Anthology 2014: Crossing Colfax

CLOSED to Submissions.
Selection notification begins May 1st.

Table of Contents

Anthology Timeline

Want to keep track of anthology events? Here’s the shortlist of important dates:

January 1, 2014 12:01am: Submissions open. Be sure to follow the submission guidelines, which require both an online form and an email of your submission.

January 25, 2014: Short Story Breakdown Workshop: Anthology education event. Bring your ideas, your questions, your inspiration to this RMFW event. We’ll cover the anthology theme, the elements of a short story, what goes into creating an anthology, and share some past experiences with RMFW anthologies. Then we’ll open it up to your questions until we run out of time or run out of questions. Download the slides from the workshop.

March 14, 2014 11:59pm: Submissions close. Make sure that you both fill in the online form as well as email your submission by this deadline. Late entries will not be accepted.

Marketing suggestions open. Once the submission process closes, we’ll switch over to accepting ideas for how to market the anthology. We’ll have a basic form that you can use as a starting point for suggesting events, marketing activities, tactics and more. We’ll try as many ideas as we can, and report the results to members.

May 1, 2014: Selection notifications will begin. If your entry is selected, you’ll receive a notification email, along with a contract. Once we receive back a signed contract, we will begin the editorial process.

June 30, 2014: All selections will be finalized and all entrants will be notified.

July 1, 2014: Pre-order opens for the 2014 Anthology, Crossing Colfax! This year you can pre-order your print book for delivery at the Colorado Gold Conference in September. Starting July 1, you can pre-order your book individually if you’ve already registered for Gold, or you can add your pre-order to your Gold conference registration. You’ll receive your book during the book signing on Friday night at the event. An eBook will be available for sale after Gold.

September 2014, Dates TBA: Launch party at Colorado Gold! There will be recognition for anthology authors, a table for book signings and more. Stay tuned for more details as we get closer to launch date.

September and Beyond: Marketing efforts begin! We will take your suggestions and turn them into reality. And then we’ll let you know how they went. These reports will come through the blog and the newsletter, so stay tuned to find out how your anthology is doing.

Resources

Anthology Theme: Crossing Colfax

Playboy Magazine once called Colfax Avenue “the longest, wickedest street in America.” Over one hundred years ago, it was the main road into and out of the city. East Colfax was the address to have for many of the city’s elite, and West Colfax was a trail that led to the mountains and dreams of Gold Rush riches. A 105-acre tuberculosis sanatorium for the poor once fronted the street – the Golden Hill Cemetery still houses many of the White Plague’s victims.

Colfax Avenue played a part in bucking against Prohibition, and repaving and expanding it became a public works project during the Great Depression. One of the first theme parks ever built in America was constructed at its west end – “Magic Mountain,” now known as Heritage Square. And, of course, the infamous Casa Bonita restaurant still resides along its course.

Colfax Avenue has been a part of almost every major era that defines the American West. It has housed the richest and the poorest, supported massive public works projects and the seediest criminal enterprises. If that isn’t the stuff of great fiction, we don’t know what else could qualify.

We invite you to explore Colfax Avenue – its past, present, or future. Its greatest moments, real or imaginary, and its darkest secrets. Tales of romance, action, fantasy and more – we’re certain that Colfax has seen it all. We just need you to bring those stories to life.

Sources of Inspiration:

Submission Guidelines

1. Eligibility

A. Only members in good standing of RMFW are eligible to appear in the RMFW anthology. “Good standing” means that membership status is current through Anthology publication in September 2014.

B. Both published and unpublished authors are welcome.

C. Submissions will be accepted in the following genres:

  • Mainstream
  • Action/Thriller
  • Mystery
  • Romance
  • Speculative Fiction
  • Young Adult

D. No poetry, flash fiction, young reader (middle grade or younger), or erotica genres will be accepted.

E. Submissions must be original, unpublished works. Submission may not have been previously published or accepted for publication. “Published” includes self published or “independently” published works on major distribution websites like Amazon or Smashwords. “Published” includes publication in other anthologies, magazines or e-zines. “Published” DOES NOT include stories posted to your personal website.

F. Submissions must not be simultaneously submitted to other publications for consideration.

G. Entrants may submit as many entries as they like, in as many genres as they like, so long as they follow the submission guidelines.

H. Entrants must acknowledge their acceptance of the Anthology Terms and Conditions before their submissions will be accepted.

2. Format: Only Electronic Entries Accepted

A. Prepare a Microsoft WORD file (.DOC). Name the file the title of your story. (If your manuscript file is named the same, put your submission file into a new folder so you don’t overwrite the original). Format this file as per the instructions below. NOTE: WordPerfect users – submit a .RTF file. Microsoft WORD users – save your file as a .DOC and NOT .DOCX to avoid formatting issues for the selection committee

B. Your name must NOT appear anywhere on the submission, only on the electronic entry form.

C. Use a 12 point Courier New font only. Double spaced.

D. Have 1” margins, top, bottom, right, and left.

E. Have 24-25 lines per page not counting header.

F. Show the title on the first page approximately 1/3 down the page, followed by the text of the story. SHOULD NOT INCLUDE A BY-LINE!

