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!
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
Print Express are running a children’s short story competition! We’re really excited about getting kids interested in creative writing, and we love reading the imaginative stories they come up with, and so we wanted to celebrate by running a short story competition for two age brackets: 5-9 and 10-13. The winner of each age bracket will win £50 in book tokens, along with £175 in book tokens for their school library!
Email your short story to firstname.lastname@example.org to enter, and be sure to read the full rules and details here.
The deadline for entries is March 31st, 2017 and the winner will be announced shortly after. Good luck!
To celebrate five years of Open Pen, and in association with publisher Limehouse Books, Open Pen magazine has released The Open Pen Anthology today, a lovely paperback collection of 26 short stories (that’s 13 stories from the Open Pen archive, alongside 13 new stories from each of those authors). As per every issue of Open Pen, the collection offers a real eclectic mix of fiction that is only ever similar in its menacing demeanour. Will Ashon, Peter Higgins, and Darren Lee, offer blackly comic tales that are in turns rich with flavour and anxiety inducing. Tasmania’s enfant terrible in Tadhg Muller returns with his maniacal prose. The foreword from How to Be a Public Author‘s Francis Plug (AKA Paul Ewen) describes the collection of stories as “like drinking absinthe over lager,” and that’s certainly true of Xanthi Barker’s stories old and new. They move at a nauseating pace, and do little to settle the stomach of the reader in their passing. That’s true too of the stories from Kate Ellis, Ben Byrne, Jo Gatford, and Max Sydney Smith. These young misfit writers care not for holding back, their stories are brutal, unflinching, honest, and absorbing. Open Pen is as known for the endemic humour of its published tales as much as anything else, so it’s great to see wit serve so prominently here. Mat Woolfenden writes with the earnest zeal of a tickle-obsessed uncle. His two pieces are an absolute riot, and should be heard live at an Open Pen launch if you get a chance to pop along. Ian Green is another such author with a grasp of the importance of humour to the short fiction form. Editor and founder of Open Pen Sean Preston once said that Green’s “Verve for humour is as apparent as any writer we’ve published, albeit understated and salted into narratives so poignant that you won’t believe how fresh-faced this Scotsman is.” Interestingly, you’ll also find Anna Harvey and James King in the pages of this anthology. Harvey and King are the first two cover authors of Open Pen. It’s testament to the affection Open Pen’s following carry for the magazine (that turns five years old this month) that Harvey and King are now permanent fixtures of the Open Pen team.
The paperback book, with its short stories segregated by microfiction from other Open Pen faces from the last five years, is more than just a collection of short fiction, it’s also a much larger story (a three-hundred plus page story): The story of Open Pen finding its feet, discovering itself, and growing in confidence as a purveyor of fiction that longtime contributor N Quentin Woolf called, “Unpretentious, edgy, and utterly readable.”
The Open Pen Anthology is available to buy for £9.99 at OpenPen.co.uk, or from an independent bookshop near you.