by Allen Taylor
Working on my third Biblical Legends anthology now, I’ve noticed that for every anthology I’ve edited so far I have received a handful of well-written stories that I can’t publish. I won’t publish.
That might sound odd, especially if you’re the type of person who believes that quality literature should be published. In fact, you may even believe that the best submissions should get their place in the anthology. But I don’t go that route.
Despite my best attempts to encourage writers to be weird, it is inevitable that I get submissions for each anthology that don’t even attempt to be weird. And, frankly, I’m a bit befuddled.
Watch Out For That … Flood
I went so far in the guidelines for Deluge: Stories of Survival & Tragedy in the Great Flood to ask writers to send their best tales of an alternative flood scenario.
Tell us a story of a catastrophic flood somewhere and at some time. It can be past, present, or future. It can be on Mars or one of Jupiter’s moons. Maybe it’s in an alternate space and time. Or maybe it’s a flood of dark matter into the earth’s ionosphere. Whatever the case, give us strong characters with a need to survive.
Still, I get stories of some character named Josiah who is Noah’s cousin’s best friend. He and Noah are as tight as a nut and bolt on the Titanic.
I’m not calling anyone out, and that scenario is one I made up, by the way. But you get the gist.
It seems that writers want to tell their flood stories, but they don’t want to let their imaginations loose to do it. There could be any number of reasons for this, which I won’t go into. The gnomes could be partly responsible. But I thought I’d offer some encouragement to writers who want to have a story published for one of the BLAS anthologies to, first, rip the straightjacket off your imagination.
I’d encourage you to start by reading at least one of the anthologies we’ve already published, preferably both. It’s not because we want your money. It’s because we want your best and most imaginative tales. Ideas give birth to new ideas. Even then, I’d say many of the stories we’ve already published, though they may touch on the weird, aren’t weird enough.
Which brings me to my next question: What is weird literature?
Well, Asshole, What IS Weird Lit?
Weird lit is somewhat difficult to define. It’s more a tone than a genre. But there are some distinctive elements. And it runs the gamut from extremely weird—like many Bizarro authors—to simple absurdism. We like it all.
One of our goals at Garden Gnome Publications is to publish weird literature that is representative of the breadth that can be found in the weird lit pantheon.
Diversity of style is difficult to achieve. Of course, the garden gnomes are partly to blame because maybe we haven’t done all that we could to reach every corner of the weird lit marketplace (at least, where the writers hang out). We do, after all, have day jobs. But that’s a morbid digression.
If I had to say succinctly what we’re looking for in all of our Biblical Legends anthologies, I’d say it’s three things:
- Excellent storytelling
- Boundless imagination
Stories do not have to stick closely to the original. As long as readers can tell your story is based on, in same way, the original Bible story, it’s good. You can be Christian, atheist, or somewhere in between. Heck, we won’t even ask. All we want is a good story that makes us laugh, say “huh?”, or send us to the toilet to make us retch at the horridness.
We aren’t officially re-opening the submissions process (we’re still reading some of the short stories we already have), but if you have a story you’d like us to consider for the flood anthology, send it now. Our biggest needs are flash fiction, narrative poems, and essays. We’d really like to see some gut-wrenching or thought-provoking essays on the flood theme.
To learn more about the guidelines for the formats we seek, read our submissions page, and get familiar with the BLAS submissions page, as well. We look forward to seeing what seeps out of your gray matter. Otherwise, we’ll see you in a crater on the dark side of Ganymede.
Allen Taylor publisher at Garden Gnome Publications and editor of the Biblical Legends Anthology Series. Check out Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom and Gomorrah now.