Flash Faction Online Staff Member

I’m now officially a slush reader for Flash Fiction Online. I’ll be part of a team that collectively helps the editor judge the stories that come in. For anyone who hasn’t heard of them, they are an online monthly magazine which publishes several flash stories per issue. Flash stories are 1000 words or less, and let me tell you, it is not easy to get a full story into just 1k! Many of the staff has a preference for speculative fiction, but they accept submissions of any story under 1k, so literary, mainstream, romance, mystery, anything is fair game.

I think it’ll be a fun opportunity to sample the editorial side of submissions. The duties shouldn’t be too onerous. I’m at the 2nd level of the slush reading, so the worst stuff will be filtered out before it gets to me. And each submission is 1100 words or less, so even if I don’t like the story, it doesn’t take very long to determine. I’ve been through my first round of judging, and was pretty pleased with the experience. I’ve said for a long time that one of the keys to becoming a better writer is to read and critique other people’s work, so this will be a good way for me to do that. When I feel I have feedback that could be useful for the writer, I’ll try to send some back their way–personal feedback is so rare it’s so nice to receive when you get it.

And, for those of you aren’t familiar with FFO’s slush reading procedures, the stories are anonymous, with no author name attached to them. If I see a story come through and I already know the author, I must choose not to rate it, so you may want to think twice before telling me that.


Wanderings Magazine Reviews Shadows of the Emerald City

Book-COVERwebThe first review of Shadows of the Emerald City has been posted on Wanderings Magazine.ÂÂ Even better, my story, “The Utility of Love” is one of only four mentioned by name (in a good way).
–David 🙂


Fantasy Magazine is looking for slush readers

Fantasy Magazine is looking for slush readers. The job is unpaid, but would definitely carry some benefits. The main drawback is that Fantasy would be unable to publish your fiction if you ended up with the job. That’s a deal-breaker for me, because breaking a story into Fantasy Magazine is one of my major goals, but if you don’t write fiction or you are okay with cutting one magazine off your submissions list, you might want to give it a try!

Grand Opening Winner!

Congratulations to Keira Kroft of the great city of Chicago, Illinois is the winner of our Grand Opening contest. Keira, your free copy of Writers of the Future XXV will be in the mail soon!

For the rest of you, we’re already thinking about our next contest. And in the very near future, expect the interview with Jordan Lapp, winner of Writers of the Future–his story is included in WotF XXV.

Welcome! Grand Opening! Fabulous Prize!

Welcome to Diabolical Plots, a nonfiction zine focused on speculative fiction. Our goal is to provide interviews of industry professionals, reviews, con reports, editorials about writing, and anything else that may touch on the realm of science fiction, fantasy, or horror.

Check out our past interviews, with well-known subjects such as Cat Rambo, David Farland, and KD Wentworth. Stay tuned for new content on a regular basis. We have a full interview schedule out to early 2010, including Jordan Lapp, Charles Coleman Finlay and many others.

Also, please note the art at the top of the page, an original by professional illustrator Joey Jordan. That art was made just for Diabolical Plots and she did a splendid job of it if I do say so myself.  That image is part of a larger piece. You can see the whole thing if you click on the “Diabolical Art” tab.  If you want to see more of her work, check out her site. Also, she is the subject of the most recent interview, posted just before this announcement.

Have any ideas for interviewees? Drop us a line. Do you have a con report you’d like us to consider printing (or reprinting)? Just ask–we don’t make it to as many cons as we’d like and we may be able to fit your report in. Questions and comments? We’d love to hear them.

This site is owned and operated by Anthony Sullivan and myself (David Steffen), two writers in the early stages of our careers trying to claw our way up into the professional writing world. We’re pretty nice guys, at least after the first cup of coffee, so if you have questions or comments don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

Now I’ll move on to the important part: the free stuff! Complete a simple series of questions and we’ll enter you in a drawing for a free copy of Writers of the Future XXV, which will be mailed to the winner free of charge. Writers of the Future is one of the most prestigious venues for short story work, and I never cease to be amazed at the quality of the stories I find in it each and every year. You won’t be disappointed.

