Let Me Send You My Shorts…{0}

dull pencil coverSo I submitted a couple of short stories to a YA anthology (ahhh, now the title makes sense…) and I was delighted when the publishers emailed me to let me know that my pieces had been selected for publication: it’s every wannabe author’s dream to see their work in print, isn’t it?

But guess what?

It’s not enough.


I’m not after money. And I don’t want people to recognize me in the street and ask for my autograph. I don’t even need to see my name in lights.

But I DO want to know what people think when they read my stories… that’s what matters most to me and I suspect it’s a major driving factor for other would-be writers too.

Does the storyline make sense? Did you smile at the funny bits? Or best of all (and this is the holy grail) do you see yourself or someone you know in any of the characters?

The problem is, almost no-one knows the anthology exists, so there’s virtually no feedback. Just two reviews on Amazon… and I cynically suspect that even they are penned by insiders.


So I contacted the publisher and suggested we send ebooks to reviewers: they cost nothing so it’s basically free publicity.

– No.

Then I suggested we run a competition to give copies away to YA fans… again, it’s free and it could help generate a bit of a “buzz” around the project and introduce new writers to a wider audience.

– No.

I even suggested we publicize the anthology website to encourage other young authors to get involved in the project and turn it into a something bigger and better.

– No, no and no.


edward nortonApparently the problem with the first two ideas is that some of the other Dhal-wannabes don’t want their stories being made available for free…

Seriously? No-one’s making any money from this anyway and the publisher is actually losing money!

And the problem with publicizing the website is that the organizers are concerned that too many people might want to contribute stories and so it might become popular… and this after struggling to generate enough interest for two years to actually fill the pages of the book in the first place.

At this stage I am rocking in a corner, wild-eyed, dribbling and humming to myself. I am Jack’s complete lack of comprehension (hat tip to Chuck Palahniuk).

What’s the point in encouraging young YA authors to dream up a story, to spill their guts out on paper and to painstakingly edit it, then go to the expense of designing a cover, typesetting the manuscript and printing copies of the book if you’re not going to promote it?

Build it and they will come only works if you’re Kevin Costner and you have a magic cornfield full of dead baseball players.


Despite not being allowed to send you a copy of the full book, what I CAN do is to send you a “sample” of some of the stories available in it… my own contributions to the anthology.

The deal is, you tell me what you think when you’ve read them.

And I’m not looking for praise. Far from it. I genuinely want to know what you think, even if you hate them.

So whether you email me back a smiley face or a 10-page rant about how much you think I suck, or post a single word review on the anthology’s Amazon page (even if it’s a rude word), I’ll take it.

Because it’s ALL about the readers.

It’s all about what you think.


Call-MePlease message me if you are interested in reading the stories — even if it’s only a vague, passing interest — and I will be happy to email them to you (let me know if you prefer Word or epub): at 5,000 words, they’re a short read, but a little too long to post here on the blog.

And who knows, maybe if we get some feedback the organizers and some of the other young writers involved in the project will be persuaded that a little publicity isn’t such a bad thing after all.

I won’t be holding my breath though…




This anthology of YA shorts contains several really well written pieces. Some are clearly amateurish and unpolished, which you might expect given that it is an anthology of “unknown writers”. I purchased the paperback and it also allowed me to download the kindle version for free, which was nice (it had one or two format errors though). The writeup in the back cover was hilarious. A short, fun read, and I have a feeling one or two of the writers in the book will go on to do some very good things in the YA literary world.
– Serena Nuniz on March 5, 2015

Interesting – an anthology of young adult genre stories written by amateurs. Two of the shorts (Dark Side of Moon & Promise) and two of the excerpts (Castoff & Aradia) were surprisingly good. A star for each of those stories and one more for the cool premise behind the book.
– Stef on March 2, 2015


Dull Pencil Anthology of YA short fiction by hitherto unknown writers (Volume 1)

Once Upon a Time there was a Golden Age of Storytelling, when stories were shared freely around an open fire, to entertain, to educate, to warn, to seduceā€¦ or just for the hell of it. Those that were deemed worthy by their audience were passed down from generation to generation, told and re-told through eons spanning rise and fall of empires and relentless evolution in storytelling medium. Sometimes, they would even cross borders and cultures like red poppies, pick up indigenous genetic material, and take root in their new homes as familiar, yet unique, manifestations of the original. Yes, those were the days. Days when there were no gatekeepers to storytelling. No suit-wearing hoity-toity claimers of good taste and superior judgment who demanded fine arts degrees and knowledge of the secret handshake before allowing one to pass through its vaunted gates, as if storytelling was a rigorous technical discipline, like nuclear engineering, that requires stringent credentialing of its practitioners to avoid unfathomable catastrophe. Dull Pencil Anthology is an attempt to bring back a modicum of that Golden Age of yore. Though the open fire has been replaced by the glow of computer screens and the genre is limited to YA, the stories are freely told (well, the first 150 words or so anyways) and are judged directly by their intended audience on an unassuming website named dullpencil.com. Those deemed worthy then found their way into print, in this modest volume, to be shared and spread through the ages like wildfire on the plains of the Serengeti.