Sale: “The Book of How to Live”

Michael Matheson has made a few announcements regarding Start a Revolution: QUILTBAG Fiction Vying for Change. This anthology was originally supposed to come out from Exile Editions, a Canadian publisher; it will instead become a crowdfunded anthology later in the year.

The new version of the anthology features my novelette, “The Book of How to Live.” I originally wrote it for this call, but at over 11k, it ended up being too long for the market, as Michael was only able to accept a limited amount of material from non-Canadians. When Michael went indie, he asked for the story back. It will be in very good company; I am especialy glad to see Amal El-Mohtar’s “To Follow the Waves” and Bogi Takács’s “This Shall Serve as a Demarcation” in this lineup. I love both stories fiercely.

“The Book of How to Live” is a Birdverse novelette set in northeastern country of Laina, and it is told by two queer women: Efronia Lukano, a peasant inventor who traveled on foot from the northern edges of Laina to study at the university, and Atarah-nai-Rinah, a Khana inventor who lives in the city. It is a story of academic and societal exclusion, finding one’s own community, nascent revolutions. It is the first story I’ve sold which is an explicit critique of Western-style academic establishments, but it is most certainly not the last.

I am happy with this for sale for multiple reasons, not least of them is the fact that I’ve sold three Birdverse novelettes in the span of two months, to appear in 2015. All of those pieces are queer (Birdverse is very queer), and all three of them feature autistic protagonists. “The Book of How to Live” has Efronia, an Aspie; “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” has Kimi, a minimally verbal autistic child; and finally, “Geometries of Belonging” features Dedéi, a nonbinary teen with speech and motor difficulties.

I am very happy that my Birdverse work is gaining traction. I hope you too will love these stories and these people and their world. I am most certainly working on more; there’s no end to these stories.

A Birdverse Novelette Sale!

I am thrilled to announce that I sold “Geometries of Belonging,” a wannabe novella (it’s 17000 words long!) to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. This story is told by Healer Parét, who is actually the father of Taem from “Held Close in Syllables of Light,” my first published Birdverse story (also at BCS).

Here’s how “Geometries of Belonging” is described on my Projects: Birdverse page:

Parét, a famous mind-healer, is asked to cure a young autistic patient – but his patient does not consent to be cured. Meanwhile, Parét uncovers a carefully wrought intrigue against his lord and lover. (consent, mind-healing, autism, non-binary and queer protagonists, D/s).

Parét’s would-be patient is, of course, Dedéi, the protagonist and narrator of “Two and Five Syllables” (better title TBA), a YA novella I am serializing on Patreon. It might end up being a novel, though.

Very, very pleased with this. And, it so happens, I might be in a position to announce some news of a similar nature in a week or so. Stay tuned!

Rhysling nominations

I am pleased to announce that two of my short poems have been nominated for the Rhysling award this year:

“Dualities” in Mythic Delirium

“Landwork” in Goblin Fruit

There are still a few days left to nominate poems for the Rhysling, so I am linking a post by Bogi Takács on Stone Telling poems eligible for the award. I hope you give them a look even if you are not nominating – so many wonderful poems in there!

Uncanny, Podcast, and a Birdverse Legend

Today, my poem “Archival Testimony Fragments/minersong” has become available for free in the second issue of Uncanny. I am very happy with this poem, a piece in the Boundless Universe; and it already garnered two positive reviews (that I have seen). Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow writes:

The structure of this poem did, I admit, make me a little nervous at first glance, but my fear that I wouldn’t get it was quickly left behind because whether or not I got the complete message, this felt surprisingly – delightfully! – easy to follow. In fact, I was drawn in remarkably quickly, and I have to say that whether you’re an established fan of poetry or a dabbler like me, this is one you should give your attention to.

