The biggest challenge of being self-published is the lack of visibility and free promotion opportunities. So why not try your hand with small lit magazines? Here’s six that have just opened their submission slots!
# 1: QUERENCIA PRESS | Deadline 15th August 2022
Submission Type: Chapbooks, full length manuscripts as well as single pieces
Desa Kincaid Bounty Hunter is the first volume of a trilogy by American indie author R.S. Penney.
The novel is set in an alternate world, characterised by a western-like landscape of dusty, remote villages and towns, where people go about their business and tend to beware of strangers. As the title suggests, it tells the story of bounty hunter Desa Kincaid, a fearless, lesbian heroine from the remote land of Aladar. She has spent the last ten years hunting down super-villain Bendarian, a fellow countryman guilty of despicable crimes against harmless people, in an attempt to dominate and unleash immense “supernatural” powers, to be used to his advantage.
However, Desa is no ordinary bounty hunter, as she’s endowed with a magic power known as Field Binding, the ability to give objects the power to absorb and release different types of energy (heat, light, kinetic energy), a skill she’s developed back home, where this technology (not witchcraft) is very well guarded and not shared with the outside world.
While she is a bit of a loner and usually prefers to hunt on her own – except for her mighty horse Midnight who never leaves her side – she, mostly unwillingly, picks up a diverse group of companions along her quest: the young, inexperienced Tommy, who soon becomes her student, fellow field binders Marcus and Miri, and the beautifully mysterious clairvoyant Adele.
Despite a slow start, the book soon turns into an action-packed pursuit, filled with unexpected twists and turns and epic fights, as well as hints of romance and disappointing betrayals. What I found particularly refreshing was the presence of such a strong female lead character, tough and determined, but also tender and insecure, so human and so extraordinarily goddess-like at the same time.
R.S. Penney is an outstanding writer, his ability to mix many different genres (dystopian, science fiction, fantasy, romance and western) in a single book is second to none. His detailed yet dynamic descriptions are excellent, drawing the reader right in the middle of the action and never falling into exposition, with well written and compelling dialogues.
The only scenes I found particularly challenging to process are the lengthy battles: while they constitute a core element of the narration, they are particularly complex, too detail-rich and sometimes lacking rhythm, making it hard to keep up with the picture in one’s head, especially for who’s fairy new to the genre.
Overall, this is a great read suitable to any audience – no need to be a fantasy aficionado. If you are not a big fan of cliff-hangers though, I suggest you purchase – at least – two volumes of the saga at the same time, as you’ll be left wanting more when Book One ends.
Rich Penney grew up in Stoney Creek, Southern Ontario.
His love of science-fiction and fantasy started with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. His first novel Symbiosis, part of the Justice Keepers Saga (14 volumes, available on LINK) was published in 2015.
Penney is a global environmental sustainability activist and a proponent of social justice and equality. He has given talks in Toronto, Athens and Brisbane on these topics (source: next chapter.pub).
In his Amazon profile, Rich says about his writing: “I’ve always been an advocate of diversity in fiction. I remember noting, at the age of sixteen, that one big problem in epic fantasy is the fact that all the characters are white. So I try to create a cast populated by people of all genders, ethnicities and orientations. If you like genre bending stuff like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you’ll love my books.”
The award-winning, edge of your seat debut novel by Kate Castle
Ever wished you could leave everything behind and move to a tropical island in the middle of a distant ocean? What you are about to read may make you change your mind.
When Ellery Holmes left her family farm behind in the pursuit of a better future, little did she know her life would change forever.
Defined as “a cross between Lord of the Flies and Mean Girls”, Girl Island tells the story of 17 years old Ellery who, following the death of her father, is awarded a scholarship to a renowned private school thanks to her impressive achievements in the heptathlon. Before she knows it, she is on her way to the Maldives to attend a sports camp. Travelling with her, a diverse group of seven teenagers she’s never met before, except for her ex best friend, who she’s tied to by a painful past.
While travelling, the group is forced to make a crash landing into the ocean and end up on a small, uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere. The two boys in the pack soon depart to explore a nearby island in the hope to get help, leaving six girls and their seriously ill teacher to fight for survival. Already rocky relationships quickly turn sour as food and water are hard to come by, and fire becomes the most precious resource to survive.
As a consequence, two factions form, and a nasty, deadly battle commences. Who will be victorious? And most importantly: will the group ever be able to leave the island?
Girl Island is a real page turner. Castle shows a great ability to describe the island itself and the numerous challenges of life in the wild, by creating a vivid and compelling narration that makes you think you are on those sandy beaches, watching the story as it unfolds.
As unrealistic as circumstances and setting may seem – the initial chapters of the book may in fact cause you to raise an eyebrow – Kate Castle gradually draws you in more and more, turning what could be initially thought of as a “battle royale for survival” novel into a coming of age one.
Ellery Holmes is, in fact, an impressive, memorable main character, a strong-minded girl that despite her young age and the challenges life has already thrown at her, manages to stay true to herself, overcome the initial insecurity and self-doubt typical of a teenager and puts up a relentless fight to lead and protect her pack. There are losses along the way, of course, but this experience will make her even stronger and end up changing her life forever, as she discovers who she really is.
Whilst some elements of the narration seem a bit far-fetched – such as two teenagers successfully landing a crashing plane and ensuring everyone survives – they all make sense in the economy of the story. Far-fetched and unrealistic don’t matter as much after all: the struggle is real. Take the eight teenagers off the island and throw them into a real-life setting, a school for example. They would be facing the same insecurities, preconceptions and even peer cruelty and bullying (unless they are on the right side of the fence, i.e. “popular”).
While I don’t think Castle intentionally set out to criticise a social system that sometimes puts too much pressure on young people to fit in and be liked, Girl Island takes you back to when you were younger and makes you think about all those times you just wished to be like anybody else. Except you were not. This is the power of Castle’s storytelling.
About Kate Castle
Kate Castle is the author of the Amazon.com bestselling novella ‘Born of the Sea’ (available on Amazon). Her debut novel Girl Island – a contemporary YA adventure – was published in December 2021 and has won two awards at this year’s Goldie Awards (Best Debut Novel & Best Young Adult Fiction).
Kate’s books fall into the Young Adult and New Adult adventure and romance categories. Kate is passionate about representing young queer females in literature and writes about fierce, independent young women – the kind of characters she wished she could have read more about growing up (source: amazon.co.uk).