G. Have a header on every page showing the story title on the left and the page number on the right.

H. Be no shorter than 1,000 words and no longer than 15,000 words in length.

3. Submission Form

A. Click on the ‘Submit Your Story’ link above and follow the instructions on the submission form from January 1 through March 14 to submit your story.

4. Deadline

A. Submission will NOT be accepted until January 1, 2014 12:01am and MUST be emailed to the Anthology no later than March 14, 2014 11:59pm.

B. DO NOT snail-mail anything to RMFW.

C. All Anthology communications are through anthology@rmfw.org.

Anthology FAQs

If you have a question about the anthology, please email Nikki Baird at anthology@rmfw.org. If the question is very specific, she will answer you back directly. If it’s a popular question, she’ll post it here.

1. Why is the Anthology limited to members-only submissions?

While it is true that in the past the anthologies have not been limited to members only, we have a couple of good reasons for choosing to limit submissions this year.

First, the membership of RMFW has almost doubled since the last anthology in 2009. That gives us a lot of talented writers to draw from, and while there may possibly be no such thing as too many great entries, there can be such a thing as not enough people to read through them all. So we felt it would be helpful to limit the entries in that way.

Second, the mission of RMFW is to help writers grow. The organization provides a lot of resources that are available to both members and non-members alike: the contest, the conference, along with some of the workshops and online classes.

The anthology is different. This is me, Nikki, speaking personally, but I see it as a vehicle for showcasing RMFW’s talent, as well as for promoting RMFW’s members. This may be a departure from past anthologies’ intent, but I think it’s a reflection of the times in which we live – self-publishing is here to stay, there are serious questions as to the value of traditional publishing, and many authors are banding together to help each other rise above the noise. Not to mention that short stories are playing an increasingly important part in helping authors to distinguish themselves.

In that context, it makes sense to limit participation to members only – to put the weight of RMFW behind its members as they work hard to rise above the noise. This is not the only anthology opportunity out there – there are plenty of other places where non-members can submit short stories. If you value this opportunity enough, then I think it’s probably worth the price of membership, and if you’re already a member, this is yet one more way that RMFW provides value in return for your membership dues. I understand that times are tough and it’s not easy to get a fiction career started (believe me, I understand!). But most times I’ve found that you get what you pay for, and if you want to be successful at something, it takes an investment – time, and sometimes money too.

On the other hand, if you’re thinking that you must pay dues in order to submit to the anthology, I would encourage you to rethink your stance. RMFW membership provides many, many benefits – personally, I feel like I’ve managed to attain an MFA in genre writing for the low-low cost of a nominal yearly fee, thanks to the education I’ve received from the critique groups. In that light, the anthology is just a bonus of membership.

2. Colfax is all about sex, drugs, crime, and rock and roll. Can stories be R rated? Or should we keep it PG-13? Or NR? Or PG? Or G? Or XXX?

Our preference would be to keep it PG-13, for the same reason that most movies shoot for that level of adult content: it leaves the anthology open to the widest audience. However, the anthology committee reserves the right to play this by ear. You’re right – the theme is already set up to be seedy and noir right out of the gate (not a requirement, but sort of a natural part of the setting), so it may be challenging to keep the stories out of R rating territory. R won’t get a submission knocked out of contention, but it may result in a slightly longer editorial cycle as we make sure that all the stories work well together.

Erotica won’t be accepted for the anthology. For an anthology that aims to represent many genres, erotica has the potential to close more doors for its success than open them, unfortunately.

Can you have sex? Can you have foul language? Can you have violence? If it’s appropriate to your story, and not so excessive as to be offensive to a mass audience, then absolutely! And if you can’t tell, give it a try, and we’ll let you know if it worked.

3. How geographically/historically accurate should submissions be? For instance, I live near the Satire Lounge. I want to write a seedy, noir story set there, but I’m thinking I should change the name to the Parody Lounge or something so I don’t anger the owners or invite a lawsuit or anything.

We at the anthology are not lawyers, and anything we say should not be construed as legal advice, so keep that in mind right off the bat. Unfortunately, pretty much anyone can sue anyone else for anything. They may not win, but they can sue. So it pays to be careful here.

If a story is based on facts – John Doe was murdered at 111 N. Colfax (note I used a fake address here) – then there’s not much to dispute. If it’s a fact, as in it was reported in the news or cited in a non-fiction reference, then you can use it, no matter how unsavory that fact might be. Note: that doesn’t mean that angry relatives of a disparaged ancestor won’t try to sue you for libel or something, but if you have facts to back up your fiction, you’ll at least have a case to defend yourself.

