Saturday, April 29, 2017

SF Workshop

I spent last week at a science fiction workshop taught by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. It was freaking awesome, and if she offers it again (probably not for a couple of years) I strongly urge any writer who's into SF to dive in.

We started on 1 January, which is when Kris sent us a reading list:

Asimov's SF Magazine, the Jan/Feb and Mar/Apr issues
Women of Futures Past Anthology
The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novellas 2016
The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 1
Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation
Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016

There were some people in the class (out of fourteen students) who were writers but weren't familiar with SF, so one of the reasons for doing the reading was to get everyone on the same page about what SF is. A lot of people who try to use SF in their writing (like pretty much every single romance writer whose "futuristic romance" I've ever tried [sigh]) seem to think that if you watch Star Wars and Star Trek, there you go, you know all about SF and are ready to write it. Not so much. So reading all the anthologies and a couple issues of Asimov's gave us all some common ground. We took some time at each evening session to talk about one of the books/magazines, what we liked or didn't like, what surprised us. That also let us see how people's tastes differ.

A couple of weeks before the workshop, we got a story assignment. One of Kris's pet peeves with SF is aliens who are just humans with weird foreheads. (Glancing back at folks who think Star Trek will teach you everything you need to know about SF.) So she linked us to the Oregon Coast Aquarium's web site and asked us to write an SF story with a really alien alien, inspired by something on the Aquarium's site. I wanted to go way alien :) so I paid particular attention to the invertebrates. I read the description for the giant rock scallop, and noted how the baby scallops are free swimming, and move by clapping their shells together and spraying jets of water. Then when they grow up, they cement themselves to a rock and live there for the rest of their lives. Add in the moon snail, another mollusc, which has a tongue that can drill through shells and rocks. I got an image of a hollowed-out asteroid covered in scallops, and baby scallops flapping and jetting away into space. Everything else followed from there, and I ended up with a fun story that got great comments from Kris. It's currently out with a magazine editor. [crossed fingers]

We wrote three more stories while at the workshop -- we had one due every other day, starting when we turned in the Aquarium-alien story on Saturday -- plus we read everyone else's stories, plus we had other, smaller assignments. Plus if we messed up on the smaller assignments [ducks, raises hand] they came back covered in red comments, with "Redo" at the top. I ended up redoing three or four assignments.

It turns out I kind of suck at putting really concrete details in my work. This is important with most fiction, but particularly with SF, because the reader can't take anything for granted. If you're writing something contemporary, you might have your character enter a barn. Okay, we all know what a barn looks like. But do we really? There's the classic red barn, but some are white, some are brown, some are corrugated steel. Some are multi-story, with a hay loft like the classic barn in kids' books, but some are lower. Some are long and wide, some are compact. So if you just have your character walk into "a barn" with no details, the reader will visualize a barn, filling in those details for you. Maybe they'll match the details in your head, but probably not. So if you imagine a barn with a basement or other sub level, and mention it twelve pages later, the readers who didn't imagine a barn with a basement will be all, "Wait, what?!" Or if your barn has a main floor and some side areas, plus an equipment room, and a room with tools where stuff is repaired, but your reader was imagining just one big room, then again, they'll have a huge disconnect that'll throw them out of the story if your character starts going from room to room later on.

So if you just say "a barn" in your story, that's a fake detail.

And that's with a barn. Everyone knows what a barn is, even if the details can differ. What if your character boards a starship? Or a space station? Or is walking around on an alien planet? What does that look like? You have to be even more thorough about describing everything, using concrete sensory details, because the reader can't fill in details for you.

So for our first technique assignment, we had to describe an alien space station. We were to write five paragraphs, each one using details coming from only one sense. Here's what I wrote for the first two senses:


Sight -- Alicia's first impression of the Nonapus station was that it was dark. Well, of course; sight was a minor sense for them. Nonapus stations weren't bright for the same reason Human stations ween't tasty. The water that filled the corridors and chambers was just slightly chilly, and full of tiny particulates that made it impossible to see, even with a light, much beyond the length of her arm.

Touch -- Most of the station walls were smooth. There were no floors or ceilings as such; the Nonapus have been starfaring for millenia, and the main difference between a wall and a floor or ceiling was gravity. The Nonapus expected everyone to hang on to or push off from whatever's handy, and avoid dangerous or delicate equipment as a matter of course. All controls required a firm push or pull or twist; brushing up against something was done casually while moving around, and was supposed to be perfectly safe.


