Normal Deviation: Seeking Short Stories Based on One Weird Pic

It all started with a weird pic and a throwaway tweet:

I want to do a fiction anthology where everyone writes a story just based on a weird ass picture. And then use that pic as the cover.

And then enough people cheered the idea that we decided to make it our first major project at Wonderbox Publishing.

Normal Deviation is seeking “Third Option” short stories based on the following image, up to 6000 words (deadline: 31 Aug 2017). “Third Option” is our shorthand for digging a little deeper into that writerly creativity bucket: we’d like everyone to cast aside (at least) the first two ideas that come to you, and instead focus on the third (or fourth or fifth…) idea to develop. The goal here is to avoid the obvious, to generate fresh ideas, to get at deviation.

We want stories in any genre, from any perspective, any time period and setting. As long as the story is good, and based somehow on this image, we want to read it!

image for inspiration

We’ve launched a Kickstarter to fund the anthology, as we think all authors deserve professional rates (starting at least at a penny per word). Support us, support authors, and please submit and become one of our authors!

Full details and author guidelines are on our website. Subscribe to updates from our weekly blog, get a feel for what we’re like and what we like, and join us in this bizarre story adventure!

Lyle Skains & DeAnn Bell, Editors
Normal Deviation anthology
Wonderbox Publishing

The Art of Losing: new stories in Long Story, Short Journal

New issues of Long Story, Short Journal .

Stories that take their time, free to read online.


‘Blame it on the Rain’ is a psychologically complex portrait of a woman whose mind is swinging between grasping need and gravid interiority. Michelle Auerbach, American author of The Third Kind of Horse, brings us the stylistically unique tale of a woman on the edge of losing her sanity. Photo by Pierre Melloul.

pierremelloul400“It is always raining when I do these things. Any port in a storm, gimme shelter from the storm, stormy weather, raindrops keep falling on my head. My eyes will be turning red soon. Oh. Pathetic fallacy…”

At the crossroads of the short story and the Irish storytelling tradition, ‘The Cowboy’  by Northern Irish author Jamie Guiney is a humorous piece following the exploits of a man whose reputation for pilfering the local farmer’s fields may be catching up with him. Humorous, with a dark edge, the reader finds themselves in the rural gothic, where innocent fun isn’t quite so innocent after all. Photo by Gareth Wray.

garethwray“It was rumoured that the farmer who lived in the house with the twelve chimneys, had a set of medieval stocks in one of his rundown sheds, and that trespassers caught on his land doing anything at all, including just breathing, were bundled into his tractor and taken to be put in those stocks and dear knows what else.”