Seeking short stories for the Dybbuk Press anthology She Nailed the Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror (working title).
What I'm looking for: Short stories primarily, ideally between 1000 - 12000 words. All stories must be based in some way on Biblical stories. Actually have a familiarity with the Bible. I may consider poems if they are particularly good but I hate 99% of all poems I read. This is primarily a horror anthology so the creepier the better. In many of these stories, you really don't have to work too hard to make them horrific.
Shouldn't be said, but please don't send me stories that are so ungrammatical and clumsy in their execution that they hurt to read. Style counts. Style counts a lot. I am a great fan of authors with great style. I'll read Tanith Lee's 5th grade essay on why she wants a pony before I even think of picking up another Dan Brown book for any other purpose beyond hurling it at the wall.
Retellings of Biblical Stories from the perspective of another character.
Deconstructionist Commentary akin to Rashi
Biblical stories retold in different literary styles (high adventure, Victorian, Romance, Mystery, etc.)
Modern stories told in the Biblical style (Best use Robert Alter's Art of Biblical Poetry and Art of Biblical Narrative if you want a crash course)
Parodies of Prophets
"Queen Esther vs. The Brain Eating Penis Monster from Outer Space" (note that just sticking this title on a lame story is not going to endear you to me. Write a story that would justify this kind of title and I'm interested)
Biblical Movie Parodies (kind of a tough one considering that this genre gave us Lot freeing the slaves of Sodom, Edward G. Robinson playing Aaron in full gangster mode, splatterpunk Jesus and Richard Gere disco dancing in a diaper)
Basically if you're sticking with Biblical tales in Biblical times you have about 1500 years to work with. Empires rose and fell in this time.
Lists of Some books that may Help:
Torah Study 101
25 Jewish Books
Bible Study Sampler
Outrageous Tales from the Old Testament
What I'm NOT looking for:
Normally this is the place where I say that I don't want any vampires, werewolves or ghosts but if you can stick a vampire into a King David story or put zombies in Ancient Assyria then I actually want to see it.
One Caveat to the last note: I read The Last Days of Jesus the Vampire. I thought it was a very clever idea that was poorly executed. Regardless, I'm not going to be terribly enthused with "Jesus was a vampire" stories.
Primarily, no preachiness. If your story is nothing more than an excuse to get on a pulpit, I'm not interested. That cuts all ways. The Left Behind series would have been fun in a goofy crazy way if it didn't keep stopping to tell the reader that JESUS IS LORD (then again, it's audience wouldn't have made it a bestseller.) But that also goes for atheist stories.
And please, no stories about how all the goddess worshippers were beautiful earth mothers until the mean old monotheists came along and killed everyone. I read enough of that Starhawk crap during my collegiate hippie phase.
I should also note that I've been publishing a lot of books geared toward adolescent males recently - splatterpunk, tough guy fiction, etc. - and I'm getting a little sick of the lack of decent female characters. So stories with strong women characters (there are plenty in the Bible - Sarah, Jezebel, Yael, Devorah, Rivkah, Esther, etc.) will make me happy.
I'm also 99% certain that I won't like your Adam & Eve story. Don't know if anyone writes these things anymore. I suspect that they've been ridiculed into the historical dust bin, but just in case, please don't send yours my way.
Addendum to the Do Not Want file: Some have chosen to ignore the "do not submit before December 1" part and they are getting snotty rejection letters back. However, I have looked at their stories for my own sardonic amusement and I now have a new list of what I don't want:
- Do not set a Sodom & Gomorrah story in San Francisco
- Do not send me a "poem" which is a paragraph of babble.
- Do not retell a Bible story where the only difference is the way you Hebracized the names and having one of characters tell it (Example: Yosef was going to have a baby and...everything else is the slaughter of the innocents story told word for word from the Bible)
- No seriously. Bland retellings of Bible stories. If you set it on a spaceship and give me the exact story word for word, it's not original. It's boring.
- Poetry. Seriously. Unless you are Allen Ginsberg or Catherynne Valente, I don't want to read your poem.
Piece of advice: Do not ask for advice on your writing. I'm trying to buy stories, not run a Creative Writing Class.
Do not give me a list of your writing credits if your publication history consists of Lulu or Authorsden publications. I'm also not impressed by Nick Pacione edited anthology credits, but I can assume that you were young and stupid when you submitted to one.
A Personal Biographical Note: I was raised Lutheran. I converted to Judaism. Orthodox Judaism. That really shouldn't matter except I do kind of agree with Nietzche that slapping the "New Testament, a species of rococo taste in every respect, on to the Old Testament to form a single book, as bible, as book of books; that is perhaps the greatest piece of temerity and 'sin against the spirit' that literary Europe has on its conscience." That's not to say that I don't want Christian stories but most seem overdone.
Furthermore, I have read about 3 stories where the narrative relies heavily on that "Jewish scripture is for Meanies! Jesus is LOVE!" conceit. As soon as I read that, I roll my eyes. I could get into the fact that Jesus is Love until you disagree with him and then he's fucking David Koresh, but that's not really the point of saying this. Once you establish an atmosphere, suddenly hitting the reader with a Jesus is Love (example: "He was going to kill the sinners and then he thought about Jesus. He felt bad. He got over it.") paragraph you are going to have to work very hard to get back on track. So piece of advice: if you got a good thing going, don't fuck it up with a "what about loving Jesus" paragraph. You might as well shit on a wedding cake.
Format: Attach as either a .doc or an .rtf. DO NOT send .docx attachments. All .docx attachments will be deleted unread.
Pay: $50 advance against equal share of royalties to be paid out no later than publicatoin.
Reading Period: December 1 - December 31, 2008. All stories submitted before December 1 will be deleted unread! And yes, I do mean BEFORE December 1. I might extend the deadline for after December 31 if I don't find enough stories to fill an anthology (I'm shooting for between 8 and 12. I can go as low as 7.) I'm putting out the call for stories now because I want interested parties to write their stories and revise them before submitting them. I don't want trunk stories with cover letters trying to explain why your vampire is a Christ figure.
Reprints: Yes, I will take reprints, but let me know if it's a reprint or not when you submit.
Send to: tim_lieder (AT) yahoo - .rtf or .doc format only. If you want to put it in the body of the text, well go ahead.
These Guidelines could change with any questions. I will ask Ralan to link to this entry at the end of October.