Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Saturday, July 16, 2016


I'm on the mailing list for Level Best Books, a delightful small publishing company that does short story anthologies. I met them at CrimeBake some years back, one of my favorite writing conferences of all time.

I mention this because I got an email from LBB yesterday announcing the line up in their new collection:

The Selected Stories for Windward
We are very pleased to announce the selected stories for Windward: The Best New England Crime Stories 2016! We received a record 225 submissions for the anthology, which were read blindly by the editors. We are so pleased at the response we received for Windward and are very much looking forward to its publication this November, in time for The New England Crime Bake.
Windward will be available for purchase in paperback as well as electronically via online book retailers. Congratulations to the contributing authors and many thanks to those who submitted their work for consideration.
The Selected Stories Are:

“The Burren” by Christine Bagley
“Tainted Image” by V R Barkowski

“A Good Lard Crust is Hard to Find…” by Mara Buck
“Bagatelle” by P Jo Anne Burgh

“Grateful Touring” by Sarah Chen
“Tinkle Tinkle” by Frank Cook

“The Haunting at the Orleans Inn” by Daemon Crowe
“A Glutton for Punishment” by Sharon Daynard

“God of Money” by Stephen Doyle
“The Case of the Burqa-ed Busker” by Gerald Elias

“The Boston Post Cane” by Kathy Lynn Emerson
“Daybreak Dismay in Dallas” by Sanford Emerson

“Careful What You Wish For” by Kate Flora
“Three Sisters” by Kimberly Gray

“Murder at Midnight” by Janet Halpin
“Giving Voice” by Connie Johnson Hambley

“The Allagoosalum” by Jill Hand
“Yemaya’s Revenge” by Lisa Lieberman

“Family Business” by Cyndy Lively
“The List” by Ruth McCarty

“Mendicants in the Median” by Peter Murray
“The Ridge” by Rick Ollerman

“Cheap Medz” by Alan Orloff
“Fresh Start” by Anita Page

“Dead Weight” by Dale Phillips
“An Old Man’s Regret” by Verena Rose

“Seals” by Erica Ruppert
“The Mountain” by Harriette Sackler

“Snow Devils” by Brenda Seabrooke
“Look Away” by Shawn Reilly Simmons

“Clean Windows” by Gabriel Valjan
“Daddy” by Lilla Waltch

I read the list to see if included anyone I knew. Sure enough, I'd met five of the twenty writers. But then I realized, that means I did NOT know fifteen of them.

My next thought, because I am an avaricious beast was "I better buy this and read those stories to see if any of them look tasty."

What that means for you: submitting work for these kinds of open calls can be the avenue to securing the interest of an agent. I'm not the only agent who reads story anthologies with an eye for finding clients. Nat Sobel is famous for doing so (and I've read some of the books he found that way

Level Best has an upcoming open call

A lot of you are very fine writers (and I have the flash fiction contest results to prove it!) and getting your work out there is a really good idea.

You can thank me by killing me in your next novel!


E.M. Goldsmith said...

In my books, my short stories, my universe, and the world in which I curently dwell, Janet is and will forever be QOTKU.

I am starting to submit short stories just to get my name out there while writing my new books. I fear I should have been doing this all along instead of taking a twenty five year break. Ugh! Life sometimes kicks me down a dead end alley. Anyone have some anthology or periodical suggestions for publishing fantasy/sci-fi short stories?

Michael Seese said...

A while back I read an author's blog which said that's the avenue he'd used. Since then, I've been submitting to as many anthologies, magazines, and contests as humanly possible.

I'm curious about one thing. If you read a particularly tasty piece, do you:

a) file away the author's name in the hopes that he or she some day submits to you, or
b) reach out to the author and say, "I really liked you short story about Felicia Buttonweezer. (Sister of Felix.) Are you working on any fiction novels that might interest me?"

(Yes, that last part was to yank your chain.)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I don't have any stories at current that are ready and fit the bill for this next open call, but since the deadline is October 31, that gives me time to get it done. It'll also line up with my October Submissions, copied blatantly from Michael Seese.

