So, yes then, we’re doing Urban Mythic #2! Can I get a woohoo? (Woohoo!)
We are seeking contemporary tales with all the magic and wonder of myth and legend, blending modern life with the traditions of folklore from around the world. Whether lurking in dark alleys or brash shopping malls, ensconced in upscale riverside penthouse lofts or humble suburban semis, we want to see the fantastic woven into the everyday. We want fiction that entertains but also pushes beyond the usual urban fantasy boundaries – action, folk tales re-imagined, mythic creatures adapting to the urban environment – be it noir, humour, dark, literary or light, there must be a recognisable mythic thread. Fully realised characters are a must and solid plots extremely desirable.
We don’t want: secondary worlds, steampunk, SF, zombies, human sacrifice, magic help-lines, paranormal romance love-triangles, erotica, religion, gore, and absolutely no poetry.
Electronic submissions only to Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send manuscript as an email attachment in standard manuscript format (in RTF/doc/docx). Both the email subject line and the manuscript file name must include: submissions – title – author’s name – word count (e.g., Submissions – My Great Story – Jane Doe – 5000 words). Full contact details must be included on the manuscript’s front/first page as well as in the email. Submission window closes 30 April 2014. No acceptances/rejections will be made until after this date.
We are seeking original fiction between 3,000 and 8,000 words. Payment is £10.00 for the first 5,000 words, then 0.2p per word on publication, plus a copy of the book. Payment is made via PayPal or UK cheque (overseas’ contributors must have a PayPal account).
Right, official stuff having been said, here’s the extra editor Jen bit that I said last year, and mean doubly this year.
Do not assume the guidelines don’t apply to you. Seriously. The wordcount is firm (I repeat, the wordcount is FIRM. Don’t ask, just rewrite to fit.) and we’re really serious about those things we don’t want to see because, honestly, some of them don’t apply to the theme, and some of them are things we’ve seen so many times in the slushpile our brains automatically shut down as soon as we see a story with them in.
So – to repeat, this is not an anthology for your poetry, secondary worlds, steampunk, SF, zombies, paranormal romance or erotica. We don’t want to see human sacrifice, magic help-lines, heaven/hell as a corporation, mythic-beastie love triangles or relentless gore.
Also – do not send us fan fiction with the serial numbers filed off, main characters who spend the entire story in denial of the supernatural elements around them, anything remotely resembling a mid-life crisis, someone in the midst of writer’s block (or other artist’s block), anything with an obvious twist or dream endings (they rarely work). In fact, check out the Strange Horizons page on what they see too often, that pretty much covers a lot of the stuff that makes us cringe too!
And avoid anything vaguely epistolary. Due to excessive experience in multiple slushpiles, I can’t read any story that’s set out as letters/emails/diary entries/tweets etc.
Don’t go overboard with the covering email – keep it short and to the point. If you use Word, don’t forget to turn off your track changes and accept all changes before you send the doc, because it is very distracting when it all shows up. 🙂
Don’t waste your first page. Open strong, don’t waffle, don’t smack us in the face with an epic infodump on your story’s version of the world or the complete history of your protagonist. We can work these things out as we read. Give us an interesting character and situation to make us keep reading.
Diversity is good. No, scratch that. Diversity is awesome. We’re actively encouraging diversity in all elements of the anthology and are particularly interested in settings and cultures not traditionally covered in urban fantasy – just make sure they’re well researched and not exoticised. Picking a location just because it looks shiny is a no-no – give us depth and a respectful understanding of the local culture and folklore. Likewise with your choice of protagonist – we’re very open to diverse perspectives and hearing the stories of people who are traditionally underrepresented in urban fantasy. See the Resources page for links to useful articles on avoiding cultural appropriation etc.
I like humour and satire and generally fun stories. A bit of subtle social commentary never goes amiss so long as it doesn’t get overbearing or preachy. I like stories that are fast and to the point, with plenty of plot-related action. I like things that introduce new concepts and that mash up genres. I also like stories that are slower and create an atmosphere, things with a decent plot that are also mood pieces. I’ve a soft spot for a gorgeously turned phrase, though watch out that it doesn’t go purple.
Mainly it’s all about the characters. I can forgive a lot in a story, but if the characters are thin or cliche or generally unpleasant assholes with no story logic behind their personality, then I lose interest. I have very low tolerance for obsessively racist/sexist/homophobic characters, even if they meet a grisly end. I like characters whose choices move the plot along, characters who have a strong voice and obvious personality. I prefer characters with a bit of experience in their profession and/or with the mythic element of the story, as I’ve read far too many stories where a newbie is just discovering the weird things and spends the whole story having everything explained to them.
But other than that, we’re flexible. 😉