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Taking Submissions: Strange California

May 1, 2016

sunset view with palms in Santa monica, California. concept about traveling and usa

sunset view with palms in Santa monica, California. concept about traveling and usa

Deadline: May 1st, 2016
Payment: $0.06 per word

Take a journey up Highway 99. Stop off just north of Bakersfield where a young woman stands on the edge of Woollomes Avenue, looking apprehensive, debating if she should cross. She’s been dead for decades but the residents see her often enough that she’s become a stable fixture of the scenery, as normal as the billboards that line the Highway.

Follow that Highway further and you’ll encounter another roadside obscurity. John Muir’s conservationist efforts have inspired people across the world. Commemorating him via celebration wasn’t enough for the small town of Lemon Cove. To honor the champion of the wilderness, some Californians have constructed a massive wooden sculpture of his head that sits just the road, staring to the horizon, to the vastness of Yosemite.

Time for one more stop on your trek up 99? How about visiting the underground city below Old Sacramento buried when the town decided to simply raise the roads and start fresh. The storefronts still stand and some swear that the dead have migrated to roam the alleyways of a town that’s been forgotten by the tourists walking above.

You have a choice, from here. On up 99, to the brutally-sharp rubble and claustrophobic caves of the Lava Beds National Monument, to the silent, deserted ghost towns and high-mountain deserts of Modoc, the extinct volcanoes and wildlands around Lassen. Head back around to 80, through the Donner Pass–be sure to go in winter, and take some friends with you.

Or you can leave 99 and take 50. 50, the notorious mountain highway. Blocked in winter by snow, in spring by mudslides, in summer and autumn by wildfires. Stop off in Placerville, where an effigy still hangs over Main Street in commemoration of its heritage as ìOld Hangtownî, and ghosts are reported in nearly every old building and mine. Follow 50 through the steep climb to Tahoe, the legendary inland sea, or venture off to its tributaries 395 and 49. 395, passing through military training grounds, ski resorts, cattle towns, and back down into the deadly beauty of Death Valley and Yosemite. 49, the Golden Chain highway, snaking through towns once infamous for their gold and hangings, through the country that inspired Mark Twain and Clark Ashton Smith.

And we haven’t even touched on Southern California, or the intense rivalries between North and South. With an economy rivaling that of many world nations, it is a world unto itself, full of mystery and legend from a hundred cultures and alternate histories. It leaves an indelible mark on everyone who passes through it.

But these are strange places we know of. California sprawls across a multitude of landscapes and has amassed a history full of the strange and unusual. There are secrets in the desert. Secrets in the cities. Strange and unusual happenings in the odd, dark places of the coastal state.

Strange California is a new anthology edited by J. Daniel Batt and Jaym Gates, coming Autumn 2016 from Falstaff Books. The primary funding will occur through Kickstarter, authors and artists will be paid professional rates. The editors will be soliciting stories with an eye for Californians (past or present), and open submissions will be announced in early Spring 2016 via StrangeCalifornia.com, and via Twitter on @JaymGates.

From Hollywood to Santa Cruz to Tahoe, California is a nexus that both attracts and burgeons the strange of our world. Strange California brings tales inspired by the complex mythologies of California to life.


Strange California is a FICTION anthology. We are looking for short fiction works (1,000-6,000 words in length).

What Jaym is looking for: “Solid research, strong voice, and a clear understanding of your plot and setting. Think outside the box. Don’t worry about being the best out there, that’s what editors are for, just write the best you have in you. You’ll get extra points from me if your stories are relevant to current events.”

What Jason is looking for: “The unexpected. Not just in plot but in tone and style. California is an amalgamation of cultures and perspectives. I’m wanting to see works that carry that same approach! Mix genres and more.”


We plan to fund the cost of the stories, as well as cover art, layout, and production, via a Kickstarter campaign that we will launch mid 2016. Our track record with Kickstarter, thus far, has been very successful and includes anthologies such as War Stories and Genius Loci.


Writers will receive $0.06 per word, to be paid out of the Kickstarter. As creators ourselves, we are planning on introducing stretch goals to further raise the word rate.


The submissions period opens March 1, 2016. Submissions period will close May 1, 2016. We’ll be responding to submissions in June, 2016.


Please submit all submissions through Submittable with a cover letter that clearly identifies the title of your story, its word count, your name and contact information, and the aspect of California you are examining. Your manuscript should be formatting using the standard manuscript guidelines as a *.doc or *.docx file. Please note that we will only accept unpublished works for consideration. Submissions that do not meet these requirements will be deleted unread.

Via: Strange California.


May 1, 2016