Editor’s Choice Award October 2018, Short Story

The Editors’ Choices are chosen from the submissions from the previous month that show the most potential or otherwise earn the admiration of our Resident Editors. Submissions in four categories — science fiction chapters, fantasy chapters, horror, and short stories — receive a detailed review, meant to be educational for others as well as the author.This month’s reviews are written by Resident Editors Leah Bobet, Jeanne Cavelos, and Judith Tarr. The last four months of Editors’ Choices and their editorial reviews are archived on the workshop.

Beyond The Ether by Penelope Lee

“Beyond the Ether” caught my eye this month—and it was a hard choice between strong pieces!—with the wonderfully communicated, ambivalent, permeating emotion it packs into only a thousand words. This is a piece with an impact, and one of the rare workshop stories where the core relationship is a friendship—one that’s messy, complex, and full of hurt. So this month, I’d like to talk about symbolism and implication, and how they generate emotion.

One of the strategies that makes “Beyond the Ether” work for me is that it’s, on the prose level, a fairly straightforward read. The narrative voice is clear and conversational, with a simple structure and clean prose, and no tangents for explaining worldbuilding to distract from the unfolding situation. The story is a clear and easy read. The power that drives it is generated in the story’s symbols, and how the information on the page can be put together by readers to draw conclusions about what’s happening off the page—which is one of the most viable strategies for making very short fiction work. Flash fiction might be overall considered an art of implication: with so little space to work with, each sentence has to imply at least as much as it says in order to get a whole story on the page.

And “Beyond the Ether” starts that work immediately. It’s clear throughout the story that the tree stands in for more than one aspect of the situation: the protagonist, her friend, her friendship, the idea of freedom, of what’s outside. It establishes a solid visual anchor for readers before sliding into the story of this broken friendship and how it fits into the pieces of an obviously broken world, and does so in a way that’s vivid, vibrant, deep, and tactile. The idea of a tree leaning through a fence, straining its leaves outward—described in not just colour but twisted alteration, shelter and shade—is strongly kinetic, as is “I’ve got so many dreams. You used to put them into little marbles and ground them down to sand.” They’re metaphors that go directly to the hands, and embody the protagonist’s situation in a way that dodges cliché and spotlights, for readers, what clues we’re supposed to look for about how the world of the story and the Center work.

The worldbuilding in “Beyond the Ether” is interestingly done, for a story told so straightforwardly: true to an oppressive environment, the protagonist never outright expresses an opinion on the awfulness of Center life. She talks around it, leaves little facts like breadcrumbs, and we fill in the blanks as readers, characterizing her situation through the comparisons she makes or what’s left unsaid. There’s a dystopian world of horrors outside the walls of this situation, but it’s only looked at sideways, treated as part of the regular fabric of the protagonist’s world, and the way the hints add up is compelling—and still vague enough to let readers’ imaginations run.

The same technique is at work in talking about the story’s core: a mutiny and a messy, broken friendship. “Beyond the Ether” never actually says outright why the relationship between the protagonist and her friend happened in the first place, why it went bad, why it’s over—which is a core piece of information for emotionally engaging with the story. But the story gives readers that information incredibly clearly in the subtext, in little pieces. The entire contrast between why the protagonist chose Jack and a heterosexual romantic relationship and following the rules, keeping her head down, and escaping that way over the intense intimacy with her former friend, mutiny, and flight is implied by the collision between:

“It keeps us safe but it also can kill us. You used to say that a lot.”

—and—

“But I was hungry for you to give me that special treatment, to call me over from across the rec room to the little circle of cadets you’d created.”

—and—

“Jack says ideas don’t mean much if they never come to fruition and I think there’s a lot of truth in that. He helped me pass my flight exam. So he and I could be co-pilots”—that Jack’s brand of affection helped her be more and bigger to keep them together, instead of the friend’s steps to keep the protagonist small to keep them together; a concrete friendship instead of the idea of one. That’s an incredibly complex, difficult, and real set of dynamics rendered in the space of three lines, capped off by “If you were less stupid, you’d get out of here with me.”

