AN ALPHABET OF EMBERS submissions guidelines for writers.

UPDATE! UPDATE! if you have submitted a story to AoE and have not heard back, please query immediately – to the editorial address or as a comment to this entry.

I am seeking submissions for An Alphabet of Embers, an anthology of unclassifiables – lyrical, surreal, magical, experimental pieces that straddle the border between poetry and prose.

I am looking for work that is between 500 and 1400 words in length. Ideally, I’d like to accept a mix of pieces that can traditionally be labeled stories, and pieces that defy such definitions. If you’ve been told your piece is ‘too slight’ or ‘more of a vignette’, ‘too poetic’ or ‘too experimental,’ I’d love to consider it.

While I am looking for unusual and striking work that defies definition, I would be happy to consider work that falls within any speculative genre, including science fiction, fantasy, fairytale/mythic retellings, and of course surrealism, magic realism, etc. If it has a speculative element, I will consider it, though any straightforward treatment of genre tropes will likely be a miss.

I am looking for work that is evocative, beautiful, stirring; I envision An Alphabet of Embers as a book that moves us, emotionally and intellectually, to consider the world from angles new and old and new again. I want AoE to resonate with lyrical strangeness, and pain, and vibrancy, and hope. I am always keenly interested boundary-crossing work, and want to showcase a variety of voices and perspectives.

I am NOT looking for pieces that are unambiguously poetry. (Prose poetry is welcome).

I am committed to diversity of voice and theme in all my editorial projects, and this one will be no exception (here are my thoughts on looking for diversity of voice and theme, as an editor). This anthology is not specifically diversity themed; rather, I believe that every editorial project should be diverse, and every editorial project of mine has been, and will be diverse. Examples of my work include The Moment of Change (Aqueduct Press, 2012), and Stone Telling Magazine, which I co-edit with Shweta Narayan.

I welcome and encourage submissions from creators who belong to marginalized groups, including PoC, LGBTQIA creators, people of all ages, people of various levels of (dis)ability and income, people with neuroatypicalities, immigrants, and more. I’d love to see your work regardless of whether you have prior sales. This anthology is open to everyone.

I would love to consider work in a variety of Englishes. Your language variant is welcome here.


Pay: I will be paying SFWA professional rates at 6c a word for originals, and 3c a word for reprints.

Simultaneous submissions: NO.

Multiple submissions: YES, you can send me up to TWO pieces to consider, either in a single submission or in two separate submissions.

Please send me the piece(s) as attachment(s) in doc, docx, or .rtf format. Please use Standard Manuscript Format. If your piece has special formatting that needs a different submission process, please query first.

Please send your submission(s) to with SUBMISSION: “Your story title” .

Cover letter: please list whether the piece is unpublished; if it is a reprint, please give full information about the first publication of your submission. I prefer short cover letters – you are welcome to list 2-3 recent publications, but it’s perfectly fine not to do so. Please address your cover letter to Editors, or Ms. Lemberg.

Reading period: OPEN NOW, 7/28/2014. CLOSES ON September 30, 2014.

ETA: Since folks have been asking about rights, here is the relevant information:

Upon acceptance, we will ask for First World Rights in the English Language in both print and ebook versions, plus promotional rights (granting Stone Bird Press permission to use excerpts from the accepted work to promote the anthology). There is  an exclusivity period of 12 months from the moment of publication, excluding Year’s Best anthologies. After the exclusivity period ends, rights will revert to their respective authors. We do ask that you credit the first publication of the story as “first appeared in An Alphabet of Embers (2015)”.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions. I’m looking forward to reading your work!

Submissions guidelines for artists:

I am planning to feature internal black and white illustrations in An Alphabet of Embers; I will be looking for mood pieces that echo and interpret the fiction, rather than straightforward illustrations. I enjoy both digital and traditional media.
Please do not send attachments, but rather send in a cover letter with a link to your online portfolio to with ART QUERY in the title. Artists of all backgrounds are very welcome.

33 thoughts on “An Alphabet of Embers submissions guidelines

  1. Dan Ress says:

    Dear Ms. Lemberg,

    I have a question regarding rights. I would like to submit a piece I have written that I think would be a good fit, but it is an independent excerpt from a novel-length experimental piece I am working on. What rights do you purchase, and do rights revert to the author at some point, or do you maintain them indefinitely?



    1. Hello Editors,

      I had a similar question to the one posed by Dan Ress. I have a very short piece that I’d like to submit for consideration. It stands alone (and began as a stand alone piece) but is also now part of a longer story. If such a piece were accepted would I retain the rights ( to possibly submit the longer story elsewhere at a later date )? Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

    2. Rose says:

      Hi Dan, and thank you for your question. I have added the relevant information to the guidelines. The rights would revert 12 months after publication. It is not uncommon for a novel to “grow” out of a published short story, but if published elsewhere first, the story will be considered a reprint and should be credited once the book is published.

      All best,

  2. Doug Donnan says:

    Dear Editor(s)

    It is rather difficult for me to put my
    two (2) recent submissions in a ‘genre box’.

    I hope that they can stand alone (like most
    all powerful pyramid-like ATMs do!) I also
    can only hope that these wacky ‘storyettes’
    will make you ponder, laugh and/or shake
    your head in bewilderment!

