Sub Day: Trouble the Waters Anthology

And one more, this one to Rosarium Publishing’s TROUBLE THE WATERS: Tales from the Deep Blue anthology. This call was for “water-themed speculative short stories,” which was a great, flexible theme. I went back to a general concept I used in an earlier story and took a different spin on it this time.

I’m very excited to see how the editors respond compared to that earlier story. A few more years of maturation as a writer and a different spin on the base concept means this one ends up in a very different place! I love that about writing, that the same initial idea can end up worlds away when it’s finished. Every take is going to be different, whether that’s from different writers or the same writer in a different place in time, mood, inspiration, etc.

I have a draft in progress for another call closing November 15, and there’s a market opening on November 4 that I want to send an older story that hasn’t found a home yet. So a few more things coming up, plus three December deadlines and some nonsaleable projects as well. I’m feeling pretty happy about all of the forthcoming things at the moment, so I’m going to enjoy that while it lasts!

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Sub Day: Into the Black Contest

Just sent off a story to the Economic Security Project’s Into the Black contest, which is for speculative fiction stories based around universal basic income. UBI is the prompt: “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.”

A tall order for a short story! Mine clocked in around 3,600 words and I tried to play around with a more experimental approach to the structure. I’m looking forward to seeing what the reviewers think of it.

This is one of those very specific calls for submission where if the story doesn’t make the cut, it can’t easily be repurposed elsewhere. If the contest passes on it I’ll be posting it here. I have a few other stories like that in my files, where they just don’t quite seem to fit anything except the specific call they were written for. Some of them might pop up here in the future as well.

More editing is ahead for me tomorrow; another submissions call ends at the last of the month. That’s Tuesday, so I need to get that story finalized, formatted, and submitted as well. More on that tomorrow!

Reading in October

It’s only the 25th but everything I have lined up to read next is fairly long, so let’s go ahead and say I’m done finishing things this month.

What I finished in October:

  • Café Neandertal: Excavating Our Past in One of Europe’s Most Ancient Places (Beebe Bahrami)
  • The Greenhouse (Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir)
  • Sunshine State (Sarah Gerard)
  • Goethe: Life as a Work of Art (Rüdiger Safranski, trans. David Dollenmayer)
  • Archie and Amelie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age (Donna Lucey)

All nonfiction except The Greenhouse, which is an Icelandic novel. I need to mix it up a little more next month.


Currently reading:

  • Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator (Oleg V. Khlevniuk)

So much for lightening things up; and that’s on my Kindle, so it’s gym reading, while on the exercise bike.

  • Next up: Basketball (And Other Things) (Shea Serrano)

This, at least, will be a light and fun read. Shea Serrano writes humor with great heart. I’ve been looking forward to starting this.


The Goethe biography was the central reading of my month, as a lengthy and very serious collection of pages. Not entirely sure how I feel about having made that commitment, now that it’s over.

Things I knew about Goethe before reading this book:

  • He was a German writer or philosopher or something like that. Possibly I had him confused with Wagner.

Things I learned about Goethe from reading this book:

  • He had incestuous feelings for his sister. This isn’t conjecture; he wrote about it in his memoirs, the ones he very specifically curated for posterity. She died as a young wife and mother, possibly of grief from being separated from her brother by marriage (also per his memoirs, of course).
  • He loved Napoleon. LOVED him. Big fan. He received a medal of some kind from Napoleon and wore it as often as possible for the rest of his life, showing it off every change he got. This was taken as less than charming by the Duke of Weimar, whom Goethe served as a privy counsellor, and who was entangled with Russia through personal and military bonds. The Duke: can you please tone down the Napoleon worship, good sir. Goethe: Shan’t. The Duke: 😦
  • One of his famous later works of poetry, framed as a correspondence between two voices in the poems, was in fact written through letters exchanged between him and one of the many beautiful young women he courted regardless of their marital status (or his). They were role-playing as prophets in the Middle East in the time of Muhammad. The whole book was a transcript of a play-by-email erotic RPG of the 1800s, only attributed to one of the authors.
  • He frequently would be solicited as a regular contributor to new literary journals, who were sure that such a famous literary name would provide them with popular, patriotic work that would sell many copies. He would instead provide either dry scientific articles or serialized, painfully dull novels, frequently about how great Napoleon was.
  • He fancied himself a scientist, with particular interest in minerals, fossils, and color theory. He wrote a very long book on color theory, which he expected to revolutionize science. It did not sell and scientists ignored it, mostly because it was entirely about how you couldn’t split white light into colors and recombine them. Yes, he was familiar with prisms. He just didn’t believe that that was what prisms were doing.
  • Proposed to a teenager when he was in his 80s, via a letter to her parents. They assumed he was joking, which was pretty humiliating for him, but probably a lot easier on the girl.
  • He wrote Faust, but not the Faust anyone is thinking of when they say Faust, another one, that is much longer and more complicated.