Winter is coming

And so is the Christmas anthology. I am accepting stories as of now and writing a couple of my own too. Pay is as always, £10 or rounded up equivalent in your local currency, or the equivalent in copies of the book. That works best if you are in the UK because overseas postage is daylight robbery here. It’s better to send cash to overseas authors and get them to order copies locally.

Stories should be around the 2000 word mark. Longer is good, if you get into the hih tens of thousands we might be discussing novellete publication though. Under 1000 and if it’s good, okay, but we will have to negotiate a price.

Christmas themed, of course, and they don’t have to be scary. Mine probably will be but that’s just how I roll.

I’d also need an ‘about the author’ blurb which will not be edited unless it has typos. In that you can freely advertise any other work you have had published, or your blog, or website, or your Etsy shop selling Eritrean stones painted using your tongue. Anything at all as long as it’s legal.

Deadline for this one is midnight GMT (aka PBT, Proper British Time) on December 1st. I have to allow for the vagaries of loading up and I would like to get copies to authors (those who elect to be paid in books) in time for Christmas. It also has to be available for both regular readers to buy in time for Christmas and as we all know, Christmas is scarier than Halloween for the postal service. I really can’t take late entries on this anthology. I can’t publish until I have all the author contracts and editorial responses back and time will be very tight.

I have neither cover nor title prepared so far, but it’ll work out. Don’t worry about that – it’s entirely my responsibility and I’m not going to worry about it for weeks yet.

I am also asking for advice. I have had a story idea that is pretty damn brutal even by my standards, and I have written some truly horrible things. In summary it is this:

Modern youngsters Mary and Joe have been together for a few years. Mary goes out one night with her girl friends, gets a bit drunk and wakes up in a churchyard with her clothes in disarray. Later she finds she is pregnant, even though medical examination shows she is still a virgin.

Shadowy, powerful people find out. They check her and Joe’s ancestries and bloodlines. They install their own medical team to advise Mary to have an abortion. On some pretext about the baby having two heads or something like that.

Joe is fine with it, it’s not his child. Mary is scared and confused, she thinks she must have been raped while drunk. So she agrees. The baby is aborted.

The shadowy people meet below a statue of a goat-headed figure and say ‘That was close. He nearly got through that time’.

What do you think? Too dark even for me?

Should I write it?

Or is the outline all you need?

UPDATE: This is Anthology 7, but this title idea only works if there are 24 stories…

A week off

The week off should have started yesterday. I had loaded ‘The Gallows Stone’ onto Amazon and Smashwords and it was all done. I could relax.

Until…

When the Kindle version showed up, the ‘look inside’ option had stretched all the interior illustrations into elongated rubbish. They were fine in the actual eBook, the issue is with the preview system. Well, nobody is going to buy it if they think the preview is the real thing, so I took out all the interior illustrations from the Kindle version and reloaded it.

Next, Smashwords wanted modifications before putting the book out for distibution. Fortunately they were minor changes and quickly fixed – and reloaded. Smashwords also make a Kindle (.mobi) version but since they don’t seem to get along with Amazon, it won’t distribute that way. Hence the separate Kindle version. Smashwords convert the eBook into pretty much any format you want, there’s even one for PalmPilots! It’s worth getting that distribution though – they’ll send it to Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Sony, and many other places.

Finally, of course, there was an issue with the print version. The spine text had come out too close to the edge. I made it smaller and found a less infuriatingly dificult way to load the cover at the same time.

Everything is now fixed and the book is wending its merry way out into the world. I have ordered a batch of copies for those who opted to be paid in books rather than cash and should get those by Monday at the latest. The authors should get them in time for Halloween.

The final version of the cover, after discussion with Roo B. Doo, looks like this:

I had to make it half size so WordPress would accept it. All the same, my first attempt at a one-piece cover has (after a few false starts) worked out. I have also worked out, I think, most of the quirks of this new loading interface. The next one should go smoothly.

The print and Kindle versions should eventually merge into one listing on Amazon. Unless that goes wrong too…

Right, I have a week to get the garden ready for winter (weather permitting) and catch up on some films, as well as catching up with what’s been happening in the news. One week from now I’ll start on the Christmas anthology.

For tonight, I’ll leave you with the contents page, just as a taster.

Cade F.O.N Apollyon
.                              A Goohuul
Mark Ellott
.                             The One That Got Away
Daniel Royer
.                             Scarback
Marsha Webb
.                              A Date with Destiny
Justin Sunshine
.                              Burgled
.                              The Lantern Maker
Roo B Doo
.                               Waste Not Want Not
.                               ‘Cos Play’s The Thing
H. K. Hillman
.                               Old Timers
.                               Blood from a Stone

One of the stories is about a gallows stone, so the title isn’t at all out of place  🙂

 

Underdog Anthology Six

Working title: The Gallows Stone. Inspired by a lump of rock in a wall of this house. The title may change if it doesn’t fit the content but as I have little idea of what the content will be at this stage, a working title will do.