Not bad, huh? I was pretty pleased with them when I wrote them (in a frantic hurry, but anyway). Actually, they suck. :P This was my first non-story assignment, and it came back covered with big red "Fake!" notes all over it, and a red "Redo" at the top. A few days later, I redid it:


Sight -- The only light inside the Nonapus station came from tiny, glowing white jellyfish that swam through the water, expanding and contracting in a rhythm that made it look like they were dancing, their legs rippling in time like ribbons in wind. The passageways were tubular, too narrow for a human to stand up in; it made Alicia feel cramped, and a little claustrophobic. Everything was shades of grey; there was no color anywhere, not even on her fellow refugees. They'd all been given clothes that could stand up to weeks in the water. The plain, stretchy coveralls were comfortable enough, but their uniform grey made them blend in with the walls, and the rest of the humans, as though they were all ghosts haunting the place.

Touch -- The walls were mostly smooth, some sort of soft plastic, with patches and strips of texture on them. used the way humans would use signs. Rough and smooth and sharp, with and against the grain of the ridges -- all the different textures meant something, and Alicia knew she'd have to learn them. Swimming through the ship, she brushed against the jellyfish, couldn't help it, because they streamed and clustered everywhere. These didn't sting, like the ones on the beach at home, so she could touch them if she wanted. Their little round bodies were slick, like they were coated in gel. Their legs -- or were they arms? -- slid through her fingers like limp, flat pasta, light and smooth and rippling.


Much better. I got a lot more "Good" notes on that one. See how things are much more concrete, more grounded on sensory details?

I need to learn to do this in my stories. Right now, it's hard. It's not something I do automatically yet. When I'm writing, in creative mode, when story's just flowing, it doesn't automatically flow with concrete sensory details. If I think about it, and consciously put those details in as I write, I slip into critical mode, which makes the writing kind of suck. (It has great sensory details, though. :P )

"Creative Mode" and "Critical Mode" are concepts Kris and Dean use in all their writing workshops. I think I've talked about them before, but just for drill, writing in creative mode (or in creative voice, or with your creative brain) is writing the way your brain produces story. The focus is on the story, not the craftsmanship. Your creative brain (your storytelling brain) has been absorbing story since you were pre-verbal, when your parents told you stories, sang you songs with stories, let you watch TV and movies with stories. If you're forty, you've been absorbing story for about 39.8 years of that. :)

Critical mode is when your focus is on the mechanics. If you're thinking about spelling and grammar and punctuation, and about how the plot's going to go and whether your characterization is right and how to format your dialogue and whether your transitions work, you're in critical mode. This is your inner English teacher speaking. Your inner English teacher kind of sucks at storytelling; they're focused on all the fiddly details, and they tend to lose track of the story itself, which is what readers read for. Your critical brain has only been learning to write since you started to learn reading and writing skills, which for most of us was first grade. So your critical brain is about six years behind your creative brain when it comes to learning how to write.

Your creative voice is always a better storyteller than your critical voice.

I know we all worry about how our stories look at the line level, but seriously, if you're going to publish something, whether you go tradpub or indie, cleaning up all the little crap is what an editor is for. If your story is great, a copyeditor can clean up your spelling and grammar and fix your comma glitches. There you go -- clean story. If your story sucks, then even if your mechanics are absolutely a hundred percent perfect, the story is still going to suck. A fiction writer's focus should be on storytelling, in creative mode.

Of course, we want to absorb all the mechanics skills too. And we do. It takes a while, but if we work on it, eventually we'll load a new skill into the back of our brain. This is where the stuff that's become automatic goes. For example, you probably don't have to think about putting a period at the end of a declarative sentence, or getting your subjects and verbs to agree. Those are things you had to learn at some point, but then you got to know them well enough that they became automatic, and you don't have to think about them anymore. All your mechanics skills can be loaded into that same part of your brain, where they become automatic, as you work on them.

So I need to work on using concrete sensory details when I write. I'll probably do more exercises like the ones Kris gave us, and work on that until it's easy and automatic. It'll eventually show up in my creative-mode writing, without my having to stop and think about every damn word. :/ For right now, it's annoying, but I'll get it soon enough.

A lot of us in the class were having trouble with concrete details, so most of our small assignments through the week were focused on that skill. I got a lot better at it just in that week, and so did the others.

