JM Williams

A home for all things fantasy and sci-fi.

Where to Submit? — Magical Crime Scene Investigation


I have written many times here how I don’t usually write specifically for prompts. But if I did, and if I had more time to write these sorts of stories, this weird anthology would be just the sort of thing I would write for.

It’s called “MCSI: Magical Crime Scene Investigation” and here’s the description:

Sometimes the tools that mundane detectives use to solve the crimes of the world just aren’t enough – sometimes you have to call on a little magic. We’re looking for urban fantasy stories that involve a crime scene and require the investigator to use magic or engage the aid of a magical being to solve the crime. Did the house’s hob see what really happened in the domestic violence incident? Does a detective come into possession of a genie’s lamp that will grant him one wish, and he uses it to solve the case that got away? Does your gumshoe use a tracking spell to find the perpetrator using a few strands of hair she found at the scene? The people in your world can use magic openly or on the sly, it’s all up to you. But your story must be urban fantasy, and involve a crime scene and magic in some way.

Now detective stories are right up my alley, but unfortunately there’s no magic in my Storm Hamilton universe. If I had the time, I could see myself writing something new for this. Maybe a hard-boiled private dick who is aided by a shady demon? Dibs! I totally called dibs on that concept you guys, too bad. You snooze, you lose.

The pay isn’t pro rate but not horrible either, at $25 per story and a contributor’s copy. They accept reprints, but only pay $10 for those. If you’re looking for a strange story prompt to write for, you could do much worse than this.

Submissions close at the end of January. And like all pubs I promote here, there are no submission fees. So, just go for it!


My First Book is Finally For Sale!


I just got the news from Amazon that my book is now for sale. It’s been a long road getting to this point. I hadn’t intended my first book to be a self-published one. Perhaps a bit of that was concern about the complexity of the publishing process, perhaps it was due to certain views I held–and still hold–about self-publishing. But I feel like I’ve put the effort into this book to make it stand out, whether that be the nice cover, or the hours I spent tweaking and formatting.

I definitely feel like this experience has changed me. I’ve even updated my Facebook Page to look like a more established author’s page! I feel like an author now, for sure. I am not so intimidated by the publishing process. So little anxiety do I have that I might have shot down the first positive reaction to my first manuscript, In the Valley of Magic, the book that started this whole thing, the book that 50-plus agents have passed on so far. I didn’t feel good about the contract and asked for some pretty significant changes. My demands are so severe, I am almost certain the publisher is going to deny them.

But that doesn’t scare me anymore. I know now, that if I need to, I can publish the book myself. I know how it’s done. I know where to get a good cover, and what it should look like. I know how to format the manuscript for ebooks and print. I know that, this being my primary book (and my pride and joy) that I will need pay the extra money to get on IngramSpark rather than just going through Amazon, like I did with the Iric book.

If I have to go it alone, I know I can, and that is an incredibly empowering feeling.

But I am not alone. I have worked with many great indie publishers–such as Fiction Vortex, Fantasia Divinity, Bards and Sages, Roane Publishing–that have shown real concern for my success. I am sure they would be more than willing to offer me advice.

All in all, I’m feeling pretty good. Got my first book out and two more on the way. This thing is starting to happen!

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I wish you all the same success that I have found. And if you ever have any questions or are in need of advice, don’t hesitate to look me up!


Two New Stories Live


While I’ve been away working, I received notice from two publishers that my stories are not live on their respective sites.

The first is an original Storm Hamilton story I wrote shortly after finishing The Maltese Falcon. I’m sure the influence shows. It was published as part of Akashic Book’s new flash fiction series, Fri-SciFi. The story can be found HERE.

The second story is a reprint of an old Iric story on Eternal Remedy. Like the previous story I had published with them, they paired the story up with some odd pictures that represent their style, a style that I happen to like. I also like the clean layout of their website. Anyways, the story can be found HERE.

In addition to this good news, I’ve been working on the Iric collection. I have the ebook cover done and am just waiting for some final editorial comments before I put it up on Kindle.

I have to admit I am a bit excited to finally have a book for sale! Oh, and my next story with <a href=”” target=”blank”>The Centropic Oracle</a> is set to drop on the 15th of December. So much news coming in these days. Seems like things work out better when I am not paying attention, a watched pot as they say…

I’d like to say that I can now enjoy my weekend but, alas, I will be working through. Hope you guys have a fun break!


