From the Editor’s Desk: Issue 04:2017

As I’m finalizing this issue, arranging and tweaking, working with our newest members of the S&S contributor family, I keep thinking what a wonderfully weird issue. Once again it feels as if the right pieces fell into our laps, perfectly suited to the season, times, and each other.

Singularity Alice was the first piece we accepted for this issue, and I was stricken by how spare and beautiful the prose is, how topsy turvy the movement felt, and I hope you feel the same sensation of falling that I do. Mourners and Piece by Piece both approach love and loss, both perceived and real, in unique but complimentary ways, calling to mind notes of Aimee Bender’s The Rememberer. Earth Music and Belong to Me approach the intersection of human and alien life, one from the point of view of a young alien, the other from that of a spurned woman at a wedding. Seven takes us back to a time when childhood was magical, truly and literally, exposing the beauty and difficulty of growing up. Finally, Blood-Stained Letters Found in a Roadside Shrine on the Outskirts of Kyoto tells a tale of revenge and despair in epistolary form, exposing different elements of terrible loss through the eyes of T.

May you enjoy the bizarre and wonderful in this issue, and thank you, as always, for reading.

Ani King, EIC

From the Editor’s Desk: The 2017 Staff Issue

Prior to forming Syntax & Salt: Stories, I had the privilege of working with each person on staff as a writer, on Scribophile, a writing critique platform. Through various groups, contests, and story critiquing, we formed a group focused on developing our skills as writers of magical realism and other speculative or experimental forms. To make a long story short, we decided to work together on promoting and publishing work by other writers with a similar passion for magical realism, and eventually extended that to speculative fiction as a whole.

It has been an incredible pleasure. Each of these people is a wonderful writer in their own right, and I felt compelled to showcase representative work so that you, our readers, supporters, and future submitters, get to see a little more of who we are, and hopefully glean how that made our decision to launch this little labor of love we call a magazine an easy one.

If you’ve been following along since we launched last year you’ve already seen work by Jennifer Todhunter and Chelsea Hanna Cohen, and I’m going to assume you loved it because you are discerning readers who recognize outstanding quality. On March 20, you’ll have the opportunity to see a wider range of our differences in style and composition, as well as our affinities, our shared passion for storytelling. My greatest hope is that you will enjoy reading our work as much as we love reading the submissions that come in and the excellent work that so many other small literary magazines present.

Thank you for reading and supporting Syntax & Salt: Stories,

Ani King, EIC

From the Editor’s Desk: Issue 01:2017

Our latest issue will go live at midnight EST. That this first issue of the year features stories that pair well, and in some ways act as balance for each other, is quite unintentional. Narwhal and See Sky Sea Sky feature stormy waters, in very different ways. Dia de los Muertos and Vestiges examine a keening loss from a similar vantage point, each with their own unique voice. Rootless and Pure of Heart address imperfect decisions.

I’d also say that if there were an equally unintentional theme to accompany these pairings it would be loss and redemption. Loss, but also finding one’s self, even if the unavoidable change that comes with loss cannot be shaken off. This is a smaller issue than our previous ones, but I believe that the stories we’ve chosen are so well wed together, that the impact is just as large as any of the previous collections to date. Please enjoy.


Ani King

FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK: Get Ready for 2017!

Dear Syntax & Salt readers and contributors,

Before I get into all the stuff coming in 2017, I want to thank everyone who has been a part of making our first year successful. We started this as a labor of love, knowing it would be a lot of work, because we set our sights high. I could not be more pleased with how Syntax & Salt has grown, or the beautiful work we were able to attract from new and established writers alike. Our authors, readers, and staff are all integral to our success, and to helping us find ways to grow further. Thank you all.

And now, I’ll get right into what’s coming in 2017:

First,  we’ll move to specific, transparent reading periods, and we won’t close to submissions via Submittable. Our publication and reading schedule is as follows:

  • January 21 – Issue 1:2017 (be sure to submit by 12/30!)
  • March 20 – Staff Issue (more on this below)
  • June 21 – Issue 2:2017 (reading until May 30)
  • September 22 – Issue 3:2017 (reading until August 30)
  • December 21 – Issue 4:2017 (reading until November 30)

Next, the staff issue mentioned above is an idea I’ve been considering since day one as I’m fortunate to work on Syntax & Salt with some of my favorite writers. One thing we decided early on is that allowing staff submissions for regular issues at this time felt a little weird given everyone’s level of involvement with the magazine. However, I like to find ways to break rules both literary and of my own creation, so I’ll be procuring stories from current and previous staff, and I cannot wait for that issue to go live.

We’ll also be moving towards providing more frequent content in the form of roundtable interviews and reviews, posts from the editor’s desk, and a couple of other areas that are being scoped out. Previous authors will be hearing from me over the coming weeks to see about participation interest.