One of the things I learned last week was that I can write a truly amazing amount of fiction in one week. I was actually pouring it on from Friday through Friday, so eight days, but in that eight days I wrote 38,790 words of fiction -- four stories, two of them over 9K words, plus a bunch of bits and pieces of fiction in the smaller assignments. Just the stories totaled 30,893 words.

I've never done that before. I've written just over 20K words in a week, three times, since I've started keeping track. I've never come anywhere near 30K in a week before. O_O It's intensely frustrating. I've known for a while that I'm intensely deadline driven, and that it has to be a deadline set by someone else, with real-world consequences. Knowing that if I flake out on a story, I'll be walking into a room full of people I know, with no story to turn in? That provides an amazing amount of motivation to write like crazy, and finish a story. I can't do that for myself. I can't even do it for, say, an anthology I'd like to submit for. If I've promised a story to an editor, then that works -- having an editor get annoyed with me and have to scramble to find another writer to write something to fill the spot in the book I was supposed to fill is enough of a real-world consequence to get my writing in gear. But just, "Hey, that's a cool anthology, it closes next Friday, I'd like to write a story for it," isn't enough. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. :/ Very annoying. It's purely a mental block, but knowing that doesn't help.

It was bad enough before, knowing I can write 20K words in a week if I want to. Now I know I can write almost twice that if I'm properly motivated, which makes it that much more frustrating. Heck, I'd love to do 10K words a week. That's half a million words a year, even taking two weeks for vacation. :P

Coming up toward the end of last week, I planned to see if I could keep the momentum going. But around the middle of the workshop, Thursday or so, I started getting a bit of a tickle in my throat. Luckily it stayed at that very low level through the workshop, but as soon as I got home, I fell into bed, and when I woke up I had a raging cough, sore throat, and stuffed up nose. :( It's tough to think about writing, or much of anything else, when it's hard to breathe. I'm starting to feel more human, so we'll see how the writing goes next week.

If nothing else, I had an awesome April. :)

And seriously, Kris does a couple of genre workshops per year. If I had the money, I'd sign up for everything that's currently scheduled. (No, I don't get any kick-backs or discounts for reccing the workshops; I just think they rock.) She's teaching a Mystery workshop in September, and a Fantasy workshop next April. She's done Romance and Alternate History before. I think she did Thrillers once? I'd love to take all of them. Kris is a slave driver, but damn, it works!

Awesome workshop. Highly recommended.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Anthology Markets

If you've just wandered in off the internet, hi and welcome. :) I do these posts every month, so if this post isn't dated in the same month you're in, click here to make sure you're seeing the most recent one. If you want to get an e-mail notification when the listing is posted, get the list a week early, or get a full listing of everything I've found (as opposed to the two months' worth I post here) a week early, you can support my Patreon.

Markets with specific deadlines are listed first, "Until Filled" markets (if any) are at the bottom. There are usually more details on the original site; always click through and read the full guidelines before submitting. Note that some publishers list multiple guidelines on one page, so after you click through you might have to scroll a bit.


30 April 2017 -- SNAFU Judgement Day -- ed. Amanda J Spedding and Geoff Brown; Cohesion Press

Post-apocalyptic military horror.

The end of the world as we know it.

What we want: Invading space aliens, demonic invasion as in Doom, DNA-grafted dinosaurs taking over the planet, manmade viral infections that nearly wipe out humanity, or artificial intelligence like in Terminator… anything you can think of that would bring about the end of the world. And SOLDIERS!

Tell us about what happens during the worst of the fall of humanity or afterwards.

No zombies. That’s already taken care of.

Full action. Nothing less.


Payment: AUD4c/word and one contributor copy in each format released.

Wordcount range: 2,000 – 10,000 words (query for shorter or longer)

No selections will be made until after the period closes.

Projected publication date: Late 2017

We will have some solicited authors alongside the open call, with the first being Jonathan Maberry.