Featured in Corner Bar Magazine



Happy November Friends and Fellow Speculators!

I have been working hard on the fourth episode of my epic fantasy series Call of the Guardian. I am hoping we–meaning myself and the other two authors in this StoryVerse will go live in a couple months. We are currently talking about having six episodes (of a ten episode season) complete before we start releasing. I think I am currently the furthest behind schedule. I’m going to have to dig in and get focused now!

While I’ve been working on this project, I received so good news. The story I sent to Corner Bar Magazine is now out in their October 31st Winternacht issue. You can go directly to the mag with this LINK.

I really like Corner Bar Magazine. It’s got a great, professional layout for a free ezine. It also has a nice, old-timey vibe with the styles and image choices. And I love old-timey stuff!

I hope you go check them out.



Final Bards and Sages Tome Out Now!



My story “The Sorcerer” is now available for purchase as part of Bards and Sages last tome anthology, “The Great Tome of Magicians, Necromancers, and Mystics.”

You can buy the anthology here: PRINTKINDLE


It’s Been a While


I just spent some five hours revising a short story. I got a rejection with a rewrite offer from a publisher a couple months back, so of course I was going to heed their feedback and resubmit.

I just spent five hours writing and revising. Last night I had a muse, took a bunch of notes and went to bed thinking about my story. This morning I woke up and couldn’t wait to get started. Even when I had to take a break to drive somewhere around noonish, the story was stuck in my head. I finished the story. I think it’s much better now that the previous draft I submitted. But even though I’m done with it, it’s still stuck in my head.

I just spent the last five hours writing, and never realized that it’s almost 4pm and I haven’t eaten anything today. Not a crumb. Damn, I’m hungry.

It’s been a long time since I had as good a day of writing as this.


New Anthology Acceptance


For anyone who hasn’t been watching my homepage closely–which I assume is most of you–I recently received a new acceptance letter. This one was for Left Hand Publishers’ Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths anthology, which is a death-themed collection.

This proved to be a case where I had a story already finished that was a perfect fit for the theme. However, the story I had was under their minimum word-count. Instead of turning me away, they asked me to send second story to cover the gap. I wrote a brand new companion story to the first, a spin-off of sorts featuring one of the characters in the original. The readers/editors loved both of the stories, so they will be published together.

The original story was a literal pet-project of mine. I had been thinking of how to write my three cats into a fantasy story for a while, and this story was the manifestation of that desire. Yes, I wrote a story about my cats; I am very much a crazy cat-gentleman.

I can’t say too much about it, but I will say is that the story derives from a quote which making the rounds on Facebook around the time. To sum up, the quote says something like: when a person dies they must cross a bridge leading to heaven, on that bridge are all the animals that person encountered in his life and these animals judge whether the person can pass or not. 

Take that as your teaser.


To Self-Publish or Not?


I have spoken (or rather written) much on my views of self-publishing. I have always felt it was very difficult to break-in to the industry through self-publishing, despite the merits of your manuscript. Thus, I have continuously pushed to get my work published traditionally, despite the difficulties and lengthy time-frame I’ve had to endure.

An article in the Guardian cites statistics that only support my thoughts on the subject. Bear in mind that this article came out several years ago, but I imagine that things have only gotten worse as more amateur authors add their books to the already overstuffed lists of self-published books.

According to the ARTICLE, half of all self-published writers earn less than $500 a year. This includes traditionally published authors that dabble in self-publishing and other writers who have a district advantage over your typical self-published author. Science Fiction and Fantasy authors (like me!) earn markedly less than romance, and only a fraction of the average earnings of $10,000. That, too, is an income that is not livable. Worse, that average is skewed significantly by the extremely rare blockbuster million dollar earners.

My major take away from the article was the following passage:

Even traditionally published authors are now dabbling in self-publishing, and the survey found this was to good effect: they earned 2.5 times more when self-publishing than did rejected authors or authors who went straight to self-publishing. This suggests, said Cornford and Lewis, that “traditional publishers are decent arbiters of quality” and that “the reading public finds, in these authors’ work, the same high standard (or marketable writing, at least) that led publishers to choose them in the first place”.