That’s ultimately what I loved about this piece: how it manages to tackle the difference between love that elevates and love that crushes, in so little space, without the feeling of density: just by dropping the right puzzle pieces and the right clues to hold in one’s hand.

The author’s notes asked about the ending, and whether it feels complete enough, and I’m uncertain it does. While there’s a sense of completion there, I’m not sure the ending as it’s currently written brings the emotional arc to a close, or opens it up for a new implied, off-the-page direction. I think some of that problem’s in the sentence level: By the time we reach “Forget me”, we’re textually far from the idea that it’s what she’s hoping for—just in terms of literal page-distance—and so the sentence reads closer to a stand-alone imperative. It muddies the tone a touch with a despair and self-destruction that hadn’t been in evidence before, and that might be a source for any confusion generated by the ending.

However, the other potential problem is that I’m not sure just the act of forgetting would bring this relationship to a close, or bring the protagonist in line with a new direction. The problem, to be quite literal, is still open-ended. It doesn’t feel like an ending to me, because it hasn’t ended.

If I have a suggestion for a more satisfying ending, it might be to approach that problem from the thematic level. “Beyond the Ether” isn’t a plot-driven piece: it’s a study of a relationship, and the study of a resolution—a decision already made, if made conflicted and in grief and maybe not with 100% resolution. What moves within it, the driving narrative force, is the protagonist’s progress from grief to something different; something more. I’d suggest that getting a stronger sense of where she is going emotionally and crafting an ending line that points to that goal would be a good starting point for finding the right closing lines for “Beyond the Ether”. Which door she is opening, or which door she’s closing—but on the level of the emotional decision, rather than her choice to go into space with Jack.

It’s a small but significant piece of work, and I think that’ll really bring “Beyond the Ether” into focus—and take it from affecting to outright powerful.

Best of luck!

–Leah Bobet, author of Above (2012) and An Inheritance Of Ashes (2015)

On The Shelves

In The Vanisher’s Palace by Aliette de Bodard (JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc.October 2018)

In a ruined, devastated world, where the earth is poisoned and beings of nightmares roam the land…A woman, betrayed, terrified, sold into indenture to pay her village’s debts and struggling to survive in a spirit world. A dragon, among the last of her kind, cold and aloof but desperately trying to make a difference.

When failed scholar Yên is sold to Vu Côn, one of the last dragons walking the earth, she expects to be tortured or killed for Vu Côn’s amusement.

But Vu Côn, it turns out, has a use for Yên: she needs a scholar to tutor her two unruly children. She takes Yên back to her home, a vast, vertiginous palace-prison where every door can lead to death. Vu Côn seems stern and unbending, but as the days pass Yên comes to see her kinder and caring side. She finds herself dangerously attracted to the dragon who is her master and jailer. In the end, Yên will have to decide where her own happiness lies—and whether it will survive the revelation of Vu Côn’s dark, unspeakable secrets…

On The Shelves

Roar of Sky (Blood of Earth) by Beth Cato  

In this stunning conclusion to the acclaimed Blood of Earth trilogy, geomancer Ingrid must find a way to use her extraordinary abilities to save her world from the woman hell-bent on destroying it. Thanks to her geomantic magic, Ingrid has successfully eluded Ambassador Blum, the power-hungry kitsune who seeks to achieve world domination for the Unified Pacific. But using her abilities has taken its toll: Ingrid’s body has been left severely weakened, and she must remain on the run with her friends Cy and Fenris. Hoping to learn more about her magical roots and the strength her bloodline carries, Ingrid makes her way across the Pacific to Hawaii, home to the ancient volcano goddess Madam Pele. What she discovers in this paradise is not at all what she expects—and perhaps exactly what she needs. But Ambassador Blum comes from the same world of old magic and mythic power. And if Ingrid cannot defeat her once and for all, she knows Blum will use that power to take the lives of everyone she holds dear before escalating a war that will rip the world to pieces.

