Writers, mark your calendars — our next submissions period will run from January 1 to January 31, 2019.
During the month of January, we will be accepting submissions of book-length fiction and nonfiction on the themes of the environment, animal protection, ecology, and wildlife — as always, we’re looking for exceptional, well-written, engaging stories.
In the new year, we are asking that writers who submit book-length manuscripts also support the press (and learn more about us!) by purchasing a book at the time they submit. All books will be $20. For U.S.-based writers, this includes free shipping and your manuscript submission; international writers will receive e-books with their manuscript submissions.
As many of you already know, our submission times and policies have evolved over the years. When we founded Ashland Creek Press in 2011, we had the luxury of keeping submissions open all year as writers began to discover us. In 2014, we started the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature and began offering two submissions periods for book-length manuscripts — one for prize entries, and one for regular submissions. We also have several open submissions periods for shorter works, which have filled our anthologies Among Animals, Among Animals 2, and Writing for Animals.
As the years have passed, we’ve found ourselves overwhelmed (in a good way!) with increasingly higher numbers of submissions during each reading period, far more than we can ever publish — and sometimes far more than we can manage to read in a timely manner. Now, as we enter our eighth year of publishing, we have decided to shorten our regular book submission period as well as ask writers to purchase a book — and we do this for several reasons.
For one, we hope that a shorter submission period will allow us to read and respond to writers more quickly (as writers ourselves, we understand that the time spent waiting to hear about a submission can feel interminable!). And also as writers, we understand the importance not only of supporting other small presses but of submitting in a knowledgable way, i.e., learning as much about a publisher and its work as possible before making the decision to enter into what will become a very close and longtime relationship as author and publisher.
For us, Ashland Creek Press has always been a labor of love — and we mean this quite literally! No matter how successful the press has been in any given year, we have never paid ourselves a dime. All money received by Ashland Creek Press goes to author royalties; toward judges’ fees or writers’ prize money; into promotion and events to support our authors, whether for newly launched books or backlist titles; and to the Ashland Creek Press Foundation, which supports animal and environmental organizations that share our mission of making the planet a better place for the future.
We very much look forward to reading your new environmental writing in January, and we thank you in advance for your support. We couldn’t do this without you as writers, readers, and advocates for animals and the planet.
You’ll find our more information on our submissions page; please note that Submittable will not be open until January 1, 2019.
Many thanks, and we wish you a very happy new year!
Q: In what ways has your writing changed as your knowledge and awareness of animals has evolved?
A: Compassion. With knowledge comes the awareness that there is no separation between animals and humans, nor is there a hierarchy of animals that are more important, or are more deserving of our love and compassion. (E.g., many are saddened by the loss of a pet, but not the loss of a squirrel or housefly). If we’re still long enough, we can recognize our sameness — the need for food, water, shelter, love, play, rest, and harmony, rather than suffering. Animals and humans want these things equally, and through awareness, not only in my writing, but in my way of life, I’m creating a world that realizes these actions as integral opportunities, available to be carried in every moment, everywhere. There isn’t a separate time for animals; our relationship is a seamless day.
Q: What is the most important thing you feel writers should keep in mind as they write about animals?
A: Change the image of “watching” animals to “participating with” animals. When we watch, we’re actively creating a separation. We’re partners, living and wanting those same necessities I mentioned above. When we participate, we will go from being a false, stagnant observer, to a constant participant that is nurturing the world to ensure safety, love, compassion, food/water, play, shelter, for all animals. It will carry into the writing — it will foster a generation of environmental/nature writing aimed at solutions and actions, as opposed to despair, because the writer is now active and participating, too.
I would encourage writers to relearning perceptions and old mindsets created by the mass-mind … we all have them, a teaching or experience we cling to that causes a habitual reaction rather than a conscious action. I’ve had close encounters with bears and skunks — close, as in a handful of feet — where the very initial reaction is one of purity and presentness, not fear. The moment is often confounded with the mass-mind, the experiences of others. So while I’m not advocating petting a bear, I’m suggesting to acknowledge and consider how much one’s perception is based on habit, reaction/response, rather than being in the moment. Nature/animals allow us to be “here” and “present,” to fully experience life with them, not apart from them. It’s the same when you’re outside and feel a mosquito digging into your skin — the mass-response is to kill and swat, rather than gently disengage. Ticks, too. Houseflies … Who taught you to kill as the first response? My family taught me to eat animals, and I unlearned it. How could I spend years as an “animal advocate” and eat animals? But the mass-mind said that it was okay because some animals need preservation; others don’t. I unlearn the old responses every day by being open to the animals here and now and loving them equally — if fear arises, I ask why. There is nothing more beautiful than the pink nose of a skunk, who will not spray if you’re attentive and compassionate enough to allow it.
