Category Archives: short stories

Open submission calls: January 2023

 

 

A new year, a fresh start, renewed ambitions, and so on… January is a great time to send out stories you’ve already written, or to be inspired to write new ones. Below, I’ve gathered some of the most interesting open submission calls for writers I’ve spotted this month. If you have a try at any of these opportunities, best of luck!

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Ghoulish Tales
New magazine that celebrate ‘fun horror that aims to celebrate all things spooky.’ While plenty of horror films are fun, I think it’s trickier to achieve in written fiction, so this is definitely a worthwhile distinction.
Word count: Up to 5000 words
Payment: 7 cents per word
Deadline: 15 February 2023
https://perpetualpublishing.com/2022/12/17/announcing-ghoulish-tales-a-new-horror-magazine-currently-open-for-submissions/

Horror Library
This is the eighth volume of horror stories from Dark Moon Books. Their criteria makes for an interesting list: ‘Imaginative and/or harrowing adventure; beauty of darkness; horror (edgy or quiet); exploration through fears or discovery; original monsters and/or strange lands; life events turned slightly askew, etc.’
Word count: 1500–5000 words
Payment: 2 cents per word
Deadline: Opens 16 January 2023, closes 30 January 2023
www.darkmoonbooks.com/Submissions.html

Triangulation: Seven-Day Weekend
The new volume of this longstanding series anthologies will feature fantasy, science fiction, weird fiction, and speculative horror stories themed around automation. Despite the genre list, the guidelines don’t seem to require that stories are bleak, which is refreshing.
Word count: Up to 5000 words
Payment: 3 cents per word
Deadline: 1 February 2023
https://parsecink.com/index.php/triangulation-submissions/

Cymera / Shoreline of Infinity Prize for Speculative Short Fiction
Cymera is one of the friendliest and most fun SFF events around. Shoreline of Infinity is one of the most inventive and consistent SF magazines. How could the idea of impressing both of them at the same time not be a good idea? NB it’s open to anyone living in Scotland or who identifies as Scottish ‘by birth or inclination’, which is a lovely phrase.
Word count: Up to 2500 words
Payment: Prize of £150 for the winner plus publication in Shoreline of Infinity, free tickets to two Cymera events for the runners-up
Deadline: 26 March 2023
www.shorelineofinfinity.com/cymera-shoreline-of-infinity-prize-for-speculative-short-fiction-2023/

The First Five Minutes of the Apocalypse
An anthology from Hungry Shadow Press with an excellent theme: ‘the experiences, the points of view, the wild, weird, disgusting, disturbing, beautiful, heartbreaking things that happened at the very beginning of the end of the world.’
Word count: 1500–4000 words
Payment: 3 cents per word
Deadline: Opens 1 February 2023, deadline 28 February 2023
www.hungryshadowpress.com/submissions-the-first-five-minutes-of-the-apocalypse

Seers and Sibyls
Another very specific but fascinating theme for this submissions call. In the editors’ own words: ‘We’re looking for stories about the mouthpieces of gods and goddesses. Who interprets their omens, tells their prophecies, sees their visions, and performs their miracles? And to what end?’
Word count: 1500–5000 words
Payment: 8 cents per word
Deadline: 31 January 2023
https://brigidsgatepress.com/submissions

Monster Lairs
This anthology from Dark Matter will feature dark fantasy and horror (and related hybrids such as fairytale horror, gothic fantasy, supernatural horror, cosmic horror). Editor Anna Madden is seeking ‘decidedly inhuman monsters that have been sought out and challenged, befriended, protected, or stolen from their own grounds, roots exposed like naked bone’. I tell you what – the themes for open submissions this month are pretty amazing, aren’t they?
Word count: 2000–4000 words
Payment: 8 cents per word
Deadline: 30 January 2023, but then until 5 February 2023 for previously unpublished writers, ESL writers, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ writers, and other marginalized voices
https://darkmattermagazine.shop/pages/monster-lairs-submission-guidelines

Habitats
This is a new magazine that will specialise in ‘optimistic and uplifting short science-fiction stories on any subject’. There’s not nearly enough warmth and positivity in most SF, in my opinion, so this is another very welcome theme. It’s also the first open submission call I’ve seen which states explicitly that stories written or assisted by AI are not welcome.
Word count: 1000–6000 words
Payment: 10 cents per word
Deadline: Ongoing, as far as I can tell
www.kickstarter.com/projects/samuelcooke/habitats-magazine-optimistic-science-fiction/posts/3701085

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My writing year 2022

This year I had the following work published:

Sherlock Holmes: The Defaced Men (Titan) – my second Holmes novel (after The Back to Front Murder), featuring cinema pioneer Eadweard Muybridge.

Sherlock Holmes – The Twelve Thefts of Christmas

Sherlock Holmes & The Twelve Thefts of Christmas (Titan) – a ‘Christmas special’ of a Holmes novel, featuring Irene Adler’s ‘advent calendar of crimes’ and with central roles for Mary Watson and Mrs Hudson.

Shade of Stillthorpe (Black Shuck) – a weird, folk horror-ish novella about family, fatherhood and changelings.

The Marshalls of Mars

‘The Marshalls of Mars’ (IZ Digital / Interzone) – a short story about parenthood and isolation, featuring Meryl and Rich, the protagonists of my first published Interzone story, back in 2014.

It’s less than in previous years, but still a substantial enough output overall, I think. Most of all, I’m proud of all of this work.