Charles Payseur at Quick Sip Reviews writes that it was “a good read with a unique style,” and supplies an insightful analysis of the poem. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s an interesting mix of voices, mostly the ship’s but with the voices from above, as well, the training instructions from the company that owns the planet and the voice of one of the miners who hears the voice calling out and decides to try and respond. In some ways this read to me as a poem about the power of history and workers.

There’s also an Uncanny Podcast with my poem as read by C.S.E. Cooney. I rarely listen to podcasts of my work, but I wanted to listen to this one and, knowing something about Claire’s extraordinary reading abilities, I knew it would be good. Then… I listened to it.

People, omg, if you like my work at all, you HAVE to listen to this one. OMG. What have I done to deserve this? Wow.


These are the moments which make everything worthwhile.

Also in the podcast is Amal El-Mohtar’s “Pockets,” which I love, and which has also become available to read for free today.

In other news, yesterday Birdverse Patreon update was that of the Starcounter of Keshet doodle. I am really fond of this one, and so I am posting it here. (Also, I probably should stop calling them ‘doodles’; they are drawings). This one refers to one of the many versions of the Birdverse creation legend; you can read more on the Patreon page, since this update is free. I’m pleased with my first month of Patreoning (January) – during which I posted 3 paid updates and 4 free updates, as promised. February is going to be the same – 3 paid and 4 free updates. You can get access to all the goodies for as little as 1$ per creation (3$ per month.)


Strange Horizons poetry happiness and other news

The results of the Strange Horizons Readers Poll came out, and i am extremely happy to see so many of my favorite people and pieces represented.

In particular, the poetry slate looks like this:

First place: “You Are Here” by Bogi Takács
Second place: “Salamander Song” by Rose Lemberg and Emily Jiang
Third place: “Seeds” by M. Sereno
Fourth equal: “Una Canción de Keys” by Lisa M. Bradley
Fourth equal: “The rivers, the birchgroves, all the receding earth” by Rose Lemberg

I am incredibly happy that Bogi’s amazing “You Are Here” won, and I am also very very pleased with both “Seeds” and “Una Canción de Keys” placing.

In somewhat related news, Strange Horizons will publish my epic poem “Long Shadow” later this year. In 2014, I had no long poetry come out, which is extremely rare for me; but “Long Shadow” should compensate for 2014’s brevity, as this poem is about 3k long. It is also one of the favorite things I wrote in 2014, a poem in the Journeymaker Cycle that is set in a marsh. Here’s how it is described in the project page for the Journeymaker Cycle:

A child, an orphan born from a tangle of past wars, steals the souls of the unborn. The Journeymaker tries to find a solution, but there are no easy answers to be had.

I can’t wait to share it with you.

Meanwhile, the Birdverse Patreon is going strong with both chapters and doodles: check it out if you like goats (the goat is free; such is the nature of goats).

To my delight, the Birdverse stories made the Skiffy and Fanty’s Most Anticipated Things in 2015 list, as did An Alphabet of Embers (thanks, Shaun and Natalie!)

Birdverse Patreon! with doodle

Everybody knows that Mondays are evil, but I have a free doodle on my Patreon to cheer you up. It’s a Bird, PhD doodle!

I hope you like Bird, PhD! I came up with Bird, PhD because I have launched a Birdverse Patreon. There is no formal connection between the two, except that both are ultimately about my love of birds and of putting things into a BIRDlike format.

In short, Birdverse Patreon is about the shiny.

Here’s the description from the site:

For a while now I have been creating Birdverse: a fantastical, diverse, queer universe with a unique magical system. My novelette set in this world, “Held Close in Syllables of Light,” has been published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and my poem “I will show you a single treasure from the treasures of Shah Niyaz” appeared in Goblin Fruit and took third place in the Rhysling. I have two more Birdverse novelettes forthcoming in professional markets in 2015, and more on the way.

In 2015, I am committed to creating a collection of Birdverse novelettes and novellas for submission to a press. In addition to these pieces, I will be creating pieces of worldbuilding (such as in-world books and their descriptions, crafts, linguistic science), art, poetry, and other things that will only be seen by you. You will get insight into some of my process, updates, excerpts, as well as supporting small works.

