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Posts Tagged ‘Tower of Babel’

Thanks to author Steven Southard for stopping by and sharing the Biblical background for his story, “Ancient Spin.” Enjoy!

Alas, Babel by Steven Southard

Steve Southard photo ‘First of all, I’d like to thank Vonnie Winslow Crist for allowing me to post as a guest on her blog, and also for including my story, “Ancient Spin,” in Pole to Pole Publishing’s anthology Hides the Dark Tower which she co-edited with Kelly A. Harmon.

“Ancient Spin” takes place in the land of Shinar near the site of the Tower of Babel, that lofty and legendary edifice whose story comes to us from Genesis. In the Biblical version, God sees the tower and disapproves of mankind speaking a single tongue. God scatters people across the Earth and confuses human languages. In some accounts, God also destroys “‘the tower.

Perhaps it’s all true, perhaps not. But if the Babel story is just a tale, then what is the truth? Was there an actual tower? What was it like and what happened to it? The people of Mesopotamia certainly constructed tall structures, many taking the tiered form of ziggurats. (Ziggurat—what a fun word!)

Some accounts state that Babel was built of fired brick, cemented with clay. At some point the people of the region shifted from sunbaked bricks to the sturdier fired brick. Even so, such buildings had to be built with much shallower angles (sloped like a pyramid) than our modern, vertical skyscrapers constructed of steel I-beams.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001] Living in a flat plain, the people of the time must have considered these towers truly imposing. But even buildings constructed from fired brick would not have endured forever, and might have collapsed suddenly. In “Ancient Spin,” that’s the backstory. The Tower of Babel has just fallen and my main character is dealing with the disaster’s aftermath.

The story is very short, and if I’m not careful, this blog post could surpass the length of the tale I’m describing. You’ll meet only two characters—Eullil, and his brother, Ludarat. The name Eullil is my own corruption of the Sumerian words for “may the temple last into distant days.” Likewise, Ludarat is my twisting of “eternal man.”

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the stories in Pole to Pole Publishing’s new anthology, Hides the Dark Tower. It’s my hope you’ll buy it and enjoy “Ancient Spin.” If you do, and you end up craving more of my stories like:

“Ripper’s Ring,” http://www.gypsyshadow.com/StevenSouthard.html#Ripper

“Time’s Deformèd Hand,” http://www.gypsyshadow.com/StevenSouthard.html#TimesHand

or “The Cometeers,” http://www.gypsyshadow.com/StevenSouthard.html#Cometeers

Visit me on Twitter, on Facebook, and my website where I sign each entry as— Poseidon’s Scribe’

About the suthor: Steven R. Southard’s short stories stack up in ten different anthologies including Dead Bait, Quest for Atlantis, and Avast, Ye Airships! He’s the tall and looming author of the What Man Hath Wrought series, with thirteen stories at last count. An engineer and former submariner, Steve takes readers to new heights with engaging characters in distant places and varied historical periods. He builds stories in the genres of steampunk, clockpunk, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Thanks again to Stephen Southard for his guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, blogs from me, and more. Have a well-constructed day! – Vonnie

 

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       In two writing groups (to which I belong),  I discovered lots of Facebook and email chatter asking what an editor really wants in submissions for a themed anthology. I think the anthology which began this discussion is one I’m currently editing (along with another writer-editor). So I’m taking this opportunity to talk about what editors want (at least the editors of projects I’ve worked on).
     When editors announce the guidelines for a themed anthology, we list exactly what we were looking for. No games. No tricks. It’s a themed anthology, so address the theme!
     Using the themed anthology I’m currently selecting stories for as an example: The editors of Hides the Dark Tower have rejected dozens of marvelous stories that failed to include a tower or tower-like structure. That said, we’ve taken stories in which authors found a creative take on the theme (a lighthouse and towering circus structure for example). The first images which pop into your mind (Tower of Babel, Rapunzel, a castle tower, etc.) also popped into the minds of other writers. Perhaps your take on those quick-to-pop-into-the-head ideas is so unique and marvelous that no one else has submitted something similar – but be assured we’ve received many stories on Babel, Rapunzel, and castles.
     As to length, the story needs to be the length necessary to tell the tale. If the story fulfills its mission in 500-words or 5,000-words or anything in between, then it’s the correct length. Many writers have ignored the 5,000-word limit set for Hides the Dark Tower. The other editor and I will usually read the first 2 pages, then look at the last page (or 2). If the story seems compelling, we’ll ask a writer to shorten the length and re-submit. Some of those re-submits have been accepted, some have not. But if the over-5,000-word tale doesn’t “grab” us in those few pages – it is rejected without a complete read.
     Though it sounds terrible, the reality is editors are looking for not only reasons to accept your story (professional presentation, thematically appropriate, correct word length, good writing, unique and interesting story, etc.), but also reasons to reject the story (weird font, off theme, too long or short, poor writing, inconsistent point of view, over-used ideas, 2-dimensional characters, etc.)
     Give your story the best chance possible by eliminating the reasons for an editor to reject it! Read the guidelines for the anthology or magazine (believe me, a science-fiction magazine doesn’t want to see a fantasy story, a paranormal romance magazine doesn’t want to read a slasher tale, etc.) – so magazines often have a thematic vibe, too. Then, just follow directions.
     Lastly, write a fabulous story!
     One other thing about themed anthologies: Themed anthos are great writing prompts! I’ve found in my own writing, trying to create a unique take on a theme has often pushed me to write a story which I might otherwise not have written. Many of those stories don’t make it into the anthology which was the impetus for the tale (they’re often completed and polished after the deadline). But most of them have made it into another anthology or speculative magazine.
     Best of luck to any of you wading into the world of anthologies, whether as a writer or an editor (or maybe both). And for you readers, anthologies are one of the best ways to read the kind of stories you enjoy while being introduced to new writers.
     Want to show some love for my blog? Visit my Amazon page and buy one of my books.
     Interested in learning more about Pole to Pole Publishing or Hides the Dark Tower?
     Happy reading and writing!

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