How many books have authors killed you in, Janet? I think Jeff Somers did in one of the Avery Cates books, any others? I didn't realize it was such a badge of honor!

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Thank you for sharing... terrific info.

Donnaeve said...

I could never kill off a shark. Nope. Not a shark, not a bug, says she who tries not to even step on ants. This is why I can't write crime. Le sigh.

Aside from that, when I started running down the list I just knew there was going to be someone on it from The Reef. When I realized the post was about other titillating ways to snag interest from an agent, it made me think of Kensington's announcement at RWA this week.

***This will be of special interest to sci-fi writers*** Steven Zacharius, CEO of Kensington announced this, "...we will be creating a new Sci-fi digital imprint. The sci-fi writers are largely indie published and we soon hope to be bringing them into the Kensington family."

And they also announced this "There will be a lot more information to come over the next few weeks and we will be posting our submission guidelines on the website shortly."

My take on that - sounds like submissions will be open to anyone i.e. b/c of the indie statement. I'm not sure. I guess the best thing to do is to keep track of what's going on via the website.

Theresa said...

Great piece of advice, and I loved this shark illustration.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Flash and shorts and novels, oh my. Now to put some of those curiosities swirling in my head to good use.

Speaking of which, I've been watching a small mourning dove the past 2 days, pacing my sidewalk. I've been hoping s/he will take wing and fly soon. I'm amazed, it survived 2 nights on the ground. Obviously no feral cats roam my area. This morning it's a bit perkier after I threw more bird food out--grooming itself and grabbing food. Where's his/her parent? Was there a hit and run? Did the parent get nabbed? Maybe this could become a potential thriller short. Or maybe a caper...

And, from yesterday's comment trail, thank you Janet for posting that your commenters and loved ones living in France are safe. So glad to hear.

btw, the last post yesterday is from someone trying to garner people to try love potions.

Timothy Lowe said...

EM - the submission call says "works from any time period, historical, future, etc."

I suppose this could qualify as sci-fi, provided you wanted to write something about law-enforcement types?

Cyborg forensics, anyone?

Thanks for the link, Janet - this is an awesome idea. I may give it a go if I can get something together.

Speaking of law enforcement, I finished the "Marcella" series last night. WOW! Really, really worth it. My wife said to me after the last episode, "do you think they have teams of writers working on that?"

"Yes," I said. "Scary good ones."

stacy said...

I just started "Marcella." Can't wait to see what happens next!

Sherry Howard said...

What a great opportunity! That's plenty of time to go on a crime spree, analyze the uniform's reactions, and write about it. Oh, wait, I guess we could just make something up and avoid the spree.

Robert Ceres said...

Great post. I won't kill you off if I enter one of these, but Jerez, aren't your contests work enough? I already curse those things even though I love them.. Sigh. Back to my typewriter in the deepest part of my woodland hole.

The only thing I worry about is this reading blind thing. Must they poke out their eyes and read in brail? I hope at least they can have someone read aloud

Mark Thurber said...

I second E.M.'s question. A while back I briefly looked into periodicals to which I could submit short stories (sci-fi/fantasy or otherwise) and was scared away by the sheer number of options. I would be grateful for any insights people could share about periodicals or anthologies with which they had good experiences.

Colin Smith said...

Yes, thanks for this, Janet. It dawned on me at the end of last year that I had expended energy entering writing contests when I really ought to be writing short stories and trying to get them published (Janet's contests excepted, of course). Short story writing is NOT easy, especially to do it well. Just because you can write a novel (or flash fiction, for that matter), doesn't mean you can write a short story, and vice versa. There are some writers who only write short stories; that's their comfort zone. It's a skill I've had to learn, certainly (and I'm not sure I've completely nailed it yet). One of the best ways to learn is to pick up some short story collections and read them. Get a sense for how they work, what the parameters are, and, most of all, what freedoms you have that you don't have when you've got a whole novel to plot.

Anyway, enough babble. I need to get writing... :)

Donnaeve said...

Wow. I even lie to myself - all my FF - I'm killing someone off usually.


