Category: On animals

Call for Submissions: Writing for Animals Nonfiction Anthology

By John Yunker,

Ashland Creek Press is currently accepting nonfiction submissions for a new anthology, Writing for Animals: An anthology for writers and instructors to educate and inspire.

From Franz Kafka’s Report to the Academy to Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are Completely Beside Ourselves, animals have played a central role in literature. Increasingly, writers are playing a central role in advancing awareness of animal issues through the written word.

And yet little has been written about the process of writing about animals—from crafting point of view to voice. Writers who hope to raise awareness face many questions and choices in their work, from how to educate without being didactic to how to develop animals as characters for an audience that still views them as ingredients. We hope to address these issues and more with a new collection of articles, by writers and for writers—but most of all, for the animals.

We seek articles from authors and educators about the process of writing about animals in literature.* Our focus is on including a mix of instructional and inspirational articles to help readers not only improve their work but be inspired to keep at it. Articles may be previously published and should not exceed 10,000 words.

There is no deadline at this time; we will accept submissions on a rolling basis until further notice. Accepted submissions will receive a stipend of $100 plus a copy of the finished book upon publication.

*Please note that this is a collection of instructional articles about the craft of writing. We will NOT be publishing animal stories or personal essays, only articles that deal specifically with the art and craft of writing about animals.

Areas of interest include:

  • Anthropomorphism and writing from the animal’s point of view
  • The rethinking of animal-centric idioms (such as “fish out of water” or “kill two birds with one stone”)
  • How to elevate animals from “set pieces” to “characters” in your writing
  • How to address violence toward animals
  • Animal rescue themes
  • Animals and “personhood”
  • The “animal turn” and what it means for animal-centric literature
  • Animals in children’s literature

For all submissions, please include (in a single document) the entire essay and an author bio listing all publishing credits, awards, and experience. Include a valid e-mail address, mailing address, and phone number.

And, just to be clear, we are not looking for essays about animals. We are looking for articles about writing about animals.

All submissions must be made using Submittable.


Among Animals 2 is under way

By Midge Raymond,

We are delighted with this new review of our critically acclaimed anthology, Among Animals, from Society & Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies: “…a rich collection of stories that constitute not only a good read, but also a substantial text for an Animal Studies course…the collection demands an acknowledgment of the vulnerability, fierceness, and beauty of its subjects.”

Indeed, the first edition of Among Animals has been adopted for numerous courses, in the fields of both animal studies and literature, and we are excited to report that Among Animals 2 is well under way.


We plan to post an excerpt soon, but for now you can click here to get a glimpse of what’s to come — more thoughtful, engaging stories about our complicated relationship with our fellow creatures.

Seasons in the Sun: A guest post by Jean Ryan

By Midge Raymond,

Today’s post is courtesy of Survival Skills author Jean Ryan, whose blog you can find on her website. Enjoy!

Seasons in the Sun

Last spring, the seventeen-year cicadas, called Magicicadas, emerged from their burrows along the eastern seaboard. This was Brood II and involved seven states. Last year Brood I emerged in Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee; next year Brood III will surface in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri.

I love this chart—it’s like a treasure map. How wonderful to know that if I’d shown up in a woods in east Kansas in the spring of 2015, I would have witnessed the emergence of millions of cicadas. I would have liked to have been there, peering at the ground, when the very first one stuck his head up. “Welcome,” I’d have said. “Welcome to this world.”

When the nymphs emerge, their bodies are soft and cave-white. I imagine they are blind, too, which might explain why they show up after sunset: sunlight must be shocking after seventeen years underground. The first thing they do is find a bit of vegetation to rest on while they complete a final molt that takes them into adulthood. In a week’s time, their exoskeletons have hardened and darkened, and they have grown transparent wings with orange veins. Their eyes, now quite large, are bright red. Like stubborn ghosts, the skins of their youth remain in the places they were.

The males, seeking mates, begin contracting their abdomens to make a series of loud buzzing and clicking noises. Often they form choruses high in the sunlit branches of trees, and their considerable racket attracts females of the same species. While the females don’t sing, they answer the males with a noise of their own, a movement called a wing flick, which can vary from a rustle to a sharp pop. Eventually they all find each other, and a mass mating occurs overhead, after which the females cut slits in twigs and lay their several hundred eggs. Six weeks later the eggs hatch, releasing nymphs the size of ants that fall to the ground and immediately burrow in. For nearly two decades, these pale bugs tunnel through a black world, sucking tree root sap as needed and growing ever so slowly. No one knows why they stay hidden for so long, or what finally beckons them skyward all at once.

