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  • April/May/June 2017 Calls
    To the office of the Prime Minister:

    As you have no doubt been made aware from previous correspondence, Mr. Gladstone, problems of an unusual nature still arise in the further reaches of Her Majesty’s empire.
    You remember the transport we lost in the Chinese seas, and manpower spent keeping it from the press. One of the officer’s wives, a Mrs. Kathleen Morland, was found drifting in the same waters. Yes, two years later. She wore strange finery, speaking in a language that we still haven’t placed, and only telling a broken story through far more broken English. She complains of voices from some long ago time, saying things she wishes she could forget. The ship which rescued was followed to port by strange lights.
    One exploratory party Africa reported total darkness for a period of 106 hours. No trace of the sun. Light suddenly returned around noon. When their guide returned the following day, he was nearly mad with grief. “The darkness now resides within us. Our light has faded.”
    Just as I was about to hand this to my secretary, one more report arrived. Trouble along the Indian border, as ever. Word is fragmentary, also as ever, but suggests something unhealthy and alive in the biting wind.
    While troubling, I don’t believe there is anything the foreign office can do at this time. We’ll continue to look into these on a case by case basis—but the difference in geography, actors, and dates seems to suggest we can do little but watch, record, and pray.
    Yours truly,
    [The signature is missing, crumbling away to a burnt-out blackness. The letter shows signs of having been thrust into the fire, but saved before the letter was wholly consumed.]

    What We Want

    Their Coats All Red: Dark Tales of Empire is seeking strange stories which are steeped in the history of the British Empire from about 1880 to 1905. These must be tales which capture the feel of the high Victorian era.
    We don’t want stories of the Empire itself—we want stories of the weirdness underneath. Ghosts, spirits, madness and monstrosities are all welcome. Make it psychological or physical, but make it good.
    Crucially, every submission must contain an element of the weird, the uncanny, the supernatural, or the paranormal. This may be in the form of spirits, hauntings, monstrosities, folklore and folk-horror from the region in question, or simply the completely inexplicable. Dark, foreboding, or unsettling are good keywords. Weird fiction also encompasses dark fantasy, of a sort, opening the door for dark historical fantasy a la Manly Wade Wellman, Neil Gaiman, or Tim Powers.

    We are looking for stories which reflect the vastness and variety of the Empire, and so suggested geographical settings include, but are not limited to:
    • India and the Raj
    • The East Indies in general
    • China up to and including the Boxer Rebellion
    • Egypt and the Sudan,
    • West Africa and the later Ashanti Wars
    • South Africa, both the Zulu Wars and the Boer War
    • At sea, around, or going to or from, any of the above
    We want to see the impact of Empire and its infrastructure, from any viewpoint. The military side of life on the frontier is an obvious one, and an encouraged one, but not the only approach.
    We will check your history.
    Characters of any relevant culture, ethnicity, or allegiance are welcome, not only the British soldiers. The lost, bewildered British soldier or colonial administrator; the embittered Indian servant or Rajah; the scorned Egyptian woman and the dying Boer farmer are all equally possible protagonists. What we do not want are stereotypes. Think real people in strange situations. No cartoon racists or noble savages.
    Farmers marching under a parched South African noon to fight the Boer, with whom they often had more in common than they had with their own officers. Young London women shipped with their husbands to quarters in Calcutta with little company save their Indian servants. Traders and planters in Malaya, fighting the monsoon shadows, and the forlorn garrisons in the Sudan. The sailors of the West Africa squadron, seizing slave ships off the Gold Coast.
    The Bombay char wallah, beaten once too often by the English Major for being too slow with his tea. The Zulu who trades his iklwa for a Martini rifle. The Egyptian woman who finds her officer lover will not acknowledge her in the street.
    Complex and human are the watchwords. Be sensitive to the humanity of characters on all sides.

    We would also like to encourage stories with female central characters. The high Victorian era is when modern women began seriously entering their own careers, studying science, and starting their own businesses. While there were many problems in the era, it would be exciting to see achievements celebrated, in fiction, instead of the era’s failings presented as the only path for women. This is, after all, also the era of Nellie Bly, Annie Oakley, Mary Kingsley, Isabella Bird, Marie Curie, Cristina Trivulzio Belgiojoso, Harriet Martineau, and Jane Addams, among many, many others.
    Using the Cthulhu Mythos is acceptable, however we do not want simple retreads, pastiche, or Lovecraft-lite. Write something fresh, creative, and, of course, deeply embedded in the Empire if you choose to try this route.
    If you would like to write a story regarding an earlier event (such as the Sepoy Rebellion), please query the editors.
    What We Don’t Want

    Don’t rely on ahistorical cliché. Corsets weren’t that tight (except for a hot five minutes in 1850s France). The English weren’t repressed, and all the evidence usually carted out to prove it is a hoax (“Lie on your back and think of England”) or a joke that started about Americans (“They cover the most scandalous, shapely legs in their house—the piano legs!”). Falling into ahistorical cliché is a serious black mark against stories.
    We’re looking for realistic takes on the Empire itself. In other words, the Empire was neither cartoon monstrosity nor entirely wonderful. Like so many things, it was a mix of positive and negative. If stories try to address empire as a concept, or the English Empire in particular, it’s essential to keep this in mind. Stories which fail to keep this in mind will be an increasingly hard sell.