The first thing I will be consistently sharing is a story of Dedéi, a non-binary gendered, autistic teen who escapes their abusive family and goes on to have adventures. Some of the themes treated in “Two and Five Syllables” are pretty heavy, but Dedéi’s adventures have an upbeat feel. I thought it would be cool to tell a story featuring an autistic protagonist which is not sad, but rather cheerful and determined. (Dedéi is not an Aspie; in our terms they would probably have a diagnosis of moderate autism.)

For January, I have scheduled 3 paid updates and 4 free updates: that is, four chapters, and three doodles. Next week’s doodle is about Dedéi and books. But if you like Bird, PhD, I can keep doing it! Some of the free things will be free for everyone, some will be backers-only.

My first milestone goal is to add a free-for-backers Wednesday update of a cheeruppy doodle.

Right now, for 1$ per creation, you can get all this (so January caps at 3$ a month, February also likely to cap at 3$ a month). The higher tiers come with postcards, AND a custom doodle. I’m planning to post maximum of 4 paid updates per month, and a matched number of free updates, so at the lowest tier you will pay max 4$ a month.

If you would like to see what the story and art are like, and later change your mind and want to stop donating or lower your pledge, absolutely no bad feelings whatsoever.

Thank you, as always, for being here and following my progress.

Spelling the Hours: open call

During the Kickstarter campaign and editorial work for An Alphabet of Embers, I have also been editing a poetry anthology, Spelling the Hours. Taking Sofia Samatar’s
Girl Hours” as a cornerstone, this anthology focuses on underrepresented and forgotten figures of science and technology. The anthology is a part of An Alphabet of Embers rewards, but it is very much its own thing, and will have its own life and distribution.

I have accepted some wonderful pieces for StH from solicited poets, but I have more space in this anthology. Therefore, I am opening Spelling the Hours to all submitters.

I am looking for poems focusing on forgotten figures of science and technology, broadly construed. I am interested in seeing work that focuses on PoC, women, queer people, trans people, disabled people, and members of other underrepresented groups. I prefer seeing work focusing on specific individuals. However, I will also consider thematically connected pieces that do not focus on a single individual. I will be paying on publication: 5$ and a copy of the chapbook. There is no minimum or maximum length; I welcome poems of epic length.

I REALLY want to see more PoC science and technology poems, both focusing on scientists of color working within Western-style academic paradigms (in the West and elsewhere), and historical non-Western science. There is a very rich and fascinating history of non-Western science and technology, and I would love to have more of this material in the anthology. As always, I welcome and support diverse creators and want to consider material from a variety of voices and perspectives. My latest editorial work includes An Alphabet of Embers and Stone Telling magazine (co-edited with Shweta Narayan).

If you are writing about a specific individual, I prefer to receive, together with your poem, also a paragraph of context/biographic information about the featured person. I am asking the accepted poets to provide a paragraph of context to their poems, and while this is not a requirement upon submission, it would nevertheless be a good thing to include.

You can send up to THREE poems for consideration during the submission period (in one email, or in separate emails). Submissions are open beginning now (January 9, 2015), and will close on March 15, 2015 OR when filled. I do have slots in this anthology, but it’s better to send things earlier rather than later.

Please send your unpublished poems to; put “STH SUBMISSION: Your Last Name” in the title. Please do send a short cover letter. If you have credits, list up to 3-4 best credits; if you are unpublished, this is not an issue at all for me.

NO simultaneous submissions.

I will respond to all submissions within 60 days of receipt and/or by April 15, 2015, whichever comes first.

First sale and publications of the year

My first sale of 2015 is a small humorous poem, “Love me, Love my Belly,” to Love Me, Love My Belly zine published by Porkbelly Press. It’s a belly-loving event all around! To forestall questions: no, porkbellies are not kosher; yes, body acceptance is good.

