On the coast of California lies the city of San Cicaro. Once a golden mecca of trade and a shining jewel of the medical and technology sectors, the past decade has borne witness to misfortunes, surreal occurrences and more than its fair share of tragedy. State investigations into the city’s unbelievable crime reports fail to turn up anything except forfeited badges. The local economy is on the decline, as “mishaps” and “accidents” strain insurers and void contracts. And every week, bizarre medical cases baffle the most gifted and educated minds of Lucia Bella Hospital.

All we know is something is happening. Oddities that few wish to speak of. Those that do seldom have proof— often with dubious, possibly doctored images in an era of non-stop sensationalist media. At its worst they accompany rising statistics of murders, disappearances and baffling public disturbances. Almost always surrounding peculiar rumors of ghosts, demons and magic. Everyone knows something’s wrong, but no one knows exactly what.

Likewise, we also hear gossip of miraculous recoveries and tales of unbelievable good fortune. The wheelchair bound walking again. Children escaping dire circumstances, sometimes with what sounds like supernatural help. Victims of stage four cancer discovering their condition cured overnight. Delusions of fay creatures or strange, unearthly markings.

The scales of reality as we understand it have been flipped over. And these are the stories we want to hear.

We’re looking for yarns of dark urban fantasy, the weird, the macabre and the hopeful. Tell us of underground cults performing their rituals for good or ill. Of hell-born creatures leaving scenes of carnage that confound the police. Stories of unbelievable sightings leaving their mark on people. Yarns of fairies leading neighborhood children to safety from that which blurs the line between monsters and men.  We want them all.

 

Details:

Submitted short stories have a minimum of around 4,000 words* up to a soft limit of 8,000 words. We can go as high as 10,000 but will be looking to whittle that down. Formatting should follow William-Shunn guidelines.

Aside from editing and proofreading your work, the editors are also going to make very minor changes to fit your tale into San Cicaro itself. We may recommend street names, slightly modify passages to mention landmarks, or other such continuity tweaks. Our ultimate goal is to add tiny details that join your story into a greater, connected narrative.

Authors will be recompensed with a one-time payment of $125 for five-year publication rights, with exclusive rights for the first year, non-exclusive after that.* Submissions open on May 21st, 2018 and will remain open for at least two months. We will announce the closing date two-weeks in advance to allow anyone who has not yet submitted a final chance to deliver.

Please submit your stories to admin@tbirdstudios.com with the subject line “San Cicaro.” In the body please include a cover letter about yourself, including links to your bibliography, and any details about your story. The story itself should be an attachment of file type RTF, DOC or DOCX. No multiple submissions (just one story per person) and no simultaneous submissions (don’t submit the same story to other publishers) please. We also want original stories only; nothing that has been published before. This includes stories hosted on your blog or published for your Patreon followers.

*-5/17 Updates:

  • Added minimum word length of 4,000 words, as anything less than that is effectively flash fiction.
  • Clarified exclusivity rights only apply to first year of publication.

 

Thematic Rules:

  • Don’t be afraid to invent. San Cicaro is there to be invented. If your story calls for a landmark, business, neighborhood or ethnoburb (like a Koreatown), feel free to create it.
  • Please don’t attempt to explain the mystery. Feel free to hypothesize the cause but keep the supernatural stuff fairly underground. Your characters should be outsiders looking in.
  • Feel free to play with next generation technologies. Despite the times, San Cicaro’s hospitals, universities and research firms keep the city cutting edge. What if fairy livers had powerful medicinal properties? Or if troll muscle fibers were the key to human regeneration? Just keep it under serious NDA.
  • Don’t use world-destroying monsters. A werewolf or vampire who stalks the night is great. The dragon who burns down San Cicaro isn’t. Zombies are okay if they’re confined (unable to escape a neighborhood or the sewers, etc). We don’t want the zombie apocalypse.
  • Do get cultural. We love research, especially diving into the origins of supernatural creatures and magic theories. The etymology, how the superstitions have changed, how Hollywood got it wrong. Although our focus is to entertain, discovery of true-to-life folklore is a definite bonus.
  • No aliens. No UFOs, no invasions. If you want to tap into the otherworldliness of H.P. Lovecraft, use San Cicaro’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean to conjure his thalassophobia (hinting at the Deep Ones, etc).
  • Gods are fine if… you’re subtle. Like the work of Damon Lindelof from The Leftovers or the first half of Neil Gaiman’s book American Gods. Keep it intriguing but inconclusive. It’s probably best if a god isn’t the protagonist.
  • Please use extreme subject matter with care. Vivid gore doesn’t wow us. Consensual gratuitous sex scenes are a tough sell. The non-consensual variety are a hard no. We want stories, not shock.

 

Closing Notes:

If you have further questions or want to ask about an idea or very large landmark (akin to the San Diego Zoo or the Golden Gate Bridge), feel free to inquire with us. Just send an email to admin@tbirdstudios.com with the subject line “San Cicaro Question.” Likewise if you want to make a dedication to someone, let us know with your submission and we’ll name a street after them. We’d like to give a huge thanks to Almos Bechtold over at Unsplash for the great picture we used for the banner. Good luck to everyone submitting, we can’t wait to read your work!