Award Eligibility, “Stalemate” reviews, Rhysling

This year, I have three pieces in the short story category, of which I would like to promote two for fiction award eligibility. (Please promote yours, too!)

“A City on its Tentacles” – a slipstream/fantasy/magic realist short story about a mother and a chronically ill child. It appeared in in the inaugural issue of Lackington’s, in February 2014.

“…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 — and the necessity of choice, the silent persistence of love through it all, and again: necessity, endurance.” – 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. This story has just come out in Lackington’s 4, 2014. It has been reviewed twice, once at by Amal El-Mohtar, who writes insightfully and kindly about the story in her review column Rich and Strange:

“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. There is no vilification of either in the story, which is refreshing: the stalemate of the title is genuine, earnest, and heartfelt throughout.

Paige Kimble has also given the story a positive review in her review column Diamond Dust:

Lemberg proves to be a master of the slow build with this piece which inspired the ‘Institutions’ theme of this issue of Lackington’s. […] The stakes here are extraordinarily high, and while ‘Stalemate’ does have a touch of the morality play style to it, it’s a morality play where there are no absolute correct answers.

I am informed that Rhysling voting for this year’s poetry award closes on 11/20, and I have a poem nominated in the long category, “I will show you a single treasure from the treasures of Shah Niyaz.” It is a Birdverse poem about women’s work and carpets and desert and winds, and I am very proud of it. It is the poem I read at Readercon 2013. Here’s what C.S.E. Cooney had to say about the performance, in her column at Black Gate:

Rose Lemberg […] tore my heart out and gave it wings.
She recited her piece from memory. She cried it out. She embodied it. And it consumed her like a fire. She left me weeping and trembling.

People have been so incredibly kind about my work; I just want to take a moment to thank the editors and the reviewers of my stories and poems for giving them homes and good words. And, as ever, thank you for reading.

An Alphabet of Embers update

I have finished responding to all submissions received during the open reading period. I responded to a total of 884 submissions. If you have not heard from me with either a rejection or an acceptance, please query immediately either to the editorial address ( or in comments to this entry. Please do not wait or hesitate.

Two new poems, and the Strange Horizons fund drive

So, earlier this week, Strange Horizons published my poem “The rivers, the birchgroves, all the receding earth.” It is a very Russian poem; it is short and has hares.

Each spring the rivers rose, I pushed my boat
out to the drowning forest. Hares
stood on tree stumps, shaking. Each to each
rattled the babble of snowmelt, clung
to the last of dry ground.

And today, Strange Horizons published my and Emily Jiang’s poetic/musical collaboration, Salamander Song, as a part of their bonus issue.  Go listen to it – the music is astounding!!

If you can, and you haven’t yet, please support Strange Horizons by donating to their fund drive. Strange Horizons is a wonderful venue which I love very much, and which took chances on numerous new authors. I made my first professional fiction sale to this market.

“Stalemate,” with spoilers

Today, my science fictional story “Stalemate” became available for free at Lackington’s. This is my second sale to Lackington’s, the first being “A City on its Tentacles” in the inaugural issue. I love this magazine.

Editor Ranylt Richildis purchased “Stalemate” as a cornerstone for Issue 4. In the Introduction, she writes,

Issue 4 was built around the theme of “institutions” after we received an SF tale from Rose Lemberg set on a communal spaceship. The stark routine and  interior that encase the narrator make institutions manifest, as does the nod to universities, but Rose’s story also explores less tangible institutions, such as friendship, art, and war.

I’ve only recently started writing again in the Boundless universe, a very old SFnal universe of mine in which certain extremely talented people – mostly scientists, but not exclusively – discover that they neither age nor die after reaching their mental and professional peak. Some of those Boundless have formed a loose interstellar society, and are pursuing certain goals; others are alone. The setting of “Stalemate,” a planet called Calamity or Gebe-2, is home of one of the Boundless, Kabede Nan Telesa. The story is narrated from the point of view of Kabede’s unnamed friend.

It was a difficult story to write, and difficult to send out.





In many ways, Calamity feels like home to me. I’ve been returning to it since I was a teenager. There is a memory leecher installed in the upper atmosphere, so people who manage to land lose their memories. It is a blessing. A respite. Calamity is a place of refuge for me, a sensory haven away from the never-ceasing demands and buzzing and pull of an individualistic society forever focused on accomplishment. And yet, every time I attempted to write a story about Calamity, it has been a story narrated by outsiders.

