A Letter from our Novellas department:

Hello! I’m Kelly C. Stiles, the Assistant Acquisitions Editor in charge of Novellas for Dagan Books.

The first of four quarterly novellas we will publish this year, “Inedible Sins” by K.V. Taylor, is a beautifully written story. It’s full of history, romance, sex, and violence. There’s also a sin-eating robot (automation if you prefer). Our second novella will appear this summer. That story is part Greek myth, part spaghetti western, and all awesome. Centaurs in the old west! Two more novellas will also be published–one each quarter. We are still taking submissions for these final two slots, as well as for 2014.

Why novellas, though? I have heard novellas called the perfect story length before. They are long enough for the reader to get into the depth and intricacy of the story, but short enough that the author can’t linger too long on one scene. They’re fast paced, but still complete.

As a staff member of Dagan Books, I get to read a lot. When I receive a submission, I like to glance at the cover letter before I dive into the prose. It gives me an idea of what kind of adventure I’m about to embark on. (As a side note, I don’t care about a writer’s credentials as long as the story is good.) When I read a submission, I usually form my impression quickly. Even if it is not a story I want to accept, I do try to read at least 20-30 pages of it. I know how hard authors work, and sometimes they surprise me a few pages in.

After I’ve finished reading a story, I let it sit for a day or two before I come back to it with a decision. Sometimes I need to leave it for even longer. Eventually, though, decisions are made, one way or another.

Let me tell you a little about what we are looking for:

  • Engaging stories that make me want to keep reading.
  • Science Fiction of all kinds. Hard, soft, near future, we want them all.
  • QUILTBAG characters, characters of color, and other people underrepresented in fiction.
  • Stories with a good ending. By good, I don’t necessarily mean happy. I mean a well-plotted ending.
  • Unique stories. We found our place in publishing by not being just like everyone else. I love finding different, quality fiction in my submissions stack.

What I Am NOT Looking For:

  • Sword and Sorcery stories. Don’t get me wrong, I will read it if it ends up in my stack, but it will be a hard sell.
  • Romance. Romance is fine as a subplot, but there has to be more to a story for me. The plot can’t revolve around whether two people are “meant to be together”, or put the characters through danger and distress simply so they can hook up at the end. (Same thing goes for erotica. We like it, but it has to serve a purpose.)
  • Religious themes of any kind. Again, I will read them, but they will be a very hard sell.
  • Girls or women whose only role is as a damsel in distress. All characters need to be well thought out, even if we don’t see much of them on the page. Don’t start a story with a dead girl unless you’re going to show us something new, fascinating, and special about who she was before she was a part of the scenery.
  • Gratuitous violence, including rape. If it’s there, it needs to further the story. Not just “this thing happened” but a story that couldn’t have moved forward any other way.

What Will Get You Kicked Out of the Slush Pile:

Author racism, sexism, or bigotry of any kind. Of course there is racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry in the world, and your story and characters should reflect that (or show us what’s changed). But there’s a difference between a character having that perspective, shown through  dialogue or internal thought, and a writer including that view as part of the narration. Say, “Bob thinks this,” but don’t say, “The world thinks this and that’s right.”

I am still reading novellas and I need more. Here’s a link to our submissions page.

– KCS

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Two New Editors: Kelly C. Stiles and Andrew Kelly

We’ve promoted two of our hardworking interns, as thanks for volunteering a great deal of their time and energy, and because they’re very good at what they do. Both took the time to ask for extra work, do independent reading to familiarize themselves with our literary influences, and suggested ways for Dagan Books to improve. In short, they were already doing these jobs, so the least we could do was give them the titles.

Please join us in congratulating Kelly C. Stiles and Andrew Kelly!

Assistant Acquisitions Editor, Novellas: Kelly C. Stiles. A recent graduate from the College of William and Mary, Kelly talks to inanimate objects, and enjoys long walks with good books. Her website is http://ladykuro.wordpress.com/. When asked why she wanted to work with us, Kelly says:

I love working with a dedicated team to produce amazing anthologies, books, and novellas. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!