Underdog Anthology Six is now open for submissions until October 1st. I will allow a day or two leeway on that deadline but no more than that. This is the Halloween anthology and I really want it available in plenty of time. So go for October 1st as your deadline and if it’s a day over, I’ll still consider the story. Best to warn me it’s coming though.

I am looking for Halloween themed stories in any genre – I know it’s traditionally a horror setting but it doesn’t have to be – of roughly 1000 – 2000 words. The word count is not at all set in stone, you can send as big a story as you like and if it’s far too long I’ll consider publishing it separately as a novella (that’s a different arrangement involving royalties rather than the one-off payment for a short story). Since I’m paying £10 per story, I’d rather not see 100-word flash fiction unless you’re willing to negotiate a lower payment.

Rules

Halloween theme, as I said. No child abuse or child porn. Adult themes are fine as long as only adults are involved. No violent rape scenes, other violence is fine. Absolutely no antismoking propaganda. Try to stay off politics, since that sets the story in a particular time frame and it’ll soon get dated. No fanfiction – if the characters in your story are from a copyrighted series or story, I can’t accept it. Be honest, you wouldn’t like it if someone took your characters and made money from writing them into stories, now would you?

Final rule – I’m not going to publish anything I could be legitimately sued over. Authors take full responsibility for their writings and if there are death threats or court cases, they get redirected back to the author.  Take the story right to the edge if you like, but not over it. These books have never yet made me a profit and I’m not going to jail for one of them.

Even so, every one of these anthologies so far has an 18+ rating due to one or more stories inside, so adult themes are okay.

Other information

Copyright remains with the author throughout. I never buy copyright. What I’m paying for is the right to include your story in this one anthology and as soon as it’s published, that publication right is completed. I cannot and will not use your story anywhere else and I cannot and will not stop you re-using your story anywhere you like. I would like it if you’d refer to the anthology if you do republish your story but it’s not a condition. I really don’t have the time or resources to check anyway.

The flipside is that once paid for and published, you can’t ask me to take it out of the anthology. I’m not doing eternal revisions of anthologies. There are three a year and the Christmas one is next up. Once I buy the right to publish, it’s in that anthology forever.

Format

Don’t. No fancy stuff. It’s murder getting those borders and lines out. Italics, bold, underline, sure. No problem there. But don’t split it into sections and don’t have all kinds of fonts and heading styles because I’m going to change them all. The book will be Times New Roman, pitch 11, and I will format headings so they are consistent throughout.

Don’t send a PDF. I can’t do anything with it. Microsoft Word or OpenOffice are preferred but if you have a different word processor I might still be able to open it. If all else fails, send it as RTF with instructions if you need anything special.

Try to keep paragraphs short. It’s not too important in the print version but people read eBooks on their phones and long paragraphs become screen after screen of solid text. It puts people off.

Author page

Every author has a page, about 250 words or so, to give any information they want about themselves. It doesn’t have to be the whole truth. If you have published before you can list those on your page and even include links. In the eBook those links will be ‘live’. If you want a photo in there (nobody ever has, yet) I can do that – I need it at least 300 DPI or big enough that I can increase the DPI and shrink it. It will be monochrome, if you send colour I can convert it.

Submissions should be sent to legironbooks [at] gmail . com

I think that covers everything. If you have any questions, either drop me an email or ask in the comments below. If you want a taste of what kind of story shows up in these anthologies, you can ‘click to look inside’ the previous ones…

Underdog Anthology (1)

Tales the Hollow Bunnies Tell (2)

Treeskull Stories (3)

The Good, the Bad and Santa (4)

Six in Five in Four (5)

Crank up those writing fingers, pour a glass of your favourite imagination lubricant and see what Hallowen inspires in you.

 

Six in Five in Four

The fifth Underdog Anthology is now available on Amazon in print and Kindle formats, and in all the eBook formats you could want on Smashwords.

The two listings on Amazon will eventually merge into one – I hope. It normally works although it hasn’t worked for Samuel’s Girl. That still has separate listings for print and Kindle. A glitch I have to get around to fixing.

There is also a glitch with getting Smashwords premium distribution on this anthology. That’s good to get because it means they distribute it to a whole range of eBook sellers. I will address the glitch after I’ve finished with the next two novels. These anthologies don’t make much money anyway, the novels are more important at the moment. The anthologies are showcases for Leg Iron Books and the authors who publish here. This one has a very wide range of stories, which is going to be the norm for the Beltane issue every year.