    This does not mean we’re looking for stories where “The English only thought they were doing positive things in their Empire building.” We’re not interested in anything so dismissive of the past. We’re not looking for comments on Empire along the lines of “actual evil” versus “perceived good,” but the much more difficult and human, “actual evil” vs. “actual good.”
    A general historical story of the period, however weird and unnatural, will not cut any ice—it needs to be rooted in the Empire.
    We are not interested in political screeds for or against the English Empire, or empires in general.

    We’d rather not receive missionary stories. It’s an over-used take on colonial issues, and unless it’s astonishing or very, very different, we’re not likely to let you get away it.
    Stories set in locations such as America, Canada, Australasia, and the West Indies are also feasible, but they will be a harder sell unless they have directly relevance to the theme of Empire. Stories may be set in Britain, but they would have to relate to an aspect of Empire. No Victorian gents merely musing how they got shot in the leg in Afghanistan, please.
    Sundry Details

    Payment: 5% of the gross profit will be paid for each accepted story. These payments will be issued to you at quarterly intervals. Stories under 1,500 words will only receive 4% of the gross profit.
    Rights: First World Digital and Print.
    Deadline: April 15th, 2017
    Word Count: 4,000-16,000
    How to Submit your Story:
    • All stories should be sent, as an attachment, to
    • The file must be formatted in .doc or .docx.
    • The interior of the document must be in double spaced Times New Roman (12 point font).
    • Indents must be placed through your system’s Paragraph function; do not set indents by pressing tab or space. If you already have tabbed or spaced indents, please remove them first. Please use full em dashes (—).
    • At the top of your document, please include William Shunn’s submission header.
    • Tell us a bit about yourself in the body of your email. Don’t stress this, it won’t make or break your submission.
    • Place the collection you’re submitting to, your name, and your story title in the subject line of your email. For example, “Their Coats All Red / Rudyard Kipling / The Mark of the Beast.”
    John Linwood Grant is a writer of strange period tales and dark fiction, author of the Tales of the Last Edwardian series, including A Study in Grey, and co-editor of Occult Detective Quarterly.
    Matthew Willis is a journalist and writer, author of a period sea novel Daedalus and the Deep, and editing credits include the recent Stalking Leviathan anthology.
    With Iron And Fire - Now available at Sea Lion Press
    Alternative Truths - Now available on Amazon

  • #2
    I can’t guarantee I’ll get more posts out this year but I can start with a bang. I last co-edited Playground of Lost Toys with Ursula Pflug. The anthology was nominated for an Aurora Award, as well as one author being nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award, and three longlisted for the Sunburst Award with Catharine MacLeod’s Hide and Seek winning in short fiction. Now, to hopefully repeat that sucess, I will be editing an anthology of speculative fiction, due to be published by Exile Editions in the spring of 2018. Read on for Alice Unbound guidelines.
    Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) explored childlike wonder and the bewildering realm of adult rules and status, which clashed in bizarre ways. Many characters in his tales are anthropomorphic, whether talking cards, crying mock turtles or saucy Tiger Lilies. Over 150 years later, people still recognize characters from Carroll’s works. Who doesn’t know of vorpal blades and tardy white rabbits, protagonists and antagonists that resonate in a primal part of the human psyche. They harken to the mysticism and mystery of the ancient world, when one wondered how the rain fell, or which gods empowered madness through drink, or whether a person was separate from an animal or could become one.
    Sir John Tenniel’s famous Alice illustrations. The Griffin, the Mock Turtle and Alice.

