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!


My poem Landwork, which is related to the Journeymaker Cycle, is up at Goblin Fruit.The issue’s artwork by Paula Friedlander references the poem! Hurray! This is the second issue of Goblin Fruit with art that references my poem (first was the issue of Summer 2013). I am very, very happy. This piece also has a recording, which is not in my usual style, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless.


Spring 2014 cover of Goblin Fruit

Spring 2014 cover of Goblin Fruit, art by Paula Friedlander

Onions and Salamanders

Goldfish Grimm 19: New Lives and Old

Goldfish Grimm 19: New Lives and Old


My whimsical magic realist/surrealist flash piece, “No Longer Lacking an Onion,” about (un)loss, (un)immigration, and onions, is up at Goldfish Grimm. There is also a short author interview. “No Longer Lacking an Onion” is a part of The Jewish magic realist project.

My poem “Salamander Song,” featuring genderqueer parents and salamanders, will appear in Strange Horizons. It is a part of a collaborative piece, with beautiful music composed by Emily Jiang.


Keep yourself safe

I was going to write an essay on landscape impermanence to expand on this storify of my tweets about landscape, competence, immigration, privilege. For a reason I cannot share, the essay is not happening right now. It might happen later.

Instead, I offer this video by Melnica and a translation, for those who need it, today and on any other day. I’ve been planning to do so for a while now, and the time is appropriate.


Keep yourself safe


Never wander off the direct path,

never take the ring off your hand,

don’t step beyond the threshold over cold water,

keep yourself, keep yourself safe.


The heart, like a mountain hawk, throws itself into the height –

don’t reprimand yourself, run after it –

hurry and choose between the  wolf and the hound,

keep yourself, keep yourself safe.


And if you ask for warmth from the oak and the rowan,

your steps will not bend the grass,

so protect yourself from any evil,

keep yourself, keep yourself safe.

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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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