I should get the author copies soon and I’ll distribute them to those who chose to be paid in books – hopefully at the end of this week.

I’m also going all out on the two novels in process this week because I’ve just picked up a G scale train set on eBay and I’m keen to get into the garden to set it up. The engine is radio controlled and has sound – very loud sound, which I can fortunately mute when necessary.

Can’t play with it properly until work is over. That’s a really good incentive to get the stuff done!

Next anthology, number 6, will be Halloween themed and I’ll start hunting for stories at the beginning of September. In the meantime, I’m still accepting novels/short story collections/nonfiction and anything that can become a good book.

However, the beginning of May is (I hope!) train playing time.

Also, probably, merciless gardening.

 

A Preview

I never thought of myself as a workaholic. My natural state is lethargic, idle and usually a little bit drunk. Well, no time for that these days!

I off-roaded the old car in December 2016 when I got the ‘new’ one (which is the same age as the old one but has better ground clearance). It went into the garage with a dying battery and there it stayed until a few days ago. I finally got around to putting in a new battery and… it started first time! I actually sat there in stunned disbelief for a few minutes.

Of course, the brakes had rusted so it took a bit of effort to get them to pop free and it’ll almost certainly need new brake discs and a full service. Oh and an MOT – fortunately the garage in the local Tiny Town does them so I won’t have to risk my life by driving it too far. However, I need to get it back in the garage before my son fills that with wood for projects. The farmer has been engaged in an extensive deforestation program and there are huge piles of dismembered trees here now.

Along with the car and other stuff, I am currently working on three books at once. Actually that’s not as bad as it sounds. Lee’s is in final edits, Longrider already has his edited and has covers etc. all set to go, and the latest Anthology is in its final stages too. I aim to have them all out in April and as long as nothing terrible happens, that’s definitely possible.

Having said that, I did buy a machete and a flamethrower this week so…

Anyway. As I said, the latest anthology is in its final stages. Here’s the contents page:-

Emma Buttery
– The Police Interview

H. K. Hillman
– Feedback
– One Way Trip
– My Bitter Valentine
– 23-David and 81-Mohammed

Roo B. Doo
– Jackanory Jackalope
– Nine Lives

Cade F.O.N Apollyon
– Sometimes a Door
– Hee Haw Hockey
– Pour Know….Poor, No.

Dirk J. J. Vleugels
– Bali Hai
– Sumba, a Tropical Paradise?
– In a Pub in Bali
– The Old Dutch Lady in Surabaya
– The Ear
– The Queen of the Bricks
– The Death Penalty

Justin Sunshine
– The Dancing Lights
– Tigers’ Lair

Dirk is a new addition this time around. His stories are English translations of a few of the real-life events he recounted in Dutch in ‘Feesten Onder de Drinkboom’. I hope he eventually translates the whole book, although I now that will take time. ‘Tales from Under the Drinking Tree’ is a catchy title.

I put Justin Sunshine last this time because I really wanted to end on ‘Tigers’ Lair’, a tale that could well have a basis in reality (it’s fiction, honest!) in this modern world. The book therefore finishes on a chilling note. I like it that way.

Three of my own stories in this issue have not appeared anywhere else before, but that’s about to change. Here’s one of them as a sample. It just a short one, won’t take up too much of your time.

Relax, have a drink and enjoy…

 

Feedback

Derek closed his front door and threw his keys down next to the telephone on the small table. He aimed a kick at Badger, his wife’s black and white cat, but missed. Badger scurried away into the living room.

“Penny? You home?” Derek shouted while he took off his coat. “Penny?” No answer, so Derek made a quick circuit of their small flat: his wife didn’t always answer; she might not be speaking to him again. “Great. She’s not home.”

In the living room, Derek poured himself a whisky and took it into the tiny spare bedroom where he had set up his computer. Webcams surrounded his chair, one atop the monitor facing him, one trained on his fish tank, two aimed in opposite directions out of the window, and his favourite – the one behind his seat, so that when he tuned it in he saw himself watching the screen, with himself on the screen, and so on into infinity. A feedback loop was the technical term, but to him it was an infinity of Dereks. Ego beyond the scale of the universe. Derek sipped his whisky and watched himself do the same infinite times. So much whisky. So many Dereks.

He set the whisky down, turned off the webcam and connected to the Internet. Penny hated the sites he frequented. Some of them could get him arrested, he knew, but he just couldn’t resist. He flicked through pages of images where the predominant colour was flesh, but settled on the best live-action cam site he had ever seen.

Death in Life. The site’s name described exactly what it meant. For a fee, anyone could arrange to have someone killed. In itself, that was nothing new – there were pubs in the seedier part of town where such things could be arranged for a few hundred pounds – but Death in Life had one quirk. How the authorities had failed to track the site was beyond Derek’s ability to comprehend, but it still existed.

