Strengthen Your Paragraphs, Merciless Mermaids, and Other Market List Updates

The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 9/15/2022. If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter:

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Thoughts in Passing

What makes a strong paragraph?

  • Watch your openings.
  • Go against the grain.
  • Mix it up.
  • End strong.
  • …And if you’re focusing too much on it, save it for your edits!

Watch your openings. Watch out for repetitive paragraph beginnings. He, she, then, while, next, [character name] are common offenders. My critique group recently flagged me for using “He” to open too many paragraphs in a section. Similar sentence structure at the beginning of each paragraph can also be a problem.

Go against the grain. This depends on your natural tendencies. Do you normally write short and choppy? See if you can blend some sentences together. Do you normally write long sentences? Break them up (while preserving the natural flow). Long sections of dialog? Add action or description. Heavy on “looking at”-type description? Work action into the description. Figure out what your normal tendencies are and train yourself to look for places to go against them. This flows best not as large sections of something different, but occasional changes within a paragraph.

Mix it up. This is similar to going against the grain, but it depends less on your natural tendency and more on paying attention to what you’ve done. Then do something different. This is also a good way to figure out what your natural tendencies are. Were the last 4-5 paragraphs long? Write a short one. What sentence structures have you been leaning on? Try a different one.

End strong. Humans naturally put more weight on endings. The last item in a list. The last word or clause in a sentence. The last sentence of a paragraph. That’s where to put things you want to hit home for the reader: an evocative image; a sound; a shocking emotion; or a hook to pull them on.

Save it for your edits! As always, your mileage may vary. Different techniques work for different writers. If you find yourself getting bogged down in the sentence- and paragraph-level of your writing, save it for edits of sections that you really want to shine.

(Inspired by someone else’s locked Patreon post.)

(Do you have a writing question? Send it to me, either by replying to this email or by using the contact form on my website, and it may get answered in the next newsletter.)

What I’ve been up to lately, writing-wise:

I’m deeply enjoying leaning into the weird and grotesque in my writing. When I cackle as I write, it’s a good sign. I’ve been cackling a lot as I write my latest project…

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links:

Why Unreliable Characters Are So Compelling:

Quick Tips on Writing a Novelette:

Delete Me (privacy service):

Upcoming Virtual Conventions/Workshops

(Any registration fees are noted.)

ChiCon 8 / WorldCon ($30), Sept 1-5, 2022:

Can*Con (CAD$45), Oct 14-16, 2022:

World Fantasy Convention ($125), Nov 3-6, 2022:

The Nebula Conference ($150) is over for 2022, but purchasing a membership now still gets access to recorded panels and year-round special events:

Featured Market

The Merciless Mermaids: Tails From the Deep anthology wants dark mermaid stories.

We’re sounding the ship’s bell for stories about malevolent and merciless merfolk of all kinds. Give us your mermaids who fought for the wrong reasons, made tough by their circumstances or by their own choices. Show us their schemes and villainous wiles, the fairytales that end in blood. Or laughter. Tempt us with their twisted workings across time and space, colors and creeds.

…Original “dark mermaid” short stories and poetry in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, and romance, appropriate for a “PG-13” audience. Mermaids must be integral to the story. Diverse cultures and non-traditional legends and persons welcomed. Please, no copyrighted characters.

Merciless Mermaids

Basics: all speculative fiction, themed, up to 5,000 words, pays $.06/wd, no reprints, due 8/31/22 – 10/7/22.