I’ll be honest: 2022 hasn’t been the easiest year for writing and publishing. The year began with the disappointing cancellation of an anthology that would have included one of my stories, and would have represented a huge ambition fulfilled. It was also the first year in around a decade in which I didn’t begin working on a new original novel, which leaves me feeling that I haven’t made proper progress. Instead, most of the year was spent making revisions and editorial changes to two projects begun last year, and drafting the first half of a commissioned tie-in novel.

While I spent just under 300 hours writing, so much of my time was spent editing that I wrote fewer words than I have since 2018 – just over 172,000 words, compared to 286,000 words last year.

The year also involved a great deal of waiting. Though waiting is a fundamental characteristic of the publishing industry, and usually I’m fairly resistant to it, the long delays for feedback on drafts and submissions hit me hard this year, making progress on new projects far more difficult. It’s the first time I’ve been conscious that my writing career can have a negative impact on my mental health.

Another frustration was that my Christmas Sherlock Holmes title, The Twelve Thefts of Christmas, was affected by the IT software issue that has disrupted Waterstones warehousing and supply since the summer. The book was a month late to arrive in bookshops, and even then it failed to appear in most stores, despite (it seems) copies being ordered by booksellers. Given that it’s very much a seasonal novel, it’s now had its chance.

However – I mention these things not as complaints, but simply as a record of my year. I’m aware that I’m in a privileged position, and that I’m fortunate in that my work is still being published. More than anything, I continue to love writing, and I still have the luxury of plenty of time in which to do it.

The year to come is a little unpredictable, but there is one exciting element: the publication of an original novel that I’m really excited about, and that I’ll hopefully be able to announce soon. In fact, I’m determined to do right by this book in terms of publicising it widely, so I’ll be talking about it a lot. Apologies in advance.

Recommendations aplenty

As anybody browsing my previous blog posts can deduce, I love lists. Yes, they can be reductive, sometimes elitist, but they work amazingly as catalysts in terms of recommendations. Find a top-ten list of any media that includes some things you love, and the chances are you’ll also love the list items you don’t yet know.

On that note, I was recently asked to complete a book list for Shepherd.com. Given that my headspace has been so occupied with Sherlock Holmes recently, I opted to put together a list of ‘The best books containing satisfying mysteries’. I don’t think it’s too spoilery to show you this image of my choices, and you can read the whole article if you’d like to know my reasons for selecting them.

Tim Major - satisfying mysteries book listIf there’s one thing better than making a satisfying list, it’s being included on someone else’s. Having your work noticed by an amazing editor like Ellen Datlow goes some way to staving off the imposter syndrome (for a while) – so I’m delighted that Ellen included my story ‘The Cardboard Voice’ in her longlist of 2021 recommendations, alongside many writers whose work I love.

The story’s available to read in Nightscript vol VII, edited by CM Muller. It’s about identity, deepfakes and old audio technology.

Most importantly, if you’re interested in the state of horror fiction right now (and in my opinion, it’s in a wildly healthy state), I’d recommend you scour Ellen’s list from start to finish. That’s what I’ll be doing.

‘O Cul-de-Sac!’ reading on Podcastle

I was so delighted when this popped up in my Twitter notifications last night, as I’d spent the day being grumpy with a bad cold…

O Cul-de-Sac! by Tim Major

My sentient-house story ‘O Cul-de-Sac!’ features on the current edition of fantasy podcast PodCastle, read by Nicola Seaton-Clark. While I haven’t had a chance to listen to the full reading yet, I can tell you that Nicola’s delivery is spot on. Hearing her read my story makes me very proud!
Click here to hear the reading, or you can find PodCastle via your usual podcast app. In addition, you can read the full text onscreen, for free.
If you’ve enjoyed this story, you may like to check out the book in which it first appeared: And the House Lights Dim, my first story collection, published by Luna Press.

Open submission calls: October 2022

John Lennon typing

Shall we ignore the fact that I didn’t post submissions calls in August or September? Sorry, sorry, and I’ll try to be more reliable in future. Anyway, as always (though not always, clearly), here are some of the most interesting open submission calls for writers I’ve spotted this month. If you have a try at any of these opportunities, good luck!

Game On!
Anthology featuring stories which represent ‘unique science fiction and fantasy takes on games, game playing, and games in culture’. (Note the emphasis on games; anything that classifies as a sport won’t be accepted.) Several notable authors such as Aliette de Bodard and Cat Rambo have already signed up to provide stories.
Word count: Up to 7500 words
Payment: 8 cents per word
Deadline: 31 December 2022
https://zombiesneedbrains.moksha.io/publication/game-on/guidelines

Our Ocean’d Earth
Anthology featuring non-fiction and fiction focused on ‘defending nature and empowering communities’. The editors are seeking stories ‘from a range of perspectives—from marine life researchers to conservationists, free divers to writers with a deep connection to the sea’.
Word count: Ideally 1000–3000 word
Payment: €200
Deadline: 30 October 2022
https://www.stormbirdpress.com/news/our-oceand-earth/

A Darkness Visible
Anthology from Ontology Books, with a focus on postmodern horror – reference points include Mark Danielewski, Bret Easton Ellis, William Burroughs and Thomas Pynchon.
Word count: 3000–8000 words
Payment: £80
Deadline: 31 October 2022
https://www.ontologybooks.com/submissions

Come October
One-off anthology from editor C.M. Muller, who’s been responsible for the fantastic Nightscript series. This anthology is dedicated to ‘autumnal horror’.
Word count: 1000-6000 words
Payment: Contributor copy
Deadline: Opens on 31 October 2022, deadline 31 December 2022
https://chthonicmatter.wordpress.com/come-october-2/

ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award
The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society’s prestigious annual short story contest.
Word count: Up to 5000 words
Payment: Prizes of £2,000, £1,000 or £500
Deadline: 31 October 2022
https://www2.societyofauthors.org/prizes/the-soa-awards/alcs-tom-gallon-trust-award/