The site’s gimmick was simple. Someone arranged a hit. The site owners not only carried out the hit, but their assassin wore a head-mounted webcam. Everything was streamed live to the Internet. Derek clicked through options until he found a current hit in progress. He sipped his whisky and settled back to watch.

The screen showed paving slabs. This was normal: they never identified the street in case the police were monitoring them. Derek chuckled. There must be police officers glued to screens all over the country, hoping to identify the location before the killer could escape.

No chance. These opening shots served one purpose only – to reveal the weapon of choice for the current hit. A gloved hand came into shot, holding a long thin spike.

Derek grinned. “Ooh, that’s gonna hurt.”

The camera turned off, so Derek took the opportunity to run to the living room and collect the whisky bottle. There’d be a few minutes’ pause while the killer gained access to his victim’s home, and they never showed the location until the end. Derek returned to his seat in time to see the gloved hand insert a key into a lock.

Derek sat up straight. When they had to burst into a home, the victim always fought. These stealth operations meant that the hit was paid for by a family member. The last one had been a cheating wife. Derek leaned closer to the screen and scratched his crotch. He hoped this one was in the shower.
The door swung open. A small table came into view, bearing a phone and a bunch of keys. The killer moved without looking from side to side. He must have been well briefed. He knew exactly where to find his target.

The victim came into view. It was a man. Derek released his crotch and started a groan, but it caught in his throat.

On his screen, past the back of the victim’s head, was another screen. It showed an identical picture, including another screen. Derek set down his glass. The victim did the same. Unable to tear away his gaze, Derek stared into the infinite feedback loop before him.

An infinity of ending.

 

Editing…

Sometimes editing and formatting takes as long as writing. Especially if you’re the sort who wants everything perfect. Every heading the same font and pitch, space between heading, author name and start of text always the same… and there’s always that one file that is going to be a sod about it all.

Anyway, the fifth Underdog Anthology is assembled apart from author pages and a few images. Then I’ll check it all again and then send it out for checking by the authors before finalising it. A week or so, tops.

I still have Lee Bidgood’s cover to finish, it’s all drawing, no easy photos this time. The Fifth Anthology front cover is part drawing, part photo. A quick and simple drawing – or would have been if I hadn’t decided to make this my first ever attempt at painting with acrylics on canvas. Blame Aldi for selling them cheap. Anyway, I think it turned out okay for a first attempt. See what you think…

I might meddle with it a bit more while the text is with the authors, but for now I’m concentrating on the internals. Also on the cover and final edits for Lee’s book.

Longrider has excellent cover art already prepared for his next one. I like it when that happens – it makes the whole process so much faster!

World War Three will have to wait for commentary on the idiocy of our leaders. This is much more important.

Work, the curse of the drinking classes

I think all the real-life stuff has finally settled down. My birthday is up next but that’s not a real event. The best part of birthdays at my age is the knowledge that there aren’t that many left to endure.

So the book work is back on the cards. I won’t be blogging much the next week or so, I am finishing up on Lee Bidgood’s book and starting on the anthology. The weather is still shit but that’s a good thing – I won’t be tempted into any gardening. It’s far too cold anyway. Even the grass has barely started to grow and daffodils are only just beginning to open.

My original plan was to get all anthology author payments out before the 5th so they are in this tax year – but most authors prefer to be paid in books. Those who prefer cash can expect it by the 5th anyway but obviously I won’t have books by then! I’ll be contacting the authors tomorrow, to see which they prefer.

The anthologies have, I think, finally settled into a format. Christmas and Halloween themed ones already had, of course, but the third one was to fill the gap between Christmas and Halloween. The first of the interim ones (Tales the Hollow Bunnies Tell) was Easter themed – but Easter is a difficult call. It’s hard to come up with many stories about Easter without them starting to sound forced.

Therefore, the Spring anthology will always be non-themed. I think I will attach it to Beltain rather than Oestre. That will give me a regular 1st April story deadline and the book has to be available before the 30th. No need to hunt down Beltain themes though, it’ll stay non-specific. Still, if you have an idea, go for it.

Three anthologies a year –

Beltain, non-themed, closing April 1st, out in time for April 30th.

Halloween, scary story themed, closing October 1st, out in time for October 31st.

Yule, Christmas-themed, closing around November 15th to allow time for the book to be out and ready to order among the Christmas post rush in December.

As always, any genre, any style. I’ll be looking for shorts around the 2000 word mark, above or below that is fine but if they come in very short we’ll have to negotiate on price 😉

And novels or short story collections are always welcome.

Right. Better get back to work…