Experimental Essay

My experimental essay, “A Memorandum Redacted,” just got picked for Salt Hill No. 34 (Spring 15). It’s part essay, part typography in an appropriated form–a Navy instruction on suicide prevention.


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Interview with Fiction Writers Review

Hi all,

Very pleased to mark the publication of this interview with Alden Jones and the Fiction Writers Review. We had a nice discussion about the “genre” of historical fiction, the process of researching Will Poole’s Island, the differences between writing novels and short stories, and more.

fwr pic

A brief excerpt:

“Here’s the thing about writing historical fiction: you’re not trying to reconstruct or mimic history, which would be altogether boring even if it weren’t impossible. What you’re trying to do is to create a new version of it that will tell a good story while simultaneously capturing something essential, not only about the period, but also about contemporary life.”

Read the complete interview here.

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Phantasm Japan, out now

My latest day-job project, the anthology Phantasm Japan is out now.

Phantasm Japan cover

It includes stories from Zachary Mason (The Lost Books of the Odyssey), Tim Pratt (a Hugo Award-winner who also had work appear in Best American Short Stories), the very popular Japanese author Miyuki Miyabe, the late multinational award-winner Project Itoh, and many more.

For students writing SF/fantasy especially, short stories are often crucial for early careers. There are still a dozen or so decent magazines out there that a. have readers beyond the circle of would-be submitters, and b. pay contributors. Nobody will make a living writing short fiction, and writing short stories isn’t exactly good practice for novels, but they’re very useful when it comes to entering the field. So if you’ve not considered trying short fiction, I highly recommend it. But please read some first—like perhaps Phantasm Japan!

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Historical Fiction vs. Historical Fantasy

This is a question I have been throwing around for a long time: what is the difference between historical fiction and historical fantasy? Historical non-fiction is easy to define:  a story based on real facts and information, often told by narrative, account, or other communicative work whose assertions and descriptions are believed by the author to be factual.

Castle Dracula (Vlad the Impaler)

Castle Dracula (Vlad the Impaler)

Historical fiction: a story told in a historical setting. The author owes his readers an authentic representation of the time period, therefore historical fiction requires thorough, detailed research in order to attain authenticity. Accuracy, even in the mundane, is key.

Constantine's Vision,  Battle of the Milvian Bridge

Constantine’s Vision, Battle of the Milvian Bridge

Historical fantasy: a sub-genre of historical fiction that incorporates fantastic elements into the narrative. The question becomes, at what point does historical fiction become historical fantasy? In my study of history, it has grown increasingly apparent to me that only some history was recorded as fact. Other history was passed down as myth, or forgotten altogether.  Even then, some facts we learn to be false, some myths learned to be true, and some forgotten tales pulled from obscurity. Semantics are boring, I know. But the question intrigues me, especially when one considers the possibility of publication and classification. If an author writes a book set in the medieval era, and incorporates elements of the supernatural, at what point does the story shift from historical fiction to historical fantasy? If the author writes about King Arthur, and includes the myth of magic, is the book historical fiction or historical fantasy? As an example, I believe Bernard Cornwall’s Arthurian book is considered  historical fiction.

"Holy Fire" or "Greek Fire" -  At the time, widely perceived as magic , and somewhat regarded as myth , the secret history of this Byzantine terror weapon is an example of myth-turned-fact due to historical record. But what of other myths?

“Holy Fire” or “Greek Fire” – At the time, widely perceived as magic , and for a while afterward,  regarded as myth.  This Byzantine terror weapon is an example of myth-turned-fact due to historical findings. But what of other myths that bear no similar records?

What are your thoughts? If a book takes place in a historical setting, and the majority of it appears to be authentic, could you forgive passing insertions of the supernatural/fantastical as a part of the story? Or does that damage authenticity to the point that the story no longer belongs in the realm of plausible history?

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Call for Submissions

Thin Air Magazine

Northern Arizona University


Call for Submissions!!


Thin Air literary magazine is currently open for submissions until December 15, 2014. Our magazine is run by graduate students of Northern Arizona University’s MFA program and publishes rolling submissions online and an annual print magazine.

We are proud to be printing our 21st issue of the magazine, and since it finally reached that milestone, we thought we’d take out to celebrate. We hope that you’ll join us by submitting your very best fiction, non-fiction, poetry and/or visual art for publication.

Check us out at www.thinairmagazine.org for submission guidelines and tips from our editors about what they are looking for. I think I can sum it up to say that we want your most creative, most inventive, most passionate work. Other than that, word counts, past issues for sale, and other literary content can all be found online or on our Facebook page.

We hope you’ll join the proud tradition of Northern Arizona’s literature scene and make Thin Air part of your library and family.

Happy writing and prosperous submitting to you all!


Kama Shockey


Thin Air Magazine

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WCSU Writing Department/AWP Intro Journals Project

Folks, it’s time for the annual AWP Intro Journals Project again. We are accepting submissions for the WCSU stage. Based on past number of submissions, everyone who enters has VERY good odds of being selected, especially in the creative nonfiction category. Please do submit something. Guidelines:

The Intro Journals Project is a literary competition for the discovery and publication of the best new work by students currently enrolled in AWP member programs. Student work selected as winners at WCSU will be entered into the AWP competition at the national level. Winning entries at the national level will appear in the fall or winter issues of one of these excellent literary journals: Hayden’s Ferry Review, Mid-American Review, Colorado Review, Puerto del Sol, Quarterly West, Tampa Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, or Artful Dodge.

The Writing Department will select one work of fiction, one work of creative nonfiction, and three poems as WCSU winners to be entered into the national competition.

Eligibility Requirements

The project is open to all WCSU students, both undergraduate and graduate.


  • Submissions must be received—whether in hard copy or electronically—no later than noon on Friday, October 31.
  • Hard copy submissions can be dropped off at the MFA Writing office (Higgins 205 E-G) or mailed to MFA Writing, WCSU, 181 White St., Danbury, CT 06810. If no one is in the office, you may slip your entry under the door. Electronic submissions can be emailed to petitti004@connect.wcsu.edu.
  • Each submission must have two title pages as follows: the first must include the title, author’s name, permanent address, and phone number; the second must include the title only. If you are submitting more than one piece, each piece must have both cover pages. This rule applies both to hard copy and to electronic submissions. Multiple pieces submitted electronically must be in separate Word or .pdf files.
  • The author’s name must not appear on the manuscript except on the first title page.
  • Translations are acceptable, but it is the translator’s responsibility to secure publication rights.
  • Submitted work must be unpublished and may not be under consideration elsewhere for the duration of the contest.
  • Excerpts from novels are acceptable but must not exceed twenty-five pages. Nonfiction manuscripts may not exceed twenty-five pages as well.
  • Prose must be double-spaced and typed or printed on a letter-quality printer. Poetry only may be single-spaced.
  • WCSU winners will be announced in November. National winners will be contacted in the spring of 2015. Each winner at the national level will receive an award letter, publication in a participating journal, and a $100 honorarium.
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Free First Crime Fiction Novel Contest

St. Martin’s Minotaur offers a number of free contests. Here’s one for first crime fiction novels in any subgenre: http://us.macmillan.com/minotaurbooks/submit-manuscript

The others are for specific subgenres and may be of interest to some of you. For example, the Malice Domestic/Minotaur contest is for traditional mysteries.

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