In our latest interview with the editors/publishers of fine short story venues, here is Write1Sub1's conversation with Paul Genesse, editor of the Crimson Pact anthologies.
W1S1: Can you tell us a little about the Crimson Pact universe and the sort of story you are currently looking for?
The Crimson Pact is an anthology series that will have at least six titles, volume 1 and 2 are out now as of December 2011. You can get them as trade paperbacks or as eBooks for all eReaders. The deadline for submissions of flash and short fiction for volume 3 is February 1, 2012.
The Crimson Pact is a shared world, without the shared world. It all flows from the origin story, “The Failed Crusade,” which is free to read on TheCrimsonPact.com. Here’s the set up:
The moment of the demons' defeat became their greatest victory.
In the carnage after the last great battle against the demons, a doomed general discovers their hidden victory. Instead of being annihilated, unspeakable evil escaped into many unsuspecting worlds. To fight them, the men and women of the Crimson Pact must sacrifice everything—including their own lives and follow the demons.
Explore 26 stories based on the world created in “The Failed Crusade,” by Patrick M. Tracy and included in The Crimson Pact Volume 1, about the valiant men and women who refuse to let the demons win, and those unfortunate souls caught in the epic struggle raging across the multiverse.
New York Times Bestselling author and Campbell award nominee, Larry Correia, and many urban fantasy, steampunk, sci-fi, horror, and fantasy writers tell the tales in this diverse collection of short stories, flash fiction, and novellas.
So, you’ve got authors writing in their own world/universe, but the stories all blend together thematically, though we’ve got many different genres to play in. The tone has to be right, NO COMEDY, but the writers have a lot of leeway. Think about the graphic novel/movie, Constantine, or the movie Aliens, The Exorcist, The Omen, not Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Harder edged stuff.
I’m looking for stories set in non-U.S. settings: Europe, Southeast Asia, India, China, Australia, and in different time periods. I’ve got a lot of modern day urban fantasy set in the U.S. and two in England.
No stories with “the devil” making deals and you don’t even have to mention “The Crimson Pact” in the story or any references to that concept, just have a demon, evil spirit, something nasty, in the tale. Oblique references are best and the protagonist doesn’t have to be a member of The Crimson Pact or know someone who is.
W1S1: Are you able to list the top two or three things you look for - or do you just know a good story when you see it?
Great characterization is key for me. The tone has to be right, (read some stories in the anthologies and you’ll understand), and I’m looking for believable stories. If your plot sucks, and doesn’t make much sense, you’ve got problems. High concept pieces, where you have to do a ton of world building are a tough sell. Focus on the character, with a problem, who has a complication, and then there’s the twist. Simple, but effective.
There’s an open call for flash fiction. If you have a short story 3,000-7,000 words, and are a published writer, ask me if you can submit it. I’ll probably take a look at the first 1,000 words and I’ll see. Only the people who read this blog will even know about this offer to read short work from unpublished authors. The danger is that I get 10,000 word stories that don’t work and can’t be fixed, but I can fix 1,000 words a lot easier. Shorter pieces give you a better chance of getting published in The Crimson Pact, because I will work with you to fix four pages, but not forty.
W1S1: What sorts of things put you off the submissions you receive? Do you see the same mistakes and flaws a lot? The same familiar tropes?
COMEDY is no go. Don’t waste my time, send your story somewhere else. Format the story exactly the way I want it. If you can’t format it right, you’ve already failed the test because if you can’t follow the guidelines, or learn how to remove tabs from the MS for example, it’s a red flag that you are not someone I want to work with. I work hard and spend very long hours with writers that I select for the anthology.
The prose has to be polished as well. If you’re a total rookie with a lot of talent, I might see that and work with you, but if you’re a rookie who needs two more years of practice, I’ll let you down easy. I was there once. I know how it feels. The truth is that we’re all not ready to get published. It’s a journey and some people are further along than others. Just keep traveling down the road. Familiar tropes can work if they’re done well, but I would prefer to see different concepts, but read volume 1 and you’ll understand more of what I’m into.
W1S1: How do you see the publishing scene evolving? Will paper survive for example?
Paper is going to survive, but eBooks are going to be huge, and are getting there right now. The paradigm has shifted in the last couple of years and life is actually very good for us writer folks. Not everyone has to have a contract with a big house anymore to be successful—and defining success is changing. I want to do both, the traditional way with a house publishing my work, and I want to have side projects that are independent. If you’re already published, you can go the eBook route easier as you have credibility. If you’ve never sold anything, it’s harder for people to take you seriously, but the paradigm is shifting, and the future is very bright.
Please go to www.TheCrimsonPact.com to read the guidelines, watch story trailers, read the origin/frame story “The Failed Crusade,” and get a copy of volume 1 and volume 2. The special editions have essays from some of the writers about the process of writing their story and working with me, so you’ll know how I roll.
W1S1: Our thanks to Paul for his responses. If you're interested in submitting to The Crimson Pact, the guidelines are here.