Season’s greetings to you, fellow indie author. I’ve had a great idea. Dangerous I know, but here goes…

I read a post on a writing forum the other day that told me self-pubbed Christmas short stories can do quite well on Amazon. It got me thinking that Christmas could be used quite inventively for sci-fi and speculative fiction. Would it survive into the following centuries? What might replace it? What would Christmas in a space colony be like? If an alien species paid a visit, what would they make of it all?

I couldn’t get any ideas going, until this evening, when one hit me during a shift at my survival job (don’t all writers have those?). I knew that even if I banged the whole story out tonight as soon as I got home, I’d never be able to get it ready, formatted, covered and published in time for this season. But I can’t sit on this idea. So I thought why not blog a first draft and invite crits instead?

THEN I thought bigger. On my break, with that story idea still swirling around in my head, I thought ‘Why not invite other writers in for a workshopping challenge – let’s all have a go at Christmas themed sci-fi in a few thousand words! 

This could go even more exciting places, but here’s how I want to start this off:

I will read and offer up a crit on the first 15 stories submitted to me, up to and including the 31st December at All I ask is that you share this with other authors on social media in some way, or by word of mouth, and help me see where this can go.

The story has to fit the following criteria:

  • Limit of 12,000 words.
  • Story must be in the sci-fi or speculative fiction genre
  • Story must have a Christmas theme, or if you want to get really into the speculation, be themed around a festive celebration at the end of a ‘year’ (up to you which planet you’re on, how long a year lasts, and the rest). Remember, if the most wonderful time of the year didn’t survive, you can always write the story about why not…
  • Story must NOT be outright religion bashing. If you’re an atheist and just can’t stand Christmas that’s fine, but use it constructively. Criticise anything you like, as is your right, and make a little fun, but don’t deliberately seek to offend and tell others their beliefs just simply suck. Don’t worry though, I’m pretty liberal and hard to shock.

I will post on this blog when I have the 15 stories and close the workshop. If I’m lucky enough to get that many. Do I risk spending potentially weeks reading this stuff? Yeah, but I’m taking a chance on this. Here’s why: 

This time next year, I want to have a story ready to launch and promote. But instead of me doing it as a standalone, I’m considering picking my favourites out of whatever gets sent to me and asking the respective authors to be part of an anthology.

Remember, this is an idea in the initial stages, and I’ll have to see if anyone goes for it, or if I even get any stories sent in, and right now, we’re workshopping – not competing for submissions or a way past a slush pile. If you’re an author who also wants to do a bit of crit-swapping with these stories, drop me a line and I can forward anything sent in. Let’s see if this project gets legs!

If it does, and we get into anthology territory, here’s what I’m prepared to do at around November/December time next year:

  • I will commission and pay for the anthology’s cover. Take a look at the two I’ve had made for my books already. Whether you like my books or not, those covers are pretty cool, and professional. I will engage the same designer, with the same budget I’d use for any of my books.
  • I will act as editor, and then hire my usual proofreader to catch whatever I’ve missed.
  • I will have the book formatted and sort out publishing and the fair distribution of any royalties that come from it. Although I’m wide published, anthologies do well (and are kept simple) by putting them in Kindle Unlimited.

I’d better also mention: I write for adults, as do most indie authors I currently know. If your stuff is YA, I’ll read it at a workshop stage, but if it got to an anthology I’d have to market it for 18+ only.

I will make a bold statement here: I’ve never compiled an anthology before. But I do have a line to some authors who have done this, who I could call on for advice about how it all works. I’m also a decent writer, as reviewers are beginning to testify, and have been workshopping with stories for years. I’ve a good enough command of the craft to take a project like this on. You can always check out my current release if you want to, but if not then stand by for the Christmas story I’m going to post on this blog as soon as I get a first draft completed.

There’s a whole year to think about the big picture here though.  For now, let’s get writing! If this doesn’t take off, at least you then have a story you can do what you like with.

– Tommy.