Lakeside Circus

Short Fiction and Other Oddities

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Open Call for Submissions: Yolanda (Haiyan) Relief Anthology

Author and editor Dean Francis Alfar (whose work will appear in our first issue), is putting together a charity anthology to support the ongoing relief efforts in the Philippines. Says Dean:

Writer friends in the Philippines and around the world – I’m putting up a English-language digital anthology of short fiction to help those devastated by the recent super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). You do not have to be a Filipino to submit a story, only a writer who wants to help out the Philippines.

As a charity anthology, all proceeds will go directly toward one or more relief organizations. My chief concern is the timing (as these anthos do take time to put together) but a friend told me that it is important to have continued awareness and relief even after some time has passed, so let’s go for it.

So send in a short story to (please put “Yolanda Relief Anthology” in the subject line). Reprints welcome, originals more than welcome. No payment except for my thanks and the knowledge that your words will help others in some way. Deadline is December 1, 2013. Theme is open and free (to be honest, I wanted a themed antho on storms and hope but I’d rather get wonderful stories of a varied sort and get to helping as soon as we can).

I’d also like to crowdsource for a title – so let me know.

Thanks and hope to hear from you soon! Please help spread the word.

Once the anthology is out, we’ll let you know where you can buy it.


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Subscribe to Lakeside Circus now, and win free ebooks!


From now until November 15, anyone who subscribes to Year One of Lakeside Circus will be entered to win a complete ebook package from Dagan Books, including Cthulhurotica, IN SITU, FISH, Bibliotheca Fantastica, and Inedible Sins (in both epub and mobi formats).

This is on top of the discounted early subscriber rate – only $20 for a full year of short, strange, fiction! Each issue has nearly 50,000 words of all original stories and poems will be delivered to you every three months. No reprints. Not us. Not ever.

Best of all, for every 10 new subscriptions we get before November 15, we’ll give away another set of these ebooks. The more people who subscribe, the more chances you have to win – so please, help us get the word out.

To subscribe and be automatically entered to win, click on the button below:

Subscribe now!

Please note: if you have already subscribed, you are already entered in the giveaway. There’s nothing more for you to do but tell your friends!

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We are pleased to announce the lineup for Issue One of Lakeside Circus

Our inaugural issue launches November 29, 2013, and will include:

Ada Hoffmann, “The Button”
Alan Baxter, “All the Wealth in the World”
Andrew Gilstrap, “The Fire Dress” (Poem)
Andrew S. Williams, “Natalie”
Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, “Mrs. Stiltskin”
Bryan Thao Worra, “No Such Phi” (Poem)
C.S.E. Cooney, “Threnody” (Poem)
Cate Gardner, “Lightning Storm in an Umbrella”
Conor Powers-Smith, “The Day”
Dan Campbell, “siening for the sea” (Poem)
David Sklar, “Undone”
David Steffen, “Always There”
Dean Francis Alfar, “Jianghu”
Deborah Walker, “The Future Study of Your Life” (Poem)
Eric Rosenfield, “Judges’ Cave”
F.J. Bergmann, “Glossolithia”
Gitte Christensen, “Winds of Change”
Hermine Robinson, “Better Results Guaranteed”
H.L. Fullerton, “The Abbott’s Tussock”
Jamie Lackey, “For Love of the Stars”
Jill Corddry, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hand”
John P. Murphy, “Still Life, With Orange”
John Skylar, “Missed Connections”
Jon Arthur Kitson, “Live from the Past”
Lisa M. Bradley, “Hello Kitty, Hello Blood” (Poem)
Lucas Ahlsen, “The Boy From Below”
Malon Edwards, “In the Marrow”
Megan Arkenberg, “Notes to the Introduction”
Mercedes Yardley, “Charms For The Dark Season”
Michael Haynes, “Bedtime Stories”
Mike Allen, “The Lead Between the Panes”
Rachael Acks, “A World of Speculation”
Rich Larson, “Nobody Bets Against the Vat Dog”
Rob Butler, “Outrider”
Sarah Hendrix, “Ordinary Hero”
Sofia Samatar, “At the School for Literary Alchemy” (Poem)
Trevor Shikaze, “Like No Place”
Vajra Chandrasekera, “By Dawn’s Barbed Light”
Victor Fernando Ocampo, “How my Sister Leonora Brought Home a Wife”
Virginia M. Mohlere, “Peregrine – a review”

33 short stories and seven poems total almost 50,000 words of all-original fiction. Subscribe now, and get all of this delivered to your inbox, before it’s available online. Plus, we give you both the .ePub and .mobi (suitable for Kindle reader) formats at no extra charge.

Once the magazine is out, our subscription rate will go up. To get the discounted price now, click on the button below:

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Submissions Stats: September 2013

Counting submissions received between September 1, 2013, and September 30, 2013:

We received 100 submissions last month. Of those, we accepted 10 pieces, we rejected 90 others, have 0 under consideration, and 0 were withdrawn.

