Joanne Merriam, Upper Rubber Boot Books1
Grammar, Syntax, Usage:
- Is the grammar, punctuation, and spelling correct?
- Does wrong or non-standard syntax serve the purpose of the work?
- Does the diction [ornateness/simplicity] fit the meaning?
- Is there music? Is the music serving the work?
Serving the Reader:
- Is it true?
- Is it ethical?
- Does it go deep enough?
- Is it based on cultures I don’t belong to or don’t have a deep knowledge of? If so, have I run it past people who do belong to those cultures, and/or done extensive research to avoid misrepresentation and mistakes?
- Are there places that would be confusing to an outside reader or where I’ve assumed non-general knowledge or mind-reading?
Serving the Story:
- Is it predictable? Are there clichés in words, images, ideas, or plot? (Strange Horizons lists cliché plots: http://www.strangehorizons.com/guidelines/fiction-common.shtml; Teresa Nielsen Hayden lists dreadful phrases: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007425.html.)
- Can I strengthen the story by changing my world-building assumptions? (Charles Stross’ list: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2016/01/a-world-building-puzzler.html.)
- Are the transitions serving the work? Is every scene serving the work? Are the ideas and rhetorical gestures in the right order?
- Is it in the right voice [first person/second person/third person]?
- What does it actually say on the page (as opposed to in my mind)? Is it saying what it wants to say? Is it confused?
- Would saying less be stronger?
- Does it follow its own deepest impulses, rather than my initial idea?
- Do I know more than I did when I started writing it? Did I discover anything?
- Do characters follow their own goals and impulses, or have I forced them to act against their own character to fit the plot? Do they talk, act, and think authentically?
- Is there anything that doesn’t belong?
- Do any digressions serve the work?
- Is it self-satisfied/smug?
- Does it allow strangeness? Is the strangeness it allows accessible?
- Should it go out into the world or is it the seed for another story (or poem)?
1 Also includes questions from a talk given by poet Jane Hirshfield at Vanderbilt University, and from a workshop given by poet Sue MacLeod at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. Feel welcome to reproduce or excerpt this list, provided attribution and this notice are included.
21 March 2016
Writers! Upper Rubber Boot Books wants your stories for Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk & Eco-Speculation, the upcoming anthology of speculative fiction edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Wieland. Set for publication in spring 2017, Sunvault will open to submissions following the funding of our Kickstarter project in April.
We want this anthology to reach outside Western and Anglophone traditions of speculative fiction, showcasing the way environment and environmental issues are talked about and perceived in all parts of the world. We encourage and welcome submissions from diverse voices and under-represented populations, including, but not limited to, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, those with disabilities, and the elderly. Authors of all walks of life should feel encouraged to send us stories celebrating these diverse characters and settings all around us.
What are we looking for?
We want short stories that fall under the scope of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, weird fic, etc.). If you’re unsure, submit! We love to be surprised.
The anthology will focus on times of environmental crisis and the people inhabiting these tipping points, fighting to effect change and seek solutions, even if it’s already too late. But these are stories of hope, not just disaster! Turn your lens to those crucial moments in a world’s history when great change can be made by the right people with the right tools. Remember: hope can spark in even the grimmest of situations.
Is there environmental SF already?
There is! Although environmental factors in SF aren’t seen as frequently as other issues, writers are addressing it in revolutionary ways. Here are some examples of SF with primary environmental concerns:
- Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy
- Paulo Bacigalupi’s novels (The Windup Girl, The Water Knife)
- George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road
- Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer
- Edan Lepucki’s California
- Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy
The list goes on. Not all of these stories, though, truly fall into the solarpunk category. So what is solarpunk?
What is solarpunk?
Solarpunk follows in the tradition of steampunk and cyberpunk as the embodiment of a counterculture ideology: innovating a way of life that is better for the present and ultimately better for the future. Concepts like clean energy and sustainability are integral to solarpunk as they are outlets for societal reform. The fight for positive change is where -punk comes into play.
