the time it is accepted and the time it is published in the magazine?
LC: We are looking for stories that are pretty close to being ready to publish when we buy them. We do a light copy editing and then a second pass proofreading, but that is basically it.
Saying it that way, it sounds like we should be publishing a story the issue after it’s accepted, but that isn’t the case. We typically have several issues worth of content scheduled at one time. This means when we accept a story, it can be a while before we have the chance to publish it. Which is a good thing for us as a publication, because it allows us to select stories for an issue that fit together. Rather than simply publishing all the stories that we really liked—with no thought or consideration to theme, or pacing, or all the other things that make stories work together—having a cushion of already scheduled content gives us time to make sure we’re publishing a story in the correct issue with other pieces that will compliment it.
SU: Jason is editor-in-chief and Lesley is managing editor—what's the difference in your roles?
LC: Jason would tell you that I’m the one in charge and he just writes the checks. This isn’t true.
I manage things. I know, I know, a really imaginative way to explain what a managing editor does—way to not really say anything, Lesley!—but it’s true. I make sure we have all the pieces we need for each issue: Have the stories been copy edited? Do we have author bios? Have I gotten the interviews back? What is the nonfiction for this month? Did we sell ads for the issue? I make sure that authors have been paid, our slush readers are getting through all the submissions in a timely manner, and handle queries from writers, artists, and readers.
Jason does in fact send all the checks and payments, but he does much more than that. As editor-in-chief, he has the final say on what is going to be included in each issue of the magazine. He selects all the fiction, finds nonfiction, decides which authors we should interview and which story to podcast. He also builds the eBook editions of every issue. While I’m handling all the details, he has to deal with more big picture, long term issues that come with running a digital zine.
Basically, Jason makes all the decisions and I organize the shit out of everything!
SU: Apex Magazine always has fantastic cover art. How do you decide what image will grace each new issue?
LC: Thank you! I love hearing that people enjoy our covers!
Finding cover art is one of my favorite Apex tasks. We don’t try to fit specific artwork with certain issues/stories; I’m more thinking in terms of the other artwork we already have scheduled. I want to make that I’m not focusing too much on a particular color palette or a similar focal point in the image. The last thing that I want is for our covers to become predictable. So it’s a balance of finding artwork that fits the aesthetic Apex desires, while at the same time making sure that view doesn’t become stale.
Lesley Conner is a writer/editor, managing editor of Apex Publications and Apex Magazine, and a Girl Scout leader. When she isn’t handling her editorial or Girl Scout leader responsibilities, she’s researching fascinating historical figures, rare demons, and new ways to dispose of bodies, interweaving the three into strange and horrifying tales. Her short fiction can be found in Mountain Dead, Dark Tales of Terror, A Hacked-Up Holiday Massacre, as well as other places. Her first novel The Weight of Chains was published by Sinister Grin Press in September, 2015. Best of Apex Magazine: Volume 1 marks her debut experience in anthology editing. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and is currently working on a new novel. To find out all her secrets, you can follow her on Twitter at @LesleyConner.
Support Apex Magazine's Revive the Drive 2017! Get awesome rewards and support great short fiction.
First of all, there is no one more horrified by that blog title than the editors and authors at the small press I run. They may well organize a mutiny as soon as this is posted. So aim your vitriol at me, not at World Weaver Press. Most of our books do employ the good ol' Oxford comma.
Second, the Oxford comma is often a Band-Aid that covers up other structural problems within a sentence. Just... hear me out, okay?
Ever since the Oxford Style Guide dropped the serial comma in 2011, there have been entertaining memes floating around the internet "proving" you need the Oxford comma to avoid ridiculous confusion.
Here are two of the most common examples:
The argument here is that without the Oxford comma, the second and third items in this list can be mistaken for a descriptive clause of the first. But consider this: what actually creates the confusion in both of these sentences is the position of a plural noun followed by two singular nouns. Rearrange the sentence so the plural isn't first, and suddenly it doesn't matter whether that comma is there or not.
We invited JFK, the strippers and Stalin.
We invited JFK, Stalin and the strippers.
To Ayn Rand, God and my parents.
To Ayn Rand, my parents and God.
But not all Oxford comma usage can be solved with that One Weird Trick. Here's a different Oxford comma meme, with a different issue.
Ah, my good friend the direct address comma, made famous with the "Let's eat Grandma" vs. "Let's eat, Grandma" example. Sure, lack of an Oxford comma can create the impression the speaker is addressing the people (or objects) that appear after the first comma. Except, maybe a little context and common sense is necessary? Is it likely, from the context of the sentence, that the person is actually talking to a sentient toast-and-juice monster? I mean, I work in the field of fantasy and science fiction, so it's certainly possible. However, if the speaker of this sentence is addressing a literal toast-and-juice monster, that better be established and described in the narrative leading up to this sentence. Also, the writer should probably come up with a better and more creative name for it than "toast and orange juice." At the very least, it should be capitalized. "I had eggs, Toast and Orange Juice" would signal that "Toast and Orange Juice" is a proper noun.
If it is clear from context that the speaker is not addressing sentient toast and orange juice, does the Oxford comma make this a better sentence? The truth is, with or without the comma, it's just a lazy sentence. "Had" is a weak and vague verb—it merely tells us the food existed and was in your possession. Revise it to something like "I devoured the eggs and toast, and drank three glasses of orange juice," or "I picked at the eggs and toast, and only drank half of the orange juice," and not only are the verbs more active, but we also know a lot more about what's going on. Little ol' "had" could have meant either of these scenarios, but there was no way to tell which. The Oxford comma can't fix that.
How about this one?
Let's assume this sentence does not appear in a Haralambi Markov horror story. Obviously, you need a comma after "cooking." But what about that sneaky Oxford—does a second comma actually clarify the meaning? Here it is without: "I like cooking, my family and pets." Here it is with: "I like cooking, my family, and pets." I suppose it does eliminate the impression of a direct address comma: the speaker telling their family and pets that they like cooking (which would need to be rewritten anyway because it would sound stilted and awkward). As with the previous example, context can probably eliminate that possibility better than a comma can.
The real confusion for me in this sentence is whether the speaker likes "pets" in general, or their own pets. Change it to "I like cooking, my family and my pets" and the meaning is more obvious. Better yet, rearrange it to "I like my family, my pets and cooking," and there's suddenly a lot less room for misinterpretation, with or without an Oxford comma.
Okay, okay, enough of these silly meme examples. Here's one from real life.
I used parentheses and a plus sign in that tweet because this is what I wrote first:
"Win a paperback copy of COVALENT BONDS, an anthology of geek romance, and a serotonin necklace."
Is the winner being promised three things or two? It's unclear whether "an anthology of geek romance" is a descriptive clause for "COVALENT BONDS" or a separate object. The commas create ambiguity that can't be fixed by rearranging the sentence or adding or subtracting commas. Different punctuation must be used. If, however, the Oxford comma were not in common usage, my original sentence would have been clear.
Look, there may very well be times when the Oxford comma is absolutely necessary. As entertaining as a lot of these examples and memes are, I remain unconvinced. I'm not here to take your Oxford commas from you, though. Keep using them, if you like them. Maybe the sentence just looks wrong to you without it. Fine! It's a style choice, after all, not a grammar rule. But each time you use an Oxford comma, consider: Do you need it? Do you really need it, or can you write a better sentence?