Welcome to the second installment of Literally Lyndsey! For writing news, sub calls, updates, book and story recommendations, submission calls, folklore facts and more! This is a slightly longer newsletter than normal as I’ve included some end of year reflections and goals for 2023 at the end! Thank you again for subscribing and for your support - I hope you're having a lovely festive period!
Some exciting news to share this month - I have a wee book coming out in Spring 2023 in e-book and paperback with the fantastic Shortwave Publishing! 'Have You Decided on Your Question' is a dark science fiction novelette set in Edinburgh about the dangers of a hyper-realistic virtual reality technology. Here's the Publishers Marketplace (!) announcement:
Look out for the cover reveal and pre-orders in the New Year!
I also have a dark SF story out with Shortwave in their OBSOLESCENCE anthology in May 2023, so it's an exciting year for exploring the dark sides of tech!
In other news:
My story ‘Patchwork Girls’ published in Dark Matter Magazine can now be read free online here. It's one of my favourite stories published in 2022 (maybe ever!) so I'd love if folks wanted to read it. It's another dark SF looking at the future of Hollywood.
I have two stories forthcoming in January – a dystopian romance with Seize the Press and a Scottish folklore horror with Maul Magazine. I’ll share details/links in my next newsletter.
I had a micro fiction accepted by Janus Literary which will be published in spring 2023 – it’s a strange wee botanical body horror tale and delighted to have had a piece accepted by Janus on my sixth attempt!
A Month in the Castle
As I mentioned in the last newsletter, I’ve spent the last month writing in a castle as a Fellow at the Hawthornden Castle Literary retreat. It’s been an amazing month to find the headspace to work on new things, as well as get away from the stress of everyday things. The castle is an inspiring setting, nestled on a cliff overlooking river and woodlands, with grand rooms, twisting staircases, many bookcases and a beautiful library, and caves (full of spiders…) So it’s maybe no surprise the main things I’ve been working on have been a gothic horror novella and compiling my dark Scottish folklore collection. It’s been a wee bit cold the final couple of weeks as the frost and snow set in (ice on the inside my bedroom window!) but that has added to the setting.
One of the great things about the retreat is the time and space you’re given to sit in the quiet and just write, with everything else – meals etc. – organised. Over the four weeks, I wrote about 45k new words, including finishing the first draft of the novella, finishing the final stories for and compiling the short story collection, and writing two new short stories, four flashes, and finishing three stories in progress (including the novelette which I then sold!) I’m feeling really positive with the progress, grateful to Hawthornden for the experience, and excited to start sending some of the new projects out in the New Year. The retreat also came at the perfect time for personal life things, so it’s been a good reset overall. If you’re an author then do apply! Applications close annually every June, but best to plan ahead as you need to request/send applications in by post.
Myriad Zine Out now!
I’ve been guest-editing Issue Three of Hexagon Magazine’s MYRIAD Zine with the theme of ‘Moonrise’ and I’m delighted that it came out in December. The beautiful cover below is designed by Jenni Coutts, with stories within by Tania Chen, H.L Fullerton, Sam Horton, Marisca Pichette, and R.L. Summerling. These are five tales looking at what a lunar-inspired future might hold, including lunarpunk, lighthouses, mythology, rabbits, robots, bioluminescence, and faraway worlds! You can now read it via Hexagon’s Patreon from $1! I really enjoyed editing and compiling an issue and hope I can do more projects like this in future.
What I've Been Reading
I read quite a bit more than usual during the castle stay (including a fair few reference and research books) so I’ve kept to some highlights here!
Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree – I ADORED this, and I’m so glad it’s one of those books that really lived up to the hype. Wholesome, fun, cosy, beautifully written, brilliant cast of characters, and I’ve been craving bean water and cinnamon rolls at Legends & Lattes café ever since.
Based on a True Story by Thomas Stewart – This poetry pamphlet of poems inspired by movies and TV is a fantastic read – I was fortunate enough to join Thomas this month at Lovecrumbs Readings where he read a selection of these poems. After, I read the whole pamphlet in one sitting! Do check it out of you’re a fan of poetry and pop culture.
Rental Heart by Kirsty Logan – I’ve always loved Kirsty Logan’s writing, though I’d not read this early collection before. It didn’t disappoint! A mix of the weird, surreal, haunting, and wonderful in a lovely and varied short collection.
The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights – I’m still working my way through this collection of ghostly tales by some of my favourite authors (Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Natasha Pulley, Laura Purcell, and more), but it’s the perfect read for Winter, and especially while I was in the castle (though one of the stories did give me a chess-filled nightmare!)
Some stories/poems I’ve read and enjoyed recently:
‘Whole’ by Somto Ihezue in Cossmass Infinities – “In the forests of the Jardim Tunduru, the scent of jasmines wafting on a breeze, wrapping the air in a sweetness.”
‘The Summer Rental’ by Lizzy O’Riordan in Northern Gravy – I’ve not had a chance to read the whole issue yet, but it never disappoints – definitely recommend checking the magazine out!
