Market Call: Zombies Need Brains Needs Stories

Let me introduce myself.  I’m Joshua Palmatier, a fantasy author with DAW Books, but also the founder of the small press Zombies Need Brains (considered a professional market by SFWA). We publish SF&F themed anthologies, using Kickstarters to generate the funds needed to produce the books.  We have a Kickstarter running right now. If you have a moment, click on through, check it out, and back! For the basic levels, you’re essentially just preordering the books (at a cheaper rate than they’ll be once released to the public).

But that’s not the point of this post.  I’m here because one of the features of Zombies Need Brains publishing is that I believe in finding new voices in the SF&F field.  To do that, I run open calls for submissions for each of our anthologies.  Cat invited me here so I could introduce the three new themes for this Kickstarter and to encourage all of you to brainstorm, write, revise, polish, and submit a story.  The call will open as soon as the Kickstarter funds and will last until December 31st, 2019.  Decisions on stories are generally made by February the following year, with the anthologies coming out sometime before August.  You can find more details at the Kickstarter if you’d like, and there will be a much more detailed set of guidelines issued once the Kickstarter funds.

“But what are the themes?!?” I hear you asking.  We have three anthologies, dealing with apocalypses, food, and old tech finding new life.  Here are some brief descriptions:

APOCALYPTIC:  Who doesn’t love a good apocalyptic story? They come in all kinds, from the straight up SF/horror of Stephen King’s superflu in “The Stand” and the zombie apocalypse in “The Walking Dead,” to the quieter, more reflective tales of loss and survival in “On the Beach” and “Childhood’s End.” Tales that feature people struggling through the end of the world–or fighting to survive in what remains–are always compelling. What better way for readers to safely explore the extremes of the human condition without actually having to fight off the ravening hordes themselves? For this anthology, we’ll be looking for unique takes on how the world ends, both during and after the apocalypse. So bring on your asteroids, your plagues, your solar flares! And ask yourself, would you survive the apocalypse? Would you even want to?

GALACTIC STEW:  Food is an essential part of life—not just for energy and exotic flavors, but as a unifier during social events, a focal point for establishing culture, and shared experience to put people at ease. In GALACTIC STEW, readers will sit down at the communal table and sup upon stories centered on food.  Whether it’s a tense treaty negotiation over a full course meal or a trap devised by the fae to chain you to their realm, these stories are certain to be delectable.  Come and savor these delicacies…and hope the taste doesn’t mask a deadly poison!

MY BATTERY IS LOW AND IT IS GETTING DARK:  When NASA’s Opportunity rover sent its last message from Mars–loosely translated by scientists as “my battery is low and it is getting dark”–many of us paused in a shared moment of sadness and gratitude, aimed at a robot left alone on a faraway planet. That moment inspired this anthology. We want stories about technology that has operated long past its time, but we want to give these lost spirits new life, whether it be rescue, a new purpose, a new beginning, or a simple homecoming. What happens to the robots and rovers and AIs and more after their original purpose has faded? What is the next chapter of their story?

Those are our themes.  We accept stories up to 7500 words, including flash fiction, although I’ll warn you that we’re looking for fully developed stories, so pieces shorter than 2500 are rarely accepted.  Our average length is probably around 6000.  So brainstorm and find a cool idea, but then take the time to develop a full character arc around that cool idea.

Again, the open call will start as soon as the Kickstarter funds, so keep watch for that at and for the more detailed guidelines for submissions once that happens, including where to send the stories, formatting, etc.  This post is just a heads up so that you can start thinking and planning.

Good luck!

And thanks again to Cat to letting me guest blog here today!

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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