March- Locked-Room Mystery

Hello, everyone! Welcome to Jake’s Monthly. The explosion of Bizarro is done, and now that I’ve finally coaxed it all into sitting still, it’s up on Smashwords, right here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/140926

Now, onto the next collection, Locked-Room Mystery. Locked-Room Mystery is a subgenre of the Mystery genre which I’m sure everyone’s read at least one example of. The elements are simple: a crime or event, usually a murder, which can’t possibly have happened. This isn’t just a case of “no one lacks an alibi”, this is “the man was murdered and died of a gunshot while sitting in a locked room with only one entrance”. The main character works throughout the story, and the reveal shows how the crime was committed. A really good Locked-Room story has an “impossible” mystery which an observant reader can solve before the detective.

If you can write a good mystery that does that, you’re in. Feel free to be imaginative, if you don’t typically write mundane stories. Set it in the distant future, or the far past. Noir, horror, fantasy, science fiction- they’re all great, and both originality and variety are highly encouraged. Have fun with it!

Guidelines and my e-mail address are found in the tab labeled “Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines”.

I look forward to your stories.

-Jake Johnson (The Staff)

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February- All Clear, March- Coming Soon

The Bizarro collection is closed, filled to the brim with odd stories, and will take a lot of time to compile. Still, it’s going to be worth it. Full guidelines for the next collection will go up when this one has been published, but here’s the gist of March’s collection.

A Locked-Room or Locked-Door Mystery is a specific type of mystery story. In this story, the death/crime/event is apparently impossible (“He died of a gun wound in this room and the only door in was locked!”) but actually has a clever solution. It’s brain-teasers meeting detective fiction. Feel free to take this to the stars, into the realms of sword and sorcery, or to the gritty days of noir, as long as the mystery’s “impossible” and there’s a satisfying explanation for it. Bonus points for a clever, likeable protagonist, unless your protagonist isn’t the one solving the mystery.

-Jake (Staff)

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February- Bizarro

Hello, all. Welcome to Jake’s Monthly, where we’ve hit the halfway mark and are celebrating the resulting anniversary. We’re delving into what might be the most fun out of any literary movement- Bizarro!

Before we get into that, here’s a link to the just-released Punk collection: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/129822.

Now, onto Bizarro. Bizarro is a relatively recent movement in writing, and it’s difficult to explain well. Bizarro is usually profane and profoundly weird. A good Bizarro story will freak you out, and a great one will make you scream “What am I reading?!”.

Bizarro is fiction which is interesting and entertaining even at the cost of sanity and good taste. Because of that, you can ignore the guidelines about mature content- but please do so reasonably. I’m sixteen, and while society’s fine with me reading about language and gore, sexual issues are somehow still taboo. If you’re too extreme, go moderate; these stories can be inappropriate, but they shouldn’t be so offensive or vulgar that no one would want to read them.

There you go. Click on “Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines”, read through, get my e-mail, and send me your Bizarro stories. I look forward to your submissions.

-Jake (The Staff)

Addition: The biggest issue with Bizarro is getting one’s head around it, so here are ten summaries of high-quality, published Bizarro, for anyone unsure of what to write. I apologize for the sudden increase in the size of this post.

House of Houses

        There once was an odd reclusive little man who was in love with his house. He loved this house not in the way that normal people love their homes. His was a more intimate love, like the love between two humans. He loved his house so much that he asked it to marry him, and he believed that his house happily replied with a yes. Unfortunately, their love was to be torn apart the day before their wedding, on the day of the great house holocaust. On this day, every house in the world collapsed for no explainable reason. It was as if they killed themselves, and took many of their occupants with them. Distraught and despairing over the death of his fiancée, this man must go on a quest to find out what happened to his beloved home. On his quest: He will meet Tony, a self-declared superhero, who looks kind of like a black Man-At-Arms from the old He-Man cartoons and claims to protect the world from quasi-dimensional psychopomps with his powerful sexpounding abilities. He will meet Manhaus, who seems to be part man and part house. And, finally, he will venture to House Heaven, a world where houses live inside of bigger houses made of people.

 Zerostrata

        After ten years, Hansel Nothing returns to his boyhood home, unable to remember anything that has happened to him since he left. Back home, he stays in Zerostrata, a treehouse in the backyard. The Nothing family is as dysfunctional and depressed as ever. His mother keeps a cat on her head and incessantly munches prescription medication. His father has left the house to pursue a career as a superhero. His brother wants to be the dad’s superhero sidekick and thinks he can fly.

Hansel’s life is changed forever when he meets Gretel, a free-spirited woman who runs naked through the woods every night. She teaches him about a world of magic and beauty. They travel to the moon together via a rope ladder, sail back to earth in an air balloon, and wander through a graveyard that allows them to view the dreams of the dead all while trying to escape Gretel’s evil Grandmother.

Featuring: a gingerbread house surrounded by bear traps, lettuce pirates, The Amazing Dr. Blast, a one-legged pogo stick man, a giant orange trampoline, and Tricky the cigarette smoking cat who lives on Hansel’s mother’s head.

