Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Interview with Debrin Case of An Honest Lie

In our latest interview with the editors/publishers of fine short story venues, here is Write1Sub1's conversation with Debrin Case, publisher of the An Honest Lie anthologies.

W1S1: You're currently accepting submissions for Volume 4 of An Honest Lie. Can you tell us a little about the sorts of story you are looking for?

First and foremost, we (myself and the staff of Open Heart Publishing) are looking for stories that we believe fit underneath the masthead "An Honest Lie" and this year's theme "Petulant Parables". These tales are between 3,000 and 4,000 words, and can fit within just about any genre of fiction one could imagine, the most important aspect of the pieces in question shouldn't be about what kind of written work it is (other than a well written piece), but does it fit within the paradigm of this year's anthology and do we (again, myself and the staff of O.H.P.) believe the author has more to say.

Our call for submissions hasn't changed much in the past four years so I'll just repeat it here

We are accepting submissions in the areas of fiction, well written misadventures from real life, and blatant lies that are fun and entertaining.

We’re looking for …

… the ironies in life
… the serendipity of it all
… the epitome of adventure
… the power of imperviousness
… the pull of naivety
… the view from a different angle
… the mix of mood, moment, and movement
… the wretched truth
… a clever lie
… the humor inside
… the mockery of it all

We’re looking for the perspective. The subject is up to you.
(Please keep it clean. No political commentaries, testimonials, religious manifestos, or poetry)

Being involved with An Honest Lie is more than a standard submission process, it is in fact a long term contest. The yearly prize is nothing other than a book deal with our publishing company. This is the first part, submitting your story in the hopes of winning one of the available slots for the yearly anthology contest. That part is rough enough with fierce competition (Our first year had over 5,000 entries, Year two just over 4,000 entries, and for our last volume we were well over 7,000 entries). After making our selection based not only on the stories themselves, but also on the gestalt of the book the next step in the contest takes place through the year where we determine who is the most popular author from each collection via sales and a free voting portal (this year's voting portal can be found at

W1S1: What are the top two or three things you look for in a submission - or do you just know a good story when you see it?

Did they follow the guidelines? Does the piece grab my attention? Is it well written? Did they follow ALL of the Guidelines?

I have rejected good stories because the author did not follow guidelines. If a person follows the guidelines we have established that they show themselves to be professional and leads us to believe that they will be a person who will be easier to work with when the task of editing comes around. Yes, I do believe I can spot a good story when I see it, but also note that the process of selecting the stories for An Honest Lie doesn't just fall on my shoulders, it is a group effort (and sometimes a group battle) to decide which pieces fit together best.

W1S1: What sorts of things put you off the submissions you receive? Are there any common mistakes people should be careful to avoid?

*Produces proverbial soapbox from within the folds of his corduroy jacket, and climbs its massive height to stand atop and denounce the travesties committed by submitters. *

1. Guidelines are listed to help you and the publishing house mutually, do not ignore them. If you see a minimum word count listed at 5,000 words don't send a piece of 4,000 words. If the maximum word count is listed at 8,000 words don't send 16,000 words.

2. Gud Speling is emportent, and grahmer ain't nothing to laugh at. Use spell check for the love of whatever god (or lack thereof) you may (or may not) worship. Spell check is not perfect so go out and get one of those dictionary thingies... and while you are at it grab a thesaurus too.

3. Pay attention to the market you are sending your submission to, If you wrote a fantabulous piece of fiction about the origins of oral sex, don't send it to the Abstinence Quarterly.

As far as An Honest Lie is concerned, please refrain from sending us your personal religious conversion stories, political tirades, poetry or travel journals. They just don't fit within our publishing paradigm.

4. Don't send us previously published works, even if it was self published or web published.

5. Don't send us fully illustrated PDFs, or pieces sent in any other format other than what we ask for (currently it is .doc .docx and .odf formats only).

6. Don't send more than two pieces for consideration unless we ask you for more.

7. Don't try to show how smart you are by picking $20.00 words when a $2.00 word will work just fine. You are trying to engage an audience not make them feel stupid.

and finally 8. Don't pander to us by including the masthead name or the year's theme in your story to be cute, it isn't... it's not even original.

W1S1: How do you see the publishing scene evolving?

The publishing world is evolving at an amazing rate, and it is beautiful. Literacy is becoming commonplace across the world, and communication is expanding and growing astronomically!

We live in very exciting times and I see a future filled with words, and pages and books and volumes of literary masterpieces and blunders all along the way.

Print books, E-books, E-paper, flash fiction, blogs, web novels, magazines, zines, pamphlets, e-zines, mind implants, movies, independent movies, holgraphic films, publishers, independent publishers, story tellers sitting around campfires. Through speculative and already known vehicles the story flourishes. The story will continue and we get to see how it changes and grows and becomes more radiant each and every day in whatever form it decides to transmute itself into next.

W1S1: Our thanks to Debrin for his responses. If you're interested in submitting to An Honest Lie, the guidelines are here.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to give us a fine insight

  2. Yes, this is very helpful. Thanks.

  3. This was a great interview Simon. Debrin happens to be my favorite publisher, and I think An Honest Lie an excellent home for short stories.

    (My opinion not at all swayed by the fact I'm published in Vol 3)

    The encouragement and support from all the staff at OHP makes the publishing experience smooth and beneficial to all.

    Thank you Simon for spotlighting Mr Debrin Case, and An Honest Lie. I've already sent in my submission for AHL4; I hope you've sent one in too.


  4. Great interview.

    Thanks for the advice on submissions!