The unnamed narrator of “Stalemate” feels fiercely about Kabede; there is not much meaning left in his world beyond this friendship. Kabede, though, is not as enthused. The unnamed narrator is a close friend, yet Kabede faults him for not seeing their people. Instead, the narrator clings to his memories of a destroyed world; on Gebe-2, he keeps refusing opportunities to befriend, to bond, to discover the true beauty of the people who escaped from the original Gebe. He thinks, for example, that the people of Gebe-2 make no art – even as he witnesses and participates in their elaborate folk-gaming culture. He refuses the friendship and camaraderie of Eighty-nine and his fellow engineers, and leaves as lonely as he came.

I chose this viewpoint for many reasons. I wanted to write about mistakes we make out of strong convictions, how we push people away; and about the marrow-bone necessity of friendship, and about loneliness. Always loneliness.

Eventually, I think, the narrator will stop coming. Other people will arrive, other Boundless, and form close friendships with Kabede and their people.

Although, perhaps, he’ll change. It’s hard to know.

I hope you like this story. It is close to me.

Stone Telling 11 is here!

ST 11 cover

Stone Telling 11 is here!

We are very pleased to announce that a new issue of Stone Telling, Reverberations, has gone live – with fabulous poetry by voices all new to us, and a review of Lisa M. Bradley’s collection The Haunted Girl, by Alex Dally MacFarlane. We hope you give these treasures a read!

We also have many announcements to make. First is the rate increase – thanks to our Patreon supporters, we are increasing our pay from 5$ to 10$ a poem starting immediately, so that our new poets are paid at the new rate! The rates for nonfiction and epic length poetry remain unchanged, but we are hoping to raise our rates yet more with Patreon support, down the road.

Second, we have announced two reading periods, for ST 12 (Hope-themed), and ST13 (the Joke issue). For more information, please see the updated guidelines.

Third, we have added a new team member – Bogi Takács, whose work has appeared in ST previously, has joined the team as an assistant editor.

Last but not least, we still have a few outstanding blog post interviews with ST10 poets, and will be publishing these, as well as blog post interviews with ST11 poets.

Happy reading – and thank you, as always, for being here.

An Alphabet of Embers: Slush Update

I have been posting slush updates on twitter (@roselemberg), and now I am posting an official update here.

During the submission period, I received 884 stories as of last count. That’s a LOT of stories, and many of them were strong. I am a rereader, so each story that was a possibility received an additional reread.

To date, I have responded to the total of 526 submissions with either a rejection, an acceptance, or a hold notice. If you submitted on or before September 1, and have not heard back from me, please query immediately.

I planned to respond to all submissions in October, but due to the sheer volume of submissions, I am running a bit behind. I am now planning to respond to all submissions before November 15.

Thank you very much to everyone who supported the anthology, and sent a story. It’s going to be fabulous!

Reading, writing, and submitting

I have updated The Lemberg Sampler; the featured short poem is now Dualities. I continue to be amazed that I appear to have so much work out that I need a Sampler; most of it is small pieces. I remain very grateful to all the editors who published and supported my work through the years.

I am still reading for An Alphabet of Embers and have so far responded to 1/3 of submissions. Total tally of stories sent is 873 right now. I am on time to send most responses out in October, though it is going to be tight. Lots of strong work here, and the submission pool is very diverse, which is a source of endless happiness to me. If you have been rejected, please do not despair – for a project such as this, fitting with my aesthetics for the project is key, and I am looking for something that is  both very specific and difficult to define. Good markets to try for lyrical short work include Strange Horizons and Lackington’s. Daily Science Fiction has also featured my short lyrical work in the past.

M Sereno writes beautifully about her experience of sending out work as a multiply marginalized writer. Her first sale was to Stone Telling 11, and her first published poem, Seeds, just came out at Strange Horizons; I mentioned it yesterday.

It feels silly to say this; even now I’m warring with myself, telling myself I shouldn’t press that handy link, “move to trash”. I’ve been reading online zines for a long, long time. I used to dream of submitting to them. Then I learned that there were certain kinds of English that meant something, that were valid and legitimate, and yet others that were looked down on, degraded. I tried to fit my writing to the mold of the former. It would be respectable, then.

It didn’t work. Of course. There was no blood in it.

It does not feel silly to me; my work was all “moved to trash” before 2008. I will forever be grateful to Shweta Narayan for helping me through these years. I kept moving things to trash for years after my first sale. If you take a look at my bibliography, you will see that 2014 was truly the first year I stopped deleting and sent out everything I finished. Can you tell which poems I thought were ‘scrap’ poems and which I thought were ‘real’ poems? I don’t think so.