Focus on where you are writing right now. The office plant, the spider in the bathroom at the restaurant, the windowsill bird feeder, the parks that can use all your love to keep the litter at bay, to promote habitats. Cemeteries are open to visit and have a plethora of wildlife; walk your neighborhoods and cultivate a reciprocal relationship right now with whatever animal is there — the spider, gnat, birds, rabbits … when you do, the whole world opens and harmony floods in.
Q: Which authors/books do you feel do a good job of realistically and compassionately portraying the lives of animals?
A: It’s very important where our mind rests all day. If it rests on a terrible, hopeless future, then collectively, we’re creating that day tomorrow. When we send out books, social media posts, videos that show despair, terror, violence, and so on, done to animals and the environment, then we’re triggering helplessness in the viewer, and restricting the possibility of the future that we do want to share together. How, as authors, can we offer a conversation that allows participation, not terror?
Books that offer a view out the window of harmony, which is here right now for us, are the ones I’m most interested in. Show us that our small effort matters; show us what change is occurring, so that we will be inspired to believe in ourselves and in creating a harmonious world. Two that come to mind are:
1. A Plea for the Animals: The Moral, Philosophical, and Evolutionary Imperative to Treat All Beings with Compassion by Matthieu Ricard
Ricard shows us that the world is changing for animal, and he rallies us to get on board. In his book we see meat factories closing; he calls us to be responsible for our daily actions, and we want to join in, since we’re given permission to be accountable, and let go of our old habits.
2. Ecotopia 2121: A Vision for Our Future Green Utopia in 100 Cities by Alan Marshall
A book, mostly in pictures, that offers a view of the future that is harmonious, hopeful, and green; Marshall shows us that we can be active today to create these cities now. Like the concept behind the butterfly affect — that one housefly you catch and release can make a difference; or the mosquitoes you deter with garlic, over an electric zapper; or that night garden you cultivate for moths — all those things matter and add up to a harmonious world.
Q: Your essay points out that all animals, not only exotic ones, deserve our attention. What “ordinary” animal is most important to you?
A: My day begins with animals and ends with them, and no “one” animal could be separated as being more important. They come seasonally, so at times, I become aware that certain animals will show themselves more than others. For instance, fireflies have appeared at night, and with that comes a sense of awareness that “the whole” has extended another ripple of harmony to allow this to happen. Blackberries have finally come freely, allowed to be welcomed, and now create natural food for wildlife. A mother deer came with two spotted fawns — again, it says there is support for her to do so. Three hundred grackles have descended, with their fledglings, having felt the ripple to come and be part of the harmony. I live in an urban area, sandwiched within supermarkets, houses, and busy roads, and yet it is absolute paradise here for thousands of birds and animals, right down to the smallest of small. We’re in a constant, seamless interaction, and the most “important” thing is supporting harmony, and the opportunities to heighten our reciprocal relationship with the whole. When that happens, the discord that others believe in cannot exist — those busy roads and the paved, hard cities become part of the whole and harmony, no longer the enemy but part of the cohesion.
Hunter Liguore’s life motto is “respect for differences.” Her writing seeks to create a dialogue that promotes understanding our shared humanity as an alternative to discrimination and hate. She holds degrees in history and writing, and she teaches writing in New England. An award-winning writer, her work has appeared in over a hundred publications internationally, including Spirituality & Health, Orion, Great Plains Quarterly, and Anthropology & Humanism. She has several screenplays optioned, including Everylife, which is currently in pre-production. Her eco-fiction teen novel, Silent Winter, is forthcoming and already being compared to The Handmaid’s Tale. www.hunterliguore.org
Our 2017 judge is New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Balcombe. Jonathan’s most recent book is What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins, an extraordinary journey underwater that reveals the vast capabilities of fishes. He is also the author of the books The Exultant Ark, Second Nature, Pleasurable Kingdom, and The Use of Animals in Higher Education. Jonathan has three biology degrees, including a PhD in ethology (the study of animal behavior) from the University of Tennessee, and has published more than 50 scientific papers on animal behavior and animal protection. Learn more at jonathan-balcombe.com.