Short Stories

  • 43 submitted
  • 5 accepted
  • 38 rejected
  • 0 pending
  • 0 not yet read


  • 32 submitted
  • 3 accepted
  • 29 rejected
  • 0 pending
  • 0 not yet read


  • 25 submitted
  • 2 accepted
  • 23 rejected (2 for having multiple poems in the same sub)
  • 0 pending
  • 0 not yet read

You can find our submissions guidelines here.

Our current Duotrope stats (please note this covers ALL submissions, not just this month’s):

Accuracy We have received 66 reports within the past 12 months, not including pending responses (see below). The more responses reported, the more accurate the info.
Days Reported 0 min | 5.9 mean avg | 4.0 median | 48 max days (7.0 std dev)
Responses 98.49 %
Acceptances 16.67 % (10.1 avg. days per acceptance) !
Rejections 81.82 % (5.1 avg. days per rejection) | 14.81 % personal, 51.85 % form, 33.33 % unspecified
Rewrite Requests
Non-Responses 1.52 %
Never Responded
Author Withdrawals 1.52 % (0.0 avg. days per withdrawal by author)
Pending 3 responses are pending (0 min | 29.7 mean avg | 21.0 median | 68 max days waiting | 34.8 std dev)

(The 68 days waiting pending response must be an author that didn’t update their stats – the oldest “in process” sub in our slush is currently 3 days, and we’ve never held a piece longer than 6 weeks.)

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We’re experimenting with personal rejections

Any author knows that personal rejections–the kind where a market says, “We thought this part was weak and this part confused us and I don’t think you meant what we read of out this section over here…” instead of “Unfortunately, [Title] did not meet our needs at this time.”–are more useful and harder to come by. Many publishers default to form rejections because it’s not worth the hassle to deal with angry replies to the notes, and because beginning authors are more likely to submit unedited work to a market with personal rejections, in hopes of getting a free critique from a professional editor.*

We set out to be a different kind of market. One that publishes a length of fiction that doesn’t always find a home in other magazines. One that offers speculative fiction poetry (often a difficult sell) and a mix of genres in our stories, including literary SFF that can be too subtle, weird, or strange, to place elsewhere. We have a team of dedicated volunteers pouring through the slush pile so that we can keep our response time, for most submissions, to under a week. Why not handle our rejections differently, too?

So, we’ve begun to give revision notes when we send some rejections. Not all stories will have notes; sometimes the story is well-written enough but on a subject we’ve already seen fifteen times this week. Other times it’s poorly written and there’s no one place we can recommend a change. Still other stories might be fine, for another market, but didn’t interest us. But often we can point to a specific place or issue that needs work, and for now, we’ll share those thoughts with the authors.

Here’s the problem, though: for every author who takes the notes in stride, we have another who feels the need to reply to the rejection. Saying, “Thanks, I hadn’t thought of that!” is okay–it’s not necessary, but we don’t mind hearing from you. What we do mind is the authors who reply to argue with the rejection, who insult our staff, or misread the suggestions in order to complain that the fault lies in our reading instead of in their writing.

Too many of those, and we’ll go back to form rejections.

If you’re genuinely confused, then yes, send a simple, polite, email asking for clarification. If you don’t agree with our notes, ignore them. Why spend time telling us how terribly wrong we got your story and how offended you are at our taste? Clearly, we’re not the right market for your work if we didn’t understand it at all, so it’s better that we rejected the piece. And replying, repeatedly in some cases (one guy’s up to seven emails replying to same form rejection, all increasingly offensive), just to insult us? This is not going to help you make friends and influence people, dear writers, and us editors? We do share the names of the really bad cases with each other, when it could potentially save another editor from having to deal with the same abuse.

Your rant is not shouted into the void.

We hope that taking the time to share our notes will ultimately make for better stories and a better quality of submissions, both to us and to other markets. If we’re helping, we’re happy to keep doing so. If we come to believe that we’re not, we’ll stop. It’s up to you whether we keep this up.

* Do not do this. You may think it helps you, but all it does is make us think you’re not a very good writer, and we’ll be hesitant to give your work another chance in the future.

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Subscribe now to get 200,000 words of original fiction each year for only $20!

If you subscribe now, you can get our first year for only $20. Even better, if you purchase your subscription before November 15, our first issue will be delivered a week early. Before anyone else can buy the magazine or begin to read us online, you’ll have an entire quarter’s worth of short stories, flash fiction, and poetry, including work by:

Dean Francis Alfar, C.S.E. Cooney, Trevor Shikaze, Ada Hoffmann, Mike Allen, Alan Baxter, Lucas Ahlsen, Cate Gardner, Jill Corddry, Rachael Acks, Conor Powers-Smith, Andrew S. Williams, Lisa Bradley, John P. Murphy, Dan Campbell, Gitte Christensen, Megan Arkenberg, Rich Larson, Jon Arthur Kitson, David Sklar, Andrew Gilstrap, Sarah Hendrix, F.J. Bergmann, Virginia M. Mohlere, Michael Haynes, John Skylar, H.L. Fullerton, Sofia Samatar, Eric Rosenfield, Jamie Lackey, Hermine Robinson, Deborah Walker, Vajra Chandrasekera, David Steffen, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Bryan Thao Worra, and more!

