Schoolbooks & Sorcery – Updated Call for Submissions

schoolbooks cover comp 600 px


EDIT AS OF 8/7/2017

Because I’ve been getting numerous submissions which don’t suit my needs, I find myself in the position of placing certain things at the very top, in the hopes people will read them.

1) The word limit of 2000-6000 is strict. I will not consider anything which goes over. Seriously. I have a budget to think of. 

2) No multiple submissions without asking me first. One per author per attempt.

3) No reprints. I’m sorry, I want original stories only. If you really have something which you think is perfect, ask me first.

4) It must be YA. That’s generally an age range of 12-18, but when in doubt, think “high school.” Grades 9-12. That general period. 

5) It must be urban fantasy. No science fiction, no epic fantasy, no horror, no fanfic… stories which mix the “here and now” with fantastic elements. -Very- near future is okay, as is relatively recent past, but certainly nothing beyond the start of the 20th Century.

6) Your story MUST contain visible LGBTQ characters, and within that, specifically, transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, genderfluid, asexual, aromantic, gay, or facets of the spectrum not specifically mentioned. I’m very sorry, but I have enough stories with predominantly lesbian protagonists or relationships. If I don’t see visible evidence, I’ll be forced to assume that everyone is straight/hetero/cis, and that’s not the point of this particular call for submissions. I have several stories already in hand which cover that end of things. 

7) See #6. I’m going to get increasingly cranky if people keep breaking this one. I’m not saying your character needs to burst into the scene going “IIIIII’MMMMMM TRAAAAAANS” and doing a song and dance routine, but if I don’t see some sign of what I’m looking for… well, y’know. I’m a reasonable editor, but I know what I want, and no amount of not giving me what I want is going to make me magically accept something which doesn’t fit the criteria. 

8) This space reserved for the next way in which someone manages to break, ignore, overlook, or bend a rule.




Take high school. It’s weird, confusing, complicated, and frustrating. It’s a time of growth and change, when teens start discovering what they’re made of and who they want to be. Now throw in magic. What happens? That’s the premise of this new YA anthology. Schoolbooks & Sorcery is what happens when you take all the normal ups and downs of high school, inject a healthy dose of magic, shake, stir, and serve.

Editor Michael M. Jones (Scheherazade’s Façade) is looking for YA urban fantasy stories which incorporate the themes of sorcery, magic, and enchantment. The magic can come from within, as an intrinsic ability or a family trait, or from without, in the form of talismans, training, or teaching. Protagonists can be wizards, witches, sorcerers, magicians, shamans, apprentices, or practitioners of more esoteric traditions. Whether they pick it up on their own (accidentally or on purpose), learn from a master, or go to school for institutionalized training, they’ll be involved with magic to some degree. Or, of course, the protagonist could be without magic, and stumble into a world beyond their immediate knowledge. If authors wish to set something in a magical school of their own devising, or in a previously-established setting, that’s perfectly fine. But it doesn’t necessarily need to be set at a school, magical or otherwise, so long as the main characters are of the right age set.

Just about every culture has some sort of tradition involving people who dabble in the supernatural to one end or another, and there’s a vast amount of potential left to be tapped in this genre, especially with teenage protagonists. Whether they’re wizards-in-training, voodoo princesses, the last descendant of an infamous historical figure, the newest apprentice in the family business, or just someone in the wrong place at the right time, the stories are endless.

Schoolbooks & Sorcery is also designed to be a queer-friendly YA anthology, embracing the full spectrum of sexuality and gender identification, while offering a wide selection of satisfying, entertaining, fascinating, powerful stories in which the mundane and the magical overlap and interact. Stories are encouraged to take place in the overlapping area between urban fantasy, high school, and LGBTQ issues and themes. Stories should send the message that it’s not just okay to be gay, it’s okay to be gay and to have the same crazy, wicked, scary, seductive, exciting, magical, strange, funny, romantic, dark adventures as everyone else. We’re looking for stories which are all-inclusive, with the characters writers have been dying to write and readers clearly want to see, diverse and interesting, with an underlying current of tolerance and acceptance. Obviously, we’re looking for a wide range of themes, tones, and voices.


1) Stories with gay, trans, non-binary, genderqueer, genderfluid, and/or asexual characters… or other facets of the LGBTQ+ spectrum not specifically mentioned. Because I am trying to achieve a certain balance of representation, I am not looking for lesbian stories at this time

2) I also heavily encourage characters of color, neurodiverse characters, disabled characters, characters from outside the United States, and stories which reflect under-represented voices or experiences. The same goes for the authors! 


All stories should be between 2000-6000 words.

All stories must involve magic, and those who practice magic. This covers wizards, witches, sorcerers, magicians, shamans, and other traditions not specifically mentioned. This covers self-taught characters, those whose power is intrinsic or passed down through a family, those who find objects of power or books of spells, those who study with a teacher, those who go to school for magic, and so on. Other paranormal elements, such as vampires, werewolves, ghosts, or fairies, are welcome, as long as they don’t overshadow the primary theme.