Cicadas don’t live long as adults, not even long enough to see their progeny. In a month’s time, they sing, mate, lay eggs, and die, leaving an immense litter of dry husks. So many of them come into the world that even after the birds and rodents are satiated, the population remains intact.

I suppose those four weeks of glory is the point of a cicada’s life, but I wonder about the young, who live seventeen years in silence, impervious to cold and wind and noise. I see them tunneling away, no clue there’s another world waiting, no need to know anything but the next quarter inch. It seems a kindness, all that time to be young.

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  Category: On animals, On nature
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Cat Editors: Two ACP authors and their feline muses

By Midge Raymond,

Last year, I began a blog series called Cat Editors, after noticing that I am not the only writer with a feline companion who is always in the middle of the writing action. (Below is my editor and our General Manager, Theo.)


Several of our beloved Ashland Creek Press authors also have cat editors — among them Mindy Mejia, author of The Dragon Keeper and the mystery novel EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE, forthcoming this November from Emily Bestler Books; and Jean Ryan, author of the story collection Survival Skills.

Click here to learn more about Mindy and and her hardworking editor Dusty:


And click here to learn more about Jean and her devoted editor Tango:


And, if you’re a writer with a cat editor in your life and you’d like to share the joy, feel free to send me a note!

Time Enough: A guest post by Jean Ryan

By Midge Raymond,

Today’s post is courtesy of Survival Skills author Jean Ryan, whose blog you can find on her website. Enjoy!

Time Enough

How we view time can be a source of comfort or pain. Many people, particularly Eastern cultures, adhere to the belief that we live any number of lives: time is seen as cyclical and forgiving. Westerners tend to see time as linear, something we use up, something we never have enough of.

Whatever our beliefs, we all know that the lives we are living now will one day end. This knowledge is the ultimate spoiler, the price we pay for having a neocortex. Other animals are not saddled with this awareness—at least I assume, I hope, they are not. In 1777 the British explorer Captain Cook gave a newly hatched tortoise to a royal family in Polynesia, who kept the creature as a pet until it died of natural causes 188 years later. That turtle pulled its heavy self across the ground, presumably the same well-worn ground, for 68,620 days. Was it weary by then? Bored? Might it have opted for a life half as long?

On the other end of the spectrum is the mayfly, a creature whose adult life amounts to less than a day; in some species, just a few minutes. The larval versions, naiads, can live up to a year, during which they hide in aquatic debris and progress through several stages—instars—before growing a pair of wings and becoming immature adults. The winged juveniles last no longer than the final version and are not sexually viable until a few hours later, when they emerge from their last molt with features unique in the insect world, paired genitals: two penises for the males and two gonopores for the females. They do not feed: their mouths are useless and their digestive tracts are filled with air. This day, their first and last on earth, all they do is mate—little wonder our creator doubled up on their genitalia.

Like locusts, mayflies “hatch” in stupendous numbers, trillions at a time. The males begin swarming over a river, and the females fly into this mass. With specialized legs, the male grabs a female, and copulation takes place in mid-air, after which the female falls to the water’s surface and lays her eggs before dying. The spent females cover the water, providing a feast for the fish below. The males fly off to die on land, a boon to local birds.
Even the waiting wildlife cannot keep pace with these mayfly windfalls, and in some municipalities snow plows are deployed to clear away the mountains of corpses. While Americans consider mayflies a nuisance, tribes in Africa make nutritious patties out of them.

It would seem that a mayfly’s fleeting life amounts to nothing more than sustenance for larger creatures. Mayflies, all 2,500 species of them, are designed as sacrifices, put here for the greater good. Twenty-four hours is all the time they are given and all the time they need.

The ancient Greeks had a saying:


There is not a short life or a long life.

There is only the life that you have, and the life you have

is the life you are given, the life you work with.

It has its own shape, describes its own arc, and is perfect.


A whole life in one day. It must be glorious.

  Category: On animals, On nature
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