Market List Updates

To see all the details about these new listings and what they're looking for, as well as hundreds of other listings, go to Aswiebe's Market List and download the latest version of the spreadsheet. Note: going forward, limited demographic market listings will be italicized.
NameWhat they wantPay Per Word USD (originals)Flat Pay USD (originals)WebsiteNotes
Deadlands, TheDeath-themed speculative fiction and poetry$0.100
Strange HorizonsAll speculative fiction and poetry$0.100 SUBMISSION PERIOD: 10/3/22 UNTIL FULL (1,000 stories submitted)
Unspeakable Horror 3: Dark Rainbow Rising (Crystal Lake Publishing) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY – DUE 9/30/22LGBTQIA+-themed horror$0.100
Fantasy MagazineFantasy and dark fantasy fiction and poetry$0.080 to submit even if previously rejected by sister publications Nightmare Magazine or Lightspeed. SUBMISSION PERIODS: ONE-TIME open to BIPOC authors all of 2022. ONE-TIME SUBMISSION PERIOD 10/1/22 – 10/7/22.
Flame Tree PressFrequent themed anthologies$0.080
Gothic Romance Anthology (Brigid’s Gate) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY – DUE 9/30/22Gothic romance. Limited author demographic: women and non-binary people$0.080
Immigrant Sci-Fi Short Stories (Flame Tree Press) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY – DUE 8/30/22SF themed to immigration and migration. Limited demographic: authors with direct/familial experience with theme.$0.080
Merciless Mermaids: Tails from the Deep (WordFire Press) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY – DUE 8/31/22-10/7/22Themed to PG-13 dark mermaid stories$0.060
There’s No Place (Renaissance) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY – DUE 9/30/22All genres, themed to home. Limited demographic: authors who have experienced homelessness$0.060 stories will be 70% Canadian
Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery, including paranormal$0.050 response time
Dread MachineDark SF, horror, magic realism, slipstream, and poetry$0.050 up to 7,000 words.
Ellery Queen's Mystery MagazineMystery of all types$0.050 2,500 - 8,000
Dead & Bloated (The Evil Cookie Publishing) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY – DUE 10/1/22Extreme horror, with dark humor, themed to water $0.030
Superstition (Redwood Press) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY – DUE UNTIL FULLHorror and dark fiction themed to superstition$0.020
InterzoneScience fiction, fantasy, and horror$0.015 not submit the same story to Interzone and IZ Digital
IZ Digital (Interzone)Science fiction, fantasy, and horror$0.015 not submit the same story to Interzone and IZ Digital
After Dinner Conversation (Magazine and Podcast)Discussion-provoking stories, all genres$0.010
Mythic MagazineSF/F$0.010 SUBMISSION PERIOD: 8/2/22 – 8/31/22
Project Briar Rose (Manawaker Studio) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY – DUE 12/31/22SF, themed to personal qualities (see guidelines)$0.010
Troopers (Shacklebound Books) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY – DUE 8/31/22Flash fiction themed to law enforcement and military SF$0.010
Two-thousand Word Terrors (Rooster Republic Press)Horror$0.010 about 2,000 words, slightly under is okay. ONE-TIME SUBMISSION PERIOD: due 8/31/22
Underland ArcanaMildly speculative and weird fiction$0.010 SUBMISSION PERIOD: Fall 2022, probably October
Emerging Writers Contest (Dream Foundry) ANNUAL CONTEST – DUE 8/8 – 10/8Speculative fiction. Limited demographic: non-pro authors
$1,000.00 admission fee.
Into Chaos (Sans Press) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY – DUE 9/6/22All genres, themed to embracing the unknown and stepping into chaos
Pets, Pets, PETS!!! (Los Suelos, California) ONE-TIME CONTEST – DUE 9/5/22All genres, esp. twisted, surreal, occult, themed to pets
Nemesis (Wicked Taxidermy Press) ONE-TIME CONTEST – DUE 8/31/22 (estimated)Speculative fiction themed to enemies-to-relationship
$100.00 entries will be “considered for publication,” short stories’ regular rate is $10.
Furious Gazelle's Halloween Writing Contest, The ANNUAL CONTEST - DUE 10/01All genres, themed to Halloween
Tumbled Tales 1 (Wandering Wave Press) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY – DUE 12/1/22Speculative fiction, themed to subverting tropes and expectations
Ghastling, ThePsychological or quiet horror, ghost stories, themed
$17.74 their Twitter for submission windows.
Flash Point Science FictionAll speculative flash fiction
Freeze Frame FictionFlash fiction, all genres
$10.00 PERIODS: 8/1 – 12/31, 2/1 – 6/30
From the Yonder Vol 5 (War Monkey Publications) ONE-TIME ANTHOLOGY – DUE 10/31/22Horror based on folk legend or tall tale from around the world
Tales from the Radiator (Strong Branch Productions) PODCASTAll weird fiction and speculative fiction
$5.00 non-exclusive audio rights, plus reprint rights. ONE-TIME SUBMISSION PERIOD: 9/30/22 or until 100 submissions received
Strange Libations: Dark Cocktails (Apex Magazine) ONE-TIME CALL – DUE 9/9/22Dark micro-fiction in cocktail recipe form
Hypnos Magazine – DEAD MARKETWeird fiction and cosmic horror$0.010

Fast response time.
Year After, The – DEAD MARKETFantasy, literary, and science fiction$0.010
Timeworn Literary Journal – DEAD MARKETHistorical fiction, esp. incl. genre and speculative elements

McCoy's Monthly – DEAD MARKETAll genres, incl. literary and SF

Toasted Cake (Podcast) – DEAD MARKET (Indefinite Hiatus)Speculative flash fiction
$15.00 CLOSURE until August ?? 2022
Chillfiltr – DEAD MARKET (no longer lists pay)Literary fiction and fantasy
Daily Science Fiction – DEAD MARKETSF, fantasy, slipstream, dark fantasy but not pure horror, etc.$0.080

Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck!

Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Keeper of Lists
Aswiebe’s Market List
Abra Staffin-Wiebe’s Author Website

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The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 9/15/2022. If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter: