Category: Writing

Call for Submissions: Heartwreck

Heartwreck: Romantic Disasters at Sea

Life at sea presents many challenges, and finding (and keeping) love is one of the biggest. Heartwreck: Romantic Disasters at Sea is a collection of true and semi-true stories about love gone wrong on the high seas, curated by Melanie Neale, Emily Greenberg, and Laureen Hudson, and published under our Unruly Voices imprint.

Rough weather, small spaces, long days in the boatyard, and an eclectic mix of personalities make personal relationships among the seafaring community challenging and rife with struggles. We’re looking for personal essays and memoir/creative nonfiction pieces about your experiences. Be real, be honest, be funny, be brave. Maybe a relationship fell apart and you got stuck with a boat you didn’t think you wanted. Maybe, after five days at sea with a partner and five months to go, you realized you can’t possibly live with that person on a small boat. Whatever the disaster, if it happened on or around boats, we want to read about it.

Submission Details

We are seeking submissions for this anthology. Our targeted release date is October 2020. Please carefully read the submission guidelines, as we will only consider submissions that follow the guidelines.

Open for Submissions: January 1, 2020 through July 30, 2020
Expected Publication: October 2020
Story Length: 2,000 – 5,000 words
Payment: 0.02 per word + two (2) contributor copies

You can find our general submission guidelines on our Submissions page.

Submission Requirements

Please submit your complete story in standard manuscript form in digital format (DOCX, RTF, or ODT) to submissions (at) unrulyvoices.com. (If you want bonus points, also attach a MOBI file; that will help our editorial team be able to read it faster.)

Please include “Heartwreck Anthology” in the subject line of your submission.

Include the following in your cover letter/email:

  • Title of your story
  • Your real name
  • Your physical mail address
  • Your preferred email address
  • Genre
  • Approximate word count

Submission Guidelines

  • Your story can be from whatever genre best fits its theme. However, we are not looking for erotica or stories that contain excessive gore or violence.
  • No simultaneous submissions, please. You may submit more than one story, but please send each one as a separate submission.
  • We will accept stories that have been previously published. If your story has been published before, please provide proof that you hold the current publishing rights for it when you submit your manuscript.
  • We highly recommend that you change any names based on real people in your story to protect the innocent — and to prevent possible further harassment by the guilty.

Check this page for the latest information about the Call for Submissions for this anthology.

Nancy Wood: What is my measure of success as an author?

Wow, that’s a challenging question, and one with many answers that have shifted over time.

When I first started writing, my goal was to publish commercial fiction. I started writing decades before I published anything, working on novels and short stories. Thankfully, they never saw the light of day! I attended workshops and conferences, and joined writers’ groups. I wanted to learn about the business of publishing, as well as how to improve my fiction writing skills. I read and read and read. When attending a workshop in 2006, I came up with the idea for mystery, using the themes in the book I’d been working on (families, adoption, relationships).

With this kernel of an idea, I felt that I’d surpassed a hurdle. I thought I had something that people might actually want to read! A character and a compelling social topic. Most importantly, my idea was within my grasp as a writer. I felt I could be successful.

I went to work, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter. It took years. When I had my first draft, I felt successful. When I received comments from early readers and my writing coach, I felt like I was on the right track. And, when Due Date was accepted by a publisher and published in 2012, I felt like I’d reached my goals.

But my goals for success then shifted. I decided that if at least one person I didn’t know read my book, I’d consider that a success. (Of course, it would be all the better if they liked it.) After that happened, I decided that if ten or twenty people I didn’t know read it, I’d consider that a success. And now, almost seven years after the first edition of Due Date was published, I feel like the book has been a success. I have a lovely number of happy readers on Amazon and Goodreads. I can’t help but get a lift when I think of that.

Now, my measure of success is a bit different. Naturally, I want readers to discover the Shelby McDougall series and enjoy the books. But I also want readers to think about the cultural and social issues I raise in the books. I hope that the issues are so compelling that it will get readers thinking — enough so that readers will spread the word and talk about these issues with their friends, in their book clubs, on Goodreads and Amazon, and over dinner and cups of coffee.

Who knows though? By the time the third book in the series is available, my measure of success may have shifted yet again! At that point, I’ll have to check back in!

Call for Submissions: Corporate Catharsis – EXTENDED THROUGH AUGUST 30, 2019

We’ve all been there: standing behind a desk or a counter for ridiculously long hours, letting the movie of our imagination roll behind our eyes. Maybe you open the supply room door and find another dimension; perhaps the photocopier reproduces cryptic messages from other realities. We’re certain that you can, far too easily, find inspiration from your workplace. Magic, mayhem, revenge — and, yes, perhaps even redemption — can all be found there.

Corporate Catharsis is the anthology we all need — one that can help us survive our corporate servitude with our hearts and souls intact.

Submission Details

Open for Submissions: February 1, 2019 through August 30, 2019
Expected Publication: November 2019
Story Length: 2,000 – 10,000 words
Payment: 0.02 per word + two (2) contributor copies

Submission Requirements

  • Please submit your complete story in standard manuscript form in digital format (DOCX, RTF, or ODT) to submissions (at) paperangelpress.com. (If you want bonus points, also attach a MOBI file; that will help our editorial team be able to read it faster.)
  • Please include “Corporate Catharsis Anthology” in the Subject line of your submission.
  • Include the following in your cover letter/email:
    • Title of your story
    • Your real name
    • Your physical mail address
    • Your preferred email address
    • Genre
    • Approximate word count

Submission Guidelines

  • Your story can be from whatever genre best fits its theme. However, we are not looking for erotica or stories that contain excessive gore or violence.
  • No simultaneous submissions, please. You may submit more than one story, but please send each one as a separate submission.
  • We will accept stories that have been previously published. If your story has been published before, please provide proof that you hold the current publishing rights for it when you submit your manuscript.
  • We highly recommend that you change any names based on real people in your story to protect the innocent — and to prevent possible further harassment by the guilty.

Check this page for the latest information about the Call for Submissions for this anthology.

Call for Submissions: Corporate Catharsis – EXTENDED THROUGH JUNE 30, 2019

We’ve all been there: standing behind a desk or a counter for ridiculously long hours, letting the movie of our imagination roll behind our eyes. Maybe you open the supply room door and find another dimension; perhaps the photocopier reproduces cryptic messages from other realities. We’re certain that you can, far too easily, find inspiration from your workplace. Magic, mayhem, revenge — and, yes, perhaps even redemption — can all be found there.

Corporate Catharsis is the anthology we all need — one that can help us survive our corporate servitude with our hearts and souls intact.

Submission Details

Open for Submissions: February 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019
Expected Publication: November 2019
Story Length: 2,000 – 10,000 words
Payment: 0.02 per word + two (2) contributor copies

Submission Requirements

  • Please submit your complete story in standard manuscript form in digital format (DOCX, RTF, or ODT) to submissions (at) paperangelpress.com. (If you want bonus points, also attach a MOBI file; that will help our editorial team be able to read it faster.)
  • Please include “Corporate Catharsis Anthology” in the Subject line of your submission.
  • Include the following in your cover letter/email:
    • Title of your story
    • Your real name
    • Your physical mail address
    • Your preferred email address
    • Genre
    • Approximate word count

Submission Guidelines

  • Your story can be from whatever genre best fits its theme. However, we are not looking for erotica or stories that contain excessive gore or violence.
  • No simultaneous submissions, please. You may submit more than one story, but please send each one as a separate submission.
  • We will accept stories that have been previously published. If your story has been published before, please provide proof that you hold the current publishing rights for it when you submit your manuscript.
  • We highly recommend that you change any names based on real people in your story to protect the innocent — and to prevent possible further harassment by the guilty.

Check this page for the latest information about the Call for Submissions for this anthology.

Interview: Nancy Wood, author of Due Date

How did you choose the subject for this story?

Originally, this story was not in the mystery genre at all. It was women’s fiction, and was a story about the relationship between a birth mother and the adoptive parents. However, it was clunky and slow and not so interesting! In a brainstorming session at a conference I attended around the time I was trying to figure out what to do with this uninspiring manuscript, someone suggested I turn it into a mystery.

I never thought I’d be able to write a mystery, what with clues and tension and plot twists, but I decided to give it a try. I am forever indebted to the woman at the conference for the idea and to the larger group for helping me develop the 250-word book blurb that same day. Once I chose the subject and genre, I started reading mysteries and thrillers. I got hooked, and to this day, mysteries and thrillers are my genre of choice.

In Due Date, the main character is in a very unusual situation for a protagonist. What prompted this choice for the character?

I found that making the protagonist a surrogate mom put her in a very precarious, vulnerable situation, which worked well to build tension in the story. She was also isolated, both physically and emotionally. The beginning of Due Date finds Shelby, the protagonist, moving from her brother’s home in Santa Cruz to a cottage on the intended parents’ estate in the Santa Cruz mountains. She has no car and is often alone.

A few months later in the story, she develops hypertension and is on bed rest. Shelby moved to the Santa Cruz area for the term of the surrogacy and has no friends. She’s estranged from her parents, and over the course of the book, becomes somewhat estranged from her brother. Her isolation causes her to make choices she might not have made otherwise.

What was the hardest section of Due Date to write? Why was it more difficult?

The hardest sections to write were the violent scenes, both emotionally and logistically. I have a hard time with my characters getting pummeled! It’s also challenging to figure the logistics of a fight, how to make all the actions taken by all the characters fit together in a seamless thread of action.

Occasionally, I found myself walking through the actions in my office: She’s running, in the dark, in clogs; how does her weight shift from one side of her body to the other? What’s she doing with her hands for balance? What happens when she makes contact with her enemy? And how does that feel when you’re pregnant with twins?!

Conversely, what was the easiest section to write and why?

The easiest and most fun sections for me to write are when my character is outside, wandering around in the beautiful place I call home, Santa Cruz county in California. I love the outdoors, and it’s such a joy to write descriptions of the Monterey Bay coastline and the redwood forest.

The way that the climax resolves in Due Date was intriguing. Was this a planned decision, or did the idea develop as you worked on the story?

This developed as I worked on the story. I’d been reading a lot of mysteries and thrillers by this point, and was really drawn in by the longer stories with twists. The ‘first’ ending would have been a great place to stop, but I decided to keep going and see where the story took me. Once I decided to continue, I had to edit the first part and plant in a few more clues.

When you work on developing a story, is there a process you use to help develop the idea? Or is it a lot of off-the cuff-writing, or a combination?

A combination. I have learned that I’m better off with a plot well in mind before I start. Now, after many years of rewrites, I’m better at plotting out a story to the chapter level. I also write extensive character sketches and back stories for each character, so I feel that I know how each character will act and react in a given situation. For me, it makes for a lot cleaner writing and a lot less editing.

Was there any special preparation or research you did to help develop the protagonist of Due Date?

I did a lot of reading on surrogacy and talked to a few surrogate moms. I read plenty of discussion boards, forums, and blogs, as well. I also researched fertility clinics, trying to figure out how that end of the arrangement works.

What advice would you share with other nascent authors as they work to create their own stories?

Keep going! And read anything and everything in your genre. Find something that catches your attention, and something that will catch the attention of readers, and just go with it. Writing and creating a story is so rewarding and seeing it take shape as the number of chapters increases is a thrill like no other.

Call for Submissions: Corporate Catharsis

We’ve all been there: standing behind a desk or a counter for ridiculously long hours, letting the movie of our imagination roll behind our eyes. Maybe you open the supply room door and find another dimension; perhaps the photocopier reproduces cryptic messages from other realities. We’re certain that you can, far too easily, find inspiration from your workplace. Magic, mayhem, revenge — and, yes, perhaps even redemption — can all be found there.

Corporate Catharsis is the anthology we all need — one that can help us survive our corporate servitude with our hearts and souls intact.

Submission Details

Open for Submissions: February 1, 2019 through April 30, 2019
Expected Publication: November 2019
Story Length: 2,000 – 10,000 words
Payment: 0.02 per word + two (2) contributor copies

Submission Requirements

  • Please submit your complete story in standard manuscript form in digital format (DOCX, RTF, or ODT) to submissions (at) paperangelpress.com. (If you want bonus points, also attach a MOBI file; that will help our editorial team be able to read it faster.)
  • Please include “Corporate Catharsis Anthology” in the Subject line of your submission.
  • Include the following in your cover letter/email:
    • Title of your story
    • Your real name
    • Your physical mail address
    • Your preferred email address
    • Genre
    • Approximate word count

Submission Guidelines

  • Your story can be from whatever genre best fits its theme. However, we are not looking for erotica or stories that contain excessive gore or violence.
  • No simultaneous submissions, please. You may submit more than one story, but please send each one as a separate submission.
  • We will accept stories that have been previously published. If your story has been published before, please provide proof that you hold the current publishing rights for it when you submit your manuscript.
  • We highly recommend that you change any names based on real people in your story to protect the innocent — and to prevent possible further harassment by the guilty.

Check this page for the latest information about the Call for Submissions for this anthology.

Interview: Andrea Monticue, author of Memory and Metaphor

All authors I’m sure see this one at least once: What prompted you to get into writing?

I really don’t remember. I was in the 5th grade when I wrote my first book, Castaways of Skull Island. My teacher was quite supportive, and even bound it for me, and placed it in the classroom library. I think it was all of two or three thousand words.

When I was in the sixth grade, we had weekly writing assignments to use all the word in our vocabulary list in a short story. We were only supposed to write one page or so, but I always wrote more than was needed. At the end of each week, I’d end the narrative with “To be continued!” The next week, I’d continue with different characters and a different setting. In the end, the story was a little like Kerouac’s On the Road with lots of characters and mini-adventures, but no overarching plot. The teacher never complained.

You’ve worked on aircraft as a profession. Do you feel this helped your attention to detail in the story, and how?

Yes, it helped me pay attention to the way things worked, although I’m not certain that the average reader will appreciate the details. Instead of imagining a black box that the character activates, I imagine the details of the box. Does it work with hydraulics or electrical power? Pneumatics? EM fields? I worked for Northrop on the B2 project, and I know how complicated a machine like that can be, and all the things that can go wrong if you don’t stay on top of maintenance.

With all the detailed information on how the mind is affected for the main character, I’m guessing you had to do a lot of research for your book. Could you detail some of the subjects that you had to research, and how they affected the story?

I did do a lot of online research, but I didn’t understand a lot of it. The human mind is still mostly uncharted territory even for experts, and I’m the furthest thing from an expert. In the end I had to assume a lot of properties of the human consciousness. I also assumed that though much research had been done, a complete map of the human mind had remained an elusive goal, much like fusion research is today.

I was specifically interested in how an old personality might die and be replaced by a new one. There are actual historical cases where this happened.

What was it like for you, when you found out that your story was going to be published?

Are you kidding?! I was beside myself! The submission guidelines at Paper Angel stated that they’d reply within a month and, after six or seven weeks had gone by, I figured it was another no-go. When I finally received an email, I convinced myself it was another rejection and I had to read it twice before I realized that it was not, because the words made no sense on the first reading.

I don’t think I slept at all that night. I remember trying to tell my wife, and the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth in any coherent order, so I just let her read the email.

I was attending weekly weight-loss support group meetings, and I almost didn’t go to the meeting that night. I went, and told everybody what happened, and they gave me a round of applause.

My feet have only occasionally touched the ground since.

What was it like to see all the parts of getting a book published, such as the cover design, manuscript formatting, etc.?

Frustrating in some respects; fascinating in others. There are aspects of the story that only I have ever imagined, and now other people were trying to imagine them, too.

To shift back to the book again, the book seemed to actually have two stories ongoing. Was this structure something you planned out ahead of time, or did the story develop the parallel threads as it evolved?

You’re absolutely correct. There is the personal narrative of the protagonist, and then the global narrative of how society and government reacted to a new existential threat. People don’t exist in isolation, and I wanted to offer insights into the larger universe of Kentaurus. Plus, I have done a lot of world building for this story and wanted to show it off.

Your story raises some interesting and thoughtful questions. The foremost one, is the question of “What constitutes a living being?” The situation the main character seems to have that as a central theme. Was this a deliberate choice?

Not so much a living being, but a legal civil entity. There are debates in the story about whether the protagonist has civil rights, and if so, do they outweigh the rights of society to protect itself. These are old themes in science fiction, as well as other genres, but the debate still rages. An additional dimension to the debate in this case is that the protagonist used to have civil rights. Should government and military leaders ignore that, or do they have a point?

What authors, if any, did you read that might have helped steer you into writing Memory and Metaphor?

I was inspired by David Weber’s Honor Harrington series in terms of creating a space navy and how spacecraft of the future might navigate. I intentionally steered away from the Star Trek and Star Wars models of spacecraft that are basically airplanes in space.

The ghosts of Isaac Asimov and his robots were always haunting me in this story.

There’s also a bit of Spider Robinson in there.

I reread several of Elizabeth Moon’s books from her Vatta’s War series while writing it.

Finally, I’m sure you recognized the influence of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.

What was the thought behind the title of your book?

It’s pretty obvious that memories play a big role in the plot. The metaphor part is subtler, but I really liked the alliteration.

Finally, as a new author, what words do you have for other authors looking to become published?

An obvious one is: Don’t give up. But more importantly, stop treating your writing as something you do after all the other chores are done. It’s far more than just a guilty pleasure; it’s a part of who you are. If you don’t think it’s important enough to give it your best, then publishers won’t, either.

Why Haven’t You Written Your Book? (Part 4 of 4)

This is Part 4 of a four-part series reporting on the “Why Haven’t You Written Your Book?” survey we offered last year. You can read Part 3 here.

