Spelling the Hours

Today, I wanted to talk a bit about Spelling the Hours, a bonus poetry chapbook that is offered for our higher-tier backers of An Alphabet of Embers (you can get an ebook of both An Alphabet of Embers and Spelling the Hours for 20$, and a paperback of both books + ebook versions for 45$). It is a collection of science poetry specifically, focusing on forgotten figures of science and technology, especially women, queer people, trans people, PoC, and members of other underrepresented groups.


Spelling the Hours

Spelling the Hours


The person on the cover of this chapbook is Mary Alice McWhinnie (1922-1980), an American biologist and professor at DuPaul university, who was a world authority on krill. Here is a short blurb on her from the DuPaul university special collections department’s collection of her papers:

In 1962, she became the first woman to join the all male United States Antarctic Research Program working on board the National Science Foundation research vessel the Eltanin. From 1962 to 1978, Dr. McWhinnie made over ten research trips to Antarctica, most of them aboard the Eltanin or the RV Hero. In 1972, she earned the status of Chief Scientist on an Eltanin research cruise (Cruise 51); the ship’s first venture through the pack ice into Ross Sea. In 1974, she and her colleague Sr. Mary Odile Cahoon were the first two women to over-winter on the Antarctic continent, at the McMurdo research station.

The idea for this chapbook came to me because of the work of Sofia Samatar, whose poem Girl Hours we had the privilege to feature in the Science and Science Fiction issue of Stone Telling. Girl Hours is a poem about another woman in science, the astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt.

The body is not always the same, the body varies in brightness, its true brightness may be ascertained from the rhythm of its pulsing, the body is more remote than we imagined, it eats, it walks, it traverses with terrible slowness the distance between Wisconsin and Massachusetts, the body is stubborn, snowbound, the body has disappeared, the body has left the country, the body has traveled to Europe and will not say if it went there alone, the body is generous, dedicated, seated again, reserved, exacting,
                                                              brushed and buttoned, smelling of healthy soap,
                                                              and not allowed to touch the telescope.

If you haven’t yet, go read the whole poem . It is a piece that will never grow old, and it encompasses perfectly what this chapbook will be like, and it will of course be reprinted in Spelling the Hours. I’ll also be asking the contributing poets to write up short blurbs about the figures in their poems.

Thank you very much for your support so far, and please keep signal-boosting the Kickstarter for An Alphabet of Embers if you are so inclined. Every little bit helps!

Great Stories and Projects from Around the Web

Bogi Takács has a new story, This Shall Serve as a Demarcation, up at Scigentasy. I was a beta reader for it, and I love it. It’s an environmental, post-colonial SF with two non-binary protagonists in a supportive D/s relationship. It’s moving and heartfelt, and I think it’s one of the best pieces of Bogi’s work.

Scigentasy has also published A. Merc Rustad’s How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps, which is an excellent and powerful story about robots, asexuality, relationships, depression, and robots. TW: suicidal ideation.

J.Y. Yang has a beautiful, moving and poignant story at Strange Horizons: Storytelling for the Night Clerk:

The General Archives store a thousand carefully curated individuals born each year, selected at age 45 from what the state says are the different sectors of life. There is an entire department, a prestigious one, dedicated to this yearly selection. The data in the General Archives is needed for reports and scholarly studies, they say, like carefully prepared glass slides, dyed beautiful colours to highlight parts of anatomy. This is a historical record, they say. The Germans have a word for it: zeitgeist. A summation of the times.

Jeff VanderMeer has a name-your-price bundle of New Weird fiction, including such wonderful titles as Leena Krohn’s Tainaron, Karin Tidbeck’s Jagannath, and Amal El-Mohtar’s The Honey Month.

Interfictions Online Indiegogo has just over 30 hours left, and they’re almost to their goal of reaching rates. I love IAF and Interfictions, and hope you can help!

Kitabiyat Press is taking preorders for In Other Words:

Saira Ali and Julia Rios are pleased to announce the table of contents for In Other Words, a chapbook of poetry and flash fiction to benefit Con or Bust. The chapbook will be hand-printed on a nineteenth century letterpress, and includes work from Hugo Award winning and nominated authors.

The full ToC is available at the preorder page, but this book will include work by Stone Telling contributors Nisi Shawl, Emily Jiang, LaShawn Wanak, Sofia Samatar, Amal El-Mohtar, JT Stewart, Lisa M. Bradley, and Yoon Ha Lee, as well as Stone Telling co-editor Shweta Narayan, and other wonderful authors. I had the pleasure of seeing a pre-print PDF for a review which we will run in the next Stone Telling, and the book is wonderful.