This is the major reason I will keep pushing for traditional publishing, because readers will be more willing to risk a read of an author with a traditional reputation over one without. But traditional publishing can take many forms. It is more than just getting your novel in print. Another angle I pursue is short stories. I still haven’t had a story placed in a pro-rate mag, but once I do, that will be a boon to any self-publishing plans I might make. I would urge anyone who writes short stories or flash fiction on their blog to try to get something published in a literary journal, magazine, or ezine.

Another important point about self-publishing is that success requires significant investment on the part of the author. This comes typically in three forms: editing, covers, and marketing. Speaking for myself, I won’t even bother with a book if the cover looks amateurish. There are simply too many options to risk my time (or money, depending on the case). Good covers are critical to getting views and sales, and good covers will cost you several hundred dollars.

Here’s what the ARTICLE has to say about it:

Authors…would be well advised to spend time and money on making a title look professional, the survey found: self-publishers who received help (paid or unpaid) with story editing, copy editing and proofreading made 13% more than the average; help with cover design upped earnings by a further 34%.

That’s almost a 50% increase in earnings by having your book tooled by professionals.

My plan still is to do my best to get a traditional publishing deal for my book. Should that ultimately fail, I will shift to self-publishing. But my work has already been worked over by an editor several times, and I fully intend to invest in a good cover and marketing.

Hopefully that will result in success.

Anyways, you can find the article at the following link: <a href=”” target=”blank”>Stop the press: half of self-published authors earn less than $500</a>

As always, good luck with your writing. I hope this doesn’t discourage anyone, but rather motivates you to value your writing more and invest in it. Your work deserves it!





My Publication Tracker is a Mess!



Look at that! It’s a mess! How is someone supposed to make sense of all that?

Well, of course, it’s not supposed to be all on one page…

My tracker has a total of 56 works on it. 3 have been “retired,” meaning that I am no longer submitting them in the original form. Some I have combined with other works and resubmitted, some were so dramatically revised that I decided to track the new versions separately. 23 works have been accepted and I am not really trying to resubmit them as reprints yet. The other 20+ works at the top are currently being tossed around to publishers.

In addition to having a lot of rows on my tracker, due to more and more stories being added, I have also added many more columns. I am now on the 11th submission for one of my stories and 10th for another. These are stories I really like but have not found a good home for. I plan to keep sending them out until I find the right place.

One of the things this one-page capture of my submission tracker does show is just how hard I have been working at this writing thing. This tracker doesn’t even show my novel (which is revised and complete), my novella (which is waiting for editor comments for a third draft), or my fantasy series with Fiction Vortex, which is now at about 30,000 words in.

But the flip side to all of that is why haven’t I been more successful, since I clearly have been working my butt off? Why have I not yet gotten a positive reply from an agent or publisher for my novel? Why haven’t I gotten a pro-level, or even semi-pro level story acceptance yet?

Moving forward, I am sure I cannot keep up the pace I had in previous months, especially now that I am working full-time in a mentally-strenuous job (but a good job). I am going to have to change how I go about my writing. Maybe I should slow down and spend more time on one or two stories. I think I need to find a way to get feedback about my stories, to help revise them.

Any ideas about writing groups or pages where you can get peer reviewed for free?

I do have a few pieces out that I have good feelings about. Maybe that professional publication is coming but I just don’t feel it. Regardless, I’m going to keep on pushing. I still have dozens of publications on my list I have not sent to yet.

Good luck to everyone with your writing endeavors!


New Audio Story Released!


Manawaker Studio has turned one of my stories into an audio production. That’s two stories I’ve so far had redone in audio, with a third coming at the end of the month.

This story is actually the compilation of three shorter flash pieces that were originally featured on this blog. They are the stories featuring the character Sparrow, who was originally a supporting character in my upcoming book, In the Valley of Magic. I was drawn to Sparrow as a character, and found myself writing her a few times. The three stories ended up being a consistent series, so I fused them and submitted to Manawaker, which does a great job on the audio work.

You can find the audio story on the Manawaker Studio homepage with this LINK.

Or on Youtube with this LINK.

I must say I am impressed with the quality of the work. The reading is great and the voice work very professional. So go and listen to the story! If you like the story or the production, please leave a message on the page that you listened from.