Editor’s Choice Award September 2018, Science Fiction

The Editors’ Choices are chosen from the submissions from the previous month that show the most potential or otherwise earn the admiration of our Resident Editors. Submissions in four categories — science fiction chapters, fantasy chapters, horror, and short stories — receive a detailed review, meant to be educational for others as well as the author.This month’s reviews are written by Resident Editors Leah Bobet, Jeanne Cavelos, and Judith Tarr. The last four months of Editors’ Choices and their editorial reviews are archived on the workshop.

Eyes Of Glass, Chapter One by Scott Christian

This is a strikingly atmospheric chapter, full of rich and complex imagery. At the same time it moves along quickly. The pacing is rapid and the proliferation of plot-bunnies is, in a word, prolific. There’s a lot going on, and it goes fast–though it could go even faster, as I’ll explain below.

In this iteration I think it’s clear that the noir detective is the viewpoint and the Doctor doesn’t appear until after Jack has established his identity and his function in the story. While the funky formatting hits my eye with chunks of undifferentiated text, with a little effort I can see how the paragraphs seem to want to be structured. For the most part I can follow the narrative.

The main thing I might suggest for revision is a bit of a step back, and some assessing of priorities, starting with the way the paragraphs are structured. There’s so much going on, so many details, such a heaping on of actions and reactions, descriptions, characterizations, and general plot-chewiness, that sometimes it’s hard to navigate.

First I’d recommend shortening paragraphs, teasing out viewpoints and angles and general what-happens-here, and giving each its own space. That way, it’s easier to follow what’s going on, but the prose will keep its overall lushness.

Here for example, at the very beginning, we see this:

It was only a matter of time. The identity of the “old-fashioned detective” had been his most successful, but most desperate disguise yet. It was a symbol of justice he had carefully crafted to try and prove that the world wasn’t lost quite yet, that innocence could still be protected, that life didn’t have to end with regret, and that even Black Jack could become one of the “good guys.” That symbol’s name is Private Detective John Stack. Tonight, however, that symbol is dying, for night has fallen in the Leviathan and with it came a monster.

There’s so much packed into this space. We learn that he has basically an avatar, the detective. Apparently he calls himself Black Jack. But then he has another name. And he’s dying. Or his avatar is. And it’s night somewhere called the Leviathan, and there’s a monster, but Leviathan is a monster, so are they the same thing? Or are they different?

What happens here is that we get one piece of information, then another that may be vaguely contradictory but is probably identical to it, but we can’t be sure before we move on to the next pair of is it/isn’t it. Some of this is probably intentional, because the universe Jack is operating in has that kind of recursive ambiguity to it. But the prose isn’t quite in control of itself yet, and the piling on of details within a single paragraph has the effect of jumbling them together.

Breaking them up will help. So will polishing for a little more clarity.

One way to do this is to prune the imagery. For example:

The unlit towers of the Old Downtown rise like skyscraping gravestones into the winter sky above.

There’s a whole heap of metaphors here: towers, skyscraping, gravestones. They rise, they’re in the sky, the sky is above.

Pruning just a couple of words removes redundancy without losing the sense: The unlit towers of the Old Downtown rise like gravestones into the winter sky.

Same strong imagery, clearer meaning. A similar pruning pass through the whole chapter will bring out the essentials, keep the atmosphere, and make the rapid pacing even more effective.

Watch for repetitive words and phrases, too. For example the Doctor purrs repeatedly and sometimes confusingly. She is Cat, yes? Which explains why she does this. But the connection could be clearer. It’s like Black Jack/John Stack and Leviathan/monster: the connection isn’t quite solid, and the proliferation of words and images makes it hard to catch the meaning.