 Teeth and Tongue Landscape

        Our protagonist returns to his village once day, in a world made completely of meat, to find the village empty. Terrified of being alone, he strikes out into the meaty landscape, hiding from demons underneath scabs where a beautiful metal woman rescues him. He can’t understand her, but he loves her anyway, though her fingers are sharp as razor blades.

Together they travel until they meet a Themroc who gives him a note making him a Themroc and directing them to the city of Themroc, populated by a people who all use the name Themroc. Along the way they pass a dangerous city of strange jellyfish that chew electricity as they fall from the sky and try to capture human souls with their charged tentacles.

Our protagonist becomes unhappy in Themroc, especially after his metal wife is cooked and eaten, and discovers from Themroc that there is one last remaining society of humans living underground. The Night Serpent takes him there, and now he must find his happiness among humans again.

 Fishy-fleshed

        The citizens of Ocean City are so technologically advanced that everyone possesses the ability to walk on water, cure diseases, clone food, and raise the dead… They are like an entire civilization of Messiahs. When a team of researchers travel back in time to the days of Christ, they discover the past is a lot different than they ever imagined. It is an illogical flatland lacking in dimension and color, a sick-scape of crispy squid people wandering the desert for no apparent reason.

 The Destroyed Room

        In a near-future city where automobiles have been outlawed and exotic animals roam the streets, a man wakes up one morning to discover that everyone in the world is a marionette. Now his wife is dead and he must find the answer, or else lose everything to the Great Shark Head in the Sky.

The Menstruating Mall

        Ten ridiculously stereotypical consumer victims (a yuppie, a housewife, a retiree, a jock, a bible thumper, a cowboy, a preppy, a gamer, a goth, and a white suburban gangsta) find themselves unable to leave the mall one day. There is nothing stopping them. The doors are unlocked. Other shoppers are able to come and go as they please. But for some inexplicable reason, these ten people cannot pry themselves away from their shopping miasma. The mall closes, and they won’t leave. Days pass, and they’re still there, eating meals in the food court and sleeping in department store bedroom displays. Then they begin to die off, one by one, murdered by a mysterious killer, and they still won’t allow themselves to escape. Then they discover that the only way to survive is to stop being stereotypical.

The Brothers Crunk

        Brothers Divey and Reynold Crunk are two traveling breakfast burrito salesman just trying to make a living in the post-apocalyptic world of Planet Japan. After discovering a mutilated robot corpse in the middle of the desert, Divey mysteriously transforms into something abominable, setting a bizarre series of events into motion. Reynold follows his brother into the dark underworld of Tokyo, where there are no rules and old video game accessories are used as real weapons. THE BROTHERS CRUNK is an 8-bit fack-it-all adventure in 2D. Please consult a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms while reading: convulsions, eye or muscle twitching, altered vision, involuntary movements, disorientation, or loss of awareness.

Jack and Mr. Grin

                Jack Orange is a twentysomething guy who works at a place called The Tent packing dirt in boxes and shipping them off to exotic, unheard of locales. He thinks about his girlfriend, Gina Black, and the ring he hopes to surprise her with. But when he returns home one day, Gina isn’t there. He receives a strange call from a man who sounds like he is smiling—Mr. Grin. He says he has Gina. He gives Jack twenty-four hours to find her.
What follows is Jack’s bizarre journey through an increasingly warped and surreal landscape where an otherworldy force burns brands into those he comes in contact with, trains appear out of thin air, rooms turn themselves inside out and computers are powered by birds. And if he does find Gina, how will he ever survive a grueling battle to the death with Mr. Grin?

Bucket of Face

        Thirteen years after a police officer searching a suspected child molester’s home spilled a vial of silver pollen, America is still struggling with how to recognize its sentient fruit population. Charles is just a normal guy working at a doughnut shop until an apple and a banana shoot each other in a mafia dispute, leaving a briefcase full of foreign currency and a specimen bucket at the corner booth. When Charles turns the wiseguys into doughnuts and steals their luggage, hoping for a better life for himself and his kiwi fruit girlfriend, he finds himself in the middle of a mafia war. As his girlfriend travels the DC metro area, selling off the contents of the bucket, Charles finds he is the target of a seasoned hit-tomato, who happens to be the biggest Michael Jackson fan who ever lived.

Love in the Time of Dinosaurs

        DINOSAURS! LOVE! WAR! MONASTIC LIVING! Three days after his partner is bitten in half by a brachiosaur, a nameless monk meets the love of his life. Her name is Petunia. She is a dinosaur. But a twenty-year war between their species is about to come to a head, and only one will survive. To be together, the monk and the dinosaur must fight their way through hordes of pterodactyl samurai, anti-aircraft stegosaurs, gigantic kamikaze moths, and machine gun-wielding tyrannosaurs. Love in the Time of Dinosaurs is a surreal war tale of forbidden love, betrayal, and magic kung-fu. Forget Jurassic Park, this is the greatest dinosaur story ever told.

