Rose Hill's Writing Grove

A Fantasy author in the Twin Cities

Tag: anthology

Book Review: The Witches of Port Lewis – Volume 1

CW: Discussion of edge play kinks

This is a collection of four stories, all in the same world with the same characters. Fictional Port Lewis is filled with witches and magical creatures and it’s so wonderfully queer. I will admit I was originally drawn to this book (and the author, Brooklyn Ray) with descriptive tags of, “queer,” “witchy,” “monsterfucking,” and “knives.” It has all of that and I love it. (The monsterfucking was heavier on the fucking than the monster, but still excellent.)

The first story, “Reborn,” is an F/F short featuring Thalia and Jordan. Thalia is a witch come home, the new matriarch of her clan. Jordan is a necromancer—and her old ex. Despite the concerns of their families (or, at least, Thalia’s family), they are drawn back into each other’s arms. This story does an excellent job setting the mood of a dark, witchy tale filled with sex, drama, and knife play.

Knife play is either explicit or referenced in every single story in this, so if that’s a hard limit of yours, maybe pass. If, on the other hand, that’s your kink? Read this book. Read it right now. I love knife play where the knife and the cutting (and to some extent, the blood) is eroticized, rather than the fear. Fear play didn’t come up here, but blood play did.

Next was “Darkling,” a novella featuring Ryder, a fire witch who becomes a necromancer. I loved his attitude, I loved the little touches of his magic, I loved the descriptions of siphoning his boyfriends magic and the knife play between them, I adored the blend of magic and sex. Holy shit that was possibly the best part (of this whole book, Ray writes excellent sex scenes and blends them with magic spectacularly). I know “darkling” as a term in the book is supposed to be an insult to a necromancer, but it’s such a cute term I want to see used as a pet name between him and his water witch boyfriend. (I might have strong Tamora Pierce associations with that term, I’m sorry.)

“Undertow” featured the same pairing, but this time the POV character was Liam, Ryder’s water witch boyfriend.  Their relationship was established in “Darkling” and continues to grow here, but the focus is on Liam’s family drama/family witch clan secrets more than anything else. Have I mentioned how much I love how witchy these books are? It feels so good to read books by witches for witches. So incredibly validating. Also, I love water witches, they are my jam.

Ryder and Liam, the protags of “Darkling” and “Undertow” are in the same circle and one of my few critiques of this is that I want to see what keeps them in the circle. There’s a ton of in-circle conflicts here (not between Ryder and Liam, mostly between both of them and Tyler the circle leader) and not much showing what keeps them together. I’d love to see them work together as a circle. (I’d also love to see Tyler being actually supportive and not a jerkface, but I get the feeling his character growth is coming soon.)

Literally the only other thing that bothered me in this was the lack of safe sex practices (or discussion whatsoever). The sex was hot and kinky and I loved it, but this is a modern setting friends. Diseases are a preventable thing. Pregnancy this a preventable thing. Why is this not addressed? (I know a lot of people don’t think safe sex practices are sexy, but in modern settings I view them as much a requirement as consent. Normalize it and make it sexy.)

The last story of the book, “Honey”, was pure fluff between Ryder and Liam. It was so perfect and wonderful to end on after the darkness of “Undertow” and made me squeal and hug the book.

Overall, I love LOVE LOVE this book. Highly recommended.

Recommended for: Pagan readers, fans of sexy contemporary fantasy, people with a knife play kink, readers who want a trans lead (Ryder), fans of M/M and F/F romance, fans of cross-elemental pairings, fans of necromancers, fans of kelpies

Advertisements

Anthology Submissions

A random collection of anthology calls I think look interesting.

UNLOCKING THE MAGIC
Theme: mental illness in Fantasy
Deadline: November 1, 2018
Payment: $300 flat rate + royalties
Word Count: 3k – 6k

CRASH CODE
Theme: Dark/horror sci-fi
Deadline: October 1, 2018
Payment: $0.03/word
Word Count: 1.5k – 7k

ROSALIND’S SIBLINGS
Theme: Spec-fic scientists of gender minorities
Deadline: November 1, 2018
Payment: 0.08 pounds /word
Word Count: 500 – 7.5k

LIFE AFTER ALL
Theme: Post-apoc queer romance
Deadline: September 30, 2018
Payment: $150 flat rate
Word Count: 8k – 15k

Anthology Submissions

A random collection of anthology calls that I think look interesting.