There are various communities online that are imagining and building solarpunk as an idea and an aesthetic, but as a literary movement, it is as yet largely undefined. That’s where you come in. Sunvault is the SF community’s opportunity to define the solarpunk genre. We want to see your conceptions and interpretations of the genre. We want to see what solarpunk looks like to you.
Length & Payment:
We’re looking for short stories from 500 to 7500 words. Don’t query about longer pieces. We want to include as many stories as possible in the anthology, so we aren’t able to consider longer works. All authors will be paid 6 cents USD per word upon publication for original fiction.
We are also open for reprint submissions. Reprints are paid a flat rate of $50 for stories under 2000 words and $100 for stories over 2000 words. Please include a complete publication history for reprint submissions.
We will accept submissions from any country.
Translations are welcome. Please include proof that you have the permission of the original author to translate and submit the story, and provide the original author’s contact details as well as your own. Payment will be split equally between the translator and the author. If this is the first publication of the story in English, even if it has appeared in its original language in print, we will pay the rate for original work.
How do I submit?
Submissions will open as soon as our Kickstarter is fully funded and run for approximately a month. Send your story to us at sunvaultanthology[at]gmail.com with the subject like Original Submission: Story name for originals and Reprint Submission: Story name for reprints. Submit translations as original stories (if previously unpublished in English), but be clear that it is a translation in the body of your message. If the format is wrong, your story may end up in our spam folder, so be diligent. We will only read files sent as .doc, .docx, .odt, or .rtf.
Include a cover letter in the body of your email to tell us a bit about who you are. Please include the story’s length, any relevant info we should know about the story, and an author’s bio. Do not describe your story in the cover letter.
We will not be accepting simultaneous submissions. You may only submit one story during the reading period.
We won’t be responding to submissions until the reading period has officially closed, so response times will vary, but expect to hear back from us within 2-3 months. Please don’t query until after 3 months.
28 February 2016
Upper Rubber Boot Books is delighted to announce a new title, slated for release in spring 2017:
Edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Wieland, Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk & Eco-Speculation is an anthology focusing on the aftereffects of environmental disasters, but with hope—stories of those inhabiting the crucial moments when great change can be made by the right people with the right tools; stories of people living during tipping points, and the spaces before and after them; and stories of those who fought to effect change and seek solutions, even if it was too late.
Discuss this book at Goodreads.
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14 February 2016
We’re excited and humbled that Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up To No Good was nominated in the anthology category for a This Is Horror Award! Also lovely to see Damien Angelica Walters and Rebecca Jones-Howe, both of whom were in Choose Wisely, nominated for their short story collections – and so many other wonderful writers and presses here. Please go vote!
10 January 2016
Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 2, containing poetry by Kallie Falandays, Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs, and Judy Jordan, was released on 17 November 2015.
This is the second volume in the Floodgate Poetry Series, an annual series of books collecting three chapbooks by three poets in a single volume, edited by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum. Chapbooks—short books under 40 pages—arose when printed books became affordable in the 16th century. The series is in the tradition of 18th and 19th century British and American literary annuals, and the Penguin Modern Poets Series of the 1960s and ’70s.
Kallie Falandays‘ debut collection of poetry, Tiny Openings Everywhere, distorts reality and the many ways we perceive it with a raucous, almost violent brand of play in poems more interested in questioning reality than nailing it down. At times breathtaking, others delightfully perplexing, these verses are as quixotic and witty as they are essential and damning. Falandays received her MFA from Wichita State University in 2015. She writes copy by day and runs a small editing business, telltellpoetry.com, by night from her home in Philadelphia.
Score for a Burning Bridge, Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs‘ debut collection of poems, examines politics, loneliness, and doubt in poems that startle the intellect and imagination. In these intimate meditations, Jorgensen-Briggs explores the modern world and searches (as so many of us do) for his place in it with a singular voice and vision. Jorgensen-Briggs received his MFA from New York University in 2007, spent two months in Palestine working with the International Solidarity Movement, and currently works with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and live in the Des Moines Catholic Worker Community.