And finally, in action scenes, it’s best in general to to keep the focus on a small number of very specific things that happen. If the scene goes on too long, it starts to lose tension, and the more so if it’s written slow—with long sentences and subordinate clauses.

In a rush of movement the gambler lunges forward and buries his dagger inches deep into the wooden door before he realizes the intruder has swiftly dodged to one side. In the flash of silence before the chaos begins, Stack’s lips are suddenly curled into a sadistic grin. After hearing his name for the first time in nearly a decade, Black Jack smiles at the world once more.
Try reading this aloud and see how slowly it moves. It means to be fast, it means to be strong. It wants to hit hard and move on quickly.

Shorter sentences, stronger constructions, more active phrases, will make this happen. Less repetition, more focus. More punch and pow.

The gambler lunges forward and buries his dagger in the door, too late. The intruder has dodged aside.

(new action, new viewpoint, new paragraph) In the flash of silence before chaos begins, Stack’s lips curl in a sadistic grin. For the first time in nearly a decade, Black Jack smiles at the world.

In short, and in sum: Definitely you don’t want to lose your wonderful atmosphere, but tightening up the prose and clarifying its meaning will make it work even better.

–Judith Tarr

Grapevine/Market News

Zombies Need Brains LLC is accepting submissions to its three science fiction and fantasy anthologies PORTALS, TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED, and ALTERNATE PEACE.  Stories for this anthology must be original (no reprints or previously published material), no more than 7,500 words in length, and must satisfy the theme of the anthology. Pay rate will be an advance of a minimum of 6 cents per word. Full guidelines are found here. 

Publication News

Jaime Lee Moyer wants to let you know: “Back in the day, I workshopped a book called The Witch Of Sherwood on OWW. I just sold that book, and an as yet untitled second book to Jo Fletcher Books in the UK. The novel is now titled Brightfall, and will be out in July of 2019. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the OWW members who read and commented on the chapters I posted on the shop. You pointed me in the right direction. Thank you all.”

Editor’s Choice Award September 2018, Fantasy

The Editors’ Choices are chosen from the submissions from the previous month that show the most potential or otherwise earn the admiration of our Resident Editors. Submissions in four categories — science fiction chapters, fantasy chapters, horror, and short stories — receive a detailed review, meant to be educational for others as well as the author.This month’s reviews are written by Resident Editors Leah Bobet, Jeanne Cavelos, and Judith Tarr. The last four months of Editors’ Choices and their editorial reviews are archived on the workshop.

West Of California, Chapter 8 by Steve Brady

This is an intriguing chapter. With the help of the synopsis, it comes through pretty well for a cold read; there’s enough background information to get a sense of who the characters are and what the larger story is about.

The narrative voice is distinctive, with a wry sense of humor. As I read, I can actually hear a couple of my college friends talking in that same tone, telling a long, rambling tale in between hits of controlled substances. It very much has that vibe.

What I’d like to suggest in the next round of revisions is further work on the structure of the story. There is so much going on, so many things happening over so many years. Much of it we do need to know in order to understand what’s happening in the story-present, and there is a clear attempt to break up the passages of summary and synopsis with bits of dialogue and character interaction.

That’s a good start. As a reader I’d like more air in the story-room—by which I mean, slowing down for the dramatized scenes, giving them more space, with less synopsis in between. Do we need the blow-by-blow of Laura and Andy’s life and travels, or can we move faster from major event to major event? Can the dramatized scenes fold in more backstory as characters talk and interact, and dispense with at least some of the summaries?

One way to write backstory like this is to tell it in a series of flashbacks with characters acting and interacting. For example in the Tucson sequence, rather than summarizing what Laura did and with whom over those years, the story might be told in a handful of scenes. The seeds of those scenes are already there: Laura’s meeting with Brad in the midst of her empty life of smoking and painting, and how and when she introduces him to Andy; a vignette of Brad caring for Andy while Laura takes the leap into signing up for courses, in which we see how they all feel about it, and maybe we get to feel Laura’s sense of freedom with maybe a stab of guilt; the rave and the party (which might be combined for further narrative economy); the day Laura finds out Brad is leaving.