In more serious news, my poem, “Archival Testimony Fragments/Minersong” is in the second issue of Uncanny. It shares a ToC with Amal El-Mohtar’s small, uplifting short story “Pockets,” which I love very much. “Archival Testimony Fragments/Minersong” will be available for free on February 3rd, but it is available to purchase right now. I am very proud of this poem, which I wrote as a part of An Alphabet of Embers backer rewards. It is a science fictional poem in the Boundless universe, about living ships, and corporations who hunt for their remains.

My poem “Scatter and Return,” written for Saira Ali, is out in the new issue of the Cascadia Subduction Zone. I am especially honored that my poem follows a powerful and important essay by Nisi Shawl, “Unqualified” – the essay that inspired me to start the #dontselfreject tag on twitter (storify of initial tweets available here). I hope to be able to write more about Nisi’s essay soon. The CSZ is available for purchase as a part of a subscription, and as a stand-alone issue (5$ print, 3$ electronic), and I would urge you to purchase this issue for Nisi’s essay alone. It also contains poetry by Sonya Taaffee and Mary Alexandra Agner, and Kate Elliott’s essay on Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein, as well as some great reviews.

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.

Award Eligibility 2014, prose+poetry

For 2014, I am eligible with prose (short stories), poetry (short poetry category), and as Best Fan Writer.

Regarding Best Fan Writer, I’ve never before considered myself a candidate, but in the spirit of #dontselfreject, I do think I qualify. For my essays, look in Essays the category. Especially highlighted are: “Encouraging Diversity – An Editor’s Perspective,” “Diversity of Voice and Theme,” and “Reading, Writing, and Submitting.” I have also been active on Twitter as @roselemberg.

In 2014, I had three original short stories appear: “A City on its Tentacles” (Lackington’s), “No Longer Lacking an Onion” (Goldfish Grimm), and “Stalemate” (Lackington’s). Two are highlighted for awards with updated reviews:

A City on its Tentacles” – a slipstream/fantasy/magic realist short story about a mother and a chronically ill child.

“…a gorgeous read that became even complex and powerful for me on reflection” – Vanessa Fogg

“What a gorgeous terrible city, framing Luba — a mother drawn with both delicacy and intensity ” – M Sereno

“The story you tell might save someone. A Rose Lemberg story might save you.” – Sofia Samatar

Stalemate” – a far-future SF story about friendship, art, and loss.

“Stalemate” is a balancing act, musing on responsibility and its limits, the role of art in society, and giving the ages-old argument between individualism and collectivism cosmic scope. – Amal El-Mohtar,

Lemberg proves to be a master of the slow build with this piece.”  -Paige Kimble

“Peeling away the layers, what we find here is a story of friendship.” – Lois Tilton, Locus

The following 11 poems are eligible for the Rhysling Award (all of them in the short poetry category).

If you’d rather only consider highlights, then maybe .. hm…”Baba Yaga..” in Apex. It’s funny. Also, “The Law of Germinating Seeds” in GF.

The Law of Germinating Seeds,”  Goblin Fruit, Fall 2014.

The rivers, the birchgroves, all the receding earth,” Strange Horizons.

After the Mistress of the Copper Mountain,” Through the Gate 5.

“Peregrinations in Change and Fear,”Poems for the Queer Revolution.

Baba Yaga Tries to Donate Money,” Apex

Dualities,” Mythic Delirium, October 2014

Landwork,Goblin Fruit.

Earth Map,”  Mythic Delirium

The Rotten Leaf Cantata,” Strange Horizons.

Salamander Song,” with music by Emily Jiang,  Strange Horizons

“The Mikveh of Past Meanings,” Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, edited by Claire Trévien and Gareth Prior.

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Rose Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues, and has been a finalist for the Nebula, Tiptree, Elgin, Rhysling, and Crawford awards.

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