HALLOWEEN ANTHOLOGY
THEME: Halloween horror
DEADLINE: March 30, 2018
PAYMENT: $0.03/word, 2 contributor’s copies
WORD COUNT: 4.5K-8.5K

MILITARY SCI-FI
THEME: Military sci-fi
DEADLINE: February 28, 2018
PAYMENT: $0.03/word
WORD COUNT: 3K – 6K

SWORD & SONNET
THEME: Women or non-binary battle poets
SUBMISSIONS PERIOD: February 1, 2018 – March 1, 2018
PAYMENT: $0.06/word
WORD COUNT: Up to 5K

THE INTERNET IS WHERE THE ROBOTS LIVE NOW
THEME: Robots, AIs, internet, mind
DEADLINE: April 1, 2018
PAYMENT: $0.06/word
WORD COUNT: 1.5K – 5K

BLACK SUPERHEROES DO IT TOO
THEME: Black superhero erotica
DEADLINE: Until filled
PAYMENT: $100 flat rate
WORD COUNT: 3.5K – 10K

LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE
Theme: Sci-fi and fantasy
SUBMISSIONS PERIOD: February 5, 2018 – February 19, 2018
PAYMENT: $0.08/word
WORD COUNT: 1.5K – 7.5K

Anthology Submissions

A random collection of calls for submission that I think look interesting.

DRESSED IN BLACK
Theme: Erotic tales of Edgar Allen Poe
Deadline: February 15, 2018
Payment: $25 flat rate
Word Count: 3K – 7K

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO F*** THEM
Theme: Erotica with fantasy creatures
Deadline: February 1, 2018
Payment: $25 flat rate
Word Count: 3K – 7K

HAPPINESS IN NUMBERS
Theme: Queer poly families
Deadline: April 30, 2018
Payment: $200, flat rate
Word Count: 10K – 20K

YOUNG EXPLORER’S ADVENTURE GUIDE 2019
Theme: YA sci-fi
Deadline: December 31, 2017
Payment: $0.06/word
Word Count: 3K – 6K

THE RAZOR’S EDGE
Theme: Spec-fic, rebel vs insurgent line
Deadline: December 31, 2017
Payment:$0.06/word
Word Count: Up to 7.5K

GUILDS & GLAIVES
Theme: Sword & sorcery with some sort of guild in it
Deadline: December 31, 2017
Payment: $0.06/word
Word Count: Up to 7.5K

 

Anthology Submissions

A random collection of anthology submissions I think look interesting.

WELCOME TO MISKATONIC UNIVERSITY

Theme: Lovecraftian universe
Deadline: June 30, 2017
Payment: $0.08 per word
Word Count: 3K-6K

STRANGE BEASTIES

Theme: Weird creatures
Deadline: July 15, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: 1.5K – 3K

CHTHONIC

Theme: Underground and underworlds
Deadline: July 31, 2017
Payment:  3 cents per word Canadian
Word Count: 1.5K – 7K

SHARP & SUGAR TOOTH

Theme: The dark side of culinary life (female-identified characters)
Deadline: July 31, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: Up to 5K

THE DELICIOUS WOUND

Theme: Mythical romance
Deadline: November 1, 2017
Payment: PDF contributor’s copy, coupon code for three physical copies at cost
Word Count: Up to 10K

TOUCH ME, HEAL ME

Theme: Sexual healing (sci-fi/fantasy context)
Deadline: June 15, 2017
Payment: $25 flat rate
Word Count: 3.5K – 7.5K

GOLDEN AGE EROTICA

Theme: as the title
Deadline: July 1, 2017
Payment: $25 flat rate
Word Count: 3K – 7K

TROUBLE THE WATERS

Theme: water in spec fic, mythology focus
Deadline:November 1, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: 2.5K – 7K

Book Review: If I Were An Evil Overlord

I don’t know if I have previously mentioned my love of anthologies (I’m reasonably certain I have), but in case I haven’t, let me state it again.  Anthologies are a great way to discover how a bunch of different authors tackle the same sort of theme.

If I Were An Evil Overlord is, as might be guessed, an anthology about evil overlords and dictators.  Being an anthology, there were some stories that I liked better than others.  This time around, I decided to do a quick recap of each story, and my general thoughts on it.  Keep in mind, this is based exclusively on my personal taste, which yours probably won’t match up with.

  • If Looks Could Kill: The story was a delightful LOTR spoof, then ended on a transphobic joke.  Disappointing.
  • The Man Who Would Be Overlord: Eh.  I don’t know whether it was a stupid character or plot holes, but there were too many big gaps in this story to find it truly enjoyable.
  • Ensuring the Succession: I liked this one.  There is something satisfying about competent evil characters.  Plus, a successful succession is the main problem most empires face–this handled it well.
  • The Life and Death of the Fortune Cookie Tyrant: Not bad.  The premise is a bit silly and incompletely explored, but it is still entertaining and ended in a satisfying fashion.
  • Daddy’s Little Girl: I have a deep love for creepy children, so this was perfect.  Just perfect.
  • Gordie Culligan vs Dr. Longbeach and the HVAC of Doom: This story made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions.  Plus, I enjoyed the conversational tone and the look at ordinary people using totally practical skills to save the day.  Probably my favorite story in the anthology.
  • The Sins of the Sons: Intriguing, especially the family dynamics.  Not bad, but also not memorable.
  • Loser Takes All: This has a particularly satisfying ending.  The actions in-game reflect in reality and reach their expected bitter consequences.
  • The Next Level: Eh, I feel like the planned rape at the end was gratuitous to establish the character as an evil overlord.  It left a bad taste over what was otherwise an entertaining story.
  • Advisers at Naptime: I’m tickled by this simply for the direct reference to the Evil Overlord List about five-year-olds.
  • A Woman’s Work: I love smart villains.  Especially ones smart enough to make themselves beloved of their people.  This was perfect.
  • To Sit in Darkness Here, Hatching Vain Empires: Okay, this was actually one of the more chilling ones.  The villain won.  Completely.  And he has the resources and skills to do it again, world after world.
  • Stronger Than Fate: A delightful story with an excellent closing line.  Pay attention to the details.
  • Art Therapy: This story felt almost disappointing.  I liked the voice of the villain, but he went all soft at the end.