    Thank You!


  3. Doug McBride says:

    Hello Editor(s) and web community,
    I’m excited about An Alphabet of Embers, and I have a question similar to one of the other commenters above regarding rights. I have a very short piece I’d like to submit, though it is now part of a larger story I’m still working on. I feel the short piece can stand on its own merits as a submission. That being said, I’m wondering about whether or not I’d be forever prohibiting myself from including that short piece as part of a submission of the longer story down the road (it were to be accepted ). Would the rights to that piece remain / return to the author after publication at some point? Neither the short piece or longer story have been published as of yet. Thank you so much for your time and consideration!

    1. Rose says:

      Hello Doug,

      I have added the relevant information to the guidelines. The rights would revert to you after 12 months. However, the story will still be considered a reprint. If it’s a part of a novel, I wouldn’t be worried – there’s a history of writers reworking published short stories into novels; but if it is a short story or a novelette, I’d wait until you have finished the piece and submit it to relevant markets, as most venues are not friendly to reprints.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Doug McBride says:

    Hello Rose,

    Thank you so much for the feedback! This is great info and very much appreciated. I’ll submit accordingly for An Alphabet of Embers.

    All the best,

  5. Scott says:

    Hello Rose,

    This sounds like a wonderful anthology. Are the word counts firm? I have what I think is an appropriate piece slightly over the 1400 word limit (around 1800). I wouldn’t want to submit and potentially waste your time if you’d prefer to keep those limits tight.

    Either way, best of luck with your work. Thanks so much.

    1. Rose says:

      Hi Scott, thanks for your inquiry. There is a tiny bit of flexibility, but 1800 is too long for this project. Good luck with your story, and perhaps you can send me something else.


      1. Scott says:

        Thanks for your reply. I’ll see what else I’ve got. Again, good luck.

  6. Doug Donnan says:

    Buenos dias Rosa!

    Any thoughts and/or ponderings on my
    two wacky ATM “Storyettes’?

    O Yes

    O No

    O Other

    *Please pick one of the above/then press…

    Thanks so much!


    1. Rose says:


      I am not sure exactly what you are asking, here. I don’t know what “ATM Storylettes” are, but I will consider anything between 500-1400 words, experimental included, as per the guidelines.

      Hope this helps!
      Rose Lemberg

      1. Doug Donnan says:

        Re: ‘Alphabet of Embers’ submissions

        Dear Rose…

        Did you receive my two (2)
        submissions titled:

        “ENTER the Drone”
        “ENTER your SIN”

        These are my two ‘ATM-type’ stories
        to you for consideration in AoE.

        Please let me know if you got them.


        1. Rose says:

          I did receive your submissions, and they are under consideration. You will receive a response in October.
          take care,

  7. Lorraine says:

    Hi Rose–

    Duotrope guidelines say up to 2 submissions for flash fiction AND 2 for short stories up to 1400 words–so is this right? So can I submit 4 total or is this wrong? PLMK–thanks.


    1. Rose says:

      You can submit up to two pieces total, as my guidelines state. The pieces can be between 500-1400 words. I cannot consider more than two.
      Take care,

  8. Hal Williams says:

    Dear Rose,
    I can’t seem to find a button anywhere that says “submit”. Nor can I find an email address…
    Please advise.

    1. Rose says:

      Dear Hal,

      The editorial address is in the entry above:

      Please send your submission(s) to with SUBMISSION: “Your story title” .

      Take care,

  9. David in Toronto says:

    Dear Editors,

    Having submitted to An Alphabet of Embers, I’m curious: what might be your approximate response time (whether my story is rejected or accepted)? Much thanks. -David

    1. Rose says:

      Hi David,

      Responses will start going out after the submissions period closes; I will be sending them throughout October, and hope to have a finalized ToC in early-mid November.

  10. Dear Ms Lemberg,
    With the submission period closed, do you have an idea of when we might expect responses? No rush, but I figured I’d ask as I hadn’t heard anything in over a month.

    1. Rose says:

      Responses will be going out throughout the month of October.
      Take care,

  11. Jason says:

    Hey, I see that responses are going through October. I’m wondering if my entry reached you or not! It was called “Wolfsoul” Thanks!

    1. Rose says:

      Jason – yes, I have your story. I will post a slush update shortly, but you should hear from me in a week or two.

  12. Richard says:

    Has my entry “She Blinded Me with Silence” reached you? I submitted it on August 12th, but I have not heard from you.

    1. Rose says:

      Richard, I am very sorry to say that I have not received your submission. There is no trace of it in the inbox.

      1. Richard says:

        Is it too late to resubmit it? If it is, I understand, but I really did it submit it 83 days ago.

        1. Rose says:

          Richard, do you have a record of having submitted the story, like an email in your sent folder? If so, please forward it to me at my editorial address.

  13. David in Toronto says:

    Dear Ms. Lemberg,

    (Based on the recent correspondence: I’m just checking it-)

    I had submitted two stories on Sept 29: “The Forest” and The Soldier.” What would their status be at this time?

    Much thanks. David K. Yeh

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