A stunning letterpress-printed broadside of Shweta Narayan’s poem Nettle-Stung, along with art by Shweta, is free with all preorders through next week. Honestly, it’s a steal.

And since I cannot not mention the kickstarter for An Alphabet of Embers, at least tangentially: below is the letter S of Embers, by Bogi Takács. Enjoy!


An Alphabet of Embers submissions guidelines

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 stonebirdpress@gmail.com 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 stonebirdpress@gmail.com with ART QUERY in the title. Artists of all backgrounds are very welcome.

An Alphabet of Embers, second day

MAJOR THANKS to our wonderful supporters – those who donated and those who spread the word – we’re very close to hitting 50%! Can we get to $3000 today?

Last night, an Anonymous and Illustrious Patron of the Arts purchased the $600 reward, which means that I will be at Readercon 2015 with a Viking Extravaganza – I’ll recite an epic poem in Old Norse. I will provide translation, as well as a short introduction, for the small crowd of the donor’s choosing. I’m very excited!

Since it feels a bit lonely there at the higher-tier reward levels, I am adding a new, limited reward level at $100, called VOICE OF THE SEASTAR. I will write a poem for you! You will choose an element, a stone, and a texture for me to work with. If you’d like something more specific, we can talk! Previous work I’ve written for various fundraisers includes Godfather Death (for JoSelle Vanderhooft), Between the Mountain and the Moon (for Izlinda Hani Jamaluddin), Plucked from the Horo (for Brittany Warman), and more. $100 will buy a poem of up to 100 lines; please pledge $200 if you want epic length. In addition to poetry, you will get the following swag: a mention on our donors’ list, a postcard featuring the Alphabet of Embers cover art by Galen Dara, the trade paperback and the ebook versions of An Alphabet of Embers, the mp3 of “Embersong” (the theme song of the anthology, put to music and sung by Emily Jiang), and physical and ebook editions of Spelling the Hours.

And I’d like to end this entry on an industrial note, with a Letter F of Embers by Bogi Takács:


Diversity of Voice and Theme

In the description of An Alphabet of Embers Kickstarter, I wrote:

I am committed to diversity of voice and theme in all my editorial projects, and this one will be no exception. I will be looking for beauty and resonance from all quarters and in all forms. As always, I am invested in supporting creators that belong to marginalized groups.

Due to external conversations going on in the field, I want to unpack this a bit. “Diversity of voice and theme” has been my motto from the moment I started thinking about Stone Telling magazine, long before I read my first submission. I keep muttering it as we – Shweta and I – read submissions and make decisions. It is a useful phrase for us.

Diversity of theme: writing that showcases a range of settings, and protagonists who belong to a variety of demographics.

Basic diversity of theme, i.e. a variety of settings and protagonists, is not too difficult to accomplish; writers are happy to write to your editorial specifics. But if you, as an editor, are only considering diversity of theme, you run the risk of having only not-marginalized or lesser-marginalized authors write about marginalized protagonists. E.g. you may end up with stories set in Japan, Australia, Mali, Peru, but written entirely by white North Americans; you may run stories with queer and trans characters written entirely by straight, cis authors.

Diversity of voice is about featuring work by authors who belong to a variety of demographics. Women, men, and nonbinary authors; PoC, white people, and people who identify as neither (the distinction of PoC/white as it’s generally understood in a US American context may not be perfectly generalizable worldwide; the lines can be drawn differently elsewhere); authors who identify as LGBTQIA and those who don’t; atheists, agnostics, and people of various faiths; able-bodied and people who live with disabilities; people variously stratified by class; old and young people; neurotypical and neuroatypical authors; immigrants and those who never immigrated; people from a variety of countries writing in a variety of Englishes; and more.

This type of diversity is harder. It may not instantaneously appear in your slush; multiply marginalized people sadly tend to self-reject, and are often understandably wary of editors without a track record. I wrote previously about encouraging diversity, from an editorial perspective. You will likely have to reach out. You will likely have work to do, as an editor, to recognize and value different types of narrative, as diversity of voice often comes with diversity of storyshape, some of it will be unfamiliar to you. You’ll have to talk to other people, ask for opinions about some of the pieces you are considering. It’s sometimes a painful process. You’ll make mistakes; you will be called out on your mistakes. All this is a part of the process, a part of the struggle to diversify the field and our reading habits.

