September update

September always feels like fall, even if autumn doesn't officially start for another 3 weeks. Cooler weather, more traffic as people head back to school. Donald and Kristin don't have children and aren't students, so we're less affected by the academic calendar than many others are; but Boston is such a university town that that rhythm is always in the background. Though the fact that the summer months are the only time when it's reliably hot here may also play a role!

We're still hard at work reading the 300+ stories we received during the July submission window, and have some new thoughts on what we're looking for, and what we're not, that authors may find helpful. (These are based on what we're seeing in stories sent to us, and on what Kristin has been seeing in stories that have appeared recently in other magazines.)

Despite everything we're about to say, if you've written a story that you think might possibly be a good fit, even if it does several of the things we suggest not doing--by all means, send it to us. (Um, once we're open to submissions again. That will be January.) The worst that can happen is that we'll say no. We're both authors ourselves, and we don't typically write stories for particular fiction markets. We write the story we want to tell, and then try to figure out who might possibly want to publish it. Feel free to do the same!

But, if you are thinking of writing something with the intent of submitting it to us, or if you have more than one story that might fit and are trying to decide which to try us with, here are some tips that might help your submission to stand out from the crowd.

Things That Won't Help
  • The only Christian content is that a character mentions praying or attending church; or says something negative about Christianity.
  • Christianity is presented as uniquely bad among religions; but without any rationale as to why this might be so, it's just (apparently) assumed.
  • You haven't done your research. This could be a whole blog post. Don't write a story about missionaries if you've never been one, don't have any friends or immediate family members who are missionaries, and have never read anything that a missionary has written about their experience. Especially if your intent is to present the entire concept of being a missionary in a critical or negative light. Or, if your protagonist is a Christian whose faith plays a significant role, make sure you know which denomination they are, and that you have some understanding of how it differs from others (whether the story mentions it or not).
  • Your story is about some Big Theological Question. Why are there evil and suffering in the world? Do the ends justify the means? Is Jesus really God? Bonus points (toward not getting accepted) if the story consists of two people debating the question, and they stay in the same room for the duration. We're not suggesting that your story can't touch on these questions; but if they're the main focus, you probably aren't saying anything we haven't already heard (multiple times, during this submission period alone).
  • Someone in the story visits Hell.
  • Christians in your story always act the way evangelical Christians think they ought to.
  • A Christian character uses the word "abomination".
  • All the progressive characters, or all the conservative characters, are morally deficient. (One of us is a liberal and the other is a conservative, so we're looking for a little more nuance than that.)
Things That Will Improve Your Chances
  • The protagonist is not a Catholic priest.  
  • Sympathetic villains, and stories told from the villain's point of view.
  • Stories with non-Western settings and diverse characters. Interpret this as you will; but everything we said above on writing about missionaries applies here, too.
  • Horror (we don't get as much of it as we'd like).
  • Humor (we don't get enough of this, either).
Don't overthink this, though! Send us what you've got. 

New Art for September

We change up the artwork on our site three times a year, in January, May, and September. Which means that we have new art up now, check it out! This is another piece by Rob Joseph, who also did the January and May art, and the cover for the Mysterion anthology. And it's the last of the pieces that we licensed before starting the online magazine ... so, if you sent us a link to your portfolio, we will be selecting art for 2019 very soon now.

Mythic Orbits Volume 2

Donald and Kristin are both writers too, and occasionally someone publishes our fiction. Recently, we both had stories appear in Volume 2 of the Mythic Orbits anthology series. Published by Travis Perry of Bear Publications (who also volunteers as a first reader for Mysterion), Mythic Orbits showcases speculative fiction written by Christian authors. This is tangential to what we're doing with Mysterion: our focus is on stories that engage with Christianity in a meaningful way but can be written by anyone; the stories Travis publishes don't have to include any overt Christian content, but he is looking for fiction written by Christians. We think there's room for both approaches (and many more!)

Both our stories in the anthology are reprints that originally appeared in Daily Science Fiction. In Donald's story, "Her Majesty's Guardian" was always aware of what might be required of him someday, but still doesn't know if he'll ever be able to forgive himself for it. Kristin's "The Workshop at the End of the World" puts Tolkienesque elves in a setting that will be immediately obvious to most readers (yes, it's a Christmas story). You'll also find speculative fiction by Steve Rzasa, C.W. Briar, and Kat Heckenbach, among others.

Thanks to Our First Readers

Speaking of first readers: a shout-out to Hannah Eagleson, Lelia Rose Foreman, David McDonald, and Travis Perry, who've been volunteering their time to help us get through the aforementioned 300+ submissions. We know they're all busy with their own projects, and we really appreciate their help. You can find out more about them on our About page.

September's Fiction

Be sure to come back in 3 weeks' time for our September story, by Stewart Moore: "The Apostle to the Sea". Or, pledge at least $3 per month on Patreon and you can read it now!


We're at $121 per month on our Patreon page, which covers about 1/3 to 1/2 of what it costs us to pay our authors. We have no external funding apart from this (and the 2 or 3 copies of the Mysterion anthology that we sell each month); the rest of it is coming out of our own funds at this point. It would be wonderful if this project could become self-sustaining, and we would love to be able to pay authors more, publish more stories, and showcase new art more often. So, if you're able to support us financially, even by pledging as little as $1 per month, we would really appreciate it!

Thank you as always for reading, and supporting Christian-themed speculative fiction!

Support Mysterion on Patreon!