An Alphabet of Embers ToC announcement

All contracts for the anthology are in, and I am ready to announce the lineup. First, however, I want to talk about the process of assembling this collection.

Slush has been, for the lack of a better word, epic. When I was Kickstarting, I expected to receive 200-300 stories for the project, plus a few solicited ones. The final count for the anthology submissions during the reading period was 887 stories (not counting the solicited stories). That is a staggering amount of tales, and I was committed to responding to everyone before the end of October. It was no easy task – especially as I am a rereader, so shortlisted/maybe stories got more than one read – and I wanted to send out as many personal rejections as I possibly could. Bogi Takács joined me in reading the slush, which made the work much more streamlined, and the process easier – thank you, Bogi!

We were amazed and heartened by the quality of the submissions, as well as by their diversity. Many writers wrote specifically for the call. There were many outstanding submissions, and choosing between them was hard; I had to let go of many stories that were excellent, but did not quite fit the feel of the book. After months of reading and rereading, I selected stories that I felt were the most unusual, lyrical, odd, surreal, gripping – that had that elusive quality that I came to think of as An Alphabet of Embers feel.

I made all decisions on the slush with only a slight delay, so that folks who submitted their work during the reading period got responses back by the beginning of November. In November and December I worked on invited submissions, selecting reprints, sending edits to authors, and finalizing the ToC.

Reading for reprints proved to be somewhat frustrating. Though I read widely, I did not end up buying many reprints – I wanted a specific feel, and had found many more fitting stories in the slush. In the end, most stories in the book are originals.

I am also very happy to report that quite a few authors made their first sales, and/or their first professional sales, to An Alphabet of Embers. These authors come from all over the world, and from a variety of backgrounds. I feel that this is a unique, voicy collection which will amaze and inspire its readers.

Since many of AoE authors are new or emerging, I decided to ask the authors about whether the sale is a significant milestone. I marked these milestones below. Please note, “first pro sale”, “first sale” etc. applies to prose markets only, as some of our contributors have sold poetry or essays before.

AN ALPHABET OF EMBERS, Table of Contents


Emily Stoddard, “Outfitting the restless heart, or how the sky was made” (first fiction sale, first pro sale)
JY Yang, “Transfers to Connecting Flights”
Sara Norja, “The City Beneath the Sea” (first pro sale)
Nin Harris, “Moult” (first pro sale)
Greer Gilman, “Hieros Gamos”
Kari Sperring, “Some Silver Wheel”
Mari Ness, “Mistletoe and Copper”
Nisi Shawl, “An Awfully Big Adventure”
Zen Cho, “Everything Under One Roof”
Yoon Ha Lee, “Calendrical Rot”
M. David Blake, “Absinthe Fish” (reprint)
Celeste Rita Baker, “Single Entry” (reprint)
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, “And Now You Are Alone Among the Stars”
Nolan Liebert, “The Swing, OR How to Ricochet according to Sylvia Plath” (first paying sale, first pro sale)
Mina Li, “Dreaming Keys” (first sale, first pro sale)
Shweta Narayan, “The River’s Children” (reprint)
Ian Muneshwar, “Telomerase” (first sale, first pro sale)
Sheree Renée Thomas, “Treesong”
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, “Five Lessons in the Fattening Room” (first pro sale)
Tlotlo Tsamaase, “Sebeteledi Holds the Dead”  (first pro sale)
Sonya Taaffe, “Exorcisms” (reprint)
Emily Jiang, “The Binding of Ming-Tian” (reprint)
Ching-in Chen, “One Testimony (m. Lao)”
Arkady Martine, “Ekphrasis”
Vajra Chandrasekera, “Rhizomatic Diplomacy”
Amal El-Mohtar, “Wing” (reprint)
M Sereno, “Only Revolutions” (first fiction sale, first pro sale)

An Alphabet of Embers will be illustrated by M Sereno, who emerged on the scene this year with brilliant poetry and art. You can see it on her website and Patreon. She is a wonderful calligrapher, and has committed to providing 7-8 detailed inked illustrations for the project. This is very exciting – all the more exciting that she has also made her first fiction sale to AoE, “Only Revolutions.”

Serendipities continue: Amal El-Mohtar, who will be narrating the audiobook, has a reprinted story in AoE – “Wing,” one of my favorite surreal stories from Strange Horizons.

I am going to tweet and write more about the contributors and the anthology in 2015, so watch this space!

AoE going to be awesome. I can’t wait to share it with you.