The last scene is partly written, but it needs more. More emotional complications. More resistance from Brad. More friction—because friction is how things move in this universe, including stories.

Transitions between scenes don’t need to be written out as such (“Two years went this way,” for example). It’s quite acceptable to jump from scene to scene with a bit that establishes where and when it stands in relation to the last one—Brad might say to Laura, “I’ve been spinning my wheels for two years. I’m bored. I want out. I’m going to New York.” And then Laura reacts, and maybe Andy does something in reaction to that. Maybe there’s an argument. When it’s over, Brad has been backed into a corner—and how does he feel about that? Trapped? Pissed? Resigned? A combination of all three? And then on to the next important event, which in this case would be a scene set in New York.

None of these scenes needs to be long or elaborate. The word count may not be a whole lot more than is already there in the summary. It’s the difference between passive voice and active, between a story summed up from a distance and one that’s happening right in front of the reader.

Exposition definitely has its place, and so does synopsis, but what brings a story to life is characters acting, moving, talking, living–sometimes in messy ways, with complicated feelings. Then the reader gets to experience that life with them.

–Judith Tarr

Editor’s Choice Award September 2018, Horror

The Editors’ Choices are chosen from the submissions from the previous month that show the most potential or otherwise earn the admiration of our Resident Editors. Submissions in four categories — science fiction chapters, fantasy chapters, horror, and short stories — receive a detailed review, meant to be educational for others as well as the author.This month’s reviews are written by Resident Editors Leah Bobet, Jeanne Cavelos, and Judith Tarr. The last four months of Editors’ Choices and their editorial reviews are archived on the workshop.

Pat Benatar and The Black Eyed Gods Of The Earth by Pierce Skinner

In a story centered around characters in a very disturbing cult, the author risks alienating readers who may find it difficult to relate to such characters.  This story instead draws readers in by starting with a situation we can easily relate to, three children exploring the countryside and discovering signs of a stranger.  The desire of Isaac, the protagonist, to steal the stranger’s Walkman is also something most of us can understand.  The disturbing cult they are part of is only hinted at in the opening scene, creating curiosity.  Future scenes provide additional hints and glimpses of the activities of the cult, drawing us further into the story, building momentum, suspense, and a disturbing atmosphere.  That works well.

Another strength of the story is that the cult feels both believable and unique.  I’ve read many horror stories about cults, and few of the cults portrayed in those stories have felt believable.

For me, the protagonist and the plot are not as strong as these other elements.   After stealing the Walkman and giving it to a girl to impress her, Isaac is a fairly passive, reactive protagonist.  He lets his friend, Alex, take the blame for stealing the Walkman and be killed.  He listens to the spirits of his dead, childhood friends as they provide hints about what is to come.  (Isaac believes they are gods, but they don’t seem like gods to me.)  When his dead friends kill his boss, he runs, but this is reactive–an action taken in reaction to what others have done–rather than active–an action taken because the character forms a goal and is struggling to achieve it.  It’s not clear that Isaac has any goal.  I don’t think he believes he can escape or even postpone his fate.  While he takes guns, I don’t think he believes he can stop them with bullets.  This makes his running pretty empty; nothing seems at stake.  If he wanted to do something else before meeting his fate, so he was racing to do that, he would be more active with a stronger goal and something at stake.

This relates to a larger point, which is why we should care about Isaac.  Why should we care whether there’s a way for him to escape his fate, and why we should care what he chooses?  I don’t know what Isaac has done with his life in between living in the cult as a child and meeting his fate as an adult.  He seems to have just been marking time.  If that’s so, maybe he realizes he’s wasted the time he had when his dead friends show up, belatedly realizes what he should have done, and now wants to do that thing before his time is over.