Please follow these guidelines when submitting to us:

== Please put your full contact details on the first page of the manuscript top left, with word count top right.
== Standard submission format, with minimal document formatting.
== Courier or Times New Roman set at 12pt. Italics as they will appear. No underlining.
== Double spaced.
== Please don’t use TAB or space bar to indent lines. Use ‘styles’ only. If unsure or using a program that has no styles, DO NOT indent at all. That’s still cool.
== NO SPACE between paragraphs unless a line-break is required. ONE SPACE after full stops.
== Please put full contact details on the first page of the manuscript (yes, I said this twice… it’s important).
== Send your submission to Geoff Brown at as an attachment (.doc/.rtf only)
== In the subject line of your email, please put JudgementDay: [STORY TITLE] (Replace [STORY TITLE] with your actual story title. Yes, unfortunately I do need to state this)




Please include a brief ‘hello, this is who I am’ in your email body as a cover letter.

Blank emails with attachments will be deleted.

For a guide to standard submission format, see:

The only variations to this format are that italics MUST appear as they will be used – no underlining – and again, only one space after a full stop.
Anyone that fails to follow these guidelines will likely see their story shredded by zombie mutant creatures.


30 April 2017 -- Unidentified Funny Objects 6 -- ed. Alex Shvartsman

Unidentified Funny Objects is an annual anthology of humorous SF/F. Past headliners include George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Esther Friesner, David Gerrold, Laura Resnick, Mike Resnick, Piers Anthony, Kevin J. Anderson, etc.

For UFO6 we’re seeking all style and sub-genres of speculative humor.

LENGTH: 500-5000 words.

PAYMENT: $0.10 per word + contributor copy. Payment will be made upon acceptance. Our preferred method of payment is via PayPal, but you may request a check.

FORMAT: RTF or DOC. Standard Manuscript Format or something close to. (We won’t take points off if you prefer Courier over Times New Roman or some such).

SEND TO: Upload your stories via this submissions link.

Limit of 1 submission per author — even if you receive a response before the submission window closes please do not send another story unless directly invited to do so.

Please do not respond to rejections. The email address associated with submissions is not monitored. If you wish to query for any reason, please use the contact form or e-mail us: ufopublishing at gmail dot com.

RIGHTS SOUGHT: First Worldwide print and electronic English Language rights. Exclusivity for 90 days from date of release. Non-exclusive print, e-book, and audio rights afterward. Preview sample contract.

POLICIES & RESPONSE TIME: No reprints, multiple or simultaneous submissions please. Do not send any stories we already considered for a previous UFO volume or any other anthology edited by Alex Shvartsman. You may query after 30 days. Please send only one submission per author unless directly invited to send more.


We’re looking for speculative stories with a strong humor element. Think Resnick and Sheckley, Fredric Brown and Douglas Adams. We welcome quality flash fiction and non-traditional narratives. Take chances, try something new, just make sure that your story is funny.

Puns and stories that are little more than vehicles for delivering a punch line at the end aren’t likely to win us over. The best way to learn what we like in general is to read a previous volume.


These are the tropes we see entirely too much of in the slush pile. You will improve your odds if you steer clear of these:

* Zombies
* Vampires
* Deals with the Devil / Djinn in a bottle variants
* Stereotypical aliens probing people, abducting cattle, and doing other stereotypical alien things.


1 May 2017 -- Blood in the Rain 4 -- ed. Cecilia DuValle and Mary Trepanier

For the vampire erotica anthology Blood in the Rain 3, available October 2017, we seek short stories of 2000–7000 words with both a vampire and an erotic element—anything from a sexy tease to hardcore porn (we lean toward porn!) We encourage stories nonstereotypically including people of color, people who are LGBTQIA, and people over 18.

Most of all, we want compelling characters having hot sex, with a story that draws us in. And a vampire. Make us horny!

We pay within 30 days of publication: $75 plus two contributor’s copies.

== Send your story as a .doc, or .docx file to, with SUBMISSION and the story title in your subject line (for example, SUBMISSION: My Sexy Vampire Story).

== Use traditional manuscript format for your story. If you don’t know what that is, see this handy guide. And for the love of the gods, proofread before sending.

== Give us a short cover note, ideally with an author bio.

== Let us know if your story’s a reprint. We might take the perfect reprint, but original work is preferred.

== Send as many submissions as you want, but we’re not likely to pick more than one story from any writer.

== We’re buying first North American serial rights, first North American audio publishing rights, first world online rights, and archival rights (that is, to potentially archive your story on our website).