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January- All Clear, February- Basic Guidelines

The Punk collection is good to go. We’ve got stories in just about every punk genre you can name, and there’s even going to be a new one, never-before-seen! All that remains is to compile it and do all those other little tasks which make the world go round.

In the meantime, let’s bring up February’s theme, which is more of a movement than a genre. The Bizarro movement is weird, absurd, and profane. It is what I believe all fiction should strive to be: entertaining, even at the cost of sanity and taste. Needless to say, my age rather dilutes the potential to be off-taste, but the “language, gore, sexual content, etc.” guidelines have been taken off. Wield your new-found power responsibly, but enjoy it, because it’s going away again next month.

A good Bizarro story isn’t just weird things happening for the sake of having weird things happen. A good Bizarro story has a plot, but also makes you ask (or, preferably, scream) “What am I reading?!”. Until I can write up a few more specific guidelines, I’ll leave you with that information.

Expect the anthology to be released within the first week of this month.

-Jake (The Staff)

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January- Punk

Hello, all. Welcome (back) to Jake’s Monthly, where the new year has inspired us to our most creative project yet!

Before we go into that, though, the latest anthology, Science Fantasy, has been published. Check it out under the Available Anthologies tab or go here: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/120479 .

Now, to Punk. The Punk movement in fiction birthed a lot of genres, and a lot of them- splatterpunk and nowpunk, for instance- aren’t what this anthology is designed for. So, let’s specify:

A Punk story is set in a subgenre ending in the word “punk”, where technology of some sort is different. These subgenres are sometimes called the cyberpunk derivatives. For instance, steampunk follows an alternate history where steam technology became as powerful as most modern technology. Cyberpunk deals with a near-future filled with advanced computing technology, artificial intelligences, and massive megacorporations. Clockpunk (clockwork technology), Teslapunk (early twentieth-century wiring technology) and even made-up Punk stories are perfectly acceptable; if you have an interesting Punk story that doesn’t involve the technology or time periods seen in other Punk, feel free to send it in, and be sure to include a catchy name for your new subgenre.

This is an incredibly open anthology, so of course I’m going to have to include two restrictions. Sorry.

1. Absolutely no Dieselpunk (1920s-40s combustion engine technology taken to the max). I like Dieselpunk, but there’s a collection out there that’s hurting for it, and it’s the collection that inspired me to writing. Us relatively-underground anthology presses gotta stick together. If you can find the time and would like an extra publishing credit, write up a Dieselpunk story and send it in- guidelines and editor’s email found here: http://staticmovement.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=monaghan&action=display&thread=425.

2. Give your story as dazzling a setting as possible. Characters and conflict are certainly important, but your story definitely needs to showcase its world, and the technology available in it. I’m not asking you to give me a ten-page geography lesson, but do put some extra focus on the time period and technology that your story revolves around.

That’s it. Just click on the tab up top labelled “Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines” and read through the formatting rules to reach my email address.

I look forward to reading your submissions.

-Jake (The One-Man Staff)

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December- All Clear, January- Coming Shortly

Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s hoping everything’s going smoothly for you all.

The Science Fantasy anthology’s been closed, and it’s still being compiled. Expect it within the next few days. Also- I really need a cover for this. Don’t expect magic if I have to MS Paint one.

As ever, the next anthology’s guidelines will be posted as soon as the previous one is published. However, January’s Punk anthology is currently open. To keep from wasting anyone’s time, only steampunk submissions will be taken until the guidelines are posted and this massive genre can be properly defined. For anyone wanting to do a bit of research on it, here’s a basic list of Punk genres: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberpunk_derivatives).

-Jake (The Entirety of the Staff)

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December- Science Fantasy

Hello, all. Welcome (back) to Jake’s Monthly. This is our fourth anthology, and in a change of pace from our darker stories, we’re now moving into the lighthearted territory of the holiday season with a subgenre rife with wonder: Science Fantasy.

Science Fantasy is a hybrid of science fiction and fantasy, so there are only three real guidelines (besides those in “Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines”). First, every story presented must have at least one element from fantasy and one from science fiction. Second, these elements must be separate; you can have magic and cyborgs in the same story, but you can’t say (or imply) that magic is just science which we don’t understand yet, or that science is magic which we’ve tried to rationalize. Finally, and this is entirely optional, give your story a happy, or at least vaguely positive ending. Tragedies will be considered at the same level as positive stories, but come on, it’s the most wonderful time of the year right now. Be jolly! 

So send in stories about dragons in space, brownies at the LHC, ray guns and gorgons, or whatever you consider to be Science Fantasy!

The anthology will be open until midnight on New Years. Accepted stories will be listed under “Accepted Stories”. I will not be reading submissions on Christmas, but they’d be an excellent present. I look forward to your stories.

-Jake (Editor, Publisher, Founder, Employer, Sole Employee)

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