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…

 

Books and deposits

Many years ago, back in nineteen-mumble-mumble, glass bottles had a deposit paid on them. You got that back when you took the bottles back to be reused. There were few, if any, plastic bottles around at that time. Everything came in glass.

We kids loved it. We could take found bottles to the shop and get a few pennies for sweets. Looking back, it was like a reward for litter-picking. Anyone who discarded a bottle, as long as it didn’t break, was funding our sugar habit.The environment was kept clear of bottles and we got free sweets. Everyone’s a winner.

Then came the terrible day of the ‘no deposit – no return’ bottle. It was moulded into the glass so there was no way to get anything on them. Bottles accumulated because nobody had any incentive to collect them any more.

Then came the plastic bottles. Again, no deposit, no return. Worthless, once empty. Some glass ones were good for beer making but the plastic ones, well they were no use at all.

So recycling began. We were to wash out all that glass and plastic and pay the council to take it away so they could sell it to recyclers. It was a great con. Here, the council doesn’t collect glass any more. We are expected to take it to the bottle banks and not put it in general rubbish. The nearest bottle bank is 3 miles away… needless to say, glass recycling doesn’t happen as often as it should.

I have a plan for the accumulated empty bottles. I’m going to try setting them up in the woods with the necks in different directions so no matter which way the wind blows there will always be a ‘woooo’ sound out there. They’ll gradually fill with rain, which will evaporate in warm weather, so the tone of  the ‘woooo’ will change over time and vary depending on the levels of water in each bottle. I’d call it an art installation. I suppose many would call it ‘that damn freak and his lunatic ideas’ but art is often misunderstood.

Recycling hasn’t worked. All the crap is shipped to China and Africa for recycling and the overflow gets dumped into rivers and then into the sea. China and Africa get the blame for this while we pretend to be all clean and holy. The truth is, it’s our crap plastic that’s coming down those African and Chinese rivers.

China is getting sick of being sent contaminated and generally crap stuff for recycling so are clamping down on what they’ll accept. No more of the shitty stuff.

Recyclers are complaining that the councils sell them crappy stuff. Councils complain that people aren’t washing out the plastics etc before putting them in the recycle bins.

The ones at the end of the line are at fault. These are the people who make no money from the recycling game and who actually pay to have theirs taken away. But they are the ones at fault.

On that basis it’s never going to work. Not while those at the end of the line are expected to not only work for free, but to pay for the privilege. That won’t change.

It was therefore good to see the return of deposit-paid bottles. Some are calling it a tax. It isn’t. It’s a deposit. Basically you pay a retainer to have the bottle and if you bring back the empty bottle, you get that retainer back.

If you just throw the bottle out of your car window or drop it in the street, someone else will collect it and get the deposit money. We can look forward to a return to volunteer litter collectors who turn that litter into sweets.

It would be good to see this applied to glass bottles too but one thing at a time, eh? Besides, glass is not a big deal in the environment. Chuck a bottle into a river and it will soon sink to the bottom. The river will gradually wear it down back into the sand it came from. No toxins, no floating around getting tangled up with marine life, just a gradually eroding bottle.

I’ve seen the plastic bottle deposit in action in Denmark. Other European countries use it too. It does need a good network of the machines that accept the bottles. The machine checks the barcode to make sure it’s not an imported bottle (it’ll spit those back at you). If it’s a legit bottle, the machine shreds it. It doesn’t give cash, it gives a voucher to use in the shop. Well no problem, you’d have used some cash in the shop anyway and not giving cash means junkies can’t load up with bottles to get a fix.

It also means there’s no purpose in printing fake barcodes for a load of imported bottles. Oh, it happens  😉  but only on a small scale – one or two that someone brought back from a holiday. There’s no point in organised crime getting involved, it’s pennies per bottle so once you take off paying for the printed barcodes, paying someone to print them, paying patsies to take them to the machine, there’s nothing left. Besides, it’s all in vouchers.so no cash. You can sell the vouchers at a fraction under face value, sure, but you’ll be lucky to make a penny a bottle. And you have to ship in a load at a time from somewhere that doesn’t have the deposit. No, the crims won’t be interested.

Of course, if the idiots in charge ramp up the deposit enough, it could then become of interest to the Mafia…

It’s a good idea. I’m all for it. The deposit is not a tax, it’s entirely refundable on the return of the bottle just like in the old days. Rather than pay the council to take away our recycling and earn money on it, we get a refund on the used plastic. It will work better than the present system.

As for the vouchers, well, we used to spend the deposits in the shop where we took back the bottles anyway. Vouchers or cash, makes no difference to me. As long as the vouchers aren’t banned from use on baccy and booze, which would be a silly but predictable move on the part of our lunatic government.

Even sillier but impossible to rule out – you’d take back ten Coke bottles and can’t use the voucher to buy Coke. Oh I can well believe the dickheads we have in charge now are capable of making a rule like that.

If the vouchers turn out to be only good for salad and vegetables, I might add plastic bottles to my glass-bottle ‘woooo’ machine.

Or maybe retry my old attempts at melting them down into bricks for garden use.

***

Books –

Underdog Anthology 5 is a definite. There are more than enough stories to make it a ‘go’ but it can always take a few more. Deadline is midnight GMT on the 1st April and if you’re a few hours late, I’ll still consider it. It’s Easterish timed but not Easter themed. This one is the one filling the gap between Christmas and Halloween and I think I’ll keep it that way. The Spring non-themed anthology.

Price rises at the end of this month will not apply to the anthologies because the authors are paid in advance, there are no royalties, and the prices are as low as I can make them. None of the anthologies have made break-even, possibly because I keep giving them away, but that is not what they are for. They are advertising for Leg Iron Books and its authors.They might take a decade to reach break even, if ever, it doesn’t matter.