14 May 2017 -- Sword and Sorceress 32 -- ed. Elisabeth Waters

[NOTE: Do Not Submit before 24 April]

Stories should be the type generally referred to as "sword and sorcery" and must have a strong female protagonist whom the reader will care about. See past volumes of Sword and Sorceress for examples. We do not want stories with explicit sex, gratuitous violence, or profanity. We are NOT a market for poetry. We are willing to consider stories set in modern times (urban fantasy), but we don't buy more than one or two of those for the anthology. We always want something short and funny for the last story.

No reprints. No simultaneous submissions.

With regard to multiple submissions, do not submit more than one story at a time. If we've rejected your first one, you may send one more, as long as it's before the deadline. We have occasionally bought someone's second submission. We have never bought a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth submission. If you send us two stories, and we don't hold either of them, wait until next year to try again. Please do not re-submit stories we have already rejected (including stories rejected in previous years).

If you have not previously sold to Sword & Sorceress, please read What is a Short Story? and Why Did my Story Get Rejected? before submitting to us.

Reading period: Monday, April 24 to Sunday, May 14, 2017. Stories received before or after this period will be deleted unread.

Response time is expected to follow MZB's traditional standards: you should hear within a week if we're holding your story for the final line-up or rejecting it.

Length: up to 9,000 words, with preference given to shorter stories. The longer a story is, the better it has to be. Long stories should be submitted early in the reading period.

Cover Letter/e-mail: We don't actually need a cover letter, but our e-mail program does. This year it started putting any e-mail with no body in the spam folder. So...

Please do not explain or describe your story in the e-mail. If your story can't stand on its own, fix the story. The e-mail should be brief. For example:

Dear Miss Waters,

Attached is my story "The Dark Intruder" for consideration for Sword and Sorceress 32.

A bio and/or list of previous sales is optional at this point. If you put one in, it should be no longer than one short paragraph (up to 5 lines long).


(Ms.) Marion Bradley

If your name could be either male or female, please indicate the gender, so we can address you properly when we reply.

Formatting and Submission:

Format with one-inch margins on all four sides of page.

Please do not use a header or footer.

Your legal name, full mailing address, and email address must be in the upper left corner, single spaced.

Skip two lines, center the text, then put the title, with your name (or byline) on the next line. We're not as rigid as MZB was about pen names, but we expect them to be reasonable, rather than cute.

The rest of the manuscript should be single-spaced, with the first line of each paragraph indented 1/2 inch.

If you need to indicate a break, put "#" on a line by itself, centered.

Do not underline; use italics instead. Do not use bold face. We prefer Courier New font, size 12.

Word count will be determined by our word processor; that way it will be the same for everyone.

Save your document as an .rtf file (rich text format or interchange format, depending on what your computer calls it). E-mail as it as an attachment to mzbworks at gmail dot com. The subject line should be "SS32, your last name, story title" (e.g.: SS32, Bradley, Dark Intruder) -- we don't want submissions caught in the spam filter. Remember that a computer is sorting this, so follow the format exactly. Use commas, not slashes, hyphens, etc. Do not change SS32 to something similiar (e.g.: S&S 32). We do our best to find stories that have not been sorted properly, but we don't guarantee success.

Rights purchased: first rights, non-exclusive eBook and audio book rights.

Payment: 6 cents per word as an advance against a pro rata share of royalties and foreign or other sales.


30 May 2017 [or until filled; see note at bottom] -- Dark Luminous Wings -- Pole to Pole Publishing

Pole to Pole Publishing is seeking short, original fiction for its upcoming anthology, Dark Luminous Wings, to be published October 2017. The volume draws inspiration from Richard Henry Stoddard’s poem, Mors et Vita, particularly stanza two:

Under the awful wings
Which brood over land and sea,
And whose shadows nor lift nor flee—
This is the order of things,
And hath been from of old:
First production,
And last destruction;
So the pendulum swings,
While cradles are rocked and bells are tolled.

Send us your stories about angels and demons, dragons and fairies, airplanes and ornathopters—and more. Let your imaginations soar, but let your stories be found in the darkest of places.

Stories should be 3,000-5,000 words (firm). Wings—of some sort—must be central to the theme of the story.

Hard Sells:

Profane and vulgar language. Because we market to both adult and YA readers, if you use an F-Bomb, and we accept your story, we’ll probably ask you to change it.

First person and Present Tense. We’ve published both: when the stories were very, very good. We want to let you know up front that we’re going to reject this most of the time. It’s just not our preference.

Excessive Gore and/or violence. Blood and guts are fine—as long as they’re part of the story and not the story itself.