The 2017 prize is open to unpublished manuscripts and books published within the last five years. The winner will receive $1,000 and a four-week residency at PLAYA. All Siskiyou Prize submissions will be considered for publication from Ashland Creek Press. Visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details and to submit.
The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2017.
Please feel free to share this announcement with fellow writers! We look forward to reading your work.
New environmental literature refers to literary works that focus on the environment, animal protection, ecology, and wildlife. The prize seeks work that redefines our notions of environmentalism and sustainability, particularly when it comes to animal protection. The award isn’t for books about hunting, fishing, or eating animals — unless they are analogous to a good anti-war novel being all about war. Under these basic guidelines, however, the prize will be open to a wide range of fiction and nonfiction with environmental and animal themes.
For more information, visit the Siskiyou Prize website, and if you have any questions that aren’t covered in the guidelines or FAQ, feel free to contact us.
Jonathan’s most recent book is the New York Times bestseller What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins, an extraordinary journey underwater that reveals the vast capabilities of fishes. He is also the author of the books The Exultant Ark, Second Nature, Pleasurable Kingdom, and The Use of Animals in Higher Education.
Jonathan has three biology degrees, including a PhD in ethology (the study of animal behavior) from the University of Tennessee, and has published more than 50 scientific papers on animal behavior and animal protection. Formerly department chair for Animal Studies with the Humane Society University and senior research scientist with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Jonathan is currently Director of Animal Sentience with the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy in Washington, DC. Learn more at jonathan-balcombe.com.
This year marks our fourth annual Siskiyou Prize, and we are delighted to be offering a $1,000 prize and a four-week writing residency thanks to the generosity of our amazing prize partner PLAYA. All manuscripts submitted for the prize will be considered for publication by Ashland Creek Press.
Please visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details about the prize — submissions open September 1, 2017. We look forward to reading your work!
We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2016 Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature: Katy Yocom, for her novel THREE WAYS TO DISAPPEAR.
Judge JoeAnn Hart writes, “THREE WAYS TO DISAPPEAR begins with a focused lens on the endangered Bengal tiger then expands its reach with every page to reveal the interconnectedness of the natural world and fragility of all life. Weaving together the worn threads of ecological balance, this ambitious and moving novel addresses scarcity, climate change, family dynamics, cultural conflict, human accountability, women’s economic autonomy, and most of all, love, in all its wondrous forms. This is a story not just about saving the tigers, but ourselves.”
Katy Yocom was born and raised in Atchison, Kansas. After graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism, she moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where she has lived ever since. Her fiction, poetry, essays, and journalism have appeared in Salon.com, The Louisville Review, decomP magazinE, StyleSubstanceSoul, and Louisville Magazine, among other publications.
In conducting research for her novel, THREE WAYS TO DISAPPEAR, she traveled to India, funded by a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation. She has also been awarded grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Kentucky Arts Council and has served as writer-in-residence at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Crosshatch Hill House, and Hopscotch House. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her poetry has been translated into Bulgarian. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University.
She lives with her husband in Louisville, Kentucky, where she helps direct Spalding’s low-residency MFA in Writing program. Learn more about Katy on her website and via Facebook.
As the Siskiyou Prize winner, Katy will receive a four-week residency at PLAYA and a $1,000 cash prize.
It was a very competitive contest this year, and we would also like to congratulate the finalists and semifinalists:
Small Small Redemption: Essays by Sangamithra Iyer
The Heart of the Sound: A memoir by Marybeth Holleman (published by Bison Books)
Song of the Ghost Dog: A YA novel by Sharon Piuser
Karstland: A novel by Caroline Manring
Rumors of Wolves: A novel by C.K. Adams
The Harp-Maker of Exmoor: A novel by Hazel Prior
Thanks to everyone who submitted and to everyone who writes with the goal of making this world a better place. And please stay tuned for announcements for the next Siskiyou Prize!