FABLE: An Anthology of Horror, Suspense & the Supernatural
Anthology featuring horror, mystery, crime, thriller, and/or suspense stories in which ‘supernatural elements are encouraged’.
Word count: 1000–39,999 words
Payment: 8 cents per word for the first 1000 words, then 1 cent per word after that
Deadline: 30 November 2022
https://pridebookcafe.com/fable-an-anthology-of-horror-suspense-the-supernatural

Under the Stairs: An Anthology of Homebound Horror
Anthology seeking ‘horrific stories about what happens when one’s sense of home is lost’.
Word count: Up to 3000 words
Payment: 3 cents per word
Deadline: 31 October 2022
https://www.underthestairsmag.com/submissions

Paramnesia
Grendel Press is planning a series of themed anthologies, the first of which concerns ‘a condition or phenomenon involving distorted memory or confusions of fact and fantasy, such as confabulation or déjà vu’.
Word count: 3000-7000 words
Payment: 5 cents per word
Deadline: Open until the anthology is filled
https://grendelpress.com/anthology-submissions/

Frivolous Comma
Website featuring SFF/horror stories ‘from or about diverse perspectives and traditionally under-represented groups, settings, and cultures, written from a non-exoticizing and well-researched position, and dealing with transition & intersectionality.’
Word count: 1000–4000 words
Payment: 8 cents per word
Deadline: Open until 300 submissions have been received
https://www.frivolouscomma.com/submit/

This World Belongs to Us: An Anthology of Horror Stories about Bugs
A fairly self-explanatory theme, though the editors elaborate with some examples: ‘Bugs as ill omens, bugs burrowing into bodies or thoughts, bugs taking over your town, giant bugs eating your friends, bugs giving you the side-eye at the supermarket’.
Word count: 500–5000 words
Payment: 5 cents per word
Deadline: 30 November 2022
http://frombeyondpress.com/submissions/

Open submission calls: June 2022

Uncle Travelling Matt

Once again, I’ve trawled the web for SFF/horror open submission calls so you don’t have to. It’s a compulsion, I guess. Good luck if you decide to pursue any of these opportunities!

Monstrous Futures
This anthology to be published by Dark Matter Ink follows a previous volume, Human Monsters. This volume will feature Black Mirror-esque ‘dark sci-fi with an emphasis on exploring our connection with technology and one another through speculative concepts and backdrops’.
Word count: 2000–4000 words
Payment: 8 cents per word
Deadline: 30 June 2022
https://darkmattermagazine.shop/pages/dark-matter-presents-monstrous-futures

Gollancz
The well-respected publisher of SF novels is allowing unagented novel submissions throughout June. Such a great opportunity for up-and-coming writers!
Word count: Full novel MS, plus synopsis and bio
Payment: TBD
Deadline: 30 June 2022
https://www.gollancz.co.uk/uncategorized/2022/05/04/gollancz-unagented-submissions-are-coming-soon/

Seize the Press
This new online zine is looking for ‘dark, transgressive speculative fiction. bleak sci-fi, dark fantasy and horror’. All the fun stuff.
Word count: Up to 2000 words
Payment: 6 pence per word
Deadline: Always open, it seems
https://www.seizethepress.com/submissions/

Dangerous Waters: Deadly Women of the Sea
Horror and dark fantasy anthology to be published by Brigids Gate Press, centred around ‘malevolent mermaids, sinister sirens, scary selkies, spirits, and other deadly and dangerous women of the sea’.
Word count: 500–3500 words
Payment: 8 cents per word
Deadline: 30 June 2022
https://brigidsgatepress.com/submissions

Fusion Fragment
Another online zine, this one twelve issues into its run and centred around ‘science fiction or SF-tinged literary fiction’.
Word count: 2000 to 15,000 words
Payment: 3.5 cents (CAD) per word
Deadline: Open 10–12 June 2022
https://www.fusionfragment.com/submissions/

Orion’s Belt
This online magazine seeks stories with ‘significant speculative elements’.
Word count: Up to 1200 words
Payment: 8 cents per word
Deadline: 1 September 2022
https://www.orions-belt.net/submissions

Apparition Lit
Quarterly magazine currently accepting speculative flash fiction based on a specific visual prompt which changes each month.
Word count: Up to 1000 words
Payment: $30
Deadline: Current call ends on 14 June 2022
https://apparitionlit.com/submissions/

Open Submission Calls: May 2022

It’s that time again… Here are some of the most tantalising open submission calls I’ve spotted this month. If you decide to go after any of these opportunities, good luck!

Science Fiction Debuts Prize
I normally post only about short story submissions, but this is a terrific opportunity for any up-and-coming SF novelists. To coincide with its forthcoming Science Fiction exhibition, the Science Museum has partnered with Hodder & Stoughton to launch a new writing prize for unpublished writers who aren’t yet represented by a literary agent.
Word count: Submit 10,000 words of a novel, plus synopsis
Payment: First prize is £4000, plus a full critique of your work, plus a Hodderscape mentoring programme, plus introduction to three agents. Other prizes for runners up.
Deadline: Open 4 June–30 September 2022
www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/science-fiction-debuts-writing-prize

Dracula Beyond Stoker
New journal entirely dedicated to Dracula-themed fiction. The first issue will (naturally enough) be themed around the character of Dracula himself, with the second issue revolving around Renfield.
Word count: 1500–5000 words
Payment: 5 cents per word
Deadline: 15 June 2022 (for first issue)
www.dbspress.com/submissions