For me, the best editorial work lies in the balance between the two kinds of diversity. You will likely accept some work where there is a match between voice and theme. You will also accept some work where there is no match between voice and theme; e.g. an Indian author may not write about Indian protagonists, a straight person will write lesbian characters insightfully, a trans author will write about cis people, a person who’s never immigrated will write cluefully about immigration, etc, etc. This variety in voice and theme is key in order to avoid tokenization and to avoid limiting writers of all demographics to only their own experience. And when there is a mismatch between voice and theme, as an editor it is your job to work to distinguish between appropriative, disrespectful, underresearched, and plain clueless work, and work that engages well.

Diversity of voice and theme is hard editorial work, but it is rewarding and worthwhile.

An Alphabet of Embers Day 1, now with letters

In case you missed it, the Kickstarter for An Alphabet of Embers has launched last night.  We are kickstarting for an anthology of unclassifiables – lyrical, surreal, magical, experimental pieces that straddle the border between poetry and prose.

The book will have beautiful cover art by Galen Dara, and there are so many wonderful rewards – a song by Emily Jiang, a bonus chapbook of science poetry (I will post more on that separately), additional books, posters, boxes of treasure, and even an epic performance of an Eddic poem Atlakviða in the original Old Norse.

And here’s a first of our surprises: the letter you see below is an A of Embers, from an Alphabet of Embers graciously drawn and donated to the project by Bogi Takács. The alphabet includes many other letters, which will appear in our Kickstarter updates! Some of these letters look more like Latin characters, while others are unique to the alphabet, like the letter A below.

A of Embers, by Bogi Takács

A of Embers, by Bogi Takács

Thanks to our wonderful first-day donors, we are 18% to goal. Thank you so much to all who donated and signal boosted! Can we make it to 20% today?

ETA: Hurray, 20% reached! Can we reach 25% on Day 1?

ETA2: HURRAY, and enormous thanks to our wonderful backers, we’ve reached 25%! Can we reach 30%, or $1800, today?

Signal boosting is very much appreciated!


An Alphabet of Embers Kickstarter is Alive!

The Kickstarter for An Alphabet of Embers, an anthology of unclassifiable lyrical pieces, has gone live! There are some wonderful rewards – this book, an additional chapbook of science poetry which is going to be terrific, wonderful music and art rewards, as well as a poem in Old Norse*! This will be absolutely beautiful.



* I do hope someone claims the Old Norse reward. It’s a once in a lifetime thing.

Baba Yaga in July Apex

Apex July 2014 cover

Apex July 2014 cover


Almost forgot to post this – but my fairly humorous poem “Baba Yaga Tries to Donate Money,” about the perils of crowdfunding, is up in July issue of Apex Magazine.

A while ago I posted a draft of this poem for critique under lock on my Livejournal. Gillian commented:

“And I accidentally found the boobs Baba Yaga. *shudder*”

I was taken aback by this, as the imagery in the poem came from my imagination; but while preparing to post this entry I googled, and … indeed. My plan was to entertain you with pictures of a sexified Baba Yaga, but once I found them, I think I shall desist. *shudder*


Poetry sale and a review

My poem “The rivers, the birchgroves, all the receding earth” will appear in Strange Horizons.

A new review of “A City on its Tentacles” (Lackington’s, #1) has appeared in Black Gate. The reviewer has very complimentary things to say:

And “A City of Its Tentacles by” Rose Lemberg was artful and brilliant. The voice and imagery are powerful and I knew this wasn’t a regular story halfway through the first paragraph when I read “…reminded [her] of baby rainworms decaying by the roadside in the spring.”

The amount of uncommonly evocative imagery reminded me of magical realism […]

I don’t want to say much about “Tentacles” other than to say it is well worth savoring and rereading, and that the evocative style is not a simple artistic choice, but a thematic one whose purpose is revealed later in the story.

I am incredibly happy that this story continues to get positive reviews.

In other news, preparations for An Alphabet of Embers Kickstarter proceed apace. I hope you’ll be as excited about this anthology as I am.

Announcing: An Alphabet of Embers

So… this is real, or almost-real: I am putting together a Kickstarter campaign to fund an anthology of unclassifiables – lyrical, poetic, surreal, magical, experimental pieces. This is going to be my first foray into fiction editing, but I hope to publish a lot of work that straddles the border between prose and poetry. I will be looking for pieces 500-1400 words long, and hope for the book to be vibrant, beautiful, diverse, and moving: a trail of embers to light the way.


The book will be published through my micropress, Stone Bird Press.  The Hugo award-winning and all-over amazing Galen Dara has produced cover art that perfectly conveys the feeling of the anthology.



More details to be announced soon!

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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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