    Centuries passed and myth became fairy tale, evolving to resonate with each era, showing the triumphs of the common man, the humble and generous woman who outsmarts tempters, jailers, and evil stepmothers, or the trials and tribulations of seeking the unknown. Carroll’s characters jumped forward, not just following the regular metamorphosis of an age-old tale, but leaping off the cliff of the familiar into something altogether new, different and endearing. We might not truly want to live in the world of Alice or have to deal with mad queens and bandersnatches, but what if that Wonderland ceased to exist on a separate plain, and melded with our modern world? How would these characters fit in, and what would they bring or change? Are we ready to accept Alice Unbound into our hearts and let the Jabberwock in the back door?
    Alice’s Adventured in Wonderland was Carroll’s most famous work but there are other stories and poems (some within the greater works) where madcap creatures abound. Alice Unbound should contain an element of the speculative and may embrace fabulist, weird, myth, SF, fantasy, steampunk, horror, etc. Other speculative elements or characters may be combined in any way. I don’t want to see rehashings of Carroll’s tales but stories taking place in a modern or slightly futuristic world. I’ve seen many of the Alice as well. If you have a talking cat, it must be recognizable as the Cheshire Cat. I will consider a few very select poems, but they must have a storyline and not just be an observation or an image. You should not be copying Carroll’s style but telling a new tale in your voice. Too many stories submitted with the same character will limit chances of the story being accepted. The anthology needs to go beyond Alice in every way.
    Whether the Mad Hatter, the mock turtle, or Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, use Carroll’s elements and characters to write a new tale. QUILTBAG or people of colour as characters are encouraged. Alice doesn’t have to be white and blonde. I will accept any characters from the following works . I have not read everything so if you want to write about another character that fits into Carroll’s fantastical tales, please write first and ask.
    • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
      Sir John Tenniel illustration.
    • Through the Looking Glass
    • The Hunting of the Snark
    • Phantasmagoria
    These are story examples only but not requirements:
    • The caterpillar is the owner of a medical marijuana store but turns out to be part of a moonlighting superhero team by night.
    • The Walrus and the Carpenter’s strange relationship is strained farther when they both fall for a mermaid, who crusades for the murdered oysters.
    • The Snark is as elusive as the Sasquatch, but when they vie for the same space in endangered environment, what happens?
    • The last Jabberwock is captured and used to battle an overpopulation of vampires.
    Canadians or expat Canadians only may submit. QUILTBAG and POC are encouraged to submit. I will read cover letters last and will choose stories on merit first. This resource may be of use in your research:
    Payment: .05/word
    Length: 2,000-5,000 words. Poetry: minimum 1,000 words.
    Submission window: Feb. 1 to May 31 at: (submitting before will see you end up in another anthology’s guidelines)
    Simultaneous submissions: No; if you submit to me, please do not send it anywhere else until you receive a rejection.
    Multiple submissions: You may send one story, or two poems. Please wait until I’ve sent a rejection before you send anything else. I may hold some pieces until the submission window is closed.
    Acceptances: Final acceptances will go out a month after the submission window closes. I may ask for rewrites before making a final decision.
    Manuscript format: Please use standard manuscript format (Google William Shunn): double-space (except for poems), no extra spaces between paragraphs, indented paragraphs, title, etc. Failure to follow formatting may see your piece rejected.
    Now, don your Mad Hatter’s cap, clean out the teapot and start writing.
    With Iron And Fire - Now available at Sea Lion Press
    Alternative Truths - Now available on Amazon


    • #3
      Weirdpunk Books has posted an anthology call for "Zombie Punks Fuck Off". They're looking for zombie punk stories of 2000 to 5000 words "where zombies and punk collide". The deadline is April 30, 2017 and payment is 1cent a word. You can find the details here.
      With Iron And Fire - Now available at Sea Lion Press
      Alternative Truths - Now available on Amazon


      • #4
        Lillicat Publishers has posted an anthology call for "Visions VII: Universe". They're looking for science fiction stories of 3000 to 8000 words. Stories must take place off-earth with the theme being "In the vastness of the Universe, all things imaginable are possible.". The deadline is June 1, 2017 and payment is $25. You can find the call here with more details on their submission page.
        With Iron And Fire - Now available at Sea Lion Press
        Alternative Truths - Now available on Amazon


        • #5

          Submission Guidelines

          BANJAXED Books is hosting submissions for its upcoming post-apocalyptic anthology, Chaos of Hard Clay. Submissions are open to everyone.

          We're looking for submissions of 1500 to 7000 words in length. 3000 to 5000 is the magic spot. Submissions should be double-spaced and in .doc or .docx format. We'll also take .rtf but ask that pdf be avoided. The font should be unobtrusive--Times New Roman or Courier New, for example--and font size should be around 12 pt.

          All contact information should be in the left-hand corner of the first page. If you publish under a pseudonym, please put your real name in your contact info.

          Deadline of Chaos of Hard Clay is June 30th. Send submissions to
          We ask that strict formatting be followed, and prefer the one found here.
          The subject line of the submission should read 'Submission Chaos of Hard Clay, (TITLE), (Word Count). Example: 'Submission Chaos of Hard Clay, DAY OF THE METEORS, 3500 Words.'

          We are looking for new twists on the post-apocalypse genre. Combinations of genres are especially welcome--post-apocalypse and Western, or post-apocalypse and Noir. Let the imagination roam.

          We do ask, however, that references to American presidents, living or deceased, be avoided, as well as current politicians or religious figures. Presidents out of antiquity will be considered (if their involvement in the apocalypse is benign), but best to invent your characters from whole cloth.

          Payment for this anthology will be $10, plus a contributor copy of the paperback edition. (Paperbacks will come out some time after the e-reader version. Please be advised.)

          Currency will be American. Be aware of exchange rates if you live outside of the United States.

          BANJAXED Books is an independent, mom-and-pop publishing company, consisting of author G. Allen Cook, Executive Editor and Publisher, and Kathy Cook, Editor.

          G. Allen is the author of several short story collections, the living dead novella, Wakefield, and has contributed to outside anthologies. He is a playwright and composer, with nearly twenty produced plays under his belt. He has also contributed--as journalist and columnist--to various magazines and newspapers.

          Kathy is a middle school librarian and holds a Bachelors of Science in Education and English and a Master of Science in Library Science. She is also editor of several short stories. Kathy designs the various aspects of BANJAXED Books.
          With Iron And Fire - Now available at Sea Lion Press
          Alternative Truths - Now available on Amazon