Campfire Macabre: Volume 2
Cemetery Gates Media seeks flash horror fiction for the second volume in its Campfire Macabre series. Stories must match one theme from the following: ‘When We Were Getting High’, ‘My Last Trick ‘r Treat’, ‘Body Grotesquerie’, ‘Ominous Visitors From Deep Space’ or ‘Out in the Fields, Forests, and Lakes’.
Word count: 500–1500 words
Payment: 8 cents per word
Deadline: Open 1 June–15 August 2022
cemeterygatesmedia.com/submissions/

The Dread Machine
This newish magazine seeks futuristic dark fiction, speculative fiction, cyberpunk, slipstream, and science fiction.
Word count: Up to 5,500 words
Payment: 5 cents per word
Deadline: No deadline
www.thedreadmachine.com/submit/

The Consultations of Sherlock Holmes
Belanger Books is putting together an anthology of traditional Sherlock Holmes stories that demonstrate Holmes’s skills as “consulting detective” – that is, stories in which he solves the case without leaving Baker Street.
Word count: 5,000–10,000 words
Payment: $100 or $50 plus a percentage of the Kickstarter project profits (whichever is greater)
Deadline: 15 September 2022
horrortree.com/taking-submissions-the-consultations-of-sherlock-holmes/

Open Submission Calls: April 2022

Linus writing

This post comes hot on the heels of the previous list of open submissions, as that one barely sneaked into March. Anyway, here are the most interesting current and upcoming calls for fiction submissions that I’ve spotted recently.  Good luck!

Luna Press
This excellent small press is seeking speculative, SF/F or dark fantasy novellas. But be quick about it – they’re only open this weekend!
Word count: Between 20,000 and 40,000 words
Payment: Not stated
Deadline: Open 8–9 April 2022
https://www.lunapresspublishing.com/submissions

The Other Stories
Podcast seeking stories on particular themes: the next three are Octopuses, Ageing, Faeries.
Word count: No limits stated
Payment: £15 per story
Deadline: 15 April 2022 (Octopuses), 1 May 2022 (Ageing), 15 May 2022 (Faeries)
https://theotherstories.net/submissions

The Fiends in the Furrows III: Final Harvest
Nosetouch Press is looking for folk horror stories for the third (and apparently final) volume of the popular anthology series.
Word count: 3500–7000 words
Payment: 6 cents per word
Deadline: Open 1 May–31 July 2022
https://www.nosetouchpress.com/call/

IZ Digital
Celebrated British SF/F magazine Interzone is launching a new digital imprint.
Word count: Up to 7000 words
Payment: 1.5 euro cents per word
Deadline: Always open, as far as I can tell
https://interzone.digital/submissions/

Space Fantasy
New online magazine seeking flash fiction adhering to the title theme, Is There Anybody Out There? They go on to say they mean ‘stories about unexpected encounters in isolated places’.
Word count: Up to 1250 words
Payment: 8 cents per word
Deadline: Open May 1–30 2022
https://spacefantasymag.com/submission-guidelines/

Open submission calls: March 2022

Buster Keaton typing

Since I started out writing a decade ago, I’ve treated the submission (and rejection!) process for short stories as an important part of the gig. I still find myself scouring submissions calls almost daily, even though I respond to fewer of them each year (mainly because I’m writing fewer short stories and more novels). I thought I’d turn this habitual activity into something useful, and post the most interesting submission calls here. Good idea? Yes, I think so.

I should make clear that I’m not directly affiliated with any of these venues. These are simply the opportunities that have caught my eye.

Lightspeed
Currently open to SF/fantasy flash fiction
Word count: up to 1500 words
Payment: 8 cents per word
Deadline: 1 May 2022 at the earliest
https://adamant.moksha.io/publication/lightspeed

Flame Tree Press: Shared Stories anthology
Speculative, fantastic or folkloric stories ‘inspired by stories of the first peoples in Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas’ by writers with appropriate heritage
Word count: Ideally 2000–4000 words
Payment: 8 cents/6 pence per word for original stories, 6 cents/4 pence for reprints
Deadline: 11 April 2022
http://blog.flametreepublishing.com/fantasy-gothic/first-peoples-call-for-submissions-0

Weird Horror Magazine
Weird horror, obviously
Word count: 500–6000 words
Payment: 1.5 cents per word
Deadline: 31 March 2022
https://undertowpublications.com/weird-horror-magazine

The following calls aren’t open yet, but I figured that mentioning them now will give you a chance to write something to fit the requirements:

Shoreline of Infinity
Science fiction fairy tales for themed issue guest-edited by Teika Bellamy
Word count: up to 6000 words
Payment: £40 per 1000 words
Deadline: Open 4–14 April 2022
https://www.shorelineofinfinity.com/upcoming-submissions-call-science-fictional-fairy-tales/

Seaside Gothic
‘Seaside gothic literature’
Word count: Up to 1000 words
Payment: 1 pence per word
Deadline: Open 11–17 April 2022
https://seasidegothic.com/submissions/

Uncanny
SF/F novellas (‘We want intricate, experimental stories and poems with gorgeous prose, verve, and imagination that elicit strong emotions and challenge beliefs’)
Word count: 17,500–40,000 words
Payment: 10 cents per word
Deadline: Open 1–15 May 2022
https://uncannymagazine.com/submissions/

My Writing Year 2021

There’s certainly been a sense of things having come to a standstill in 2021. I’ve left the house a lot less than usual (even when it was allowed), and my starting point on that score was not much at all. However, in terms of my published work, I have to remind myself that things actually did happen, even though there was relatively little feedback when they did.