Paranormal romance elements are also welcome, but this is not specifically intended as a romance anthology. Romance is good, but not necessary.

All stories must be considered YA.

Stories should be set in modern times/on Earth, but authors are encouraged to use a variety of settings, cultures, and influences to flesh out their characters and world building. Again, one of the primary goals here is to explore diversity.

While LGBTQ elements are not required, they are highly encouraged, as are protagonists who defy traditional roles and labels. (As in “girls doing boy things” and “boys doing girl things”.) More importantly: no story will be turned away for containing LGBTQ characters or elements, unless it violates the other guidelines.

Stories will not be censored for language, drinking, drugs or sexual situations; however, such things must be in moderation, appropriate to the circumstances, and tastefully handled. In movie rating terms, stories would thus fall into the PG-13 range. (To be handled as necessary. We’re not afraid of some bad words now and again…)

All stories will maintain a positive atmosphere concerning sexuality, gender, race, religion, and so on. While individual characters (most likely antagonists) may express biased, prejudiced, or phobic sentiments, or characters may deal with negative situations, the ultimate goal is to promote tolerance, acceptance, and positivity.

PLEASE NOTE: I have already seen a number of stories which address bullying. While I’m still open to considering stories incorporating this theme, I’d like to see some more variety to help round things out.

DEADLINE: August 31, 2017

SUBMISSION ADDRESS: All submissions may be sent to Please address any questions or queries to that address as well.Submissions should be sent as an attachment, as .rtf or .doc.

PAYMENT: Payment will be 6 cents a word, plus electronic and print contributor copies.

FORMATS: Schoolbooks & Sorcery will be released simultaneously as a trade paperback and an ebook, by Ultra Violet Press, an imprint of Circlet Press.


Michael M. Jones was the YA reviewer for Science Fiction Chronicle and Realms of Fantasy. These days, he reviews YA for Publishers Weekly and He is also the editor of Scheherazade’s Façade: Fantastical Tales of Gender Bending, Cross-Dressing, and Transformation (Gressive Press, 2012). His fiction has appeared in anthologies from DAW, Baen, Raven Electrick Ink, Norilana, Circlet, and Cleis Press. He can be found online at


Schoolbooks & Sorcery – Updated Call for Submissions — 20 Comments

    • I’m afraid not. Unfortunately, due to the particular makeup of this theme, flash pieces are just a very hard fit.

  1. Would you accept something written specifically for this antholgy, that stands alone, but ties in with an existing universe? I have an urban fantasy series that fits perfectly with this anthology theme and I’d love to write a story in that universe for you.

    Thanks for your work.

    • I’m willing to consider stories which tie in to your other work, as long as it stands alone. I’m okay with stories that act as gateway drugs for an other’s other work. :)

  2. Would a story with a clearly bisexual cis female MC fit your guidelines, or is that not part of the LGBTQ spectrum that you’re currently looking for?

    • That would fit the requirements, though it’s less of a priority than some of the other aspects I’ve specifically noted. It would have to blow me away. :) But feel free to try it anyway.

    • Deadline for this is end of day on the 31st… basically midnight 8/31 PST (3 am 9/1 EST), unless arrangements were made beforehand for an extended grace period.

      • How does one get a few days grace period? I’ve worked all month on my piece but it got a little lengthy and I really could use a few extra days to finish up the storyline and then trim it down, (right now it somehow managed to become 12,000 words, not sure how that happened, the characters just had a lot more to say than I thought, I guess.). I promise the story’s well wortg waiting for, really strong characters and very diverse gender and sexuality representations.

        • Because of the number of stories I already have in the queue, and the ones I expect to sneak in at the last moment, I’m reluctant to grant any extensions. However, in this one instance, I’m willing to consider it as long as it’s in by midnight PST on Saturday the 2nd. Any longer wouldn’t be fair to everyone who worked to get theirs in on time.

  3. Hi Michael,
    Just wanted to let you know, I guess I just wasn’t able to finish and shorten it in time. Thanks so much for the extra time, but I guess I found myself some characters that really wouldn’t shut up, so I guess now I’m writing another novel, whether I like it or not… I don’t suppose you might be looking at any point in the future to publish a novel based on the themes you set up for this contest? I suppose I’ll have one soon enough…. If not, do you know anywhere that might publish something like this? If you’re at all interested in talking more about it, I’d be happy to give you my professional email and I can tell you more about my specific (apparent) novel.

    • Megan –
      I’m afraid I’m just an editor, not a publisher, and thus have no plans to work with novels in the foreseeable future. All I can advise you to do is work on your book, polish it to the best of your abilities, definitely run it by your choice of beta readers/critique group/writing partners,
      polish and edit some more, and then do your market research into agents and YA publishers. Both major and smaller publishers have been doing some great stuff lately, and it’s hard to say who’ll be looking for what by the time you’re done. Good luck!

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