For example, perhaps there’s one person from the cult who has survived.  Perhaps it’s the girl he liked, Sandra.  Isaac could have been seeking out the others over the years and discovering when and how they died.  This would make Isaac more active, not just the recipient of information from other characters.  Perhaps he’s discovered Sandra is in a psychiatric hospital or prison, but he’s been afraid to seek her out, both for her sake and his own, thinking perhaps one or both of them might be overlooked by the curse of the cult.  Perhaps, in gathering all this information, he’s formed a theory about when they will be killed.  This could bring a ticking clock into the story and add suspense.  Right now, the suspense builds until around the scene that ends “I don’t breathe till I’m back on the highway.”  Then it declines, because we know Isaac can be killed at any time, and that time is just up to the author, not up to anything Isaac does.  (Of course the author controls every aspect of the story, but the reader needs the illusion that events are unfolding according to a change of cause and effect, and that the protagonist has the ability to influence the course of events.)  If Isaac thinks he knows when Sandra will be killed, and when he will be killed, then Isaac will have to race against that clock if he wants to accomplish anything before it’s too late.  As the time he has calculated for Sandra’s death approaches, he may feel the need to call her.  And she could reveal that strange things are happening.  Sure now that she’s about to die, Isaac decides he doesn’t want to hide anymore; he wants to try to save Sandra.  He might think that if he can delay her death so it doesn’t happen at the proper time, she might be spared.  If he dies in the process, that would be okay.  Or he might think he could sacrifice himself in place of her.  Or maybe he thinks she knows something that could save both of them.  Either way, Isaac has a goal, something is at stake, time is short, and suspense is high.   Maybe he can affect events or maybe he can’t, but at least he believes he might.

This struggle can also help set up a difficult decision for Isaac.  The story establishes that Isaac has a choice to make:  die or have the same existence as his dead friends.  Right now, Isaac decides to be with his friends because they are, after all, his friends.  But there’s nothing much at stake in this decision and the choice doesn’t seem difficult for Isaac.  That means it doesn’t carry much emotion or impact.

Instead, for example, Isaac might have decided long ago that he wants to die.  He doesn’t want any twilight life like his friends have.  He struggles to save Sandra, and we can see how much she means to him, how precious these few minutes they have together are to him.  But he fails, and she becomes another dead friend.  Now he faces a difficult decision.  Accept life after death and be with Sandra, or choose death and lose her again.  I think whatever he decides, it will have more impact.

To further clarify the stakes and the decision, I think we need a clearer sense of what this life after death is.  As I mentioned, his dead friends don’t seem like gods to me.  They seem very limited in their power, serving some more powerful being.  And it’s not clear what they do or how they live when they aren’t killing someone from the cult.  I’m not asking for a thorough description of their lives; I’m asking for a few key details that will make the stakes higher and Isaac’s choice more difficult.

One final point I want to mention is that quoting even one line of lyrics from a song requires permission from the rights holder (unlike quoting one line from a story a novel), which can cost hundreds of dollars.  My suggestion would be to make up a song rather than quoting from an existing one.

I thought you did a nice job of gradually revealing information and making me relate to characters that are part of this disturbing cult.  I hope this is helpful.

–Jeanne Cavelos, editor, author, director of Odyssey

Writing Challenge/Prompt

Who is the most unlikely hero (aside from me) you can think of? Your next door neighbor, or your third cousin who gets a rash at the thought of danger or an adventure?

What would this person do if the fate of the world rested on her/his shoulders–rise to the occasion (surprising everyone) or let us all go down in flames?

Now go write a story about this person.

Remember: Challenges are supposed to be fun, but don’t forget to stretch yourself and take risks. If you normally write fantasy, try science fiction. If you’ve never tried writing in first or second person, here’s your chance. The story doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, this is all about trying new things and gaining new skills, and most of all, having fun. Challenge stories can go up on the workshop at anytime. Put “Challenge” in the title so people can find it.