Sherlock Holmes: The Back to Front Murder

Despite having had no opportunity to speak to anybody in person about it, I published a novel this year: the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Back to Front Murder, which has gone across well, and seems to have satisfied Holmesians and casual readers alike, as far as I can tell. I’m particularly pleased that the consensus is that the novel captures Conan Doyle’s style and Watson’s voice, as this was the aspect I found most daunting, though it turned out to be the most satisfying to tackle.

Universal Language

And there was a novella, too: Universal Language is a locked-room mystery set on Mars, and I’m very proud of it. This is the publication that’s most suffered from the lack of conventions this year, and I hope it’ll find its way to more readers when things open up again.

It’s been a good year for short fiction, with fewer publications overall, but all stories I’m proud of having written, appearing in venues I really like and respect. They were:
– ‘The Andraiad’ in Interzone
– ‘The Living Museum’ in Shoreline of Infinity
– ‘Goodbye, Jonathan Tumbledown’ in Out of the Darkness (Unsung Stories)
– ‘The Cardboard Voice’ in Nightscript

While writing fiction has often seemed trivial compared to world events, I’ve done a lot of it in 2021 all the same. In fact, I wrote far more this year than I have in any other year to date – I’m honestly not quite sure how! I didn’t write at all in January due to lockdown and home-schooling, and all but gave it up during the summer holiday, too. Despite this, I spent more than 350 hours writing, and wrote more than 285,000 words. As always, I’m aware that quantity is relatively meaningless, and yet I’m proud that I’m dedicating so much time to my favourite activity.

The chart above shows my progress with longer projects. The dark red, dark blue and green data lines show three completed novels. One of these is my upcoming second Sherlock Holmes novel, The Defaced Men, which will be published in August 2022, one is a non-Holmesian Victorian mystery novel, and the third is a difficult-to-classify contemporary novel that’s currently with beta readers. The light blue line shows continued work on a huge, mad novel that I began during last year’s lockdown, which I’ll keep fiddling with in between other projects. The light red line shows the first 20k words of a commissioned novel I’m currently working on.

So, 2022 promises to be busy. After I complete the commissioned novel, I’ll return to the two other almost-finished novels to make changes before sending out to publishers, then perhaps I’ll return to the enormous novel that’s been running in the background for more than a year. After that, who knows? But it’s nice to know where I’m going for the time being. In terms of publications, there’ll be Sherlock Holmes: The Defaced Men in August, and my current project later in the year, plus a short story in an anthology I’m really excited about – in fact, getting to write this story is one of the most exciting things that’s happened to me as a writer so far, and one of the best Christmas presents I’ve had in adulthood. More details soon, I hope.

It’s a funny feeling, being quite glum about the future in wider terms, yet remaining so excited about writing and work. Perhaps we all need to be a bit introspective and self-centred in order to get by at the moment – is that fair to say? Either way, I anticipate having my head buried in work as much as possible next year.

Out of the Darkness – update

The Kickstarter campaign for the anthology OUT OF THE DARKNESS, which features horror and dark fantasy authors’ stories related to mental health issues, ended yesterday, and it was massively successful – more than 300% funded, with all stretch goals met! This is particularly welcome news, as all royalties, as well as editor Dan Coxon’s fees, will go to charity Together for Mental Wellbeing.

Over the course of the campaign Dan did a terrific job of raising awareness, and, along with other authors involved in the anthology, I contributed to a few articles:

Plus, here’s Dan speaking about the aims of the anthology in general, at Runalong the Shelves.

The anthology will be published by the wonderful Unsung Stories in August 2021, with the following tantalising lineup:

  • Nocturia – Nicholas Royle 
  • The Note – Jenn Ashworth 
  • Lonely Souls in Quiet Houses – Laura Mauro 
  • Seabound – Alison Moore 
  • Goodbye, Jonathan Tumbledown – Tim Major 
  • The Chorus – Aliya Whiteley 
  • Meet on the Edge – Gareth E. Rees
  • The Forlorn Hope – Verity Holloway 
  • Oblio – Richard V. Hirst 
  • Still She Visits – Eugen Bacon 
  • Bloodybones Jones – Sam Thompson 
  • Flotsam and Jetsam – Malcolm Devlin 
  • The Lightness of their Hearts – Georgina Bruce 
  • The Residential – Gary Budden 
  • Replacement Bus Service – Ashley Stokes 
  • Temple – Anna Vaught 
  • The Hungry Dark – Simon Bestwick

Out of the Darkness

Out of the DarknessI’m really proud to be involved in this anthology: OUT OF THE DARKNESS, edited by Dan Coxon and published by the always amazing Unsung Stories. Fifteen horror and dark fantasy authors present stories related to mental health issues, and all royalties will go to charity Together for Mental Wellbeing. As Dan says in his introductory video, this project is ever more meaningful after a year of Covid lockdowns and subdued panic – and I’m certain this’ll be a terrific anthology, featuring as it does some of my favourite writers.

The Kickstarter rewards are pretty immense too, such as MS critiques by Dan, or a £40 bundle featuring FOUR frankly outstanding books by Aliya Whiteley along with the anthology.

Head over to Kickstarter and take a look!

My writing year 2020

It comes as something as a surprise to discover that I’ve written more this year than during any year to date. How I found time to put down 215,000 words, despite long weeks of being unable to write anything at all due to coronavirus-panic paralysis, self-doubt and the requirement of homeschooling two young children for six entire months, I really can’t explain. Still, that’s what happened, and I must have put in intense sessions during the weeks in which I did write, as this was also the year I spent most time at my desk: 290 hours in all.

