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Submission Call

Jayhenge Publishing, whom I have worked with on several occasions, has put out a story submission call. I highly encourage you to work with Jayhenge–the editor, Jessica, is amazing and will help you develop as a writer.

Hey, all you women writers out there! Let your pioneering spirits soar! Whether exploring new vistas or encountering ancient ones, the call of unknown places and unseen sights is strong in many of us. Our planet has so many wild places—jungles, deserts, mountains, and more, and the cultures that go with them—the type of “wild” that you might have found on the steppes of Mongolia, the dusty heat of India, the blowing sands of the Sahara. Imagine all that wild, difficult nature wrapped up in speculative fiction. Then consider generational ships, as well, bringing life not only into the world as women, but spreading it across the galaxies as well; that’s also pioneering. And what about the wild “west” surface of Mars? Gene Roddenberry once described Star Trek as “wagon train to the stars” and so much has come from the imagining of those potential frontiers; where will your imagination take you? Show us!

Payment for stories will be $5 USD per 1000 words

We’re looking for speculative fiction across all anthologies (unless otherwise specified). That includes everything from high fantasy to hard scifi and anything in between.

We do accept reprints, simultaneous submissions, and multiple submissions, though these will slow down our response time.

Story lengths should be anywhere from flash-length to about 20k words, but we have at times made exceptions. We know a story is complete when it’s complete, and arbitrary word count requirements are not always helpful. If you have an amazing story that exceeds 20k words, let us know. We may be able to make special accommodations. 🙂

With regard to copyright, we request the non-exclusive right to publish your story in the anthology to which it was accepted. You retain the rights to your individual story to do with as you wish. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Formatting a manuscript for submission is a pain. Every publication has its own rules–headers, spacing, font, file format, required information, and so on and so forth.

The truth is, it’s just a means of separating those authors who are genuinely serious from those who are just inundating publications with their as-yet unappreciated epic.

We want to make it simple. Our submission guidelines are:

Send a short query describing your work to:

editor@jayhenge.com

If we like what we read, we’ll ask for more info. If we don’t, we won’t.

Just keep the following in mind:

  • Make it clear. You’re a writer, so that’s the easy part, right? 🙂
  • Include your name. (You’d be surprised how many forget.)
  • A “short query” is probably fewer than 500 words, but use your best judgment.
  • A full plot summary (including the ending) is helpful. Please don’t send marketing copy.
  • Word count is also helpful.

We won’t/can’t read anything in a format we can’t open or a language we can’t read.

Microsoft Word doc files are always a safe bet, and Apple’s Pages is also good. If you’re an Open Office user, please save as a Rich Text File or similar.

We reserve the right to reject a manuscript or query for any reason, including but not limited to criminal neglect of creativity, first degree murder of the English language, adverbial abuse, possession of cliché with intent to distribute, and pathological telegraphing.

Usually, however, it’s just that we didn’t think your work was a good fit, and that’s all. Nothing sinister.

Worrying about wordcount

An editor friend once told me to let a story be as long as it needs to be. Which is good advice in theory, but not always realistic when worrying about submission guidelines.

Short story calls tend to be in the range of 2,500-5,000 words, with 7500 words as an upper limit. Totally Bound, which is the publisher behind Capturing the Moment says that novellas start at 25,000 words and novels at 50,000. Other publishers say a novel is 75,000 or 80,000 words. Other wisdom holds that a novel is around 100,000 words.

In general I find that it is easier to trim a story than to lengthen it. Taking a story and trimming off all the tangents, the many times I use “just” as a filler word, and other bits here and there streamline the story. If you look at a writer like Malin James, every single word serves a purpose–there isn’t so much as a spare syllable.

However, when I sat down to write Capturing the Moment, it was with the explicit goal of writing a novella. That felt like stretching my writing muscles, as the longest thing I’d had professionally published at that point was a 5,000 word story. Writing 25,000 words wasn’t easy, and I had to keep asking myself what I could have them do within the guidelines of a 24 hour story (at the time I was writing to a specific call, but ended up going with a different publisher for personal reasons).