To enter the drawing, simply answer the following questions and email them directly to contestemail. The trivia questions are all right here on this site, so you should be able to find them all with just a bit of effort. Do NOT post the answers publicly or this will result in disqualification (and we’d have to make up new questions, which we’d rather not do). Relatives of Anthony and myself are not eligible. You have one week. You must send your answers by the end of the day on Sunday, September 6th.

Everyone who answers the questions correctly will be entered in the random drawing, probably through the sophisticated randomization algorithm I like to call “names in a hat”.

  • Name:
  • City, State, Country:
  • Where did you hear about Diabolical Plots:
  • What sort of content would you like to see on Diabolical Plots?
  • Is there any particular interview guest, movie, book, game, or con you would like to see featured?


  1. Who is the editor of the Shadows of the Emerald City anthology?
  2. What story in the August issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine did Anthony review?
  3. Who is the hero of “Sweeney Todd”, according to David?
  4. What does Anthony believe is the most effective way to improve your writing?
  5. What is Joey Jordan’s favorite art medium to work in?
  6. David Farland once received a story penned with what unlikely utensil?
  7. Name one of David’s fiction stories scheduled to be published.
  8. What forum or workshop is credited for earning Anthony both of his Honorable Mentions in the WotF contest?
  9. What are the three purposes listed for “beats” while writing dialog?
  10. Name one of Anthony’s hobbies, other than writing.

Upcoming interview: Joey Jordan

Coming soon: an interview with artist and illustrator Joey Jordan Her illustration work has been printed in Jim Baen’s Universe, and you can check her site, with art samples here. She’s a very talented artist who I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with on more than one occasion.

If you have any questions for her, drop us a line and we’ll try to work them in.

DS Sale #2–The Utility of Love

untitledMore good news, I received another acceptance this morning from J.W. Schnarr who is editing the Shadows of the Emerald City anthology, a Wizard of Oz horror anthology. When I heard the theme, I knew I HAD to submit, and I’m glad I did.

The story is titled “The Utility of Love”, and it’s a retelling of The Wizard of Oz, but the Tin Man is 2 stories tall and… isn’t such a nice guy.

A few stats in case people are interested:
Time since I started writing fiction: 2 years, 6 months
Time since I started writing short stories: 1 year, 2 months
Short story #: 19
Total responses before this sale: 128
Total rejections since last sale: —2
Time since last sale: —7 days
Total rejections of this story before this sale: 0
Total responses from Pseudopod before this sale: 0

Two new anthologies open for submissions

I caught wind of two new anthologies that look promising.

The Way of the Wizard, edited by J. J. Adams, will be an anthology full of stories about wizards. JJA has put together some neat anthologies in the past and this one looks to be just as interesting.

Match-that-Artwork Contest is an interesting contest. Submissions should be based on one of the supplied pieces of artwork. There are hundreds of images to choose from so there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to find something original to write. Submissions will be judged not only on the quality of the piece but also how well it matches the artwork.

Check the links for pay and submission guidelines.


David Sale #1: The Disconnected to Pseudopod

PseudobanI have some exciting news today–my first sale! Yay!
Pseudopod has decided to buy my story The Disconnected to publish as a podcast. It will be available for free download on their site. I’ll post a link when it’s available.

One nice thing about this sale is that it is audio rights ONLY. That means that I can still try to sell first printing rights to a professional print market.

A few stats in case people are interested:
Time since I started writing fiction: 2 years, 5 months
Time since I started writing short stories: 1 year, 1 month
Total rejections before this sale: 124
Total rejections since last sale: —(I’ll fill this in for future sales)
Time since last sale: —(I’ll fill this in for future sales)
Total rejections of this story before this sale: 8
Total responses from Pseudopod before this sale: 1