This year, I wrote:

  • An as-yet-unannounced commissioned novel, 70,000 words
  • Shade of Stillthorpe – a 30,000-word novella, a mishmash of folk horror and Patricia Highsmith-esque ‘wrong man’ thriller
  • 70,000 words of a novel begun as a response to lockdown – it’s likely to be huge, with three separate strands in different genres and more than thirty characters
  • ‘The Cardboard Voice’ – horror short story, 5000 words
  • ‘The Marshalls of Mars’ – SF short story, 7600 words
  • ‘The Andraiad’ – horror SF short story, 7000 words

BSFA Tim MajorAnd this is what I published in 2020:

  • Hope Island – my horror novel about creepy children, parental fears and sound was published by Titan Books in June (unfortunately, at a point when bookshops were still closed), but which went down well with reviewers – you can read reviews and find out more here
  • ‘The Pea’ – fairytale horror story (850 words), Fudoki, Jan 2020
  • ‘Red Sky at Morning’ – horror short story set on a lighthouse (2900 words), Unsung Stories, May 2020
  • ‘Simulation’ – horror short story set on a plane (2300 words), Strange Days anthology (Midnight Street Press), May 2020
  • ‘Praying To Her Thumbs’ – horror short story (2700 words) STORGY, Jun 2020
  • ‘The Slow King’ – folk horror short story set on a folk horror film set (5000 words), The Fiends in the Furrows II anthology (Nosetouch Press), Aug 2020, then featured as an audio reading on Pseudopod podcast, Dec 2020
  • ‘Into the Wound’ – YA SF short story (3000 words), Voyage, Oct 2020
  • ‘Dear Will’ – ETA Hoffman-esque horror short story (3000 words), Vastarien Vol 3, Issue 2, Dec 2020
  • Also, two stories were reprinted in year’s-best collections: ‘O Cul-de-Sac!’ in The Best of British Fantasy 2019 and ‘Concerning the Deprivation of Sleep’ in Best of British Science Fiction 2019 (both NewCon Press)

Next year, the certainties are the publication of a short story in an anthology I’m really excited about, plus the first of two commissioned tie-in novels and a Martian murder mystery novella, Universal Language, which will be published by NewCon Press. In terms of writing, I’ll be plugging away at my enormous lockdown manuscript, which may yet turn out to be an actual novel, and I’ll be completing a much saner second commissioned novel.

Best of British Science Fiction 2019

Best of British SF 2019I’m very proud that my story ‘Concerning the Deprivation of Sleep’ will appear in Best of British Science Fiction 2019, edited by Donna Scott, published by NewCon Press in July 2020.

The story was originally published in Synth #2, and it’s about a father transferring his rationed sleep credits to his young son. I wrote it when I was badly sleep-deprived myself, if that wasn’t already clear enough…

You can see the full line-up and preorder the book from the NewCon Press website.

New story: ‘Red Sky at Morning’

Unsung StoriesToday you can read (for free!) my story ‘Red Sky at Morning’ over on the Unsung Stories website. It’s about a lighthouse keeper in the Farne Islands in the 1930s… and monsters.

Unsung Stories has been on my publishing wishlist ever since I started writing seriously, after I read Aliya Whiteley’s duo of astounding novellas, The Beauty and The Arrival of Missives. For a small publisher, their list each year has been of the highest quality, and precisely to my tastes, such as the recent novels Always North by Vicky Jarrett, The Willow By Your Side by Peter Haynes and Dark River by Rym Kechacha, plus the excellent This Dreaming Isle and 2084 anthologies. I’m delighted to have finally published a story with Unsung – it feels like a real milestone.

Read ‘Red Sky at Morning’ for free here.

Stories of Hope and Wonder

Stories of Hope and WonderIan Whates at NewCon Press has achieved the impossible and pulled together the most enormous anthology of stories in just a few days. It’s available from today as an ebook, with all proceeds being donated to support NHS staff and other healthcare workers.

It really is enormous: 53 stories, 600 pages, 253,000 words of fiction. And the list of contributors is staggering, with giants of SF/fantasy and loads of terrific newer writers.

I have a story in there too: ‘Like Clockwork’, which is one of my idiosyncratic Mars stories, revolving around an engineer operating a millionaire’s full-size train set.

It’s for the best cause imaginable, and reading it would surely take you a week at least. I really think you should buy a copy.

NewCon Press page, including full table of contents.

Buy the Kindle ebook from Amazon.co.uk.

The Best of British Fantasy 2019

Best of British Fantasy 2019So happy to say that I’ll have a story in THE BEST OF BRITISH FANTASY 2019, edited by Jared Shurin and available in June from NewCon Press. ‘O Cul-de-Sac!’ first appeared in my collection AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM, published by Luna Press, and features a sentient house desperately concerned for the wellbeing of its peculiar new residents.

Congratulations to everyone included in the table of contents! It looks like a fantastic list, all round.

Another of my stories received an honourable mention, too – ‘The Forge’, which was also first published in AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM.

You can preorder THE BEST OF BRITISH FANTASY 2019 here.

Book birthday: AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM

And the House Lights Dim - Tim MajorThis came around fast… I’m happy to say that my first short story collection, AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM, is available as of today! It’s published by Luna Press and is billed as strange stories about houses, homes and families.

Here’s something I wrote about the collection when it was first announced:

AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM is my first collection of short stories, which were written over a three-year period. They’re pretty diverse, spanning weird fiction, horror and SF – but I confess that when I wrote them they seemed more diverse than they really are. It was only recently that I realised just how prevalent particular themes have been in my writing: houses, homes and family.

Perhaps it’s no surprise. The earliest of the stories was written when my wife was pregnant with our first child; one of the novellas was written in a mad hurry in the weeks before his birth; nowadays I write in a fog of fatigue due to my second child’s sleepless nights. I think about family constantly and as a freelance editor I’m trapped in my home for the greater part of every day.