The money we raise selling subscriptions and individual issues goes directly back to the cost of making the magazine: website hosting, art, and author payments. The editors and slush readers are all volunteers; we’re committed to not paying ourselves until we can pay our authors pro rates of at least 5 cents per word. Right now, we’re a semi-pro market (we pay 1 cent a word with a $10 minimum), but your subscription can help change that.

We’re offering 50,000 words of all-original flash fiction, short stories, and even poetry, in each issue, delivered to your inbox four times a year. Plus, we give you both the .ePub and .mobi (suitable for Kindle reader) formats at no extra charge.

Once the magazine is out, our subscription rate will go up to $30 a year. To get the discounted price now, click on the button below:

Subscribe now!

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Dear Authors, Please Read Our Guidelines Before Submitting

The hardest thing we have to do is reject authors because they didn’t read our guidelines. Yet, we see the same mistakes over and over again, even though to get to our submissions portal you have to scroll down through a page which lists what we don’t want to see in our slush.

Getting one thing wrong, if it’s a minor thing, isn’t the end of the world. For example, we’re not yet cracking down on people for including their biographical info (name, address, etc) on the submission itself, even though we ask you not to. And if you break a rule big enough to cause a rejection, we’re still happy to see a corrected submission from you. But why waste our time and yours?

The following are quotes from our guidelines and further notes on exactly what that means, so there’s no confusion:

“We want speculative fiction”: this means that your submission must have speculative fiction elements in it. Do no send us work which has no fantasy, science fiction, or horror in it at all. Example: a short story about watching a horror movie, which ends without anything fantastical or horrific happening to the audience, just some nostalgic introspection, would be rejected.

“Whether prose or poetry, we’re looking for the same kind of almost-weird fiction”: this means that the same rules about speculative elements apply regardless of if it’s a poem or a story. It must be fiction. It must have SF/F/H moments, even if they’re small and not central to the plot. That’s okay, but you have to give us something weird or it’s a rejection.

“don’t care for religious themes (which includes demons/the devil) as the sole plot of the story”: means that your story about a traditional Christian white male bearded Zeus-looking God reordering the planets to match his wallpaper isn’t a good fit for us, if that’s the whole of the plot. However, a story about a human who’s studying abstract math in order to find a gateway to Olympus might work for us, if the focus was on the person’s experiences and the god stuff was secondary.

“DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME/ADDRESS INFORMATION IN THE SUBMITTED FILE ITSELF.” We thought putting this in all caps would make it clear, but more than half of our submissions still come in with this data at the top of the page. Please take a moment to create a file which has that stripped off. While we may still read your story, you’re telling us that you didn’t bother to read our guidelines right up front, before we even get to your fiction.

“Top word count limit is firm.” This means that we do not accept stories of over 2500 words in the short category, or 1000 words for flash. Can you query us about a longer? Sure! (Though most likely the answer will be “no”.) But submitting without that means, again, you didn’t respect our guidelines. This is an auto-rejection.

No simultaneous submissions” means that if you submit work to us that you’re also, at the same, submitting elsewhere, and we find out, we’ll remember that you didn’t respect our guidelines. We work very hard to get a response to you as quickly as possible so you’re not waiting around for it, and you’ll never have to wait more than three months for a reply (it’s usually within a week, sometimes the same day) so there’s no reason to sim sub.

“Submit only one work of fiction at a time (though you can submit one to each category, we will only publish one piece by you in each issue).” Do not submit three flash pieces at the same time. You can submit a second flash piece after we’ve rejected the first. You can submit a short story and a poem at the same time, as long as you understand that if we take one we have to turn down the other. But if you submit two or more of the same type at once, we’ll reject them all and let you decide which one to resubmit.

“Do not include multiple works in the same submission.” For some reason, poets have the hardest time with this rule. We have gotten more multiple subs–submissions where more than one poem is included in the same file–from poetry than flash and shorts combined. In fact, I think half of the rejections we’ve sent for poetry so far have been for this reason. Send only one piece of fiction (story or poem) in each submission. If not, we’ll reject them all and let you decide which one to resubmit.

“We publish only original fiction; please, no reprints.” Previously published means that it appeared where other people could see it. This includes a magazine which paid you, a magazine which did not pay you, an anthology, a short story or poetry collection, your personal website, a website run by someone else, your school paper, or anywhere else that people could see it. There is one exception: private critique groups. If your story was online in a locked (via password) forum, blog post, or closed email list, where only certain people had access and it was clearly shared for critique purposes, we do not consider that previously published.

“Submissions should be in standard manuscript format.” It’s surprising that we get so many submissions which do not follow this basic standard. Double spaced, 1″ margins, traditional font (we like Times New Roman but Courier and Arial are fine), new paragraphs indented, word count listed at the top, title of story centered, don’t justify the text. You can use italics and bold where you mean them to be in your story. Note: poetry should not be double spaced because that makes it harder to tell where the stanza breaks are, but otherwise the format is the same.

Thank you.

Carrie Cuinn, Editor-In-Chief