Michael Seese said...

@E.M. and Mark. I've had good luck getting stories into Havok Magazine. A good source for calls is (calls are for more than horror) and Cathy's Comps & Calls. Also,

Megan V said...

Thanks QOTKU for sharing this. I love short stories, though I can't write 'em worth a darn. I'll have to keep my eye out for this anthology when it comes out, if only to look for familiar names. Hope that some of the Reiders take up this call to arms.

Megan V said...

@Donnaeve I never realized how morbid my FF was, until you pointed out that your FF pretty much kills someone off every time. Very interesting. I wonder how many other Reiders stick to killing in FF. *digs through the archives*

Jenz said...

If anyone is trying to find this on Submission Grinder, it's listed under Best New England Crime Stories. It's a non-paying market, which is frankly surprising. Maybe it's targeted at publishing insiders?

CynthiaMc said...

Looks like fun! I missed the Mark Twain contest - didn't have anything to send I felt was worth the (to me) steep entry fee, though the piece I was working on is a lot of fun (My Cousins, the Snake, and Me). Maybe next year (if I don't find a home for it before then).

I was at the grocery store at 7 am getting peanuts for the squirrels and seed for the birds. The bird feeders have been empty since Thursday. (I need to make money with my writing if for no other reason than to have extra for outdoor pet food). The birds have been boycotting us and the squirrels kicked over the peanut bowl. I think they were planning to storm the house. No, I did not buy human food. First things first. A finch, a blue jay, and two baby squirrels just showed up and I can hear the cardinals in the sweet gum tree. I think we're back in business.

Took the pups on a walk in Gemini Springs Park before it got too hot to move. It was gorgeous. Writing in the garden - weed for 10 minutes, write a page, sip a cream soda. It works. Happy Saturday, everyone!

DLM said...

Last night, the most ghastly story I may ever write began insinuating itself into my head, and I am still pushing it away. It is inappropriate - "inspired by actual events" (and in the life of someone I love) - and something beyond distasteful. It's not my *right* to write it. Perhaps fortunate for me and mine this will not touch on law enforcement at all.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

And because I glossed over E.M's question regarding resources to find periodicals/anthologies to send fantasy/sci-fi short stories (some mornings are brutal): I echo the suggestion for The Horror Tree and I also use The Submission Grinder (which Jenz mentions upthread), which has done wonders to both organize my records and broaden my knowledge base of magazines to submit to. I heard of The Sockdolager because of them (and was just published there) and also the Mosaics anthologies (I'm in volume 2, but answered the submission call when thought they were only doing 1).

On the Grinder, you can sort things by genre, word count, how much they'll pay, look at ONLY contest/anthologies, weed out submission fees etc. etc. It's a great resource I happily donate to, and they intend to stay free. Diabolical Plots, who runs the shindig, is also open to submissions right now until...the end of the month? I forget.

Colin Smith said...

CynthiaMc: According to Paul McCartney, when he and John Lennon realized how much serious money they were able to make from their songwriting, they would sometimes (tongue-in-cheek) say, "There's a swimming pool" or "There's a new car" when they finished writing a song. So, why not write some bird food? In fact, why not write a short story based on what you want to do with the money? A murder-mystery set in the backyard, among a gang of ravenous squirrels...? :)

BJ Muntain said...

EM: Check out Ralan's page for genre fiction markets. Ralan has been around for a very long time, his information is usually up-to-date (and if you find it's not, send him an e-mail and he'll update it, with a tip to you and link to your site).

And don't feel bad for not starting earlier. I started submitting stories a very long time ago, and I still haven't had any published (granted, I can look back at those earlier ones now and grimace that I thought they were good enough to submit then.)

Mark: Check out Ralan's. I suggest start with the pro magazines. As I've learned, if you start lower, you never know if that story could have made the pros. Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is usually my first choice, now that they accept electronic submissions. They're fast. You'll get an answer fairly quickly. If it's a rejection, you can zoom it off to another market fairly quickly. Asimov's and Analog are other classic pro markets. Lightspeed is great, too - the editor there used to be the assistant editor of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Daily Science Fiction is a flash market that pays well. But generally, most of the pro mags are worthwhile.