Sending work is difficult. Completing and sending work as a multiply marginalized writer, as an ESL writer, is difficult. Rejections are difficult. Getting acceptances for pieces you almost trashed is difficult. Finding the courage to write in your own voice, rather than trying to fit in with what seems to be the normative/high-prestige/saleable stuff is difficult. Finding a community is a real blessing, a deep breath after years of slow suffocation. Discovering that this community is not monolithic, that here are rifts and conflicts and deep hurt, is difficult on a whole new level.

Don’t lose faith. Keep reading, writing, and submitting.

Yes, there are people who will tell you otherwise, but not me.

Theories of Pain, and two poem recommendations

My surrealist piece “Theories of Pain”, which first appeared in Daily Science Fiction, will be reprinted in The Humanity of Monsters, an anthology edited by Michael Matheson for ChiZine Publications. It is scheduled to be published in late 2015. Thank you, Michael – and special thanks to Jonathan and Michele at DSF for publishing it, and to Sofia Samatar for encouraging me to submit it for publication.

Two poetry recommendations:

On the topic of the humanity of monsters, I recommend “The Gorgon Girls”, by Saira Ali, at Strange Horizons. I love this poem fiercely.

You will not find us on the six o’clock news,
two kohl-stained lines artfully staining our cheeks.
We do not stare doe-eyed from behind curtains
of silken maize hair. No one makes movies of us.

Also at Strange Horizons: M Sereno, an emerging writer whose work we will also feature in Stone Telling 11, has a poem titled “Seeds”. This is the first time I am mentioning M Sereno’s writing publicly, but it is certainly not the last.

They hide the truth in seeds, you see.
In the black jeweled eyes of the atis. In the slippery throngs of pakwan,
in bitter lanzones watered by my tears when my mother told me
of the tree growing in my belly, nourished on my death.

Two new pieces up, and a poem sale

My poem “After the Mistress of the Copper Mountain,” a queer retelling of one of my beloved childhood stories, is up at Through the Gate. This poem is dedicated to Shweta Narayan. My notes about the poem are at the website. This issue also contains work by Sonya Taaffe, Mari Ness, Michele Bannister, Jack H. Marr, and Brittany Warman. It’s wonderful. Thank you, Mitchell!

The podcast of “Giant,” my magic realist piece about the death of Alan Dundes, is up at Toasted Cake today. Hope you enjoy – and many thanks to Tina Connolly for buying and recording it.

My short poem “Scatter and return,” dedicated to Saira Ali, has been accepted for publication at Cascadia Subduction Zone (Aqueduct PRess).

Editorial confidentiality: a public statement

by Shweta Narayan and Rose Lemberg

Recently, an editor outed a pseudonymous writer using the writer’s private information available to him as an editor/publisher. The editor in question later claimed that he received permission from the author in question. The author in question has not, to our knowledge, made a public statement either confirming or denying that permission was given.*

Editors and publishers often have access to their submitters’ legal information, and more – the submitters’ wallet name, address, phone, etc. This one-directional access creates a power imbalance between editors and authors; trust in editorial discretion is necessary for submitters – all submitters, but especially those who may fear violence or other reprisals – to be able to work in this field.

As editors of Stone Telling magazine, we, Shweta Narayan and Rose Lemberg, believe that when editors publicly disclose such information, it erodes trust between editors and writers, and creates an atmosphere of suspicion and fear in the community. Even when permission is given, if a formerly pseudonymous author desires to make legal and other information publicly available, it is best done by someone other than an editor.

Certain information may need to be shared when disciplinary action is at stake, e.g. by conventions or legal authorities, but we feel that a public outing of writers by editors/publishers is problematic even in these cases.

As editors of Stone Telling magazine, we, Shweta Narayan and Rose Lemberg, pledge never to publicly reveal confidential information disclosed to us by submitters – this includes people whose work we choose to publish, and people whose work we choose not to publish. We have, previously, published work by pseudonymous authors while keeping strict confidentiality, and will continue to do so.

As an editor of An Alphabet of Embers and other anthologies, and as an editor of any future projects in fiction and poetry, I, Rose Lemberg, pledge never to publicly reveal confidential information disclosed to me by submitters – this includes people whose work I will choose to publish, and people whose work I will choose not to publish.

We call other editors in genre to join us in this pledge.

ETA from Shweta. How the specific author feels about being outed in this particular case is irrelevant to our post, because the bigger issue is editorial confidentiality/ethics, and we have been in contact with multiple authors who are frightened by this situation.


* This entry is strictly about editorial process. Comments about the situation alluded in the first paragraph, as well as about specific personalities involved, will not be allowed to pass moderation.

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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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