Welcome to DreamCasters, a DreamForge discussion group devoted to helping our members improve their writing and storytelling through discussion and sharing expertise.
Our guest today is Justine Norton-Kerston, co-Editor-in-Chief of Solar Punk Magazine and one of the crew at Android Press. We’ll learn about their vision of solar punk, the mission of the magazine, and how to submit stories as well as what Solar Punk Magazine and Android Press are looking for.
First, we’ll do a round of DreamForge News and then we’ll introduce Justine.
Congratulations to our DreamCaster supporters and DreamForge Authors for their showing in the 2022, Quarter 2 Writers of the Future Contest, Volume 39.
Mike Jack Stoumbos is putting together a new anthology called Murderbirds. DreamForge supporters and contributors now officially in the Anthology include:
Akis Linardos. “My horror story “Ink” will be published by Maul Mag’s issue zero. They paid me at pro rate.” Issue Zero will drop 1st of September https://themaulmag.com/
Vote now for the Utopia Award Nominees. DreamForge is nominated as a Utopian Curator, Ana Sun for Short Story (Dandelion Brew), Mary Soon Lee is nominated for Poetry (Mythic Book Emporium), Jane Noel for Art (The Longing of Hope), and Scot Noel for Nonfiction (You’ve Got the Future All Wrong. We All Do.)
DreamForge is opening for general submissions on September 22nd and we’ll be open until midnight ET on October 15th. All DreamCasters are encouraged to participate, and DreamCasters who worked through our Bakeoff Writing Challenge or helped as beta readers during the challenge may submit early, beginning September 15th.
What are we looking for? The usual mix of hopeful science fiction and fantasy. Our top word limit is 5,000 words. 3,500 to 4,000 words is a sweet spot. We do want to see some flash fiction and some poetry. We’re open to simultaneous submissions. Please only one story or poem at a time. If you get a return and there is still time to submit, you may submit again during the same period.
I’d like to see some solar punk stories, especially about capturing the sun’s power in space to run a civilization much larger than the one we have now.
Justine Norton-Kertson (they/he/she) is an author of stories, games, poems, and music, as well as a publisher and community organizer. Their work has been featured in over a dozen magazines including Rulerless, Jupiter Review, Struksurriss Serious Flash Fiction, and Utopia Science Fiction Magazine.
Justine is currently editing “Bioluminescent: A Lunarpunk Anthology,” which has a Kickstarter this October.
Justine has a degree in history from the University of California, Irvine, and is a former high school history, political science, and economic teacher. They live in rural Oregon with their partner, puppies, cats, goats, and beehives.
After reading the Final submissions of the DreamCaster Bakeoff Competition, I’m happy to announce that we have a winner.
Congratulations to Dave Woolston for his story “Commercial Ambitions.” Dave takes the prize and received $150 in prize money, a winner certificate, and some final detailed notes on his story. Dave’s story structure was solid, and he draws the reader into the story to find out what happens to a sympathetic character as they struggle to overcome their difficulties. There are some good, empathetic human moments, and I like that his protagonist comes across as struggling to do the right thing as a vulnerable human.
Now, am I going to offer publication to anyone in the Writing Challenge? Not quite yet. But I absolutely want to congratulate everyone on doing an awesome job. In my judgement, if these stories were in our regular submission period, all of them would have been in the top 20%, and a few would be in the top 5% to 10%.
Remember, the main goal with this contest was to drill you on our story template structure, and everyone got it and was much improved in that area. That’s a big thing!
In fact, everyone should put their stories in circulation and submit them to appropriate markets to see what feedback you get, or even if you make a sale! Not all of these are quite DreamForge stories, but we’d be delighted to see them in print and we’d help you spread the word if they find publication
That said, I do have my eye on 2 or 3 or these to make offers on in the next submission period. I’m not going to say who, because I want everyone to do their best and I’d like to see all of you do another round of edits based on my final notes (these are forthcoming to each of our finalists individually), and submit them when we open early for you on September 15th. Regular submission for everyone starts September 22nd.
Also, keep in mind that we are OK with simultaneous submissions, so if you want to get these stories in circulation with or without any of the latest changes I suggest, then get them out there!
Thank you all for making the contest so much fun and interesting. I think I know all your stories off by heart now.
The last Bakeoff Challenge submissions added “In Medias Res” openings to the stories. We advised doing the simple version of this, which is to take a short piece of action from near the climax and put it at the beginning of the tale to engage the reader.
A few of our competitors nailed it in my opinion. Here are examples:
“Jax never thought he’d have to shoot anyone. He aimed and fired the pulse weapon to stop the stranger from killing his father. The muzzle flash lit the room as a charring light wave enveloped his target. The reaction of the shot sent Jax careening backward in the low gravity of the lunar surface.”
“The Humvee bumps and shudders as it drives over the devastated landscape of the Sonoran Desert. What used to be a spectacular stretch of soaring cacti is now desolate and charred. An eagle flying overhead attempts to gain altitude as his talons are encompassed by the glowing purple matter. She pulls over and climbs onto the hood, smiling as she reloads her weapon. In the failing light of the sun the night sight on her Glock helps with aiming at the struggling bird of prey. Summoning a sense of calm and purpose, she pulls the trigger.”
Led by the Invisible, half of Melvyn Layton’s Saturn ships had positioned themselves across the rings in six rows of two ships each with a distance of several thousand kilometers between them and were moving slowly towards the Deliverance to the outside of the rings.
“They’re not attacking, are they?” Rafael Dumont’s face turned a shade paler.
“Well, not us, at least. It seems they’re attacking— but that’s impossible.”
“The rings, Sir!”
By random dice roll, we will give away two prizes.
First is Clarkesworld, Issue 187, published in April of this year.
Second is Windows of the Imagination, Essays on Fantastic Literature, by Darrell Schweitzer
We’ll give out a couple story prompts that might be interesting to explore.
Meeting Ends. Thank You All!
Heartfelt Flash Fiction. In October we’ll reveal the $100 winner of our Heartfelt Flash Fiction Writing Challenge.
For October 2nd our Guest will be Marie Vibbert. Marie Vibbert has sold over 80 short stories to places like Nature, Analog, and F&SF. She has two stories in DreamForge. Her work has been translated into Vietnamese and Chinese, and has been called “the embodiment of what science fiction should be” by The Oxford Culture Review. Her debut novel, Galactic Hellcats, was longlisted by the British Science Fiction Association for 2021. By day she is a computer programmer in Cleveland, Ohio. Marie is also a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, SFPA. She was nominated for their Rhysling Award in 2015, 2021, and 2022, won second place in the Hessler Street Fair poetry contest, and once sold a rhyming poem to a magazine that had “no rhyming poetry” in their guidelines.
In November, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award winning author Mary Robinette Kowal is going to share one of her recorded writing classes with us and stop by live for a Q&A with our DreamCasters.
In January, John Goodwin, the President of Galaxy Press (publishers of the Writers of the Future Anthologies) will be our guest and will talk with you about what you’d like to know about the WoTF contest. So let us know, and we’ll organize the meeting accordingly.