Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thinking About Summer (and Short Stories)

You ever see a Facebook friend’s relationship status change from “in a relationship” or “married” to “it’s complicated” or even something more definite (“ass handed to me along with a frying pan to the head”) and wonder, “Uh oh, what happened there? They seemed so happy.”

When I see it, I’m usually sad for those people. But then again, perhaps the relationship was not in a good place anyway. After all, who really knows everything that goes on behind someone’s closed doors?

Well, in fiction, the writers do. That’s where you come in.

It’s time to announce the next anthology from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. As always, we’re looking for quality short stories, but this time the theme is a little different. As much as we all like to think about what might have been, we all know that not all relationships were meant to last. For you, perhaps it was a May to September romance that still tastes sweet, or a one-night stand that lasted too long, or maybe the haunting pain associated with a parent or child who died too young.

In the next anthology from Elephant's Bookshelf Press, we explore the short-term relationship.

For the summer edition of our four-season series, we are looking for stories that share a love or relationship that is or appears to be short-lived or not long for this world. You might say it’s a combination of Spring Fevers and The Fall: Relationships facing apocalyptic change.

This need not be negative. And I pray that it’s sometimes funny. I mean, sometimes getting burned is okay, isn't it?

We’re looking for previously unpublished stories of up to 7,500 words (Yes, that’s shorter than we allowed earlier, but those 10,000 word “shorts” can be pretty hard to get through in one sitting unless they really sing.) They can be in any style except erotica. I expect we’ll see several Young Adult and New Adult pieces, maybe even a Middle Grade or two. Romance, steampunk, steampunk romance, traditional literary, science fiction, science fiction with a lusty alien or two… you get the point. [Edited 1/17/13: I cannot offer payment for published stories at this time, but all authors will receive a print or electronic version of the finished work. Also, all rights -- including reprint rights -- revert to the author.]

If there’s something in your trunk based on that guy or girl who left you in the lurch not long before you wrote it twenty years ago, give it a good once-or-twice-over and make sure it can handle walking around in the twenty-first century (unless of course it’s supposed to be set in the twentieth, or sixteenth, or the dawn of time. I seem to recall Adam and Eve had some issues to get through.) As I’ve said before, inspire your manuscript with a healthy dose of vitality.

We’re looking for one submission per author. No previously published stories. If it’s appeared on your blog already, let me know, but that is not an automatic kill in my book. Send submissions to The deadline is April 19, but I’ve already received a story and will gladly accept others ahead of the deadline.

For this anthology, we have secured the talents of copy editor Laura Carlson of American Editing Services, who already has impressed me with her work, and I know other writers who are impressed by her too and recommend her highly. I'm very much looking forward to working with her, and I believe all the writers in the anthology will be pleased also.

For ease of formatting and time-saving on the copyediting and final proofing, please adhere to the following format styles:

·         Use Times Roman;

·         12 pt. type;

·         1" margin all around;

·         Double-spaced lines;

·         Do not add extra line between every paragraph;

·         When you want to denote a scene break, please use a single “#”;

·         Paragraphs indented 0.5". Please use the autoformat settings on Microsoft Word for paragraph indentations rather than manually inserting a tab or individual spaces. This feature is found under the ‘Paragraph’ format window;

·         Use a SINGLE SPACE following a period at the end of a sentence, NOT two spaces;

·         Use STRAIGHT QUOTES rather than SMART QUOTES. This is an autoformat/autocorrect feature in Word that, if checked, turns straight quote marks and apostrophes into ‘curly’ quote marks and apostrophes. This can cause formatting issues when the text is converted to a final font and style for publication. Under WORD OPTIONS, click on PROOFING, then on AUTOCORRECT OPTIONS, then make sure the line that says ‘Replace straight quotes with smart quotes’ is UNCHECKED.
Should you choose not to adhere to these guidelines, your story will still be considered. It’s a potential annoyance and challenge for some of the e-publishing formats, but it’s not a deal breaker. We’ll work with the copy. But the more you can do in advance, the faster the editing process will go and the cleaner and more consistent the final published book presentation will be.

Because that’s part of what we’re looking to create, too – a clean, consistent book that readers enjoy by authors whose work they want to read again and again. Ideally, you’ll discover that Elephant’s Bookshelf Press produces books and anthologies that entertain the reader and keep them thinking – and when appropriate, laughing too.

After all, just because your love life or life in general is on the rocks, it doesn’t mean you can’t splash it with a little water and add a beer chaser. God knows, sometimes a sip of something stronger than you can shake you back into a happy place, and it might even allow you to salvage that relationship. We’d be okay with that. Who doesn’t like a happy ending?

If you have additional questions, feel free to post a comment here, or you can send it to the email address above. A comment will allow me to respond for everyone. Because if you were confused, it’s possible others were too.

Thanks in advance to everyone!