But if you are taking license either with real characters or real locations beyond what the facts provide, you need to tread very carefully. Here’s one easy way to tell whether it’s time to ditch the real person or the real place: if what you are saying about that person (or having them do or say themselves – show, don’t tell!) would require the word “allegedly” in front of it if a news agency today was reporting on the act, then you are much better off coming up with a totally fictional character.

Same goes for place. If an act occurs at the place that would require “allegedly” in front of it when reporting it in the news, or if you plan to paint that location or establishment in an unsavory light in your descriptions, it would be wise to come up with a fictional location.

And if you’re really unsure, there are resources out there for fiction writers, including lawyers who will answer your questions if you still feel you’re in a gray area and need some guidance. All those resources are only a Google search away!

4. Does the story have to be actually located on Colfax Avenue?

There is some leeway here. Colfax Ave is as much a state of mind as it is a physical location. What if a space elevator was anchored on Colfax Ave, leading to night clubs in space? What if the only book left to a distant space colony gone wrong is a coffee table book on Colfax Avenue architecture? What kind of chaos might possibly ensue?

At the other end of the time spectrum, you could explore whether Colfax was pre-destined to become the seedy, noir feel that many parts of it have achieved. What might the first trading post, located along the trail that one day becomes Colfax Ave, look like? What caused people to stop and settle along what eventually became a key route into the Rocky Mountains? The more imaginative you are, the better it will be.

One caveat, though: part of the submission evaluation criteria will include creativity in using the theme as well as how relevant the submission is to the theme. So if your only relationship to Colfax is that you have a character named Colfax who happens to hail from Denver, that’s probably not going to do much to help you out against other submissions. All other things being equal, a story that embraces the theme will fare better than a story that just happens to have Colfax Ave in it. Just something to keep in mind!

5. How many submissions will the book contain?

We are shooting for a 350-400 page print book. The number of submissions we accept will depend on how long the submissions are that we receive, and the overall quality of submissions.

This year, we are accepting longer stories than we have in the past, from 1,000 words up to 15,000. However, our goal is balance: some longer stories, some shorter ones. To give you some idea, here are some stats from the last anthology, Broken Links, Mended Lives: 15 stories were accepted, of which I believe 3-4 were invited submissions from published authors. Excluding the intro pages and RMFW material, that translated to about 180 print pages. However, keep in mind that the upper word count limit for submissions to that anthology was 6,000.

We would love to achieve 15-20 total submissions in the anthology. We’re also targeting 3-5 stories from PAL members, 3-5 stories from IPAL members, and the remaining 10-12 stories from unpublished authors.

6. If my story is accepted, do I get paid?

As much as we would love to pay for stories, at this point we’re not in a position to do so. But you’ll get a lot of great benefits from being an Anthology author:

  • Publicity. We plan to do more publicity around the anthology than we have ever done before – in part simply because more channels and opportunities exist to publicize the anthology than ever existed before. And with PAL and IPAL members, we’re specifically looking for authors that have a book coming out in Fall 2014, so that we can help play a role in giving their new book a publicity boost as well. Free marketing is always good!
  • A publication credit. For those of you trying to stand out in an agent or editor’s slush pile, noting that you have had a short story published in an anthology is the kind of thing that can give you an edge over someone with no publishing credits to their name. This helps published authors too, especially if you’re trying out new genres.
  • Experience with the self-publishing world. If you’re struggling to figure out whether it’s worth it to try the traditional route or to break out on your own, this is a great opportunity to get some experience around what is involved without having to fully commit to the self-publishing path. For both marketing and publishing, we plan on full transparency into what the anthology manages to accomplish and any pitfalls we encounter along the way.
  • A tax deduction. RMFW is a non-profit organization. If you claim publishing revenue on your income taxes, we will provide you with a tax deduction consideration letter, where we will accept your story as a tax-deductible donation to our organization. It’s not a payment, but it is a recognition of the value of your contribution.

All that said, our contract will not lay claim to the rights to your story for all eternity – just for one year exclusively, and permission to retain it as part of the anthology on a non-exclusive basis thereafter. After the first year, the main rights revert to you.

In past anthologies, where electronic rights were not at issue, we did not ask to retain the right to include your story in an electronic version of the anthology, but we’d like to do that going forward – a non-exclusive right. This will help us keep the anthologies available over time.

Any money that the anthology makes will go towards helping RMFW members in some way, first, to fund marketing initiatives to support the anthology, and after that either as a seed investment in the next anthology, or through funding scholarships, workshops, or events for members. And all of the participants in any anthology committees are strictly volunteers, including the Chair.