Sunday, January 31, 2016

Announcing the Next EBP anthology: Urban Fantasy

As someone who has always read a lot, I am sometimes dumbfounded to learn that there are genres that lay claim to books I enjoy. Perhaps I’m na├»ve, but I tend to separate books between fiction and nonfiction and then add poetry and plays; I read them all. I don’t worry about genres and subgenres when I’m reading. I simply love quality writing.

Still, as I’ve gotten deeper into publishing, I have recognized the value of genres and subgenres. And as a lover of mathematics, I also enjoy the Venn diagram aspect of those genres. A book can be both Young Adult and science fiction, for example. I know a few steampunk writers who happily added romance – or was it vice versa? – to their repertoire.

It is with this spirit of experimentation and love of quality fiction that Elephant’s Bookshelf Press announces its next anthology: Urban fantasy.

To me, it’s a challenging genre to nail down. Of course, the “urban” element is vital. The idea of the city standing as a character in its own right has appealed to me ever since I seriously studied authors and literature. While there may be similarities, I think any native of New York, Philadelphia, Austin, Amarillo, Chicago, or Detroit – to say nothing of London, Dublin, Venice, or wherever – would argue their city is more different than like the others.

I regularly commute into New York City and my mind is often awhirl with ideas about the people and situations I see almost every day. I’ve traveled throughout the U.S. and much of the U.K. and Ireland, and I’m always amazed at how an urban center can vary regardless of the size of its population.

The fantasy aspect is every bit as important to the story as the city in which it takes place. As a reader, I’m intrigued by the ideas of angels and demons walking among us, commuting and communing with “ordinary” humans. But what happens when a gargoyle take flight from its perch atop a building? How might an ancient curse affect the urban denizens? Lately, I’ve been reading so many fairy stories to my girls, and I’ve been curious how I might place some of their favorite pixies into New York. Indeed, the possibilities are endless.

For our anthology, the urban fantasies can be up to 5,000 words long. Still no erotica. The deadline is July 11; there is no payment, but published authors will receive a paperback edition of the completed anthology. We are aiming for publication in late September, though it might end up being October.

You can send your submissions to submissions@elephantsbookshelfpress.com

Our team will review the stories as they come in. If history is a judge, some stories will be obvious decisions, but other decisions might be held until we’ve seen enough submissions. I expect we’ll publish no more than twenty stories and it’ll probably be fewer than that.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

In It to Win It

It's the biggest buzz all over the country: a $1.5 billion payout! And what if there's no winner this time? What would you do if you won?

While I don't generally drop anything into the lottery pool, even I have gotten a ticket (actually, several through an office pool -- more on that in a moment) and spent some idle moments fantasizing about what I'd do if I received some multi-million-dollar cut of the big prize. Who wouldn't?

But such dreams come with downsides. For one thing, I would expect that any large prize would cause problems within the little pool of colleagues -- I think it's about two or three dozen co-workers -- if for no other reason than the fact that many of us live in different states. As a New Jersey resident, do I have a responsibility to pay taxes to New York, where the winning ticket would have been purchased? I'm pretty sure I do, though I don't have any clue what that amount would be. And what would happen to the organization where I work if dozens of people decided they didn't need to work there any longer? Yes, I worry too much.

Needless to say, I haven't ditched my day job and don't expect to anytime soon, but if I were to get a piece of the office pool largess, I know what I wouldn't do: I wouldn't stop writing. If anything, I'd probably write more and might even be asked to write more. It would certainly help my publishing company, though I'd have a lot more expensive bills for folks like lawyers and accountants and probably financial planners.

As writers, we have the potential to win big with every book we complete. Your lottery win might be gaining a top agent or getting a publishing deal. It might be sales numbers that you couldn't imagine a few months ago or newly found celebrity. Personally, I'd be happy with financial security for my family. Again, who wouldn't?

So while I'll be happy if any of my writing and reading friends (or myself) are among the big winners of the billion-dollar lottery, I'm staying focused on creating my own lottery tickets with the books, stories, and articles I write. Good luck, winners!

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Having a Day

I'm having an interesting day at work today. So much so that I'm doing my lunch/catch up on social media break about 90 minutes later than usual. What has made it so interesting? I'm, shocked to say, a staff meeting.

We had our first staff meeting of the year, and I actually came out of it feeling excited and eager to tackle some tasks. I don't remember the last time a staff meeting had me feeling that way. To make it more surprising, in part I'm eager to dive into creating an editorial calendar. Not only that, I'm thinking of how I can do the same type of thing on this blog.

I've already committed in my mind to blogging more often and more consistently. But I've been wrestling with the type of thing I suspect most of you struggle with too: what can I say that'll make a difference for other writers?

The truth is, if we writers don't have something to say, then we're probably in the wrong game in the first place. There's lots of things I want to say and do, but whether they'll have an audience is a different -- and at least as important -- thing altogether.

My ideas include conducting and sharing more interviews with authors, maybe editors, maybe agents. They don't have to be people I've published or will publish through Elephant's Bookshelf Press, though this blog is an extension of my company even if the blog came first (and inspired the name of the company.)

But I'd love to hear what you'd like to see here. I know there are at least a couple readers who come here often. Feel free to either share in the comments or send me an email at mwsinclair@gmail.com (or if you have one of my many other email addresses, feel free: communication is what matters) and let me know what else you'd like to see here. I'm aiming to blog at least once every week for the next month or two before making that even more often. But to that end, I'd also like to develop some consistent features, such as interviews or book reviews or posts on what I'm seeing in the publishing world.

So let me know. I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My Christmas Gift to You

The other day, I was thinking about an interview of Stephen King I saw many years ago. He said something along the lines of “I used to tell interviewers I write every day except Christmas and my birthday. But that was a lie. I write on Christmas and my birthday, too.”

I can’t say I write as regularly as he does. He’s probably stopped writing more novels than I’ve even started to write. But I can say that I think about writing every day, including Christmas and my birthday. I turn scenes over in my mind, imagine characters in new situations, mull over what people on the train do when they’re not commuting, and create new people out of nothing or out of a hodgepodge of folks I’ve met.

That’s not writing per se, but it’s part of the process we all use as writers. Whether you’re a pantser or a plotter doesn’t matter; we all must allow our minds to play.

As Christmas arrives, I’d like to give you all a gift. It’s not big, so feel free to pop it in a pocket and use at your leisure. I didn’t wrap it; the gift is the permission to imagine at any time of day. Whether you’re at work or driving or taking a shower or even asleep, you have permission to imagine. Don’t feel guilty that you didn’t give me anything, because you’re wrong about that. You’ve given me increased confidence. I really appreciated the encouragement I got from the comment you wrote months ago. I loved the funny remark you posted on Facebook because it got me thinking about something in a new way. And I thank you so much for the feedback you offered on my story. 

And here’s another gift: my promise to pass along the same gifts you’ve given me to other writers.

Thank you and Merry Christmas, everyone, whether you celebrate the holiday or not.