Sex. See above about marketing to a wider audience.

Edition and Rights:

Dark Luminous Wings will be published in electronic and trade paperback in English. We are asking for exclusive, worldwide rights to your work for both electronic and print for six months only, and a non-exclusive right to keep your story in the anthology after that.

Payment: Payment is 2¢ per word, paid at publication, via PayPal only.

If you do not have a PayPal account, please do not submit your work.

Authors will also receive one copy of both the electronic and paperback versions of the anthology. (Authors can buy additional books at a discount.)

Bonus Royalties Multiplier:

If the anthology earns out, that is, recoups all up-front costs to produce within the first year, authors will also receive a royalty-share payment based on word-length of their story, at one-year from the date of publication.

What We Don’t Want:

No rape, torture, etc. of children. No animal abuse. No stories with characters from a copyrighted world that belongs to someone else.

No reprints.

No Poetry.

Submission Procedures:

Submit stories through the Submittable.


All stories should be in standard manuscript form and in rich text format (.rtf) only.

No tabs. Please format the document with a first line indent.

Curly quotes, please—no straight quotes.

Only one story from each author will be considered.

If you’re not sure if your story is suitable, don’t query; just go ahead and submit, and let our editors decide.

Deadline: May 30, 2017, or until filled. Be aware that our 2016 anthology filled before the deadline, so don’t wait until the last minute to submit.


31 May 2017 -- Chiral Mad 4 -- ed. Lucy A. Snyder and Michael Bailey

While previous volumes of Chiral Mad focused more on psychological horror, with most stories having some sort of chiral aspect in plot or character development or structure, Chiral Mad 4 will be open to just about anything, as long as the story has some sort of dark or speculative element. The only required chirality is with the collaboration itself … multiple minds working as one, in other words, to create something entirely new. We want this anthology to be as diverse as humanly possible, and will be looking for stories that bend and blend genres, stories that experiment with structure, and most importantly, stories that are not dependent upon common tropes.

Unlike past Written Backwards projects, this fourth volume in the critically-acclaimed series of anthologies will be a completely collaborative effort of originality, collecting 4 short stories, 4 novelettes, 4 novellas, and 4 graphic adaptations (to celebrate this 4th book), all co-authored and/or co-created. And the anthology itself will also be co-edited!

The goal of Chiral Mad 4 is to help bring our creative community together, to make us stronger, to strengthen relationships already in place, and to help create new relationships entirely. It’s time for all of us to play nice, to get along, and to do what we do best: create somethings out of nothings… and we’re going to create these beautiful somethings together. Have a specific writer/artist you’ve always admired? Well, now’s your chance. Reach out. Ask! That’s all it takes to get started. Find a partner, or two, or three, and start collaborating! The more unique the collaboration, the better the chances you have of making it into Chiral Mad 4. The more diverse the collaborations, the better the chances you have of making it into Chiral Mad 4. Now, here’s the hard part: knowing whether or not someone is already collaborating… Email if you have any questions or concerns about this, or to simply email your submission.

While half the anthology will be filled with commissioned works (the book is nearly half-filled already, with a few of the early acceptances announced below), the rest of the anthology is open for submissions for a short period of time. The submission window for non-commissioned contributors closes May 31st, 2017. So get to it! This is a very short window of opportunity.

Acceptances for non-commissioned work will not be announced until after June 30th, 2017, so we ask that we hold onto your work exclusively until then, as each submission will be carefully considered and agreed upon by both editors of this anthology. No simultaneous submissions, please.

What are we looking for?

== 4 short stories (5,000 words max)
== 4 novelettes (10,000 words max)
== 4 novellas (20,000 words max)
== 4 graphic adaptations (1,500 words max, or 10 pages)

Payment will be $.06 per word, capped at the max word counts listed above, split evenly between contributors. Two contributors writing a 5,000-word short story, for example, would split $300, or $150 each. Contributors writing a 10,000-word novelette would evenly split $600. Contributors writing a 20,000-word novella would evenly split $1,200. Graphic adaptations will be determined by the publisher/creators prior to acceptance; these are unique collaborations and payments for such are not as simple to calculate. In fact, 3 of the 4 slots for graphic adaptations are already filled, so please query before submitting. And, as always, contributor copies of each edition are part of the deal. Written Backwards has worked with many illustrators and artists in the past, so if you have a script but not an illustrator/artist lined-up, please let us know and we can arrange one for your story if we fall in love with your script.