Challenges can be suggested by anyone and suggestions should be sent to Jaime (news (at) onlinewritingworkshop.com).

Spotlight on Joshua Palmatier

Kickstarters and Open Calls

I’m stopping by Spotlight today to tell you the story of my small press, Zombies Need Brains, because it highlights some of the good and bad changes in the publishing world over the last ten years.  Before I created ZNB, I was writing fantasy for DAW Books (and I still am).  But along the way, Patricia Bray and I got interested in editing anthologies and through a series of coincidences and hard work, we managed to pitch a few ideas to DAW Books.  They were interested in two of our projects, which were then produced … and we were subsequently hooked on editing anthologies.  They were too much fun to do.  We didn’t want to stop.

Unfortunately, there was an upheaval in the industry at this point.  Ebooks were coming into play.  Print-on-demand was becoming more and more affordable, and thus more and more a “thing”.  Traditional publishers were attempting to adjust and react to the new technology and new ideas … and one of their reactions was to take a hard look at their current products and do some major trimming.  One of the big items trimmed from nearly every traditional publisher list:  anthologies.  In general, they don’t make big money for the publishers, so they were on the chopping block.

So suddenly I had a driving urge to produce anthologies, with tons of ideas, but no interest from the traditional publishers.  I waited a few years, hoping that the traditional publishers would relax and bring the lines back, and during this time print-on-demand evolved even further and, most importantly, a new tool entered the market:  crowdfunding.

At this point, I had an epiphany.  I could create and publish the anthologies myself!  If I could crowdfund for the base funds (which also proved that there was interest in whatever the theme of that anthology was), I could then put the anthologies out in ebook and print-on-demand myself!

And thus the small press Zombies Need Brains was born.  Using the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform, I could raise the funds needed to pay the authors a professional rate, pay the artist a professional rate, pay professionals to design covers and interiors and ebooks, and get the anthologies I wanted out into the world.  It was genius!

I wasn’t the only one to have such an epiphany.  Crowdfunding changed everything, because now you didn’t have to rely on the big guys to provide the money.  With enough effort and work, and with enough support from fans, you could get the backing for the project yourself.  There was a surge in small presses … which produced a surge in new SF&F on the scene, from voices that you might not have ever heard from simply because of the dynamics of the traditional publishers.  Not just a deluge of more markets for short stories, but also new markets for novelettes and novellas and even full-length novels.

Crowdfunding opened up whole new markets for new writers—anthologies, magazines, podcasts, and more.

Zombies Need Brains is proud to be recognized by SFWA as a professional market and even has two stories up for this year’s WSFA Small Press Award.  We’re running a Kickstarter right now for three new anthologies:  PORTALS (stories of worlds connected to each other by a portal), TEMPORALLY DEACTIVATED (stories about … whatever you decide “temporally deactivated” means), and ALTERNATE PEACE (alternate history stories where the divergence from our timeline comes from some kind of peaceful change).  We’ll be doing an open call for submissions as soon as the Kickstarter funds.  None of this would have been possible ten years ago, before the rise of crowdfunding and print-on-demand and ebooks.

If you’d like to see how much work goes into a Kickstarter, and maybe support ZNB latest effort, check out tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals.  You can also find out more details about the three anthology themes, in case one of them has sparked an idea for a story.  Once our Kickstarter funds, we’ll be putting up information on how YOU can submit a story and perhaps end up in one of our anthologies.

So put on those writerly thinking caps.  And then get writing!

Zombies Need Brains is a company created by epic fantasy author and OWW alum Joshua Palmatier.  ZNB is a small press that focuses on producing themed SF&F anthologies, funded by Kickstarters.  You can check out ZNB at www.zombiesneedbrains.com and their current Kickstarter at tinyurl.com/ZNBPortals.