It took me eight months (with a big health related break) to get from the first word to submitting to a publisher.

Plunder began life as a short story in October or November of 2015. The characters wouldn’t leave me alone, so I started a novel. Unlike when I wrote Capturing the Moment, I didn’t have a specific publisher or call I was responding to. There was no exterior framing device to use. This was all on me, with the goal of at least 50k words, even as I knew 50k is often considered a long novella or a super short novel, but that was still twice the length of Capturing the Moment.

In the roughly two and a half years since, I wrote a first draft that almost killed me to get to 50k words. I felt desperate by the end of it, watching my word count slowly trickle upwards to that goal. I had a beta read and respond to it, and I began to mess around with it again at the end of last year, taking it from 50-75k words because I was then responding to questions I hadn’t answered, making things more obvious, and stregthening the weak spots that had been called out to me. I then sent it to several more people and a good friend who is also a sometimes editor of mine (Jessica Augustsson, owner of Jayhenge Publishing).

Jess asked several key questions that, along with my conversation with Beverly Jenkins, made me realize I hadn’t done anywhere near as much research as I should have for a historical.

Now I am back at the drawing board, and my writing is both ticking upward as I fill in gaps, fix historical errors, and shifting down as I trim the fat. As you could see in the top picture, my word count as of this minute is 77,003. At the end of today it could be 78,000 or 76,000, although my final goal for the book is in the 80-85k range.

Then I’ll send it back to Jess (I asked her to let me go through and fix the historical issues to the best of my ability) and we’ll see what happens then. At that point, though, the focus won’t really be on wordcount.

So what advice do I have?

My solution was to keep messing with their happiness. I think that’s probably lame advice, but it’s one of the pieces of advice I’ve always gone back to when struggling with my work. Oh, are they happy? How can I create a situation–interior or exterior–that will fuck with that.

What do I mean?

So in Plunder, one of my two MC’s is Bree, who is a young woman who grew up on her father’s ship, but was sent away to what was in effect an early finishing school. She’s leaving school and thinks she’s going to return to living on a ship when she learns that her father has arranged a marriage for her. When her ship is attacked by pirates, she negotiates with the captain for the safety of her crew. A night turns into a week, and she falls for him. Everything seems to be going well, and that could have been the end of the story. But I have him send her back to her father’s ship–an act with repercussions for the rest of the book.

In Capturing the Moment, I kept bringing in Meg and RJ’s past, because the relationship they’d had in college and just after had repercussions on how they interacted six years after their broken engagement. Eventually, they also needed to have a massive fight to deal with their past. Each time the past came up, it affected the present. By figuring out their past, it not only helped me understand where the story had to go, it affected word count.

Ultimately I don’t think there’s a magic bullet to deal with word count goals. If there was, I’d be producing stories at a much faster pace than I do. I think it’s a muscle that gets stronger as you practice your craft. I could write a novella because I’d grown strong muscles writing short stories. I can write a novel because I wrote a novella.

 

 

Open Calls

My dear friend/editor has open calls for three anthologies (one erotica, two non-erotica). She’s such a great editor to work with. Jessica can help you take your work to the next level because she’s willing to work with you to build a stronger story rather than overwrite your voice.

Here are her open calls…

Wavelengths

Sometimes communication is not as straightforward as we might expect. From body language to Morse code, conveying messages comes in a wide variety of forms. How do we get our message across? Whether you’re talking with other species on this planet or another, we’re looking for your loquacious conversations!  (not erotica–DN)

Sensory Perceptions

Loose your imagination’s libido in this very spec-fic collection of erotica tales. We want plot-focused stories with enrapturing storytelling where the erotica and romance enhance the story rather than being the main goal. Your level of explicitness may vary—the important part is the tale itself. We can’t wait to read your stories!

unrealpolitik

Some of the best speculative fiction stories today have derived from the tumultuous political times of the past from authors seeking to highlight injustice or simply work through their own frustration. We are indeed living in interesting times, locally and globally (and intergalactically?). Whether the subject is government or espionage or even something only tangentially related, we would love to read your stories!