The price rises will also not apply to books by me. The only ones I have to increase are the ones I pay royalties on – the novels and single author story collections. They won’t go up by a lot but I need to pay my authors more than they get now. They aren’t going to be keen to send me more books if they get a pittance every quarter, and I don’t want to lose any of them just yet.

I only want to lose an author when they get an offer from a big publisher. That’s the point of this venture. I don’t want to be a big publisher, I don’t want to be rich, I don’t want to be in the 40% tax bracket. I’ve been in it twice and it was horrible both times because I don’t want to succeed for half pay. I’d like to make enough to live on, eventually, and see the Leg Iron Books authors make it into the big time. I am not the big time. I’m a step on the way, I hope.

I have been staying up far too late working on Lee Bidgood’s ‘You’ll Be Fine’ because it’s a compelling read. A complex story, tightly written, where even the most apparently irrelevant detail is woven in to a logically bizarre tale. And it has an orange Lada. I actually once worked with someone who had an orange Lada and he took a lot of stick for it. It was a uniquely revolting vehicle.

I hope to finish my so-far trivial edits by tomorrow. Then I have my son’s 30th birthday to deal with (yes, I am old enough to look unironed and well slept in) and then the anthology.

Today I was up in the horrible early time when the sun was on entirely the wrong side of the sky and the car was still frozen to the ground. It was day-job stuff, actual microbiology, but it won’t take effect for a while yet. It will not stop the anthology and will not stop Lee Bidgood’s book work. It won’t even affect Longrider’s next one, which is imminent. It just meant that tonight has been a bit of a wipeout because I’m not designed for mornings.

If you have something for Underdog Anthology 5, get it in by midnight on April 1st. There is a +/- day or so tolerance on this deadline, since it’s not specifically linked to a calendar event but a week late is far too late.

The next anthology will be Halloween. If you have a good scary one, you might want to save it for that.

More writing stuff

A magazine called ‘Three-Lobed Burning Eye’ is looking for submissions and they pay well – but they only need six stories so competition is pretty damn fierce! It’s speculative fiction, something I’ve never been able to define accurately. If anyone fancies a go, here’s the link. (thanks are due to my old pal Lesia for the tip).

They used to pay per word, with a maximum. That’s not a bad idea. It would get around the issue of authors getting paid the same per anthology story even when one is long and another is short. I’ll give it some thought. Maybe apply something along those lines for the Halloween one. It’ll be Number Six, appropriately.

The next anthology (5) isn’t really Easter, it’s just coming out around Easter time. There’s no defined theme so I need a title for Underdog Anthology Five. Might just put a two-finger salute on the cover and call it ‘V’. Suggestions welcome.

Stories have been coming in. The book is a ‘go’. There’s still time, I won’t close submissions until midnight on the 1st April because I won’t be able to anyway. I will have a week of parental visits next week, I have a meeting about actual science work on the 29th and I’m working on Lee Bidgood’s book this month too. You have until the last chilling toll of the midnight bell of All Fool’s Day to get a story done and emailed in.

I will have contracts and author payments completed by the 5th April so the whole book will be in this tax year. I can do without the complications of having half a book in another tax year! Also I want all the expenses in this tax year because of a devious reason  😉 The book might come out after the 5th but the money side needs to be settled before.

These anthologies are not going to be subject to the price rises I mentioned. Those increases are only for authors getting royalties. The anthologies are paid in advance and none of them have so far reached break-even but that’s not really the point of them. The point is to get Leg Iron Books and the authors advertised so the anthologies are going to stay as cheap as possible. They will make me a few pennies per book, no more. It will probably take quite a few years of sales before they tap the door of profit. That’s okay. The single-author books are what the income is aimed at.

Remember to include every previously published work in your author page in these anthologies. Even if it’s published outside Leg Iron Books. That author page is your CV and you never know, maybe one day a big publisher will find a copy and actually read it. Then you’ll move on to much bigger things.

I don’t want any author thinking ‘I’m with Leg Iron Books for life’. I’m never going to be a big publisher and I’m very unlikely to ever be able to pay big money. If you get an offer from the big boys, go for it. I, and the remaining authors, would really appreciate if you were to mention this little starting point but nothing is compulsory. Other than the author contract, of course, and the big boys could buy that out without a second thought.

 

Well, I suppose I should get the blog back to its normal ranty self soon. I could comment on the Muslim child-rape gangs who have been operating in UK cities for decades but the government, police and the BBC have ignored them and still do so what can this little backwater blog achieve?

I could go on about FGM but the government, police and BBC don’t care about it. Feminists are too busy dressing up in hijabs to care about girls being mutilated and then forced to wear the things they wear for fun and they don’t care about women who take off that same hijab getting two years of prison in Iran. No, the feminists wear it to prove they are Righteous and then take it off and nothing happens to them. Must be great to be a feminist. It’s like being a Muslim woman for a day with no downside.

Until they find out what happens to any Muslim who tries to leave. Basically, feminists, when you put on that hijab you have converted. When you take it off you are an apostate. Let the games commence.

This past week, three people of right-wing persuasion were denied entry to the UK in case they say things that might upset someone. Meanwhile ISIS fighters are welcomed back with a free house and free money. Saddo the Khunt has been to America to tell them free speech is bad if it contains hurty words while the city he is mayor of descends into a place even Somalians would flee.

The government cannot understand why the population are getting a bit miffed. Haven’t we banned any words that could hurt them? Haven’t we wrecked enough of their favourite foods and vices yet? What are they complaining about? If they have no bread, let them eat cake.

If they have no sugar, let them eat aspartame.

Yeah. If real history was still taught in schools, everyone out there would know exactly what happens next.

I don’t think the government reads history.