So, hopefully all of this gets you excited, gets you eager to reach out to others in our creative community. Chiral Mad 4 is the most ambitious project ever imagined by Written Backwards. Please, be a part of it. Send your work to


1 June 2017 -- Corporate Cthulhu -- Pickman's Press

Of all bureaucracies, corporations are the most powerful, seeming to have a life and will of their own. They're privately held with a multi-national reach, seemingly bottomless resources, and armies of lawyers jealously guarding their trade secrets. Anything and everything is justified by the bottom line. Who needs a Cthulhu Cult when you've got Cthulhu, Inc.?

Into this insidious world are thrust our heroes—the curious, the puzzled, and the frustrated. Defying authority, seeking answers they'd be better off not knowing, the secrets they discover threaten their sanity and their lives. Will they become the next whistleblower media hero? Or disappear, leaving nothing behind but an empty desk and whispered rumors in the break room? Remember: it's nothing personal—just business.

Corporate Cthulhu is a Lovecraftian horror anthology about the intersection of the Cthulhu Mythos and corporations or other large bureaucracies.

This is an OPEN call for submissions—anyone and everyone is free to submit a short story to the slush pile. Feel free to share this with other writers you think might be interested.

What We're Looking For

== Short stories up to 7000 words.

== Original, previously unpublished fiction.

== We're particularly interested in submissions from writers traditionally underrepresented in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror fiction. This includes racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people living with disabilities.

== Stories must include at least a passing connection to the Cthulhu Mythos and/or Lovecraft's other work. The stronger the connection, the more likely the story is to be accepted.

== Stories that make skillful use of Lovecraftian horror themes: insanity, helplessness and hopelessness, inherited guilt, old isolated locations, books of forbidden knowledge, ancient extraterrestrial influences on humanity, the risks of runaway science, civilization vs. barbarism, humanity's insignificance on the cosmic scale of space and time, unanswered questions about what lurks behind the curtain of reality, etc.

== Although we're expecting a lot of stories where management is a cult in disguise (and that's fine!), we encourage writers to think outside the box. Other elements of the business cycle include labor (a union strikes over a bizarre demand) and customers (how far will a struggling company go to meet their biggest customer's increasingly strange requests?).

== Although the primary focus is on corporate bureaucracies, ANY large private-sector bureaucracy is fair game. This could include (among others) charities, nonprofits, NGOs, private universities, for-profit hospitals, labor unions, large churches, fraternal organizations, youth groups, etc.

== Stories set in any time period during the modern industrial capitalist era (roughly 1800 on up). Query first for stories set in other time periods.

== Comedies, parodies, and/or satires are acceptable.

What We're NOT Looking For

== Romances or erotica.

== Stories under 2000 words or over 7000 words.

== Stories taking place in governmental or other public-sector bureaucracies. As much fun as it may be to have Cthulhu running the IRS, save those ideas for a later Political Cthulhu anthology.


If selected, authors will receive $0.03 cents per word for original, previously unpublished fiction. Original fiction strongly preferred; query first for reprints. In the unlikely event that we do accept a reprint, payment will be $0.01 cent per word. Publication is dependent on a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. There will be no kill fees.


Exclusive global English first print and digital rights for one year, and nonexclusive print and digital rights for term of copyright. All other rights are reserved to the author.


Stories should follow the format laid out in the submission guidelines; if not, it may be automatically rejected. Submissions should be emailed to with the story included as an attachment in .doc, .docx, or .rtf format, and must be received no later than midnight, Central Standard Time, June 1st, 2017. The email subject should read [Submissions: Story Title by Author Name]. If accepted, minor edits and revisions may be requested. The Kickstarter campaign will begin after the stories have been selected.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Patreon Follow-Up

I've figured out how I want to schedule anthology posts, juggling posts here along with the various Patreon levels, two of which get posts a week early. I did the April post yesterday and put it up on my Patreon account, for folks getting the regular listing a week early, and folks getting my full listing, which also goes up a week early. Nobody's signed up for those levels yet, but if anyone does, they're there. :)

I have the post for here on the blog ready to go in drafts, and I'll release it on the 15th. Changing the lock on the April Patreon post from $3 to $1 will let those supporters see it. (I did a test, and $1 supporters do get an e-mail when a $3 post has its lock changed, so that works, yay.)