 

 

 

 

My take on Snow White

Once upon a time,a long time ago in a kingdom far away from California, a young woman wrote a story about Snow White for literotica.

I started with two premises in mind—what if beauty was a curse, and what if the Evil Queen wasn’t evil? The result was a short story called “For Love of Snow White.” I wrote it in 2002 and barely thought of it for over a decade. But I saw a call for submissions that would fit the story, so I pulled it out of my archive, polished it up and sent it in. My editor asked me to expand it–which I did by about 10k words. The resulting story is still called “For Love of Snow White,” and while it is not erotica, it is a dark feminist take on the Snow White story.

Here’s a snippet

The carriage ride to the convent was long, and my book held little interest for me. Idly, I took my mirror from the pocket of my gown.

“Mirror, Mirror in my hand, who’s the fairest in the land?”

I received the answer I’d dreaded for five years. I was told “You, my queen, are lovely as a pearl, but your beauty cannot compare to the girl’s.”

The new god’s curse had struck in full.

“Mama!” Snow greeted me with a warm embrace.

“Snow! Let me look at how you’ve grown!”

No longer garbed like a novitiate, Snow White was breathtaking. She had hair as black as midnight cascading to her waist. Her skin was pale as the snow she was named for. Snow White’s eyes glowed bluer than any sapphire. Her lips formed a perfect red bow. She was dressed in a blue gown that accented her womanly curves and she moved with a grace that even I envied. Her voice was soft, yet carried a note of seduction that she seemed unaware of. She had reached her majority and her powers, although untrained, were at their full strength.

The king and priests had spoken—she was to leave, no matter what the head of the nun’s order thought of it. I took her home, too distracted by the mirror’s revelation and worried by Snow’s beauty to take advantage of the two hours alone in the carriage. She was silent, looking out a window rather than wanting to talk. Perhaps she was thinking of Charmaine. I should’ve taken her to the stone dance right away, bespelled the driver, anything. But how could I know what was to come?

You can read my almost novella in Myths, Monsters, Mutations edited by Jessica Augustsson, forthcoming from Jayhenge in 2017

Submission Calls (3 anthologies)

Jayhenge Publishing has open submission calls for three anthologies.

 

Steampunk

Due to high demand, we are putting together a steampunk-themed anthology. We’re looking for more than just the goggles-and-gears accoutrements of what we think of as steampunk. The era of the steam engine affected much more than Victorian England, so let yourself be inspired by everything the new and amazing inventions might have touched, from the stratified class systems to the various places colonized, and then allow your imaginations to soar into worlds beyond our own.

Unearthly Sleuths

Crime solving becomes extraordinary when the rules of Planet Earth as we know it don’t apply. If your detective is seeking out clues in distant galaxies or preternatural realms, send us your stories!

Myths, Monsters, Mutations

Who lurks in the dark? What’s that sound? We’re looking for your accounts of dark myths, horror and the macabre to delight and frighten!

None of these anthologies is erotica, but Jessica tells me an erotica anthology is on the horizon. I can tell you from first-hand experience that Jessica is a fantastic editor to work with. I strongly encourage you to consider submitting to her.

Call for Submissions: Intrepid Horizons

Intrepid Horizons
My very dear friend and editor, Jessica, has extended her call for submissions for her next anthology, Intrepid Horizons, through March 25.

Intrepid Horizons — Third in the anthology series following up on Other Days and Encounters, Intrepid Horizons seeks out bravery on the horizons of this universe or the next. Do you have tales of courage to share?

We’re looking for stories of many lengths, from flash to novella. If you have something you think fits the bill, please send it along! Payment will be $3 per 1000 words. Deadline TBD.

This is not an erotica collection.

Jess is a really great editor, and so supportive of her writers. Whether you write classic sci-fi/fantasy or something new–this is the anthology with my story about a Unicorn’s Virgin getting dumped, after all–Jessica wants to hear from you. JayHenge is still a new press, so while the pay is lower than other places, you retain the rights and can do with as you wish.

Check out her submission guidelines here and happy writing.