In this collection are stories about a sentient house overprotective of its new occupants, a supernatural Greenland shark that attacks a family via sound, a married couple alone on a lengthy space flight, two young girls who live in isolation and in fear of the world beyond their walls, a camping trip that turns a family feral, a post-apocalyptic Center Parcs, a man who has defragmented his mind and another who splices a rival’s brain patterns onto his own.

Most of the stories have been published in various places, including Interzone, Not One of Us, The Literary Hatchet and anthologies published by Fox Spirit, Jurassic London and Hic Dragones. ‘Carus & Mitch’ was previously published as a standalone novella by Omnium Gatherum and was shortlisted for a This Is Horror Award in 2015. People have been very nice about it: Lynda Rucker said it was a ‘compelling, unconventional page-turner… blending a John Wyndham-esque melancholy with a dose of existential despair’. Adam Roberts called it ‘punchy and scary and tense and genuinely moving’ and James Everington at This is Horror said it was ‘an intimate, original, and character-driven take on the post-apocalyptic genre’, all of which made me feel awfully proud.

One thing I neglected to mention in that description are the stories that are new to the collection: O Cul-de-Sac!, The Forge and Honey Spurge. I’m particularly proud of O Cul-de-Sac!, the 10k-word story that opens the collection – though I’m also nervous on its behalf, as if I’m forcing it out into the world rather it being there on its own merits. It’s an unusual story, written once I recognised the theme of the collection – it’s narrated by a sentient house who is proud and then wary of its new occupants.

You can buy AND THE HOUSE LIGHTS DIM direct from Luna Press or from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

By the way, the beautiful cover image is by Daniele Serra. Do check out his incredible work.

‘Throw Caution’ selected for Best of British Science Fiction 2018

I’m very happy to say that my Mars story ‘Throw Caution’ has been selected for the next volume of BEST OF BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION from NewCon Press, edited by Donna Scott. The story was originally published in Interzone #276.

It’s a terrific lineup, too! Here’s the full table of contents:

Providence – Alastair Reynolds
Talking to Ghosts at the Edge of the World – Lavie Tidhar
The Miracle Lambs of Minane – Finbarr O’Reilly
Territory Blank – Aliya Whiteley
Throw Caution – Tim Major
Golgotha – Dave Hutchinson
Salvation – Dave Bradley
Waterbirds – G.V. Anderson
Buddy System – Mike Morgan
Do No Harm – Anna Ibbotson
A Change of Heart – Hannah Tougher
Birnam Platoon – Natalia Theodoridou
Good – Sunyi Dean
Hard Times in Nuovo Genova – Chris Barnham
The Escape Hatch – Matthew de Abaitua
P.Q. – James Warner
The Purpose of the Dodo is to be Extinct – Malcolm Devlin
Cat and Mouse – David Tallerman
Before They Left – Colin Greenland
Harry’s Shiver – Esme Carpenter
The Whisperer – J.K. Fulton
Death of the Grapevine – Teika Marija Smits
Rainsticks – Matt Thompson
The Veilonaut’s Dream – Henry Szabranski
Doomed Youth – Fiona Moore
F Sharp 4 – Tim Pieraccini

Head over to the NewCon Press website for more information and preorder links. The book will be launched at WorldCon in August.

Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles

C.M. Muller’s doppelgänger anthology, Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles was released last month. It’s a beautiful book and I’m very proud to have a story included in it.

Indefatigable book-reviewer Des Lewis has been working his way through the collection, and had the following to say about my story, ‘The Bath House’:

42, as we know, is a significant age, and on this birthday, Mark (with seemingly plain backstory of marriage and two daughters back home) is given, by a friend, the gift of being hitchhiked as it were by a new self, via a ritual – which is compellingly imparted to us – within the genius loci of the eponymous replacement of an old church, a new baptism as it were where the water is hauled by Mark himself from a well, heavy by counterweight of his perhaps not-so-plain backstory’s ill-threaded pulley from the past, and the last line of this work is a particularly frightening one in the context of not only this work but also of the whole book so far. You will not forget that last line, I suggest.

Thanks Des – I’m happy with that summary! I found it pretty creepy to write, too.

You can get hold of Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles here.

Best of 2018 roundup

Though I haven’t written any fiction yet in 2019, the year has got off to a good start in terms of votes of confidence in my earlier work…

I was pleased and surprised to find that my story ‘Throw Caution’ has been longlisted for the BSFA Awards. It was first published in Interzone #276 edited by Andy Cox. It’s a terrific list of nominees, with lots of writers who I now consider friends – I’m very proud to be listed alongside them.

Dev Agarwal at BSFA Vector included my books in his Best of 2018 article: “Tim Major, (who along with Shona Kinsella co-edits the British Fantasy Association’s Horizons magazine) published a young adult SF novel called Machineries of Mercy (ChiZine) and a non-fiction book that appeals to genre consumers, about the seminal 1915 silent film, Les Vampires (Electric Dreamhouse Press). In both works, and in his co-editing of Horizons, Major brings a clear and vivid sense of location and character to bear that makes his narratives — fictional and biographic — come vividly alive to the reader.”

On his Scattershot Writing blog, James Everington included ‘The House Lights Dim’ (from Dark Lane Anthology #2, Dark Lane Books) in his list of his favourite short stories read in 2018.

Finally, and now looking forward to 2019, I recently learned that my story ‘Concerning the Deprivation of Sleep’ has been picked up by editor C.M. Muller for Synth: An Anthology of Dark SF. There’s a list of my upcoming short story publications here, which includes a story in one of Muller’s other projects, Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles, due out in February.