‘I am a Little Hotel’ a poem in Uncanny Magazine by Ai Jiang
‘Astronomy 101: Introduction To Ethical Star Cartography’ by Tania Chen in Fast Flesh Literary Journal – “The first thing is to forget everything they taught you about stars.”
‘Midnight Frequences’ by Pedro Iniguez in Shortwave Magazine – dark, weird, pacy + maggots…
‘M1-KL’ by Catherine McCarthy in Dark Matter Magazine – “Light penetrates the thin membrane of skin that covers my eyes, rousing me from a deep state of unconsciousness."
‘Our Quiet Guests’ by Thomas Ha in 3LBE – “Never cross Our Quiet Guests.”
‘Bone Crush’ by R.L Summerling in Seize the Press.“The first time you fall in love, you are hiding in the catacombs.”
Dark Matter Magazine General Subs (dark SF/Horror) – January 1st-January 15th
Dark Matter Presents Monster Lairs – open from January 1st-January 30th.
Apex Magazine’s monthly flash fiction contest theme is “Inked” – open until end of December.
Solar Flare: Solarpunk stories from Zombies Need Brains LLC – until December 31st 2022.
Augur Magazine general submissions open until January 7th.
Literally Dead – Mentioned in my last newsletter, but Christmas-themed hauntings still open until January 21st
Gargantua from AAN Press - stories of massive engineering megastructures that reshape stella systems in exactly 1,000 words, open until 31st January
Ram Eye Press seeking stories relating to "rituals" theme, throughout January
Scottish Folklore of the Month
While working on my short story collection on the retreat I learned about some Shetland lore that was equal parts dark and strange that I just had to write about it:
The Frittening/The Boneless is a story from a Shetland folk tale where a pale shapeless sea blob was said to have washed up on shore to terrorise the islanders. It would throw itself against windows at night, bring misfortune, steal children, and if you looked too long at it you might lose your mind.
A snippet from the fantasy story that it inspired: “Sorley was on his way to bed when he heard the thump against his back window. He looked to the glass, expecting to see a crack in it, but there was no mark. He peered outside into the gloaming, looking for any sign of a bird on the ground below, but there was only a slight puddle underneath the window, even though it hadn’t been raining since the morning. Frowning, he saluted to the night, worried about birds in windows, dark skies, and omens.”
End of Year Reflections and Looking Ahead to 2023
Okay, here comes the slightly self-indulgent part of the newsletter where I reflect and celebrate some 2022 wins, so feel free to stop reading here – I’ve seen a lot of these 2022 threads on Twitter, and it’s been great to hear about everyone’s progress and celebrate that, though they have in some cases given me some slight comparanoia (term first heard from a friend which I’m definitely guilty of)!
*Okay, you're still with me? Deep breath*
So…2022 – when I first looked back it does feel a little bit like I’ve failed in my goal of selling a full-length novel. I’ve had two projects out with publishers (one pretty recently so cue anxious email-watching) and still haven’t got *the* news. I’ve now been “on sub” for 2.5 years without a break, and I’d be lying if I said it was anything but stressful and agonising at times. But, saying that I have really delved into short fiction writing this year, something I hugely enjoy, so I’m really proud of my progress here in particular.
My 2022 highlights:
Published 22 stories (18 originals and 4 reprints) – I made a collage below of the covers from those in print.
10 new stories/flash forthcoming in 2023
First Poem published
First pro sale (8 by end of year) – this was one of my end of 2021 goals I set so very happy with that!
First anthology invite (tba in Jan!)
Finished a novel and went on sub
Finished and sold novelette to Shortwave Publishing, my first single-author publication
Drafted a new novella and sold another project (tba)
Finalist for a British Fantasy Award and 2nd Place in BFS Short Story Competition
Awarded Hawthornden Fellowship and LOHF Writers Grant
Attended first con and met lots of Twitter/ESFF writer pals who were as lovely in real life
Read at Edinburgh Fringe BBC Event, Cymera Fest and Lovecrumbs Readings
Hosted a Women in Sci Fi event for Shoreline of Infinity Magazine
Edited Ghostlore, a two-part audio fiction anthology meaning I got to work with 21 fantastic authors and Chris at the Alternative Stories and Fake Realities podcast again
Guest-edited my first zine, Moonrise (details above!)
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind of a year and I remain extremely grateful to all my writer friends who have supported and motivated me to keep going along the way!
Some Goals for 2023
Finish and sub my Dark Scottish folklore short story collection
Edit and sub my gothic horror novella (some vibe graphics above)
Plan and start writing a new book (a new space mystery)
Sell a story to one of my top ten short fiction “dream markets” (these are mostly pro SFFH ones that I’ve not quite broken into yet! I actually made a dream market bingo in August, maybe I’ll feel brave enough to share in a future newsletter.)
An audio project – I love working in audio so hopefully I’ll get to do something in 2023!
More editing projects
Be kinder to self with writing progress!
And of course I have to mention/manifest the top writing dream: sell a novel!
If you got this far then thank you for reading and joining along with my writing musings! Happy New Year and see you in 2023!