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An anthology of unclassifiables – lyrical, surreal, magical, experimental pieces that straddle the border between poetry and prose
233 backers pledged $9,145 to help bring this project to life.

Happy New Year - and an update on the anthology!

Posted by Stone Bird Press (Creator)

Dear AoE backers,

Wishing you all a blessed, joyful year! Much has happened with An Alphabet of Embers behind the scenes, all of it excellent. In this update, you will hear about our work on the slush, see a partial ToC, and get some more news about how the work on the project is progressing!

Slush. Slush has been, for the lack of a better word, epic. When I was Kickstarting, I expected to receive 200-300 stories for the project, plus a few solicited ones. The final count for the anthology submissions during the reading period was 887 stories (not counting the solicited stories). That is a staggering amount of tales, and I was committed to responding to everyone before the end of October. It was no easy task - especially as I am a rereader, so shortlisted/maybe stories got more than one read - and I wanted to send out as many personal rejections as I possibly could. Bogi Takács joined me in reading the slush, which made the work easier - thank you, Bogi!

We were amazed and heartened by the quality of the submissions, as well as by their diversity. Many writers wrote specifically for the call. There were many outstanding submissions, and choosing between them was hard; I had to let go of many stories that were excellent, but did not quite fit the feel of the book. After months of reading and rereading, I selected stories that I felt were the most unusual, lyrical, odd, surreal, gripping - that had that elusive quality that I came to think of as An Alphabet of Embers feel.

I made all decisions on the slush with only a slight delay, so that folks who submitted their work during the reading period got responses back by the beginning of November. In November and December I worked on invited submissions, selecting reprints, sending edits to authors, and finalizing the ToC.

Reading for reprints proved to be somewhat frustrating. Though I read widely, I did not end up buying many reprints - I wanted a specific feel, and had found many more fitting stories in the slush. In the end, most stories in the book are originals.

I am also very happy to report that quite a few authors made their first sales, or their first professional sales, to AoE. These authors come from all over the world, and from a variety of backgrounds. I feel that this is a unique collection which will amaze and inspire its readers.

The final count of accepted stories for AoE is 27. Of these, I got 21 contracts back, and so I can share the partial ToC with you. Once I have the contracts back, I will be able to make an additional update, as well as a public announcement.

An Alphabet of Embers, partial ToC

  • JY Yang, "Transfers to Connecting Flights"
  • Sara Norja, "The City Beneath the Sea"
  • Nin Harris, "Moult"
  • Mari Ness, "Mistletoe and Copper"
  • Nisi Shawl, "An Awfully Big Adventure"
  • Celeste Rita Baker, "Single Entry" (reprint)
  • Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, "And Now You Are Alone Among the Stars"
  • Ching-in Chen, "One Testimony (m. Lao)"
  • Nolan Liebert, "The Swing, OR How to Ricochet according to Sylvia Plath"
  • Shweta Narayan, "The River's Children" (reprint)
  • Ian Muneshwar, "Telomerase"
  • Sheree Renée Thomas, "Treesong"
  • Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, "Five Lessons in the Fattening Room"
  • Tlotlo Tsamaase, "Sebeteledi holds the dead"
  • Sonya Taaffe, "Exorcisms" (reprint)
  • Emily Jiang, "The Binding of Ming-Tian" (reprint)
  • Mina Li, "Dreaming Keys"
  • Arkady Martine, "Ekphrasis"
  • Vajra Chandrasekera, "Rhizomatic Diplomacy"
  • Amal El-Mohtar, "Wing" (reprint)
  • M Sereno, "Only Revolutions"

There is a very good mix of genres in the lineup - from science fiction to mythic work to fantasy to magical realism to "what is this??" - but all of them have that feel, that aesthetic, that I was so keen on finding. As you can see, this is a very diverse, international lineup. I am very proud of the authors, and of all the submitters - folks did a terrific job!

I have also hired an illustrator for An Alphabet of Embers - M Sereno, who emerged on the scene this year with brilliant poetry and art. You can see it here: and also at her Patreon: She is a wonderful calligrapher, and has committed to providing 7-8 detailed inked illustrations for the project. This is very exciting - all the more exciting that she has also made her first fiction sale to AoE, "Only Revolutions."

Serendipities continue: Amal El-Mohtar, who will be narrating the audiobook, has a reprinted story in AoE - "Wing," one of my favorite surreal stories from Strange Horizons.

In terms of "Spelling the Hours," the poetry chapbook, there has been less progress than I hoped. I accepted some excellent poems, but I simply did not get as many submissions from solicited poets as I hoped. This is an important lesson for me as an editor: I work best with open calls, and a mix of invited submissions and slush. Therefore, I will very soon be announcing an additional open period for Spelling the Hours. I am committed to bringing out the best chapbook possible.

On the other hand, work on the Joke issue of Stone Telling is progressing very well. The reading period for that has been extended till January 31, 2015, and we would love to see many more funny ridiculous poems to choose from - so if you feel like writing silly stuff for us, please check out the call for submissions!

I can't believe that I am saying this, but we really do NOT have enough funny poems about mermaids. This is certain to be the only time Stone Telling will encourage mermaid poetry :) This is it for now - with more to come, hopefully!!

Thank you all very much for your support of the project, and best wishes for a wonderful 2015!


Tasha Turner and Shana DuBois like this update.


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    1. Tasha Turner

      All sounds exciting and like your learning a lot. Wow on number of submissions. Great to know new authors are getting published thanks to you and this project. Artwork and audio look & sound fantastic.

      May you have a fantastic 2015. I look forward to seeing and promoting these projects.