My writing year 2018

This year I wrote about 135,000 new words – more than any other previous year (I usually average around 125k, and in 2017 this fell to fewer than 80k as much of my free time was taken up with moving house, twice). I wrote:

  • Hope Island – novel, in progress (currently 85,000 words)
  • ‘Red Sky At Morning’ – weird short story (2800 words)
  • ‘Throw Caution’ – Mars SF short story (3000 words), published in Interzone #276
  • ‘What Can You Do About A Man Like That?’ – weird short story (8600 words) for unannounced anthology
  • ‘Concerning the Deprivation of Sleep’ – SF short story (2800 words)
  • ‘Dear Will’ – weird short story (2900 words)
  • Three pieces of non-fiction for as-yet unannounced projects, by invitation

This year, I spent 254 hours either writing or editing. I’m not sure if that sounds a lot, but on average it works out as 21 hours per month doing what I love doing – not quite 5 hours per week. When you put it like that, it doesn’t seem like much at all. In 2019 I’m determined that I’ll find the time to write for at least 10 hours per week.

When I wrote my summary of my writing year 2017, I noted that it had been a year of paving the way for an interesting 2018, and I suppose that panned out as I’d hoped. This year I had the following published:

  • Les Vampires – non-fiction book about the 1915 serial, as part of the Midnight Movie Monographs series (Electric Dreamhouse Press)
  • Machineries of Mercy – YA SF novel (ChiZine)
  • ‘The Pale Shadow and the Conjuror’ – mystery short story, Mystery Weekly
  • ‘To Ashes, Dust’ – Mars SF short story, Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #61
  • ‘Throw Caution’ – Interzone #276
  • ‘Cast in the Same Mould’ – Shoreline of Infinity Issue 13
  • Six of my older stories were reprinted, including two stories in ‘best of 2017’ collections: ‘The Walls of Tithonium Chasma’ in Best of British Science Fiction (NewCon Press) and ‘Eqalussuaq’ in The Best Horror of the Year Vol 10, edited by Ellen Datlow (Night Shade Books).

But, once again, this year has mainly felt like prep for a more exciting next year. Because the biggest news for me this year was the double-whammy of signing with Alexander Cochran at C+W literary agency, and securing a two-book deal with Titan Books. Snakeskins will be published by Titan in May 2019, a milestone around which much of my year will be arranged. (And Hope Island will follow in May 2020. Knowing that my novel-in-progress already has a home has changed my attitude to the writing process, though it’s hard to say whether the net result is that it’s more or less pressurised.)

Secondly, my first short story collection, And the House Lights Dim, will be published in July 2019 by Luna Press. Alongside 13 stories that have previously appeared elsewhere (including a novelette that was originally published as a standalone title, Carus & Mitch), there will be three new stories:

  • ‘O Cul-de-Sac!’ (10,600 words)
  • ‘The Forge’ (7000 words)
  • ‘Honey spurge: Confidential report into dispersal, growth and catastrophe’ (300 words)

Other stories not written this year but to be published for the first time in 2019 include:

  • ‘The Bath House’ – weird short story (4000 words), Twice-Told: A Collection of Doubles anthology edited by C.M. Muller
  • ‘A Crest of a Wave’ – Mars SF short story (2400 words), Shoreline of Infinity
  • ‘Kraken Mare’ – Mars SF flash (250 words), Martian magazine
  • ‘Hangers-on’ – weird short story (2800 words) for unannounced anthology
  • ‘What Are We Going To Do With You?’ – horror short story (6000 words) for unannounced anthology

In addition, behind the scenes I’ve been lining up various events and projects. Next year is going to be busy. More on all that in the New Year.

Perhaps most importantly of all, I’m genuinely closing in on the one-million-new-words mark:

The Best Horror of the Year Volume 10

My contributor’s copy of THE BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR VOLUME TEN just popped through the letterbox! Having a story included in it is a very big deal for me. I’m very grateful to Ellen Datlow for selecting my Greenland Shark story, ‘Eqalussuaq’, which was originally published in Not One of Us magazine.

You can buy BEST HORROR 10 now from Amazon in a variety of formats: paperback, ebook, audio CD and audio download.

I have a story in BEST OF BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION 2017

Well! I’m very – no, ridiculously – pleased to announce that Donna Bond has selected one of my stories for inclusion in BEST OF BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION 2017, which will be out in April from NewCon Press. And would you look at that lineup! Honestly, I’m feeling faint at seeing my name listed alongside these authors.

  1. Blinders – Tyler Keevil
  2. In the Night of the Comet (2017) – Adam Roberts
  3. The Walls of Tithonium Chasma – Tim Major
  4. 3.8 Missions – Katie Gray
  5. Over You – Jaine Fenn
  6. The Ghosts of Europa Will Keep You Trapped in a Prison You Make for Yourself – Matt Dovey
  7. Uniquo – Aliya Whiteley
  8. Looking for Laika – Laura Mauro
  9. A Good Citizen – Anne Charnock
  10. Mercury Teardrops – Jeff Noon
  11. The Nightingales in Plàtres – Natalia Theodoridou
  12. The Road to the Sea – Lavie Tidhar
  13. When I Close My Eyes – Chris Barnham
  14. Targets – Eric Brown
  15. London Calling – Philip A. Suggars
  16. The Last Word – Ken Macleod
  17. Voicemail – Karen McCreedy
  18. Green Boughs Will Cover Thee – Sarah Byrne
  19. Airless – N.J. Ramsden
  20. Product Recall – Robert Bagnall
  21. The Endling Market – E. J. Swift