Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mirror Shards, Vol 2

  • Antho: Mirror Shards, Vol 2
  • Editor(s): Thomas K. Carpenter
  • Pay Rate: 2¢ to 5¢ per word
  • Response Time: usually less than one week
  • Reading Period: until May 5th
  • Description: Augmented reality holds the promise of great social change in both the near and far-flung futures. It’s also a wonderful medium for storytelling as information and graphics overlain eye-screens challenges the doors of perception and creates mixed-reality worlds to work and play. The stories can be set in any place, time, or genre, as long as the story cannot exist bereft of augmented reality. Feel free to explore the edges of the technology.
  • Submission Guidelines:
NOTE: Author D.L. Snell conducted the following interview to give writers a better idea of what the editors of this specific market are seeking; however, most editors are open to ideas outside of the preferences discussed here, as long as they fit the basic submission guidelines.

1) What authors do you enjoy, and why does their writing captivate you?
This could be a long list, but I’ll try to keep it to my major influences: George RR Martin, Gene Wolfe, Kris Rusch, William Gibson, Stephen King, Suzanne Collins, Cory Doctorow, Scott Westerfeld, Neal Stephenson.

As you can see, I’m all over the map and I was sticking mostly to the speculative fiction genres. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what captivates me, but I would say great characters and interesting stories. Martin hits my reader cookies so completely that I will read anything of his, and usually multiple times as I study how he works his craft. He’s a master.

And while I have a few prose-heavy writers on that list, like Wolfe and Gibson, it’s their storytelling that interests me, not their literary stylings. In fact, what usually disappoints me about their stories is I have a hard time getting friends and family to read their works because they’re rather imposing on the prose. It’s not that I don’t love what they’re doing, I do, it’s more that the average reader has a hard time connecting to them.

2) What are your favorite genres? Which genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
This is by its nature a science fiction theme, but other genres can be mixed freely.  Last year's Volume One was heavy on the near-future stories.  I'm hoping writers push a little further out on the spectrum and take chances with their writing. 

3) What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
I like big, bold storytelling. The type of stories I like show up regularly in the Writers of the Future contest.  So if you're wanting to stand out from the hundreds of similar slush stories I'll see, take me to an exotic location and tell me a story I've never heard before. 

4) Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
That’s a hard one to answer. The pacing depends on the story being told. Pacing is like breathing, there’s purpose to the hesitation between the in-breath and the out. I would caution against all slow pacing, but unless there’s a stylistic reason, blazing through the story at mach ten without giving the reader a breath can be overwhelming.

5) What types of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
I have a sweet spot for flawed, but powerful characters.  Lisbeth Salander from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo comes to mind first. Just about any character in Martin’s Game of Thrones. The Gunslinger and Wolfe’s Severion are other examples.

6) Is there a specific tone you’d like to set in your publication? What kind of voices grab you and keep you enthralled? Any examples?
Voice works when it works? I’ve been studying a lot of short fiction lately (even more than I usually do), and I’ve seen a lot of differing voice styles work. There has to be some anchor to the reader, but if you can do that and hold interest, then it’ll come together.

7) What is your policy for vulgarity, violence, and sexual content? Any taboos?
No taboos as long as it’s for the story’s sake. The further away you get from the norm, the harder it is to justify. And shocking for the sake of shocking won’t get far.

8) What kind of themes are you seeking most in submissions to this market? In general, what themes interest you?
Augmented reality can be used in a diverse enough way that any theme can be explored as long as it involves the human condition.

9) Overall, do you prefer downbeat or upbeat endings?
Prefer upbeat, but downbeat is acceptable as long as it serves the denouement.  A tragically beautiful ending is difficult, but powerful when it's pulled off. 

10) Any last advice for submitters to this market? Any critical do’s or do not’s?
Understand what augmented reality (AR) is all about. Be creative and push the boundaries. Don’t just slap AR into a current story and send it in. That tactic is extremely obvious. But also, don’t let the story just be about the technology. We have to be invested in the character before we can care about how technology changes us. Fiction provides understanding into the human condition and science fiction just provides a unique lens.  Flip the lens to AR, turn it to eleven and send in your best stories.

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D.L. SNELL is an acclaimed novelist from the Pacific Northwest. Anthologies include Pocket Books’ Blood Lite series, edited by best-selling author Kevin J. Anderson. Snell’s first novel, Roses of Blood on Barbwire Vines, also attained critical acclaim from popular novelists such as New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry. Visit his website at

To reprint this article, please contact D.L. Snell.

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