 

Overall, I liked the blend of stories that let the villains win and those that didn’t.  Definitely an entertaining read.

Recommended for: Fans of fantasy anthologies, fans of villain protagonists

Anthology Submissions

A periodic call for short story submissions that I think look interesting.

APPETITES
Theme: What do your characters hunger for?
Deadline: February 28, 2017
Payment: $0.02 per word
Word Count: 6K max, 3K preferred

LOST WORLDS / SUPERNATURAL HORROR / TIME TRAVEL / HEROIC FANTASY
Theme: As the title of each would suggest
Deadline: February 28, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word (SFWA qualifying market)
Word Count: 2K-4K, not firm

A FOOL FOR YOU
Theme: Queer romance with a trickster of some sort
Deadline: March 31, 2017
Payment: $200 flat payment
Word Count: 10K – 20K

PROBLEM DAUGHTERS
Theme: Intersectional feminism in speculative fiction
Deadline: March 31, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: Up to 7.5K

SNAFU JUDGEMENT DAY
Theme: Post-apocalyptic military horror
Deadline: April 31, 2017
Payment: 4 cents per word, AUD
Word Count: 2K-10K

LIGHTSPEED MAGAZINE
Theme: Fantasy and Sci-fi
Submissions Period: April 1 – April 30, 2017
Payment: $0.08 per word (SFWA qualifying market)
Word Count: 1.5K – 10K, 5K or less preferred

SWORD & SORCERESS 32
Theme: Sword and sorcery with a female protagonist
Submissions Period: April 24 – May 14, 2017
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: Up to 9K, shorter preferred

Anthology Submissions

A periodic post of random calls for submission that I think look interesting.

 

Anthology trio!

SUBMERGED, ALL HAIL OUR ROBOT CONQUERERS!, and THE DEATH OF ALL THINGS

Theme: SUBMERGED – water; ROBOT – classic robots; DEATH – Death as a person
Deadline: December 31, 2016
Payment: $0.06 per word
Word Count: 7.5K max

 

IF MOM’S HAPPY

Theme: mother erotica
Deadline: December 31, 2016
Payment: $50 plus two copies
Word Count: 1.5K – 4.5K

 

HUMANS WANTED

Theme: Humans being badass in space (sci-fi only)
Deadline: December 31, 2016
Payment: $250, flat rate
Word Count: 3K-6K

 

GODS AND MONSTERS

Theme: gods and/or monsters
Deadline: December 31, 2016
Payment: $0.06 per word, up to $500
Word Count: 1.5K – 17.5K

 

A SCANDAL IN GOMORRAH

Theme: More queer Sherlock!
Deadline: December 31, 2016
Payment: $0.03 per word
Word Count: 2K – 6K

Anthology Submissions

This is a periodic feature of submission calls that I find interesting.

HORROR LIBRARY VOLUME 6

Theme: Short horror stories
Deadline: September 15, 2016
Payment: $0.03 per word, contributor’s copy
Word Count: 2K – 6K

BEHIND THE MASK

Theme: Everyday lives of superheroes
Deadline: September 15, 2016
Payment: $0.02 to $0.06 per word, with no mention of how they determine the particular price you’d be paid
Word Count: 3K-6K

LAWLESS LANDS

Theme: Weird West
Deadline: September 30, 2016
Payment: $0.04 per word, contributor’s copy
Word Count: 3K – 7K

Ok, this one is both non-fiction and non-paid, but it’s interesting anyways, so I wanted to throw it out here.

BLOOD AND ROSES

Theme: Devotional work in honor of Aphrodite
Deadline: December 1, 2016
Payment: Coupon for contributor’s copy at cost
Word Count: 100 – 10,000 words

Publishing Updates

Hello all!

We are taking a break from our Education In Fantasy series to bring you an update about publishing.  (I will try to make sure this break is not as long as the last one.)

Keep an eye out for “Shiny in the Shallows,” one of my short stories that will be published in the upcoming Sword & Sorceress 31.  I’ll let you know here when it comes out.