I would consider my book to be a success if …

The answers we received showed a clear distribution of the responses. Here is how all of the answers ranked:

  1. I get it finished and published.
  2. I sell X number of copies during the first year.
  3. I get X positive reviews for it on Amazon/Goodreads.
  4. My friends and family all buy copies of it.

Based on these results, we might conclude that writers:

  • are far more interested in actually completing their book and seeing it published than selling a specific number of copies or receiving a certain number of reviews. That sense of accomplishment appears to drive many writers more than any of the other factors we measured.
  • measure a great deal of their success by looking at the number of copies of their books have been sold. Based on our experience, each author has a different number in mind. Some authors are satisfied if only a few dozen copies are sold, while others measure their success in the hundreds or thousands of copies. (Of course, what author would dislike that?)
  • value review feedback. It helps them to know whether they have reached an audience and also what readers responded to — both positively and negatively. While a less-than-favorable review might sting, it can often provide valuable insights.
  • would like to see those close to them purchase copies of their books, but this is not the highest criteria by which they will measure the success of their work. This makes sense, as we expect our family and friends to support us in our efforts (and many of them are probably getting free copies anyway).

Why Haven’t You Written Your Book? (Part 3 of 4)

The is Part 3 of a four-part series reporting on the “Why Haven’t You Written Your Book?” survey we offered last year. You can read Part 2 here.

I’m afraid to write (or submit) my book because …

A clear margin shows that the two highest-ranked responses held true for most authors, while the remaining three ranked very close together. Here is how all of the answers ranked:

  1. I don’t know if it will be any good.
  2. I don’t know how to distribute/market it.
  3. I don’t think anyone will read it.
  4. I’m afraid people will judge me.
  5. I don’t know how to turn it from a manuscript into a real book.

Based on these results, we might conclude that writers:

  • suffer fears about the quality of their work. There are likely many reasons for this, the discussion of which is potentially fodder for (many) future blog posts. Certainly, however, the generic rejection letters returned by the vast majority of publishers are of little help, in terms of offering authors insights into why their story might have been rejected and how to improve in the future. One of the interesting things that we’ve observed in relation to this item is how many authors, after completing the milestone of publishing their first book, seem to feel the stress even greater with their second book, fearing that the same creative lightning won’t strike twice.
  • don’t understand — or are intimidated by — by the process, even for self-publishing, of taking a story from completed manuscript to saleable format and then market it. Not all authors want, or have time to, develop the skill sets necessary to do this. This is one area in which publishers can add value for the author. Many authors can grasp the basic understanding behind what it takes to create a printed edition of a book, but generating a digital edition feels technical, complicated, and somewhat magical.
  • are afraid that, once they have completed and published their work, they will fail to find an audience for it. This is why getting the word out about it (marketing and promotion) is so important (which, of course, leads back to #2). One way to reduce this fear is by finding your audience (and helping your audience find you) by talking about your book before it even comes out, to help create demand and develop an audience well before it becomes available for sale.
  • fear what people might think about them or their work while reading. It’s no secret that stories often reveal as much about the writer as they do to the reader, so this can be a daunting fear for many authors. This can be tough to get past, “What will my friends and family think?” This is also, of course, why pseudonyms are a thing. This is something that authors need to be prepared for because, even if their response might be “That’s nothing like me! It’s just how the character behaves.” or the infamous “I based that character on someone I know …”

Next week, we will be looking at how authors responded to “I would consider my book to be a success if …“.

Why Haven’t You Written Your Book? (Part 2 of 4)

The is the second part in a four-part series reporting on the “Why Haven’t You Written Your Book?” survey we offered last year. You can read Part 1 here.

I would write my book if …

The answers we received ranked fairly close in terms of the numbers of responses received. Here is how all of the answers ranked:

  1. I knew someone would be interested in publishing it.
  2. I had more time to do it.
  3. I had a support group to help me along the way.

As the results were close across all three responses, we might conclude that writers:

  • are looking for a return on their investment in time writing and editing their work by knowing that, at the end of that process, someone will be interested in making sure that it finds an audience.
  • wish that they had more time to actually, well … write. Finding — or making — time to pursue their writing is perhaps one of the most challenging obstacles that authors (or, indeed, most creative people) face in this fast-paced, over-scheduled world.
  • want someone to assist them, or at least cheer them on, during the creative process. While the act of writing is a solitary activity, it’s nice to know that there are others out there who share both the passion and the pain of the creative process.

Next week, we will be looking at how authors responded to “I’m afraid to write (or submit) my book because …”.