Timothy: "EM - the submission call says "works from any time period, historical, future, etc." <- thanks for that. I checked. I think I might have something to send to them!

Donnaeve said...

Megan V I sort of snort laughed at myself when I realized it. :) But yeah...probably 95% of them, somebody's being "offed." I guess that simply means I can handle for 100 words - not much more.

CynthiaMc said...

Colin - I love it! Reminds me - I did enter a songwriting contest a few months ago. Wonder if I'll win?

John Davis Frain said...

All that whitespace at the bottom of the post.

Not subtle, Queen, not at all. I checked. One hundred words fits like a key. (C'mon, I coulda said "glove" for a worse cliché, but I'm wanting to get back to work here!)

Janet Reid said...

JD/ms/F: I didn't even notice the vast swath of white space till you mentioned it.

I love white space, but this was a bit over the top even for moi.
Revised! Updated!

Lennon Faris said...

This is exciting stuff! I've tried looking up contests before (just googling) but didn't find anything what I was looking for. Thanks for the info, Janet and everyone else!

C. L. McCollum said...

Oh man I hadn't heard of Submission Grinder - I've been searching out mags via google the hard way. Thanks to everyone who mentioned it!

Donnaeve said...

I noticed that white space too. I thought it possible QOTKU fell asleep on her space bar. Then I remembered, sharks don't sleep.

Panda in Chief said...

When I first graduated from art school, I was told always apply for anything you are remotely qualified for, because you never know who will see your work. This applies here too. And if you get your work accepted for an anthology, so much the better.

Beth said...

"Then I remembered, sharks don't sleep."

Ah, that partially explains how QUTKU manages to accomplish so much every day. And possibly a few other things.

I'd never heard of Submission Grinder. Thanks, Ms. Reid and everyone else, for the valuable information.

Mark Thurber said...

Wow, ask and ye shall receive. Thanks, Michael, Jennifer, BJ, and others for all the terrific suggestions!

Julie Weathers said...

I've thought about doing some short stories. I had it in my goals this year, but I've been focused on novels.

I have a substantial number of them lying around gathering dust. Martha and Tilley, my two over-sexed old ladies with the Duds for Studs catalogs, started out as characters in a mystery at a retirement home for old spies. I have a several short stories with them and the mystery Autumn Daze around here somewhere.

I have some recurring characters I write, two Victorian southern belle lady vampires, a Gibson Girl reporter, a turn of the century Texas early 1900's cowboy turned ghost hunter/detective. Well, there ought to be something I can work with.

Yes, thank you for sending me skittering down another rabbit trail.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

You guys are the cat's meow. Thanks for all the suggestions. I love this blog. It should come with a swim up bar. Then it would be heaven.

Julie Weathers said...

I'm not sure if you all saw the Edinburgh book sculpture story when it came out, but I followed it avidly. It appears it is now at an end.

I love the film one with the audience and the knights, but they are all wonderful.

John Davis Frain said...


If you're looking for votes, I'd read Martha and Tilley before you even finished the first draft. Ya know, sorta like showing up at a restaurant for a soft opening while they get the kinks out before their grand opening.

I'd love the scrappy version of Martha and Tilley before you clean 'em up in revisions.

And if it sends you skittering down the right rabbit trail, then HEY, I'll help you keep your balance cuz I'll be right there with you.

Jason Magnason said...

Her name was Janet, a warm summer breeze smile and a chip on her shoulder. She's stunning, a "make-ya-look-twice" kinda gal. Who is she under all that brilliance? Well, that's what I'm here to find out.

9 AM: - Central Booking - New York City

Detective Palentino: "Mrs. Reid, can you tell me where you were on the night of February 29th?"

Janet: "I was out with friends looking for a for a great story."

Detective Palentino: "Can you explain to me why your cell phone was found on the recently deceased, Dr. Coserelli on that same night?"

wanna know more..... find me on Carkoon.....

Lov ya Janet this story is for you :-)