Judy Jordan‘s Hunger chronicles Jordan’s time living in a greenhouse in Virginia that continues (and nearly concludes) the story she started in her first two books, Carolina Ghost Woods and 60¢ Coffee and a Quarter to Dance. Hunger cements Jordan’s status as an expert of the vertical narrative in lyrical style and is the first collection she’s published in eleven years. Jordan teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she lives off the grid in the heart of the Shenandoah National Forest in an eco-friendly, earthbag house she built by hand.
Reviews of Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 2:
Judy Jordan’s “Hunger” section was the one that struck deepest for me. It was keenly observed lack, hunger but also bills and illness, and yet not in a way that became a drumbeat of woe. It started with my favorite of the section, “These First Mornings Living in the Greenhouse,” and the entire section had the feel of a latter-day imperial fall in real daily terms—not what we imagine an imperial fall would be like, but what it actually was, dragged out, small, particular, personal ways. The greenhouse in the cold is vivid and rich and particular, and Jordan goes on from there to all the other particulars of a fall (not an autumn, a fall), the bulldozers, the algae-clogged ponds.
—Marissa Lingen, “Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 2, by Judy Jordan, Kallie Falandays, and Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs,” Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway, 29 September 2015
Welcome to the Kallieverse, which shares the everyday pleasures and perils of our world, but seems to obey slightly different laws of physics and tilts its language in new intriguing ways. It’s the twin of our cosmos, separated from ours at the Big Bang—and happily, Ms. Falandays has reunited them.
—Albert Goldbarth, on Kallie Falandays’ Tiny Openings Everywhere
There is a stillness and attentiveness in Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs’s Score for a Burning Bridge, an abiding quiet, as if the poems are trying not to scare something wild nearby. In this stillness you can hear “the purr of locusts” and “dusk, quiet / as a coat on a hook.” But as you travel deeper into this stunning collection to where “the map is lost / inside the act of folding”—you see, of course, that the poems are wild themselves.
—Maggie Smith, on Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs’s Score for a Burning Bridge
This is a great American poem. Jordan tells the truth of a life as split open by the world—by life on this earth with other kinds of beings, human and other, with dreams and ghosts, machinery, between the visible and invisible. The language is thick, allusive, rich, dense. She turns scalding materials into gorgeous art.
—Adrienne Rich, on Judy Jordan’s Hunger
1 comment 17 November 2015
So I’m working today to get Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 2 promo set up, and I search on Floodgate because I am looking for something else and up pops this really thoughtful review by Marissa Lingen that I missed when she published it, probably because I was packing for Kenya and so tremendously distracted by all of that—anyway, these particular chapbooks aren’t 100% her thing, but I am loving how thoughtful she is in her examination of this (“I think it was less ‘these are bad poems’ and more ‘these are not mostly the poems for me.'”) and I love what she has to say about Judy Jordan’s chapbook:
Judy Jordan’s “Hunger” section was the one that struck deepest for me. It was keenly observed lack, hunger but also bills and illness, and yet not in a way that became a drumbeat of woe. It started with my favorite of the section, “These First Mornings Living in the Greenhouse,” and the entire section had the feel of a latter-day imperial fall in real daily terms–not what we imagine an imperial fall would be like, but what it actually was, dragged out, small, particular, personal ways. The greenhouse in the cold is vivid and rich and particular, and Jordan goes on from there to all the other particulars of a fall (not an autumn, a fall), the bulldozers, the algae-clogged ponds.
Thank you, Marissa. And everybody: go read her reviews! Not just of our books but all of her reviews, because they are always thoughtful and well-expressed, and we need this kind of literary conversation.
14 November 2015
Containing a poetry chapbook by Enid Shomer, another chapbook co-written by Cave Canem fellows F. Douglas Brown and Geffrey Davis, and a third chapbook co-written by brothers Anders and Kai Carlson-Wi, Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 3 will be released in November 2016.
This is the third volume in the Floodgate Poetry Series, an annual series of books collecting three chapbooks by three poets in a single volume, edited by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum. Chapbooks—short books under 40 pages—arose when printed books became affordable in the 16th century. The series is in the tradition of 18th and 19th century British and American literary annuals, and the Penguin Modern Poets Series of the 1960s and ’70s.
1 comment 13 November 2015
10 November 2015
20 September 2015