It's interesting (and sometimes frustrating) to actually dive into a completely new system and figure out how it works, what doesn't work the way I thought it would, and what the most efficient workflow will be each month.

One thing I didn't know when I started this is that Patreon won't accept HTML code in its posts. :/ At all. The completely unhelpful Help topic discussing this says it's because they haven't been able to get HTML to work in their mobile apps. Which isn't my problem, and doesn't make me any happier with this.

I hand code my posts here -- I've been online since before HTML was a thing, and while I'm not any kind of a wizard at it, the sort of coding that's useful for a basic blog post is pretty automatic for me -- and I just assumed I could do a copy/paste to put things onto Patreon. Well, not so much. [headdesk]

Patreon has its own system for formatting posts and inserting links, and once you see how it works, it's very easy to use. Which doesn't change the fact that it took me about an hour and a half to convert my post (keeping in mind that I was doing my full file, not just the two months' worth I post each month) and get everything looking more or less the way I wanted. It wasn't hard, (yay, HTML!) there was just a lot of it. :P

Since I'm still posting on my blogs, I can't just convert over to Patreon's system; I have to maintain two formats for the listings. I'm hoping that, now that I've reformatted my whole file, maintaining two differently formatted files in parallel won't be such a hassle. I usually find a few new markets per month, depending on the season, so I won't have to redo the whole thing again. I'll just double format each new entry and insert it into its master file. Hopefully that'll work. [crossed fingers] I keep my files in Word documents, and in the past I've had trouble saving something to Word, then re-opening the file and posting it into a different system. Not often, but occasionally, something will go Sproing! at that point and it's time to start headdesking again. Hopefully that won't happen this time. [more crossed fingers]

After a night's sleep, I'm feeling a bit better about this. I'm sure I'll figure out a decent workflow, although I won't know until next month. We'll see.

I do think my problem is probably particular to me. What I'm putting up on Patreon is pretty unusual; most other creators whose pages I've browsed are offering art, music, video, that sort of thing. The writers are (unlike me) generally focusing on their fiction creation, and they post downloadable files of stories, or short videos, podcasts or blog posts talking about their creating, their experiences, their characters and worlds, answering questions, etc. Also cat pictures. [wry smile] Writing right into the Patreon form isn't difficult; I'm probably one of very few people trying to paste huge swathes of HTMLed text into Patreon, so I doubt anyone's working behind the scenes to make HTML work on that system.

At any rate, it does seem to be working. Onward....


Thursday, April 6, 2017


Okay, I got a bunch of responses to my question about a Patreon last month, mostly in e-mail, and all of them were positive. So I've set up a Patreon page, yay. :)

Now that I've poked with the system a bit and seen how things actually work, I've made some changes in how I've set it up, versus what I came up with when I was thinking with my keyboard before.

First, I've set it up for a monthly donation, rather than per work. I originally wanted it to be per work, so if I missed a month (which I've only done twice in the eight years [wow, eight years, really?!?] that I've been doing the anthology listings) it wouldn't be a huge deal and no one would get charged. But Patreon won't let you do a "paid" post that only charges a subset of your patrons -- I don't know why not, but there you go.

So, I want to offer an option to get my whole list (which means all the anthologies I know about at the time, rather than just the two months' worth I post here) as a premium reward. But there's no way to only charge the $5/month people for that one, while only charging the $1-3/month people for the shorter listing. If I posted them both, it'd charge everyone twice a month, and that wouldn't work. Charging everyone once a month seems to be the way to go; I'll do my best to maintain my low rate of missed months.

Also, I originally thought about doing PDFs of the listing to e-mail people, as a sort of slightly fancier way of distributing things. But half the usefulness of the listings, now that I've thought more about it, comes from the links to the editor/publishers' web sites. They very often have more info than I include in the listings, and I always recommend a writer click through and check out the site before submitting something. That's tough to do from a PDF. Scratch that idea.

So I'll be posting the listings to my Patreon page, and patrons will get an automatic e-mail.

If you use the listings, if you find them helpful, any support would be appreciated. If you can't afford to contribute right now, that's fine; I totally get that times are tough for a lot of people. And I'll still be posting the listings here; I'm not cutting off anyone who can't afford to support my Patreon.

Here we go -- let's see how this works. :)