Submissions for our anthology ‘First Contact’ closed at the end of April. We will be in touch with all authors by the end of June, please let us know if you don’t hear from us. Meanwhile, here’s what we’re doing next:
A Night at the Railway Inn
For our next anthology we want to bring together stories that are tightly linked, connected by a recurring location. This place is the Railway Inn, a fictional pub in a typical English town.
This will be Didcot Writers’ sixth anthology of short stories. Find out about past publications here. Submissions will open on 1st June 2019, and close on 31st August 2019.
The anthology will be published as both a paperback and an ebook. Submissions are free for members of Didcot Writers (defined as someone who has attended one of our events in 2019 and is on our monthly writing notices mailing list), but for second submissions and submissions from non-members a £6 fee will apply. You can find out more about our events at bit.ly/didcotwriters.
The editing process
This anthology is going to be a bit different. While each story should be stand-alone, we want the stories to link together, so that the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. As a consequence, it is possible we may ask you to change details in your work after it has been accepted so that the stories don’t contradict each other: for example, one author might write about the landlord’s mother visiting, while another mentions in passing that his parents were dead – we would need to ask one of these authors to alter a detail which doesn’t affect their story so that it fits the anthology.
We have created the following description of the Railway Inn to get you started, but we do not want to constrict your creativity – you do not need to check details with us before including them in your story, because the details don’t yet exist.
You can write about any historical period, and about any character. You can write in any style and genre. See below for full guidelines and how to submit your story.
The Railway Inn
The Railway Inn has stood at the junction since the 1850s. A rectangular brick building, it has seen its share of customers, from the men who built the line to today’s commuters. They say that before it was a pub it was a barn, the farmhouse next door demolished to make way for the tracks.
Thirty years ago, the Railway Inn was the roughest pub in town: fights every night, police there all the time, a place where strangers were unwelcome. Inside it was tatty, the floor stained, the upholstery ripped and slashed. Today it has turned itself around: it’s amazing what a several coats of paint and a major renovation can do. The pub still hosts a regular crowd, but also benefits from passing trade for hot breakfasts and lunchtime halves. There are always one or two old men sitting at the bar who might have been there thirty years ago: they’ve sat it all out. But now it’s a pub for all sort of different groups.
There’s a quiz night on Mondays, open mic on Tuesdays, and on Wednesdays the local writers’ group meets to read out their most recent work to each other. On a Friday night the place fills up with clubbers preloading before getting the train into town. At weekends it’s a pub for families – especially on a Sunday with the roast lunch on. There are benches in the garden, a swing set and a petanque court that is more often used as a sandpit.
There’s an old piano in the corner, they say it’s been there since the Second World War, and it sounds like it. These days, bands usually bring their own instruments, they’re not interested in acoustic music anymore. There have been noise complaints from the few residents who live nearby but nothing’s ever done about it.
The present owners, a young enthusiastic couple – too enthusiastic, some might say – will tell you all about the history of the pub. They claim there’s a Victorian ghost, and they’ll tell you that a murder that took place there in the 1970s. They’ll show you where it happened, near the reopened fireplace (heavily in demand on cold days in winter), then quickly reassure you that the pub is quite safe today, hand you the menu and recommend an artisan beer. There are chalked signs all around reminding you of their ‘passion’ for running a pub and the real ale awards they’ve won. Before coming here, he was something in the City, no one is quite sure what she did.
Have we whetted your appetite? Then tell us what happened one night at the Railway Inn.
- Your piece must be prose of between 800 and 5,000 words, and relate to the fictional pub, ‘The Railway Inn’.
- Submissions are welcome from around the world but must be in English.
- The theme (and title) of the anthology is ‘A Night at the Railway Inn’, your submission can be in any genre. Please choose a title for your story that is different to that of the anthology.
- Include your story title and name/pseudonym at the top of the first page of your manuscript. Do not use headers and footers or include page numbers.
- Regarding the formatting of the document please follow the points below. Making errors in formatting won’t have you automatically disqualified, but it will take time to sort it out, and we’d rather spend our time on other things. We might ask you to revise and resubmit: the earlier you submit your work the more time there will be to sort these things out before the deadline. So:
- use Times New Roman, font size 12, 1.5 spacing
- paragraphs should be indented – use the Format > Paragraph menu options for this, rather than indenting manually with tabs or spaces
- likewise, do not put spaces between paragraphs as these will be time consuming to delete later and we may need to ask you to resubmit
- indicate section breaks with a centralised *
- In terms of punctuation and grammar, please adhere to the following:
- use single quote marks (if you want to be really helpful, make sure they are ‘curly’ rather than straight)
- use British English spellings (colour, defence, centre; also -ise endings, as in realise)
- only put one space after a full stop, and none at the start or end of a paragraph
- use em-dashes to indicate a breath or pause – like that
- do not use dots for abbreviations (Dr, TS Eliot, HSBC)
- no superscript formatting (29th September, 1st prize)
- Swear words and intimate scenes are allowed, but nothing excessive or too explicit.
- This doesn’t have to be the first time your submission has been published, but your work must be copyright-cleared for publication (please let us know if there are any terms and conditions attached, eg, putting ‘first published in…’ on your story). We will try to get back to you about whether we will be publishing your work by the end of October 2019.
- The copyright for any story we publish remains with the author, so you can publish it elsewhere as you wish. If you do publish it elsewhere in addition, we’d appreciate it if you could put ‘first published in…’ or ‘appeared in…’ our book, but this is not a requirement.
- Submissions may require light editing, but should be substantially ready for publication. We will send authors a proof copy to approve. The editors’ decisions are final.
- There will be no monetary payments to authors for work accepted. Any proceeds will go to Didcot Writers, a not-for-profit writing community.
How to submit
- Submit your work as a Word (or Word-compatible) document to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Include in your email a 50-word bio about yourself that will be included in the book if your work is chosen for inclusion.
- If you would rather be published under a pen name, make this clear in your submission email.
Cost of entry
There is no fee for one submission if you are a member of Didcot Writers (see above), but if you would like to submit more than one piece, or are not a member, a £6 fee will apply for each entry. Payments can be made via Paypal, an invoice will be sent once you have submitted your work.
A limited number of bursaries are available for low-income and under-represented authors. If you feel you should qualify for one of these, tell us why in your email, and we will let you know whether it’s possible to allocate you a bursary.