Assistant Acquisitions Editor, Short Fiction: Andrew M. Kelly. Librarian, writer, and reader based in Boston Massachusetts. He can be found on Twitter as a_m_kelly and his website is amkelly.net. Says Andrew:

I like working at Dagan Books because I work with great people, weird & wonderful stories, and I get to help bring those stories to readers. I love knowing that I can read something that’s been submitted and help to bring all the hard work of writers into our books and the lives of our readers. This work feels especially worthwhile at Dagan Books, where I think we strive to publish work that might not find a home as easily with other publishers.

Kelly will be reading novellas, overseeing other readers in that department, making editorial decisions, and assisting with copy editing the novellas we choose for publications. Andrew will be focusing on short fiction, both for anthologies and for our upcoming magazine. In that role he’ll be working with readers and editors to choose our short fiction for publication.

In other words, they’re part of the crew that decides what we print, and we’re very glad to have them.

Interview: Kelly C. Stiles (IN SITU)

Name: Kelly C. Stiles

Age: 23

Author of: “Relevant Information From the Tel Najmah Site”

Current Geographic Location: Luray, Virginia

Twitter: @Ladykuro

Website: http://ladykuro.wordpress.com/

Recent publications: “The Natural End of a Clockwork Boy” appeared in With Painted Words. Poetry has appeared in SNM Magazine and Night to Dawn magazine.

Do you think alien life exists in the Universe? Against all odds, we exist, don’t we? Who’s to say we’re the only ones that beat the odds? To someone out there, we’re the aliens.

If you could travel off Earth, would you? What if it meant you could never come back? I would love to travel off planet and see the rest of the solar system, maybe even the rest of our galaxy. I’m pretty sure I’d be okay with not coming back for a while since I’d have an internet connection (hey, if aliens can get me off planet, they can get me an internet connection). I think I would want to come back one day, though.

What inspired your essay? My story was inspired by two classes I took in college. Both were taught by the
same archeology professor and provided me with different bits of inspiration. From the Celts class I took the burial mounds in the near east, and in the Archeology of the Near East class I read an archeological journal on which I based Finnegan’s personality.

What music or movies helped you to write this essay? I listened to Within Temptation’s album “The Heart of Everything” for background sound while writing.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? I didn’t actually do any major rewrites to this piece. While I did edit the wordings, and reorder the ending, I had no problems hearing Finnegan and his blustery ways in my
head.

What is your favorite bit?

I have removed several paragraphs of nonsensical hypotheses as to how Martha could have removed the monument. His theories include American spies, Papal conspiracies, teams of magicians, or perhaps angels or some other supernatural phenomena. These theories transition back to the day’s events when Mr. Fletcher recalls how one of the hired men tells him a native story of strange occurrences all over the region.

Buy IN SITU now!

EPUB for nook and other readers, $3.99: Click here to buy DRM FREE

MOBI for nook and other readers, $3.99: Click here to buy DRM FREE

Trade paperback, 5″x8″, 248 pages, via Amazon, $9.99: Click here to buy ISBN-10: 0983137323

KINDLE edition via Amazon, $3.99: Click here to buy ASIN: B008J4ZBLW

News From Some Dagan Books Writers

It’s been a good week for some of our writers, and we wanted to share the news!

Kelly Stiles, who wrote “Relevant Information From the Tel Najmah Site” for IN SITU, has taken first place in the Absolute Write 2011 Horror Hounds contest! Amongst the prizes was a publishing contract with Black Label Books for her winning novella. Sarah Hendrix, who (in addition to being an editorial intern and slush reader here at Dagan Books) wrote “Rachel’s Journal” for IN SITU, took second place!

Ken Liu, another IN SITU author, gave us “You’ll Always Have the Burden With You” but more recently had his poem “The Mesozoic Tour Guide” published at Strange Horizons. Read it here!