Our final and biggest change: we’re expanding Syntax & Salt from a journal of magical realism to a magazine of speculative fiction. This means we will be accepting fantasy, science fiction, and everything in-between starting January 1. Guidelines will be updated soon to reflect what we’re looking for, and what we’d rather not read, but we are still decidedly focused on literary fiction within that scope, as opposed to styles traditional to the genre. (Spoilers, we’re not really into zombies, vampires, overly superior elves, or grumpy dwarves.)

That’s a lot to work towards, but I’m confident that these improvements will help us reach a wider audience and better support the authors we’re so fortunate to publish. Thanks again for being a part of our family, and keep your eyes peeled for more thoughts on the changes mentioned above!

Let's Talk About Process!

Ani King, Editor in Chief


Almost a year ago, I set out with some of the of dearest people I’ve ever known to create Syntax & Salt. It’s been a privilege to read so many stories and a pleasure putting great work out there into the world. If I’m totally honest, it’s also been a lot of work, but more so, a lot of dreaming. And if you ask me, dreaming is the good stuff. It stops us from assuming that lines are permanent and can never be broken or colored over.

But damn if it isn’t hard to dream right now. For many of us, this moment feels like yet another bullet in the already wounded heart of humankind. Transgender men and women continue to be at such high risk of violence that we have a Wikipedia page to keep track when they are murdered. Refugees are denied safety and respite out of deeply entrenched fear that our government representatives not only play into, but also foster. Minorities, particularly Black men, remain at risk of violent, sometimes murderous, reactions of the very police forces that are supposed to protect us, and for minorities, jail terms are often longer. Muslim women are being attacked on campuses for their beliefs. Native Americans have been arrested and held in dog cages while protesting. These are increasingly hard times for many, and sometimes I wonder, do we have the luxury of dreaming right now, when there is so much work to do?

My heart says this isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity; we must do the hard work of dreaming and creating with even more fervor when it’s hardest. When we do, we see the world change, because we forget, for a time at least, the boundaries and limitations faced, and instead, we’re shaping possibility, or more accurately, we’re working with what feels like raw impossibility. We need art to show us what impossibility looks like when it’s transformed. Art helps us dream.

If we can say that art helps us dream, then I think it’s safe to say we need it more than ever. We know we’re moved by music, stories, paintings, movies, a performance, whether it be in a way that elicits joy, or strikes a minor key chord in our bones. If you want to see an entire room of adults weep, show them the first few minutes of Up, or go to an operatic tragedy and feel the way an alto solo expression of grief resonates, no matter the language. By the same token, there’s an entire distinction in literature we call escapism, because sometimes we just need to feel lighter, less embattled.

Now is a time to create, whether in support or opposition, or as commentary, or a source of levity, or as a way to take a moment to escape from the vitriol, the violence, and regroup. We have the distinct advantage of technology on our side in this endeavor. I firmly believe technology is an expression of our ability, art is an expression of our spirit, and together they are a coin that spins infinitely and beautifully as long as it’s balanced.

Thanks to modern technology, we are able to look at each other from these formerly insurmountable distances and really see each other in such a profound way. And yet we so often stubbornly refuse to see. The proliferation of choices has enabled us to choose not to see anything, to embrace blindness. There’s a distance between what can be and the way reality often turns out. The way in which technology showcases our abilities, our incredible skills as a species, is astounding. In this, we find ways to truly belong to each other.

As much as art, technology is truly instrumental, but as we look to technology to keep our bodies, homes, and countries safe, we at times look away from the human spirit as a collective. We move toward isolation and fragmentation as we eyeball our neighbors. We eyeball them, and we arm ourselves with the sorts of technology designed to offer a sense of protection, when in most cases we’re using them to build walls between Them and Us. We don’t trust Them, or like Them, or think they belong, because we are afraid of Them, and they are afraid of Us, or any manner of reasons. But when we hurt one, we hurt as one. Just as with any individual, a damaged spirit leaves us vulnerable as a broken or violated body, and we must use technology, in accord with the art we create, to build bridges across distance, across blindness.

This is where our responsibility as artists lies in being even more diligent about creating art in times when our human spirit is battered and to use technology to reach ever outward. Our responsibility as artists also goes further than creating, to taking time to see, share, and marvel at the art others create, particularly those most disenfranchised among us, who are lifting their pens, their voices, their brushes and creating not only because of fear, but despite the real risk they may face. Amplify lesser heard voices. Perhaps frightening times create opportunity, even the requirement, that we contribute an effort to heal the heart of us, the thumping, beating, organ of empathy and compassion that pushes us to lift a hand, to raise a voice, to be a light in the dark.

So, even though it’s hard to dream when so many of us are vulnerable and exposed just by accident of birth, we must. When we are attacked or terrified or enraged, we have to dream, and we have to create, and we have to be fearless in our art, because we owe that to the broken heart of humanity.

Thank you for being a part of Syntax & Salt, as a reader, a contributor, or a staff member. We couldn’t do this without you. Now go make art.

Let's Talk About Process!

Ani King, Editor in Chief